Saturday, February 21, 2009

More Wind

Is It March Already?

If I had a kite, it would have gone into space orbit. Whatever is bringing the winds...please go away. These are more like the fabled winds of March.

And, oh yeah, I didn't ride. I would have been blown out of the saddle.

Reminiscing about how sweet Russell R. kept me sane for so many years makes me think of how wonderful horses my horses really are. Twelve hundred pounds of muscle and bone is ready, willing and able to respond to my request with hardly an argument.

But, of course, it's up to me to make sure my requests are clear and fair. I can recall once at a stable where I boarded, how I had to move PJ out of the way so another boarder could pass by with her horse. Without thinking, I gave PJ a tap with my whip to get him to move. He did, but he gave me a look that chilled me to the bone, letting me know that the whip was an insult and I had stepped over the line. All I should have done was touch him with my hand. I apologized profusely, and, he, as horses will, accepted.

When I feed and have to close the gate to Toby's stall, if his hind end is in the way, I simply say, "Excuse me," and Toby moves out of the way. He is the good prince.

Tucker is not so gracious. He has an arrogant attitude, kind of like an uppity prince who thinks the world owes him a living. He will move, but it might be with a cocked hind leg or a flipped back ear, warning me that he is big enough to disobey should he so choose. While he never has actually followed through on a threat, I do not completely trust him, so I take a much more direct approach, such as, "If you kick me, you'll lose that leg." *G*

Chance as no evil intent whatsoever, but he is more like a big cuddly puppy who just gets in the way because he's busy doing whatever it is he's doing. He's not disrespectful, just involved in his own life so that he doesn't always notice my requests. I don't like to push him around too much because when he does react, he might overreact. With him, the key is quiet patience.

I've never met a really bad horse, but I have met dozens without any manners at all. I've held horses for people at shows and been walked all over. I once helped a friend show her youngsters and struggled with a totally unmannerly yearling old for about an hour while she was in the ring showing her other horse. I worked with him all that time, teaching him to stand, back off, and respond to my aids. When my friend rushed out to collect him for the next class, she was all flustered. "I didn't get a chance to get him ready," she said.

"He's ready, " I said. She still was all upset even though I assured her the horse was prepared for the class.

She took him in before the judge and his manners were impeccable. The other young horses were bouncing around while he stood, waiting for her commands. Then, he trotted perfectly on the line and ended up winning the class. When she came out, she said, "What did you do to him?"

"I just taught him some manners," I replied. "I told you he was ready." She wanted me to go to all the shows with her after that, but I had no interest in playing groom, and I had my own horse to show.

By and large, our horses want us to be their leaders (except perhaps Tucker who is still trying to negotiate with me) and will respect us if we treat them with consistancy and fairness. We need to make our requests clear and try gentleness first. Sometimes we may need to be strong with corrections, especially if their behavior is dangerous to either one of us, but a good firm hand is more often better than a harsh one.

H-m-m-m-m-m, maybe the same techniques would help some parents I know with their children.


  1. Anonymous5:46 AM

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  2. Anonymous5:47 AM

    You're right - it's consistency, fairness and clearness that make the difference. I think many horses have no manners (what some call "disrespect" as if the horse intended it) because that's exactly how their owners have trained them to behave! My horses often are able to do things just because I ask, even if I haven't trained them - for example if I am leading two horses, and I drop Maisie's rope, she stands. I never taught her to do that - I just needed her to do it and asked.

  3. Yes and yes and YES, I wish I could read this type of thinking on any forum over teh net or see it in people around horses.

    Horses really want a LEADER. There is exception, very dominant stallion or dominant mare, like my Linda was. But she was not mean, and she has NEVER hurt me. But it was clear, I had to work hard for being her leader. But I was told she was an exception.

    Horses really want to get on with us.

    Fairness and consistency are key.

  4. philosophical and true.

    on a (somewhat) related note, how does one teach a 12 year old to be patient in developing her relationship with a new pony....?