Thursday, January 20, 2011

Back to the Drawing Board

I was so excited for this lesson. I thought I had everything figured out and I would learn some really new stuff. Oh, it was going to be good.

I got there just as Meggie was (it was after school and I knew that would happen). I went in and got Blu. I let him eat behind the barn as we chatted.

As we began, Blu was dull, but he got better. We were playing the circling game with plans to work on getting him cantering on smaller circles. Blu was very interested in going to Meggie, and when Maggie came with Ginger, he was very interested in getting to all three of them.

I found out I had been doing one thing very wrong: the send was not quite proper in the zone area. Here is what I learned:
  • Back up until the back feet are on the track you want the horse on
  • Specifically drive the frontend away and onto that track
  • When you pick the track, there should be slack in the line to start with, so that needs to be in your measurements as you back him onto the track
I also found out that my intuitive half-yields on the circle that I did for teaching Misty to circle close at liberty and when I was teaching Blu to circle with the feather line on his ear was just right for this situation, too:
  • Slack is in the line at the trot
  • I ask for the canter and if he takes out the slack, I do a half yield of his hindquarters that tells him to refocus on me but keep circling.
  • Repeat until he canters with slack
Over time, his hindquarter yields were getting duller and he was losing motivation. I had been doing lots of transitions, but it was not working. I asked Meggie if she noticed this and she said she was just thinking the same thing--that he should be improving, but was not. He was not maintaining gait well, at all.

Meggie had me do a figure eight pattern with him to focus him. It was pretty awful, though. Really. All these problems were things that I had not been having any trouble with after my warm up with him.

That is what led me to believe that this was a me-thing. Nothing I could physically do would help. Maybe if I handed him over to Meggie, something I've never done before nor has ever crossed my mind until just now (two weeks later as I am catching up blog posts) because she was not in the same emotional state as I was. He was mirroring the nervousness and tightness that I was feeling but hiding, or rather, trying to ignore and wish away.

Here is the email I sent to Meggie on the 22nd (two days later) about how I was feeling. I think it really illustrates how conflicted I felt, and that is why I am posting it:

Well, I have not tried what we did the other day. I was very upset by Thursday, I think. I don't understand why Blu was doing what he was doing. It made me feel like there was absolutely no foundation whatsoever and that I was playing with a horse who had no idea what I language I was speaking. I had a bad feeling about the whole thing and it made me feel very heavy and immobile.

On Friday, I did falling leaf pattern until relaxation set in. When we were done, it felt really good.

Today, I just got done in the round pen at liberty for 30 minutes. Half of it I spent getting a connection until he was doing stick to me. We went down to a small circle at the canter, but he was so tight, I backed it off to a trot and just did really tiny trot circles until he relaxed. The other half I spent sitting on a tire in the middle meditating while Blu stood over me. That session ended on a different, much more positive feeling.

I have been doing plenty of down time with Blu amongst all of our "progress sessions." He should not be burned out. That's why I don't think it is him. I am just trying to figure out why I felt that way. I am always a little bit nervous about you getting run over (I know I don't need to worry) and I was momentarily irritated by Maggie coming out with Ginger to video tape, but I did not feel suffocated by emotion or anything.

There are several things I would have liked to do during my session, but for some reason, when you are there, I feel like I should do nothing except what you are telling me. It's not a concious thing I am thinking, I just realize that I do. In any case, I would like to share with you how I would have handled Thursday's situation if I had not been in a lesson:
I would have liked to abandon the circle and sit for a minute to clear my mind. When I got back up, I would have set up either a weave or figure eight pattern and driven Blu through it from zone 5. I may have used treats appropriately during that. When he began to move his body properly and focus on me, I may have returned to the circling game. I don't know how the circling game would have proceeded but I would have had a better connection going, maybe.

I don't know what's wrong with me, and this has nothing to do with accepting where I am, though it does have a lot to do with understanding what I am feeling and finding a way to express appropriately to those around me, including Blu. Or something like that.

I have had lots of what some might call "bad" sessions, and I don't know if any of them have not felt like this. So maybe it is more of an inappropriate perception for the situation. I find myself with these bad emotions and it makes me a bad problem solver. Instead of finding the proper way to relieve whatever pressure is causing the emotion, I exacerbate it by holding it in and keeping it at bay as best I can.

What should I do when I get nervous or worried? Embarrassed? How do you breathe it out of yourself in into the world without it poisoning someone?

I don't know. We are playing with it. Let me know what you think.


So, today, we did:
  • Partial Hindquarter Yields
  • Bulls Eye with Approach and Retreat
  • Approach and Retreat to and away from the Canter
  • Transitions (get on the HQ, motivate)
  • Send the FQ with Slack
Today, I tried to hold back a wall of water with a smile and my breathing. Part of growing.

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