Boy, have I been busy. Long time, no blog, eh? My sincere apologies to anyone who has been checking back only to find no new entries. It boggles my mind that ANYONE does check for new entries, but apparently that does happen...a little bird told me so.
Since last summer, Sonny & I have had several nice breakthroughs and progression on our journey. Wooohoooooo! Let me see if I can think of them for the blog. I guess the easiest thing might be for me to start with current play sessions and work backwards from there, just hitting the highlights.
Last week I was playing with *sigh* getting canter online. Sonny gave me two nice laps of canter on the 45' line. Somehow I knew, KNEW, I tell ya, the exact moment when he decided that he would pick up the canter. The best way that I can describe it is in terms of energy. I had upped my energy to ask for the canter and he first just got a faster trot. Then I felt his energy go up, yes, I did, from ummmmm 35 or so feet away, and I somehow knew that he had committed to the canter. It seemed like our energies and intent were connected and flowing between us. It was magical to me, and I surely look forward to more moments like that ! I think this may be the 'feel of your horse, feel for your horse, feel together' that Pat talks about , and Ray Hunt and/or Tom Dorrance wrote about. It was a pretty nice, on the soft side (esp for Sonny) canter,too. Not his usual hard eyed-take off hard-with a twist-buck-kick-fa*t into the canter. Whew,,,I've been trying to get to this for so long. I think he's finally learning that he doesnt have to up his emotions to up his gait.
Then when I looked at his rump to ask him in,he turned in so briskly and nice from a full canter--looking right at me with ears pointed to me--"can I come all the way in now ? " Good boy!
The laps he gave me were to the right,,he's still more than a little bit sicky to the left. He'd give me a few strides, but thats all, so we need to build on that.
The same glorious session, he gave me sideways over a small pvc pipe with me in Z-1, at a bit of an angle--and he did it in both directions. Bazonka! cool....he has been unable to tolerate a pole under his belly except coming straight accross it, so this was a first.
The very same session , I tried the weave using the 45' rope , I fed out about 10 feet of it, then made a 3ft or so loop with what was in my hand and used that to communicate instead of the CS/SS and it went super. He , for the first time, seemed to be really listening to me, and following my focus on the weave. It was more communication rather than reactionary on his part. I was lovin it. What a great day that was.
Since Jan, 5 of us in our study group have been dedicating our time to one another to focus each of us on the goal of achieving our Level 3 online. Why, oh why didnt we do this a long time ago??? It's been so great, I just cant tell you. We've taken turns coaching one another , sometimes several of us coaching one person. I've very much enjoyed playing 'coach' and I've learned and improved from receiving coaching. We're concentrating on the mandatory tasks as listed on the audtion form for L3 Onine, but that process has caused improvemnts overall- relationships, focus, techniques, leadershp, language. Because of this effort, Sonny will now send into the trailer instead of me having to lead him in. He's even approached from a trot -stick to me style- and after only a pause at the door gone right on in from a send. Wooo-bloomin-Hoo ! ! !
Also, a fellow student from the study group played with V and me one afternoon in Jan, and helped so very much in getting the canter online from Sonny. I fully credit her help to the success I had with the 2 laps on the 45. If it hadnt been winter and so muddy-so no opportunities to put what I learned from her into practice--it wouldve happened sooner.
Another fellow student from the study group (can you say S U P P O R T) gave me some great tips in Dec. on getting a sideways away from a fence. Those tips got me the first ever decent sideways without a fence from Sonny. Can you see my grin from there? Dedicated fellow students are wonderful to have.
Riding? what about riding you ask?? That's coming along nicely--not as 'breakthrough-ish' as the online, but we're definitely improving and my confidence is a lot better. I got some new information from a Savvy Cub DVD with Linda, on how to deal with a somewhat fractious horse without resorting to dismounting-which was the only tool I had untill I saw that dvd. It was a breakthough in mindset for me, which I very much needed. Sonny & I had 'scratched' in 2 ACTHA rides and 1 other obstacle/ride because he wasnt listening to me AT ALL and I didnt feel safe continuing. But now I've developed a 'We're going this direction' attitude VS 'What is he doing now???" attitude, trying not to get into arguments with him, but persisisting and ready to create a lot of movement and commotion in my body if he gets uptight and antsy (what Linda taught in the dvd),,which should cause him to learn to seek the action he can take to cause his human to go back to neutral on his back. (an active neutral, not a sack of potatoes neutral) I havent had to actually try this technique yet, he's been so much better. Our study group had a playday a few weekd ago, and I was very proud of him. I was in the saddle nearly the entire time, sometimes just sitting as others took their turn at a 'canyou?' task, but also a few of us went outdoors and rode in a field. Sonny was calm and listening except for getting a bit 'up' for maybe 5 to 10 minutes of the time while we were outside. Altogether I was on his back for 2 or 3 hours. I was so proud of my boy. I have realized that the last few times he has been trailered somewhere that he has come off the trailer soft and calm and this is an amazing change for him. Not so long ago he always came off highheaded with loud whinnies and blowing,,,I thought of it as his 'freight train' mode. It would sometimes last the entire time till we loaded back up to go home. Things are much nicer these days.
Last October our study group had a 3 day playday at Cleariew Farms in Shelbyville. IT was a fabulous 3 days--we played the official Parelli games, played lots of 'canyous?', had a lesson day with an instructor, so much horsey good times and great companionship. Good food, also! our Parelli study group has grown tremendously.
But, I dare not digress,,,the study group topic could be a blog unto itself.
Oh my goodness, I almost forgot to tell you that until the spring grass started coming in a couple of weeks ago, since about November,,Sonny has been coming to the gate for me. Every time. Yes, you heard me correctly. S O N N Y was coming to the gate, and right on in thru the gate without me going into the pasture at all. Granted, it might take him up to 15 mins to think about it after hearing me whistle and call, but if I waited and let him decide, he'd come from whereever in the pasture he was all the way to me. I'd treat him with a very,very small amount of grain,,and shaking the grain in a plastic cup made a nice sound that probably helped him want to come. But , I'm very sure that he would not fall for a nibble of grain if he didnt want to be 'gotten' from the pasture. He's backslid into old habits since the spring grass has begun to grow, though... I'm trying to think of ways to re-motivate him to come to me again.
We have a couple of exciting events on the horizon. Later this month, Sonny & I are participating in a 'Ride with John & Kathy Baar' ,along with 12 other students. It will be great,,so great.
Then in May, we are participating in the 2nd Carol Coppinger Tennessee Supercamp. I am so darned excited, and I fully expect Sonny to be a 'different horse' than he was at last year's Supercamp. Really, we'll be a different 'team'. Our partnership has grown that much, I believe.