dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, June 7, 2013

Boss Mare

That's my role.

No, I didn't say Bossy Mare. That's something else entirely and does not describe me at all.

So there.

I have to keep my herd of two geldings in line. Not that they are bad but I can see the benefits of being in charge. When I go into the field they often come to greet me - Steele comes first being young and innocent. I'm pretty sure that Irish double checks that I'm not wearing breeches first. Sometimes they get in a wee spat over who I belong to. That's when I affirm that I belong to no one but, in fact, they belong to me. This keeps me from getting hurt.

The other day I brought Steele in to do some work with him. I kept Irish from following and closed him in the field. I hooked Steele up on the cross ties and groomed him. He kept looking for Irish but was good. Then I stepped outside quickly to get something. I've done this before for brief periods with no problem but then Steele realized that he was all alone. He began to worry. I came back in quickly and carried on with getting him ready. I put on his boots, cavesson, pad, surcingle and bridle. I hooked on the lead line and we started up to the field. He kept trying to graze as we walked along. Every time he dropped his head I flicked the lead line at his haunches but otherwise kept walking and acting like all was normal. I could see him trying to figure out what was happening everytime he tried to eat but he quickly figured out it wasn't going to work. This did not impress him at all.

When we got to the ring I closed the gate and unhooked the lead to get the lunge line. Normally he stays with me but this time he trotted off. Between being left alone and not allowed to graze he was a bit agitated. No worries, I decided to do a little free work first. The idea is to use my body language to control the horses gait, direction and location with the lunge whip as an extention. Horses quickly figure out who's in charge and start going with the program. Whether you believe it's a 'join up', behavioural modification or a spiritual connection doesn't matter. The reality is that it does work.

I began the work and he became annoyed that I wouldn't let him graze on the grass outside the fence. He took off at a gallop. All of a sudden Irish became agitated in the field and started running around. Now I had two horses being foolish. At first Steele seemed to think that this was fun - running and galloping while Irish ran in the field next to him. Irish did not think this was fun. He thought that there must be lions somewhere. It was something like this:
Steele: "whee, freedom! watch how fast I can go"
Irish "where is it? OMG!"
Steele: "Let's run this way! Follow me Irish!"
Irish "I can't get to you! It's the end I tell you, the end!"
Steele "I'm coming! Wait, what? There's this fence in the way!"
Steele: "Die?! I'm too young to die! What do we do? What do we do?"

Since I couldn't control Irish I focussed on Steele. Using my body and the whip I began to control where he was in the ring. Initially this got him more agitated.
Steele: "Stop it, I don't want to be here. I have to go there.
Me: "No you don't. You need to stay there"
Steele "ARGHHH"
Me "Calm down"
Steele "I'm upset can't you seethat? Irish is over there and I'm here and the world is not the friendly place I thought it was"
Me "there's no need to be upset but if you have to be do it here.And now here. Now let's go there"

I could see him begin to calm and I took greater charge. This is what boss maresdo- they control the herd and decide position, pace, etc. Since I was in charge there was no need to worry. Within a few minutes he stopped dead and looked at me. I stopped and stood still. Then I turned around. He came towards me and then ran past. I repeated the lesosn. He stopped much sooner. I stopped and turned around. He trotted up and glued himself to my shoulder. I did a slow and easy walk around the ring with Steele keeping close.

After a few minutes I put on the lunge and we went to work. He was so tuned in, it was fabulous.

Me and my boys

1 comment:

  1. Great work with Steele. That boss mare stuff is so important.


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