So the other day I got to the barn fairly early to try to beat the rest of the weather. It wasn't snowing, but it was pretty darn cold and really windy. Of course, Xena was playing with the wind, which I find absolutely beautiful...... and I'm not going near her when she does it! Running around with it as it whirls up some dust, spinning when it goes underneath her, then bucking like crazy when it leaves her pen for a minute. Fun to watch, not to play with.
So I go to play with my other big horse Mesa for a little while. She is a very centered, not too emotional, sometimes lazy, LBE. Boy am I glad I took her in the arena first, and not Xena! We walk in, and she suddenly gets super right brained and really on her toes. The arena had just been watered, and the wood on one wall that had gotten sprayed was dark about half way down. I saw her go through literally every single horsenality in one play session that day! Where the typical owner would say it's scary in here today, lets go somewhere else, I said "Oh boy! A toy!" Now had that been Xena, I probably woulda said lets get out of here! But I've had Mesa for 6 years and am pretty comfortable doing just about anything with her.
She chooses the 3 square feet right by the gate as her comfort zone. She is LBI standing by the gate. While she's pretty much a stationary figure by the gate, I contemplate what about water on a wall could possibly be scary. Horses are to preceptive to danger, people, places, changes, and things. Well, that wall was a different color yesterday when she was in there, so the change is what's bothering her. Funny how you own a really calm horse long enough and you start to think they don't even notice things anymore. Guess I learned, the horses is always watching!
I try to do a little bit at liberty because usually she'll follow me if I have carrots, and she would, to about the halfway mark in the arena, and then she'd flip around with her tail up (RBE!) and run back to gate. I wanted to see where her now RBE self would go if I took the option of the gate away, so I stood there and sent her away from it. She looked 100% arab - she's actually half - and really she looked like those terrified arabs at the shows.... I think I saw an equal dark to white ratio in her eyes, and her tail was over her back. Then I let her stay at the gate, tried sending her out of it from the middle of the arena. I know that's not going to help her confidence at all, but I wanted to see exactly where the threshholds were, and what she was going to do. Then she was a bit away from the gate and went RBI, freezing and then exploding. Fascinating!!!!
So I've now seen my LBE go to three other horsenalities in 5 minutes, I go to put her halter back on and play approach and retreat with the wall.
An hour and a half later!!!!!! She finally goes back to her LBE self, puts her nose on the wall, and starts chewing the dark spots. The arena isn't that huge... it basically took us an hour and a half to go all of 50 feet. This took 1. the realization that I couldn't let her turn her back to the wall, or she'd become a blur in the distance, and 2. allow her to keep her feet moving, and go back in forth in front of it rather than forwards/backwards approaching.... cuz in super right brain mode, she wasn't about to go backwards. I would have her go back and forth at a threshhold until I could tell we'd conquered it by having her put her head down for 7 seconds. Even exiting the arena, I had to go back and forth to get to the gate, because the wall was okay in zone 1, but she was nervous about it in zone 5.
I didn't take any other horses to the arena, but I played some sort of friendly with each one of them in my barn aisle. Playing friendly with the same obstacle with 7 different horses and seeing the different responses is always interesting. In this weather, I've been focusing on undemanding time with everyone, and increasing our friendly games, especially with the 2 minis I'm driving. With Xena, even when I don't take her out, I still try to hang out with her and get her itchy spots. It's been one of those "Blinding Flash of the Obvious" moments for me..... Parelli doesn't mean that you can get your horse to do all these fancy things, sidepasses at liberty and flying changes... it means your horse is happy to see you when you get to the barn, and you can touch him all over, and the both of you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the relationship is most important. I had been letting our friendly games slide (with all 8 horses, really) and had been trying to get them to do this trick, or that move. I had forgotten how FUN the friendly game really is! When your horse confidently accept something you never thought he would... it's an amazing feeling. So... I've thrown out the agenda, I feel like really I don't need to get any thing done in anybody's time frame, and I can truly ENJOY my time at the barn. Even if I just have time to feed them and leave, sitting for a few minutes with each of them as the eat... it's awesome.
Well, that was fascinating! Always a learning experience, whether you planned on it or not. And it's great to know I have to stay on my toes, as even 21 year old left brain horses are still prey animals.