Saturday, October 2, 2010

Short and Sweet

I had to work both shifts, today, and I did not have long with Misty. Probably only 30 minutes or so. So, I had "short goals." Also, we could not really do too much athletic stuff because it was misting very lightly (it made for a generally miserable atmosphere) and had rained a lot last night, so the grounds were slick as Elvis Presley's do at show time.

Misty met me at the fence and I gave her a peppermint treat. Peppermints are her favorite. I went back to the barn to get her halter (which still had the 22' featherline tied to it) and a carrot stick. She followed me down the fence and to the gate. At the gate, I waited for her to halter herself. At first, she was not aiming her nose properly, but then she just stuck it right in. I recalled her issue with going through the gate (being that she gets through then disconnects and shoots for the grass), so I wanted this gate thing to be very provocative. I stood in the gateway and the goal was for me to move her butt to in front of me so I could back her up by her tail. We went through all kinds of tightness in her while she tried to figure out what was going on. I did not increase pressure, I stayed really slow with whatever I was asking. I measured progress by the rare lick and chew or sigh. Several times, we got almost there and then she got confused and moved out of postion. Finally, when it really clicked, she chugged backwards--and shot over to the grass. I lifted very slowly, using the lightest phase until she responded to the pull and then I could ask her to bring her head up. I set her back into the pasture and went through the whole process again, but this time it only took about a third of the original time. Then I got her in the gateway and had her go forward and backward in it, never going all the way in or out. Now when I backed her out, she had a big sigh and lots of licking and chewing and she waited for me to tell her it was ok to eat. I was standing there watching her eat and I thought of how I could have just taken the initial success as THE success. But I persisted. I sought out what was most important: changing her mental state. Also, it was quite clear that she really didn't grasp what the language was communicating after the first time. So, all of this lead me to spontaneously think, "Linda Parelli would be proud of me." The thought came from deep down inside me, so maybe it is a valid supposition. I am glad that I could think something so nice about myself.

Out and about in the yard, Misty began to get nervous. She was eating "frantically," as in snatching quickly. I decided that the grazing was not relaxing her, and as she began to shiver (it was cold and wet and miserable), I decided it would be better if we got started. Off to the round pen for liberty!

First, I let Misty go just to watch her for a moment so I could decide what I was going to do. When I let her go, she immediately walked off. I waited by the gate (strategic). She came back shortly after walking off. I gave her a moment of reconnecting me and then began walking away. She walked away from the gate in the opposite direction. Now that I had some observations, I decided I would cause her to follow me, and then test the drive and draw with the yo yo game. So, I did S bends until she followed me, then I stopped and backed up gently. Then I used treats to teach her to pick up her hoof when I snap my finger (finally, she picked it up with just a snap. I have been trying to get this for a long time). Then I got us into yo yo position and did several yo yos. There was very little wiggling, if any. It was mostly with my energy. She was very responsive. Then her draws were excellent. As soon as I hinted, she came back. I had her draw to me then trot and she pinned her ears so I drove her back again and forward, she eventually pricked her interest, a bit.

Misty followed me to the gate where I offered the halter in the arced arm position. After an initial reverse psychology with it, she put her head all the way in all by herself. Then we went through the gate again, same story, less time, of course!

When I did let her go, I let her go by the gate on purpose to record what she did, which was too be very cooperative in positioning herself to be untied and the immediate disconnect when I got it off her head. I will look for that to get better.

I really liked today because I met every "short goal" I set.

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