Horsey Therapist

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Keeping the circle round on the ground

I was playing around at dusk yesterday. Gosh, the earlier descending darkness surprised me! Rusty was my play partner and thinking about it this morning, there are some new things I experimented with.

While circling and furthering our experience of me asking with most subtle cues before going to larger behaviors, I put my attention again to asking with my imaginery change of gait. I was more successful but I guess I expected to be even more successful than I was. That might fall under the category of greed, however no 'might' about this: it falls under the category of expecting rather than being there nonjudgmentally with what is. Yeah, I did some nonjudgmental, too, but it's remarkable the pressure I bring by expecting more than the more I am already getting. I am appropriately proud (is that an oxymoron?) that I did not create discord by putting so much pressure on Rusty with my expectations of more-more.

Run-on sentences. Sorry. I am eager to put these things down in words -- lots happened yesterday.

OK, so I was playing around with transitions again and they were better. I started focusing (hmm, too many things I was trying to address?) on the roundness of our circle, or the lack of roundness. I did my usual of sort of thrusting my hips out into the space between us in my apparently ineffective attempt to own that space so he would stay out at a consistent distance and not cut through, followed by arms and end of rein flopping or flailing in his direction. I really should get someone to video tape me though I'm not sure I could tolerate seeing exactly how ridiculous I can look doing ground work with this horse!

Because I am intent on developing more intrinsic communication with my horses, I started thinking, what else can I do? And up from my memory popped the idea of my personal bubble of space -- this time the bubble was more the consistency of (anyone remember this stuff?) the sort of rubber cement bubble material -- came in a little tube with a straw, take a small blob and put it on the end of the straw and blow really, really hard but created a stiff bubble? Anyway, I had this bubble around me, the radius set by the distance that I wanted between us on the circle, and then I sort of put some extra stiffness in the bubble material as we approached the arc of the circle where Rusty wanted to take his short cut to sort of prevent him coming into the bubble. This helped!

Then I resumed my focus on walk trot transitions. I was playing around with exhaling for the transitions and mentally creating a space ahead of us that he could trot into. I felt my previous focus on lights eminating from my shoulders and hips wasn't working well, mostly it was a lot to keep track of mentally -- maybe that is why it didn't work as I couldn't keep track of the imagery and keep connected with Rusty. Yeah, that's it. It became more of a 'doing' thing than a 'being' thing, which doesn't work for me or for Rusty. Now I recall Mark telling a rider to try one new image at a time... I need to remember that.

There I was trying out all sorts of exhales! In hindsight, I was probably jumping from one to the next to the next and not giving us time to be connected and see his response. I wasn't seeing enough so tried something else. Hmm, this same theme again...

Mark Rashid had mentioned a few different ways of exhaling while working with one rider at the October clinic, so I tried those and some more -- tongue up on the roof of my mouth when I exhale, tongue on the floor of my mouth, stiff tongue, loose tongue, slow steady exhale of breath, quick single burst of an exhale, quick series of exhales, exhales in time with each foot pushing off... and more.

I do need to try this again in slow motion. It was almost dark by then and I had some of my "I want it to work darnitall" determination going. Pushy of me!

Then it occurred to me to tune into his hind legs for the transition. Now that made a difference. Both tuning into his hind legs and sort of imagining I was inside his center, or my center was connected with his center, but it wasn't such an intense thinking deal like the lights from my shoulders and hips thing, it was more a ... hmm, a softer thing (wow, realization in hindsight!) of me looking at him with soft eyes (concept ala Sally Swift) -- looking at his hinds and feeling them start to thrust more, and looking at his core area and feeling him loosen and stretch out into a relaxed forward trot.

It happened!!

I want to remember what really worked, to integrate this. It was not the specifics of what I did, but the quality and clarity and the connectedness that I allowed accidentally -- and from now on I want to allow that on purpose!

The other new thing was asking Rusty to jump over some blue plastic 55 gallon drums like I saw TH do at the clinic (and yes, have seen on TV, too). Rusty is sooo ready to leap! More on that at another time. I do hope I can ride with Kathleen Lindley next June when she comes to New Hampshire!

ADDENDUM: More thinking about the bubble of space, and wondering how to have a bubble of space around me while having a bubble of space that encompasses both me and my horse...


At 29 November, 2007 10:36, Blogger Victoria Cummings said...

LJB - I am so interested in what you are doing with Rusty. Are you in the round pen while you work with him? Did you actually study with Carolyn Resnick? Also, I'd love to understand more about blending - I think I understand the concept, but I'd love some examples of how it works for you. Siete's energy level is so high right now - We're going to have a change of weather. The wind is blowing , the temp is dropping. I tried some of the stretching you recommended. We did okay, especially with the back up, which pleased me. I'm taking it very slowly though. I totally get what you're talking about when you say there's too much pressure or you worry about trying to address too much too fast. It's one of the biggest problems we have with training horses. They don't have an agenda, do they?

At 29 November, 2007 21:58, Blogger LJB said...

I've been in the arena lately, but have worked with him in the round pen. The footing there right now is not so great. Frozen sod versus frozen sand.

What did I talk about that led you to think of Carolyn Resnick? I've read her book and watched her video but not met her.

The blending, well there are two applications for that word. I will write about it more, know one type of blending well, and know just a smidgeon about the other type of blending -- the blending that is learned in Aikido.

At 02 December, 2007 11:23, Blogger Pam said...

I'm so enjoying reading about your experiences working with Rusty after Mark's clinic. It was great to hear you came home with the information you so wanted to gain at the clinic!

I just finished reading Carolyn Resnick's book and loved it. Do you like the video? There was one chapter I really needed to read at this time, so cool.


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