Posts Tagged With: bicycle

The magical fourth session

Parelli says to do a pattern or exercise seven sessions in a row. By the fourth session, the horse starts to figure out the pattern or exercise (by which I mean things like needle desensitization or holding his own feet up). The next three sessions allow the horse to start offering things, moving along the pattern of his own accord and even improvising a bit (“how about I sidepass between the cones instead of just trot?”). More than seven sessions in a row turn into drill-and-kill. Fewer than seven sessions doesn’t give the horse enough time to learn and feel successful and confident.

Riley is away on a camping trip so Rocky and Star were a little bit “up” tonight. Oh boy! An opportunity! I started with my now-familiar patterns of slipping through the trees and careening down hills. No reaction. But when I first pulled up next to Rocky to stop, he side-stepped two steps. I tried to drift with him and only stop when he stopped, but sometimes I couldn’t get myself turned sharply enough or pass through a tree like a ghost.

I repeated the process many, many times, until I could pull up next to him on either side without him flinching. Until he could stand quietly and relaxed while I leaned on the bike and stroked his neck. Until he and Star decided that something on the bike must be edible and I had enough of rocking back and forth in an attempt to let them “run into the bike and stop biting it” — a game they really got into, swinging their muzzles in time to the rocking. I backed out from between them and rode more loops, partly to salvage my bike and partly to get the exercise I need.

I also did a little bit of friendly game with the carrot stick from all zones, wheeling the bike next to me. I asked for a draw while straddling the bike and backing up the hill — I got three uncertain steps the first time and five confident steps the third time, so I stopped.

What you do today is for tomorrow. ~ Pat & Linda Parelli

Rocky is feeling so good today! He’s not supposed to trot until tomorrow but I didn’t have the heart to stop him after his roll in the arena. He was alternating between showing off for Lily, whose humans had come to play and ride her, and standing next to me all perked and watching her navigate obstacles for all the world as if he were studying her form and silently critiquing her performance. He even turned and looked at me a few times, the way spectators do, and once nudged my arm and when I turned my head, he turned his head back toward Lily.

Maybe the critique was not so silent.

Happy news: The boots are in! We’ll fit them tomorrow!

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When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

I almost biffed it tonight, braking too late on a downhill so that I had the brakes on during a sharp turn — have I mentioned the electric fence at the bottom of the hill? — and then snapping a stick up into my spokes. The buckles on my toe cages are locked in place by rust and my trail runners don’t slip easily out of the slot, so I couldn’t bail. But I trusted my bike, looked far ahead to my destination, and managed to get balanced again despite the whoopsiedoodle.

I just now remembered that I own cycling shoes. Going right now to put them next to the bike.

I went out earlier tonight, before feeding time, to see if the horses would be more interested in the bicycle if they weren’t absorbed in their hay. Not that I had a fantasy of all of them lining up to trot or canter after me, you understand. Never even crossed my mind.

I did spend a lot of time within arm’s length of Rock, though. Petting him or just leaning on the bike at rest. I was able to mirror him for a while, straddling the bike and walking it forward when he walked, stopping when he stopped, looking where he looked, turning when he turned. That was cool! He figured it out by the third halt, too.

I imagined myself as a centaur carefully performing the steps of the dance that would earn me a place in the herd.


I subtly took the lead and he did walk beside me for a few strides, and then I let it go. Stop while you’re ahead and all that. So hard not to push for the next step!

I need the exercise so I made sure to zoom around a lot in between. But I could feel that being still, with Rock, meant something to him. We hung out at the trough for a long while; he was doing his game where he sucks up a bunch of water, curls his tongue, and holds it in his mouth for a while, then either swings his head to sprinkle it on you or swallows it with tiny sucking motions, like a foal with his dam. Still straddling the bike, I bent down and swirled my hand in the water, then started touching his tongue with my wet finger. He’d draw it in just fast enough, then stick it out again. I attempted to get him to play tongue keep-away with me actually holding his tongue, but he wasn’t interested, just sucked it inside and cradled his water that way.

Next time I might try to have a carrot stick with me, to do friendly game with him while I’m on the bike. If that goes well I will try some of the other six games, with me standing over my bike; if I have to go on-line to teach him to do the games this way, so be it, but I won’t be zipping around much. By the seventh session I’d like to have some draw, with me walking backwards on the bike and him walking to me.

Mankind has invested more than four million years of evolution in the attempt to avoid physical exertion.  Now a group of backward-thinking atavists mounted on foot-powered pairs of Hula-Hoops would have us pumping our legs, gritting our teeth, and searing our lungs as though we were being chased across the Pleistocene savanna by saber-toothed tigers.  Think of the hopes, the dreams, the effort, the brilliance, the pure force of will that, over the eons, has gone into the creation of the Cadillac Coupe de Ville.  Bicycle riders would have us throw all this on the ash heap of history.  ~P.J. O’Rourke

I actually see a lot of potential, if the bike can become part of our play. Wouldn’t it be fun to trot and canter next to each other? Or for him to follow me, then for me to turn around and follow him? At liberty, of course. And later — much later — to go on a mixed trail ride, with bicycles and horse? Like a little herd all our own.

Categories: Love | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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