Friday, March 12, 2010

Horses teach humans

I keep meaning to update more often than I have been.... Well yesterday I got on Xena!!!! Just in the barn aisle, while she was eating some dropped hay. I was sitting on the fence next to her, and it just happened lol! I only stayed on for about 5 seconds, but she was perfect! In the arena I was playing with putting things on her back. She's a little iffy about me being there, but I used an empty grain sack yesterday, and a bag made out of tarp material today. The beauty that is approach and retreat - we can do anything.
Then we went to go play, I'm trying to get everything we can done with the Level 1 self-assessments. Only thing we have left is some issues with backing from zone 1 (she's still rather offended about things on her face) and the figure 8 pattern, because we have driving games and touch-it down realllly good!! So I played a bit with getting her to follow the feel of the halter by pulling it around the other side of her hindquarters. One side was better than the other, but eventually she got it. Then to the figure 8's. She'd go around the barrel to the right, but she wouldn't stop when going around the one to the left. Funny thing.... Mesa does the pattern the same way. So does Ghost. And 3 of the other minis. AH-HAH! It's a problem with the person! I'm right handed... so I must be doing something different from my right and left hands while going around the turns.

I become conscious of that - and I'm still going to play with that some more - and then try it again. Well, she does the turns better. Funny how that works out, isn't it? But she would still get really unconfident on the left, probably since in the beginning that's where our error in comunication was. "Don't make the process look like the product" Pat always says. Hmm... what's not working? She disconnects with me around the second barrel, then goes for the gate. So.... I'll draw her all the way in after I she does the right one, before going to the left. Ta-daa! It worked! But then she'd get unconfident around the end of the second barrel. WIth an expression of "Oh, you're just going to send me again." Just like the circling game, RBI's need contact, need to be able to come in until they are confident to stay out. I then started bringing her in each time she went around one - that fixed that! Then the next problem was she wasn't turning sharp enough.... what's not moving? The hindquarters! Then I start disengaging them at the beginning of each turn, and although it was two connected rectangles at first, we got a perfect figure 8!!

She is giving me so much insight to Ghost and my other RBI minis. I think it's because I know that I absolutely cannot get direct line with her, and I cannot get away with breaking rules with her. I have to be the perfect horseman for her, something I think I've often neglected to do with Ghost. I know often I'll break some rule, or push her past a threshhold, because I know I can "get" her to do it, or I assume she knows something that she doesn't. But with Xena, I am fully aware that I must pay attention to every little detail, because someone's going to get hurt if I don't. With her, I know I have to make sure all the little things are working before I even think about moving on. With the others, sometimes I'll see that something isn't quite right at a lower level standard, or one game is a bit off, but I'll keep going to try and get some high level maneuver. That got me a horse that will come sideways toward me at liberty, but won't porcupine to the left.

Note to self: follow the program! In order! I'm finding out that I must treat Xena the way I should treat any horse. Thank you Xena, for letting me know what that "should" means.

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