Day two is done and I am exhausted.. both physically and mentally. We spent a good part of the day doing simulations, mainly “Go to stop, stop to back, back to turn, turn to go.” I struggled with Charm today. We seemed to be fighting each other for about half of the day. For most of the things we did, we rode with a short rein and Charm just refused to give me her face. Instead, she would hold her head in the air and chew on the bit in a very ugly way. I didn’t like it, and obviously neither did she.
Finally, after lunch, I started to figure it out. There was never a release for her when she was right. I was so focused on performing the task or maneuver, that when she was soft and gave me her face for that split second, I didn’t release. So she didn’t know when she was doing the right thing. That led to sloppy, choppy turns that felt like I was dragging her around. It was so much more work for both of us. For the warm up time before the afternoon session, I focused on releasing when she was soft and rubbed her neck to let her know she was right. And wouldn’t you know it… she started to soften and loosened up. DUH! I get so caught up in what WE NEED TO GET IT DONE NOW!!.. that I forget my principles. It’s the release that teaches. Reward the slightest try. Why does all that stuff seems to go out the window when I need it the most? Well, at least I realized it, right?
A slightly frustrating morning and early afternoon let to an amazing cow session to end the day. It seemed like by the end of the day today, we had more confidence than we did at the end of the entire clinic last year. But it didn’t start out that way. Charm was very jiggy and prancey dancey when we started. There were cows behind her and in front of her and it was way too much pressure. As soon as we had an opportunity to follow a cow, I took it. PICK ME! Four riders and four cows were in the arena at once and we were to pick a cow and follow (not chase) it. Now, some of the cows were moving quickly so we’d have to keep up .. so at times there was speed involved. This improved Charms confidence immensely. I could feel her being drawn to them as she realized she was the one pushing them, she had control. It was really neat. By the end we had some cool stops and had a few “assists” as Dave sorted the cows into the arena. Last year, if I had to fill in a gap so a cow wouldn’t sneak back to it’s herd, most of the time Charm would refuse. Today, it seemed she understood her job and actually enjoyed it.
A good day! Tons of learning.. time for bed.