Remember my early blogs about Compa's first five years? We all agreed that horses should not spend any time locked away in a stall 24/7/365, especially one with solid walls and a small hole in which to drop feed. It's cruel.
What most people don't realize are the mental and emotional ramifications of this situation.
When a horse (or a human, or a dog, etc.) is locked up like this, they are left with one thing on their mind...
So what do they do? What do they have? What do they think? What do they plan? What do they hope? What do they dream?
In Compa's case the answers are easy...
He paced a three foot deep hole around the perimeter of his stall. Physically that caused problems with his stifles. He raked his teeth along the walls, chewing anything that came loose in order to bite through to the next stall. He attacked the feed when it came through the hole. Now he is savage about food; any horse's food. He believes he should have it all and will run at any horse to attack them and take their food. By spreading hay piles hundreds of feet apart and maintaining constant leadership over the herd during food time, I have improved this situation, but Compa still thinks about attacking some horse at every single feeding.
These are physical conditions of solitary confinement. But what about the mental and emotional aspects?
One of the mental aspects I'm dealing with right now is Compa's complete and utter belief that he is in charge of himself. While that may not seem like such a bad idea when he's out with the herd, it certainly poses difficulties when I ride him. I need his feet to be my feet. I need my thoughts to be his thoughts (the tasks I have in mind are easier when he agrees to do them). And I need Compa to stop acting emotionally about every little thing. I am a calm person who doesn't believe that getting all worked up about something is going to solve a situation, so I want my horses to feel and emote the same way. I need Compa to give me all three things (his Mental, Emotional and Physical systems) in a nice harmonious balance.
But Compa has spent five years convincing himself that those three things belong to him. As he gains strength, muscle and conditioning, he has gotten stronger in his mind and emotions about wanting his own way.
I will prevail before he goes home. One thing I have to my advantage, is the weather. As it gets warmer each day, Compa gives in faster. He knows that I won't get off until he gives me all three systems.
I gotta tell ya, some days he drips like a prize fighter going nine rounds before he yields.