Horsey Therapist

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It can feel bad -- without context?

I'm not sure what my friend refers to when she said it feels bad, but I know I've had to make some changes in myself in order to do things that appear to make the horse upset. However, I have much more confidence that what I do that upsets him only upsets him because it's in the way of his thoughts, and as soon as he lets go of his thoughts, he feels really good.

So much of it is in the 'how' I do something, my effort being in doing it in such a way that he thinks he's doing it to himself. A million thanks to the various folks who coach me!

Hence I can hold the reins, but not pull, for example. Horse can find his way off the pressure and think he's learned something pretty special and meaningful. It's not me doing something to him, it's him doing something to himself. Stuff like that.

And each time I ask, I ask with what I want to end with -- so if I want him to stop from an invisible shift in my energy and seat, that's what I do first. If he doesn't stop from that AND I know he's stopped from that before, I take up the slack and set my hands and he runs into the reins, and I wait until he softens AND is stopped, which might be as he stops or might be after a few steps of backing. If he's never stopped from my energy and seat before, I might ask lightly with the reins, and if that doesn't make sense, ask with one rein to circle until he slows, circle until he stops. With fourteen million adjustments and releases possible along the way. Assuming he's paying attention and actively searching for some meaning in what I'm doing, what I'm communicating by what I'm doing. If he's not understanding, then my getting firmer is like yelling to the foreigner who doesn't understand what I just said in a normal voice in English. More volume is not going to solve the problem. Finding a way to communicate my meaning is what is needed.

I did find myself 'yelling' at the old horse one afternoon. It was a perfect learning opportunity for me as Harry was riding next to me, suggested I do some other things, than we revisted the events later that evening and again the next day. And I got to try out doing it differently next time I rode. Very sweet! Because I had learned, and Harry knew when I was in a learning frame of mind as well as what to do to help the horse be in a learning frame of mind, and time and circumstances allowed for me to experiment with similar stresses in the horse the next day.

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