Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fear management - Part six

Bar says he was good when there were cows involved. No small feat, for sure, let along for an OTTB
Last of the series--but the most important in many ways--exercise six asks you to create an action plan of small steps that are reasonable, that you can accomplish on the way to where you want to be.

The instructions say this is where it becomes personal, where I determine my starting point and how I get from here to your goal.

My here and now is a horse who has scared me and hurt me, but who now works very hard to try to do what I ask. A horse who has sublimated (mostly, anyway) his very nature and has likely bound up his own body in order to comply with my wishes.

My wishes must change or he and I will be stuck.

Where do I want to go? I believe galloping down the beach is my answer.

Small accomplishable steps between where we are and where I want to be are both specific and general:

  • Drop into my feet and legs, relax, feel him and our connection.
  • Remind him how to move forward with impulsion and give him permission to do so.
  • Feel his front legs.
  • Practice that one-rein-butt-over move. A lot.
  • Get out of the round pen and into the rest of the arena more often.
  • Ride in the outdoor arena.
  • Get the walk to move right.
  • Get the trot to work right.
  • Ask for a canter without being terrified. Or if terrified, breathe, then ask for it anyway.
  • Get the canter to work right.
  • Canter. A lot. 
  • Do all of the above in the outdoor arena. A lot.
  • Make big circles and small circles.
  • Do transitions - walk/trot and trot/canter. 
  • Practice lead changes just for fun.. (He doesn't need much practice, but I do.)
  • Try new things that make us both nervous and work through the reactions.
  • Breathe. 
  • Breathe some more.
  • Sing to him. He likes it and it helps me breathe.
  • Just get on and ride.
  • Ride some more.
  • Reward him for the try and ask him to try again. 
  • Reward him again.
  • Reward myself for the try.
  • Be patient.
That's a good list to start with, though I'm sure I'll add more as I go along, and I'm pretty sure the last one will need to be interjected here, there and everywhere.


Anonymous said...

It's the allowing thing that I was starting to work on at the clinic in May with Dawn. I've got more allowing work to do with her at the trot, first, until, as Mark told me, we can just slip into the canter without it changing anything. Dawn is very, very forward, and finding that fine balance between allowing energy and forward while keeping things balanced and relaxed is a challenge for both of us.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think you've got a good list to work with. The most important thing in my book is to try and relax and have fun.

Dan Henderson said...

I can relate only too well to being terrified to cantor/lope! I am a very green rider, and Big John is a really big horse, so at the lope, his range of movement is probably a foot to a foot and a half. He absolutely scared the crap out of me at the horse show, thundering in at a full gallop when we were just supposed to trot in.