On Friday Mas and I spent some time together later in the afternoon after Stephanie, Eliza, Brandon, and I had set up the yard sale items in the arena. Earlier that day I said “hello” to Mas and put him in the barn to get him out of the sun and bugs for a couple of hours. He seems to like being in the barn during the heat of the day. Keeps him nice and cool. Before I led him down the driveway to the arena I brushed him in the barn.
When I caught him he seemed to be his usual self but a bit better. Lately, when I catch him and begin walking down the driveway, away from the other horses, he doesn’t whinny and run around quite as much as he did when I first met him. I thought maybe that was because he was beginning to accept my leadership and become confident with me. Now, though, I’m not sure that’s the case! I’m thinking that maybe he is just becoming familiar with the routine of walking down the driveway to the arena, and he knows that I know how to ask him to stay behind me and not to walk on top of me.
Once we were in the arena I played all Seven Games and he seemed to be ready for the saddle. I got the saddle and blanket and carried it into the arena. Stephanie suggested that I go outside of the arena to the pasture so that we wouldn’t stir up anymore dust on the yard sale items. This is where things got interesting, or I guess if I had true savvy they would have been interesting, but because I’m still learning and am not a strong leader, things got difficult.
I placed the saddle and pad in the pasture and tried to play the friendly game and porcupine game with Mas, using the saddle as an obstacle. He was having none of it! He kept looking up the driveway, wanting to spend time with his friends or he tried to eat grass rather than standing patiently while I place the saddle on his back. He kept moving his feet and whinnying. A couple of times he stood still long enough for me to pick up the saddle and place it on his back, but I didn’t feel like I had his full attention and did not just want to get the saddle on as quick as possible. I wanted to have his attention and to not feel rushed. That wasn’t going to happen by using the strategy that I was using, which was passive persistence. He walked right through my passivity! I needed to be assertive, but that didn’t happen until I had a good cry (from frustration) and until Stephanie came over and helped me to move forward.
I had to be the leader that Mas needed and I had to match his energy. Stephanie said that if Mas wanted to move his feet, we had to help him move his feet. Eventually, after playing the circling game at a canter and using the long-range driving game, Mas allowed me to saddle him. He wasn’t totally relaxed but he was a lot better than when I started, and he wasn’t eating grass.
The main thing that I got out of this was that I need to be more assertive, more confident, and need to keep the present moment in mind. I think I did a fairly good job of staying in the present in that I didn’t just saddle up regardless of the state that Mas was in. It didn’t seem worth it to ignore the fact that I couldn’t get his full attention. I was also reminded of how far I have to go with my natural horsemanship skills. But that’s okay. I am learning at my pace and am looking forward to constantly moving forward with my skill set, understanding of natural horsemanship, and ability to have fun. I am also looking forward to building myself emotionally so that I don’t take it personally when Mas has other things in mind. I just need to learn to be the leader that Mas needs me to be.
Linda Parelli talks about becoming emotional with a left brain introvert and says that once you become emotional the horse thinks, “Ah ha, I got you!” So rather than taking it personally and getting frustrated I need to stay calm and confident and move forward. Being able to read the horse’s behavior helps as well. Plenty of things for me to continue to work on.