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March 26, 2014: Horse Training: What Raudi Knows

Yesterday I rode Raudi with a few other riders and their horses. The grouping included Perla, a three month old Icelandic foal. (This was the filly that I wrote about a few months ago—I was concerned about how she’d survive the winter).

Raudi was, from the onset of the ride, bothered by Perla, and not too keen about being out with strange mares. Once on the trail she repeatedly squealed and soon began buckig. What to do? I finally got off and walked.

Today I wasn’t too keen about going out for a ride. But I had no choice but to go. Pete was getting the horses ready for an outing when I returned from my dog

walk, so I had no choice. Plus I knew that even though I wasn’t up for it, that I should get Raudi out.

Raudi was calm when being saddled up, calm when being walked up the road, calm when being ridden on the trail, calm when being walked back down the road. She also had a bounce in her step.

Why was this? I have some ideas, some of which may seem illogical because they’re related to animal communication. I have learned that the whole concept of animal communication is foreign to some. For instance, once local Icelandic horse owner told Pete that his mentioning in the Alaska Icelandic Horse newsletter that Mr. Siggi told him that perhaps he’d like to come back as a dog was a dangerous preposition, since it verged on the occult.

Anyhow, I was having a bad day yesterday. I most feel Signy’s absence when I’m tending to the horses or going for an outing. I momentarily think that she’s with us, or that I have to figure out a way of getting all three horses out. Then I realize that she’s no longer with us. I definitely felt this way yesterday. Was anxious.

Raudi knew this – my outward signs indicated this to her. I didn’t (beforehand) sing or do much bodywork. And I was tense when walking down the road and in the saddle. I may also have been emitting an anxiety-related scent. Plus, I wasn’t singing, which is often the case.

Raudi also knew that Signy, who used to be a part of her herd, was no longer with us. Now Raudi and Signy weren’t on great terms in the pen; however, I assisted them in developing a more equitable relationship by making sure that when I fed, I put out one pile of hay for each horse, and then two more piles. This way, Raudi and Signy could mill around and not get in one another’s way. And Raudi, who has always regarded me as hers, would often position herself between Signy and me. I solved this problem by taking Raudi out of the pen before interacting with Signy. This worked quite well.

The most amazing thing of all was that Raudi and Signy were the best of trail buddies. Pete and I could ride with either one first – Raudi would defer to Signy when she was out front, and vice-versa. Signy also had a calming effect on Raudi. It was as if she was, by standing still, telling Raudi that she had nothing to fret about.

Raudi perhaps misses Signy. And Raudi perhaps knows that I miss Signy. Perhaps. I do not know for sure. This is just conjecture.

Some tend to see horses, mules, and donkeys as being lacking in intuitive abilities. And some tend to see the same as having some intuitive abilities. But I’m now thinking that horses are incredibly intuitive. It makes sense – a horses’ being attuned to how we are feeling could initially have been a survival mechanism. This intuitive ability (which has been honed over time) has enabled the more fortunate of them to avoid being hurt.

I’m still not totally convinced that horses are empathetic. But then again, there are times when Raudi is outwardly affectionate. She has been more so since Signy’s passing. But most definitely, they’re attuned to our moods and emotions. I was once told by a horse owner to pay attention to this when working with horses. My take is that perhaps they’re paying attention to ours.

All the above is revelatory. Seeing Raudi as being a more intuitive creature than I thought previously (I think) will further strengthen a bond that I tend to take for granted.

Next: 86. 3/27/14: Dog Training: Impromptu Practice