Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Power of Outlook

I went to bed last night quite displeased with myself. I had not handled my session with Blu very well. Today, Blu was doing basically the same thing, but I had a different outlook on everything. Somehow, while I slept, I was able to stop worrying about deadlines, timelines, work, school, and progress and just do what needed to be done for Blu.

I spent 15 minutes of undemanding activity. He came to me out in the pasture and was super cooperative as I put his halter on. I let him eat loose hay in the aisle of the barn, clean up Ginger's breakfast, and nibble on her good hay while I brushed him out. On the way to the gate, I let him graze through the newly fallen snow. As I looked out in the snow, as silly as it seems, I thought about how the snow's whiteness was symbolic of a comment I left on a social network this morning: "New day, new page." And today is a new day, for me.

Blu was lighter on the line when I asked him to stop grazing. When we were in the pasture, I drove from zone 5, practicing my energy-only phase one to go and stop. He only goes a few steps, and today he went further than he ever has because he saw a food bucket (empty, but this kid's always hopeful). He was actually, going off at a phase one or pricking his ears back to me when I did it. For his whoas, I just synchronized with his stops.

On the way out to my arena, Blu stopped. I waited with light phase on the line, checked to make sure that he was not being accosted by Connor or Misty, and he followed. I think this was a clear, "Please not in there" sign from him. So the first thing we did was push snow away for him to graze while a stood by or pet him. We worked our way over to the fence for the "demanding" part of our session.

As we began the yoyos, I did not have any braces or concerns in my mind. As he showed signs of distrust and anxiety, I did not get offended or come down on myself. As the yoyos continued, I did not feel any frustration building--none. It was all a stark difference to how I felt yesterday. It is a testimony to the power of outlook. Sometimes, when I come out to see the horses and I have had a rough time before hand, I start playing and I feel better. But yesterday, the session just exacerbated the negative feelings. I learned that when I feel that way, the best thing for me to do is put my horse away or go out to graze.

I did a lot of waiting for Blu, and I kept to the same pattern for all 10 yoyos. It went as follows:
1. Wait for Blu to confidently face me. He would look this way and that, distracted or otherwise. I just waited for him to focus on me. I did nothing but stand there.
2. Back Blu up. If he goes crooked, fix it. Blu was on the fence, so it would be easier for him to back up straight. I would step out or look at his hindquarters if he started to go crooked.
3. Ask Blu to come back. Turn away to the East and wait for him to wake up. Once Blu was out there and I asked him to come back, he went to sleep. I would turn away from the wind and wait. It took anywhere from 2-5 minutes for him to come around. When he did wake up, he would either come right to me on his own or I could invite him in again and he would come in right away. Sometimes, when I turned to him, he would go back to sleep, so I just went back to waiting.
4. Wait for Blu to be confident about standing in front of me and focus on me. I would let Blu nab some grass, play with his mouth if he was needing mouth contact, or just stand there if he was being unconfident. It was basically a repeat of step one and so we would start all over again.

On one of his yoyos, when he was ready to go back out again, I walked off. We were done and I was cold. In his stall, I asked him to give me the halter . . . and he shook it threw it over the ledge. I guess the concept of handing it to me is still not firmly understood in his head. I gave him and Misty hay and the other horses hay, and went home.

This morning was an hour long session and it was the first day of snow. I hope it is the beginning of a good winter season for us.

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