I was expecting to be applying for a job tonight. Or at least that’s what I knew I should be doing. I re-read the essential requirements and it turns out I don’t quite qualify, woot woot! Ok, so it’s weird to be happy about that but I have so few nights off from riding that I wasn’t looking forward to spending it putting an application together.
Since I now have some time for myself, I thought I’d do a quick update post (or I will at least try to make it quick!).
I met up with Laura at Littlekeebler today and we caught up on our work and horse lives. We’ve been having some parallel realizations, I think, in terms of how we want to approach our horses and deal with certain behaviours. Just about everything she said struck a chord with me, so much that I couldn’t help but relate her experiences to my own. Hopefully it didn’t come across as rude, it’s just so interesting to have someone to relate to. I find most people don’t spend much time thinking, or maybe just talking, about these things.
With respect to the nudging – I have found that my approach to prevent it from happening in the first place is making a difference. I am always aware when I lead him and just as he starts to reach his head out to me, I correct him right then. Depending on timing, I do this by either giving a quick, firm tug on the lead away from me and to his outside (so the pressure is on my side of his halter) or I will tap his muzzle. Neither approach needs to be particularly harsh or dramatic to be effective; I interrupt the behaviour and we move on. I think this is effective because it corrects the actual behaviour while it’s happening.
Essentially I’ve gone back to the way I handled him before I realized he was moving me – that is firm but calm, not big and loud. I just began doubting myself but there was no reason to change my approach; all I had to do was incorporate my new realization into the mix. Instead, I felt like I needed other ideas but those led me astray for a couple weeks, I think.
I have also spoken to a couple of the barn staff. One night while a few of us were chatting, one woman described how “funny” he is about “nuzzling” while leading. I was able to tell her in a friendly, non-confrontational, way how he was likely not so cute in those moments but rather was moving us and exerting a form of dominance. It’s tough sometimes to tell any horse person how to handle your (or any) horse, so I was glad it went over well. I had already told one of the barn staff about this idea since her and I are good barn friends. This helped since she told the other employee all about leading him.
Well, since that conversation, I can tell he is being handled better by more of the barn staff.
In the last week, I’ve received positive comments from 4 different people about Willy’s behaviour. I take these as good signs that the consistent handling is generalizing to other people and that I’ve sorted out the remaining issues I was unsure of.
On a sad note, we are losing the *best* staff member, the one I consider a friend. She is heading to Florida for the winter with a dressage troop which will be fantastic experience for her. She is soooo young yet so responsible, thorough, and mature. She’s also a lot of fun to be around. Good barn staff like her are very hard to find, I’ve learned. It’ll be a long winter around the barn without her!
I was looking for a photo I could post and came across the three photos from the Per Meisner clinic I participated in back in October. Per is back this week (I'm not riding), so I figured I'd post a couple now. The only other one is blurry and bad, so this is it!
Will and I schooling in a clinic with Per Meisner.
Willy is smart - taking a minute to scratch while we listen to Per.
Apparently my posture was taking a break too!