Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ways to learn

Our trip to Slide was a learning experience from start to finish. We found out that--once loaded--both horses ride calmly and quietly for hours. I found out I can ask more from Bar and he'll give it to me. Steve learned to push Lena past her "I'm bored" moment. We learned they can be turned out together, not kill each other, and Bar still gets to eat.

That's the brief overview; the details are, well, more fun, more interesting.

The first morning, Bar had a bit of a flashback to his early hard-to-control behavior. We took them down to the trailer to tack up, and he got very anxious. There was tractor noise because Ike was discing the arena and another horse coming down the driveway. It was apparently a lot for the ex-racehorse lizard brain to deal with and he got bad about swinging into Steve and me at the trailer and needed some aggressive reminders about proper ground manners.

Then we got up into the outdoor arena, complete with chickens and other horses on the other side of the fence and had some dancing, some bucking and even a little rearing on the end of his reins--though never in close. It actually came to an end when he got his front leg over the reins in my hand and needed my help to get untangled. "Darn," he seemed to say. "Now what do I do? Mom??!!!"

That ended most of the histrionics. After that, he was a fairly willing participant in whatever we tossed at him. Trails? Of course. New arenas? You got it. Barking dogs? Chickens? We can deal with all that, too.

Moving mechanical cow-on-a-wire? With a little effort, even that.

Ike helped both of us give the right cues to the horses, fundamentally get out of their way, allowing them to give you the right answer. Bar moved off my leg beautifully once he knew what I wanted and knew I was going to stay balanced. Ike watched Bar hesitate in a right trot circle, told me Bar was taking care of me--reacting to me being off-center--and to just push him through it.

Lena began to pivot on her hind end once Steve began to give the right input, and Ike gave Steve better ways to tell Lena what he wanted. Once the communication happened, the maneuvers followed.

Actually, I can't wait to go back but am so glad to have things I can work on until then. Not overwhelming things, but tips that help both horse and rider communicate and work together to get results--whatever results those may be.

That's the other bit Ike reminded me to recognize. Take what they give you and go with it.

Funny thing is, it works.


Joy M. Drennen said...

Aha! The answer to my last question. Ike helped you and Steve and Bar and Lena with signals. Plus some instinctive maneuvers from Bar and Lena. Was Bar protecting you from the scary mechanical cow with the side passes? Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Nice stuff, nice learning!

Dave (aka Buckskins Rule) said...

I always like the cognitive breakthroughs, on my part. The cues become more subtle, the responses come quicker. The key, which you already know, is to keep practicing, until it becomes instinctive.

The best part is that you two are looking forward to returning.