Monday, January 9, 2012

Adjusting the Responsiveness of Our Horses

One of the things I love about my new truck is how it handles.  It accelerates in a pinch and brakes gently, but quickly.  It turns into parking spaces with ease.  There's no fighting for what I want like with my last truck.  When I drive down the highway or freeway, it's like I'm flying on a couch with very little effort on my part.  Even when I don't have the truck on cruise control, it feels like it's on cruise control.

This morning I was letting each of the horses out of their stalls, and sometimes I struggle to get the horses out quickly, so that I can close the door and move on with my next task.  Lostine is the worst, always stopping halfway in and halfway out the door, and ignoring my clucks and spanks on her rear end.  So, this morning I was trying to let Gabbrielle out, and Lostine came at her with her ears pinned, pushed Gabbrielle back into her stall, and proceeded to stand in the doorway blocking her from getting out.

I was mad.  I pushed my chest out and marched right at Lostine's head while waving my arms.  If I could pin my ears back, they were back as far as they could go, and boy did Lostine respond!   She ran backwards so fast and agile that I realized all this old lady ambling around that she does is just an act.  I had to pause and think about what was different about this morning from other mornings. 

These are my conclusions:
1.  I had a clear head and was thinking about nothing other than getting Lostine out of that space.
2.  I had no hesitation about approaching her head.  I was marching like I could march right into and through her if she didn't move, kind of like in Tai Kwon Do when you try to punch or kick past the board instead of at it. 
3.  My response was immediate and assertive.  I didn't start out with a voice command and slowly add on more aggressive cues.  I got down to business.
4.  No one was around distracting me or my horse.

I don't want to celebrate just yet, but I think all of the neighbors' guests are finally gone.  My husband had a chat with the engine revver, and now the guy seems to be toning it down a bit.  What pushed us over the edge was that I came home from running errands on Saturday, only to find Brutus revving his jeep engine at a decibel level that had to be ten times worse than before, and his jeep was spewing black toxic fumes all over my horse paddock.  My horses were hiding behind the barn.  I ran over there to see if they were okay, and the little girl who was staying with my neighbors ran out from behind the barn looking over her shoulder at me with a guilty expression, so apparently she was messing with my horses.

I put the horses in the barn and told my husband that I was leaving to go run more errands because I just can't stand living in our house anymore with this endless barrage of noise and air pollution and people trespassing on our property.  It's getting reminiscent of the time that we lived in such a noisy apartment complex that we would go to our local Denny's restaurant at night and try to sleep in the corner booth.  At least now I can afford a hotel room if I really need to sleep.  Anyway, my husband apparently agreed that enough is enough, and he marched out there to let the guy know that he was pissing us off.  How could he not know?  He did apologize and explained that he still has more work to do on his jeep.  He's been working on it for well over a month now almost every evening.  If he'd just take it into a shop, it could be fixed in a few days. 

Anyway, hopefully everyone has returned to work and school, so that I can reclaim my space... sort of.  I've still got my nosy, annoying neighbors next door.  Last night no one was out, so I started singing the Banana Bobana Name Song for each horse as I put on its blanket.  Of course, when I came out of the last stall, there was the nosy woman pretending to garden in the dark in the middle of winter while eavesdropping on my singing.  I guess since all her guests are gone, she has to return to spying on me for her daily entertainment.

Hopefully, I can use what I learned from Lostine's responsiveness this morning on both the horses and my neighbors for now on, and get some fast results.


fernvalley01 said...

I think you are on to something!

Linda said...

I think you're onto something there. I had a horse once who totally dominated me and my trainer jumped over the roundpen one day, at the worst of it, and took my lead rope from me and did a lot of moving away and out of her space exercises--she looked like she was going to "walk right through" the horse, as you said and my horse moved out of her way. She made it look easy, but it was all about doing the things you mention. Her expectations were different than mine then, but since I've adjusted them, I don't have the near the aggression problems.

achieve1dream said...

Yep it's all about the attitude! And confidence. I hope it works on the neighbor lol.