TOABH: Self-Actualized


Self-Actualized.
Assuming that your horse has absolutely everything he needs (food, bedding, a warm stall, plenty of blankets, and a pasture mate he neither humps, maims nor gets abused by),  what does your horse need to be the best version of himself?

This blog hop question is really well timed as February 2nd practically requires a (re)watching of Groundhog Day, which is probably the best example of moving towards self-actualization. Seriously, re-watch it if you haven't recently. When he starts repeating the day, Phil first starts eating junk food and drinking (physical). Then he tests if anything can hurt or kill him (safety). Then he starts learning about every person in town, making friends and lovers (belonging). Then he starts learning skills like piano and medical skills and saving people (esteem). Finally, he starts living for himself and reaches self-actualization.

I don't think my equines have really reached that stage, but here are the best answer I can put together.

Nilla
Technically this falls under Esteem and not Self-Actualization, but Nilla needs praise. I've never met an equine who responds so well to being praised. She really wants to please. When she finally gets something and get praised she really just lights up. Once it's established what the good thing to do is, she will continue to try to do it even if I'm no longer actively praising that behavior. For example, if she goes over a set of trot poles and touches one of them, she'll pin her ears back and shake her head.

Angry ears about touching the poles
If she doesn't touch any of them, she practically prances off happy with herself. Because we've been doing poles a long time, I don't always praise over poles anymore, but she still seeks that reward. If we're learning new things, she loves to get praised. It still often takes her a bit to learn what she's being praised for, but she really seeks it out.



Happy ears
Dijon
Dijon wants a job. A lot of non horsey people often ask if I think horses like being ridden. I always say it depends on the horse. I've known some who'd probably be very happy to just eat all day. I think in fact Nilla would be happy back in her ranch/pasture life. Dijon, however, like to get out. He gets very jealous when we take the other horses and not him. He especially loves trail rides. Except when I'm asking him to slow the hell down, he'll have his ears pricked the whole time. 


Shasta
Shasta wants to jump. She truly loves it. She's a great trail horse, but unlike Dijon, her heart's not in trail riding. She wants to jump things and go fast. I think she'd really love cross country and that's on our to-do list for this year. She really perks up when the jumping starts. Her form over jumps is lovely and you can see her really trying to be awesome at it.



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