Monday, January 25, 2010

Yesterday, Today and ....

I've been thinking about whether I had the balance right with Iona. For years I thought she was purely a "stubborn, dominant, lazy" Left Brained Introvert (although at that stage the terminology wasn't around). When the Horsenality model arrived, I realised that some of her behavior was actually fear based "Right Brained Introvert". So I went through a period of taking care of that part of Iona, now that I knew about it. I'm sure she really appreciated my new level of understanding,  but it possibly made me a more hesitant leader, and that is not what a dominant horse needs. I did a little Horsenality chart on our recent problems, and all I saw was extreme LBI behavior. Oh. I guess that's where we are again.

Played with Iona yesterday. I audited a group lesson with Kime Conkright on Sunday, and she said something that really impressed me about how there is always a chance for a new beginning when you go get your horse to play. She was suggesting to a student that playing for a bit, then putting the horse up for awhile, getting her out and playing again, etc. might be a good strategy. I thought it might be worth a try with Iona this week. Things are going to be hectic getting ready for the demo on Sunday, and at the same time I want to spend a lot of time with Iona, both playing and sharing undemanding time. So yesterday, one session was just grooming her, and the moving her around, etc. that this involves. Even that was hard work. I had no draw, she didn't want to look at me, or put her halter on or be led. Yech!!  Then I left her while I did some other things.

Came back and we played the Circle game. I am trying to increase how many laps of trot or canter we can do. This may be one of the reasons we are having these big disagreements lately. I believe that Iona is "ready and able" to do this. I believe, in fact, that playing with this is going to teach each of us some things we now need to learn about Rapport, Respect, Impulsion and Flexion. However, because I'm still searching for strategies and because Iona is so dominant, this is causing her to "up the ante" and revert to some old behaviors. Like refusing to go forward, charging, threatening to kick, bucking... Yep, she did all of those. Happily, at least it doesn't scare me, and I don't get angry anymore. Frustrated, occasionally, but I do my best to manage it!

We went out to the playground and worked on Weave. This went a bit better than it has been. I think NOT doing Figure 8 and Weave on the same day helps. She finds this too predictable and boring. Perhaps if I can mix them up. I did mix some circles into the weave session, and that worked pretty well. I didn't stay at this too long, though. Too boring for her. Yes, I know it's not the Pattern that's boring, it's the way I'm presenting it. I think I try to go too fast, when actually, being more particular might be more interesting and provocative.

I left her in the roundpen while I went and did a few things. I came back with a bareback pad and hackamore. She did a great job of finding her bareback pad and letting me put it on, although once again I lacked the patience to really wait for her to sniff it. (I am beginning to suspect that this is a huge mistake, by the way!) She was very grumpy and didn't want to do much in the pen. I persisted and insisted as politely and passively as I could. I never hit her, but she did run into my stick a few times. We spent a lot of time discussing circles and Stick to Me, but very little time actually doing them. I tried to end on a good note, and decided to go ahead and ride.

That didn't go very well except as a rodeo event. I wanted to do some Figure 8 at trot around two barrels. Again, I think part of the trouble is boredom, (she could do this years ago) but the lack of respect and impulsion was not appropriate. So lots of bucking. I got to work on my independent seat and emotional fitness. Yea!! Eventually....finally....we got going and did the pattern with a nice trot and a pretty good attitude. We quit for the day.

Throughout the day's sessions I felt nothing but love for Iona. YES, I was frustrated! After all we are supposed to be riding in a demo on Sunday!!!! and I'm not sure it's going to look that good. However, I was also very firm with her. I was fair, I was friendly, but I was as dominant as I could figure out how to be without being mean. And I spent the evening wondering whether I could stand another day like that, as I didn't really know whether it had done any good.

Today my plan was to groom again, put on the bareback pad, do one short roundpen sesssion and then take her out to the big pasture for a passenger lesson-mosey-grazing-thingy! I usually bring any horses I want to play with in from the track just as they finish their bucket feed. I was trying to catch up on a few chores while they ate, and before I knew it Bruce and Iona were starting to leave the feeding area for goodness knows where. I was some distance away, but thought it was worth a try, so I shouted "Iona! Wait!" She did, and when I got there and called her she came right over and put her nose in the halter. Hmmmmm.

I was very particular with her about how she led, how she went through gates, but also particular to reward her (treats) when she did these things well. She mostly did them really well. Grooming was nice. Then I hung out my washing. Came back. Had reasonable draw. Decided to see if she would go with me at Liberty to get her pad on. We walked toward the saddle stand where I had put it. That's near a wate hydrant. She's always thirsty, so I filled a bucket and she had a drink. She found the pad and sniffed it. sniffed it again when I was in position to put it on. So far, so good.

I thought I'd just carry on at Liberty, and although she was slow, we made it into the little back yard and into the roundpen all at Liberty. I really tried to match her slow walking speed, and I think that helped our Rapport. In the roundpen session the bad stuff did come up again. However, I tried to be particular. I didn't find that I had to be as dominant as yesterday,  and after a bit things went well.

We then walked through the arena, out to the track, through two gates, to a mounting block where I lined her up, messed up my mount, had to get off, reposition her, got on again - all at Liberty. All at Liberty! Nothing on her head at all, just me, my pony and our orange stick. I just let her eat for awhile, then did a bit of passenger - eat - passenger - eat, first walk and eventually trot. Her lateral flexion was fabulous, she maintained gait at the trot very well after a bit. Let her eat a bit more and we called it a day. Oh, that is, after doing the whole untacking and turning out song and dance also at Liberty.

They say you have a 50/50 chance of choosing the right strategy, and I guess that what I did yesterday must have been right, if today was anything to go by. I wonder what she'll do tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Looking for a Balance

I guess this is where I am supposed to stand back and say "Hmmmm, how interesting." My sessions with Iona seem to be really hard for both of us at the moment. She isn't a very willing partner lately, and I am really struggling to figure out how to fix it. I'm not sure whether we are stuck at Rapport or at Respect, and if we lack both (which we do) is this maybe one of those times when respect needs to be improved to actually gain rapport?

That's what I tried today. I had no draw and also had a horse who didn't even want to be led from A to B. Even in the round pen she didn't want to follow me, so we played the Catching Game, and I ended up repeating it a few times before she really stuck to me. I don't think that this really improved the rest of our session that much, however.

We have had various sessions and rides recently where not much has gone "right". I believe that some of the sour faces and refusals to do things are her version of play, and I can happily laugh about that, but I feel there are deeper disharmonies that I don't know how to remedy. My experiments with asking less or asking more, asking for more obedience or using reverse psychology, offering a purpose or just hanging out, all seem to end up in much the same place. Not much progress. 

I did have one little interesting moment on Sunday. Linda and I were going to go out for a ride. I went to saddle up, and asked her to look at or sniff her saddle. She looked away. I decided to do things right and wait. It took ages with me just standing there holding the saddle, but eventually she did sniff it and I put it on. She stood there licking and licking for absolutely ages. I don't think she has an issue with the saddle, but she might have an issue with being rushed into things. Although the play session that followed wasn't all that brilliant, she was great on the ride, even though it was along a route that she has been complaining about recently. I don't know whether this is just coincidence, but I'm thinking perhaps I need to slow everything way down and wait. I know that I'm impatient. I've noticed that in my interactons with people lately, too. I think this is going to be a hard lesson for me, but if I need to learn it then I will try! 

Our friend Denise took a bunch of great photos on Sunday. This picture is typical of many that she took of me playing with Iona. My energy is way up while hers is low. I'm not playing with the horse that shows up. Guess it's time to study up on Horsenality strategies, too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Upcoming Events!

Well, Petra and I have been cooking up a little plan, and we're serving it up on the 31st. We really want to increase local interest in Parelli, so we have set up a day for interested people to come along and meet PNH students, see some demos outdoors and then we'll bring them indoors for an informal chat, snacks, and DVD watching. We'll probably watch Get Started.


I've been wanting to do something like this for a long time, so I'm very excited. Hopefully we will manage to attract more local people, as that will make it so much easier to fill clinics and lessons. Petra is planning to set up a series of group lessons here at a great price, so hopefully we will get enough people signed up for that to be successful. Petra's website is here . You can read more about her and also see the wonderful flyer she made for our event.

We just started promoting this yesterday, and I already had a call this morning from someone who lives about 30 minutes from here who wants to come and bring a few friends. I'm sure we will have a great day!


More excitement: I have just heard from 2* instructor Jerry Williams, and he has agreed to come here on the 7th, 8th and 9th of May to teach clinics. I think Jerry is such a great instructor, so I am really looking forward to being able to bask in all that Savvy. I had the chance to watch Jerry teach in 2008, and his great attitude and communication skills stuck in my mind. I am so pleased to be able to host him.


Jerry also has a blog, where her writes inspirational posts aimed at Parelli students. His latest about raising your expectations, is a real gem. Here's the link Raise Your Expectations