Equi-Sense Day 2: Brandy
Yesterday was my second day working with horses at Equi-Sense. We started out by reviewing what we’d learned to do yesterday. This time, I started off in the big pen working with a mare named Brandy. I began by trying to have her walk along side me, but she had a tenancy to break into trot and walk into me. Twice, she bore her teeth as if preparing to bite me as I’d put put my hand up to keep her from running me over. I had a lot more trouble controlling her than I had with Thunder the day before, but I did eventually get the hang of it and eventually convinced her to walk straight and slowly at my side.
Afterworlds, our whole group was given a new and interesting task. One of the helpers drew a small rectangle in the dirt in the large pen. Our task was to coax one horse at a time to stand in the rectangle for five seconds, and only the leader amongst us was allowed to talk. It was harder for us to convince any given horse that we were in charge since there were three other horses in the pen. Some horses could be guided in after being separated from Boots, the mare in charge of the herd. Others simply followed a human that had earlier established himself as leader. Boots was the hardest to convince, because first there were always other horses around her, then there were too many people around her so the poor horse didn’t know what we wanted.
That done, we spent the rest of the day working one on one with Brandy in the round pen. We’d put the horse on the lead, then use rope signals to guide her. Walk this way, go faster, slow down, turn around, stop. Then it got harder. A helper put three cones in a triangle inside the pen for us to guide the horse around and through. I had trouble with this at first because I couldn’t get a hang of the pattern. Since I wasn’t sure what I wanted, I couldn’t clearly communicate to the horse what I wanted, and she got a bit cross with me.
She bore her teeth at me again, which is not OK with me. I stopped her and took a second to consider what I was doing. I decided to not worry about the pattern and just take it all one cone at a time as I pleased. After that, the horse and I had no trouble at all.
- Whether working with horses or people, in order to be an effective leader, you have to be clear about what you want. In order for others to know what you want, you first have to know what you want yourself.
It’s only been two days but I think I’m already a lot more confident and comfortable around horses. It’s almost funny, looking back, how frightened I’d been of Lota, a horse that never showed me any aggression at all, to calmly handling Brandy, a more difficult horse who did show mild aggression.
By the end of the day, I think Brandy and I came to an understanding. She too, joined me in the center of the pen for a nuzzle.