Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Get the log out!

I know it has been a while since I have said anything. I have been extremely busy. I just partially finished bringing a 4 year old quarter horse to the point of being ridden. He is going to be a good horse. This experience showed me again how important a good beginning is when it comes to training a horse, or for that matter doing anything in life. My own two horses need a lot of work to get them where I want them to be too. That is as much me as them. However, I didn't know how far along Raven was until after Hunter (the 4 year old) left and I had some time to work with Raven. She is eons farther than I had thought. Its like driving a car without power steering then driving one with it. It was refreshing. If only I had started her like this when she first arrived 15 years ago. But I can get her to improve more. I need to improve myself. It is like Jesus saying in Matthew 7, 'take the log out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of another persons eye.' That is not the exact quote, but in applying this to horses, I have found that I need to be harder on myself than my horse. Raven or Jake want to work. They want to understand what I am trying to tell them. I can tell because they lick their lips, throw their head around, or just move trying to find the right answer. so when they don't find the release it is because of me. If they don't move their shoulders over but move their back up or mover forward it could be that I am not giving them the right release or cue. It has to be taught to them. Much of the time I have discovered that when I want a turn and they side pass it is because I am giving them mixed signals due to my own inexperience. My seat position is wrong, I'm not riding balanced myself. So when I recognize that and am harder on my own mistakes then theirs the session is more relaxed and we learn the move faster. One thing I have noticed is that they don't hold my mistakes against me. Whew! that is a relief.
So in the future when I ride (which is always an occasion for training) I prepare myself be remembering that they will try to find the right answer. I need to know what I want and how to ask for it before I ask it. And I need to remember to be harder on myself than the horse. I need to get the log out of my own eye before I try to get that speck out of theirs.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Back to the beginning

Sometimes, I have discovered that it is best to go back to the beginning when you get lost in what you are doing. I have done just that in working with my horses. I have been going back to the basics in refreshing their minds regarding training them. I want them to be as safe as possible. So lately, I have went back to ground exercises that I have learned. I ask them to give to pressure off a lead rope, bending and softening their necks by pulling lightly on the lead rope until they bend or dip their nose to their chest. I have begun sacking them out (desensitizing) with anything I can find that might spook them on the road or trail. When I start with them on any given day I have been lungeing them asking for repeated directional changes, asking them to give the hind quarters, to lead etc. until they are responding correctily with minimal pressure on my part. I just want them to get better at it. I also introduced flags (plastic bag on the end of my whip), balls, grain sacks, an umbrella open and closed in order to desensitize them more. I think alot of people think they just have to introduce something once and they don't have to do it again. But horses learn by repetition. So the more times I can introduce 'scarey' things to them the more they will not let them bother them. Hence, I am doing this everytime I work with them. Raven has been doing well. I was able to work with her yesterday again on softening and collection and she is coming along responding faster the more I do it. That is why I went back to the beginning. To refresh my own mind and to refresh hers. Jake is softer than Raven in collecting up, but he is also more of a coward. So I will be really working on desensitizing him to those scarey things.

Another advantage to going back to the beginning is not only does my learning become more habitual in practice, but it also enhances my communication with Raven or Jake. I have discovered that most of the time when I am having trouble with them, when they don't seem to be 'getting it' it is not because they aren't trying or because they don't want to, it is because I have failed to communicate clearly what I want, either by my seat or leg position or because I wasn't sure what I wanted them to do. So it hasn't been their fault but mine. Hence, I have had to tell them I am sorry when I realize I haven't communicated clearly what I want them to do. (I don't think I have to ask for forgiveness, though their have been times I got angry with them only to realize it wasn't their fault. I do believe they would be quick to forgive though.)

I think the same is true in our spiritual lives. We get in a rut, or our bible reading and prayer begins to become uninteresting and slacks off. That is when we need to go back to the beginning and get refreshed in our passion for the Lord. That takes going back to the basic disciplines of the Christian life- pray whether you feel like it or not, pray until you do feel like it. Introduce Bible prayers such as Colossians 1:9-12; Ephesians 1:15-20; Ephesians 3:14-19 into your prayer time. Memorize those passages. How about rekindling your desire to read the Bible by reading it chronologically. There are Chronological Bibles you can purchase. I have a Chronological Bible reading plan I am following presently. If anyone wants it I can email it to you. Unless you have Logos Bible Software it will not work exactly like mine, but you will have the verses to read and the scheduled order of reading. What about getting involved in some ministry in the church that will challenge and stretch you. Attend a Bible study in your church that you haven't attended before, or go to one you haven't been to for a while.

Just like with my horses going back to the beginning in their training refreshes me as well as gets them more broke. It also helps to fill any holes in their training in the past. So also getting back to the beginning when you were fired up for the Lord in the beginning of your Christian walk will help to refresh your spiritual vitality. Another thing, God communicates His desires for you clearly in His word, but it takes you seeking to understand and practice it in order for you to get it right. Sometimes this takes trial and error. But God is a forgiving God.

So why not decide today to get back to the beginning and watch your spiritual foundation become more solid and stable.

Stay between the ears!


Matt. 6:33