Thursday night I caught up on some Julie Goodnight episodes and, as usual, found a few things I could bring to my horse work.
I also watched a rather disturbing episode - did anyone catch the one with the paint that would take off on it's owner? What was distrubing was not the action of the horse taking off but the attitude after the fix.
The formula with Julie Goodnight, for those of you who somehow fill your television hours with something other than horses, is this:
1. Person and Horse presented, problem described.
2. Problem demonstrated with Julie commenting.
3. Julie steps in either with guidance or by doing some hands on schooling with horse, then rider. Generally this involves a bit change (Myler bits is the sponsor, but you do see many horses fussing with the bit).
4. Person practices with horse with Julie's tutelage.
5. Person sent off to practice on their own for a day.
6. Person comes back with problem largely resolved.
In the episode the paint had learned to pull the lunge line away from the owner and take off. Julie showed how to keep the horse's nose into the center to not allow the horse to get any weight in the direction of leaving. While Julie corrected the horse it was alert, ears up and responding. When the owner did this under Julie's lead, it did the same.
But for the first time when the horse came back the second day I didn't like what I saw at all. I swear it looked like the horse was pinning its ears toward the owner. It definitely wasn't running off, but I looked at that paint's head and thought - that horse is going to lunge AT that woman.
But maybe I was reading it wrong. I was just glad it wasn't my horse. I was struck that Julie didn't comment on it, so maybe they weren't really pinned.
(but it darn well looked like it).
Anyway, in another episode Julie talked about the importance of having a plan. Mark talks about the same thing - you have to have a direction, speed, and destination in mind when you're working with a horse.
I had very little time this morning, so I decided I'd work with Lily only, and on three specific things - figure 8, arena cantering, and giving me her hind feet, something we are getting unstuck. Given that I was rushed, I had to stop myself from going into monkey brain (thinking a million things at once) and clear my mind of the clock anxiety. I set an alarm on my phone (on a song, no barking dogs this time) so I wouldn't keep checking the time and set to work.
Since I've ridden Lily in just the halter and just in the round pen and simple trails, it's been enough. But in the arena the steering needed more precision. But I wasn't going to bit her up - I didn't have the time to make sure it went well. Instead I decided to ride more with my legs. Lily is pretty responsive to leg cues, but I'm not as consistent as I need to be. Today I'd practice doing better.
At first I wasn't sure it would work. Moving into the arena brings out a little of what Julie called "barrel attitude" in Lily. She's raced barrels and she definitely gets a little hot in an arena setting, even one as low key as ours. But we know what to expect from one another. I can feel her trust in me growing. She seems to understand that I'm not going to ask her anything she can't do, although I think some of my cue - in particular the one for side passing - must be different from her previous life. Or she never really learned it well.
It's on our list.
More tomorrow, it got late on me. Hope you've ridden all over tar-nation this week.