Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shhhhh... Don't Let Anything Change

This is a picture of Gabbrielle the first week we brought her home as a yearling. Her size and color and my son's size makes me realize just how quickly things change in a short three years. On the other hand, some things seem like they will never change, like the way Gabbrielle insists on galloping out of her stall like a horse out of a racing gate every morning.

That is one behavior I've been trying to stop for the full three years that I've owned this horse. Of course, if I put a halter on her in her stall before opening the door, I can wrestle her through the opening and force her to walk all the way to her breakfast, but I'd rather she just behave well like my other horses and quietly walk to her food trough on her own accord. I can lead her out of her stall for weeks, but as soon as I don't use the halter, she's back to galloping out, even before I have the stall door completely open.

Yesterday something happened in my brain. I just gave up. I decided that it was okay for her to gallop out of her stall, as long as anyone who opens her stall door understands that it is their responsibility to stand off to the side out of the way. She's never hurt anyone. I just prefer that she walk so that I don't have to worry about someone getting hurt.

Then this morning I walked outside, opened Gabbrielle's stall door and stood off to the side waiting for that cannonball of a horse to come busting out. Much to my shock, she slowly poked her head out, glanced at me, and then moseyed over to her food trough. I gave her instant praise and lots of pats... then started worrying that perhaps she wasn't feeling well. I'm sure she's fine. Perhaps my decision to accept her galloping was what affected the change in her behavior. I relaxed my rules, so she relaxed her gait. It only took three years.

10 comments:

Fantastyk Voyager said...

LOL, if that isn't reverse psychology!!
I wonder how I can try that??

manker said...

give it up and it comes back to you.

amen :)
gp

Jenn said...

She was probably sensing your anticipation and maybe a touch of fear from you when you expected her to gallop out of the stall and were determined to prevent it.

When you decided not to stress over it, she quit stressing over it and voila! Your horse has trained you to quit bein' so antsy during feeding time! :D

fernvalley01 said...

Things that make you say huh?
Whatever it works right?

JeniQ said...

I think my Bonnie has taken lessons from your horses. I had an Egyptian Arabian mare when I was a teen and showing in 4-h. Every time you mounted for the first time that day she was a 5 minute buck.

You are wonderful writer and your pictures are terrific!

Breathe said...

Wow. Does that work with kids?

Katharine Swan said...

Haha that's awesome! My husband has always said (about the dogs) that one day you'll just notice a problem you've been working on has gone away. I'm pretty sure this isn't what he meant. :-D

Anyway, were you trying to block her in some fashion to prevent her from galloping out? She may have interpreted that as you trying to keep her from getting out, and therefore felt pressured to get out FAST before you could stop her.

Paint Girl said...

Look at Gabbreille!! It is so funny how their color changes!! She is so darn cute there.

Leah Fry said...

My friend Nita always reminds me that it took 5 years for her crazy mare to decide to get with the program. Since I am on year 3 and we've already made so much progress, I have lots of hope. And I know you have come a long way too. Good for Gabbrielle!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Very cool! Whatever clicked, let's hope it just stays locked into place now :)

She sure has changed alot physically over the past 3 years, too. As has your handsome son, too.

Time flies, eh?

~Lisa