The farrier was late. Like, and hour late. But that was okay. I decided that he wasn’t coming, so tacked up Winchester to go on a trail ride. Right as I was preparing to mount up, Randy arrived. He trimmed Winchester, and when I asked him about Chic, he told me to go ahead and ride since he had three other horses of Sherwin’s to trim and shoe. I took full advantage of the extra time, yet Randy hadn’t finished the first horse by the time I got back. Oh well. I spent time with Winny while I waited.
Eventually, Randy was ready for Chic. I brought her in from her paddock and held her for him. Within the first few minutes, she began to act up, resisting his grasp and threatening to kick. Now, when she does this, I hold the leg until she stops, and when she does, I stroke her leg and tell her “Good girl.”
I think what happened next is because of how I would usually handle her in that kind of situation.
Randy went out the window, and a drill sergeant arrived to take his place. New Randy yelled, growled, shouted, nudged her (HARD) in the side with his nippers, smacked her with the lead rope, and basically went bat-crap crazy. Chic went bat-crap crazy. My two dogs, Oreo and Remy, went bat-crap crazy. I just kind of stood there. I knew that Randy wasn’t abusing Chic. He was disciplining her for being stupid, and that I would be next. I quietly restrained Oreo, a Chowbrador, as he was the most distressed of the dogs. He was trying to protect Chic. Once Oreo was restrained, Remy calmed down. Eventually so did Chic, and as soon as she stopped freaking out, regular Randy came back. His demeanor was perfectly calm, and he explained to me that Chic had never been told no.
Wait a second. She has too been told no! I tell her no all the time!
But do I mean it?
Randy meant it. When he told her no, he meant N O. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31g0YE61PLQ Like this. Only without the “please”.
He went on to explain to me that because this was the first time she had ever been told no, she freaked out. She didn’t understand. It’s like a child getting spanked. They cry because they don’t know better. When the child grows older, a verbal warning is enough (usually) to keep them in line, because they know better. They learned. The child was, effectively, trained.
I listened intently and was not faking my enthusiasm at what he was saying. Yes, it made sense. It didn’t look pretty, but afterwards, I noticed that Chic had completely changed. She was calm, quiet, and submissive. Not because she was intimidated. Randy stopped as soon as she did, so she knew that he could be trusted to be gentle with her. It was because she had found a leader.
Randy finished the trim and continued to talk to me for another hour. Chic was by his side the whole time. He wasn’t holding her there. To prove it to me, he dropped the lead rope. She stayed. I was transfixed. Not at the “awww, this is magical and he is a horse-whisperer”-type moment, but at my own passiveness in training Chic. How could I let that kind of disrespect go on for so long and not realise just how bad it was? Randy told me how. I didn’t understand. I was Oreo, letting my emotions get in the way. He said that I have to push them away and approach the situation using my reactions. I cannot be proactive because I don’t know what she will do. I have to react in the moment. If she shows disrespect, I discipline. If she shows respect, I reward her by being quiet and calm, or letting her go to her food, or letting her put her foot down, or letting her have a treat.
God gave man dominion over animals. We all have the ability to train. We have to set aside our emotions and our predispositions and react.
Randy also disciplined Oreo a few times for getting too close to Chic. She was not happy about him that close, and he could have gotten seriously hurt had Randy not stepped in. I was way too passive about it. Oreo was distressed at first, much like Chic had been, but as soon as he understood, he laid down for Randy. Completely submissive and calm.
Tonight, I tried what Randy did. Chic is pushy whenever I take off her halter in the presence of her food. So, I went bat-crap crazy. She went almost bat-crap crazy. This pattern continued for the next ten or so minutes: I raise my hand. Chic freaks. I keep my hand up. She calms down. I move my hand. She freaks again. Then she calms down. I get to where I am playing with the halter near her ears. She starts pressing on me. I smack her for it. She freaks again. I raise my hand, etc. With a few variations of this, I get to the point where she is stretching her neck towards me, ears pricked, and sniffing me. I raise my hand. She flinches a little, then comes close again. I pet her. She shirks a little but comes back to me. Soon, I can take her halter up over her ears (one at a time), and I lead her to her food.
I think I could have handled it a lot better. I’ll do some research.
“We have dominion over animals. USE IT.” – Randy