Friday, October 1, 2010

Slow and right beats fast and wrong.

I fully acknowledge that I am slow in a lot of ways. Its not that I've ever been in a real hurry. I just notice I'm more and more ok with being a Tortoise on this journey as over time I achieve solid, lasting results with my horses. I really don't care how long it takes long as I'm getting there.

I've heard Pat Parelli* say that Troy Henry told him that to be a really great horseman you have to master three things. Liberty, Lead Changes and (trailer) Loading.

Liberty has been a natural skill to me. Thank heavens one of the the three has been relatively straight forward. It's all about patterns and relationship. Thanks to the Parelli Program* the pathway that by hook and crook I had found has become clear. Certainly I've done my share of bumbling about but I've noticed that if I don't rush it, all of a sudden things start to fall into place. In fact, Lil and I just passed our Level 4 Liberty!

Lead Changes have been kind of half and half. Getting regular inside leads and all three types of simple changes have never given me any trouble. (knock on wood) But the Flying Changes....oh the Flying Changes have been dangling just out of reach for what seems like forever. Of course on horses that know them its no problem...but teaching them under saddle makes my nose wrinkle.

This year I'm starting to get it. Nigel has helped me a lot with the confidence to go for it. I really think he's a big part of why I finally am getting them with Lil. Its funny though...when Nigel started flipping them for me it was only satisfying for a few weeks.

I realized they were not what I have in my head. They are not balanced and controlled and ballroom danceish. He does them...but the quality is not worth it. Luckily, I know where to fix it. Back to the FOUNDATION. Back to Level One yields with excellence. Bendiness and collectablility exercises. Back to the ladder of gymnastics. I know how to do that. Now that I did kinda get to some semblance of Flying Changes, improving the pieces individually is a lot more fun and rewarding.

Trailer Loading has been my own personal terror. Or perhaps I should say Trailering has been the terror. Simply causing my horse to get in the trailer has been no problem for years now. Closing them in...and driving is what scares the pants off me. Its so not natural for the horse to be locked in a metal cave on wheels! Plus, driving 60miles an hour down the freeway in a car could mean death for me at any second. I am choosing to put my horse in mortal peril by trailering them anywhere.

Its taken just hooking up an empty trailer, driving an empty trailer, loading Lil, driving Lil a mile down the road, driving her for 20min, and eventually up to 3 hrs for me to be confident and to accept the danger. This personal process has taken me several YEARS!

My way of mitigating the risk for my horse is to help them to be UBER confident in said metal cave on wheels. Lil is now and that helps me so much.

The biggest confidence builder maybe EVER in my personal development as a horseman has been helping Nigel to stand still patiently and confidently in the horse trailer. (see my post: Nigel and the Trailer and The Game of Standing Still). It has taken me the better part of six months to get where we are today. This morning he stood so quietly with the trailer totally closed up for 17:45. You wouldn't even have known that there was a horse in there! I took this little video clip in total wonder remembering standing at the house in despair, while he pounded, reared and kicked for over an hour and a half.

To have made this much of an improvement....this complete turn around....has given me ... proof.... proof that it can be done...and that...I can do it. For a long time now I've lived on the faith of others who care about me. The unwavering faith in me and my horses from my husband Kip and my coach Rachel*. Not sure if they know how much this has sustained me.....I am so grateful.

Like I said....I'm slow...but at least I'm getting there. Liberty, Leads and Loading (and going).............the tortoise is on your tail.

*see glossary at the bottom of the page.

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