- As you approach the shoulder, allow the horse to smell you by offering the back of your hand. (Bear in mind this is “scratch and sniff” time for the horse, not “all you can eat”! Offering the palm is acceptable, but they’ll be more likely to think you’re offering food.) Ideally, let the horse make contact first, and then place your hand against the neck.
- Mentally (or aloud) ask permission to touch them before you do. This is much more polite than just putting the halter on right away and sets a positive tone for bodywork, in particular.
- Stroke the horse rather than patting. Patting is something very human oriented that horses learn to put up with, to varying degrees. Stroking is much more natural and feels better! (Which would you rather receive?)
A rub on the withers or base of the ears may be especially welcoming to the horse if these areas are not sore. (This is where horses “groom” each other.)
*From your instructor: Your intentions are the thoughts you have when you approach everything you do. Being conscious of and purposeful with your intention is immediately sensed by other organisms, particularly animals. Although we as humans rely less on our intentional senses, they do not go unnoticed. Practice using your intention to set the mood before you enter a room or address someone and you will soon feel the powerful effect it has on others. Intention is an important aspect of massage therapy and one of your most powerful tools.