Thursday, June 3, 2010

...and I almost got faked out.

This is the tricky part after all. Our horses are dynamic not static.

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 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.


  1. Phew is right. Lots of subtle communication there.
    I can see my own communication is improving, pretty quickly actually, so I am pleased but "wow!" I can definitely see how much more there is to do!
    This was a very interesting read for me.

  2. I love your play by play! That's exactly what it looked like from the stands, too! I love the line about how Linda said she would make sure she COULDN'T blow Allure up. Valuable information there.

  3. I was talking with a FB friend and had a few more thoughts:

    Lil doesn't usually explode in her familiar environment unless i "help her to". which is a weird thing. and its not everyday... i try to read if she's getting more "stuck"...or needs help to move around to get to the other side.

    the thing is i do think she was relaxed and LB when her lip was droopy but it only stretched so far...she could hang with all the stuff she was comfortable with... but if i don't root out the deep deep tension on the days when its dice.

    one of the reasons the linda lesson was so excellent is because she had already gotten through the RBE thing...moved her feet,(the environment obviously triggered that a lot but watching the lesson back she came in stuck until i moved the flag which she is normally totally confident with. that was when she went RBE..I don't think it was about the flag. it just got her attention in that scary moment and was enough to break her out of the introversion)...then she needed quiet time....time to process and think. what a balancing act!

  4. wow! I have had to read this twice and will process and read again! some gems in here for sure! thanks for shareing! Love your blogs....

  5. Excellent post. Really got me thinking. My boy is LBI and yet he's often RB when we go places that are new. I think I could use this. Thanks.

  6. oh good vicki. i'd love to hear how it works for your boy in new environments. :)