August 29, 1999
When she was awarded Honeybear's lead rope and the previous Horse Whisperer-Susan-disappeared on a camera obtaining mission did Laurie's skill with an uncertain Hackney pony rescue, the pony of many stories...Honeybear...surfaced for all to marvel.
Honeybear learned to trust Laurie as she paid attention to his fears and gave him room to back off. Laurie advanced and retreated with the little cute pony as he alternatively was fearful and relaxed. Laurie trained Honeybear for over an hour while she brushed and rubbed with her hand, every inch of his body.
Honeybear quickly let Laurie brush and rub him on one side of his body, but he consistently blocked her from moving behind his head on his "untrusting" side...which is the side of his former infected eye. Laurie would stand facing Honeybear's head and before she could make a move, he turned his head effectively blocking her movement to his untrusting side. She was forced to move behind his head to the trusting side. She groomed the untrusting side of his body from the trusting side by leaning over his back and brushing and rubbing him.
After building up a heathy nice relaxed bond on his trusting side, she was able to use the lead rope to turn his head back facing her and leaving the entry way to the untrusting side of the body free. This did not take just one attempt, it took several minutes for her to be able to position her body besides his head. Then Honeybear retaliated by backing. But Laurie moved right along besides him, keeping her body even with his head until he stopped. Then she rewarded him by backing farther out from his head. Comfort time was given skillfully and then she returned to try to progress further down his side. Again, this did not happen instantly. Honeybear backed up quite a bit trying to manuever her away from this side of the body.
Laurie did progress to grooming him on the untrusting side. She "started over again" several times to see if he would let her easily walk down his untrusting side. It took between 5-10 visits to this side before he would let her walk on that side of his body without trying to block her.
One exciting time happened which our new Horse Whisperer handled with low key aplomb. Laurie and Honeybear had progressed to the point that Honeybear felt comfortable an relaxed enough with Laurie beside him, to eat grass. He must have found a particularaly sweet spot of grass. As Laurie started to lead him closer to the admiring crowd of on-lookers, Honeybear reared up in the air. Laurie merely stood there calm and relaxed, her energy remaining low key. This is the place where endoresement of the extra long 12 foot Parelli lead rope can be inserted. Normal lead ropes are from 6-10 feet long, forcing the human to stand close to the horse. Laurie was about at the end of the lead rope leaving a comforatble distance between she and the pony. Another point to make here is that Horse Whisperers do not grab hold of the halter and shank of the lead rope to lead a horse. Horse Whisperers let the equine have as much slack on the rope as the horse wants. In this case, Honeybear gave all 12' to Laurie before he reared, making this a much safer action.
After Honeybear rejoined terra firma with all 4 feet, Laurie resumed walking forward and Honeybear meekly followed her.
The only time this reporter has ever seen Honeybear display this action was in trailer loading. The audience and this reporter was surprised at Honeybear's rearing.
After Honeybear had been thoughougly trained by Laurie Arbore Granner, he was given to her spouse for some finess training. Nathan was able to get Honeybear to play the circle game. Nathan learned how to "tell" Honeybear to walk and trot in a circle while Nathan stood in the middle. Nathan used a higher level of energy than the former Horse Whisperer, but because of the time he had spent relaxing with the former Horse Whisperer (Laurie), he was emotionally able to handle more spirited actions.
All in all, it was a great day for Honeybear. He gained two wonderful new friends.
Sadly, many of these Hackney Ponies from KS have been turned back in as being "untrainable". Honeybear was considered to be one of the more difficult of the ponies and, for this reason, I hesitated to take him. Now, thanks to Susan and Pat Parelli, we are looking forward to many more milestones and a long life together.
The saga continues...............