Friday, July 7, 2017
7th July, 2017 Spotting the Signs
Barney, who is a friendly pony anyway, came up to me as soon as he heard a click today. That first click and the sight of my bright pink clicker training bag tells him that clicker is available. I put his headcollar on and took it off six times during this session, each time only taking less than a minute but still taking great care. If you look at his little face, particularly his ears, you can see his ambivalence, and the third picture shows him having a slight moment about seeing the noseband out of his right eye. Nevertheless, he stands close to me without restraint, and allows me to put it on and take it off in quiet stages, punctuated by a single click to say, "Keep on doing what you are doing" and three clicks to say, "Well done, you are the most brilliant and bravest spotted pony in this entire universe."
I have two little pet theories that come into play here. I am convinced that horses store their memories as pictures and that they have a library with them all tucked into different headings. Somewhere, in the one marked Things that Dangle under your Neck, Barney has a horror movie. Occasionally he has flashbacks to that movie, or even just to plain instinct, and it tells him that he should engage in flight or fight. This is where my second theory comes in, and I have to be very careful not to offend all Appaloosa and spotted horse owners, and remember that I love mules and the way that they think. I think that spotted horses, through some hybrid type gene, perhaps the one that gives them the thin tail, have more of a fight instinct than other horses. Add to that the same gene, perhaps to a lesser extent, of a British native pony of any kind, and you have a pony that is prepared to defend itself, rather than just go.