I'm away from Little Love, but I miss her company. When I'm with her, I feel so much more grounded, and that feeling stays with me for hours afterwards. Now I haven't seen her for three whole days - although it feels longer - and I'm ready to breathe in her sweet horse scent and just hang out close to her.
Muddy K asked me some very insightful questions (after my last blog post) and I have been thinking more of my answers. I realize that being Little Love's official person (I don't like to say owner...) has put me in a completely different mindset than when she was not mine. Back then, I was so bound by what I could or couldn't do with her, that choosing the direction we would go together was somewhat easy. I also felt that whatever I was doing, it was a relief (somewhat) from what others were doing with her. But now... I guess in a nutshell: the pressure is on. Now I can really affect her life and I see myself questioning what I am doing or rather the methods I am using. For example the feet. I know she needs to walk, as walking will help her heal. However, at first, she didn't want to walk at all. I don't like putting pressure on her, but I sort of had to, to get her to walk. Then I felt like all I was doing is "forcing" her to do something against her will even if it meant just nudging her along or swinging the rope at her hind end while clucking. But on the same token, I could see the positive effects of the movement. Ah, maybe I am just over-analysing this all? Wouldn't be the first time :-) I would just like to explore the concept of using less and less pressure (or none, how about positive reinforcement for a change?), and even though I am using very little pressure, it is not what I want in the long run.
The other thing Muddy K asked about was why am I working on not tying Little Love or even using the halter. There is a simple answer to that: because she hates it. She especially hates cross ties. At several occasion I have seen her cross tied tightly while a person brushed her and tacked her up. She tried to bite the person and kick at her and move away, but nothing worked, she was stuck there, being force-groomed and tacked. It was painful to watch, especially when the people involved in this activity thought this was the only way to go about it.
So, since tying has bad memories, I have tried to avoid it, to see what sort of affect that would have on Little Love. I believe that it is quite a big deal for her to have control over her environment, even if it is just something as simple as standing outside "untied". It is not that she wants to leave perse that makes the difference, but rather that she knows she could, if she wanted to. And it has been interesting to see the changes in Little Love's personality and her attitude when she is not tied. She is more relaxed. She also seems to tolerate things like brushing or soaking the hooves. There is a visible shift in her attitude; she is more cooperative and curious as to what happens next and less "grumpy".
I know there will be situations where I will have to tie her, and that's fine, she ties better when she doesn't have to do it every day.
And what comes to the halter... in Little Love's case the rule "less is more" seems to apply in many situations. The less tack (or restraints), the more she shows up in the situation as truly who she is. She is at her best and her true self when she is "naked". For example, when she is free in the arena and has a halter on her head, she acts differently than if she doesn' have the halter. There is definitely more "self conrol" with the halter (or learned behavior?). It took me a while to figure this out, but it seems like in "naked" liberty (not to copy Resnick in any way but it's the perfect expression...) she is more free to express herself. She will for example rear more readily.