Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

Yaaaaaaaaaaahoooooooooooo! My lesson with Linda and Lil was priceless. I'll have to mill out what I learned as I process and absorb it.

Yesterday I was playing with Lil and a very large bell went off in my head.

In our lesson at the Parelli Across America event in Redmond, OR Lil came into the arena acting like a Right Brained Extrovert*. Linda helped me understand the strategy of asking her to go faster than she wanted. If she couldn't keep her feet still then "lets move them!". Now, I've heard this for years, but to see it utilized for a horse that I know really well, helped me big time.

Not too much...just enough. Add just enough energy to take over leadership. Its not a punishment. Which, although I didn't think that I was using it that way. . . . clearly I've been doing too much. Linda told me to be very careful not to add motion to the commotion. (I moved my feet a lot. arg!) Understand Lil's idea... "eeeeek! I've gotta move" then ask her to do more of her idea. All of a sudden, without even knowing it, she's following me. I get it! And boy did it work like a charm.

In pretty short order Lil could stand still. Even in front of all those people! But as soon as I asked her to do something too loudly she went introverted. To entertain the crowd Linda told tons of stories in her spellbinding Linda way and shared lots of Horsenality* info while we waited. . . . . . .And waited and waited and waited. Finally, in her own time, Lil came off of the adrenaline. In the end she yawned for like 5 minutes, rolled, rubbed and nuzzled Linda. She had made it to a confident Right Brained Introvert*. I could feel the grin on the crowd.

One of the stories Linda told was from the Australian Parelli Event. (you can read about it at Linda's Blog the may 17th post) Her lesson there was with a Right Brained Extrovert. She talked about riding the horse and allowing her look around but not letting her get fixated.

So here was the big bell yesterday: All of a sudden I could recognize the difference between a Right Brained Extrovert frozen in place and a Right Brained Introvert gone introverted.

There have been times (looking back now I can see) where Lil was fixated. She would run around like a loon, freeze, then run around some more. This is why I kept saying that it wasn't "sticking". In this case I need to help her to focus. Ask her to do something. Making sure that I match her energy. Sometimes that means being pretty gentle. Sometimes that means I've gotta get pretty big. But the thing I realized is that just waiting for the next explosion is not the right strategy.

However, when Lil goes introverted I do need to wait for her to become confident enough to ask me a question and request further instructions. Linda has said that and written it a hundred times. Wait Wait Wait Wait Wait! Its just I was doing the right thing at the wrong times. Ah yes. What is that Patism about where to be, when to be, why to be, what to do when you get there and when to stop doing what you're doing? . . . something about that being true savvy...??

When she's in an RBE freeze its almost as if she's still vibrating. when she's in an RBI introversion, its so quiet! And now after the stark difference she showed in Redmond I CAN SEE IT!!!! Hallelujah! I was literally yelling with excitement into the phone when I called my husband yesterday to share my breakthrough. lol.

This will change everything for me and my horses. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Jackpot baby!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lil did so well at our Playday!

When we got to Beth's Place everyone was already there hanging around outside handgrazing their ponies. We of course joined in and Lil hoovered grass while us humans chatted excitedly about the coming Parelli Across America Event.

As people started to wander off to tack up or play in the indoor arena, roundpen or on the hillside, Lil and I went to the huge outdoor arena to see how she'd do as everyone left us. Its getting better!

The circling game is where I can see a lot of how she is mentally and emotionally. Can she maintain gait, direction, rhythm and connection to me? Can she not pull on the line or try to change direction every half a lap so she's always heading back to the barn? Can she relax into the movement and curve prettily on the circle hooking onto me as the bullseye?

The slower we go the easier it seems. And yet the blow up can lurk just below the surface. She was fine as usual at the trot. Nice rhythm and connection. Pretty good at the canter actually. Maintained the speed and rhythm nicely and it only took a few laps for the flexion on the circle to "get straight" and for her to connect to me. I loved that she seemed present the whole time and that I could see her tongue as she was licking and chewing.

Gallop is where the drama poked its head out a little bit. Not too bad though. On the long side of the arena I would run straight down the centerline so she could gallop. Then she'd get ahead of me so I would stop my feet. . . she would have to curve her body and slow down to cut across the short side. In this pattern she could make canter gallop canter transitions and I could be relatively passive in asking her to reconnect with me. Its not a circling game of course at that point. More like just a gentle driving game but that's just fine so long as I recognize it.

As she got faster she did a few leaps in the air. Her tail and neck got high and tight. . . . she even kicked out at me once. I did wish I had the 45 with me as there was plenty of room to use it and it would have been EXCELLENT to be able to really let her open up. (note to self to bring it next time because I can only run so fast and cannot seem to keep up with a thoroughbred. lol) In just a few minutes she was blowing and cantering with connection and impulsion (not too fast not too slow). She came back to me and then wanted to eat grass. All of this whilst we were the only ones within eyesight.

We went to find the rest of the gang relaxed and curious about everything. Kip hung out with her while I helped other people with questions. I didn't see it but Kip said she laid down at his feet and took a nap! Later we both rode her. She felt great for me. When I got on she started yawning. How un-freakin-believable is that? Kip said she had improved a lot since he had ridden her last (which I love to hear) and I saw them have a really nice canter.

This all gives me hope that things will be better for our lesson with Linda in Redmond this weekend than they were last year for our Spotlight in Reno. It is important to me that both Pat and Linda see that I've been putting my time in. That all of their investment in me has not been wasted. I'm guessing that Lil will still be scared in front of all those predators. . . but our relationship has improved soooooo much since then . . .I have to trust that Pat is Pat and Linda is Linda and that they will see it. . . . . and I am so excited to get a few more missing puzzle pieces!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Actually, We Went For A Hike Instead....

Beth and Louie, Kip and Nigel, Lil and I needed a break from the treadmill and the arena. So we met at the BLM land just down the street from our house (about 20min from Beth's) for a hike. Just Three Horses, Three Humans, Three Parelli Halters, Three 12 Foot Lines, Three Carrot Sticks, Three Savvy Strings marching along the logging roads singing a merry tune.

It was deliciously quiet. The gunmen had packed up from the morning target practice and the motorbikes showed up as we were leaving. A couple cyclists rode by as we started out but that was it. My cell phone didn't even ring once. That is seriously a miracle by itself.

Louie and Beth strolled along peacefully.....quite the handsome couple. Nigel led Kip from grass clump to clover patch....Nigel shining in the filtering sunlight like Shadowfax. Just watching the four of them was a pleasure.

Lil started out walking faster than normal and tended to get ahead of me. We did a little sideways and falling leaf. No fuss...she was walking without a problem....just faster than I could. She was very looky for a good hour but not spooky. Walking back she was my favorite Lil. Soft everything. Ears, Neck, Tail, Eyes. Head low. Blowing softly and moving with that musical gait of the relaxed quadruped.

I put her sheet back on before I turned her out when we got home....she nuzzled me and then started yawning. Doesn't get much better than that.