Horsey Therapist

Monday, December 03, 2007

Floating teeth

The equine precision floater was here yesterday. Five of the six horses were due for dental work. I wait for this man to come to Vermont because he has done well and I like his approach -- no power tools, no speculum. Builds on the cooperation with the horse to get this done.

Things went easily with four horses. And I'd hoped it would go well with Sofia.

It went better than before, but not well enough for her teeth to be floated. We agreed that next time I will have the vet here to give her some sedation. She responds well to a little sedation (based on when she had her wolf teeth extracted) and she needs to have her teeth done. I have other options like having a vet do her teeth but so far, I like what this man has been doing.

Although he hasn't figured out the effective feel with this particular horse. And it frustrates him.

The challenging thing is not to be frustrated with this horse as that breaks the connection of her trust or something. She has little tolerance for frustrated human energy. My successes with her mouth have been due to my ability to remember to offer 'centered softness' from within myself. She responds well to that. Hey, what a good human trainer she is -- these are qualities I want to have in my life and indeed, without accessing the best of myself, I ain't going no where with this mare's mouth!

But the floater got frustrated for awhile. I think he saw that in himself this time better than he has before. I am challenged to support and even defend my horse while maintaining a supportive and grateful relationship with the professional. Tricky business! It is easy to blame the horse, it is also easy to blame me. I would prefer he blame me, although I have made progress with this mare, both in her allowing me in her mouth and in understanding what she needs in order to feel OK about something happening that she would rather avoid.

She can avoid with me quite easily. Just watch how quickly she raises her head! I realized later, after my success a few days ago with her mouth, that I was really at a disadvantage and she was really helping me out: I was standing downhill from her. Go figure!

The floater didn't see how it might help Sofia understand what he wants by my using a floating tool with her then his using it. I think it is a way she would understand what he wants, building in tiny little steps from one thing she is OK with to another thing we want her to be OK with.

He did check inside her mouth with his fingers and that is what he acknowledged as progress. That and her softer eye, more relaxed demeanor. Definitely progress from the last visit.

We talked a bit about whether she was afraid or not. He was convinced she was not afraid, that it was an "attitude". I voiced my perspective that even though she shows behaviors we might call avoidant, angry, defensive, that underneath those feelings lie her fear and her lack of understanding of what she is being asked to do. I asked questions to better understand what "attitude" means to him, as well as to understand how he would change his approach depending on whether she was a scared horse or a horse with an "attitude". I think he referred to spending time together getting clear about who is boss.

Gosh, if bossing this horse around was the answer, we would have solved this dilemma already! I'm grateful she allows me to do what I already can do with her!

I will keep up with the fingers and floating tool in her mouth, and follow through with my agreement to have the vet here next time the floater comes to Vermont. Sofia is OK, and will be more OK. But not through force or intimidation. No thank you, say both of us!


At 03 December, 2007 13:40, Blogger Victoria Cummings said...

You are doing absolutely the right thing with Sofia. A word like "attitude" falls right into the same category as "rude" and "spoiled" when people talk about horses. And when I hear someone use those terms, it makes me wary of them. One thing I wondered - Is Sofia used to being handled by men? I know that my little horse, Siete, is very accepting of any man who comes up to her- but her first trainer was a very kind horseman. Her mother, Silk, was abused by a man and usually doesn't trust them until she gets to know them very well. It depends on the guy's "attitude".

At 03 December, 2007 15:01, Blogger LJB said...

I'm confident it's not a gender thing. She has enjoyed being handled and ridden by some men. It's a feel thing -- and she has shown me the same reluctance when I approach her with hardness. I would like her to be more versatile, more accepting of rougher handling if that makes sense, not accepting of meannness, but accidental or unintentional rougher handling. And I can help her with that, I just keep forgetting the need until someone like the equine floater shows up.

I like him a lot despite this. He's getting along well with all the horses here, just hasn't found that added bit of feel that seems required right now with Sofia.

Some time back I wrote about his ultimate success with my Morgan gelding, Rusty. That horse is a different story. Well, maybe not. Hmmm. It was a moment of clarity, intensity, and certainty from the floater that got through to Rusty like an ON switch. I wonder now if the floater carries some uncertainty when he's has not managed to float this horse after several visits... Something to think about! Which leaves me thinking I might help Sofia get along with someone who is uncertain. Hmm. An interesting thought. Right now, I'm not sure how I would go about that!


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