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Suspicious horse / teeth rasping
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Kate
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 Posted: Mon Mar 1st, 2010 10:10 pm
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Hello Dr. Deb and fellow students

I have only recently discovered this website and am thoroughly enjoying it and this forum.  It is very refreshing!   

I have a puzzle.  My horse is a generally OK chap in all aspects of ridden and ground work; he is a pleasure to be around.  However, there are certain aspects of human requirements that do not sit so well with him; he is by nature a suspicious boy and is not a fan of new things or strange people (or things involving him getting damp!) His strategy is to remove himself until the thing goes away.

I think along his life experience (he is about 15 – I have had him since he was 2ish) he has learned that he does not have much defence against people and what they say generally goes.  With run-of-the-mill things, such as cleaning his eyes or sheath, or the farrier, this is not a problem as what is happening to him IS ok, although he doesn’t like it much.  When it is done, he feels fine and quickly moves on. 

He has had his teeth done intermittently over the years, always being a bit scared but not overly endangering anybody.  However, a new dentist (at this time, I was with a vet who did not rasp teeth) wanted to do a lot more work on him and took a very long time to do the job.  Ru was not OK with this at all and found the process extremely upsetting.  But he did not do much to express this fear / anxiety, only walked backwards until he reached the wall where he sort of slid down it, like his legs had lost strength.  But because he was not thrashing about and essentially standing still, the dentist finished the job.  Afterwards, he was very subdued and not keen to go into the place (the field shelter, which he loved before) where it happened.  I gave him time, didn’t make a fuss and when he was ready, he returned to his normal self (about a week).  I really was not happy with this, as I think it is my duty as his human to look after him and only expose him to things he has been set up to be OK with.

I no longer use this dentist and have a new vet who does rasp teeth.  Ru is now sedated for the job.  I made this decision based on a conversation with the new vet, describing how he behaved with the dentist and the vet agreed he should not be put in that situation.  There are other horses in my stables who are sedated to protect the vet; he is sedated to protect himself.  This situation works (? – it could be better though)

I have obviously let Ru down by not making sure he was happy to have me handling his mouth before all this happened.  I have tried since to work with his lips and gums, but he shuts down and is very tight, not just his mouth but his whole body.  I don’t blame him! 

My question is: can I ever expect him to be OK about this process? Am I best to keep persevering with working his mouth with the hope that one day he will accept it and stop looking at me like I am trying to remove all his teeth with really big pliers?

I can’t think how to turn it pleasant for him: he won’t even take treats, which I’m not keen on giving him as he usually gets over-excited.  His birdie is firmly locked away until I move on to something else.  I would like to get him to the stage where he was ‘yeah, ok, get on with it’ rather than ‘absolutely not.’ 

I feel this is his suspicious nature – in all other aspects of horse-care, I have been right and his suspicions unfounded, but here HE was right, and he won’t let go of that.   


Any suggestions or similar experiences are gratefully received!

Kate

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 09:13 am
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Kate, your post sharply reminds me of how easy it is for me to lead people over the line from useful metaphor to damaging and useless anthropomorphizing.

To "anthropomorphize" means to project human motivations, thoughts, and emotions onto the horse.

In short, Kate, I take this to be my own fault; it is one of the dangers that I knew I would face when I wrote and published the 'Birdie Book.' There isn't much I can do to correct it, either, at a distance as we are.

What I am telling you is that you don't understand Birdie theory really at all. Whenever a reader does not grasp what is being said, it is due to the author's shortcomings.

This in itself would not be so bad, but when the reader steps over the line into anthropomorphizing -- what psychiatrists call 'projection' -- a form of narcissism -- then it is not mere misunderstanding but actually dangerous. Because when the owner or handler anthropomorphizes, Kate, what is liable to happen is that 'little pooky' or 'naughty little muffin' gets a slap on the wrist, usually way too little and way too late to be effective. The person cannot bear to put real, effective manners on her 'child'.

Let me put this another way. Horses do not meditate plots. They do not hold resentments. They are not suspicious; only unsure because their owner/handler has not explained whatever the situation is to them in a way that they can understand. And of course, when the owner/handler anthropomorphizes, they never DO explain it in a way that the horse can understand, because who they think they are talking to is not a horse, but a child or some kind of animated stuffed toy. There are 'no boundaries' between the narcissistic owner/handler and the imaginary and imagined horse; unfortunately for the poor horse, they are locked together as one.

Now Kate if you have heard this, you can change. Your first dentist did nothing wrong; he did a workmanlike job of a type (manual equipment, no drugs) that is now becoming somewhat old-fashioned. He pushed the horse back into a corner of the stall and the horse walked backward and then leaned on the wall. That is absolutely normal procedure in that style of dentistry. None of that was anything so bad that the normal horse cannot deal with it; what really happened was not that it scared the horse, but that it scared YOU, and then you project that onto the horse and tell yourself, your vet, and me the story in that form. 

You are not responsible for every tiny change of feeling your horse has, and many of the tiny changes you think he goes through I doubt he even has. Your vets and your dentists tolerate you, Kate, and I've seen this many times -- because customers like you are often cash cows. When the person misunderstands the horse a lot of the time, they are not likely to be an effective rider, and riding is therefore not likely to be anything but scary. So narcissists at the barn generally become 'nurses' who require their horse to have something wrong with it most of the time -- this gives the nurse a reason for existing as well as an excuse for not riding -- and it also puts cash into the pocket of the farrier, the dentist, and the veterinarian. But again, Kate, if you have heard this you can change.

The first step in making a change is to back off and learn what kind of an animal a horse is. Horses are livestock. My best advice to you here is to try an exercise: stop calling your horse by name. Try this for a month. Call him by what color he is: whitey, graylee, blackie, reddy, painty. This will give him some breathing room and a chance of being able to tell YOU a thing or two about who he is.

The most essential thing to know about a horse is that it is separate from yourself. It is an animal that belongs to a separate species. The human lineage and the horse lineage diverged from each other well over 50 million years ago. Much of what a horse is, is so different from what we are as to almost be alien. Mentally, emotionlally, and in terms of the way they perceive the world, they are really, really different from us -- and you will never, and not even the greatest horseman on earth has ever -- fully bridged that chasm.

You will certainly never bridge it by insisting that the horse be like you, think like you, have the same motivations and reasoning that you have. You're going about it backwards, Kate. Instead of demanding he come where you are, you have instead got to begin being willing to go where HE is. I would hope all students would become vitally interested in this. A horsewoman is half HORSE. A horsewoman does not demand that the horse be half PERSON.

I would also, since you are a citizen of the British Commonwealth, tell you to go find a copy of 'The Henry Blake Reader' or any book by Henry Blake. He is a wonderful British horseman whose work I find stimulating and admirable. Read all the Henry Blake you can find....he will teach you to appreciate and love horses for what THEY are, not for what you so much hope they will be.

This response may not have been just what you were looking for, Kate, but as I mentioned at the outset the blame is really to be placed upon me. When I find a better way to explain to people what the Birdie really is, then maybe I can serve you better. -- Dr. Deb

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 02:39 pm
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DrDeb wrote:  I would also, since you are a citizen of the British Commonwealth, tell you to go find a copy of 'The Henry Blake Reader' or any book by Henry Blake. He is a wonderful British horseman whose work I find stimulating and admirable. Read all the Henry Blake you can find....he will teach you to appreciate and love horses for what THEY are, not for what you so much hope they will be.



Dr. Deb,

I found a book titled Talking With Horses by Henry Norman Blake.  Is this the same author?

Thank you, Kathy 

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 08:14 pm
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Yes. That's the one most commonly available in America.

Jeannie
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 Posted: Tue Mar 2nd, 2010 10:59 pm
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Dr Deb, 
        The above description of a person anthropomorphizing a horse could well be someone I know.

     She has read many of your books, been to talks of yours, and while she seems to understand the theory very well, is unable to manner her horse in even a basic way.
   
    I think of it as " cook booking" something--- there are the instructions, and then there is the actual doing, which requires reading the situation and reacting with correct judgment. Also seeing what is working and what is not and adjusting accordingly, and some people live so much in their own heads that they talk themselves into believing their own thoughts about what is going on.

          Her first two horse didn't work out, and the third constantly has medical issues, which turns out to be convenient, since that becomes an excuse for the spoiled behavior.

      She asks me to help her with the horse, and in fact the horse is quite easy to work with once she understands that none of her usual nonsense is going to fly. I try to break it down into really small, concrete steps for the owner to work on, but it is clear that the horse only does it if she feels like it. The other day she spoke with a bit of pride about how many opinions her horse has.

         She is currently trying to get the horse to leave her foot on the hoof stand long enough for the trimmer to get a swipe at it ( " it hurts her to put her foot on it for very long" ). She said she waits until the horse is really relaxed and ready to do it.
  
 To be quite honest, I don't know what she is talking about most of the time. A couple of days ago she brought her horse over and attempted to lunge it. The horse raced around crookedly, pulling and kicking out at her. After a bit she  stopped, came up, and declared she didn't like using the lunge tape she had borrowed, instead of rope.I was speechless.
                                       Jeannie
                                            

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 07:24 am
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Yes, Jeannie -- there's one at nearly every barn. They are often frustrations to caring teachers, because at some levels they are usually quite intelligent and certainly give evidence that they want the best for their horses.

But they have an excuse for everything rather than a plan -- in other words, if the horse doesn't "want" to put their foot up on the block, that must be because it hurts them. Rather than saying, OK my horse doesn't know how to put her foot up there or keep it up there; what can I do to change that, to teach her how to do it?

In some cases, I can trace a history where the person has been beaten up so many times by riding instructors -- it's just abuse, no different really than spousal abuse -- that the person just kind of goes through a change where they make up imaginary reasons and that becomes their defense. This is also a 100% universal pattern within the alcoholic household and with the adult childeren of alcoholics. In an alcoholic household, the children are taught early on that "everything MUST be perfect." At all costs, they must give the impression to visitors, teachers, their minister, or other outsiders that everything is just absolutely FINE and NORMAL in their home.

This is in the teeth of the truth, which is that almost nothing is either fine or normal in their home -- their home is extremely dysfunctional. So you see the similarity to the horse hobby/industry -- how many horse owners do you know who are "on show" all the time? Who come to a clinic and can't get off that, who spend the first two rides in a five-ride clinic trying so hard to "show" me what their horse can do that they don't hear even a single instruction or suggestion? And this in the teeth of my telling them directly: I don't care to see what your horse can do, honey, I already knew what your horse could do within two minutes of when it first walked in here. But they have told themselves "I am just fine" or even "Gee I'm great" so many times that they are often not only astonished, but really offended, when I tell them that they are lucky so far that the horse hasn't broken their neck.

This is where we get down to the last prayer -- one does not want to pray this prayer, but I am willing whenever I come to believe that it is the last resort for a given person. And that prayer is that their horse goes ahead and breaks their leg, and they get a nice long layup in the hospital, and an enforced opportunity to come clean with themselves and God, and start over fresh, as clean as new snow.

Now the other day when I wrote the reply to Kate, I toddled off to bed directly after, and lately as my bedtime reading I have been enjoying the "Unspoken Sermons" of good old George MacDonald. Just wonderful stuff. But sometimes it's more wonderful than even I am prepared for. I allow myself one sermon every couple of days -- the archaic expression makes it slow reading sometimes, and plus everything he has to say, whether you agree with it or not, is worth chewing over several times. But here is what I read in his sermon on "The Inheritance":

“….That the loveliness of the world has its origin in the making will of God, would not content me; I say, the very loveliness of it is the loveliness of God, for its loveliness is his own lovely thought, and must be a revelation of that which dwells and moves in himself. Nor is this all: my interest in its loveliness would vanish, I should feel that the soul was out of it, if you could persuade me that God had ceased to care for the daisy, and now cared for something else instead. The faces of some flowers lead me back to the heart of God; and, as his child, I hope I feel, in my lowly degree, what he felt when, brooding over them, he said, ‘They are good;’ that is, ‘They are what I mean.’

But how can any share exist where all is open?

The true share, in the heavenly kingdom throughout, is not what you have to keep, but what you have to give away. The thing that is mine is the thing I have with the power to give it. The thing I have no power to give a share in, is nowise mine; the thing I cannot share with everyone, cannot be essentially my own.

I do not say we must, or can ever know all in God; not throughout eternity shall we ever comprehend God, but he is our father, and must think of us with every part of him—so to speak in our poor speech; he must know us, and that in himself which we cannot know, with the same thought, for he is one. We and that which we do not or cannot know, come together in his thought. And this helps us to see how, claiming all things, we have yet shares. For the infinitude of God can only begin and only go on to be revealed, through his infinitely differing creatures—all capable of wondering at, admiring, and loving each other, and so bound all in one in him, each to the others revealing him. For every human being is like a facet cut in the great diamond to which I may dare liken the father of him who likens his kingdom to a pearl. Every man, woman, child—for the incomplete also is his, and in its very incompleteness reveals him as a progressive worker in his creation—is a revealer of God. I have my message of my great Lord, you have yours. Your dog, your horse tells you about him who cares for all his creatures. None of them came from his hands. Perhaps the precious things of the earth, the coal and the diamonds, the iron and clay and gold, may be said to have come from his hands; but the live things come from his heart—from near the same region whence ourselves we came. How much my horse may, in his own fashion—that is, God’s equine way—know of him, I cannot tell, because he cannot tell. Also, we do not know what the horses know, because they are horses, and we are at best, in relation to them, only horsemen. The ways of God go down into microscopic depths, as well as up into telescopic heights—and with more marvel, for there lie the beginnings of life: the immensities of stars and worlds all exist for the sake of less things than they. So with mind; the ways of God go into the depths yet unrevealed to us; he knows his horses and dogs as we cannot know them, because we are not yet pure sons of God. When through our sonship, as Paul teaches, the redemption of these lower brothers and sisters shall have come, then we shall understand each other better. But now the lord of life has to look on at the wilful torture of multitudes of his creatures. It must be that offences come, but woe unto that man by whom they come! The Lord may seem not to heed, but he sees and knows.

To those who care only for things, and not for the souls of them, for the truth, the reality of them, the prospect of inheriting light can have nothing attractive, and for their comfort—how false a comfort!—they may rest assured there is no danger of their being required to take up their inheritance at present. Perhaps they will be left to go on sucking things dry, constantly missing the loveliness of them, until they come at last to loathe the lovely husks, turned to ugliness in their false imaginations. Loving but the body of Truth, even here they come to call it a lie, and break out in maudlin moaning over the illusions of life. The soul of Truth they have lost, because they never loved her. What may they not have to pass through, what purifying fires, before they can even behold her!”

The complete 3-volume set of George MacDonald's "Unspoken Sermons" (middle 19th Century Scotland) can be downloaded for free by using these links:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/macdonald/unspoken1.html

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/macdonald/unspoken2.html

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/macdonald/unspoken3.html

 

 

Kate
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 06:58 pm
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Thankyou for replying.  

I rather think I should not have used the word 'suspicious'. Perhaps this is not an emotion in the horse's repetoire? I used it as I felt it best described his behaviour.

I have found a copy of Henry Blake's Horse Sence, expecting delivery any time soon.

There is a lot of food for thought in your reply, Dr Deb, thankyou. I find anthropormophising hard not to do, as I seem to see so many similarities between equine and human emotions: I am not trying to turn my horse into a human, but trying to gain toeholds of understanding.

Two questions for clarification - when I described my horse backing into the corner, he did not do this in the same way the other horses did. This is why I used this story as part of my question. He really did appear to 'collapse', and it is something he has done once before in a different (but similar) situation, where he went all the way down to the ground and just lay there. At risk of anthropormorphising again, it looked like, in the face of a frightening situation, he gave up any thought of self preservation and was going to lie down and let it happen. Like he could not / thought he couldn't protect himself. Do you think that this is really what happened?

The second is you suggestion of not using the horse's name. I have assesed the time I spend with him, and I rarely, if ever, talk to him as I would to a person. I say 'hello', but then so does he (or at least makes a noise I interprate as hello). So if I am at the field with no other people (which is normal), I don't call him anything. I appreciate his name is irrelevent on this forum (as is mine, in that case), but he is a large part of my world. Please could you expand on you suggestion of not using the name, as I can't at the moment see how this would change/improve things for me.

Thankyou

Kate 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 11:52 pm
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OK, Kate, I see from this that you can hear my real intentions, and that you do sincerely want to grow into a real horsewoman.

The purpose of asking you not to call your horse by name has nothing to do with how much you speak to him. True, I would prefer that people not babble to their horse -- like they do to babies or toddlers. Or sometimes people talk to their horse quite loudly, mainly so that other people will overhear them telling the horse GOOD BOY GOOD BOY, which is just a sly way of praising themselves -- and I'd always prefer not to hear that, either, of course.

So you can talk to your horse normally, just don't call him by name. Most of the ineffective horse owners that I know have horses with names that are either pretentious or cute -- 'Destiny', 'Chauncey', 'QT', 'Meadow Muffin'. Contrast this with the farmer I met last September in England who had come to our dig at the Roman fort of Vindolanda with his granddaughter, as a volunteer. This was one of the volunteers I enjoyed the most; very enjoyable to eat lunch with this older man, who would talk about getting his lot of chickens ready to slaughter, or treating his cows for pinkeye, or breaking in a colt, which he had done many times and always produced good safe workmanlike rides. There are lots of men and women like this old guy was: perfectly sensible, totally effective -- and their horses will have names like 'Billy', 'Tom', 'Old Grey', 'Tucker'.

Do you get the difference? The idea is to DEPERSONALIZE them, to distance yourself from the animal and thereby to give the animal some breathing room. The farmer, especially the small-scale type of farmer that England still has so many of, who raises a couple of hogs each year and slaughters them himself, has a completely clear-eyed grasp of how utterly different are animals from ourselves. You better believe this farmer cares for his livestock. But he ALLOWS them to BE livestock. This gives the animals the most happiness and the most freedom through whatever lifespan they are destined to have.

I understand that your horses may be a big part of your life. For which of us are they not? But your attachment to them is, to begin with, way too "sticky". Let's see if by doing this exercise -- you pick out some totally emotionally neutral name, and naming them by color is an easy way to do that -- and you address that horse, and you think of that horse, for one week only by that name.

Make it be just as if you had sent the animal to the auction and he had there been bought by that old farmer I met at Vindolanda. He would have called him 'reddy' or 'graylee' -- which is as much as saying, "I don't know who you are, horse, or where you've been before you came to me, and I don't really care, because whatever is wrong with you, I am certain that I can guide you firmly and clearly enough that it will change." Notice how the farmer is not into telling stories about Muffy's history! He lives and he works entirely in the present -- which is the only place the horse ever is!

You come back to us in a week, Kate, do please, and tell us how this goes and whether you were able to let go of sticky-smarmy attachment, and what you learned or insights you gained thereby. And you have my great thanks for being willing to work at this, even when you yourself do not necessarily see how great the benefits are going to be. -- Dr. Deb

Jacquie
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 Posted: Wed Mar 10th, 2010 04:48 pm
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DrDeb wrote: The purpose of asking you not to call your horse by name has nothing to do with how much you speak to him. True, I would prefer that people not babble to their horse -- like they do to babies or toddlers. Or sometimes people talk to their horse quite loudly, mainly so that other people will overhear them telling the horse GOOD BOY GOOD BOY, which is just a sly way of praising themselves -- and I'd always prefer not to hear that, either, of course.



I dislike to hear the GOOD BOY GOOD BOY thing too. I have always thought it was being said to these horses as a kind of insurance policy - the rider hopes they will BE good if they are told it often enough!

It desensitises the horses to the word GOOD too - which I find to be a very useful word indeed -  if used when appropriate and when a horse actually IS being good!

On a lighter and slightly related note, I also think horses live up to their names - or down to them. Maybe this is silly, but I would find it hard to buy a horse called Satan or Diablo or one with a name that suggests a difficult character. Sentimentality and degradingly silly names are inappropriate for horses names in my opinion too.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 11th, 2010 01:50 am
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Jacquie:

Whilst in college, I worked at the school stable.  We had there a mare named Jezebel.  Frankly, she was an unpleasant animal who worked well.  However, few people got to find out about her character, because they recoiled from the name (not my doing, just to make that clear).

Joe

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 Posted: Thu Mar 11th, 2010 08:05 am
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Jo

Yes, I agree you cannot be prejudiced against a horse simply because of his or her name, but I can understand why it may be off putting. That is why I think that naming a young horse is a responsible undertaking and names should be chosen with great care - the animal may have to bear the consequences of that name for its whole life, and I admit that certain names do make me feel 'put off'  and some names are in my view just insulting or undignified for the animal. I would never be put off by a horses name to the point where I would not ride the horse, but I might think twice about buying that horse, - I suppose in case he had earned the name for some reason. I dont think I would worry about the name 'Jezebel' personally, though I can see it is likely to cause a reaction with  some kinds of religeous people. How about this then - a lovely powerful skewbald feathery cob, 15hh and a beautiful looking animal - called Munchkin! Surely that is just an insult? I blame the breeders - maybe he looked like a Muchkin when he was a tiny foal, but surely they must have realised he will become a big adult horse one day!

I was shown a tiny hairy dark grey, sweet looking, rotund childrens pony once to buy when my children were very small and he was quite young. He would have been exactly the right size for them but I declined buying him as his behaviour was appalling, but his name, once I was told it, pushed me a step even further away from buying him. His name was Diablo. Who would call a sweet tiny pony foal Diablo? Did he earn this name or did he live up to it? I  distantly knew the people who did end up buying him and he remained, wholly unsuitable and dangerous as a childrens pony, bolting flat out regularly and bucking their children off frequently - he lived down to his name for sure, poor pony. Why give an animal a name which may prejudice future handlers against it?

Allegedly  in UK, it is unlucky to change a horses name, though I have in the past re-named  a pony I bought - he was called Solo when I bought him, but it just did not seem to suit him in my view. Oddly, when I researched his past a bit, it turned out that I had changed his name back to his original one - so he had already been re-named once when I bought him! All very silly trivial stuff really.

Last edited on Thu Mar 11th, 2010 08:13 am by Jacquie

Joe
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 Posted: Thu Mar 11th, 2010 02:17 pm
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Jacquie:

We certainly agree in principal, although there is a bit of backhanded humor in some names -- like the big munchkin you mentioned, or a very powerful 17 hand T-bred I saw go at a breeders sale about 30 years ago.  This big bundle of coiled power was named "Motor Mouse."

Here in the States, we don't worry too much about changing names, unless there is a lot of registration bother to go through. Sometimes, too, we just ignore the registered name and call the animal what we please -- and that may change and get more emphatic on some days...

A good friend has a superb French Brittany working bird dog.  The beast has a yard-long name in French, that starts out Avis d' something something something. My friend originally called him Avis.  Alas, here in the US of A there is a car rental company called Avis.  It is the second largest, and has a long running TV ad campaign to the effect that, "at Avis, we're number 2 so we try harder."  My friend got sick of  hearing "number 2," and "try harder" witticisms, so he just started calling the dog "Bob."  Bob seems perfectly content to be Bob. 

Joe

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Mar 11th, 2010 07:49 pm
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This is an amusing discussion -- kind of not what I was originally telling Kate, the advice there being so that she could try an easy exercise that would serve to help her distance herself from her horse, to unplug all those sticky suckers that are snaking out from herself and suffocating the animal. I notice we have not heard back from Kate -- when the person is deep into it, perhaps the exercise is not in fact so easy; but I do still hope to hear from her again, whatever she has to say.

The point I think that you guys are making is that names that people assign to animals tell us more about the person than the animal. The animal is what he is, or tries his best to be. So when we notice that somebody narcissistically suckers on to an animal, they often give him a name that (unbeknownst to their conscious self) reveals what they are projecting onto that animal, or what their "hidden" (not so hidden!) obsessions are.

My very favorite example of this is a story from my childhood. My parents back then were friends with another couple. We were all of the middle class, none of them college-educated, my dad and the other man were blue-collar workers both engaged in the same trade. We lived in middle-class neighborhoods where the houses were not overly large and where it was not uncommon for people to park their cars along the street. There would be a street-light on the corner and sometimes, late on a Friday or Saturday night, being as there was noplace else for them to go, you could look out the window and there would be a couple of teenagers holding hands and smooching under the light.

Now my parents would remark on this and sometimes 'tsk tsk' it, but the other couple took it to a whole 'nother level....they would vigilantly scan for it, sitting by the window with the curtain pulled back just enough to peep out, and when they saw them smooching the wife calling the husband or the husband calling the wife to the window, 'look see! they're at it again!' And you knew from the vigilance and the excess of interest that they were not doing this because of concern for the moral well-being of the young people. What it really was, was it was thrilling to them, a spur for their own sex later in the evening; it was voyeurism; it was pornography by projection in their imaginations.

At a certain point in our acquaintance with them, this couple got a lovely little dog -- a small male Schnauzer. Now this is the kind of dog where they typically dock the tail, and the animal is so made that the root of the tail sticks straight up all the time. And although they have that fine, curly kind of hair, the rear quarters are not covered over by fur, so that between this and the erect tail, the animal's anus is always visible.

And so, because it is a German breed, they would tell people that the name they used for the dog was a simplification or an American pronunciation of a common German name; but if you knew these people, you really knew it wasn't that. The dog's name? "Hiney".

Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Jineen Walker
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 Posted: Sat Mar 13th, 2010 07:57 pm
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Hi Dr. Deb

I wanted to put my reply here, as what you asked Kate to do, I ended up doing this past January and February with my national show horse, who I was trying to figure out a sugar/ supplement/behavioral problems from the hormonal mare thread.

So after being the best horseman I could be with food and turnout, however, I've already learned not to follow the norm, as you rightly suggested, I finally reached what I would consider a base line for this horse. There was no change in his behavior. He was erratic in his behavior, always on extreme high alert, always spooking, not focused. Unfortunately for the both of us, it made me mad, which I know made things worse. I kept remembering all the things we did together, and all the places we went over the past 20 years. What had changed, and what was different was what I needed to know. What did I do wrong in training him, and I took it as a personal failure.

A long time ago, he gave me the gift of looking to me, or in your terms, put his birdie on me, before I knew you. I was always there supporting him. He would be exactly as you would want standing at the end of his lead. He would still spook, get unsure, but I could reach him and get with him. He learned to look to me and not be herd bound ect. He always needed consistent work and mental challenges. Now I didn't do anywhere near what I used to do with him. I expected him to never again need to be supported. I didn't realize that his emotional training could back slide. I just thought of physical terms. I was also expecting him to be like the other horses I have, that are more naturally laid back. I was angry at him for all the time I've put in to him, and he isn't calm and settled like old Muffy, or solid as Sears.

I stepped back from him to give us both breathing room, I let it all go.
As I did, I was able to really look at his history and see that this is who he is, and has always been. Insecure, fearful, worried. So what did I do before that I wasn't doing anymore to help him? Why was he so good at times, and now so on high alert?

I was expecting him to be okay for me, and to be there for me because I was too distracted with other things. I wasn't challenging him or directing him, I wasn't in the present with him, I was in the past when times were good, and thought I had the same moment now. Being angry with him made me unstable to him, and him even more insecure.

Now I believe I know why. I haven't ok. I was looking to "fix" him, the situation, ect. though I know it all is important, but it first had to be me. One thing that had to be fixed was me being ok with him not being ok. He is a horse and he is acting this way. Now what?

I needed to be the one directing again, not reacting to his spooking. I can't control that he is scared, that he feels the need to be on alert. But I can be okay, so that when I do direct him, he senses calm leadership from me, and settles again.

Now I don't care that he is scared, that he is distracted, that he is reacting. It is him, not me, not what I did or didn't do. I treat him as he is someone else's horse. No emotional attachment. I notice that he isn't ok, and I don't care. I direct him, I try channel his focus forward. When he constantly calls to me, I hear it, but it doesn't matter to me. I make sure everything is as best as I can do, and hope that his birdy comes back off of me, and that he sucks his thumb again.

And since its been since the middle of Febuary that I started working with him again, I will tell you that both of us have improved. Of course he still spooks when the snow slides on the roof, so what? This is what this horse does. He spooks, he runs ect. He is afraid to be alone. He isn't my best friend who shares a long history with me. He doesn't do things to make me look like a fool, or that I'm an idiot. He knows and remembers some things. And fortunately for me I can change his opinion of me back to one of a leader. It's really nice to hear him breathe a sign of relief when he does come back to me. He will never be solid as Sears, but if I can at least get his focus back like this, I think that this is normal for him.
Now, Dr. Deb, fill in for me please whatever I may have missed, or be wrong with.

Jineen

rifruffian
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Joined: Mon Mar 17th, 2008
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 Posted: Sat Mar 13th, 2010 09:18 pm
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Jineen I found that an interesting post to read; even though I can't agree with it entirely. Especially your penultimate paragraph starting.....' Now I don't care '.........I found that passage a bit hard to swallow.

For those of us who own just a single horse or possibly even two, when the question arises....why is my horse not OK.....a relevant follow up question is...' am I ok'?

There are many aspects of our lives that can put us in a confused or stressed state for example bereavement, relocation, financial pressure, divorce. These and similar can leave a human in a day to day state that is definitely not OK, and maybe so for a considerable period of time. My opinion is, that can easily transfer to the horse.

 

 

Last edited on Sat Mar 13th, 2010 09:23 pm by rifruffian


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