So much of the process when getting horses like I do, is spending a ton of time figuring them out. I have made 100% of my own horses my entire life, and I seriously enjoy the process. Both the boys right now are lovely, quirky, creatures. Figuring them out has been like a puzzle to me. Jake especially, since he has a significantly more sordid past than Eli does.
I recently stumbled across a quote on Pinterest that made me do some soul searching about how I think about my process.
Much of what I do is transforming these guys into solid citizens, so they can move on to good jobs (except Jake, he’s around forever). I am constantly wondering why they aren’t learning this or that or the other thing… and this quote is really helping me to switch around my internal dialogue when it comes to some of their quirks.
Eli with his head shyness. He doesn’t need to learn to let me touch his ears… he’s already tried to learn that and was led astray. He needs to unlearn that I’m not going to misuse the trust he gives me to force him to do something.
Jake, with his bucking. He knows how not to buck. Now that we finally have a solid reason behind it, (he’s cold backed) and a plan to help him; it’s now on me to help him unlearn some of the habits that have been created while we were figuring it all out.
For my mental process, at least, it’s much easier to think of it as unlearning some of these quirks than it is to think of it as retraining. Maybe I’m just an eccentric duck, but it seems to be working with both of these monsters much faster than when I just tried to train them not to do something. Then it seems like an actual transformation instead of just fixed.
I’m going to trust them both that they can unlearn just as quickly as they learned and I will (eventually) have two wonderful, fun, solid citizens!
What do you think? Retraining or unlearning?