Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Saturday, June 7, 2008

It's not about the ____, it's about the relationship.

If I were equine right now, I imagine my lips would be licking EXTREMELY hard.

I had a bit of an...erm...session with Princess on Thursday night. Enough to get both of us pretty worked up and frustrated. I very rarely get frustrated with MYSELF anymore, let alone my horse, thanks to Parelli, and particularly Linda. But everything was working against that on Thursday and long story short, we were certainly having some issues. See Princess is a very LB confident horse. VERRRYYYY LB. So LB, in fact, that because a lot of people are used to confidence being the root of the problem in most cases, they're having trouble wrapping their brains around this issue that we're having being a LB thing. Here's what was up:

*Please note that I don't need advice anymore, I realize what's up now and a lot of this is outdated, I just thought it would make an interesting post*

I'm trying to tune up our Level 3 stuff so we can start filming for assessment (I'm facing my phobia, yay me!). Princess is anything but fond of online in general. She'd much rather be doing liberty, and since reading the aptitude article in the savvy times, it makes sense, she's ANYTHING but RBE, and is somewhat LBE. Anyway, as we get to our circling on the 45' line, and I'm paying attention to perfection, I've suddenly realized that Princess leans on the halter and pulls so there's not much slack in the rope. It's generally between 10:00-2:00 on a circle, doesn't matter where I'm facing.

The reason I'm so confused about this is because I'm not reading it as unconfident. If she were always pulling off towards the gate, or towards the pasture, or towards the barn, or towards the other horses, I'd think it was a pressure/unconfidence thing, and I'd know what to do, but its always at the one spot on the circle, no matter what direction I'm facing, so that seems less likely.

I thought at first it might be having the pressure of me facing her was too great, but if that was the case, what would I do about that, and why isn't it so at liberty?

I've been experimenting a little bit, but it's really tough to do for too long, because my LB horse HATES circling for long periods of time. Tonight we had a little success taking in the slack to about 20-25 feet, and putting the spot between 10:00 and 2:00 on a fence line so she literally COULDN'T pull off...and it seemed to translate a little when I took it away from the fence. But really, I'm still at a loss

The response I got when I emailed a friend:

UMMMM, I think I have some ideas.
1. Stop trying to be perfect.
2. Do a lot of transitions, preferably before 10 or 2.
3. Ask her to go real slow. Slower than slow. Slower and slower than slow. She'll get fascinated. And that's what you want. It sure is the opposite to bored or evasive.
4. Smile a lot. Exhibit glee when she does something kookie or different than what you expected... "hah! I didn't think you'd do that! Come here... let me give you some scratches, a cookie...." I can hear you now. WHAAAAA??? You are not rewarding the wrong thing. Remember, it's not about the.... What it is about is the relationship. She needs to know that you love her no matter what. Give her approval and she'll want to be with you more. Hmmm. No parallels anywhere ;)

5. How can you get her to feel successful on that circle? You can trick her, sure... shorten the rope as she comes through 4 or 8 for a couple of laps and she'll put more slack in there, but in the end it doesn't improve the relationship. And THAT'S WHERE IT'S AT! She's trying to teach you something Fran. What do you think it is?

All I can say is DUH. Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, and by the way, how about some more DUH!!!! Argh. Of course I realize all this after the fact. It makes perfect sense! My goals have been coming before my principles and relationship with my horse, and she's getting way resentful. OF COURSE! She's not RB, so she isn't frightened by it, she's LB and she's getting annoyed by it. She had absolutely no reason TO cooperate with me! You've gotta LOVE savvy. It's very humbling, always learning, always reading, always absorbing information. And sometimes a bit of a pain in the ass.

So, my first session applying this obvious brilliance went VERY well. I've come to a point as a budding horseman where I never expect things to instantly get better. And I wouldn't say that they did today necessarily. But there certainly was a marked improvement. Princess and I started putting things into practice in the pouring rain. Man was it wet.

Anyway, it's not about the _____, its about the relationship. Princess picked up on that shift in my attitude right away. She had a much larger "smile" on her face the entire time. That, and she really picked up quickly on the concept that the center of the circle is where Fran, goddess of cookies and scratches resides, and it is best to be close(r) to her than away. While the entire problem was not solved in one session (I certainly wasn't expecting it to be anyway) after about 15 or 20 minutes, instead of pulling out/leaning, she was pretty loose in her movements, and even though the belly of the rope wasn't totally dragging yet, there was great improvement. I'm absolutely thrilled with that! Yay progress :)

We also goofed around a little with slowing the circles way down and doing some transitions/getting them snappy, mainly just to keep her motivated and interested on the circle. Like I said, things weren't perfect, but I certainly saw a change. I'm over the moon about it!

Savvy on, and out! Will keep logging as progress continues, PLEASE comment and let me know what you thought of this!


savvydesign said...

Hmmmm.... I am also licking and chewing on this information. Linda's list is the kind of stuff you need to keep in your pocket while you're playing. I know that Charm is easily bored and it's hard for me to get her to come out of her shell and have a conversation with me. I tend to be a goal oriented person and also a perfectionist... so where does that leave Charm? Getting the relationship right will allow the rest of follow! This is the kind of stuff I should be reading before I think about playing with my horse. A good reminder of what is really important. Thanks Fran!

Virginia said...

hey its virge. I was sort of wondering what sort of things you were doing with her on that circle? sounds like it helped a bunch

Jen said...

Love the post...very helpful and yay you! :) Great job putting Linda's advice into practice...

and you know...I think it's okay if you do need advice now and again.

Remember there are 10 levels according to Pat. You're well on your way, but it's okay to have advice, even if you don't feel you NEED it. Guess you have to define need. :) Level 3 is a huge accomplishment and it will take me a LOONG time to get there, but don't rule out any support. I'm glad you emailed someone and got another perspective. That helps me, too.

Even better, you put it into practice and got results to solidify that THAT was the problem. Love seeing your blog, Fran. Can't wait to get to level 3! :)


PS Yay, you again!!!

Emma Lee said...

ugh it's SO hard to remember that it's not about the _____!! Thanks for the update/reminder, I need that. : )

Love you oh so much,