“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” ~ Thomas Alva Edison.This is exactly what I need to keep in mind when playing with Cricket.
I was so unsure about our session on Monday. I tried to end things on my terms. Not to be demanding and not to win at all costs, but rather in an effort to convince Cricket that I am a person of significance. I discovered this idea reading a fellow PNH student's blog. She posted some notes from a lesson with a PNH instructor. So many of the things she is learning with her mare are the things I need for more successful interactions with my mare.
Last night's session was about convincing Cricket of my significance. I actually started the session on the 6' savvy string. In checking her HQ disengage, I noticed how sloppy it had become. After a little tune up, I asked her for a circle, just at the walk. She was very unsure at first so I just supported her until she was walking a soft circle. I asked her for the trot and she offered a beautiful flexed, let loose trot. I held the string with the lightest touch and she maintained a drape in the line between us.
I switched to the 45' line attached to her halter. I kept the line short so I could influence her but gave her the benefit of the doubt in using a lighter line that is more comfortable to carry. I started at the trot. It began with some nice relaxation but then it sort of fizzled into her pokey trot. I asked for a little more juice and she trotted out better. All this was very soft, with slack in the line.
The first one or two canter transitions were soft and I rewarded just a few steps of canter. Then she decided she was done with cantering and only offered her stilted, jarring transitions and her crappy 4-beat canter. How to read this? My gut feeling was that she was asserting her dominance and controlling the game. Okay, you wanna play? Me too!
I decided the rules were simple: canter one full lap with slack in the line. As much as I wanted her soft lope, I was willing to accept anything that wasn't a trot as long as she maintained gait and connection. Each time she dropped gait, I drew her in and redirected her. That wasn't producing the desired result so we changed it up a little and it became "tag the shoulder."
Holy Cow! That mare can MOVE! We got some lovely, high-powered movement through the shoulder, with all her weight on her hindquarters. After a little bit of the "cutting game," I sent her off in the canter. It was rhythmic, relaxed and connected. I had the line draped over my hand. True to the original rules, after a full lap (which was actually a lap and a half because I disengaged her behind me), I stopped her, dropped to the ground and took all pressure off.
Oh how I wanted to do it again. Mother Nature intervened to snap me out of my predatorial, direct line thinking. As I was dwelling, a storm started rolling in. I sat on the ground as long as I could. Cricket licked and chewed, nibbled the grass, licked and chewed some more and then went to grazing in earnest.
Our next play session is on Thursday. We shall see what sort of impression last night's session had on my darling Principessa.