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Missy May 05-30-2013 06:18 PM

Missed the cause and effect
I wasn't sure exactly where to post this.

I put this out there b/c sometimes when a horse’s behavior aggravates you to death – it can completely blind you to the real and obvious “cause and effect”.

Although I try hard to consider my horse’s “perspective” when working w them, I sometimes miss something super obvious….the long winded story that follows is an example of one of those times. My mare is my princess. To keep her company I got a haffie filly last Nov that came w zero training. The haffie is very easy to train one-on-one; however, she is a bit of an “imp” all other times – to put it mildly. While I ordinarily work with them on a one-on-one basis, when I am w both horses together at liberty, I carry a training whip for the filly’s benefit. My mare knows the whip ain’t for her, and always calmly remains by my side and looks on when I use it to “direct” the filly. While the filly is hyper reactive to the whip when we are all together at liberty, when with her one-on-one it takes a real effort to get her to respond to it at all – in hand, or at liberty. I clean missed the “why” of this disparity until recently. In my defense, b/c the filly is so calm and easy to work with one-on-one, I tended to forget that her mental maturity is rather low in some areas b/c she had no real interaction w human or horse after she was weaned and until she came to us at around 2.5 yo. Anyway I had to hang out with them both at liberty for over three hours to “guard” DH and materials whilst he was fixing yet another piece of the filly’s “handy work”. During that time it became obvious to me that when we were all three together, the filly consistently misinterpreted my slightest use of the whip as signal to “leave” us (my mare and I), i.e., “rejection”. This explained her behavior to always repeatedly run off, zing around, and return to do the exact same thing (e.g., crossing a space “border line”) which I had in turn misread as “impish” and youth. Once the light bulb went on for me, I focused on getting her to make the connection between the "real" cause and effect w respect to the whip, as well as made sure she felt “welcome” in “the herd” as long as I was around. It had instant results. I am sure the fact that my mare barely tolerates her being near me, and that we are very bonded was/is not lost on the filly also contributed to her “misinterpretation” of my use of the whip. I kind of felt sorry for the filly for a bit. Anyway, DH had to leave the project at one point and I remained to guard the materials which is when us girls “worked it all out”, and when DH returned I was grooming them to pass the time– all calm and happy like, and he (a non-horsy person) even commented on how much calmer and better behaved the filly was acting.

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