“First of all I want you to study them a bit, Dolkar, once you gather all the information, come to me again and then I’ll teach you how to get the trust of a horse in practice,” I explained. “It’ll be much easier if you have some idea already about their behavior in the herd, in their natural environment, which is the steppes. From that point, everything will fall into place when I’ll show you the practice.”
“That will be really cool, Ilan, thank you so much for doing this for me,” and he spontaneously got closer and gave me a big hug, which I returned putting my hand on his head.
By then, we stood in front of my room’s door and Dolkar was looking into the water, whilst walking around the gangways. He crouched every so often and while putting his hand in the cold water and shaking it, he whistled and called Tenzin, the cheeky otter.
When he was about to give up, the water swirled below the gangway Dolkar was standing on, and the otter appeared and climbed onto his back and whistled. Then he messed up his hair.
“Tenzin! There you are! Oh you cheeky otter…!” he said not minding too much what the otter just did to him. Dolkar got up from his crouched position and whilst he was doing that, Tenzin climbed onto his shoulder and then let herself fall in his arms, belly up.
“You want tickles?” he asked. The otter whistled again. And while he was tickling him, the otter noticed my presence for the first time. In one quick jump, Tenzin got out of Dolkar’s arms, and in another quick jump, he was in mine, and showing her belly to me.
I stared at her and then at her belly, and Tenzin made a funny squeak.
“So? What are you waiting to tickle my belly!?” she seemed to tell me with her very expressive eyes.
“Do you think it’s safe if I tickle her?” I asked Dolkar.
“Yes, it’s totally safe, she wouldn’t have come into your arms in the first place, if she didn’t like you!” he said and giggled. “She doesn’t really like strangers, and usually, she doesn’t even shows her belly to anyone except to me and grandpa. So you can say that’s the first time I’ve seen her trusting people that she’s never even been around before.”
“I like her….I like her very much” I said in a low voice to avoid scaring the creature.
Dolkar came towards me and Tenzin jumped from my arms into the water and disappeared “She likes you too, she likes you very much…” he said.
Then hand in hand we walked in the direction of the steppes so I could give Dolkar his first practical lesson about Passive Leadership. It happened that the mustangs were there that morning, grazing peacefully the grass that for now was freshly sprinkled with melted frost.
(Making of; Watercolor painting)