So, you think you're in charge?
I had always thought that I enjoyed a good working relationship with my mare. I bought her as a yearling, trained her myself and in over 20 years of pleasure rides and bringing in the cows, we rarely ever had a difference of opinion. She always did what I asked of her in any scenario. I called her my "miniature police horse", nothing fazed her! I felt secure in my role as "Alpha".
Four years ago, I purchased a Gypsy Cob yearling, completely unhandled, a biting, kicking spitfire of a colt. Once gelded, I turned him out with my mare and, boy, did she teach him some manners, and fast! It made my job a whole lot easier, and all progressed well, apart from one small quirk. When picking out his hooves he would allow me to do 3 out of 4 feet without objection, but on asking for the 4th he would dance about, snatching the foot from my grasp (no kicking, just bratty behaviour). It would be at this point that I would feel my mare approach behind me and cast him a "look". Result? Instant submission! Her job done, she would turn away to graze.
Sadly, my lovely girl passed away last June. Actually, I lost my dog, my horse, my beloved Dad, and was made redundant in close succession (goodbye 2012, don't let the door catch you on the a*** as you leave . . .).
I used to be concerned that she was always a little hard on my Cob. Only now do I understand why. After a few weeks of coming to terms with the loss of his companion, my gelding turned into a monster! I was already aware of his "strong" personality, but he had clearly decided that now the herd leader had gone it was time to take up his rightful position. Huh? But I thought I was herd leader?
It was then that I began to wonder if I had ever been in charge of my herd of two. Or had my mare been graciously indulging my fantasy all these years? Bless her heart.
Fast forward a few months, my Cob is back in line (thanks to Clinton Anderson, et al). However, he continues to test me quietly on a daily basis. I cannot give him an inch!
Keeps life interesting, but I shall never simply assume that I'm in charge ever again!