'If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain.’
A teenage girl came out to the stables Saturday who usually rides different hours than I do, so we hadn’t met previously. I introduced myself as I groomed Sportie, then she told me her name was Amanda and she was leasing Decker.
I always mind my own business around the stables. There are some horse people whose practices I might disagree with, but there are so many gray areas in the horse world that I keep my opinions to myself. I live and let live, because I know for a fact that all of our boarders and leasees love their horses and try to do the right thing by them. When I do see mistreatment, I try to offer assistance without being accusatory or preachy.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Amanda yanking harshly on the lead rope which connected to the halter on Decker’s head. I saw from the whites of his eyes and flattened ears that he was scared, as he braced himself and refused to leave his stall.
Decker outweighed Amanda by 900 pounds. If she was getting into a tug of war with him there was no way that she could possibly win. All she was doing was imprinting his halter into his head.
If the horse won’t come to you, go to him. When he’s stronger you have to be smarter.
I barely refrained from grabbing the lead rope from her hands and instead put my hand halfway up the lead, pulling her slightly forward and lessening the tension on Decker. He glanced at me, heard me whisper “It’s OK, buddy,” and he visibly softened.
“Sometimes it helps to zigzag him a little, to get his feet moving,” I suggested, as I lightly tugged him back and forth, clucking to him, persuading him to come out to avoid pressure. He shifted slightly so I nudged his side with my thumb. “Let’s go, Decker,” I urged. I could see him realizing it was less effort to just come out so I did what I know some horse people would frown at and pulled out a horse treat to seal the deal. Even then I had to wave it under his nose to get him to actually step forward but it worked, and he finally gave up his standoff.
Amanda thanked me and I smiled, saying only to myself: “Persuasion beats power every time.”
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