Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Four Feet off the Ground

Its been doggone hot here since the middle of last week.

On the one hand, there isn't much activity going on other than trying to stay in the shade or the house -- or an air conditioned office.

Last weekend we escaped the heat: we spend Saturday in San Francisco visiting my son and his girlfriend.  Sunday we hoisted the kayaks onto the top of the Subaru and drove to Bear River Lake.  Snow melt is still rushing into the lake, making the water cold and the lake level very high.  We paddled over submerged picnic tables and fire rings.

The horses are spending the day time hours in the barn where they can escape the sun and the flies.  In the evening we turn them out into their pastures to stretch their legs and their brains.  It gives me the opportunity to work with Tex twice a day and he's been rock steady.  It helps, of course, that he wants to go to the barn for breakfast and to the pasture for dinner.

It has also given me the opportunity to work with Lucy and Jackson on their manners.  Neither of them were doing well with "wait" but instead were diving their noses down to the grass whenever I paused on our walks back and forth.

Lucy was a quick study.  Robin said to me, a while back, "Don't yank on the lead rope; that's abusive.  Instead, make one very strong correction with the whip.  Lucy will jump with all four feet off the ground, but she won't do it again. One clear correction is kinder than continuous, nagging, yanking on her face."  I had to agree.

And she was right.  Lucy dove for the grass and I snapped the whip, hard, on the ground next to me.  Lucy hates whips so I knew I didn't have to touch her with it.  Sure enough, she levitated, landed, and began to piaffe (trot in place).  I looked at her mildly, waited for her to regain her composure, and we walked on.  I carry the whip when we walk, but I haven't had to use it since.  When we halt, she looks at me for permission to graze.  If she is calm and polite about it, I say "Have some."

Jackson was a bit more work.  He's getting with the program, though.  After Robin pointed out to me during one of my lessons, that her horse, Red, was subtly moving me instead of vice verse, I became more aware.  Jackson is a lot like Red.  He's sensitive, enjoys interacting with people, and enjoys seeing what he can get away with.  He never pushes me.  No, no, he would never be that ... obvious.  He just drifts into me as we walk and I used to step away, to alter my course.  Now I pick a path and he has to alter his path to accommodate me.  Its funny to watch him, really. He's so confused.

When he dove for the grass, I snapped the whip -- right in front of his nose.  He jumped back, and with his head high in the air, he gave me his most offended look.  He likes to push boundaries so he tried again a bit later.  This time his nose would have been stung if he hadn't lifted it so quickly.  He didn't try again... for a few days.  The last time he tried to very sneakily drop his head, I wasn't carrying the whip (and he knew it).  I reached behind me and smacked him with the end of the lead line.

Oh.  Hmmm.  Maybe not a good idea.

Its amazing how polite he's become.  I can walk both he and Lucy on a completely slack lead, and they walk quietly beside me, across the green grass, and only eat when I stop and invite them to do so.

Brett has been working with Flash... he brings him into the barn in the morning at liberty.  Flash knows his bucket is in his stall so he's happy to follow Brett there.  In the evening though, forget it.  Brett tried to take him back to the pasture at liberty and Flash decided to turn and go the other way.  It was pretty funny watching Flash amble down the barn aisle while Brett went chasing after him.


  1. The whip idea is a fast, clear correction. I like it. I was watching a training video last fall with Pat Parelli, I belive. It was the one I shared where he had the rider let the horse go wherever it wanted to go at first. Anyway, that horse was also diving for the grass and PP had him swing the end of his lead in a circle--if the horse didn't react, he swung it harder--if the still didn't correct, he let it swipe their hind end. I started doing that, and it has worked well, except that sometimes I hit myself in the face. Since I'm not very coordinated, maybe I'll try the whip.

    1. I'm not very coordinated either. It took me awhile to find a whip that I liked -- it had to be long enough to have reach since I use it like an extension of my arm; but not so long that it was unbalanced. The one I use is longer than a dressage whip but shorter than a lunge whip and snaps nicely.

  2. An American in TokyoJune 20, 2017 at 5:21 PM

    Wow, did Robin teach you all that in just a few days?!?! Or were you talking to her about it after you got home?

    I am really starting to get more and more interested in her style!
    She doesn't have a book or anything, does she?

    Poor Brett, chasing after Flash! ha ha!

    1. I don't believe that she has a book or anything, but her clinics are well worth the time and money (for me anyway). I learned most everything at the clinic; it was a lot and I've found myself in the time since the clinic remembering bits here and there, as I need them. When Robin told me her horse was moving me, I was like "dagnamit" because I wasn't even aware. I didn't think about it again until Jackson did it to me -- and then I immediately recognized it, because I had experienced it before.

    2. An American in TokyoJune 21, 2017 at 5:21 PM

      Wow, I can't believe you recognized it afterwards! Too cool!

      I really will have to look into attending her clinic! Thank you!

  3. That flooded camp ground is amazing. I can't believe there's so much water.


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