Sunday, July 17, 2011


My new horse is not really mine.
Actually, you know,  no animal is ever ours, we just like to think they are.
I brought Red to the farm to be a companion to our 35 year old Arabian peaches, who seemed lonely since the death of his old pasture pal, Beau. Peaches still had a few goats to push around, and I had decided not to put him together with the Morgans since I was afraid that they would gang up on him and undermine his sense of entitlement... or kick the **** out of him...
At first I was not going to get another horse, since a girl only needs 1 and I had 3 at the time... but the situation was right; my friend had a horse who needed a home and I figured if I brought him here she was more likely to visit.
yeah...I can always justify a new horse...
There is no guarantee that a new horse will fit into the herd, and after a few days getting acquainted over the (electric) fenceI turned Red out with Peaches. They had a few spats but for the most part Red sent the right signals, and Peaches accepted him.
About that time Red decided I was no longer his only friend, and  he showed his indifference by turning tail when I entered the paddock. There was no threat, just testing to see how I would react.
He had been parelli trained so I read up on parelli principles; I read up on John Lyons, and other natural horsemanship theories.
When it comes to working with a horse I like to start with a clear sense of process.
I needed to be consistent and I needed a plan.
I decided the way to work with him was to act like a boss mare, and send him away from me until he gave me a submissive signal; so I went to the paddock and shook his halter at him, facing him squarely and telling him to go away; he moved off and I kept up the pressure until he dropped his head, twitched an ear, and started to lick and chew, a classic submissive gesture.
As soon as I saw those first signs of submission I relaxed, turned away, and told him he was a good boy.
A few sessions like that and he realized that if I enter the paddock it is safer and more comfortable to come toward me, and if he turns tail and is rude I'll push back again.

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