From the Horse's Mouth: The Prey/ Predator Thing
Hay kids, it's Ole Buck again. We sure had a busy summer around here. And you know, I think I learned somethin' new everyday! I sure hope y'all had a great summer too.
Now, let's see, we left off last time talking about self preservation, right? I think this time we were goin' to talk a bit about the prey/ predator thing. Okay! In simple terms a prey animal is one that gets eaten, that's us horses. A predator is one who does the eating, that's like a mountain lion, AND you humans! You can probably see right off how that could cause some tension between us. The wild horses tend to have more trouble with that than say a horse like me that has been around humans all their life. Anyhow, because we are a prey animal we do fret and worry about staying alive! This is why we operate in self-preservation mode when we get scared or worried, which we covered last time.
While it is true horses and humans are on opposite sides of the fence in this prey/ predator relationship, it doesn't mean it is a big problem or a situation that has to be dealt with everyday for most of us. To be honest with you, if you're a decent sort, we horses figure out pretty quickly that you humans aren't really out to eat us! Even those of you who are a bit gruff with us, we recognize you are there feeding and watering us and that makes you not ALL bad! I'll give you a tip though, we really like our humans to be more able to feel of us and be considerate than to be rough and tough. It can go a long way with a horse and I hear with a human too, if you can just be polite and fair about things.
Now, once we all know that you're not going to eat us, then all we have to do is size up where you fit in the herd. Yep, you are part of our herd! At least the way we see it! And there is no fooling a horse. We are no where near as dumb as most folks would have you believe. Don't you kids ever fall for that line. After all, you're a lot smarter than folks give you credit for too, right?
April has learned that Carter is not going to eat her, and is very comfortable with him being anywhere on or around her.
Okay, where were we? Oh yeah, the herd. In every herd there is somethin' called hierarchy.
Basically it means there is a horse on top and a horse on the bottom with all the others some where in between. The most important thing about your place in the 'herd' is that your horse doesn't figure you to be below him someplace. To be honest, that doesn't make for a real good working relationship for you humans. The bottom line, as a horse sees it, is "someone has to be looking out for ME! If my rider isn't confident enough to do that, then I'll have to do it for myself." Now, this can turn into a very vicious cycle because the less confident the rider, the more we horses take charge, and the more we take charge, generally, the less confident or the more irritated the rider becomes. Then all sorts of ugly things can happen. Oh, I don't even want to mention some of the ugly things I have seen when that starts happenin'. The best thing is to prevent that sort of thing from happenin' in the first place. Build your confidence so you can make your horse more comfortable by confidently leading him.
So kids, it is not as much the prey (eatee) vs. predator (eater) thing as it is who is able to lead whom with confidence and consideration that matters. It really isn't about 'showing us who is boss'. It is about good relationships. We are very willing and sensitive creatures if you just give us a chance. If you can understand how we have been created to think, i.e. to preserve ourselves, and how hard we really try for you, then it will help in building a good relationship between us. It is a two way street. As you show us more sensitivity, we show you more too. It works that way in all relationships. Go ahead and try it with your parents or your friends, or maybe even your brothers and sisters! You might be surprised!
Imprint training has helped Spark understand that humans, like Anna, are not a threat, but a safe part of her world.
What I am talking about now is learning to feel of each other. Think on that for a bit and we will talk more about ‘feel' next time around. But for now, that's it….from the horse's mouth.
For more information:
If you have any questions for Ole Buck please send them to Ole Buck, c/o Kids with Horses Naturally, 109 Lisa's Court, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.
Kids with Horses Naturally
(970) 731-4266 or 732-1944