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May 7, 2012

Interior Decorating With Your Human

It's an uphill battle, but with patience and determination you can teach your Human to provide you with the proper stall ornamentation. Photo by Natalie Voss.

Sometimes even the most well-meaning Human can be utterly hopeless when it comes to aesthetics. For example: She often shows up at the barn in the same tired ensemble. (Would she wear those jeans in public? I think not.)

From what I could see through her car window while I was playing tag, style is not a priority in my Human’s life. I haven’t seen my Human’s “apartment,” but I’m guessing her interior decorating skills are naught.

How can we possibly expect them to accessorize our lives, when they can’t even put themselves together?

Quite simply—we can’t. Your Human doesn’t notice the straw in her hair, and she probably doesn’t notice that everybody else’s stall is full of fabulous toys while yours is bare. As with most things, you’ll need to help her out.

Ready, Aim…

In my last column I touched on the unequaled power of poop, and it can help you here too. Once you get tired of the outdated ground feed pan, begin pooping in it. When the Human gets bored of scrubbing it out daily, she may be inclined to get you a more colorful wall-mounted feeder. You also might try suggesting some color in your life by dragging anything colorful you can find into your stall—blankets, lead ropes, leg wraps—especially if they don’t belong to you.

When your Human tries to cheap out on bedding, implement a strategic peeing schedule. Drink as much water in your paddock as possible, but wait to pee inside. Aim for low areas in your floor and gaps in floormats—a few days of scooping up the River Thames will inspire the Human to make a change. If you don’t have a convenient topography for a moat, do all your business while circling in the stall, and drag your feet to really grind it in. Do an especially thorough job if you catch sight of words like “easy pick” on the label of the bedding your Human hauls in, and stop only when you see the word “premium.”

Open Wide

Care should be taken when using your teeth to register your displeasure with your stall. No one likes a cribber, and absolutely no one likes a cribbing collar. Therefore, never let your Human catch you destroying undesirable artifacts.

If your Human has neglected to buy you a stall guard, begin your chewing by your door. If you have a window she refuses to open, chew on it until she gets the message—especially if it’s plastic. If all else fails here, you might be able to knock a decent hole in it yourself. Remember to reward your Human for good behavior and halt the chewing once she responds to your aids.

This can apply to salt sources too. Personally, I had to chomp down three of those dinky brown mineral blocks before my Human got the picture, but today I have a hunk of salt imported from the Himalayas hanging on my wall. So proud.

Get Ready For Your Close-Up

If you’d like your Human to spring for some stall toys, be prepared to really put some effort into your training sessions. We all have some degree of acting skill, but for a toy you’ll really need to pull out the big guns, especially if your Human is stingy.

When your Human leads you back into your boring, toyless stall, it’s time to pull out the Soulful Eyes. The ones that get you cookies on demand and instantly shut your Human up when she’s yelling at you for that creative series of airs above the ground. Make it clear that that your sad little space makes you sad.

Dancing seems to upset Humans, whether it’s bopping from side to side or cha-chaing in a repeated circle through your stall, so channel your favorite Beyoncé tune and get those feet pacing. If your Human believes you have anxiety about your stall, she’s likely to break down, whine to friends and family about your psyche, and offer you a toy.

Don’t settle for an unappetizing unjolly ball or empty milk carton, however. There are toys out there that produce food. Hold out, pee on the offending item, and keep up your routine until it’s clear you will only accept the best…and only if it comes in your favorite flavor.

Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky. Photo by Dark Horse Photography.