Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring has returned to NW Ohio. The crocuses have bloomed FINALLY (last year it was on the 2nd, this year the 16th), the weather is warm, the horses are shedding out in strange patches... and I finally got back to the barn to play for a change.

And it was AMAZING. Both of my horses remembered me and came right up to me for greetings and scritches. Shaveya's lameness is a bit aggravated, but she usually does that the first couple weeks of spring. They also need a trim.

Before I could play, I had to meet the latest arrival at the barn. On the 1st, the barn manager's mare foaled the most adorable little red dun colt. There is just something about that baby horse smell...

Because of the turnout configuration yesterday, we played in the round pen. I had no plan, I just wanted to see where we stood after a few weeks off. We played online first. Things were fine—good responses to Porcupine and Driving, very light but not anticipatory. Circling, good. Even Sideways—I got a few steps that looked automatic on his part—big change from last year.

Surprisingly, Extreme Friendly is broken. The moment I started thwapping, he went all RBE. I debated—do I hold onto the line during this and allow him to continue lunging himself into me; or do I release him and let him move his feet as required while allowing myself ample room to get out of his way should he explode?

I opted with Liberty. I might rethink that in the future only because I'd retain communication, but it was really a debate between communication and self-preservation and self-preservation won. I can drive him out of my space a lot better without the rope in my hands.

Hmm. Maybe I should pay attention to that. Maybe the fact that I can't communicate "Get Out Of My Space" as effectively WITH the rope in hand is something I should correct until it is as effective as driving him out of it.

He performed some very daring aerial acrobatics for me, but failed to unhinge me. (That's getting better all the time.) I've noticed the moment he sees that his attempts to upset me aren't working, he loses interest in trying, calms down, and does what he is asked to do.

This is interesting to me, and goes against the conventional RBE wisdom, which is raise your energy to match his. Had I done that, he would have jumped the gate.

Which means... maybe it wasn't RBE. Maybe it was LBE masked as RBE. Hmmm. Because matching his energy increased his—lowering mine or staying neutral diffused it. I should email an instructor about that.

Or do I have it backwards? RB, needs safety and comfort... retreat... release pressure... Hmm. I'll go rewatch the Savvy Club DVD with the four horseanalities and trailer loading to see what I had. I did the right thing, I think, but I'm not sure whether he was RB or LB.

Anyway. He settled down, the rest of it went great. I started teaching him to lead by the tail from Zone 5. We did a few S patterns. (I keep getting Falling Leaf and S patterns mixed up—one moves forward and the other backward.)

When he looked rideable, we saddled up and I got on and just sat there.

MAN it felt great to be back on the horse. Life just looks so much better from there.

Again, I had no plan, just see where we were. We walked a bit. Communication nice and light. Responding to my energy. His trot—it was smooth! Huh? Mr. Jackhammer? Mr. Pogo Stick? Smooth? I was posting to it nicely, and oddly, without even thinking about it, on the correct diagonal (when did I learn to do that?!?). Stops when I let out my energy, transitions better... and we cantered.

Know that I have never cantered in a round pen, because I once thought I needed to provide this big animal with plenty of room so he could pick up speed and plenty of room to slow him back down. Being in a 50-foot round pen is too small, plus it is, y'know, round. So I'd have to canter on a *gasp* circle.

He's not a jetliner, fer goodness' sake, he's an animal designed to whirl on a dime, bolt from predators, and slam to a stop. He doesn't need extra runway. What on earth was wrong with me?

Well, we cantered. He transitioned smoothly, it was a nice little lope, on the proper lead, and in a lovely circle. And it felt as natural as anything. It felt as though there had never been a problem before, never a threat to buck, never a nervous moment on my part.

For the first time I can remember, I felt like we were truly in harmony with one another. It's been eight years in the making.

More days like this, please.

I believe we are ready to tape our L2 auditions. For those who aren't completely in the loop, it's free until May 1, 2009. So get on it! See you there!

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