Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Woods and Trails

Today as I went to Jeeps' and Casey's paddock I thought about asking permission. I was loaded up with halters and leads, carrot stick, muck buckets and rake. Of course when I got there I found that they had just been hayed. I called to them, "just the cleaning lady", and proceeded to pick the paddock. The shed was a mess, clearly they had spent the night inside. I dragged on full bucket out of the paddock and then went back. I opened the gate and looked at where and how they were standing. Far side from gate, heads down in the hay, rear end facing the gate. Hmmmm.

I had Jeeps' halter and lead and my carrot stick as I walked a few steps into the paddock. Not even a flicker of an ear. So I bend down and selected a small stone. I have never tried this before. But I'm thinking of Pat from the Celebration. When I stand up to aim for a throw Jeepers lifted her head and looked at me. Permission! She watched as I walked up to her and haltered her.

We play squeeze game out the gate cause I am not bringing Casey with us. So gate isn't opened very far, Jeeps just walks out and we head for the trails. Grass is sprouting everywhere and the temptation is too great for her. So lots of disengagements to get moving.

I find that I now look at the woods and trails with totally new eyes. Where can we stop and back up? Where is there enough room for circles? Disengagements? Yo-Yo? The hills are now a place to run up and then do a little backing down. There are two tress close together that I've always ridden between. Now I play the yo-yo game between them. Found even more logs to step over. Its a whole new place!

By the time we head back and Jeeps is tempted once again by the grass I just look at her hind end and she walks on. We hear Casey calling for her and she picks up the pace. I ask for slower. LOL! She is soft and she is with me.

When we get back I give her her Speedi-beet and since it is now raining put Casey's halter on and play softly with him in the shed while she eats. This keeps him focused on me and not begging for food. The quieter I am the softer he is. There is that mirror again. Hmmmm.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back from Harrisburg Celebration

The Parelli event in Harrisburg PA was amazing. Watching the Savvy Spotlight - people who love their horses and obviously spend lots and lots of time with them and have amazing relationships. It was clear, its about the relationship. The wanting to do things together not the making the horses do things.

Pat's sessions were Master Classes. He wasn't selling the program he was explaining what he was doing with the rescue horse he was playing with. Things I can now recognize and hopefully bring home to Jeeps and Casey. Things to play with.

Linda's session on Introvert vs Extrovert, how to engage each and get them to connect. It was so on point for me to use with Jeeps (LBI) and Casey (LBE). So clear with Allure and Remmer.

On Friday, Pat was using dressage terms! Walter Zettl is certainly rubbing off on him. They see these goals for the finesse savvy. Really interesting to hear these concepts coming out of "a cowboy's" mouth.

And when Walter worked with Linda on Sunday - Wow! Loved when he asked for canter and Remmer gave trot, Walter was quick to say don't punish. Take what they offer and work with it. He is so into the relationship - why he sees kindred souls with the Parelli's. What a moment to consider a future of dressage where the relationship comes first. Not the frame, not the forcing the horse. The relationship.

By the time I got home my head was filled to overflowing with thoughts of things I can work towards with Jeeps and Casey. Saw a woman play on line with two horses. Hmmm, maybe we can work towards that. I remember months ago I was playing with Jeeps on line doing the circle game. Casey was at liberty in the indoor with us, the big indoor doors were closed. And he joined us, and trotted at Jeeps side, circling with her. There I was-one horse on line, one horse at liberty!

The Savvy spotlight gave me so many ideas. Pat and Linda gave me so much information.

So I went over to the barn trying to sort my thoughts and find a place to start. I know I can not go and play and look like the spotlight people. But I can start to think about things I can slowly build on. And be open to what horse shows up LOL. It was a shock when I got to the barn. It was not filled with Savvy people. Just my friends, doing their best. Re-entry can be hard.

I gathered my halters and carrot stick and went to J & C's paddock. They were just being hayed and I knew I didn't stand a chance of their connecting with me. So I did some chores while they ate and then politely asked Jeeps to lift her head. She walked off to the water bucked, drank and then turned and faced me and waited. Not a bad beginning.

My big realization came during Linda's master class. She mentioned that introverts don't like to move their feet, and they will give you very little and convince you they just can't. Well Jeeps has convinced me that she can't do any of the games any longer. Especially after the accident in January. I've been working on bringing her along slowly. But wait - I RIDE her out on the trails. Well I ride, walk (me getting off and walking for the hills and rough terrain), ride, walk, ride, walk. If she can do that why can't she do the games? Hmmm, how interesting LOL.

I know she is bored with the indoor or any ring for that matter. So I decided that I'll play with her out on the trails. I've been such a dull straight line thinker. I've been hand walking her out on the trails - up and down hills - to help her build up her muscles and stamina. But I walk in front - the trails are only wide enough in most places for single file - and she follows. We walk a loop and back to the barn. With my new eyes - my god how dull!

Today we went out and I stopped. She stopped. I asked for backing. Put my hand on her face and will the lightest pressure asked. She dropped her head down to the ground and since it is spring and there was grass right under her nose she started eating. Hmmm, how interesting LOL.

Being a new no linear thinker - which means I can adapt - I realized I needed to ask where there was no grass. Did a little, very little driving of hind quarters to get her head up and we walked on. Now that she knew about the grass had to repeat the disengagement numerous times until we came to a non grass growing area.

Asked for backing and rewarded the slightest try. This was the softest she has ever been. Guess this was the softest I have ever been. It was like experiencing a huge mirror being held up to me. Hmmm.

We walked on. We stopped. I turned and asked for backing. At first I had to put my hand on her face but quickly I just turned and barely shook the rope and she floated back a few steps. Winnie's Cookies certainly are a wonderful motivational tool. She'll work for food. She was soft, she was looking at me like what next? She was asking me questions! Now? How many?

I ran up hills, she trotted with me. Stopped at top. Backed. Oh what fun! Playing with Jeeps and she's engaged, connected and playing with me.

What else can we do? Besides disliking indoors she also dislikes ground poles. Well ground poles in a ring. On the trails she will walk over anything. Through anything. And there are lots of downed trees and branches on the trails that we always walk over. Hmmm. Today when we came to one of these I asked her to put her front feet over the tree and stand with the tree between front and back feet. I am thinking this can lead to sideways. But not today.

I've asked her to do this in the ring and her legs tremble as she straddles the pole. Here in the woods on the trail she is standing calmly. I never before thought about how many downed trees there are on the trail - well I now know - EIGHT! and that is just on one short loop. At each one I asked for just front feet and stop. After the second one she would walk up to the natural ground pole walk over and stand.

I was able to experience for a short time a partnership with my girl Jeepers like I saw with the people in Savvy Spotlight. I want to grow this relationShip with her. It certainly is about time.