Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Old article from 12 years ago

September 1999

I have 2 wonderful horses. The older one is Cruiser, the dazzling chestnut horse, and my other horse is Mingo, a dark bay, solid Paint. I’ve had Cruiser for 9 years and we know each other so well, I think we can read each other’s mind. Mingo is only three and I’ve had him from birth. I’ve only started riding him this year. I truly believe that Mingo was put on this earth so I wouldn’t take Cruiser for granted.

Don’t get me wrong, Mingo isn’t a bad horse, regardless of how many times I call him the “Devil Horse”, he isn’t a whole lot different from any other young horse of the age of three. He is just so different from Cruiser, as different in personalities as in colors, that very little of what I learned while training Cruiser will apply to Mingo. He is truly a challenge for me. When Cruiser was the age Mingo is now, I would describe him as “a wild, flighty and hyper horse.” Mingo, on the other hand, is more like “a lazy, belligerent and quiet horse.”

Back when Cruiser was only three, our biggest problem was spooking. Cruiser found a horse-eating monster around every corner. Our rides could get so frightening that many times I had to get off and lead him just so I could calm down. Every loud car, motorcycle or bicycle would make him jump and try to run away home. Even just an incidental noise in the wind would set him off. This isn’t the case with my little Mingo. He is very quiet and little scares him. He is the picture of calmness. People marvel at his indifference towards traffic and strange looking objects. Only now and then will he see a horse-eating monster, and he usually just gives a little jump and settles right down. Now you must be asking why is he a “Devil Horse?” Well, if he doesn’t like the look of something, he will quietly just freeze in one spot and refuse to go anywhere. He doesn’t get wild and excited like Cruiser, I know how to get Cruiser past something frightening, I’ve done it for years, but what do I do when Mingo just stops and stands? One day we were stuck in the same spot for 2 hours before I was able to get him going. He really tries my patience. The day I took Mingo to a trail and nuisance training clinic, he wouldn’t step over a simple pole on the ground. He just stood there and tried to move it out of his way with his nose. He didn’t act frightened, he just said it was impossible to step over a pole.

Cruiser was always energetic, and the early days were spent trying to settle him down before he would be ready to learn. Mingo, on the other hand, is lazy and quiet. Mingo’s lessons have to take on a whole different nature than Cruiser’s. It would take 15-20 minutes of riding Cruiser before I could get him in the right frame of mind and get some training accomplished. Things are much different with Mingo. After 15-20 minutes of riding, he is very bored and will no longer pay attention to me. His warm-ups have to be very short, or I will lose my window of training time. I’ve fallen in that trap a number of times. He will just tune me off if I keep trying to challenge him and it’s all down hill from there. If I want to ride him longer for exercise purposes, I have to either end the lesson with simple things or take him on a trail ride.

These are the two biggest differences I’ve discovered between my two horses, but here are a lot of little ones, too. Mingo holds on to his bad habits for a very, very long time, whereas Cruiser was happy to cooperate. Mingo questions my actions and often seems to say, “Why should I?” Cruiser usually trusted me and would follow me anywhere. Cruiser was, and still is, always eager to go. Mingo can be balky and sluggish. Cruiser is friendly to everyone, Mingo kicks at dogs. Just the same, I love them both.

All of these differences between my two horses keeps me alert and on my toes. If Mingo was more like Cruiser, he would be easier for me to train, but I wouldn’t learn much from the experience. By having such a different horse, it will make me a well-rounded trainer. When the next horse comes along, I should be able to adjust to whatever his personality dishes out to me. I have learned not to assume that anything that Cruiser did, Mingo will do, too. My horses keep reminding me that all horses really are different, just as all people are different. We must accept them for their good and their bad, learn to adjust the way we treat them and stay away from stereotypes. Some people, just like horses, are quiet and relaxed and some are high-strung and nervous. There is nothing wrong with either kind, and there is something to love about all of them.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Great post! I ran across that with my dogs. Jackal was a totally different ball game from Storm. It does make you a better trainer though, getting to know and understand different personality types. :) I enjoyed hearing about the differences between Cruiser and Mingo. I'm glad you're able to think back on the happy times with Mingo. *hugs*