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May 14, 2014: Horses, Horses, Horses

At times I feel a bit isolated horse wise; meaning, I don’t have people around who might assist me in advancing my knowledge on this subject. I, like all serious learners, value other’s input. And so to not have others to work with at times frustrates me. Yes, there are horse people around, but most don’t own Icelandic horses. And none of the big horse owners that I know are into TTeam training, clicker training, positive reinforcement training, centered riding, or connected riding. Rather, they’re into the use of natural horsemanship methods, and when they think it’s needed, the use of force. When such people talk, I listen and nod, listen and nod. Sometimes I throw out an idea or

Nancy on Raudi

two, but most of the time I pay dumb. I figure if they want and value my input, I’ll provide it.

This is why it’s been so nice having Nancy here. I have been able to bounce ideas off of her and then have her advance my ideas. For example, she’s been taking an online driving/webinar course called Coachman’s Delight. The attendees meet online every few weeks and attend a lecture that’s being given by the course clinician. Discussions follow. They later receive the lesson video and notes.

Nancy showed me a lesson on how to teach a horse to stand still. I’d been working with my horses on standing, by having them stand in what I call a “stand box,” a square made out of sawhorses and boards. I knew that I was missing a piece of the big picture. Turned out that this was something that I called “positionality.”

I learned that what I need to do is have the horse stand in one place, and move to the left and then to the right. In each instance, I can move forwards or backwards when the horse stands still. In time I should be able to move further back, and even away from the horse. The goal is to have the horse stand still. This is simple in theory; in fact, it’s so simple that I would not have considered it otherwise.

While here, I’ve had Nancy ride Raudi several times, once in a lesson. Raudi has been repeatedly testing Nancy, and in the process pulling out all the stops. This has affirmed what I sort of knew, that I own a very willful horse. However, Nancy’s done well with her. For instance, I watched as Nancy, on Raudi, attempted to get her to stand still. She used pressure to stop her when she moved, then rewarded her by releasing the reins. I advanced this idea, by determining that I will use the clicker and treats when she holds still, thus reinforcing her good behavior.

Last night, Nancy and I spent a few hours looking through the books in my horse resource center. She’s the first person to do this. I was glad I’d taken the time beforehand, to put the materials in order.

I am going to be sorry to see Nancy go. I wish she lived closer. Maine is a long ways from here. Maybe we should move to Idaho. This way, we could continue to work together.

Next: 134. 5/15/14: Terry the Photographer