I went out to see my horse today before going on vacation tomorrow. We came home to our chicken sitter swinging on the swing in front of our house because she couldn't remember if we left today or tomorrow and was debating whether or not to feed the chickens. We actually have to have two people to take care of our pets now. We have one to take care of the house pets and the house and one to take care of the chickens. It makes me realize how hard it would be to find someone to take care of the horses if I didn't board my horse. As it is I just had to tell the owner that I'll be out of town and call my cell if there are any problems.
I realize that I didn't see my horse all this last week because I had a bunch of work to do to prepare to not be available for a week, but it makes me miss her more to know that I can't come see her this upcoming week because I'll be on the other side of the country.
She was a little wound up today. There was a lot going on at the stable just like all Saturdays but she was more wound up than usual. When I road her she was nice and calm in the arena while she was walking. But then I oversignaled her to trot the first time and she let out a buck and started to bolt before I quickly slowed her down. She tried a few times to take off while we were trotting and actually got a little angry with me at one point and put her ears back to let me know that she wanted to run and I was not complying. I let her know that when we're in the arena we were there to work and she needs to follow my lead.
How do I let her know that? By continuing to remain calm and giving her the same signals firmly that say "We are trotting. Just trotting. I am the herd leader and this is what we're doing." I'm trying to learn how to feel normal doing that in my life with humans too - instead of getting defensive or angry when someone is trying to get me to fight with them. I just had an incident where I tried staying calm and not engaging and it was very weird. While this person was being incredibly insulting toward me I tried very hard not to take the bait and fight back and I was able to leave the situation unscathed and I know the whole thing ended quicker. I think if I had defended myself by yelling back we would have been there for hours yelling at each other and getting nowhere while it escalated to a non-productive and unnecessary place. And since I knew I was in the right it seemed like I should just walk away and let her boil in her own rage. With horses it's similar - if I stay calm they tend to calm down (ok the human yelling at me didn't calm down but at least I didn't get caught in the web of endless fighting) and even if they don't calm down, my calmness shows the horse I am the authority. But especially with my horse, if I start fighting her, I will lose.
I read a great quote by a horse trainer in one of my horse magazines and I don't remember who it was or exactly how the quote goes but it was something like this: "If you get to the point of yelling then you have lost." You can't be a good leader if you're freaking out and yelling (which shows a lack of control) and horses will only follow a strong leader. This horse stuff is really teaching me a lot more than just how to not fall off the back of a half-ton creature with a mind of her own.