Saturday, February 9, 2019

Joining up

I'll take a clinic with pretty much anyone.  There's always something to learn, even if it's only a teeny bit while you dump the rest as irrelevant or not useful for your horse (or just plain dumb, but I rarely encounter that thankfully).  Today's clinic was by a natural horsemanship trainer and that was just about all I knew about what was going on.

Sure, sure, I don't even need my horse.  It's just me at 9am, standing in the barn parking lot with a coffee and no idea what happens next.

It was all pretty standard stuff.  He worked with a mare from the lesson program who's difficult to catch and generally full of opinions.  She's a doll to ride and a wonderful horse on the trails or the beach, but she's managed to kick some people in her field and has most of the staff trained to get out of her way if she pins her ears.  Not a mean horse, but pretty damn sure she is her own boss and willing to back it up.  Also the boss of the mare field.

There was much discussion about not approaching a horse with the wrong body language or energy.  You don't want your anger from other things coming into the barn.  There was also a lot of work on showing her that people are pretty cool with petting, scratching her withers, and using some T-Touch on her face and ears.  Roxy Sox was down with that, but giving to pressure on her rope halter?  Nuh uh.  She puts her head down when she wants to put her head down and not when you tell her to.

In the round pen, she gave our natural horseman a good demonstration of why a dominant chestnut mare is a force of nature.  Any attempt at making a decision for her resulted in swinging haunches and flying back feet.  Back and forth, back and forth, never getting upset or changing anything.  Eventually, as all horses do, she figured out that it wasn't working and she was more interested in getting back to all that petting and maybe one of the mints in his pocket.  They renegotiated and she allowed him to change her gaits and directions without protest.  Then she calmly walked over and let him put her halter back on.

Absolutely nothing I haven't seen before, but he was quite good at it.  He genuinely has no need to rush or dominate and the horses know it.  For the rest of the group, it was the first time they've seen round pen work.  They thought it was magic of some sort.  It did get a bit woowoo for me when it crossed into Reiki and prophetic dreams, but the actual actions were grounded in solid horse sense.

Theo got a turn in the round pen.  I wanted him to get down and roll with his blankets off, but he wasn't in the mood.  Instead, we took advantage for a bit of round pen work of our own.  Theo kind of knows this game already.

He's such a good boy.  He did buck and do some porpoise squeals early on, but that was more about getting out the excess energy.  His voice commands are so good.  His gaits are lousy like this, but it's mentally good for him.

This natural horseman also teaches long lining, so I might work with him again.  Theo doesn't actually have a lot of behavioral issues that are fixed through this kind of work.  He's polite, he pays attention, and he works off of my body language.  He's lazy as hell and thinks the Parelli stick with a bag on it is a toy he needs to put in his mouth as opposed to a driving aid, but that's not really a training issue.

The rest of the group was gaga and eager to sign up for sessions.  He won't do any harm and may give some of the nervous ladies more confidence, so I think he's going to be a good influence. 

No comments:

Post a Comment