Monday, January 17, 2011

Improving My Leadership.

This is such an interesting area of study for me. I tend to be pretty empathetic with my horses. The part I need to improve is "yes I understand do what I say!"

My friend Wendy and I were just in Florida to see a lusitano gelding named Monty. A wonderful woman named Ellen is looking for a home and purpose for him. Wendy and I were looking for a super horse for our demo and inspiration team at OneWithHorses. It turned out to be a match made in heaven.

Naturally, we wanted to check him out and see what he was apt to do in different situations. One of the things we did was to take him on a walk down Ellen's road. Away from the herd and away from his favorite mare with whom he's been pair bonded with for over five years.

Over all his reaction was very mild. He got high headed and a little spooky about the shade nets over the neighboring crops and had a harder time just walking along. It was actually pretty funny...when he was more Right Brained* he couldn't quite keep his feet still. The fancy lusitano version of this was a veeerrrrry slow piaffe. Even his worry was spectacular!

Since Wendy was the one with the line, I got a chance to observe how Monty responded to her bringing up her leadership. She insisted that he stay next to her and not run ahead. She insisted that he go when she went and stop when she stopped. I suggested that she bring up his life a little and take off quickly then see if he could be emotionally fit enough to stop quickly as well. We used the telephone poles as markers.

A very few repetitions later he was in sync with her. I also noticed that he did not get scared when she corrected him. "Hey! Get back jack! Right now!" Sure enough he looked relieved. The most amazing thing was that he bonded with her like I've never seen before in that short a time. Probably a lot of other things set this up. I think he is bred to connect and partner with people. I was green with envy when he was walking along with her and started to turn his nose softly to her and nicker!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! arg! that killed me. Thank god it wasn't me or I'd be miserable that he isn't coming to live at my place.

Since I've been home I've played with Nigel and kept that vision of leadership and the possible results at the front of my brain. Its been interesting to have a few sessions with Nigel in which he was unrideable. That hardly ever happens. One day he got really Right Brained Introvert*. Here's a picture of the Right Brained Inrovert look I call the square ears.
Touch It and waiting worked for that. Then a few days he had too many unpredictable Right Brained explosions although, they are mini ones compared to Lil my thoroughbred. Speedy sideways and the Game of Standing Still worked for that.
Kip came up to the arena to shoot his bow to add something specific to play friendly game with. We did it over two days. At first Nigel struggled not to spook 20 feet. Then 2 feet. Then flinching standing still. Then not. Then he could trot while stretching his nose to the ground even when kip fired as Nigel's Zone 5* was going away from him.
I saddled up, got on and had a great ride. I love it when my horse is confident. I feel like I've made a few pretty good improvements in my leadership that has helped him with it. And so long as I'm improving. I'm happy! (I'm sure my horse is too.)

*see glosssary at the bottom of the page