Oh look at me here in the feature photo! One Way Heather! Ignorance is bliss! I thought I was so clever – Danny was relatively new, I had a horse I could sit on – and I’d got this western saddle! I’m beaming – and Danny is suffering in silence! This was ten years ago!
So – let’s get back to the story! We left One Way Heather on the ground! What did she do next! If you missed the first part – you can find it here.
OWH – Winded – then crying – with shock and pain. Checks herself out – just some bruising – of the body and ego…
HH – Oh that feels better – peace at last!
OWH – Gets HH, takes her back to unsaddle. Rings friend between sobs… HH bucked me off! Why? Oh I think she was being disrespectful. I’m going to do some solid lungeing with her next time before the ride – get some of that buck out of her! Will talk soon… Unsaddles in silence – puts HH back in the paddock.
HH – Phew! Glad that’s over – I’m exhausted!
Later that day, One Way Heather meets up with her friend.
Friend – So tell me what happened – what did HH do this time? I think you need to sell that horse!
OWH – All I did was ask her to canter. Then the next thing I know I’m on the ground! I can’t let her get away with it – but I can’t keep coming off!
Friend – She’s always been a cranky horse. What if you get a trainer to knock some sense into her.
OWH – No – I want to try myself – she has to listen to me! I’m going to start doing some serious lungeing with her. If I can’t change it, I will think about selling her. I want to enjoy my riding. It’s never ending drama with her!
Friend – Well you can’t keep coming off – and she’s too dangerous to sell like that.
OWH – I know… why can’t I just have a nice friendly and safe horse???
……. It probably sounds like a familiar conversation to many of us. We just can’t work out what the problem is.
The old ideas were to get firmer – don’t take any nonsense.
Newer ideas are – be a better leader, be decisive – the horse is mirroring you etc.
But what about this – what if it’s just because we haven’t listened. We’ve been so caught up in what we want, that the horse is just a tool for our goals.
Am I about to launch into a sermon about the benefits of clicker training? Maybe!
But it’s about way more than clicker training!
Let’s try it this way – I will now refer to myself as New Improved Heather – that is – NIH! She has now spent several years learning a better approach. I will probably think of Danny when I refer to HH. Let’s see how it plays out!
NIH – Enters the paddock – hi HH – do you want to come and hang out?
HH – Sigh… here she comes… Ears back – stands still.
NIH – Observes the expression. Changes her plans. She walks towards HH and offers her a treat.
HH – Wary – oh – I want the treat – guess I will have to conform – sigh…
NIH – There you go HH – just for you! And walks away a distance.
HH – What? She walked away!!! I got the treat! What’s she doing??
NIH – Observes HH – her ears are forward – she heads back to her – gives her another treat – then walks away a distance.
This is repeated several times – HH starts to follow her – then she leaves the paddock. And so the process is repeated, with several steps added each time. Soon the halter is on, then off. HH starts nickering when she sees the halter. After a while she leads her out of the paddock and adds in some grooming.
NIH watches HH reaction to where she touches her – is there any spot that is tender? She makes a mental note of that. The sessions are short.
Soon HH is waiting at the gate for NIH – she walks happily to her grooming spot – without the need for a halter!
NIH thinks back to when she was One Way Heather. She can’t believe how self absorbed she was! She thinks about how happy the atmosphere is now! Each time she adds more – she’s careful to ask Horse Heather how she feels about it. Horse Heather isn’t just enjoying the treats, she’s enjoying being part of the conversation – she is finally recognised!
And so they live – happily ever after!
Well, not necessarily!
Stay tuned for more!
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