This particular horse was started under saddle by someone who didn’t have a lot of experience and to make matters worse, had been abused by his dad when he was a kid. When he got frustrated with the horse, he did what his dad did to him. Scream, hit and generally take out all of the anger he had for his dad on this poor horse. I heard the story after I had started riding him. Sad but too common. I meet a lot of people with anger issues who work with animals. Maybe because they can’t control themselves around people.
I wondered, what would it take for this horse to quit getting so mad every time I asked him to do something? He got mad when I went into his pen to put the halter on. That’s pretty basic. So I started over.
I walked into the pen with no halter. I took brushes and combs and when I finally got him to stand still, I started brushing him and rubbing his back and I decided to apologize to him for all the abuse that had been inflicted on him during the months he had been in training. As I talked, he started to lick his lips and his head dropped and I turned around and walked out of the pen. I stood on the other side of the gate and watched him for a minute. He watched me too and finally walked over to me and stood. I picked up a halter and opened the gate, put the halter on him and started brushing him again.
Each day he was easier and easier to catch until one day he walked up to the gate and put his head down for me to put his halter on. That day, I did not. I turned around and walked out and I could hear him take a big breath and let it out. That was the beginning of his healing.
What made the difference on that first day? Was it the apology?
What would it take for the healing process to begin for you? A sincere apology, a request for forgiveness? Why do some apologies work and others are a dismal failure? Intention? Agenda?
People know the truth when they hear it. So do horses.