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Day 2 at LS Ranch

February 17, 2014

Our day started with Jody spending more time on using Friendly to connect.  The day before, she’d done a demo using this concept.  It was very interesting and a few students wanted some individual help.  So, our day started out with a few of the students playing with the concept while Jody and Dave coached and assisted.  I’m glad I let my horse take a nap for this part so I could just observe.  I noticed a few things that left big impressions.  First, this will only work if the horse has a good grasp on it’s responsibility to maintain gait and direction.

One of the horse/human partnerships I got to watch closely.  I noticed that the human was struggling to apply the concept.  Her horse had figured out that the send meant to go until she didn’t feel like going anymore (about a lap, in this case).  As the human became more frustrated, the horse spent less time on the circle and more time turning in to ask questions.  The human felt the horse was being defiant, but I could see that there was no clarity on the ask from the horse’s perspective.  Dave eventually took the horse and reminded us all that we have to help the horse understand their responsibility of maintain gait and direction.  To do that, we must cause the horse to get uncomfortable whenever they make a change we didn’t ask for.

Learning how to use Friendly game to connect

Learning how to use Friendly game to connect

A big item for me – something I think I knew unconsciously – there are no phases in principle #5!  (Number 5:  the attitude of justice is effective)  If I’m using a consequence to help my horse find comfort, this is NOT the time to use phases.  Dave also talked extensively on principle #6 (Body language is universal).  For the human early in the program, it’s very hard to use your body to talk to the horse.  This takes practice, trust, the ability to put ego aside, the willingness to feel silly…  but if we are to learn to communicate with the horse in it’s language, we must begin to become effective with body language.  There was a student in the class who talked to her horse throughout all her dealings with the horse.  It was more clear to me today than probably ever, as to why that’s not a great deal to the horse.  Animal trainers are typically teaching the animal to work in our language.  What we’re trying to accomplish is learning to talk to the horse in THEIR language.  When we start to abandon the use of our language in our communication with the horse, we start to speak horse… natural horsemanship.  I’m so on board with this concept.

After this session, we mounted up to learn a dry work pattern in ranch versatility.  We used the question box and asked the horse to canter three circles (2 large and fast, 1 smaller and slower) through the box and then change leads.  A simple lead would suffice, a flying lead would get more points.  This, I think, was tough for many as everyone is watching as each participant takes a turn.  At least, it was challenging for me.  But, we were able to get it done just fine.  I’d been struggling with feeling a little downhill on Ricky and the day before Dave had helped me teach Ricky to come up in front while cantering.  Today, I was pitching forward and I got a little extra help from Jody on sitting back with this horse and this saddle configuration.  It’s definitely a tough downhill situation for me and I was happy for the opportunity to figure out how to learn from it.  The things Jody talked about were similar to things I’ve heard before and I continue to develop within my own riding, but in this situation I was finding it very challenging.  However, I played with it and made some improvements that definitely helped Ricky lift up the front more.

20140215_142247After lunch, it was time for the cows!  We went in groups of 3 and had 3 turns of increasing difficulty in stockmanship.  First we simply tailed the cow.  Ricky was expecially awesome at this, biting the cow frequently.  Quite entertaining to the others watching as we careened around the arena behind this cow, biting at his rump.  Ricky was so dang handy and offered flying changes all over the place.  The second round we were to cause the cow to make some change, then back off and release the horse.  The cow could turn or stop, but the idea was to let the horse know that his efforts caused the cow to make that change and his work was done.  The third round, we were to cause the cow to stop in each corner of the arena.  So, 4 corners meant 4 opportunities to get the cow to stop exactly where we wanted.  This was very fun and I was able to play with the counterbend to cause the horse to back up.  This can be quite tricky as you use the horse’s hind end to keep the cow from turning around and the horse’s front end to push the cow backwards.  You’ve got to have a good feel for the balance point of the cow as well as a horse in sync enough to follow your request instantly.  Tough!  But a very fun challenge.

It was a great afternoon of putting principle to purpose.  Cows make horses better, braver and keep things fun for both horse and human.

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  1. adriana oliveira permalink

    wow you guys were very busy. sounds very interesting and fun. I have to go read principle 1,2,3 and 4. LOL. how am I going to talk to the horse without words as i cannot move as him? we have to come up with new movements for me :). glad to see that you are being challenged and are havng fun at same time.

    • We play with our horses from chairs in the Parelli program to challenge ourselves to keep out feet still. I don’t really think you need a different way than me. The horse will read your body just fine! It might mean though, that you slow down and teach things at a slower and easier pace.

    • Watch this video… Silka plays with her horses from her chair and is a Parelli instructor!

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