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Hurrying to slow down - The sound of cogs and spindles
Brute force and erudition.

glenatron
Date: 2017-05-01 21:07
Subject: Hurrying to slow down
Security: Public
Music:Yoko Shimomura - Drammatica
Tags:clinics, horsemanship
We're back from a long trek across the country to ride in a clinic with legendary horseman Joe Wolter and it was about as good as one could possibly hope for.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on it right now, I'm sure Sari will have more to say later and these days a full write-up is more likely to go into the magazine ( we actually have an interview/feature planned for a couple of issues time ) but I do want to talk a little about one core theme that was very directly significant to Iris and me.

Joe talked early on about the horse's self-preservation, how important he feels it is to compromise on that - if the horse thinks they need to look around and check out what is going on, that's alright. They need it. If they spook just go with them, but then start offering some direction so that you're going together and you can help them out without forcing your decisions on them. I realised that because Iris stops so well I have been shutting down her spooks thinking I was helping her to understand they were unnecessary, but really that was just locking that bad feeling inside and making it hard to feel she was allowed to go forward. She was getting more anxious and harder to ride in new environments and I think that by not just letting her move out a little more and going with her I have been making that worse.

Yesterday, during the last afternoon of the clinic, we were doing some work around the outside of the arena ( Iris preferred to avoid the edges most of the time because the world was out there and there is a lot of it and it's all rather bothersome to a grey mare ) and Joe was asking us to work on doing the slowest possible walk and then speeding up. I asked Iris to slow down as we came around past the audience - it's an exercise we use from time to time, so she is fairly good at it - but something spooked her and she sprang off to trot most of the way around the arena. After about three quarters of a circle she found a place where she felt safe enough to walk and she immediately dropped into the slowest walk I have ever seen or experienced a horse doing, it would be easy to think she had stopped if you couldn't feel the glacial drift of her balance forward in between extraordinarily stately steps. It was unbelievable.

The thing that chokes me up every time I think about that is that she knew what I was asking her for and she just needed me to go with her first because she just couldn't do it there - when I let her take me somewhere she felt safe she tried her heart out.

She has always been trying that hard for me. I just needed Joe's clear, patient, teaching and his explanation of how every time our horse offers us forward movement it is an opportunity. That finally got me to a place where I could give her the chance to show me.
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Miranda
User: re_vised
Date: 2017-05-02 12:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That makes a lot of sense, as horses need to feel comfortable in their space/are not robots. Good insight!
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glenatron: Iris
User: glenatron
Date: 2017-05-02 19:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Iris
Absolutely. I found it depressing to realise how much resistance I had put into her, though, by not taking her feelings into account. At least we can start fixing it up now.
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Miranda
User: re_vised
Date: 2017-05-02 19:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You aren't perfect! This is exactly why we attend clinics, so we can gain more information, experience, and do better by our mounts. Now is better than never! Horses are quick learners and I'm sure she'll catch on and put the other stuff behind her. Luckily, horses are also fairly forgiving. :)
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puddleshark
User: puddleshark
Date: 2017-05-02 16:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It sounds like a wonderful clinic. I wish there were more trainers around with that level of understanding.

I'm glad you and Iris got so much out of it!
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glenatron: Iris
User: glenatron
Date: 2017-05-02 19:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Iris
Oh, hey, we were in Devon too. It's probably close enough that if he's back next year you might enjoy spectating!
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Co
User: spirithorse21
Date: 2017-05-03 02:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You know, I was just reading a similar idea in a different blog the other day, and I thought, "Well that's a really good way to put it!"

But wow, that's a really cool moment with Iris to actually cement that idea for you. Thanks for sharing it!
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glenatron: Iris
User: glenatron
Date: 2017-05-03 21:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Iris
Definitely. It felt like something she really needed me to know as well.
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Nina: Animals: Horse
User: siberian_angel
Date: 2017-05-03 13:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Animals: Horse
I'm happy to hear you got to go to the clinic with Iris after all - looks like it's a great improvement. What I like about it is the fact that the rider learns with his steed instead of just from it. Going through the process together creates a bond so much deeper and I'm glad you got to experience this.
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glenatron: Iris
User: glenatron
Date: 2017-05-03 21:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Iris
Joe does a lot of work around making everything into puzzles as well, giving the horse the opportunity to figure it out rather than stepping in to help them. It's so interesting.
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Lantair Vlea: lantair look
User: lantairvlea
Date: 2017-05-03 22:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lantair look
I've enjoyed watching Joe Wolter work through the Horseman's Gazette videos. He must be great to work under.

Working with horses is so much about give and take. Giving direction, taking feedback, giving the horse a chance to respond, and taking what they offer.

They tend to believe us more that we have good ideas when we take their thoughts about it into consideration.

Congratulations on another breakthrough with your mare
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glenatron: Iris
User: glenatron
Date: 2017-05-04 21:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Iris
I find it interesting how cyclic my development is, I get something good and it leads me to take the things I had before for-granted and then they tend to slip- I think this has been better than it is now in the past. I noticed something about how quiet I was riding too - way more so in the snaffle than I have been in the hackamore. I found that interesting because it's something Jeff has picked up on ("Ben, you've got what I call 'hand tourettes' with your reins there") but I didn't feel it even though I knew it. Riding in the snaffle I suddenly felt how I should be riding the whole time and knew it for what it was.

I've watched those videos too- Joe always has useful stuff to offer, but they don't make it clear how personable he is. Just one of the most likeable people I have met.
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