Today we had a family outing to the barn - me, my husband, my oldest daughter, my youngest daughter, her best friend, and three dogs.
Under such circumstances, the best thing to do is for everyone to go for a walk together. The two 13-year olds took themselves off on an expedition, while the rest of us went to see if Chloe and Bridget were up for a hike. I lead Bridget out of the pasture, Chloe following eagerly. I'd hoped Chloe would continue to follow us, and she did for a hundred yards or so, before deciding she'd rather go back and hang out near the barn. We went back and retrieved her, put her halter on, and she agreed that it would be ok to come along for the walk.
My daughter had to be in charge of Susie (who's her dog anyway) because her shortsightedness makes it necessary to swoop in and rescue her from under horses' feet at frequent intervals. So I gave Chloe's leadrope to my non-horsey husband. I told him he should think of it as taking a toddler for a walk - he should let her have as much fun as possible and interfere with her freedom as little as possible. In no time the two of them were getting along famously, especially because he handed out treats from his pocket every couple of hundred yards.
I think Chloe looks like she's enjoying her outing.
You can see who's the leader in these photos! You can let Chloe "get away with that" (to use outmoded parlance), because she is always very aware of who is attached to the leadrope behind her, even if she's dragging them along! She'll only drag so far, and then she'll wait for you. But today, I think because of the way we've been trying to treat her recently, she didn't do any dragging but was much more willing to mosey along at the pace of the group. This is her first excursion on a leadrope since the New Regime.
Meanwhile, Bridget and I were walking along together, and I had cause to reflect some more on the dominance issue. So far from the barn, out among strange sights and sounds, I felt it was important for our safety that Bridget stay somewhat tuned to me. She's only two and is high-spirited, although level-headed. She kept getting ahead of me (not pulling, but very much focussed on what was in front of us), and I felt (perhaps mistakenly) that she wasn't maintaining an awareness of my presence. So every so often I asked her to do something to remind her that I was on the other end of the leadrope.
The vision of Hempfling kept dancing before me - a picture of the way he leads Naranjero in the Youtube video. The stallion does not try to barge ahead of him at all.
However, I think we got along pretty well - it was her first time so far from the barn, and she did "come back" to me whenever I asked her to do something for me.
When we got back to the barn, we found one little girl on her horse having jumping lessons, and another girl and boy playing polocrosse. Normal people, doing normal activities - you know. And I wondered, "Am I quite mad?"