A Blog About My Journey Riding and Training Sora, My Soulmate

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hey Soul Sister

Today was wonderful because I finally felt like a wall that Sora and I have been struggling with has been crossed. We were having trust issues and it felt like either I would cross the wall and Sora would smack into it or, more often, Sora would cross the wall and I'd smack into it. Today I feel like we both gathered ourselves and jumped it together =)

It started with me feeding hay. Sora as usual got to come into the barn for her grain and easily left when I asked. However as soon as she was out, instead of going to eat hay, she spun around and wanted to come back in so I opened the door and let her. I filled my pockets with treats (I always assure Sora that we've had a bountiful harvest so not to worry) and we did some simple behaviors like leg lifts, shoulder targets, backing and yielding, all of this halterless. She was good so I invited her to come out the other end of our barn. This leads right onto our lawn where we keep the VERY tasty grass. She followed me softly out and started grazing just as I hoped she would. However unlike normal she kept coming to me to get treats!

I spent a little time with her before leaving to get the cats some food. This gets kept in the garage or four LARGE raccoons fight over it which tears our barn apart. I was a few steps away from Sora when she started following me! I was so ecstatic and Sora got a jackpot but I didn't really think she would come any further. Happily Sora proved me wrong and came all the way to the door with me, waited for me to go and come out and then followed me, at the trot!, back to the barn. I had run out of treats at that point so I had to race in the barn to get her some and she trotted next to me all the way in. We went back out and spent some more time together and in the end I didn't even need a halter or rope to put her back in with her herd. She did really want to come back with me though =)

My sister, Hanna, has agreed to come out and get some more pictures of us as soon as her schedule is a little lighter. She just finished auditioning for several of the biggest music conservatories in the country and is now getting ready for two different concerts so she has a lot on her plate. Hopefully more of her wonderful pictures will grace this blog soon =)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Invisible Connection

I'm enjoying this more and more. I realized a few days ago that this is really always what I wanted when I thought about having a horse. I dreamed that it would be like it was for Alec Ramsey, riding bareback and bridle less on the beach with a horse that actually wanted to be with me rather than being forced to put up with me. Reality was sadly very different and Bucky completely shattered that dream in so many ways. Because of that I really forgot about that dream, wrote it off as an impossibility but now it's actually getting closer and closer.

Yesterday I went out to spend time with Sora. I brought two carrots but didn't really plan on doing any training. I used the carrots getting Sora more comfortable around the mounting block but then she wanted to leave me and go with her herd to graze so I let her. She ran out to them and I could tell she was interested in running around and playing so I went to play with her and we had fun =) She ran and bucked and reared. Finally she stopped so I just sat on the grass and we spent some time together. One of our horses chased her and I chased the horse and then she was stuck to me like glue.

Sora just stuck by my side and she kept wanting to just smell me. She'd press her nose up against my hand and just stay like that for several seconds. It was wonderful and when I left she wanted to come with me.

Today the weather is nuts and I don't know if I'll spend much time outside but I have tomorrow off so I'm hoping to start teaching her a new behavior. Now that we're getting better at communicating maybe it's time to start teaching her to rear, or maybe I'll chicken out and teach her how to bow =)

Finally one of my sources of inspiration

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Herd, not Human

A change has happened with Sora and my relationship. Starting earlier this week I finally became a treasured member of Sora's herd rather than simply Katlyn. With that said, I am a very treasured, respected and valued herd member that never gets kicked at, bitten or run over. However that really isn't that strange as horses generally don't do these things to each other anyway except in extremely rough play or when vying for dominance.

Currently not much training is going on but there is a lot of learning happening with both of us. I'm learning how to be and remain congruent with positive and appropriate energy. Sora is learning how to read my body language and how much more delicate I can be than a horse which means that it does hurt me when she snaps and that I react with fear if feet start flying too near me. The thing is that right now all she needs as a correction is the fear. She backs off just as I do when she gets fearful and nothing more needs to be done since we respect eachother.

The more specific work that has happened has been working with the Cordeo and teaching Sora that I would like her walking next to me when we are "working" but that she can be where ever when we play.

I have come to a few powerful realizations. First, that working with/playing with a horse either at liberty, doing groundwork or on their back is not dangerous (at least no more than walking to your car) as long as there is respect from and in both parties and as long as both parties are fairly alert. Basically the things I always saw as impossible, dangerous or stupid simply aren't with the type of relationship Sora and I are working on. I wasn't thinking about the fact that riding, for example without a bridle, isn't dangerous at all if you are able to listen to what the horse is telling you. If the horse tells you something is scary or dangerous you climb off and that a horse that respects you just won't buck to remove you, only to show exuberant mood (if at that point you can't stay on that's hardly the horse's fault lol).

These are simple things but I am discovering that I tend to be fearful of everything in my life (the fact that my first few experience with horses were with horses that did want to hurt me didn't help at all). Sora is the same way and we are teaching and learning from each other. A good example of this is when I climbed on Sora for the first time ever bareback yesterday. She wasn't sure she wanted me there and I could tell she thought that feeling me move that clearly was strange but she didn't want to hurt me! She values my friendship and respects me. Even though she knows that I wouldn't hurt a hair on her if she expressed herself that way (natural fear response), she also knew that I would climb off the minute she needed me to. Because of that even though I had a rush of adrenalin and was shaky she stood stock still until I gathered myself a little and when I lost my balance (I haven't had a chance to ride all winter and am disgustingly weak in my core) she stopped and waited for me to regain my balance. All of this in a halter, on a windy day with completely loose reins.

Sora has been learning a lot from our time together as well and has never been calmer. I've realized that if I were to tell someone that something was dangerous and they ignored me it would only heighten my fear whereas if they responded to it and then ignored it I would feel completely safe. I've started to acknowledge everything Sora tells me is scary. I look, smell (breath deeply) and sometimes “shy” while remaining calm with an in control, leader sort of attitude, and most of the time after acknowledging the scary I go back to what we were doing. Between that and the increase in time I spend with her she is now calmer than any other horse I've been around. This is all because of trust. As a member of the herd she knows I'm looking out for both of us and wouldn't lead us into danger. She also sees that I respect her decisions and pay attention to the things she thinks are scary. Yesterday I went to save a rubber ball from the wind and when I tossed it over the fence into Sora's pen, the wind took it and threw it against her legs. She just stood there looking at it. She was ready to run but since I didn't and just smiled and waited she came over to me relaxed not even really looking at the ball. Very impressive (at least to me) from a still three year old Arabian filly.