Posted by Stacy Bullock on March 17, 2014
Horses are our best friends. Whether you're a one horse type of guy or gal, or you believe that "horses are like potato chips, you can't have just one!" I happen to be a one horse gal, probably because the pony I have is so full of personality that I wouldn't have time for more than him! And lets not forget our riding buddies. We all have them, whether they are our friends or siblings. Riding together is just an amazing way of bonding.
Over the next few months I am going to start from the beginning, and tell some of my stories. Now, I never went on to do anything more than local open Gymkhana or English shows, I was never a great instructor or champion of anything, but I did have a best horse friend, who shared a mind with me, who shared a mutual respect and understanding with me that we were going to let each other be ourselves. I was just an adventurous farm girl who grew up in a tiny town in Michigan. But I think the majority of horse lovers are the way I was, and so they will be able to smile and laugh along with me.
Ziggy was born in the early summer about 16 years ago, to a little snow white pony named Littlebit with brown patches on her face and rump. He was very tall since he was born to a mother that was no more than 12.5 hands, his legs were longer than hers! His coloring was mostly brown, a beautiful reddish brown, with four white stockings on each leg, a white patch on his shoulder, rump, and a star, strip in the shape of a zigzag (hence his name), and a snip on his face. Ziggy loved people. I remember as a little girl yelling his name and running next to the fence, he would come running and whinnying next to me, a tradition that would continue through the years.
Unfortunately, we sold him and he was gone for a few years but then we got him back when he was about 7 years old. He had changed a lot. He was very mean. Dangerously mean! My older sister had to train him to submit. Why is it important for horses to submit to us? Because horses view you as a part of their herd. If you are not their leader in their mind, then they are yours, which will not only be dangerous for you, but for them as well. After all, who is going to be leading them, telling them it's all going to be okay? If you're not their leader, why should they trust you or listen to you? That's what submission is all about.
So, Mandy got him into a round pen, stood in the middle with a lunge whip, and tried to make him run away from her. Why make him run away? Well have you ever watched a herd of horses when a new one joins? The leaders of the herd will chase them, even keeping them out of the herd for days until the new horse understands its place in the herd. Once the horse shows mutual respect and understanding of the pecking order, the others allow it to "join". Most horses will run just by you swinging the whip through the air, but Ziggy, did NOT budge, even when she would whip him a little (not abusively!) the only thing that got him to move was when Dad brought out a board and gave him a little spanking. Then he gave into her and began to run. Round and round he ran. Mandy was looking, waiting for his submission. We know that a horse submits by their body language. First they will lick their lips, or start to turn their ears towards you. Finally he did! Mandy stopped, and turned her back to him. He walked up to her on his own, and she turned and stroked his nose. Next she began to walk away. Ziggy perked up his ears and began to follow her without her needing to touch him. Next, she turned to the right, he followed, to the left, he followed. Turned towards him and walked towards him and he backed up. All this without having to lay a finger on him. What does this mean? He TRUSTS her. Two minds, two bodies, became one.