Friday, April 1, 2016

True Horsemanship Pays Off--A Dream Day

As you all know, I've been working on some of the ideas from, True Horsemanship Through Feel, with our horses.  Today was my first lesson since our trip to Hawaii, so I was really excited to see if it would make a difference.

It did!

When I hooked up and pulled around the horse trailer, I went to get Leah in the pasture. (In my mind, I had been debating getting her first, then pulling around the trailer, but opted to let her know what was happening instead.) Even though she knew I was coming to take her away, she stood for me and bent around to greet me. (Big improvement on the Indirect Feel).

Before loading her, I worked with her on the ground, lowering her head, moving her feet, all with a "float" in the line.  I stood outside the trailer and asked her to walk in on her own.  She did. And, trailering went great.

At the lesson barn, the beautiful weather had brought everyone out.  Lots of horses and people and the cutest little five year old with the best-behaved pony I've ever seen.

We worked in the big outside arena with the other riders (and little girl with amazing pony) and adjacent cattle pen.  Leah was definitely wanting to look around, but I just asked her to pay attention, and she did.

It was the best day I've ever had with her.  I finally experienced the beginnings of real togetherness.  My instructor was thrilled, too.  Leah was like a different horse, less reactive and moving out with balance and thought.  The saddle barely slipped to the side, whereas, it used to constantly roll.  When I applied leg pressure, she didn't bolt forward like it was her cue for the Kentucky Derby.  She got it!

I talked with my instructor about what I'd seen--Leah bracing in the pasture when I'd walk up--and how I took a few steps back to improve on that rather than thinking I always had to ride.  She thought that was a good decision.  Leah hadn't lost any of her training, but the foundation of being together with me--a willing partner--was a dramatic difference.

The cute little girl on the amazing pony, who had been watching us, rode over in my area (her mother was giving a lesson on the other side of the arena) and said,"You have a really pretty horse.  Is she all trained?"  I told her thank you, and she is still in the process of being trained, but almost there.  She said again, "She is really pretty!"  >>melt heart<<.  The fact is, though, Leah looked prettier today because of her attitude.  Even my trainer said, "I kind of love this horse!"  

My trainer and I talked about lowering the head, and she said she does that with all her horses.  Hers can touch their lips to the ground, and they even lower their heads on a verbal cue.  She also bends them around to the side and lowers the head, though not as low as in front.

So, I'm riding the high of the feeling you get with togetherness.  It was a validation to me that I hadn't been "wasting" my time by doing the fundamentals.  When we got home, I took Leah for a little walk around our property before putting her in with the others.  She was so sweet.  Her head was low as I petted her, and she was enjoying the relationship, something I hadn't really had with her and that I was wondering if I'd ever get.  She was in no hurry to be put back, and I was in no hurry to let her go.

18 comments:

  1. Leah is probably thinking, "Yeah! This lady finally gets it!" That time you spent with her in the pasture sure paid off.

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    1. Ha! She probably was thinking that. She had a wall against me before, and now I'm behind that wall, and it feels good.

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  2. What a great bond you are building with her

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    1. Bond is a good word. It's a good start for us.

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  3. Haha!! Big ole smile on my face here! Horsemanship through feel is THE BEST and most thorough method of horsemanship there is. I wholeheartedly believe that, and am so happy that as each year passes, the stronghold is a bit firmer (so to speak). Leah won't forget - ever. When we teach and relate to them in this manner, it sticks. And, I also firmly believe that a little time off for "soaking" benefits them greatly. Whoever said we had to work with our horses every single day, or 5x weekly was just wrong. They're better and smarter than that. It feels every bit as good to them (maybe better) as it does to us. You're right - it's a relationship. And it's based on consideration, mutual respect and overall thoughtfulness. And a little love. :) Hopefully that continues to grow as well. I'm SO happy for you and for all your horses, who will benefit greatly from their people finally catching on. Ha! It's so simple it's complicated for us. We tend to over do and rush in everything. This stuff goes for every aspect of our lives too. You'll find yourself thinking in terms of good horsemanship and breathing a little easier because of it. It's good stuff. And yes, I am so excited and anxious to get back into working with Eagle too. And riding. And being outside...

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    1. I agree that they don't need the 5x per week. They really do have great memory and benefit from a little time to "soak" it in. Horsemanship through Feel is all about that foundation of togetherness--and there is nothing as rewarding as that! It would be cool if I could find ways to apply it to real life. I hadn't thought about that yet. It certainly simplifies life with horses. You're right that we over-complicate it. And, our horses seem to deeply appreciate when we take the time to look for that good feel. It's very easy to do, but it does require you to stop the busyiness and tune into their body language at all times.

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  4. What a wonderful day! I actually got the chills reading this. I'm so happy for you both. The little girl sounds adorable and she also has a good eye. Leah is a pretty girl.

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    1. Thank you!! Yes, she was a cute kid and she's going to be a heck of a horse woman someday. I hope I run into her more often. I should get a picture of her on that pony. They should be on a magazine.

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  5. BRAVA!!!
    So chuffed for you right now Linda!
    :-)

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    1. Thanks! Here's to the good days!

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  8. How wonderful for you both! Can't wait to see the progression of you two together~

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    1. Thank you. I'm looking forward to the progression, too, right now, we're just at the beginning. I'm curious to see how our progress will change if and when she starts to look to me for security. At this point, I'd say, she's looking at me...which is big progress, but I've yet to cross that other line...and I'm looking forward to it because that's where the real magic comes in.

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  9. Ok, I'm going to dig out my copy again. Thanks for the reminder 👍🏼

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    1. If you have a copy, I'd say it's worth rereading. He repeats over and over that he can't say enough about "feel", and so a lot is dedicated to that concept. At first, I was glossing over it, but then I took some steps back and started really evaluating my indirect feel with Leah, realized she wasn't together with me, and started to sort that out with her. I'm not finished with the book yet...about half way through, but I'm trying to take my time and really understand it. I'm interested in your thoughts when you dust it off!

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    1. Haha. Yes,in more ways than one.

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