Making a commitment...
I've never been much good at committing to things….I once ‘got fit’ but I certainly didn't stay that way! I've lost weight many times….only to soon find it again….but some things in life require a level of commitment that we can't choose to dip in and out of. Horsemanship is one of those things and this time I have found something I am ready and willing to commit to! That I have to lose weight and get fitter to achieve being a horsewoman is just a wonderful aside!
I'm still a bit under the weather and low energy so rather than working with Pizarra again Pip suggested I work with Maia. I've worked with her once before and it was amazing! We connected in a way I had never experienced before…..Today I very much enjoyed grooming her and then led her up to the school.
It was immediately clear that I hadn't conveyed my leadership during the grooming. Maia was all over the place and I was losing her in two of the corners whilst one corner was entirely avoided. I asked for some circles and got some shapes but they certainly weren't circular!
Pip came up and said I was doing the energetic equivalent of shouting at her and, just as when music gets too loud for us to hear anything other than noise, Maia couldn't ‘hear me’. So I tried a different approach….it didn't work. I looked to Pip and she decided that the time had come for me to figure this out for myself. So I put my lunge whip away and tried working with a stronger mental connection and calmer energy…..that didn't work either. I couldn't take too long over my musings as Maia has been clipped and standing around would let her get cold.
In the end Pip said ‘you give up mentally every time’. And I knew she was right. Every time I would ask for something and Maia didn’t do it I stopped, regrouped and tried again. Every time we ask our horse to do something and he doesn’t and we accept that, we are making him insecure. We are telling him that we are not ‘in charge’. That he cannot rely upon us.
Things went from bad to worse and I knew I had to do something. Left to my own devices to find a solution I started walking around and Maia followed me…..then I started jogging with Maia at my side and clapped and used my voice in the corners where she had been stopping. It worked! Once we had completed about 3 circles each way I was exhausted but very happy….those last few moments had been such fun!
Pip let me call it a day as I was puffed but then it was time for her to ‘put right’ the insecurity I had caused in Maia. She couldn’t leave the menage with that as her lesson. It took some time for Maia to comply thanks to her having ‘got away with it’ with me…..I watched and learned. Pip was consistent, constant and most importantly committed. Not once did her energy or connection with Maia drop. Even when Maia wasn’t doing as she was asked, Pip stayed connected with her and persisted.
What I have learned from today is that from the moment I am with my horse to the moment I leave him I must be committed to being his leader. Even if I am talking with someone else, if we have stopped for a break or the horse isn’t doing my bidding, my connection must be there, I must persist and stay committed. After every interaction my horse must leave my company feeling safe and secure knowing that I am his leader and he can trust me.
It may seem as if I have said all this before...but the truth is that knowing what you need to be doing and actually doing it are two very different things! Also remembering to do all the right things at the same time is hard. But this…..being committed to being our horses leader…..is the most important thing above all else. Because if we don’t have our horses trust, we have nothing.