This conversation took place this morning, in the paddock, as I was doling out hay to the crew.
Tyra: I want hay. I need hay. All the others are eating their hay. Can you get me my own pile, out of the shed?
Alys: Your breakfast is over in the far shelter.
T: It’s way over there.
T: I want to be close to the other horses.
A: There’s plenty of hay here.
T: But none of them want to share.
A: You know how to approach the matter – you put your head down, put your ears forwards, and move in slowly.
T: I know, and make idle chit chat.
A: Yes. Don’t forget the idle chit chat part.
T: Oh look. There’s some hay here, in the manure cart.
A: Yeech, that’s from the goat pen.
T: I want it.
A: Suit yourself.
T: Tastes terrible. Bring the hay that’s in the shelter here to me. Put it right here, in front of me. On the double, now.
A: Look, the others are eating companionably – they’re quiet and content. You need to do the same.
T: This is a crisis! I’m missing out on breakfast! Before you know it, it will be lunch time. And I won’t get any food then. I am going to starve to death unless you do something about this now. Gimme a treat. Gimme two treats. Now.
A: Okay. Here’s a bit from Tinni’s pile. Now you can ease in and get some more.
T: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you ever so much!
A: You are quite welcome. How about a shoulder scratch.
T: That’s good, really good. What are we going to do today?
A: Well it’s raining. I have inside work to do.
T: What are we going to do today?
A: We’ll go for a walk, like we did yesterday. We’ll take Ryder with us.
T: Is that all?
A: We’ll also do some groundwork in the arena.
T: I like doing groundwork. I do things right and I get treats.
A: And I might put the saddle on you, mount up, and have us both walk around a bit.
T: I don’t like being ridden. I enjoy being walked. It’s easier for me to get to the grass.
A: You do like going on adventures, right?
T: Oh yes. I had such a wonderful time that day we went for a long walk on the Grizzly Camp trail.
A: That was our winter hike, right?
T: Yes. Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t I ride you?
A: Don’t be silly.
T: More hay please.
A: Nope, you need to go over to the shelter area and eat what’s over there. Back to riding – how might I better make the walking to riding transition easier for you?
T: Give me more treats.
A: You need to know this. You at times are anxious, more so than the others. I’m working on making you feel less anxious. I’m lowering my energy level when I’m around you. I’m also chunking things down so that you feel less overwhelmed. And I’m focusing on being soft in voice, manner, and attitude.
T: I know this and appreciate it. You know, we horses like it best when people around us are calm. We pick up on your energy levels really quickly. It’s the way we’ve evolved. It’s a survival related instinct. If we think we are in danger we raise our own energy levels and prepare to take flight.
A: I never before thought of it this way.
T: The others have told me that you’ve changed and become calmer in their presence too.
A: It’s nice to know that you all have noticed.
T: We horses notice everything.
A: I’m now planning the day. I might with you, chunk things down even further, maybe just do pole work with you today. If you remain calm, I might also put the treeless saddle on you.
T: I like it that you think things through before doing them. By the way, the hay’s over there, and I’m over here. What are we going to do about this?
A: Tyra, get walking!
Next: 142. 5/24/17: The Horse Life: A Conversation with Dan Le May