As a result, I figure I need to go back to some basics and think about them:
Ask Knowingly, To Thoughtfully Turn Intention to Success
That is one of many memonics to remember the seven keys to success. The keys are
An attitude of FOR the horse and not to the horse is the one I try to cultivate. It is a matter of what you intend to accomplish rather then what you expect should happen. If I intend to play progressively with my horse, do new and interesting things in new and interesting ways it doesn't matter if my horse takes one step or three along the road.
Listening and communication are what is key, taking what the horse suggests and making it a great idea, then making your ideas even better is the way to accomplish leadership through attitude. I'm here to help my horse want to be the partner possible, not to force her into a cave on wheels. It is not about the figure 8, it isn't even about the games, it is about the relationship.
Every step, even the backwards ones, are a positive experience because they give you something to learn, something to try to achieve, and a chance to get better at talking to your horse.
I feel like I have learned so much so far. A few nights ago playing with my friend we talked a lot about Parelli, me going for hours about what the various Parelli ideas mean to me. Today I feel like I am in over my head again. One of my efforts to tread water is this blog post, another I am considering is returning to the "starting out" level on Parelli Connect and seeing what holes I might need to fill. I'm considering purchasing the last levels pack through e-bay as the new Pathways DVD leaves me so many questions. I'm not a visual learner and honestly the tasks and information on Parelli Connect seem based on the old packages.
I'm getting threads of information from many Parelli sources and trying to weave an understanding from each of the various threads.
This one I think is pretty good. I've moved "up" to the 22' rope and really love the rope halters and carrot stick. I have noticed that the 22' rope seems heavy to Cayleigh, and as I play out line or pull it in it creates a lot of "noise". I have several "obstacles" in the arena and have purchased a big green ball that I hope to have some fun with.
"The right attitude, focus, feel, timing, and balance" and "steady and rhythmic pressure, rhythmic motion, comfort, discomfort, phases, and release." All those techniques form a remarkable repertoire to play and communicate with your horse.
The seven games have given me a very good understanding of pressure, comfort, phases and release. It is my efforts to gain feel, timing and balance which require more practice with a willing partner. I seem to continually ask the wrong question at the wrong time of my horse. While my intentions are good this means that as a leader a horse would not choose to follow where I lead. I need to make it natural to go where I ask. Last time we played together Cayleigh did everything I asked and I consider it one of the poorest sessions in a while. She was compliant but not willing. I used the tools in an effort to improve our relationship and ended up with a situation I've had to repair. Perhaps it was as simple as not asking her if she wanted to play?
Time works both for and against you. Often I loose track of all time when playing with my horses. Usually I have 3 hours of fun only to realize that I've only been playing for 45 minutes and I've found a nice place to stop. I need to plan my intentions, so as not to let time get away from me, yet not assume that my expectations can be met in that amount of time.
A plan for the day, but not everything according to plan. I'm not sure I could spend four or five hours playing with my horse on my own, but I know it can be done happily as my first Parelli experience was two eight hour sessions over a weekend.
My time is something I'll have to think about more.
I have never been creative. That's not a negative, just a fact. It does not mean that I cannot work on being more interesting, perhaps stealing all kinds of concepts and ideas from all my Parelli friends. It does mean I have to work very hard at not being direct-line in what I ask my horses to do.
All of which shows up in how and when my horses question me; which is seldom. I work on getting the games more regular, but I always try to do something different in each session. The same games used in a different way each time.
Working with my friend taught me that I need to have more interaction at the barn. I already know I need to have someone give me some feedback on what I am not seeing when I play with my horses, but being able to show my accomplishments would be fun and I know watching someone else do the same thing would show me so much more than I have been getting from a DVD.
I'm still in the process of finding a PP who won't have to take several hours to get here from their home base. I think that is the level of support I most need to help me help myself over my current confusions.