Thursday, January 31, 2008

Good Horse



Have I told you how good Silk is? She doesn’t get jealous when I pay so much attention to her baby. She is totally calm in 50 mph winds. She walks when Siete leaps and prances. On days when it is safe to run around, Silk exercises herself in circles in the pasture as though she was in a round pen. Then, she herds Siete out and makes her run around the same way. If it’s too icy, she doesn’t let that crazy young horse provoke her into a heel kicking contest. My biggest worry when I bought Silk was that she wouldn’t be affectionate enough. Now, ten years later, she starts murmuring and runs to the fence as soon as she sees me.

Okay, that’s the good horse. Her five-year-old offspring is not so perfect. I realize that in our herd pecking order, I am first, followed by Silk. So, Siete is going to challenge anyone and everyone to rise up in the ranks. My poor husband bears the brunt of her bad behavior. Siete wants to make him low man on the totem pole. With the wild wind yesterday, he really struggled to put her in the pasture. I started to step in to help, but I knew that would only make his position worse.

Before we brought the horses back to the barn to eat, I stopped him and discussed how we could make it a successful activity for Siete. I noticed that it takes him much longer to close the corral gate and lead her into her stall than it takes me. He stops so many times that Siete gets impatient as a five year old kid waiting for dinner in a slow restaurant. I suggested that we simplify the action so she could be good and get to her bucket faster. Once she was calm and successful, we could extend the action to make her be patient longer. So, he cut out closing the corral gate and led her right into the stall. She was totally happy and relaxed. I closed the gate, and we were all pleased with ourselves.

Today, the weather was beautiful and calm. Siete was slow and easy. Coming in with my husband the same short way went smoothly. Next time, we’ll add a little waiting, but just a little. Chunk it down into small tasks, I had to remind myself. One step at a time, even if the step is tiny, as long as it’s calm and good. Any kid will go a lot further with success and praise than a slap of the hand. And Siete’s just a four-legged kid, doing what comes naturally for a horse.

16 comments:

detroit dog said...

There is really something very special about "senior" animals - they are so much more "chilled out," experienced, and just 'know' things.

I do think you gave her permission, too, to let her show her "inner horse."

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, DD! That's why we need to listen to our elders, right?

whimsicalpam said...

Great story, Victoria and a valuable lesson. Horses function on varying levels of intelligence with very different personalities (just as we do). They always have a reason for what they do or don't do. Their stubborness always has a basis. To me, finding those reasons, and making them more comfortable, is one of the most rewarding things about having horses.

Tracy said...

I am so excited that I found your blog! I, too, have finally gotten to be involved with horses later in my life and it is so exciting (and therapeutic!) for me. Although the horses actually belong to my friend, not me, I still get LOTS of quality time with them and they've taught me a lot already! I look forward to continuing to read what you learn from your horses!

Trée said...

Beautiful picture. When I enlarge it, and it is large, I just want to reach out and stroke that magnificent coat. The look in her eyes, too, is something special. Thanks Victoria for posting. :-)

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks for stopping by Tree - It's always good to hear from you. RIght now, Silk's coat is so soft and red. She loves to have her neck rubbed and especially the part where her mane ends on her back - that's the secret to her heart.

billie said...

I love how you've broken down the task to get success in the smaller parts so you can build back up to the whole.

This is what we're being taught to do by the trainer we're working with - and it works so well with the horses.

Funny thing though - in our barn the calmest, easiest horse is the 4-year old!! He's a QH too and so laid back.

The pony is the biggest handful. Sometimes he's perfect. Sometimes he's the devil. And he totally keeps you wondering which he'll be in any given moment!

Love the photo of Silk. What a beautiful girl.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It sounds like you have hit upon a good plan that makes everybody happy. I do love my older horses,they are so sensible. Ours range in age from 8 to 20 years old. Taking them in from turnout is no problem, as long as our 20 year old is led in first they all follow him in without their leads and go into their own stalls. All except for Dusty, of course, who would head for the hills if she wasn't on a lead, and she should know better she is 11.

Rising Rainbow said...

That breaking it down into smaller steps doesn't just work well with the horses, it works well with the unfamiliar handlers. It builds their confidence and gives them a new skill as well, a new way to think when they deal with a problem.

Great post.

Autumn Storm said...

Victoria, what a wonderful corner of the blogesphere you have made for yourself here, I read one post and then another and another...Scattered with words of wisdom and those smile-producing photographs of your beautiful horses, it is the good fortune of fellow bloggers that you were made a Blog of Note and I am very glad to have learned of your existence also.

FloridaRobot (Jim) said...

What a refreshing blog to stumble upon. Thanks for a peek into your world. Your horses are beautiful. Jim

Kristi said...

Your Silk is so much like my Reed. I've had my horse since 1987 - he was 3 and I was 13. Now, my daughter (3 years old) rides him. He is as steady and trustworthy as they come. I enjoyed reading how special your horses are to you!

Brynne said...

awww silk is so beautiful.

dina said...

i adore horses...u know here in the arab world we love horses so much and we have the best horses...so sweet and degnified animals..

Momma said...

I should first say that I know nothing about horses, other than that I am a terrible rider. Horses and I have come to an agreement - I don't ride them and they won't throw me :-) However, I have only ever ridden "trail ride" horses, and that is a set up for a bad experience.

I found your site because it was highlighted on Blogspot. What a lovely bit of meditation it is to come and read about your love of your horses and how they teach you about life in general. I'll stop by more often!

Peace - D

Bonnie said...

I never realized horses had a pecking order. I guess all animals do, except of course for cats who all think they are 'king'. :-) Well Ok they do too.