Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Its not all Sweetness and Light

I don't want you to think that this liberty work/relationship focused interaction with horses is all tootie-fruity fluffy marshmallow stuff.  Tex is getting a heck of a lot of treats right now -- because he is tentative and still learning to trust.

Take, on the other hand, my brave and independent heart horse: Jackson.

He's been retired for a number of years now.  And we all know what happens when you retire a horse.  They gradually become rude and pushy.  Jackson is no exception.  And because my heart aches when I think about the pain he lives with everyday, I haven't been as, um, firm as I should be.

One of the things I learned at the clinic -- well, I knew it, but it never stuck before -- was making sure that my horses fully understand that I am the one in charge.  I am the alpha mare and you don't move me around; I move you.  The next morning after we got home from the clinic, when I brought Jackson his morning vitamins, I noticed that he was crowding into my space and trying to herd me to his feed bin.  I told him to back up.  He bumped me with his head; kind of a side-ways friendly punch to my arm.  Except that it wasn't acceptable.  I asked him to back up; to cede me ground; to acknowledge my rank -- and he pushed back.  I stung him across his lower front legs and said "I told you to move."

He hobbled backwards and then circled around me, snaking his head in a belligerent way.  I ordered him to whoa in my best I-mean-it mom voice.  He stopped; looking a bit shocked.

I continued walking to his feed bin.  He started out walking next to me, and gradually was drifting sideways towards me.  I stepped into him, and he moved away.  He tried again.  I held my ground and gave him the stink-eye.  His head went up and he stopped.

When he dropped his head, I walked over to him with the bucket.

"Wait," I said.  He paused.  I held the bucket to him and said "Have some."

"Thank you." he meekly said.  "I'll be respectful.  I promise."

And he has (pretty much) kept that promise.


  1. LOL! Welcome to my world Jackson. Want to hang out later this afternoon and have a beer? Instead of beer for you, I KNOW where the alfalfa cubes are. What do you say big guy?

  2. Ha Brett! I know what you mean Annette with Ed- I mean Irish! :D

  3. Oh man I am SO guilty of this with Paddy. He's just... so CUTE, you know? It's hard to tell him no. As a result he's uh... not got the best ground manners ever. Bad human.

  4. Lol Brett! You are braver than I. I would have a hard time standing up to an animal that large and declaring myself the boss.

  5. Totally guilty of letting my retired guy get away with more than I would a normal horse. Jackson is just so gosh darn cute I can see how easy it is to let him just sort of skirt the rules when you are not thinking about it!

  6. An American in TokyoMay 25, 2017 at 5:07 PM

    Is this considered draw, pause or push?

    (btw, I agree that Jackson is so cute that I would probably let him get away with stuff as well...ha ha!)

    1. That's a great question. Initially, I used push to get him out of my space and to be respectful. Then I used pause -- he had to stand still and wait for me to invite to the bucket of treats. I didn't have to draw him -- as soon as I quit pushing, he came right in.


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.