I want to start by acknowledging that saddle issues can be very serious and you need to be sure yours is safe and that it fits both you and your horse. Today's post is about my issues with Whiskey not being about the saddle.
This is a photo of part of the horse playground. We call it horse henge! LOLWhiskey seemed curious and so, I played for a few minutes and tacked him up. (While we played, Fosse picked up and tossed the tack everywhere--he had a good time.) Then, we proceeded to play on the ground some more working on figure eights with the cones and then with the big tires--this was new and really cool--I used the 22 foot rope. Once I felt like he looked rideable, I decided to mount. I walked him over to this mounting stump (a tree that hubby cut off that is great for a seat as well as a mounting block located on the fence line. I mounted up and he stood there, waiting for me to ask something of him. I asked for several flexion on both sides several times and gave him a treat. We then walked off and proceeded to practice passenger and riding the rail, walking though obstacles, figure eights, and backing. He did well on all accounts but we could use some work on the figure eights.
So, why is it not about the saddle? Firstly, I was not using a saddle and my fear was that he needed one and didn't like bareback. This was unfounded. Today he did not try to bite me at all but, I can say that he looked to me more as a leader and asked questions. To me, this was all about leadership.
Remember the Parelli Formula: Rapport, Respect, Impulsion, Flexion and that was what I needed to eventually achieve success! How exciting.
I won't bore you with all of the details tonight but suffice it to say, we had a great ride and just like it's not about the trailer, its not about the saddle either.
Although I wrote this in an earlier post, I wanted to highlight it again.
Leadership is NOT:
Power. The idea of power is offensive, rude, and simply out of line. Keep power trips out of the picture and you will create a safe environment for your relationship to grow.
Waiting for something to happen and hoping the other party will make the first move to allow you to lead.
Leaders get the ball rolling, allowing the relationship to build and happen.
Being closed minded and thinking that you are always right.
Leaders also make mistakes and you must own up to them for the relationship to work.
Knowing that change starts with you! If there is a problem, it stems with you, not your horse---kind of like your computer. Computers are not intelligent, they can only think in terms of one and zero. It is humans (the operators/manipulators) that actually make them work to create the wonderful things we do with them. If they are not working right, it is usually our fault. Do you remember seeing Pat Parelli on more than one occasion take a "bad" horse and make him a "good" horse? The horse did not change, his leadership changed making him react differently to the situation. (This is not magic, this is leadership.)
Being able to always find the positive in any situation. Dwelling on the negative does nothing but sabotage you and your horse.
Not having power-trips. POWER is a dirty word!
Understanding that you are a role model, you are infectious--do your horsey friends want what you've got--you'd better hope so because if they do, chances are you are doing something wonderful with and for your horse.
Knowing that your horse is evaluating you on a daily basis (perhaps every minute, every second). Does he believe in you and your leadership? Are you trustworthy? Does he want to be with you? Remember you are a predator asking a prey animal to follow your lead---to some horses this could mean something akin to trusting a lion to take them home to meet the pride for dinner. (Do they think they that they are a guest or the main course--hmmm?) Does your horse see you as a scary dominating predator or a partner?
Acknowledging a job well done at the very moment it happens. Remember this quote, "Pressure motivates but it is the release the teaches"--Pat Parelli? The release is the acknowledgement or reward (a cookie never hurts either).
Someone who leads by example, listens, compassionate, self-aware, tough and courageous, optimistic, intelligent, fun, motivational, creative, accurate, concise, dedicated, punctual, sensitive, enthusiastic, accountable, troubleshoots, understands verbal and non-verbal cues, is able to trust, is trustworthy, plans, and prepares.