Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Transition: Changing the Energy


 

Sometimes, I remind myself that when I take a horse from the herd, I'm changing its whole energy.


 I'm asking her to shift gears from a grazing, resting being, to a moving, working one.

Sometimes, in those moments of awareness, I stop what I'm doing and let her rest while she transitions her mind.


I was having an issue with mounting for rides.  Leah was starting to take off as soon as I got in the saddle. She had been doing it for the last few weeks, as if she anticipated the drastic change and was all hyped up for it.

Yesterday, I let her rest and gave her time to change her energy.  She liked it.  She rested.  When I asked her to move out, she moved out gently.


When I mounted at the trail head today, Leah stood as still as she did when I had let her rest.  We stood for a little bit, until she was ready to make the shift.  And, we had a great ride.  She spooked to the side once--at a log.  She took up the rear through the creek--not sure why--but she wanted to follow, rather than lead, but she went through like a champ when it was her time. She also did great down some extremely steep, loose basalt terrain that many horses struggle with.  It was so steep in parts that I was leaned back almost to her butt--Man From Snowy River style.

There is something to be said for respecting the transition.  What is that saying about how the way a process starts out determines how the whole thing will go?

Something else I did yesterday--visualization exercises.  I envisioned what we would look like 4 panels ahead, and I tried to think positive.  It helped tremendously!  My hope is to train myself to do that ALL the time.  I tried here and there on the trail today, but I sometimes slipped into negative visualization. I kept thinking Leah was going to trip down that really steep part.

New habits take time to develop.

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8 comments:

  1. I think you make a very good point about transitioning in their minds before you mount up and ask for work. Sounds like she was a star on the trail and at the mounting block.

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    1. Yes, especially greener horses. Last year, Leah would shift away when I started to mount and we had to work on her standing still. This year, she will let you mount, but then she starts to leave before you are settled in the saddle. That is what we worked on this week. I let her rest before mounting and after mounting, before asking her to walk out. She is doing great. She hadn't been on the trail for 3 weeks or more so that was really good.

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  2. Taking the time to shift the energy is critical. I have become more aware of it with Carmen.

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    1. It makes sense. Just like us, it's hard to go from a sitting, resting energy to a running, trotting one--and if it happens to fast--it can trigger a nervous energy or a fight and flight response.

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  3. The last few years (courtesy of all the great thoughts & ideas passed around the online horse world) I have changed my routine to further accommodate that mental shift you're talking about.

    I used to catch, tie, groom, tack, pick feet, lead out, snug up the girth & mount.

    Now I hang a snack of hay in a bag for him to munch first, then I catch, tie, groom the body, tack, pick feet. Then I take about 10 minutes & ignore him - while he finishes his snack I run for a pee, get my hat & gloves on, maybe do flyspray, whatever. Then I comb out his mane & tail, lead out, tighten the cinch, mount & ride.
    Since I slowed down my routine, I find my horses begin the ride more relaxed & so do I. Win/win.

    p.s. Leah's looking awfully pretty!

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    1. Thanks for sharing that. I think I'll try to do the same. I like the idea of having a hay bag ready for them to munch on while I do chores or run back in. Smart. I may even go back to doing that in the trailer--especially as we start Beautiful Girl. Great suggestion.

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  4. "Start as you mean to continue"
    I like to take lots of time when I am getting ready to ride; sometimes I will lead her a ways before getting on, and always stand and wait once I'm on, helps me to focus as much as it does my horse.

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    1. That's a good quote. Thanks! Standing and waiting once you get on sure helps get a good start for both horse and rider. It also lets you come together physically--getting a feel for your seat--them getting a feel for you on their back--breathing together. All of it is excellent.

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