Introducing: Inigio Montoya
A very dignified name for a smart, sweet pony. He resides with and presides over a herd of equines – horses, mini horses and donkeys. It's his job...according to him, and he is very proud of it!
He holds court in a pasture at Hooves N’ Hounds Stables in St. Malo, Manitoba. My mare Zoie is one of his subjects. Inigio presented his dominant side as Zoie was being transitioned into HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS's pasture. Indy 500, I nicknamed him, because the little guy can run like a racing Maserati! When Zoie was moved into Indy’s domain, the little red Royal Highness chased her around and away from HIS subjects for a couple days. Zoie had more exercise in those 2 days, then she likely has had all year, seriously!
At first, I saw him as a bully, the leader without a heart. I questioned why his fellow horse mates would be so loyal to him. Leadership by dominance is controlling and can lead to danger and trauma for the pursued and the pursuer. I thought...this is a horse that needs some help being more peaceful. I asked Jessi, stable owner, if I would be allowed to help Inigio feel less threatened or antagonistic. She was pleased I asked and agreed. Jessi stated that Indy was quite sweet in nature, being a favorite pet of her children.
Hoof N’ Hounds, which Jessi co-manages and owns is an animal rescue and boarding stable. Indy was awaiting sale at a local auction yard. He was the last horse in the lot. Passed over due to his feet being in terrible condition and obvious lameness. Jessi approached him in the pen. He was calm and friendly, despite his pain. His level of tolerance of pain must have been unusually high. Still, imagine the anxiety he must have felt and all the other equines assembled. More often than not, “kill buyer” purchase most of these rejected horses, then they would be loaded into trailers bound for distant slaughter houses. The reasons these equines were destined to this fate most often are simply being old, or lame or the owner could no longer afford their care and feeding. Many are often just misunderstood and not in the hands of people who care enough or are capable of good horse management. Many may have tried selling them privately and failed due to the horses’ perceived behavior problems. Others just want to be rid of them, put some cash in their pocket and hope the animal gets a new home. For those with chronic, unmanageable illnesses, a better kindness is a vet with a needle to put them to sleep instead of a trip to the auction yard.
Many times these horses are foundered, suffering from chronic laminitis. Their person perhaps lacked in money, knowledge or time to try to help their horse. As a barefoot hoof care practitioner and clinician, I have seen dozens of these cases presented during my clinics. There is hope for these equines. With nutritional & diet changes, natural horse care and trimming, I know that a good percentage of these "cast away" horses could live a much longer and pain free life. Indy was lucky that day...and just don't get me started about lucky horseshoes...the metal abomination nailed into their hoof walls, into the interior soft tissue of the hoof capsule. Theonly lucky horses are those that never had to wear shoes.
Indy kept catching my eye in the pasture as time went by. He was seeming aloof and untrusting, staying out of the throng of horses I greeted in HIS pasture upon my visits. I could see he had times of lameness. I also could tell that was being managed and monitored well. He was one of the fortunate fellows and dames that populated HIS pasture, and the adjacent one which housed another small, close knit herd.
Indy's herd numbered just under a dozen and I could see Zoie was accepted whole heartedly after a few days of oppression by His Royalness. She thinks herself of some royal blood as well, coming from a long line of Missouri Foxtrotting horses out of Missouri, formerly from deliberate crossings of Arab, Thoroughbred and Canadian and Morgan horse stock to name a few. She is part of the "gaited” community of other amblers, pacers, and foxtrotting stock including Tennessee Walking Horses and Standardbreds. So, she shook off his offense to her, and repositioned her head upward in a royal manner and carried on.
Recently... I have been spending time being present, meditating and visiting with this herd, whilst sitting in my chair. My Bumblebee red and black Royal red plastic lawn chair… ahem, among Indy's herd. I had come to have a reputation among the herd to occasionally have a horse cookie to offer. I gained a lot of friends quickly...but not Indy. Oh, he would eventually come for a cookie, snatch it out of my mittened hand, then bustled himself away, his imagined royal robes flowing out behind him in a most pretentious manner as he fled. Slowly over a couple of weeks span in January, he could see I had no agenda, with my mind quietly studying, sending love and peace to him and his majesty’s loyal subjects.
Then at last...a few days ago, dear Indy deemed it important to check me out at a closer range. There sat I, upon my patio chair throne. Just he and I, eye to eye, heart to heart, feelings and thoughts intermingling. He muzzled and nuzzled and revelled in my scratches, which became a mutual grooming session of peacemaking. I would become present, send love and peace to Indy and in return he started to openly share his thoughts and feelings.
The peaceful state induced by being present in a meditative state with a horse and relaying your thoughts of peacefulness, trust and love has a very powerful and positive effect on animals. They start to relax, sometimes to the point of laying down. They will often need to release the stress they have held inside, much like humans, that they carry in their day to day existence, or from their past.
Somehow in space, time or no time, we connected, he felt safe to show me his thoughts. He would look intently at me, get dreamy sleepy, then his eyes searched mine. Was it safe to trust? To share his thoughts and feelings? Yes, came the answer from him, as he swivelled his head around, gesturing to me with his muzzle pointed. He was watching Zoie and a couple of other members of his herd in a separate corral to his right. He would swing his head back to me and I understood clearly that it was his job to continually check on everyone. I recognized his thought and he then switched directions to stare far to his left at the remainder of his herd gathered around a hay bale. This group too was a part of his overseeing obligation. In fact, he conveyed his feelings proudly and a bit anxiously stating that everything which moved or didn't move within his domain was ever under his watchful eye.
He is truly a protective, conscientious monarch. What an important job and position he has! Clearly, being a herd leader is hard work, with little pay and little time off! He barely mentioned his feet, saying they are a lot better now and makes his work easier. I mentally bowed to him and gave him his due. I have begun to understand how brave and honest this pony is. Newcomers beware, whether you are fox, hound or fellow, Indy has his eye on you! I can't wait for further insights he might express as our relationship continues.
Me, I am just the listener, and I hold a space of peace and trust where the animal can relax and freely communicate. Thanks Indy. It's been an honour to be allowed to glimpse into your heart and soul.
Want to meet your real horse? I suggest you stand or sit near them, get very still and listen. In this exercise of peaceful presence, after you release your agenda, calm your busy mind, you may have opened a doorway to your real horse and their story.
Thanks to The Trust Technique, where I have already learned much about their peaceful gateway into the inner mind of an animal. I look forward to continuing my journey with Trust Technique. Beginning in March, I will begin my 1 year long intensive online study and practicum, in order to obtain my Level 3 Diploma in the Trust Technique. Upon graduation, I will be certified as a Trust Technique Consultant and Presenter. I would then offer one-on-one consultations between a person and their animal (equine or domestic animal) as well as give demonstrations, and presentations to the public.
Visit www.trust-technique.com to learn more about a kinder, more peaceful way to deepen your relationship and solve any behavior issues they may be presenting to you. There is more to their story to learn and a more peaceful way to co-exist. You both deserve this peace.
Freedom Horsemanship, St. Malo, Manitoba, Canada