Monday, August 30, 2010

Teaching people and helping horses

It's been a great summer of teaching. New students, new challenges and lots of great feedback. I have a habit of trying to remember the good things.. Sure there is lots to gripe about, poor economy, my real estate career becoming bare bones, but life is short, so I try to focus on the good.

One of the highlights of my summer was my week long intensive with 9 year old Polly. She and my young Kiger really hit it off, and after a week, I saw a different horse.. He was more relaxed and much more accommodating. I see this as the power of love. Polly modeled firm and loving leadership with Shamen. Polly was a great student, but even more than that she was so much fun!  She is thoughtful and focused, and her focus grew with each day of working towards mastering her communication with Shaman.

This is what her Grandmother sent me, she told me to post it on my blog:

I would just like to say that it was truly a wonderful week for little Polly! I sensed that, it being summer and Orcas, that you had a  very busy week with many things besides "horse" lessons for Polly, but I must say it felt to me that when you were working with Polly you were so present with her each day, and clear and thoughtful about how each lesson would unfold.  Your enthusiasm and the love you have for what you are doing permeates the lessons. As you know, I was worried that Polly would be  disappointed not to be able to get up on a horse and ride this week. I feel that you  and you alone have taught her why it is important not to have done that and she was so happy with what you gave her, she hardly seemed to miss it. It seems that she really understands why. Your warmth and gentle, but firm and clear approach to Polly and what you are teaching is indeed a gift. In some ways I can see this work as therapy for these kids whose lives are so hectic and busy. I am glad we were able to make this available to Polly now when she is just 9 years old. It is a perfect age as she begins to see the world with a more global view.  These skills you have been teaching her I know will impact her relationships at school and at home. 

Even though I wish she could have been doing this ALL summer we are looking forward to another bit of time at the end of August!

Now Polly is back for a second week. She told me she was so upset she would not see Shaman or me again.. and was just told a few weeks ago, we had a plan for August. I was so tickled to see her, and we quickly picked up where we had left off.. a little review..and off we went.

Well, Shaman being the free thinking fellow he is, had to challenge her leadership. Small package does not mean small energy in Polly's case and Polly was up to the challange- using her core energy- her chi- to push Shaman out of her space to the outside of the round pen. Her grandmother, while watching, told me later.. 'whew.. that was really something!"

Mustangs are not the easiest of horses, they are bred for survival not mindless following of the rules. They like to make sure they are in good hands. Working with my students horses, I now see what good teachers they have been for me!

I often hear: "you make it look so easy'...

I have come to see that the trainer can step in and communicate with the horse and the horse often instantly responds, where as the student may have been struggling with this same issue for a long, long time. Often it's a little thing that stands in the way of communication. Like blocking the horses shoulder, or not positioning the horse correctly for the exercise, or just not standing your ground. I see 'problems' disappear during lessons.

The thing that I find so interesting is that although I can easily have the horse do as I bid, once the horse's person is taught the skills and master's those skills,  the quality of what the horse offers is so much greater. For example, I have a 15 year old student who has a Halflinger/Quarter Horse cross. Sadie, the mare is farily timid and was rather sluggish when asked to do anything. We worked her on a line for about a month and then in the round pen.

In the round pen, at liberty she came alive! She became much more engaged in the activity; was energetic and playful. Rosie had lots of draw with her mare. After a week with her open- hearted, loving owner, working in the round pen, she had given her heart. That week, Rosie rode her on a lunge line for the first time in a year,  and then we went downt to the River, just to see is we could work on getting Sadie's toes wet. To our surprise, the horse who had always been afraid of the water - happily followed her pal into the Nooksac River and they swam together.  I sat and watched in awe of this union!  We had worked on building a relationship, establishing leadership and respect, and here was the proof of the pudding. Love+Knowledge+Practice=Amazing Results!  WOW!!  And did I have a camera.. no!