Monday, October 31, 2016

Learning to Communicate in Whispers


"Let a horse whisper in your ear and breathe on your heart. You will never regret it."

 Leah's Diary:

My mom is changing.  She used to always be on my face a lot, pulling my mouth here and there and here and there.  First, I was confused, then I was nervous, then I was confused--eventually, I hate to admit, I got mad.  That's not like me.  I'm a good girl.  Cowgirl is mean, Beautiful Girl is really mean, but me, I'm nice. Ask anyone in my herd, they'll tell  you.

Mom's Diary:

The monthly clinic is coming up and I finally read the topic for the day--"Massage--on ground and on your horse."  Wow.  That's exactly what I've been doing!  This month has been all about leaving Leah alone--at first 100 percent--and just riding wherever she wanted to go.  Then, it was maybe 80/20--with me at the 20, Leah at the 80.  Now, I'm asking as lightly as I can--a gentle lift of a rein, for example.

When I first lifted up the rein, gently, slowly--no contact whatsoever, Leah put her ears back at me.  It showed me how far off we'd gotten and how far we have to go to get her back to okay with an ask.

Leah's Diary:

I want to trust my mom, but it's hard.  I'm not sure she's going to listen to me when I'm telling her something.  I don't like to yell, I prefer to whisper, but it was like she was deaf and I had to yell anyway.  Now, she's trying to listen to me, but it's hard for me to get used to.  I sure like it when she bends down and rubs my neck and head as we walk.  She can do that all day.  It just melts me and it's so hard to stay mad at her.

Mom's Diary:

Leah and I have been getting really nice movement both directions around the arena.  The really hard bolting away has mostly ceased with the massage randomly sprinkled in.  What I do now is ride her on a very loose rein, but I hold them down as if they're side reins.  If we're going to the left, I shorten the right rein and loosen the left.  If she tries to bolt to the left, she hits the right rein.  It works like a charm.  And, it's all her.  She's working against herself, not me.

For a whoa, I almost never pull back anymore, instead, I sit back.  If that doesn't stop her, because she may confused it for something else, I say whoa lightly, and she stops.

We're also working more on neck reining.  She likes to break into a trot when we work, but I just let her get it out and move under me and, when she's done, we try again. She's picking it up fast.

Leah's Diary:

Mom has me on a diet. I wish she'd let me eat more. One day, last week, I broke into the barn and raided the hay pile.  I didn't feel bad about it either. I just want to eat!  All I can think about is food.



Mom's Diary

All and all, we've made a lot of progress this month.  Leah is slowly losing weight--slowly.  She's moving better without the extra pounds.

I've learned that she's an extremely sensitive horse--a little aid or communication goes a LONG way.  I'm also learning to speak to her in whispers of movement and then ride with her until she gets it.  So far, she hasn't done anything real scary.  She did take a few steps back the other day when I asked for forward, but they were slow and I kept up the light squeezes, not giving in to her, and she seemed to think it through and realize what I was asking was fair.  I think we're on the right track.  I can only judge by the fact that things are making forward progress and not backward progress.



One thing's certain, she loves the massage and stretching.  She has come a long, long way with that.  Her ability to bend in is about 50 percent better than a month ago.


And, she likes to come to me, it seems.

Leah's Diary:

I wasn't sure about mom a month ago, but it's getting better between us.  I kind of like it when she comes to get me and takes me away from my mare herd.  I get lots of rubs and I don't have to worry about getting kicked and pushed around. It's pretty nice.  

But I would like more food. As hard as I try, she doesn't seem to be getting my hints about that.

8 comments:

  1. It sounds that you two are getting better at communicating. Don't worry Leah- it will get better with the hunger- I promise.

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    1. I'll let her know. I don't think she'll believe you!

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  2. It definitely sounds like you are both making great progress. I hear ya Leah, dieting is no fun at all!

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    1. I think her diet is as hard on me as it is her. I wish I could give her 24/7 food!

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  3. Changing thinking patterns and attitudes is like chipping away at a brick wall, so if you're seeing a change in a horse's attitude for the better, that's worth celebrating.

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    1. Yes, the progress we've made is pretty huge from where we were. She hasn't had any bolts to the left. She does look to the left and pull to the left, but when she hits that right rein, she stops and continues forward.

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  4. " One day, last week, I broke into the barn and raided the hay pile. I didn't feel bad about it either"

    Leah, I think you might be some long lost cousin of my best guy - he would steal food if he got half a chance & never think twice. Ermm, except the day that he thought he could reach over the hot fence & steal from the bull's feeder (I think he was a little bit sorry that he pulled that one ;-) )

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  5. So I'm just catching up om blogs after the big move. Sounds like you have found a really good way of connecting/learning/training with Leah. Very exciting!

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