Monday, July 18, 2016

To Chillax or Not to Chillax

To chillax or not to chillax, that is the question.

I was walking Leah to the arena for her lesson this morning, and finding myself, like usual, all chillaxed--just kind of moseying over, with her on a loose lead.  She was trailing a bit and sight-seeing a bit. 

And then, the book I'm reading came back to me--Zen Mind, Zen Horse--and what the author said about walking with Chi--aliveness, life force energy or life breath.  I stood up straight, took a deep breath, and walked with purpose.  

Leah liked it.  She was like, Who is this new girl with all this girl-power?!? 

The argument for chillaxing is this: if you keep your energy and re-activeness low, the horse/animal/person keeps theirs low.  That's not such a bad thing, right?  And, I will say, I have chillaxed animals.  As I write this, I'm filtering through a lifetime of memories where that relaxed, chilling attitude helped me survive many a tense human--to-human interaction by diffusing it.  

Diffusing it?  Hamilton describes that purposeless walk as hesitant and diffuseDiffuse.  Diffusing.  Ah, a light bulb is coming on.

But there has to be a happy medium place--and that place is being relaxed and comfortable, but also walking and working with "purpose and will".  

The lesson barn has an obstacle bridge in front of the arena, and as I WALKED WITH PURPOSE, I noticed it for the FIRST time.  Aha!  What a great obstacle to warm up with!  I walked onto the bridge and asked Leah to join me.

Leah: No.

Me: How about I jump off the bridge and pull you over the bridge.

Leah: Okay, but only over the short part.

Lightbulb: Ask her to go over it by herself like you ask her to load in the trailer by herself.  

Me: Standing to her side and waving the end of the lead behind her. Up on the bridge, Leah.  Girl Power!

Leah: Oh yeah!  I'm going on that there bridge! I am, mom, up on the bridge.  Voila!  (Hoof and fist pump).

It will not surprise you to learn that our lesson was wonderful.  Not that Leah had transformed into a Grand Prix Level Dressage horse, or me a Grand Prix rider, but she and I were a partnership working through our mutual issues.  I felt this great trust and communication with her, like I have with Cowboy.  

My instructor asked if she was afraid of cattle (because there are cattle at the end of the arena in an outside/adjoining pen.)  I felt so confident with Leah that I said I didn't know, but I sure wanted to find out.  So, off to the end of the arena to finish our lesson, and Leah did GREAT.

I didn't want to dismount.  I usually do dismount and walk her back to the trailer, but we were having too much fun.  I walked her out of the arena and over to the obstacle bridge, asked her to mount it, and up she went without hesitation!

Girl Power!!

As we stood on the bridge, I could feel the beginning of a trail relationship!

And, I told her so at the trailer.

Me:  Leah, you ARE going to be my trail horse.  You are.



  1. Hoof Pump! That sounds so fabulous. I love your insight - it made total sense. There's the total relaxed but not in charge and no purpose (kinda like margaritaville type relaxed) and then there's the calm leadership relaxed.

    Keep it up!

    1. You got it! Finding the perfect balance between the two is the goal.

  2. You have really turned the page in your relationship with Leah.
    But now, I gotta ask. Was looking at the photo of your saddle- do you not have a strap above your stirrup?

    1. No strap. I wonder if you're seeing the cinch strap?

  3. Awesome! I've learned about purpose plus calm from working with both Lucy and Tex. They need it for different reasons -- Lucy because she worries and Tex because, well, because he's Tex. I like Zen definition; makes a ton of sense.

    1. That balance of energy and purpose is the key!

  4. You've found the key to the mine! When you are relaxed and comfortable yet working with "purpose and will" it's a great step in our relationship with our horses. I always try to remain calm and direct my energy towards where I want us to go. This attitude also helps when I'm trying to get the horses to understand what I want from them while riding. It's crucial to remain relaxed on the inside as well as the outside of our bodies because just looking calm isn't going to fool them they can sense tension and will act accordingly with their own bodies.

    Great work with Leah! "Girl Power" "Hoof Pump"! Don't let now sinking bridges or cows scare you!

    1. Ha! Yes, it is the key. I can't wait to get out and ride her tomorrow on my day off!


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