Friendly blog advice from fellow horse blogger and professional author Anna Blake
Anna Blake is a blogger that I really enjoy reading. There's just something about her style that makes seem like that horse crazy aunt you can't get enough of. In her blog Relaxed & Forward: AnnaBlakeBlog, she describes herself by saying,
"I’m a horse advocate, equine professional, award-winning author, and proud member of the herd at Infinity Farm, on the Colorado prairie. I train horses and riders equine communication skills and dressage, and I write parables about horses and life."
Clearly, she is someone to with life-lessons to give. A few days ago she wrote a post titled, How to Relieve Your Horse’s Anxiety. I was hooked from the title considering this past weekend had been one of the worst for Jean-Luc and me. He actually had a mini-bucking fit in the round pen! I was hoping I would find some sort of solace in the time I'd spent with my exceptionally rude equine.
Jean-Luc has his temper, but he has never gone full-on bronco in the pen like that. I was confused and also hurt that my horse wanted to be away from me that bad. Is spending time with me really so awful that rodeo shenanigans are called for? Perhaps.
It is no secret Jean-Luc desperately wants his horsey friends with him at all times. After reading Anne Blake's post though, I felt much better. While do believe Jean-Luc has some things he is working through, I am also painfully aware that I need to take a look in the mirror occasionally.
In her post, Anna sets up something for the reader to try and find, “Tell me why my horse is a spazz bucket!?” The answer isn't always your horse, though. She lays it out there, pretty harshly, that the problem is often times your understanding of their discomfort.
Jean-Luc my escape from the real world. In many ways, this means he could actually take on more than some riders who have their mental issues locked and loaded. That said, the reason I believe we work so well is that he honestly doesn’t care diddly about what happened to me, “out there.” I know our best days are the days when I can unload everything at the barn gate, and as guru/yogi as it sounds, “just be”.
That said, this past weekend showed me the importance of the "collected" mindset. Up until this point, we always worked in places that I knew he could see his horsey friends. While under some stress, so long as he can see them Jean-Luc usually remains calm.
This weekend our work out did not accommodate for his need to see the rest of his herd because they were on the top of a hill grazing far away. Also, I felt it was time to start tilting his head back towards me with the lunge line when he would look away. I was determined to get more focus on me. I am quite sure this is what lead to his stress and he just needed to let it out. He dropped his head low, and sped up around the pen. I was so in shock that he was actually going to buck, the first time I let it happen just to ensure I wasn't crazy and that was the action he was going for. To be honest it was intimidating.
I chose to accept his outburst, though, and like a parent working through any child who throws a temper tantrum, I let it happen. Afterwards, I carried on with the rest of our work mostly ignoring the fuss bucket. To the best of my ability, I tried to remember that he was upset. Something in his world was getting rocked, and he was not presently capable of dealing with it.
Let me back up for just a second . . .to be clear, I was not this self-aware while in the pen working with him. The level headed thinking I feel that I have now has only come after days of retrospect.
The only thoughts I had at the time were, "This is scary!", "I know why your last owner sold your pouty butt," and "It looks like we're going to be here a while."
I’m not entirely sure I handled it as well as I could have, but two solid hours of work later I had gained enough confidence to hop on and see what else we could accomplish. While under saddle I worked on leg cues. Turns out Jean-Luc picked up circling with leg pressure really quick. He honestly does have a great brain!
I believe one of the reasons we found success that day was because, like Anna Blake's post suggests, I began the day with only one expectation or goal, “Pay more attention to me than where your horse-buddies are.” I wasn't trying to bite off more than I could chew, just enough that we were able to end on good, progressive notes.
I truly feel that while the day started a little rocky it ended well because I kept a cool head despite the tantrum. Throwing a fit back would have ended in disaster, for sure.
Yesterday I repeated the same lesson almost exactly. This time - no bucks! Though I'm not sure we're finished with these little outbursts, I believe we are at a tipping point in our journey.
Today, I saw that I received a little shout out and vote of confidence from Anna B. Here's to hoping her reassurance carries us into our time together this afternoon while on our regular Tuesday trail ride!
My name is Chelsey.
Generator's Cuevo Gold, or as he's known around this barn, "Jean-Luc Ponycard", was foaled in 2004 from Generator's Hurricane & Cheyenne's Little Bit.