Sampson gets the message

just fed in the a.m…horses eating hay..moving the piles around slowly on the ground with their noses..finding the best parts to eat’s a quiet time..a mesmerizing going about the rest of the chores ..filling duck waterers..feeding following behind when there’s a loud jerk me out of my day-dream state “bang!” at one of the big steel gates that lead to the arena.. Sally, Jade, Bella and Sampson are being fed out there today and turning i see Sampson at the gate..Mr. high withered gentleman is not so gentlemanly at the moment..”bang!” again..sounding like someone taking a sludge hammar to the gate he kicks it with a blast of a forward striking front foot..a kick that can bow out a fence..break wires on no’climb horse fencing..dent the Delmar panels on the gate..he stands impatiently demanding his pellets..his extra daily nutrition that saved him from wasting away but besides adding much needed weight seems to be waking up a dormant personality.. the last few days he’s trotting with barely a trace of his trademark limp and even loping some..running with the girls..something we weren’t sure would ever maybe with his new found muscle tone he doesn’t know his own strength and maybe he’s getting my attention best he knows how..either way having learned if this isn’t nipped in the bud there’ll be dented bent broken pieces of fence everywhere not to mention a rude animal weighing a thousand pounds that demands not asks..and worst case scenario kicks and gets a foot caught in something..everyone handles this differently like parents raising children with different techniques but an old ranch hand taught me something that will be my first try..when Sampson kicked he wanted my attention and was asking..but asking for pellets..i calmly walk to get a halter when my instinct really is to yell and send him away from the gate while tabulating the potential damage cost in my head..halter in hand i walk over to the gate..”oh you want to be tied up..happy to oblige”..i halter him up calmly turning him and walking him to the big branched mesquite tree out by the edge of the arena..already he’s hesitant..this isn’t what i was asking for he seems to say..he walks to the tree and tying him there in the a spot where he can see everything going on..
i walk away ..go finish my chores..he’s in plain sight his reaction easily monitored..he stands perfectly still..the expression on his face speaks volumes..this isn’t what i chores done and him being a perfect gentleman standing quietly in the shade I walk out and untie the lead rope.. had he been pawing or having a tantrum i would wait but he is good..reward good behavior not bad..end on a good note..taking the halter off..stepping back and observing his next move..he calmly walks to the gate area but this time stands away from the gate..standing kicking the fence..i go put the halter away giving him the chance to be demanding.. he stands politely..he got it..for now anyway..
does it work all the time..depends on the horse..what works for one might not work for another..but it appears this did..and hopefully will as he is learning how to get my attention i am learning how to get his..and as he is learning how to tell me i am learning how to tell him.. our confirmation of his getting the lesson came later..Deb and Kelly came out to spend the day with the horses..they were being introduced to round pen we took Jade in the big green HW paneled round pen out back and moved her off our body placement..asking for turns and stops..asking her to hook up..come in..using her horse language to establish our role in her life then removing her to another area.. bringing in Bella..working her the same then putting her with Jade.. then Sally is moving around perfectly and willingly Mr Sampson walks slowly up a few feet from the round pen gate..he’s been standing watching everything..he moves forward slightly as if to say..i would like to try”..his next move is confirmation for me..he ever so gently taps his foot on a large piece of wood laying at his feet near the metal gate to the round pen..asking nicely..not demanding..not yelling with his foot..a subtle quiet “tap..tap”  barely noticeable.. to let us know he would like to try..and to let him know that is the way to ask we move Sally to the area with Jade and Bella and let him in..and with his injured leg healing..his confidence building..he moves beautifully when asked..turns on a dime..understanding requests..once again..personal best for every horse and handler..Deb and Kelly experiencing ground work..moving horses off their body position..communicating without words..and every horse hooking up..  the icing on the cake..Sampson..showing us he got the message..
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