On Sunday, after feeding horses and cleaning a stall and the outdoor arena, I had a lesson from Stephanie with Mas. We worked on moving Mas’s front end by applying pressure in Zones 1 and 2 and using more of my energy and less of the carrot stick. Needless to say, on a left-brained introvert, such as Mas, and a fumbling beginner, such as me, this was tricky. Stephanie told me that moving the front end was difficult for Mas because he likes to push through everything with his dominance. Moving the front end takes that dominance away and asks the horse to stay grounded on his hind end while moving in a circle on his front end, kind of like a spin. It also asks the human to be more assertive and not allow the horse to come into your space.
At first I used my carrot stick to ask Mas to move and Stephanie pointed out that I needed to be more rhythmic in my motions—no more spastic fly swatting!—and needed to bring my life up a bit, act like I expected something to happen. Seems like I have a habit of remaining calm and relaxed. Someone toss me an energy drink okay?
After Mas and I were successful in moving his front end, first by only a couple of steps and then by a few steps at a time, we practiced getting him more responsive with the Yo-Yo Game.
I started with bringing my energy up and then giving him the “look” (showing him by my facial expression that I was ready for him to move back); this on its own should eventually create a response, but until he was sensitive to my suggestion, and until I was good at suggesting, I could wiggle my finger and continue to give him the look, and then if he wasn’t responsive I could wiggle the rope, but after that it was a quick snap of the carrot stick, immediately giving him a phase 4 suggestion. This way I’d get his attention and his responsiveness. No more lollygagging (for either of us!).
When I was giving Mas the “look”, showing him my intention, it was very hard for me to keep a straight face. He is so cute right now with his white face all fuzzy in preparation for winter. I had to look away for a minute and get myself together! I had to get serious, but not too serious.