Monday, September 27, 2010

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

One of the concepts that has been difficult for me to master is knowing when to end. I am usually pretty good at it, now, but every now and then, I do not end "when it feels good," but instead keep going. When this and other mistakes happen, however, I have grown in the ability to forgive myself, know that my horse will forgive me, and to move on from whatever point that mistake will put us tomorrow--usually a one step forward two steps back sort of deal.

This idea of forgiving myself has been the hardest concept for me to master. My breaking point was realizing that by being mad at myself, I will make no progress with my horses. In fact, it will likely cause me to go backwards and become dull. I have enough on my shoulders as it is, I don't need me up there, too. I have told Misty's story(ies) so many times, and each time, I seem to konk myself in the head. Look, hindsight is 20 20. Get over it. Learn what you can, change what you can. Also, the doom and gloom that becomes my energy does not make sensitive Misty want to be near me. Blu is a great "feel better" horse, but Misty needs someone who can be her "feel better" human.

And so, on I go with tonight's brilliance and then blunder.

I went painfully slow while catching her. I took a long time standing far off, a long time sitting while she came and stood by me, a long time haltering until she was accepting every step of it, a long time yoyoing in and out of the corn crib because it was a major threshold.

Now that I have massively condensed the enormous amount of time I contribute to the catching portion of the session: I had her on a 22' featherline and she was really sticky, so I started--you guessed it--slow. However, it did not take any enormous amount of time. She got on the pedestal with two feet, put up the other two feet, but then after hardly a moment put her front feet down. Blu is an expert at backing onto the tall pedestal from 4 feet on the ground or 2 feet on the ground, but Misty hardly considers it to be an option. This puzzle really helped her get her gears going in her mind so she get her gears going in her body. I cued her to back up and I quit when she had stepped her front feet back to the tire and then once lifted her foot up and thought actually realized the possibility. After that, she came right off it and was quite attentive.

In the arena I built for Blu, I went in with the ridiculous idea of having her circle me and see if she could ignore all the cones and tires, but before she got to the end of her yoyo (which, by the way was done without any wiggling, all energy), I realized that was stupid (she is not ready to have that tested), I decided that a more successful plan would be engaging her at everyone of those cones by using the weave pattern. Misty got stuck frequently. I would just keep asking for her to go without putting on too much pressure. She eventually got the picture and paid more attention to me. I rewarded by asking her to come in.

I sent her out on a circle and moved it out of the arena. Apparently, the weave exercise worked well on getting her to be more aware of my focus, because instead of stopping at the cone that came close to her path, she asked a question but did not change gait. That was a really great thing for her to do. Brilliant. I was able to say, "no, but thanks for asking."

I checked her canter to walk transitions, taking it easy at first by only asking for the trot then walk. After that, she had really nice canter to walk and walk to canter transitions. . . Then we ran around and did the cutting game and rollbacks--stuff she loves to do when we play. At the end I stopped and backed up really fast. I backed up faster than she was and ended up behind her. She backing up straight and very quickly, not turning toward me. When I stopped, she stopped. It was really great. Now that we were both up a bit, and I was thinking this would be a good place to end, I bent over and she put her head down. She got her head itched, snorted and shook.

I would like to say that I took off the halter and went up to the front or that I took her out to graze, but instead, I made reins out of the 22' featherline and got on. Now, I would like to say that I got right backdown because she started to move off as soon as I was on, and that once she waited patiently after I mounted that THEN I got down and took her out to graze. But what I did was let her walk off and get relaxed. She targeted Connor who was in the invisible arena and I let her go to him. Then I did figure eights by him until she did not want to be with him.

I rode around (aimlessly, of course--I am rolling my eyes at myself), enjoying it and ended up doing a cloverleaf pattern at the walk trot and canter. Boy is she better at cantering than Blu is. The cones are not too far apart and she maneuvered the pattern at the canter with nice impulsion and no physical struggling around the bends. I mean, she is my barrelracing horse, but it made me appreciate her a lot.

Then it was time to go feed horses. She wanted to go out of the pasture with Hoosier and Ginger, so I played with sidepassing to the gate. It took a REALLY long time. She was antsy because the other horses were out. Now she was not dancing around or anything, she just would not hold still. In fact, the thing that took the longest was waiting for her to relax. And I don't think she ever really did. I could have opened the gate long before I did. The mistake I made was not to adjust my goal so that she did not get so frustrated. Well, I did end up adjusting a little. When we FINALLY made it out of the gate, I gave up trying to have her sidepass the gate shut. I finally just swung it shut and sidepassed her to it so I could latch it. So on my way to go put her back in the pasture after all the horses were fed, my conscience finally got ahold of me and said--and I quote--"You dingbat! You should not have stayed on! You should have shown her that she could relax. This should have been a pleasant ride without asking anything of her. Gah! That is one step forward and two steps back, for you, missy. . . *SIGH* Guess you will have to fix it tomorrow."

Natural Horsewoman Out.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! It used to be very hard for me to check of "mistakes" as learning experiences as well. We humans need to learn to stay in the "here and now" like our horses are.... that's why they are so good for us :-)
    Keep up the good play!

    Petra Christensen
    Parelli 2Star Junior Trainee Instructor
    Parelli Central


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.

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