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Cactus Jack Offers Some Reflections on Natural Horsemanship

Cactus Jack Splash the Appaloosa HorseMy DOR uses natural horsemanship techniques. I have told you about her waving flags, rolling balls, rattling grocery bags, doing something that looks like the 'chicken dance', and sitting in the pasture reading a book so we can 'bond.' I gotta give the old gal credit, she is persistent and means well.

I ran into this little statement by Flicka while the DOR was doing some of her reading. I thought I would share it because it is reflective of what many of us horses are thinking: 

Hello my name is Flicka and my Owner's a clinic junky. Yes, it's true. She went thru her midlife crisis and came to the sale barn and bought me. I spent my whole life misbehaving and being passed from greenhorn to greenhorn till someone finally got smart and sent me to the sale barn. I was seriously hoping to be picked up by one of those show horse fellas so I could live in a fancy barn and stand around and look pretty, but they told me my butt's too small, my heads too big, and the crest on my neck from a bout with grass founder (thanks to owner number 2) is not desirable, and in general I was just not that capable of looking pretty, so I went home with Phyllis instead. She pets me and loves me, and in general I had a pretty good life at first. Then she heard about those guys who whisper to horses. Life has never been the same.

First there was Pat. At Pat's clinic Phyllis learned to twirl a big stick and chase me around a round pen till I was ringing wet with sweat.Once I had quote "calmed down" (I was never really fired up in the first place till that guy came at me with the stick like an idiot) she began learning to ride me with no bridle. Talk about giving an old spoiled horse an opportunity to have some fun! Initially I went along with it. I'd lope around the pen real nice like, and everyone would oooh and cooo over my "natural horse" abilities. Then, just when everyone had gathered around to watch, I would see the SCARIEST!! (tehehehe) Shadow in the history of scary shadows and switch directions and take off with my rider clinging terrified to my back. Every other horse on the place was envious of me because their owners would take them out back and beat them with that overpriced stick when no one was watching, but I knew my Phyllis would not. Eventually Philly (as I like to call her) gave up on the whole natural horse idea when Pat tried to talk her into jumping me without a bridle over some barrels. Off we went in search of another guru.

In our search we found Monty. He threw a string at a horse and talked to the horse with winks and stares. I spent some time with his clinic horses. I saw the demonstration where an unbroken 2 year old became an overnight Reiner. Later I talked to the 2 year old. He was actually 5 and had been doing this same routine for about 5 clinics now. The first time Phyllis broke out the string, I again went along with it. Well, until she got tired of me stopping and looking at her like she was stupid. When she went to get herself a glass of water and refer to that chapter in Monty's book, I grabbed the string and chewed it to pieces. And this is how I got my Jolly ball!

Then there was the Indian fella with a name I can't pronounce. To get the full effect of his clinic Philly painted stuff on my body and put feathers in my hair. I looked like I was in a Costume class, but hey, whatever floats your boat. I thought maybe at least with this guy we might get to play Indian pony games and have mock battles or something but no. More round pen work and gimmicks. This time there was a fire in the middle of the round pen and they danced around it while praying that I would become a good horse and always mind my owner. He only took her for a couple thousand pelts and a bottle of firewater.

There's been the Australian guy. Training with a Boomerang while he hopped around like a kangaroo and called me his mate ... "Sorry fella, your cute and all but my mate has 4 legs. I Just don't' swing interspecies."

A horse psychic who told Phyllis my momma didn't lick me enough when I was born. A guy who used his hands like ears to talk to me and of course the touchy feely lady. I can't complain though I've got an owner who loves me and has devoted her time to trying to make me a better horse. I really should behave, really I should, but I think I am contributing to her youth by giving her a reason to take me to all these clinics. Maybe the next clinic will involve turning me out with the mustangs so I find my inner wild stallion.

Sincerely, Flicka 

I am glad the DOR is benefiting from all of the effort that I am putting in to keep her young and entertained. I am lucky because she loves me to pieces and I think she will do. Her son was teasing her that I am going to live longer than she does...that could be a problem, where will I find another DOR who is going to do the 'chicken dance', feed me peppermints, scritch all the right spots, and love me to pieces?

Enjoy your day and don't forget to hug your DOR.