Friday, October 1, 2010

Mexican Horsewoman

I have a friend from Mexico. I cannot give her a pseudonym because her name is important to the image you will have of her personality. Her name is Lizzy, but I usually call her "Lizzy," as in turning the short "i" into a Spanish-sounding "i," which is pronounced in an English long "e," you see.

So, Lizzy came over for the afternoon. She is a friend from high school, though we really became fast friends on a senior trip to Stratford to see a Shakespeare play in the beginning of the school year. In AP art, our friendship grew. Lizzy is very quirky and funny. She is prone to making really random noises at equally random intervals (i.e. "whaaaaaaT? Ahoo hoo hee."), which make being in her presence a wonderfully light and laughingly enjoyable.

In regards to horses, Lizzy is very nervous. Each time she rides, she gets bit braver. However, she has this instinctual belief that the horses might eat her. So, she is very tentative as she pets or makes contact with them. The horses love her because she is always making very slow approaches with fast retreats. Blu was following her around and wanted to touch her, and it was exactly like when he was following the scared dogs. When Lizzy stopped and cringed, I had to pull him away because she was very uncomfortable with him rubbing his nose all over her arm and back.

The plan was to have her ride Misty because that is who she rode last time. I gave her the halter with the 22' featherline attached to it and had her follow me out to catch Misty. I was going to show her how to approach and retreat Misty so she would follow us, but as I was explaining to her how to follow me, she said, "Wait, so Misty doesn't really want to?" I told her that compared to Hoosier and Blu, she was not inclined to follow us around right from the get go. Her reply? "Oh, okay. Well why don't I just ride Hoosier then." I like her. She thinks like a horse naturally. It was actually very wise: pick your partner, not your poison.

So, we went into the open pasture and Hoosier came to her. I showed her how to put the halter on and tie the knot. She was very adept and figured it out with little intervention--at least for how many times I have shown non-horse people how to do this. She learned a quick release knot to tie Hoosier to the fence and then I showed her how to saddle him. I asked her to" try it like this" with the saddle pad after analyzing her initial carry-it-in-front- of-face-like-a-bear technique. Hoosier doesn't care how the pad goes (he was asleep), but she mentioned it was much easier and nicer to do it the way I showed her.

The saddle was to heavy for her, so I tossed it on and showed her how to cinch up. She was great at that. I told her that since she was a weakling, I would need to tighten it for her the rest of the way after she took Hoosier for a walk to let him let the air out of his belly. I stayed by the fence and let this be her first experience without me. She would look back worriedly and had the darndest time trying to decide how to get him turned around. The outcome was that she just kept walking away until she could figure out how to turn around. She did figure it out and brought him back to me. She laughed and said "Oh, my gosh. I was just going 'wee-pee, tk tk tk'!" as she made slow gestures with her hands, mirroring the way that she had been very slowly taking slack out and tightening the not.

Now Hoosier was ready to mount. I had her untie him then I made reins and a leadline from the 22 feet. I stood back and let her mount by herself. She problemsolved and figured it out. Last time, she had to have help!

I got on and helped her get Hoosier off the fence by walking Blu into Hoosier's head (after she had tried by herself). The ride became her learning coordination, feel, and timing with Hoosier to get him away from the fence and then to actually prevent it from happening in the first place. She trotted once when Hoosier was trying to get around Blu, who was blocking him from the fence. She stayed on and made funny noises and said "What was that?!" Then we walked off and continued on.

Once she got the hang of it, she would light up and say, "This is so nice," or "This is amazing!" Those were the best parts of my afternoon with her. We talked about her plans and her familia experiences in Mexico from her last visit.

When we were all done, I took pictures of her dismounting, which started because she looked around and said "Oh. . . um, how do I get down? Like thees?"

Later on, I came back to have a session with Misty. She put her head right into the halter.

Our main focus was the circling game. She was getting better at responding to the carrot stick. It was not getting any better with the stick--she still was not getting more sensitive. So, I went into neutral for 10 circles of trot. After several circles of stop-go-stop-go, she was very glad to be left alone. When I felt her petering out, I lifted the stick in front of her and viola, sensitivity.

Then the horses went out back, so Misty became very distracted. This means that her number one responsibility--act like a partner--by taking the slack out of the line. So I did the bullseye pattern. I would wait for slack and take it out until she began to search for the slack. This equated to her spiraling into the center (me). By the time she got to me, she was very focused on me. I decided that this was a good way to end our circling game.

Before letting her go, I went to barrel and got on it. After working through causing her to come sideways to me, waiting for a nice feel, I played the friendly game. That is all. I laid over her and rubbed the other side, itched her belly, itched her forehead, etc. When I was satisfied that she was 100% ok, I got down and walked away. This baffld her and she licked and chewed and followed me.

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