Hello, I joined this forum four years ago, but since then have posted very little, and indeed completely forgot about it for the last two years. I feel the need now to introduce and explain myself, which I know can get a little boring but, er, it's a forum and you don't have to read it all if you don't want to right?
I live in FL, USA and have a Tennessee Walking Horse named Diamond. He'll be 10 in April and I've had him since he was 2 1/2. For the first six years I had Diamond I was a vehement follower of Parelli Natural Horsemanship. I was able to reach better levels of communication with Diamond than I had ever before using PNH, and Dimey and I could do many L4 tasks. Then, when I was about 18 I started college and lost interest in horses because of new opportunities I thought were more important and because I felt frustrated working Diamond and I couldn't figure out why. I've regained my passion now though, and want to start anew.
(This** is the blah-blah everyone has their sob-story bit, feel free to skip it)
**A few months ago I loosely began grooming/working with Diamond again barely more than once a month. My interest was reawakening but I simply didn't know where to go with it--somehow Parelli had quit cutting it. Then, about a month ago my two little cousins spent four days with me and I figured I would let them "ride the horse". I went out to Diamond's pasture, threw a blanket on him and put the four year old on his back with the lead-rope as reins and had Diamond follow me around the pasture as my cousin rode him (at a walk). I then mounted Diamond and held my two year old cousin in front of me and walked Diamond around. This horse, a stallion who I hadn't worked with for at least two weeks prior to this was PERFECT. The two year old led him around with me afterwards and Dimey happily followed. For some reason this really resonated with me. I walked away from that moment thinking my horse is more selfless than I'll ever be
. All the time I practiced PNH with Diamond I was focused on the relationship--as long as my horse was obedient. The constant focus on making Diamond respect me as his herd leader was exhausting--I analyzed every little earflick, every little tailswish (was he being disrespectful??!) fearing that I was going to let my affection for Diamond overtake my rational "I have to be the boss" requirement. When I took my cousins out to Diamond I realized--my horse wasn't listening to be because he knew I was the boss, he was listening to me 'just because'. He was listening to be and obeying just because I asked him to, and he was willing to do what I asked.**
I don't think Natural Horsemanship is Satanic. I don't know that I would even classify it as abusive, but I understand clearly now it isn't genuinely a relationship-based method, and I also realize that Diamond deserves that-- to have relationship before anything else. I really almost want
him to rebel now, so that I can show him I'll allow it, that he can refuse to listen to me and I'll respect that as his opinion as long as he isn't trying to hurt me or doing something dangerous. My horse is a better "person" than I am
My Concerns/Things I would like some help with:
1. I feel like Diamond has a sort of learned helplessness where even at Liberty he just listens to me because he knows it is what he is supposed to do. He comes up to me in his pasture, respects my space etc. My plan is for the next few sessions to just spend "quality time" with him and ask little, but he has an incredible memory and I'm not sure how to get him out of his doing-it-because-he-knows-I-want-him-to mindset and into the I-only-have-to-do-this-if-IIIII-want-to mindset ?
tips or even (especially!) shared similar experiences would be incredibly appreciated.
2. And this is a BIG one I can't get help with anywhere else: Diamond is a stallion (Le Gasp!), kept a stallion because he is cryptorchid and surgery is too extensive, much riskier health-wise and costs more than I can spare. He is 10 years old and lives with a goat. Our neighbors have horses so he sees them and has gotten loose a few times and gone over there, where he promptly gets badly beaten up and then stands dejectedly at the neighbors gate until I come and rescue him. Other than this he has limited contact with other horses which I know isn't ideal but he lives on my property and I'm only capable of a single horse at this time. He did live with other horses until he was 2 1/2 though so he learned all the important horsie manners. Wow, that was another random tangent, sorry. MAIN QUESTION: I am always getting screamed at for having a stallion and being irresponsible, and immediately after that come orders that I must ALWAYS make sure Dimey knows I am the boss, NEVER let my guard down, NEVER turn my back, ALWAYS carry a stick or rope when around him for self protection and NEVER let him think he is dominant or go against me. How can I find the balance between "always being 'on' with a stallion" and finding a "natural, relationship-focused state"?
Here is a video of clips compiled when Diamond was between the ages of 5-8. We are still essentially at this point "training wise" now. I'm probably doing a dozen things wrong in this video, and I really don't mind if you point them out so I can improve =)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8iJ5TEM ... e=youtu.be
P.S. I promise I'm not normally this wordy, I kinda just wanted to get this all off my chest into writing, and you all are the victims