While hovering over Mathilda like a chick-obsessed hen, I have had no time and less energy for anyone else: husband, dogs, cats, other horse. Husband has understood. Dogs, cats & other horse, not so much. For example, today was the first day I found the enthusiasm to give Rodney a thorough grooming. On the upside, I’ve had a week & 1/2 to observe without interacting.
What I Learned
Rodney is not sulky. This constitutes a glorious change from Previous Horse who could have sulked professionally. While Rodney might prefer more attention to the Thoroughbred, he’s not going to get crabby about the lack.
Rodney is curious, when he feels safe. If you are trying to shoo a horse away from, say, another horse’s hay pile, you have to balance getting a reaction with scampering out of the barn screaming that the sky is falling. Rodney defaults to sky-falling, even to what I consider a gentle gesture. He is, however, open to being soothed and deflected from his headlong rush.
The Point Being?
I need to learn to move with Zen-like patience. I am not advocating being mean to a horse. Ever. But an aggressive horse must be met with equal assertiveness on the part of the handler. If a horse plans on testing your boundaries, you better be prepared to defend those boundaries immediately and effectively or you’re gonna get bit. Rodney, on the other hoof, is more likely to go into his startled bunny routine [Know You] than threaten me with pinned ears. ZLP is going to be hard at home, impossible at a show.
I’ve noted before that Rodney accepts funny objects [My Two Horses]. Now, I’ve started to deliberately use his curiosity to defuse his panic attacks. When he overreacts, if I physically step back and give him time & space, he will climb down out of the rafters, even coming over to me to see what’s what. If I can figure out how to work with it, his inquisitiveness will be to my advantage. It will be interesting to see how translates to under saddle.