When I first got Cello, I was late for an appointment with my realtor. I believe it was the day we didn’t want to walk past the tractor/equipment spot. I apologized to my realtor, and told him “mine and Cello’s conversation took longer than I thought.” He was all bafflement on the other end of the phone. “Is there something I should know about you? Are you certifiably crazy?” We know each other well enough to say these things. I laughed.
Is having a conversation with a horse really crazy though? Obviously not, to horse people.
Alicia came out to the ranch yesterday and had an elaborate conversation with Cello. Then kinda put in a good word for me. This lady knows so much more than she modestly lets on, and to me what she did and showed me to do is real horsemanship. I had difficulty catching Cello Friday, as the previous long post discusses in detail. Eventually I walked away due to unconducive circumstances (extra people trying to help, stuff going on) and high anxiety levels, etc.)
I should mention that it is a sign of a good horseperson, in my opinion, to recognize when stopping could leave a larger problem the next time a topic is approached and to weigh that anticipated struggle against working with a horse still when they are not doing things correctly. Let me try to explain this further- it’s a bit difficult for me to word.
When I know that the problem is partially, or mostly, me- I stop. I take a breather. It takes confidence to judge if the larger problem you are potentially creating will be more easily overcome if you change your approach/attitude/demeanor. Sometimes I don’t have this confidence- but to me it is equally damnable to get into an argument with a horse where he cannot understand the desired outcome, or where you cannot get the point across that the outcome is inevitable and convince him to WANT to do it for you.
If the situation is just going to escalate and escalate and hurt the overall relationship and the overall training, stop. Even if that means the next time you go to work on that issue, you might be working on it twice as long. Just make sure you are in a healthy mental place, especially with mustangs who are so sensitive to moods and energy, that you have no timeframe, and that you developed the resources to GET IT DONE. Don’t create a habit of letting the horse get away with acting up- I am talking about the odd circumstance here, not a pattern creation. And never, ever let the problem rise to the point where it is insurmountable (this is where having guidance is an EXCELLENT idea). My point is just know when to stop sometimes, even if the desired outcome hasn’t been obtained, and be prepared to handle the situation no matter what the next time you approach it.
If anyone is reading this and thinking about getting into mustangs, or has one they are becoming discouraged with- DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP. Pride has no place here- working with mustangs is an entirely different sport. If you can re-train a TB, or start a QH, think of it like playing hockey while the mustang world is football. You stand so much to gain by just asking people with experience to show you. I saw this yesterday. This breed can be so much more rewarding to work with.
It’s one thing to read about natural horsemanship things, and another to know when to apply what body language gestures to get the desired reaction. Alicia took over with Cello since I was freezing up a bit, and it was like watching a dance. I am a visual learner, but I’m not sure that I was able to take it all in. I still learned a ton! We caught Cello after a half hour of working, and I learned when to drive him off, when to turn him, when to back off my energy and where to stand to get him to do what I want without force.
He joined up with Alicia and with me. That was pretty neat to see, since we had to work for it. When Cello first got to the ranch he would join up with me without me asking. After he relaxed.. not so much. His new friends were cooler and higher on up the hierarchy. I read about mustangs as a little kid, when Monty Roberts first got popular, and always wanted to work with one to join up with me. Alicia did most of the work, and when she left I felt like Cello was still a little skeptical about me, though he was joining up and doing what I asked. It just didn’t feel as solid. I think when I go out today it’s going to be the conversation that he had with Alicia about being haltered, but I won’t be as adept at responding to him.
So I’m visualizing everything she did, hoping that there is a physical memory as well, and not placing a timeframe on it. My goal will be just to have caught him. When we had him yesterday, he was the same sweetheart he was in the beginning- relaxed, let us do everything grooming wise etc. Standing still wasn’t as great as it had been, but it was progress from where we left on Friday.
I am so grateful to have the support that I have. Alicia comes up here every so often and offered to keep helping, and after her vacation Emilee will be here. I’m hoping after Emilee’s intensive weekend we can plan to go down to Dunn’s still and get some experience there. I feel positive about it once again, and super excited.
Cello & Dani