I try to keep this blog light and fun, but sometimes I find myself pondering things. Good things...anything I can learn by is a good thing. :-)
There are pictures below, so if you want to get to that part, scroll down. :-)
I am finding the more I want to work with mustangs and learn about all horses, I also am learning about people. I hear different things, read different things, see different things, and get to asking myself questions. I like questions - makes me and usually some unsuspecting victim talk about new things with me. :-)
The latest thoughts are about obedience vs. respect.
Obedience: the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance. (just one definition)
Respect: (I find that the definition of respect is a little more complicated so I will pick the best one that suits me...actually I could not pick just one, so I picked 3)
esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for her judgment.
deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for a suspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for the elderly.
the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.
I can be obedient (really! I can!) but does that mean I respect the person I am obeying? No. Respect isn't so simple for me. With respect comes trust...if I don't trust you, I don't respect you. Which brings me to the horses I work with. I can push and push until they obey me, but what have I done to earn their trust and/or respect? I want them to know I can be a leader they can count on. Just like trust with people, it takes time. Every once in a while something happens and I start to second guess myself, then I have a jolt and remember that I am just fine! I need to keep doing what I am doing, at the rate I am doing it at. There is a reason I do what I do. Might be my experience level and being very conservative when it comes to pushing them outside of their comfort zone, I might be reading the horse just fine and realize that I should only go so far so the lesson sinks in, might be something as simple (and annoying) as weather...it can be a myriad of things.
The other thing I was thinking about was "Don't try to move sneaky around a horse because they will think there is a reason for it." That is true, but isn't there a difference between being sneaky and moving softly? I like to think I move softly when I am starting with the new untouched horses. They sometimes snort, nod their heads, lean back to keep that safe distance, flinch when I get close...all because they are still afraid and nervous. Up until now, humans have been there to throw out feed and fill waters - that is it. It is my job to let them know it is going to be okay, and moving around like a banshee isn't going to help someone like me or the horse I am working with. My everyday chores and activities around the pen are all normal - loud klunking and klanking, hooting and hollering, driving the wheelbarrow around - but when I am working with them, I move softly and try to take my time. I already know that it will work and I will be rubbing them all over. Again...it takes time.
There are a lot of other things I have been thinking about but I will leave that for another day.
These pictures are from Monday and Tuesday evening of working with Paco and Thunder. Monday night I had Thunder in the big pen and Tuesday night Paco was in the big pen. The other one is in the small pen and gets close up action.
Both horses were a huge challenge to work with! Neither one picked up where we left off, and it took a long time for them to get back with the program.
Thunder is great about facing up with me - he is very curious and was even taking a step to me every once in a while. Monday night was a different story. He was blasting around that pen, not even paying attention to me. It was a long time before I finally got his attention and he turned to look at me - with several snorts to follow! I love his snorts! :-)
While I was doing this, Paco was in the small pen and checking out Brian. Brian let Paco do it on his own terms...take time to explore.
Thunder had already been getting forehead rubs with the stick. I used to joke with Copper about the 'friendly pink stick' making him feel good. Now I joke with these two about the 'friendly pink stick'. Nothing like a good forehead rub....
When he nods his head, I hold the stick out and he reaches forward for the rub. Love it! He is back!
I like to change it up a bit - we might work a few half circles and face up, or change directions real quick. I point, cluck then raise the other hand with the stick in it. It took a while, but he got the hang of it again. After a few times of changing it up we would face up again and I would rub some more. I gradually start to work my way up the stick...
With my hand still on the stick, I touch his forehead...
I rub the forehead....and take the stick away. I made it up to his poll, and each side of his face. When my arm got on the side of him he was very nervous but sniffed and nuzzled my hand and the sleeve of my jacket. I was proud of him. This rubbing is something I will take a long time to do - I have stood there an hour or more rubbing and finding itchy spots. Once you find an itchy spot, you are in! Ha!
After the forehead and face rub, I let him sniff my hand again.
We worked up to almost a full face rub.
I also flipped the string all over the place and took the stick over his head back and forth...he was very good about this.
Tuesday night was Paco night, and you know how Clinton talks about a horse "flipping you off"? Paco was flipping me off! He was just defiant and didn't want to pay attention. I knew I would have to work at it because it was only Saturday that he did excellent at facing me and actually looking and paying attention to me, following me when I moved and yielding those hindquarters. He gave me a heck of a work out in that mud! Ugh! We finally came to an understanding and after a few times of him not wanting to face me, he decided that I just might leave him alone if he does what I ask.
In the very beginning I will accept a side to rub withers, etc., but once we start learning directions, yielding hindquarters, etc., I want two eyes and will not accept a shoulder, side or butt. I want to rub on their necks and foreheads from the front - I want them to pay attention to me. After me thinking I was going to have a heart attack, things started clicking. It turned into a great lesson! I lost my photographer so I was on my own - so I got some forehead rubbing! It was the first time I could do it with his attention on me.
Paco and forehead rub...
Not only did I flip the string around his body, I also looped it around his head and nose. When he would look away, I would gently put pressure on it. He got it! He would bring that face back! Woo hoo!
Rubbing the side of his face...
When I was closing the gate panel to open the two areas up again, Paco went into the cubby hole...and did not get stressed out. I walked up to him and rubbed - he tolerated it but didn't try to escape. I kept closing it a little tighter slowly, and he finally backed up. He did it again tonite after working with him...kinda funny!
Monday night Paco was checking out the water hose...the sunset was glowing all over and was beautiful...
Paco sniffing Brian's hand...this is Brian's self portrait. :-)
And here is my self portrait with Epona. :-)
I got to work with both boys tonite in the big pen because they both took less time to pick up where we left off. I was rubbing on one side of Thunders neck and scratched some mud off his ear area, and I got up close to Paco. Touching was still a 'no-no' for Paco from the front, but that is okay. I stood close enough to him to see he has two whorls on his face. I am going to look it up...there is supposed to be something special about whorls and where they are on a horses face.
After I was done with both of them tonite, I fed and then sat at the back of the trailer and just listened to them munch their hay. It was peaceful....
Progress is being made...I love mustangs!
Until later...Karen and Tripp