Friday, December 11, 2009


I am mentally and emotionally exhausted.

We (Garbo and I) had a three hour lesson with Russell Higgins this afternoon. And half of it was spent on trailer loading.

First; I'll tell you why it was emotional... I had to take my human feelings and put them aside; when Garbo got scared, worried, Right Brain - but most of all - when he ended up with a teeny blood nose after a bonk on the nose with the CS. And a wee nick of skin off his foot where he slipped. I know - horses would do much worse - but he's not used to being 'beaten up by other horses' he is always, and has always been the top dog.

Second; mentally - alot to think about, tear to pieces, go over in my mind, reason it all out, think about what I will do tomorrow, go over everything a million times....

Phew - like I said.

OK - so the start of the lesson I told Russell I had some things I wanted to work on;
  • energy - differentiating my energy from on to off for say things like rope tossing from Zone 1
  • Making my phases more subtle
  • trailer loading (doing up the divider and getting more consistency)
  • Body Language - for change of direction etc
Well - of course - being a true Parelli instructor we never really got to those specific things as a whole but we worked on bits that I can only assume will lead to making the others better. Apart from the Trailer loading. Like I said - 1.5 hours.

He noticed Garbo was backing up crooked and said to straighten him by bumping his nose in the right direction rather than disengaging his HQ. OH!!! BFO!!!

He said until they are looking at you with two eyes they are not 100% with you. Yes, I know that - but these things start slipping and before you know it - you are doing it another way and haven't even realised.

He asked me to show him some friendly and I tossed the CS and string over him and he said to up the intensity slowly after finding his compfy place in the rope swinging intensity - then retreat to the compfy intensity again rather than stopping all together. He said he's been shooting a gun over the back of his young horse!

Then we did some falling leaf - well Russell did - I realised I was not putting my CS handle under my rope (swapping hands) like Pat does in the L3 change of direction, so was trying to block Garbo with my CS rather than disengaging him. I'll have to try that without the hose me thinks. I had a little play doing it with my back next to the fence.

Garbo was doing his usual - can I sit in your lap trick but after the 'new and improved' back up he stayed at a nice distance. It was so funny though - at one point Russell was showing me something and I had my back to Garbo and he snuck up behind me and I could just feel his breath on my neck, then my hands. Very cute.

Now - on the circle - Garbo starts sending himself after the back up - and Russell rightly pointed out that the back up becomes phase one of the circle game - oh YEAH!

So he said I have to pause for quite a while after each back up - before the send.

He also said stopping and relaxing (neutral) is friendly game... that's sometimes all they need.
Interestingly - Garbo tried to sit on Russells lap too so it's not a bond thing as I thought it may have been - I think it's like 'you stay on the outside so the lion will get you'. lol.

Ok - so the trailer loading - well I showed Russell how far we had come - Garbo basically got on straight away - all the way in - but then came off again nonchalantly.

Russell said I need 4 phases of phase 4...#1 was Maitre D ask - this way please... #2 touch with the savvy string, #3 bigger touch, #4 big tag.

My Maitre D ask only achieved Zone 2 and 3 in. I asked again and touched him with the Carrot stick and string and he went all the way in but then I showed Russell how he leans on the divider (massively pushing into pressure) when I try and close it.

Basically - my float is a front facing angle load and he needs to concertina himself lengthwise to be straight to move his hind end over to the right. But - he tends to stick his head and neck over the tack-box and look out the window (bending to the right) which makes it hard for him to sideways to the right with Zone 4. This also gives him extra head room. Not 100% sure that a wider float would make a difference but who knows.

So - Russell took over at this point. He had said that Garbo needs to willingly be thinking about going on to the float versus thinking about not going on. So when he was on nicely we were backing him off and walking around slowly outside (calmly) and then asking on again. He also said that he would ask him on from a further distance away but if Garbo tried to duck out past Russell he would make it uncomfortable (hard work) for him to do that.. I had also seen Pat doing that too. On the Trailer loading Savvy club DVD in fact.

So - at one point Garbo got unconfident with the forwards, sideways movements (or his lack of moving cued more pressure which made him a little RB) and he ducked out backwards fast and nearly took Russell with him a couple of times. When he did this Russell used the action of 'thinking about going in brings you comfort' - Garbo would circle Russell instead and of course this got Garbo tagged. He didn't like that and tried to circle faster. It got to a point where he nearly slipped over on the post peelings, knocked the wheel barrow over, reared, he tried every 'answer' except go in the float. Then Garbo got introverted - he got stuck - not knowing if to go forward or what... Russell did a good job of staying calm and being consistent with what he was asking.

During all the drama Garbo took a little nick out of his foot with his hoof with all his antics, and then at one point he was doing the nose, neck (maybe the feet) exit plan out to the side and Russell bonked him on the nose to get his nose straight and it sounded like a big thunk and next thing Garbo has some blood coming out of his nose. Not much - all in all I would say about 20 drops, but still - it looks bad to a human Mum. And nothing compared to a stand off with another horse as dominant as he is.

It was at this point I was just beginning to get emotional myself and about to say stop - I have had enough - when Garbo went on very nicely - promptly, and then stayed on and basically from then on shifted over at the slightest touch. We got the dividers open and closed, open, closed, now Russell worked on - only come off if you are asked to. Then I had a go - great!! I was calmer now. Garbo was covered from head to toe in sweat and puffing like crazy - we backed him off nicely and slowly and he got to have a rest and eat some grass. Then I loaded him three more times and we left it at that. He said to do it 4 more days in a row. Hopefully all it will take is Maitre D asks.

I can see now how these L4 people just point to the float and the horse runs in - the horse is thinking about going in! Not thinking about not going in!

Phew - I feel a bit better after getting all that down on paper so to speak.

I only have one photo - Garbo after a warm hose down.

When all the high energy stuff was happening Maraschino went from standing on the sidelines watching - as he does - to - I am OUTTA here and galloped away into the paddock, it was quite funny. I had the tarp out (pinned down) and as we finished he ran over it and gave himself a little fright as he did - but kind of looked at me like "see what I did? I am so brave"...funny thing.

So - fingers crossed Garbo is still speaking to me tomorrow. After his dinner I went out and sat in the paddock next to him while he ate. He nudged me gently a few times. Sweet.

Boy oh Boy.

1 comment:

Twinnie said...

Wow, sounds as if you had an emotionally moving/growing session just as much of if not more than Garbo. Isn't it true, though just as you think 'agghhhh stop!' then the horse responds....darkest before dawn??

I hate to think how many times I must have stopped too early aand taught the wrong thing. Thanks for sharing this ...very valuable....hope all ok today.