So, I’ve been thinking. (Warning, that’s always dangerous.)
Since Saleem and I were at the show this Friday, I have been going over anything that might have caused him to flick his head more than usual and I have come up with two possible solutions. One, it might be that my leather bridle is a bit tighter than the blue jeans fabric bridle I usually wear… (not the nose band, but the part holding the bit,) I will have to look into the difference between the two. The most likely conclusion I have reached though, is that I got a huge response from his braids. Saleem is very sensitive in his skin, and I have noticed before that he can’t seem to get past the feeling of having his mane braided. I have experimented a bit with tight vs. lose braids and nothing seems to allow him to ignore the feel of it. So, what to do about that?
The rules for dressage competitions state clearly that your horse’s mane must be braided so the judges can see his neck. Which means that Saleem and I have better get into show jumping soon, where I don’t have to braid him, or we are going to have to stop competing altogether.
Or, we are going to deal with it.
I could just braid him and leave him on the pasture for the next month, until he got over it. Pretty much the way most people deal with those kinds of things. Your horse doesn’t like the bit? Leave it on him at the stall until he gets used to it… I have heard that quite a lot. Even when I first started having problems with Apocalipse not wanting to wear a halter or a bridle or anything on his face, I was advice quite a few times, to just stick one on him and leave him with it on the pasture until he got over it. That is not, nor will it ever be, who I am.
I will never teach my horses to endure pain.
Watching this weekend’s FEI show in Denmark, the JBK festival, I realize that teaching your horse to endure pain is clearly the way to go these days, but it did make it very clear for me that this is not where I want to go. Not with draw reins, or double bits, or barring, or nosebleeds… the things you see through the lens of a camera…
I have always been the kind who tries to teach my horse to avoid pressure. To avoid pain. Never to endure it. Meaning, if I use my leg to move him, I stop the second I get a response from him. If Saleem flicks his head, I support the rein when he does it, and the instant he stops, I release the pressure. The horse must always know how to escape an uncomfortable situation, it must always have a way out. I never want to end up having taught my horse to endure pressure from my hand, for instance.
So, the braids. Unavoidable, unless… We go punk. If I don’t want to force Saleem to get used to having braids, and I don’t want to stop showing him, and he is not ready for jumping just yet, well, I have one option left. We simply cut a Mohawk.
It wasn’t easy for me to do. I must admit, I love his mane. But still, if any one of my horses could get a Mohawk, it would be Saleem. His mane is so rough, it feels almost like tail hair, rather than mane hair. I think I may have to cut it a bit shorter than this at first, to make it come out Mohawk, but I will make this work.
I have thought of it before. Even when we ride at home, unbraided, I have had moments where his headshaking has felt like it was a response to his mane bothering him. So we are giving this short hair cut a try. Give me a few more days, to let it settle and to edit the edges and stuff, and you will see. This could work.
And if it has no effect on his headshaking, then you know what, it will grow back within a year. Saleem’s mane grows like crazy. I figure it is worth a try.
And speaking of going punk and Mohawks…
I have almost run out of hay lately, and that won’t do. So my friend had some I could buy, before I ran out completely, but it is in mini-big bales. That’s about 450 kg. Try moving that.
Actually, all you need is a pair of men. I hate to say it, but they ARE quite a lot stronger than us girls… and look, they even have fun with it. Win, win, win. I get hay for my horses, I don’t have to ruin my back trying to move something that weighs 400kg more than me, and they have fun doing it!
Thanks LHK for saving my life, yet again. And thanks Jonathan, for showing up and for your ever high spirits and your ability to make everything seem like great fun.
All the while…
Because sleeping on the grass, or in one of the houses, is over rated, and he knows, this tiny fella, that he will never be missing anything. Hay will magically come to him, when in need. Life is good. As it should be. He can leave the worrying to me.