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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making it a Game

I have finally figured out how to make the phases into a game.

It's only taken 9 years, 3 horses, 13 clinics/workshops, 2 trips to the ISC, taking countless lessons, auditing numerous clinics and thousands of dollars to figure this out.

Yeah, I can be slow.

Here is my realization: You cannot avoid something that was never coming in the first place.

Let me translate that into Parelli-speak: If I never intend to offer my horse a phase 4 then she cannot play the "ha, ha you missed" me game because you cannot avoid something that was never coming in the first place.

Get it?

If you do not intend to go to phase 4, your horse cannot make a game out of moving first.

Get it?

I finally get it.

I noticed a huge change in Cricket after camp.  I started thinking about phase 4 before offering phase 1.  I got  very focused on phase 4 as I offered phase 1, 2 and 3.  And Cricket started offering more at lighter and lighter phases.

Sure, my intention and focus was better but the promise of phase 4 was now real.

And my phase 4 is not a "whack her, beat her, how hard can I hit her with the popper" kind of phase 4.  It was about delivering a kiss to the tip of the hair with a smile on my face.

The last time I played with Cricket, she offered me a soft, true canter at phase 1.  She offered me a soft flying lead change at phase 1 and she finally hooked onto my idea of cantering circles and settled into a beautiful forward canter.  It truly was a game.


Anna Mae Gold said...

Lisa, how interesting! You started thinking about phase 4 before offering phase 1. Ah...

This may be completely off the mark and something entirely different, however, what I noticed was that if I truly visialize what I want first and have a super clear picture in my mind, my horse responds better, faster etc. I came to call this phase 0. I wonder if what you experienced and what I experience is related?

I am still undecided wther my horse reads my mind as some people claim or that it is because I am clear and therefore my communication is clear or a combination of the two. Or maybe it is something altogether different. I just noticed and went: How interesting!

Tina said...

Proud of you girl! Slow but sure! ;) I'm jealous of your progress...but we'll get there!

Lisa said...

Carol asked us to put all the intention of phase 4 into our phase 1. If you think of an alpha mare, the promise of that double-barrel kick is fully contained in the suggestion of a look or a flick of the ear. She means "or else." It's how she holds her position.

If I watch Cricket, she doesn't nag at phase 3. When she offered phase 1, she had full intention of taking it all the way. And that's how she garners respect. Not because she beats up on the other horses but rather because she means what she says.

So I've played with the intention of phase 4. Just thinking "I will follow through" has made a HUGE difference.

And I don't believe horses can read our minds. I think they read the most subtle cues - changes of which we are not aware. When we focus strong, our energy projects our intention and horse are so perceptive to the smallest changes, they "read" those tiny proprioceptive changes. When we are consistent, they learn what those changes mean and will act sooner.

Interesting, in my Pilates sessions my trainer has been focusing on "preparing for the movement" and it makes a phenomenal difference in how the body can respond to an request for movement. Hmm, how interesting!

Anna Mae Gold said...

I have been thinking about this post and thinking about this till steam came out of my ears. Some stuff came up about intention and clarity and meaning it but it just didn't feel like I completely "got it" yet...

Then I just dropped the thinking and went to the FEELING of it. It felt PLAYFUL. It felt like the energy was light and playful, a true game. Allowing it to be a game, a puzzle...

I still don't know if I "got it" like you've "got it" Lisa, but this post sure CAUSES me to really ponder over these questions and explorations... So it is doing really something very interesting inside of me!

I may take me 9 years and 3 horses, too, before I finally go "I got it!" but you sure did plant the seed for that moment to happen!

Thank you!

Lisa said...

Did you ever play the "tickle game" with your kids? The first time you'd go with "I'm gonna get you" and you come across the room and tickle them while they writhed and giggled. It didn't take long until just the intention - just getting in position and saying the phrase - would have them in stitches or playfully running away.

It's no that different with your horse. Once you play with "I'm gonna get you" and follow through with a *tickle* then all it takes is the intention of the *tickle* (which is phase 4, by the way) to get your horse moving.

What I've found, with Cricket, is that she's moving with exuberance and *willingness*. Previously it was drudgery, no life, because "she had to." Now, it's because she WANTS to and I'm lovin' every minute of it.

Anna Mae Gold said...

Yes! I see your point! And... What I see is that your phase 4 is not some sort of "or else" but a real "tickle". I love that! Just love it.

Lisa said...

Phase 4 is the fulfillment of the "or else" that is phase 1. But phase 4 is not about whacking the horse. Phase 4 is whatever it takes to be effective. In the early stages, it might be a touch. Some horses need a firm touch (not hard, just firm) as a "thanks, I needed that" pattern interrupt. If I get firm with my phases, Cricket's general response is, "really, that's all you've got?" and it will cause her to suck back even further.

Here's something to consider: Do you get bot flies up in Canada? They are rampant here. Bot flies lay a single egg on the tip of a single hair. They don't bite, they don't sting. But I've seen Cricket turn herself inside out trying to get rid of a bot fly. Carol Coppinger calls it "pestering." You can be more effective with a good, playful PESTER than you can with all the whacking and slapping.