Horsey Therapist

Monday, May 21, 2007


My friend wrote about the former reputation of her young horse. She was labeled a brat. And according to former owners, earned that reputation.

But what does that mean, that a horse is a brat?

I used to call Rusty a brat, even made it one of my "affectionate" nicknames for him: Mr. Bratsky.

Poor horse. He is such a tuned in horse with a lot of try and eagerness to get along whenever possible within his limits of ability and understanding, that when things were going well with us, he would try to live up to my image of him as a brat! What a lot of effort he put into that and to what ends? It just confirmed for me what I was projecting onto him in the first place.

Poor horse.

Back to my question: what does that mean, that a horse is a brat? We use the word with people (kids most often) who are being outspoken, playful, going against the grain, doing the unexpected and/or the unwanted... So, a brat is someone who has an independent mind and is acting with integrity? And we use a pejorative to belittle and discourage those wonderful qualities.

With Rusty, I had to discipline myself to get specific in my mind regarding what he was doing that I didn't like. So when I found myself starting to call him a brat (or just having already done so) I asked myself, what is he doing that bothers me? It was often when he was expressing his opinion and I didn't have time for it, or I felt threatened by what he was doing. I didn't like what he was doing, I took it personally (key element as well!), and I wanted him to feel ashamed of himself and have more self control. EEGADS. Sure sounds like poor parenting communications! The old "cut it out" stuff that comes bubbling out in those moments of less self awareness. Attempts to control the other because I feel uncomfortable.

So Rusty has some new nicknames. He has not been Mr. Bratsky for years although I like the sound of that one, I must admit. Lately he is "Roo", or "Roo Boy", some confabulated offshoot from "Rusty", or maybe a mix of "Rusty" and "Doofus", or "Rusty" and "Goofy"? As that is how I see his "bratty" behavior now -- goofy, silly, lively, to be acknowledged, perhaps enjoyed, and forgotten. He is such an expressive horse and I truly do appreciate that about him.

So, as usual, Rusty has facilitated some learning and behavior changes in me. Thank you, Roo Boy!


At 22 May, 2007 18:44, Blogger ZinniaZ said...

Ahh, poor little Velvet. Not yet TWO years old and she already had a reputation. "The WORST horse in the barn." I think that I bought her (and the woman last week said they were sooo happy that I came along and took her) because of some of the stories. She would NOT pace. She cantered out of the hobbles. She was a fighter. She was the WORST racehorse. Those are good qualities, yes. I have no use for a racehorse. I am fond of horrible racehorses. They make good companion horses and go down the road horses. I don't particularly want to pace. I love cantering... I also like brat qualities. I like independence and contrariness and exuberance. I like fighters. I think a fighter who is WITH you is an incredible friend. Fighting = trying when channeled well?

I am glad Rusty has new names.


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