My last post was about my inadvertent training of Beautiful Girl to be a one-person horse. When I adopted her, I had started out with good intentions. I believe I even blogged about the necessity of exposing her to as many people as I could--and, for the most part, I did--but almost entirely in the "petting" department.
Then, my husband went to halter her, when I was occupied in the house, and she wouldn't have any of it. At which point, he declared he'd be working with her more.
It's been about two weeks since that happened, and I've learned one important lesson from this--the upside of letting a new person in to your training world--and it is:
The new person is a clean slate. The new person doesn't have all the red flags, the memories, that you do. And, as such, the new person does not create the "self-fulfilling prophecy" syndrome.
I didn't realize how much bias I'd been bringing to the picture--declarations of what will or might happen based upon what may have happened once. Which reminds me of one of my favorite cowboy sayings I've posted about before on this blog:
"Everyday is a new day for a horse." Actually, he said, "Never hold a grudge against a horse, every day is a new day for them." In this case, I didn't hold a "grudge" against Beautiful, I think I was just over-protecting her.
For example, though by her age all my other horses were tied solid to the trailer, for some reason with Beautiful (because she'd pulled back before) I would only give the illusion of tying her solid in enclosed areas with the rope draped over a solid railroad tie. The railroad tie is rough enough that it felt to her like she was tied solid. And, when I was grooming her, I'd hold the other end, just to make sure, if she did pull back, she'd think she couldn't. I started all my colts that way and it works out well, but at some point (much, much earlier), I progressed them forward to being tied solid to the trailer or tying post.
Also, I only ever gave her baths in an enclosed area--on her lead--using the sprayer as a sort of extension of my arm and starting at her back so she could move forward freely. She doesn't really move forward much anymore, preferring to stand in one place, but when we first started out, she did.
Now, this is a great way to give them baths because they don't feel constrained and soon don't even care about the water, but again, I usually progress my other horses to the next step, bathing out in the open in the wash area.
So, one morning my husband walks in and tells me he was on his way back to the barn with Beautiful and had something else to do, so he tied her solid to the trailer and went about his business. No big deal to him because as far as he was concened, she was like all the horses around here. And, apparently, she is, but I wasn't seeing her that way. According to him, she stood there with no problem and was in the same place, and fine, when he came back.
After I heard that I went out and got her and walked her around the property to see how she'd changed. There's no doubt, she was less reactive. So, I thought, well, let's give her a bath out here in the open like all the rest get after a trail ride or on a hot day--just bring her up to the wash area and expect that she'll behave herself.
She did. Of course, again, no problem.
So, as I've slowly removed all the safety nets, I've found there's nothing to fear. She's a horse--like all the others. She has learned the lessons taught to her in the enclosed areas these last 2 1/2 years. I've protected her so much, I haven't given her the chance to prove herself. I have my husband to thank for changing that by bringing a fresh perspective and a higher set of expectations.
She's a horse--which means--she will make a mistake, but if we're to move forward...
Every days HAS to be a COMPLETELY new day.