Thursday, 19 June 2008

Relaxed view

There's been a bit of tension at our yard over the last few days. Person A and person B have not been getting on. Person A has made some sort of decision about the character of person B. The problem with deciding something like that about a person is that it fixes a view of them in our mind, and then there will be an unconscious tendency to encourage every interaction with that person to support our view. Anything that person says will tend to be allowed to add to our view of them, when even exactly the same words said by someone else would produce a completely different emotional response.

I try to live with a sense of every time I interact with someone being like the first time I have ever met them - setting aside any expectations, assumptions or prejudices on my side. I try to be open and fluid with whatever is passing between us. I also try to live the teaching I have received from my husband: always leave a person feeling happy that they met you. Over the years I believe I have got better at this and am more able to let go of the feeling that I have a right to vomit my self-referential, neurotic perceptions onto those around me.

Dee is a great reminder of treating each meeting as a new experience, because she is so different from day to day. I'm taking her down the lane on her own several times a week at the moment, to try and build up her confidence. On Tuesday it was quite windy, which means that the environment is more energetic, and everything is a little more scary than usual. Consequently I could not get Dee to go all the way down the lane, whereas earlier in the week we'd got right the way down and through both gates before we got to the 'point of no advance'. I no longer push her, as I know this will not work. It used to result in rearing, but we have overcome that. Now it results in backing without any regard for what danger we may be reversing into. So I just give her time and talk to her and try to make sure my body is relaxed and my breathing slow and deep. We sat there together for quite a while - Dee like a tight coil, ears pricked and snorting, and me trying to relax. Eventually she took two steps forward. I sensed they were going to be the only two, so I quickly praised her and turned her to walk back home. A tiny success, but hopefully we can build upon it.

I used to subscribe to a mailing on horse training tips. Their suggestion for napping was to make your horse work in the arena whenever they have refused to go out on the trail. So after our walks down the lane, when we have hit that point where she will not move forward, I always take her into the arena and make her work a little. I never take her into the arena after a hack out with another horse. Perhaps she'll make the connection one day. She definitely enjoys hacks, but just can't find the confidence to risk it alone. Hopefully one day I shall be able to give her enough confidence in just being with me that we can make it out on our own.

4 comments:

Transylvanian horseman said...

Yes, we too see Person A not liking Person B, or Person A being jealous of Person B so they criticise their horse. It's all so pointless.

I was wondering: how does Dee lead down the lane? Is she any different if you are taking a walk with her rather than riding her?

Nor'dzin said...

I haven't tried leading Dee in the few weeks we've been back at this livery yard. However we did use to try this before and experienced the same problems. She would rear, refuse to move or start backing. I haven't had any rearing from her for quite a long time now, thank heavens. Thanks for your interest.

LJB said...

I enjoy your perspective on life, and myself find that the better I am being in the moment with people, it helps me be in the moment with horses, and vice versa.

I am currently working to defuse my reaction to a person that is triggered when she tells stories about this horse or that -- similar to what you describe about people setting their minds about people! And now because of her rigid thinking about horses, I find myself having rigid thoughts about her. Quite funny actually, and as easy to remedy as being aware and allowing something different.

Understanding horses -- so much for us to learn. If you haven't come across Leslie Desmond and Bill Dorrance's True Horsemanship Through Feel, see if you can have a look through that, maybe you'd want to own it. I think of Leslie because part of what you describe is your horse not understanding how to come off pressure, how to arrange her body so she can be in control of relieving the pressure herself by moving forward or backwards or sideways, whatever it is you are asking of her.

I like to get this clear with a horse before I ride, so I know the horse knows what I mean by what I do. That is a good starting point, in addition to the emotional bonding that is not only important, but a source of delight!

I found your blog though Victoria's blog.

Nor'dzin said...

Thank you LJB - I'll have a look at those links. I've been checking into your blog for a while and enjoying it.