January 15, 16, 17, 18, 2024
I know, 4 days in this journaling. But nothing happened during these days other than what I have already been doing for the past two weeks. A lot of freezing, a lot of trying to clean stalls, and keep water unfrozen.
The weather has been brutal, but the horses have been the same happy-go-lucky types that they have been all winter long. Does it bother me that my property, pens, and stalls don’t look pristine and beautiful? Oh yeah, it bothers me. But my horses are well fed and taken care of. And I know that is what matters. But being able to have a beautiful place where they live would make me even happier. Hopefully, the better weather will make that dream a reality.
I do wonder if Jesse is getting a sense that his hiatus is about to be over. I don’t think he will mind. He seems to like me hanging around with him.
Using Down Time Wisely
Instead of just writing it’s cold, because it really is, I wanted to pick something out of my 3 books to focus on learning, so that I can take it outside with Jesse, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Book No. 1
From my favorite book, Dressage Training and Competition Exercises for Beginners, I found a section in the book called 6 Ways to Improve Your Skills Today. These are the 6 areas are:
- Tiny Cues
- Use Hands Less
- Use Legs Less
- Be 100% On or 100% Off
I like having definitive areas that I can focus on. And for me, this is perfect. 6 things to think about. I can do that. And I find if I have a task to focus on, I can get more done. It also helps to keep me out of my own head and play out every worst-case scenario that could happen. My takeaway is to stay focused on the moment. Not thinking about things that happened earlier that day, or what I’m going to be doing later. But staying focused on the moment I am with my horse. Always remember to keep breathing; this is important, of course, but also remember to take a deep breath and let it out. This can help to keep my horse relaxed too. If I let out a deep breath, sometimes he does too.
And the little cues, the ones you don’t think you are doing but are. The little things we do, our horses can feel that. Pay attention to the little cues and go back to staying focused and in the moment. And while I am staying focused, breathing, and paying attention to the little cues I am giving my horse. I will use my hands and legs less. I don’t need to micromanage everything Jesse is doing.
Most importantly, I will be 100% sure of what I am doing with Jesse. We are either working 100% or relaxing 100%. No in-between.
Book No. 2
I haven’t really gotten into the second book I bought very much yet because I have been enjoying the first one so much. But the second book I found on Amazon is called Dressage in Harmony: 25 Principles to Live by When Caring for and Working with Horses. I bought it because of the title alone. I like having goals.
This book is just as good as the first one. I can see myself going to this one as much as the first. The one thing that stands out to me is what the author says about his book; “My approach in teaching and training as well as in this book, is that of complete sympathy for the horse and devotion to it’s happiness and well-being… to make the horse happy, confident, and proud to work for the rider.” I feel that is something very well worth striving for.
Chapter 5 of the book talks about preparations. If there is anything I know, I love to be prepared.
I have the tack and all of the equipment ready to go. The riding area….
Well, that is going to take some time to melt off the snow. But I have the arena. So that’s a plus. The stabling, riding with a plan, I got that. All of the tips the author talks about are helpful to think about and keep my focus on my end goal. I like that.
Book No. 3
Where I had not fully given this book a chance when I first started reading it, there is a lot of information and training assistance that I can learn from. It’s funny how preconceived thoughts can be swayed.
For the third book, I found an exercise that I can work on with Jesse on the ground, and then it should transition easily to when I am riding him, poll supplying. The goal is to loosen up or soften the big muscles over the top of the neck, making it easier for the large muscles to lengthen or shorten as the horse changes his bending.
This is something I can work on easily from the ground, first with the rope halter and then transitioning to the bridle. Again all from the ground. I will know I have been successful with this loosening or supplying technique when Jesse’s mane begins to bounce a little bit rather than lying flat.
The goal isn’t to use my hands to ‘pull’ or force his neck down and back, but rather to gently ask for Jesse to offer the bend. By practicing it first from the ground, I think it should transfer well while I am in the saddle. But the only way I will know for sure is to practice.
So this will be one of the exercises I will practice – once it warms up a bit. We shall see how it goes!
Longer, Warmer Days are Coming
I just have to stay positive and think about the longer days that are coming. And they are coming. I know they are. This crappy winter weather will merely be a memory soon.
And when they do, I want to be ready and make the most of the time I have. One day at a time, right? Yep. One day at a time.