May 2011 Savvy Times

Ugh!  I am so behind on so many things, I finally had a chance to read all of the May 2011 Savvy Times today and really loved it!  There were a few articles and passages that touched home for me - either inspiring or educational - there is nothing not to love about the Savvy Times!

The Match Report is something, after having read the Meet Your Match article, that I definitely want to do for Aspen and myself.  I'm trying to decide if I have enough information and know enough about Aspen to fill out the report accurately on her...I've had her home in Montana since February which is ample time to figure her out, but I find her to be somewhat complex - getting more simple for me to read by the day - which  makes me second guess the quality of my information filters.  How well am I actually interpreting her behaviors?  When I see left brain, right brain, extrovert, and introvert qualities, expressions of confidence and fear - how accurate are my assessments?  Do I really know what her body language is telling me?  I think the answer is yes, most of the time I get her, but in my true-to-form ways I just can't make up my mind!  Perhaps after a lesson or two with a PP I will have more clarity on the behaviors I'm seeing and be better able to identify her Horsenality based on her innate characteristics, learned behaviors, environmental stimuli, and spirit level.

Sarah Grimm, 2-Star Parelli Professional's section titled An Amazing Apprenticeship had a lot of thought provoking and aha moments for me.  I have tried to live by the saying 'expect a lot, accept little, reward often', but I never really thought about the types of expectations I had.  I guess for each horse I play with I have been developing a different set of expectations for each horse - after all, they're individuals.  In the past my expectations have been somewhat limited or shallow, setting goals for each horse based on what type of Horsenality they have and what I think they're capable of....

"A big key to horse development is to have a deeper understanding of what it means to "expect a lot" from the horse.   When you have high expectations for a horse, it doesn't matter if he is spooky or sensitive or scared or playful or pushy or Right Brain or Left Brain.  It doesn't change what your expectations are for the horse, as you can help a horse through issues and make big changes."  Wow.  That instantly spoke to me because I have yet to really set high expectations of my horse.  I have yet to see the ultimate end result for every horse I play with.  I have been expecting only a medium amount from my horse and then accepting (and pushing) for much more than 'just a little' effort to reach my (only) medium expectation... Hmm... How wrong does that sound???  In my mind because my expectations were lower I felt I was still being fair in the acceptance part, that I was still 'accepting little'.  After all, I wasn't asking for very much so why shouldn't she put in a little extra effort?  How wrong (and more importantly unfair) have I been all these years to my horse??  Expect a lot, accept little, reward often. Sounds so simple. 

My expectations will undoubtedly develop and evolve as my goals and level of savvy grow.  But my core expectations of a calm, willing, and motivated horse should not change.  My expectations that my horse at least attempt what I ask should not change.  My expectations do not necessarily include that my horse perform whatever goal I have for the outcome of a task, my expectations are that my horse try!  Accept little...and therefore reward often.  Yes reward at the slightest try.  Expect, Accept, Reward - not in equal doses.  This is not Love, Language, and Leadership in equal doses.  This is the leadership part - which requires a much more specific formula - Expect A Lot, Accept A Little, Reward Often.

Sarah also continues on to write about Principles, Purpose and Time.  As she talks about young horse development she poses the question when playing with horses on the ground, "Would I accept his behavior from the horse if I were riding?  Would I feel safe if my horse did this while I was riding?"  For anyone who's been following my journey with Aspen you may have guessed that she doesn't always exhibit safe behavior on the ground, and subsequently in the saddle.  She, if my judgments are correct, is an RBE (perhaps on the cusp of LBE) - and has a tendency to become frightened or bothered easily and resorts to bolting or bucking and spooking.  When ridden if she isn't struggling with her confidence she gets quite dominant and then gets to being humpy and threatening.  I have always known, since beginning Parelli, to play with my horse on the ground 'hard' to ride 'soft', to ask myself 'does this horse look ridable?', and not to get on until I have a LB horse.  But I have never specifically thought about molding and shaping and disallowing certain behaviors on the ground because I would not tolerate them in the saddle.  I know when I play with Aspen next I will have a keener eye for more specifically breaking down and reshaping her negative behaviors on the ground with the ultimate idea of being able to replicate the same situation on her back. 

I also want to note that the article Troubleshooting, What to Ask When Things Go Wrong by Christine Massinger is a great read.  I really liked the break down of The Plan, Making The Right Decision, and The Real Learning added by Linda Parelli. Also by Linda was Needs & Imagination, What Does Your Horse Need was awesome!  I love anything to do with Horsenality and I love the model she created on page 65 with the different Horsenalities and how they express their individual needs.

Check out our accomplishments on Parelli Connect and keep track of where we're at and where we're headed! :)  Speaking of where we're headed have you seen the new Parelli University website?  Aspen and I are aiming to go to a Fast Track in Colorado in 2012!