When I go to a course, I find my brain can really only take in the smallest part of it. When I first went to one of Alex’s clinics in 2014 – it was rope handling that stuck in my mind, and each clinic or seminar there seems to have been one particular thing. That’s why it’s so good to take notes!!
My big moment was to be on Day 2 of the clinic…
First – we did some walking simulations – here are the photos!
We were walking circles, loops and straight lines – observing what our bodies had to do to correct the course when needed. Do we feel an opening of the hips? What happens to our steps? Keep observing what is going on in our bodies as we walk the path we might ask our horse to walk These are all things to look for when we are working with the horse.
Alex said we need to think like a centaur – have a sense of what we own – and what the horse owns. We need to really feel the good balance before we ask the horse.
After that it was on to some rope handling. Andrea and I teamed up together. I had first met Andrea at Monty’s clinic and it was great to see her again! We took it in turns to be the horse. That involved holding our hands in front of us while hanging on to the halter and giving feedback to the handler of what it felt like.
This is where I first realised I was feeding too low. Andrea was being tipped off balance. I worked on my food delivery – feeding higher up – and holding my hand steady as she ‘took the treat’. I realised this was something I needed to keep working on at home. We changed roles several times so we could both feel what it was like. It did shock me how much the feeding position matters – I already knew it – but I didn’t KNOW it – now being the horse showed me how stressful it can be trying to take the treats. Here I was back to basics – and I needed to be. It made me understand more why Ducati will often grab for the treats.
Next, we started walking – how did it feel? Did the ‘snap’ on the lead rope stay hanging down? Was the ‘horse’ walking nicely? Did she understand if I wanted to turn to the left or right?
Enter Alex – she comes over to watch/assist us. She tells us to look for reaction patterns….. how does the horse feel? We are looking for a soft jaw, soft shoulders, hips etc…. We want to feel ‘a float’.
‘The Float’ – it is like a ‘lifting’ in the movement – it is effortless…. this is balance….
We stop and discuss it. I say to Alex –
“So all the movements I’m doing with my horses at home – even though it’s done kindly and with clicker training – it’s just moving. They are learning – but I’m probably not doing their bodies any favour – I’m just shifting them from one spot to the other!!!! …. I’m not ‘floating’.
So really – there’s no point without ‘the float’………”
There was my epiphany!
There’s no point without ‘The Float’.
THERE’S NO POINT WITHOUT ‘THE FLOAT’…….
THERE’S NO POINT WITHOUT THE FLOAT!!!!!!
I ran from the arena to my notebook to write it down…. I still haven’t felt ‘The Float’ – I want to feel it. I want to get to that!!!! Tantrum coming on!!!!!!!
To get to that lightness, that softness – it must be Heaven!!! That’s where I want to be!!
Ohh! This whole thing is SO much more than clicker training!!!
It’s like being on a treasure hunt! A hunt for the most fabulous connection you can have with your horse! First I was excited because my horse learnt to touch a target, stand on a mat, come to me etc… Then I was excited because I saw a change in them – a much happier vibe – we were all at the same level – we were having a back and forth conversation.
Then I experienced the magic of seeing Magnum’s fears unravel – I see his joy at being with me!! He doesn’t want to run away any more – in fact he doesn’t ever want his turn to end!!! I can trim his hooves and he will happily stand there!!!
I discovered terms like Poisoned Cues and Loopy Training. I dabbled with Microshaping…. I learnt how to send Ducati around a circle of cones while I stood in the middle – I taught him to trot without having to wave a whip or rope in his direction.
BUT now I was discovering much more!! If I can teach them to explore their bodies – to find their balance – well then Ducati will dance around the cone circle!!!
There is something Ducati said to me several years ago. “When the horse and rider are in proper balance – well that’s the true connection – we can heal each other – that’s where magic happens”… I had forgotten he said that…. now I want to feel that!!!
COMING UP – THE LANGUAGE OF CLICKER TRAINING