Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Harmony Session

Misty and Blu
3 hours

Britney and I got to the farm and began building a temporary fence for Britney to do a riding session in. It was about 40' x 20' made of barrels, two sides of existing fence, ropes, jumping standards, and ground poles. Both of our horses were very involved during the building of it (Conner and Misty caused us to build the same section several times!). Misty got blocked in. I didn't do it on purpose, she just stayed on inside as I was adding the final barrels. She was drawn to me today at a high level. Lately, she trots to me a lot to close the distance and will only canter if the distance is very large or I am running away very fast. Today, she cantered to me in that small arena several times.

After playing the circling game in there to see how she would do in a large area (I sent her to the left first and she made a 1/4 circle and came in, then I sent her right and changed her direction when she tried to come in. She kept going to the corner a ways away from me, and when I turned and smiled at her, she trotted back to me. I will have to play with that some more.), I ran abruptly to the fence we had made and jumped over the barrels and kept going. I had hoped that she would run after me and jump the barrels, but when I turned around, she was on the other side of the barrels staring at me like "Why did you go over there?" So I beckoned her to me. After about twenty seconds of deciding how to get to me, she pushed a barrel out of the way and thoughtfully stepped through the tiny hole. As soon as she was through, she cantered to me, head up, tail flagging, snow flying. I screamed and turned and ran (not afraid, just excited!). I love it when we run together. She comes up behind me from the right or the left and her head arcs toward me. It is like she is greeting me. When we run together, I feel her being conscious of my every movement. I skid to a halt, she skids to halt. I jump in the air, she jumps in the air. I trot, she trots. I bow my head to the ground, she bows her head to the ground. Someday, I will lay on the ground, and she will lay on the ground, but not today!

I started to walk off and she walked off. She veered away to go touch a barrel. When she turned and looked at me, I smiled and looked to the big tire pedestal (I did not even point and she felt my focus!). She walked over to it and began pawing it. After another question, I smiled and nodded. She stood on it. I let her stand there and relax, then I beckoned her to me and she came back. Next, I walked over to the tire pedestal and stood on it. Once she got there, I began to ask her to get into position for me to jump on. It took longer than usual, but I feel that when I am asking her to come sideways to me or yield her hind quarters to me, it is important that I wait until she is volunteering to do it before I actually get on because that is their way of giving or withholding permission. It is not a good idea to get on a horse that has nothing on but a neck string without permission! When I did jump on, she stayed in place and waited patiently for me to settle on and ask to move forward. Her head did not come up or anything. It was very pleasant.

I wanted to ride in the arena corner to corner with rests to work on her sensitivity to my focus. She hit two corners with less than 5 corrections, but when she got to the corner that had the water trough and the line and halter, she evaded the corner and went to the line and halter. I tried to gently put her back in the corner and let her rest, but she would not stay, so I moved on to the next corner. Other than fixing her hind quarters, which somtimes swung away when we stopped, she completed two more laps. Still, even when I moved the rope to a post over the trough, she would not stop there. So, I had to change the technique. Next time we arrived to the corner, before she got to the place where she cut the corner off, I pushed her off the fence. Using this reverse psychology, she got tired of making tight circles and went insistently into the corner. There, she relaxed and got a drink of water. Having had success, I decided to be done with focus riding.

The next time I turned approached a corner, I did not stop riding in the corner, but rather, kept walking in my body. Misty stopped and thought sincerely about jumping, but was opposed to the idea. She looked at the other barrels. Maybe those would be better to jump? Finally, she pushed the barrel I had focused over and walked through the opening. I yipped and hopped off. She seemed happy with herself, I know I was.

At this point, I walked back into the pen and let Blu in with us. I wanted to play with them together at liberty to help them get along under my leadership. I ran around and they both trotted after me, but Misty pinned her ears and Blu would come to me in wide arcs to evade Misty. I came up with two ways to get Misty to see how I wanted her to treat Blu. I would walk off with one on each shoulder. When Misty pinned her ears, looked back and tossed my head. If that did not change her expression, I kicked out. The other method I used was to run from them and not give cookies until they had both arrived. Several times, Misty cantered to me in the short distance. On a separate note, once I stepped side to side and with each step, Misty changed her leads! Anyway, after several chases, Misty let Blu come in a straighter line to me. I was so happy with the harmony we all achieved today. These small successes will take us on the rode to true unity.

I put Blu back on the other side and ran around with Misty for a bit. Then I talked with my friend, Bridget. Misty and Conner stood with us, Misty did not become a nuisance, though. She was much more respective. When we were done talking, we put the temporary pen away and fed the horses.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

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About Me

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I am a young horsewoman with a million things on my mind. I have been a student of the horse all my life. As a little girl, I had a desire to understand horses on deeper levels. I believed that there was no such thing as a bad horse, and I believed that all horses were beautiful. One might say that I was a naive child, but I guess I don't have an excuse anymore, because I still believe all of that, and Parelli Natural Horsemanship is helping expand on this perspective.

What We Are Currently Playing With

  • Moving Close Circles at Liberty
  • Soft, Balanced Canter on 45' Line
  • Zone 5 Driving