I was wondering if I'd even be able to put a halter on her safely. She was leaping around, tail over her head, snorting. Although I figured she'd be pent up as the horses were all in on thanksgiving day due to yucky weather....this was the most trouble I've seen Lil have so far this winter.
She came right up to me when I went to see about catching her. I did send her away a few times because she didn't feel safe but on about the third time she looked at me and waited to be invited in. As I put the halter on, Kip asked if I was going to be ok. With conviction I said: "yes! she needs me and I know what to do. we're going to be fine".
Now, here's the first: As soon as the halter was on and we were heading up to the arena, Lil calmed down. She even started sighing and shaking out tension in her neck. Ha ha! So even just on the way to the arena she was finding comfort. Wow. wow. wow. wow.
I've been watching the new Parelli Levels DVDs. As we know, a horse's needs are Safety, Comfort then Play right? (then food. lol) Well, Pat was talking about comfort. He was talking about horses finding comfort in movement.
Pressure motivates, but its the release that teaches..... I have usually thought about giving comfort as stopping. Giving a rest. This of course is effective...but as Pat was talking about letting your horse go out on a circle and just find the comfort in movement....I began to think about Lil and how helping her move...makes her more comfortable. Like I knew it was making a BIG positive difference. Obviously. But I was more thinking about it helping her get more Left Brained*...calmer...less emotional....etc.
Now I started to think about her physically being comfortable. Like warming up by the fire after being outside in the freezing cold for hours. Or finally stretching out on the couch after a long day at work.
So with this in mind, I turned her loose in the arena. I thought she'd really need to gallop around....she didn't want to roll...but surprisingly to me she was very very connected. I asked her off on a canter circle and she maintained gait and direction really nicely!
However...when I brought her back in...I didn't get any blowing out. Or really that much licking and chewing. So I put on the 22ft line and set up some barrels. Over the last few sessions I've been thinking of how to take this to the next level. This maintain gait maintain direction and look where you're going... I've felt that it's time to up the anti a little to make even more progress into her relaxation mentally, emotionally and physically.
So. The game was just a simple circling game at canter but I added jumping the barrels. We went about 12 laps (very connected it seemed) to the left then stoped. She was very still...I could have waited for her to come out of it but after a few minutes I decided to send her the other way and see what happened.
To the right after about 13 or so laps I could tell she was thinking more about maintaining gait and putting more effort in. She broke to trot a couple times then picked right back up into the canter. She was thinking! Excellent.
Then...........after oh my gosh like 20? laps, (remember that's a half a mile), when I brought her back...she blew and blew and blew and licked and even yawned a little!!!!! She hardly ever does that. It took very very little to draw her the rest of the way to me. Finally she rubbed and scratched her head on me which she only does if she's present and with me. Horray!
She rolled then fiddled around the arena...then I turned her and everyone else out to play.
A while later I came down to clean stalls .... she came over to the gate and hung out with me. What a great feeling!