When I am Worried, I toss my head. I used to toss my head all of the time. Even out in the pasture, I would toss my head sometimes if I was far away from the other horses and I wanted to be closer. I know I could have just walked over to where they were, but I tossed my head first because I was Worried. I donít know why I do this, maybe it keeps some of the Worries away? Worries crowd in when bad things happen, or when you think they might happen.
So I tossed my head a lot back then. Like I said, even in the pasture. But also in the stall, when tied, in an arena, when being held still, and lots of other times. Looking back on it, itís hard to believe that I used to be worried about being in a stall. Stalls are where I get fed now! Also, at our new place, I have a stall of my very own! It says ďTeddyĒ on it, and it is across the aisle from Gallegoís and Moonshineís stalls, so I can see them both all of the time and not get worried. I used to not like this stall, or any other stall, because I felt trapped. What if something happened, and the Worries got me?
My hooman mom got me used to being in a stall by always feeding me there! She would give me alfalfa hay (yum!) and also my yummy food. Also she would groom me and pick my hooves, and act like everything was just normal. But she wouldnít make me stay in for very long. I think each time she made me stay in a little longer, but I didnít really notice. She also left the door open most of the time, so I knew I could escape if the Worries came!
I was OK with being in a stall but I didnít ever really like it (I live in a pasture all of the time, but my hooman mom brings me in to feed me and ride me, and she has to have somewhere to put me when she does those things). Until one day something happened. That morning started out sort of normal, but there was something different in the air, and I started seeing Worries hiding behind things. So I knew something bad was going to happen. Then lots of people came, way more than usual. And then there was a terrible crash! Gallego jumped up and started running in circles in his stall, even though itís so tiny (I think thatís what started to believe that his stall is haunted, but thatís a whole other subject). Then lots of booming sounds. And then, there were other new horses there! And lots and lots of people! Moonshine said it was a horse show, and she was going to be in it, doing dressage, which I think means going in circles in a pretty way.
Anyway, my hooman mom wanted to try to get me used to this show. So she took me out and walked me around. I did not like it! Everything was different! And there were ropes and signs saying ďno horsesĒ in places, and a loudspeaker, and so many people! She made me walk around and see everything. Then she took me back to my stall and fed me some more hay. We couldnít go out in our pasture because it was being used for parking! Then she walked around, and fed me again. Then after a while she came to get me out again, and I said NO. I will not go back out into that place that is my home but different now, with different people and different horses. I refused! Because do you know what, I realized that my stall wasnít TRAPPING me, it was PROTECTING me! Protecting me from strangers and new things being in my home. So I stayed in there the rest of the day, and now I like my stall!
Also, for that show, I made up a chant for Moonshine: ďMoonshine is the best; better than the rest!Ē She liked it! She said ďGood job, Teddy.Ē Usually she just tells me Iím being silly when I come up with things like that, so I know I must have done a good job. And Moonshine won! She really is the best! She got a blue ribbon to prove it!
Oops, I got ahead of myself, a lot. I wanted to talk about what else made me toss my head. Another big thing was the arena. Because a lot of bad things had happened in there, like people yelling (especially my old owner), my rider being really worried and then me being worried, and being whipped because I didnít understand things. I didnít want to go in there at all. My hooman mom took me in and asked me to stand, and I just started tossing my head. She gave me some cookies (which I almost didnít even want, I just wanted to leave so bad!) and then we left. She didnít understand back then that I didnít like to stand still when I was nervous.
The next time we went in the arena, she asked me to stay a little longer, and gave me some more cookies, then a little more the next time. I think somehow then she realized that I didnít like being still, so she started walking me around in there, which was a lot better. Then she got out some poles and we walked over those, and that was good, too. I like poles because they are a question that I know the answer to! When you see a pole you know you need to go over it! Soon she wasnít giving me any cookies in there at all, but I didnít mind. I liked going over the poles, and she told me ďGood boy, Teddy!Ē in her Good Boy Teddy voice, and that made me feel very good and also safe.
You will probably not be surprised that I did not like to stand still at the mounting block. But my hooman mom brought me there and fed me, and also gave me cookies. At that time, I didnít have a bridle with a bit because my teeth hurt all the time, too much to have a bit in my mouth. So it didnít hurt me to stand there with my non-bitted bridle and eat. Now I have a bit, and I like that better, because it is more clear what my hooman mom is asking me to do. I like directions that are clear. But on the other hand, unlike some horses, I canít eat with a bit in my mouth, or even drink really, so we donít do treats at the mounting block any more, which is too bad! Wouldnít it be nice to start your ride off by having a nice cupcake?
She also worked on me being tied by grooming me, tacking me, and of course feeding me while I was tied. As long as she or Moonshine was around, I didnít mind being tied. Or if I was thinking about something else, like food! But even now I still donít like it. But I can stand for longer times now. I am getting better!
Next chapter: riding!
"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person