09.04.06: Shift

Today started out very humid. I woke up trying to figure out if it had actually rained or if the dew was just that heavy. I'm still not 100% sure which it was. I think it was a small rain storm though. We started our class with John going over a few strategic things for the week and getting everyone rolling on the general guidelines while we are here and how learning at the center is different than what most people are accustomed to.
We broke into our respective classes and got the day started. Avery and Kristi are leading our course, which is very exciting. Avery told her story of how she ended up in Parelli which was very interesting.  We went over the theme for the week and discussed the theme for each day and how it
related to the overall theme of naturally attracting the horse and working at Liberty. She gave us a short break and I headed into the lodge for a drink and some cookies. I happened to turn and look out the window and along came Pat driving Thunder and Lightening. He stopped by the classroom door and let anybody jump onto the wagon and he drove everybody the 50 yards to the door of the lodge. It was very cool to see the team again, they were looking really good.
Kristi got started with discussing how to naturally attract our horses to us instead of needing to put pressure on them to cause them to come to us. We discussed the 8 responsibilities (four for the human and four for the horse) that create the partnership, and how they relate to attracting our horses. We got all set to go outside and see how each horse responded when it realized that its owner was nearby, and about that time it started to rain. We stuck it out for a little while, long enough to get through the first five horses, including Storm. Storm reacted well, Kristi advised for me to move towards zone 5 in order to pique his curiosity to help motivate him a little bit more. Just after we finished up the next horse it began to pour, so we headed back inside to talk about what we had seen and discuss how we would approach our horses differently.

As it figures, the rain quit, and so we headed outside to do another assertiveness workshop with Avery. This was the third time I had completed the exercises, and was glad for another chance to experiment again. Avery set it up a bit differently than the previous two times, for which I am glad. Instead of asking us to hit the barrel as hard as possible and then try to deal with the emotional recoil, she suggested to only hit the barrel as hard as you could and still maintain your emotions in a nonreactive state. Having that slightly different focus on the exercise really gave me a boost in being more effective. The permission to not go into that emotionally reactive state made it easier to increase the phases while still staying in a 'healthy' emotional position. We gathered and discussed the exercise, and then moved on to working with the ropes to send the coil of energy down to the end of the rope in an effective way. We also practiced with our carrot sticks a little bit before we broke for lunch.
After lunch the sky began to clear and the breeze moved in. I got Storm out of his pen and we headed into the playground. He was a bit reactive, so I went into the 100' round pen for a bit more security and began to work with the two barrels that we left from our earlier exercise. He was doing figure 8's around them reasonably well, and that did help to calm him down some once the pattern was reestablished. He was offering to try to jump the barrel instead of go around it, so I moved them to the edge of the pen and asked him to jump them. He mostly bumbled through them rather than cleanly jumping them, but he was making an effort. I tried to get him to approach them and only sniff them, which took some effort, he kept just wanting to go over. I went and asked for his feet on the pedastal, but he wasn't really interested in that, he was still a little right brained. He finally calmed down enough that I felt like I could leave the round pen and be ok out in the playground, so we headed out.
Our focus group for the day was at the honeycomb, and was relating to games 1-3 in relation to preparing for liberty. Avery led it, and brought out her horse AHug, who is a paint/draft/curly cross. It looks like he's gotten sweaty and his hair is wavy across the top half of his body. Its almost a perfect saddle blanket shape. His mane is a bit frizzy too, which looks cute. She demonstrated how to work on getting the horse's attention without using the rope. For AHug all she really has to do is toss something on the ground, and he goes and fetches it. She showed how to use the friendly game to encourage them to return their attention to you, and then to work on the porcupine game and driving game with the focus of preparing for liberty.
I told her that I was having problems with the porcpine game, and she gave me some assistance in increasing Storm's sensitivity to it. She encouraged me to apply the porcupine at a very light level, and then if Storm did not respond to back it up with the driving game since he does respond to that, but move pretty directly to a phase 3 to be effective. She showed how to ask him to change directions as soon as he puts too much weight in the halter while circling so that he learns that if he does that it means that he has to do more work. He was responding really sensitively after she gave me the suggestions and showed me how to handle some of it. I was glad again for some more things to experiment with, and also that she had again helped to boost my confidence witih requesting bigger things from Storm and handling his higher energy when he would respond that way. I am beginning to deal with his exuberance with less frustration and less need to shut it completely down.
We hung out and I let him graze for a while after I practiced a few more things. Then we decided to go explore the pond again. I headed back to the pen to grab my 45' line so that I could have a little bit better control and not be so concerned if he decided to really go for a swim. I happened to catch one of the other ladies in class as I was close to the pen. Her horse was in the pen across the walkway from Storm, and one up. She said that when I took him out after lunch that her horse called and called for him. I heard a horse whinneying while we were in the 100' round pen, but hadn't paid any real attention to it. Apparently her little horse has somehow bonded with Storm despite being across the way from him. He, of course, pays no mind. We grabbed the 45' line and headed back out again. I had to untangle it from when Suzie's horse Blue was playing with it yesterday, and managed to do that and then changed the ropes and sent Storm into the water. He explored a little deeper today, though he came out in a hurry but it seemed to be mostly left brained at that point. We wandered a little further and finally I headed back to give him some more hay and chill out. I was very tired.
I grabbed his hay and then worked on softening the 45' line on a tree for a little while before dinner. It definately helped some more, and if I put some more time into it, then it should be pretty nice by the time Storm and I are really ready to use it.
Dinner was good, though I was very tired by the time I finished. I headed out to give Storm more hay and his grain, and then headed home to crash. The weather is supposed to be chilly tonight, down to the low 40's with tomorrow's low dipping into the 30's. I'll just bury myself underneath all my blankets and will be toasty warm!

Next Page: 09.04.07: Moving Forward