Tuesday, April 29, 2003

04.28.03 Muuuuch Better
The mood improved overnight and I awoke in a much better frame of mind. I had the strangest dream—I don't remember all the details, but it had something to do with the Parelli Savvy Team and a show (like Equine Affaire or the Success With Horses Tour). I know I'd been watching the all-day event, and was anxiously awaiting Pat's big grand finale, but I had to leave briefly... someone called and said they needed me and I was irritated but figured I'd be back in time... when I got to my destination, which I think was my family home, I got delayed, and was well-aware I was missing part of Pat's portion of the show, and then I got to leave and was in a hurry, and got delayed again... more irritated... then I got to the event and had to walk a lot to the show site and when I was almost there, I bumped into Linda Parelli. She hugged me and I asked her a couple of very important PNH-related questions (neither of which occur to me now) and she smiled and gave me the answers and I went on my way. I woke up before I got to see Pat's event.

The interesting thing is that when she greeted me, she mentioned that this time she knew who I was, not like the first time. Why that is interesting is b/c in real life, when I went to Equine Affaire and was hanging out in the Parelli Pavillion, I really DID talk with Linda for a few moments about Cheerios' carrot stick fear issue and she gave me a couple good tips. But that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is that I walked up to her while she was chatting with someone else, and when they finished, she turned to me and I said hello! with a big smile and she said Hello and gave me kind of a funny look then hugged me, which was awkward. But then I introduced myself and she said something to ME along the lines of "You look so familiar, I must have seen you at other shows—that's why I thought I should hug you" which struck me as funny b/c not only was this the first time I'd been to Equine Affaire or anything like it, but also the only other time she'd ever seen me was in passing at last fall's Success With Horses Tour in Battle Creek. She thought I looked familiar. Huh. Must have one of those faces.

But I'm off-topic now. I woke up focused and ready to go and spent the day at the barn. Quite hot today, for April. Had to buy lip balm for my windburn. Wildflower was very interested to sniff my mouth. It's strawberry lip balm. Good thing I didn't get green apple—I'd be in trouble! We got a lot accomplished today. I think we might finally be over the Driving FQ hump—it's certainly not pretty, but it's becoming more obvious to her what I'm asking for. I just haven't quite gotten up the muster yet to REALLY Phase 4 around her face—it makes me nervous. I know that our level of discomfort-infliction ranges from as light as a fly landing on hair and at its greatest, much less than another horse can inflict, but I'm not completely comfortable with the higher end. It's also difficult when others are watching who don't understand the whole psychology behind it, who just see you "whapping your horse with a whip". I know what it looks like, but I also know the theory that one good solid Phase 4 that Means Something will teach the horse that if s/he moves feet at Phase 1, 2, or 3, s/he can avoid ever experiencing Phase 4. So instead of a really good Phase 4 in Zone 1 to say "MOVE your FQ", I've been going to about a 3 and using alternative methods such as Porcupine to shove her over a bit so she gets that this motion means this.

But I'm also getting better at Phase 4s. My discomfort stems from working with Cheerios. His Phase 4 is most horse's Phase 2, and he gets REALLY freaky about it. I'm learning how to do my Phases and not flinch myself. It's hard. There are those who have the opposite problem—they go right to Phase 4 and it scares the bejeezus out of the horse. Spose I otter be grateful that's not my problem.

Anyway, we worked on Driving the FQ. I basically went through the Assessment Tasks in my head in order (yep, about got them "mesmerized"), paying close attention to details (which arm the rope is on, how relaxed I am or direct I am). By the end of it, I had done everything except the Freestyle Riding tasks (Figure 8 at trot, canter and bend to a stop, Controlled Catastrophe, trailer loading) and Squeezing her over a jump. We also got to the point where she moves to the slightest suggestion of the popper end of the line being twirled between my fingers. Geez. Two days ago, it took full-on carrot stick rolling. Now, it's almost imperceptible. But then, that's b/c I finally got up the gumption to stick with it and give a Phase 4 which she did NOT appreciate (finding the spinning end of the rope in her WAY, so she got thwapped with it a few times). Now, she sees the end of that twirling, or my finger waggling, and she moves. Politely.

At the end, I lined her up to back out of the gate, and all I did was lift my finger and she went, nice and smooth, out the gate, backwards. I was so surprised my jaw dropped. GOOD HORSIE!!! She waited very patiently for me to lead her in, untack her, circle her into her stall, turned w/o hardly any suggestion, perfectly. Tipped her nose to remove the halter. She's getting it down. Then she waited for me to say "OK, go on, eat your food." Cheerios' modus operandi is to bolt from me, and charge to his food, not stopping until done. Ignoring me until done. Wildflower gets a mouthful, then comes back to me. Gets a mouthful, back to me. Mouthful, me, mouthful, me. It's really adorable.

She's amazing. PNH is amazing. I never would have thought I'd be able to do these kinds of things with horses. Now, it's ALL I wanna do. It's so much FUN to figure out how to ask them to position themselves (frustrating, yes, but fun too), like when I was trying to figure out how to ask her to position herself along the fence for a Sideways Game which requires her at a right angle to the fence. She'd circle to the fence, then the minute I'd go neutral, she'd scoot her butt over along the fence. Can't sideways that way! So after much trial and error with her trying to walk past me, or getting spooked, I figured out to tap Zone 4 over toward me while jiggling the rope at Zone 1 to tell it to go away, alternating that with putting my hand on Zone 1 or 2 to guide her. AHA!!! Big rubs when she got it. But that plumb wore me out. I got about two sideways steps and stopped and rubbed. Repeat on other side for a half hour (seemed that long), a step or two and stop. WHEW!!!

Can't wait to go to the barn tomorrow.

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