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May 24, 2014: Horse Sense: Forward Thinking

Lesson tonight. I am feeling like I’m now a charter member of the school of hard knocks. And, amazingly, there is no other place I’d rather be.

Beth (the instructor) was late – she was caught in accident traffic on the Glenn Highway. I didn’t mind. I was enjoying getting Raudi ready for our lesson and hanging out with Vickie and the other horse people. Beth finally did arrive, and the lesson began in short order. There were maybe six of us in the beginner class. We began by doing some warm up exercises, hands up in the air, hands going in a big circle included. Then we trotted a bit, then began going over

Vickie and Hunar Jumping at Beth's

poles, two sets of three. We were thento go over poles and a very low cross jump.

Raudi and I hit an impasse when we came to that first itty bitty jump. Raudi went over the poles, but she then came to a screeching halt right in front of the jump. Beth, who was standing next to it, told me in a quiet voice to do it again. So back we went, did a big circle, went over the poles, and again came to the jump. Again Raudi flat out refused the jump. So back we went. Same thing happened again. So back we went. Same thing happened. I became rattled. We began doing serpentines through cones – then going over a low jump. Raudi and I didn’t do any better.

Throughout, Beth remained level headed. Not so Raudi, who by now was also rattled, as was evidenced by her jumping around well before we reached the jump. Beth continued to work with me in what was an incremental fashion. As I understood it, I needed to squeeze with my legs, so as to push Raudi forward. I also needed to lean forward and if need be, grab Raudi’s mane. I also needed to look out at a distant point with my head up. And I also needed to keep my heels down.

The above, on paper, appears to be an easy to carry out set of directives. But that’s because it’s on paper. Processing information is infinitely more difficult. I have now, in the time between three lessons, given some thought to all of the above, because I learned previously that this is what I need to do. I partially took care of the balance problem (all-purpose saddles are better for this sort of thing than are endurance saddles). And I took care of heel problem (I located and wore my riding boots. Am also doing calf stretches.) And I am going to take care of the head down problem (going to find and use a helmet that’s a size smaller).

I was able to figure the above out because, in theory, I know what needs to be done. I am well read on the subject of instruction, but I have not been able to put theory to practice. I also know this. The above is all very important. But what’s most important comes back to this business of moving forward. The opposite of moving forward is being stuck. Raudi and I, for some time have been long term stuck, meaning not learning anything at all. Last night, we were short term stuck, that is not learning something while in a learning situation.

I got to the point last night, which is after several more refusals, in which I began feeling fearful. My legs began shaking. I seriously considered saying “no more,” and just watching the remainder of the lesson. However, Beth did not let this happen. Each time we came to a jump, she gave me the above directives. And, we became increasingly more unstuck with each go around. She first stepped over the jump. Then she bunny hopped over it. Then she sort of jumped it.

Vickie, watching, told me that my head was down. So, up went my head. And over the jump went the horse. I did this one more time, just to prove to myself that this was not a fluke. Beth then wisely said it was time to quit. So this is what we did.

I understand that what Raudi and I are doing is very rudimentary. But we are doing it. It was all so wonderful that I can’t stop thinking about it. This is not so much about jumping, or my having any aspirations to continue jumping. We could be doing barrels, or herding cows, or one of many other equine related disciplines. What’s important here is that Raudi and I are doing something that is going to instill greater confidence in one another. And right now, this is what moving forward is all about.

Next: 143. 5/23/14: Dog Training: Human Problem Solving