Pete and Siggi are content being in one another’s company. Both, it seems, share equally in the decision making process. This didn’t just happen. Siggi and Pete have, together, learned some very important life lessons. For example, there was the water phobia issue. Early on, Siggi decided that the only water he wanted to deal with was that in a five-gallon bucket. He eschewed puddles, creeks, and rivers, and made it quite clear to Pete that going around or through them was not in his job description. In fact, he was so resistant that we had to end some rides prematurely. Pete even had to retrace their steps on two loop rides. On the first, Raudi, who saw this as her sibling’s problem, crossed the creek and headed for home while Pete and Siggi had to climb all the way back up to the bench. On the second, we hoofed it back home together, me grousing about not finishing the ride.
We both tried to assist Siggi in overcoming this phobia. Pete tried some of the things in his natural horsemanship toolbox, like asking Siggi to move forward, a step at a time. And I tried some of the things in my TTeam mailbox, like putting a body wrap on Siggi, and with wand in hand, inviting him to move forward. But Siggi would have none of this. Water was water, and he was not going to be cajoled into going through it. I also tried chunking things down, and worked with him on walking through a wading pool. Siggi complied; however, smart horse that he is, he knew the difference between a wading pool and a puddle. He could see the two-dimensional ducks at the bottom of the wading pool. He could not see the monsters lurking at the bottom of the puddle.
The issue resolved itself. A few years back, we were at a clinic. Pete went for a ride with Dick Stoffel, and Siggi followed Dick’s horse Karmen through a boggy water crossing. Pete was quite proud of his boy, and let him know it. Hearing of this, I remarked that something clicked in Siggi’s head, for he became increasingly less hesitant about crossing water-related obstacles.
Of course, for some time after, he let Raudi go first. And Raudi, who like her owner tends to be impatient, charged forward, not stopping until she came to a good grazing area. Now Siggi often takes charge, and goes first, leaving his older sister to follow in his hoof prints.
My theory is that Siggi’s lack of confidence was balance related. His early misgivings centered around his perceived inability to do what he was being asked to do. Finally, the mental and physical coincided. He’s never going to be overly confident about his abilities, which is good thing. Rather, he’s going to continue to approach such situations in a manner befitting of a calm and savvy trail horse. These days he first inches himself forward with a look of intense concentration on his face. Then, after testing out the edges, he goes for it. A self-satisfied snort often follows.
Pete had expressed concern about Siggi’s being able to cross the Little Su on the competitive trail ride. It was reputed to be at flood stage and running fast. We got to it, and stopped to access the situation, first asking the two out-riders for directives. All the while, Raudi moved around nervously and Siggi stood quietly. Finally, we went for it. Siggi, who was in the lead, scrambled down the embankment, into the river, as would an exuberant 10 year old. Raudi, who was a little more concerned, followed. Together, we all made our way downriver, floating in places. (I later remarked that the sensation was akin to being in a river kayak). Mr. Siggi was the first to make it to the far bank – there he scrambled up onto the shore, and again snorted. “Good job dude!” Pete said. There was no time to dwell on this accomplishment, for several smaller creek crossings followed. Siggi lead the way, across all of them.
The attached photo is one of Pete and Siggi. We went for a ride the other day, with Pete stopping to do some work on one of our area riding trails. He cut branches with his saw, tossing dead branches left and right. Siggi stood quietly as Pete did this task; however, Raudi indicated she wanted to get going, by shifting her weight from side to side. Pete, after finishing, said “let’s go.” Siggi then raised his head, and prepared to move on.
Pete and Mr. Siggi are a team, which is why Pete is going to participate in an upcoming Alaska Icelandic Horse Association clinic. The clinician is Alex Pregtizer, who lives in Michigan. The clinic filled up before we could reserve a space for both our horses. Pete encouraged me to ride Raudi in this clinic, saying that Alex could help me better develop Raudi’s tolt. I considered this, but finally came to the conclusion that it would be more advantageous for Pete and Siggi to attend. Siggi’s gait of choice is the pace. Both Pete and I are thinking that Alex might be able to work with him on his trot and tolt. This, I explained to Pete, would be good for him, because he’d learn how to assist Siggi in developing other muscle groups. I added that with such training, such horses become even more confident and balanced on the trail. Pete then agreed to this. I’m excited for them both. Watching the two grow together is bringing me great joy.
07/1/12: Land Ahoy