Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wednesdays With Tex

Last week I read an article about a recent discovery that horses talk to us.
Duh.

Supposedly dogs and horses are the two animals that try to "talk" to us, using their language.  Dogs are pretty obvious about signaling their desires - dropping balls at our feet and rolling over onto their backs for belly rubs.  Horses have a more subtle language.  You have to listen closely and pay attention.  Some horses are very verbal.  Lucy tells me where and how she wants to be scratched, and when riding she lets me know if I'm too tense.

Jackson can relay to me the condition of his feet just by the way he looks at me in the mornings.  If he gives me a hard stare, without moving, they hurt.  Many of us have had the experience of walking out to see our horse and having them lift a foot that hurts and look at us with that "help me" look.

Which brings me to Tex.  He falls into the category of horses who have never been heard by humans, who have been bullied, and as a result have stopped trying to communicate.  When I stand with Tex in the pasture, I listen to him.  Initially, he didn't say much of anything other than "cookie, please."  Next he started watching me intently, I felt him inviting me to go to him and that invitation remained until I got a few feet away.  Then he shut down and backed away.  Lately, the invitation has remained open and I can enter his space and stand there with him.

I added another element to our conversation in the past week.  I'm asking him to tell me where he likes to be rubbed.  Is it your withers?  Or the front of your neck, maybe?  How about on your back?  He didn't say anything at first and then I noticed a slight wiggle in his lower lip when I rubbed below his wither.  We built on it the next day and he not only wiggled his lip, he turned his head and looked at me.  He looked pleased and a bit surprised that I understood.

He also let me rest my forehead against his neck for a nano second.  It's such a small thing but it meant the world to me.


15 comments:

  1. Such good work you are doing with him!

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  2. That's great! One more step of progress with Tex. He's probably so happy that someone is finally listening to him and understands what he needs.

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  3. It is so rewarding when horses that are shut down start to offer things again. I finally found an itchy spot on stoic Oak. :)

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  4. I read that article about horses communicating too. All I could think was - they just figured this out?

    Patience will get you to trust. I'm enjoying following your progress with Tex. There was a reason he ended up with you and Brett. :D

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    1. Every once in awhile some well-meaning friend or family member will suggest that we get rid of him, since he isn't doing anything. We very strongly believe that he was sent to us for healing. We are undoing the damage done by some human jerk. I don't know why we were chosen, but we feel privileged to be entrusted with his fragile psyche.

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  5. I'm wondering if you follow "A Pony Named Satan" on Facebook?

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  6. How awesome is that!!?? Just has to be one of the best feelings in the whole, wide world. :) Just read your comment above - absolutely could not agree with you more. Sometimes, we are chosen. And when that happens, we are blessed immensely if we have patience and give of ourselves to those special souls. Blessings to you and Brett. Oh, and Tex.

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  7. An American in TokyoJune 15, 2016 at 5:09 PM

    Oh how wonderful!! I'm doing my happy dance for you!!
    I think Tex is starting to realize, hey this person might actually be not so bad!
    I'm soooooooooo glad to hear your progress! Keep up updated! =D

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  8. Do you know about a book called "Kinship With All Life"? A few months ago I spectated at Buck Brannaman's San Diego clinic. When I got home, I went into a Buck rabbit hole on my computer, which led me to his Chronicle of the Horse articles, which led me to sites with info on Ray Hunt and Tom and Bill Dorrance. Somewhere along the way, the above book was mentioned. The other mentioned in the same sentence was "Dressage: A Study of the Finer Points of Riding".

    "Kinship" seems right in line with today's blog post. I love that you read Tex's wiggly lip and built on it. Conversation with our animals is the best thing ever.

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    1. I am very familiar with Buck Brannaman, Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance -- and Mark Rashid who is of the mind as them. I googled the book and did a preview read on line -- you know, where you can read a couple pages of the book for free -- got hooked, and ordered it. Now I'm going to go google the other book...

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    2. My copy of "Kinship" and " Dressage" arrived today. Starting them tonight.

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  9. Working with a shut down horse can be very challenging - but you're doing a fabulous job drawing Tex out and having him want to communicate with you. Every step adds to the "good stuff" bank account in his head.

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  10. That's wonderful that you're willing to listen to what he's saying. It gets to the heart of true horsemanship through "feel". I've done a lot of listening this year, too. What they say when they see you coming, approaching, touching--the language is quite loud really. We just get taught to be the "boss" and we know what's better for them, etc.

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.