What is the filter or grid you look through? We are not born with these filters or grids. They are slowly built or weaved over time through the experiences we’ve had, the things we have seen or think we’ve seen, what we have been told or overheard or thought we heard.
It is our perception, and perception is reality until it can be proven differently to us… and then we get a new perception.
Years ago a lady brought a stallion to me to work with. The stallion was shown as a halter horse at different shows and was winning top honours and taking all the trophies. However the stallion was getting to be more and more out of control as time went by and finally was banned from any more shows. The trainer that trained and showed the horse from the start couldn’t handle him any longer either, so the stallion was left with owners.
One day when the husband was feeding, the stallion took him down with his teeth and front feet. By the time the fellow crawled under the bottom rail out of the pen, the stallion had broken his collarbone and a rib or two, and bruised him up pretty badly. The horse wasn’t safe even to feed anymore.
Someone that knew me suggested to the owners that they give me a call. I agreed to have a look at the stallion to see if I could help.
When they arrived they led the stallion to a steel round pen and turned him loose. When I say led him, the stallion was actually the one doing the leading, squealing, rearing, trying to bite and I wasn’t sure if they were going to make it to the round pen alive, let alone in one piece.
I was working with another horse at the time and while I was finishing up I got to watch the stallion.
All by himself in the round pen he would squeal, rear, throw himself on the ground, urinate all over himself and bite at his ribs. He would swing his head so fast and hard that his teeth would thump into his ribs. Then he would bite a bunch of his own hide and pull until it come out from between his teeth and you could hear his teeth snap together.
I finished up with the first horse and it was time to go have a visit with the stallion. I was thinking that I would be in the arena by myself as usual with the horse and maybe the owner but as it was getting closer to the time to start with the stallion, people started arriving.
At first I didn’t know why they were all there but they all headed to the sitting area above the stallions pen and were waiting for the show. Someone had talked about the stallion and the word had got out and it had created quite a bit of interest with the local cowboys.
As I approached the pen the stallion ran at the fence, turned his head sideways and tried to bite me through the rails. Then he would turn, run away and come at me again.
The people that came to watch really were not my supporters. After watching the stallion for a while, they thought I was out of my mind to actually be trying to get in the pen. They suggested getting a gun and shooting the horse and that the horse was a waste of time. At the very least a 2×4 to chase him away or rifle in case the stallion got me down and they could shoot him to save me.
As I said earlier they weren’t really my supporters, but they were really beginning to dislike the horse and kind of warming up to me just because I was actually going in the pen.
The people watching, the owner and myself were all looking at the same horse, same situation all with our own set of filters. The owner was hopeful something could be done but to date had only seen the horse get worse. The other fellows that came to watch clearly figured the horse only needed lead between the ears. That he was no good for anything and was a crazy man killer.
I looked at the horse with my filters and wondered what had happened to the poor fellow to make him hate humans that much. I saw a smart horse that had learned all these behaviours from the handling he had been receiving. He wasn’t born biting himself, rearing, squealing, throwing himself on the ground and attacking people.
I also wondered what kind of anxiety he must be feeling to be biting his own body and thrashing wildly around the pen even when no one was near.
My filters based on what I’ve learned and seen indicated to me that he doesn’t want to be like that, but has had enough of whatever he had been getting and had found a way to keep people away from him. I knew the horse had his own filter that he viewed humans through, and it was a filter that was not going to be easily changed.
I spent 10 days with that horse and changed his perception at least towards one human and was happy to know that my filter was working. He didn’t want to be the way he was, and with a different approach and looking at him through my own particular filters, a horse emerged that wasn’t trying to mutilate itself and everything around it.
The owner cried daily at the transformation. Many times in the 10 days I thought, “I’m not going to get out of this round pen alive” but each day got better as a trust and respect grew between us.
There was obviously much that went on in the 10 days and much more to the story but this is what I know. A positive filter, even if only for one of the two in the pen at the start, still created a positive for both in the end.