Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fear Management, Part Three

Next in the series from the Horse and Rider article is Exercise 3: What can I do? How well can I do it? 

Calabar says, "What are you so worried about, Mom?"

The direction is to make a list of everything I can do that is related to the horse--start to finish--writing in the affirmative, then rate how well I do it on a 1 to 10 scale (1 being "No way, Jose!") It's really a way to acknowledge what I can do and build my confidence from there. Turns out, there is a lot I can do with this horse of mine.

I can go into my horse's paddock and not be afraid. I can pick up his feet, do stretches with him and simple ground exercises using my own energy and a few carrots. I can direct him away from me when I'm graining so he waits to approach until I give the go-ahead. (10)

I can lead him without him crowding me or pulling my arm off to get to grass. I can work him on the ground in the round pen using just voice commands and body language. We can walk together, stop together and back together. I can direct his head and hindquarters and move him sideways both directions and backwards without touching him. (9)

I can (and do) get on him bareback with just his halter and lead rope. I can ride him at the walk bareback and ask him for trot, though we are still working on the smoothness and coordination of that particular thing. (8)

I can tack him up and ride him in the indoor arena. (8)

I can ride him in the outdoor arena. (4 -- I am nervous above the trot but can take him over obstacles at the walk.)

I can load him in the trailer, even into the first slot, most days. I can always turn him around in the trailer and unload him without him running me over. (8--I need to work on my own patience here.)

I can take him out on the trail and feel pretty calm and confident, even when doing something new--including following after deer for a few steps just because I pointed him that way and asked nicely. I can even ask him to trot or lope on a trail, though we mostly stick to trotting unless we're on the beach. (8)

I can have him around cows and not have him spin away from them. In fact, I can have him face down a cow--at least from the other side of a fence. (7--mostly because we've only done it once.)

I can ride him around a group of horses he doesn't know, keep him from trying to glue himself to Lena, and hold his attention. (8)

I can decipher when he's being naughty and when he is reacting out of fear and address the situation appropriately. (7)

I can work the sore spots in his body and not get bitten because he knows better and because I pay attention to his pain limits. (9)

I can give him a bath and reach inside his sheath to clean it. I can pat his fuzzy, brown belly and even walk (well, crouching anyway) under him. All of this without getting kicked, or even the threat of being kicked. (9)

I can doctor his wounds and wrap his legs and spray him with fly spray. I can put his fly mask on without having to halter him. (10)

I can ask him for a canter, though (as with the trot) the smoothness of the asking and resulting gait still leaves a bit to be desired. (5--I don't do it enough yet to improve)

I can lean my head against him and get a Thoroughbred neck hug in return. (10, duh.)

I think I could actually go on forever, but here's what I see so far: I do some things pretty well, and in fact approach some things that should be scarier (like trail riding) with less trepidation than more "normal" things, like arena riding. Being a little backwards is sort of the story of my life, so this is not all that surprising. 

Since I still want to gallop my horse down the beach, there are a few things we need to work on. But the point of this exercise (I think) is to remind me that there is a lot I can do, a lot I'm already doing, and maybe--just maybe--it's okay to add a few things to the list.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've got a lot covered already!