On Friday I spent the day at The Center doing a few odds and ends around the property before getting a chance to spend time with Mas. After scooping a couple of wheelbarrows full of horse shit out of the lower arena, I decided it was time to catch Mas before the day got away from me or it rained.
As I was setting up a small round pen to play with Mas in a woman pulled up and got out of her car. At first she thought I was Stephanie. She introduced herself as Cherisse and said that she had the day off from work and decided to stop in and help out if she was needed. After setting up the temporary round pen together and eating lunch with Destiny–she was in the round corral that we moved onto the grass and I thought she could use the company–Cherisse and I walked down to the lower pasture and caught Pete and Mas.
On Parelli Connect I have a list of tasks that I can print out and complete with Mas. Even though Mas is trained to Level 2 natural horsemanship, I selected Starting Out tasks for myself, since I am a beginner after all!
We brought the horses up to the sandy area and the round pen, and I started out with Mas inside the round pen in case he was nervous or afraid. Stephanie told me to keep him near the area that he is familiar with to keep him from losing his confidence or from being afraid if I took him down to the lower arena. That is definitely something that I have to keep in mind–the horse’s prey instincts. Even though Mas is a big, strong horse with a lot of confidence over his herd of mares, he can still become very afraid and lose his confidence easily. I need to be a leader that keeps him safe so that he has confidence in me.
Some of the tasks on my list included the following:
-I can massage my horse’s front legs
-I can play the Friendly Game on my horse’s back legs with my Carrot Stick (the Carrot Stick is the orange thing in my hand, it’s like an extension of my arm)
-I can squeeze my horse between me and a fence and wait 7 seconds before sending him the other way
-I can put my halter on with savvy, using the Porcupine Game
-I can identify all 5 Zones and the Drive Line
-I can play the Short-Range Driving Game from Zone 3
After we played for a bit in the round pen, Cherisse decided to trade places with me so that she could play the Short-Range Driving Game with Pete while in the round pen. Mas was ready to get out of the confines of the pen anyway. And it was time to take some photos! Cherisse and I both grabbed our cameras from our cars and snapped a few photos of each other before getting back to our games.
Mas was such a good boy. I was a little nervous because during the last time two times I spent with Mas he was very animated (from leaving his herd that he had been watching over all winter). This time, though, he was calm. A couple of weeks of being separated from his mares helped! Mas was a stallion until he was 8 years old, so he has a bit of those stallion behavior traits.
After we played a few games, about an hour later, Cherisse had to leave to pick up her son from school. I brushed Mas before walking down the hill with Cherisse and Pete and putting the boys away in their pasture.
I felt such gratitude toward Mas for humoring me and listening to the things that I asked him to do. He was very patient, allowing me to make mistakes and helping me to adjust to his needs. I tried to give Mas Love, Language, and Leadership in equal doses, even though the Love portion was very hard for me not to overdo! My Leadership and Language skills are very much works in progress.
What I really enjoy about natural horsemanship is that it fosters a playful environment and leaves the stress of getting things done behind. The main goal should be creating a strong, healthy relationship with the horse. I feel like I am slowly achieving that with Mas.