Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day Nine, L&HB

I was tired this morning and not much in the mood for the simulations. Some of the simulations have been very enlightening, but some have really stretched me outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes the feedback from other students is not helpful because they are just beginning the program. Sometimes the feedback is riddled with assumptions made during the exercise. However, sometimes I've made amazing realizations from them. And today was the best simulation of them all.

All of the faculty members here are fantastic. They are different, yet each has a special thing about them and they create a well-rounded team of mentors. I don't know if the Parelli org could put together a better team if they tried. Today, I was in remuda with Trevor and was very impressed. He decided to have all 14 of us be his horse and he was the human in the middle. Imagine it - 14 different personalities and getting them to all do something in unison without talking... using only body language and a swim noodle. I was so engaged and fascinated by the way he communcated to us all. I was able to truly reflect on how I talk to my horse and the body suggestions I make. Trevor made me want to see what he'd ask next. I was trying hard to do the right thing and felt like I wanted to please him. I barely know Trevor; it was just the energy he gave off and the suggestions he made.

The first game he was in the middle and he asked us to make a circle around him. Then, lucky me, he stared me in the eyes. His eyes got large and full of intent. I actually took a step back! He was asking me for something, but I didn't know what. I was trying to figure it out and feeling intimated and I actually got worried! Can my horse infer that much from my body language and my ask? I figured out that he wanted me to turn to the side and start walking. He had all 14 of us doing the circle game around him. However (and this is big), he played the part of the human just beginning to find savvy. So, sometimes he'd be hard with his ask and sometimes soft. Sometimes he made no sense. Sometimes he ask for one thing then another at the same time. And sometimes he just got plain old scary. He never moved his feet really. Very cool. We all talked after about how we felt as the horse. Most felt intimidation, some were frustrated, some felt like shutting down, some were fearful. That's how our horses feel, especially when we're just learning. Ahhh, interesting.

The next circle he was much more savvy, more consistent, he figured out which human needed reassurance and which he could ask for more from. He got the circle to do a lead change. He got us to go fast and slow on our circles. He got us to make a huge circle while we walked and then a closer-in circle (smaller). I was fascinated! When we all shared feedback afterwards, people expressed a comforting feeling, a trust in him to be consistent, and a willingness that wasn't there previously. This is the way we WANT our horses to feel.

I was amazed the communication he could have with us using only his eyes. I need to step it up a notch with my horses. We then went to do simulation games with COD and the spin. The spin requires a box step (back, side, forward, then side). It takes a little coordination and I've never done it before. You also change hands at the 2nd step so you're ready to push zone 1 back around. Fancy! But I need to lick and chew on it.

I got some interesting feedback on my change of direction in simulation. I have to say, simulations are the least comfortable thing for me. I find it so hard to treat 3 people like I'd treat my horse. It's very calculated and not natural and I'm not very good at it. Still, it's a great way to practice and I will definitely keep trying.

Today was all about SQUEEZE and SIDEWAYS. Tara showed us those games with a student's hores - a really nice sorrel QH that had enough try for all the horses in the class. It was great to watch. Then, Megan showed us all 3 levels of the 2 games with her paint gelding. They had some great communication together but he was pretty lackluster in the beginning. We played simulation games, which were probably some of the less useful we'd done (for me, at least). I'm sure after the simulation with Trevor, I will be disappointed every time. We did squeeze and sideways simulations.

I had some more pics done with Coco, which was really fun. Z loves going into the water so she shot a bunch of Z in nearly up to her back and my horse was having fun!! I loved that. Her welts are much smaller, but she stocked up in her legs. A swim was probably feeling real good to her with her belly and legs needing some attention (the welts and the fluid build-up). We got some more intimate shots, too. Intimate shots with a horse... hmmm... :-)

I went out with Z thinking we would do nothing. I was feeling low energy and she was stocked up and sluggish. But after a while, we were starting to get into things. I had 2 separate students actually comment on how we looked very connected and fluid together! Hmmm...

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