Monday, June 21, 2010
I've been her eyes on the ground and task master for quizzing her on Pat's book. (I love to try to catch her off guard! "quick! what are the 10 qualities of a horseman?" lol)
I was helping her the other day with The Game of Contact. It was amazing to see from the ground because Louie was really starting to reach for her hand. The thing was that Beth was letting slack in at just the wrong time. Gosh I know I've done that a million times. It was crazy to see from my vantage point...he looked like he was completely being abandoned just when he was trying.
Its so counter intuitive in a way. Horsemen have hands that close slowly and open quickly right? All this time we've built up the "jazz hands" response. (a friend who is just starting Parelli has coined "jazz hands" after watching the Parelli Level 1 Dvd. I told her I am totally stealing it.) We add steady pressure by degrees and then when we get a response.... Open!
Beth wasn't quite doing the total "jazz hands"...she wasn't throwing away the reins completely. . . but she was letting go of the contact. In this game that is not upholding our responsibility. When our horse starts to take the contact we have to "follow". But not abandon. For me it was a huge revelation to see it on Louie's face..."where are you going???". A release is important for sure. To communicate to the horse that he is right...that that is what we wanted...but we need to get a few steps of what we want first. Then. Stop and rest.
Beth sent me an email last night. I love it and have her permission to share. My favorite thing she said is that it is ok to be "wrong" -ish. Another distinction beyond just getting outside your comfort zone. We talked about it while she was riding. I said, "he's ok. he'll live if you hold too long for a lap. just see if you can keep the contact and feel the steadiness of it. if you get it wrong. that's ok!".
Here is her email:
"I now realize the contact game is just another piece of the puzzle that seems so far beyond my mind to get..yet I feel it is right in my grasp. Its like any other game I have learned to play thanks to Pat and Linda..at moments it does not feel like I am making any progress not because of the horse..but because of my blocks and my moments of unconfidence in myself and how trusting I am that its all good.
It is okay to be "wrong" ish if you trust in the fact that we can only learn if we use love language and leadership to attempt new things)..You cannot get a forward move by sitting still and waiting for life to happen.. We have to take risks and learn and grow.The contact game has taught me I have to engage and be alive in the moment..it is another game that will inspire us all to keep growing wanting and needing more ! : )
It is contagious in the fact that even though I so do not have it yet it has inspired me to be more precise in all other areas of play with my horse!!!!!!" - Beth Weaver
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Direct youtube link.
Ok so here is my understanding of Linda's explanation: We make a GAME about who takes the contact. So if Nigel doesn't want it. . .I'll take it. ...until he says "hey! i'll take that". I say, "great! you can have it! i'll just hold your hand".
I use my biceps (think dumbbell curls) to take the contact and my triceps (along the back of my upper arms) to push forwards following the contact when he wants it and rounds his lower back. When he can carry himself I try to remember to pull my armpits down and hold the contact with my triceps.
In the video when I'm calling out "biceps" I'm taking the contact because Nigel is sucking behind my leg (losing self propulsion) or over curling his neck...or bracing somewhere etc. When I'm calling out "triceps" I feel him round over his topline, drive forward from behind and take the contact forwards. I said lifting of Zone 4* in the video but I meant Zone 3*. The push and impulsion come from Zone 4.
As you can see when the push really comes from behind his shoulders lift up more and his trot gets floatier and more forward. His whole stride gets longer and I really notice the outside front leg looks like it suddenly is softer and reaches up and around the turn almost effortlessly.
Nigel is on the cusp of a Left Brained Introvert/Left Brained Extrovert ...forward is not always his favorite but when he figures out what we're playing he's got LOTS!
I think its worth noting that this is not about vertical flexion at the poll. (although this can't really happen without it) Its about the horse using his whole body to power forward and lift... and hold the contact through the reins. The contact between the bit and the rider's hand completes the cycle of the energy. (Walter Zettl calls it Schwung. http://www.walterzettl.net/) The cycle comes from the horse's hind legs, over his back, between his ears, through the reins to the riders hands, through the rider's body, down the rider's legs and then again into the horse's hind leg. If the contact gets dropped by either the horse or human....the cycle is broken.
This is Nigel and I's 7ths session playing this game since Linda's article was published.
You can read Linda's article on The Game of Contact in the May 2010 issue of the Savvy Times in the Parelli Savvy Club Vault under "back issues". To join the club (which has been such an important part of my journey and I believe an awesome tool to help us change the world for horses and humans) click join.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Lil and I went up to the arena pretty happily. She rolled right away which is a good sign. When she seemed ready to do something, I sent her out on a circle at Liberty*. She maintained gait, direction and connection and started to blow out within a few laps. When she came back though she didn't want to touch me when I put my hand out. (read Right Brained*) I waited until she could. Then scratched her withers which she got into (read Left Brained*).
I figured we should check out our Figure 8 Pattern Online*. Oh man. In my lesson Linda called me out for moving my stick too quickly. I seriously don't even lift it! But even thought it doesn't raise off the ground....I move it to the side at the same time as giving the cue with my direction hand. And crap! Its not an easy habit to break! Linda suggested I might need to put a bell on my stick like there used to be in the Blue Level Two pack. I'm thinking I may need a car alarm to go off.
Lil was not going around the cones at first. I allowed her to work on it for a bit but when she seemed to have lost the plot I sent Zone 1*. I got the ears back for a second...shoot!..I must have asked too loudly. Of course she went around the cone but then straight away got stuck coming through the change of direction. Once through the middle she would start to trot...come around the cone and stop for a second before heading through the middle again. I'm so glad Linda pointed out the mental tension in her hesitation to come through the middle. Its so subtle....that is the part that is broken and yet I hadn't been conscious enough to isolate it. We just kept on until she could walk softly, ears relaxed and not get stuck.
When she came back to me it was not with Zone 1 ...it was kinda with her shoulder. So I sat on a barrel and waited. She blew out softly but had the secret lip licking. She cocked a leg but didn't touch me or start to rub on me. She looked sleepy. She had been on grass for 3 hours. It was the time of day she usually takes a nap...but I wasn't sure. Then her lower lip started to sag. Ha! Had to be Left Brained! I had waited it out!!!!! ...right?
I saddled her without any resistance...played some cantering circles over the barrels...a little sideways at the trot on the circle...nice stretchy, relaxed..a few changes of direction... all good. Brought her in. She blew out softly and licked...but none of her tongue came out of her mouth. I started to get a little suspicious.
I had asked Linda about this in my lesson....this...uncertainty. She reminded me that she used to make sure that she couldn't blow Allure up before she rode him. I wanted to be sure so I thought I'd try some canter gallop transitions on the circle Online*. I asked for gallop...nothing happened...I waived the flag in Zone 5*.....KABLOOOIE! Now we had gallop...and a few bucking horse quality crow hops. There was one I didn't think I could've ridden.
Now I had a Right Brained Extrovert on a string. Enter my handy dandy new strategy from Linda. Encourage the gallop for a lap and try to keep my feet still! No adding motion to the commotion. I feel like I had improved on that one and I think it helped. Then, I'd get neutral in my body for a lap. When she wanted to relax and slow down I allowed her to. We had to repeat this about three times. Finally she could canter...then gallop without melting down.
Suddenly Lil started blowing out for real. With conviction!!!!! She started licking and two inches of tongue appeared. She itched her leg and started swishing gnats.
I hopped on and we had a great ride. We had a perfect sweat pattern, she rolled at my feet, frisked me for treats and swung away at the walk the whole way down to the barn. Thanks Linda for giving me that extra strategy to roll with the change up. Savvy equals safety right?.... pheeeew!
*See the Glossary at the bottom of the page.