Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The Life in the Rope
Siete and I had a good session today leading towards ground driving. Tomorrow, it’s Silk’s turn, and I’ll share her with my daughter as we ride around in the arena. This is the perfect weather to enjoy being with the horses, sunny, no humidity and pleasantly cool.
I bought Mark Rashid’s “Ground Driving 101” DVD to help me with Siete. As always, I enjoy his easy-going, very mellow style. The horse that he uses in the DVD is so calm that it’s a bit surreal. I wish he’d also worked with some other horses that were more high-spirited. My horses can go either way.
Some days, they are perfect angels. Other times, you’d think there’s a stick of dynamite under their tails when I lunge them. So, my question is always what to do when I’m not in a round pen, and I’ve got a thousand pound horse flipping around like a crazed fish on a line. Breath deep, don’t panic, and don’t stop because it will make them think that they are being rewarded for behaving that way. It’s a control issue, and Silk especially likes to test me every once in a while.
I was very interested in Rashid’s discussion of ropes. He uses a braided soft rope and recommends spending some time twirling the end of it. He talks about learning how to feel the “life in the rope”. Twirling it underhand sends the energy out and moves the horse forward. Going forward with the twirl pushes the horse away from you. It intrigues me that this inanimate object has life and energy. The first step is to rub the rope all over the horse’s body so it isn’t frightened by it, especially if the rope gets wrapped around the horse’s legs. Mark recommends that you take your time, saying it could take two hours or two days or two weeks for the horse to become comfortable with this. It took Siete and Silk no time. They could care less that I was rubbing and dragging the rope around them. So, I guess I better watch the rest of the DVD tonight since we might be moving faster here than I thought.
What I’m aware of though is that there is a chain of knowledge. Rashid points out that any link in the chain that is missing could cause problems down the line as you learn and become more skilled. I deeply believe this is the key to successfully learning how to do anything. As is often the case, the one who needs to go slow and not miss any links here is me, not my horse.