In one of my previous journal entries, I talked about the kind of leader I want to be. (You can check it out here) I know that to be an effective leader I need to continually grow my relationship with each of my ‘kiddos’. Getting to know them on a deeper level will only help that to happen.
During the summer months when it is hot and humid, our horses stay in the shade of the barn to avoid the scorching sun and the horrible flies. That becomes the perfect time to get to know each of them better. Just hanging out with them, watching how they handle different situations, sheds light on each of their personalities. Let’s take Image for instance. Image has gotten the bad rap of being called ‘lazy’. He is not a very fast mover. Unless, of course, Lady Gray is in an area that he does not want her in. Then he will move at lightening speed to correct her.
With Image, I need to make things a bit more interesting to grab his attention and to get him mentally engaged. I will often play a game with him where I ‘stalk’ his hind quarters. I don’t pay any attention to his face. I am focused on his tushy. I will become extremely intense with my body language and posture. He becomes so curious that he snaps to attention and looks at me curiously.
That is when I release my intensity, turn away from him and slowly walk away. It usually does not take long for him to come walking to me.
Did Image just come to me to say “Hi”, just because? Ummmm, I highly doubt it. Did I just engage Image in a mental game? Did my actions intrigue him to a point where he wanted to see what other games I had up my sleeve? Most likely. He is looking for something that will benefit him.
I also like to use a bit of reverse psychology. That just drives his curiosity crazy! How do I do this? Well, one way is that I start to pay attention to one of our other horses (Ember mostly) while completely ignoring Image.
This drives him crazy to think that he is missing out on something. Sounds anthropomorphic, doesn’t it? Well, perhaps it is a little. But if you have animals that are your friends, I am sure you have seen some of these behaviors as well. Soon Image will be coming over to check out what fun things we are doing.
I always thank him for coming over to check in on us by scratching his itchy places.
And then he and I will be able to play some games and I am ensured that he will be mentally engaged.
Image is not lazy. He just needs a pretty good reason to do anything!
(If I were to try any of these tactics with Ember, she would have her tail swishing back and forth in irritation in a nano-second! But that is a story for another day.)