Last night our play group had a trailer loading play date. My friend played with her horse and was trying to load him. He tends to be very difficult and quite dull--he blows her off. I believe a lot of the problem is technique, respect, and leadership based.
Here I am with Henry (yeah, I think I need to go back to WW's -- the move was not kind to my hips---perhaps eating out for the past 5/6 months huh??? This is just another stressor and necessssary evil in relocating and rennovating the house at the same time! But, at least I can do what I want as a horseperson--just don't look the best in my riding tights! All well, anyhow...
It is dark but, the horse is happily loaded!
Each horse does have a different horsenality and with each horse, it can change and you truly have to play with the horse that shows up. (Which side of the corral did they wake up on, which side did you wake up on?) Being able to understand your horse's needs (and your needs) and adjusting accordingly is truly important. Some of the things I tried to remember last night, that kept me focused and never frustrated, and helped to set me and the horse up for success were: (From Pat Parelli--of course)
“Pressure motivates horses but it is the release that teaches.”
"If your horse says "no", you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong."
"Principles are love, language, and leadership in equal doses."
“Nose, neck, maybe feet.”
“Never say never, don't always say always - usually say usually”
"Hmmm, how interesting. "
I also looked to the 8 responsibilities and recited them before the play date: (mental rehearsing)
There are four responsibilities for the horse and four for the human that make up the "8 Responsibilities. "
For the horse:
1. Don't act like a prey animal (Learn to be calmer, smarter and braver)
2. Maintain gait (Don't shift gears unless I ask)
3. Maintain direction (Stay on course even if I'm not steering)
4. Watch where you are going (Be responsible for your self-carriage)
For the human:
1. Don't act like a predator (I won't use force or lose my temper no matter what)
2. Have an independent seat (I never grip with my hands or below my knees for balance)
3. Think like a horse-man (I consider the horse's perspective)
4. Use the natural power of Focus (I concentrate on what I want, not on what the horse may be doing)
Additionally, I do my homework, watch the dvds, read the articles, and even re-wath, re-read. I try to always take the time it takes, while preparing, while practicing, etc. There is an element of dedication and study for sure. I can say that I only wish I had more time! (I think we all have this issue.)
I truly look forward to future play dates, especially those that involve people bringing their horses all to a location and playing and working on specific tasks, goals, etc. I plan to have a trailer loading play date at my place where everyone who can, hauls in and we play with all of the horses and all of the trailers! And those who cannot haul in, get to borrow a horse so that we can all experience things. It would be equally fun and a good exercise to swap horses and talk about who accomplished what with the different horses, truly debrief about the experience, and share knowledge. (We will need a time-keeper I think--LOL)
The trailer loading exercise is truly about the relationship, the leadership, etc. and not about the trailer. I truly understand this now but didn't in the past. I do believe what Pat says when he explains that if you get good at that, you will show improvement in all other things you do with your horse. It is the foundation of a strong partnership and if you have that, you've got a lot. Horses can become bored or desensitized to many things we do with them, the tasks become mondane and almost a torture. We need to constantly be creative, think about new ways to challenge ourselves and our horses, this will also keep the relationship strong and balanced.
So, those are my thoughts of the morning.