Thursday, February 10, 2011

Roxie part 3 + paranoia

We just got lots of snow here and the high temps have been about 13 degrees. The horses were mostly in the barn yesterday, so I knew they had to get out today. There's about 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ground, and so far I haven't let Firefly run anywhere outside the roundpen. I considered waiting until tomorrow, but she looked so bored in her stall. I very carefully, slowly, led her to the roundpen. After I let her go, I watched for about 5 minutes to make sure she wouldn't slip and fall in the wet snow. After everything that has happened with her legs, I kind of realized I'm going to be paranoid about them now. I will be that overprotective mother that wants to wrap my horse in bubble wrap. I'll probably use splint boots all the time, shipping boots for trailers, and who knows how I'll practice jumping with her. I know she'll be a log crawler, oh my gosh I cringe when even thinking about her scraping a shin on a log. The other day I was watching an old video of Linda riding Allure in a particularly dry field and he was slipping all over the place. I've watched the clip many times and it never bothered me, I knew it was his responsibilty to stay upright.... but this time it made me really nervous, I felt like I don't think I'd ever let Firefly run anywhere slippery or poorly footed. I'm just too paranoid she'll hurt herself again and then we'll need more time off to recover. My other horses don't have that problem lol. Going to play a lot of personal friendly game with this one.

Roxie part 3

Roxie's owner really truly always loved her, but you know, you can only do what you know at the time. She had grown up with barrel racers... if it isn't working, get a bigger bit. Through the course of the 5 weeks I played with Roxie only on the ground, her owner came to watch almost every day, and as she knew her horse's previous tendencies better than I did, she was constantly astounded at the changes I was making in her horse. She couldn't believe that I could now go rub her all over with the halter and lead in her stall, and find her favorite scratchy spot. Or that the horse who kicked to have her hind feet picked up would pick them both up from one side with a snap of my fingers while loose in the arena.

If you read parts 1 and 2, you know I had been doing most of my training in the park or that little back pen. I now needed to naturally introduce Roxie to the saddle, but I couldn't take the saddle to the park, or do it in front of the barn manager.... so I did it in the back parking lot in the dark after the barn manager left. All I had was the moon (partially obscured by city smog) and a street light at the end of the drive. Oh, and a motion censor light that did more harm than good. It may have taken less time had we not had to jump out of the way of cars coming in off the busiest street in town, and my saddle narrowly missing getting run over. In any case, by the end of that session, the saddle and pad were Roxie's new found friends, and she held still to let me on her from both sides. Of course, only because of about 15 failed attempts lol!!

We did that playing with the saddle and mounting game every night for about a week, until she accepted everything calmly, and stood for mounting the first time I asked.

The next day the owner came to watch me really ride her for the first time. This was the original experience that I think actually got her thinking that Parelli was the way. She sat on the fence as Roxie responded to me lightly and politely during our warm up / pre-flight check. I could jog and Roxie was right there next to me. I could slam on the brakes, and she'd plant her feet in the ground without me lifting the rope. Then the owner's jaw nearly dropped as I simply threw the rope over her neck and hopped on a perfectly still Roxie with a halter and one rein. I explained the importance of Passenger lessons. Our first one was me mirroring her instead of shutting her down while she frantically paced the fence line. After Roxie realized I wasn't getting in her way, she calmed down a lot, and eventually stood still in the middle of the arena. There, the owner saw the nearly immediate change in what a horse does when not micromanaged. She became super interested in every thing I did after that, and wanted to learn how she could be that good for her horse.

Next I made sure the Roxie could calmly walk around the whole arena, one rein stop from both sides, and knew the follow the rail pattern at the walk. Her owner was watching that second ride, when I was guiding Roxie with the halter rein back to the rail as drifted away. I believe the exact words were "It amazes me that you can ride her in just that." Soon after, I gave a very anxious owner her first ride on her "new" horse. I had her do a passenger lesson for both of their confidence, and oh the look on her face when Roxie stopped when she simply said whoa.

Most of our lessons were teaching her how to use the games in daily life, how to get in sync with her horse while riding, and guiding in this new way of using the natural power of focus. There were pitfalls when Roxie would step on her rope and leap into the air, or her owner would hold the snap and upset her, but they were learning how to communicate with each other.

Other than getting Roxie past the inital fear of life itself and flight instinct, I had hit a point where I realized I had never experienced anything like this before. I had never met a horse so impulsive, I had never ridden anything so fast, and I didn't have a clue about how to tackle any of her other problems. Ego status: sufficiently deflated. I set on a journey to watch everything I could find in the Savvy Club vault about RBE horses and how to deal with them. If Vanna was in it, I watched it. (Funny, I resorted to a similar game plan when Xena became mine, except with her I watched every single bit of footage that exists. If Parelli uploaded it, I have seen it. If they wrote it, I have read it. Oh predictability lol.)

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