Energy. Energy. Energy. Energy. Energy.
I’ve got to learn to use my energy first. Then support it with the stick or rope if necessary. But if I don’t raise and lower my energy appropriately, how can the horse tell if I am playing friendly game or asking him to do something?
I am still adjusting to how to handle the tools with Salsa, and tonight as I worked on turning energy up and down, I realized I wasn’t sure how to “aim” — my belly button is taller than his back. But I tried to use my energy appropriately each time, and I think that’s why we had better communication tonight during our Touch-It pattern.
I also thought of a few ways to encourage his ideas first in hopes of causing my ideas to become his ideas.
When he evaded by lifting his nose and pointing it to the right, I used the stick and turned it into a driving game for the forehand (stick and energy aimed at zone 1), doing enough 360s for him to ask to stop and give me two eyes.
When he ate his cookie, I kept my bullhorn (belly button and energy) off of him, but as soon as he moved a foot, I drove or porcupined or led him away and began the course to the next item to touch.
When he nudged the ball after eating his cookie, I released and smiled and turned my eyes to the ball. He pushed it again, and again, but when he stopped looking at it and began sniffing around in the sand, I immediately started us toward the next item. It was usually (always?) his idea to move on to another target (obstacle with cookie) or game (see evaded/360, above).
While I cannot claim that we were in harmony, we were at least in the same key this evening. I tried to be more clear about phases and intention, and he checked in with me more. My goal with touch-it is to practice friendly, porcupine, and driving in a positive way, so Salsa learns that following my cues leads to good things.
At the end, he offered each hoof for me to clean, without even a token resistance on the left hind, which has been his hardest one. What a good boy!
Rocky’s bloody ankle was stocked up today — that’s fancy horsespeak for “puffy” — so I brought him out to roll in the arena and then to hose his leg in cold water. He enjoys playing with the hose so we alternated between physical therapy and licking, slurping, and biting the water. It looked like he had another gouge but after I scrubbed the area it turned out it was just dirt. Hopefully he will feel better tomorrow, for a practice session before Wednesday’s lesson.
I filled in for the evening shift tonight and as I blog I realize that today I felt like a horsewoman. Yeah, I worked a full day of billable hours, but I also dealt with a horse wound, fed/watered/tied/medicined/supplemented/mucked/moved 15 horses and swept the barn, spent 45 to 60 minutes training a horse without him knowing he was being trained (simultaneously with him training me, of course!), and posted the ad for our working student position on the barn owner’s blog (http://www.equinepartnersinc.com).