When I’m not with my horses, or reading a good book or research article; I am outside working on my pond, gardening around the pond, or just relaxing at the side of the pond. You get the idea – pond, reading, or horses. But not in that order.
That’s the bulk of my world right now as we are still in phase 1 of the Covid-19 lockdown. We should be moving into phase 2 next week. So, for now I’m still laying low, staying safe, and not going out anywhere.
Well, as you have read in earlier blogs I built my own fish pond in the backyard and have really been enjoying it. And as you know I love to research almost everything I do. My best friend has even nicknamed me “Wikipedia” because I always have a little tidbit to throw into the conversation about some sort of research I read about. It’s now become a bit of a running gag between us.
Anyway, back to this morning at the pond.
I was sitting by the side of the pond with my feet in the water, just relaxing. I had read up on keeping an outside pond healthy with fish, frogs, different types of plants, etc. I want to make sure it is a natural, healthy, and safe environment for all the wildlife that wants to enjoy it.
However, I also want to enjoy it so I put in a few features like a waterfall, a statue spitter, and a high spraying water fountain. This not only helps add oxygen to the water, but it looks and sounds nice for me. At least that was my thinking when I designed it.
I did that before reading about how to keep a pond healthy and natural though. After reading, one thing the updated scientific research talked about was that the pond should not have that many water features because there shouldn’t be that much movement in the water.
It stated that frogs and fish prefer a quiet more still pond. It said that fish don’t like a current or a heavy flow of water as it could take off their protective slime coating around their body.
My thought process before I did research was that if the water was still it would become stagnant and then I would have lots of mosquitos, an overabundance of algae, and a bad smelling pond.
I had this assumption from my younger years when my father used to tell me to always clean the horse troughs more often in the warmer months. He said standing water would attract and breed mosquitoes, grow algae, and become stagnant and unhealthy for the horses. He was a research psychologist for the government.
Aha, now you know where I get it.
Now all that was true, but I have to remember to look at every situation in the right context. My pond wasn’t quite like the horse’s water troughs.
So, I turned the high spraying water fountain into a slightly bubbling fountain and tuned down the force of the waterfall and the statue spitter. It still sounds nice and looks nice, but according to the scientific research it is now better equipped for the fish and the frogs as there is not a lot of movement in the water flow.
Another thing research told me to do was to put at least 10-20% new fresh water into the pond every week, for many different reasons. So, this morning I got the hose out and decided to fill up the pond with 10-20% more fresh water.
I put the hose on high and put it in the pond between my feet so that it wouldn’t disturb the fish and it would fill quickly.
To my surprise, I found out that I have fish that haven’t read the latest scientific articles…
Because my fish swam over to my feet very quickly and started playing in the water stream! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
I thought, maybe they were coming to my feet because they were familiar with me and thought I was bringing food. Nope. They would come over to the hose, ride the current like it was a wave in the ocean and then come back for more.
I was afraid that the current would hurt them as I had read, so I moved the hose to the right to avoid the fish and surprise, surprise…they moved with it.
They moved to the right and went right for the hose water rushing out and again started riding the current and came back for more. They all started doing this. It wasn’t just one or two crazy fish.
Then I thought that maybe it was their way of cleaning themselves off and refreshing their slime coating or even maybe a way to get parasites or bugs off of their bodies.
So, I had to double check what I was seeing as it went against the research I had just read. I moved the hose to the far left so if they really wanted to do this again I would know it was on purpose because they had to swim farther to get to the hose flow. And you know what? They swam all the way over and did it again. Yup… they were actually having fun!
It then became really cute to see how much they loved the water flow. Remember, the hose was on high, so the water was really coming out fast. It made a current underwater and also a big bubble that came up to the top of the water. They loved it. They all just kept coming back over and over again to ride the wave.
I wrote an earlier blog about how important “Play” is to your horse’s health, but now I saw that it is also important to fish. Who knew? I didn’t.
If you’re interested in the blog about play and horses here is a link… https://teddiezieglerhorsemanship.com/do-horses-have-a-play-circuit/
As I sat there laughing at how much fun the fish were having, it reminded me of a story with my horses.
I guess like everyone else I am a blend of my parents in personalities as well as their heritage. I get my love of research from my father. My mother was a social worker with a heart of gold.
She was one of those extra special women that cared too much and always went the extra mile to help someone out, no matter what their situation. She wanted to do the “right thing” for every person that came to her for help.
My mother is where I get my ‘bleeding heart’, my love of animals, and my strong will to help the underdog. In my case it has become all about helping give horses a voice as well as helping their owners understand them better.
In this way the horses get their forever home and their dream person, and their owners get their dream horse. A win-win all the way around. It has definitely been a heart-filled passion of mine, and a blessing, to help facilitate these relationships.
Growing up I saw two ways of doing everything… my father’s way and my mother’s way. They were two very different people with totally different ways of looking at the world and doing things. But they were still an amazing couple who loved each other deeply.
Their differences complimented each other and made their lives happy and exciting. And looking back at what they both contributed during their lives, their differences made the world a better place. And as I grew up, I tried both ways separately. That came to learning about horses too.
I went to riding schools and learned how to do certain disciplines and was told, “this is how you do it!” I quickly learned that you do one discipline, for instance dressage, this way and you do another, say western equitation, a totally different way. Although these disciplines had different approaches, they mostly had rigid rules to follow.
But for some reason, no matter how many different clinics or classes I went to, my horses didn’t seem to fit into a rigid way of acting. My horses always had a mind of their own. They just didn’t fit anyone’s mold.
One time as a child, I was with a group of 10 other children and their horses and we were learning how to trail ride. However, my horse was the only horse to go directly to a nice patch of grass and stand there and eat. No matter what they told me to do or how many times I kicked or pulled on the reins, my horse didn’t move an inch. He just sat there and ate grass and didn’t budge. It was so humiliating.
After years of having that one horse that didn’t fit the mold… I realized that it must be me. I went to tons of training classes, looked into different types of methods, did lots or research, and tried everything I could. But I still didn’t find something that worked 100% of the time for me or my horse. Sometimes they worked for me but not my horse, and sometimes it was the other way around.
I thought, “Well that was trying it dad’s way. Now I’ll try it mom’s way.” It was time to go with my gut, think with my heart, watch and listen to my horses and learn from them because science and step-by-step methods weren’t working.
Wow, that worked a whole lot better!
I would get on my horses bareback and without any tack and just ‘tag along’. We had some great adventures and I learned a lot through trial and error, experience, and hard knocks. It was an invaluable way to learn and I wouldn’t trade any of it for a million dollars. That’s where I learned that horses like to have fun and play. That’s where I learned what horses naturally do in herds, and that they have feelings and emotions just like us.
But it wasn’t all perfect. Now my horse was in charge and we did only what he wanted and there was no communication on my part. Sometimes it worked great and sometimes it didn’t. It just depended on whether my horse was in a good mood or not and if I wanted to do what he wanted to do.
But still not 100% of what I wanted. I wanted a partnership, I wanted a relationship that worked both ways where we both were happy. I wanted to trust my horse and be confident riding him. But, I also wanted my horse to trust me, be confident with my requests, and be safe to ride.
Again, I had horses I thought were very different than everyone else’s because they acted differently. They didn’t just follow along, they had strong personalities, they were spunky and energetic, and they didn’t always listen to me. Seeing other people riding their horses, it seemed that their horses listened to them all the time and it was just me who had the horse that said no sometimes.
Later on in life I realized that I just saw a small window of those people and their horses and I didn’t see ‘behind the scenes’ where their horse said no too and didn’t listen to them. But with my horses, I was with them all the time so I saw everything.
After many years I went back to my dad’s research methods, added my own personal experiences, and kept my mom’s compassionate heart-guided ways to come up with a blended approach to horses.
I realized that every horse and every human is different and everything research says needs to be adjusted sometimes for each individual situation.
That was the perfect combination and from then on everything fell right into place.
It not only worked for me because it was something that resonated with me but I noticed my horses really liked it as well. I was using a softer but more understanding approach from my heart blended with the most current updated research on horses.
It was like they finally had a choice to voice their opinions and talk as an equal. They were very appreciative of the fact we were now communicating from a mutual understanding instead of being ‘told what to do’ all the time. It showed in their responses, their demeanor, and in the spark in their eyes.
The one comment I heard all the time was, “My horse is so nice now.”
With this blend of understanding and compassion I had a flexible ‘blueprint’ that could easily be modified and adjusted to each individual horse and owner in order to get what they both wanted. The connection, communication, and companionship of their dreams.
My advice to anyone who is like me and also has one of those horses that doesn’t ‘fit someone else’s mold’…
- Always make time for “playtime” with your horse as it is so essential for their health.
- Don’t try to fit your horse into a particular mold. Allow your horse to be different.
- Be creative and adjust your approach when you need to.
- Use what you know with what you’ve experienced in order to come up with the right mixture that suits both you and your horse’s individuality.
- Science and research are helpful but there is always an exception to the rule.
- Find what is right for you and your horse. Don’t try to put a round peg in a square hole.
- Work on it together with your horse and if you get stuck it’s ok to ask for help. Don’t stop and stay stuck.
My favorite type of horse is one with spunk who likes to talk and who trusts me to voice his opinions.
If you’re asking yourself – “What do I do if the training method I’m using isn’t working 100% of the time for me or my horse?” or you have one of those horses that doesn’t fit into the mold and you want some help getting to the next level…
Then give me a call and we can figure out a way together to help your horse become your dream horse and you become your horse’s dream person.
Here is a link to schedule a complimentary coaching call to see if I can help you. No strings attached, no hard sells, and you really do get to talk to me directly.
My #1 heart-felt passion is helping horses get their dream person, so if that’s what you want for your horse, give me a call and let’s chat.
And as always, please tell me about your experiences with your horse in the comments below.