So first of all an apology for today, I won't be live for the A-Z of my horsey life today as this flu I presently have has really wiped me out and no one needs to see my crusty nose! It will be back on Thursday though :)
However, I do feel up to a blog post and I thought I would talk about something that I am struggling with. I recently started the course with Intrinzen. The idea is that through positive reinforcement and autonomy you coach the horse to become more empowered, confident and willing along with leading a much happier life.
That is my ultimate goal. To have happy horses who enjoy working with me. And I thought we were doing pretty well with our liberty & groundwork based on pressure & release but in a kind way that considered the mood of the horse. I thought that I was doing well. The key part of that being the use of 'I' not us.
I was still using a method that asked the horse to move away from something that made them uncomfortable it didn't matter that I whittled it down the flick of the finger, the horse wasn't a part of the conversation. I had an agenda, a plan of action. We all do right? Whether that's simply going for a hack or going out showjumping. Our plan is about what WE want.
And we tell ourselves that the horse enjoys it. Or at least we hope they do and to a point I am sure that they do.
But what if we gave them a choice.
And that's what Intrinzen explores.
'The more the horse is allowed to say no, the more they will be willing to say yes'
Sounds great right?? Thing is no one told me about the part at the beginning where the horse rejects you. I thought we had a GREAT relationship.
That was until she started to clock on the fact she could say no. Or now that she feels confident enough to show me that she doesn't want to take part in the activity I have planned.
It all started well at the beginning introducing the clicker with easy things like targets and stuff that she knows. As my body language though has started let go of using pressure over the weeks she has started to share her opinion. And it's not what my ego wants to hear.
An ego is something we all have. It's ingrained in human nature. And it doesn't like it when suddenly the goal posts are changed.
We collided this weekend and I let my frustration get the better of me. I was ignoring the good things that she was offering me as I was set on achieving a certain thing and in response she got frustrated with me. She was full of enthusiasm and because my goal involved shaping the correct position for crunches I ignored her want for more energetic work.
I didn't give her full autonomy. I didn't give her choice.
I am not sure where this exploration will take us but I have fully accepted that there will be ups and downs and that I will fall flat on my face from time to time.
I will however not allow my ego to stop me exploring the path towards a fully consenting and empowered partner in my equine journey.
To the lessons ahead.....