For several days at a New York clinic I kept hearing about Lightning the horse who would do the opposite of whatever I was demonstrating. He wasn't at the clinic because they didn't have a truck and trailer. About an hour toward the end of the clinic my helper - co-worker tired of hearing about this unmanageable horse and told them, "We'll find someone to go get him, bring him on."
He arrived at the clinic and I started working with him. He was a large palomino TWH/Quarter Horse. It only took me about five minutes to determine and announce he was just a plain ol' nice horse and I only saw one thing wrong with him - his name, Lightning.
I then delivered my "Give A Dog A Bad Name And It'll Live Down, Or Up To It" speech.
You name something Thunder, Tornado, Stormy, Killer, Lightning, Rebel, Diablo or what have you it causes a subconscious reaction in people. You don't expect Thunder to be a nice quiet horse. When people approach a bad named horse with any kind of apprehension their body language and body chemistry tells the horse something is not right and the horse reacts accordingly.
If you name a horse Killer people are going to approach it with caution and hesitation. Hesitation is how predators move. Predators who are moving freely and with direction often walk right through herds of prey animals. The animals know when the predator is hustling and when it's hunting.
If you name a horse Lovey, people will just walk up to it openly with all kinds of good thoughts and well wishes. The horse is open and receptive. No one expects a horse named Lovey to be a problem.
The owners asked for a suggestion and I offered, "Buddy."
Two weeks after arriving home I get an email from the owners telling me they couldn't believe what a difference a name makes. They had been trying to sell the horse for some time before the clinic to no avail but after the clinic he was simply not for sale because he had turned into a very nice family horse.
Give a dog, horse or person a bad name and they'll live up to it.
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