Brown Panties, Green patches on knees
This morning, I was a tad..ahem…… nervous. All I could remember was that giant snaking head of Cato’s disappearing from view and his hind end popping up @ 9mph trot!!!! Can I handle him when that happens again? What do I do? I know Celena can help me but I really think she needs to have a *simultaneous feedback system* so that when he DOES somethin; she can just talk in my ear and tell me exactly what to do. First, show up at the barn and exercise Chancey. When I go to catch Cato, I yell * Caaaatoooo* and he NEIGHS at me… and comes on over. He is being very responsive and it gladdens my heart. That means he is enjoying what we are doing even if some of it is Cato Discipline. Head over to Griffinwood wearing brown panties, you know, just in case I crap my pants in fear or Cato causes me to … well, you know. JUST IN CASE! There was so much I learned today….. both Cato’s and my brains were full….. so I am pretty sure I will forget something. We get there an hour early…we work in the arena, walk, trot canter, bend, circles, side pass, weave through poles, do cavaletti, weave around in and out of barrels, lovely work out he is listening. He moves so darn big that I lose my stirrup twice at the canter, but am able to pick it back up at the canter. No use for brown panties, yet, But….. it’s coming….. what will he do? can I handle it? what happens if…. will we die? will he dump me? The arena work? That is the the round and round on the garmin player track.
First thing Celena does is change bits from the loose ring snaffle to a full cheek comfort snaffle….. so I can do *one rein stops* on the trail; she is afraid the loose ring snaffle will just pull through his mouth. He seems to do really well with the full cheek snaffle and I can DO one rein stops really well and have the green patches on the knees of my britches to PROVE that we pretty much did one reins stops during the whole lesson. Celena asks me *about Cato, tell me about Cato*. I related my experiences with Cato thus far…. especially the experience last Saturday with the *head snake* and *butt pop*…… So, after a chat about horse and herd mentality and appropriate attention to the rider 🙂 ( yes, it IS all about US, the rider) we proceed to the trails at the lovely Griffinwood Stables 100 acres of omg paradise trails….. and Celena on Rosie and Paige on Addie help by being distractions for Cato. We start with Cato standing still while Paige and Celena trot by him and we watch what he does. Celena teaches me two strategies: one rein stop and going the other direction at strategic times…. with the fine tuning of *using Cato energy correctly* and re-engaging Cato’s brain. We did Cato leading, Celena leading, Celena leaving us on the trail, 1,2,3 4 horse lengths ahead and then OUT OF SIGHT AROUND THE CORNER…. OMG! Cato perked up his ears and started looking around….. one rein stop, hey big guy, look to your rider here….and again, leave him, pass him, leave him, pass him, let him lead; face to face, pressure ON; pressure OFF, Pressure ON, Pressure OFF. Ask him to do the right thing, reward him, ask him to do the right thing, reward him, one rein stop, go the other way. Must do it immediately so Cato knows that he MUST look to his rider for direction ALWAYS! ALWAYSALWAYSWALWAYS. He never really needs to decide stuff by himself. He has a Partner…. and it is a partnership, with two-way communication ALWAYS! Celena then proceeds to *walk away* from Cato telling me that as SOON as he shows any tendency towards losing it, to either go the other way or do a one rein stop. Ok, we can do that….. I feel so awkward….but the goal is to get the big guy thinkin’ about his rider to the point where he will *ask* his rider, *hey what should I do?*… He has a combination of *jerk horse behaviors* and * high energy horse behaviors* that need to be addressed ( Um, Like all horses???? Cato is no different than any other horse, no worse, no better, he is a HORSE!). We work on that with varying degrees of separation at the walk and slow trot,passing, them leaving him, him passing them, him standing still while they go BY him….having him whoa while other horses go by him and by him again…… I have realized that with Cato? it is all about learning his *tells* like in Poker. I don’t know him very well yet, but, I think he starts amping up small then it gets bigger over time. So, I must STOP it as soon as it starts; not assuming that if it is small it will stay small. With Cato, it will not stay small….. At some point in the lesson I realize he looked around to ask me, * hey is it OK if I go fwd, look…they are…*. OMG. That is so COOL! Ok he is listening. The other strategy is to turn him around to make him go the other way….. and then come back….. Interesting, that. Because Cato has absolutely no resistance to going the other way, *OK let’s GO, even if it’s away from the other horses*, I need to watch for the resistance to push through it…. so if you watch the Garmin player you will see us going back n forth until his head drops with the pressure of a horse and rider at either end… on the trail, heading back to the barn, etc. Celena said * and you need to do this whenever you are riding with other people, do this with ALL horses, all the time, they ALL need it to re-engage with their rider. We worked hard for a good amount of time and then called it GOOD and Cato and I went home. He had a bath, some treats, a roll and he has on his new buckskin fly mask… pretty darn handsome! This evening, Peter and I stop by the barn to say hi…Peter, who is non horsey to the max? Says * hmmm, nice lookin horse* 🙂 High praise indeed! Tomorrow, Cato gets a day off while I ride Chancey pants! I look forward to getting on the big Cato horse…..and I want that to continue and will work concertedly hard to have that happen! Thank you Amanda for the privelege of riding your boy.