I had this great little mare in for training during the fall of 2008. Her name is Zephyrine, aka Zephy. Zephy is a 3 yr old Andalusian-Arabian. Zephy is a dream girl. She is sweet, spunky, curious, and down right gorgeous!
When Zephy first arrived, she stepped off the trailer and immediately there was an energy in the air around her.
Look at that face!
Along with being all those descripters above, Zephy was also opinionated. Before she was brought to me, I went down to her home to meet her. While there I discovered she wasn’t a fan of the “squeeze”, i.e. going through doorways or anywhere there was a solid wall on at least one side. I also discovered she was a bit “sided.” Zephy was not a fan of being led, pet, or at all messed with on the right side. While fiddling with her at our first meeting, I would go on to her right side and she would deftly move herself around to put me back on her left side. Cute….
So, back to her arrival to me. The day after she arrived, I went down to get Ms Zephy. I thought I’d grab Picasso too, walking two horses…. no biggie. Oh was I wrong. I had Picasso, I went to grab Zephy. As Picasso stood outside her pasture, I haltered her and made her walk through her gate, not fly. Well, at this point I thought I wa safe. No…… Little did I know, the tarp of death was at her feet. As I walked Picasso over it, Zephy launched herself over the tarp. She rammed into meand then flew by me. Two of my rather long nails snapped backwards and I got a massive rope burn across my hand. Once over the tarp, Zephy was still wired. Turns out this was her M.O. When pressured or spooked, she would spurt forward. I was able to remedy this tendency with one session, although total habit rehab took more time. We started with leg yields so she knew what I meant when I told her to move her hinny.
When Zephy looks away from me, she bends her ribcage into me or into my space. That, in horse society, is disrespectful. She is essentially saying, “That thing over there is way more important than you, so if I decide it’s too scary, we’re leaving.” So, by tapping her ribs, I am calling her on her disrespect and asking for her attention. Its amazing how subtly a horse can show lack of respect for their handler. Carolyn Resnick talks about how horses will nip each other when one horse is not paying attention. Horses establish hierarchy by catching each other of guard. If I can surpirse Zephy when she is not paying attention to me, I can establish my leadership. I am always aware of her, she needs to be always aware of me. As you can see, she improves dramatically after only a few repetitions.
Zephy has a great heart and mind. More on Zephy later.