After my less than successful session Freeschooling Amber last week I was determined that this week things would be different. There is no question that I learned a great deal from all that went wrong but I really wanted to give us both the best chance of success this time around. I made sure I arrived at the yard grounded and centred and before we even got Amber from the field I asked Pip if she would go through the principles of Freeschooling with me from scratch.
Pip talked me through the entire process including what I was aiming for with regard to energy, intention and body language. She went into great detail about how every time we work with our horse we need to asses how ‘much’ they want from us, how to gauge that and then what to do about it. Every horse is different and even the same horse can be different on a day to day basis.
We then went through the physical movements of the body language that I would be using to communicate with Amber. Pip explained what each aspect of that was endeavouring to achieve. There is no doubt that understanding why you are doing something makes it much easier to remember and also make adjustments in the moment if the horse isn’t responding in exactly the way you would like. Lastly as a belt and braces Pip told me what to try if what I was asking wasn’t working.
From the moment Amber and I started working together we had a great connection. She gave me every single thing I asked her for, on a plate. What had been impossible to achieve last week was given so willingly it was like having a remote control pony! The word that springs to mind is effortless. Far from the experience of the previous week where I was running around like a loon, sweating and out of breath, this week I didn’t even break a sweat and it was glaringly obvious how little physical effort is actually required when working properly with Amber. Often in the past I’ve had to stop for a breather. This time was so very different. With just the smallest of gestures Amber moved wherever I asked, circling off the line beautifully on both reins. When I stopped and stood still, so did she. It was akin to the experience I had with Maia although with Amber today it was constant and consistent. It was AWESOME! I love that little pony, I really do!
I was very keen to quit whilst we were ahead and asked Pip if I could call it a day. She encouraged me to carry on for a bit longer and what was wonderful was that unlike in the past, where it has all gone to pot at the end, this time we picked up where we had left off and Amber continued to do my bidding. Knowing I was keen to finish on a positive note but that Amber hadn’t really been worked sufficiently Pip stepped into the menage and worked through more refined moves with Amber which was a joy to watch.
Whilst there will of course be many more days where things don’t go to plan, and they will no doubt be invaluable to my learning, it was great to revel in the moment of having shared such a wonderful experience with Amber. Happy days! It was also great watching Pip and seeing what can be achieved when Freeschooling and gave me new ideas of what to aim for next time.