Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cause and Allow

Misty, 9-23-10, morning,

This morning, while my mom rode Connor, I was in the pasture with a strung carrot stick. Misty was in the pasture, too. I bet you have a good hypothesis about where this is going.

One of my favorite things about natural horsemanship, specifically PNH, is the language change. We replace negative words like "break," make," "force," and "get" with positive, provocative words like "start" or "gentle," "cause," and "allow." There is a difference between making a horse do something and causing or allowing a horse to do something. For example, you can make a horse get into a trailer, but if you do it right for that horse, getting in the trailer will become her idea. At that point, you have caused getting into the trailer to be the horse's idea, and now you need only allow her to do it. Another instance of allowing is when you have an obstacle that you want the horse to do something with. A good exercise is to allow the horse to show you what she can do with a barrel, then cause your idea to become her idea (your idea might be to jump over the barrel) if need be. This morning, with Misty, I kept those words at the front of my mind as I played with her.

I had thrown the green ball into the pasture already. Misty was watching me from her position standing by gate that divides the North and South Pastures. I began to roll the ball around slowly, strategically going to and away from her. She came 20' closer to me before I rolled the ball to zone 5. She turned around to follow it and then as I shoved it off, she completed her spin and walked after it. She pushed it a bit and I gave her a cookie. Then I just hung out in zone 5 while she rolled the ball all over the place, getting cookies here and there.

When I wanted to be done with the ball, I backed her up with her tail. I waited for a long time, giving her time to think about it and feel for me so we could feel together. I was able to back her away from the ball with just a pinch of hairs and with a very light feel. Then I relaxed with her.

Here, I would like talk about her leaving and coming back. She did this several times (I would say 5 or 6, maybe) throughout the session. She was never gone for more than a few minutes, and quite often, she would just go away for 15 seconds. She would walk away to her spot by the gate (this spot is a comfort spot because it is next to the entrance to the corncrib pen, and the corn crib is a big comfort spot), then look at me and come back. I did no beckoning to get her back, I just allowed her to come back. These departures are very important to me because it is when she needs to step aside and think because she feels too much pressure. I just let her go, it is why I am doing this at liberty--it is very important to her.

Next was the pedestal, which she went to. I just waited and allowed her to do what she wanted with it at her own pace. Once she was on it with her front end, I waited for her to look at me before I backed away. She followed, which is huge because she has been having problems leaving obstacles. Another time, when she was on her way back to me, I ran around the pedestal so she had to walk over it to get to me. She did so, coming straight over it with her ears forward. Then she left when I positioned myself on the other side of some ground poles. Anyways, another pedestal moment caused her to leave when I asked her to continue forward after she asked the question. She just continued forward right on to her spot by the gate, quietly walking off. She paused by a barrel on her way then moved on without a question.

Whenever she came back I went slowly. We started with just sitting or standing. Lots of good moments with me sitting while she kept her head down. It is one of the things that she knows to do--put her head down by me when I am sitting, that is. I would move on to rubbing her then when she started to move around, I would move, too, and eventually I would begin leading. This is kind of like mirroring turning into leading. It was all about her time line and when she was ready to move on. So, at one point, when she was seeming to want me to do more with her than just allow her to do things, as in she wanted more leadership, I began to move her around with our language. Mainly just moving her shoulders from side to side and then having her follow and back. I did everything on valium. I gave her time to be right and think.

When I was done, I walked to the gate where I let her go through and go out back.

Blu could not go out back because the neighbors broke our fence and we have not re-electrified it, yet. So, I put the savvy string and carrot stick around his neck and walked him back there while I followed my mom who was riding the fence line to make sure it was physically up. I tested Blu's sensitivity to stopping with the string and he was slowing or stopping with a light suggestion when we got it refined a bit. He was a very good boy. He got scratched on his itches when I left him in the pasture up front.

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