Sunday, 17 January 2016
Don't ignore the signs
The weather has turned colder and it's stopped raining, but field and consequently the horses, very muddy. I got them out of field and mud and cleaned them up a bit, really to check them over and give a good scratch because the next day they would be covered in mud again. So I just tidied them up quickly and decided to go for a hack. Very cold but nice and sunny, and quiet for a Saturday, some dogs hunting in the distance but no shots.
The day before, when I walked them up from the bottom field, not having been handled or out of the field for a week, some ground rules needed re-establishing as manners had been forgotten. This is where it all goes wrong if you don't take a moment to do things quietly and I noted the signs. Lucie trying to get ahead as we went up the path, trying to eat, trying to impose her idea (where the grass looks tasty); Fina looking away from me, both of them a bit pushy and impolite. Fair do's, I haven't done more than feed them and go back in the warm recently.
With Lucie, I have learnt that she needs quietly but firmly to be put in her place, alongside or behind me. Allowing her to get zone 2 in front gives her the idea that she is in charge or that she thinks I am not. I don't want to be pulled along, or to be constantly checking her, and have long ago stopped getting annoyed or using my voice. I simply stop and when she doesn't stop, I quietly ask her for a step back into place. I keep doing this, no more no less, until she stops resisting the feel I put on the rope, behind her chin. Walk, stop, back a step, until the stop and back happen without any touch or pressure. As the lane gets narrower, I ask Lucie to walk behind me, stopping if I stop, backing out of my space if I take a step back. I feel the horses start to connect with me again. Ignoring Lucie trying to get ahead, or fighting her, results in my quiet little mare becoming a bolshy, excited bombshell who if she thinks nobody is in charge, or sees her chance to be leading or making decisions, is liable to kick whatever is behind or near her. I learned never ever let her think I am not the leader, and only let her go ahead if I ask her or allow her to. Some horses, especially mares, are like this, it is what is most important to them, and if you tap into what makes them tick, they will trust and respect you. So it is with Lucie. Seraphina also needs to respect (my) leadership but with her it is different, less extreme, more grey areas and she is more laid back, and somewhat lazy!