The biggest take away from this week was how many times my horses "offered" interesting and sometimes unexpected answers to my requests. I believe the reason was not that they were suddenly offering more to me.... they are all quite playful and creative, but rather that having really slowed down I noticed more details. I must add that I can be quite patient and detail oriented already, so what I realized about myself is that slowing everything down even more, isolating & separating even more, allowed me to "think" more and thus "process" what I was "seeing." Sound like a RBI? Hmmm.... interesting.
Another area I noticed as I experimented with our FTH (Fast Track @ Home) plan was that I found myself playing with circles and figure 8's with all 3 horses. Each horse is different but the sticky pattern is the same. Yep I am the common denominator! In figure 8's for example, Dove had trouble changing eyes (coming around the barrel), Spice wasn't sure she wanted me to influence her Zone 1 in this manner, and Cherokee lost confidence at the walk and trot and would instead demonstrate beautiful flying lead changes. So to reduce pressure (and my desire to micro manage- ugh) I sat on a barrel and played Circle Me.
I kept hearing John Baar in my head.... "Get them sweet on the ______".... fill in the blank with barrel, or rail, or whatever your focus is. So I thought, let's see if I can help my horses get sweet on the barrel and then play various games with the "sweet" barrel. They already love to push it or side pass over it so how about circling it. Yea I know this seems quite obvious doesn't it? We've heard this throughout the PNH program. "It's not about the ____" or "Isolate, Separate & Recombine." But what does that really mean, right now, in this moment with this horse & I? Sometimes the answer from your horse will surprise you.
So as I sip my coffee on this lovely Sunday morning, I am grinning ear to ear about these 3 "offerings":
Cherokee offered to be brave enough to take me bareback up to the top arena at night. He was willing to walk in, circle a barrel and mosey on back to his pen. This is huge for my little herdbound gelding.
Last night Dove took me on a 20 min bareback passenger lesson in the covered arena. She was "sweet" on the rail AND we haven't been in that arena for 3 weeks! She would change direction softly and kept walking about, along the rail, down the middle, even stopping to sniff in the spooky corners. She was relaxed & this was her idea! I only touched the reins as we opened the gate to leave.
Spice, my Spanish mustang, offered to teach me the Spanish Walk! During a play session as I was asking her to go forward she instead offered to hold her leg up. When she first did this I realized that she has been putting her front hooves on rails lately. Interesting! Instead of making her feel wrong I took what she offered and we played with it. How fun to have my horse teach me! And how fun to know what is going on in "her" head. LOL. She is one smart horse.
One of the results of the PNH program is that we will help our horses become, braver, smarter and more athletic. So for this week I'd have to give this goal a check, check & check!