Thursday, June 18, 2009

18th June, 2009 Footsteps on the dance-floor, remind me baby of you

With our trip to Kenya drawing closer I am desperate not to get injured but at the same time I am conscious that you are more likely to get injured in you think about it all the time. Tidying out the van on Monday, I managed to knock my elbow and it wrecked for the rest of the day. Yesterday I had two jabs and this morning my arms feel like lead. No comfort then to be on the way to a horse yesterday with the owner telling me that the last time it had bitten someone it hadn't let go. He was actually a really nice pony and I was told that the bites always came out of the blue, at really wide intervals and no-one knew what triggered them. We spent time recreating the scenarios in which the pony had bitten before and when nothing happened working on leadership and groundwork. After a short break, I approached the pony in a very deliberate and assertive way to see what would happen - he reacted immediately to my heavy footsteps and there he was, lunging towards me and threatening to bite. We checked this out a few times and sure enough, whenever he was approached with heavy footsteps, off he would go. It makes you wonder just exactly what has happened to him in the past that meant that he feels the need to protect himself from someone who approaches in that way. If horses store their memories as pictures, this one has got some very bad pictures in his album in the section on human approaches. Now the owners have a clear choice - they can either use desensitisation techniques to reduce his apprehension about heavy footsteps or they can take great care never to stomp up to him. At the same time I have taught them how to use a rattle bottle to send him away from them when he threatens to bite - hitting in this situation would only serve to reinforce his fear.

This afternoon's horse sounds like an interesting one too. When someone says please will you come and see my horse, she has attacked the vet and the farrier, you can't help feeling that it might be better to leave it until you get back from the trip of a lifetime!