Sunday, September 19, 2010 One With Horses Natural Horsemanship Center.

It is so indescribably wonderful to be with like minded horse people. I just can't even say. To have a whole Center of them springing up so close is like Christmas.

Wendy and Marc have used the old "if you build it, they will come" plan with startling success. In just over two years they have created a hive of positive activity at their center. They have hosted Parelli* Clinics, have many young students and have enabled study buddies from all over the Portland area to get together.

I had a particularly great time this weekend playing with my new friend Jen's 9 year old quarter horse Chrome and Wendy's darling 4 year old curly Dan. It is AMAZING to me how much I learn from other horses. How it highlights and reminds me about certain aspects of my and my own horse's development.

With Chrome, I was reminded about response and adjustablility. For me, Chrome was not very responsive particularly in the Online* driving game. It was so fun to try to read when he was ignoring me because I wasn't respectable enough and when he was worried about some obstacle and I needed to wait for him to build confidence. Weaving the rapport and respect games together artfully tested me plenty.

With my little (ok ok Wendy's) Dan ... omgosh... I just have fun. He's a bloody blast to ride for me because he feels very safe and very surefooted. Plus he's a hilarious Left Brained Introvert*. The other side of the sword with this horsenality* is that the "go" button always needs to be cultivated. Which again is an art and plenty of a challenge for me. I was so so so impressed with how much he had improved with the game of contact in the last month.

Today, I was a better horseman with Nigel because the girls let me play with their horses. What a privilege.

Thank you Marc and Wendy! Can't wait to visit again.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Nigel and The Trailer and The Game of Standing Still.

Probably the biggest thing I've learned from Linda Parelli* this year is "make it a game". Make it a game!!! How simple right?

Nigel is so amazing I very much want to take him places. As a result I am highly motivated to solve this bloody trailer issue. Thank heavens because my brain has been smoking for over a year.

To recap...issue number one is that he is not a fan of standing still when it is not his idea. Particularly in the trailer or in his stall. He can throw an absolute Left Brained* temper tantrum. Not a drip of sweat after piaffing, levading, kicking and pounding for hours and hours.

Issue number two: (which we just yesterday got to start working on) is that he is Right Brained* afraid of driving away and leaving the herd. He breaks into a full body sweat as soon as we leave the driveway. Literally dripping with fear. The Right Brained issue just needs approach and retreat. I already knew how to do that. The Left Brained issue was the one giving me fits.

About the second week in July I figured out that I could use the clicker to mark the standing still and reward him for it. So we've built up from less than a 5 1 7 minutes. Then I decided I'd see about the trailer.

Let me just say that not only am I working on Nigel standing still...I'm working on myself. It is not easy to be still for a Right Brained Extrovert like me. I gathered a few tools to help. Blackberry for emailing and texting, hands free for talking on the phone, Dick and Felix Francis' new book Crossfire on the Ipod, the stopwatch for visible progress and the magic clicker. LOL. Pretty funny but painfully true! Well, the pain has been worth it. We have made real progress. Over the last week Nigel made the leap from standing in the trailer with the back door closed, tied with the front door open. At first I had to sit with him. Now I can push wheel barrows around and pick blackberries. Perhaps I should get the weedwhacker out. He easily can now do 20 minutes.

Over the last few days I've been starting to close the front door. With the door closed, we're starting from the beginning building from one moment. But it is going much faster. He starts to paw when I close it but then obviously remembers that the answer is standing still. He's up to still for over a whole minute.

I figure once he can tolerate that, I'll start rattling things and tapping the trailer.

Yesterday is the first day since we started the clicker that I moved the trailer with him in it. I think it went superbly. I can say without a doubt....that if I can solve this...if he and I can solve this...and become confident enough to travel around town will be my biggest horsemanship success.

Here's where we started:
Yesterday Part One:

Yesterday Part Two:

*see glossary at the bottom of the page.