Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Did you ever wonder why when you'd be walking along on a nice trail ride with friends that all of a sudden your horse just breaks into a trot without your asking? Or you ask for him to go forward and instead he backs? Or how about the famous just trying to get him to stand still while you try to mount but instead he dances or steps off. Well maybe you haven't had these problems but i sure have..It all stems from mixed signals, lack of trust, & simply whose really the Boss or Alpha..Heck i darn near trained a horse backwards once...I think it took 3 months with a riding instructor to undue all I'd done the two previous years..
Horses are not animals you can just sit on like a lump..You must participate..
To some riding,training and timing all comes as natural as breathing..but for me, i have to work for it, and the only way i learn is by quieting my mind, paying attention to his attitude, being willing to meet Bubba at what ever Level of Intensity hes taken it too,by learning from my mistakes, & staying committed to working with Bubba..The more committed you are, the more you get to know your horse,That's how the real bond is built. Horses are so forgiving so i make sure that when I get Angry or Frustrated i take a breather. That's not forfeiting, its being wise. Taking time to think what you may have done wrong, all in all when i do make a mistake Bubba is so forgiving ..for that I am most grateful.The ONLY part that has always come natural to me is the loving part..Loving him and everything that makes him Bubba comes easy, hes such a gift..But the relationship cant work if hes the Alpha..He'll never trust me..He'll always be anxious..So this is my journey in learning how to become the Alpha..
Horses analyze who will be the boss within the first 10 seconds with you..Every day as Pat Parelli says they vote for a new leader..Its never just a given that I am the Alpha & he will never test me or question that again, each time we meet he'll size me up? It's not a disrespectful thing, It's a horse thing. that's what they do. Every day they test each other in the herd. Who will be Alpha.
Usually when you have a horse that is the Alpha..The are intelligent & strong. Being Alpha is quite the responsibility. They remain in the front, They are responsible for alerting the herd of possible dangers. The Alpha has the best chance of survival. So as a human, fighting for Alpha, remember you have a responsibility to be smarter then your horse, patient, kind, loving, stern & rewarding..And I refuse to use meanness or physical abuse to gain that position..
After each ride or training session with Bubba I always think back over it.. what went well, what i enjoyed, but more so what didn't go so well, what went wrong,and what i need to practice on to make my commands clear to my horse...As Bubba and I both learn I've become quite aware of the wall that stands firmly between us when trying to communicate what i want..I act, He reacts and we work from there..
In the Driving game my horse is wearing a Parelli training halter which has about a 14 foot rope connected to it..As i stand facing my horse I begin to ask my horse to back with just a wave of the finger in front of my face, the middle of the rope is still touching the ground, and in the beginning Bubba does not even notice the finger wave...then if no response i wave my wrist which sends a little vibration down the lead line which he can sorta feel but more so see, he still stands looking at me..but i can tell by his ears that hes trying to figure it out,3 seconds later if no back i go to the next phase which is sending vibrations down the rope by waving from my elbow(at this point he has lifted his head,put his nose in the air slightly and showing his irritation but still stood his ground and 3 seconds later I jump to the 4th phase and then wave with my whole arm which is sending a lot of pressure from the rope to the halter. From light touch to heavy..but at this most severe phase Bubba immediately takes two steps back and i drop the rope..release/reward...his ears go and i can see him trying to figure this out.
It doesnt take long & within the first 3 lessons we went from phase 4 down to phase 2, waving from the wrist..and soon I'll simply wave my finger and he will back..Cues,timing,release & reward are all crucial..I'm excited as we work together..watching him figure it out is so exciting. Learning to be the Alpha is something i really have to work at..It keeps things as safe as they can be..no one wants to get hurt..But you let that horse of yours make the rules and soon injury or fear will follow..
After Bubba backed up nicely using the 2cd phase of pressure..always light to heavy..not vice versa..I reward him by simply making my body soft, bending over slightly just a bit and drawing the rope in gently hand over hand as Bubba comes to me and i rub him and thank him for doing such a good job...He's getting it.What i couldn't understand was while i was asking him to back up in our very first lesson, he would all of a sudden come forward..Horses naturally push against pressure,and coming to me was not what i wanted..i think to video tape yourself would be an excellent idea..that way you could see your mistakes while training..the second best thing is to simply have a friend watch you and telling you what they observe from you and your horse.
I learned that when i should of been standing square as the alpha when asking for the back. i began thinking about his reward and without even realizing it i began to bend over slightly as i would ONLY when asking him to come in to me..therefore he came forward. Mixed signals..though the pressure was telling him to back, my body was telling him to come to me..so he came to me.
Its good to have a plan before working your horse...and its just as good to think over what you last worked on so you don't make the same mistakes..keeping a horse journal is something I'm becoming more faithful with and couldn't live without..
We give so many mixed signals when working with our horses that we don't even realize we've done it!! the second example,as i stated before, your just relaxing going down your favorite trail, just talking away or taking in the moment and your horse breaks into a trot without your asking..not realizing you've just sat there for the past 20 min doing nothing and all of a sudden you decide too sit up, heels down..gather up the reins and make contact with his sides and this all happened 2 seconds before he just trotted off. You didn't think you asked for a trot but in truth you did. You asked when you went from sitting like a lump too riding actively..its almost like saying "boo" with your body language..
its important to ride your horse..actively..paying attention ...feeling the rhythm & moving your hips with him as he walks along..keeping light contact while on a loose rein. Do something..apply leg pressure and go to the right of the trail..then ask him to go left..pick a tree and go around it or take a different path..ask for a circle and let it be your idea to trot or lope..My horse has become more beautiful as I am learning to be the Alpha..
I am very blessed to have so many wise Horse friends..Tonight my friend who has been doing Parelli for well over 8yrs now is going to come and work with me and Bubba in the arena tonight..I cant wait..and will keep you posted..