The photo: It amazes me how often something looks like a problem, but turns out to be an opportunity for a deeper bond with our horse and a breakthrough that wouldn’t happen without the existence of the “problem” in the first place. This observation adds to my absolute conviction that “Everything happens for a reason” in that first lesson of Oliver’s. The circumstances in the story that I describe below, means that I can call my whole herd off lush grass and have them come willingly. Not only does that feel lovely, it’s useful AND safe in times of emergency when I need them all in a hurry like when a bushfire is coming. Which has actually happened.
Solving problems without force, getting creative about solving problems in a way that considers your horse’s point of view is fundamental to good leadership.
And good leadership is going to help you reach those big dreams.
You can save up this lesson like a magic trick to pull out of your hat when you need a horse or horses to have a lot more focus on you, like I did the other day.
This example and the one in the audio lesson, is the most important use of the My Grass and Mirror games and Pay Attention to Me Please.
I had to move my whole herd through some extremely lush pasture on their way to somewhere else the other day (all by myself) and all they wanted to do was eat this forbidden over-sweet grass and not listen to me at all. So I played the My Grass game with my whole herd at the same time.
Now THAT was fun.
I ended up with twelve horses standing ankle deep in sweet grass looking at me. And when they were all in a space to listen to me, THEN I asked them to move through into the laneway where I needed them to go – and off they went…
The big deal about what happened that day is that instead of running around the paddock like a banshee chasing them through the lane way – I was running around like a banshee yelling “my grass!” (yes, you can smile at that image).
But here’s the point – if I was going to expend a lot of energy – which I clearly needed to because as a whole group, they were not going to follow me that day AWAY from that incredibly enticing sweet grass – then my effort may as well be spent on doing something that was eventually going to have the whole group together, follow me wherever… whenever – rather than spending the same amount of energy just chasing them off the paddock and into the laneway that day.
Does that make sense?
Chasing them off that grass would have got them off the grass but it would not have achieved any progress in the long term. Whereas, doing this super advanced My Grass game to get the whole herd paying attention to me at the same time is something that I will probably not have to go to such lengths to again.
I already have my whole herd following me at a gallop on my 4 wheel bike when I need to bring them up and down from the back pasture – so having a quieter control over the whole herd at the same time is a nice extension to that. I’ve got to tell you though, that bringing them up at a gallop behind me is sooo… much fun – the whole valley echoes with my yeee haaa! whoops of joyfulness – it’s loud enough to startle the neighbours!
On the audio Lesson is an example in detail about another use of the My Grass and Mirror Games to solve problems while deepening the bond with your horse.
Written Version of the Audio
This super advanced use of My Grass and the Mirror Game and the Pay Attention to Me Please so that we can keep each other safe is about using these games as tools to solve a “problem” while deepening the bond with your horse.
It’s about the balance of getting what you want and yet creating a willing desire with your horse and not just having a horse that says “oh ok anything to shut you up and make you go away!”.
Every so called problem is an opportunity to deepen the bond if we solve it right.
And balance is an individual thing – a completely individual thing. So how do YOU find the balance for you and YOUR horse?
Well you use Not Quite Right to know when to do something and when to take the pressure off and how far to take the pressure off – to reach YOUR goals with your horse.
Rather than talking generalities, I am going to describe a session working with a horse a few days ago.
Sorry there was no one around with a video camera – I’ll do my best to paint a picture with words.
I had the whole herd, that’s 12 horses at the moment, up at the shed yard to rug them up for a big storm coming in.
One of the agistment horses was very full of himself, all hyped up, wheeling around the other horses, chasing them sometimes and I needed him to have a completely different level of energy before I could put his rug on safely.
So every time he put his head down to eat grass, I said My Grass and clapped my leg to get his head up.
Then as he ran off to another space to eat over there I followed him, mirroring gently.The mirroring was to take the pressure off and keep MY attitude in a good place – I didn’t want him to feel like he was being chased around and the mirroring helps my attitude be in the right place.
He put his head down, I clapped my leg to get his head up again. A couple of times he even squealed a little in protest at being moved off the grass.
If he got too far away from me I had to use higher energy to get him to bring his head up. I swung a rope and smacked it on the ground and at one point I went and got a stick with a bit of rope on it to bang on the ground so that I could get his attention from further away.
By the way, the other horses understood that this wasn’t about them in about 2 seconds flat and paid no attention at all to me moving Sirocco off the grass.
Twice during this session I was moved to stop altogether and move away for a while and leave him alone for a few minutes.
I was looking for a genuine change of energy, a genuine and gentle focus on me that would enable me to do his rug safely. That’s what I meant at the beginning about balance. It’s the balance of knowing when to insist and when to leave them alone and THAT is going to be individual for each horse in that moment.
I am NOT looking for a horse who stands there and does something because I created circumstances for him to HAVE to do that.
That is just another MAKE and doesn’t give me the willing attitude that I am looking for.
I didn’t want to WIN – I just wanted to do the rug safely.
The willing attitude – the turning over to me – is achieved by the subtle differences brought by listening to Not Quite Right to know when to take the pressure off by drifting further away from him with the mirroring and when to back off completely and leave him alone.
But here’s the biggest thing of all – I did this for a purpose.
This is an example of using the My Grass Game and the Mirror Game and the Pay Attention To Me so that I can keep you safe for a purpose – which is after all how they are meant to be used – to help you solve “problems”.
Maybe it’s a mistake to call them “games”. Because they are not so much things to go out and practise any more – they are tools that you use to solve problems while deepening the bond with your horse.
In your next Lesson, we look at a cool little technique for holding and using a whip that will help you avoid causing your horse any accidental pain with it.