I’m here at WEG, and West Point is my horse-buddy for the sixteen days. Remmer and Allure are here at WinStar farm enjoying a nice vacation in a lovely pasture. For the first days Westy was really worried about the environment. All that emotional baggage from his competition days was back to haunt him and I started to experience the things Lauren told me about: pumping adrenaline, terrible frights and spooking, wheeling violently to the left and a dripping full body sweat in sixty seconds. Poor guy.
Pat and I were having an interesting conversation last night. As usual, we were talking about our day and how our horses did, and I was talking to him about finally learning how to be provocative enough for my Trakehner, Allure. It’s taken me a long time to get here with him for a couple of reasons:
- He is Left-Brain Extrovert (LBE) that goes extremely Right-Brain Introvert (RBI) as a learner.
- I really only made the riding breakthrough with him this summer, which I blogged about.
So, here’s the interesting part: I started making great progress with him, but I forgot to be provocative. Hmmm. Interesting. And what’s the difference? Hence this blog!
As I was visiting the Finesse class recently, I was asked a question that lead me to explain how I approach training my horses each day. Either I’m making progress or I’m fixing problems. You can’t do both at the same time… much as you’d like to think you can, it doesn’t work.
If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll know that on October twenty-ninth Remmer had a freak accident. He severed his superficial flexor tendon and about eighty percent of his deep digital flexor tendon. In less than a moment our future together changed because of the severity of the injury. Remmer may not regain full athletic function of his left hind leg.
A friend commented to me tonight that I seem to be handling this pretty tragic event really well, and as we conversed I thought it might be a good thing to blog about. He asked me if this was natural for me or if it was learned behavior, and it is absolutely learned behavior. Being able to control how and what I think about is something I’ve worked very hard on for the last twenty-eight years.
Do you ever think about this? I do all the time – well, I really only think about it once I cross the line! Up until then I think I’m doing fine.
But seriously, this is the quest of all great horsemen… to figure out that balance. Actually, it’s to figure out how not to cross that line – to not be so careful and slow that you become boring, and to not be so progressive and creative that you blow them up… but sometimes you only know where the line is once you cross it.
As my great mentor, Glynn Braddy, often used to say to us: “Personal growth is rarely comfortable or convenient.” What a wonderful thing to remember when you’re feeling the growing pains as you try to improve yourself through horsemanship!
One time a student asked when he could expect his “problems” to be over, so he could start working on his horsemanship. Dr. Stephanie Burns was in the room and responded, “What makes you think that working on the problems is not working on your horsemanship?” What a great response. It led to a wonderful discussion about reframing your feelings and experiences. “For example,” she said, “don’t you think Pat and Linda have problems with their horses? The difference is how you think about it.” She turned to me and asked me to comment…
Peeling back the onion layers
Although this was a while ago (gosh time flies!) I remember it as clear as day. Of all the students applying for a lesson with me, Fran and her horse Crest were successful. I had already discussed issues she’d had with him over the last couple of years, he was a very troubled horse that she ‘rescued’ with a view to rehabilitating him and in the process learning a lot. Fran has made phenomenal progress with him, especially on the ground but when riding she was still having trust issues (both her and the horse) and he would buck quite violently at the canter. As you can well imagine, she had lost her confidence about that.
This is a short one.
You know my dogs – Vinny (LBE) and Moxie (RBE)… well, as I’m sitting here writing bunches of stuff, something interesting happened. Being about fifteen weeks old, Moxie is teething like crazy and when she plays with us those little points are really sharp!
So, as she was biting me (playing affectionately of course!), I started to think about why she keeps doing this even though I’ve tried to tell her not to (for some weeks now).
Wake up call… because if you are truly effective, something should have improved!
So, Walter Zettl was here right after we returned from WEG. Remmer had been on vacation for three weeks while we were at WEG and really only had three days of prep, and West Point was ready to go. I had two days of great lessons and on the third day Westy was the best he’d been, but Remmer was the worst. He had been so forward and powerful the day before, and Walter was really impressed, but this next day he had nothing. We did the lesson a little differently – instead of Walter guiding me the whole way, he said “Ride as you usually do, and I will coach where I see you need help”. We’ve done this the last two times, so it was not a surprise. What was a surprise is that even though I was able to do what Rem needed… I didn’t do it.
We had our first HSUS horse rescue training camp that went for six days – five days of instruction with the final day at a local horse rescue. Eight representatives were with us, Melissa, Jo, Carolyn, Stacy, Scott and Jen plus Holly Hazard, Chief Innovations Officer and Keith Dane, the director of Equine Protection. Nothing could have gone better, including the weather.