Horsey Therapist

Friday, February 02, 2007


I rode Rusty and Soli today, not in that order. Soli -- a horse I affectionately call "Slugabug" -- actually was lively, ready to trot, trot, trot. I kept in mind asking for trotting after he was commited to slowing down instead of keeping him trotting, and he kept trotting for longer and longer periods even though we were tooling around the boring old arena. Well, it wasn't boring to me as I was practicing posting without getting ahead of his motion in the Bates saddle. Seemed to fit Soli fine. Still fits me fine. :-)

Rusty... dear Rusty. What did a friend say today? Rusty is a horse who will not accept being forced whatsoever no way absolutely not. Same friend suggested some progressive steps to helping Rusty understand and feel ok about some ground work I would like to have go more smoothly. In plain english: I would like to simply send Rusty off at times. Instead of leaving me when I ask him to leave, he turns and challenges me. IF I have any physical connection with him via halter or rope, he will do what I ask. If I don't, I'm at his mercy. Really, I feel that way sometimes. Ineffective, powerless, scared. I have to wonder what he is feeling if that is what I am feeling!

Before I rode him, I explored some ground work with him. Some went really well, some went -- sigh -- not well. I guess in order to be where we are and not pretend we're someplace further along regarding groundwork at liberty, I will accept that I need to communicate with him with some equipment right now. We did have some really nice trots with a light 18' rope around his neck. That is less confining than with a halter so that felt good to me. He was listening, responsive, a little dull. There is such a difference in his demeanor with or without equipment. Amazing really... scratching my head...

We had a pleasant ride but it felt sluggish. Now I have to ask myself, is "sluggish" what it feels like when he's not on the verge of leaping around? I suspect there is a middle ground, but for now, maybe that is all he can offer without tipping the scales way over?

I tried riding a pattern. It gave me focus; it gave me a clear series of events to assess his responsiveness; I'm not sure it gave him much of anything although we had a buck-free ride. Ground work before mounting, western saddle (which with intentionality I placed further back on his short back), footing fairly soft at about 30° with some light snow cover since our last ride, and Soli was loose in the arena with us.

Sluggish -- interesting word I chose. He did come into some longer trotting and stretching down, way down, with his head and neck after some cantering. That felt good. What is it I want? I want that energetic edge and interest in what we're doing to be there when we ride. He brought more energy toward the end of our ride than at the start, so that is good. I wonder if my discomfort is a barrier -- discomfort with having another being more or less ready to do my biding. Maybe I really do not want Rusty to bring his ideas so strongly to our relationship, hence sending him mixed messages: bring your life up but don't bring your life up like that!

Time for me to think proactively and help him know in what ways he is welcome to bring up his life. Like today, he was welcome to move into a canter from a trot, into a faster canter from a slow canter. Keep showing him where to find the "yes"s.


At 02 February, 2007 22:06, Blogger ZinniaZ said...

You know what? You are making me think of Will. He can be either a little TOO forward and he can be very dull. Especially at the beginning-- I and he had a hard time finding the grey areas. Go meant GOOOOOOOO! and take it back a notch meant painfully slow. He has found some middle ground and some variations. Some of this is strength and some of this is figuring out that go can mean just 'go'. I am trying to think what helped him besides time and strengthbuilding. Oh oh! I know! I like the trot, almost walk, trot on exercise. You ask him to trot and then ask him to come almost to a walk and then ask him to trot more right before he comes down to the walk. Not too much of this because it can be frustrating-- but it shows him that there can be 'gears'. THIS is good to do in a pattern-- it is easier for them to understand if you ask for the almost walk at the same spot or spots for a while, so they can expect it. It's a tough concept and if you ask for it randomly, I think it can blow their minds a little. BUt once you have established that as a pattern, he might have more idea that there are grey areas in the Go.

I hope I am not overcommenting! I am loving your blog and the interaction and the ideas. It's amazing how much LH has seeped into my own horsemanship just from talking and reading what you are doing!


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