Thursday, October 15, 2009

Assertiveness Training

It’s been wonderful spending time with Galahad this last week or so, getting to know each other. I have a little folding chair that I put in the corner of his stall, and I have spent hours just sitting there watching him. He’s very curious, and it’s an amazing feeling seeing that huge head coming down toward me, sniffing and whuffling and breathing on my face and hands. I like watching him eat and sleep and doing all his normal, horsey things.

Tuesday afternoon, though, I noticed him eyeing me when they brought in his grain. At the time I was sitting in my chair, and I didn't move or do anything. He seemed to think it was strange that I didn't challenge him for the food, and he looked like he was debating what he wanted to do about that. Not that he did anything at all, but you can tell when a horse is pondering something.

I thought about it later in the evening, and decided it wasn't a good idea to handle things that way. Yesterday, I brought his grain in myself, and when he got pushy about coming to get it, I made him back completely out into his run. He thought about challenging me, but decided against it, and a few snaps of my fingers had him behaving much better. He's way too easy. I want to keep it that way! I don’t want him to ever discover that he outweighs me by about ten times.

Mares teach their foals who’s boss in just this way. A mare never “spoils” her colt—she teaches him manners and humility from Day One. Mares actually lead the herd: the lead mare decides where the herd goes and when, and the others, including those showy stallions, follow her. So I’m learning to be the Lead Mare here.

It would be so easy to spoil this little guy, because he’s so sweet. But a spoiled, pushy, thousand-pound animal is dangerous, no matter how cute he is. So I’m learning to be assertive.

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