It’s been a while now…
It’s been a little while now since I gave best with Peanut to Vivien while I honed my natural horsemanship skills with Webster. Bless him, Webster was a patient teacher and got me started with some basic aids that, in all truth, were not in my toolbox.
Learning patience has been the biggest issue so far. That, and adjusting my expectations to realise that Peanut knows nothing of my agenda. He has no agenda at all and doesn’t even understand that, when we’ve got one skill fixed, we can forget that and move on to the next one!
It’s been as much about adjusting my own outlook and lowering my energy as it has been about acquiring new hand-eye skills. I’m finding that, even writing about it, I seem to relax and sit heavier in my seat.
So, before I took up Peanut’s lead rope again, the first thing I had to understand was that, whatever happened yesterday would not necessarily be the basis for moving on today.
Done biting and nipping?
We are, I hope, over the biting and nipping that Peanut so casually applied to anyone that came within his reach. Even so, every time I put on my Levi jacket – the one with the top pocket Peanut ripped off – I remind myself that he can still do it if he feels like it.
But, where before I would have responded in kind to that sort of thing, I now blame myself for not seeing it coming and ducking. And it’s in that change of attitude that we seem both to have moved on to a more relaxed approach to each other. It’s good.
Also, my friends have stopped asking why I haven’t just chucked a saddle on him and got on with it. Not having to explain that all the time adds to the acceptance of the fact that we are where we are. You just take him as you find him every day.
A Parelli slogan
It’s one of Pat Parelli’s slogans that you must take the time it takes so it takes less time. You read these things and it’s hard not to feel that it’s easier said than done. But, in a week when I have had my first uneventful and quiet workout with Peanut, you realise it’s true. Vivien puts it slightly differently but it comes to the same thing. Taking time at this stage to build a solid relationship is going to be the foundation of faster progress towards a sound working partnership.
All of which sounds very existential but the bottom line is that by accepting the wisdom in the experience of others, I’m making a good start with Peanut.
And that may sound as though I suddenly have a pussycat on the end of my rope. Certainly not. There’s a spark in this boy that you feel every time you look him in the eye.
Water can be fun
I think he loves a game and there’s a mischievousness in him that is never far below the surface. This showed up a while back when we’d had one of those torrential downpours that make it summer in England. The sand school at OMEC is as good as any but, after that kind of downpour, you’re always going to have a sizable puddle. This time, though, it was not far short of a lake. Vivien has a very good surface water pump that quickly solves the problem but I had turned up ready to have a session with her and Peanut. We decided that we’d all just have to get a little bit wet. As you do.
Now, dear old George would baulk at anything that so much as looked like a puddle.
He got over it, of course, but not in all his 22 years did he ever approach a puddle without giving it some serious thought and gentle encouragement from me. I took comfort, of course, that George was not entirely alone in this anxiety and I expect there are a few horse lovers reading this have shared the experience.
So, when we first presented Peanut with a puddle, given his generally excitable nature at the time, we half expected a refusal and perhaps a bit of a strop.
It may be that, in the expectation that he was going to grow up to be an eventer that Julie Keatinge got him familiar with water early on in his life. Whatever, the way he seemed to say: “oh, goody, a puddle” before he launched himself cheerfully into it left us all laughing like mad. He splashed happily around for a while and then dropped himself fully and sat in it!
So that’s one little issue I hope we won’t have to worry about. Unless, of course, he decides he must sit in every puddle he comes to even when I’m riding. Fortunately, that’s not something we have to deal with just yet…
Right brain or left brain?
For now, I’m glad to have got to the stage where we can work quietly together. I’m under no illusion that we’ve got a few steps back in store. But, I’m lucky to have Vivien on one hand and the Parelli Savvy Club on the other.
My next problem, I think, is coming to terms with the Parelli concept of “Horsenality” and working out whether Peanut is “right-brained” or “left-brained”. Then, adding to that, whether he is extroverted or introverted? Right now, I’m inclined towards left-brain extrovert. I think that we’re still too early on to decide about that and will keep an open mind. Don’t hold your breath but I hope we’ll be back soon…