09.04.02: A bucket of horse sweat...

...Is good for both human and horse. Or so Pat Parelli says apparently.
The morning started out strange with something scratching at my tent at 5:00 in the morning. Presumably some dog belonging to someone here in the campground, "GIT" seemed to send it away. An hour later the dumpster was emptied. Needless to say there wasn't much sleep following 5:00. I got myself up and together and headed to the ranch. Storm's pen was still very muddy from the rains the night before, and he had laid down at some point in time, and there was a flat spot and dirty spots on him to prove it.
I got my day started and fed him his grain and then headed in for class. John led our morning session together with the other class and we discussed our Remudas from the previous day dealing with the personal placement on the horsenality chart. It was cool to bring it all together and hear the big picture thoughts that people had. We spent some time talking about each horsenality in relation to being a leader and what it takes for each one to assume that role.
We broke into our respective classes and began the days discussions on problem solving in relation to the different types of horsenalities. Kristi led the group and gave us some very good strategies and concepts to work with in relation to each of the different types of horsenalities. It was good to have some clear cut ways to deal with the horse that shows up so that you maintain their dignity and safety and can make forward progress with whatever the task is at hand.
We finished up with that and headed out to the hill playground to watch Nitajo do a demonstration with the trailer. Kristi selected Kathleen's little (well, not so little, but cute anyway!) halflinger mare named Rosie. She is an absolute doll and really presented some interesting challenges for Nitajo. Inately she is a left brained introvert, however she showed up to the demo as a right brained extrovert. Rosie was having all sorts of problems holding her feet still and focusing. She was continually blowing, and had caught sight of one of the carwash obstacles (a frame with plastic sheeting hanging from it to challenge the horse to walk through) flapping in the wind up the hill, and it was REALLY bothering her. Nitajo continued to work, allowing Rosie to move her feet, but was also making sure that she was still respectful and worked to build her confidence and make the trailer a 'safe place' since Rosie was so afraid. She began to put cookies on the floor of the trailer to encourage Rosie to go in and get them. Rosie got to the
point where she would gladly reach as far in as she could and keep all four feet on the ground. It took a very long time before she finally put her front feet up into the trailer to reach the treats that were further back. Nitajo stopped there
when she finally made the change. We discussed the demonstration and then Kristi led us in a simulation. We had to pair up, with one person as the human and the other acting as the horse. The "horse" had to embody the persona of one of the four horsenalities, and then the human had to try to problem solve the challenge and work with a few obstacles. I worked with Donna and she ended up going right brained introvert, which was easy to handle once I figured it out. I tried to be a left brained extrovert, which was fun, though I don't know if I did a good job of it or not. Storm has taught me a thing or two in that area...

We broke for lunch, and I checked the board to find out where our afternoon focus station was. I decided to go to the one that was working with the trailer, and it happened to be where we were in the morning at the hilltop playground. I was amused that each day the station that I had selected without even knowing would force us into a new area of the playgrounds that we had not yet explored. I hustled in to get lunch and then get Storm ready to explore some new territory.
After lunch I checked in with Jenna who was in the office to see if I might be able to move Storm since his pen was so muddy, and I realized that the other three horses that were in Storm's section of pens were going to be leaving over the weekend, which meant that Storm would be in an empty section. Jenna and I checked over the sheets and found a pen that was currently empty that I could take and use for the next several classes so that I shouldn't have to move him again (hopefully we won't have to deal with too much of the mud issue...). I moved him over and he had a walk around the pen and then we headed out into the hill playground.
We had to pass through some of the buildings between the classroom and the merchantile in order to get into the playground on that side. He was a little nervous, so we did some approach and retreat, and he licked and chewed almost every time we turned around to head away from things. Keeping his feet moving seems to help quite a bit. We managed to make it there fairly uneventfully. He did spook once, just the "twitch in place and plant all four feet" kind, at a baby that was in one of the pens that decided to cavort around a little bit. We got over to the trailer area and hung out for a while letting him graze on the sparse grass since we have not had that opportunity a whole lot yet. Marjorie was also early, so we chatted for a while while her little horse grazed too. Nitajo met us after a while, and gave us some guidelines and suggestions for things that we could work on and sent us out and about to play around with things. I took Storm up to a solid bridge and he was a bit nervous at first, so I moved him around a little bit and approached and retreated with it until he began to sniff at it. He put one foot up and would sniff up the ramp a bit, but did not want to walk fully up it. I brought him around the side so that he could sniff from the long side to see what he would do. He almost immediately stepped up on it, and went right over, which wasn't easy for his big body. The bridge itself is probably close to 18" high, which isn't a big step for him at all, but it is not very wide, considering his body length. He did this several times, almost too eagerly for me to be able to work on some other concepts. He was still very reluctant to want to walk directly up the ramp and across the bridge though.
We moved around a bit more and explored some steps that had been built with logs. Storm went right up them, which made me happy. We headed over to exlore the trailer, and he was a bit skeptical, so we worked around it for a bit, and then began to try to explore the back. He very quickly began to step up in it with his front feet and then back out again. I decided to add a little vareity and went to ask him to back up and put his foot on a cone, but he misinterpreted my request as meaning to get back into the trailer, which he did right away with no hesitation. Again he backed out, and I went to ask him to step back to the cone, and he again stepped into the trailer instead. I was pleased at what he was offering, but finally insisted that he back up to the cone because I did not want to create a confusion of communication. Obviously I was not being as clear as I should have been, though it was pleasing that Storm so willingly went back in.
We finally began to mosey our way over to the other playground again, since I was supposed to meet Julia there for her to give me some help with Storm. I was way early (which was fine by me), and so we headed out across the bridge there (earth ramp, not wooden, he's fine with that...) to explore some of the different obstacles on the far side. We went and looked at the hallway (two large frames with tarps on them that are parallel to each other creating a "hallway" effect), but the wind was blowing fairly stiffly so Storm was a little bit more skeptical about that. So we went back up and explored the little trailer that is up there. This trailer is much smaller, and still has the divider in it, so rather than one open space it is two narrow stalls. I asked Storm to explore it, and he put both front feet into it. He couldn't pick his head up very high, but he did manage to get his body into it at least. It will be very interesting to play with that over the next few weeks to see if he is willing to put his entire body into it, even though it doesn't really fit. I believe that larger horses don't have as much trouble with squeeze problems because they are squeezed by things constantly in their environment. Gates and doorways are made for normal horses are small for larger horses, so they get used to a bit of the pressure and it does not bother them.
About that time I began to mosey back to where Julia was working with another student, and get ready for her work with us. She finished up and put the saddle back on her little horse Rita, and began to ask me what I was interested in having help with. I told her that I was actually more interested in watching her work Storm so that I could get an idea of what I needed to do. She agreed and said she'd enjoy it. Since we are both right brained introverts she understood the need for me to see something before I could figure out what to do with the concepts. She asked me to put together a few things in the 75' round pen while she finished getting Rita back together and then hitched her to a ring on a nearby tree.
I put out a couple cones, and then set up some barrels on their side as a jump and put together a small jump out of two pvc poles with jump blocks. She started to work with him and he very quickly gave her his "middle hoof" kind of attitude. Her response was to say "great, now since you have energy, lets use it!" She sent him out on the circle and was asking him to go faster, and then set him up so that he would have to jump the jumps and think about his feet, which meant that it would force him to be less right brained. He took off running, and Julia was having to run herself to keep up with his pace in the 75' arena. At one point he finally stopped, and I asked her if it would be easier with the 45', since hers was lying with her gear. She said yes, so I grabbed it for her. We swapped out the ropes and she was able to stay in the center of the round pen so her feet were still while Storm did all the work on the outside. He lept the barrels like they were standing on end several times, and ended up destroying the poles we laid out, which didn't surprise me. They ended up almost out of the pen after he tripped through them rather than went over them. He was almost galloping around the pen at times. Julia did a great job of staying calm and managing his energy while encouraging him to do the right thing rather than race around on adrhenaline. He began to calm down and look for her release rather than running so crazily. She allowed him to stop for a time, and then asked him to go back out on the circle at a faster speed, and he did so much more politely and less right brained, which was great. She played with the cones and did some patterns for a little while, and he was responded very nicely, bending into each of the movements and not sticking his ribs out at her so much. She finally stopped and Storm was drenched in an even sweat from head to toes, it was dripping off his belly and running down his legs. She asked me if he had been swimming, and I said that I wasn't sure about prior to me getting him, but that he had not had the chance before, and I was interested but not having worked on the 45' I hadn't attempted it since 22' is VERY short for a swimming horse.
She asked me to bring Rita along, and we headed up to the pond. There are actually two ponds in the playground, and the pond at the back is the nicer one for swimming. It has a little bit more of a "beach" and less gunk in it. Storm was a bit skeptical at first, looking at it like he wasn't quite sure what to do with all that water, almost as if it was some giant puddle gone wrong. He was obviously unsure of what his response should be, so Julia asked me to ask Rita to step into the water. Rita apparently likes to go in and get her legs wet and splash around, but it seemed that she was not in the mood today. I asked her forward and she squirmed a bit at the edge, and finally with some encouragement dipped her toe in and splished twice. She was so dainty about it, Julia and I both laughed and she said oh well. About that time another student brought his horse into the other side of the pond, and the horse went in pretty deeply, with the water almost up to his back. Storm watched for a moment, and I could see the light bulb go on. Julia sent him forward again, and he walked through the water, almost to his knees (which wasn't very far because the pond drops off fast apparently). She circled him out, and then sent him in again and this time he went in and was wet all the way up to the sides of his ribs. He was only about 20' out, but it was fairly deep. He turned and came out again, walking a bit like a cat walks when its not sure of what its walking on. Julia asked him for one more try, and he blatently said no, so she left it at that.
We chatted for a little bit longer and she asked me about what I will do differently after having watched her work with him, and I told her that I definately needed to figure out how to up his speed and keep myself safe (my confidence particularly). She agreed, and I said I definately wasn't ready to attempt the 45' line because it is so different (it is lariat rope vs yacht braid, two totally different animals!), and she agreed that practicing first is better than just putting it on the horse. She recommended that I carry the line with me everywhere and play with it to get the feel for it and learn to handle the coils and the way that it twists. I told her that I liked the fact that she had him in the round pen and the rope that she was working with still had plenty of room for him so she couldn't lose the rope because the pen rails helped to support her. She recommended that I work in the 50' round pen and use the 22' line which would give me the security of the line but at the same time would also allow him to still move his feet plenty. I told her that I would feel better, too, if I had someone around to watch and help give suggestions and support when I got stuck or had an unconfident moment. She suggested to try it bymyself once to experiment, and then we could come back and talk about it and see how it went and see what I could still use more support on.
He and I headed back, and explored a few more things along the way, before I finally called it an evening. I took him to have some water, and then back to his new pen. He was being pretty rowdy with his neighbors, so I brought him a little bit of hay in the hope that he would chill out some. I headed back towards the lodge, and ended up chatting with a few other people from my class. Storm was busy trying to play with his neighbors through the fence, who were only too happy to try to play back. A couple of the owners came over and asked me to please move him, which I was a bit taken aback at. I told them that I didn't have anywhere else to move him, and I would need to check with one of the faculty first to figure out where I could put him that wouldn't cause me to have to move him again later. I headed off, and found Julia, and she told me to tell them that they needed to come to a faculty member and talk it over first before I had to worry about moving him a second time. I felt much better, and headed back to the pen to let them know that, and met Avery along the way, she told me to give it through dinner and if they didn't settle down then we could find a new pen. I told her what Julia had said, and she was in agreement, though she seemed to be a bit concerned since several of his neighbors do have high play drives as well.
I headed in to dinner, and the menu wasn't appealing, so I fixed myself a salad. The bad part was that I was just too tired to eat. Chewing just seemed like too much work. I had some great conversations with people at the table though, a number of them were very curious to know what we had been working on in the afternoon. Its hard to miss 1600 lbs cavorting around the ring at breakneck speeds while leaping and occassionally bucking.
I headed back up to the pen once I finally got some energy back up, and found Storm and his buddies just hanging out. I gave him his dinner, and had a chance to chat with one of the neighbors for a little bit. He said he was glad that they had settled down, and I agreed. He was really nice, and we discussed our horses for a bit. He also seems to be an introvert with an extrovert horse, so we are going through some similar challenges.
So here I sit crashing, and ready to sleep. There are still "Scattered storms" in the forecast, but thats about typical for around here. Hopefully it will not happen again, so I won't have to deal with another muddy pen in the morning.

Next Page: 09.04.03: End in the Middle