09.03.31: Licking and Chewing

Today has been very intense. I am very tired right now. This morning I fed Storm and then headed in to eat my own breakfast and check on a few things online. Once I finished up I headed out to get Storm and take him to the water troughs. He drank quite a bit of the plain water, and kept sticking his head into the trough with the molasses water (they offer water with molasses in it because it is high in electrolytes and helps to keep the horses drinking more water to stay hydrated). The water is brown, and likely smells different than regular water. We were still exploring this area as Storm is somewhat skeptical about it. He kept sticking his head into the molasses trough and blowing at the water, and then going back to drink the regular water. Finally he took a gulp and picked his head up abruptly out of the water and spat it all back out again. I returned him to his pen and gave him some hay and headed into the classroom.
John Baar went over the outline for the day, and also chatted a bit about the things that we learned the day before. It was nice to recap along with the other course and discuss the things that were were all learning simultaneously with a slightly different emphasis.
Our class then outside near some of the pens and sat down to start the day with Julia and talk about how things went the day before. It was nice to hear from people how their sessions went and discuss progress or challenges that we each dealt with. We did a recap of the simulations from the day before, and practiced them some more. We are all still being nice conga horses for each other. Poor Julia apparently was coming down with a cold, and when we broke to move to the next session she didn't come into the classroom.
Kristi did led the discussion on Horsenalities, which was nice to go over since that had not was not yet published during my courses in Colorado. I like the new format, and it was very helpful to explore the difference between introverted tendencies and extroverted tendencies in relation to the same action. A right brained horse can pin his ears just as a left brained horse can, but they do it differently and for very different reasons. Its important to always be checking out the "big picture" to assess all of the behavior to know what the horse is demonstrating with his body language.
Kristi finished up and asked for 2 horses to use for a demonstration of the difference between the left brained and right brained. I offered her Storm, and she said she was eager to play with him, but felt that another horse would be better suited for this demo. She was right, and the demos turned out very well.
The first horse was a Tennessee Walker named Valentino who was about 4 years old and very fearful. She did a great job of getting on his radar (a fearful horse usually doesn't even know you exist because he is so worried about his own self preservation), and was able to get him to calm down considerably in a very short period of time. Valentino made some good changes and really showed how easily he could become nervous, but also how adaptable he could be.

The next horse that she worked with was named Lola, and is an Atwood Ranch baby that is just coming 3. She is a left brained extrovert and it was obvious from the get go that she was entirely different from Valentino. He was head up worrying about where everyone else was, and she was down grazing and nosing things right away. She explored all the toys in the arena and was a little bit pushy with Kristi. Kristi did a good job of being very firm to insist that Lola not invade her space, but at the same time, she was very polite about it despite being very insistant. She made a game out of having Lola put her nose on a tarp to get a cookie. Lola quickly figured out that it was a challenge to try to figure out what to do to get the cookie. She became very motivated by the incentive.
We finished up with that and Nitajo led us in a simulation of matching and mirroring the extrovert and introvert, which was neat to experiment with techniques to help change the behavior. After debriefing on that it was time for lunch, and I was hungry.
Our focus group of the day was an assertiveness workshop, which I had done in Colorado, but wanted to attend again because it is good practice and something that I need to work on. Since it was a non-horse workshop, I went to the Q&A session for Fleta to find out some information on some upcoming programs that Parelli is putting together. It was very interesting to have a sneak peak at some things that will be changing in the near future. I took notes and gave them to Fleta later. Once that was over I headed outside to the workshop. Nitajo also led it, and it was nice to get to know her a little bit more. The first exercise was with a partner, to use a carrot stick and rub a barrel, and then hit it as hard as possible, then rub it again, and then turn and hug your partner who was waiting next to you. The challenge was to be able to bring your energy down quickly following hitting the barrel very hard so that the hug felt good. If your energy was still up, it was VERY easy to sense as the person receiving the hug, and the feedback was very valuable. Learning to use that amount of force but without any emotion behind it was a big challenge. I realized that I seem to have some anxiety about using that much force, and that made it challenging to release the energy following hitting the barrel.
The second exercise was to practice putting a roll of energy down the rope in order to really be effective with minimal effort when a horse needs some significant redirection, as sort of "snap out of it" kind of thing. I had practiced this before, and have gotten pretty good at it in dealing with Storm, especially since he likes to be a space invader some of the time. We all practiced the techniques, and then Nitajo played a game with us, the challenge is to lay the stick on the ground with the butt of it matched up with another person's stick. Standing back and holding the string the object is to pop the stick up off the ground by the string, catch the handle, and then swing it and strike the ground where the butt was lying in a smooth motion. There is a real knack to popping the stick up off the ground and catching it, and once you can do that, the target is not that hard to achieve. I paried up with another girl that knew the game so that we weren't going to overshadow someone else that hadn't practiced it before. It is a fun challenge to see how well you can catch the stick and hit the target. Kristi road by and upped the anti on us by challenging us to stand sideways, pop the stick up and then catch it behind our backs and still be able to hit a target. I didn't quite make it to that manuver. It was even difficult to pop it up with one hand and catch it with the other. The game is great for playing with the rope handling skills to just become more proficient with the tools.
We broke from that and I headed out to get Storm. We went into the 75' round pen that we worked in the day before and revisited the figure 8 pattern again. He settled into it much faster than he had the afternoon before, and was almost trotting the whole pattern. He still was not focused, and was looking out of the circle away from me much of the time, but with much less degree of distraction than the day before. It was much easier to redirect him on the pattern again. We hit a good point and I decided that there wasn't any sense in drilling it for him, so we started to wander a bit around the playground in that area. We were moving together in a driving pattern, and Storm was a bit nervous, but I was able to continue to expand his boundaries. We wandered in and out of trees and I worked him towards the bridge that crosses a little marshy stream. He would approach the bridge but did not want to cross it, so we continually approached and retreated until finally about 20 minutes later he stepped onto the bridge, and then crossed it on the next attempt. I took him back over it pretty quickly, and we crossed it a few more times before I decided to call it a day with that as we were both licking and chewing a lot. I took him back over to his pen and got out my things so that I could give him a bit of a hose down, and try to get some of the dirt out of his tail. I was mostly able to accomplish this, though he did not want to stand as still as I would have liked. I ended up with grit all over me, and he was mostly cleaned off a bit.
I was getting pretty tired, so I put him into the pen, and thought about doing some work on backing by his tail, but as I moved around he would not settle down and kept walking around and around his pen. I was aware that the hay variety that they are feeding his fairly high in protien content, and decided that he must have extra energy to burn since he is not used to eating somethign that rich at home. So i decided that he needed to work it out a little bit and took him over to the smaller 50' round pen, and turned him loose. It had a lot of water in it on Sunday, but that was pretty much gone, though the sand was still pretty soft all over.  He laid down to roll pretty much immediately, though I was a bit concerned because he chose to lay down REALLY close to the rail of the pen. I ended up putting a bit of pressure on him to get up because I did not want him to flip himself over and end up tangled in the pen rail. He JUMPED up quickly and then took off around the pen. He ran and ran and ran and ran, and I was wishing that I had gone back up into the 75' to give him more room to move. He hopped a few times squeeling as he did so, and continued to run for a while. Finally he slowed down and came into the middle with me. I moved around a bit with him following me, and then began to go to the left to see if he would maintain a left circle while following me. I slowly drifted further from him and encouraged him forward with my stick, and he picked up the canter and ran to the left. I was happy that he was moving to the left, though I am not fully sure if he is balanced yet in that direction.  He finally slowed down and came to a stop, so we moved around a little more with him following me at liberty, and then I clipped the rope back on and we headed out. I took him over to some grass near the pond, but it must not be a very appetizing variety because he wasn't very interested. I took him back up to the water trough and he drank and drank and drank and drank. This time he decided that the molasses was tasty, and drank more than a 1/2" of water out of a very large trough!
I returned him to his pen, and ended up having a really great chat with a girl named Mary Jo. She is having some really huge challenges with her horse because of some herd bound issues, and has really been struggling while she's been here. I feel for her because it is really frustrating to spend the time in class, and then have to spend the entire time working on nothing more than trying to get her horse calm and to be a partner. We had a really nice discussion and ended up sitting together at dinner. She is from Virginia and comes up for the horse expo in January, so it will be nice to be able to stay in touch with her.
I finished dinner and fed Storm his dinner, and then caught up with Fleta about the notes that I took from the Q&A session and had a nice chat with a few other girls from Fleta's class. Then it was crash time. I have made arrangements to work with a woman that I met via Kirsten while she was in Maryland in December to do some body work on Storm. I am very interested to see what she has to say about his condition and where he needs some assistance in improving. His mane has been flipflopping quite a bit, so I am curious to see what Jeffra has to say about his body and where he might be a bit stuck. Hopefully tomorrow I will also get some more strategies on handling Storm's extra energy in a way that keeps both me and him safe and sane.

Next Page: 09.04.01: Jello Butt and Mush for Brains