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EricJohn

The Killer Man's Horse, update 13, sheepishly returning

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Can I just buy the book already???? More pages more pages more pages!!!

PS since Im kinda new, is there a book? are you writing one? did you write one? Would you PLEASE write one and where can I get my copy??

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I came in recently and I am loving every minute of this. I feel a little guilty that I am getting all this for free... do you have a book out? If you don't you really should.

[Not Worthy] I am RIVETED [Yay]

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Bumpity...

I have linked this to several friends. Lots of us in Illinois on the edge of our seats...

Please more, EricJohn, what happens next?!?

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Sorry guys, [Embarrassed]

Me and the computer have been tied up trying to put together a safety Power Point presentation.

I have to give presentation to my companies management counsel about a safety program I've been heading up this year. Very stressing.

But here is a little more. I will try and get more before the end of the day.

Many things were going through my head as I contemplated what to do. The Mustang sprang forward and eyed me as I eased around the pen towards the end of the rope. I kept my right hand in contact with the rails as I gingerly cat walked around showing the Mustang my shoulder.

The Mustang trotted and pranced away from me, stomping at the rope and slinging his head. He had regained enough strength to start looking over the top rail again which spurred me to think fast. I did not want to make a fast movement to catch the rope as I figured it would spook the Mustang into a frenzy.

The lot had corners in it and finally when the Mustang had cornered himself for a second I squatted quickly and retrieved the end of the rope. I held it cautiously in my hands, being very careful not to let it pull tight around the Mustang?s neck. I assumed he had grown accustom to the feel of it on him dragging sinces he was not so bothered by its presence before I picked it up.

I let him move around the lot just carrying the rope. As he would turn away or get the rope over his back I began flipping the slack easily around to keep him from being tangled. At first he spooked at these little movements but after a time he only flipped his head at the movement of the rope.

I had regained some fervor and confidence as we moved around the lot. I let the Mustang move on his own mostly, only bothering him when he stopped or began searching the top rails for an escape route. Out of habit I fell into the rhythm of proximity I used when I would free lunge a horse in the round pen. I moved in behind his hip to push him up and stepped in ahead of his shoulder to stop and turn him.

Many times he whirled and kicked at me when I stepped towards his hip and a few times he reared and slapped a wicked front hoof at me with his ears laid back and his teeth bared, when I stepped to his shoulder, but his charging and bluffing had diminished.

I began to realize he was responding to me in a most instinctive way in that he would tolerate me in close proximity to him if I did not look at him in the eye, but kept my eye trained on his shoulder nearest me. I did not know until much later in life that group type animals such as heard animals respond to the movement of the shoulders of the animal next to them. Their impulsion is off of the hindquarters and direction is off of the forehand. Many times I have watched a group of horses running and playing with their heads sweeping from side to side to scan the terrain ahead of them with one eye and look for trouble beside and behind with the other. When they changed direction the first part of their body to go the way they wanted to turn was their shoulder. Even before their feet reached in that direction they change their momentum by shifting the direction of their shoulders.

I began to use this subtle bit of knowledge to my advantage to change the momentum of the Mustang. At this point in our dance I only needed to alter my proximity to him and invade, by his perception, his personal space, his safety zone. This had the effect of influencing his natural instinct of wanting to keep the jump on me, or keep a reasonably safe distance. It worked in my favor to change his direction.

I applied the same principle when he stopped or stuttered stepped in preparation for a possible escape, I need only crowd his hip. Depending on my proximity and where I stepped or how intensely I crowded the Mustang, he began to move at my will, although it did not seem to bother him as much as constricting his movement with the rope. It was all instinctual and that is what he trusted right now. His instincts.

So we moved around like that until the Mustang became content to stand some what quietly when I gave him his space and moved off when I stepped into him or crowded him. I considered it a great victory, but still, to ensure his not being sent into slaughter I felt I had to at least get him to load on a stock trailer for the ride to the training barn.

I thought of what an old bronc rider had taught me as I was trying to learn how to ride broncs. He relayed that albeit most people think that the bronc rider is trying to over power or trying to make the bronc submissive, or dominate the bronc, in reality, the bronc rider is along for the ride. He is not in control of that situation by any means, for those eight seconds. The bronc is ultimately in control because he is too powerful of a beast to be over come with force. A good bronc rider does not act or try to out move the bronc, he reacts and counters the movements of the bronc to remain balanced and centered.

It was divine knowledge. It took a bit of study and many futile attempts to disprove, but after enough dumps in the dirt, one begins to understand that there is no dominating a horse. Its quite a humbling thing to admit that the horse is actually in control, and that without its cooperation and consent there will be no riding, no jumping, heck, even no leading up. They are too big and powerful and with a mind of their own, they discern, make judgments and decide if they want to do what is asked of them or not. The trick in this situation is, how can I get this Mustang, who trusts only in his instincts, values his freedom, and has the spirit to single mindedly strive to achieve his goals, to forget all of that and trust in a different sort of rules to existence and cooperate.

The tactile responses I was getting from giving him his head and allowing him to trust in his instincts, gave me an advantage over brute force. The Mustang was not mechanical; he was a living thing capable of reasoning. But in the setting of this muddy lot, in the receiving pens of this slaughter house, his thought process relied on instinct; the inborn pattern of behavior characteristic of his ancestors that shaped his necessity for survival. My goal now was to figure out how to manipulate that, and gain his trust.

[ 08-09-2007, 08:42 AM: Message edited by: EricJohn ]

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Bumping back to the front in hopes the presentation is done and we can get more of the story................. [big Grin]

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sorry again guys,

I ddin't get back to it today, I got prompted by the boss man to ride out some lines and cut and spray vines. They're going paranoid over this heat wave. We've all time peak our generation capacity for the past three days and it does not look like its going to let up. So they've got us jumping through hoops to cover every possible variable that could cause a catastrophic melt down. Halted all maintinance on Transmission lins and Substation, back up our distribution crews on stand-by to cover only trouble, (also to keep every one out of the heat) adn they have us beatin the bushes to keep an eye on things.

What's more, my hay man called, he's laying a trailer load of square bails on the ground for me as we I write this so at 5:00 we're going the hay field.

I'll get back the story in the morning.

BTW, the presentation is not until Sept. But it is ove the importance that it is a team effort, and we are having a focus group monday, then a round table discussion on the 21th, then a dry-run 18th of Sept.

I would rather be riding out right of ways looking for trouble, or building lines than participating in a grandious dog and pony show so the brass can justify a pricey luncheon to Sarbains/Oxley. [Roll Eyes]

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Not to be nosy but....

Aren't you still recovering? [Question] Should you be out in the field yet?

Just fussin' over you EJ [Huggy]

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Not according to the company.

I've been informed that there is no such thing as "light duty" for my job classification.

What I have been instructed to do is,

"Use good judgement in selecting what tasks I can perform safely in my usual daily duties while not jeopardizing the recorvery of my knee."

What that means is, they trust me enough not to do something stupid ouot in the field, but to have good judgement enough to call for help.

Which also keeps me available to some of the more inexperianced guys that may just need some help to figure out a switching scheme, or trouble shooting problem.

I've mostly been doing desk work, or working the payment office, but they're trying to keep as many folks in the field as they can right now with all that coudl potential go wrong with the strain that is on the system right now due to the heat.

There are things I can do, such as relaying and over seeing swtiching instructions, locating trouble, hauling material in my truck; ect.

I reckon, they understand that I'm probably not going to just sit in the office anyway, so they have worded my "marching orders" to give the discretion to work as I can, or feel like I can.

Don't worry, I'm not climbing poles, or even working in the bucket.

It's all radio and pick-up truck work I'm doing in the field.

Until the 20th when I go back to the doctor for evaulation.

laters

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Sorry guys, but I'm at a place where I'm trying to find the right words.

What I needed to do was let the Mustang lead himself into a rhythm of familiarity with me and with all of the new things that he was being bombarded with right now. He only trusted in his instincts at this time because he had no clue as to what was about to happen. Unfamiliarity was driving him to his survival instincts. He was unfamiliar with the situation, the sights, smells, people, ropes, everything. What is more, this fella was not privy to even the utmost of basic knowledge of humans that any domesticated horse would be. He had not grown up around a mother that let people handle her. He had not played in a pasture next to an arena and watched older horses being handled and ridden. His only memory of people had been being chased or tricked into a catch pen, pushed into alleys, trailers and lots by shouting, whistling stick or prod wielding cowboys.

We began a subtle game of giving and taking. I would move him and turn him and make him change gates by crowding or stepping back from him. I would get a little closer each time, testing him to see how far he would let me go. When I reached the point where he figured his safety was compromised, he would let me know by his ears, or eyes, or a feinted kick or forefoot slap, and I honored it with retreat.

We played like this for quite some time. It was not hot or strenuous or rip snorting exciting, but it served to gradually accustom the Mustang to my being there. It was not the stereotypical way to break a Mustang, with lots of whoops, hollers and whistles, but more relaxed. It was more like letting the Mustang get acquainted with a new idea. I knew the survival instincts of the Mustang were to run or fight, but I banked on the idea that horses take the path of least resistance. Survival instincts are a last resort and even to a wild horse, I hoped, considered the riskiest of endeavors. I banked on the idea that, even though he was wild, the Mustang?s first resort would be to cooperate. I hoped that he decided he had come to the end of his rope, that he may realize that his escape was through me. But to get this in his head, to help him realize this, he would have to trust me. I hoped I was not expecting too much.

It had been my experiences that even the most abused and neglected horses, if shone a degree of empathy, would respond in kind. I felt, at the time not openly, most horses were prone to trust, although not unconditionally, if provided the opportunity and wherewithal to do so. I also felt this particular horse, not unlike myself, seemed to have a overdeveloped sense of self, probably derived from his superior athletic development early in his life and physical achievements against other colts and fillies and maybe even predators while still enjoying the freedom of his youth in the wild. I felt this horse thought highly of himself and his abilities, he had a strong spirit.

All of these things ran through my head as I upped the ante on the Mustang. I began applying pressure to the rope, still hanging around his neck. He had become accustom to my proximity to him in the lot. He was moving and stopping in relation to my proximity to him and had become familiar with some basic voice commands quite out of accident as they were habit for me to verbalize when I lunged horses.

When I applied pressure at first he would toss his head, rear or slap at the rope. He had begun to recognize the different tones and intensities of my voice and with the active, flowing give and take of our proximity and the commanding or soothing reassurances of my voice he began to elevate an interested ear or eye my way when I would apply pressure on the rope. He began to realize that not unlike his life in the wild, the decisions he made here with me were wrought with consequence. Together I let him get a feel for his new boundaries, giving and taking, back and forth until he began to find a place for himself. A place he felt familiar in. A place he felt comfortable in. A place he trusted.

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