Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Human Factor

“Use your gifts faithfully and they shall be enlarged; practice what you know, and you shall attain to higher knowledge.” ~ Matthew Arnold

This quote felt so appropriate to how Argo and I are learning together. I have found I do not need to be perfect with Argo, not to say I still don’t try, but he seems to trust me more when he sees me make my little mistakes. Mistakes such as not respecting his space soon enough, or moving my body at just the right time. My timing with my horses’ has never been one of my strong points. I constantly struggle with it and I strive to improve it daily whether in my riding or my ground handling with a horse, it has gotten worlds better, but it is always one of those things that need improvement.

Our time together has been pretty much spent under his favorite tree during feeding time. He taking his hay from my hand and getting more comfortable with it each time I offered it. Very, very rewarding to me, here is this animal that for 17 years knew no human, he was independent, the patriarch of his herd and absolutely had no need for a human being. His life was known in the wild, he would live or die by decisions he made in a split second. Repetition was not the normal way of life for him. The only thing he wanted in the wild was water, food and his herd. Why would he want the companionship of a human? Humans captured him, branded him and took his freedom away. Well here we are two months later and he is seeking companionship with a human. Eating out of her hand so to speak and he allowed the first stroke of a human hand across his cheek last week. Oh my, did the tears flow from my eyes and form a pool in my lap, as I touched a part of the wild. I was breathless as I watched Argo’s eyes through my own tear filled ones. Such understanding and wisdom is in those large windows to his soul. I watched him look at me, he wanted to be there, wanted the companionship of this human. I was deeply honored and humbled.

I think of how the BLM is now faced with the decision of euthanizing wild horses that have been captured and are in long term holding. They have come to this decision, due to the large cost increase in hay and availability of land to keep them on. I said several posts ago that the BLM is a double edged sword. I understand the position they are in. I don’t like it, I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I understand why they feel this is their only option. I strongly feel that Argo, had he not been adopted, would have been one of the first ones to see a needle. The thought of it makes me shudder. God’s hand steered Argo and I together way back in November when I saw the first pictures of him and his eyes spoke volumes to me. I had my reasons or as some will say my temporary insanity, and someone else had a reason for Argo. For that I am truly thankful.

Several years ago and several times since, I said to a friend who owns two Kiger Mustangs, how I would never own one. I most certainly admire them, and their abilities, movement and beauty is breathtaking, but I told her I did not think I could work on a day to day basis with one. Their brain works different I told her, than that of the horses I have worked with. I felt I would never have the patience to work with one, nor would I want to. I was perfectly happy being on the sidelines watching her work with hers’, helping when needed and being “Show Mom”, watching her realize goals she had set for herself and her Kiger mare. They have done fabulous by the way and she has every reason to be extremely proud of her accomplishments. It has been a long road with several bumps along the way, but the partnership between horse and human has been one of patience, devotion, trust and hard work. Some people who own Kigers will never realize that and it is shame to think how they willingly are missing out on one of the most important parts of having these magnificent animals in our lives. The Kiger Mustangs truly are a horse like no other. They are a gift to us and I am beyond thrilled to be learning with Argo and letting him teach me how that special mind and heart work.

Argo last week. His ears tell the story.
He is listening and thinking.
What are we learning next?


Mrs Mom said...

Argo is really incredibly beautiful. It is going to be great to track his journey here!

Tracey said...

They truly are a gift, aren't they?

Holly said...

Have you ever heard of clicker training?

Hand feeding is one of the things positive dog trainers do for fearful or aggressive dogs. Especially with food aggression. Hand feeding is one of the things I would do right off the bat with a mustang. It makes a good association for the handler, handler = food.

Good work with him, I hope your upward swing continues