Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Horses Have a Conversation

Maise, Dawn and Sugar were talking one day around the round bale.

Dawn said, "you know, sometimes I'm sorry for people" [the horses don't call us "people" but we'll use this word] - "they have so many things that aren't as good as we horses have. They have those funny eyes that only point forwards, so they can't see well to the sides or behind them - how can they see well enough to keep themselves safe? And their ears don't even move! And they're so small and weak; they can't even kick or bite or run away fast to escape. Maybe that's why they make so many noises and move so abruptly, and even yell and get angry - to make themselves look bigger so they'll stay safe? I don't know, I both feel sorry for them sometimes and other times they annoy me."

Maisie said, "and they carry around these little boxes that sometimes make strange sounds, and then they put the box to their ear and make noises to the air - what's that all about? And when they do it, it's like we're not there anymore even though we're right in front of them or they're riding us. But they're always so easily distracted - it's really hard for them to pay attention to what's going on right now - I suppose it's a little like when I go on the trail and I start thinking about dinner or about how none of the other horses are with me - it makes it hard to concentrate."

Dawn said, "and when they're distracted, which is a lot of the time, they don't listen too well to what we're trying to tell them and show them."

Maisie said, "yes, it's like when my person and I first got together - she wanted me to do some things that I had a hard time doing because I hurt, and I finally had to really yell at her to get her to pay attention - I had to buck and throw my head until she finally understood and got the dentist and chiropractor to help me - but it sure took a long time and she was really slow to get it."

Sugar said, "but sometimes people do pay attention - when I was scared and had so much trouble leading my person understood that I wasn't trying to be mean to her when I would panic and fight to get away - my last people scared me even worse when that happened so I felt that I really, really had to fight to get away. My person sent me to that other person who worked with me so I could learn to give to pressure on my halter and to move away and then move back by paying attention to my person - now we're OK. And my person works with me almost every day so I can see that it's all OK."

Dawn said, "but what about how they see? They don't notice when something is lurking, or flashing white or glittery, or moves suddenly - I worry sometimes that I can't trust the person who is with me on the trail to protect me and that's why I have to pay attention to these things - after all it's my job to protect the herd so I know what I'm doing - but my person wants me to accept their view of things, and pay attention to them, when I'm the one who knows how to jump sideways, spin or run fast to get away from danger, and they can't do any of those things. And then when I do jump, spin or run, sometimes they can't keep up with me and get left behind. But I'm learning to not worry so much about scary things - sometimes when I come up to a scary thing my person gives me a reward, and nothing bad's happened yet. I still need some convincing, but maybe my people are more trustworthy than I think."

The three mares chewed for a bit as they thought about these things, but also about how good the sun and wind felt and how wonderful the hay tasted and looked.

Finally, Maisie said, "I guess these people of ours, for all their weakness and lack of ability to see what we see, and pay attention, can learn to pay more attention to what we're saying and show us that we can trust them - we've got a lot of work to do, but it's nice to see them improve from day to day." The other mares agreed - it was a sunny day, and almost spring, and they were happy.

17 comments:

  1. How wonderfully perceptive those girls are!

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  2. I know my mares think I'm the stupidest thing on two legs, and need to listen to them more.

    Enjoy the new spring
    ~Jeni

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  3. Great post! They are more aware than some people.

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  4. Funny! I like it. I think my horses are saying, as long as she gives us the food we want, we'll let her think she's in charge.

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  5. that's great! perfect insight into the horses' p.o.v. :-)

    i have always thought that they train us just as much as we train them (at least if we allow ourselves to adapt to their needs and don't just force our will upon them...) and maybe they see it that way too - they react and we adjust our behavior next time to get a different reaction. maybe it's useful to think of training as a two-way street. that's something i'll have to think about now!

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  6. I guess my Boys keep hoping I'll catch on to their training too. Sometimes I get it and sometimes, I'm just plain dense. *S*

    I always had my horses refer to me as "one of those twolegs. Now I have to amend it to: twolegs funnyeyes."

    Seriously, a great post, full of some super insights into how horses think and how we need to think as trainers/handlers.

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  7. A while ago, Karin and I were discussing the remaining pig. I said that the pig had poor quality of life, because she just stood around all day waiting for me to come and feed her. Karin said that the pig wanted to have me put down, because she could see that the only thing I had to do with my life was come and feed the pig. I guess it's all in your point of view.

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  8. I'm sure mine think I'm a nut job, but they change their tune at feeding time. Food, the great equalizer.

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  9. Good post. I put words into my horses mouths too and they're never at a loss for words. I guess we could always learn something new from their conversations among themselves and with us.

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  10. My girls probably think I need a lot of remedial round pen and ground work because I am such a slow learner!

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  11. Love it!!!! I reckon Sam goes back to the paddock and tells everybody how he is slowly training me!!!!!

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  12. I'm embarassed to say that it took quite a while for me to figure out that Salem was telling me that his back was sore. But he is just SO polite and well-behaved. I almost wish he had been more of a pig. Perhaps then I would have figured it out sooner! :-)

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  13. Great post!!
    I am always putting words in Fawkes mouth... trying to figure out what he is thinking and what he wants to tell me :)

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  14. I love it! I think that part Dawn says at the end could be straight out of Mosco's mouth. My boys must think I'm the dumbest thing walking, considering how long it takes me to understand what they're telling me, and they catch on to what I want so quickly. Thank heavens for their patience!

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  15. Rushcreek Mac would like to add, "Our humans here do not understand that one sagebrush out of a million might ATTACK US, though I keep trying to tell them!"
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

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  16. Excellent, it is such a good exercise to do every once in awhile, think about what the horses think of us. At the same, very entertaining! :)

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