Horsey Therapist

Friday, May 30, 2008


My waking moments during the night were spent on two topics: 1) upcoming presentation on Treatment Planning for Our Therapy Horses and 2) what was happening with Sofia and I yesterday.

At some point I remembered something of vital importance to my progress with Sofia.

Mark Rashid told us to start with what we want. He uses a 0-10 scale to help us think along a continuum to describe the pressure and energy of what we do. So if we want to be backing a horse with a 0.5-1.0, then that is what we use to request a back up. If the horse doesn't back with that, we do not increase what we are using, but instead bring additional energy some other way.

Yesterday my focus was so much on remaining calm inside myself even if I had to use bigger movements at times to direct a horse, I forgot about the 'start with what you want' message. I was successful with remaining calm, focussed, breathing yesterday but ended the day feeling like I was missing something. I was.

So this morning after feeding hay, I haltered up two of the horses I worked with yesterday and experimented to see if I could get a nice flowing back up without increasing the pressure I was using. I could. I'm very grateful for this. Instead of increasing pressure to get movement, I kept in mind the softness I want, sent that thought out through my hand on the lead rope, and added energy through change of posture and moving my outside hand. All the time I was feeling for the change in thought in the horse, feeling for that opening when they shifted from 'I'm standing here regardless' to 'ah, moving back with you is easy, here we go'.

I'm off teaching today so that is it for my hands on with our horses here at home. I will make a quick walk around the pasture perimeter fencing to see if any posts need replacing. Soon I want to start turning some horses out on grass. I look forward to seeing how the fields respond to the predicted rainfall this weekend. Not "showers", but actual rainfall!


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