Do you remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz where the Lion tries to be scary? That was me today.
I've been trolling through Youtube looking at various Carolyn Resnick and Waterhole Ritual videos and have come to the conclusion that it would not be inappropriate for my horse to move his feet when I ask - no, let's not beat around the bush here - when I tell him.
Today I realized that most of the horses around here (even Chloe) are already of the opinion that I am the sort of creature for whom one moves one's feet when asked. Under the circumstances, I believe it would be inconsiderate to practice asking them to move their feet. My husband is already a good listener - it would be quite rude if I randomly tested to see whether or not he was paying attention to me.
George, on the other hand, is One Tough Guy. Besides which, he has a metabolism like a fiery furnace, which makes him resent any attempts to move him out of a grazing spot.
I decided to go visit George and see what he thinks about me as a foot-mover. After a suitable interval of just hanging out (during which George comes up and says hello), I move assertively toward George's butt and say in a loud voice, "Move along!" No reaction. A couple of tries later I remove my jacket and wave it at his butt. This produces a resentful look and pinned ears but still no foot movement. This cannot be good.
Enter the Cowardly Lion. I pretend to be fierce and scary. I back off about 20 feet, paw the ground a little, wave my jacket over my head, and rush toward George growling and roaring. He moves. I try one or two more King of the Jungle charges, interspersed with episodes of peaceful co-existence. George moves each time.
I try again, using just a confident stride and assertive voice, and sure enough, this time he moves forward. Then Stoney, King of the Paddock, shows how it's done. He comes up and snakes his head meaningfully toward George, who instantly moves off.
Now, if you look that scene with the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy and the others are scared at first - but pretty soon they realize that the Lion can't deliver, that it's all a pantomime. When I charge at George, what makes it different from Stoney's approach is that Stoney is prepared to go all the way, to make contact, to deliver a bite or whatever it takes to assert his dominance. I, on the other hand, like the Cowardly Lion, am hoping that my Thespian abilities will fool George, but all the while knowing that I will back off at the last minute if I fail to convince.
Isn't this where carrying a stick comes in? Carrying a stick would make me feel safer, and therefore braver. I would be able to convince myself, and therefore the horse, that I really meant business. The stick would brace up my mental attitude, which is the key thing after all. I tend to be a very apologetic person, and I believe that while with some horses this is not so much of a problem, with George it is most definitely a hindrance.
What I really need to carry is an inner, absolute conviction that the horse will move for me. This is what Hempfling seems to possess. If I want to learn to be more like KFH, I think George is just the teacher.
That's the Tough Guy on the left, with his best buddy, Taz.