Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Paying Attention

So, I have a lot of books.  By a lot, because I know this is a relative term, I have four floor to ceiling book shelves, one of which is completely dedicated to only horse books of the educational variety (Every Dick Francis book ever written doesn't count on this book shelf, that's a different shelf for fictional horse related books).  I've always been a voracious reader.  Recently I've begun to notice that while I've acquired some neat books, I've yet to actually read a few of them.  So, I started reading Chris Irwin's "Dancing with your Dark Horse".  So far, I am loving it.  Had another 'huh' moment, he is talking about riders lunging their horses, point their lunge whip to the correct place, tell them to go, but look at their horse's face while doing this, giving a very strong I'm a predator and actually attempting to catch you so I can eat you message.  Hence a lot of our horses pull away from us, bend to the wrong side, have their heads up high, their tails stiff, their bodies taught, they are agitated and in a position of stress.  This isn't what I'm ever aiming for, I want my horse relaxed, swinging through their bodies, stress free, just doing what I'm asking them to do.  Where in lies the problem, so many of us are still caught up in our words and not paying attention to what we are really asking our horses to do for us.
I looked through a couple of terrible shots from when my Granny and Aunt were visiting over Thanksgiving.  I was working with Sandor.  Sure enough, I'm looking at his face, not at his shoulder, and he was so agitated that day, i distinctly remember thinking I needed to work with him more often since it had clearly been too long, or something, maybe people watching, not sure, but we weren't our usual easy selves.  Recently I was thinking I wondered why Lyra keeps pulling to the outside while I'm ground working or even riding her.  Well, it's because I'm not fully paying attention to what exactly I'm telling her and hence asking of her.
At any rate, I'm finding the book very helpful in terms of my own understanding of what exactly I'm doing, saying, asking with my body language.  I recommend the book. 
Right, so staying on target, I took Riot for a walk today.  This little colt just tickles my funny bone, he's so sincere and honest.  We went for a little walk, over some cavaletti, into the garage again, around a jump, then he decided to walk over the jump, I just wanted him to see it and get to sniff it, around behind the garage, up to teh front door, along the porch, off through this little plant laced tunnel, and back to the fillys.  Riot was pretty good about the whole thing, a few times he got a little more worked up and broke into this incredibly action packed trot, but after a half semi-circle around me, recovered his cool and went right back to walking along side me, curiosly investigating things with his bright eyes and active nostrils.  It was fun.  I didn't get to take the others out, it was getting dark and I thought better to have a successful time of it in the light where no one is tripping over unseen things, then to push it today, plus it was getting to be feeding time, which is never a good set up for success.  Hopefully more tomorrow. :-)  All in all a good day, although still fairly windy too. :-(
Best Wishes,


  1. Love Dick Francis! Perhaps you need to invest in wind power? My apha mare doesn't go forward if you stare at her, sounds like a good book. Dian

  2. I love this blog! I read so many good tips. Your "look at the shoulder, not at the face" makes good horse sense, thanks!

  3. Great information Heather...so often even though we know what to do, we forget the correct way to do it...this is such a great reminder that our body language (including our eyes) is so important in working our horses to make them soft, stress free, straight and supple! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

  4. It sounds like you had a good time. :)
    I like your advice, too.


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