Archive for November, 2006
Sue isn’t in any kind of training program. She’s just a boarder at “For the Horse” Ranch.
Jenny reports that when Sue was turned out yesterday, she ran, bucked and even got all 4 feet off the ground.
Sue was playing.
I marveled. Jenny marveled.
Sue’s normal mode of operation when turned out is to be invisible. She stands on the fringe of the group and pretends to be invisible.
I’ve never seen her buck and play. I’ve never seen her with all 4 feet off the ground.
Sue has turned a corner.
I went to see her. She came right up to me in the stall and wondered what we were going to do. I gave her lots of treats!
She has continued to play when turned out.
I ask her to jump over a set of barrels both ways. she evades the barrels for a while. We jump over one barrel perfectly and I stride quickly to sit on a barrel and pet her. It’s part of the training.
Then it’s jump the barrel going the other way. Evasion is the course. Finally, she jumps the barrels. I quickly sit on the barrel and rub her.
I decide to communicate with my entire being how much I love her. I cradle her head and rub her with as much love as I can manage.
Treat is fed.
We had two clinics on Saturday. One was with Jenny Vaught in the am and the other one was with Tony Vaught in the PM.
Sue’s forward bolts are now only two steps before she stops. Jenny pointed out to me that I lean forward at the start of the bolt instead of staying on my balance point. I still grab at the reins. I am a miserable human being.
In the afternoon, I repeated my plight about not being a strong enough leader that Sue trusts me…especially on her back.
Tony figured out an amazing exercise for us. The principle is to bring the horse right up to the emotional part of fear and then stop doing whatever causes the fear. (FEAR! / RELAX) That way the horse learns that he/she can deal with fear and maybe fear isn’t necessary.
It’s just magic. I’ve heard Tony tell this to auditors at Difficult Horse Clinics, but of course it never registered for my own personal journey with horse.
So, my task was to ask Sue to do something, then ask her to do it faster. When I asked her to do the task faster, that brought up her fear. Then we were to slow down and quit when she was light and relaxed. We did this backing, hindquarter disengagements, front quarter disengagements and sidepassing. We had long periods in between of dwelling.
After about an hour of this, Tony told me to do more than one thing–transition from backing to sidepassing etc. We spent a while at this too. Transitions take a while. She might get emotional during the transitional tasks and I couldn’t stop until she was relaxed.
Here’s what I learned. Sue had gotten used to me asking her for 3-4 steps. She assumed and stopped. That was when the stick ran into her. Then she did hurry and move. I had to keep going until her panic abated and she would slow down and relax. Then we quit.
After she stopped making the assumption of the 3-4 steps, I was able to go slow, speed up and then go slow again and quit. Just think how many transitions from fear to relaxation that Sue did in an hour.
I asked permission to ride for the last hour. Sue was the most relaxed that I’ve ever seen her. We had a few wondrous laps around the arena. It was so wondrous that I got off and quit for the day.
I rode her again Sunday. We practiced our slow and fast games. We practiced cantering at liberty in the round pen. She can canter; she can’t sustain a canter-yet.
Then we rode. We rode for a while until we had one lap without breaking gait. I got off and we walked down the long end of the arena to get a Winnie’s Cookie. Sue was very impressed.
I got back on and we did some laps the other way until she did a perfect lap without breaking gait.
My new mandate is to ride with one hand on the horn holding the loose rein in the crook of a finger. When something goes wrong, the reins aren’t in a position where my “jerk the reins back” response works right away. By the time my hands find both reins, the bolt has stopped.
So we did all these laps with perfectly loose reins. She did speed up in the semi bolt now and then. I managed to stay quiet and not grab the reins. We stood for a lot of rubbing after this.
Then I decided it was carry the carrot stick time. She didn’t flinch when I picked up the stick. She did start the bolt when I had the stick in my hand sideways. The stick scared her and the bolt started in slow motion. Her head comes up and her muscles tense. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hold only one rein to stop. My hands grabbed both reins. Sue stopped in 2-3 steps. We did a lot of rubbing then and she was fine with the stick.
I did pick the stick up and let the string go from side to side. It just slid across her mane. That’s all that my courage was able to do at this point. So we rode with the stick.
After a few laps, my courage failed me again and we put the stick down. We did a couple more laps without breaking gait and quit for the day.
I’m very proud of her progress.