I am just back from a lovely holiday in Seville – and today two horses arrived for training. Let me introduce you to Dolly! Dolly is 14 years old mare and she has some Natural Asymmetry challenges to address. Her owner has made a start on the stand-still exercises and now would like me to help her move a little further along on her journey.
Dolly settled in pretty quickly – and was eating hay in a relaxed state almost as soon as she arrived.
Once a horse has had time to settle into the surroundings – and amazes me how quickly horses adjust to this – then the first session is about making some observations. In ST we have the saying – Observe First, Produce Later. Have no preconceived ideas and just see and feel what is in front of us. Then we can start to produce, always being authentic in our actions and doing things for the horse not to the horse.
In this assessment I am looking not only at the physical aspect of the horse, but also the mental, emotional and spiritual quadrants – this is extremely important because if we only look at our horses through the lenses of one of the quadrants, then we are missing a very big piece of the puzzle that makes up our horse!
One of the things that might crop up during this initial assessment is the horse may go a little – or a lot! – into an opposed state. Where they say NO! I don’t do it like THAT! And that is OK because then I can take a look at the WHYS. Why does the horse think she is unable to give me the response to the request that I was looking for? Of course the first thing to be really sure of is that the request was fair. Was it presented in a way the horse could understand? Was it too big a question? When I can be sure that the request was fair and presented in a fair and just way – but the answer was still NO! – Then the next question I ask is – does the No come from a Won’t or a Can’t! Is the horse in the habit of always answering requests with a No – or does she genuinely believe it is not possible!
Dolly was opposed to my request to walk on the circle in LFS. I sent a strong inner picture/inner feeling and asked her to move forward from the standstill exercises to step under – BUT keeping the centre of mass back! Her response – you must be joking – that is IMPOSSIBLE!!! Her No came from the base of Can’t not from Won’t. She truly believed it was impossible to move without putting her weight into her shoulders. So then I need her to believe it is possible – to try something that seems alien to her – to appeal to the wisdom of her years, but to know the reason why it is important for her to walk in this different fashion. So then I can help balance not only her body but her mind and emotions. I understand you deeply – but trust that I can help you live a more balanced and healthy life, is a good thought to run through your mind when you are met with opposition that comes from the house of Can’t.
And then when she tried – when she trusted enough to give it a go – and we got a few good steps, and a beautiful blow out of emotions – then capture that try, that moment – and Release, Reward, Relax. Game over. Tomorrow we will revisit. Perhaps she will still believe the question is impossible – but perhaps she will also be more ready to give it a go. Tomorrow we will see……