I have been reviewing the level 2 materials (blue box iteration) and last night played with Whiskey and we worked on transitions on-line and also played "put your nose on it". I am using the Savvy Spot and the bell on my carrot stick (two learning techniques in L2). The transformation with Whiskey and the things I was able to learn by observing him were amazing and interesting. I love reviewing materials, I always learn something new or remember something I forgot. The Savvy Spot helped me keep my feet still and the bell really helped me realize how much the stick was being used (or not being used).
The "put your nose on it," game revealed issues I had never considered before. Whiskey has an impulsion issue at times, where he does not want to move forward or, he tries to bite my foot. Having started using a long phase 1 as a strategy has certainly helped but, I know there is more to it. While playing this game, you stand in zone 3 (the same place you'd be while riding). This gives you as the human quite a different perspective and you can see more from your horse's point of view. I can see that he has a great responsibility of where to put his body while trying to understand what I am asking for--what an insight, I feel like perhaps with his introverted nature, the pressure on him needs to be manageable. Wow, what a concept!
Initially he was reluctant to move his feet during the game but once he understood, he moved willingly and quickly caught on to the idea of putting his nose on something. This is driving game and certainly takes the power of focus. So, what I take away from this is that I need to continue to be more patient but persistent, that we can fix some of the impulsion issues on the ground (by using this game perhaps), and that we have made a connection. (Fosse followed us and was trying to play too by the way! I involved him the best I could.)
Anyhow, I started with circling game and he did not even want to move. Once we fixed our circling game, I asked for a walk for a few laps and then asked for the upward transition to the trot, back down to the walk and after a few tries, he understood and did well. I did ask for an upward transition from trot to canter and he became right-brained and while trying to escape (the pressure was too great for him to manage) he attempted to get around a tree where he slipped and fell to his knees. I felt horrible but know that I did not intentionally cause this, I did not panic and did not make a big deal about it. My reaction was to soften, ask him to move forward to me, and then played friendly for a few minutes rubbing him all over and helping him feel confident again. We then continued to circling game and completed several walk-trot transitions, up and down and quite successfully I might add.
After the transitions exercise, I mosied (as they tell you to do in L2) over to our tree stump pedestal. Then, rather than asking him to stand on it, I just sat down (his expectation was wrong and it blew his mind). I left his halter and the 22 foot line on him for a minute or two but did not touch him until he touched me--giving undemanding time. Once he lowered his head and initiated a new conversation, by touching me first, I started to rub him and play friendly but I did not stand up. I removed the halter and line. His head was low and he enjoyed scratches and rubs on his face, neck, chest, shoulder, girth, and legs (fronts). Fosse tried to interfere and while seated, I drove him away using my carrot stick and driving game (phase 1). At one point, Fosse chased Whiskey away and I chased Fosse away right after, I believe Whiskey realized that I caused Fosse to leave and he immediately came back to me for more scratches. This was really interesting because I knew he really wanted to be with me. I then started to massage his legs and he was actually lifting one up at a time asking for rubs and was really low-headed now, practically falling asleep! This was so cool. Fosse, by the way, figured out that if he stood on the other side of me, not bothering Whiskey, he would also get rubs and scratches and not be driven away. How interesting these horses are. The bond I felt was so strong and made me feel really gratified.
Fosse was the horse who caught me when I went to the meadow to get a horse to play with. He was enthusiastic and wanting to have some fun time together. He trotted right for me and practically haltered himself. Leaving the other horses was not a problem either, no herd bound issues from any of the horses really.
We played with our friend Monica and her horse Cooper. How we structured the event is that we decided each person should take their horse and go to an obstacle with the other person and their horse, try to play the games with it, observing and supporting the other. Each team did things differently but we all found success. For Fosse and I, we played with the car wash obstacle and we certainly need more time on that one. The cone slalom was pretty good but not great. I side-passed him around a tree (he felt like a ball, not a chair--fellow L2 pnhrs know what this means--fluid movement, not bracey), and we even played with the logs, asking for one foot, two feet, asking for small jumps, and then the tarp--what fun. With the tarp not only did he wear it (his ears look "ugly" in the photo but, he did bring them forward again btw) but, I asked him to stand on it, one foot at a time, stay on it for 7 seconds (although I think he'd have stayed for the day) and then off, one foot at a time, slow and methodical. The other big deal for us was figure 8's around the barrels. This was a first and we did great. The only thing I can say is that although using a 22 foot line, it was more like I was using a 12 foot, something to work on. Fosse and I did play with Monica's 2hbp trailer too, He was curious, we got nose, neck, two front feet, and then, it was dark, not enough daylight to continue so we stopped, on a good note.
The play date was a surprise, a success, and I think beneficial for all of us.