About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Growing Your Relationship - There's No Room for Frustration

This image is from The Kate Esplen Gallery http://www.kateesplen.com/Horse.htm/

I played with Whiskey last night and it was challenging, fun, scary, and overall a great example of keeping your principles before goals, not getting frustrated, and growing the relationship.I brought him out of the paddock near the barn using the halter, 22 foot rope, carrot stick with savvy string attached. My initial plan was to drive him from zone three over to the small field and use the cones to work on the figure-8 pattern. Nothing major, just trying to fix our broken pattern!

Well, when we got there, I decided that playing the touch-it pattern first might be a better idea idea. So, I changed our initial plan. I tried to play the game and he did okay but seemed very distracted, and a bit right-brained. We hadn't really been over here that much since fall, the neighbor's dog barked in the distance, you could hear atvs down the street, Fosse was calling now and again, and Morgan was at the barn in her outdoor kennel (this is just for when I take her to the barn and need to anchor her), and who knows, she may have been whining or something.

Anyhow, at one point, we mosied over to retrieve a small barrel that had blown into the woods which by the nature of its location, had us squeezing between tightly grown trees, kind of like a trail ride but not really, and this was a good exercise, he did very well, he loves the woods. I carried the barrel and he followed me to the field. I placed the barrel in an open area in the field and asked him to touch it but, he was more interested in trying to eat dead grass, was looking around, here and there, very alert, very right-brained. I decided to ask for a circle and did walking circling pattern until he just exploded, he reared, bucked, tried to run off, was definitely in a dangerous place in his mind. My decision was that we needed some time in the round pen for both our sakes. So, I decided that since he kicks at times when right-brained and emotional, that I did not want him near me. I cannot play with the horses or work for that matter if I get hurt so safety is always foremost in my mind. I positioned him about 12 feet away (and thinking at the time that I was so glad I was using my 22 foot rope) and drove from zone three at a distance to the round pen.

When we got to the round pen which is nothing more than plastic push-in posts and electric fence tape (one strand) not electrified, ever. I wanted him to back through the gate (it is gust tape with a handle so I place it on the one side and the space is wide open, (something he knows how to do). Well, he was unable to concentrate, unable to stand still at all, was overly emotional, was unable to look at me or focus at all, this horse was emotionally scattered to the extreme. So, I asked him through the gate forwards, asked for him to turn and face, then for a flex, took the halter off, and he was tearing around like a lunatic. However, he was also being defiant, rude, disrespectful, and kicked back towards me a few times. He was out of his mind and I felt that he was acting dangerously and too erratic (right-brained) and therefore, I exited the round pen and asked for things from outside of the pen. Interestingly enough, after a few minutes, he realized I was not in there with him and was really curious why I had left and walked to me calmly asking for me to come back! I guess he as more left-brained now. What a character! I gave him a nibble of grain (which I had been giving now and again throughout the session). Then, I went back in the round pen. LOL I love this horse--he is so interesting and challenging (but definitely not for the faint at heart).

I played circling and change of direction at liberty in the round pen a bit and then wanted him to yo-yo back to the rail. He was not doing well at this task at liberty so I haltered him and we worked on it. Then, halter off, try again, nope, so I went to put the halter on and he looked at me, got into position and tried to yo-yo back without the halter, but got distracted so back on with the halter. Anyhow, this went on for some time. Once I was satisfied that he was more left-brained than right-brained, I opened the round pen gate and asked him for a squeeze out which was fine. Then for a back through the gate. I barely asked and he just did it, as if he read my mind and knew that this was something I wanted. Our time in the pen paid off (this is the whole taking the time it takes thing).

So, I then took him back into the field. I drove him from a distance in zone three back to the barrel, we played touch it and moved on to the cones. There were a few more little right-brained outbursts but nothing major like before. We then worked on the weave pattern (aka slalom) and then, figure-8 with two cones. Once we got into the groove, it went smoothly, like a dance between partners.

Now, off towards the barn because it was getting dark. This time, driving in zone three with me very close to him, I felt my partner was back and that I could trust him again (and perhaps he felt he could also trust me and my leadership now). I let him munch a little grass and we walked around the driveway a bit and I felt him get tense at one moment--Rick was coming down the driveway in the car. So, I used it as an opportunity to play with Whiskey and "traffic." I was calm, he calmed, looked at the car, Rick drove around the driveway past us a few times and all was fine. Rick had come down to check on me because he thought he heard the horses running through the woods and got worried. What he probably heard, because there are no leaves on the trees, was the commotion in the round pen! Anyhow, he wanted to be sure I hadn't been killed or something. What a guy! LOL

Next, Whiskey and I headed to the horse trailer. I asked for sideways around the trailer and on the one side, squeeze forward and backwards between the trailer and trees with me in zone 5. He did very well. I then unlocked the trailer and decided that I'd try asking for him to load while I was on the side of the trailer rather than me standing at the end or just inside of it. (Now, just an FYI--the inside is open at the moment (as in the dividers are all against the inside wall) but at the end, Rick has some large tools stored and under a tarp. So, for all intents and purposes, there is a four foot tall, trailer width wide blue tarp monster in the trailer at the end, and if he loads, he can touch the tarp with his mouth.) Now isn't that a scary obstacle! (It is all safe through, no worried about injuries if you were wondering.) Anyhow, Whiskey put two feet in and I let him just stand in there. Then, while still standing outside the trailer still on the side of it, I wiggled the rope and he backed out. He then loaded again, just two feet, stand, then back at the suggestion of the rope. The third time he totally loaded in and just stood there. I walked forward a bit just to I could rub his rump with the carrot stick to give a little friendly game reassurance and then wiggled the rope to ask for him to exit back. What fun and a first for us. I have to say that this trailer loading had no emotional outbursts (small or large) at all. I wonder if my position put less pressure on him and therefore he loaded more comfortably and on his own terms. Very interesting indeed.

We then mosied over to my canoe and dump trailer. They are several feet apart, a nice large squeeze opportunity. Whiskey saw the canoe and immediately backed up. I asked again for forward and he reluctantly did it. Then, the third time, he went through. I let him sniff the canoe and work on his confidence (you know, "nose, neck, maybe feet"). Then he offered to go between them again and again. Then, sideways around the dump trailer. Then touch-it on both the canoe and dump trailer, a little squeeze between the dump trailer and me and off we went, back to the barn.

Overall, the evening session lasted over an hour and a half and was riddled with many issues, many horsenalities, and lots of creative fun. We definitely made progress, found many successes, and in the end, were partners.

One final thought (I had to log back in to add this-LOL). I always waited for the lick, waited for him to process things, this is so important for all horses but especially the introvert. I also was sure to use the principle of justice with him, I was clear, and deployed leadership and good sense when it came to safety. I learned so much. (And am sure I will talk more about all this and other adventures in the future!)


Regina said...

Wow, what a session! Were you sore, after? LOL

Love the part where he realized you weren't in the round pen and went to get you. "Hey mom, it's no fun throwing a tantrum if you're not going to be in here to experience it with me!"

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Hey Regina--

I wasn't sore but, my brain was just going crazy trying to process and reflect it all--as you can see by this long post. I played with Fosse yesterday (I may or maynot blog about it.) What is remarkable is how different these horses are and how much fun each is for different reasons. I wish we lived closer, I bet we'd have some fun times!

Thanks for reading!