I had my day of reckoning, last Friday, when I was tasked to load, trailer to Riverside State Park, and unload Beautiful Girl all by myself, then take her through the obstacle course. I had prepared my mind by re-reading True Unity by Tom Dorrance, and writing a blog post about it. One of the things he said was--
"People have to rely on themselves. I tell people that it has to come right out of the inside of themselves, the end result. There can be some direction, or support and encouragement, but the feel itself can come from no one but themselves."My trainer, Rebecca, seems to be moving into that part of the training experience. She pushes me out of my comfort zone and then hovers nearby, but otherwise, leaves me to myself to figure it out. She made it clear, she wasn't going to be with me during the trailer loading and unloading.
Dorrance also said--
"The rider needs to recognize the horse's need for self-preservation in MIND, BODY, and, the third factor, SPIRIT. He needs to realize how the person's approach can ASSURE the horse that he can have his self-preservation and still respond to what the person is asking him to do."
Thinking of all the reasons why what I was asking her to do would violate EVERY rule of her self-preservation--load into a trailer, leave her herd, go to a strange place, put her trust in her human, be around other strange horses, go over scary obstacles--I developed a checklist to make sure I had, truly, prepared her for it.
1. Getting in the trailer. Check.
As Dorrance suggests in the book, after the bucking incident last summer, I analyzed the good, and the bad, and did my best to discover why it happened, so that I could set her up for never having it happen again Here is one of my posts on bucking. Toward that end, we worked on standing tied--because you have to do that in the trailer, loading and unloading, and trailering away from home. I even attended a clinic on trailer loading and discovered things I ended up needing for this day. That post is here: Tips on Trailer Loading a Horse.
2. Leaving the Herd. Check.
It was abundantly clear last summer that Bee did not have enough experience leaving her herd. The first trip away from home was just too much for her and led to the bucking incident. I immediately started training her by pulling her from the herd and walking her to the barn next door. A post on some of that is here. We also did winter clinics at the barn next door--driving over obstacles, riding over obstacles, going through the scary tunnel, standing tied, and meeting new horses.
3. Trusting Me.
"I'm not trying to get everything completed, but to get enough there to where if the horse gets troubled he will come to me; or to where I can get him to come to me for security and cover. Without that foundation I feel very insecure with a horse."But trust can only be tested under stress, so I wouldn't know if I'd accomplished that until after the day was done--after the trip away from home to Riverside.
I was scared for Beautiful. She's my baby mustang I adopted from the BLM. I've always been afraid for her.
I had gone through everything in my mind and decided that YES, I had prepared her for what I was going to ask. I couldn't do anymore than I did.
And yes, what I am doing is the right thing to do! I have to get her trained for her own good--so that if anything happens to me, she can go and be a partner to someone else. So far, she has shown herself fully up to the task. She is eager to do this!
I have to give her the chance.
Set her up for success, yes, ....
but also give her room to make mistakes.
(To be continued.)