Remi, my Yang Ming temperament horse, is very well behaved with one exception. At feeding time he puts his ears back and gets too much in my space. If I confront him he backs up and I insist he put his ears up before I put feed in his bucket. Lately he has been getting more aggressive and snaking his head at me as I am walking across the pen to his bucket. Both Tess and Cerise go straight to their buckets and wait politely for their food.
I decided I had made a mistake in tolerating Remi’s small transgression and I have been insisting he go to his bucket and wait as well. He is already better after only a few days. This incident made me think of all the times I have heard people say after some accident that their horse never behaved that way before. In reality their horse had probably been behaving exactly that way in small degrees that were not noticed.
In working with trainers like Linda Hoover, Buck Brannaman and Tom Curtain I have come to realize that horses notice everything and if we want to be better horseman we need to become much more observant. My mule, Jake, really taught me a lot about this. I could not let my guard down for a second around him because he was always ready to take advantage. From the time we pick up a halter and head to the pasture we have to be aware of how we are interacting with our horses.
Some horse temperaments will allow you to make more mistakes but others are less tolerant. For instance, like Jake, a Wood horse will take advantage of you. A Water horse temperament can become frightened because they noticed something scary and looked to you for support and you were not aware enough to immediately support them. People and horses can get badly injured when we don’t pay attention.
This concept was a challenge for me because after working hard all day I wanted to relax with my horses and not have to be so aware. I learned that this did not suit the horse and if I wanted to be with them I truly had to be there for them. My little disciplinary action with Remi will increase his trust in me and keep a small behavior from becoming something that causes him to be in trouble. Remi hates more than anything to be in trouble. Once I gently pointed out the error of his behavior he got right in line.
A Wood horse temperament might have not backed down nearly as easily and I might have put myself in danger by letting the habit go as far as I did before correcting it. Knowing your horse’s temperament and paying attention to details will make for much better relationships. Madalyn
I was interested to read your comment about people and horses being put in danger when we don’t pay attention.
I had my first fall since a teenager (I’m now 65) from my wood horse Ed (arabian gelding) this last Friday. We had been out on a short trail ride on a windy day. Baroque, my friend’s 7 -year old Arabian gelding, had been spooky the whole ride whilst my 23 year old Ed who loves the trail had been his usual keen self but was unperturbed about everything until we re-entered the arena. I was relaxed and had turned my head to talk to my friend when I suddenly found myself flying through the air. In a split second Ed had seen something scary and jumped sideways sending me spinning 180 degrees to land on very hard ground as we had not yet reached the soft arena footing. After lying there a little winded for a few seconds and seeing a few stars when I hit my head (helmet on thank God) I realised that I was able to move and hadn’t broken anything! Ed put his head down to me as if to say “what are you doing down there?”
Had I been paying attention and been looking forward perhaps I could have anticipated a spook (I think it was the little mounting stool that I’ve used many times before that he had to pass to get into the arena but who knows) and avoided a hard fall.
I consider myself to be really blessed that I am only bruised and a bit stiff. I will be sure to be more attentive to my horse and surroundings on future trail rides. Ironically, Judy and I had been talking only a few minutes before about riding spills and Judy had just remarked “yes, horses are accidents waiting to happen”!!
Glad you were not hurt badly and I hope my typing system will help people understand better how horses think and accidents can be avoided. Of course, paying attention is important for all types but especially so with Wood horses. Madalyn