Wakan is the horse that taught me natural horsemanship. He and his owner Colleen. I met her a few years back and the arrangement was I would excersise him but only if I did it the way she wanted and she would help teach me, get me hooked up with the right trainers etc.
Wakan himself has come a far way. He used to hate people, litterally was a very dangerous horse. Dangerous not in the run away at the drop of the hat, but more like I will charge you or do anything to hurt to, knowing exactly what he was doing and seeming to enjoy it…..I never met that horse. Colleen had had him for 8 years when I met him he was 15 and thank god she’s his owner because if it wasn’t someone like her trying everything they could in the world to work with a horse like that getting injured repetedly. He very well could have ended up in the kill pen.
She found Natural horsemanship and a very talented friend of ours that’s now a trainer. Together they changed that horse, helped him change his mind about people.
He’s a very dominant horse to start with much more dominant then all the other dominant horses I have ever met. He wasn’t gelded until he was three, the woman that owned him used him to tease the mare’s to get them ready for breeding at her facility. That didn’t help matters. He’s the loudest horse I know that feels very free to show his personality and the most present of beings…what I mean by that is when you are with him,he’s really there, there’s no ignoring him, he makes sure everyone knows he’s still there. Super aware and highly intelligent. You feel him and you know he’s aware of everything.
Wakan is wonderful for Colleen and our trainer but with me, well I’m a lot softer of a personality…a push over for him and we both know it. I struggle with him a lot harder then every other horse I’ve ever had contact with. I always have. I really want him to know I respect him and feel honored to be with him but in that I lose my leadership. I have to summon every ounce of energy I have to get him to do anything. He knows it and it seems like it’s a source of amusement for him.
So today I made a mistake, I pushed too hard without the right meaning behind it and it offended him and he started bucking. He’s NEVER in 3 years ever bucked on me before so I knew this was a true insult to him. I credit my jiu jitsu skills for being able to stay on, I didn’t think, only reacted to hover out of the saddle a bit and get my weight up on his shoulders (pretty much the only thing that was staying still) I slowly reached down and pulled into a one reign stop…I even remember looking up at Colleen and smiling telling her “I got it” when she came running across the arena to help. He stopped and we gave ourselves a moment, to get the adrenaline down and then we cantered again without a problem and this time without offending him. We did a few other things like turn this way, back up and such and I got off.
We were still buds after this. He wasn’t mad at me anymore and I wasn’t mad at him for doing it. In fact, looking back on it now it was really fun! I wasn’t really afraid, I didn’t feel like he was really mad at me, just reacting telling me hell no I’m not putting up with that. It was very interesting.
While Colleen was riding him I was thinking okay, what is it about him that makes me treat him differently then other horses? Why can’t I summon the same strength and direction and then it hit me. I’m nervous going out to see them, I’m hoping someday Wakan tells me I am strong enough of a leader for a horse like him, I want both of thier approval to see my progress AND I NEVER feel like I am doing anything FOR Wakan, I always feel like I’m doing it to him. I’m worried about him liking me so I don’t want to ask.
….and that’s where I fail. You are not strong enough for Wakan until you show him you can be the leader he needs, you need to be there for him 50 times stronger then for another horse because he’s not going to just give you that role. You have got to mean it! All this time and It didn’t hit me until today.
So I asked Colleen if I could try again, this time on the ground and I acted like he was just another horse I’ve worked with not the regal Wakan…..as soon as I took him off that pedastal, I was able to think, able to create tasks, able to ask and support him when he needed it and most importantly able to connect. That’s what I have to remember for next time. I have it in me I just have to take him off the elevated shelf I have him on in my mind and just be there for him not to him.
Looking forward to next time, lets see if I can keep that in mind.