Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Horse Who Didn't

I once whacked a horse across the head with a whip.

I started thinking about that this afternoon when I went out for a long walk. I was in a foul mood, something that I sometimes do if I get angry. I went out for over an hour long walk with Bella. A wagging tail, good weather and a long walk is something that's hard for me to stay in a foul mood over.

Within five minutes by foot I can reach the outskirts of Reykjavík city. Very late in the evening it's rare to ever meet somebody so I am often tempted to set Bella loose. I did today and we only met one person. Bella was very happy and used the opportunity to race back and forth like a lunatic. Now that we're home she's content lying next to me in the couch. It was a very good walk for both of us.

The horse I mentioned earlier was called Viking. A calm fellow and a very good children's horse. I don't remember what exactly led me to use the whip on him but he wasn't obeying and a person I thought was my mentor at the time told me it was the only way to make him see the light. Viking was the only horse I ever did this to. After the act I found out that this wasn't who I am or wanted to be. I didn't believe in this method of trying to hurt another being to make it please me.

When dealing with Bella, I use a lot of the things I learned from dealing with horses. I found out the hard way that the harshest methods don't usually result in the best results. That whips and a cruel mind don't create an obedient horse. Another horse who would evade the bit turned into a great mount when I started using a normal bit with him again and treated him with gentle forgiving hands. I did learn from experience that anger is never an asset when it comes to animals.

This is why I try to not do much if I get angry. I may sulk or be in a foul mood for a bit but I try to withdraw to the best of my abilities and wait it out until I get over it. When I get angry I start thinking illogically. If Bella is making me upset I often start thinking that she's doing it deliberately to piss me off, or when my horse is spooking in the same corner on a windy day I sometimes decide he's being a little shit and doing it just to spite me. So through other mistakes I've made earlier in my life I try to breathe and figure out how to stop whatever I'm doing on a good note, no matter how insignificant it may be, and call it a day.

I hate watching animals behave out of fear. So with me often getting angry easily, I've had to learn to back off before I do something I regret. Sometimes it's difficult but when I later return to train and am greeted with a happy dog or a calm horse, I know I did right. Anger isn't a good way to train. Anger is a cue for me to do something for myself and no one else.

Anger, however, is a great excuse to take the dog for a walk.

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