CHICKEN SOUP

Old Horse with No Training

Old Horse with No Training

For years the horse had stood around.  He knew how to lead and have his feet trimmed but not much more.  After a number of efforts he was finally caught in the large pen.  The old guy lead easily into the small turnout area adjacent to his corral gate.  His mind was on the falling branches of a nearby tree as it was being cut down.  His buddies were in their corrals to the left and right of the turnout.

The owner decided she would have me guide her through working with her old horse.  I explained that we wouldn't direct him.  We would let him figure out for himself that we'd like to catch him.  She was to allow the horse to make a decision and she would either accept that decision and stand quietly or let him know to try something else by moving her hand, arm, or slapping her leg if necessary.  She stood slightly off center in the turnout and watched him.

First he walked slowly around considering things.  He considered the manure before him, he considered the gate, he considered his buddies and stopped.  She gently motioned one finger to say no.  Untrained but still sensitive, he picked up on the motion and moved on without rushing or hurrying.  He tried option after option avoiding the one that would have him look at her.  Within a few minutes he was out of options, he paused and looked in her direction.  She froze.  He stared.  Her lack of motion had relieved him of any pressure from her; that was his reward.  But after a brief time she asked more of him by barely moving her hand.  He walked on again, paused, turned and looked at her.  Again she froze and let him consider.

She realized that all these years he'd been aware.  He already understood what she was now trying to communicate; but she hadn't ever listened to him.

Another flutter of the hand and he moved on.  After only a few steps he turned, faced her and came to her.  It was quiet, gentle, and it was his idea.