Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rogo's Smarter Than We Are

Rogo does the most amazing things in communicating sometimes, and it strengthens my belief that there is a magical, mystical, spiritual aspect to horses. Although this isn't strictly related to training, it's a side of him I want to record and remember. 
I've already written some about the first time it happened - it was the first time I saw him. I was in Alberta, thousands of miles from my home in Nova Scotia, looking for a two year old dressage prospect. His owner took us to a field and called the herd, who came sweeping in across the November prairie. It's an image I'll never forget - it's a picture in my mind of a beautiful grey / white cloud floating towards us. All of the brood mares were grey / white daughters of Godewind (from the Gotthard line). As they got close they stopped, about fifty feet from us, and stood there looking at us - the owner, my friend Verna who I was staying with, and myself. Slowly the horses parted and Rogo walked out of the center of the herd. There was complete silence as he ignored the man who's pet he'd been for two years and walked slowly to my side, while the other horses watched, and pressed his nose to mine. He basically stayed like this for the entire time we were there, gently pushing away any other horses who came close, then returning his nose to mine. He'd picked me. He had me. I was lost.
We returned once more to 'seal the deal' and Rogo repeated his performance.
That was his first and most dramatic instance of communicating, but he does other things that I find endearing. When he is home and the apple trees beside their turn out have ripe apples, he touches Doug or I on the arm and then touches the tree with his nose, repeating it over and over until we pick him an apple.
If I'm grooming him he likes me to scratch the inside of his back legs, especially when it's hot. He tells me this by lifting his leg in the air like a dog, holding it there, and then nudging me gently but repeatedly with his nose towards his 'itchy spot'. It's kind of embarrassing :) He looks really goofy.
If he's turned out and sees you in the yard he 'invites' you over by extending his head towards you and then drawing it to his chest in a repeated motion that communicates loud and clear "please come to me".
I'm prompted to write this because of a recent incident with Cheryl. We'd had a great lesson but were both tired and when it was over we didn't communicate well. As Cheryl and I began to disagree about how he'd done on his 20 m circles (she thought they went well, me not so much - how dumb a thing is that to argue about), Rogo took a step forward and pressed his nose into her shoulder. We continued to discuss it. He moved his face to her face and pressed his nose into her cheek and held in there. We kept blathering away. He moved his lips to her lips and held them there without moving. He was soooo soft and sweet, but he couldn't have been more clear - stop talking, stop the negative energy! In a year of lessons with Cheryl he's never done this, and hasn't done it since, but he didn't like what we were doing and he made it stop. We've had to laugh about it since!

He does other quirky little things to 'talk' to me. He has me pretty well trained! I'm sure everyone who spends a lot of time with one horse has their own stories.  
Am I crazy to think my horse 'talks' to me? It's a rhetorical question. I'm sure the answer is yes. But crazy is good.

9 comments:

Hurricanes12 said...

oh my gosh, rogo certainly is smarter than we are! i haven't heard the story of how you found rogo until now, and reading the rest of the blog post, he certainly does seem to have a good grasp of what's going on around him.
i've spent enough time with my horse to know when something's not right/how he's feeling, but we haven't really communicated on this level before!

Kate said...

Wonderful stories - he does those things because he knows that you're listening to him.

TBDancer said...

I've often heard that if we'd just LISTEN to our horses, they will tell us all we need to know. It means reading their body language, watching their reactions to things, etc., as well as listening to them when they nicker or whinny. My OTTB, Huey, will tell me VERY PLAINLY that when his dinner is late, he does NOT want me wasting time chatting with the young man who cleans the stall and paddock. He wants his food, and he wants it N. O. W. (!!) He walks very purposefully into the stall, then out to the paddock and stands (ears up, looking alert and adorable). If I don't "get the message," he repeats the movement. Into, Out, Stand.

Don't you just love horses??

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Carol-

That is a magical story of how you two met. And lovely how Rogo tried to end your "discussion" :) Aren't you lucky that he chose you!

Val lets me know about things related to his comfort mostly, and hunger. He points out with his nose where he would like scratching for instance.

The day my boarder's horse called out to me from inside his stall as I was leaving the farm, to alert me to his snakebite injury, was intense. I had never heard a horse make a sound like that but I knew deep down something life threatening was going on. He probably saved his own life as it would have been several more hours before his owners showed up.

Great post!

Verna said...

Watching Rogo float across the pasture with his herd that afternoon was beautifully magical. When they stood still while he left them to walk over to you was something I won't forget either. One thing is for sure, Rogo knows a fab women when he sees one!

juliette said...

Carol,
Your story of your first meeting with Rogo is so magical. When you told it before, I fell in love with the sweetness of Rogo. Now, you add these other instances to the list of amazing communications. Rogo is so kind, and sweet and loves you. How wonderful that you hear him and love him back enough to listen. Thank you for sharing these events. You are very lucky to have this fabulous horse.

Carol said...

Wow - I love hearing about your stories too. That's incredible about the snake bite! That horse saved his life.
Savanah let us know she had a sore leg (much less serious than the snake bite) when she tripped and fell hard this summer (with Doug on her, luckily unhurt). She hurt her leg, and held it out to everyone who came into her stall :) Poor girl, she really wanted sympathy. She was fine the next day but milked it while she could.
I see other people have horses who point to their itchy spots. I'm just amazed at how they tell us what they want.

horsemom said...

I would have had to buy Rogo on the spot! What a great story.

Jan said...

Carol, What a fascinating post! The story about the day you met Rogo is extraordinarily touching! Oh, my, how tuned in he was to you, and willing (dare I say confident enough) to show it. Wow. He was meant to be your horse. And his other communications are wonderful and marvelous! The apple tree one is so very direct and easy to "hear." I think he is an unusually communicative horse! (And also seems to be tuned into the negativity of your recent conversation, how insightful that he wanted to turn it off.) I am so amazed by him. And so glad you shared this. Buckshot is not as obvious in his communications, but as I have gotten to know him, I think I can read him a bit more. He has a more reserved personality, so I think he watches me more. But there are days he wants to face my face (if I move to his side to stroke his neck, he backs up or turns so we are face to face) and I get the strong impression he wants to chat with me and he is excited (in a positive way) about things. I try to chat back :-). I did have a mind-to-mind communication with my school horse several years ago (that I don't tell anyone cause they might think I'm crazy :-)) but with Buckshot the communication is more indirect. I think you have written about a third type of horse communication here, one based on not only his mind but also using his body parts in creative, definite ways to communicate. How exciting to know this! He is such a remarkable horse! I'm glad he is yours!