Let me tell you a little story about my ‘youngster’, Corbell.
Actually, maybe showing will give you a better mental image.
Yeah, that’s my two boys in the middle of a thorough dust bath AFTER having first discovering every burdock shrub known to mankind and affixing the burrs in their manes and tails as any dutiful horse will do. No fear, I was able to remove them all safely and without any major hair loss.
Okay, so back to the story.
Corbell, like I said, is young and learning and still figuring out how to handle multi-tasking and his emotions. As part of this.
In particular, Corbell cannot yet handle the multi-tasking involved in having his hooves trimmed AND having any other person within reach. If he’s having his hooves trimmed by one person and tied to a post, you would think he was a 40-something knocking at death’s door stoop because he’s been there, done that and could care less anymore. Perfect.
You stick another person anywhere within arm’s length of him and he just can’t handle his shit. He’ll be trying to interact with them and doesn’t understand what he’s supposed to be doing with his feet at the same time. Within seconds he’ll begin having a total breakdown and if left to it you’ll get to experience a full blown tantrum acted out out by a 1200lb ball of hair (and at his stage in training mostly fatty tissue).
It isn’t pretty.
I hired someone to come and trim his feet while I was out of town once; thinking nothing of it because he’d always been a perfect angel for me (I always trimmed him loose in the paddock or tied by himself without a handler) and expected nothing but the same for someone else. Nope, not even close. Got an angry call after the whole affair and was told they brought in a second handler just to try managing his blow up before giving up altogether and going home.
Let me give this behavior a little more color after I’ve witnessed it myself.
Starts out with him getting a little nosey with the person, then trying to get a little lippy (not biting but just messing with his lips). Then it’s pulling the feet away, leaning on the person, trying to lay down. Once he’s given that some solid effort it gets ugly as he jumps up to move away (not really what I’d call a rear, more like a hop and fairly courteous with where his feet are; all things considered). He’ll begin ripping his front feet away, backing up, moving forwards and getting as pushy as possible with his head to whoever is in the way.
Any onlooker would take one glance at this situation, label it naughty behavior and call him ill-trained.
But I call bs on that label. He knows how to hold his feet, he’s relaxed about having his hooves trimmed. What he isn’t well prepared for is having to deal with listening to (or trying to listen to) two people at one time.
It’s hard to find a handler who’s aced acting like a wooden post. You know, they coo to the horse or touch their face repeatedly; usually to calm their own nerves or thinking it will somehow calm the horse’s. They mess with the lead rope or fidget about.
I get it, learning how to properly handle a horse while someone else is working on them is a tough skill sometimes.
And so is learning how to pay attention to two people at the same time when you haven’t had all sense beat out of you as a horse.
So give your horse the benefit of the doubt sometime when you think they’re just being naughty. Maybe they just have a touch of social anxiety and have no idea how to deal with all the shit you’re throwing at them.
Meanwhile, happily reporting that Corbell’s latest hoof trim went down smoothly including a mid-trim interruption from a friend who came and messed with his face for me before going back to standing idly by .. just out of arm’s reach.