12.01.15: Sick as a Dog to Start

I had been fighting a cold all week before Kirsten arrived, and on Saturday morning I lost the battle. I was very disappointed that I felt so bad I didn't even want to get out of bed, much less leave the house and go outside into the 35 degree weather to watch lessons. I didn't even get out of bed Saturday morning, I slept and read off and on until lunch. After making a short appearance at lunch, I headed right back to bed and repeated the morning's activities again. I came out again for dinner which was chicken noodle soup made by Jim, which was great. It tasted really good! By that point I had already warned Kirsten that I was not going to be able to handle my lesson and would need help.
Sunday morning came too early, but thankfully the lesson was at 9 and not 8 as it usually is. I woke up to find that Jim was now feeling sick, so he stayed in bed while I mustered up the energy to go fetch the horse and get him ready. Grooming a large horse while exhausted isn't fun, and is not very productive either. Nancy had a much easier time with Julius, who was cleaner than Storm anyway, so when she finished vacuuming Julius she took Storm and vacuumed him while I slowly put the saddle on Julius. Kirsten came down about that time and decided that we would just work Storm on the ground and then go do a little horseless work with the Equicizer thing that Jim McDonald has. She had me bring out my long lines, but while we were talking she decided it would be better to head into some new territory while she was here and had me go get my 45' lariat line that I have from when I used to work with the Parelli stuff. I was quite happy to allow her to test the uncharted waters with him rather than me doing it! She agreed that was a good idea and so we switched him to the long line and she walked him around to get used to being in the field again rather than the arena since the arena was frozen solid.
Nancy came up with Julius and got started riding while Kirsten began to work with Storm on the long line. He was out of hay in the pasture when I went to get him and I felt bad because I had to pull him off of the flakes that had JUST been thrown out. He was much more interested in eating the stubble of grass that was left in the field at that point than he was in actually working for Kirsten. He didn't want to go very far out on the line, but he had also never been on a line that long before. To his credit, she was also trying to focus on Nancy and help her work through some challenges, so her attention was divided and he was taking full advantage of it. She kept having to get after him to send him forward again and he half spooked in offense of her driving him forward. That gave Julius a great excuse to get all jumpy and on the next pass by where I was sitting Nancy gave me her dressage whip since she knew she wouldn't need it. Kirsten happily took it from me so that she could be better armed to move Storm around when he tried to go for the grass. She continued to drive him forward when he would attempt to eat, and he began objecting by rearing up and squealing, but then would just amble off on the circle. He would repeat again, stopping to graze, she'd push him forward and this time he would buck out a bit in the back, and then shuffle off in no great hurry. She was trying to be polite since we all knew how volatile he can be, and she wasn't interested in being drawn around the field as if she had skis on. When he started flicking his inside hind foot at her she decided it was high time to take a different approach. The dressage whip was too short to be able to reprimand him for the horse version of flipping the bird, so the next time he went to eat she came forward at him and drove him backwards, much to his displeasure. She pushed him quite a ways back before he settled down and gave her a look of clear understanding. She asked him to walk off and this time he thought twice about eating again. She turned her attention back to Nancy, and eventually he had to check in and see if he could snatch a bite. When she moved in to drive him backwards, he started side stepping like a crab to keep her from getting ahead of him, like a child saying "See, See! I am going forward! Look, I'm walking forward, see!" He finally began to settle into the work at that point and just plain walk. The terrain is ever so slightly rolling rather than flat like the arena and it gives him a little more challenge when moving. He began to really think about his motion and his balance on his inside hind leg began to quickly improve. It is still weaker, so there is quite a bit of catching up to do, but it will work itself out with time. He offered a few more goofy moments, and finally found the end of the 45' of line, and didn't really push the limit with it. There was only once that he really tried to convince us he was spooked, and he ran in one direction for about a quarter lap, switched around and headed in the other direction, and then trotted himself back to a walk again. Kirsten pointed out that the longer line gives the person on the ground more leverage in the same way that a shank bit gives more leverage. I am hoping the combination of him settling down and the longer line will keep him from really blowing a cork at the end of it when I am working with him. Kirsten also recommended that I can slip the end of the line through the bit the same way a lunge line is slipped through the bit and clipped to the outside ring to give more control over simply clipping it to the halter.
After he settled down and got all the goofy out and was really working, Kirsten had me come in and handle him for the last few minutes. He would head down the hill and towards the barn and end up  at the end of the rope and then turn to come back up again and just couldn't make it up the hill so he would end up barely 20 feet from me again before swinging around and heading down the hill to the end of the line again. It might have been a subtle slope, but he was aware of it! 
We wrapped up with the horses and headed into the hay barn where the Equicizer horse is, and Kirsten put Nancy and I up on it and helped to refine our seat and our posture. She began on one side working to help reconnect the body and all the parts slightly adjusting our shoulders, ribs, core, hips, and then down into our knees and ankles. Once she worked on me it was interesting to feel the difference. I could FEEL all the way down my leg and into my toes with a conscious awareness of my body in space. Half of my other side was just not there in comparison. She worked on my left side for quite a while, and it never did get to the same feeling as my right, which is no surprise with all the issues that I have had on that side. It just reiterates that I can't wait to get back into the Alexander lessons again!
Despite the fact that I sat through most of the 2 hours of lesson, I was exhausted we finished!
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12.01.28: Tiny Little Anchor
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