Training Sessions with Arrow

So its back to the beginning.  Well, not completely.  I have built a nice relationship with Arrow of trust and have increased her confidence so much so, she is now willing to go all over the property and even into neighboring fields and forests.  I even took her to a trail challenge which we did alone and she went through every challenge with me riding her except for two things, two serious “squeeze obstacles” which I dismounted and led her through.  These are the decisions I continue to make to ensure she knows that I “have her back”.  Parelli’s training which i have studied for many years now, says “Expect a lot, Accept a little and Reward often.”  A good mantra for any relationship.  So knowing her lack of skill and exposure and the plain fact that she is a prey animal,  I recognize her big “tries” and reward them as much as possible.  This is the key I believe to building confidence.

So after a year of ridden work, I sent her to my Amish friend for driving basics because he has a pleasant way with horses and lots of experience driving.   They were hesitant to take her seeing that she was already 8 yrs old and not having good experiences.  The first thing they did was hitch Arrow with an experienced and calm draft horse and she did fine.   Then they took her single down the road.  She handled traffic and all pretty well,  but when there was a turn or if he drove her past the barn too far on the way back home, she would begin the jigging and rearing and wouldn’t settle.  So, they didn’t feel it would be profitable to keep going and I should be happy with her as a riding horse.   After 3 weeks with them,  I brought her home.

About two months after that experience, I put the harness on her.   She began breathing
abnormally, very short breaths, almost hyperventilating.   When I picked up the reins to long line her, she quickly and gracefully, backed herself into the open door of the tack room!  I was astonished, but still clueless, so proceeded with MY plan for the day.   I led her out of the barn and down to the round pen.  I put a single tree yoke on her traces and was going to attach a tire for her to drag but she escalated.  Finally, I came to my senses.  Time to change my plan.  Baby steps, not giant leaps.  I should have recognized it sooner, a good leader is flexible and knows when to adjust to meet the horse that shows up that day!  So, back to the barn we went.  I told her what a good girl she was for trying, gave her some scratches and cookies and then unharnessed her.

A few days later, I tried again. This time, lots of cookies and scratches and she was fine being harnessed, no anxious breathing or backing into the tack room!  Today was going to be about whatever she wanted to offer.   When I picked up the lines and asked her to walk on, she circled in the center of the aisle, stopped and then turned and looked back at me.   I smiled, put the lines on her back, walked to her head and told her how brilliant she was! I picked up the lines, asked her to walk on and she gave me TWO circles around the very small barn aisle and stopped.   I responded the same as the first. The next time, she took one step off the cement pad of the barn aisle into the driveway and then stepped back up into the barn and stopped.   Lots of praise. She continued to offer more and more. Finally, I asked for her to go out farther and she did but became a little unsettled.  We came back to the barn, rested and then I asked for one more offer without adding anything else and we ended the session with that.  The secret of tomorrow’s success is ending on a good note today!

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Safe Spaces

Arrow had been doing very well at dragging a yoke/single tree up and down the driveway but had a lot of trouble adding a tire to that yoke.  I typically kept the tires in my round corral and so when we would enter the corral she would trigger back to when I blew through so many thresholds, made so many assumptions(she had already been hitched to cart many times) and had hooked a tire to her yoke.  As soon as she saw that tire she panicked, hit the gas and ran for her life.  After taking out a board of the corral and hitting barrels with the flying tire, it finally broke loose and she was able to slow down.   So realizing the memory in the round corral, I decided to learn from where I had found success in re-starting her on this journey…..in the safe space of her barn.

So off I went to get the tire by myself and roll it back to the barn where she now stood, calm and relaxed.  When I rolled the tire up to the barn, she took a tense posture and snorted.  So we spent the next ten minutes or so approaching and retreating with the tire until she had the courage to drop her head and touch the tire with her nose.  Always start a horse learning a new thing with 95% of the environment being familiar to the horse and where they are already confident.  Then add the new piece.   I  moved the tire  all around her body so she could see it move in every area of her body and even bumped her legs with it as well.  I had her lead rope looped through a special ring that allows the horse to drift if she needed to get away but it also puts some drag on the rope so it is work for her to leave.  Prior to this,  I had spent several days of dragging this tire (myself, not attached to her in any way) behind us on a lead rope and allowing her to move side to side up and down the driveway until she settled.  I would drop the lead rope if she got too excited but always tried to get her to change direction so she could cross the flight line(cross her back feet as she changed direction) and in so doing, cross over mentally for a second from reaction to the thinking/partnership part of her brain.  This gave her some exposure while allowing her to find her release and realize the tire wasn’t a threat and she could control its approach.

Now,  I used baling twine to tie the tire to the yoke and hooked it to her harness traces.  I picked up the lines and asked her to “walk on”. She stepped off the platform of the barn aisle, took several steps and turned and went right back into the barn.  She turned and looked at me, I smiled, praised her and gave her a treat.  Then I waited for a bit.  Waiting for that tension to release, for a lowered head, normal breathing, licking and chewing.  The more mentally and emotionally difficult the task, the longer you need to wait.  Eventually I got what I was looking for,  picked up the lines and asked again.  She went out of the barn, around the tree and headed for the back of the barn which has some narrow spaces and the tire hooked the edge of the barn wall and broke away.  Good thing.   I brought her back to the barn, got the tire and attached it again and asked for “walk on” again.   We made it out to the end of the barn driveway and back and called it a day.   Small steps in a safe place, HUGE progress.

Using the same pattern, and now several days later, we have gone down to the round pen and back as well as up around the house and back to the barn.  It’s always good for Arrow not to stay away from the barn too long, but seems to respond very well if we check into the barn several times during a session.  Going back to the familiar seems to calm and detour her anxiety from building into a panic.  Someone said it well,”go further, stay longer, but always retreat back to what’s safe.”  I will continue to do this until we can go all around the property without getting worried and then I will try adding the blinders.  Hopefully,  if I lead her well and respect her timeline,  she will accept the noise and weight behind her without having to see the tire.  I am also hitching Twilight, her stable mate, to my buggy and then putting a lead line on Arrow and asking her to walk up beside Twilight.  She keeps an eye on the buggy behind her but has been able to walk, trot and canter beside Twilight in an open field.   She has even blown out several times during the whole affair which is a great sign of relaxation.  I am hopeful and this gives me encouragement to continue.

 

 

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First Impressions and Session with Frisco

Went to another barn to work with a High School student that was interested in learning about relationships/partnerships and wanting to work with horses.  We were able to arrange a 10 week (once a week) series in which I taught her about the “Parelli seven games”.  Now we were taking cover at a facility that had an arena for the winter weather.  We had approval from “the powers that be” to continue another ten sessions since the first ones had been deemed a success at helping this young student make better decisions that significantly changed her current trajectory of suicide attempts.

New barn, new horses.  I arrived to the barn before my student to arrange gates and choose a horse to work with for our session.  There was a “tank” of a horse that heard me in the barn and had enough curiousity and courage to come around the corner and check me out.  I smiled at her and then turned my back on her to work on securing gates and to strategize how I was going to woo her into the arena without too much fuss.  I didn’t want too much interaction with her before my student arrived so I could teach her the art of getting the horse to “catch” us.   The horse watched me for a short while and then turned and went out the same gate from which she appeared.   Fortunately she was thirsty and had stopped for a drink at a trough just outside the door.  I was able to casually get past her and then turn and herd her back into the barn with some convincing body language.

My student had arrived and I knew this would be a great time to review the three primary games; friendly, porcupine and driving, in order to play the catching game with our new partner.  Not knowing anything about the temperment or “horsenality” of this equine, we began playing games, where the horse is inspired to catch us as we imitate what she would be familiar with in a herd.  It was time to move her feet.  The more you move their feet rather than them moving you, the more you gain the respect of the horse and influence them to choose you as their leader.  They are natural followers, so if you can mimic an alpha mare, they will be motivated to draw close.  Frisco was drawn to the gate where she could see her familiar pasture mate and so each time she headed that way, we increased the pressure to make that be an undesirable place.  We wanted to be the place where the pressure was zero for her but she was going to have to figure that one out.  So everytime she thought of us (turned an ear our way, or better yet, turned and faced us) we would back off some or all of the pressure.  Frisco seemed to want to conserve her energy, she would walk mostly, trot if necessary and only canter if we got too close for her comfort.  This told me she was an introvert.  When she turned and faced us, we would give her a moment, all pressure off.  At that point she would drop her head, lick and chew and sometimes pass manure.  Before we had even started the game she had released manure about three times which told me she was nervous and probably preparing for flight.  I am sure the presence of two unfamiliar predators in her otherwise quiet barn was a bit unerving.  At one point after adding more pressure to encourage her to find her release by turning and facing us, she passed a very soft stool.  This indicated we were on the verge or had even crossed the line of driving too hard.  We gave her some time to process and then approached her shoulder on a rainbow curve from where we were standing.  It was time to reassure her and play some friendly game.  She allowed our approach but then blocked us with her nose from getting to her left shoulder.  We stopped and extended the back of our hand and she reached for us and made contact.  We went to stroke her on the forhead but she turned away.  We let her.  After a few minutes she left us.  We helped her leave.  I stressed with my student to always allow people to have the freedom to choose.  Choose to stay in the relationship or leave….if you truly respect their choice, they may come back, and Frisco did.  This time she offered her right shoulder and so we spent time giving her lots of feel good scratches on her wither.  She stayed for awhile.  We were starting to see some progress.

After a few more times of driving Miss Frisco, our energy conservationist, was highly motivated to make it a quick game.  About ten strides away she would quickly and very athletically turn and face us!  I could see in her eye, she thought she training us to stop driving her and it worked.  Now that she was comfortable with facing us and allowing us to approach,  we worked on uping the game to draw her.  As we would “push” her hip away with our eyes and then step backwards to draw her head, she began to take steps toward us.  After another few repeats of the same dance steps, we had her coming to and staying with us.  Catching game complete.

We had a few minutes left of our hour session together so it was time to do some halter work.  The owner of the barn informed us that she left the halter on Frisco for turnout so she could ensure catching her.  It was a wide halter the kind that doesn’t communicate well to the horse as the pressure is more “even”  rather than a discernable “on and off”.  This is huge to use the right tools when trying to get a conversation going.  Horses are motivated to make choices when the pressure increases and learn which choices were correct when the pressure subsides.  So my end game for this first session was to get the “right” halter on her.  Frisco was happy to stand for introducing the halter but when we reached up to her poll to remove her halter, her head flew up…..our trust level hadn’t grown enough with her to let us touch her ears.  My student tried to continue to wrestle with Frisco but I quickly told her to stop as our “partner” had chosen not to be a partner anymore.  At the first sign of loss of trust, there is no point in pressing on.  It’s time to stop and gain what has been lost or what has never been there to begin with. Working Frisco through her “head shy” concerns was going to take another session or two or…..and some other strategies to help her build trust and confidence in us.  These were her ears and she had the right to decide who got to touch them and who didn’t!

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Changes, Feedback and Progress

Unfortunately it’s been about a month since I have harnessed Arrow and had her drag a wooden yoke/single tree down the gravel driveway.  I have decided to not have her wear her blinders driving bridle but allow her to see out of both eyes what is going on behind her in zone 5(the tail)  I am realizing slowly that I am having to build her confidemce in many areas.  Working her from behind, getting her use to objects and noise from behind which can be quite threatening to a prey animal and precipitate a bolt to flee the scary thing that is chasing them.  So after about two months of dragging the yoke behind her and getting settled and accostumed to the noise of the yoke dragging through the gravel, I harnessed her with blinders and the yoke and she got nervous.  She could hear it but not see it.  I am sure it would be the same for us if we lost part of one of our senses.  Oh the things we ask of our equine partners and expect? them not to have trouble!

Once harnessed and yoke attached to the traces, I had forgotten my driving whip, which is used solely for guidance by touching her sides for direction or the hip for speed), I asked Arrow to stand while I retrieved it from the tack room.  In my brief absence, she needed to move her feet and she went out of the barn aisle, turned and went out around the back of the barn, now in a trot and around the barnyard with that scarey look in her eye.  Thankfully when she came back around she returned to the spot she had left.  I took it all in for a moment and thought, hmmm how interesting…it’s been a month and now she has blinders.  I spent some time reassuring her and waiting for her to start blinking again, breathing again and lower her head.

I decided to take her down familiar paths so as to not increase the “unfamiliar” any more and once she felt my leadership through the reins she settled nicely, blew out several times and was happy to walk down the driveway.  I asked her for whoa at the end of the driveway before entering the road and she was settled in the mind enough to comply.  Down the road we went several yards then made the turn around.  I thought about holding my breath because turns back toward home, or any changes of direction or gait/speed would unsettle the already unconfident Arrow.  But I needed to keep breathing and expect the highest from my equine partner as we had been working on these things a lot under saddle.  I knew I had set her up for success.  I needed to keep breathing to show her my support!  It worked.  She made the turn gracefully and continued on in a walk

I have learned from many hours spent with Arrow that when she looses confidence, she shows me in several ways: with upward transitions(ie: walk to trot, trot to canter etc.), she chomps on the bit, she throws her nose forward and pulls on the reins, and she swishes her tail or even stomps or kicks in protest.  It is wonderful for me to have such good and loud feedback for now.  Eventually I hope to start recognizing the quieter signs before she has to escalate to get my attention.  Isn’t that what God calls us to as He challenges us to a more intimate relationship?…..He wasn’t in the whirl wind or the storm, but in a still small voice!  How marvelous it is to know and have fellowship with another being at that level.  This for me is not just life, but abundant life!  Arrow and I made it back to the barn in complete calmness that day and I was very pleased.

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Goals and Time Frames

After my not so successful start of teaching Arrow how to drive, I sent her to an Amish man that has a good balance of authority, kindness and experience training horses to drive.  He was reticent to take Arrow, with her being older, but conceded to take her for a month.  He hitched her to an “old salt” that helped Arrow gain her footing and she did well.  Then he took her solo down the road a time or two and said that she did fine in traffic and all but when turned back toward the barn, got upset.  He maintained control of her but she just “wouldn’t settle”.  She does a beautiful collected “jig” and tosses her head.  With that,  he called me to bring her home after three weeks of work.  I appreciated knowing more of her mindset and story.  I decided to persevere and start Arrow’s driving training over.  Driving her in long lines, then dragging an object, then hitching her to a rudimentary training cart etc.

After Arrow was home for about a month, I decided to harness her and have her drag a tire behind her.  As I harnessed her with the various pieces, I noticed her breathing getting quicker and more labored, almost like she was hyperventilating?!  When I picked up on her lines and asked her to “walk on” she immediately and with extreme coordination spun around and backed herself into my very small tack room!   I was astonished but continued to direct her in keeping with my goal for the day, dragging a tire!   I led her from the tack room and down to the round pen, so focused, not on my partner or nurturing the partnership, but on MY GOAL!  I am not saying it isn’t good to have a goal, every leader in a partnership needs one and the ability to keep it in focus.  But when dealing with a scared, un-confident prey animal, you must allow  them to determine the time frame.  And that time frame is usually dependent on how good a leader you are.  I was already in failure mode, not addressing the very LOUD and not so subtle messages Arrow was sending me.  I had never ever had a horse back itself into my tack room when asked to leave the barn.  Arrow wasn’t just un-confident in her work, she was terrified!

Once at the round pen, I got a clue, and abandoned my goal of dragging anything.  Instead, I told her “good girl”, and long lined her back up to the barn where I removed her tack and put her out to pasture for the day.  This was going to have to be broken down into much smaller steps in order to build her confidence.

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Arrow

In March of 2017, I purchased a 14.1 H paint/haflinger cross pony that I named Arrow.  I was told that she was trained as a two year old to drive.  She was now turning seven.  I attempted to drive her after doing some “pre-flight” tests that seemed to check out okay, but once fully hitched Arrow had big trouble with being so far out in front of me with her only contact to me being my voice and hands on the reins.  She also had trouble being ridden away from the barn and down my long driveway, even though I was sitting on her back and had full contact with my seat, legs and hands.  So what made me think she would be fine way out in front for driving?  Good question.  Horses are natural followers and I had forgotten my basics.  A horse is confident, just like a person when #1. They perceive they are safe.  #2. They are comfortable.  A trainer needs to develop a horse’s confidence in many areas: self,  others (people and herd), environment and as a learner.  I had not prepared Arrow for success.  I soon became aware of many gaps of confidence that Arrow was experiencing, so much so, i almost met my Maker!   So, back to the drawing board for me as a trainer to address her insecurities.  Number One lesson reinforced, “Don’t make assumptions!”  I had not laid a good foundation of trust before asking Arrow to show me her learned (or in this case, not so learned) skill.  I spent the next year and a half gaining her trust as a riding horse.   The following several blogs will be my journey of learning what kind of a leader Arrow needs me to be if she is to become a driving horse.   Every good leader knows and respects the limitations of their followers.  Arrow  has become a wonderful trail riding companion, but whether or not she can be confident out in front of a cart, trusting only my voice commands and guidance through my hands on the reins, is still yet to be discovered.   Just as Father teaches us to walk by faith, instead of merely by sight, it takes an invested partnership to be successful in that higher calling.  Both parties get to determine the outcome, if  indeed it ever happens and in what time frame it comes into being.  Any way it ends up,   I am so enjoying the journey and the conversations there in!

 

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Early days with Arrow

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Return on Investment

About a year and half ago I heard from a trainer that he had a horse, an OTTB (Off the Track ThoroughBred) whose owner had stiffed him for three months board and he was taking him to auction….an auction in January in Amish Country.  I knew what that meant,  the horse had a past but not a future as Pat Parelli would say.  Not too many people are looking for a “hard keeper” which Thoroughbreds tend to be in the middle of winter.  And in Amish country, Amish use Standardbreds for their road buggies because of their speed and hardiness.  Thoroughbreds are known for speed but certainly not hardiness!  So I asked the trainer if I could take him off his hands for $500, in the middle of winter and then try to re-home him when the weather warmed up a bit and the market was more favorable.  That was my plan.  I didn’t count on falling in love with this horse named Hero.  He was a lovely bay, pretty face, athletic build with lots of suspension in his gaits.  My first ride out in the backfield,  we were in a trot and then without my notice, we were in a canter but going no faster.  It was magical to me.  So collected,  but Hero’s emotions weren’t collected.  Nothing magical going on for him.   He was chomping at the bit and breathing loudly.  I had come to learn that these were very nervous signs.  Hero was unsure, no, he was frightened.  I was about to realize all the emotional baggage Hero had brought with him to Lamb’s End.

I thought the  best place to start understanding my horse was with his personal history.  With the help of a friend and a flashlight, I was finally able to read his tattoo on his upper lip.  When I plugged it into the Jockey Club search site, I found out his racing history.  His name was “Shining Hero”!  He was sold for $40,000.00 as a yearling and was raced until he was four.  Only two years on the racetrack; that was in his favor.  He had only had eleven races, which he had won one and placed in four others.  The best I could put together was the owner who had abandoned him had picked him up off the race track as a four year old and then competed him as a hunter/jumper in the local shows for the next ten years. Hero was fourteen.  The trainer, (I got him from), knew the horse when he came off the race track and said his body had cuts from head to toe for the whippings he had received.   When I got him, he had a big white patch of hair on his withers, indicating a past injury or a too tight saddle that cuts the circulation off to the hair and turns them white.  He also had white dots on the inside of both front legs indicating being “pin fired” to correct bowed tendons.  He flinched and kicked out if you touched his flank when grooming and he would swing his tongue out the side of his mouth and chew the back of it while being groomed or saddled.  Most people say, “Ah, that’s common. Many Thoroughbred horses do that”, but I had never seen it.  Some advice I got was to use a strap to tie his mouth shut and eventually he would stop the behavior!   It’s disturbing when emotional trauma caused by poor husbandry is dismissed because it’s common among certain breeds of horses associated with certain industries.  It’s disturbing when we, who have been given the honor of having dominion over the animals, can’t find a kind and appropriate/healing solution to an animals suffering or take the time and effort to prevent such emotional trauma in the first place.   My heart went out to this beautiful, hurting creature and since I already knew some professionals that had had experience and success with “damaged” horses, I committed to keep and learn how to help my Hero, shine again!  It would be a season of making some investments and being patient for them to return back to me.  Hero did not disappoint.  The next several blog posts will tell our story.

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Hay, Jack!

Got a call to do a horse demonstration for a church group from out of town who wanted to see how horses could encourage them in their relationships with one another. “Bearing with each other in love” was their verse  to which they wanted me to refer. I was in a huge arena with a solid wall to my back and a door into the barn to my front and two doors on either side of me. Crowded into each doorway was my audience. When the horse, Jack, was released at liberty into the arena he immediately and confidently went to each door doing a sort of “meet and greet” with my audience. That is a “meet and greet” with everybody but me. A pile of poop which caught his attention was even more interesting than me! So I began my demo drawing my audiences’ attention to the present non-relationship that Jack and I shared even though we were the only two living beings inside the arena together. I explained that before I could demonstrate a “bearing with each other in love” relationship, I had to first establish a relationship with this horse. I needed to become interesting to Jack through my body language. As I began to make myself known to Jack by driving him forward as a lead mare would do in a herd situation, Jack finally turned toward me and acknowledged me with two eyes and two ears pointed straight at me. I immediately turned my back to him to take any pressure off of him and he then engaged in a brisk walk right up to my personal space bubble. With a smile on my face I extended the horseman’s handshake, (arm extended, hand palm down allowing the horse to reach for and sniff me if he chose to make a connection). Jack responded friendly enough but when I asked him to follow he quickly chose to leave. So I helped him to do so. Bearing with each other in love has to involve the individuals’ freedom at all times. It says bearing WITH….so I needed to always make sure I was doing things for or with Jack, not “to” Jack. After “helping” Jack to leave me every time he choose and always welcoming him back when he got curious about me again I soon had a horse that was willing to hang out with me. So then came the “bearing with” part of the verse….to me that implies going through something challenging together. So out came a piece of plastic that I placed on the ground along the back wall. Horses are challenged to step on things that move or make a noise at risk of injury to their highly valued legs. Horses know that “no legs, no survival” so they need to highly trust their leader if asked to approach and overcome a challenge. Almost immediately after I placed the plastic on the ground, Jack left me and also released some gas as he did. I took note of that to my audience believing that to mean Jack had become worried and didn’t see our relationship as being the answer for him to keep him safe with this new addition. So I went back to demonstrating my leadership to Jack by moving his feet some more and he quickly came back to me. As he followed me, I pointed him toward the plastic. I simply wanted him to look at it or at the most sniff it. He complied and as soon as he lowered his head to smell the plastic, I turned my back to him to reward him for his try. But Jack was an over achiever and actually put two feet on the plastic as he walked past it. Once past the challenge about three feet, Jack stopped….stopped blinking, stopped moving his ears, and almost seemed to stop breathing. Jack was lost. It seemed to me that the plastic proved to be too much for him especially to go ahead and walk over it without me. I knew that as Jack had gotten lost for the moment, the best thing I could do for him was to wait for him . Wait for him to process and come back to the moment. Now that he was in a small crisis, it wasn’t mine to solve it or fix it or put more pressure or demands on him. Bearing with him was to simply wait…..WITH him. As we all waited for Jack, he stood in that arena for the first time during the whole demonstration totally still. I told the audience I was waiting and watching for Jack to do one of several things: blink, move his ears, lick and chew or lower his head. As soon as I said this, Jack lowered his head started blinking, looked over at me and walked straight back to me and was ready to follow. With that we ended the demo for a debrief in a warmer place. The feedback was rich and quite meaningful to several of them. I realized I have experienced the same thing as Jack as I have at times gotten ahead of God trying to be an overachiever and then getting totally out there on my own and being totally lost! How wonderful that God is always there to take us back and lead us on!

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Treasure, the pony!

7-14-14 002A new arrival at Lamb’s End; a pony named Treasure and we were working on confidence especially when it came to crossing water. I was riding Dartanyon and had Treasure following at liberty along with the goats, Molly, Oliver and Bandit. The goats were Treasure’s stable mates and she was highly motivated to stay with her herd but the water proved to be a bigger challenge than her herd instincts. The goats had followed me and my ride over the 3 foot wide expanse of water but Treasure could only sniff the edge and then retreat. She would head back down the trail toward the barn but only get about fifty yards away. She would then turn back around and join us at the water’s edge where we were all patiently waiting for her to overcome her fear. Again she sniffed and ran away toward the familiar. Again, she returned knowing those she had relationship with were waiting for her. This time she gathered up all her courage and took that leap of faith, rejoining her herd and trotting down the path in front of me acting as if nothing had even challenged her! My friend Tamara who heard of our tale through an email was blessed to imagine us waiting for Treasure to choose rather than putting unnatural pressure on her: waiting and giving her the freedom to choose!

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Taking the time it takes so it takes less time! Pat Parelli

Twilight

Twilight

Today I went down to the barn with the goal in mind to have my newest pony, Twilight, pull a tire behind her in preparation for driving.   Normally placing a harness on and bridling takes me about five  minutes. Well,  after viewing a video by Linda Parelli on saddling,  I decided to pay attention to all the feedback Twilight was giving me about being harnessed. WOW! I was there for almost an hour and after I had listened and responded politely to all of her feedback, she did the most amazing job of pulling that tire for me!  She even offered to go farther away from the security of her barn than she ever had before!  How many of us come into such healing and confidence when someone simply acknowledges us and validates how we feel!  Horses are incredible teachers!
Twilight has been a fairly recent addition to my farm.   She has had two foals and has been ridden English and Western and has been used to jump as well.   I only know  her last owner who had her a year and only had her daughter ride her occasionally and she was always bracey and jigging on the trail.   Twilight is second in my herd of three but she is often seen when the herd is moved twirling her head and challenging the air.   I am sure this is some form of displaced behavior.   She has such a desire to please and yet I think she has been forced to perform rather than asked. The twirling head sure seems to be an expression of frustration/ anger.   Is that anthropomorphising? In working with her today, I got the strange sense that she is telling my story. Hmmmm, Linda P., how interesting!

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