My life has been a complete whirlwind since the beginning of June, beginning with a trip home to Washington to see my family. I got to spend two lovely weeks with them enjoying all that suburban Seattle has to offer and then brought my sister back to Montana with me. I have managed to get a few photos up of Jamie out with the horses and myself in prior posts. Jamie took a special liking to Bambi and made it her personal project to win her over. Jamie knows nothing about horses and aside from a few safety pointers from me I left her to her own devices to see what worked in building a friendship with Bambi. Because of this she therefore had no plan, no ulterior motives, no agenda to follow - her only intent was to hang out, relax, and put zero pressure on Bambi - taking the time it takes to just be still. By the end of her stay the normally aloof Bambi was like putty in her hands! It was very inspiring to be reminded how much a little undemanding time can do for a partnership between horse (or donkey!) and human. Jamie has since gone back to Washington but Bambi has remained by far a much friendlier donkey and is much more confident to stay and hang out while I play with Aspen in the pasture. :)
Today was the perfect day to head out and see the horses, not too hot, not too windy, and for once not too buggy! There are some monster flies and bugs that I have never seen before out where I keep Aspen! I am definitely going to be looking up some recipes for all natural fly spray as these biting flies are enough to drive one crazy! I spent about an hour on the ground with Aspen with one clear goal in mind - to keep her left brain from start to finish. I tend to get ahead of myself sometimes and today I really wanted to get in sync with her, match our energies, and keep her confidence all the while inspiring some curiosity and play. I just finished watching the SC DVD about the Touch-It game on the ground and wanted to use that as a tool to help expand all of the things I mentioned before. I spent a good while brushing her and tending to all the little cuts she has mysteriously acquired on her legs while she ate her grain at liberty then leisurely put the bareback pad and halter on her. I began by asking her to head to a tire that was on the ground - not only did she seem to aim for it right away and put her nose on it, she then stood up on it with both front feet! The look on her face after was priceless - a great set of question ears and a look of lots of pride as she got off the tire and walked over to me. I then asked her to head to a small log that has in the past been somewhat scary to her. My usually RB/LB extrovert was slow as a snail today and I had to remind myself not to nag and harass her along. I took a deep breath, brought my energy WAY down, and then matched my foot steps to her front feet one...step...at...a...time... We finally made it to the scary log and wouldn't you know she not only put her nose on it, then her foot, but tried to eat it as well! How interesting! We headed to two more objects on the ground with a similar response at each object before backing up 22ft to put her Z5 on the fence! It took this little snail a while to get there but the key was she remained relaxed the whole time even as we worked our way away from Bambi and the other horses in the next pen over.
I played with her in the shelter using it as if it were a trailer with me on the outside asking her to walk in, wait, and back out, then asked her to go sideways up to it and put Z3 on the shelter before backing all the way around it, making 90 degree turns at the corners until we'd gotten back to the front where I had her back in. LOTS of licking and chewing here. :)
Being that I had her very left brained I took her into the big pasture where she didn't go RB but was somewhat borderline of possibly going RB if I upped the pressure on her at all. Her energy was up but she remained with me as we moseyed along. I sent her to touch a few objects in the pasture as we worked our way to the scary corner where the deer like to jump out of the bushes and you can almost see the neighbor kids which, of course, is naturally very terrifying to hear small children but not see where they're coming from. I kept my energy up to match hers until she started to relax and graze a bit. I used some squeeze game and approach and retreat as we got closer to the bushes just to completely respect her thresholds and wouldn't you know when we got there she was really confident and relaxed! :)
We played some stick to me on our way back to the arena and round pen. I did a few circles and yo-yoshumpy in the back and swishy tailed with warning ears and a snarly face. When she got like that I redirected her energy into a disengagement keeping my leg out of biting range until she relaxed then let her think on it for a minute before asking her out again on the rail and eventually for more walk-trot transitions. I am pleased to say that she exhibited no RB behavior at all while I was riding, it was all very clear LB behavior... So at least now I can research some strategies to deal with these issues where as before I was confused as to whether I was seeing RB or LB behavior when I was mounting/riding. I'm really seeing her develop in her Horsenality and am seeing a lot more LB qualities, that is until she spooks. ;) Perhaps she's not necessarily developing one way or another but instead I am just able to see more clearly what she's trying to tell me now. Anyone reading this with some ideas or those of you who've had issues with your LB horses not wanting to go forward I'd love to hear them. I'm thinking about some point to point with a little grain on each end or...? I want to build respect and perhaps using some incentive to do this will help her think I might actually have some good ideas.
I must remember that right now my dream for us and her dream for us are completely different. I really want it to be Aspen's dream to go galloping into the sunset with me - right now her dream is that I show up and take her to a bottomless bucket of oats. It's my passion to ride her and I must remember right now it's not her passion to have me on her. I must work to achieve a balance between both of our desires and needs in this partnership.
Today was the first day I really felt like I love this horse. Perhaps it is the first time I've felt this way since my old levels horse whom I loved with all my heart that I lost to an injury. I am very hopeful for a wonderful future and partnership between Aspen and myself. :)
As always any feedback is always welcome!
|Bambi checking out Aspen's new gear :)|
|My bay beauty :)|
|Trotting a bit in the round corral|
|Trotting around confidently in the scary corner of the pasture!|
|Taking five to eat some alfalfa in the scary corner.|
|Touching Zone 5 to the fence! :)|