Sunday, December 12, 2010

The True Meaning of "Becoming a Master" is All About Practice

It is snowing like a storybook setting outside. On to the post. . .

I read in a book authored by Mark Rashid something to the effect of "if you do not practice patience in every area of your life, you will not meet your potential patience-capacity with horses." In other words, if you cannot wait for your brother to finish his sentence before starting in with your opinion, you are lacking patience, and no matter how patient you are with horses, you could be more patient. The same goes for other attributes of a master horseman/horsewoman. If you have a short temper with people, are depressed about something, are pessimistic about your mother-in-law's visits, it will taint and/or retard your horsemanship journey.

The Bible also references the phenomenon of this seepage of character from one aspect of your life to another:
Jeremiah 4:14
"Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?"
*We sometimes harbor and tolerate the negative characteristics in other parts of our life.

Luke 11:17
"Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."
*If you are the kingdom, then you are divided in yourself when you have impatience in one area of your life.

Those might seem to be stretches, but I am very flexible when I draw parallels. In any case, this whole post is validated because I quoted the Bible (which if not a device of religion to you, is still a brilliant piece of literature on humanity, at the very least), right? Hehehe.

This is the reason that I am very concious of what I am feeling or thinking when I am not with my horses. At work, I try my best to improve my patience with my coworkers and to have an outlook that is the most beneficial to my workplace and my horsemanship journey. At work, I have finally reached a level of control over my thoughts and outlook. I attribute my better outlook with my horses to this success over my impatient thoughts at work :D.

Official Records Information:
Blu, 1 hour and 45 minutes, 12/10/10, afternoon

Before my ride, I wanted to stick with the program I have started with the trailer. Blu was great for catching and haltering, then we headed out to the yard to play with backing into the trailer. I let him graze first. When we got to the trailer, he was a bit tight. He was stuck in his feet, distracted, and when he did move his feet, he moved them too much. So I put him on the 23’ line to do a pre-trailer warm up. I played touch-it point-to-point in zone 5, first. If we touched trees, I allowed him to eat the grass near the base of the trunk, but only the grass right next to the base. If his nose moved away from the tree, he was redirected. He figured this out after two trees and his grazing relaxed. Also, as we moved onto the next point, he got lighter on the cues. That really helped him focus and loosen up.

Then we played the circling game. I yoyoed him out and in a few times, then sent. Now he wanted to move and his fast-going energy was all much more confident. He twisted and bucked out there. The ground is gently rolling where we were, so he had some hindrance from the topography, but not much. I slowly began shaping what he was doing. When he had stopped the twisty-bucks, I did a bulls-eye pattern (probably 3 of them) to get him focused on me at the center. His first few, he came to the center "too soon" (it was only that he should have came in straight instead of winding all the way in on a circle. this may not be correct form, but it still means he is focusing on me more than the outside of the circle). I would just say "hi" and resend to start over. However many we did, on the last one, he made it to the center by doing a "correct" bullseye. I let him make three laps at the smallest circle size before yielding him.

Now that he was more attentive, I got to where we had a steady pattern of "trot at point-x on the circle and pick the canter back up at point-y" with x as an slight uphill and y being a slight downhill. After several laps, he got lighter and quieter. When he came in, he came to a point and dove for grass, so I just backed him up and sent him out to try my come-back again. Now we did the same pattern to the left. It took very little time for him to quiet down and when I asked him in again, he came all the way in and connected with me. I gave him permission to eat and let him graze for a minute before going to the trailer.

With the trailer, in much less time than it took the other day to get a hoof on the lip of the trailer, we made the next step toward our goal of backing all the way into the ramp-less trailer: weight on the foot that’s in. When he puts that hoof in, it is cocked and just resting on the floor. All he did was really try to put weight on it. He was thinking very heavily toward putting weight on it. He loaded all his weight onto the foot on the ground so he could right his cocked foot in the trailer. So, next time, it is probable the he will have both his back legs in the trailer because I don’t think I see him dangling his other foot out as he bears weight on the in-the-trailer foot.

Blu eliminated a load in the garage while my dad held him so I could run inside and get some syrup for his bit. :D. As I walked back and forth cleaning it up, Blu followed very obediently and squeezed between vehicles that were parked close together—just several good-partner moments. Now we were ready to ride!

Mounting, Blu came nicely to the picnic table when I cued him and he stood very pleasantly while I got on. I took off his halter and bridled him from his back. He was so cooperative for that. Who knew that it would be so easy to teach him to be a partner for bridling while mounted?

He was a bit dull at the gate, but cooperative. He was specifically dull on when I was asking him to go sideways to push the gate shut again. I think the problem here is that he did not understand the purpose. He was very light for responsive for positioning himself to open the gate up. Hmm. . . how interesting.

I did a figure eight freestyle for a bit with breaks in between the pattern. During one of the breaks, I did the friendly game with leaning forward. Sometimes when I lean forward, Blu throws his head up. I don't know if this is a pain reaction or not, but today I practiced walking my hands up his neck with weight born on them. No negative reactions. I sped up the walking hands in increments and still no reactions.

I started to play the friendly game with contact then shifted to holding a steady contact for longer periods of time. I focused on keeping a nice, consistent, steady connection. When he tipped his head, I tipped it that much and more until he wanted to go back to the correct shape (I think that is part of Linda Parelli's game of contact. I don't know if I really can picture what she means in some of her written explanations). And that is how our 8’s went. I gave him a rest when he did something that felt good. I refined our hind quarter yields a bit, too—continuing to get those better.

Any time we backed up, it was really light. The contact was there, but the reins were not saying "back up"—he was doing it with just the seat. This was consistent all through the ride.

I ended after he did an entire figure with really light feel and excellent shape.
Dismounting, I laid on my stomach with my feet to his tail and slid off to the back. Not ONE head-bob. That used to really bother him, but now he is used to it. He did not even look like he was just "tolerating." Once I was off, he turned to me with bright eyes and ears forward.

I took off Blu’s bridle and he followed me all the way across the pasture. He stopped a few times and just watched me walk, but he would always start up and continue on. At the gate, he was very cooperative and did a perfect turn, face, wait while I hooked it back up.
I lead him gently by the jaw to his run-in stall where I gave him hay and stood with him for a while.

Official Records Information:
Misty, 15 minutes, 12-10-10, evening

While doing chores, I trimmed and rasped Misty’s hoofies; they are beginning to chip from the rock hard ground. Her front end just needed rasping, but the back needed trimming, as well. She stood quietly at liberty for me and lifted her feet with just a light touch. She jolted the back feet as I was putting them down, so I just did friendly game with them. I also cleaned her udders. I remember when she hated that. Now, she stood fine at liberty. For the rest of the time I did TTouches. I paid special attention to her back left leg to aid healing.

Official Records Information:
Misty, 2 hours, 12-11-10, afternoon

I played with Misty between work shifts. I wanted to bring her out to graze for a bit, maybe do a little bit of something on line, but then I wanted to go into the pasture and play with our close range circles at liberty. Hahahahahahahahahaha.

Misty and I hung out with Ginger and Maggie, Misty’s sister and my sister, for a couple hours instead. We played with the four bags of saw dust that were lined up in the driveway. While I was in my truck getting gloves, I Misty was sticking her head in the truck bag and talking to the tarp that was folded up there. I pulled it out of there and laid it over one of the saw dust bags. She had absolutely NO qualms about it: not while I carried it and not when it was on the bags. She was pawing the bag trying to step over one foot at a time. The bags were just too wide to do that, though, so she very slowly lifted up her front end and plopped it on the other side. Then she sidepassed off the line of bags. Later, I had her sidepass to and from me on the bags, too. It was good to see her so confident and cooperative.

Maggie and I kind of played "HORSE" the way you do with basketball, only we were doing it with horses. She would do something with Ginger, and I would do it with Misty. We reared on and off the back. First, Maggie had Ginger rear. Misty's rear is pitiful compared to Ginger. Ginger goes full up to the sky and holds it until Maggie asks her to come back down. Misty looks comical with her little strain off the ground like a chicken trying to fly hehehe. Then, Maggie had Ginger bow and she hopped on. I went to frog leap onto Misty, but we got into a laughing fit. I sprained my wrist the other day, so I had to be careful, but I could not compose myself. I just kept running into her butt and laughing. Misty was very good through the whole fool thing. Not once did she move out of the way as I charged toward her-nor when I slammed into her. Finally, with achy ribs--either from running into her or from laughing--I climbed onto the fence and she sidepassed to me automatically.

Now Maggie reared with Ginger. Ginger does little pops up and down. Misty does little tries then a big effort of a tiny lift off the ground. Hehehe.

Then we hopped off and did more stuff on the ground. We did sideways to us in unison. Maybe Maggie, Ginger, Misty, and I should do a performance together.

The last challenge was back to the sawdust bags, I had Misty stand on a bag and Ginger jumped over a couple bags that were standing tall-ways. This was a great illustration of Misty's talents and approach to things compared to Gingers, hehehe.

…all kinds of fun. I had a plan, but basically trashed the plan to play with Maggie. Misty and Ginger grazed a lot while Maggie and I talked and laughed. It was very relaxing and fun.

To end this post, I would like to return to my prefacing comments and present another idea. In addition to your outside-of-horses life spilling into your horsemanship journey, inevitably, your horsemanship journey will spill into the rest of your life; it's a two way street. In the 17 days, I had almost 20 hours of horse time in sessions. You better believe that had something to do with my progress in becoming more patient and happy at work. So, it is a circle of growth. One feeds the other and vice versa. So, play with your horses, and let it spill over into your life; grow as a horseman, and grow as a human being. I think that is what it means to become a true master of anything.

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