This was a another biggie for me—a threshold. Rebecca has been asking me if I wanted to go someplace off property to ride. Since I hesitated she added, "that is if Jeepers would load." Oh I told her the issue was not Jeepers getting on a trailer, she did that fine, the issue was my confidence in being able to handle the horse who got off the trailer. I told her I needed more time on the trails at the barn to build my confidence. And the Level 2 Clinic showed me how to do that.
So on the auspicious day of Friday July 13 I agreed to go to Rocky Woods the next day, just a 15 minute trailer ride away. I got to the barn at 7:30, after having agreed to meet Rebecca at 9:00. Wanted time to play with Jeeps before asking her to get on the trailer. It took just a few minutes of playing the 7 games before I got on. She was soft and listening and all I had to do was lift the reins and she stopped and stood. That's the important part I have learned, the standing still. I rode her up the path to the indoor and we grazed along the way.
By the time Rebecca shows up and gets the trailer hooked up and open we are ready to go. Two horses, two horse trailer and we're off. It was a quick ride to the parking lot. I had left Jeeps' saddle on, as that is how Rebecca does it with her horse Patrick. She now tells me that it is easiest to bridle the horses before unloading. I have decided I'll use the snaffle bridle with the rope reins as opposed to going out in the halter/hackamore. When Jeeps comes down the ramp she starts to really look around. No grass patch to convince her that this was a friendly place. She has her head up high, not a good place for a horse that usually assumes the Western Pleasure headset. So I unhook one side of the reins from the bit and ask her for Ss and disengaging hind end and almost immediately I have her back with me! What a boost for my confidence.
Before we leave the parking lot Rebecca gets a map of the trails. I know she had been over here before and assumed she knew the trails. Now I find out she had followed someone else LOL! She hands me the map saying, "Jeeps stands still when you stop so it will be easier for you to read the map." Hmmm how interesting.
Mount up and we have a great walk in new woods. Meet several dogs along the way, but the people were responsible and had their dogs in hand. Or arms as with the little black puppy. We come to an intersection and Rebecca asks me to check the map. So I unfold it and look. And look and squint and hold it close and away, "I don't have my reading glasses with me—can't see the numbers (marked intersections) or the trail names!" After staring at the map, I finally can figure out where we are and where we might want to go. Onward! I check the map occasionally and then I drop it—"Hey Rebecca do you think we still need the map?" YES! Okay I hop off Jeeps, pick it up and find a rock to mount back up. This place is very user friendly with lots of mounting rocks all along the trail.
I am relaxed as we ride. I keep a loose rein. This is awesome, wonderful, a new adventure without angst. Is this possible? The ride is over, load the horses back into the trailer and head for home. I'm already thinking about when can we do this again?
I gave Jeepers Thursday off. Friday only played on the ground. Bugs awful. Hard for both of us to focus. So I didn't push it.
Today was meeting Vivian to go out on the trails. So I got to the barn early. Jeeps was eating breakfast with her girl friends but lifted her head to me. After grooming we played in the ring. She was quiet and a bit more focused. Did put your nose on with success today. Driving hind end is looking pretty good. Driving front is a problem. So I broke it down and used my hands - one of face, one on shoulder - and asked for only one step over. Will build on this. When I mounted she was not in her big walking mode and quickly and quietly bent to a stop and when I lifted both reins for back up she was soft and listening.
On the trails I lifted a rein and she stopped. Way to go! Did "short" trail which entails a patch of bushwhacking. She was soft and quiet. Saw two Fisher Cats climb a huge tree. Wow!
July 4th! Thought I'd give Jeeps the day off. Drove over to just hand graze. Got my red Parelli halter and lead and walked to her paddock. She has her nose in a large pile of hay along with her two buddies, Dreamy and Jaz. Jeepers looks up at me when I open the gate, see the halter and turns and trots away to the water trough. She drinks and then walks into the open shed with her rear end toward me. Guess she didn't even want to see me today! Did I do too much yesterday? Drop halter and go sit on a rock. I tell her I am not going to DO anything. She doesn't move. I go get a handful of hay and offer it to her. She turns around and slowly approaches and takes it. When she finishes she turns back into the shed, back towards me. I sit quietly. Finally I go and get her and her buddies (who have finished off all the hay) several more flakes. I toss them on the ground and Jeepers walks to join her herd and eat.
Since we hadn't done all that much riding on Monday, I arranged to meet Rebecca for an afternoon trail ride. Okay today I was going to do ground work and riding PNH tasks before going out on the trails. After I had groomed and tacked her up, saddle nice and loose we walked to the ring. Jeepers was displaying the same high energy that she had in the indoor at the clinic. Hmmm, how interesting. Glad I was taking the time to work with her before mounting up and going out. Circle game was a bust, she would not even back up and stand still for a send. So worked on the half circle along the fence into sideways. Great way to get her attention. Work on driving the hind quarters - just like at the clinic, driving the front. Now backup and finally circling game. Switched to the 22 foot line. Bigger circle. Asked for trot. Nice transition. Asked for walk. From clinic asked with just the slightest movement of rope. No reaction. A little more movement. No reaction. She is on auto polite. Had to go to a phase 4 rope movement. But as I writing this maybe I could try pointing the stick in front of her and see if that will get her attention. So we worked on up and down transitions and finally change of direction. Not working so went to work on S's and then a bit of Falling Leaf. Wow I have all these different things I can do. Worked on getting two eyes and not settling for less than. Slowly she gave me more and more focus.
So I got on her. Back to the big walk - lots of energy again like on Sunday at the clinic. Thinking once again, thank heavens I am taking the time now before doing out on the trails. Lots of bending to a stop. Lifting reins for back up. Practiced lifting ribs and circling. My using a long focus. Getting lighter and lighter and after a while she began to listen and get soft and stop when I just lifted the reins. Spent about 45 minutes and then went out on the trails with a quiet listening horse. Which was a good thing because of the flies she keep shaking her head and shook most of the way off her ear protectors. As I reach forward to get them back on, my sunglasses fell off. She stood quietly. I hopped off, got my glasses and took off her ears things. Walked her over to a mound of earth, to use as a mounting block and all this time she was calm and waiting. Got back on and continued our ride. So soft so quiet. Hmmm, how intereting.
I think its Tuesday, yep says so on the upper right hand corner of my computer along with the time. Two days of getting up at 5:30 then spending all day watching, listening, and thinking– gee sounds like school. I’m wiped out. And still have a yearning to spend more time with Jeepers. If I could only get the energy to get dressed and drive over to the barn. See a real advantage to being able to just walk out the door and hang out with her if she was here.
This Level 2 Clinic was a first for me in so many ways. The first Parelli clinic I have every attended with Jeeps. The first time I took Jeeps somewhere – basically the only time she was loaded on a trailer in the last 8 years was to move to another barn. Okay not quite true, lets think a moment – two horse shows (neither one a great time), she was a massage volunteer once (but she never settled), and one day at Dressage Camp (sort of okay except for stall time, again never settled). Through all of this she willingly loads. Thank god that has never been an issue. First time we went somewhere for two days. I did take her home each night. Based on past experiences where she would not settle in a new stall I thought it best to bring her home and let her spend her evening and night with her girl friends. Didn’t consider the added stress for me in early rise time and coordinating with Mary who was doing the trailering. Ah, our horses come first.
Oh and there was my getting involved with the clinic beforehand to help make it happen. Can’t just seem to go to a clinic, seem to need to get involved. Originally was going to take place at Apple Knoll, just 10 minutes from where Jeepers is boarded. This made the whole adventure seem doable to me. Removed one of my primary concerns of trailering her a long distance and having to board her overnight. Seemed like it was an offering to me that the clinic was so close. But the clinic didn’t fill and was close to being cancelled. So I called the coordinator and suggested Cedar Brook, a place I have been promoting shows at where the cost was much less. I arranged for the clinic to be held there. Now Cedar Brook is about 45 minutes from Jeepers barn, but maybe the clinic could go on and not get cancelled.
Sunday – first day of clinic. Up at 5:30 to deal with last minute things and to the barn to groom Jeeps for her debut. Beautiful day, cool clear crisp, almost fall like. I’m working on keeping my anxiety in check so I keep busy. Jeeps is eating hay with her girls so I take my grooming brushes with me to her paddock and groom her while she is eating. Don’t want to cut her breakfast short. The coordinator, Heather, due to trailing issues, had brought her mare Sierra over last night and is joining Jeeps for the ride to the clinic. She goes on, then its my turn to load Jeeps. She walks right on. What a girl!
We are running a bit late and Mary seems to be driving slowly. Its okay its okay I keep telling myself. Breath swing breath swing (chant I used to use when trail riding). Finally pull into Cedar Brook. Everyone, okay there are only 5 other people in the clinic besides me, is already there with their horses.
Now my past experience with Jeepers is that she unloads and then sticks her head way way up in the air and neighs, whinnys, screams, snorts, spins around looking for her friends. Today she unloads spies clover right beside the trailer and drops her head and proceeds to eat. Huh? So I let her graze quietly for a while, nod to others and then walk her calmly to the barn and put her in her stall. Okay that is the factual account of what happened. Emotionally? I am standing leaning on Jeeps in a new environment as she is grazing in the sun. I am overwhelmed and crying. As I am walking toward the barn the realization that I at a Parelli clinic WITH Jeepers is overwhelming and I am sobbing. We have crossed an enormous threshold.
Christi talks for a bit about her journey thru the program. Shares how she raced through things and had to go back to Level 1 building blocks when she found herself stuck on somethings in Level 2 and again in Level 3. Then we did simulations – riding position, rein feel, hollow vs rounded back – on the ground down on our knees, on each other and on the barrel. Doing these under her direction was really informative. Got a very good feel for how it feels to be a horse and be jammed by rider, got a good feel for what it is I do that effects what Jeeps does.
Then we got our horses. Started with backup and transistions at backup. Bring your energy up – walk in place swinging carrot stick, walk forward and if the horse doesn’t move they bump into the stick. She even showed running toward the horse more energy and they should increase their backup. Well Jeeps was not impressed. I think she was asleep! I’d get one step, maybe. Christi came over and got her to back up maybe 5 steps. Said, well she is an old horse (I had mentioned she was 25) so she would not ask for much more. I watch the others, Helen with her TB, Torri with her out of control QH, Becky has a 2 year old kite on a string, Heather (Level 2 graduate working on Level 3) has a very turned in 7 year-old, Sandy with a rescued Morgan. At least I could see how it was supposed to look.
We did drive the hindquarters 181 degrees. Keep the front feet still. Jeeps was still blowing me off, sleep walking. I took a little time now to see if I could get her engaged. I did a draw and then ran backwards. Finally she perked up and trotted to me. Did this a few more times and then went back to driving the hind end. At first she would walk forward and then around. Had to get front end to stop and only hind end moving. Release is where they learn. Important message for me. Did drive the front end 361 degrees, with back feet not moving or within a hoola hoop sized circle. Took more effort. Needed to be more rhythmic and Christi helped us here. And finally got Jeeps doing this nicely.
And then circling game. Because there were six of us in a chain set up large size dressage ring – which various of the youngsters would step into the chains and get excited – we were all working with our 12 foot lines. Asking for snappy departs. We then switched to 22 and one at a time walked the circle down the entire length of the ring which had all sorts of obstacles. Young ones were delightful to watch – so much energy high jinks surprises. Great for me to see. When we did it, quieter and much more dignified ; -) Was not getting a good send and Christi wanted me to touch Jeeps with the savvy string. Of course I kept missing her. She had said to me earlier that I was in the nagging stages, that I was not fulfilling my promise. And here is the very interesting thing – she said you don’t have to hit them hard – just a touch with the string is okay. And I finally was able to connect and Jeeps did a very nice depart! Whoppee!!! I now had a horse trotting and everyone was surprised to see that she was a nice mover LOL! Even Christi commented on how nice her trot was! Jeeps has fooled everyone initially into thinking she was a dull slow moving OLD mare. She was showing herself now.
We broke for lunch and afterwards spent the afternoon in the indoor, horses saddled. Started off with doing whatever games we wanted to get our horses moving and focused. Christi had us doing half circle against the wall and then asking for sideways. Keep it rhythmic Jamie. More drive hind end, drive front end. Jeeps was very up, nervous coming into the indoor. I was not sure about getting on her. Doing all the ground work got her listening and calmer. When we mounted she got into walking mode. Her trail riding big walk. And walk and walk and walk she did. Casual rein. Stay on the rail. Jeeps wanted to walk out either of the end big doors. Hard for me to drop into casual rein. Bend to stop – lift, stroke rein, close finger 1, 2,3, hand to thigh. Christi said to anchor your hand and then when they release they reward themselves. Jeeps would bend, soften, and then walk on. We did 9 step back ups. Long focus (helps to keep it straignt) Had resistance – okay opposition reflex. Lift rein, slide down close fingers. Slow down, everything done slowly. I was struggling with her. Christi had me slow things down. Lift higher and be lighter and Jeepers got lighter and lighter and lighter! As the afternoon wore on it took less and less from me to get her to do listen. And then she would walk on. What was interesting was that Christi was fine with her not being able to just stand. Didn’t make a big deal out it. We were accomplishing the various tasks. Jeeps would get soft and stop, bend or back up….and then walk on.
We did an exercise – leap frog – walked along the wall, turn into wall by disengaging hindend. Couple of steps of sideways then back up off wall and halt. Next horse would walk in front of you and then turn to wall and back up.
Final exercise was figure eight at trot. There were only 3 of us riding in the ring, me, Helen and Heather. The others with young or handful horses were going to work after us. So one would ride and the other two were the centers of the circle. Jeepers’ trot was just too big for me. So I did this at the walk. Challenge to get circle as opposed to amoeboid shapes. Helen (dressage rider) did great a trot and even cantered with simple change of lead. Christi explained how to go from casual rein to both hands, reach down for bend for transition to trot and then you are in position for correct lead canter. If on right lead canter casual rein in right hand, left hand on reins and slides down – slows horse to trot (changing bend) and then you have left hand forward and right back for correct body position for left canter. Really great to see this in action. Heather western rider was incredible with her horse. I sat and watched. Jeeps was getting better, finally, about standing.
Sunday, second day was another quiet just walk on the trailer. Morning was more simulations. Pulling and how it gives the horse power. Releasing one rein and how the horse disengages hind end. Change of direction on the circle (2 people horses) and drawing them in. Change of direction – walk back until you get two eyes. Draw- cock head looking at hind end and spiral out to circle – so that you are basically walking out to get infront of them on the circle. Easy to watch and then confusing when in the simulation. Really a great opportunity to get the muscle memory and mind memory really understanding and figuring it out. Spent a lot of time doing this. Lots of laughter and confusion. Lots of moments realizing how I confuse Jeepers. Simulations as horse (on hands and knees) and rider on circles – lifting your ribs and horse flexs with you. Also how some horses have ribs stuck to one side and we tend to sit in the hollow that is caused. And if we shift our weight to the high side how this immediately straightens out the horse! Hmmm, how interesting. How amazing.
We then got our horses and tried this with them. Realized I was not getting both her eyes (no right eye) before asking for change. Also I was backing up and not moving forward and driving her soon enough so she was coming into my space and driving me backwards more. Christi came to help me and saw immediately that Jeeps was not giving her right eye. Stopped everyone and talked about this. Said needed to do more work from the right side and needed to fix this before continuing on working on change of direction. Drive hind end to get the eye, lead from right side, saddle, groom all sorts of things from right side. She then went to help Helen who had a question and immediately said her horse was not giving her his right eye. And then Torri’s horse same thing. Interesting.
Christi said the draw was as important as the send. And needed good draw for change of direction.
Second day is going fast. Another beautiful day. Lunch and move to the indoor again for afternoon. Sideways without a wall and leading by the foot. Simulations before we got our horses on how it feels. How important it is to watch for the slightest release, sift of weight and to release. Again as it has been for both days – importance of release. And how quick it needs to be. Worked with our horses on leading by foot. Jeeps was again feeling anxious about the indoor and other horses so I worked on yesterday’s game of half circle and sideways. More energy from me (to match hers) and more focus. Watch position in relation to drive line and be more aware and faster in anticipating what she is doing and going to do. Driving hind end without stepping forward was much better and driving front end was beginning to work better also. Proper position. More energy. More focus.
Mounted, not much time left before Mary was coming to pick Jeeps up. Having done the ground work, well when I got on Jeeps I asked for bend and stops and backups. Didn’t take much and after a few of each she was willing to just stand. Today I could sit on my quietly standing horse and listen to Christi. This was huge!!!! Christi had us work on circling – bending our ribs. Lift outside elbow to lift the ribs. Don’t collapse on inside just raise outside. I found had to isolate body parts, not allow seat to shift completely, keep it moving and lift my ribs. This gets the horse to step under themselves with inside hind. Round soft and lifted. Directing Jeeps nose to the inside, lifting my outside ribs and looking long focus on the circle (not immediately down or down toward the center) I had a nice round horse! Way to go Jeeps!
It’s over. Sigh. Glad I sat down to write this out. As I was remembering what we did yesterday, Sunday’s details came better into focus. I want to continue on this journey. But I am realizing it has to be on my own schedule. The chat/study group is out. They are moving too fast. The focus seems to be on assessing and the journey is getting lost. We were asked what our goals were for the clinic and I said working my way thru Level 2 and assessing. I’ve realized that is not my goal. My goal is to develop my relationship with Jeeps, be able to have more and more fun with her. To build both of our emotional fitnesses. I also realized the importance of spending the time doing my groundwork before I get on her and go out on the trails. I realize how lucky I have been. But that I need to do this before I get on. She showed me this with her walking in the indoor. This is how she moves out on the trail. I had great difficulty stopping in the indoor. Have the same out on the trail. I need to, oh god here I go quoting Pat, “Take the time it takes.” It’s about journey, the complete journey – not the immediate task. I’m going out on the trails with Rebecca later today. I will get there early enough to do ground work with Jeeps and even some riding before. I see the immediate challenge of adhering to this and not get caught up in the immediacy of “lets go for a trail ride….” Hmm how interesting.
On the practical side what did I get from the clinic? Persistence. Proper position. When things are not working, step back and think what can I change. Breaking things down into smaller pieces. And another P precision. Not accepting parts. Like two eyes disengagement. Two eyes before I ask for the send. I need to ask and get her attention and focus and do what is necessary before working on anything. The importance of release. That even though its called play there is a lot of work involved and I need to commit myself to it. Oh boy!
Yesterday after riding Jeeps as I was walking toward the gate I decided to back her out. Never done this before in this ring. Opened the gate wide and positioned her in the middle and asked for her to back. She took a step and then swung her rear around so that the next step she was basically backing sideways. Hmmm how interesting. Tried it a couple more times same. Okay this is a threshold for her. So I decided to lead her out and then back her in. Right outside the gate to the left is a small patch of grass. Another horse is lead over and starts to graze. All of Jeepers attention is on the horse and that fact she is eating. I don’t have one iota of attention. Long phase one and then phase four. Her head goes up to avoid the rope, oh and she backs a step. I ask her to step forward. Okay then back. Same thing happens. The person who was grazing her horse walks away and now Jeeps is focused on where this horse is going and where she is eating more grass. My phase four goes on and on.. Looking back - talk about setting myself up for failure! And I sure felt like one. I drove home thinking what was I thinking! What did I do to our relationship? Where was reading the horse? I forgot everything in my one focus to back her through the gate. Sigh.
Today I walk up the hill to her paddock and say her name (I’m coming out of woods and don’t want to startle her) and when I come to the gate she is waiting for me. Greets me and is ready to go. Today I’m going to try the change of direction (I’m behind). Because Jaz is also in the paddock I have to bring both horses down to the barn, put Jaz in a paddock near the other horses and take Jeeps to the indoor. Head high, calling to Jaz, Jaz calling to her. Okay, I know I have to make myself as or more important than Jaz. I start out with circling. She keeps stopping to put her head up and call or answer Jaz. I have to get my energy up (getting lots of practice these days) and constantly ask her for very specific things – two eyes, hind the hiney, send, stay on the circle. I finally have a horse walking around me. And I throw in change of direction. She turns in and when I ask for the change the end of the 22 foot line is across her path. She stops and is not going to cross over it.
I have worked and worked with rope. Walking over it on the ground, dragging it around, flicking it at her. She is fine. Then this kind of thing happens. When I’m directing the rope its fine. When she comes across it it isn’t. I back her and then send her and she walks over the rope. We have done this before, hate to admit with the 12 foot line. Going to the right she actually looks pretty quickly at me and then changes almost out on the circle. Going the other way, I have to bring her in and redirect. Hmmm how interesting.
I took a break and asked her to put her nose on things. Last week we had played one day with this. Today I drove her to the object and she reached forward and touched each and every one of the things I focused on. Wow! Never have I had this from her.
I almost cried today. I’m walking towards Jeepers paddock and she sees me, walks to the gate and nickers – that soft heart vibrating sound! I open the gate, and she greets me, follows me to where I set up my chair and sit. She stays with me, just hangs her head in my lap. Sigh (that’s my sigh). Meanwhile Jaz looks on and chases Dreamy away. Dreamy runs into the back paddock. Jaz starts to walk towards me and Jeeps, and Jeeps throws her a look that stops Jaz in her tracks. After a while Jeeps wanders off, keeps Jaz at bay and then starts to eat towards me again.
Both Dreamy and Jaz now come over to me. I sit and they take turns wandering over, sniffing my foot, then gently biting it. Does my shoe taste that good? They wander away and they come back for a visit. Jaz makes it very clear she can not figure out what I am doing there. Don’t think she has ever seen someone just be in her paddock. She looks at me with a “what are you doing?” on her face.
Jeepers today spends the whole time eating, but keeps her eyes and one ear on me. In Level 2 we are to view our horses as a ball – move lightly, or a chair – hard to move. I’m beginning to view Jeeps as a chair. Oh my god, I just realized she is mirroring me!
I had to go back to the paddock to put Jeepers fly mask on. As I got near, both Jaz and Dreamy came to the gate.
Both horses ignored me when I came into the paddock and set up my chair. So I sat and sat, watched Dreamy eat her hay. Jaz in the next paddock came over to the fence line and nibbled the grass and hay that was there, and Cheeta in the diagonal paddock, farthest from me, paced back and forth. Jeepers is standing with her head in the corner of the shelter. After 15 minutes she turns around, completely around, 180 around, and faces me! Stands looking at me for 5 minutes. I glance over, look away, glance over. Then she turns back to her corner. It felt like a window or door opened and then shut. I’m focusing on the opening.
Okay I skipped a day. Today when I got to the paddock Dreamy came right over to greet me. Funny how these things work, the one you are paying no attention to pays attention to you and the one….. Jeeps was standing with her head in the corner and completely denied my existence for 30 minutes. It just didn’t feel right to me so I put my chair away walked over to her. Still not much of a reaction so I ran my hands all over her, listened to her gut – there is sound – so I got her halter and lead her out to see if she would be interested in grass. Yes! Then I ran into the barn owner and found out the vet had been there last night and Jeepers would not be caught! Wish I had been there. Betrayal. I had asked for her teeth to be checked because since they were floated about 6 weeks ago she has been creating these grass or hay rolls in the cheeks. Was worried she might have a loose tooth. So the vet checked her out and everything appears to be fine. Just Jeepers is feeling woman handled. So we grazed on the edges – weed whacked around the fence posts, gave her a bath.
Incredible how easy it is to change our horse's opinion of you. I hate the idea that she lumps me in with THEM. Back to more undemanding time to make it right
41.75 hours to go! (only counting the undemanding time I spent today)
Writing these posts is really helpful to me. I replay what I observed and get to dwell about what happened.
Jeeps is back in her original paddock, the grid. Today she is in the usual one and the gate is open to the next one where Dreamy and another mare Jaz are. When I sit down Jeeps looks like she is dozing (hard to tell about her eyes because she has a fly mask on, but head is down) with her nose into the corner of the roofed shelter. She notices me and within a couple of minutes she turns around and starts to walk out of the shelter. Just then Dreamy comes from the other paddock, walks thru the gate and positions herself, once again, between Jeeps and me, stopping Jeepers. Arrow #4 Protecting your herd of 2! Jeepers turns around and stands with head back in the corner. Dreamy stands guard for a few more minutes and then ambles towards me, then toward the fence and then she is behind me nosing my hair.
Dreamy leaves me and walks back thru the open gate into the other paddock. 10 more minutes and Jeeps again turns around and Dreamy again comes back thru the gate and this time positions her body so that Jeepers walks thru the gate into the other paddock. Jeeps goes into the shelter but stands parallel to the fenceline with her butt in the corner and I can tell she is looking at me thru the slats of wood. I have watched her in stalls stand along the wall and look thru the crack in the boards to the horse in the next stall. That is how it felt to me. And as soon as I notice this, Dreamy walks to block the view! Arrow #4 Protecting your herd of 2!
Dreamy goes into other paddock. I am left sitting in one paddock, alone, and the three horses are in the next. All I am hoping is that no one from the barn comes down to these paddocks and sees me sitting in an empty paddock with the gate closed. LOL.
So I go back to soaking up the sun, another blue sky afternoon, its in upper 50s today. I've been sitting for about 35 minutes. I'm kind of dozing drifting in the quiet eyes closed. I become aware that there is a change and open my eyes and Jaz has come into "my" paddock and is eating hay on the ground that is about 14 feet from me. I watch her and think she is going to eat her way to me. She gets to about 2 feet from my foot - I'm sitting with my legs crossed and my left foot is sticking out - and Jeepers comes steaming out of the far paddock in a straight line to me and blows Jaz away and touches my foot with her nose and turns around and goes back into the far paddock where Jaz has gone and Dreamy is! WOW! Arrow #4 Protecting your hear of 2! I became her herd of 2 today. For the moment.
Quiet day. Went early this morning, Jeeps and Dreamy were just eating their hay. What was very interesting was when I placed my chair and sat down about 8 feet from Jeepers, she backed up. Threshold! So I moved my chair about 2 more feet away and she returned to her original position. How cool is that?!?!?
She and Dreamy swapped piles a couple of times. You know one moves to the other's pile and that one moves to the now empty pile.
After about 40 minutes Dreamy is closer to me but still eating and Jeepers leaves her pile and positions herself between me and Dreamy! This is the first time she has done this. Feeling confident are we? Because I have to be honest and say while I am observing both of them, I am how shall I say this, more interested in Jeepers and what Dreamy does is of interest in relation to Jeeps.
Maybe just maybe I am beginning to appear interesting enough for her assert her Alpha position in relation to me and Dreamy?
When I left the paddock even though I was planning on playing with her I decided to leave with my chair and then come back. Wanted our undemanding time to be just that, no hidden agendas like sit for a while then get halter and lead her away. So I left and returned maybe 10 minutes later. When she saw me - okay she didn't come to me - but she did lift her head and welcome the halter.
Went on a trail ride and she lost a shoe - got sucked off in that mud Lida has been complaining about. So no riding tomorrow.
Today Jeepers and her best bud Dreamy are in a different paddock with hay. This is a larger paddock and they are both eating at their respective piles when I get there. The sun is bright and I want to sit partially in the shade. I have to put my chair about 10 - 12 feet from Jeeps. I place the chair at the very edge of the sun/shade line and while Jeeps is eating facing south I sit facing north/east.
I do not immediately realize it but I am in her zone 4. I notice this when almost immediately she backs up to put me in her zone 3. Hmmm how interesting. Now she stands and eats, and eats. Dreamy is eating about 8 feet away from her. Over the next 20 minutes or so Jeeps backs some more til I am in Zone 1. We are basically parallel. Then she slowing turns and faces her butt to me. Dreamy comes over to smell me and nibble and then walks past. And then comes to stand between me and Jeepers. Hmmm, how interesting.
The dance that is happening is amazing to watch. I see confident and then unconfidence and later confidence. I can clearly see Jeepers' thresholds.
With Dreamy between us she can advance towards me. Then at around 8 feet there is a threshold and she turns around and walks rather quickly over to Dreamy's pile of hay, around 20 feet away (I am visualizing the 12ft line and the 22ft line on the ground between us). Now she is confident again and relaxes and eats and wanders over to the water bucket for a drink and back to the hay. This is all done with relaxation in her body. And when she is eating she is facing directly towards where I am sitting. And slowly over another 20 - 30 minutes she keeps taking small steps towards me. I am thinking, hmmm guess I'll hang out some more and see if she can make it all the way to me. Oh no expectations, darn. So I sit and watch out of the corner of my eyes some more. Just when I feel she will walk in one straight line to me, Dreamy goes and positions herself once again between us. Perpendicular to me - a barrier between me and Jeeps.
More time and Jeepers walks around Dreamy toward me, oops toward the pile of hay nearer me. She is still facing me and as the minutes go by, no way am I going to leave and miss the ending here, she slowly comes closer and closer, occasionally lifting her head a looking at me. She gets to about 5 - 6 feet from me and and Dreamy appears and once again positions herself between us. Jeepers backs up. I've been with the two of them for a hour and a quarter by now and feel this dance can go one forever. Advance, retreat, advance, partner up, retreat.
This is so fascinating. I'm having a blast! Right now it feels like there is so much going on the time is flying. I can't wait for next installment. Using Lida's calculations of 48 hours I have only 44.+ left.
Within two minutes of sitting down Jeepers' girlfriend Dreamy came over to check me out. Up to this point she has taken a few steps but not come over. Starting at my boot nibbled and lipped me to the top of my head! Even tried to take a bite of the chair. Then wandered back to Jeeps.
The paddock is actually a large rectangle that is divided into four with a roofed structure in the middle. Usually when I get there Jeepers is standing with her head into the corner of the shelter. She's in the shade and it is the coolest place and therefore least amount of the small black bugs.
On Day 2 I noticed that she actually stepped even closer to the corner - her butt is my way while I sat. And Dreamy seems to be between me and Jeepers.
Today I have to say there was a break thru! After Dreamy's visit 25 minutes passed. I'm sitting in the sun, facing away from them. I have to turn my head to see what is happening. I am dozing and hear some rustling. I glance over and Jeepers has turned around!!!! She is now facing out of the shelter!!!! I realize I have to contain my excitement. LOL. Inside I'm yelling yes yes yes! She is parallel to me, but with her head behind the support post so that I do not have a clear view of her.
Go back to looking away and close my eyes again. After a while I glance over at her and I can see her nose is now on the other side of the post. It takes another 20 minutes before her whole head is clear.
Now here is the interesting part to me - when Zone 3 clears the post - another 10 minutes - she now WALKS directly in a straight line to the fence. All I could think of was Linda's trailer loading from the LHB. She nibbled grass for a few minutes, was very animated - unconfident? And then walked back to the security of the shelter and her girl friend.
I sat for just another couple of minutes and left, to released the pressure. So just by sitting in her paddock I am putting pressure on her. Hmmm how interesting.
I used to sit in her paddock and she would graze all around me, wanting especially the grass that was under my feet. That quiet time was over a year ago. And there has been a lot of disruption, angst, and emotional upheaval in our lives in the interim. I realize, now, that I have been getting her from her paddock, taking her away from her girl friends, doing something and then putting her back. No time for just the two of us - protect your herd of 2. As I have been sitting, she has made it clear that she is suspicious of what I want, what am I going to do. She has all the time in the world as she made apparent with the slow reveling herself, as opposed to my thinking I have only so much time to spend sitting. She taught me a very valuable lesson today. I can't wait for tomorrow to find out what she will teach me next.
No assumptions, no expectations. How much more Zen can one get?
Day 2 of sitting in paddock.....Jeepers is showing wonderful focus at ignoring me. Her girl friend turned and looked at me and wandered a couple of steps towards me after only 10 minutes. But then went back to Jeeps. So I sat there alone for 45 minutes. Lucky thing the weather is so nice.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I accepted a challenge. I took a chair and sat in Jeepers’ paddock today. Since we have moved to the new barn and she has her herd she no longer greets me at the gate. I hope this will help. So of course today when she saw me coming she started to walk toward the gate. However, she quickly assessed that I did not have a halter and lead in my hand and she turned away and walked back to her girl friend. Hmmm, how interesting. I unfolded my chair and sat. Watched her shift her weight from one hind leg to the other. Watched her move her ears. Her girl friend came over for a sniff and then walked back to Jeepers. 45 minutes later still nothing more than an occasional ear twitch in my direction. Sigh. Looks like I have a lot more sitting to do!