Provocative vs Progressive
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!
If you are a student of Horsenalities, you know that the goal with every horse is to have them calm, trusting, motivated and willing. Each horsenality presents its own challenge within that spectrum, for example getting the trust of an RB-Introvert or motivating a LB-Introvert. With the LB-Extrovert, it’s about getting willingness.
Allure was becoming quite obedient. He was calm, trusting, but not exactly motivated and definitely not willing. Willingness feels like “Yes Ma’am! I would love to do that… let me offer some enthusiasm along with my response!” Nope, not there. In fact, sometimes he would feel rather dull, but motivation strategies were not the answer. I finally realized that he needed things to be more interesting, more “provocative”.
I remember coaching one of our faculty, Kathy Baar with her horse Macchiato. He had terrible displaced behavior with his tongue when ridden in the bit, no matter how light the contact. So, using my Game of Contact I experimented with them. Great results every time, but she could not sustain it. Finally, I noticed that it had nothing to do with technique, that after 2 – 3 sessions with what I’d taught her, Macchi would start rolling his tongue again. As soon as I realized what happened – that it would regress after doing the same thing a few times, I suggested that she try to be more provocative, to ask more, to do the unexpected, to change things up sooner and not wait for things to be perfect. Being more LBI (vs her LBE horse), Kathy has a lovely, thoughtful calmness about her and provocative was not a term you would assign to her personality! So, as she struggled with this I told her to “channel Pat”.
Bingo. That hit the spot. Things started to improve dramatically and the two of them began to look more in harmony, energy-wise, and Macchi became much more mentally engaged and… his mouth went quiet.
So, as I was playing with Allure, I suddenly realized that I too needed to be more provocative with him. At first, like Kathy, I felt very demanding and a bit rude, and that I was picking on him but the look on his face told the opposite story. He was more alive, present, interested… and relaxed. Quite amazing, he would very quickly let out a big blow and lower his head. I remember that used to only happen at the end of a session.
Now, I am an extrovert, but I learned to tone it way down in order to inspire confidence in my RB horses. And then having spent a number of years being careful with Allure as an unconfident / damaged learner, I was now missing his needs as an LBE. So, he changed, but I didn’t. The LBE horsenality is smart, a fast learner, charismatic, energetic, playful and when we are too slow, hung up on perfection, trying to be consistent and take it slow, it’s emotionally and psychologically painful for them… kind of like those hyperactive kids who can’t take sitting in the classroom unless they have a teacher who fascinates and entertains them! The word “provocative” has synonyms like challenging and stimulating. Heck, I was just happy to be surviving my rides on Allure and recently enjoying the fact that he was calm, but it didn’t take long for him to get pretty bored with me, even though we were making progress. Now that I am working on being more provocative, we’re making progress at an amazingly faster, happier rate.