Making it Her Idea

That would have been the title of my play session with Charm yesterday. As we all know, it’s been REALLY cold this month, so I really haven’t had any quality time at the barn. Finally the weather broke and we had a gorgeous weekend a little above freezing. Warm enough in the arena to play without gloves on.. yay!


The Cookie Monster and Heidi spending some REAL quality time together! Charmer, want your belly scratched?

Willow decided to follow Charm and I up to the barn (I love willow.. if I had my own place I would buy her, she’s cute, spunky and Charm actually likes her.) I played with Willow for about 15 minutes, started with brushing her and grooming.. picking the font feet and then led her around the arena .. not sure the last time she had been in there. Charm decided to go exploring and it was really fun to watch her. She sniffed all the barrels and then decided to push the green ball around for a little while. It’s funny, I never think of her as playful because she’s not leaping in to the air and running around with great bursts of energy. For some reason I associate playfulness with speed. I’ve discovered that Charm is quite playful, she’s just a playful introvert… hmmm.

Willow went back outside to join the rest of her herd while I got out the 22′ line.. I thought I would play with some figure 8s and see what Charm offered me. First we did some weaving at the walk and trot just to get her motor going. I tipped the barrels on their sides so it was easier for the rope to go above them. I was starting to ask her to do some figure 8s and each time she would come across a barrel, she’d jump it. Hmmm…   so what should I do?

“Bad Charm! I don’t want you to jump the barrels, I want you to go around them! You must listen and do as I say, now try that again!!”


“Wow! Thanks for offering that Charmer, you’re so talented and smart. Oh, and you want to jump this one too? .. ok, let’s do it! Let me help you.”

I choose the second option.  I’ve learned that when my LBI horse is offering and putting effort into doing something, I must acknowledge the effort and possibly change the game plan. At that moment, Charm was interested in jumping the barrels (which takes more energy than simply doing a figure 8). The old Heidi would have insisted that she go around the barrels and keep going around until we got our perfect figure 8. That would have made me happy, but where does that leave Charmer? Isn’t this a relationship?

For a brief moment I thought about sending her out for a figure 8 again, but then like a swift slap in the face I realized I should take what she’s offering me and pay around with it. Charm has been jumping barrels for most of her life.. so it’s not really a big deal to ask for a jump. But I had a great idea! Oooh.. Charmer! Can you jump a single upright barrel??

I set one of the smaller barrels upright and directed Charm to it. She sniffed it and moved her mouth all over the top of it. I waited until she was done, then asked for the jump, she positioned herself and half jumped sideways, kinda flinging her back leg above it. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effort! I congratulated her on the attempt with some scratches, rest and kind words. Then directed her back to the barrel.. sniffed it, mouthed it, JUMPED IT!! Like completely vaulted over it! I screamed, shoved a few treats into her mouth and hugged her neck. Then… we left that and did something else (green ball, her favorite 😉 )

This was a major learning experience for me. I think I was a good student and applied everything I’ve learned and gosh, this stuff works! Think of sending a random horse to an upright barrel and expect them to jump it.. it’s highly unlikely. When you can stick with this and work through the roadblocks it does eventually all come together. You really do have unlimited potential!

Another cool thing to mention. The close range circling at liberty is now a consistent thing that Charm offers. Infact, if she doesn’t do it, I would think there was something wrong and would need to play more friendly and improve the relationship. So in the end, it’s a good gauge. Charm does the close range circling when she is going to the right. When she is going to the left.. she stays further out, but will whip her head toward me when she is by my side and ask an obvious question. I giggle when she does it because all-of-a-sudden she looks over like “Now what!? Tell me to do something!” *I am starting to like this new Charmer 2.0!* The first time she did this I asked her to come to me – and at a canter she cut across at a 90˚ angle and ran to me. Cool! The second time she looked over and I asked for a change of direction. Normally she would get pissed about this and basically run away. This time, she changed direction in front of me and immedietly came in close for some circling. WOW! That was cool… 😀 I can’t wait for spring and for more play area outside!


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