FOCUS gives you FEEL. FOCUS and FEEL give you TIMING. FOCUS, FEEL, and TIMING give you BALANCE.

The Responsibilities

  • For the Human
  • 1. Don't act like a predator
  • 2. Have an independent seat
  • 3. Think like a horse
  • 4. Use the natural power of focus
  • For the Horse
  • 1. Don't act like a prey animal
  • 2. Maintain gait
  • 3. Maintain direction
  • 4. Look where you're going

The Principles

  • 1. Horsemanship is natural
  • 2. Don't make or teach assumptions
  • 3. Communication is two or more individuals sharing and understanding an idea
  • 4. Horses and humans have mutual responsibilities
  • 5. The attitude of justice is effective
  • 6. Body language is the universal language
  • 7. Humans teach horses, horses teach humans
  • 8. Principles, purpose, and time are the tools of teaching

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Interacting WITH each other Vs reacting TO each other,,the beginnings of a partnership

I never realized that I would feel the difference. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I did'nt realize how much of a difference I would feel. I'm still getting it sorted out in my mind. Sonny and I are beginning to feel like partners.

This breakthrough occured on a miserably hot July day; the heat index was over 100 degrees. I only went to the barn to just see him and see if it was too hot to play. It was. There's precious little shade anywhere, and I'd previously tried playing in the few shady areas without much success. I had tried under one tree in the pasture, but the weeds were tall enough to keep causing drag on the line to the point that Sonny kept thinking that I was calling him in. I played one day under some trees along the driveway, but the area of shade was only 10 feet by 6 feet, so we couldn't do too much and remain in the shade. I did improve lead by the tail, got a start on lead by an ear and the chin that session. So, having ruled out a play in the shade, I turned him out at liberty in the paddock with Strawberry, and plopped myself down in front of a fan on the concrete pad outside the stalls, just 'behind' the paddock fence. Just sat there for a while contemplating turning him back into the pasture and going back home, but stubborn as I am, decided instead to take advantage of clouds passing through and see how long I'd have with each cloud coverage to play untill the sun popped back out. Lazy,,or rather, energy economically minded, esp on such a steamy day, I was all about NOT haltering and re-haltering, so that left Liberty. Liberty in the intermittent 'shade'. Well, it was worth a try. I can't tell you how very glad I am that I tried! Sonny gave me the best liberty session we've ever had. He only drifted away from me a few times, and it was relatively easy to reconnect with him each time by yielding his hindquarters to get 2 eyes and 2 ears. Then he would follow me all around the paddock, turns and counterturns, squeezed between me and the fence, squeezed over barrels in both directions with a 'stop, turn, and face' afterwards, walked with me to the pedestal, then gave me four feet on the pedestal (where's my cookie, mom?), trotted to me with exuberance from accross the paddock almost every time I asked him to, and gave a pretty good effort at sideways at the fence. He turned with me in a small circle, me making small steps-small circle, his a bit bigger ,but close to me. I could yield his hindquaters, then flow that into a yielding of his forequarters to get the beginnings of a 360 turn, and he even gave me one lap of a circle game. All this in a 100 x 150 paddock. I was amazed and thrilled. Once when he was drifting away I laid the savvy string accross his neck and he yielded toward me with the lightest of a touch from the string, then remained reconnected. Wow!

But, the feeling of partnership didn't really surface until the NEXT session. Finally I'm able to keep slack in the rope thru most of the games, and when we are going place to place, I'm not leading him, we're walking together. I sometimes had to pause and reconnect, but I never had to 'drive' as in tapping with CS, I'd just 'feel for him' then bring up my energy and try walking again and he would walk with me. Also, no hesitation from him if I stopped and backed up. I think that once I had to wiggle the CS/SS to ask for the back up, but several times, he backed WITH me without any SS or wiggle on the rope. As fresh and small as this new feeling of partnership is, it's already awesome. I am very excited to watch it grow. And I'm very, very much looking foward to the session some day when we have it under saddle as well as on the ground!

July 3,2011--update since Supercamp

It's hard to believe that I haven't posted since Supercamp! PPoMT has had at least one lesson since Supercamp. We planned a trail ride/lesson at Warner Park, but because of the 13 year Cicada cycle, we had to move it to the usual lesson barn. Six of us played online, then rode in the barn for an eight hour 'lesson day'! Sonny & I did pretty good, his online circles got a comment of 'that's looking like level 3 rhythm and relaxation with slack in the rope' from Carol Herring ,PP,,but then she also got to see a Sonny temper fit at one point-twist and kick out--. He laid down in the sand several times, so I got to put a cue to that, working toward lay down on cue. Carol had us all working on improving our porcupine to be able to transfer that to reining during Freestyle. We broke for lunch, then the afternoon was 4 hours of Freestyle. Honestly, it didnt' seem that long, but my bottom agreed with the clock when we called it quits after 4 hours! I thought that saddle was pretty comfy, but I'm not accustomed to 4 hours of riding. Sonny & I did fairly well, he wasn't bracing at the HQ disengagements, and he gave me permission to mount quickly. One cool thing was when another PPoMT student and I were doing indirect rein at the same time, in the same direction, then leading out with direct rein back to the follow the rail and I was directly behind her at the start of the maneuver, and then again when we resumed following the rail. Carol commented that we looked like we were doing a drill team maneuver. Felt cool! We played 'beep-beep' for part of the lesson, and the other student that I requested a 'beep-beep' from immediately backed up while swinging her CS/SS at Sonny. I'm thankful that he only got high headed as he scooted out of the way and didn't rear. For a split second I thought he might. Carol had mentioned backing up as part of the beep-beep, but I need to clarify before playing again that perhaps the front person should only swing the CS/SS as phase 1, then add backing up only if a phase 2 is needed. We were only a couple of feet behind her when she suddenly went into reverse swinging the string. Yikes! He was trying his best to get out of the way, and would have backed with only the string. For sure, he didn't 'tailgate' anymore that day!
Carol had one of those extendable fishing poles like Pat uses. She had a plastic shopping bag tied to the end of it and asked if we wanted to see if our horses would yield their front quarters with it as a driving tool. The first horse yielded nicely, a tad skeptical. The second horse got high headed, but yielded. Sonny jumped 6 feet sideways and made that 'rollers in the nose' sound. I guess I must've been on my balance point, because I sat the spook without a bit of feeling insecure in my seat. It was done before I had time to realize what was happening. Needless to say, the next time I asked for only a frienly game with the scary stick and bag! Sonny was still skeptical, but braver.
Toward the end of the lesson, we were practicing 'partial disengagement', and Sonny was getting more bracy with this technique. Carol instructed us in a slightly different way than I remembered Linda showing it on the dvd, so maybe next time I'll try it more like Linda shows it to see if Sonny is less bracy with it. His lateral flexions are getting much softer.
Middle Tennessee went from Winter to Summer without much of a Spring, and that has impacted my play times with Sonny. It's hard to find a shady spot to play. Also, I 'upped' the game of catch in a manner that someone on the forum mentioned. If Sonny leaves when I've made eye contact with him or have yielded his HQ, then I think 'good idea! but if you're going to go away from me, then please go away faster!", and I would ask for trot or canter with cluck or smootch and swinging the SS rhythmically. I felt no frustration or anger, so I know I wasnt projecting any. At first it seemed to alarm him, but after several sessions, he is cantering off without getting emotional about it. I'm hoping this will not only improve our catching game, but perhaps help us to break the 'canter block' that we seem to have in the circle game. Several sessions, he never did catch me, so I would finally walk up to him and either halter and bring him in to play, or just give scratches and leave him in the pasture.
I'm having fear issues again about riding. I hate it, and am trying to push myself thru it with approach and retreat. I'm letting the heat be an excuse not to ride. By the time we've played a little bit online, I'm hot and drenched with sweat, and convince myself that I'm too tired to attempt a ride,,not enough left in me to focus and do my best, so I tell myself. I'm going to have to bite the financial bullet and get some private lessons for myself to help me gain confidence. Support IS one of the keys to success.