As some of you may already know, there is massive construction being done here at Ohana farm. I have continued to train around the activity choosing to use the activity as an opportunity to work with challenging circumstances and to build connection around it.
On one particular day, I chose to work with Mercury it was one of those days where everything that could happen did. I will recap as I recall:
- First of all the roof was being worked on so guys were on the roof ducking in and out of trees high above making noise.
- There was roofing paper blowing in the breezes.
- Compressors were kicking on and off randomly.
- The workers were using Nail guns intermittently and randomly. (which actually sound like guns!)
- At one point an entire sheet of metal roofing slid off the roof directly in front of us!
i started of course with some ground work to help build rapport and connection with Mercury. Another horse was in the arena so it was a call for Liberty Principles on Line (useful when you can not work at Liberty or are not in an enclosed area). When problem solving with Liberty principles and Line work, You need to first Horse Listen. IE. what is your horse saying? Make a little mental list. For example, Mercury was saying “There’s a lot catching my eye and I want to look!” He was also saying, “Some of it is scaring me but when I look it is helping me not be scared” I went through my “Tool” box and I used Eye contact exercises to help Mercury focus in on me with all the action going outside the arena. Then I proactively kept a watch out for things that might spook him and when I saw them I turned him to look at the scary activity or see where the noises were coming from. In between that, I channeled his excited energy into curves, changes of bend and transitions on Line. You see I also look at these suppling movements as a way to bring my horse into his body and help him to focus, calm and relax. When I can get him to connect through his back and hind quarters, he will start to relax his back and in turn relax his outline which in turn helps him calm down. If I have any hope of having a safe connected ride, I have to see if we can get there on the ground first. If we can’t, It’s not the day to ride.
When Horse listening, your job is to observe your horse and then figure out what may be the right exercises to work with what is going on instead against it. Always look at challenging situations with an eye on how you can help guide your horse through the experience positively. If you are above your comfort zone, See if you can do something small that is within your comfort zone. Baby steps are always the best way to build confidence in you and your horse.
I did wind up riding Mercury and he did incredibly well. By the end of the ride he was focusing on me and getting into our practice. I used movements again under saddle that took the energy he offered and recycled it into positive places. It was, In my mind one of our most successful rides to date. Not because we performed movements well but because we stayed connected to each other in a very challenging environment. I was proud of us! A testament to our Connection, Communication and Partnership. In the upcoming clinics, I will help you learn how to do this very thing with your own horses no matter what your discipline or level. The Confident Trail riding clinic specifically addresses how to build this Connection, Trust and Partnership around Agility, Obstacles and Challenges. The NY clinic on September 28th is an excellent one to bring a horse to if you want to see how to apply Liberty and Ground to mounted to create the Natural Outline™ and problem solve Bio-mechanics, Suppleness and Symmetry. Don’t forget there will be a grand opening Demo and Open house in October at Ohana Farm dates to be announced. Down Unda peeps, I’ll being see you soon as well for clinics and Demos! Click here to see the Fall event Schedule.
Photo courtesy of Natalie Bourchier Photography