Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back from Camp

So I'm back from camp.  Well, I've been back for a few days but it's taking some time to settle back into the real world.

I took Bleu to camp.  My intent was to spend four days getting to know her and building a relationship with her.  That was just the tip of the iceberg.

What I discovered is a great deal of buried angst about having two horses.  For the first two days I was just so so.  Bleu was doing well but I'd find myself getting frustrated or angry with her.  I kept thinking, "this is not that difficult, what is the problem?"  Monday it boiled over.  I second-guessed my decision to keep Bleu and I just kept wondering if this whole idea wasn't a big mistake.

Towards the end of the riding session things calmed down a little.  Tuesday morning I used my private session to talk things over with Carol.  Carol gave me some good perspective and I realized my feelings of doubt and confusion were perfectly natural.  So I spent Tuesday being more present to Bleu and we had an awesome day.

In truth, all of camp was wonderful.  Bleu tried her heart out, despite the garbage I kept offering her.  Carol told me, on several occasions, that she was a good horse.  She was so right.

The camp was a L2/3 when we started but mid-way through Sunday, Carol changed it to a L3/4.  Wow!  What a compliment to all of us.

I cannot remember everything we did.  I know it pushed my envelope on several levels.  I'm proud that I tried more things that I normally would have - especially considering that I've done little with Bleu since the early days of our relationship.

On the ground we worked on snappy departures - with backwards and towards; from Zone 3 all the way out to behind Zone 5.  We did sideways without a fence; from Zone 1; away and towards.  We did backing from Zone 3 and by the tail.  We played at liberty each day, beginning with simple stick to me, progressing to circle at liberty and finishing with "can you" challenges.

Under saddle we rode more in four days than I probably have in the past four months!  Carol numbered us off and while we took turns doing certain maneuvers or patterns in the center, the rest of us rode the rail working on lots of different things.

We did a lot of carrot stick riding.  I had never ridden Bleu with a stick and was pretty pleased with how she responded.  We stayed in the hackamore and didn't go above the trot but we tried just about everything the rest of the class did.

I don't have detailed notes from the clinic.  I find that I just get on overload and cannot take notes like I once did.  I'm also finding that it's just a few little things that seem to make the biggest impact.

Here's what I'm taking from camp this year:
  • Before you can really engage the HQ, you need to own them through disengagement.  Without this, you're creating a more powerful runaway.
  • Snappy is not about moving fast - it's an attitude, it's the "yes, ma'am."
  • Commotion doesn't always produce motion; focus and clear intent have more to do with producing what you want than flapping ropes and sticks.
  • It's time to get down to feel - technique only gets you so far.
  • If you're having issues with the Figure 8, try it without markers - get your drive and draw flowing.
  • Planting the seeds of L4 early give you an idea of where you might be going.
  • If your leg = forward, spend time getting your yields isolated.
  • Build in relaxation by addressing brace the moment you notice it.
I'm sure there's more but it's not coming to me right now.  I have a greater appreciation for my skill and how far I've come over the years.


Naturally Gaited said...

Good tidbits. Thanks for posting them.

Bleu is sure a pretty girl. I can understand your feelings though - I have a hard time owning/keeping up with/relating to more than one horse at a time (unlike Michelle!). Fortunately, Smokey doesn't seem to have noticed that I don't play with him any more. Or maybe he is relieved? ;-)


inchwormwv said...

Me too - I have a hard time having a good relationship with 2 horses. I think part of it is time, because it takes TIME to build the relationship to a place where it is rewarding to just "be" with that horse. Bullet is far behind Augie in so many ways, and has some baggage that I get impatient about (I have already done this, why do I have to do it again? waaah! whine.) I try to remember that one of my goals is to be good with horses, and that playing with both boys stretches me in more than one direction.

Mary H. said...

"If you're having issues with the Figure 8, try it without markers - get your drive and draw flowing."

This is a very good tip. It's something I figured out over the summer through trial and error.

Thanks for the report.
Sounds like you learned a lot about horsemanship and about your relationship with your horse.


Parelli Central said...

Bleu sure looks very engaged and soft in all the pictures... I'm so glad the camp was a good experience for you! After owning 2 horses for 3 years, 2010 is the first year I spend an equal amount with both of them. I find even 15 minutes with each of them per day makes a big difference. Also, a lot of undemanding time has brought Cash (my second horse) and me closer than ever. It all changed when I started to include Cash in our outings... Ponying her, brushing JB and Cash at the same time in the paddock, playing with both of them at liberty, having JB watch from the tie rack while I play with Cash and vice versa... We are now a 3 partner team :-)

Keep up the good play, Lisa!

Petra Christensen
Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
Parelli Central

Lisa said...

Petra - thank you for your perspective. The one thing I've come to realize is that my feelings are completely normal and in no way indicate a "right" or "wrong" decision. Your comments just solidify that and give me a little more peace - thank you so much for sharing it.