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July 11, 2015: Lessons Learned Continued: Don’t Nag the Nag

I had a lesson with June today. It began promptly at 9 a.m. It was yet another big life lesson; in fact, the biggest horse-related lesson yet. I woke up stiff and sore, and for this reason was crabby. I tried not to show this side of me to June as I saddled up Raudi.

We began the lesson by doing a ground exercise, walking in-hand, with my fingers between the reins, going straight, right, and left. “A pony club thing” June said, to which I inwardly groaned. Surprise, this worked – and I added another tool to my tack box.

June had me mount up and do walk/trot transitions down road. I then heard the words that I didn’t want to hear, which was “you’re nagging!” I was tempted to yell out “Am not!” but deep down I knew that June was dead on correct. Nagging, in this instance was kicking the horse repeatedly to get her to go, wiggling in the seat, and repeatedly saying “up, up, up.”

I did not say “well, what do I do now because June’s marching orders followed. I was told (nicely) to give a gently and (if need be) persistent squeeze on Raudi with my legs and then use my crop if she did not comply. I thought this would be easy – it was not. I quickly resorted to my old pattern of behavior, which was touse what I called my “noisy legs.”

As for halts – I’d reverted to my old pattern of behavior – leaning forward and pulling on the reins. This too was what I did when working with Wendy Murdoch. June told me put my shoulders back and ease up on the reins. To this I added going into neutral pelvis.

The halt was an instance of extremes because my back was still sore, or so I led myself to believe. It actually is that I have a deeply ingrained habit of stopping in the previous, above-mentioned fashion.

We continued around the loop and repeated the above walk/trot transitions several times. And, no surprise, Raudi and I did progressively better. It was definitely an upward spiral. She’d started out rather inattentive, but became increasingly more attentive. And I who started out crabby became less so as the lesson progressed.

There were also a few unheralded high points, the most significant being that Raudi who usually paces downhill, trotted downhill. It still ain’t pretty, but after many years of hard work, we got trot down.

It was during one of the final walk/trot/canter transitions that I had a major revelation, one that I later shared with June.

The first time Raudi spooked she was pissy because I wasn’t letting her eat the grass which was in abundance. And I later speculated that her being annoyed by this prompted her to spook, for she was more on edge than usual. It then occurred to me that she was pissy because I was nagging her. Smack, thwap, kick, smack, thwap, kick, smack, thwap, kick. She’d obviously had enough of this and was hoping for an out. Pete’s coming around the corner was it.

After June left I went for a short trail ride and focused on keeping my legs quiet. The new game plan was this: no kicking was allowed, and I was to squeeze my lower legs when I wanted her to pick up the pace. No surprise, Raudi was much calmer than previously. She did startle once, when on Siggi’s Trail, Ryder, who was behind her, began barking. I would not have normally noticed this, but I did feel it in my back.

I’m now considering the bigger picture. This is that there’s an even larger life lesson to be learned here. Yep, I’m Alys and I have a problem. I’m a nag, one of the human sort. I not only need to quiet my legs, but I also need to quiet my mind. This is going to be ridiculously difficult to do, but I am going to rise to the challenge.

Next: 177. 7/10/15: Fear

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