Apollo is evolving himself nicely along with my sporadic training, which I take full responsibility of not giving him the time that he needs. I can surely understand how many people want to spoil their horses because I certainly spoil my dog. But the one thing I have learned with my experience with my dog is that there are two ways I have let him down. One is not believing that evolution would help in his development, so I feel in many cases I was too strong with him. The other aspect is allowing him to hurt my feelings from not being the dog that I thought he should be if he cared about me; like when I first had him, he ran away a lot, and wouldn’t come when he was called. Now in retrospect, all of it has worked out nicely, but I think I brought too much drama in the growing up of Apollo.
In my last report to you about my dog, I reported that I had taught him to pick up two things and carry them. Since Apollo is not a retrieving dog, this was a great feat! And as you remember I did that without teaching him, I just used consequences with the Greenies he would eat. I would put two Greenies on the floor- he would pick up one Greenie- and run away with it, and when he came back, the other Greenie was gone. He soon learned that it would be a better idea to figure out when he left to take both of them.
What Apollo likes to do in the afternoon is play with his squeaky toys, and he strews them throughout the house. The evolution of his carrying two things in his mouth has evolved to the point that now when he plays with his toys in the afternoon, he stacks them in one place. He is now experimenting with order and I think this is created from learning how to carry two things at once.
What Does This Have To Do With Your Horse?
So, what does all of this have to do with horse training? For me it just gives me a bunch of empathy and understanding in what it is like to have a horse in your life who you care very much for, and have a great need to have a bond with, and how it is so easy to forget that it just takes time. Maybe you don’t get it right in a session, it won’t hurt the relationship if the bond is strong and the horse is at liberty.
Time and your intent to develop your horse just evolves into a perfect dance with a little bit of understanding that there are five elements to keep in mind- the Five Heart Strings of Connection™. These strings are like primary colors on the color wheel. These connections that need to be attended to are the bond- which has to exist in the moment, trust- which has to exist in the moment, respect- which has to exist in the moment, focus- which has to exist in the moment, and the desire to follow your lead. Not one of these can be missing when working your horse at liberty. So, just think about that. If your horse is doing anything at all that suggests a connection for any length of time, it will evolve into an extreme dance like it has for me and Apollo. Because without knowing it at all, you have an amazing and profound connection all ready- and just showing up every day and working on this is all you really need to contribute to your training, just like I have done with my dog.
While you are training a horse, when you feel that your horse has lost any one of these feelings, you just stop what you are doing, and adjust the feeling and the connection with the proper Ritual, and when you go back to training, you choose something that would create a desire to perform. If your horse is bored, plenty of practice Leading from Behind will return the rhythm and get rid of the boredom. Asking your horse to wake up and canter around the areas he is in and allowing him the freedom to go where he chooses will cause adrenaline and endorphins to release the boredom from your horse. So with the Five Heart Strings of Connection being your focus along with energy adjustments, you will have the dance you are wanting as long as you don’t try to get the training done in a day- and let evolution bring the dance to you and your horse.
May the horse be with you!