Posts Tagged With: non-demanding time

Family picnic: grazing with multiple horses

I took Rocky and River out to graze together this afternoon. This is a Big Deal, as in the past their close encounters have resulted in insult or injury to Rocky — injury because he got stuck in the fence while trying to get away and she double-barreled him twice before a human could come to the rescue, and insult because she was too close to him on the tie rail while they were being trimmed or shod.

Today, everyone emerged unscathed, and I feel like we are well set up for another practice session tomorrow.

What has changed? Well, for one, I have become a better leader, and was able to keep each one out of the other’s space. For another, I read River better now; and River herself has learned to do phases instead of going straight from “sweetie face” to KA-BLAM. And I think I’ve made significant progress in my horsemanship this year and can see more of what happens before what happens happens, and act to prevent the undesirable happening before it happens.

It looks easy because I’m just relaxing out there in neutral. Yet I was managing the ropes, gently drawing them in and letting them out as the horses moved around. I also had my carrot stick and string, and brought intensity into my body when it looked like one horse was going to move across the invisible line toward the other horse. I did make sure to move each horse at different times, so neither one felt like they were the princess who got protected or the close talker who got driven away.

Rocky seemed fascinated by River and wanted to go over to her more than she wanted to go over to him. Eventually he got the idea of playing hard to get, and hid behind the tree. She did glance his way at that point, but River tends to be pretty focused when she’s out grazing.

At the Parelli Performance Summit this past weekend, Kalley Krickeberg taught us about playing with multiple horses at liberty. A key component is to grant release when everyone is having the same thought. That is harmony, and harmony is natural for horses. When Rocky and River both stopped being quite so obvious in their awareness of each other, and both were thinking about grazing and about checking in with me periodically, I gently gathered them in.

I tied Rocky at the hitch rail, keeping River a safe distance away, and then took River into the front arena in case she wanted to roll. All she wanted was a drink of water and then to stand by me, so we hung out for a while and then I put her away. I took Rocky into the covered arena to play “hunt the jump,” a game I learned the Summit that I plan to blog about soon. He enjoyed it and we took some additional bonding time before I put him back in his pen.

What a pleasant way to start this next year of horsemanship, before next year’s Summit.

Categories: Leadership, On-Line | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Undemanding time is only one-way, apparently

I am fighting off a cold that I caught in Reno and decided to stay in this evening, reading. But I missed Rocky so much I ended up hauling a folding chair out to the Back 40 and setting it up with my back to a tree, so I could read in peace with no horses sneaking up behind me.

the-enemyI guess no one explained to the horses what undemanding time is. I had Rocky’s nose on my head, my shoulder, in my hood, on my book. Riley dripped slobber or snot on my sleeve. Sterling couldn’t stand that I wouldn’t let her within eight feet and gave me a nasty look, which I had to wipe off by backing her several more steps — from my chair, with my book as my carrot stick.

I finally got up to get a lead rope from the hook at the gate, as it was easier to whirl that around as needed without interrupting my reading than it was to wave my arms. Also, I didn’t want Riley to learn a game of “how can I make the human stand up and move her arms all over the place.”

Eventually Riley and Sterling admitted that I wasn’t going to let them near me and they wandered off, but Rocky stayed, alternately dozing and swishing at flies, and occasionally rubbing his forehead on me so I could scratch his eye ridges (he even sighed blissfully once, which makes my heart go ka-thump). At least he didn’t back his buttcrack into me for scratches — that’s his favorite place, but not one I’m comfortable rubbing while I’m reading.

I told him to stop making demands, as I was out there to read and have undemanding time, but that only got him more interested. He picked up the lead rope from my lap,then dropped it and started licking my elbow. Finally, a little over an hour later, he took a few steps away from me, toward the mares, then stopped and looked back. I kept my eyes on my book and waved a hand at him like “go on, go on, I’m busy.” About 10 minutes later I packed up and came inside.

I guess our relationship is going okay after all.

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