Monday, January 19, 2009
Siete is a restless little girl. I think she’s got the horsey version of “cabin fever”. Even though I’ve managed to let the horses out in the pasture for an hour or two every day, they don’t really try to run around. Siete takes out all that energy swirling inside her on the rest of us. I’ve been separating the two horses more in their stalls, giving them each some alone time. It’s really so Silk can have a break from being annoyed by her pushy baby.
Yesterday, my husband helped me bring the girls in from the paddock. Siete tried to rear up as he led her to the gate of the corral. He handled it well, but it was too slippery to turn her in circles, so he ended up just getting her to the door of her stall and letting her charge in to get to her feed bucket. I’m glad because I was worried that he might get hurt, but warning bells went off in my head. I’ve been thinking all night about what to do to remind Siete of her manners.
On the one hand, I see her surliness is a sign that she’s feeling better and wants to up her standing in the herd pecking order. After months of having a moping, listless horse, I’m actually glad that she’s perky again. At the same time, I intend to nip this ear-pinning, punky behavior in the bud. A couple of times this week, she’s looked like she might try to bite me when I feed her. I’ve joked with her that she knows better than to bite the hand that feeds her. I adapted one of Carolyn Resnick’s Waterhole Rituals to use in the stall. When I’ve given her a flake of hay and she starts to eat, I ask her to step away from the hay and back up. She does it, and I praise her and invite her to come back to eat some more.
Ever since we moved here, I’ve tried to spend time with my horses in their stalls. I don’t want them to be territorial about the space. I knew that during these cold months, I would need to do things with them inside and being somewhat claustrophobic, I wanted to feel safe in a small enclosed room with them. I remembered that this was about the time last year that I discovered Clicker Training for just these reasons, so I dug out the clicker yesterday when I got back in the house.
This morning, I’ve had a really hard time sitting still. I can’t seem to find anything that holds my attention. Trying to clear my mind and just be relaxed in one place is too difficult. Suddenly, I realized that I was mirroring Siete, and I felt a huge wave of compassion for her. I’m stuck in a nice warm house with many rooms and books and computers and plenty of interesting things to do. She’s out there for yet another day, in the barn and the corral, waiting for the short amount of time when she gets to explore a freezing cold pasture that’s deep with snow where she is offered the same old flakes of hay that she gets in the barn. Still, she’s got a very good life compared to other horses. But when you’re a “teenager”, having someone tell you that you’re better off than most is a lesson that you don’t want to hear. It's boring here, Mom!
So my goal is to come up with things to do with Siete in her stall and the corral to occupy her mind and make her feel good about herself. Any suggestions?