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September 24, 2017: The Horse Life: Rethinking How I do Things

It seems to me as though I really am shinnying up the learning curve – and I am in danger of falling off. I sometimes think that I have a grasp on things then, oh oh, I realize that I do not. Today was one of those days.

We had a slight break in the rain – it now rains all the time here – and so I thought when the gray cloud cover momentarily lifted, that I might have Pete tape an agility session. Dumb idea. We both had a lot to do – in part because I was behind on horse chores because I spent the morning working on an article for the Icelandic Horse Quarterly, and in part because Pete was behind in doing his work because we had friends coming over for dinner.

Hrimmi doing crunches

I tied Hrimmi up, and then took a close look at the course. It consisted of six parallel poles. This month, those horses at medium level are to weave through the poles, and along the way, put their rear feet in a hula hoop, go through a curtain, and walk over tarp. And I was supposed to kick a ball around a pole corner and up the far side. I decided that the shorter white poles were easier for Hrimmi and me to navigate than were the longer fence poles.

This meant that I had to make some changes. Pete was displeased because he rightly thought that his degree of involvement would take at the very most, fifteen minutes.

He got upset. I got rattled. I retrieved Hrimmi and Pete stood on a hill and filmed us. Hrimmi would not stand still with her rear feet in the hula hoop. So after a few tries I said that was it for today. Now, that was the best thing I could have done because there was no sense forcing the issue.

I came to an important realization two hours later, as I was walking Hrimmi back up to the playground. I wanted to show my friend Dick Stoffel what it was I was up to. This was that I handled the previous interaction with Hrimmi all wrong.

I then showed Dick what I’d done wrong, and followed this up with what I should have done right. I began by doing what I’d done before, which was attempt to take Hrimmi through the first agility obstacle. I got the same response from her. I then let Hrimmi off-lead and encouraged her to step on the mat. She stepped on it briefly, then went over to the full supplement bucket and took a long drink of water. I then had her chase the bag on a stick. After, I had Hrimmi do crunches. This is her favorite thing, and she did not disappoint. I ended our session by resuming agility – she still could not stand still. I figured that I must be doing something right because she did not want to leave the Playground. She indicated this by going over to the fun noodle jump stand and walking through it.

I explained to Dick that in insisting that Hrimmi immediately do agility that I’d taken away her autonomy. Rather, I first should have played. I didn’t say this but it was because I was pressed for time.

My lesson with Dick was centered on horse and human correspondences. Once inside, I showed him how to do crunches and talked about horse and human flexion. And I had him test out two garden mats and then bounce on his heels.

Dick wasn’t all that into working on his posture at that point in time. But that’s okay. Humans too must have autonomy. For me, this was another opportunity in which I might further hone my teaching abilities.

Next: 265. 9/25/17: A Conversation with Tyra

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