Tag Archives: 2 way conversation

The first impressions of a colt…. “And you are??? Dump the ego!”

“True” will do it for you! True is a horse in small form. Okay technically a large pony by breed but  who measuring!  Honestly I think horse do all the time.

They measure your intention, emotions and demeanor all the time, from birth~

Rescently True had some visitors who ASSUMED way to much. I was suprised at the lack of insight myself. Before I Knew it Sarah’s stall was filled ( door open to paddock TG!) with 2 humans and she and True. By nature Sarah is very curiuos but also very energetically charged. All horses are  very perceptive, some take offence  to in your face human interaction more so than others. Sarah is one of those and  Bubba the same. You need to earn your place next to him. As it should be ! Immediatley I saw the MAKE we humans take on with animals, horses to stay on topic. And when we have a smaller animal we feel  even more able to dominate and or push around and handle. No real regard given to the natural emotion of the horse in question.

This was an amazing event to witness. Very purpose driven . I was  in the isle and  then went to stall side. I wish I  had a video to show. I was so taken off guard, with in a minute the whole thing was over, not tramatic visually but to the sensative nature of this mom and foal it was not a good first impression of these humans. The  message was given to leave stall, as the littlest one  was not going to be “Handled”.

So very cool to see the world through this little ones eyes.  More stories to come.

 

 

Listen with your eyes, slow down and be open to re-learning.

Great feed back!

Thanks for listening.

 

Sometimes , more often than not , I find myself  asking the universe to slow down and stop sending input. Do you ever get that way?

“For me, once I send the intention out , I know to buckle down for the goodness to come flooding in. Among the goodness is the greatness of learning”.

Learning comes from Students, horses, and life in general. Some time  either side of the equation has to be ready to Re Learn. 

As an instructor/mentor I am always  learning. That is my job. Best job in the world! Never ending self improvement.

In some cases I’m Re-Learning old things come new again. Funny how that works!  Some times its  brought to my attention while I am in learning mode other times it comes to me as I am working through things with my horses,( still learning mode, LOL  ),  or a student’s horse, to find the right answer.

If I ask a question and don’t get the right answer, I  ”Listen with my eyes, slow down and prepare to get potentially uncomfortable as I learn the lesson for the day” =  what the right equation is to find the answer I’m looking for. We must listen to our horses. Inappropriate behavior is not natural for them , its caused by something, It is a communication.

Why do you think this is so  hard for some people to do? ( humble pie…looking in the mirror and accepting your accountability to the situation?).

As a learner I am very introverted. I like  some hand holding, and not a lot of chaos.  I like to observe a lot: extremely visual! I take it home and  replay it in my minds eye while I attempt to emulate the maneuver ,  task or job to be completed.

Horses  , some of them, learn in the same way. They need time, and no chaos! Softness with corrections maybe so, but not with emotion. The real test is keep the emotion out of it for all. Often times  a horse is pushed to a point where they  feel all they  can do is be explosive, mis behave extremely, to get attention.

This is an introvert on the edge! Kinda sounds funny as I type it but its true. Like “Donkey ” in the movie Shrek, “Im a Donkey on the edge.”

In the wrong inexperienced hands( direct line and  predatory, not emotionally fit), this horse will be  man handled to comply: suppressed if you will. We all know it happens .  No one likes this! But then why don’t those who get this way see there is a problem and seek to address it in a more communicative manor. Not to say my idea of True Horsemanship should be  all flowers and  fluff , not at all, but horses  communicate in the purest of ways. If we can learn to respond accordingly and appropriately things will change.

They don’t want to win the game they want to be a part of a fair game. None of us as humans like being involved in a game or discussion which is so one sided. For me I know I just shut down, stop listening and or just walk away. Lots of signs are given prior to this departure, ( mental or physical), but if Im not thought of,  I’m gone. Being human we tend to have a mostly rational response and it is understood, Usually. Our counterpart see’s or perceives a rift and should respond accordingly to re open the door to play or communication. The results can vary depending on the degree of shut down. Horses, depending on the type of  brain they have  can be very rational and calculating in response or just blow. Don’t you love it when you see a horse get the message across . Or depending on the  clueless — ness of the human( Sorry), begin to try.

EX: Don’t think they don’t know where your foot is!  And suddenly  feel nothing from pressure to move off. This is a mild but classic case. Gotta love it!

A good leader, if ever caught in this situation, no one is perfect, (we cant be, we are human),would probably catch the rift before it grew too wide, and if ego was left out,  offer a softer solution and communication would be more 2 way. I do not think that this is being wishy washy. Here you get into a bit of the  school of

” You can’t let them think they’ve won”. How many of you still hear that today around horses. Talk about Human EGO! Again, horse don’t want to win they just want to be a participating member of your herd of 2. They want to know where they stand in your world . They want safety, and comfort. Ok food  and water too but lets hope that goes without saying. When I feel safe and comfortable I have fun.

Don’t you want your horses to have fun, and feel confident to express themselves? Good question huh? Do you know what that requires from us?

A great book “Play to Win ” by Larry and Hersch Wilson, discribes this perfeclty. Might I add this is an amazing book , full of Aha moments, that in  the first chapter clarified what I was going through in my life but couldnt  pin point or discribe to others. I had begun this transformaton and though aware of  it , so much was untangible.

” When we are talking about playing to win in the adventure of our lives, the traditional definitions of winning and losing don’t hold up. Of course , there are times when we need to call on our competative nature to accomplish what we have set out to accomplish. But competing to defeat someone is only one way of responding to the events we encounter. In fact, in the great adventure of our lives, there is no one to defeat.” P 22

In my world what I have found is you need to know what you want and like and will accept as a foundation to teach from with human and horses. But , no person is alike and no horse either , so to assume your way is the only way is quite bold. This holds true for  learners and  teachers. Guess we call it  being Closed Minded! Not seen too much in horses unless pushed too far, for too long and they are on shut down to humans.

From a  learners point of view, USUALLY…  taking what you learn and  making it your own is the very right thing to do. Its you , your horse , your job, so buck up and assume responsibility for your own decisions. Don’t  try it and say , “Ah this  doesn’t work,” because you got a response that backed you off. That my friends is communication“Listen with our eyes”. Admit you don’t know it all and ask for help for sure after  honest attempts have been made by you to find neutral.  This is the process of learning. So what if you might have caused the issue,We usually do. Welcome to the group.  It, thankfully to horses being so forgiving, can usually be fixed. As stated before , usually there are things that happen before the end result. If we all slow down and listen we might be able to not have to go there. It is here, at the ”Cross roads of communication,” that I see a lot of  the inconsistency, and hopping from one  thing to another to avoid  Accountability, (responsibility), to  your own  inadequacies, mistakes,  errors,  is so normal these days , kids and horses suffer. It’s not the  tools or the technique it’s the implementor.

I hear about  this a lot, and eventually see it first hand as  those who are ready to Re-learn( three cheers!!), come to me and ask for  help  finding the  way back to  a better relationship with here horses.  Challenges are opportunities to  grow and get better. With  horse I say they see you and raise you one or ten! Can you meet the challenge, find the way, and be the  leader, the Accountable/Responsible  human leader they need and are asking you to be?

It may not seem like asking when things get weird,( small things were over looked and now it huge), and  your sweet little horse  finally has taken a stand. Someone wants to have a say in the game plan. We can do one of 2 things,  go direct line , or “Listen with your eyes, slow down, and be open to Re Learning”. 

No one thing is perfect including who we look at in the mirror.  But it is that person, who if going it alone, with no willingness to look  imperfect for fear of looking like a failure, who them must eventually come to terms with  the big questions …

Whose fault is this really? Who or what is holding me back?

A very good friend/mentor worked through this with me and others over  a couple summers of intense horsemanship clinics,( not always about the riding), and  last time the group was asked

” What’s holding you back? “, I was very proud to say “Me”.  I got it loud and clear. Open the trunk, put my baggage on the corner and drive away!

No one else makes my final decisions,  plays with my horses, rides them , interacts with my circles of fiends. If I’m going to be what  I want to be, I need to be accountable. The past is over its time for many of us to move on!

Speaking as a horse owner and professional it’s a hard process to go thru but we can’t blame the horse worlds top names, or our childhood, or what ever we might come up with, for our inadequacies.  Its us,  practicing imperfectly, and not Listening with our eyes .  Horses serve up humble pie so well.

If your horse is asking you to step up, it’s the universe opening the door to a learning curve, will you accept the challenge  and  see where it takes you, professionally , personally?  Sometimes it’s not what we want revealed about ourselves.

Again an excerpt from the  book by Larry and Hersch Wilson called “Play to Win”..  discussing Playing to win, or Playing to not loose.

Playing to not loose: Avoiding situations where we might lose, fail, be emotioanlly hurt, or be rejected. p 23

Playing to Win: Consciously going as far as I can with all that I have and learn from what ever happens. p 25

Welcome to  true horsemanship… let the games begin.

 

Re-naturalizing….

And so it begins, naturally!

Meet and greet

Recently on a FB question asked  about herd dynamics, I got to thinking about some of the answers given. While doing stalls a few days ago I got chatting to

Myself , a usual occurrence, I may add. The topic came up of this question and  I began to answer it  myself,  taking in all perspectives and came up with ,

“Hmm? Can you re-naturalize a horse?”  In turn I posted that question to the FB community and was asked to give my version of what Re-naturalize meant.

So here it goes as it pertains to mainly the Herd Dynamic thought.

Sable View , has been termed by many a sanctuary! Horses and riders come to me, Sable View , misunderstood,  missing puzzle pieces to the  ”Fun” part of being with horses and riding, and horses forgetting how to be a horse.  Honestly I can not tell you what it is but with out a doubt horses here change  regardless of weather they are assigned to work with me or not. There is a great energy here, calm , quiet, and safe.  I try as much as possible to keep  the horses here as natural as possible , integrate the herds, full turn out 24/7 unless bad bad weather.  All this makes a difference right off the bat. The quiet  nature of  what I do and how I do it  permiates and  as much as they can with hands off so to speak, they settle. Some horses by request of owners are mutually worked with. By this I mean owner/ horse  time is spent with me. This is more for the relationship and safety  parts of the puzzle, but still can relate to the herd dynamic as well. Acknowledging, and reading  body language with respect.

I have had horses come in very boldened to humans and so clueless to equine signals its mind boggling.  All I can do is refer back to the Movie “Buck” . No, my experiences were not as extreme, Thank God, but the basic  premise of human error , or lack of  herd socialization as a youngster  jumps to the fore front as reasons.

Why?? Money, production, the prize,  OR maybe a mare dies, or rejected the foal, lots of reason why humans step in but I beleive the error is we  raise them as our “Babies” and not as  a by nature a wild herd animal. Those instincts are still there . All of a sudden  the baby is big and has no manners. Bad news!

I hear all the time, ” I don’t want to hurt him/her”. Or “I don’t want him/ her to not like me”, OMG people, REALLY! Think, in a herd  if they don’t get it by the third signal they get a swift  double barrel , a snaking charge,  and or a chunk taken from them.

Think do we take lip from our kids? I will answer for me, NO! I can tell you , I’m a tough mom, and my kids and I still laugh and  kid around  together all the time. They still love me!  There is a respect that is understood. Boundaries! In herd or house gotta have them!

So, in horse body language and communication, how would the mare correct her foal?   You all can think  through this  and Im sure can see in  your imagination at least the answers , as there are many. And , for as many as there are there are degrees of severity too.

When I have a horse come in with an owner who is fearful, It’s usually the “Oh my Baby ” thing. Fixable once owner gains ground in confidence  as the alpha of  their herd of 2. When it stems to the herd, and not being able to  mingle and find a place without  endangering others , whether it be dominance or submission or shear confusion, (I have seen it to where it would be banishment in the wild, my alpha knows its not  quite right and  will not allow it in ,  entering horse just doesn’t get the idea to keep his place. and ask permission to enter closer, sound familiar!). I begin to think something is missing from its “Natural” development,  social skills.

Enter “Re – Naturalizing” as  I put it. To try to get a horse to be accepted into herd and be aware of  the natural cues after missing the memo is not an easy task. I  am very fortunate to have  for the most part two herds with inter-changable members. So if full integration is not a doable thing, a herd is still an option with less pressure . 2 herds , 2 different energies. With inter-chageable members  I can  slowly  allow my more dominant  members, mare or gelding, to meet and greet, supervised  of course. This is a slow process.

For sure over the fence happens first, and  one on  one time in a private paddock area. I learn a lot from the over the fence time  I carefully watch, as to  how far I can  take the next step and who I can make it with.

In the one on one time I personally am hands off  as  I see the behaviors are not  ”Bullying” but clear and consistent with “Natural selection of a pecking order”.

I will and do make my presence known in the intro process. I feel it is important to let my place in the order of things be very clear.  In the end , the buck stops with me. Among themselves ,  they have their own order, enter human, owner, me , whomever,  a shift should be made to give  acknowledgement and respect with a feeling of comfort and ease.

In a nut shell this is my interpretation of what i call Re-Naturalizing” a horse. It can be taken deeper  in many aspect , but for this post my point was to just give an overview. I look forward to  more posts on this topic. Its unfortunate  they are needed.

 

 

 

 

 

“Catatonic”, Learn to read!

Of late I have been blessed, really, to have been personally enlightened to the potentially scary life of a  RBI.

Ask yourself what it means to you to be “Catatonic.”

Sarah and her water

Just take the time

For me it is any of the following:

Vague, A lost or far away look , gone to happier place, Non responsive, frozen any of these can be used to discribe the word.

A few days ago I was put in a situation where I was so aware of what a RBI(Right Brained Introvert), must feel when being pushed to a point of needing to hide. I guess though a RBI would tend ot go there more readily if pushed, any Introvert or horse treated without a say in the conversation would or could go “Catatonic”.

Lets just say there would be a degree of difficulty in scoring as in diving or gymnastics.

Never have I felt so scared and unsure.

My only way to find escape from the pressure of the external enviroment was to close my eyes and go away, litterally to an instant deep sleep.

I figured it out pretty quickly and used it to my advantage when I didn’t want to deal or answer questions. it was clearly a very deliberate  response.

If any of you have not seen this happen in a horse, take a better look at your own! Most of us are guilty to some extent of  not understanding how to read our horses language when it is subtle and not explosive. Is it “Submissive” or is it “I can’t cope, Im going far, far away”.

To the untrained eye and spirit it could be mis read, IF read at all. 

Trying to please all around me and coping with building stress I had not filtered well, my error, I was mentally and emotionally fried! I had no options given to me other than do, this try this, etc etc .

Finally by default, I was given an opportunity to have a voice and choose a way out. OMG, what a relief!  Time was running out,  and people needed to move on so by necessity  I was given an option to get relief. Ever seen a horse push you to a point where you have to stop pushing and give up, all of a sudden they make a move and start to offer things? Yup! They just needed to be given an option!

I have a whole new respect for the impact of pressure for both ” H factors”. I do have a very good eye for reading horses and humans but this expereince has been a lesson I will never forget and will bring with me as I interact with my own horses and others. A real gift!

Always read your partner ….. Don’t make them have to escape because they are not heard and cant cope. Just because we think they should do it or others are watching! and putting pressure on you!

Don’t get me started!

Gage your pressure and monitor your mind set.

LEARN TO READ!!

….even if you stand on your head!

What???

Yup , that’s what I tell my students if it gets their horse in a working mode while ridden.

I recall back when I was studying in England for my AI certification I learned so much about riding.  You had to be a part of the barn life , chores etc , have lessons , burst through  comfort bubbles right and left and do this 6 days a week. And on the odd saturday we had schooling shows.

OMG barn work and show in a day, half day actually!… so warm up, NOT!

I had this one horse Biggles, a grey gelding, that I was to show. He was not my charge horse but  we all knew his rep.  Cold backed! Yeah!

Well this day I proved a lot to myself… not how I would do  it now but then I was young,  in college, and dong what I was told. It was a grade and a certificate on the line. Had  a lot riding on my outcome.

No pressure!

So my AM chores were done and I was needing to get to my dressage test time and so  had groomed Biggles early , had to tack up after a quick brush off and yup hop on and yup hang on! HOLY….!!!  well Im still here so it all worked out. Honestly I dont recall if he got me off or not. I know  I had a time with him but  dont think I came off.

I went in and did my test and it was ok.  I dont even remeber my score. I didnt care I just knew I needed to do what I had to do to get him to chill through it.

Muriel Harris was out head master in charge of the program and  she was having a ball with the American style of equitation. I was not  a show rider so it didnt bother me to not look perfect, like  a china doll. She liked me as I was more of a ride by the seat of my pants rider , who hunted and rode a variety of horses in uncontrolled situations,  so I had good instincts , what I call servival instincts! Literally!

Anyway the whole experience of that one Saturday of my time(6 weeks) there was so telling, Obviously as I can still recall the events.  As Muriel told me before I went into my test and durring a lesson after the show…yeah I had to ride him again… and again, and again… she said, ” losen up!!!! I dont care what you look like nor does he , he just  need to be ridden how he needs to be ridden, now get on with it!” She was a no non sense person!

Biggles was a huge  influence on me…. I know why Muriel had me on him  often. She knew I had it in me and she was right . By the time I was done I had him pegged and others as well.

So, comes my attitude of justice. I dont care if you ride on your head if it gets your horse to travel in a fluid forward frame.

I thought of this whole expereince today as I was on route  to teach lessons .  One lady very much uptight to be perfect and had some fear issues etc etc, so I knew I needed to recall on my own past to pull her forward.

I also thought of my own Sarah especially and Popeye who I have  been bringing on as they developed not on my schedule but theirs. I have been serching for a real connection for Sarah and her riding and have made huge progress but deep down know I need to think for myself an acknowledge my little voices.  I have great instruction with my horses, yes i get lessons too! but ultimaltey as I tell my own students it’s your horse and when they, we, are not there it up to you to make it work so make it your own. We cannot be a mirrow image of our instructors, we are not them. We surely can learn from all, lick and chew and use our own minds to make it work and find the puzzle pieces that are missing.

I thought on this and made a dicision as I drove and recorded a reminder on my phone to write this blog about my thought pattern.

**to go with my recurring thought re sarah, its recurring  for a reason. I pride myself in being well educated horseperson , up to date, a good thinker, and listener (especially with my eyes). I instill confidence with ease.

**Im the best judge of my horses and know how to balance things. I needed to remind myself to trust my own expertise, (The Hybrid Method), and just do it! Even instructors are human! We should NEVER forget that…

**Follow their feel and feel my way through.

**Allow a “2 way conversation” to take place.  Allow questions to be asked and anwers to be acknowledged, never ignored.

** Never forget where you came from.

10/24/11 addition!

Got thinking about this and wanted to clarify a bit. I don’t want to promote  not listening to or trying to mimic your, our instructors.  Its how we all have to start and then we develop our own styles. What I do want to promote is this:

My head is saying try something different.  Push a little bit to let her see what it is you are looking for. Dont blow her away by doing too much but go to where she can explore the new frame desired  not only in walk but in trot.

Open hands , closed hands?  Hands to the side and high , or low? soft outside rein to allow the bend , or maybe a more steady feel? Or maybe one way its one way and another its another. Seat position??? How does it effect her if  I move this way? No thats not good, shoulder dives in, how can I correct it? Leg, one or both? don’t stiffen, push sideways, open a hand/ rein(direct), raise a hand? Let the contact go and not play the game of holding her stiffness.

You see this is what I mean. Eventually we are all in our own little world and need to be able to work things out on our own in  our own way., in full conversation with our horses.

Remember to be just in your responses and reward tries.

In the typical english riding world a relaxed back is not advocated, but if it gives the feel to the horse of release and they do  then DO IT!

Who cares?  Your horse! The only one who should really matter!!

I hope this makes sense. It took me a long time to get so I saw and accepted the “holes” in the most vested of my foundations methods and sought to fill those holes with other methods in order to find harmony and the best communication per horse, not to mention body awareness.

Now with each of the three main methods I encompass in my work with horses, I can confidently say I have the bases covered. What ever might be missing , needs a tweak, Ill stand on my head! 

So go ahead and “Stand on your head!” if it gets the message across and you have a horse under you who is free, fluid and happy.