Continuing on from 8. On The Road to Italy! – our first day of the course….
The weather was hot and dry for the whole time I was away. In fact so hot we needed time away from the arena in the middle of the day.
The work with horses took place in the morning – then late afternoon. Often we started at 8 am and didn’t finish until 8 or 9 pm – then shared dinner and headed back to Parma afterwards. So most days were long – sleeping time was short!!!! But we were so excited to be there, we didn’t mind the whirlwind of activity! We could have plenty of sleep after the week!
Most of the course participants were from Italy and Germany. It sure was a multicultural experience – and I was wishing I spoke Italian and German! In fact Alex and I were the only two who only spoke English! Some people struggled with the English language and we had great interpreters – both Miriam and Michaela – who are both The Click That Teaches coaches – did an excellent job!
There were people who had been clicker training for some time – and others who were very new to it.
The day started with Michaela and Asfaloth (not the toy horse!) in the arena.
It was great to be able to watch Michaela with her horses in person. The photo above shows them in Piaffe. I’m sure Michaela has written her story somewhere with her two horses – and I will post a link if I find it!
I was trying to take photos, listen, watch and talk…. all at the same time! I could see how much work Michaela had put in – really taking the lessons from Anja and applying them via clicker training.
Alex moved onto some rope handling with Giulia and her horse. Giulia – the owner of the beautiful property – had watched Michaela clicker train – and had started learning it herself. She had a young horse – an off the track racehorse. This horse had many body issues, so Alex used the runway lesson to start working on balance – and to introduce the horse to the mat. However, first she spent time explaining the ‘art of rope handling’.
Alex’s rope handling is like no other! It is a true art form – and a skill that takes time to develop. You can see her range of DVDs here – there is one called Tai Chi Rope Handling Exercises – but really – one thing leads to other – so others like – Shaping on a Point of Contact, Microshaping – and of course Loopy Training and Poisoned Cues are all related. In fact, really, it’s all related.
So – back to the rope handling talk and demonstration – Alex used Giulia as ‘the horse’ and Miriam was the interpreter – from English to Italian!
As I watched this – it was one of those moments where I know of course I have progressed over the years – but I watched this and realised I needed to go back…. I needed to look at the detail of what I was doing.
Alex was talking about the ‘snap’ part of the lead – make sure the snap hangs down – give the horse the full freedom of the lead rope. Don’t leave your hand against your body with the rope. Move to stay in good balance – this is the entry point to balance! When you walk off with the snap hanging – you are floating over a point of contact.
Now they are the notes I wrote. Please if I have something wrong – will someone correct me. I was writing quickly, taking photos… and coming to the realisation that I needed to look more closely at the details…..
I realised during the simulations that I wasn’t feeding high enough – especially for a horse like Ducati – I also kept my hand on my body.
I needed to film more when I returned home. After the week at Anja’s – and now listening to Alex, learning more about what it means for the horse to be balanced, I could see how much these details mattered…..
Here are more photos from Day 1.
COMING UP – FELDENKRAIS – WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH HORSES??…….EVERYTHING