Monday, January 25, 2016


"Contempt prior to examination is an intellectual vice, from which the greatest faculties of mind are not free.” William Paley in Evidences of Christianity*

Let me say one thing, up front... I hate to be wrong.  Yeah, that's right!  It is one of my vices.  You see,  although much improved, I still try to be right...  I am just less obnoxious on the "I told you so's!"  And at the risk of... um... disturbing some peace, let me ramble on.
Young Eager Teen

Let's talk Natural Horsemanship or what I like to call "Middle Aged Women Getting Ready to Ride Eventually Techniques".  I could go on and on listing my... um... not so quiet opinions of the carrot stick, the waving arms in the air, round pens, joining-up, parelli methods, etc.  Really when I see these folk "bonding" with their horses, I just want to scream...  Get on and Ride!  

Not liking it doesn't mean
stop...  Pressure
releases with acceptance

I am here to confess that I have been humbled...  really, truly humbled.  The Country Barn hosted a Ground Work Clinic (note - not designated as a Natural Horsemanship clinic - maybe I can still judge) on Sunday.  I signed up because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and maybe get a tip or two to help get Maisy to focus (on me) without being too harsh.

I came to the first session (we were in the second) after helping a friend load her horse.  From the moment the Instructor, Susan Rainville, touched the rope halter, I was hooked.  She did not talk about magically and mystically bonding with your horse.  She didn't preach the ways horses acted in the wild and she did not ask us to buy fancy supplies to enhance our experience.

"You want me to do what?"

She said, these are the things that will both help your horse on the ground and in the saddle and that the basic movements are the lateral moves that strengthen and supple your horse.  Think of it as yoga.  And, that these practices can be done as a warm up to your regular ride and on the days that you have no time but need to work the horse.  

It was like magic!  Something simple, something that can improve my riding and Maisy's body and something that can be done easily.  Can I hear a HALLELUJAH?!!!!

The Barn's rope halter
The revelations just kept coming with each horse.  And, each horse that participated exhibited a different learning capacity.  We had the Young Eager Teen, the Sensitive Alpha Mare, the Rebellious Biker Boy, the Unruffled Cool Guy, Ms-I-Got-it, Maisy and Mr Distraction.   Every horse, every owner had a way of learning and the work was adapted for both the body and the mind. 

Maisy needed bending and suppleness (yoga) while understanding that the handler is the most important thing in the ring.  I need to learn how to coordinate the rope, whip, my hands and feet without cursing in frustration.  The Instructor demonstrated how I can help lift her front end and achieve lightness while asking for the bending that will strengthen her weak side.

When it worked, the results were amazing.  Her Greyness lifted her front end, eagerly crossed her hind legs while her attention stayed fixed on me.  I, on the other hand, struggled for that beautiful fluid motion of coordinated body parts.  Hmmm...  I think I see something here.... hmmmm!

And, so today I ordered a sweet, soft, fancy rope halter and rope.  You know, this being wrong feels so right!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

My trainer did a short groundwork lesson with me last winter, and it was really mind opening! It's something I don't know much about and like you, I was surprised at how awkward my body felt, HAH! No muscle memory to help with coordinating whip, hands feet yet lol