• The Words of a Horse


    In the Talking of Horses Forum, we have a Diaries section, where people can write a diary of whatever they want (within reason!). A new Diary was started, one which we thought we should share with anyone who is considering being anywhere near a horse. A bit pompous of us you might think, but read the words, as written by Florabella, an eight year old ex-race horse...
    Friday, 11th February, 2011


    Greetings and salutations,

    My human has mentioned this place so I thought I would pop in and see what it was all about, and it is clear from humans posts that I need to explain to you the basics on how to educate a human - it seems, despite her heart mostly being in the right place, my human has much to learn and I thought it may interest some of you to learn of her progress.

    ...As the weeks went by female human started coming every day and male human stopped riding me. Now female human seemed ever more nervous which made me anxious. She did bring treats and brush me well though. I was very unsure of this human - what did she want, why did she brush me, why was her knee wobbly and her other leg shorter, and why wouldn't she realise she just needed to be a little quieter and I could have a word in edgeways.

    Little did I know this human was about to become something more in my life and I was to become her tutor.

    We have shot ahead slightly as we felt that the piece below is the piece that everyone should learn, and learn it before they go near a horse. That could just be us being a bit pompous, but wait until you have read the words before you pass judgement...

    Friday, 25th February, 2011

    Instalment 3 - Mounting Softly

    Hello all - sorry I haven't updated you all in a while - lots has been going on - WLH has had a word and asked if I do one instalment to bring you up to date and then get on with the exciting things we are getting up to now - WLH says that I should remember the main lesson I was teaching her took her until December to learn and if you all have to hear about the 100 times she was too loud, wobbly and noisy and I tried to get her to understand you may hit her with bats. She's a good human really and I'd rather you didn't hit her - so in this instalment I will summarise the lessons WLH learnt up until the rather exciting things that happened last weekend. They are very exciting so deserve their own instalment.

    Firstly - mounting! Now, please note we don't mean to be rude when we say you are not the lightest things in the world and our backs are sensitive - please be gentle when you get on us. I now understand that WLH has various health problems that make her wonky and her legs not very strong, but in the beginning being mounted was a real issue. Firstly she would get all flustered, there would be flapping and pacing, and sometimes I'd be tacked up and then have to wait for her to exhale some smoke stuff which seemed to help with the wobble. Then she would lead me up to some steps, and heave… heave I mean… herself onto me and land with a thud… Well I started moving as soon as her leg left the mounting block in an attempt to avoid the thud, and WLH just got people to hold me. Well I couldn't move and absorb the impact of the thud that way and started getting very agitated to get moving. One day WLH used the big mounting block and was able to avoid the thud. I stood perfectly still showing her that this was how to do it. She practiced and practiced (and somehow was getting lighter). The lighter she landed the stiller I stood - and thus she learnt her lesson. She can now mount me from anything she chooses because I know she will support her weight into the saddle gently - and I stand like a good girl for her until asked to walk on.

    The BIG lesson. The main lesson I seemed to need to teach WLH was that I was not these creatures referred to as River or Luca. I have worked out that these were WLH's equine companions before me and they have gone away. The fact that they have gone away makes wet things come out of WLH's eyes and in the beginning seemed to make her cross with me. There were all these emotions and signals coming off WLH that I simply couldn't understand. It was overwhelming, and if I was naughty or scared - I was in a new place you know and I had to be the boss mare as WLH wasn't and I normally just like to be told what to do - WLH would explode with signals and often Quiet Man with Hair would come up and tell WLH off and take me off her. He'd whisper to me 'she doesn't mean it, hush now'. I likes QMwH - he gives off no confusing signals - its very quiet around him. The more WLH got uptight the more confused I became. It all started getting a little scary, and WLH seemed more distant than ever. I once heard her say to Next Door Lady 'I just want River back - I don't think I'll ever be able to love her'.

    I didn't know what these words meant, but I understood WLH was cross with me. That night I wouldn't let her stroke my face or touch my ears. Winter came and we had snow. WLH couldn't ride me because it was too white out there. I kept trying to show WLH that she needed to lead me and I needed a protector, a guide. I also wanted her to be quiet - whilst she may not have been speaking there were all these signals left, right and centre - I just didn't understand.

    Then it started. She started moments of quietness. I was quick to reward these with the affection she seemed to want. This technique worked. The quieter she was, the more I came to her, the quieter she became. Every now and then she'd be full of signals again, but I found refusing to let her brush my ears quickly reminded her to be quiet.

    She now breathed differently and I could understand her. She stopped using useless noises when I went round on the long rope in the pen - and I could understand her more. She also started being clearer when riding me - clearly signalling up and down commands in similar ways to my field mates. I could match her breathing, and body position and knew what to do. As it seemed to click I used praise and reward - when she got it right I tried really hard to give her exactly what she thought she wanted - poor WLH isn't the best rider but she tries very hard. When she went back to the 'old' ways I would be resistant and difficult. She was far from perfect every time - she still struggles - but now we have the system I can tell he what is right and wrong.

    This was the basis for educating the human in how to start talking to me not at me. One night just before the day when I got lots of presents and QMwH turned up wearing an even sillier hat than usual, WLH got it right. I stood, so relieved she had taken command and dropped my nose onto her torso bit. She gently stroked my face and ears - I went to sleep. Wet things came out of her eyes again, but the signals were quiet, soft and fuzzy warm. The next day she rode me and I knew I could relax - she was in charge! Success!

    Since then WLH has got better. She still struggles - sometimes when its dark and she has the funny smelling clothes on - she can be too brisk and loud, the signals are all confusing again. Mostly now though, I just shoot my head in the air - and she remembers to be quiet. She now takes charge and I can follow her anywhere now - I know that she is going to protect me, indicate when we need to be scared and run very fast - I can run VERY fast when necessary. In return I've made a promise to myself to look after WLH - she is the first human I don't feel shy around. Other humans (other than QMwH) seem to want to grab hold of me without introducing themselves to me properly. Like Mummy taught me - I am not rude but now WLH can see it makes me uncomfortable - I give her the signal. She tells them to leave me alone, or how to talk to me. Things are getting much better - I actually think I quite like WLH, especially as now I get orange sticks for bending my head in the evenings.

    This brings us just about up to date until the WEEKEND WHERE LOTS HAPPENED, and WLH seemed to not be so wobbly legged anymore.

    FB xx

    Copyright Tori Collins 2011

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    There are some excellent Diaries in there along with this one - we hope you enjoy them.