2017.04.29: Into Exploration

Kirsten arrived at just the right time again. I could feel that we were arriving at another stuck point and needed some assistance shifting through it. I got set up to work, and met her in the round pen. Storm was a little unsettled but willing to work, and so as we started, Kirsten began an exploration of evaluating his body and how he was showing up. I explored the moments he was tense versus the moment when he began to show relaxation and efforts to explore shifting his weight, but also noted that I wasn't seeing as many moments of effort to shift his weight as I had before.
When Kirsten offered to take him and show me a few things, I was relieved! I realized that with other techniques like the long lining I had spent many hours watching her doing the technique and teaching the technique with a variety of horses and people. With this technique I have only worked with Storm, and observed one or two other situations. So a very complicated technique that requires a subtle awareness of the changes in the horse's body plus an understanding of the options to experiment isn't something that just happens overnight.
Kirsten got after me though, relating that as she got ready for bed she noticed again all the artwork that I have hanging in the house, most of which is mine. She noted that in order to do the artwork I've done I have to have an eye for movement and detail. So if I have an eye for movement and detail already, then I have an eye for the horses and good movement versus bad. So she says. She is right, I have more of an eye than I can even verbalize. But now I need to find the organization to connect the dots between the movement quality and the actions I can take to change (or not change) things.
Gratefully she worked him for most of the lesson (that was a good thing since my knee wasn't at 100% and it was hard enough to keep up with her behind the horse, let alone try to direct Storm and juggle lines and watch the ground for pot holes) so I was able to observe her choices of changes as he moved through various stages of balance. She pushed him hard to get him into more movement and more exploration of balance. He needed to trot, and trot a lot, to start moving towards more consistent balance. The walk had become stagnant and stuck, so he needed something different (speed) to begin exploring again. She kept asking him to trot and moved between circles and lines as he experimented while waiting for him to find more rhythm. When he began he did not have rhythm and couldn't hold a consistent tempo or balance for long at all. As she continued to ask, and continued to vary between circles and lines depending on how balanced he was, he began to find more rhythm and cadence and the balance came with it. It was a challenge, and we used the entire arena for the work, but he was really exploring and finding better quality of movement, and it was clear and easy to see. She even pushed him into a canter a few times just to explore what that looked like and how it felt to him. It looked terrible, but it improved the quality of his trot steps, too. So that was an additional tool in the box to work with.
She noticed that he was beginning to tuck behind a little more than she wanted, so she adjusted to the other method of the line set up for the decarpentry lunging. This helped him find more room to experiment again and he found better balance.
She handed him back to me to finish up the hour doing a little slower work with a few trot steps mixed in. By the time we wrapped up he was sweating and my legs were about walked off. Even with a longer line, it was still a lot of walking to keep up with his big legs. Eventually, he started to tuck behind again, and she noted that if it happens in the beginning of a session, to choose the other manner of arranging the line, but if it happens at the end that it is an indicator of fatigue and so I shouldn't keep pushing.
We slowly made our way back up the hill, and he went straight into the yard to be hosed! He was really wet through his entire middle, which was a good sign of which muscles were doing a lot of work. I'm so glad that she was here at the right time to help us get out of the rut and adjust my technique so that we can continue on to the next level
Next Page: 2017.05.25: Into the Great Beyond