Archive for December, 2014

PostHeaderIcon Controlled Catastrophe

The day started like any day when I was to take a lesson with Erin Patterson.  Excitement to be learning on my horse journey with Cisco.

Cisco and I arrived at the arena and got ready.  Jackie came to ride Tuff in the lesson with me.  She brought toys!

After our gaiting lesson was done, Jackie went to get her first toy.  Regular people call it a tarp.  Horse people call it “A TARP”!  Jackie has a three year old Missouri Fox Trotter.  She bought the horse because of many things, but what finalized the deal was that his then owners had been out in the wilderness to round up some wild pigs.  They had the wild pigs in a trailer.  Jackie was there to see Tuff to decide if she should be his new owner.  Here’s what sealed the deal.  Tuff’s owner decided he needed to tie Tuff up to something.  He tied Tuff up to the trailer with the squealing wild pigs.  Tuff just stood there, unconcerned.  Jackie bought him.  Wild Screaming Pigs in a trailer!  Good Lordy.

Jackie left Tuff to get her first toy, the Tarp.  She came back into the arena and mounted Tuff with the folded tarp.  Jackie was preparing to unfold the tarp.  There had been no ground work preparation.  Cisco and I were standing nearby.  Egad!  I told Jackie to go slow as I didn’t know how Cisco would take the crinkly thing.  I was thinking about getting off but there was nothing in Cisco’s body that seemed concerned about the folded tarp.  Jackie unfolded the tarp.  Both Tuff and Cisco did nothing.  Both horses remained totally relaxed, as did Susan…  OK, I was making my body relaxed, but mentally ready to spring into action.

Jackie unfolded the entire large tarp and proceeded to shake it over Tuff.  She whipped the tarp all over Tuff with the resulting loud crinkly tarp noise.  Cisco remained totally unconcerned, so I rode him in a circle around the whipping, crinkly tarp.  There was not a frizz of concern in Cisco’s body.  Jackie rode Tuff around the arena with the tarp crinkling.

I am amazed at her three year old Tuff.  He is an amazing horse.  He will be an awesome trail horse.

But, we were not done.  Toy #2 is an umbrella.  Jackie got off and got her umbrella.  She mounted Tuff and rubbed him with it  She was getting ready to open the umbrella.  Again, I am amazed.  I live by ground work preparation.  Cisco and I have had no ground work preparation for an umbrella!  But, we had such success with the tarp, I’m thinking that maybe I don’t need to get off.  Jackie opened the umbrella slowly.  Neither horse was concerned.  Jackie waved the open umbrella all over her horse.  Cisco and I were standing about ten feet away.  Not a frizz of energy emitted from Cisco.  After Jackie was done with the umbrella, she handed it to me.  I rode Cisco with an opening and shutting umbrella.  Good Lord!  I certainly never thought I would be riding Cisco holding an umbrella today!

What a Horse

That night I remembered the last test in the original Parelli Level 1 test.  It’s named “Controlled Catatrophe”.  Someone rattles something around your horse.  If your horse startles, you turn and face the scary object.  You face the scary object until the horse is no longer scared.  This prevents the horse from bolting.  I’ve practiced this for so many years, that it has become instinctive.  I forgot the name of the game, but if Cisco would have had a fizz of reaction, my hands would have turned him to face the scary object.

I’m so thrilled to have such a horse who didn’t react to the crinkly tarp and the umbrella.  Cisco is an amazing horse.  Tuff, the three year old horse, is an amazing horse. They are both Missouri Fox Trotters.

Later in the arena, Jackie had dropped the tarp in the middle of the arena.  It was lying on the ground in a pile.  After playing with the umbrella, I turned Cisco to venture into the arena  and he stopped, ears forward and a body expression of  concern.  ”What was that pile in the arena!  It was new.  It wasn’t supposed to be there! I didn’t belong in the arena!”  If it moves, Cisco is prepared to react! There is no body frizz in him yet, just worry.  I say, “we don’t have to go to the tarp pile, Cisco.  We can walk around it. ”  ”No!  I don’t want to walk around it.  I want to stare at it for a while to see if it will turn into something that wants to eat me!”  We stand there for a while.  Cisco ventures forward a couple of steps.  He hesitates.  The tarp pile doesn’t move.  Cisco then walks slowly to the tarp, puts his head down and finally touches the tarp with his nose.  He relaxes.  ”It’s just a tarp, not something that will eat me.”  We then proceed to walk over the tarp, back over the tarp and side pass over the tarp.  I guess we showed that tarp who was boss!

Horses are prey animals.  Humans are predators.  Horses react to different things than we do.  It’s quite amazing that Cisco wouldn’t be afraid of the tarp when Jackie was moving it around, but he was quite concerned about it when it was a pile on the arena ground that had not been there the last time he looked at the middle of the arena.  I didn’t yell at Cisco and tell him it was the tarp, for goodness sake.  I didn’t kick him and make him go touch the tarp.  Nope.  I was willing to go around the tarp.  But Cisco has been taught to be brave.  He wanted to make certain it was not something that was going to eat him.  I let him do it on his own time.


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