06.09.01: Intrigue

Yesterday began like most others. It was chilly, and breakfast was pancakes. Roscoe got his breakfast and it was off to Remuda. Don was our leader, which was great. He is wonderful to talk to and a lot of fun. We went over Linda's demo with Remmer and then the three horses after lunch. It was great to rehash things, talk stuff over, and reprocess the information. I think I've been doing more licking and chewing than Roscoe! Don even told us the story about how a woman that attended some of the first Florida courses last year that works now at Sea World with the dolphins. She worked years ago at the Animal Kingdom in Disney, and ended up making a lot of changes to their way of handling animals using methods that pretty much parallel the Parelli method. She ended up working with some Hippos because the scientists that were studying them developing the breeding program would wait for hours until the Hippos pooped to get a sample. She didn't understand why they didn't just go in and do it. So they allowed her permission to experiment and she began by smearing an entire jar of peanut butter onto the stall wall and then putting baby carrots alllll over the wall. Apparently Hippos love carrots. The Hippo came back into his stall and looked at her and the wall with surprise in his face. Long story short, she eventually did accomplish the task, and the scientists were floored. She gained everyone's respect and then they brought all of their problems to her.

We discussed the differences in the demos with Linda, and it was a relief to gain more insight with other people. The whole experience was so overwhelming that it was hard to process. We discussed several things that went on that we were confused about and it really helped to bring more light to the situation.

We moved on to working with a conga horse to practice direction changes and the spins that Linda went over. We managed pretty well to learn the tricks. It always helps to gain the feedback of the conga horse. They point out errors much faster than your horse does, and it’s a lot easier to interpret!

We broke out of Remuda and headed over to the savvy park to watch John and Don go over sideways and the squeeze game. John went first working with the sideways game and going over all the various different ways that you can use it, and how to support it and improve it. Then Don brought out Frontier and worked on the squeeze game. Frontier is just adorable watching how curious he gets about things. After he finished up that explanation, the instructors came out and all lined up to do a demonstration. It was pretty funny because Kathy grabbed three students and made a conga horse to play with instead of bringing out her mare who was kicked that morning in the herd. They all started out in a line going sideways in various directions and doing all sorts of things together. Then they went up to the big platform, with all the instructors standing on it, and the horses facing it, and went sideways around it, then back the other way. Then John led off and started doing all sorts of obstacles, and each person followed in succession. It was fun to watch.

After they finished up that, we broke up into conga horses again, practicing sideways and squeeze. I discovered that sideways is a challenge going down a hill because you have to watch the person out of one side, and the hill out of the other. It was a challenge, but since Grady who is an instructor taking the course was the handler while I was the head, it made it much easier. It’s always great to have really good people in your conga horse because you get so much more accurate feedback. We came back together and went back over things again in the big group and then broke for lunch.

After lunch I headed up to feed Roscoe and hang out while he ate. I got some cute pictures of Thor playing with his lead rope and line, swinging it all over everywhere just having a grand time. Roscoe finished up and we headed off to the playground to start working. We began by working with a pole on the ground seeing if he could put one foot over it at a time, and back that foot up. It was fun to see him start paying attention more. It took a few bonks on his nose with the rope, but he began to pay more attention. It still wandered, but when I had it I got it. You could see him processing and thinking about what I was asking him to do. He was definitely intrigued by what was going on, which was great.

Coco was out in the field taking pictures, and she came over to get some shots of he and I, which I am sure will turn out really well. She'll be back today, so I'll head back to where she is again. We played around on several things, while she shot some pictures as the rain clouds began to pile up. It began to drizzle so Roscoe and I headed off at a nice trot while driving from zone 3, which actually worked out pretty well. We hung out in the coverall for a little while until the drizzle stopped. I took him back out when it began to clear again and we happened to wander over to the pedestal. I asked him to put his feet on it, and he began pawing it and sniffing it. He has always put his foot in the wrong place to actually put weight on it and get up. I asked him to back down, and then he came forward again, and put his foot right up in the right position. I asked for the second foot and up he came. I was really happy and rubbed him for a while. I let him stand there as long as he wanted to, which turned out to be a long time.

Finally we got down and wandered over to the trailer next to the Coverall to play. I didn't really care if he went into it or not, but we played sideways all the way around it, which was pretty cool. We also did some circles and such back and forth. We'll work more on that today.

We moseyed around a bit more before beginning to head back to the pens, stopping for grass along the way. As we got up to the 100' round pen, I noticed that Libby and Carly had turned out Thor and Sumo to allow them to play. Sumo is an Arabian Shire cross and actually looks pretty nice, not near as big as Thor, but still pretty hearty. They were playing together like you would not believe. It was amazing. Thor was leaping straight up in the air and getting all four feet off of the ground. He was most definitely driving Sumo around the pen, bucking, kicking, biting, and galloping around. It was amazing to see.

Dinner came, and was pretty uneventful as usual. I headed up and fed Roscoe after we finished up, and then came back down to hop into the shower, which was much needed since the temperature dropped quickly. Today is the last day of the first course. Its been really good, and I am looking forward to continuing to move forward.

Next Page: Saturday, September 2, 2006: Drawing to a Close