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a Round Again

And it was confirmed again today: Mistakes turn as big as you allow them to become.
In other words: If you are afraid that something bad will happen, it will happen. So expect nothing, and it will be better than you could wish. That differs the realist from the pessimist and the optimist. It’s your perspective, no one else might understand it though and it’s up to you to have the right “belly button feeling”. Only then you know it’s OK for yourself. After all, you’re the one that’s got to live with yourself for all of your life, you’re the one that has got to accept all your decisions and mistakes..

Horses’ real nature
It’s been a while since I’ve been out with horse and trailer; and it is always a little challenge to see if I could trailerload my horse without too much hassle. If I’m wanting too much, she will challenge that by not going in. If I am not moving, she won’t either. If I try to lure her in with food, she might take a quick mouthful and then walk out again. And no, she won’t be fooled twice. And if you are stupid enough to try to pull the halter while she reverses, expect to be thrown out of the trailer like a paperclip on a rubber band. You’re not going to stop 500kg of muscles going there where they want.

Claustrophobic
For a horse a trailer is something very spooky. First of all a horse needs to walk if there’s something scary, it’s a flight animal. It relies on running as its primary defense. When a horse is confronted by a predator, its main defense is to flee from danger.
Also, they’re claustrophobic. Horses don’t voluntary go into boxes, trailers, they might consider standing under a roof when the sun is too powerful, but for the rest our herd prefers to sniff the snowstorm and get snowed in instead of taking shelter in their stand.

In the horse trailer:
Imagine 2x 500kg of muscles acting like it doesn’t want to go in a 1x2m area, with the back locked up, then travelling through curvy bumpy roads. It does need a lot of trust to let the horse go in a trailer, and then after that again. And again.
Once they’re in, you need to be able to lock the back bar when the horse is comfortable. Nothing worse than a horse that runs through the back bar trying to get out. Or, something stupid like while you’re trying to unload them, the halter gets stuck and they can’t get out while all they want is to get out ASAP. Some horses will then fight so badly after they find out they’re stuck, they’ll sit down or pull everything to pieces, halter, rope, maybe even kick the trailer to bits.

My mistake
And exactly that happened to me today. Having so much eye on the back bar while trying to unload, I didn’t see the front line was still on. She wasn’t pushing the bar so it could be opened and she could walk back so I asked her to. And then I saw the other line was still on; but I was too late to uncinch it, so she got stopped by that while she was eager to go out. And then the impossible happened. I knew she was going to panic so I said she was going to be alright and could be helped when she stopped panicking.
And then.. Yes, she dropped her back trying to pull herself out, but then stopped, looked at me and the rambling of the hooves stopped. She then gave me “the eye” and asked for help; so I could quickly release the other line; then asked her kindly to go backwards. And as strange as it might sound, I felt humble and apologized to her and said it was my mistake and that I was sorry for that, I didn’t mean to do that. She reversed quickly out of the trailer and had to look around as she was in a completely strange environment. What I noticed was that she was doing that while still standing half on the trailer. That meant to me she did not see the trailer as the thing that harmed her. She seemed to be fine about what had happened.


A bursting bubble for exploration of new grounds

Free your mind
The walk and talk we had with friends was with loads of ups and downs, we knew the road already but it’s always a new thing to go there with someone else. The main thing was that we had the shining sun which was warming our backs and a fresh feeling from upcoming spring, the feeling of everything bursting into life, all around us. And the further we got on our track, the more things did calm down, the wind, the horses and eventually us.


They’re so far behind, we should slow down

Change of thoughts
Back at the parking place and the trailer I quickly wondered if I could expect any troubles due to the previous event. And then I mentally “grabbed” my thoughts, and in “kopfkino” I pulled them out of my mind and put them aside me. As my horse tends to try to help a lot, I “told” her she would be the example for the other horse again to overcome something scary. “It’s going to be alright, no worries, and on top of that, we’re going home!” I thought. And then I had to think of that “moment of truth” where it comes to horses and food rewards. Does she trust me enough to come in still? If I would have had a relationship based on food rewards, she would not. If she would trust me and I would make clear enough I’d asked her to do something, she would do it, for me.

And she did. She walked in quickly, without much hesitation, and we could close the bar behind her. And again it might sound crazy, but I thanked her for her brave behavior, for her trust in me and for the great example she’d shown by going in there without much hesitation. Within a few minutes also the other horse was in and we were on our way back.

Lessons learned
Sometimes it helps so much more to not think, panic, fear of what could happen. Admit you’re wrong. Accept it. Apologize. Immediately. It’s the moment as it is, and trust yourself to stay calm. As horses only live in the “now”; they show how much you mean to them by their reaction on that very moment. And that was trust although I knew I didn’t deserve it.
And again, although it might sound strange; the same applies to humans. Tell them what you feel at that very moment. Only then you can either create understanding, or believe more in yourself, in your own openness and honesty, so you can’t blame yourself for not being honest later on when you’re being blamed for something.

For all those people who think ‘a horse is just an animal’: It reflects so much of (y)our own actions. You don’t need to “like” horses to be able to understand them. The living in the now is a thing kids know but once they grown older they’re told to think differently. Almost all horses will always try to help you, no matter how it’s treated in the past. And there is a lot to learn from that, for many people, in many directions.

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