I got to see my boy again today. I didn’t post this but I hadn’t seen him in a while and went out last Thursday to see him. He was happy to see me but spent most of our time bitching me out for not coming to see him for such a long time ( a week). Kik’s great with that…he was raised with natural horsemanship and has always felt free to express himself to humans which is something I have always loved about him and try to encourage. There’s nothing worse then a horse that has had that desire to express and communicate how they feel to thier partner forced out of them. It’s very sad for me to see horses that have lost this…I think it’s what they used to call having thier spirit broke.
Which brings me to today. My friend Stef has the biggest heart in the world and has dedicated her life to rescuing animals. Today, we were introducing another horse into the herd. This was an excellent opportunity to observe horse behavior and work with some of her rescues!
Watching horses is time consuming and I know some people don’t have the time to do it when they go out to thier barns but I can’t express how much enjoyment I get out of it plus how much I learn! It’s become one of my favorite past times and it rewards you back by allowing the horses time to relax by having you in thier presence and not asking anything of them, they will eventually feel safe enough to show you thier true self and just be natural around you.
Luckily Stef is really good at doing this so her horses feel totally free to express themselves like Kiko does.
For the past few weeks the TB has been in with two of the mares. One has become his best friend so we blocked off the herd and let the three into the big pasture, we worked with moving horses into and in some cases out of the environment trying to pay special attention to dominance and pairings…(Which mare belongs to which gelding and what gelding can’t LIVE without his buddy etc)
It was interesting because when the TB, named Wylie first came to the place he was super skinny and didn’t feel well so other horses could boss him around. Today it was a different story. He’s been at Stef’s for three weeks and has gained weight, looks healthy and you can see the exhuberance and expression has brightened quite a bit. He’s become more dominant. He’s doing some pushing now too! His mare best friend Jenny, who used to be one up from the bottom horse started going after the three lead horses, fighting them to keep them away from her new man! Talk about fascinating behavior! She’s stepped up her game now that she’s got a boyfriend.
The other interesting thing is Buddy, the lead horse was chasing him around not giving him one break. Biting him, going after him relentlessly. He had a severe beef with him and it wasn’t over the mare. Buddy barely even looks and Jenny, this was over making sure Wylie knew who was boss. Of course Wylie just kept running…being a TB this comes natural to him so Buddy never actually caught him but I was getting the impression he wanted to corner him, kick his ass a bit and make sure Wylie submitted to his dominance. It never happened but I was about 99% positive the way he kept persuing him that’s what he wanted to do. So we took Buddy out. He got put in the outdoor arena with Yankee, his best buddy and thug who wasn’t allowed out since he’s lame at the moment.
Secondary interesting interactions showed up when Buddy was taken out. Bear, one of the geldings who is third in command started driving around and keeping everyone away from Erin, the mare who’s the lowest on the totem pole. Neither of these two have ever seemed to express interest in eachother until today!
Liberty, the lead mare could have cared less about the situation and just left them alone completely.
It was wonderful to experiance all the little changes in the horses when we changed the herd. We ended up leaving the herd with Wylie and Jenny in it and instead seperating Buddy and Yankee (the two leads) in an ajoining pasture.
The training opportunities were also really great! With the horses running around like crazy at first, protecting your space and guiding with body language and energy which way they would go was such a good thing to do not only for the humans in pasture but for the horses to realize we were there and they needed to go around rather thru us.
The other opportunity was really good for me personally because I was able to move two horses that are really uncomfortable with being haltered using two different tactics because I got two different readings off them. Bear, before he was in the pasture, needed to be played with. He was running away for fun saying “look what I can make the human do!” So I pushed when he ran away and stopped when he came in. At one point he was trotting past me but looking at me so I didn’t push…he was paying attention, so being as sensitive as he is, I gave him that….well, apperently that’s what he needed because after that he stopped and let me come in and toss the rope over his head to be led. I led him into the pasture and let him go and he was like…”what do you wa….ah! I can go? COOL!!!” and he walked off calmly.
Next I went for Liberty, She is very wary of people but I think she just has to know that you are listening to her and don’t want to hurt her so I mirrored her. Stopping when she looked at me but moving in when she was still with the glazed look which is an invitation for me to come closer. I started petting her with my hand and energy about 20 feet away from her and was able to progress quickly to touch her. I then progressed to touching her with the rope and slid it over her neck. I didn’t want to ‘sneek’ the rope on so I made it obvious to her that I was reaching around her neck to grab the rope and I was able to lead her out of the pasture and let her lose. She had the same expression as Bear but was more like “That was it?”
Not that either of those two encounters were that special but it was what happened after that was really quite cool to me.
After everyone had settled down. Jenny had her man Wylie all to herself and the rest of the horses minus Buddy and Yankee were grazing quietly. I walked thru the pasture and noticed Bear was looking at me from a distance away. I walked to him, he didn’t move. I pet him on his head and positioned myself further back so I could rub his neck and withers…and I left.
I started to track and mirror Liberty who at first started walking away from me but quickly stopped to look at me and give me the glazed invitation. I was able to walk up to her, rub her all over her neck and face, said “bye baby!” and walked away…..
When I looked back, Liberty was staring after me for a long time watching me walk away….That’s pretty cool, she’s contemplating our relationship. This is good because the ONLY thing holding this horse back is the relationship she’s had with humans. She’s a rock solid husband horse type with a great mind and beautiful movement, she’s highly trained with a sweet disposition who’s just been abused by humans. She’s starting to see humans can be great too and some will even listen to you…..seeing her opinion change, warms my heart. She’s going to be a great partner and I feel so lucky to help her move past the pain that others have caused her.
Then one of my friends called out, “You’ve got a follower!” I turn back and see it’s Bear, leaving the herd to catch up with me. I waited for him and we walked together to the barn. I pet him for a while, gave him extra attention to make it worth it for him and just enjoyed spending time with him. We just hung out together. He tried to mug my pockets to see if there were treats in them and we had a gentle conversation about my space, then I realized I was rubbing him but told him he couldn’t touch me so I stopped and just stood next to him. We stood together for a few minutes and I squatted down, he put his head down to smell my head and because he was touching me, I rubbed his face again….so we just hung out there with me scratching his neck and chest as he was just relaxing with eyes half closed.
There were the two hardest to catch horses that I just had back to back moments with TWICE each in one day because I was able to sucessfully read in an elementry way, each horse in each circumstance and in both cases today I was rewarded in so many ways.
It was a fantastic day reading horses and getting feedback like this, I honestly can’t remember a time in my past where I’ve gotten better feedback in domestic horses. It made my day.