Originally Posted by Peppy Barrel Racing View Post
Also Ian I just want to say you just gave me an Ah Hah moment! I didn't realize it till you said I was scared and it made me realize I have anxiety when I'm around her. I didn't realize it till you pointed it out so thank you!
No prob! I too admire your courage in posting these videos. These deals can turn out kind of like a firing squad sometimes but you have a good attitude. I'm sure you'll get it. I think that if learning this stuff turns you on, you'll learn it. You'll find a way.
Figured I'd post up a session I did, just to show what the stuff I'm talking about looks like. This was one of those rare days where it all came together AND there was someone there to film it. Notice in the video that there are no cuts, so it all takes place in real time. Even though it shows the horse very rapidly looking better than what he does at the start (just under 10 minutes), when I'm in there I'm not thinking about time at all. Also, he is NOT now "fixed forever" lol. I'll save you the trouble of experiencing my long-term sticking point, because that's what I used to think when I'd see these demonstrations. So I'll let you in on it up-front: He's not.
I've come to realize that 95% of this is mental. When you can get into the right head space, the techniques and methods become clear and your work will take on a flow-like quality. At that point, it doesn't matter what methods or tools you're using. You can utilize any method or tool because the horse is locked into you. No method, no tool, just communication. All the external things become irrelevant to the horse. That, I believe, is how the good riders "do it". The way I think of the ideal head space is "relaxed yet alert, ready but not tense, not complacent, but confident".
Easier said than done right? Anxiety can be a problem! Though I wonder if our common thinking on this isn't flawed. We have this idea that you shouldn't be anxious around a horse, because we know that they pick up on it. But I say that to try and stifle my feelings and hide them from the horse makes him far more suspicious of me than if I were just afraid, because at least then I'd be congruent with how I really felt. I believe that it's that in-congruency (faking it) that puts horses off, not the anxiety itself. I'm not afraid to show my full emotional range to the horse, because he'll be equally honest with me and then we'll both TRULY know where the other stands. That's how I think of building trust, confidence, and all that other good stuff with the horse.
Anyway, in the video I'm keeping my rope long and continuously walking toward his hindquarters. Sometimes using the flag to move him, other times touching him with it in a way to get him used to it. In my head, I'm not the least bit afraid to be in that space and to stay in that space, because of the knowledge I have that if I just keep walking toward his hindquarters, give him enough rope to get away from me, and use my flag to defend my space if need be, I will be safe. Then it's simply a matter of waiting until I see a change in his demeanor. As he gives me more of his attention (without being scared) I gradually do less physically until I reach the point where he's responding to my requests as signals rather than as physical pressure or leverage. That's how I sensitize and de-sensitize a horse at the same time, making him lighter without becoming more scared and calmer without becoming duller. Learn the technique, but also realize that ultimately when the mind is right the technique just flows naturally. It is like a finger pointing to the moon. DO NOT focus on the finger, or you will miss all the heavenly glory!
I have some ideas on overcoming anxiety, but JEEZ THIS IS GETTING LONG!!