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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Harrison

Problem solving - with patience

There are many ways to tackle an issue, A straightforward, head on approach is my normal mode when dealing with people but I have come to realize more and more that with animals sometimes using the back door is much more effective.By that I mean working on training problems indirectly can lead to faster better results than pounding away at an issue.

This is Harri (aka DUDE, aka Mr Neurotic ). When Harri arrived in my care he couldn't be cross-tied. He couldn't be held for the blacksmith and he was quite hysterical. In fact he spent the first 45 after he got off the trailer wildly galloping around the farm after he broke his halter on the way to his paddock. (I wasn't there). Rather than fighting with 1200 + pounds of horse I simply brought him into the barn every day, stood him in the spot I wanted to cross-tie him in momentarily and put him in a stall (also a source of stress). I'd putter away with a horse who enjoyed being cross tied and love on them occasionally walking over to pat Harri. I groomed him loose in the stall and was amazed at how quickly he started to settle and not walk away. Within two weeks he was quite content to cross-tie while I fussed away with him. The blacksmith is stunned by how calm he is every time he sees him (he had seen him prior to being at our barn). Then one day I untacked Harri and left him in the cross tie spot forgetting to put a halter on him while I went in and out of various tack rooms. He had no reason to stand except habit and wanting more TLC. He stood like a super trooper.

He would spin and whirl around when being mounted too. He's a fairly big guy and I'm a fairly not big gal so that got old fast. But arguing with him worried him, and I ride alone mostly so had no one to head him so we stood at the mounting block at first, then with me on the mounting block and he's twirl and jog around me and I'd practice my grounded breathing and tension releases and think about anything other than how much I'd rather be riding. In other words I out waited him. It worked. I hopped on him the other bareback by climbing on him from the trailer wheel cover .. which involved scrambling up onto it then clicking and chirping while he lined himself up. He's come a long way but patience and thoughtfulness will always be required if I don't want him to meltdown. (I can assure you I don't want that!)

Back door solutions sometimes just happen, sometimes they require a plan but they are always worth considering in a problem solving approach no matter what species you are working with! . (

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