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Friday, March 15, 2013

Control freak

You were going to get a seminar post today, but as it seems I have forgotten my seminar notes at home, so instead you are going to get a post recommendation and my thoughts
Mugwumps posted something quite nice......

It's about her dog, but it's also about her horse. Expecting perfection and then correcting from there. Seems like a simple concept.

"If I anticipate and try to avoid problems with Brockle, I am not successful in communicating what I want.
If I assume everything will be perfect, give plenty of room for mistakes,and don't hang on too tight, I get my message across very quickly."

During a seminar at the convention we did an exercise that involved using our hands on the ribcage of a person in front of us, guiding them like we would guide a horse with our legs. Relaxed and comfortable got the message across very clearly.......gripping did NOT.

No body likes to get bucked off and yes, it pays to be prepared, but let's not be the thought police. If I'm paying attention, I know when Farley is ready to have a naughty moment, but if I anticipate it before she's even thought about being naughty, I will actually cause it. She's not a green untrained horse. She deserves trust. If she's not being trust worthy, than maybe I should chose an alternative plan that day. Example: If I can't trust her not to buck during the canter and thus give her some freedom in my hands and legs, I shouldn't canter that day. If she's ready to explode in the arena because she hasn't been ridden in 2 weeks, then we work on walk/trot until she is relaxed.

Sometimes the amount of trust I have in Farley changes throughout the ride. I can remember that ride that I celebrated as the "first ride of 2013". I spent the first 40 minutes wondering when I would EVER have enough courage to canter this horse, because I didn't see it happening for the next YEAR based on the amount of trust I had in her. Fifty minutes later we were doing the most beautiful canter you could imagine. It wasn't on my "list of things to do during the ride", and I didn't let her do it until I could do it a relaxed, trusting way.

I give Farley as much freedom as I possibly can. Since she's allowed to walk/trot/canter/gallop under saddle she doesn't often try to bolt. Because most of the time I allow lots of rest and walking when she's tired, she doesn't try to stop on me, or go back to the barn - our trail rides are FUN. The more freedom and trust I can give, the more she lives up to my expectations. The more I try to hang on, correct, and anticipate, the naughtier she is likely to be.

Same is (more) true for Tess. The more I try to hand on and control, the more she resents it, and the more she looks for an "opportunity" to do what she wants to do, with or with out permission. This concept is what hampered our off leash work for the longest time - she wanted to run and bolt, and leap, and carreen around at top speed. I wanted her to stay close, within a 5 foot radius, and constantly look at me.

As a result, if Tess got an opportunity, she would go into "puppy runs", dissapear from sight, and scare the crap out me. Result: more control, less freedom, and an unhappy puppy.

It was only after setting some solid guidelines, taking some precautions so that I could keep my mouth shut and let her do her thing, that our off leash work progressed. She had a solid recall - it was just unfair for me to keep using it every 20 seconds everytime she got further than 5 foot away.
Another important point that mugwumps makes is that by practicing less control, our message to our animals comes through much clearer. By allowing Tess or Farley to do what they's very clear when they are being corrected. If I'm constantly correcting and micromanaging, then do they ever truly understand what their job is? If Farley gives me a nice trot but I'm still hanging on with my thighs for dear life and pulling on her, is she convinced that she has given me what I had wanted?

Probably not.

Tess didn't necessarily deserve my trust off leash a year ago, but at 2, with a solid history of wanting to please me and listening, my lack of trust in her was holding our training back and causing her to resent the situation. It was only after giving her the freedom that she deserved and was asking for, that I saw my puppy truly turn into the dog of my dreams.

Similarly with Farley, after literally thousands of miles over the years, and never once "pulling a sneaky" one on me, it really is unfair to ride her in a manner developed in me by Minx, a horse that did not earn as much freedom/trust as Farley. I tend to revert back to riding like the horse below me is about to skid to a stop, dissapear below me, and do a pivot bolt at any moment when I haven't ridden in a while. This is unfair to Farley who has NEVER pulled that move and she rightly resents it! We are going on a pleasant trail ride and my thighs are telling her that there is a dragon around the bend that's going to pull a move any minute!

I'm a self-admitted control freak. I have to constantly remind myself of this concept of less is more. Once you get past that green horse or true puppy, at some point you have to relax, you have to let go a bit. You can't expect the worst because you will get it, and your animals need some way of knowing when they have done right - and for Farley and Tess, that is a bit of freedom and relaxation.

Btw, yesterday I tried the heat treatment on the poison oak. It pissed it off, although it doesnt itch right now. Almost as a good an idea to give myself pnemonia. That prescription of pred in my cupboard is starting to look darn good.

Don't forget to submit you CC answer from yesterday before tomorrow morning when I post the summary!

1 comment:

  1. Love your post (and Mugwump's blog as well). After years of riding greenies, I struggle with trusting my horse on a regular basis - best clinic ever was when someone finally called me on it! I now do what you do and let the ride just happen. My mare is younger and some days we just head out for a relaxed walk on the trails before we tackle the ring, mostly because I know I'm not in the right frame of mind for a training session right away.


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