What a fun and interesting day of coaching I had on Saturday! Working with 4 different horse/rider combos definitely squeezed me in my stretch zone (where learning takes place, just outside your comfort zone). The saying is so true: we may not always get what we WANT – but we always get what we NEED!
So – before I turn up to a client, I always prepare myself and have a PLAN of action in mind. And I guess that’s a good thing…because we know that if we fail to plan, we’re planning to fail. But sometimes I get to the stables and I can pick up on the horse’s (or the rider’s/handler’s) energy, body language etc. that I may need to switch to plan B, C or D…
Saturday was such a day 🙂
The transformation in the mental & emotional attitude for remedial horse Angel within only 4 sessions has been amazing! Her owners are doing a great job by putting what we learned in each session into practice during the week, making my job much easier. And that’s what TEAM WORK is all about after all – because lasting positive change can only be achieved and sustained through commitment, consistency and perseverance. Angel was really relaxed in her stable, and less ‘pushy’. She was patient when putting on the training halter and walked calmly out of her stable. But on entering the outdoor arena, Angel’s behaviour changed: she was ‘on her toes’ and very easily distracted by everything around her. My original plan (plan A) was to continue working with long lines, but because of Angel’s anxious, alert state of mind and emotions running high, I decided to go with plan B instead…I introduced some Straightness Training (ST) exercises that would help Angel to change her mental, emotional and physical state from anxious to calm and relaxed. I taught Angel to lower her head stretching forward-down, focussing her attention inwards and on me, rather than externally, feeding on the energy around her. While standing still in this forward-down position, I would ask the mare to shift her point of mass backward towards her hindquarters and also ask for lateral bends to both the right and left, stretching and contracting muscles on both sides of her body. Each time Angel responded in the desired way, she received lots of praise and sometimes a little treat. Then we tried this while walking slowly in a small circle to the right as well as to the left. Angel really struggled to step under towards the point of weight with her inside hind leg on the right circle and fell in over her right shoulder, confirming that she’s a left-bended horse. Every time the mare got distracted or nervous about her surroundings, we stopped and asked for the lowering of the head. Angel really quickly learned that this was a comfortable place to be and would submit willingly, standing calm, and then moving off calmly and relaxed. Very positive session – and we definitely learned what we NEEDED to learn 🙂
Have a great week all,