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!"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A BODY of work!

We all know how off-putting bad body odor is, right? Well, I've come to the conclusion that bad body position is just as off-putting to our animal friends as human B.O. is to us! Just this morning, I was playing out in the meadow with Split and danged if he wasn't "getting" what I was trying to do. Let's set the scene......(hey, you know I'm into theater - setting the scene is what I'm all about! LOL) It's a beautiful fall morning here and my husband has brush hogged the back meadow and left me a new place to play with my critters. Today I'm surrounded by loud sounds.....the people across the road have a tree removal company doing a lot of work with compressors and big a** saws, and my contractor is still working on the outside of the house where he replaced a big dining room window so his compressor is wheezing and snorting away. AND there's quite a breeze, too! Add to that the turkeys that decided to meander along the hedgerow where Split and I were playing and the poor pony was on sensory over-load at first! But he was awfully good! He was a bit "wary," tho of everything going on around him at once, and at first wasn't really paying all that much attention to me. We started with "Grown-Ups Are Talking" (GUAT) which I use every time we start working - I think it reminds us both to be polite and patient. From there, we went to "Why Would You Leave Me" (WWYLM). There were some really good moments in WWYLM, considering we were in an open meadow with no official boundaries. We were, of course, working on a line rather than at liberty because hey, there's still tempting grass out there! Anyway, at one point, Split was actually bending AWAY from me and getting all stiff and acting like he didn't know what I wanted him to do. ARRGH!!
So I stopped and quickly took a mental "picture" of what I was doing with my body and discovered that I was actually turning my outside shoulder INTO him so he was turning his head away from me. At the same time, I was pulling on his lead. Gosh, how embarrassing!! So we went to GUAT for a few seconds which allowed us both to regroup and rethink and then I started WWYLM again, this time paying strict attention to my own body language. Success! So then it became fun to find out what my body language says to Split and I began deliberately to screw things up and I got just what I deserved! I only did this a couple of times - it's not something I want to reinforce - but I did need to see for myself just how much my position was affecting Split.
When we first started exploring clicker training, Split was much more forgiving but now he has no qualms about giving me what I'm aksing for, even if he "knows" it's wrong.
He also knows that it's OK now to do that. He knows I'm not going to fly off the handle and have a melt-down (I always did so quietly but trust me, it was VERY CLEAR to Split what was going on inside my rattled brain!!); he can trust me to stop, step back and analyze the situation. I can almost hear him saying, "Idiot" when I finally get it right. But he says it in a loving way.........with a little chuckle in his voice.
Body language......who knew? I SHOULD have known. I've had horses for over 40 years so you'd think I might have learned something along the way. I did. But I'm STILL learning and that's the fun part!!!!!!

"Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order."~ John Adams (1735 - 1826)

You might not have an old mind like mine but it's still a good idea to learn something new every day!!!! Go out and have fun, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I don't know much about horse training, but I have heard that body language is important. Hope to learn some things from your blog!