Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Baby Boomer Dreams of Arabian Horses - Rhythm's Story - The New Home - Part 2

Part One of the Baby Boomer Series

Rhythm's Story starts here
The problems with this Arabian horse came from little issues with his every day handling. The normal stuff that most horses do and many horse owners think are a normal part of horse ownership. You know the little get in your space just a tiny bit pushy kinds of things. Those are the inches that a horse like Rhythm must never get away with.

For Rich it was little stuff, or so he thought. Seems that Rhythm was pushing Rich around just a bit. Nothing Rich saw as aggressive but enough for Rich to be moving his feet to accommodate the horse.

Rich got an earful about herd behaviors and what they mean. Then how those translate for dealing with Rhythm. Once Rich realized he was telling the horse that he was in charge and not Rich, the light bulb went on.

Then we went on and talked about feeding. With a horse like Rhythm it's really important not to allow the horse to grap food. It's equally important to drive the horse to the back of the stall away from the food and keep him there for just a bit. Not allowing the horse to eat until Rich said so clearly conveys that Rich is the leader. The same thing was true for the water. The leader determines those things in the herd. With Rhythm everything must say the people are the leaders, no if's, ands, or buts.

Next it was on to Brittany, both Rich and I figured it was best to find out specifically what her little issues with him might be and for me to explain the herd dynamics and how these behaviors fit in with the way she worked with the horse. I made it a point to talk to her in a later conversation that day.

Once I spoke with Brittany I had to laugh just a little. Even though I'd kept the horse locked up for days so she'd be fore warned about his capabilities , she thought she'd be kind and give him just a little break. I mean, the horse was new to this place after all. It was easy to understand why she would do this, but so important that she didn't.

Rhythm had seen this heart felt gesture as a sign of weakness. It meant he could be the boss! Not a thing you want to ever happen with a horse like Rhythm. He wasn't doing anything obvious to most horse owners, but he was doing far more than you can allow a horse as sure of himself as this one. The limits must be black and white, there is no room for gray with a horse like him. You are in charge or you aren't. Gray means the horse can try to move up that pecking order.

I was glad that Rich had called. It was still early enough to nip this thing in the bud. I laid out for Brittany the same things I'd gone over with Rich about feeding and feet moving and that box you want the horse to stay in at all times.

We also went over things like definitely don't ask, if you can't get. Don't use the "whoa" word to a horse running across a field that you have no chance of stopping, you're only teaching the horse to run at the word. That rule applies to everything as far as the horse is concerned. If you're going to ask it, you better know how to get it. Also we went over the exercises to employ when taking the horse in hand, dropping his head, getting him to relax and listen, walking into his space and getting him to move his feet away. All of the things that would tell this horse that Brittany was in charge.

With all of these things in place, the fix for the horse trailer was easy. The horse is really nothing but a big bluff. You just have to know the right card to play. I told Brittany what I would do to load that horse and she followed my lead.

Brittany made sure she had a whip in her hand when she took the horse up to the trailer. When Rhythm stopped at the trailer and tossed his head refusing to get in, Brittany played her card. She moved that whip back towards his hock and lightly touched him there. The horse leapt into the trailer immediately not wanting to see what came next if he didn't.

On the return trip the horse refused again but this time as she moved the whip back the horse jumped right in before it got anywhere near his hock. Like I said, the horse really is a pushover IF you know the right button to push.

To be continued..............

The Plan

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  1. I would have to say that this horse has an attitude. That photograph looks to me like it is marveling at how beautiful it is and is posing for you. What a stunning shot.

  2. Wonderful. These owners are sure to succeed. This horse is certainly worth the struggle of staying ahead of him.

  3. It's so funny. There are some horses that never push the dynamics of who is alpha, and others who are constantly looking for a crack. I personally like the ones who push the line a little.

  4. It's good that they called you with the problems while they were still small enough to fix easily. I'm glad to hear about the trailer episode. So many people who are into 'natural horsemanship', feel that even carrying a whip may be abusive, not realizing that it's just another training tool and when used correctly, it need not be abusive. There is a good post on about natural horsemanship that is very good.

  5. wow great shot!!

    Thanks for stopping in lately! Rescues are is so frustrating at first but when you see horses like Maggie do a complete 360 in health it was worth every penny and every milestone!
    We havent taken rescues since then. That lot was the hardest Ive had to deal with yet. The horse market is so bad. We at least try to screen good homes and at least make back what we put out. The stud horse and baby poor things I hope they get the love, care and rehabilitation that they deserve.

  6. Horses are such herd animals. Owners need to be the herd leader or horses can literally run you over!

    The horses that push a little are usually our best show horses!

    I sure do enjoy your blog!
    :-) Beth

  7. I love that someone out there is educating people on consistency with basic manners in horses. It can get so dangerous if "funny" little habits aren't recognized and fixed. Well done.