Saturday, September 27, 2008

Put Up Your Hooves, Mama

There was a big showdown in the pasture this morning. Since I was in the barn, I don’t know how it started. We had a break in the rain, so I put the horses out early. They were hiding inside their stalls yesterday due to the deluge. and I knew that they would be full of beans if they got stuck indoors again today.

Silk and Siete rarely fight. I heard thundering hooves and felt the ground vibrate under my feet while I mucked. Thinking it was just some much needed exercise, I ignored it. Then, Siete began whinnying loudly. I had to come out and see what was going on. It was a turf war. They were kicking and rearing and biting and racing along the fence line as fast as they could go on the muddy ground. Siete was on the attack, but since Silk is Alpha Mama, she wasn’t going to put up with anything.

Even though I’ve owned horses for over 10 years, I still feel my heart pound when I think they are going to crash through the fence or hurt themselves. Some people will say let them work it out themselves and walk away. I immediately thought that I wished there was someone else here in case I needed help. No such luck. It was me and my herd. This was my lesson. No one else was going to step in and take charge or even stand back and give me moral support. Siete was squealing and when she saw me, she charged the fence and started to rear.

I didn’t want her to catch her legs in the flexible rails and take out a section of fence and the posts. I started to take deep breaths. I imagined my legs were like tree trunks and sent energy down in to the ground like roots. Firmly but quietly, I said, “No! Quit.” Siete hung in mid air, hooves about a foot off the ground. I raised my arms to my shoulders, not looking her in the eye, and slowly lowered them towards the ground. She backed down. I said, “Back,” motioning with my arm the way I’ve been teaching her to back up. She took a step back. “Good girl.” Siete’s nostrils were flared and she was still breathing fire, but she stood still. Well, what do you know!

Silk went over to the pile of hay that was probably the source of the disagreement and began to munch on it. Sometimes, Siete doesn’t want to share. I walked over to the fence, and my little horse came to me, still breathing heavily from all that exertion. I just put my hands on her neck and continued to take deep breaths. Then, I did some TTouch circles and scratched her at the base of her mane. I asked her if she wanted some water since we were standing in front of the bucket. She put her head down and drank.

It’s understandable that they would get on each other’s nerves once in a while. Yesterday, they shuttled back and forth between the two stalls, sharing each other’s space without being able to stretch their legs in the corral since it was pouring rain. They didn’t misbehave at all. I guess that when they finally got out in the wide open space, Siete had a little temper tantrum. Luckily, no one got hurt. I’m still so pleased that Siete listened to me. Now, the rain has started again, and they’re happily standing together in Silk’s stall sharing some lunch. After all that racing around, I can bet it will be naptime soon.

“Without doing anything, things can sometimes go more smoothly just because of our peaceful presence. In a small boat when a storm comes, if one person remains solid and calm, others will not panic and the boat is more likely to stay afloat.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh in "Love in Action"


Cactus Jack Splash said...

You are definetly the leader of your herd. Nice that they listen to you so well.

Jen said...

That was a horse whisperer moment, Victoria. Well done. Others would have gotten out the equipment and started to make her run around and around out of punishment or hit her, and attacked her as the predators we are. You stood your ground and took control when she couldn't keep control of herself. Perfect.

As an aside, I bet you do the same thing when your daughter loses her self-control too. I don't see you as the yelling, screaming have your anchor in the storm. It's only in the storm that you find out how strong your anchor really is!


Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, you guys - I'll tell you, I didn't feel very confident when I walked out of the barn and saw what was going on. I posted this because I was still feeling surprised that Siete listened to me. My horses have really helped me learn to face confrontation and stay calm. It's been one of their greatest gifts. I'm always amazed when I do it and it works.

Grey Horse Matters said...

After a day inside I guess a little horseplay is expected. It's great the way you grounded yourself and kept calm and in return Siete calmed right down too. That was a wonderful way to handle things, I always feel that less is more and it's usually the best way to handle a bad situation.

deejbrown said...

I agree with Jen. You took the high road and did not destroy her high spirits or harm her body. I think, perhaps, you were a horse in a former life.... though I can imagine the heart-stopping fear when you were in the moment.
Thanks for this post.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Victoria, You truly are the Aplha Mare....the calm over the storm.
Well done :)


Nor’dzin said...

You are an amazing lady - well done. I don't always succeed in staying that calm when Red is messing about. You are an inspiration.