Wednesday, February 24, 2010

...and Our Passagey thing is getting better....

video
To View With Full Screen Option go to northwood's youtube

Nigel and I are slowly working on a more elevated trot moving towards passage and then piaffe. We don't have that much going on from the hind legs yet (thus the head in the air to lift himself up)...but its just in the last week or so that he's really gotten the idea of upwards in the front with his energy....so...I figure .... when we've got that on cue we'll just add more forwards which will really be just more impulsion from the back UPWARDS!

Even though it might look better...I am NOT willing to tie his head down to a surcingle at this point. I want the truth about where we are and allow him the freedom to do what he needs to in his body to sort it out.

I'm thinking that the ears and the highheadedness will improve like it has on the circling game, the squeeze, the back-up etc... I know he's not hating me because actually, he's looking at me more and more eagerly with two ears forward and coming to me to put his nose in the halter each day. More than ever! Plus he's the one that's offering this passagey thing...it is in general a dominant behavior so that probably is also contributing to the ears...I just make sure I'm balancing it with a nice respectful back up and all manners of the driving game.

I don't want to be greedy..... I guess I'm a little insecure about the way our relationship looks at this stage...but I mean really...does everyone else's passage look beautifully harmonious at first??? And he's OFFERING!!! I am NOT forcing him. I'm simply just asking for a bit more effort ( a bit more extreme yoyo game ) before a rest and a treat. I admit though I can't wait for it to look prettier.

One more note for posterity...I had just gotten on after filming this...we were doing our forehand yields and oh my god a deer appeared on the hill behind the arena! Nigel had a big ol sideways spook and a nice loud snort. Yikes! Thank goodness for being on my balance point. (thank you Linda and my fusion saddle) I hopped off and after a few disengagements of the hindquarters, turn face and wait, he was calmly standing with a leg cocked licking and admiring the gorgeous creatures.

I got back on and decided to make the rest of the session about relaxation and confidence. Lots of partial disengagements, walking pirouettes (getting better too), the Figure 8 Pattern*, sideways and backwards. Then a few really nice trot walk trot walk transitions on that pattern. He started to really relax his ribcage so we stopped in the middle.

After just a few moments he sighed and blew out!!! I remember last summer when he would not do that! He'd just hold it and hold it. I thought about riding for tomorrow...so I got off. Yahooo!


Linda's Blog Ultimate Horse "Training" formula...

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This is a great post I think. . . remembering to do less sooner instead of more later and to keep in mind the core relationship/horsenality goals I am trying to improve.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 3 out of at least 7 of avoiding avoidance with Nigel and the trailer......

It was better. A little better. A little tiny bit better.

I would say that yesterday Nigel was mostly Left Brained*. There was no sweating, no dancing around after getting out of the trailer. Just heading for the grass. I'd redirect him and send him back in. The one thing I did notice was that his tail was tight. Now, this is a typical thing for him. When we got him he would clamp it to his bum. No way he'd raise it for us. Even when he was super Left Brained and everything else was very relaxed. Of course, he's over that now and for the most part it is loose. He even happily does lead by a tail 80% of the time. So yesterday while he was standing in the trailer, I played friendly game with his tail just lifting it gently and swishing it back and forth.

He understood that swinging the door meant keep his feet still but, it was many many time of getting in and getting out before he decided to. I started a new thing which was to bang loudly on the door every time he would paw on the front of the trailer. LOL. We were both making quite the racket. That worked though. He would quickly stop and either get out or look back at me like: "what in the hell are you doing?".

I'm getting this feeling that he's now just trying to out persist me. Especially with the door open. I think he is worried about getting shut in all alone and going away....but yesterday I kinda felt a lack of try. Well, a lack of trying to do what I wanted. He wanted to get out and eat grass....lots of try for that...mostly in a passive-ish way. "She lets me get out...so I'll get out....how many times before she gives up." BUT. I can be pretty dang passively persistent in the proper position too. *narrowing eyes in determination..... Not even Pat Parelli is more persistent than an Emma Kline.

I might sound a little (or a lot) direct lined. However, I have thought about this. I know we've done plenty of preparation. Nigel can jump over stuff, he can stand with four feet on a pedestal, he can back over a pole, he can squeeze sideways over the barrels, he can maintain gait and direction both Online*, Freestyle* and Finesse* etc, etc, etc. He also can stand calmly for quite a long while in all four Savvy's*. There comes a time, I've learned, when you've gotta get to it.

I imagine starting a horse undersaddle. Even when all the preparation is done, the horse needs to wear the saddle. In fact, he needs 200 hours undersaddle to have a proper foundation.

As Pat has taught us, the trick is to put principles before purpose and let the horse be in charge of the timeline. I feel like I'm doing that. I'm using Love, Language and Leadership....keeping the Eight Principles in mind and yet NOT AVOIDING THE PURPOSE. I feel like I'm letting Nigel be in charge of the timeline by not just locking him in the trailer and heading off to where ever I want to go. We'll just practice and practice and practice, isolate, separate and recombine, until he finally accepts the purpose and lets loose.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

But only after playing with my least favorite toy.....




It was a funky day with Nigel. After yesterday's short trip in the trailer just to the neighbors he couldn't stand calmly in it with the door shut.

Even moving the door around was trouble. The good news is that he didn't have any big resistance getting into the trailer or standing in it with the door open. Actually, it was good too to see him touching a lot of stuff in the trailer with his nose. The sides, the roof, the divider. This should help build his confidence and hopefully it'll stick better.

So we made the session about just being able to stand still with me swinging the door back and forth, back and forth. Omgosh. I don't even know how long we did it. He got out. I asked him back in. He got out. I asked him back in. He pawed the floor, he did levade, he did piaffe. I kept moving the door until he could just stand. As soon he was still I kept the door still. He was training me.

We ended when he could stand there with me swinging the door once or twice. After munching grass for about five minutes we went up to the arena and did some nice standing friendly game undersaddle while we watched Kip and Jackson play. (they did great)

But, oh man the trailer is so the bane of my existence. I know we'd better knock off at least 5 more sessions before a break and not avoid it like I REALLY REALLY want to. To get it better its just repetition. "polite and passive persistence in the proper position" so that we can do our "prior and proper preparation to prevent p poor performance" as pat says. I guess. *big huffy sigh. God I hate it. I just want Nigel to be happy and to love me. Getting him outside his comfort zone is counter intuitive for rapport.

In my heart I know that this is one of those things that will make our relationship stronger. Taking the time it takes ....whatever it takes....to develop ultimate confidence in the trailer and traveling will make him and I a better Horse-Man in the end. This goal.... this dream...... is enough to outweigh the trauma thankfully.

It reminds me of my brother Isaac's favorite quote: "The only way out is through".

Thursday, February 11, 2010

....and I fell on my head.


Oh my gosh! What a dork.

Lil and I were playing. Having a grand old time working on our L4 Liberty* stuff. Canter stick to me with flying changes....spins....an extremish YoYo Game with back up fast and canter draw.

Here's the thing. It was cold again so I had breeches on underneath my jeans and therefore was not my normal agile self. Plus we'd been playing for quite a while, turning and burning in the deep sand....

We were just getting a really REALLY good draw at canter. Like a war horse, Lil was pretty much as collected and jumping in the canter as she'll ever get. I was running backwards....I just didn't quite pick my knees up high enough and KABLOOIE! Backwards I fell with plenty of velocity to feel the thwack at the back of my head resonate in my jaw.

As I fell, I was aware that Lil was still maintaining gait and direction like a good little partner. Actually, she didn't look that little as I was wrenchingly twisting my head and neck to look up at her bearing down on me.

Of course, she stopped when she got to me. She looked down like, "Huh. This is a new variation." I felt like a real knob. My ego was very glad that we were alone. I also felt extremely grateful that she was left brained and thinking. I got up. Dusted the sand out of my hair and tried to flick it out from the back of my pants. I rolled my eyes at myself and shrugged to Lil who actually didn't seem think it was all that interesting after all. Gotta love that.

To be perfectly honest, this isn't the first time I'd had such a rediculous mishap. When Lil was three (and I was much less savvy and therefore much less safe riding) we had just survived a ride together and I was going to fill up water buckets before I left our boarding stable for the night. Again I didn't pick up my feet and simply tripped over a stall mat falling onto my elbow thusly breaking it with a loud crack.

In that light, I am thrilled that this time no trip to the hospital was required. (even more importantly, no missing any horse time) I have a bit of a stiff neck today but am otherwise none the worse for wear. Additionally, I got a few good laughs at the office. Welcome to goobersville.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Boring! Yaaaaaaaaaaahoooooooooooooo!!!!

I just had a few minutes this morning before work. So I figured a little trailer dwell time sounded like a good plan.

Nigel marched right down to the trailer and hopped in. I shut the door. He quietly munched away while I emailed and got my day sorted. I looked up. Still munching. Made a few phone calls. I looked up. He smiled down at me still munching, still quiet, still relaxed.

Figured I'd better test the getting out and in. He got out as soon as I opened the door but confidently. I rubbed his head. I asked him back in. No problem. Back to munching. I shut the door. I was wishing that I had the 22ft line with me so that we could check off trailer loading from the bumper.

No more phone calls or immediate emails so I put in my Ipod and checked the time. I thought, geeze I'm not doing the best job of relaxing and enjoying the scenery. So I looked at the scenery. . . . . . . beautiful trees. . . . beautiful sky. . . . beautiful horses. . . . and the remainder of the half hour dribbled away with me admiring the angel horse in the trailer and listening to Malcolm Gladwell talk about Cesar Millan and body language.

I opened the door and Nigel got out. Even more slowly. I asked him back in and didn't shut the door. He cocked a leg and went back to munching. Right. Boring. Love it.