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December 21, 2017: Pre-Solstice Visit with Heather

Last night my good friend Heather Ashe came over for a pre-solstice visit. It was a wonderful visit on the near darkest night of the year. Heather and I met in 2003, in Katie Long’s Horsemanship and Behavior class – this was at the local college. The tie that binds is horses. She owns Rio Rogue, a half-Arab/half quarter horse. She acquired him a year or two after I acquired Raudi. Rio was then more spirited and more reactive than Raudi. But Heather took the slow and steady course and he’s now a dependable trail horse.

Heather has done a remarkable job with Rio, this with having to work full-time, raise two children, and put herself through college. She originally was taking veterinary technology classes and did do an internship, but she decided instead to

take an alternate route and has since been studying accounting. She has a long range plan – this alone is commendable – she hopes to get a better paying job so that she can have Rio closer to home.

Heather is also hoping in the near future to get a truck and a better trailer. Rio does not like the trailer she now has – this is in spite of the fact that Heather, her dad, and her partner Willy spent a lot of time making it habitable for Rio. When they were done it even had a nice white wood interior. I told Heather that I had lived in rooms that were not near as nice. I think that Rio has some post traumatic stress disorder from when the trailer was not so nice.

I say all of the above in order to make the point that Heather has not had it as easy as most in her horsey doings. But I have never, ever heard her complain nor ever, ever talk about parting company with Rio. And I doubt that she will ever do either. She’s also put up with my opinionated behavior, which at times has been pretty extreme.

Last night we ate dinner, ate Pete’s cookies, and watched a few of the Intrinzen videos. When I first met Heather, I thought that she was pretty smart, and she’s developed more than a surface-level understanding of horse care, feeding, behavior, nutrition. It could be in part because Heather has now taken many college classes, and in this time has developed her cognitive skills. This, combined with an obsession with horses has made her an astute student when it comes to most things equine.

For example, as we were watching an Intrinzen video, she pointed out that in one video that teaching the horses (using positive reinforcement) to go away from the trainer was an example of learned behavior. I said she was right, and that doing things like crunches and panther walk was innate behavior.

Heather’s very correct observation was based on her knowledge of positive reinforcement behavior. Now today, most of the day, I have been thinking – what is innate behavior? What is learned behavior? And what should we be reinforcing and why? These are questions that I want to talk more about with Heather.

Bottom line: I am glad that Heather is my friend, and this is a term that I have only applied to a few people in my life. I am (as she is) looking forward to spring and our getting out on the trails on our horses.

Next: 354. 12/23/17: The Horse Life: Pony Brain

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