Monday, July 19, 2010

Horse Personality - Lone wolf

I appreciate the support - I really don't want to be a flake, but I also want to be honest. By sharing your stories with horses like Cibolo, it's helped me not feel so unreasonable in my expectations. I think you are all right - I can probably handle it. But do I want to?

So, who is this horse? Cibolo, it seems, is Lobo after all. Or not...

Like so many in blogosphere I took the online horse personality test. At first I got one result, but having watched him more closely I realize I was off. I took it again and got SLAA - Lone Wolf.

Here's what I got from online on Lone wolf:

Low key, low energy, low expectations, are what you need to work successfully with this type of horse. The Lone Wolf is not bursting out of his stall to try to fit into your program and to please you. He is easily content and can do a good job for you as long as it is not demanding physically or emotionally. He likes his world predictable and safe. He would rather be a little bored than stressed. If repeatedly put into pressure situations he can react seemingly unpredictably. If you can find a quiet solid job for him, he will perform it repeatedly and safely.

The book, Is Your Horse a Rock Star (which you can find here), has a few other insights.

If this horse does suddenly react, it always takes people by surprise as he's always"the good guy." (read my experience in Conception. In fact every time it goes badly it's so surprising!)

The best type of rider is tricky... the dominant will put too much pressure... the submissive will not be enough of a leader... (I'm having trouble here exactly. The mix is easy to get wrong)

Likes to be bored... (I see that totally. He is not adventurous. Unless there's a cookie)

Needs a job, but not an exciting one... Think research department...

Soft and sweet, but difficult to know... (so true. Lover, then Mr. Aloof. I have SO dated that guy)

He responds to efforts to engage him with either worry or disinterest. The line seems very thin... (yep)

Constantly flips from not paying attention to overreacting... (check!)

Job : probably would enjoy the predictability of flatwork, pulling a plow, low level hunter... (okay. So not endurance or trail challenges?)

With a Lone Wolf:
Be a quiet leader (I am having trouble here. My quiet is ... too quiet?)
Keep them safe
Appreciate what effort they give
Repeat it until they are solid
Stay the course
Venture out slowly
Find them an easy, low stress job
(can I have one of those too? LOL)

Abandon them
Scare them
Compare them to others
Skip steps
Jump from job to job
Assume they can handle it
(I hear that)
So do I presume that endurance and trail challenges (which is what I want to do) are the wrong job for this horse? I don't have a remuda and I don't have an interest in the repetitive work of showing that he might be suited to.

And how the heck do I lead this horse? I'm as strong a leader right now as I can be, but I don't think I'm quiet... I'm demanding. Real demanding.

What would make him happy? Besides being a pasture ornament, which he's way too young for?



Anonymous said...

Getting that strong/quiet at the same time leadership thing down is very difficult. For me the strong part is easier - I've had to really work on the quiet part.

I think with your guy, the trick will be to not overface him and take things very slowly, one step at a time, starting within his comfort zone, building his trust in you there, and then gradually edging into the less comfortable zone. You could probably take him on the trail by dominating him and coercing him - and that may be how he's been handled in the past - but there could be some explosions in there and it won't build trust. Knowing how far to push things will be key, and you may have to dial back your expectations.

I think it's the distinction between dominance and quiet, strong leadership that's so hard to achieve. I've learned a lot watching Mark Rashid work - I'm off this weekend to watch him work for 3 days up in Wisconsin - he's plenty strong in the leadership department, but incredibly quiet and subtle - he only gets big when it's needed and it's often only for an instant, and there's never any emotional content, it's all very matter-of-fact and, well, emotionally quiet.

Funder said...

It seems to me like you're struggling with two separate issues: HOW to handle C, plus how to MENTALLY handle having to handle C a certain way. I'm not good enough to advise about the former, but maybe I can point you in the right direction for the latter.

Do you read Equestrian Ink? Laura Crum has a complicated relationship with Sunny, her little trail gelding. Not the same issue, so not the same solutions, but I think it would be helpful for you to read anyway. He periodically tests her and she has to get big and whack him with the lead rope. Having to do that really bugs her, and I thought the discussion about it was really interesting and helpful.

AareneX said...

"Quiet leadership", that's tough. I think I've got it (mostly), thanks to Hana.

She was simultaneously a delicate flower and a spoiled brat. I needed to teach Hana good behavior without melting her bones. Fortunately, I've trained a lot of timid Shetland Sheepdogs in my day, and the technique is similar.

As for the bigger issue: "does C need a different job?" well...maybe. Any horse can do endurance, but not every horse enjoys endurance. And if the sport isn't fun for the horse, why should he do it?

Ask yourself: Do you envision C, 10 years hence, having been perfectly trained for the event, standing at the start line and eager to go forward for 50 miles of tough terrain?

Unknown said...

I've finally been feeling like I can see well enough to start catching up on favorite blogs again! I have *so* been where you are and I'm a very experienced rider who had a reputation for being one of the best with 'problem' horses!

There are people who are bored with anything but a horse who challenges them to constantly be in charge and on their toes. I think like me, that isn't you!

I gave away a horse I had paid $5,000for at 4 months of age way back in 1980 because he was the first horse I ever had who *wanted* to hurt me! He had been raised right with correct training all the way, he just didn't want to do anything that wasn't his idea! I gave him to my friend who loved a challenging horse and she gave me a TB who was too soft and sensitive for her to enjoy, just *my* kind of horse!

All four of us were very successful in the exchange so this is my usual round about way of saying, there is no shame in recognizing and honoring what you want and what your horse wants even if they turn out to be two different things!

I just officially gave the AZ mustang I got March 2009 to Mike for similar reasons. Mio needs a 'Boss' to feel safe and happy and I need a partner I can relax on these days. Mio responds perfectly to Mike who is naturally a leader type while Brillo loves partnering with me in the kissy, huggy, touchy-feely kind of way that I've been craving. Once again, all four of us win!

My suggestion would be to just let yourself be open to the idea that Cibolo may find himself his own new person, home and job. I have always found when I was willing to let go, horses in my care have found their own best place. That will create the space for you find your own best partner. You've learned so much from your experiences with Cibolo and you are so much more clear about what you really want in your horse relationships! I see a happy ending here eventually.

Best to you and thanks so much for the many words of encouragement in the last difficult weeks - Carmon

lytha said...

i've used that personality test for my horse and i don't think it's accurate. i did it twice to be sure, and both times the analysis seemed to be talking about another horse entirely.

John and Regina Zdravich said...

It sure sounds like a complicated situation. I am strictly a trail rider -- no competition or showing, so I don't know how to advise. But it sounds like it could be possible with a training regime that suits his temperment. I am sure there is a trainer out there with an answer.

Trailrider said...

If endurance is going to be your thing, maybe you should consider a horse breed suited for that. But there is so much to do with a horse besides endurance.

Cibolo could be working the cattle at the Cibolo livery on Thursday evenings. That would be a good job for both of you. I guarantee he wouldn't have much time to think about anything but bringing back those roping steers in the alley.

Also, we should be doing all 3 trails when you come over to visit, something we have yet to do. Heck, we might even do them twice. That would be about 7 miles and present him with plenty of distractions that you can work him through, and give him opportunities for conditioning.

And I think the thing about being a strong leader starts with the little things. It's about not putting up with the head butts, the crowding, the walking past you EVEN ONE TIME. And I wouldn't give that horse any more treats. I don't think he's a horse that you can give treats to and maintain his respect. (I know Breathe, I have a thing about treats)

After reading more of that Mark Rashid book, I think I can honestly tell you that Cibolo's body language with you is one of disrespect more often than not; and it's in the "little things" he does that maybe you aren't noticing and are letting pass, so that by the time you mount him, it's over as far as respect from him is concerned, and then you have to be super-B to get his respect back.

Melanie said...

Okay, good...I am glad that you don't mind my!!!

Hopefully this quiz has helped give you some insight into yourself and your horse.

I tend to agree with some of the other comments though...that maybe Cibolo isn't suited for endurance.

Just FYI, Camino (my rebound horse) is now a successful show horse. It appears that he needed repetitive arena work with no suprises.

Horses that like their leader/handler and like their job are ready to get to work. Maybe you should try him on cattle?

What is his breeding? QH's are really bred for specific purposes now, and often a WP or HUS QH doesn't even resemble a working or reining QH. Just food for thought. : )

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I really liked what Carmon said in her comment, "My suggestion would be to just let yourself be open to the idea that Cibolo may find himself his own new person, home and job. I have always found when I was willing to let go, horses in my care have found their own best place. That will create the space for you find your own best partner."

That totally applies to me and the journey I was on with Baby Doll and how I found my Apache. After my accidents caused by Baby Doll I still wasn't really ready to let her go. She was my first horse and I had planned to keep her forever. My Dad, a Navy man, has a very strict policy of 'You make your bed, you lie in it'. Basically meaning, that you sign up for something or take something on, then you don't ever give up.

So, it wasn't until my mentor and experienced horsewoman friend, Colleen offered to ride Baby Doll during a clinic....and said, 'No way, is this a beginner or bombproof horse. I don't even feel safe riding her around in this arena. She's spooky and high strung and disrespectful, too', that I finally accepted that Baby Doll was not the horse for me. I finally 'let go' and just a week later, Baby Doll finally found the perfect home for her, even though I had been trying to sell her off and on for a year.

The key was, that I had not really let her go. I wasn't willing to accept that she and I were not right for each other.

Anyway, I think that when it comes to Cibolo, you just have to listen to your heart and your head. Only you know what you're willing to do to keep him in your life. The biggest thing is, just make sure you keep your safety above all else.


KIM said...

Honestly, Cibolo does not sound well suited to Endurance riding from all the "evidence" I've read.
And it sounds like you have reservatons (understandably so) about HAVING to be a certain way with a horse if it takes your enjoyment out of the relationship.
Might you consider doing other things with him?
I have enormous respect for our local "before-anyone -heard of-holistic" horse vet, Madalyn Ward. Try taking her horse typing test. She's refined it over years of observation and testing, and she's a great resource who happens to now live just behind Canyon Lake in Fischer:

Red was a little like Cibolo before I started the clicker training and Parelli work. Those two things have really opened him up to being a happy participant and willing to learn instead of the aloof sometimes sullen horse he was.