So here I am trying to recover from another busy weekend. My good friend and soon-to-be fully licensed 1* Parelli Instructor Wendy Morgan was here for a weekend of lessons. I have the incredibly fun job of watching Wendy's 2 1/2 yr old daughter, Stella, while Wendy teaches. I don't know who gets more exhausted - Wendy or me!
The Sunday lessons were unexpectedly cancelled due to some savvy decisions by the students. Their horses had trailer loading troubles and they wisely decided to stay safe and not push the issue. I have a feeling Wendy will be invited back for some special trailer loading sessions as soon as she gets her full 1* status.
With the cancellations, we had the opportunity to work with my horses.
For Bleu, I wanted some feedback on her on-line canter. I have only played once with her canter and it was pretty exciting. Wendy helped me with a couple of approaches - first using a marker to ask for the canter and then using a traveling circle game with some "mirror me". Both techniques worked but I think the "mirror me" worked better. We'll keep playing with that to help Bleu develop better balance and confidence.
One big thing Wendy pointed out is that my "neutral" has become very fuzzy. I don't have a true neutral and so "coming out of neutral" is rather ineffective. We worked a little on the idea of happy neutral and really bringing up my life to come of neutral. I need a TON of work on this idea.
Next we played with Cricket. Wendy showed me some new techniques for helping Cricket with her rope-stepping issue. I've tried so many different approaches and none of them have helped. Wendy took it a step further and I think, with lots of repetition, I can help Cricket re-program her automatic response when she steps on her rope.
Then we started playing with play drive and I went totally RB and it got very awkward and uncomfortable. Wendy and I had a bit of an emotional de-brief afterward and I'm glad we did. It's hard being such good friends with her and then switching roles to "instructor" and "student."
Wendy really pushed my assumptions about what Cricket could and couldn't do; what she would and wouldn't do. And I was incredibly resistant and just shut down. Eventually we talked through it and Wendy and I are fine.
I don't fully understand why I became so internally emotional about the whole thing. I've had bad days with Cricket. I've had instructors become very blunt with me. I've been pushed out of my complacency. While I don't always enjoy it, I'm rarely so RB emotional about it.
I realized, in my reflective moments, that I'm just in a vulnerable space when it comes to my Cricket. Bringing Bleu into the "family" is redefining my relationship with Cricket. And I'm struggling with how I feel about it. Cricket has been the center of my equine universe for seven years. Bleu is rocking the order of our world.
We finished yesterday's session with an impromptu bareback and bridle-less ride. I just slid onto Cricket from the arena wall. She was sticky and grimy so it wasn't so slippery. We wandered around - no stick, no neck string, just her halter for a little driving game. I asked her for a trot - crazy damn thing to do - and she sort of took off down the arena wall. I thought she'd stop where Wendy was on the observation deck. Nope. I started thinking about the best place to bail. And then she eased and slowed in the corner. Not too bad.
I turned her back and we went to the observation deck and had a major wallering & scratching session. I crawled all over her, scratching and just loving her. It was the most fun I've had with her in months. And it's the first time I've been on her since the beginning of May!
It's alright that Bleu is here. She takes nothing away from what I have with Cricket. She brings something new to the mix. She has her own gifts and talents and she has something new to teach me. What I've learned with Cricket will benefit Bleu and what Bleu has to teach me will take my time with Cricket to the next level. I just need to let down my guard, release the emotion and go with the flow.