A couple of days ago, I ended up with some cancellations in my schedule which gave me some extra time. Being at the barn already, it was a no-brainer for me to use that time working with a horse. At last, a bit of time to spend with Cochise (Little Horse. ) Or so I thought……
I went out in the paddock with my halter and lead, excited to bring him in and get going on re-establishing our relationship so that I can continue with his training. I walked towards him, and he started walking towards me. Inside, I thought “Great, it’s going to be a go.” Then, when I went to put his halter on, he walked away. So, I brought in pony, and worked with him a bit.
Pony was a champ, very willing and pleasant. I felt confident this time, that when I went to get Little Horse, he would let me put his halter on this time. And, the same thing happened. He met me, and then turned and walked the other way when I attempted to put his halter on.
Feeling a bit disappointed, I brought Smokey Joe in, and spent some time with him. He had walked right up to me when Little Horse deserted me, and waited patiently while I put the halter on him.
Smokey and I had a great time together. We had some discussions last fall regarding lunging, and I thought we might have to revisit what we had finally agreed upon. I was pleasantly surprised. He was awesome, and never turned to face me, or changed direction. I was so impressed with him.
As I turned Smokey Joe back out, I looked at Little Horse and hoped that I wasn’t making a mistake by listening to his opinions. When I first learned about working with horses, letting him “get away” with walking away from me like that when I wanted to halter him would never have happened. I would have haltered him no matter what it took. Of course, my emotional state would not have been pleasant. With what I have learned over the past few years, if a horse really seems to not want to do want I think it should, I don’t force it to. Making the exception for dangerous behavior and the distinction for a smart horse who has learned how to bully the situation. Knowing the horse really well allows for this. If I don’t know horse well, I err on the side of too much respect for the horse’s opinions.
Hoping that I was doing the best thing for both Cochise and me, I finished my chores and went home. I was a little concerned about what would happen the next time I went to halter him.
The next day, after chores, I went out in the paddock again with my halter and lead. This time, Cochise did not walk away when I brought the halter to his nose. I haltered him and walked a few steps. Then, I released him because I didn’t have enough time left to do much else.
Then, the next day I had a small chunk of time. I went out and again Little Horse let me halter him, and followed me very willingly into the barn. We had a little time together which was positive and fun. Just the way I wanted it to be. Sometimes it can take a lot of trust to make a change, but I felt my new choice was well worth it!!! I will do my best to remember this lesson in the future.