I recently engaged in what I call a "re-setting" liberty session with Txikis. Before you watch the fast-motion video of that session, let me explain a bit of the context and then what I consider is going on it it! I hope it helps you think of better ways to work with your own horses and then pass those ways on to me! 😊
Quick background: Txikis is (I am told by the experts) about 36 years old. She was a lumber-carrying pony that was brought to me for sale when I lived in Mexico. She became the trusty carrier of my then 3-yr old, 7-yr old, and 9-yr old, carrying the youngest of my children for the next 10 years.
So there is lots of great history there. What there wasn't was training. Txikis really didn't need anything--she knew it all, understood it all, and did all that we asked (be a trusty trail pony).
But, since bringing her out of retirement (she no longer had a pasture mate where we had her), I've decided to fill in some holes in her training that have now become evident:
1) She still is apprehensive about humans even though she is quiet and sweet;
2) she is very independent and smart and considers being told what to do beneath her and so "obeys" grudgingly or sometimes not at all (especially on the ground);
3) lately she does not want to look at me with two eyes and this has grown into an unwillingness to work with me (related? I think so, but don't know the source of the problem);
4) she is very good at anticipating any movement of the rope or flag and assumes there is an ask and so hurries to avoid the ask, and is thus missing out on how good it can feel to have “feel” between us, carried via rope/rein/flag/stick, and
5) she hates backing up! And a soft reinback can be so good for her body and her mind!
She has been home since November, and I was working her maybe once or twice a week, very slowly, to get her back into shape and re-introduce groundwork to her. She was doing great! Until she wasn’t.
Starting last week, she started to take off on me right at the start of our sessions. I had to put gloves on to avoid rope burn! Once I got her to come back, we’d work well, but the first time she took off she continued to so a few times more that session. It was worrisome.
One of the last times, she took off before I even asked for anything and then hurt her leg by stepping on the rope, whipping her neck around, and then limping away. Thankfully she is healing well and quickly, but I decided to go back to the beginning, work at liberty, and erase this negative perspective she seems to be working from. Thus, the word “re-set”.
Other mentors of mine have used the word “re-boot” and that would work, too. So here it is, the clip!
Feel free to give me feedback and ask questions about what I am doing.
And, see if you can tell where I am using these intentions/ideas:
--give me two eyes, please
--don’t crowd me
--checking in with you
--letting you decide how fast the flag will move
--square up your four legs
--the flag means nothing
--the flag means something
--the flag is my hand
--the flag gives direction
--let’s come back to finish what we had started (and your leaving interrupted)
--doesn’t this feel good?
--doesn’t this feel bad? You can make it go away
There’s probably more I didn't catch--maybe you will!
Thanks for reading this, it was a lot, I know. But, I had the time, and thought the video would be more worthwhile watching if you knew what to look for!