Tuesday’s weather was atrocious, when I drove up to the yard there was a man sheltering from the rain in front of the stables with the gang looked miffed half way down to the paddock. I didn’t know him and even though the horses weren’t impressed about him invading their space he had continued to wait passively until the rain had passed. He told me that they had been jumping around when he went in and so I explained to him why that was and their backgrounds.
Segura and Hope soon calmed down again after breakfast and carried on as usual, but the event had affected Valiente much more. For the next couple of days I had to be very cautious around him and keep the wheelbarrow with me to stay behind if needed. It was like the event of the stranger had flicked a switch in Valiente’s brain that had re awakened his RAGE system and his emotional balance was very out of kilter again – it was like he’d forgotton that I wasn’t the enemy. This is fine and all good information for me as it tells me where he is on his journey to being a happier pony – needless to say he has a long way to go.
The great thing about using +ve reinforcement is that it is so adaptable to every individual and situation. Nothing has to escalate and become stressful so I asked myself what does Valiente find rewarding at the moment – easy answer was me staying away from him like I did in his first week and throwing the occaisional treat to him. A couple of days later he’s coming up to me with positive emotions – his choice which is very important. By putting the ball back in Valiente’s court it has meant he has been able to process the event and come back to me when he was ready. His brain is wired for negavity at the moment, it is going to take time to build up the positive experiences to re- balance him, especially after most of his life from his point of view has been full of negative experiences.
The rest of the week was full of bad weather and running around doing family stuff, not much in the way of training. I have found though that this can work really well and the horses do some latent learning whilst I do other stuff and come back to training sessions really fresh and ready to begin again having consolidated what they have learnt.
When stuff doesn’t go as planned or life in general takes over it’s ok, it’s nothing to get stressed about we’ll get there 🙂