Since returning back to Australia I have been anxiously looking for somewhere for me and the horses to move to. Still no luck as not many properties are happy to accommodate 6 horses unfortunately. In between all this searching and as a result of the changes that seemed to occur in me during my time away, my relationship with my horses has changed dramatically.
Initially on the day I returned I excitedly dropped my suitcase and ran into the paddock to call the mares down from the mountain. As always, Scout was the first to come galloping down and whinnied an excited greeting then stood beside me sniffing me and asking for pats. Sienna, Lacey and Kiowa came next and I was shocked to receive a very angry greeting from Lacey. When she recognised me she pinned her ears at me reared up and then turned away. This is the same angry reaction she gives Scout on her return whenever Scout and I go out for a little while. Lacey very much sees me as a mother figure and treats me that way and she seemed downright furious with me for leaving for so long. After a few days she was back to normal again and I found the whole process fascinating.
There is such a huge difference in the behaviour of this breed to any other horse I have ever come across. I am learning each and every day that I spend with my Spanish Mustangs. All the horses have seemed a little out of sorts over the past couple of months and I to am quite unsettled and anxious about finding the perfect place for us to move to. I had a shock encounter with my brumby mare Sienna a few weeks ago. I walked into the paddock to go and greet the horses. Scout walked over to me and asked for a scratch. Sienna is a strong alpha mare amongst the group and Scout is often testing and challenging her of late. This particular day as I was patting Scout, Sienna came over and Scout snaked her head and pinned her ears at Sienna trying to keep her away from me. It all happened so quickly and next I knew Sienna had spun around and was kicking violently. I received a solid blow to my arm and then another to the back of my leg as I ran away. I was in shock. In all the years I have had Sienna, even when she was extremely traumatised and wild after her capture and time at the doggers, she has never once shown me any ounce of aggression. I respect her for who she is and have made sure I do not take away that spirit that she holds so dear. It is for this reason that I don't ride her much. She seems to enjoy long walks we take together and if I get tired she is more than happy to carry me but I felt deeply sometime ago that this was not the path that would suit Sienna in this life. So she remains the strong herd leader and takes her role at home very seriously. I still am unsure about why I received these kicks from her however it was a wake up call to set some boundaries about allowing this sort of behaviour whilst I am standing with them. The next day I made the decision to place myself above Sienna in the herd and that any fighting that may occur must happen away from me.
I don't ever need a halter or lead on Sienna to communicate effectively and within minutes she was following my body movements and dropping in behind me, accepting me as leader. She now seems to appreciate my role in the herd and often times will follow me around the entire property staring mesmerised when I stop to do something. The mares all seem much calmer now and the aggression has subsided amongst them.
Just the other day I was patting Scout in the paddock and the other horses stayed back a respectful distance. This is a big and positive change to the usual clamouring for attention. One by one they laid down around me. First Lacey, then Sienna then I laid down and Scout laid down close beside me. We all napped together in the morning sun while Kiowa stood watch. After sometime Sienna got up and came and stood over me allowing Kiowa a turn to sleep. Scout was flat out beside me making soft whinnies as she dreamt, her big legs twitching as she ran over some imagined plains in her dreams.
Those are the treasured moments where I am deeply grateful for the trust and relationship I have with these horses.
Since I have changed my position amongst the herd Scout and I have come a long way. I have been doing more training with her and am amazed by what we are achieving together. I give her the option as to whether she wants to work or not by opening the roundyard gate and allowing her to go in or not. She knows this is where we do our riding and groundwork and most times she has chosen to participate of late. I continue to ride her bareback until we have perfected our communcation between us. She is such a joy to work with and the more we do together, the stronger our bond grows. She is a truly remarkable horse and I hope to get some video of our progress soon.
I recently took Lacey and Kiowa to the beach. We had a wonderful day and they both had a lovely time splashing in the sea. Here are some pictures taken that day.
|Lacey exploring at the beach|
|Watching other horses arriving|
|Time to get wet|
|Finish off with a good roll|