Did you ever go to one of those County Fair's where they had a carny running a Wheel of Fortune? You'd pay your quarter and then you'd get to spin the wheel. The carny would say " Round and round it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows!" Most of the time you landed on a slot that said "Better luck next time". And sometimes you'd win. The fun was in NOT knowing where it was going to take you. It was such an innocent little thrill.
That's the way it is when I take Lucky out to play. I never know what slot/horse I'm going to be playing with. And, yes, it's still fun NOT knowing. I love the challenge that always presents to me. And I've been even more hyper aware of that since our episode a few evenings ago, when he went off to his 'happy place' in the Round Corral. There's always an up side to everything, good or bad, that happens. That being hyper aware is our up side. Lesson well learned!
I've been keeping it light and easy and working at setting us up for success. Both of us came away from our Round Corral encounter with our confidence shaken. I've gone back to my plan of focusing on A game each evening and still going forward with our Patterns at the same time. Last night we worked on Circle Game with lots of Sideways review. But I also wanted to make sure my timing was better. I'd just finished watching one of the DVD's where Linda Parelli talks about the "silence between the notes". It was easy to remember for just the shear poetry of the metaphor she used... "silence between the notes".
We have a nice, big double door on the barn, so I opened it up completely and we Circled out...a new one for us. Lucky's a Left Brained Introvert, so Circle has to have some kind of reason for him to be motivated to do it. Going OUTSIDE on to the grass is a big motivator for him. That boy does love to eat! Later, when we came home, I asked him to Sidepass down the hill to get to the doors, then turned him and we backed in. There's an endless repertoire of Games for us to play for just going in and out of his barn. I love that! So does he. I'm starting to get that conversational flick of the ears towards me when we come to gates and doors now. He's so focused on what we're going to choose to do, the usual anxiety of coming and going is forgotten.
We're on the smudgy line between Level Two and Three on the ground where we're beginning to work on Level Three things...like varying gaits while playing a Game and me standing further away when I request something, being more specific. He's getting lighter and lighter in the Games we know well, but we're still working on getting it clear enough in the new Games. I've come in a bit closer again to try newer things. It makes him and me more comfortable while we work out how to break things down in to smaller building blocks.
Our breakthrough last night? He did a Sideways/Sidepass coming towards me. HUGE! The first time we did it, I kind of tricked myself and him in to doing it. But the second time we did it, and the third, I did it as if we had been doing it all along. AND IT WORKED! I got so excited I dropped the line and did a little jig right there. WOO HOO! He got excited because I did, so verbal horse that he is, he did his own " woooo-hooooo-hoooo-hooo". He stood there, ears forward, and asked me "Did I do it right? Want to do it again? Want to do something else?" Golly, I love this program. All it took was five little steps Sideways and both of us are on top and back!
So, off we went, this time doing Weaving up and down the drive (we have 99 percent hills here, so the drive is where we do long patterns) at a walk, then a gait, then a walk. He was on! He was right there with me and both of us were laughing all the way.
We went right on in to the arena and did some Walk/Stop and Walk/Gait transitions in straight lines, following the rail. Lucky loves straight lines when we work. It means we're going somewhere. And I love it because it builds our ability to move with synchronicity. It's so rewarding when you move completely together with that lovely, big horse floating right next to you, following and listening. Who knew you could do this with a horse? Blows me away every single time.
I have a mounting stand, one of those three step plastic ones, that I keep over at the arena. Sometimes I sit on it while we work, just to keep things interesting. Since one of the things I was searching for and trying to learn was the "silence between the notes", I decided to use the mounting block to do just that. I sat on it between games and waited for Lucky to relax. It was a new way for me to try that, so he was intrigued. And then it began to have a discernible effect on our play time last night.
I waited and waited and he looked at me, waiting too. As soon as he really relaxed, head down and eyes soft, instead of getting up and heading off to do something else, I reached up and gave him a massage. Blew his circuits! "Whaaaat?" He loved it. He got softer and softer, until he laid down and rolled on to his side. WOW! He was a big puddle of Luck, right there next to me, melted just like butter on a hot day. I kept softly rubbing all down his side...and he just laid there and let me. I also cried all over the Big Kahuna. Guess I had some of my own "issues" to blow off.
I felt much better and so did he. After he got up, he offered to do a Sidepass/Sideways Circle all the way around the mounting block! I'd picked up my stick to get up and he read it as a request and just went, like he'd been doing it for years, all the way around me. I sat there in neutral, handing the rope around and he Sidepassed around me! I couldn't see what he was doing behind me, but John saw it. He said Lucky never missed a beat...sailed all the way around!
I ended it right there. We were more than done. He went out with me and spent a good 15 minutes eating what ever lovely grass he wanted. When we got back to the barn, all I did was think about the Sideways down the hill and then the Backwards in to the barn...and he did it! I think my horse was reading my mind! Course, what he was reading was my intention in my body, but it still verged on being psychic.
"Round and round we go. Where we stop, nobody knows!" Looks like last night was a BIG WINNER! Doesn't get any better than that!
Nancy, smiling BIG TIME