This evening I was glad it was game night- a good distraction from my writing frustrations of the weekend. It meant that I would join old game groupers Brian and Ron to play something which would let us escape real life for a few hours together and share a good meal, some good laughs, and a sort-of death match trying to win the board game selected for the night. This evening we enjoyed some barbecue beef for dinner with some beans and slaw. We played an old favorite. We laughed a bit about a toilet toy concept, “Crap Chap”, which would help make your children’s potty training years more interesting by providing a little dissolvable figurine that could be attached to… well, you probably get the idea. Developing promotional slogans was both troubling and entertaining- “Watch Crap Chap ride the slide!”- with voice-overs and commercial concepts grounded firmly in homely 1950’s television techniques. That side discussion to the game was fun, but it did not keep Ron from winning the game handily- or me from losing it in grand fashion. Still, the evening was entertaining.
And after we left Brian’s house and walked down his driveway toward our cars, I thought it was a good moment to ask Ron about his horse-raising interests. He’s had several animals under his care at his place on the east side of the mountains, and he enjoys training horses for riding. I asked him how he got into it.
Some years back, some friends of his we know bought a few horses to train. When they did they, he talked with them about what they were doing. He had an interest.
In a short time, he heard about this guy who was gifted and who talked to horses. The man came through town, and Ron was interested to see and hear about this guy’s “to good to be true” approach, that involved studying the animal, and talking to it to get it to do what you wanted. Ron went and saw him, and was impressed. What he understood about horse training from others he was around usual sounded like bronc busting: dominate the horse and ride it until it knows you are boss. Here, this approach by this horse whisperer, was something different. Horse training could be collaborative and driven by understanding, not domination. In a short term, Ron had learned enough basics to get his own first horse. He also heard about another whispering horse trainer, an Australian named Clinton Anderson, and he learned some from his approaches about effective partnership training with horses. Soon Ron bought his first horse and used all he had learned to train it in the round pen.
I appreciate that Ron took some time to talk with me about horses, and his horses. My mom has always loved horses, and I have always had a healthy respect and admiration for these remarkable animals. My brother’s wife had a horse when she was young, and she hoped to have a few others at some point in her life again, which their relocation to life in rural Wisconsin has allowed her to do. Their kids get to grow up around a few of these amazing animals.
I learned a few things about horses tonight I did not know.
– In a wild herd, a seasoned mare will usually lead the pack. A strong stallion will usually follow behind the group to provide protective coverage for the herd if a predator appears interested in them.
– You can watch horses and get a lot of information about their disposition based on simple actions. Ears back indicates an agitated animal. When a horse follows your instruction but turns its rear toward you, it is often a sign that it does not respect you. If a horse under your guidance drops its head and bows or bounces it frequently, it is listening to you, waiting for guidance. Horses pick up on agitation and relaxation in a trainer based simply on whether that person leads toward the animal, or their posture is upright and casual or sagging.
– The goal of a trainer is “sync-up”: getting the horse to a place where it understands and trusts the trainer’s guidance and commands, and the trainer to where they see the horse is adequately responding to their leadership.
Horses respond to good, strong leaders. That’s life in the herd.
It was a good evening. I still do not have a short story for Tuesday’s class.
My sister did bring her boys over this afternoon to harvest another round of chiles from the plants in back, and this was our biggest yield of the summer so far. Here’s hoping we may have one more in another few weeks before the cold shuts the plants down.
I also tried to play with the camera for 40 minutes this morning, using Sandia mountain as a model, trying to figure out how to do HDR shots and how to use the polarizing filter to get different image qualities based on its orientation on the lens. When I looked at the results of my shots, I did not come away feeling I had learned anything about when or how to use either the polarizing lens or the Landscape (HDR) mode on the camera. I had set the camera to take bracket AEB photos, and yet all the camera ever took was one shot. I don’t know. Maybe I am made for the smart phone camera.
I guess I will try again tomorrow night on the story. Or re-purpose something older I’ve written- “Cheat”- to turn in at class on Tuesday night.