Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tension, anxiety and horses

We all know that horses can read us well.  Very well.  Sometimes too well.  When you have a silly, spooky, reactive ay-rab this is not always a good thing.  

But, letting go of tension and anxiety is not easy to do.  Even if we *try* to soothe ourselves and look calm on the outside, the danged horse can still tell we are tense or anxious.  

I've struggled with this with Boomer for years now.  My tension and anxiety over his past behaviors and all of the 'what-ifs' really kept me from being calm and relaxed around him.  Which fed into his tension and reactive behavior.  Even though he has not done a thing wrong in over a year, I still didn't fully trust him.

I used to make sure i had my whole grooming set up ready before I caught him so that I wouldn't have to leave him tied to go back into the tack room.  I didn't want to leave him alone for fear of what he might do.  As if I could actually prevent something from happening.    

Though, recently, I have had a very interesting shift.  Honestly, I just stopped caring.  Let me explain.  I used to get really worked up about the what-ifs.  What if he pulls back?  What if he spooks?  The list goes on.  But, recently I've just stopped caring what he does.  I have bigger, more important things to worry about in my life than his silly quirks, reactions, behaviors, etc.  

So, he can pull back if he wants to.  I'll call the chiropractor, get him adjusted, and life will go on.  So what if he spooks.  Just as long as he doesn't get his big horsey ass in my pregnant space, we are cool.  If he does get in my space, he gets a quick lesson with the end of the lead rope.  But honestly, I just don't care what sort of antics he wants to engage in.  

Funny thing, by not caring and not feeding him any tense energy- he has calmed down.  I refuse to get emotionally involved in his horsey drama and it has already changed the way he behaves.  I'm no longer careful around him with plastic bags, etc.  I'm just going on with my life and he is dealing with it.  

I've known all along that this is what he needed.  Its just WAY harder to do than it sounds.  That is, until my perspective shifted and I just stopped caring.  I think this shift is really going to change how I feel and act around him and will hopefully change his behavior as well.  

Of course, there is also the chance that he is just growing up, seeing as he is only 11 days away from his 8th birthday.  I have always head that ay-rabs really 'grow up' in their 8th year.  I'm really hoping 8 is our best year yet!  

So, Boomer- you can keep your drama and I'll keep my sanity.  How about that?  


Funder said...

Yeah, it's absolutely impossible to explain how to quit worrying. It's really easy to explain how worrying just feeds the tension and makes the horse act up, and it's impossible to explain how to let it go. I'm just glad to hear that you've moved past it, at least for now :)

I keep waiting for Dixie to scare me again, but she just hasn't. I hope you're as resistant to Boomer as I seem to be to Dixie. :D

Shanster said...

Perfect. This is also where I found myself with Rosso and it really has made a big difference. I completely and totally "get" you on this one! grin. GREAT for you!

Heather said...

Isn't it the most difficult thing to describe? You can't practice it and you can't just make yourself do it. It just happens.

english horse tack said...

It is true that sometime horses made our best friends and they understand us.