Here’s a fun little exercise I did with DaVinci. I was patting his neck and admiring his beauty. Part of me was wishing he’d hurry up and get over his deep-seated fears of things that sound weird, things that smell weird, things that move fast, things that move suddenly, things that are in the wrong place, people who he doesn’t recognize, people who sound weird, people who smell weird, people who move fast and so on and so on.
I changed my train of thought to take inventory of the ground we have gained. He lets me brush his mane, he lets me touch his ears, he can eat with his head down when I’m next to him. He always answers me when I call his name. He lets me trim his feet while he unrestrained. He can climb, spin and leap on and off of any pedestal put before him. He stands unhaltered while I put a saddle on his back. He lets Raleigh share his pile of hay. His eyes go half lid when I scratch his chest.
All of a sudden I felt my heart start to sing and then words became too powerful to stay in my heart and began softy flowing out of my mouth. They were:
You make me so very happy
I’m so glad you came into my life
You made me so very happy
You made me so very happy, baby (DaVinci)
I’m so glad you came
Into my life
All of a sudden DaVinci completely softened. I swear I could feel him saying: No one has ever said those things to me before. I don’t think I’ve ever made anyone happy in my life. It feels really good that I can make you happy.
Naturally being the sap I am, tears began to flow. I never once, before this, considered that a horse would care if it made me happy. I got the distinct feeling that it was one of the most important things I’ve ever relayed to DaVinci.
DaVinci is probably one of the most difficult horses on the planet because his brain is so full of hurt. His point of view is usually What horrible thing is going to happen to me next? And then I have the contrast with Raleigh, my young Clyde, who walks about saying What wonderful thing is going to happen next?
Because of DaVinci’s innate point of view, I think on some level he understands how difficult he is and no doubt can read the frustrating thoughts on the part of his handlers. So for him to be the recipient of my happy song, may have been the first time he was reading pure positive thoughts about himself. Judging by his reaction, he was feeling really good about it.
So then I decided to quietly sing those lyrics to each of my horses. They all had the same reaction of becoming very soft and well, cuddly. (And it’s not because of my off pitch singing voice) I couldn’t make it through the entire chorus without my throat tightening and my eyes getting hot. As I’d say the words, images of all the wonderful things we do together flooded my thoughts. The power of all the good feelings surfacing at once nearly knocked me off my feet.
My experiment now, is to actively hold those You make me so very happy thoughts about DaVinci when I work with him. In the past, although I was using pure positive reinforcement and my actions were attraction-based, my thoughts of When will you become a normal horse? may have felt really bad to him and sabotaged my efforts and his progress.
I’m really excited to see if singing this little ditty during our training sessions brings about the change I think it will.
I’d love to know what happens to you when you sing this to your horses, your dogs, cats, and can you imagine, the humans in your life!
What if we sang this song to the difficulties in our lives? It sure changed my perspective by singing it to a difficult horse.
And wow, just think if we sang it to ourselves every time we looked in the mirror?
You make me so very happy!