Well that's how it feels anyway. I'm pretty sure that's not the case, but still. I'm referring to our most recent working session...me and Eags. You remember, the wonderful horse I was bragging all over town about just the other day. Yeah. Well, the very next session sucked. Big time. He pretty much looked me in the eye and said, "I quit" and furthermore, you're not big enough to make me. Oh really?
Never one to back down from a challenge. Even though I probably should have. I pushed, and then I pushed a little harder. In the end, of what began as a pretty good lesson, I "made" Eagle do the lunging that he was, quite obviously sick and tired of, on that particular night anyway. And then I tried to get back some of that trust that I'd tromped on, and I tried in vain for just a little of that softness that we've experienced, you know, that soft "feel" that we strive for in our relationship with our horses. Yep. Blew it, big time! And that night, I couldn't sleep and it continued to bother me most of the day following. So....dug out my old Bill Dorrance book, True Horsemanship Through Feel. My go to horse bible. I got the affirmation that I so needed. I was wrong. Eagle was right. Crap, I hate it when my horses prove they're smarter than I am. I don't blame him one bit for quitting. Early on, I was using a variety of different things we were working on, and then somewhere along, I started just lunging him and lunging him until he was bored out of his skull, and obviously was telling me that he saw no reason to continue hammering away at something that he understood already. I think I got caught up a little by everybody asking me if, "I'd ridden my new horse yet?" I felt the peer pressure of hurrying up and getting on his back already. From the beginning, that is not what I wanted to do. I wanted to take the teaching of Eagle nice and slow. I wanted to build a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. I wanted him to look at me as someone worthy of being his equal and then eventually, maybe even the "leader" in the dance. I'd lost the "natural" in my horsemanship and bought into the "cram it down their throat, I'm the boss of you" mentality. That's NOT who I am and that's NOT the way I choose to work with my horses - any of them.
So, I gave him last night off. I did spend some quiet time with him. Brushing, petting, scratching and we had a very nice conversation, Eags and I. I asked him for another chance. I'd work real hard at treating him with respect and I agreed that he was perfectly correct in having an opinion about what and how we do things. We are after all, a team. Beginning again this evening after work, we're going to work on new things. I'm going to try and get his hindquarters moving over nicely and hopefully that will help loosen him up. Maybe do a little lateral flexion work, nice and soft backing and then maybe we'll head down the driveway and go for a little walk. We might even visit that old apple tree down at the end of the driveway. Whatever we end up doing, it's going to be nice and soft, I'll offer him a nice, quiet "feel" and see if he doesn't respond in kind. I have faith in this horse. He's very, very smart and he has a wonderful, sensible mind. Let's hope that I can only rise to the occasion.
Because if I can read horse body language at all...I'm pretty darned sure he gave me "the hoof" the other night. You dig? And another thing I'm pretty darned sure about, was that I totally deserved it.
I forgot to keep track, but I'd say we're maybe at: 4 steps forward - 1 step back. Something like that. Not bad. So, we'll just forget all about the other night and we'll keep striving towards "perfect" progress. You all probably realize by now that I have enormous respect for Ray Hunt. I also have enormous respect for Tom and Bill Dorrance and Joe Wolter and a few other amazing horsemen.
So, here's another one of those pretty infamous quotes from my favorite guy, Ray..."Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect". Words of wisdom my friends, words of wisdom.
Moving along @ Cingspots