Thursday, May 28, 2009
Creating A Heart for Humans
I have another horse project at my house that is dear to my heart--my Jasmine project. She's a pony, so you could call it my pony project.
Jasmine is a beautiful, small-sized pony I received from my friend almost two years ago. We don't know anything about her history really, except what we've tried to do for her at our homes--and that she had to have been severely mishandled when she was young. We've all had varying degrees of success.
Tina did a lot for her--a teenage girl did a lot for her--I've done a lot for her, there have probably been other humans who tried to heal her along her path, but I think it's safe to say that none of us have won her heart.
But I won't give up.
You know, what's amazing about her is how obedient she is and also how gentle she is. She wouldn't kick or bite a person to save her life--literally. When she's on a lead rope, she's excellent. She picks up her feet nicely, too.
But all you have to do is look in her eye to see that she does not love us. She doesn't really like us.
Now, my old horse, Red, when we first got him--he didn't have the look of love either. He was Mr. Obedient--which really got me thinking--which is most important? Obedience seemed pretty darn good, that's for sure! I had other horses with big hearts toward humans that weren't nearly as obedient as my stoic Mr. Red. In what I imagined of my perfect horse world, I guess I wanted both.
I think it took about five years for me to see what I would consider an attachment to us. It was after my colt, who he was surrogate dad to, died. I used to go stand out in the pasture where they had stood and tell my troubles to Red. He seemed to understand me, soften toward me, lean in to me, and since that time I feel like we've had a real relationship--above and beyond obedience. I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me. We have a true friendship now.
Horses say a lot through their eyes, don't they?
With Jasmine I've thought a million things at different times--I've even asked myself the question--does she have a sight problem or a true mental problem? Basically, could there be a physical issue at play? But then, I watch her with the other horses--who she really does love--and she is a vital member of their herd. She developed a strong attachment, like they all do, to Red--they ALL love Red. Her eye is soft and receptive to them.
So, how do you turn a horse's heart toward humans? How do I get toward us what she gives so easily to others of her kind?
Beautiful, a wild Mustang, was easy to turn. Having not really seen too much bad from humans, she was quick to accept us when she understood we humans put horses on a pretty high pedestal. All we want to do is feed them, clean up after them, pet and groom them, and eventually ride them. Beautiful figured out pretty quick that a life with humans was a life of being treated like Royalty.
Not so with Jasmine. She likes our food. She likes the comfort of her herd. But she has yet to seek me out on her own.
Each day, now that the weather's nice, I go out and sit in her area. She goes away from me and watches and watches. Her full attention is always on me until I leave. What I want is for her to come to me willingly. I want her heart.
I don't know how long I'll have to wait to get it--another year, two, three, four, five?
This is a subject for which I welcome any and all advice and your own experiences with winning the hearts of your horses.
And, if you could only have ONE thing--complete and total obedience--a push-button, respectful horse--or the heart of the horse--which would you rather have?