Given the cold and the rain, and the time and hassle it would be to unblanket/tack/ride/untack/reblanket wet horse, these past two days I have walked our route from arena to turnout, rather than ride. Yesterday I just led him and Salsa together from tie posts to tack trunk to lane to turnout.
Today, I left Salsa tied at his specially designed tie ring, scaled to his height, and took Rocky on the 22-foot line over to the tack trunk. I tried to drive from zone 3 or even zone 4, using the carrot stick and the line for course corrections. It’s our first time doing that, so I wasn’t too particular for either of us. I just tried hard to keep my motions less wobbly and more intense, mimicking what I learned from watching Maurice Thibault and Susan Nelson at their Bakersfield demo on Sartuday, and from Christine here at the ranch last Thursday.
In the 20 minutes or so that we practiced, I learned that I should:
- Keep the carrot stick on my shoulder except when needing it to guide, the way I would if I were riding.
- Let the end of the rope drag even though it’s raining and mucky.
- Tap zone 3 if Rocky stopped, but don’t stop my feet.
- Focus on the destination, but pick a destination that is fairly close, and give Rocky a long break once we get there.
- Exaggerate the release; when I sank down to a squat and turned my core away from him, I could ensure a true break.
Then I pushed too hard by asking for sideways without a rail, and continuing to ask when he became tense. No horse does sullen as well as an Appy.
Most of us, however, don’t adjust when the horse adjusts – we carry on trying to accomplish a task despite the horse getting tense (losing trust) or nervous (losing calmness) or getting lazy or unwilling, and sooner or later the problem becomes impossible to ignore! ~ Linda Parelli, 2/23/2010
At least this time I figured out what I was doing wrong. I didn’t get frustrated. I did slow down and release at the weight shift, like I did in the very beginning when we were first learning sideways with a fence. I feel bad when I’m driving zone 1 or zone 4 with intent for a sideways step, while also moving the rope up and down rather vigorously to stop him from stepping forward. I’ve done this enough to know that I’m not communicating well, because he consistently attempts to walk forward. I gave him a break today and then asked again, this time ceasing all motion and sinking into a ball when he just leaned his weight as if to cross-step. After the lick-and-chew, I did the same for zone 4.