Horsey Therapist

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Starting and starting over

I confess I've been spending my 'writing' time on Facebook. It meets some needs although leaves some other needs unmet. So here I am using an old familiar route for expressing myself.

Hello, Fellow Blogospheriacs!

I'm quite accustomed to being busy most of the time. To meet some financial needs, I am working more than I had been for some years, and working using my mental health professional expertise which is rewarding as I feel competent much of the time. I urge everyone to do things that bring the feeling of competence!

Which brings me to one of my horsey questions these days: how to help my horses feel competent when we are doing things together.

I have been spending time with Riza, 5 year old quarter horse cross. I take my time starting a young horse, and saddled her with my bulky, double girthed western saddle this summer for the first time. My other preparations for riding her include lunging then ground driving her. My next steps will be to ground drive her saddled up and down slopes and around the farm outside of the ring or round pen. I have done enough in containment to know she's understanding what I want which so far is walk, trot, turns at walk, turns at trot, stop, and back up. She has done some of this carrying a bit as well, and when I find her further along with steering, like at about 98% responsiveness to my intention, position, and/or reins, then I'll hook the reins to the bit and proceed with that piece of preparing her for riding.

I reviewed much of Mark Rashid's DVD called Ground Driving yesterday. I like his approach to horses, to people, to the progression of skill development.

It leaves me wondering where to start with my older horses who have not have the benefit of being started slowly and systematically with their responses and readiness kept in mind during the process. I did lunge then ground drive two of them recently. They seem to understand -- so now how to get to the comfort, sense of competence, and beyond. That 'beyond' in my book is called enthusiasm.

Of course, I have to ask myself, is it fair to want my horse to be more enthusiastic than I am? How much does fear arise in me when I start feeling my horse's enthusiasm? I have more to release from past scared-as-heck moments I've experienced, especially with one horse. He is the one that continues to puzzle me. Or should I say, my reactions and responses when I'm with him -- even though quite subtle! -- are the ones that continue to puzzle me?

I am developing more focus and discipline as that is about the only way I make time to get out there and do things with the horses. Getting Riza started is one priority, getting/keeping Kacee conditioned enough for her health and her availability to carry me on the occasional longer trail ride is another priority, and now I am adding this 'figuring things out with Rusty on the next levels' as another priority.

I have been reading Mark Rashid's latest book, Whole Heart, Whole Horse which I highly recommend, and do buy it from his website so he gets the $ benefits of sharing his wisdom with us.

He was talking about when we give our hearts completely, then the horse can give the whole of himself. I was thinking about the parts of my heart that I hold back from Rusty, and know that I will start there. Not inspecting the holdings but start with bringing my whole vulnerable heart to our contact and see what happens. I think I vacillate between 'here's my heart' and 'by the way, we're doing this now dammit'. I have been learning a lot from my therapeutic riding students in the past months. I can bring that same freshness and open-minded creativity to my time with Rusty. I'm directing our contact, but please show me what you know, how you learn, how much you can take in new stuff without feeling bored, anxious, or overwhelmed.

I think it's all about my slowing things down with my older horses, like Rusty, just as I do with my younger horses. Slow down, offer something, notice the response, and slow down again. All the while energetically moving forward with purpose.


At 27 September, 2009 16:22, Anonymous Kerry said...

Thank you for the thoughts on giving of the heart. As people I know we are so wanting things to go fast. Even dogs train fast compared to horses. This is the biggest focus I have to deal with in training my 3 year old shetland. And worse when I keep hearing others "I can have a horse doing everything I want in90 days"....


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