Tuesday, September 6, 2011

say what? and party animal!

I received a comment from this post the other day that stated it seems that I have a lot of natural ability and natural instincts! Whoa! This blew my mind, seriously. In my mind, I have no idea what I am doing. I read a lot of stuff, but everything tells me to do something different. So what I read and hear from others I have to weed through and pick what I believe is best for Shyloh and myself.

I also need to give credit where credit is due. I am surrounded by amazing horse people! Some of these people have grown up around horses, shown horses, and just have horses running through their blood. These are the people with the natural instincts and knowledge to me! Some of the other people have had their horses for a few years. They are much further than me on their horse journey, but they still are learning. And other people are just beginning in horses. Their love of the animal and quest to learn everything they can motivates me to do the same. Of course, I will admit, no one is as green as me! So I want to give a shout out to all my friends, old and new that have gotten me into horses and have helped me on my journey. Thanks for putting up with my greenness and sharing your knowledge with me!

Back to that comment. . .as I've mentioned before, I did not grow up around horses. I have spent my adult life working with children with autism, working in a residential care facility (medium secure lock-up) for girls who have been sexually abused, physically abused, or neglected, working in foster care, and now as an advocate for families whose children have been sexually abused, severely physically abused or neglected, or have witnessed violent crimes. I have also learned a lot about training dogs. 

So, most of my background is in behavior and behavior modification and using positive reinforcement to get the behaviors that are desired, mainly in children/teens and a little bit in dogs. Children and dogs are actually quite similar. But a horse is different, being a prey animal. So, I really appreciate the comment from Deanna at My Country Genes, but I just want to say that I have no idea what I am doing!

And that is what makes my adventures with Shyloh so fun! We are learning together as we go. I am learning how to be a horse-woman and Shy is learning to trust people and me. I am kind of doing things my way, but taking advice from all the wonderful people that know much more than me. Everything I do, I believe that it is in Shyloh's best interest. It makes me feel accomplished to hear people around the barn remark how Shy is improving and just doing much better in general. And I wanted to thank anybody who takes time to follow us along our adventure. . .I am sure that mistakes will be made, but that is where the most valuable lessons are learned!

As for Shyloh. . .it seems that she really did have a party in my absence! He halter and lead rope were dragged through the mud. She must have pulled it over the fence and had a good old time with them. She even managed to bend the clasp so that i had to get pliers to straighten it out to put it on her! And then there was her fly mask. . .Beth had said that at one point, she had an ear through the forelock hole and her other ear was out of the mask completely. SMH, silly pony!

But a giant leap in progress was made today!! Shy let me walk up to her with no treat! Several times! With a lead rope and halter in hand! I think we have finally gotten to a point of trust! Although, I did attempt to clean her udders today and she cocked her leg at me. Baby steps, though. . .

I need more, non-grazing photos of Shyloh! But it is hard when I am at the barn by myself! I promise others to come soon!


  1. Thanks for mentioning my blog! And I really do believe that you have a natural ability with horses! That sounds totally logical to me with your background. You are used to reading people, making decisions on how to react to something - you're applying all that here too!
    Oh & I really appreciate your profession - my young son was a foster baby we took home as a newborn and adopted one year later. We got close to his bio-parents too, and have an open adoption. Now I lead a foster/adopt Support Group.

    I love reading about how you & Shyloh are bonding. Great blog!!

  2. Deanna, thanks! I really do appreciate it! That is fantastic that you have fostered, then adopted! And that you maintain an open adoption. I hope your son realizes what a lucky child he is!

  3. I am laughing at your last comment about only have grazing pictures. I have been there and try to get something other than the face in the grass or the face in the camera!
    I bet Shy looked funny with her fly mask all askew! Poor thing!
    As for what to do... you are right. There are as many different opinions out there as there are 'professionals'! Each has their own way. I've experienced it with just two trainers. One advocates pushing the horse onto the bit. The other says, "No, no, no." I bet my guys think I'm a nut case when I try different things I've read about or been told about! So.. trust those instincts and do what feels right! You have a great background in behavior modification. The only thing I caution you about is remembering that the horse is a prey animal and a herd animal and thus has a different mind set about some things, and this can be used to your advantage! That's why lunging works - you become the herd leader controlling her movement. You become 'boss lady' and she looks to you for advise - uh, we hope!

  4. Dreaming - Working with a prey/herd animal is so different! As for lunging. . .I really need to get into a solid schedule with that! I think it is a little boring, but maybe I am doing some thing wrong and I need to be using lunging (somehow) more to my advantage. I do not just want to do mindless circles!


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