Julia and I worked with Stoli today. First, we kept him company to start our daily work. He is now feeling a bond with both of us and even enjoying our company. We are working on body releasing techniques to get him to release any bad memories that could get in the way of his willingness from trust issues in the past. Body work helps a horse to feel safe enough to be intimate with you and this is important. If a horse will not allow you to be intimate with him it is not a good idea in general to think about riding because it sets an attitude of not being fluid and fluidity is very important in dressage. Since Stoli is 21 years old he needs all the fluidity he can get. We discovered Stoli is an amazingly agile horse and loves doing carrot stretches and this one in particular as you can see below:
Stoli doing his agile excercise - he offered this to us completely umprompted
He is a great lesson horse for Julia because he is very locked in some areas and is responding very slowly, which is giving her plenty of practice. We found an unwillingness to give to the first Uberstreichen Exercise and we began working him through this. After that, we took him to the arena without a companion horse. This was a big step for him. He rolled and ran for about for about three minutes looking to get back to the barn, then I caught him and led him back.
Julia and I can see that he is coming along very slowly and we can also see that he is much better and more trusting. It is important to see both sides of the improvement and the lack of improvement to be discerning.
I hope by the middle of week we will have a horse that we can ride. He has been here two weeks now. Once he is used to the environment in the arena he should be happy to get back to his exercise program. At this stage of the game it is all about discernment. Knowing how to approach the relationship, lesson and goals for Julia and myself and knowing how to approach Stoli in a way that will win his support and willingness to relax and give lessons.
I want to try to stay away from struggle because it is a sign that I have stepped out of harmony and unity. I always look for a loss of harmony and unity as this is not the practice of the art of horsemanship. Without harmony and unity, I have no natural support from either the horse or the environment. Though sometimes you must push to get results, the percentage should be low and the relationship well seasoned. I do believe it is a way to test the waters, it is sometimes helpful to push for results providing you can do it without disturbing the bond. If you make a mistake from testing, you can repair it easily from your willingness to see your error.
You need to be careful in wanting to push for perfection when you are trying to reach goals because the struggle can push away the goals you are trying to achieve. Anyway, pushing Stoli would never be a choice for me because of his age.
I will update you more on our joint progress in the weeks ahead. Enjoy your week