01 March 2011

There Aren't Enough Hours In The Day...

Compa is a learning machine. There aren't enough hours in the day to satisfy his desire to learn.

When a horse comes in for training, the first 15 days are intense. I want them focusing on me, thinking about me, trusting me, relying on me, testing me, getting comfortable with me. The time is filled with mental activities, stimulations, themes and ideas that grab their attention to create a fun filled atmosphere.

By giving them these tasks, I am able to assess their needs. Their responses to my requests tell me where they are lacking in their education and that is where I spend my time.

Compa is different. He doesn't have any education. Not in anything. At five years old, he is a completely clean, blank slate. He is desperate for stimulation, integration and companionship. The intensity of these last 5 days hasn't come close to meeting his need for new information. The more I give him to do, the more he wants to do. New ideas = quiet thought = performance = MORE!

Here's an example: he was on the high line and the rest of the herd had moved away. Without company, he got restless. I was doing chores and observed that he couldn't get settled, so I grabbed my rope and plopped RD about 10 feet from Compa. He was fascinated! What's THAT? He stopped his circling and disengaging and watched intently. I checked my coils, built a loop, brought the loop over my head and threw. I caught RD over his horns and the landing made a funny metallic clinking sound. Compa jumped and whirled away, pulling hard on the high line. I ignored him and got my rope. Compa stepped forward and strained to see. I glanced over at him and he was busy blinking and licking. He catches on fast. He stayed very close to RD for the remainder of my practice - about 30 minutes, watching me throw, retrieve my rope, coil, build a loop and throw again. How many horses do you know, who would stand mesmerized for 30 minutes watching someone rope a dummy? He looked like he was watching a tennis match!

When I finished, I brought the rope over for him to inspect. He sniffed it thoroughly, separating the coils with his upper lip and going over every inch. He smelled deeply; strong, long sniffs that sucked the scents right up into his brain. I had to wonder, was he able to identify every horse that rope had touched? When he finished his examination, he set his attention on the honda. He politely put his lips around it, held it here and ran his tongue over it. While I held for him, he tapped his teeth and proceeded to pinch it. He never touched my fingers. He let go and looked at me with both eyes (YAY!), communicating how happy he was that I had given him this opportunity to see, smell and touch this brand new THING.

This may seem like a small goal to some people, but this connection is huge. He wants to be involved. By all normal standards he should be afraid, instead, he's curious.

Pretty amazing...


  1. I agree ... pretty amazing!

  2. So cool. Bet he's digesting everything! Great posts Dee - such an interesting horse too! xo