Three days with Joe Wolter and horses and friends here in Vermont. Wonderful weather. And I got what I wanted: confidence in my ability to go for a trail ride alone with Rusty.
The little things I've heard over and over, fell into place. If the horse is worried, help him get away. That was a breakthrough for me. Experiencing what that "help him get away" is in actuality. Feeling the first moment of "horse is worried." Putting those together with my overall take from this clinic, and there we were, out in the woods and across fields and through the creek, together and having fun.
Overall meaningful concept from the clinic: a new meaning for 'release him for the thought'. Set it up so he finds zero pressure when he gets with your idea. So it is not just about placing the feet and arranging the body that will bring him release from pressure. It is not just about changing his emotional state that will bring him release from pressure. It is about all of it -- his mind, his listening, his readiness, his body -- all of it ready and there with you, on the edge waiting to go or stop, that is where he finds zero pressure.
I am so pleased to have had enough help over the weekend and over the summer and over this past year and over these past ten years, to have gotten to where I am today.
Rusty was at the clinic with me. I gained confidence in my ability to bring him back to me when his mind went phalooey off some place else. And I was present and aware to give him release for settling back and being available with me again. This morning I rode Kacee and used the same finer-tuned skills and awareness for our trail ride. Not just out there and back, but doing things along the way to invite her back to me when she mentally drifted.
Sunday while others worked on this and that in the ring, I prepared to head out alone with Rusty for a trail ride. I can still hear Joe: "Just go ride!"