This post is inspired by a post by my friend Veronica Merlin ”A critical eye”.
She has taking a look at some of her riding photo’s of her and her horse Saleem. The pictures show that they are going in the wrong direction with their training. This realization has made her change her training, so that they are moving forward in the right direction.
If only more horse trainers would do that. Simply taking a step back and taking a hard look at yourself with a critical eye. It’s just always a good thing to actually think about what you’re doing. Because sometimes you can end up on autopilot and never realizing that you’re not going in the direction you wanted.
With my old horse Lise I was forced twice to take a look at how we were working. The first time was shortly after I bought her, where she got a back injury due to an unfitted saddle. Then we had to figure out how to work through it. I discovered Natural horsemanship and it changed me forever. Lise and I found a whole new way of working together from the ground and by doing this we found each other. After we had overcome her back injury I wanted to compete in dressage. I did so every other weekend at local shows with a friend of mine. After a year I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted, because I had lost some of the connection with Lise I had built earlier. Competing was my first priority and this made me forget what was actually important, the friendship with my horse.
When I was young I was a great rider, but after I stopped competing I also stopped developing. So, I didn’t stop up and look at myself again. I should have. With Lise riding was always a struggle, and after reading my friends post I realized that I should have done something. Lise and I were rarely in sync when I was on her back. Only while racing on the fields or riding alone through the forest, then she trusted me and we could go anywhere. But, the second a horse joined us she didn’t. The second my feet hit the ground she was with me, but we had our issues when I was riding her. And I should have realized this. I really should have.
This is my bad conscience. I did fail Lise in more ways than one and I’m only first realizing half of it now. Mostly it was small things and I probably shouldn’t continue kicking myself, but it’s hard to stop. I will stop though, Lise loved me and she followed me, so I must have done something right. I will do a lot different with my two new horses though. They deserve the best version of me. Lise got the best version of me at that time and it just wasn’t good enough.
I will write a little about how this realization will change my way of working with Indie and Gaia.
I’m slowly realizing how to work with him. His mood is shifting, one day he clings to me and the next I can’t even catch him. I decided to keep track of what I had done the previous day and see if that affected the next day. The days where I’m incapable of catching him is when I for example have worked him in a lunge. He doesn’t like that and this is something I’m forcing him to do. So, if I’ve been working him in a lunge then I can’t catch him for two days. I probably could catch him if I really tried, but I’ve tried that. I tried twice, I spend hours and we both got frustrated, because clearly he was trying to tell me something. So, if I can’t catch him the first time I try I simply don’t. Now, many of you probably think that I’m letting the horse win and that it’s the worst possible thing I could do. Perhaps you’re right, but I don’t care. I’m getting a feeling that this pony has been forced to do a lot of things he didn’t want to do. So, I’m trying to figure out how I can gain his trust.
When I haven’t worked with him for two days he clings. He stands ready to be groomed next, when I’m done with Gaia. This is what I want. I want a horse waiting for me and looking forward to working with me. The problem is he’s overweight and lunging is just the easiest way to give him the exercise he needs, but for now I wont lunge him. I just need to be creative. Instead I walk him together with Gaia and he loves that, or training different things like stepping up on a platform, playing with a ball and so on.
My conclusion with him is that he needs to have fun with me. Soon they will get a smaller pasture, then it’s easier for me to control how much he’s eating. We’ll make it work.
My darling little girl. I constantly forget that she’s young, because she’s so big. She needs to learn that she can’t run me down, she has gotten a lot better, but she still forgets my space once in a while. My problem with her is me. I’ve had a hard time lately, being stressed and just sad. Know the feeling were you are just filled with sadness and unable to point out exactly why? That’s been me for the past couple of months. This has been a problem in our training. Many days I simply decide that I’m incapable of training her, without losing my temper. On bad days I often just spend time with them in the pasture, without asking anything of them. Because then I can’t get annoyed.
All horsemanship trainers will say that I will simply need to control my emotions. Leave the frustrations behind once you enter the world of horses. Yeah well, I can’t do that. With Lise I could, she knew every inch of me and sensed when I was sad. I don’t know what she did. She always comforted me, simply by being there.
Gaia loves me, she really does. But, she doesn’t know me yet, of course we’ll get there in time. She can’t comfort me, she isn’t calm enough. She can’t concentrate long enough to stay with. Indie can, he’s gonna be a great little comforting horse 🙂 Gaia is young and she is going to be an amazing horse, she great to work with, she’s just happy and easy. With her I just need to remember that she’s still a baby. So, I will also take a step back over winter and let her breath. Of course she will still be groomed, walked and trained a little bit, it’s more about me learning to train her without having to many expectations. I really think she needs that.
So, I took a step back and looked at my horses. Wondering what they would like for me to do for them. I hope that I’ve come to the right conclusion, either way I’ll take a look again when spring comes.