I went out on a trail ride a couple nights ago with a friend who's never been on a horse before. I saddled up the horses and asked Aspen to be a good girl. This was a situation that I knew would require a "withdraw" from our relationship bank.
I make as many deposits as I possibly can to our relationship bank through undemanding time, Friendly Game, grazing walks/rides, and doing things that Aspen likes and feels really smart doing.
She's not a confident horse as she is innately a Right Brain Extrovert - so leading out on a trail ride while ponying another horse with the expectation that she needs to be a solid partner for me is a big ask. That's the withdraw - you have to behave and put the needs of the group first.
It is times like these that consequently raise my leadership in her eyes though. Sometimes you just gotta do something and trust me. When she comes out the other side it only reaffirms to her that I can make decisions on her behalf that were safe and comfortable.
Now don't get me wrong, if she had a serious break in confidence or disconnect from me then I would have gotten off and addressed that. But as it were, I just needed her to trust me, to trust in herself and lead the ride calmly.
As we were riding along I could feel Aspen wanting to do a lot of things besides walk down the trail. She wanted to spook and gawk, she wanted to prance and jig a bit, and she wanted to kick the horse I was ponying.
But she didn't actually do any of those things. She was trying so hard to listen to my seat and energy as we went
All of a sudden she stopped, took a strange and halting half step then backed up. She looked back at me over her shoulder. I could tell something was wrong and looked down to see we had become completely ensnared in some barbed wire I hadn't seen in the tall grass.
I jumped off and noticed the other horse was tangled in the same wire as Aspen. Stay calm I told myself.
I asked Aspen to pick up her feet in turn and managed to get her out of the wire, then asked her to stand quietly while I untangled the other horse.
And that's it. It turned out to be a complete non-event, which is the best part!
Aspen would have never stood quietly as the lead horse on a trail ride while I untangled barbed wire from her and another horse when I first got her. She would have kicked it and twisted it and it likely would have ripped her and the other horse to shreds.
Thanks to Parelli Aspen knows how to yield to pressure, how to trust me as her leader.
She felt that Porcupine Game around her legs and stopped and waited. She looked to me for help and guidance and knew I would help her solve the puzzle.
The ride finished out smoothly, the horses were calm and happy by the time we got back, and thankfully were injury free.
Every horse should know how to lead by the legs and follow a feel below the knees - this is a life saver for horses! Thank you Parelli!