Friday, January 08, 2010

Reminded again at the differences between Bar and Lena

Bar and Lena are very different horses in many ways, and therefore training them has to use different approaches.

Not having worked Lena much on the ground, I found very quickly that the techniques that work with Bar are not a given when it comes to Lena.

For one, she anticipates way more than he does. "Oh, you're going to ask me to do this!" No, not actually--slow down and wait for the cue, Lena Rey. I can't really tell if she's trying to please or just anticipating so we get to the end faster. Bar, on the other hand, waits to be sure he knows what I'm asking. For sure. Really sure. He doesn't always get it right, but he waits and then tries. He gets a little more insecure when he's not certain what I'm asking, but he isn't quite as quick to assume as Lena is.

It's a good balance to work with, actually, and is helping me learn a lot more about training horses in general, and our two specifically.

Lena is super sensitive. Clinton Anderson would refer to her as a "sensitive, spooky horse" and the Parellis would definitely categorize her as a left brain extrovert. The lightest touch is sufficient, then she tends to overcompensate, but will finally settle down and pay attention. The goal with her is to get her to calm down and start listening sooner.

Bar is, well, Bar. He does not bolt like he used to when he isn't sure what you're asking, and he watches all the time to be sure he gets what it is you want. I think that means somewhere along the way we've made some progress. The goal with him is to build his physical balance and strength, along with his confidence and trust.

With both, however, it is completely obvious when the wheels start turning in their brains. The road to get there with each is proving a little divergent, but the challenge is fun and intriguing. Maybe they are saying the same thing about me. "So Bar, did you notice the expression on Jess' face when you reacted that way? What do you think it means and how should I express my confusion about what she's asking?"

If that conspiracy were to occur, I might actually be doomed. As it is, I'll just have to stay one step ahead. Tricky, that.


Kate said...

Your post is a good example of why one-size-fits-all training methods don't work well - the fact that you can be sensitive to the differences and make changes to how you do things for the different horses is really a plus. Love the descriptions - my Maisie and Dawn couldn't be more different, although there's both as hot as hot can be!

Buckskins Rule said...

I wish more horse owners recognized that horses are, in fact, individuals. It would save a great deal of frustration, on the part of both horse and human.

I'm not convinced that they don't sit out in the field and plot against us.