Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Maintain Gait and Maintain Direction: Simple

Learning when to do what and why you are doing that and how to deliver the message is much more complex a puzzle that one might think. The reason it is complex is that I made it so; the reason it is so complex is that it is so simple that I must come up with a convoluted wormhole of logic. I imagine the reason I do this is that I find it initially impossible to believe that it could be so stupidly simple. It would seem that life really is what you perceive it to be--and so are the puzzles that come along. How much more we could enjoy life--how much further we could go--if we allowed it to be simple and beautiful.

I am doing my thinking tonight. I did some yesterday, I believe, too. Blu is such a good teacher for me to learn about the simplicities of life and to learn how to have confidence in my decision making. When I stop believing in myself, things begin to slide a bit. I must have abruptly stopped believing in myself last summer. Looking back, I recall feeling that suspension of self-confidence. Quite simply put, that is when the web of complexities began. I no longer knew up from down or right from left. The good news is, that is also when I embarked (unknowingly) on my journey toward this understanding of allowing simplicity to rule.

Blu has not been too keen on holding up his end of the responsibilities of maintaining gait since we came to Colorado.  On Saturday, I was playing with Blu on a 45' line and my friend Maree was watching while waiting for her severely introverted horse to relax (Maree is an amazing horsewoman and does a phenomenal job with all the horses I see her with). I was feeling torn about what route to take with Blu because I projected complexity onto him. I didn't know how to get to the answer to the puzzle "How do I cause maintaining the canter at the end of the 45' line to be Blu's idea?" because there were so many ways to get there that I didn't know whether or not were working answers. Never mind the scientific process or even the very elementary process of elimination. Then Maree suggested I just put food on some barrels.

Putting food on barrels is what I did with Blu to help him decide that jumping things was fun and a great idea. Of course. The worst thing that could happen is it didn't work.

The next morning was Sunday and I took some honey dew rinds and put them on the barrels while Blu stood obediently in the center. When I started out, it looked promising, but then Blu got to a barrel and shut right down. I wasn't sure if he was going introverted or if he was just something else.

Later that morning, I asked a Parelli Professional named Molly Sanders about what Blu had done that morning. Molly suggested being more provocative by doing lots of transitions. "But he tends to get worried when I do that." Simple. The answer is: ADJUST TO FIT THE SITUATION. Be provocative, then, if it gets too much for him, ADJUST to being more consistent.

I played with that concept, mixing it together with food rewards. It worked because I adjusted when I had to--I did whatever Blu needed. If he needed a rest, I let him rest. If he needed me to become more of a sweet spot, I became more of a sweet spot. If he needed me to be more provocative--get the picture.

It is difficult to explain the kind of helplessness I got caught in by projecting complications onto situations that were simple by nature. The feeling I had froze me up and made me think that it was better to do nothing than to try something new.

Tonight, I got to feel softness with Blu. We even broached that is quite difficult for him to get near--change of direction at the canter! I will tell you:

I was on the phone with my gramma when I walked into the paddock with Blu's halter, 45' line and carrot stick. He came up to me and stood by me. Then, after I kept talking and sort of ignored him, he turned around and backed his butt up to my back. When I hung up with Gramma, I turned and was surprised to see his butt. He looked back at me when I scratched his butt and brought his head back to me. I offered the halter and he stretched toward it. I clucked and he stepped toward it, but not all the way. We played that game a little bit--it was fun.

He is much more responsive now on the circle and I had him jog a small circle around me on our way to the arena. I tried something different by asking him to change from circling to driving from zone 5. It actually worked well and I think it is something I want to pursue with him.

The circling game is going really well. I am careful to the right at the canter because it is weaker side and I don't want it to become sore. We don't ignore it completely and tonight we worked that side more than any of the nights so far and he did not get upset about that. He is so agreeable when I ask him to canter! I love it. In the beginning, he offered a canter and I asked him to come in.

Later, I was wanting him to maintain the gait on a longer line. First, I aimed for the canter from a stand still. Every time he left at a jog or a walk, I immediately yielded him and started over--no pets, no cookies, no rest, just straight back and out again. He got it on the 4th time and that time I asked him to come in, but I gave him a cookie and let him rest. The went out and was cantering around. The circle got bigger and bigger and then he took off--as in started charging around. I let him slide then power positioned him to a stop and we got into interesting thing about the whole charging deal. I was completely clearminded and consistent. We did changes of direction until he could do it calmly. Then he cantered around calmly. I grew the circle and asked him to stop at the barrel.

It felt like the right place to end the circling game so we played the sideways game to the barrel. The first one was sloppy, but the second was better. The first one we did 45'. The second, I halved the distance. On that, I think what I learned was to prepare him for that distance better. Start out with it being halved--don't even allow the sloppy to happen. Yes, that would be a wise decision for next time.

We did some more with his Spanish walk--wouldn't you know Maree can take credit for our growth on that fun trick.

We spent the rest of our time together at liberty. He circled me in the paddock and the arena. It was a nice circling at the walk.

May your day be simple and thoughtful.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

My photo
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