Who's Spookin' Who?

It was time to take my proud and extremely green Arabian gelding out of the arena for the first time. We were wandering about the barn yard and I was confident in my negative thinking -certain bad things were waiting to happen.

Then my gelding spooked big, staring at a spot on the ground in front of him. I tensed and leaned to see what had scared him.  He kept staring and so did I. I asked him to move to the side so I could have a better view, and then in our new position he stared at a different place on the ground -even more nervously. Nothing was visible -no plastic bag, no snake, nothing but dirt.

Now I was hooked, what WAS he looking at? Eventually I saw it.  There was something in his shadow that he hadn’t seen before- me riding him!

This is where I am supposed to make fun of my young Arabian- afraid of his own shadow. Instead, let’s make fun of me. I was afraid of something I couldn’t even see until it dawned on me; then I was afraid of MY own shadow! How scary is that?

Arabians are great teachers of crisis management and we grew to be brave partners. The memory of the spook has lingered; it was a humbling moment. It’s so easy to get caught up in our horses’ drama. When they need us to provide calm leadership the most, it seems human nature to tense up and look for the scary thing. We might as well all be preteen girls screeching at skeletons in a haunted house! BOO!

When we let the external confusion take precedence over our inner wisdom, we aren’t much help to anyone. Focus is a challenge but this is where riders could take a cue from moms. They frequently have a deal with it now and cry about it later sort of mentality that makes them valuable in a crisis. And since horses like to feel safe in the hands of a focused and confident leader (a good mom), it is an easy analogy.

Personally, I don’t like being referred to as my horse’s mom- I know the mare and she deserves credit. Instead I would like moms and riders referred to as Boss Mare. It’s a title that comes with respect.

(Photo: Docudrama by Casey and Sapphir, photo by Pam.)

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Anna Blake

2 thoughts on “Who's Spookin' Who?”

  1. Nice docudrama!

    I was intrigued a couple years ago when Tom Mowery told me that if my donkey is afraid of something, I should hurry him away from it to show how well I’m protecting him. Then he will learn to trust me and go where I want to go.

    This seems counter-intuitive. I’ve spent so much riding time trying to make the horse I’m riding go near the arena door or the patch of sunlight on the ground or the letter V. But when I thought about it, it made sense. If the donkey learns that I will protect him, then he will assume anything I direct him toward is probably ok. He doesn’t seem very spooky, so maybe it worked. Though there were times I couldn’t hurry him away, like when the jogger ran towards us on a narrow road, and those times ended badly!


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