I wanted to ride. Things had gone so beautifully with Nigel the last time we played....I took him for granted.
I only had an hour. (oh how I hate being rushed when its a Sunday and I'm playing ponies) We went out on the hill to play the traveling circling game, back up the steep part, jump the log etc. He did it all and in pretty good spirits but I had about 15 seconds of "dwell" time, (if 15 seconds even counts) in between things.
Now that our trotting circling game is really good, I started the stretching Online* exercise a la Karen Rohlf. He got it really quickly of course and even blew out a little.
We are working on sideways over the cavaletti. For some reason he gets worried about it. Just a little RBI*. But, Arrrrrrrg! I just wanna SCREAM (and cuss. I assure you I'm going it in my head) when I think about how I didn't wait for him. I just tapped whatever part wasn't moving. He did this little suck in of air every time. I was thinking of leadership and just letting the pattern work its magic. After twice each way he licked his lips like a good ole Left Brained horsey.*
The thing is I feel like I didn't build his trust in me. I'm noticing he's easy to push. For me anyway. He is just so good natured and when he's feeling unconfident or resistant I can still get him to "do it".
I don't know, I don't know, I don't know! I thought that leadership was what would help him to trust me. But maybe our language is lacking in spots. (I did check his porcupine game yielding the hindquarters and that was not good at all). Maybe love, (and I'll bet this is it) is lacking. Lacking, lacking, lacking. The thing is, I tend to err on the side of too much love and not enough leadership. (As I've said it was the leadership Lil really needed more of. So I had to step that up for her.)
Linda's advice has always served me well in the past. "You are free to experiment so long as you have your principles in line. If one strategy doesn't work then try something else." BUT I don't know what to try in terms of love. The last time I spend undemanding time in his stall he wanted to do something. I could hand graze...but for some reason that doesn't feel right to me. . will it really translate into a connection? I just don't know if it will...
Wait. How about me and my shadow!?! I could just have him on the 12ft line and let him wander in the big field with me mirroring him. Hmmm. That might work. But on the other hand he gets to do that all the time without me...
Maybe what it comes down to is more dwell time. Doing a little bit. A LITTLE BIT...and then chilling. Like until he gets bored. Not just until he licks his lips. Like I said, I think I just get sucked into how smart he is and how he will just do so many things. That stupid direct lined predator in me has reared its ugly head. (more cussing) I just want to pinch it off.
Why I let it come out is beyond me. (well, not beyond me..of course it is a perfectly natural human trait.) But it makes me so miserable! Every single stinken time.
I did get to ride. He reached for the bit and then followed me willingly to the mounting block. It didn't feel harmonious though. By then I think the sinking feeling of failure was starting to take over...we did our pre ride checks from the saddle and then the figure 8 at walk paying close attention to a little disengagement of the hind quarters each turn then straight. (same kinda thing as Karen's stretching exercise) Of course he did it. Stretched and relaxed. I got off and he walked down to the barn next to me with his ears forward and a loose neck. After we undressed, he walked with me at Liberty* to the piles of hay I had put on the hill. But I still felt like crap. It was all in spite of me. It still felt like I hadn't improved anything.
He's smart, generous, kind (thank god .. a little difference in his Horsenality*... I'd have been pounded on by now), and FORGIVING. And that is what I've been taking advantage of. To be fair, I guess I haven't done it maliciously...just stupidly.
Well. I am going to get it together. I am going to do better for him. I am going to be effective in putting the relationship first. Not just have it in my head and heart that that is what I want and believe in. Thats not good enough. This is one amazing horse. Brilliant. My dream horse really, in many, many ways. (and yes I know he's really hubby's horse) I am so lucky to get to play with him! *she cried in a strangled voice.
Damn it! I know this is a bit of a bummer post but I think its only fair to share the growing pains as well as the delights of success. Its not really real otherwise right? Gotta have the dark to see the light and all that. (for a more uplifting post see the previous one. lol)
Ok. *wiping tears and taking a deep breath. Today is a new day. I think I'll have time for a do-over too. The time allowed for self recrimination has been spent. I shall now flex my emotional fitness and make a change. After all, courage is not always big and loud. Often it is just a quiet resolve to persevere. That little voice inside us that says "I will try again tomorrow." Well, today is tomorrow......