Transitions

May 9, 2018

We became grandparents for the second time last week.  Lucas Eugene Lauck came into the world weighing a little over 7 pounds and measuring around 20 inches long.  I forget how tiny a newborn is!  Lucas’ sister Ella has struggled through the transition of sharing her mother with this new responsibility.  Her mom and dad had done a great job of preparing her for what they knew was coming but, the reality of the situation was more than anyone could have prepared her for.

Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance talked often about preparing the horse to position for the transition.  Watching Ella, who is a bright and willing child, struggle with the actual transition into sisterhood made me wonder if I am actually doing all I can to prepare my young horses for what’s coming next.  And, for a young child or young horse with no experiences in their short life to fall back on, what would I use to help them prepare.  I believe that the answer is ME!

Our daughter, Liz, is a fantastic mother.  She’s smart about how she engages Ella and she spends a lot of time thinking about being a mother.  She’s figuring  out what works with Ella and what doesn’t.  Fortunately, Liz married a smart, hard-working guy and together they decided that Liz would be a stay-at-home mom.  That gives Liz a chance to spend time with Ella and build her awareness of what kinds of things help Ella.  Let’s face it, it’s hard to help a youngster be comfortable with all the new things they are constantly being exposed to.  Through all of the new exposures, Liz is the constant in Ella’s life, the one who helps her through the rough spots when her lack of experience gives her nothing else to fall back on.  Ella can rely on Liz to help her!

A big part of preparing a horse for transitions and exposure to new things is getting them to rely on their human to help them through the rough spots.  It gets tricky sometimes because many times it’s the human that is creating the exposure.  We have to create the exposure in one moment and be the one who helps our horse through the uncertainty in the next moment.  If we are successful, our horse will feel us helping instead of feeling like we are attacking.  The more time we can spend becoming the sure thing in our horses life, the better our horses will learn to transition smoothly and with more confidence.

Thanks Liz for the great lesson in working with youngsters!

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How many times have we finished a project around the ranch and thought to ourselves,  “I wish I’d taken a picture before we started”.  It’s nice to see the end results but, the end result would mean all that much more if we had captured our starting point.  We have our memory of what was but, that memory gets skewed by time and more recent events.

When working with horses, Tom Dorrance encouraged his students to remember and compare.  Remember where you started and what you did so you can compare results.  Knowing what happened before what you wanted to have happen happened and knowing what happened before what you didn’t want to have happen happened will help you decide what presentations are effective with a particular horse and which presentations you want to stow away with that horse.  Remembering where you started, what you did, and what the results were allows you to develop better judgement through experience.

The other day we had a chance to work with some people and horses we hadn’t ever worked with before.  The people were nice and the horses were good too.  One horse in particular was the kind we like.  He was smart and sensitive and not one to put up with much nonsense.  He had come from a racing background but, his new job was on a cattle ranch.  When we first got our hands on him he acted like he’d rather be in charge and tell us how things were going to be.  His head was up, he led and pushed with his shoulder and he was tense from the tip of his nose to the bottoms of his feet.  We should have taken a picture!  After a little while and a little bit of offering a different feel, this horse just melted.  His head came down, he accepted our leadership, and he got soft and willing.  It made us feel good to be able to help him find something he was more comfortable with!  Of course, we got a picture of that!

Learning From Others

March 27, 2018

Tom Dorrance was a reader I’m told.  He recommended books to his students that outwardly had little to do with “horsemanship” but had lots to do with becoming a better horseman.  I’m guessing that Tom’s hope was that as people understood more about the animal kingdom and themselves, they would be better able to understand what goes on between them.  We know from our experiences with people and their horses, as people change, their horses change.  The horse reflects the human.

We took a trip to Arizona to see some family.  Everyone is getting older and we don’t take the time to travel very much so, it had been 5 years since we’d seen an elderly aunt and my brother’s family.  Our nephews are top level archers.  They shoot compound bows and spend a lot of time drilling the center of targets with their arrows.  These boys….young men…are in their teens and early twenties, highly intelligent, and spend as much time thinking about how to become better archers as they do practicing.  As we visited about the mental aspects of archery and competition, they talked about some coaching they had been getting from an Olympic archer, Judi Adams, and one of her colleagues, Debbie Crews.  Believe it or not, horses were involved in helping archers become more centered and more focused leading to better scoring.  There was some pretty cool technology involved as well.  One nephew was using a headset that helped him understand how to use his brain and thoughts to improve outcomes in his archery.  And, that understanding is helping him in other areas of his life too!

Here are a few excerpts from an excellent article written by Judi and Debbie:

If you just believe in yourself, the arrow will go in the middle.” “You need to trust your shot.” “Confidence is the key to winning.” “If you have faith, it will all turn out okay.” How many of us have heard these words from our coaches, parents, and teachers? And how many of us answered, “But I am not confident, I am not sure how to believe, how can I trust myself when I keep messing up?

Trust is described as Confidence; Confidence is dependent on “belief which does not require proof” which is the exact definition of Faith. All these words are vague descriptions that we readily understand when applied to others we have observed, but we stress ourselves trying to inculcate them into our own being. And so it should not surprise us that the very struggle with attaining these concepts is linked to the fact that the words themselves are intrinsically plagued with doubt (a feeling of uncertainty).

To know is at the center of Confidence, Belief, Trust and Faith. It is clear that we are more confident, and have stronger belief, trust, and faith when we know. To know, assumes no uncertainty or doubt. What do you know? The more you know, the less doubt you have.

To see the whole article, we’ve posted it with permission at https://www.facebook.com/Bridle.Bit.LLC/  The diagrams in the article wouldn’t copy and paste so, if you’d like to see a version with the diagrams, email us and we’ll send you a copy.

The parallels between shooting an arrow well and riding a horse well were amazing to me.  We hope you enjoy the article!

Timing

March 5, 2018

We had the opportunity to ride with some really great folks this past Saturday at our Winter Series, Refining Our Horsemanship Clinic.  Everyone was trying hard to understand what their horses needed from them.  Sometimes it was a doing a little more to get a horse to search.  Sometimes it was doing a lot less to give the horse the opportunity to show how much they can do for us.  We worked on becoming aware of when we had succeeded in getting our horse to think about what we wanted. Then, we  worked on the timing of our release for that thought.

When we rode in Ray Hunt’s clinics he would talk about how to look and feel for what it takes to get the horse to understand what we’re asking.  He talked about how sometimes it would take all we had to get our point across but, other times, it would take the littlest thing and they’d be right there.  To us, refinement in our horsemanship has taken the form of seeing how little we can do. Looking for ways to get our thought to become their thought.  Changing their mind and then getting out of the way so our horse can do our thing their way.  We’ve worked on becoming aware of our horses feet and how to get in time with them.

At the clinic, I watched Amy ride a horse that was struggling with his right side.  This gelding was always wanting to look left and pushing his shoulder and rib cage out to the right.  He is 10 years old and had been in this frame for quite a few years.  When Amy first began her ride she thought it  would take quite a little time to get him out of such a strong habit.  But, to Amy’s and our surprise, the gelding came through after just a little bit.  Amy’s timing must have been fitting to what the he needed.  She must have felt what the gelding was thinking he needed to do and changed his mind.  The straightness that Amy offered must have felt good to the him because once he knew through Amy’s release that it was okay to travel that way, he stayed there on his own.  Amy’s experience helped. She knew what she was looking for.  She would allow the gelding to run into his own pressure when he wasn’t right and would release as the gelding thought about getting right. Amy’s timing was good…..according to the horse!

Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt showed us years ago that feel, timing, and balance were the keys to creating good communication with our horses.  It was true then, it’s true today.  We don’t need to look for anything else!