Friday, June 15, 2012

Normal to Natural

For those outside the horse world, it can sound like people with horses speak their own language with terms & sayings that mean little to others. Even within the horse world, different disciplines have their own lingo. If you follow natural horsemanship methods, you often hear the word "normal" used in contrast to the way those who consider themselves "natural" do things. For me, it's not negative, just different & a choice in how the horse is handled. I like the natural way & believe my horses do too.

I've recently acquired a new mare. Valencia is a two year old PRE (Spanish Andalusian) filly. She's been handled in a more normal or traditional way. The contrast between her & Zorra (my home bred two year old Andalusian cross) is clear & fascinating. My spring project is to get her to behave like a partner in all we do! Things that stand out are: she likes to be very close to you when leading, right at the shoulder, she has difficulty standing still for grooming & especially having her feet handled, pushes into pressure & has little respect for my personal space. When worried she'll constantly push into my space & spooks in my direction. She is very gentle, kind & smart without a mean bone in her body. She's trusting (excluding the feet) & loves people. So we've been spending time leading using the "swing the end of the lead rope" as we walk so she stays out my space & isn't constantly able to push into that halter which, by the way, is physically exhausting to my shoulder & arm! She's learned this super fast & seems to be way more relaxed leading. Valencia is very big. At two years old she's already 16 hands. I'm not a big person. Not only am I not able but I've no desire to man-handle any horse. While grooming she's been quite fidgety. I just stay patient & ask her to come back & stand here please. She got this very quickly & doesn't mind standing still. That is until I ask for a foot! So lots of friendly with her legs, which she firmly plants on the ground at the mere idea of picking them up. It takes a good deal of time, but she's allowed me to pick up each foot & is putting them down more softly. Just takes lots of massage & patiently waiting for her to get tired of me asking to get each foot. It's much like it was teaching this to baby Kisia & Zorra, but with a much bigger & stronger horse. So far once she understands & trusts my intentions, Valencia is more that willing to comply. Not sure yet, but still thinking she might be RBI (right brained introvert horsenality) which is so cool! Kisia & Zorra are both LBE (left brained extrovert). Having one that is opposite their horsenality but also my own personality type (RBI) will be a nice contrast to them & provide much learning.

I call myself lucky to have the opportunity to spend time with this new & fabulous mare. Valencia is a type that breeders don't often part with. She'll eventually be a foundation broodmare for our budding program. But for a few more years, I'll enjoy developing a partnership with her & learning more as a lifetime student of the horse.

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