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February 28, 2014

Emotional Care And Keeping Of Your Human

Bucks should be restricted to 45-degree angles from the ground and smaller when your Human has had a particularly bad day. Photo by Dark Horse Photography.

I have often been accused on social media (and frequently in real life) of being too harsh with my Human. It’s true that I run a tight ship and throw an impressive buck, but I am anxious to correct any false impressions that I do not care about the way my Human feels.

I admit that when I was younger I did not particularly see how my Human’s mood affected mine—if she took a few more yanks on the reins than usual, I sure couldn’t tell. It’s hard to separate grouchiness from upper body weakness from general incompetence, after all.

The more experienced I became as a manager of Humans though, the more I realized that a Human’s world revolves around her [petty little] feelings—if she is feeling joyless, she’s far less likely to reach into the cookie bag at the end of a ride, and you definitely do not want an irritable Human pulling your mane. I’ve never looked more like a heavy metal porcupine in my life than the night that biped picked up a pulling comb after a fight with a Soon-To-Be-Jilted-Boy.

I have since come up with a few tricks for improving a Human’s abysmal outlook on life, and I have enjoyed a hearty success rate with all of them.

Lend a sense of perspective

Unfortunately for me, my Human tends to come out to the barn at the end of her day, rather than the beginning. As a result, if there is a bruised ego or pent-up anxieties to deal with, I have a front row center seat.

As far as I can make out from her incessant whining to others, my Human’s problems are usually first world ones. She may have had a fight with a family member or suffered a disappointment at work, and you’d think the entire world was ending.

Please.

I, by contrast, have to constantly deal with messy barn sparrows and the uncertainty of whether and when someone will ever bring me hay again. She can come talk to me about true hunger after she has dropped a few dress sizes.

If the Human comes to the barn complaining of how badly the day has treated her, I like to offer her a sense of perspective. Sometimes it’s hard to gain a sense of perspective on how easy you have it, until you don’t have it so easy anymore. Dealing with say, a broken limb or a skull fracture would certainly make a recent fight with a girlfriend seem less important.

I wouldn’t say I always throw her off on those days, but my success rate is about 70 percent.

Nothing that can have happened to you earlier seems quite as awful when you’re hurtling toward the ground at 50 miles per hour.

It’s a mad, mad world

Sometimes bad things happen to good horses and (rarely) to good Humans. Life is unpredictable and sometimes irrational, and your job is to remind your Human of it.

I like to keep an eye on my Human’s tweets, meeps, and bleeps on social media to get an idea of how her day is going. (She’s so negative. I have a Facebook page too, and it’s so peppy I got third place in the Equestrian Social Media Awards for it.)

If we’ve recently had an easy lesson, it’s time to teach her about the twists and turns of life by making her work a little harder.

One day last week, after she had a few uncomfortable meetings and missed deadlines, I greeted her with a poo-smeared UnJolly Ball (seriously, she’s still trying to sell me on that thing?), mud mats in my tail, and ripped seams out of my recently-repaired (off-brand, blergh) blanket.

She has to learn that, sometimes, life’s just not fair. Who better to teach her than me?

Provide a soft landing

Sometimes, your Human just isn’t ready for advice or perspective. In those cases, it’s best to (briefly) soften your approach with them. Everyone needs a soft spot to land from time to time. I like to use the weeds at the far end of the arena when my Human’s feeling down, and I try to limit her somersaults to one and a half rotations as she leaves the saddle.

Consider modifying your usual Super Thigh Workout Trot to a shake more closely resembling a 5.0 earthquake rather than a full-out seizure.

Poo should be aimed at one water bucket or the other, but perhaps, not both. Bucks should be restricted to 45-degree angles from the ground and smaller, and rearing should ideally be avoided.

Of course, if that sour little brat dare use the spurs, all bets are off.

 

Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky.
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Photo by Dark Horse Photography.

 

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