Saturday, September 01, 2012

It's September Again

I have to fix this template.  

Because Blogger changed things and now it is confusing.

One of these days, Cheerios and I WILL tape our Audition for Level Two Freestyle and we WILL send it in and get that blue string.

First, I need a job. Then I need to restore my Savvy Club membership. Then I can do it.

(Poverty has been tough. But it's getting better. That was just a phase. I had things to learn. I've learned them. At least by the Grace of God I still HAVE my horse.)

So I discovered something the other day while I was out at the barn. I like teaching HUMANS. This comes as a shock to me. I knew I liked teaching horses, but I didn't think I'd enjoy the human part. Well, a mom and her 10-year-old son came out to look at a couple of horses for lease (mine being one of them) and I wound up giving the kid his first impromptu riding lesson. He'd been in 4-H this summer, learned basic horse care but hadn't really rode yet (things they tell you AFTER they get on...)

He did pretty well but he lost confidence when Cheerios went faster than he wanted and he didn't know how to stop him (pulled back). The kid kept saying he wanted to go faster (cowboy thoughts) and I said "let's get you comfortable at a walk first". Cheerios doesn't go unless you ask. Well, he kept asking and Cheerios finally listened. I knew they were OK, though. His habit is to speed up then stop at the gate. He did that. Poor kid freaked out, though. Apparently he'd never cantered (even though it was a slow lope for Cheerios).

To my deficit, I should have known better than to take a kid's word for it about his riding ability. Everyone boasts; everyone thinks it's easy. To his credit, I'll admit that when I first started riding in 2000, I had to fill out a form at the trail barn and it asked if I had 10 hours or more of riding. Well, if you count the vacation nose-to-tails and a few weeks on my niece's horses when I was a teenager, and a couple of lessons in my college gym course, yeah... I think it should have read 100 hours because both me and the owner of the Palomino realized AFTER I'd mounted that I didn't have the expertise to handle him.

How soon we forget.

Well, the kid stayed on, but he was rattled. To my credit, what I did next was savvy. I know how fast confidence can go. I know how hard it is to get back. I know that the way you leave it is how you'll find it next time. I know that once you dismount, you have a lot of time to replay the horrendous incident in your mind and revisit the fear over and over until you can't remember anything BUT fear. 

I knew if he got off shaken, he might not get back on again.

So I kept him on, took the reins away, gave him instruction in the difference between pulling the saddle horn versus pushing (finding the balance point). I promised him I wouldn't go any faster than he was comfortable with, then I had him shut his eyes and just feel the horse beneath him while I led Cheerios around at a walk, backed him up, pulled him forward. When I saw relaxation returning, we went for a slow trot. The kid got off with restored confidence and a big smile.

I realized, it felt really good to give him that gift. It sat in the back of my mind for hours, and I thought about the profound effect Parelli has had on me. It's changed my whole life. It's teaching me how to "train" horses, how to ride, and how to be a more evolved person. Parelli has given me the greatest gift; I would be honored to share that gift with others. Human AND horse alike.

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