I went to play with him on Sunday, intending to have a nice on-line session in the arena and see how his front feet are doing. (He’s in week 4 or 5 of transitioning to barefoot, but we don’t have boots yet.) As usual, I took the halter off, giving him some time to sniff around and to roll, while I set up the obstacles. Jan and Dan were with me so I had help on the obstacle course, and Dan took 45 minutes of video with the Flip.
Which is how I have proof of what I’m about to say. After Rocky rolled, he came back and offered Stick to Me. Note that we have never played Stick to Me. I haven’t even gotten to that part in the new-old Level 2 series where they teach you how to play it, although I have extrapolated based on the Savvy Club DVD with Lois and Clyde (extrovert human, introvert horse) and from reading about the game in the forum and in the Savvy Club vault.
My boy is a genius.
And I’m learning not to push. You know, “this is going so well, let’s see if he can step on a pedestal/push the ball/jump the barrels/etc.” Instead, I kept moving enough to keep it interesting (I hoped) but didn’t put pressure on him. When he doesn’t feel pressured, he offered more. Gee, where have I heard that before? He must feel very LBI when his feet hurt.
I stopped the Liberty while it was still great and Rocky was still interested in staying stuck, and we set up a triangle of barrels, a tarp to stand on for seven seconds (“one pat parelli, two pat parelli, three pat parelli … “), an L of poles to back through, and a pedestal to finish. I used a 45-foot-line for the first time, although I did not use all 45 feet of it. Just getting the feel of how to move it and signal with it.
He had no problem through the poles. I think I can take some credit for that, as I have learned how to move my body to steer him in reverse, and had another bit of knowledge fall into place at the Reno Celebration that I put into action this time. (Walking to my right which turns his Zone 1 to his left, which positioned him to back up through the left turn.)
I accidentally wiggled the rope and stopped him at one foot, so I had him stand with one foot on it for a while, then asked again for two feet. So while it was my mistake, stopping him too soon for my intention, the entire thing was cool because I saw how readily he follows that feel! “Oh, she must have meant just one foot, let me put the other foot down.”
Genius. We didn’t have a lot of physical exuberance due to his sore front feet and my low energy, but we had a great time anyway.