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

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Now That's More Like It

Had the privilege of playing with Cricket last night.  My good friend Tina made mention of this on Facebook or ParelliConnect (cannot remember which) and I decided that was the attitude I needed.  Having Cricket in my life is one of the most amazing blessings and I need to be reminded not to take her for granted.

I had a plan of playing "that's enough" - setting up some different tasks and just getting a better try before moving on.  I shifted my plan when I arrived at the barn.  Things went so poorly on Monday that I wanted to give Cricket big incentive to follow my requests.  I took about 2/3 of her grain (it's not really grain . . .) ration and divided it amongst several buckets around the arena.

And then I had a jumbled, mixed up, free-form, loosey-goosey session.  Totally channeled my RB.  And had a little FUN.  I really didn't care too much what Cricket did except that I wanted enthusiasm and "yes ma'am."  At first she was completely focused on the buckets.  I expected this and so was not frustrated.  As we continued to play, I got more specific about when she could stop for a nibble (or a cookie when the grain was gone).  And she started asking questions, "Is it okay if I check for a smackerel?"

We did a little with "more energy/maintain canter" on the circle.  I decided to use change of direction to encourage maintain gait.  This is not my favorite strategy but it worked for what I wanted.  Each time she slowed to the trot, I had an OH BOY moment with the change.  As soon as she put in more effort, I allowed her to stop and that was it on canter circles.

After a little more play - and finding some holes that need to be addressed - I decided the connection was strong enough and I slipped her halter off.  As soon as we moved forward, she headed for a (now empty) bucket.  I smacked the ground to disengage her with an "I didn't say you could leave" attitude and she whipped around to face me.  No argument, no bolt.  I brought her to me.  And gave her a cookie.

She was fantastic.  Lots of stick to me, a jump, some COD and she even offered some canter around me.  I brought her to the mounting block and she was happy to let me get on.  We had a very short, very slow walk around the arena - bareback and bridle-less.

Throughout the session, I had my spotlight music playing on my iPhone in my back pocket.  I really like the music I've chosen and I felt good playing to it.  I'm going to re-order the songs, moving the Jason Mraz tune to the front and the Joshua Radin song to the end.  If I can connect to that sense of play and connection, the spotlight is going to be just fine.

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