This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Friday, May 14, 2010

A New Tail

No, I didn't get Splitter hair extensions!! He has more mane and tail hair than any pony I've ever seen! He actually gets "dreads" unless I keep his tail brushed, and his mane is triple layered which quickly develops mats over the winter! I'm working on combing/brushing them out and he's gotten really good about standing still at liberty and allowing me to fuss with his hair (thanks to clicking!). He's like the little girl in Kindergarten who has long hair and screams bloody murder when her mom takes a brush to it! ha ha Anyway......Because Split is gray, and we all know what sort of skin problems that can lead to, I make it a point to check around his muzzle, eyes and under his tail on a regular basis. When Split first arrived, if I tried to lift his tail, he would clamp it down and trot away unless he was tied up. If I tied him up, he would allow me to "lift" his tail - sort of. It's hard to get a clear look at a horses "bum" when he's clamping his tail down so hard!
Enter the clicker................I began by asking Split, "Can I rub the base of your tail?" (Sure, that feels good!) C/T "Can I pull your tail gently?" (I guess. I'm not happy about it but I'll let you do it.) C/T "Can I lift your tail a little?" (NO!) "Ok, I will respect that." It took several months actually, but we kept chipping away at it. I can now take Split's temp while he stands at liberty and the other day when I was grooming him, I lifted his tail (which he will now allow me to do while he's at liberty but there's always that little "hint" of tension) and up it went, like a well-oiled pump handle - NO TENSION whatsoever!!! I was amazed - and really pleased that all our little steps had finally added up to "Ok, sure. You can lift my tail. Have at it!" It was a peppermint moment, for sure! (Re-reading this, I realize that there aren't too many people who would be as excited as I about being able to look at a horse's arse end so thanks for letting me share! ha ha)
Like most beginner clickers, at first I wanted it ALL! I wanted Split to comply 100% with what I was asking - just do it! But then I watched a session on "micro shaping" and went, "Huh." It was then that I finally understood that I needed to break down every single task into little, tiny steps.....as many as necessary! You'd think that I would have learned something after 20 years of teaching first grade but if I did, it all went out the window when working with my animals! I wanted it ALL - NOW! Clicking really set me back on my heels and made me look at things completely differently.
I'll tell you what....I even use the micro shaping on my husband now and it's so subtle that he doesn't even know what's happening! ha ha I "plant the "seed" of an idea and I just keep adding to it a little at a time and finally.....TA DA! He actually SUGGESTS that I purchase a Christ Lammfelle bareback pad! He said, "Sounds good. Just buy it." It didn't happen over-night, of course. You have to go with your gut instincts and ask just the right question at the right time and then be happy with the tiniest positive response. Sound familiar??
SSSSSHHHHHHH! Don't tell my husband, OK??

We leave you with this tongue-in-cheek quote:

Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then. ~Katherine Hepburn

Hmmm.....maybe it isn't so tongue-in-cheek, after all! LOL
Have a good weekend, friends!

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