Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Planning

It may be the first day of Spring, but it doesn’t feel like Mother Nature is ready to strip off her winter coat and party yet. While I was grateful that the horses’ stalls didn’t flood after the three inches of rain dumped on us yesterday, I have to admit that it’s pretty depressing in my backyard.

I was just reading an email from White Flower Farm, which is a gardening Mecca here in New England. They were cautioning about rushing into planting too quickly. Instead, they advocated careful planning. I decided to take their advice not just with my flowers, but with my horses as well.

Before I launch into working with Siete, I need to have a definite game plan. My friends, Arlene at Grey Horse Matters and LJB, at Horsey Therapist, have kindly encouraged me and offered to help figure out how to go about taking the steps I need to move Siete’s training to the next level.

I think it’s a lot like looking forward when you ride and concentrating on where you want to go instead of looking down at your horse’s mane or legs or other distractions. So, I’ve started to consider what is the best way for me to help Siete, given time, money and other realities. Since I haven’t found a saddle that fits her, it’s logical to start with groundwork. The Clicker Training has been successful, but I need to also find ways to help her work off her chubby winter tummy.

Ground driving might be a good way to go, if I can manage to not be a klutz and tangle both of us up. Siete was started with ground driving by her first trainer before he rode her. I’ve never done it, so I’ll have to learn how to do it correctly. I’m also looking at other flexing exercises and ways to help Siete bend more easily. I’ve got stacks of books and some videos to check out for ideas. I did longe her a little today, but I’m trying to come up with some ways to work with her that will be more interesting and engaging. Siete’s very bored, and overly eager to do anything I suggest. just like a kid who’s been trapped indoors too long. She does get out and run around every day with Silk, but she’s really looking for a sense of purpose.

I’ve been thinking about what Mark Rashid calls “the chain of knowledge”. He believes that it’s important that both horses and humans build it one link at a time. If any of the links are missing, things start to fall apart. So, I’m going to carefully go over each of the links in both Siete’s chain of knowledge and mine until I find the place where the link is weak. That’s probably where I should begin.

Rashid points out that we humans have a tendency to choose the quickest way to learn a new skill, even if it’s not the best way. When we reach the end of our chain of knowledge, we become frustrated and worried. In Aikido, Rashid learned five basic principles that he thinks are necessary to build a strong chain of knowledge: “awareness, commitment, staying centered, understanding and performing circular movement, and honoring our teachers and our places of learning”. Now, he also applies those principles to working with horses Maybe the other thing that I really need to do is sign up for that beginning Aikido class.


M. C. Valada said...

Other than the tangling, ground driving isn't very difficult. Monty Roberts has a video on using the halter with a noseband and rings to which you can attach long lines (without using a bit, which is always a little scary to me.) When I ground drive Ace, since I don't have a sirsingle (that doesn't look like it is spelled correctly at all), I put on his saddle, use some twine to secure the stirrups (I run it under his belly, so they are at his sides), and run the long lines through the stirrups. It works pretty well. Then we parade around the arena and do turns and back-ups. Good for those days when I don't want to get on his back and a little more challenging than just lunging.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think I know how you feel, it is Spring and the weather is starting to turn and you look around and see a million things needing to be done and don't know where to start. Since I have always been an organized sort of person, I usually have a lot of lists with things needing to be done, in the order of what I think is the most important to the least. I think you are starting well with the groundwork and then progressing from there knowing it will take as long as it takes. That is my plan to start everyone out with groundwork and as soon as they are fit enough to start riding again, slowly. I'm kind of a klutz so I don't think I will be signing up for Aikido any time soon, I'm sure it wouldn't be pretty and I'd probably hurt myself.

Bill Evertson said...

Looking forward is important. I'm glad you are the other fretting mother of Siete. I think she deserves two mothers. Best wishes.

Rising Rainbow said...

Long lining can be as difficult or as simple as you want to make it. You can do most anything long lining you can do on the back of a horse.

Of course, you'll want to start out simple and getting tangled in the lines is a valid concern. So if when you're first getting started, you focus on keeping the horse away from you at the end of the lines, you won't have a problem. It's when the horse falls in on the circle and you keep taking up the slack that you get into trouble with those lines wrapping around your legs. Take it from a woman who knows about being tangled.

So have a lunge whip (that you can control - too long a one will get in your way) that you can flick at her to push her out away from you. If you start off just at the walk and teach her you want her to stay out there, you can increase the speed as you get more comfortable in your control of the lines abd avoid the pitfalls of those lines tangled around your legs.

Don't worry about frame or anthing like that until you have mastered keeping the horse out at the end of the lines at all three gaits. That will be a great foundation to build on and keep you safe. And let us know how it goes.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks for all your good advice. I have a feeling that Siete will get the hang of this faster than I do. I think that it's the right first step in training me to be the trainer.

billie said...

Hope you'll share the long lining adventure here! I've wanted to learn that for a long time but haven't had the time to give to it.. if I had a very young horse I guess I would!

In a recent workshop I did with dressage trainer Cindy Sydnor, she reminded us that when you hit a rough place, go back down to the bottom of the training scale and start over - i.e. if shoulder-in isn't working, instead of trying to fix shoulder-in, go back to rhythm and relaxation in the gait, get that working, focus on connection, then try shoulder-in again.

If you can't get it under saddle, go back to the ground and build from there.

More and more, I see horse training as the work of saints - when done well and with kindness.

EquineSpirit said...

WONDERFUL post! Loved reading it!! :)

Mubi said...

lovely horses

Ewa said...

Happy Easter Vistoria!