09.04.07: Moving Forward

Today began quite chilly and very breezy. I slept warm enough, almost too hot every now and then due to an extra sweatshirt. The two down blankets are doing very well. I started the day with warm oatmeal which helped. Today is horsenality day again, and this time we focused on the filter of looking at it from a liberty perspective. Examining which horsenalities do well with liberty (left brained extrovert, which is Storm), is one of the best. We also evaluated what each horsenality needs in order to perform at liberty. Knowing how to apply the knowledge about each horsenality really helped to be able to examine how to move forward with liberty, and what things need to be in place first. We discussed the five areas of confidence that horses have; In their leader, in themselves, in the herd, in their environment, and as a learner and how that applies to each horsenality related to liberty. For each horsenality you need to be sure that one of those different types of confidences are very strong in order to get positive results at liberty. Avery did a good job leading the discussion examining the various aspects.
We finished with that and headed out into the blustery chilly sunshine to watch her work with two horses that had different horsenalities. Interestingly enough through the two different demos a little bit of all four of the horsenalities showed up in each of the horses. She did a great job at letting us know when each one was, and explaining how she was shifting strategies in the moment to help support the horse in the way that it needed in every moment. The two demo horses, Dallas and Max were great for each of the demos to really show how adaptable you have to be from one moment to the next to handle the horse that shows up.

I wasn't very motivated at lunch since it was so windy and chilly. I finally finished up and headed out to get to my focus station. The choices today were Left Brained Figure 8 and Weave Patterns, Right Brained FIgure 8 and Weave Patterns, or Perfecting games 4 and 5 in preperation for Liberty. I originally selected the Left Brained focus group, though I was a bit unsure of what horse I was going to fetch out of the pen knowing how yesterday went, and including the fact that the Left Brained focus group was in the other honeycomb where we had not yet ventured. I brought him out and took him up to get some water, and then we moseyed out into the playground to check things out. I was pleased to find that I had the nice left brained happy Storm with me today, and so I began our experimentation heading up the hill playground and to the honeycomb at the top.
We managed to make it there with very little doubling back to help boost his confidence. We also accidentally discovered the best grass on the ranch. Apparently with all the water that must flow down the hill playground, the grass at the bottom is very lush and thick. Most of the grass on the ranch is a bit sparse, so I made definite mental note of that for later. We headed up the hill without much trouble at all, and met a number of other people there that were also working on the same focus group. Kristi and Jenny met us to assist, and Kristi had along her new baby Lusitano/Throughbred cross, who is already pretty tall for only being 10 months old. She was adorable and really put a lot of effort into trying to respond to Kristi. She was, of course, highly exuberant, looking like she was mounted on springs. Kristi explained the best way to approach the Weave pattern so that it takes little effort to move back and forth down the line. She also gave some support on helping to create a positive figure 8 pattern too. We discussed how long to work on each thing for both the extroverts and introverts so that the session is productive and does not go against their nature. She turned us loose and she and Jenny were available to offer assistance.
Jenny gave me some support that helped to continue to work towards the focus of liberty, and Storm responded well. I also allowed him to do some faster work, even though it was not sticking completely to the figure 8 pattern in order to work out some of his energy. We headed out the gate and waited for someone else to finish up with the weave barrels that were set up, and then took our turn. Storm responds well to that especially since he gets to continue moving in a forward direction for longer.
Kristi brought us all back together to recap a little bit, and then sent us out to do whatever we wanted. Storm and I managed to wander all over everywhere. I took him back down the hill to that super good grass and let him graze for a while, and then checked out the trailer on the hill again. He went in and out a couple times pretty confidently, and then finally jumped all the way in. However, he managed to turn himself around and come out forward. That is a feat in an of itself, knowing his size and the size of the trailer. I decided at that point we should probably spend a bit of time focused on working with his hind feet and backing up on things. So we headed over into the back corner of the other playground so that I could spend some time working on one of the solid bridges there. It took him a while to get confident enough that he could actually walk on them without turning to head off the side. But when he did, he did very well stopping on the bridge and backing up, even going down the ramp again. So then we ventured back to the hill playground and worked with that ramp and bridge, which is higher than the first one. He was a bit unconfident again, so I worked around it for a little while first. I asked him to come stand next to it so that I could scratch his back. In doing so I discovered that he's put on a few pounds... How interesting! We played with that for a little while more, and then went to check out the trailer again. He responded much better, and put all four feet in, and this time I was able to ask him to back out instead of turning around. I was more prepared for him at that point too. We headed back down the hill, and stopped to graze at the good spot again, before returning to the other side to head to the other honeycomb to spend some time doing a little bit more energetic work to try to help balance him out some.

I was very pleased with his responses to the halter today, he was not putting near the weight on the halter that he was before, and was much more confident. We spent some time working with the circles, and asking him to be very sensitive, then I spent some time walking with him and asking him to walk three posts, then stop and back up, and then continue on. He was getting very light, and I worked on bumping it up to a trot some to test those waters. He became pretty engaged and was moving very lightly on his feet, which was a good thing.
I was wearing out, so we finally headed back. Dinner was about 15 minutes away so I practiced with the 45' line more, and then headed in. It was nice to sit down and be warm for a while. Storm was quite impatient for his dinner when I brought it to him, he was happy to have his hay again. I left him munching happily with his grain waiting in the bucket.

Next Page: 09.04.08: In Extroverted Shoes