Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spirit of the Horse

Today was a day of great spiritual and emotional depths. Every day I am striving to become more of a puzzle solver and less of an emotionally imbalanced, wild, tense lady. It is not that anyone watching would think that, but it is inside, which means my horses see it plain as day. I know it is at the root of their behavior issues. I could do everything else right and provocatively, but it would not begin to scratch the surface of solving any real "problems" if I can be right inside.

I spent about 2 hours reading The Tao of Equus to Blu and Misty (in two separate session), today. In between those two bits, I was inside trying to recuperate my body heat as I read. I have gotten through chapter 3, and each chapter is uncovering new things. It finally ended with one of the most spiritual moments I have ever had with my horses. The most spiritual thing was when I first joined up with Misty when I was 10. I had been working so hard and not getting her connection when a thunderstorm rolled in and the onslaught of driving water did not frustrate me in the least. Nor was I afraid of the flashing lightning or ominous thunder. I just felt like I was channeling something powerful. It was not some demystified equation yielding the obvious solution, that day. Misty and I had something happen between us as she followed me around the round pen. What I would give to have that childlike spirit back inside me.

Tonight, was a bit less magical sounding as far as relaying a story goes. I had just reached the crescendo of the chapter. I don't want to spoil the book for you, but I made a promise to Blu that we would be partners in this thing and that he would be the teacher a lot more than I was letting myself allow him to be. I reconciled the fact that he would still learn a lot more than I would during our time together because of his connection to nature that I would have to work hard to reestablish within myself. And I told Blu that we were kin, no matter what, and I needed to remember that. I called him "Brother," and meant it, not just as an endearment or pet name, but as fact.

I said these things amongst others and released tension, frustration, violence, anger, self-hatred, narcissism, ego, self-centered, disappointment, and helplessness that I had been trying to put in a box inside myself and kick aside. I felt like I at last had articulated things I had been lying to myself about, and the entire episode made me grow wings of relief and freedom.

It seems--in a constantly increasing degree--that I am rocketing toward something very unconventional with horses. I do not fully understand the ramifications of this path, but I am taking it--as Maggie and I say, "I don't know where I am going, but I am going there full speed."

Well, onto the hours of horse play! Official Records Information goes as follows:
1/5/11, Blu, 30 minutes, afternoon
1/6/11, Blu, 2 hours and 30 minutes, afternoon and evening
1/6/11, Misty, 45 minutes, afternoon

It was a really snowy couple of days! I have been so weird, inside, lately. It has been quite strange because I am living in semi-isolation and do a lot of thinking by myself and soaking in the swirling vortex of my mind. What I really need is a good soaking in my horse's mind. I am trying to manually and forcibly change my mind's gears away from my current mindset, a mindset concerned with timelines, progress, goals, and a black string. It used to not matter to me, but with the fast track fast approaching, I sure would love to achieve level four before going. I think that it is really great that I am getting this out of my system, this concern with progress, black strings, and timelines. A part of my journey toward level four is really embracing wherever I am in the present time. Rather, wherever WE are--my horse and I. Perhaps, I need to stop focusing on the problem that I realize is there and accept that I am currently being self-centered and crazy egotistical. What a concept. My Parelli Professional once told me I needed to know that I was "right where I needed to be" with my horse, but I did not think about me being right where I needed to be with myself. Well, I acknowledge those things, now.

Between work shifts, yesterday, I played my figure eight from one side of zone 5, again. I started from the beginning I established the previous session, but what took us almost an hour, yesterday, only took half an hour. He seems to carry himself better at the trot. At any rate, when we were done, I took off his gear and returned him to his pasture at liberty. I had to guide him with my hand under his jaw a few times, but it was not a bad quality end, by any means.

After lunch, we did more driving from the side of the haunches on the feather lines. But the little things mattered, today. I waited for him on the way out of the barn. When he was diving for the grass, I stood and really thought hard about what I should do that would not just cause him to give me his attention, but his respect. I ended up with flicking his peepee, but I did so without getting frustrated and I tried to barely touch anything. Just enough for him to go "gasp!" and cross his legs. Pretty soon, he was standing at attention whenever I was and he didn't look offended. I still want to think of a new way to deal with this, so I am keeping it in the front of my mind-twiddling.

We got to our side of the haunches driving in zone 5, but it was a rickety start. He looked sour and was not bending around the focus. I tapped his rib cage with the carrot stick to encourage that to move away and I focused hard on the focus of our circling. Then I asked for a bulls eye spiraling to the bucket-focus. When we got to the bucket, we stopped and rested. His focus was much better, now. We achieved the trot and without stopping in the middle in even less time than yesterday. This was a sure indicator that Blu was ready for variety! I just so happened that I had set up 3 or 4 more buckets. They were not all in a line, but they were equidistant from one to the next in order of bucket 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. (about 12').

When I switched from the second bucket to the first new one, he didn't miss a beat (trotting) and switched the curve of his body. I was almost disappointed that he wasn't surprised or something, but not really; I needed something to go insanely well--Blu must have picked up on that little detail. He is really understanding that when I switch sides, he switches his curve. But most importantly, he was getting softer. Not just lighter, which does not accurately convey emotional state as a word in this case, but softer. I am trying hard to find ways to make this interesting for him because he has been showing a lot of sourness, lately (I think I need to do nothing with him, again and try to get back in touch with him). Next for this zone 5 driving (from the side of the haunch), really, is the canter. But before I can be confident cantering next to his haunches, I need him to learn how to carry himself with more athleticism and relaxation at the canter. So, a million circles around hills at the canter it is!

Since my attempt at spicing up our session had turned out to be an easy hitter for Blu, I wanted to do something unexpected. I am really trying to delve into my creative thinking to play games with him and be provocative and interesting while staying light. In light of that, I tried something new today: I put a loop of my feather line around Blu’s ear. As a safety net, I had the other end of the line attached to the halter--so Blu was about 10' from me at his greatest distance. Since I have two feather lines, I will eventually be able to use the entire line with an entire second line as a safety net. It took a while for Blu to light and even longer for him to get soft. I just kept doing bulls eye patterns focused on me. I ended that episode when he did a bullseye pattern with almost no resorting to a feel on his halter.

I let Blu graze for a while and then went in to get my book for a Misty reading session. With the lounge chair set up for me to read in, I went into the pasture began reading to Misty (and Connor, who stood nearby). I was not frustrated in the least (very giggly, though), but Misty was being very pushy. She was rubbing me, pushing me with her nose (hard), and once she got my glove in her teeth, lifted my hand by it, and dropped it. As she continued to fit define the word nuisance, I suddenly realized I was reading in my head. As soon as I started to read aloud, Misty quieted down and she stood silently over me for the rest of the read. In fact, she was as close as she could get with her front legs right up against the chair. I thought of her as the author spoke of her own mare.

I had to give up the reading thing after 45 minutes because my toes were freezing. I went inside and warmed up while reading the book. When I went back out, I knew exactly what I would do with Blu for the next hour: I was going to read to him while he ate on the lawn. It was a really great experience, and most of the important details were relayed at the beginning of this post.

Lots happened today. Tomorrow I work all day, so it will be horses between two work shifts, again. . . Bring it!

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