- Savvy Horse Girl
- 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
Friday, December 21, 2012
And Then We Were One
Today, was the day, the first time since Rick installed the masonry sand in the indoor arena that I could actually use it. We don't have the electricity installed yet which means no lights. But, I didn't have to work today and was able to go out and play. The arena was a bit dim because the sky lights were covered in snow and it was very gray out but, the sky-band allowed enough in to make it doable.
I went out with a plan which was to play with Lola in the arena. Sure, in my dreams I would go out there, ride like the wind, and all would be glorious. In reality, I went out with no major expectations for a few reasons. The first, I have not been playing with her regularly, second, there was certain to be herd-bound issues taking her from the boys, third, I didn't want to set myself up (or Lola) for disappointment.
Getting into the arena was going to be a puzzle in itself. Since I haven't finished the horse barn yet, we are using it to store those items that should be in the Quonset Hut where the horses are still residing (boat, kayaks, lawn tractor, etc., you get the idea). This made going through that area not an option. I could take her through the huge sliding doors on the arena but, that is a bit of a hassle. So, I opted to enter through the third stall, the one closest to the arena. What this meant was squeezing past the four wheeler and other various items in the Quonset hut, walking across the slushy, icy driveway to the new barn/arena. entering through the stall from the dutch door, and then exiting out the stall door, past the rear of my pontoon boat, and into the arena.....all unfamiliar territory for Lola. (And, not to forget Whiskey and Fosse were certain to call out, run like maniacs, and cause a scene!) Can you already envision why the seven games, puzzles, and patterns are so important?! They were going to be used just to get to the arena let alone used when we got there!
Before taking Lola, I took a wheel barrow and wheeled some cones, a 22 ft line, and a few cookies over. I unlocked the dutch door and made sure everything looked passable and safe. Then I returned to the Quonset Hut. At first, Fosse acted interested and I almost took him instead. Whiskey was curious. Lola came in from outside and pushed past the two boys, practically threw her head into the halter and was basically asking to go do something, anything....I am sure she has been bored silly!
So, off we went. Just like I told you, we had a great deal of challenges just to get to our location. I believe we were both a little tense, checking each other out, being cautious to get there in one piece, but made it, as a team. She walked like an angel and paid attention to me. I was patient once we got to the barn and thought to myself, "nose, neck, maybe feet" when we got to the dutch door and stall. Not until I had my horse with me did I realize how dark it looked from outside to inside but she took one look, looked at me questioning her next move, I asked her to come in and she did. Then to the next challenge, out of the stall, past the rear of the boat, and into the arena. She willing went although was a bit anxious once in the arena but, not too terribly much. (The boys were, as expected carrying on a bit.) I slide the large diving door that is between the arena and horse barn and there we were, horse and human in unfamiliar territory, together.
I decided that just getting there was really good. So, rather than just push her into a session, I took her halter off, asking for flexion of course, and let her do whatever she wanted to while I mosied around the arena setting up barrels and cones. I wanted to remain in neutral and observe her so that is precisely what I did. I was thinking about how Pat Parelli gives the horses time to compose themselves while offering leadership when needed. She tore off like a lunatic after I signaled her that it was okay to leave. She bucked, squealed, galloped, and really enjoyed herself. She was playful and hilarious. I tried to take a few photos but they were nothing but a blur. She exhibited a bit of herd-bound anxiety too as she kept looking at the walls, probably from hearing the other horses. She also called but, hey were calling far more than what she as. I ignored her but kept a watchful eye, and just went about my business. She looked fabulous and the footing worked out great. Not dusty, plenty of traction.
I know she liked it, her tail was held high (like the Arabian she isn't, lol) and her posture was far more beautiful than I had seen in months. I am telling you, this Quarter Horse does have similarities to my Arabians, partially what made me fall in love with her. She was floating on air! Wow, what a gorgeous and amazing horse I have was what went through my mind. At this point, I felt good and like it was a good day with Lola. I know, many of you reading this are probably thinking we hadn't done anything yet but to me we had. I decided that if this was all we did today, it was a good set-up for tomorrow. Then, as I finished setting up the cones, she approached me. checking me out. This session so far was much like an undemanding time-type interaction and she needed that. I pet her head and neck only after she touched me, then off I went. She ran around a bit more and then with much more frequency kept checking in, kept asking to engage. I eventually knew it was time for the next step because being with me was her idea. Much like a marriage, you want your horse, your partner, to want to be with you, you don't want to force the interaction.
I haltered Lola and used my 22 foot line. She was ready to come together and play. We did friendly game (of course), sideways on the rail, squeeze with the wall, barrels, and other obstacles. She even offered to walk over smaller barrels and through off-set larger ones...a first for her as she tends to avoid having to pick up her feet! LOL She really was working through games and puzzles, asking questions. We did the figure-8 pattern, circling, and even used the ride the rail pattern (but I was on the ground in zone three). The more I listened and remembered principles before goals, the more I took the time to remember my horse's horsenality, the more I became particular but not critical, my horse responded. Once I felt like we'd accomplished a great deal (and remember we were losing light every minute), I took her halter off again. This time, she was not running around like a lunatic looking for the other horses, this time, she was totally into me. I started to walk and she stuck to me. I knew I could take advantage of this connection and have a liberty session. The liberty session was much like the online session and she stayed with me. I also worked on mirroring her foot falls, it was really neat, we were no longer a horse and a human in an arena, we were one. I have never seen her lick and chew as much as she did tonight. It was incredible, she was really awesome and really being a partner. I think I was doing a great deal of it too, being very aware of everything Pat and Linda have taught me, being aware of everything I had been reviewing, particularly the psychology of it all.
She was never spooky, not when working through the obstacle to get there, not when we played together and worked right up in the corners and in and around obstacles, not when Rick showed up unexpectedly and slid the huge dividing door, not when the snow flying off the roof and making noise, and not even when she was acting a bit herd bound. she was not spooked! She is a real gem.
Almost out of light at this point, it was time to head back. I haltered her, gave her a few cookies and off we went. Past the boat, through the stall, locking up, and then over to the Quonset Hut, past the 4-wheeler and back into the horse area. The boys were just outside and once they knew we were inside, they ran in and right up to her. I gave everyone a few peppermint candies, fed them some hay, and went back to the house.
I know, to many, this does not seem like a huge deal but to me, it was and to Lola too I believe. One really great step in the right direction and back on track. I am so grateful for the Parelli program and so happy to be restarting my journey with a vision, with a great facility, and with great horses...and my partner, Lola. I am off for several days due to the holiday which means I will have more horse time...I cannot wait until tomorrow!
About a week ago I printed off the level three audition checklists and an making a plan to tape. Lola and I are finally going to start auditioning again.I am excited that I have been and am so pleased to be taking my horse time back!