This is a picture of Nic and I. He’s a ham. Likes to have his picture taken. Get a camera out, point it at him and he’ll put up his ears and pose. Sometimes he’ll give me a slight push to move out of the picture, HE’S getting his picture taken!
Nic and I’ve been together 17 years. Will have him till the day he dies. I’m a believer that when a horse provides me hours of trail rides plodding the trail with me in the saddle, he deserves to have me take care of him in his twilight years. With all my horses, we had a connection. Sam, Sig, Bud, Flint, Chip, Cheyenne and of course Nic. Some people tell me you really have him ‘trained’. But in reality, I don’t have Nic trained......
Nic loves to roll. After every ride and even when he’s just standing in his stall and paddock he likes to go out into the area and roll! Give the old back a scratch and afterwards, a good brushing by me to remove sand and dirt. Sometimes though I just can’t help myself because people think I do have Nic trained!
A couple weeks ago these folks came to the barn to look at horses. I was taking Nic to the outside arena. They wandered over as I lead Nic through the gate. They leaned on the fence as I began to unhalter Nic.
Lead Nic about 20 feet from gate, tossed the end of lead rope over his neck and took the halter off. Pulled the lead rope from his neck and stepped back a few feet from Nic. He stood there, looking at me. I said “Nic, go sniff the dirt over there” and I pointed to his left, behind him.
Nic looked at me. Turned and walked to that spot. He sniffed the dirt and then looked at me. “Lay down, Nic” I said.
Nic pawed the dirt and then plopped down in the sand. He laid there, sniffing the sand around his nose. “Roll over, Nic”. Nic sighed and rolled over to his left side. “Roll over to the other side, Nic”. He rolled over and laid there, still.
“Come on, Nic, I know you’re not dead! Just lazy. Wiggle in the sand and rub your neck.” Nic began to wiggle in the sand, stopped and then rubbed his neck back and forth. After a few seconds, I said, “Nic, stand up and shake”. With a heave and a big sigh, Nic stood up, shook his body and then looked at me......”If you’re ready to go Nic, yawn.”
Nic again looked at me and then gave this big yawn and began to scratch his nose on his knee. “Got an itchy nose, hey Nic? OK. Come on over here, let’s put the halter on and you can go in your stall and have some grain!”
Nic began to walk to me. Stopped. Lowered his head. I slipped the halter on and then we went over to open the gate. Nic always stops and stays behind me.....at gates or just walking. He waits for me to open a gate and his manners are so he stays behind me, to the side so I can see him out of the corner of my eye. It’s called ‘my safety zone’.
As I opened the gate, the folks leaning on the fence smiled, laughed and said, “That horse is really trained!! He does everything you tell him. How long did it take you to train him? Was it hard? He sure is a nice horse!”
My reply was “Nic’s a good guy.” But I had to smile to myself......I DO NOT have Nic trained. In reality, Nic and I are trained together. We have a regiment and we follow it each day. I know exactly how long it will take him to roll, yawn and then walk to me. We’ve done this for close to 17 years! I know when to tell him to “lay down” and the time it takes him to roll, yawn and so on. It’s just coordinating my comments to the time he uses.
Horses learn through consistency. Do it over and over and over again and again and the horse develops a pattern in his mind and he’ll do it. I’ve done this ‘trick’ with all my horses on more than a few folks leaning on the fence. Kids love it. Adults think ‘I am a real horse trainer’. They all get excited at how well trained Nic is. But I will admit, I have to giggle at myself and do feel a little smug with my ‘trick horse’.
Bonnie & Nic