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November 15, 2014: Reconsidering the Horse

Mark Rashid wrote a book entitled Considering the Horse. I’m now going to write a dispatch entitled “Reconsidering the Horse.” This is in light of yesterday and Raudi and my literal parting of ways. I am now reconsidering what her feelings are for me. Up until this afternoon, I presumed that being a horse she lacked all feeling for humankind. Now I’m thinking differently.

Today I didn’t ride her. This is because beforehand, I rode Tinni and worked with Tinni. It was getting dark, so I didn’t have time to do much else. I could tell, when finally, I put Hrimmi away that Raudi was eager to get out and play.

I didn’t put a halter on Raudi. Rather, I opened the gate and had her follow me out. Raudi of course knew that I had treats on hand because she saw me hand feed Hrimmi. She could also smell them on me. She went through the sawhorse bridge, stood on the plywood square, and walked around the traffic cones when asked. She also trotted over the ground poles and hopped over the cavalettis, with me running alongside. Brilliant horse.

A few times Raudi appeared to be disinterested in the proceedings, and promptly started to walk away from me. Each time I said “whoa,” dragging out the oa part. And each time, she stopped. Her actions then enabled me to both regain her attention and again get her focus back on me.

It finally started to get dark which was why I finally called it quits. But I then had one more idea, which was to lunge Raudi in the enclosure – this way she would not be able to run off. Lunging on line has always been one of Raudi’s least favorite things to do, which was why I decided to lunge her off line. To begin, I had her stand a few feet away from me, and with the crop in hand, asked her to move forward. She did not at first understand what I was asking. Then, she took a few tentative steps, which were followed by a few more, going in a circle. I said “out, out, out,” and tapped her on the butt, the way I do when I am using the line. Raudi then got it. She moved away from me. I encouraged her to go faster and she broke into a trot. After a bit I had her stop and then beckoned to her to turn the other way. She who now knew what I wanted her to do did as requested.

Of course, Raudi did what she did because she knew that there was something in this for her, namely, a treat. But at the same time, she did this because she likes being praised. No, she is not, nor will she ever be, eager to please. But food and praise are motivating forces in Raudi’s otherwise dull and boring life.

I’d acted upon the premise that I activated her amygdala, which is the pleasure center in her little horsey brain. I did this by giving her a treat and in telling her that she’d done a good job.

The benefit of liberty work is that the horse is acting of its own volition, this as opposed to being forced to do something. So, say, the one who is supposedly in charge has to work harder than they might otherwise. For example, the one who is supposedly in charge has to rely more heavily on their use of body language. This is all a tall order. At the same time, it’s also rewarding for all who are involved in this endeavor.

Next: 305. 11/16/14: Uneventful