060825: From One End to the Other

Yesterday started out interesting as when I finished feeding Roscoe, I discovered the computers were down. It threw off my whole routine for the day. If I get even one day behind in writing, I get confused over events and details. It gave me lots of extra time before breakfast, though.

Our morning Remuda was very interesting. People brought up lots of really thoughtful questions again. In the discussion that I had with Michelle the previous day we were trying to figure out if it was possible to have an introverted or catatonic left brained horse. My thought was no, though Michelle said that in a class with Linda she had actually shown them a catatonic left brained horse. I asked Kathy about it and she explained that it wasn't really possible. Introverted horses go inside themselves out of fear. She said that it was possible to have something similar appearing in a left brained horse, but it would more be sullen behavior rather than actual introversion. She said it would be like the horse putting on headphones and just ignoring you. When the left brained horse came out of it, they would not have the propensity to become violent as a right brained horse might in that situation. Catatonic is also the last stage that a horse can get to before they feel they are going to die. Their minds have left them, and they are no longer complete. It’s even harder to bring those types of horses out of their state, because they have already accepted that they are going to die. They can get extremely violent and aggressive very quickly.

Our "workshop" in our Remuda for the day was on Assertiveness. One of the toughest things to do when working with horses is to be able to bring your energy up and yet keep the emotions out of the way at the same time. Horses do not understand emotion, but they can feel it. They also don't take things personally either (thankfully!). We worked with carrot sticks and barrels since the barrels don't bite back. Our task was to practice rubbing the barrel in a friendly game, and then smacking the barrel as hard as possible with forceful energy without emotion and then go back to rubbing the barrel in a friendly game. The scenario that Kathy gave to help us visualize a situation when this would be needed was if you were petting a newborn foal, and a stallion charged with intent to seriously hurt you or the foal, and you had to defend yourself and then go back to comforting the foal. It was a good visualization, and it worked to help understand the serious assertiveness that you had to act, and how quickly you had to bring down your energy again. The true test came when we had to pair up and one person had to hit the barrel and then turn and hug the second person. The second person had to give feedback about how quickly the first person's energy came back down again. It was very obvious through the hug if there was still too much tension in your body.

The second thing we practiced was putting our halters on a fence post and using the 22' line we had to send a roll of energy down the line so that it popped the clip of the line up around the side. This would be used again when a horse had serious intent to invade your space, and it’s kind of like that 'snap out of it' smack that you sometimes see in the movies. The nice thing about it is that if the horse chooses to step back while that energy is coming down the rope, it diffuses the energy so that the horse won't feel the effect.

We headed into the classroom after that, where we started to go over the basics of the 7 games. Today’s objective was to use the 7 games creatively, as well as discussing what you can do to play the 7 games creatively if you don't have access to a giant horse playground. All the instructors brought out a horse and did a demo just playing with them in the playground. It was great to be able to watch all of them, their horses are all so diverse, and you could tell that every one of them was having fun. Frontier was with Don right in front of us, and he found some cones, and immediately began to pick them up and toss them around. You can just see the play in his face. Linda sat and watched us for a while from the shade of the tree across the savvy park.

Our final exercise was to get into groups of 5 and play conga horses. Four of us had to be the horse (these horses sure do have a lot of legs) and the last person is the handler. You have to ask the horse to do certain tasks and then your conga horse can give you feedback on how effective you were and areas where you could use some improvement. It’s amazing how much it all makes sense when you're asking humans to do things. It was also fun to be able to be a little silly and do what the horses would do, like not doing exactly as you were asked. There was so much laughter going on, and a lot more friendly game. The funniest part is when the back of the horse would have one idea of what to do and the front of the horse would have an entirely different idea. Once the "handler" has done a few things, they go to the back of the line and the person that was the head of the horse becomes the next handler.

We had a bit of extra time before lunch, so I headed up and gave Roscoe a little bit of cubes to help curb his appetite if we decided to go roaming around. Lunch came quickly after that, and since the “Chinese” didn't look so good, I had a nice big salad.

After lunch I was finally frustrated enough with the computers that I headed up to the cabin to write up yesterday's adventures. That took a while, and then I headed down to see Roscoe.

I decided since I didn't get to teach him anything new due to my trip to town, I would teach him how to back up by his tail today, as well as begin seriously working on desensitizing his ears since he does not like his ears rubbed. Since I know he is most confident in his pen, I decided to stay there and simply put his halter on and work that way. The pens are large enough that there is plenty of room to walk around and work.

We began by simply walking around for a bit, with me rubbing him a lot. I then stopped and rubbed my way to his rump, letting the rope have a little slack as I held it along his side. I carefully scooped up his tail, put a little bit of pressure on it, then kissed to him, and then began to wiggle the rope in a yoyo game. At first he tried to pull to the side, which I pretty much expected. I tried to maintain even pressure on his tail (though that was tough!) and continued to up my phases with the rope. As soon as he took one step backwards, I dropped his tail completely and stopped moving the rope and rubbed his rump a lot. We would repeat this two or three times before I would turn and walk away. I'd stop and then begin rubbing his head, working closer to his ears and brushing up the insides before quickly turning and walking away before he had time to pull his head away from me. We made a little progress; he just simply seems to be uncomfortable with people's fingers in his ears. I will have to work on that a bit every day. We stopped after about an hour or so because there is no point in drilling things in to his head, it will only make the lesson go sour.

I let him out to grab a little bit of grass that was around his pen and then I put him away and sat with him for a long time. I did happen to be sitting up in the front corner of his pen, and there was a horse next to him that got fed while we were sitting there, but even still the whole time that I sat there, he was almost always standing next to me, nuzzling me and rubbing on me. Though, for the most part, it did not seem to be in a rude way. When he did get a little pushy, I would drive him away, and eventually he'd wander back over again.

I finally fed him dinner, which made him pretty happy. I headed down to the lodge after that to grab a shower and I decided since the computers still weren't working that I would give Jim a call. We talked for a while and while we were talking, the guy came in to fix the computers. He typed a bunch on each computer and viola they were fixed. So I got off the phone and quickly typed in my entry from yesterday before going to dinner. As it lucked out, I sat next to Dave Ellis. He sat down after me, and was really nice. We didn't talk too much; he's a quiet kind of guy. Pat came in during dinner, and we all said hello to him, he walked around and spoke with people. It was nice to see him though Linda was a bit under the weather still.

Dinner finished up and I gathered my things and went to hang out with Roscoe for a while before heading to the cabin. We finally got a fully working lantern, and I carried that up. I decided since it was still early I'd double check to see if there was a chance that my phone might work somewhere on higher ground of the ranch since most of the ranch sits behind the shoulder of a hill. It still didn't work, so I wandered back to the cabin.

I read my magazine for a while, and slowly the girls came in. Lacy was first, and I heard all about her day. Emma wandered in a bit later, and Lillan finally came up a bit after that. They were all laughing because they almost walked past our cabin since it actually had light inside. We had a pretty fun evening, laughing and talking. Lillan read more of the book to us, but when she finished the chapter for some reason we all woke up. So there was more laughter, and we ended up starting a list of the funny things that were said. We also discovered there is some tree branch that when the wind blows it scrapes across the roof of our cabin making a really strange noise. We were all so energized that Lillan had to read two more chapters before we were all able to fall asleep.

I slept really well though, and was not so excited to hear the alarm this morning. This morning it is 41 but feels like 37, according to weather.com. Today's high is 56 and the low tonight is 42. The lows seem to be accurate, but there is no way that yesterday’s high of the low 60's was correct since my clock in the cabin with the cabin door wide open said 77 degrees... And honestly, it didn't feel like 37 this morning either!

Next Page: Saturday, August 26, 2006: Hitting the Valley