Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Beyond the push and the pull

Because I CAN push and pull my horse, FINALLY! I have found I really, really, really don't want to do that at all. Because I have had a taste of the sliding gliding feeling of my horse taking me someplace, even someplace I want to go, I really, really, really do want to have that feeling all the time. Or as much as I can.

I have ridden plenty of horses who will go where I want them to without much fuss, and perhaps without a tremendous amount of enthusiasm either. Horses who will go as long as I keep asking them to go unless they are pulled along by the forward energy of another horse.

I really don't know how what I'm doing will come out in the end. I know how I want it to feel to both of us. I know that right now in my horsemanship (this day, this week, maybe this month?) I am doing this experimenting in baby steps. All these letting-the-horse-decide moments are because my horses have not been able to decide much at all without getting into trouble, and they have a whole lot of unanswered questions about going here and going there. So on some level I am saying, 'OK, I'm with you, show me where you want to go, and show me again where you want to go.' And I myself am enjoying what they are showing me. Some times it's a small circle near the barn door. I know at some point they will no longer want to go in a small circle near the barn door. I have faith they will think of something else to do.

Meanwhile I am going slowly through this so I do not succumb to the temptation to act on those pressured feelings accompanied with thoughts like 'heavens to mergatroid, isn't there something else you want to do?' I have come to recognize that my horses KNOW when I'm criticizing their choices.

And I want them to KNOW what it's like to be with me when I'm NOT being critical of their choices, their needs, their wants, their urges, whatever. When I am being present and supportive.

And yes, I don't stop there, but I do wait until they have gone through all the options they are attached to before I ask 'can we go this way now?' and if they are really ready, it weighs nothing on the rein, no leg or seat is needed to urge them anywhere, and they go -- they take me off in that direction sometimes with more enthusiasm than I expected. 'FAR OUT!' I say to myself.

This is the particular way I'm exploring how to wait patiently while the horse makes some choices when I'm riding. Similar mindset on my part to when I'm waiting for the horse to make the choice to come hang with me in the round pen. I might be adding some pressure to 'search' or 'put a little more effort into this' but otherwise NO PUSH, NO PULL. Just watching and waiting. It really is quite fascinating what each horse will think to do when allowed to think and do!

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