WiseAssWallace is a beloved guest columnist for Cayuse Communications. From his pasture in southwestern Colorado, he’s on a quest to improve horse-human connections and make lives better for his fellow equines.
In this installment, WiseAssWallace discusses the topics of consistency, mindfulness, and knowledge. He says, “When you consider my point of view, your horsemanship will improve. I’m WiseAssWallace and I guarantee it.”
Let’s talk about consistency, folks. There is comfort in consistency. We all like comfort. Therefore, we all like consistency.
You people did a study once of how kids evolved to well-adjusted adults when raised by certain kinds of parents. The first group of parents had rules. The second group had no rules. The third group had rules sometimes, at the parents’ whim. Well, any WiseAss can tell you that the last group of kids was one confused and stressed-out bunch. Even the group with no rules fared better.
In my herd, consistency rules. I know, for instance, that Jolene will play with me and that Comet will not. I’d be one harried and heartbroken burro if Jolene loved me one day and kicked my WiseAss the next.
To consider a horse-human interaction, imagine if I got haltered gently one day and yanked around the next. I’d similarly be confused, stressed, and disoriented. Confusion, stress, and disorientation often translate to bucking, rearing, bolting, or pretty much any other action that will get us away from all the awfulness at hand. YOU might think we are misbehaving. But really, we just have a problem with YOUR inconsistency.
Let me give you other examples:
- Using spurs one day but not the next
- Soft hands one day but not the next
- Gradual girth cinching one day but not the next.
- Slack in a lead rope during a lesson, but not on the walk back to the barn.
Really, folks, it comes down to paying attention and being mindful. Yes, I know it’s an overused word. But seriously, how is it that you humans have such big brains, yet struggle so mightily with mindfulness? We equines are mindful 24/7/365. You could learn a lot from us.
Forget about the books, the YouTube videos, and the phone apps on mindfulness. Just be like me:
I pay attention.
I don’t waffle.
I’m accountable for my actions.
I have seen humans slam doors and yell. I wonder if they were afraid of something or got stung by a bee. That would make sense to us. A bad day at the office? Being preoccupied? Being absent-minded? These things do not make sense to us.
The other thing to consider with that big brain of yours is knowledge. (Or lack thereof)
Here’s the thing that gets us confused and upset (resulting in bucking, rearing, bolting, and pretty much any other action that will get us away from all the awfulness at hand):
You, the human, put us in a certain predicament without the knowledge to take care of us in that predicament.
- Asking us to load into a trailer
- Asking us for a lead change
- Asking us to hold our feet for farriers
- Asking us to cross a creek
- Do not ask if you do not know how to ask.
- Do not ask if you do not have the answer.
Sure, it’s good for all of us to get outside our comfort zones. Sometimes it’s good to be nervous. We love it when we come through the other side, alive and unharmed. But when you are ill-prepared, when you do not have your sh*t together, when you do not have the answers, things can go sideways in a hurry. Do not do that to us. Both of us might get hurt.
Plus, we will remember how we trusted you and how you compromised us.
As I’ve heard say:
- Set us up for success.
- If you’re green, don’t work with a green horse.
- Do not put us in a position of getting burnt.
The house of partnership is built on a framework of knowledge, consistency, and awareness. You heard it from WiseAssWallace.
Cayuse Communications thanks Amy Skinner, Warwick Schiller, and Mark Rashid for their contributions.