I’ve tried for a long time to figure out how to bring the right amount of energy into my body to communicate to my horses. Parelli calls this “bringing up your life” and Linda wrote a good article of Do and Don’t. I’ve been concentrating for a while on making sure to engage my core and body before I use my tools, but I just kept feeling like I was getting tight instead of energetic. And then on the release, I was totally flopping all the way to lifeless, rather than to neutral. (A couple years ago, I wrote about the time I grokked neutral and discovered it wasn’t the same as lifeless.)
In a recent lesson where Erin and I were talking about this (again), it finally hit me: I don’t tend to plan ahead when I’m going to move. I don’t think about “okay, I’ll probably be dancing for about 45 minutes, and then a 10 minute break, and then repeat that pattern twice more.” I don’t think “ready, set, go” when I drive into a swimming pool or head out for a jog. I don’t just take off from the front door at a dead run, but I don’t “gather” myself first. Not being in any sort of athletic competition where I’m waiting for a starting gun, I don’t have that anticipation and electricity buzzing under my skin just before exploding into action.
And I don’t really want my horses to explode into action, either.
But what I came up with in the lesson was to replace the word “energy” with the word “fun.” I told Erin “At the cone, we’re going to trot, so right about now I can start saying things like okay Rock are you ready? we’re gonna get to trot! we are! wait for it … waaaaait for it … almost there …. and …. Go!” And as I was saying those things, I was sliding my hands on the reins, checking in with my body and balance, smiling, and looking where I wanted to go. And then, on Go, I squeezed with all four cheeks and got a really nice transition into the trot. We trotted a few strides and then I eased into the halt for petting and praise. After the brief rest, I picked another transition spot and did it again. Same response.
I played with the concept again today on the ground, and Rocky went from “ho hum, circles again, big deal” to “which direction? which gait? easy or extended? now? now? now? YAY!“
Clarifying “energy” in my mind to mean anticipation, suspense, grinning, joy, and fun may be the key to bringing the play back into our play time.