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Straightness
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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Pam
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Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
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 Posted: Wed Jun 27th, 2007 09:26 pm
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Dr. Deb,

Have a question concerning straightness.  I've been reading and re-reading the Woody article. 

I was riding my horse last night and there were too many horses in the arena for my liking.  The reason being is it is more of a challenge for me to get my hose to listen to me when there are too many other horses riding around us.  He appears to require a big space.  So I had trouble getting him supple and straight in the trot. I had the first requirement just fine, which is calm.   So after a while of me trying to get him supple and straight, and getting a little frustrated, he just burst into a gallop across the length of the arena.  It was a very smooth and enjoyable gallop.  After that, the trot was very nice, and he was supple and straight and I enjoyed the last part of our ride.  Also, he stayed pretty calm as well.

I've always been told that when he bolts off like that (and he hasn't done that in a long time since we've started over)  he is being bad.   But what it really seemed to me to be was a matter of him fixing himself.   I was sort of thinking that he was saying "Ok, enough already, I'll straighten myself out the only way I know how". 

One thing I've noticed too, is that immediately before he breaks out into a gallop he has felt very strung out in the hind end.  I think it is sometimes called "flat tires" and that is what is feels like.  After the gallop there was none of that in the hind end.

So, is it possible that going at a gallop is what fixes some crookedness?  And is it the only fix at times?

Thanks,

Pam

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jun 28th, 2007 08:27 am
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Pam: We'll take this apart one item at a time.

(1) You did not have him calm, because you did not have him focused, or in other words, if he was bothered by the other horses (or anything whatsoever), then his Birdie was not with him, he did not possess inner equanimity, and that is what "calm" means. Focus is pre-requisite to calm; calm cannot be obtained without focus; therefore, when there is no calm, focus was either never there or it has been lost.

(2) I want you to consider what EXACTLY it is that is creating the inner turmoil when there are other horses around. And first of all and foremost, I want you to ask WHO it is that is really experiencing the inner botheredness. Is it really the horse? Is it not at least partly yourself? If you find that you are at least contributory, then I want you to realize that what this does to most people, as their fear comes up, is that they tighten up through the arms and hands and their feel tends to go dead through the hands. This is when the horse decides -- and this is the REASON he decides -- to "fix himself" by bolting off. Whether he bolts sort of gently or pretty damn dangerously is a moot point. A bolt is a bolt, and you need to get to the bottom of this PDQ so that you realize fully what it is that you're doing to cause it.

(3) When you've meditated thoroughly on how the trouble that got into the horse was first stirring up the insides of you, then we need to go from there into changing your thinking around on the business of having other horses nearby. I'd like to see, instead of you regarding having lots of other horses there as a problem, rather to regard it as a training OPPORTUNITY. It is a necessary part of the whole process (I mean, if you hope to create a horse that is safe and fun to ride) that you commit to exploring every training opportunity that comes along.

(4) That having been said, the trick is to explore the training opportunity at such a time, and in such a manner, that everything comes out positive and good. This is no more than reminding you that, for example, when you're starting your horse on learning how to roll a ball with his nose, you don't kick the ball forcefully toward the horse at the git-go. Instead, you control what you can control, you think through what you are trying to teach the horse, and then you set it up step by step so that the good outcome is just about inevitable. This is when it is really true that the human is using their main gifts (cognition, empathy, foresight) so that the horse is then able to use his main gifts (athleticism, sweet naturedness, willingness, sticktoitiveness).

(5) Some situations you will never be completely able to control. This then becomes another serious meditation for you, and for everybody who hopes to work with horses. Life's tough and then a truck comes along with air brakes. There's an idiot with a motorbike on the trail. The wind picks up and blows a paper sack under your horse's belly. And some days, there just are lots of other people using the arena at the same time you want to use it. What, Pam, did you think your work with your horse when the two of you were alone, was actually preparatory FOR??! So again, instead of saying to yourself "oh shit, I wish all these other people would go away," instead say, "OK, where can I position myself so that my horse gets sucked along by that horse that walks kind of fast", or "Let's see how close I can get to that stirring around that's going on over there, without my horse's attention being drawn away from paying attention to what I'm asking of him." Or, "Let's see if I can ride a serpentine track weaving in among these other riders, and steer well enough so I don't crash into them, but also not have my horse mentally 'leave' me."

(6) And now let's look at it the other way, Pam: what do you think your horse will be like if you take the other tack, and spend the rest of your life saying, "Oh, no! Here comes that scary situation again! You people take your horses and back off! Fagoodnessake, don't you see how much it bothers my horse!!" You know, I actually knew a lot of people like that when I used to live out East -- they'd get off work from their eightofive gummint jobs, and they'd toddle out to the barn, and they'd expect their horses to act like ATV's. And when they'd get in the middle of a trailride, or sometimes just in the middle of the indoor hall, suddenly they would wake up from their dazed mental dullness and I would actually hear them ask the guy on the bicycle or the stable-hand with the scary wheelbarrow or the person on the other horse if they would please leave! But I never have considered that I had any right to do that, so I don't do it. Instead, I accept that shies and boogers are sometimes going to happen, I see to it that I am fit enough and a good enough rider to handle them when they must happen, and I spend a lot of time using my intelligence and foresight and compassion to prepare my horse so that they happen as little as possible.

Seems to me that's the job, if you take the long view and the big picture. What do you think, Pam? -- Dr. Deb

Pam
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 Posted: Thu Jun 28th, 2007 10:36 pm
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Dr. Deb,

First of all, let me say that I agree 100% with everything you have to say about what was going on with me and my horse.  Last night it all came crashing down on me.  I really didn't think I had it in me to deal with this situation on my own but it turns out I did.  

I discovered that I had calm confused.  When you say I didn't have him focused it is true because I wasn't focused at all.  I now know you can't be calm without being focused.  I had been doing so well staying focused and this week it just fell apart. 

 I find that whatever is going on in me is felt directly by my horse, but didn't realize as you say that one's arms and hands tighten up and you loose feel.  I wasn't being completely honest about my fears and anger.  I know you can't expect people to stop doing what they are doing around the barn, and I wouldn't ever say anything because I know it isn't right.  But inside I wanted it all to go away because I didn't want to deal with how upset I really was.  Once I became emotionally honest with myself  I was able to ride!  I don't think you can fool horses or ourselves by hiding emotions.  Then I got really honest with him and actually told him that he needed to listen to me and I became very determined to have a good ride despite everything else.  It wasn't anything I really did different, but an attitude that changed.  I am too much of a softy and my horse doesn't respect that.  He is a big and strong horse with big movement and because I am somewhat of a beginner, that has been intimidating to me.   So, when I get bothered inside, I back off, hoping he won't notice, and become very ineffective and unclear.  Actually, I hope that nobody will notice.  I scare myself, nobody else has to do it to me.  I know we can't control things around us, whether it be too crowded of conditions or loud equipment being used around us,  and to be a good rider and enjoy myself I have to get through this issue.  I have to learn to be an effective leader for my horse, otherwise why should he listen to me.  Emotionally, that has got to be really hard on him.

Anyway, once I got over myself last night, and pretty much demanded that he listen and go well, and we had FOCUS.  I hope it doesn't sound like I was rough with him because  I wasn't.  I just turned up the volume and we went like the wind.   He took me very seriously and showed me what he had and it was sweet.  I felt like I had gotten to the heart of matters.  I also discovered that after getting through all of my junk, that on the other side was what I would call connected riding.  He was turning on a dime, going well off my leg aids, and enjoying himself.  I really didn't have to do much, once I got right with myself.  He knows what to do when we are connected.  And talk about straight...it wasn't even an issue at that point.  It seems that whatever happens with the focus affects the body posture a great deal.

I think it was a huge training opportunity. I do now look at it that way and need to keep looking at it that way.  I might need reminders now and then but I think this one will really stick with me.

Thank You,

Pam 

 

        

 

 

Last edited on Thu Jun 28th, 2007 11:57 pm by Pam

Sam
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 Posted: Fri Jun 29th, 2007 08:34 am
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Dear Pam and Dr Deb,

I sat here reading your post grinning my head off, I was laughing with you and can understand completely where you are coming from. I hope you won't mind me sticking my beak in but I recently had the same experience on a trek...I got very cross 'inside' with my riding companions, couldn't they see how bothered my horse was and how much trouble he was in, I kind of coped by using my horses 'long lost friend' as a crutch this worked until the crutch got a little active for me!!!  It was the inside of me all along, I was scared of falling off, scared of upsetting my pony, hating riding in the wind and the sea coming in, and none of the other horses were behaving how I wanted them too, damnit.  I don't even have the excuse of him being a big athletic horse to make me feel worried, he is a 13.2hh 'giant shetland',  my little chap ran off with me, he told me the whole way he was going to do it but I am a little 'slow' on the uptake.  I returned home and am starting over with him and myself. I had a little ride on him earlier this week and came to the startling realisation....I have always just sat on my horse, never ridden one step at a time, we really are starting over and I am so excited I can't wait. My newest mantra is 'Stay Present'!  Enjoy your horse, Pam aren't we lucky to have them.'

Sam

Pam
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Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
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 Posted: Fri Jun 29th, 2007 06:16 pm
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Hey Sam!

I'm glad that I could share something for you to relate to and get a good laugh.  I like your mantra.  I for sure need to always remember that one.   I'm relieved to know that others experience the same angst that I do sometimes!

Good Luck to You,

Pam

 


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