Chloe comes toward me with an admiring You're-My-Hero look whenever I drive George away.
I've discovered that the source of energy is in the belly and not the chest. Also that horses accelerate when they're driving other horses off. When they plan a friendly approach, they keep a constant speed. So George is standing at the fence, and I ask him to move back with the fire-in-the-belly accelerated approach. It works. But he then turns around and drives all the mares away. Not the reaction I want.
I wake up Saturday morning with a start, having a dream image suddenly in my mind of Bridget chasing a large venomous snake out of the horses' field. Later, I realize - Bridget is the patron saint of Ireland, the land whence St. Patrick banished all snakes. My previous entry referred to Paradise, a time and place before snakes were bad. And KFH in What Horses Reveal talks about how the serpent represents the dark side of the horse.
I take George out to graze and ask him to stand still and do nothing (something both Widdicombe and KFH set store by). He finds it hard, as he wants to get to the grass. While grazing, every now and then I ask him to get up and move a little. It gets easier as we go along. After getting back into the pasture, before removing the halter, I ask him to be still, as he is squirrelly because Chloe is nearby and he might need to go chase her. All of a sudden, it clicks, he gets it, he relaxes and sighs. I remove the halter. A little later I return to the field. George marches over, plants me in the quiet spot next to him, and stops. Is he saying, "This is it, right?"
Bridget gets into my space unasked. But she will get out of it at the slightest request. I don't think you do need to prevent a horse from coming into your space unasked. Would I want George not to feel he could come over and put me into the good spot? It's the motivation that counts. If they come in peace, they don't need permission. If they don't come in peace, they can't come at all.
More synchronicity: On Friday morning, as I ate breakfast, I read in Widdicombe's book:
At the point when you realize that you are the main project, then the real work and the real progress begins. (p. 148)and then a little while later at daily mass, the following Gospel was read:
Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Luke 6:39-42)I think George needs my help. But I can't help him if I'm blind. What am I asking him? For whose benefit? How can I recognize it? He's taught me about his quiet spot. He put me there the other day when he wanted me to calm down. I have to teach him about my quiet spot - his head near me, being still. He needs to know this is an option.
When I first started working with George - when my friend still owned him - I was conscious of not quite trusting him and that this was connected to the fact that he didn't quite trust me. The mares do not trust George, and his lack of trustworthiness reflects his lack of trust in them.
Saturday, I took him out again to graze. Several times I asked him to be quiet, even though he wanted to move or eat. I realized that he has two ways of shoving his nose at me - one is impatient and frustrated: I didn't let him do that. The other was a softer gesture - a connecting gesture of acquiescence, when he was ready to quiet down. It's ok for him to come into my space like that.
I think it's better to work on chilling out like this - asking him to stand by me peacefully - than to ask him to work around food. I need to be clear about what I'm asking, and he needs to be clear about what I'm asking.
After George's turn, I took Bridget out, and he had to move aside to let her in when we returned. He moved fairly soon after we got into position. After we were through the gate, he came back and inserted himself between Bridget and me, her leadrope actually going over his neck. She pulled back and was all for running away, but I stood my ground, and George came to a non-threatening halt, allowing Bridget to settle. Then I brought Chloe in through the gate; George moved aside very quickly and, despite of a bit of an evil look, allowed Chloe some space.
On Friday, George and Chloe were grazing in the top field and spotted me in the distance, working in the yard. They stopped, fixated on me, and had a rest:
Chloe is fond of George, although she doesn't like to get too close to him. She and Bridget are the most mutually trusting pair combination.
When George bit me, I was asking him to do something he'd done before, to work on something which is good for us to work on. But .... I was asking him to do it in the wrong situation, when there was pressure on him. I'm sure I'll make mistakes like that again. So I'm still not sorry I tried to kill him at the time.
|These wounds I had on Crispin's Day ...|