Thursday, March 20, 2008
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.