Monday, July 26, 2010

Sometimes, Things Just Don't Go As Planned

Official Records Information
Blu and Misty
1 hour 30 minutes

I worked 13 hours, today, went straight to the farm after work. I just wanted to see my horses before I took a shower and went to bed. That was the plan: see horses, pet horses, drive home, take shower, go to bed.

I really needed to work on some of my homework from Meggie's lesson, but, gosh, talk about depleted. My inner horseman was not awake. Then, some things happened. Thanks to my sister, whose pseudonym escapes me, I had one of the best horsemanship sessions I have had in a long time, and I got a lot of horse homework done.

Dang it. Her name is Maggie, OK? She is 17, my little sister, and her horse is Ginger. I have talked about her before using a pseudonym, but I can't remember what that name is. So Maggie rode over on Ginger and asked if I wanted to ride around with her. I kind of grumbled, not grumpily, mind you, and shuffled off to a barrel. I figured it would be OK to squeeze this horse interaction in before I went to bed. I don't even remember getting on behind Maggie, but as soon as Ginger got there, we were off, the three of us. Then Maggie said, that she just needed to get me close enough to Misty that I could get on. I thought she was joking. I did not know when I was going to get down from Ginger, probably when Maggie told me to.

Well, Blu happened by before we got to Misty, so, naturally I got on him. I was laying over him while Maggie went and got a halter and 12' line off the fence. I did not know what Blu would do, so I kept my legs together in case he decided to eject me. I know that sounds haphazard, but Blu has been known to get these thoughts in his head, and I was tired and living in the moment. Blu did move off once, but he stopped as soon as I put my hand in front of his neck and pressed. Good porcupine game response, Blu!

Maggie gave me the halter and line and Blu, bless his soul, turned his head to me and let me put the halter on as I lay gasping for breath from his withers pushing on my diaphragm. What a good boy. I knew then that this unplanned affair was going to be just fine. La la la.

I rode around, yet again, just savoring this horse interaction before I went to bed. However, once again, I was wondering to myself "when will I get back down and go home?" I did not really answer myself. All I know is that my inner horseman was beginning to wake up. Not quite, ready, but definitely making waves.

Blu and I did some lovely snakey S bends through the cones in a weave pattern. He was really bending very nicely around my leg and moving sideways a bit like he should. Then, Misty happened by. I just decided to start playing the catching game with her. To make a long, beautiful, should-have-been-caught-on-video story short, one thing led to another and Misty just put herself in the round pen, and I just shut the gate and continued the catching game there.

As all of this is going on, Blu is doing awesome. Granted, Misty is MUCH better about reading ahead and paying close attention to my seat when we are driving horses, but Blu did some really great things tonight. There was scarcely a time when he did not do precisely what I wanted. I particularly recall an exquisitely happy moment when Blu and I were running ahead of Misty's motion to cut her off from going somewhere when she was in the open pasture. We had to go in an arc to her zone one, then slam on the breaks and do a rollback to the right to accomplish what I was after. All in the moment, this was. It was not until I got to the round pen and shut the gate that my inner horseman came to and I ditched that stupid go to bed plan and began doing my homework.

I put the halter in a barn knot and played the catching game from Blu's back. Blu was magnificent. He had to stay 100% in my seat because my upper body was doing other things like helicoptering the line and tossing it at Misty, flicking Misty, leaning over and yielding Misty's hindquarters. . . Like I said, I can definitely see where he could improve, but BOY! He is making progress.

After a lot of approach and retreat and driving and drawing, Misty was following Blu and me around the pen. Viola. Now I just had to halter her from Blu's back. Now, this, I knew, was going to be difficult. It would take A LOT of approach and reatreat and friendly game. So, homework of friendly game with creativity is done. And it was even my original idea! To do it with horses. And I don't think I have ever played it while I was riding another horse and playing it with Misty. So, there you go.

I started by testing her connectedness with Blu and me. I backed up, yielded her hindquarters, and just observed her response. She was pretty in tune and trying to follow along with us. Next on my list was getting a line of communication on her. I tossed the rope over her neck then threw another loop around her neck by swinging it around her head. It took several tries and my loop plopped on her face and ears. But, she was ok with this because she knew it was all friendly game.

Now that I had something I could use as a way to say more to her (not to drag her around by, mind you, as the thing would just slide off) I was getting closer to my goal of haltering her. Ideally, I would get her to draw to us well enough that she would put her head in my lap so I could halter her. That is what Blu does for me when I do this with him. I would back up a bit then push her hindquarters over with Blu's. This was not making sense to her, so I decided to use more friendly game. I rubbed her back (that's what was next to me). When she sighed, I stepped forward and massaged her neck. When she relaxed, I reached my hand up and stuck my knuckles in her ear. She LOVED that. She began to rub her head on Blu, who welcomes any nonviolent gesture from other horses. When I picked of the halter, she was completely OK with me putting it on. I was very pleased, of course.

Now, it had been a long while, this catching game and then the haltering game. But now that I had her, I was ready to practice driving some. I requested that Maggie retrieve our Pink Lounge Whip for me since she was done riding. I walked Ginger in my left hand and Misty in right and Blu with my seat until Maggie came out with the Pink Lounge Whip. Blu was so cool. Everyone behaved. Harmony.

I have not used the Pink Lounge Whip for anything but the friendly game of getting Misty and Blu ok with the sound of its crack (am I just tired, or is that last bit a tad comical?). But I wanted it so I could reach Misty with something stiffer than a string. I played the friendly game with both horses, first, to make sure neither of them feared it. I also made sure Blu understood that he could relax if it was flailing around, as long as my seat was quiet.

I began by driving from zone 3, then I slowly moved us back. I just did simple testing tonight. I tentatively worked with the weave pattern. Pretty much just working out some gross motor skills. I was very impressed with Misty and Blu. Misty could not understand to yield sideways to me, but she was definitely getting it.

I dismounted eventually and put Blu away. Then, before feeding Misty, I worked on leading by the tail. Not much progress, just refreshing her memory about it so she could work on it with me tomorrow.

I cannot believe that all of these good things happened when I went with a plan to go down and just see, MAYBE touch, my two lovely horses. I guess it's sometimes a VERY good thing when things just don't go as planned.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

I feel like this was the first time I did this, riding BLU while I played with MISTY. Usually, it's the other way around.

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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