Monday, February 29, 2016

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad EXTRA Day




"When you take off the halter, you're left with one thing: the truth." 
- Pat Parelli 

Yay!  Leap Year!  I get an extra day, and it's sunny, and it's beautiful.  

Beautiful?

I should go play with Beautiful.  It will be fun.  It will be special.  She will love me.

I want to hug her and squeeze her...and let her be at liberty!

That's pretty much how my day started.

The first interactions between Beautiful and I were perfect, or perfect enough.  Haltering, leading, yielding, cone game, and poles.  Easy.

So easy, I decided to go further because I still had an hour and half before I needed to get ready for work.

I unhaltered her and said, "Be FREE!"

She didn't let the opportunity go to waste.

Here is what I learned from my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Extra Day:

1. Some days, your horse doesn't want to be with you.  Maybe you stink...or smell too good.  Who knows. Maybe they'd rather be with their buddies, their babies, their bales of hay.  Who knows. Who knows.

2.  If you plan for an hour with your horse, for safety sake, multiply that times ten.

3. Never think you're going to out-ZEN your horse.  Your horse has practiced staring up a road, thinking about who knows what, for hours.  If you think you're going to reach into your inner-peace-horse-whisperer-place and cast a magic spell--think again.  Some days that seems to work--which is why you may think it always does, but...well, just refer back to #1.

4.  Cussing at your horse is pointless in "at liberty" work.  The most you'll get is a kick and fart as they leave you in the dust.

5.  Sometimes you have to walk away....before you make MORE of a fool of yourself with your horse.

6. When you do walk away and head to work, you will feel like the biggest jerk, and it will affect everything else you do on your one, every four years, extra day.  (Insert big sad face)

7.  You will run, not walk, out to the barn when you get home to make up with her.

My consolation?

There are more days.


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P.S. The video evidence has been destroyed.

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I'm not lying.


17 comments:

  1. Awwwwww, we all have bad days, and we all have days when we think we are doing better than we actually are. Humbling isn't it. Next time will be better.

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    1. Horses, if nothing else, will certainly humble us. Yes. Yes. At times, I feel totally in sync, and other times, totally confused. They retain a mystery, and honestly, I think that's why we love them. When it comes together, it feels so good.

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  2. Don't those shows like Cavalia make 'at liberty' look, if not effortless, at least achievable for everyone?
    The thing is, all that 'free' movement is created in the scope of their job, & the choreography with those horses has been trained & repeated & reinforced over & over until it looks easy & romantic. While it is truly beautiful to watch, 'at liberty' in the show is nothing much like 'free choice' outside in the arena or (heaven forbid) the pasture.
    *NOT knocking those trainers at all, I admire them, I'm just saying that they set the bar pretty high for the (average doesn't seem like the right word) enthusiast aspiring to that level of free work.
    That said, one of my good friends did train (in her arena) a brief at liberty performance which they then performed alongside of a dog & handler team doing an identical routine - the whole thing was quite impressive & very fun to watch.

    There are days that my Morgan mare will not allow me to touch her until she steps into the barnyard... FRUSTRATING to me as (once haltered) she is such a big-hearted horse, so eager to please me & always full of try. Thankfully, her brother is my cuddlebug & makes up for her (not completely maybe, but they are two different sides of the same coin in that regard, & probably even he only cuddles up to me just in case there are snackies in my pocket).

    Video evidence destroyed? *giggle*

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    1. Yes, I think you're right. I didn't use whips, or treats or anything. I noticed on YouTube some of the at liberty trainers use treats. It's a work in progress, that's all I know. I actually did delete the video. I was told, never hold a grudge against a horse, and that would have been counter. So, like Scarlet O Hara in Gon With The Wind, tomorrow is another day, after all. Or something like that. :)

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  3. I'll bet operant conditioning (clicker training) could speed at liberty work; the click need not necessarily signal a food reward, it could also mark the behaviour for a really good scratch in a special place or what ever motivates the individual horse.
    You might like this article:
    http://terriermandotcom.blogspot.ca/2016/02/dancing-chickens.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/lSKHa+%28Terrierman%27s+Daily+Dose%29

    Also, 4R Ranch had a post about the 'aloof' horse today that got me thinking that I have thought that word to describes my little mare sometimes (when she's in the pasture & walking away from me very slowly, just avoiding eye contact).
    http://4rranch.blogspot.ca/2016/02/the-aloof-horse.html

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    1. The aloof horse, I want to read that. I was thinking last night that we've trained them to be on ropes and halters, trailers, etc, defined the rules. When I take the halter off that usually means now it's your time. For me to change the rules and say, no, not really. Now you're supposed to follow me around on "your time" wasn't quite fair.

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  4. Oooh, & I think that the advice never to hold a grudge against your horse is GOLDEN & we should all keep it in mind, for what can we accomplish at all if we resent them?
    Every day a new day, as you said.

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    1. Yes, it is. I can't wait to see her today and start again.

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  5. Liberty takes time and persistence. There are days when Gambler will walk perfectly beside me and longe at a trot around me at liberty. There are also days that he'll trot away from me and refuse to come back. I use a carrot stick to give clearer signals, but other than that no whips or treats. I know treats would speed up the process. But when we have those great days, I know it is because he wants to be with me and not because I have treats.

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    1. Interesting perspective since you've been doing it for a while. I'm not sure how I'm going to adjust my at liberty, but I'll need to think some it through.

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  6. Not every day can be a pearl. I'm convinced that mares have slightly fickle personalities. Meaning sometimes you really have to work for it and sometimes its natural and easy and then again sometimes " I'm really not in the mood right now" shows up. Don't let it bother you. It is what it is and you'll get past it. Thank goodness there is no video footage to dwell on. That makes it easier to put it in the past and not dwell on it.

    And yes, Scarlett, tomorrow is another day! Love that movie.

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    1. I'm so happy I deleted the footage. It felt good. I'm looking forward to a clean slate today! :)

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  7. I'm glad you have a sense of humor about it and can look forward to better days.

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    1. Humor helps me with pain, and I was pretty heart sick yesterday. It really was a lesson in humility.

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  8. Deleted footage indeed. As long as it's not in 'the cloud' you should be safe. :)

    I agree with everyone, it can't always be magical and perfect. From her perspective it was all good and she was being true to herself.

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    1. Yes, horses are truth tellers and live the truth.

      The footage is truly "Gone With the Wind" (hehe). I used an old fashioned video recorder, rather than phone, and deleted the file. It felt good.

      You're right, too, that it's not always magical and perfect. It has its moments, but the rest is hard work and really digging deep for answers. Yesterday's interaction, though, flipped me to the dark side. I had to literally walk away and do some soul searching.

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.