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Laws of Attraction – Part two “The science of the language”

Laws of Attraction – Part 2

Friends

 

 

Last blog, I told the story of how multiple strange horses sorted themselves out in little spin-off groups when I turned 6 minis out in a large safe field.

Horses are social animals.  Instinct tells them that they need to be in a herd in order to survive.  Humans tend to destroy that need.

 

I feel sorry for horses in boarding stable situations because unless you had a really self-confident horse…how would he handle a less-than-perfect neighbor when they can’t get away? Most boarding stables are an artificial environment.  Barns have solid wall stalls, with maybe a back window if they are lucky and the horses can’t see each other except if they face forward and see the guy across the aisle. And your horse becomes cranky from the solitary confinement.  These barns must feel like a prison

Three horses sharing the same hay pile

sentence.  After all, they are a herd animal.   Some of the newer barns have short runs attached to their in-and-out stalls and that’s a huge improvement to have freedom of movement, no matter how small the turnout is.  But what happens if you have a little pony Arab next to a great big mean-spirited warmblood with a neck that could snake out and bite your horse. If I was the Arab horse, I’d be terrified to step outside my bedroom!  Hopefully the people running the barn take notice of such things and move the offender….

 

I watch for compatibility between horses when I have similar temperaments in my barn. I always try to stable or paddock them side by side FIRST to watch for signs that a bond may form ‘across the fence’ before I would ever try them together in a paddock.  However…sometimes that’s no guarantee. Sometimes they only get along BECAUSE there is a fence between them…and sometimes the opposite is true.

Lyric meeting Ruby over the gate

 

Case in point:  My warmblood has been turned out with many different horses over the years.  Since he was 7 days old he’s been in the company of other horses.   I have found that he gets along best with horses that don’t challenge him. He tends to be the school-yard bully and he will ACT dominant just so they don’t test his authority. Strike first-(make an ugly face) and hope they say “Ok..you can be the boss- end of story” and everything is fine. I have seen him make the ugly face to every newcomer that occupies the stall next to his…even if the horse is a miniature that clearly is NO threat… but he still has to establish his dominance so there is never any question. This can carry on for an hour or up to a couple of days.  (Depends on the other horse’s reaction) 

Can you believe that Lyric (16 hands) could be threatened by 28 inch Big Mac?

Certainly a lot of the posturing happens at meal times if the other horse ‘looks’ at him when he’s eating. It’s kind of odd that my 16 hand 1200 lb horse thinks that a 200 lb mini is a threat.  I see my horse is a giant bunny rabbit.  Lyric is easily threatened and feels vulnerable.  His posturing is for show. When he LOOKS like he is saying “Stay away from me!  I am mean and tough!” he’s really saying “Please don’t question me or hurt me”.  He’s the uncomfortable one, yet he comes off as the total jerk.  I have seen him rush the fence when the only horse next to him was a 28 inch mini (who didn’t EVEN flinch at the 1200 lb monster making ugly snake faces at him!)

Pretty funny, but also a little sad if my horse has concerns and feels that vulnerable. 

 

Big Mac says hello to River

And then there’s the pest…the horse that will the instigator of trouble….the horse that is so confident in the company of other horses, he is in EVERYONE’S face and has a high play drive.  He needs someone that will want to play as hard as he does….

Big Mac and the ugly face of River..."Leave me alone!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put that horse in with a wall-flower and it becomes a high-stress situation when the extrovert is relentless.

  Meet 28 inch Big Mac….The proverbial pest.  Young enough (2 yr old) that the older horses will cut him a little slack for being a pain in the butt. “Play with me!  Play now!”  Always on the go…and when turned out with the established minis of my farm, interesting things happened.  Introvert Breaker could NOT handle the constant badgering of Big Mac and literally pleaded to removed from the same paddock.  He was forced to react and kick out at Big Mac because Mac wouldn’t take NO for an answer.  And when Big Mac was turned out with River, who wanted to have a nap…Mac was poking at him to get him to play.  The word “relentless’ comes to mind.  If the ugly face threats didn’t work, then he resorted to ignoring him completely in hopes that Mac would get bored and walk away.  River is a protector.  If forced…he would have gotten to his feet in resignation. 

Is River amused at being poked at?

 

Oddly enough, in group situations, SOMEONE has to be the boss.  It doesn’t have to be the most confident horse (Lyric) but it’s the one that is either willing or needs to assume the position for other reasons.  Lyric got along best with Hart (a Canadian Horse gelding) Hart was an introvert and didn’t WANT the job….he didn’t want the responsibility so if Lyric needed to be the boss- have at it!  Hart could and would take over if he had to and if Lyric was willing to step up to the plate he was more than willing to be subservient.

 

Hart and Lyric

 

And just to be clear, size has nothing to do with it.  I have had minis turned out with full sized horses.  It’s the personality that counts.

Stallion "Lad" and his BFF "River"

 

 

 

 

The body language is what talks….not the size.

The first meeting Ajax and Bobby

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I know to be true:

 *The first few seconds of meeting can be crucial. 

*The first horse that moves their feet or demures to the pressure to move is subservient  

*The more dominant personalities are usually Extroverted.

*Introverted horses can’t be bothered to fight- If they do, it’s going to be BIG, Explosive (usually with kicking) and over with as quickly as it started.  They won’t do anymore than they HAVE to do to get their point across.

 

Steinway and Flash

*Horses watch for eye contact and subtle moves in body language to read the approaching horse to get a clue whether they wish to make that first meeting.  Unconfident horses will often appear bigger/tougher than they are so they DON’T get challenged (Lyric)

*True harmony is when everyone knows their place and the status quo is rarely questioned.

Three buddies in a confined place in harmony

 

 

 

* I have seen geldings pick on mares (esp. if new to the herd) when she cycles.   Wait until after the heat cycle before putting them together whenever possible.

* Stallions are often really good babysitters of young weanlings.  Foals are cut slack by mature horses, and stallions aren’t threatened by their youth and take on a babysitter personae.  One of my minis “Max” was often pastured with his father for several hours each day to kick-start the weanling process.  Pip was amazing with his son.   

Stallion "Pip" babysitting his son "Max"

 

*Even if you remove a horse for a ride, or a show, there tends to be another meet-n’-greet when the horses get back together again, even if only separated for a few hours. 

 * Horses really want to be together and if given the chance (as illustrated by Part One of this blog, will sort themselves into compatible groups.

 

 

* Make sure places where a horse could get trapped are kept to a minimum for optimum safety….no open doorways to stalls, no tiny paddocks or corners , even thick trees…anywhere a really angry dominant horse could trap another- this is where 90% of the accidents happen when horses can’t get away.  Out in an open space, the Forrest Gump horse will run only far as the dominant horse WANTS to chase him.

* Natural horsemanship teaches you to read this equine language and THIS is what helps us teach our horses.  We learn to mimic the language of the creature we are trying to talk to.  Horses want effective leaders and that doesn’t mean just being the boss….think back to the principle of mutual grooming.  You scratch- I scratch.  So in other words: You promise to do your share to keep your horse safe and comfortable and THEN you  become one of the herd….even if its only you and your horse.  But that is the concept that makes horse-human relationships work. 

I’ve given you the tools.  The rest is up to you.    

Lyric and I. His herd of two

 


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The Laws of Attraction- Part One “The dynamics of the herd”

How relationships form with horses – the Laws of Attraction

Part One

River and Max - aka The Mini Brothers...

 

 

Have you ever wondered why certain horses get along with some horses and not others? Me too!

I love to watch horses interact with one another and figure out what the factors might be that attracts or binds certain pairings, especially in a herd situation. I would imagine it’s pretty similar to us- why certain people become our friends and other people we might find pleasant but just don’t connect with on the same level.

 

I think that because for horses, knowing that SAFETY and COMFORT are uppermost in their minds, the first criteria for the horse in a new social situation would be if the new acquaintance in the field/paddock/or box stall next to him OFFERED him the chance to feel safe or comfortable in their presence…

 

Guess which one is the Extrovert ?

So what happens when horses are turned out in a herd situation? I have found that there’s almost always a meet-and-greet time when horses realize someone new has been added and they have to say hello. I’ve watched lots of posturing-strutting around…maybe squealing and sometimes some physical rearing or kicking, but it’s usually not that serious…just a way to establish themselves, figure out where they belong and lay down some ground rules. I have found that extroverted horses tend to ‘fight’ in a forward motion- with their front feet…rearing, rushing forward, biting motions etc and the introverted horses tend to ‘fight’ with the back end…kicking, bucking and pinning a horse in a corner etc. i.e. fighting backwards.

Six horses out together for the first time

 

I did an experiment last weekend and put 6 miniature geldings out together in the back 1.5 acre field. Three of the 6 have been pastured together for more than a year (2 Right brained Extroverts “River” and “Chance” and my Left Brained Introvert “Max”). The 4thhorse to be turned out is Extreme Right Brained extrovert “Flash”.  He is a bit of a problem child because he is socially backwards.  He was a stallion for 13 years and has little if no social skills…(he only learned how to mutual groom a year ago and it was another non-threatening horse that had to teach him the proper protocol) The last  two horses put into this ‘herd’, have only known each other for a week-  One of that group has been with me for 10 months (RB Introverted “Breaker”) and the other: the newcomer is RB extroverted “Tracker”. These two formed an immediate bond since day one.  Breaker is very easy going.  He gets along with anyone.  Tracker desperately needed to belong and really pushed for the bonding with Breaker out of the unconfidence that comes from being the new kid on the block.  The new horse has never met the first 3 horses. 

Picture this entire group of 6 horses.  It’s pretty much a new herd put together on neutral turf; a large completely open, flat, (safe) field of grass. Remember that I have the one oddball horse that doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere (Flash) and one horse (Tracker) that doesn’t know where he stands because he just arrived on the property a week ago. 

 

Flash hangs back to watch everyone else

 

I should mention as individual personalities go…every horse in this group is innately ‘reactive’ in nature (4 are RB Extroverts and Breaker is RB Introvert and therefore reactive but in a different way) .  The only non reactive horse in the mix is LB Introvert “Max” who’s motto in life is “What?  Me worry??  This would be interesting….How would they get along? The new pair went out first to establish themselves in a field they had seen a day before. Then I brought out the problem child – he knew Breaker and Tracker would need to greet him and it worried him. He worried about his safety. 

Tracker threatening to chase Flash away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 He postured with his pawing front leg to say “stay away”  (If he didn’t, they would chase him…sort of like that movie when everyone picks on the slightly strange kid…Run Forrest Gump!  Run!)  Flash then distanced himself at the far end of the field as the two buddies paired off and went to grazing.

 

After 20 minutes, I fetched the last 3 horses (River, Max and Chance) that are used to being together and threw them out into the mix.  They haven’t seen this field since last year…They were excited to be in the big field!  Yay!  Grass.

 

Problem Child “Flash” stayed at far end of the field  and hoped no one would notice (to keep safe) …There’s now 5 horses to worry about.  How would he cope?  What would he do? 

 

The other 5 said their hellos. New horse “Tracker” was the most reactive…He had to posture, circle… and rush at Max.  Why Max?  I guess because it was too much trouble for Max to react and it seemed like a threat to Tracker so he targeted the only horse that WOULDN’T move.  Remember that in horse language…the one that moves first is the loser…and Max simply couldn’t be bothered to move (not threatened) “Are you kidding me?  Argue and Fight?  When there’s grass? Sheesh!”  and it frustrated Tracker.  He then had to assert himself and was dominantly herding the others away from his buddy,Breaker.  Was it for protective reasons “I need to save him!” (although Breaker was NEVER unsafe nor did he act or look afraid!) or because he really felt vulnerable in a group of strangers that he might not have control over,  and the only horse that gave him comfort was new friend Breaker so he needed to get him off alone?

 

Extroverted "Tracker" circling around Introvert "Max" - establishing ground rules

Breaker couldn’t care less…Breaker is amiable (a lover not a fighter) and would rather do his own thing He never reacts unless he’s pushed and then its more of an explosion – “Would you STOP pushing me around?  Leave me alone.  You will force me to protest and kick at you to tell you to BACK OFF and let me eat….”

 

My 3 established guys moseyed off together in their own little clique because they are used to doing this everyday.. there was the safety and comfort in what they knew to be true.  The field was huge- there was plenty of room to form groups. There was no place for anyone to get trapped.

 

 

The Problem Child stood off alone.  He didn’t belong anywhere per se, but after a half hour of watching, He wanted to segueway himself into the group, to find out if he would be accepted….Somehow he knew that his best chance would be to wait until everyone settled into grazing and all the histrionics were over….He carefully eased in closer…in what would appear to be a nonchalant way but he was being careful NOT to draw attention to himself.  A lone horse out in the wild would be doomed.  He NEEDS the companionship in order to survive…so I watched….where would he go to get his safety and comfort?   Flash has been comfortable with Breaker over the fence, but with new horse Tracker’s jealous body language to the other horses, he knew Breaker was off limits-Tracker would chase him off.   He bypassed “Chance” who ignored him…Chance is also the type to chase him.  He had eye contact with and then sniffed noses with the introvert “Max” …no reaction except a friendly “Get out of my face…I don’t have time for ANYTHING but eating” so then Flash wandered over to approach Extrovert “River” who tends to be very maternal in his reactions and was standing near the back fence line. A little tentative hello and then I watched as Problem Child made the moves to say “I know how to mutual groom…will you accept me if I groom you?” and River agreed that this was a fine arrangement and the two of them spent the next 15 minutes grooming each other.

Max being polite to Flash

 So you had Tracker and a semi-reluctant Breaker that were paired off in one section, doing their own thing because Tracker NEEDED it to be that way…Then you had Max as a complete individual that didn’t want to be bothered by anything, and Chance also off eating alone and lastly, the 2 groomers, River and Flash off by themselves.  I found this to be so interesting.  They broke off into their own groups.   Two horses didn’t care where they were or with whom.  Tracker had to be in charge of Breaker for his own selfish needs of comfort (And Breaker was fine with that)  And lastly, the very sensitive Flash sought out the one horse in the group that offered him the best chance of acceptance.  Did he know that River is non-judgmental and patient?  Did that make him feel safe and comfortable and therefore was even willing to step

Mutual grooming Flash and River

outside his comfort zone to offer mutual grooming to make himself even more acceptable to River?  I found this all so amazing because mutual grooming is very intimate between horses- there is a line drawn in the sand that says “I scratch you and you scratch me” and it has to be pretty 50/50 or it can escalate into something ugly pretty fast.  And remember this was a new skill set for Flash- he’s not really good at this!  River was willing to overlook the rookie and welcome him into his ‘fold’.  I scratch you- you scratch me. I sat in awe, watching the dynamics play out, just sitting and watching strange horses of varying temperament and react-ability act out an age-old instinctive dance.   All was quiet in this huge field with everyone knowing their place of acceptance.  They sought out friends they felt offered them the best safety and comfort. 

 It was quite peaceful and took just over a half hour to settle down to this harmonious energy. 

Safety and Comfort for Flash

 I was witness to the whole event.   Pretty cool

 

Stayed tuned for Part 2- more on the Laws of Attraction


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Bobbysox – a special time and place

All is right with the world

 

Sometimes we get these wonderful moments when animals let us in….really in.  I never cease to be amazed when this happens because those moments are so powerful that unless you’ve ever been appreciated or loved by an animal you might miss the window of opportunity to bare your soul and receive the love back.  And then all is right in the world.  Just look at this photo….Does this not say Peace and Love?

Bobbysox is a Foster mini from Pipsqueak Paddocks.  (http://www.pipsqueakpaddocks.com/aboutus.cfm)  I have been asked on a couple of occasions to take in foster minis for them.  This a great non-profit group that re-homes miniature horses when the owners can not care for their little horses.  Some are surrendered because people move; some are seized from unpleasant situations through no fault of their own.  Bobby was a troubled little horse that came from a life of isolation as a 14 yr old stallion in a box stall.  The lack of turnout meant he stood around and worried.  While he might have had good food and water, he lacks social skills and behavior problems cropped up from his ability to cope with change…any change.   When his elderly owner had to be hospitalized his world was turned upside down.  And so he came to me.  A troubled little horse with lots of displaced and stereotypical behavior from his life of confinement.  Was it genetic?  Was it environment?  Probably some of both.   Stereotypies are a frequent, often mechanical repetition of the same posture, or movement.  Zoo animals in captivity with unnatural or environments that are not enriched develop this.  Temple Grandin, in her book Animals Make us Human has a theory that these behaviors mean either 3 things:  the animal is suffering right now, or the animal suffered in the past and it’s a habit it can’t break, or the animal is using the stereotypy as a coping mechanism to soothe or stimulate itself. 

Head flinging stereotypie

In Bobby’s case it was an erratic need to be constantly on the go, in a fence trotting movement, back and forth, over and over, with a frequent need to throw his head in a circular motion several times a minute….or to roll on the ground (it relieves adrenaline…. Bobby rolled 21 times in the first hour after his arrival) It was an attempt to soothe himself…..or he would stand and dig holes.   It was the only way he could cope with all the changes in his life. 

Repetitive rolling - trying to get rid of the adrenaline that his anxiousness produced

Bobby is an extrovert so that means, even when he is physically standing still, he is still moving emotionally.  But this was over the top.  There were days I wished I could take his batteries out and put him on the shelf to rest because he didn’t seem to be able to find comfort anywhere.   Over time, and with patient work and learning to figure out the puzzles that the natural horsemanship methods provided him here, I COULD get his brain to quiet down and he began to think instead of react. It came as a relief to him.   Even after many months with me, he still has his moments when he goes almost catatonic in his reactions to change, but generally he rarely feels the need to go to ‘the dark side’ anymore.  He has an “off” switch now. …He can be quiet and serene and it’s in those moments I cherish just how far he has come.   Natural horsemanship was the ONLY answer for this troubled little horse because it sets the horse up for success….  And Bobby is a changed horse

Bobby has wonderful new adoptive owners and they have left him here for a few more months, to learn with him, to shoehorn themselves into his life in a gradual transition and to discover natural horsemanship as a way to reach Bobby and help him grow even more.  They’ve even adopted a second mini as a friend/companion for Bobby and Ajax is here on my farm currently to develop the bond and attachment that Bobby needs in order to feel safe when he leaves here.  Bobby now can be turned out in a herd of horses…all ex-stallions that needed to learn how to be horses….. and that’s a beautful thing!

Breaker, Bobby, Ajax and Flash....4 ex-stallions in harmony together

 


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Horses with senses of humor….what does it mean?

 

A few days ago I was turning the horses out for the day and I was taking the three minis down the aisle way together…all at once, 3 abreast, to save time….. (and you can envision what a gong show that can be with 3 individual little characters…on a good day!…one of them might be in a hurry to get out…one might want poke around and eat hay sprinkles on the ground and one might want to visit with another horse as we walk by a stall) 

Chance with Truman and Deb

 I had left a white bucket on the floor – It’s the one we use to clean out the leftovers in the feed tubs each day….I had moved it with my foot off to the far left, at the entrance of Ron’s shop, kicked it off to the side, so it wasn’t in the way as I made my way down the narrow aisle trying to keep the 3 little munchkins under control…River was dawdling, Chance was in the middle of the pack and Max was out front. Behind me I heard the bucket slide along the ground (I thought) and said to my myself…”Oh crap, Chance is kicking the bucket…I thought I had it far enough out of the way…?” and by the time our motley group has passed the next  stall…the order has changed….River is now in the middle, Chance is lagging behind (which is odd because he usually HAS to be first….and Max is still dragging me out front for a change, but the sound of the bucket-on-the-concrete-floor still accompanies us… Weird…Why is Chance still kicking the bucket…good thing he’s quiet or like some horses he would be upset at the bucket being in his way and making all that racket…I am now at the doorway on the cement pad leading outside…Chance is still at the back of the pack (obviously I thought because he’s having to kick the bucket out of his way with each and every step?)  And I wiggle the rope to slow Max down and get him under control so I can turn around and look….. And you would have died laughing….

 Here is Mike’s horse, with the bucket IN HIS TEETH….He is carrying the bucket down the aisle way WITH HIM…. “Gonna have it as a snack?!” 

I burst out laughing…..!  Smart horse!  Pretty left-brained there for sure!!  It’s impossible to be angry when the horse was clearly showing how inventive he was…..He was going outside for the day and he was packing his own lunch…literally….!

 Every day I am witness to wonderful displays of intelligence and reasoning like this from my horses.  I so enjoy this. 

 A few weeks ago, my large warmblood was standing with both feet on the edge of his manger looking over top of his wall….!  Even as a foal, he loved to stand inside his box manger on the ground, but now at 16 hands and 1200 pounds, it was a little surprising to come into the barn to see my horse with his head up in the rafters of the roof! 

Lad and his favorite toy...a childs plastic wading pool

Lyric’s father Lad was infamous for his toys and his love of play.  People used to park on the side of the road and watch him play.  His favorite was a big plastic child’s swimming pool…

 Another example… Ruby is a large horse in the end stall and across from her is Bobbysox, a foster mini….Bobby is quite intense and in the beginning, Ruby was a little worried about his sometimes frantic energy.  One morning as I was leading Bobby past her door, she reached over with her teeth and tried to swing his door back onto him, to goose him as he walked by!  That’s a sense of humor.  She knew what she was doing…a little pay-back time. 

 20 years ago before I moved here, my 3 original horses were Mem, Shalann and Andy.  Andy was always the boss- more like a dictator actually and one night Shalann who was always a Houdini, opened up her stall AND Mem’s next door and the two girls left to go out into the field leaving Andy locked inside.  He was pretty ticked that they forgot him.  I think it was deliberate! (Girls’ Night Out)

 Or there was the time I had put the old gelding Ginger into the stall and paddock that belongs to the mini brothers for the afternoon just so he could have a change of venue.  Once he’d looked around, explored all the corners, and was bored…he cleverly realized that the door was shorter enabling him to reach over and upset a bunch of buckets that held brushes and apples…He looked quite proud of his handy work too!  Old fart!  What a delight! 

 

Ginger admiring his handywork

And sometimes in the morning I might be in Flash’s paddock and I am directing him to stand at liberty on one of his pedestals for a treat and I turn around and find Breaker in the paddock next door standing on HIS pedestal in hopes that I notice him!  You tell me that wasn’t pretty clever thinking?!

 

And the list can go on but my point is that horses have senses of humor and that they like to play once the other main attributes to well-being are addressed.  For horses, the most important thing is safety….then comfort….and then food (believe it or not…) and lastly play….so whenever I have horses here that ‘get’ into trouble by being bratty, I rejoice….That means that the other ducks: Safety, Comfort and Food are being dealt with and this horse in my barn is content and confident enough to play.  Yay!  And that means I am doing my job looking after them.

 


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Dancer- the new kid on the block

This is Dancer, a four year old miniature stallion that is with me for the winter.  He is settling in fine and is safely stabled between Ruby and my warmblood Lyric…. Ron lowered the stall door so Dancer could look out  and he looks rather small in this 12×12 stall!


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Stallions- Love them or leave them

A Word about Stallions.  I love them

The Best horse EVER. Madrona Sealect Lad

Throughout my horse career I have often heard the old wives tale about how women shouldn’t handle/own/rides stallions.  Like having testicles made the horse evil or something.  I have trouble not cracking a tooth whenever I hear a comment such as that…. Sometimes I believe that a good horse-woman is EXACTLY who should handle a stallion. 

I have owned two and I have ridden/driven/trained/handled/ shown several animals with the extra body parts.  Arabs, Morgans, Haflingers, Clydesdale, Miniatures etc.  My once-in-a-lifetime horse, my best teacher was a stallion and part of me died when he did.  My current stallion Sky is also another brilliantly talented teacher. 

Take a look at the show jumping world or the dressage world….Many of the finest stallions are ridden by women.  Where did the theory arise that stallions had to be man-handled and therefore handled only by men?  And why did lead shank automatically grow a chain on the end to go over the nose or through the mouth and become a ‘stallion shank’…that’s another pet peeve of mine….testicle equals chain?  I don’t think so.  Whenever I have had stallions in for training, I tell the owner to take the chain home…it has no place here.   And they get turned out in a field or paddock every day…not locked in high walled stalls cut off from the world.  My personal stallions were stabled or pastured beside miniature horses because I believe strongly that they need to feel like they belong.

Sky- Sec A Welsh stallion giving a hug

Stallions aren’t for everyone, and a lot of the stallions out there shouldn’t be breeding animals – but that’s another blog subject.  I just don’t think that stallions need force to be kept in hand and that’s what the old wives tale means….that women aren’t strong or forceful enough to keep a stallion under control.   Good horsemanship isn’t about domination- its about partnership.  And maybe if people worked harder on their communication skills and learned how to read their horses they’d realize that force isn’t required. 

What I like about stallions:

1)      The “look-at-me” attitude to life (the presence)

2)      The ability to bond with their handlers on a different level because they live a more isolated life

3)      The intelligence and the need to please

4)      They are cleaner in their stalls and paddocks    

Lad having his feet soaked with BK on his back

5)      They have an amazing look in their eyes

 

What I dislike about stallions:

1)      The yucky stuff down the front of the hind legs

2)      The fifth leg that sometimes appears

3)      The fact that they ogle every horse in case it might be a mare

4)      You have think ahead when you are in a horse show line-up or crowd

5)      You don’t let your guard down…nature can trump manners

Ashly (Haflinger) competing in Combined Driving

 

My Morgan stallion had a miniature horse buddy “Riverdance” that went with us the shows.  I used to ride Lad and lead River from the saddle.  My stallion used to play with toys and people used to stop on the side of the road and watch him.  He had his own set of groupies that used to visit him.  My five year old niece used to have lunge line riding lessons on him. (As she got older, she learned how to clean a sheath on Lad for her stable management project for a course she was taking….)   I have a picture of my cat sitting on his back while I was soaking his hooves in a tub. 

I remember one time while at a breed demonstration with 2 Haflinger stallions, after the day was finished, I saddled up the older stallion and ponied the younger stallion off his back, to give them both a bit of exercise after being cooped up in stalls all day, and the next thing I knew I had stirred up a small crowd of on-lookers because I had two stallions together.  I know of people that drove a pair of stallions, or a stallion with a mare.  I myself drove a Clydesdale stallion with another gelding in a Lady-to-Drive class. 

Driving Blue (gelding) and Spook (stallion) in Lady to Drive class

I think its all about attitude and expectation.  I expect not to have problems because I have worked hard to have a rapport with my horses, any horse….with or without testicles.   I once was showing Lad at the big Provincial All- Morgan show and I had River along for company.  During the lunch break (He went Grand Champion Stallion at this show and was later named Carriage Driving Champion too)  I was walking them both around the show grounds…stallion in one hand, miniature horse in the other.  Someone had heard that I was showing Lad at this show and ventured up from the States to look us up. (I think they owned a relative) and they walked into the horse show office to ask where I was…the secretary said “Oh…You just passed her…she was out there walking a big horse and a little horse together”…and the people caught up to me at my trailer, sputtering that they walked right past me but didn’t think it was Lad because he was a stallion and couldn’t be the horse walking with a mini.  Yep.  He was. 

 When  author Cynthia D’Errico came to BC for a book signing, I invited her out to the farm for some natural horsemanship playing.  After Sky (my Welsh stallion) and I gave a liberty performance, I handed the rope to Cynthia…”Here…have my stallion”.   She was initially dumb founded….She was used to seeing stallions with chains over their noses and being yanked around ”People just don’t hand over stallions to strangers”.  Well I do. 

What I love about stallions is their need to belong and what you give out to them is returned 10-fold in dedication. 

5 year old Talia having a lesson on Lad

 

Tango (Canadian Stallion) grazing beside Teddy (Half Arab gelding)

 

 

River, Lad and I

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

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