"I'm hoping that when they say 'The meek shall inherit the earth' that they are actually referring to the canines." ~ Radleigh Valentine RadleighValentine.com
"To me, the equine is a better friend to the human than the canine friend. We co-created our current society with the horse. The dogs have benefited from our friendship.....and of course, we have benefited by befriending the cat. In the meantime, we couldn't have done it without the horse." ~ Joan Ranquet
|Photo by Corinne McNeely|
The Law of Expectation
I have a horse name Rollie. Before I committed to buying Rollie, I rode him for a couple of months one summer. I had heard and had no reason to believe otherwise - that Rollie was tough to trailer. In non horsey words, he would not get in the trailer. He would put up a big stinking fight!
I wanted to take lessons with a trainer that was at a different barn, 40 minutes from the barn where Rollie lived. In order to get him to the lesson, he had to get in a trailer. I lived an hour from the barn where he was living. I know this is starting to sound like one of these equations that we would figure out how many people are left on the bus, but this does get easier!
In other words, to get to a noon lesson, in a perfect world, I could leave my house at a reasonable time. Rather, I left my house at 6:00 am to get to the barn at 7:00am to have a big fight over getting in the trailer for about 3 hours, drive 40 minutes, tack him up, warm him up, and then have my lesson at noon.
After the lesson, the "fight" to get him back into the trailer was not as dramatic. Everyone was exhausted, he would get back to his barn and I would drive home. My cat would greet me with that disdain of "my, you've been gone a long time!" If only she knew it was only for 1 lesson!
I built my Wednesdays around the fight of getting in the trailer. I took an entire day off of work once a week that summer just so that I could maintain the expectation that Rollie would not get in a trailer. I was not only supporting it, I was in fact enabling, if not contributing to it greatly! And, I was an animal communicator!
Mind you, I have moved Rollie from the Seattle area to the Denver area to South Florida and back. Within in those areas, I have also moved him to different barns. He does get in the trailer. After much seeming coercion. And a lot of cussing.
A few years ago, I decided to do something about this. I had a natural horseman friend named Scot Hansen of http://www.horsethink.com/ work with me and Rollie. Scot had me do what I normally do - so he could watch and assess what to do from there. I walked Rollie to the trailer and right before he was about to go in, he pitched a giant (and he is big so I really mean giant) fight. He reared, he acted like an oversized baby, etc. And so what did I do? I got bigger and bigger.
At some point in the middle of us matching each other and then one upping the big energy, I realized how fun this was for Rollie. I mean, it was a regular game and I don't know how I had never caught on to that. At that point, I was tired, I'd exhausted my swear words and I handed the horse over to Scot.
Scot got him in the trailer relatively quick.
The next morning, Scot was to come over again to work with us. Before I got out of bed, I visualized how I wanted it all to go. I visualized that I would get up and feed animals, from there, I would have an easy breezy morning, I would waltz to the barn as Scot arrived and easily and effortlessly get Rollie in the trailer.
When Scot arrived, I got Rollie out of his stall and walked him straight into the trailer. There may have been a mini hesitation - for the most part, Rollie went straight into the trailer.
Scot asked me what I had done differently. I said I took both of our advice. I always talk to clients about visualizing the outcome so that was my first step. Then I used Scot's calm cool, non-emotional demeanor. And it worked.
When it's our animal that is not behaving the way we want, we have a lot at stake. It is easy for me to help others. Yet, many of us can get caught up in the drama with our animal and then they will behave exactly as we have set them up to behave. Somewhere in there may be an animal that is truly amused by our set up. After all, this certainly gets our attention, doesn't it!
While it is entertaining for them, or attention getting, it can be very upsetting for us. On some level we expect it to go this certain way. Because they oblige, we have even set up a neural pathway for the behavior to go exactly as was expected. So the trick to creating a new expectation is seeing the outcome and remaining calm!