Thank you so much for sending in all of your ideas for the webzine! It looks like we are going to have a lot of articles on the Certified Clinicians and the readers! We are working on the outline right now. And for anyone who wants to add to this please email us at email@example.com put in the subject line: Article for Webzine.
I thought for today we would start with an article that could be found in the webzine. It is an article from one of my Certified Clinicians Lori Brown Smith. For those of you who don’t know Lori, she has been a student of mine for about 10 years. You may have heard me mention her about learning to Roman Ride, and she has reported that she is doing quite well on that subject! Lori is an accomplished mounted shooter and has multiple California state and world championships and is the 2005 CMSA Women’s World Rifle Champion.
She has ridden in the Tournament of Roses Parade for 12 years and performs in Wild West shows shooting sidesaddle. Her Friesian stallion Alger has a long list of accomplishments as well, and today we will hear a story of her work with Alger on an everyday experience working with my Waterhole Rituals.
The difference between a hot horse that is aggressive versus a hot horse in the connection- AKA: How to turn a fire-breathing dragon into a dancing dragon!
By Lori Brown Smith
Recently, the rain has kept my Friesian stallion in the barn. This last weekend, I had the opportunity to work him at liberty and let him really stretch his legs. When I released him in my large arena, he felt wild and big. One of the things I have noticed about my horses is that depending on their mood, they can appear bigger or smaller to me. (Maybe some of you have experienced this too)
Well, on this day, I think he grew about five hands at least! After letting him loose, he did his usual leap in the air, proceeded to find his favorite rolling spot in the sand, and then raced down to the far end of the arena to survey the territory, and quickly began to eat the seasonal grasses that edge the arena this time of year.
After he goes through his normal routine, I sit on the side of the arena and watch him for a while to size him up, and analyze my observations and feelings that I have about him. On this day, he had a sense of being very “hot” and indifferent at the same time. He was extremely alert, and would come roaring up when I called him in from the trot and canter. Although to the untrained eye, it might have looked like he was doing what I asked, there was a friskiness and aggressiveness expressed in his interactions. He would come into my space too fast and in an arrogant way. As part of my observation process, I always watch his facial expressions and his eyes to monitor his attitude and behavior. On this day, he had a sour look in his eye, and on occasion there was a hint of teeth, which is not normal for him now.
One of the main things that I have learned from Carolyn is to work with what the horse gives us and to use the Rituals accordingly. I could tell that Companion Walking with him would not be a good idea because he could end up on top of me, or leave me with a spinning kick in my direction because he was too high. I then pulled from my mental “Carolyn Resnick Encyclopedia of Horse” in my head and went to work.
What to do with a Flying Black Dragon? Take Territory of Course!
This was a classic case in need of Taking Territory and Leading from Behind, which is exactly what I did. Since his energy level was up high, I matched it. In this instance when I asked him to leave my space, I made sure that I had very deliberate body language and used my short whip as an extension of my arm to delineate my space and ensure my safety. After he cantered around with purpose- and I mean purpose- I asked for halt. I asked through my body language- stopping in my tracks, lifting from my core, and yelled “Whoa!” In an instant, Alger collected his feet in mid air and planted himself on the ground. I thought to myself- “Well, he is not completely gone” and told him “Good boy!” Then, I called him up, and still, he felt like he was coming in too hot. So again, I sent him out strong, and after maybe five or six large circles of him running with purpose, I asked for whoa. Again, instantly- all four feet planted on the ground, and with an extremely high neck and head, Alger gave a blow of acknowledgment from his nose that made me believe he was part dragon for sure as he stood there in halt! I stood there a moment, about 30 plus feet away, and waited casually. I took a deep breath and listened to the light breeze blowing in the trees and tuned into the nature around us and just watched him. His eye softened and I called him up to me again. As he came up, I was very specific to ask for a slow walk and halted him multiple times as he came up to me. I then asked him to stop about 6-8 feet from me. His eyes softened and his head lowered in a kind of way that he seems to ask, “OK, can I please come up now?”
There was a complete shift in his attitude. We were now connected, and I could feel a respect for my leadership that was not present earlier in the session. Becoming that strong took me a long time to learn, and since I do not have high energy anyway, this can sometimes be a challenge for me. By working with this particular horse, I have learned how to increase my energy level in the moment I need it, and to bring the necessary Waterhole Rituals and leadership skills to the table in order to restore harmony and unity back into our relationship.
In this situation, I had a dominant, aggressive horse that was extremely hot with an attitude, and by using the Waterhole Rituals of Sharing Territory, Taking Territory, and Leading from Behind, along with liberty dancing, I was able to bring my horse back from his rainy doldrums.
That night the rain came back, and the wind blew in a direction that I had never seen at my family’s ranch before. After the storm, I was able to take him out again. He was still extremely hot, and sometimes I feel like I have Shamu on the end of a short rope :) but the difference in his personality was amazing. He was attentive, spirited, and that magical connection that Carolyn is always talking about-well this was it for me! Being the beautiful Friesian stallion that he is, I couldn’t help thinking about having armor on and riding him into battle! He was the perfect partner.
I am so blessed to have these wonderful times with my horses. It is difficult for me to describe the awe of having a hot horse that is willing to do everything you ask and be right on target. There is a sharpness to the performance that gives me the chills!
The Benefits of Having a Happy Hot Horse
What is great for me when my Friesian is hot, is that I do not have to wake him up, he is already there. The energy that I received from him on this day was very positive. His facial expression was that of excitement and attentiveness. His rear was perfect and deliberate, not an expression of aggression or evasion. His eye contact felt as though he was an eagle on the hunt, and the dance was truly joyful. Companion Walking, trotting and free lunging, halt at any speed, change directions, lay down, got trot, come up, side pass left- right, a little piaffe anyone? It is on these days that I have to make sure that I do not overdo it because I am having so much fun as well! I am always monitoring what my horse is doing, what I am asking for, and how I ask for it. Feeling where the passion is in the performance and determining how much I should ask for and when is the key to a great performance. That is what I love about Carolyn’s Waterhole Rituals. It is ok to learn and grow and make mistakes, because once you have them in your toolbox, you can continue to refine the performance on so many levels!
The End of Dragon’s Flight
As the day began to come to a close, the breeze stopped as the sunset cast a warm glow on the horizon with the silhouette of the pine trees in the distance. There was a calmness after our high energy performance and we both breathed a relaxing sigh.
As a way to finish up the day, I got on bareback with a halter, and asked Alger to walk around the arena. I thought that it had been awhile since I had asked him to lie down while riding and I picked out a good spot that I thought he would like. I asked him to lie down, and he began to circle and paw in preparation for going down. In all of my years of riding, I had never experienced anything close to the wonder of being on a horse as they are laying down and feeling all of the muscles and balance to softly reach the ground. Down and down and down, and then we were there. I have had the opportunity to do this many times now and I never get tired of it. I stepped off to the side as he looked at me and gave a little roll of his neck, as he moved to get back up. With a small step, I was back onto his back and feeling the power beneath me. Soon we were up! I rubbed him, and told him what a good boy he was and trotted back to the treats! It could not have been more perfect!
What is important to remember is that timing, and instincts play such a big part in horse training. If you listen to the feelings that you have when you are with your horse and act in the moment that it feels right to ask, and when you have done your homework with the Waterhole Rituals- you can’t miss.
I hope everyone enjoyed this sample article- I know I did!
May the Horse Be with You!