I received the Dressage Naturally book today written by Karen Rohlf. A lot of the L3 Finess riding is very much like dressage and I wanted to read what Karen Rohlf would have to say on the subject. She is a fluid rider and demonstrates a ton of harmony with her horses. She is a fabulous person to learn from.
I read about 15 pages while sitting in the stall with Z. It was a hot day and most of the horses where hanging in the barn in the shade, staying cool. I put a chair in the stall and she seemed genuinely interested in my presence. She fitzed and futzed with me for a solid 30 mins. She tried to explain where I should scratch her, she fiddled with the arm rest on the chair, she smelled and nuzzled nearly every inch of me, and at one point she even reached behind me, grabbed my shirt and tried to pull it straight up. I was suprised by her gregarious behavior. She's typically very serious and she showed me that she has a playful side. Good fun. After a while, she allowed me to quietly read and I instantly was drawn into the reading.
One thing that stuck out: Karen talks about the Parelli program quite a bit and tries to explain natural horsemanship and how to bridge the gap between NH and dressage. She lists some criteria for natural dressage. One thing she lists is the fact that you have to be willing to put your relationship with your FIRST. Now, I know this. It's a critical piece of the Parelli program. However, I realized for even just a moment that maybe I don't ALWAYS do that. I'm human, after all. Though, I can continue to focus on putting the relationship first and catch myself when I'm missing the boat.
I was inspired to go try some things and focus on feeling my horse. We worked on pushing passenger at the trot and canter. We played with the backup and being soft. We did some canter yo-yos and some point to point. I rode with my IPOD which makes a huge difference to me as a rider. I just work better with music in my ears. I got off and did a little Liberty work with her in the arena. A couple times she split and we really haven't much Liberty in such a large space, but she gave me an opportunity to give her a reason to stay close to me. After we played a bit I asked her to stay with me while I got rid of the random manure piles in the arena.
It was a good time with her. I was very conscientious of her state of mind and her desires. I tried really hard to NOT think like a predator. Yay for me.