06.08.22: Me and My Shadow

The first day of class was wonderful. We did a lot with horse behavior and studying the way that horses naturally react to the world around them. There are lots of video clips that went with this lecture, which Don was facilitating. After we got done with the lecture part, we went out into the Coverall which has a small round pen set up plus bleachers in it and he taught us the me and my shadow game. He brought down his beautiful little roan horse, Legacy to use as an example.

Me and my shadow basically gives the horse the opportunity to go and explore and check things out, and it gives you the chance to learn what interests the horse. The object of the game is to stand beside your horse and mirror your horse’s actions. The rope is loose, and your hand is across the horses back and you observe all the details that you can about what your horse likes, his breathing, what keeps his attention, what he likes to eat, etc.

As Don was beginning to demonstrate the game, his mare got all set to pee, to which Don responded that he wasn't going to mirror that! The class laughed.

We paired up and did a simulation with another person, one of us pretending to be the horse and the other being the person, and tried out the game to see how it felt. It was a good experience to be able to know beforehand how it feels to play the game.

Don set our boundaries pretty wide and explained that some horses may not leave the pen at all, which was ok. It’s about the horse exploring on his own terms. He also explained to us how to handle situations that might not be safe, in which case we simply need to step back up and take control again.

Roscoe and I got all ready to go and it took him a while to understand the rules of the game. At first he didn't want to go anywhere, even in the pen. I think he also didn't really believe that we could go out of the pen, even though the chain was down.

He finally ventured out of it, but hesitated half expecting me to say no I think. Once we were out he got pretty excited and we went everywhere in a hurry. He hurried to get some grass, and then of course took his time. Then we finally hurried down the hill between the pens, checking out every bucket and horse along the way. Then he hurried around the corner by the tack room and started up the road towards the cabins. He found grass again up there so I simply mirrored him and let him graze for a long time since he hadn't had the chance yet.

I finally put him away and headed down to lunch. After lunch we met back in the Coverall for a demonstration by John on horsenalities. All the instructors brought their horses down and we went over their horsenalities. Don passed out a chart that we could fill in for our horses. It was really interesting to look through all the contributing factors to each horse's personality.

We were again turned loose to go work with our horses more. I went to the cabin for a little while to chill out, and then went and got Roscoe again. This time he was not near so reluctant to go out of the pen. We headed down the hill like there was a fire again, and found the grass at the bottom below the water trough. He grazed happily for a long time before I urged him to go explore the savvy park. He headed in again like there was a fire, and didn't really stop to look at anything. I don't know if that means that he's not interested, if he's a little unsure of himself still or if he just doesn't care. We'll see.

Dinner and a shower was welcome at that point, and it brought a nice lazy end to the day. There was rain off to the north, which means it won't rain on us, but it did bring a beautiful sunset, the sun catching on all the rain turning it golden between the purple clouds. It was a beautiful end to the day.

Today's weather: its 47 right now at almost 8:00. The high today is 58, with a 40% chance of thunderstorms.

Next Page: Wednesday, August 23, 2006: Shadows Move Quickly