Memoirs of a Horse Owner
Horsemanship ....... it is an art, a science, a tradition and a lifelong journey!
The articles written for www.Horseownertoday.com are a collection of my personal memoirs as a horse owner. They are about my experiences and about my understanding of horsemanship. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.Horseownertodaycom.com and in some cases, they do not reflect the opinion of the majority of horse owners today. They are about my journey toward understanding a horse.
I purchased a horse that had a long history of making routine tasks difficult. He was well practised and he was good at it. He knew all about how to make people give up and go to the house.
His greatest performance occurred at deworming time. As a rule, the deworming paste ended up on his forehead and all over his muzzle, on the ground and in my hair. It is real hard to aim a deworming syringe at the mouth of a moving target and I believe he knew that.
Albert Einstein said that there was no point in doing the same thing over, and over, and over, and over again, and expecting a different outcome each time. I think that applies to horses too. If you are not getting the results that you want, it would be wise to stop what you are doing and think of a better way to ask the horse to accept the task at hand.
It seemed to me that if I ever wanted to deworm this horse, without a hassle, and maybe even without a halter and rope, I had to stop what I was doing and think of a better way to teach him to accept deworming.
I knew that one of the few things that he was real good at was eating. He'd eat his share of the grub and anything else that was left within his reach. He was like a fat kid after a cupcake. For the most part his oral fixation was just a nuisance. However it occurred to me that perhaps I could get it working in my favor.
Although using treats to train a horse is considered taboo with some folks, I was desperate to find a solution. The way I saw it, things really couldn't get much worse. So I decided to give it a try.
I started giving him a handful of rolled oats with a syringe full of molasses on top of the oats. After a few days, I left off on the oats and gave him a syringe full of molasses in his feed dish. He'd lick up the molasses until the dish was perfectly clean and then he'd come back and lick the dish all over again.
Within a few days he was willing to lick the molasses off of the syringe. It wasn't long before he came to the idea that he could get to the molasses quicker if I put the syringe in his mouth. Once he was willing to accept the syringe, deworming became a simple task.
I know that success at any task depends on my ability to present the task in a way that makes sense to the horse. I know that I am most likely to succeed when I am able to make my idea seem like it was the horse's idea. Sometimes it is difficult to figure out how to do that. Learning to work with what the horse offers is what the lifelong journey into what horsemanship is all about.
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