Mother has a series of rules for me to follow. And while at times it seemed like there were an awful lot of them, I realized (because I am smart) that many of them are related. Most of them are pretty easy once I figured them out. She says there are all sorts of things I don't have to do now that she won't be riding me. And she says there are lots of rules I never met because I didn't break them to know they existed!
One of the rules is the "ears forward" rule. When Mother brings me my dinner, I need to back up out of the way if I am close to the stall door, and I must have my "ears forward" before she'll put my feed pan down. I may not approach until the food is put down. She also insists my "ears are forward" if she is in my stall and is leaving it while I am still eating.
When I first came to Ohio, I had first pick of the hay when she gave it to Devlin and me. Mother made me leave the hay if I pinned my ears at her while eating it. Since she is the one in charge, I understand. It's her hay, or grain, or stall, until she leaves it. THEN IT'S MINE, and no other horse can have it. I am kind to all humans, and strangely, they all make sure I step back, and "ears forward" as well.
When Mother is leading me, I have to stay along side, or even behind her. I am not allowed to get my shoulder in front of her, or she reminds me that she is in charge and that I belong back there. Sometimes when I get excited it is hard to remember, but I actually feel calmer when she reminds me that she is the leader. It is hard to be in charge. The responsibility...
Sometimes, just every once in a while, when Mother visits me in the field, I play at being the one in charge. As she is walking away, I will follow along with my ears pinned, like I am the one in charge, and I am moving her. Even though I am at least two horse lengths away from her, she always senses it, and will charge at me with her ears pinned (it is hard to see that, but I can definitely feel them) to remind me that even in play she is leader. It was just a joke... although I could be in charge, if needed. I was very powerful in the bachelor herd in North Dakota. And I can move all the geldings around in my bachelor herd now.
Mother was commenting to another human on how it's never a good idea to let a 1200 pound prey animal with a brain the size of a tangerine be in charge of the relationship. I don't know how big my brain is, and I don't weigh 1200 pounds, but it is comforting to know that I don't have to make all the decisions for the herd. I can trust Mother's lead; even though we've been to some strange places, I haven't been eaten yet.
Some other grooming time rules: Keep your feet planted unless asked. This includes no striking when she grooms the itchy/ticklish spot on my chest (I haven't done that in well over a year, but I still lift my leg sometimes, and Mother reminds me to "stand up"). Keep the hind leg down on the side Mother is working on if she is near my haunches. She taught me that by quietly reminding "stand up" and gently pulling my tail toward her anytime I was resting my hind leg on the side she was on. I would shift my weight because that is where my balance was pulled to. Eventually, I realized that she would always do that, so it's easier to just "stand up" without being asked.
It's not as easy as it sounds, though. One day, when I was convalescing at Aunt Marilyn's, two humans (Aunt Marion and her Derrick) came with Mother to visit me and they were all brushing on me. Aunt Marion and her Derrick were on my left side, brushing through my tail, so I had that hind foot down and rested my right. Well, Mother was brushing my right side, and eventually started on my hindquarters. I quickly snapped that foot down , then went to rest my left, but wait, there was Aunt Marion and her Derrick, shift again, wait, Mother. AHHHH! This happened in the space of a second or two. Mother laughed at me, Marion and her Derrick looked confused until Mother told them what happened. I stood firmly then on both back legs, but Mother quickly finished and joined them on my left side, so I could rest my leg again. It was really hard to follow the rule that time.
There are more rules, but it's cookie time, and I need to hide the computer, or Mother might cut off my wi-fi again. Bye!