Friday, February 20, 2009

Learning Patience

Whew! Where has the time gone?! I looked up and realized it was almost 5 weeks since my last post - naughty me :)

Jayden and I are getting prepared to start showing together full-time. In preparation for that I've been hauling him to some schooling shows. I'm a firm believer in mental and emotional fitness in my horses because without it, it doesn't make a bit of difference how physically capable they are of doing something.

Last Sunday we hit a local show that is for beginners and a great place to school inexperienced horses. Needless to say, the horse I thought I would be taking never even showed up. Sure he loaded in the trailer, sure he warmed up great with the "falling leaf" Parelli pattern but then we did something we haven't had to do yet - WAIT.

If you've ever heard the expression "hurry up and wait" it's the most perfect definition for what we ended up doing. The show experienced some issues and what should have been a 15 minute wait, turned into over an hour. The longer my horse had to wait, the more unprepared he became. I watched my normally left brained introvert gelding turn into a borderline right brain extrovert. Was he acting "crazy?" No. But suddenly he couldn't stand still and he had to move his feet.

I decided to put this to good use and practiced backing, pivoting and maneauvering him around to try and re-engage his brain. As long as we were moving everything was fine. The second we stopped and stood still for a mock inspection it all fell apart again. I knew right then that we were in trouble so to speak.

We did make it through the class and he did perform well since only a short time during the pattern did he actually have to stand still. He tried hard, but he still moved during inspection. Lesson learned. This horse needs pretty involved mental and emotional warm up time when he's feeling unconfidant. Translation....for a day show there is A LOT more preparation involved than when we go to an away show where we have stable accomodations.

Later in the day I had him tied to the trailer while taking a short lunch break. Jayden stood still for all of 1 minute before pawing, striking the air and then turning to and fro trying to see the other horses in the arena. I decided to just observe him (that's probably not what I should have done) but I wanted to see just how upset he would get. For about 15 minutes he was constantly moving - I could see the emotional tension building in him. Finally after I couldn't stand to see him so far over a threshold, I untied him and put him back to work so to speak, moving his feat and re-engaging his brain. This worked well while I was on the ground but the calm we finally experienced on the ground did not translate to the saddle.

I won't bore you with the details and a blow by blow - but I do want to say that I've chaned my game plan again. We are working on retreating away from his buddies to the trailer (even when its at home) and when that's going well, tying to the trailer and learning to stand still. It's only been three days (the first day there was a BIG hole next to the trailer) but these last two he was much better.

All in all - we are both learning patience - with ourselves and with each other.