When I finally learned about “join up”

Well, the rain has let up a bit, but everything is still pretty soggy. My human brought me out a big pile of hay and put it inside my rain shelter for me. So, I figured I’d write a little more while I eat my hay. My best friend, Leo, is in the paddock next to me, but he’s inside his shelter as well, so I don’t really have anything better to do. And besides, I think I’m getting the hang of this whole “blogging” thing. It’s fun telling my side of the story.

So, remember in my last entry, when I told you that my humans wanted to do something called “join up” with me? I never got the chance to tell you about that! As it turns out, “join up” is something that a guy named Monty Roberts came up with, and it’s basically where the humans prove their loyalty to you by showing you that they actually speak your language. It’s really rather cool, if you ask me… and why wouldn’t you ask me? This is my blog, after all.

Anyway, the day I jumped out of the paddock, my female human came running into the barn and threw her arms around my neck. I was a little startled, thinking maybe she was going to strangle me or something, but I relaxed when I heard her say, “I knew you would be an amazing jumper, Icarus!! I knew it the first time I rode you!” I smiled, proud of myself again – until she added, “But you have to promise me that you’ll NEVER jump out of the paddock EVER again, okay? You could have hurt yourself, and I would never want anything bad like that to happen to you.”

I nodded, and nuzzled her neck so she would know that I understood.

“Good,” she said, getting my message. “So, today, we’re going to prove to you that you can trust us… if we haven’t proven that, already.” She put my halter on me, took off my blanket, groomed me until I was nice and shiny and relaxed, and then both of my humans and I walked out to the same little paddock that I had jumped out of earlier that day. My female human took me inside the paddock and asked the male human to stand outside the gate, just in case I “got any ideas” about trying to jump out again. The female human unclipped my lead rope from my halter and walked to the middle of the paddock, where there was a whip lying on the freshly-shoveled ground.

Unsure of what she meant to do with that whip, I turned and trotted away from her. I realized that this was exactly what she wanted me to do when she said, “Good boy!” She put the whip back down and started to open her hands up like they were claws, looking me straight in the eye. I wasn’t sure why, but this made me a little nervous, so I started to canter. I could only make circles around the human, because the paddock was just a big circle. Suddenly, my human stepped out in front of me, blocking my path, but still looking me straight in the eye. I stopped and spun around, continuing to canter in the other direction. I figured that’s what she wanted me to do when she went back to the middle of the paddock and allowed me to keep cantering.

Suddenly, I realized exactly what it was that my female human was doing. She was showing me that she had the control, that she was a two-legged human who could scare me with just a single look – but that she meant me no harm. She had shown me the whip because she wanted me to know that humans can use whips – but she’d put it down, as if to tell me that she wouldn’t ever use one on me. I wished that I knew how to speak in the human language, so I could tell her that I understood, but since I only know one language, I decided to tell her in my own way. I put my head down so that my nose was almost on the ground and started chewing, as if to say, “Look, I’m vulnerable, I’m eating – that means I trust you.” I heard her mutter something sweet and calm under her breath, so I took a chance and turned to look at her while I cantered. As soon as I looked at her, she broke eye contact and turned away from me.

I couldn’t believe it. My human really DID speak my language! How could she know that turning away from me was an invitation for me to come toward her? Well, I thought that maybe it was a fluke, so I slowed to a walk and tentatively took a couple steps toward her. When I saw that she stood perfectly still, I kept walking until I reached her shoulder, and touched it gently with my nose to let her know I was next to her. Only then did she turn around and give me a gentle stroke on my face, right between my eyes, where she knew I couldn’t see her hand. She patted my neck and said, “You’re such a good boy, Icarus. Now you know that you can trust me, and I know I can trust you… right?” I nuzzled up to her and gave her a wet kiss on the face, so she’d know that my answer was “yes!”

The female human switched places with the male human, who started the whole “join up” process over from the beginning. Since I knew what was going on that time, it took me less time to create the same bond with him, and before I knew it, I was nuzzling his neck while he pet me all over my furry little body. I promised him that I’d never run away from him again, and that I’d always choose him over my horse friends if I ever felt torn.

It was a pretty awesome day, I have to say. Now, two years later, I have an even stronger and more amazing bond with both my humans. We’re practically inseparable, and I even know what their automobile sounds like when they pull into the driveway at my barn here in Tennessee. They love me more than anything in the world, and I love them just as much. I even follow them around without a lead line, because I only want to be near them.

Speaking of which… I’m going to see if I can get them to come over here and give me some treats. Thanks for listening to my story! I promise I’ll tell you more about my humans tomorrow… For now, I think that’s an apple I see in my male human’s hand!

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “When I finally learned about “join up”

  1. Pingback: Working in the winter « The Misadventures of Icarus

  2. Pingback: Joining up, losing shoes, and dressage! | The Misadventures of Icarus

  3. Pingback: Natural Horsemanship, part 2: Age Appropriate Training Programs | The Misadventures of Icarus

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