Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Guess Getting Pissed is the Magic Bullet

It finally warmed up enough for me to take Bombay on a morning walk. Right off the bat he started giving me a hard time. As I tried to tighten his rope halter, he tried throwing his head into my face several times, so I slapped him hard on the neck and yelled, “Stop!”

He tested me one more time and I growled NO while raising my hand to slap him, and he stopped. Right when I was about to lead him out through the gate, all the dogs in the neighborhood started barking. I looked around and saw two loose dogs running along the street behind the arroyo and waited to see if they were going to come down into the arroyo where I could catch them and see if they had tags. But they didn't come down. Bombay gently nudged me while we waited, but didn't get downright pushy like he can be at times.

I said, “Well, do you want to go for your walk or do you want me to catch those dogs?”

He reached down and grabbed the lead rope with his mouth and held it up to me.

Swear to God. No exaggeration.

So, I took him for a walk. However, as soon as the mares started whinnying, he balked. Normally, when he balks, I just give the rope a tug and cluck my tongue, and then he follows me, but this time I got angry. I said, “Oh no you don't! Not after all these months of taking walks! I'm not going to play this game anymore,” and I backed him all the way down the driveway to the barn, and then said, “Let's go!”

I marched up the driveway and he followed like a gentleman without balking. In fact, he led so beautifully for the entire mile that he made the perfect walking companion. No spooks, no pulls, no balks, no bolts. He just walked with his head level keeping and eye on me. Sometimes he even looked me straight in the face, and I burst out laughing and gave him a hug.

There was such a huge improvement in his attitude. It's just too bad that I have to lose my temper to get positive results. I think if I pretend like I'm angry, he'll pick up on that and just start ignoring me again. Hopefully, he'll eventually stop pushing my boundaries and just settle into staying within them regardless of whatever emotion I exhibit.


Katharine Swan said...

Yay! I think it works because when you are mad you are giving him very clear cues that you are confident and expect to be obeyed. As long as you don't *stay* mad I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Panama gets growls from me too when he is really pushing my buttons, but he also gets lots of praise when he is being good.

Promise said...

I don't think it's the anger he's responding to (because you're not actually angry), but the assertiveness behind your voice and your actions. He knows for sure, when you act that way, that you are the leader in your herd of 2. And so he'll follow your lead because he knows his place and it makes him feel more secure.

Tina said...

I don't think it's the fact that you feel you lost your temper. I think you just put yourself in the Alpha position and he respected you. I love reading your blog.

Marissa said...

Gosh he is really freaking cute isn't he? Arabs have the biggest expression faces haha. Sounds like Bombay just really needs to know your the leader.

Previously, he probably didn't see you as the boss or leader, and therefor felt like he had to be on high alert since he was herd boss when you were off the property. Since your being firmer with him, he's now seeing that you are in fact boss and he will in fact listen to you and he probably doesn't feel like he has to be on lookout to protect himself as much.

TeresaA said...

I think getting pissed results in our directions being clear and uncluttered by uncertainty.
Anger is counterproductive but 'pissed' is a different thing altogether.

sydney K said...

Right thing easy, wrong thing hard. Walking on a loose lead should be nice and easy. Misbehaving should have a lot of hard work.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I agree with you. It's never fun to have a horse who constantly tests you. Some horses seem to require a very strong, aggressive personality to be respectful and allow that rider to be in control.
And some horses require very little of that to give in and trust and respect their rider.
My mare Baby Doll was the former and it exhausted me and frustrated me that she required me to always be strong, firm and aggressive. It was no fun for me to always be tested by her and have to argue over everything I asked her to do while on her back.....sometimes dangerously so.

This is why I appreciate Apache so much. She is so trusting, willing and obedient and when she does question something I'm asking her to do, it's never in a belligerent, dangerous way. And if I ask a second time, she almost always willingly does what I asked her to do.
The strongest I've ever had to get with her, is just lowering my voice to a deep growl and telling her 'No!' or 'Let's go!'.
She fits my more passive, calm, peaceful, gentle personality so perfectly.


fernvalley01 said...

Go you , its not the anger it is the super clear and decisive body language and tone you use when you are angry, so "pretending" to be angry wont work but "mimicking" the stance ,body language,and decisiveness will. eventually it will become second nature.I think your instinct o be kind and gentle is good, but it also undermines you a bit . The balance of kind and gentle with firm leadership will be the key

gowestferalwoman said...

oh, we knew you were a herd mare all along ;)

achieve1dream said...

Everyone else said what I was going to say so instead I'll just say good job and he is soooo cute!!!! :D