Day 5 and 10,000 ways that don’t work

I’m having to work hard to keep track of what day it is now, but it’s our last day before 2 days off, which I’m super grateful for. The second of these days is 08/08 and the completion of my 44th year on this planet. FBI/CSIS, you’re welcome. Astrologers, you are also ❤ (insights in comments plz).

Today a lot of things changed in my training sessions with Mirror. She got a hay net and an extra flake of hay in the morning. Maddy worked with her one session in the morning, and then I followed at the end of the morning rotation, so just before lunch. We worked on primarily relaxation: two steps and stop then c/t, instead of c/t for follow while walking and asking her to match a faster pace, which seemed to get her way too amped up to focus (hence the charging & wandering off behaviours). She charged away once (or twice, honestly I can’t remember) at Calibri, and walked away to drink water once for sure, but other than that she didn’t wander much. We worked on keeping her head lowered in home position (or TRM) worked on starting to weed out the head bobbing behaviour, which really varied throughout both morning and afternoon sessions. But I feel like for the next training session on Friday after the days off I’ll know better what to c/t (and what NOT to do, eg. wave the bouy wand when Mirror started to step into my space, which Maddy noticed IMMEDIATELY. I only did that once lol). I kind of love that about Maddy’s teaching style — she’s super grounded and kind and gentle and encouraging: “Do X…. YES, nice. Well done!” but she has no problem saying “Um, what did you just do there?” in a way that lets you know very clearly not to do that thing you just did. Hahaha. Sigh <3.

So, overall it was a WAY better day. I had a better sleep, although I realized through a conversation at lunch today that probably the altitude is part of the reason I haven’t been sleeping super well. Still, we had a slightly later start so I slept another half hour and didn’t feel rushed. Other than the slow and short bursts of forward movment (2-3 steps max) it was a lot of stop and stand relaxed. A bit of back up with a nice head set (head low). Some target and hold on the bridge of the nose (I didn’t do any forehead to hand). No targeting to the mat, although I’m not exactly sure why (*mental note to ask Maddy b/c pretty sure there is a reason). And ending the session with targeting/sending to the cone, then start button and neck pets. Both sides are still good for neck pets (I’d say balanced actually) but moving lower or higher on her neck from the friendly zone (middle of the neck) still brings her closer to threshold, which I’m glad I was able to see. She seems to like & want the scratches but I think I need to wait a bit before moving back on her body.

It’s so interesting to see the shift in these horses in the 5 days I’ve been observing (and in Mirror’s case, playing with) them. I feel like Mirror is definitely NOT the furthest along in the gentling process of the 6 any more, although it’s hard exactly to gauge what “furthest” even means in this process, now that I’ve stepped into it a wee little bit. So since I just started watching Brene Brown (to stretch out my QE quotient), I’m observing the different stories I’m telling myself about what I’ve experienced with Mirror over the past few days. Was the Day 4 low following the Day 3 high a necessary “reset”? I think I learned a few things about what not to do, and a few things about what to do — like, for instance, how to look for & reward relaxation. When and how to move off to ask her to follow me. Maddy’s Facebook just posted this thing which speaks pretty much exactly to this (also, what sorcery is this? why do these perfectly-timed things keep popping up exactly as I’m writing about them? it’s the Russian algorithms on Facebook, right? But now that I’m here in Colorado, I am probably on the verge of finding out that it’s actually just an alien reality TV show or something, so I’m pretty excited about that).

So I think this is what Maddy is trying to teach us here: how can humans communicate with horses in terms that the horse can understand? And using these methods with wild horses I think probably shows more clearly what does and does not work in establishing this communication as both the horse and the human work out how we are going to move around together and who sets the agenda. I think I let Mirror set it too much of the time in the first couple of days because Maddy encouraged us to take the horses up on offered behaviours. However, Mirror was probably past the stage of needing to be brought out of that super wild frightened & frozen state compared some of the other horses. The stage that follows that super wild & frightened stage probably varies depending on the horse, but for sassy & brave little souls like Mirror, I think it’s a stage in which both the human and the horse have to come to some mutual understanding about the game (which must be safe for both players).

I’m really grateful to be here learning from Maddy directly, and it feels especially cool because she’s really open about how this is a learning process for her too. She’s trying stuff out and figuring out what works best, and learning from the struggles that we’re discovering with each horse and each trainer every new day. So I guess that’s how those low days are also a gift: they push us to figure out the things we need to figure out in order to keep moving forward. We’re just like a bunch of Thomas Edisons over here finding out our 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Now it’s time for our closing ceremony of these first five days, in which I’ve decided to allow the tears to flow if they want. I’m bringing Moon’s yo-yo to place on the altar. It’s my favourite thing of his — I think about the thousands of revolutions of that battered little aluminum cylinder wound up of his energy, and when I trace my finger around the inside edge of it I feel those vibrations again. I can’t think of a better place to share & amplify that beautiful spirit <3.

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