^ great way of describing it Tiny
Its that fine line between not expecting your horse to spook at things by giving that thing too much of your own attention and at the same time keeping your eye on the game
Its often when I do that and drift off into 'lala land' that I get taken by surprise - I can pretty much hear the horse chuckling to herself 'ha ha that woke her up' now she'll be back with me!!!
Tinyliny I like the point you make about not allowing the horse to dictate the focus. That is what a leader does and the horse is leading you if they are dictating focus. That's why I find imagining the "made you look" game with my young horse. It's not to help her, it's to help me maintain focus.
I know that I have implied that the eyes dictate where you are focussed, but that is just in the beginning. I like to think of my "being" having focus, my intention if you like. A visualisation I use for that is from the Parelli program (that's where I first heard it anyway) and it is to imagine a beacon of energy and intent coming out like a laser from my belly button. That keeps my hips and weight in the saddle, or when on the ground my feet, all travelling in the right direction. Once I have mastered disconnecting my eyes from that beacon of energy maybe I can enjoy the view more . At the moment I find it simpler to keep everything going nicely in the same direction.
When turning then I put the laser to the inside of the circle a bit and hey presto my weight and legs are in the right place to get a turn.
Amazing how all things in horsemanship are connected. We started with a discussion of desensitisation and I have somehow got to turning a horse without reins
...And then there are the imaginative horses and bsms you have one of the best breeds for fitting that bill. The one arabian I had went to a County show for his second venture into the world of showing - he didnt look twice at anything, huge farm vehicles, balloons, flags, brass band, crowds of people etc but he would stand in the barn at night and go rigid with fear staring at 'nothing' in the corner. It used to freak me out!!!
This got me thinking about the two types of 'spooks" Mia has. The first really isn't a spook anymore, although it used to be. That is when something grabs her attention. It could be a snake, or a dirt bike nearby. If she turns and looks into a wash and starts snorting, it could be wild pigs in the wash. But it involves something concrete - something that makes noise, or moves, or smells. And the best thing to do in these situations, for my horse, is to look and assess. Then direct.
For an ATV or dirt bike, I may tell her to turn off the trail. For a snake, we may wait or go around. If it is something in the underbrush, we can move away. But I think it is important for her that we have the following exchange:
"Did you see that? What is it?"
"Dirt bike Mia, headed this way...lets get out of the wash so we don't go beak-to-beak."
"Great idea, bsms! That beats trying to outrun it!"
But there is a second kind of spook - the imaginary one. That is when we're strolling down the trail, and in one motion her head whips up and we land 6 feet to one side. So far, the best way to handle those seems to be:
"WTF,O! Were you daydreaming? My eyesight is fine - at least with my glasses, which are now only half-way on my nose - and there are NO pink rhinos hiding behind those bushes! Now spin around away from that cactus, get back on the trail, and get going!"
In a whisper: "I'm sure I saw it, bsms. I'm not nuts...but I guess it is gone now, because I don't see it any more...but I don't like pink rhinos. Purple are OK, but not pink..."
Those come at the oddest moments. The only thing I know to do about it is to ride deep, keep my legs long, use my Aussie-style saddle, and learn to sigh and ask why when she does it. And it actually happens when she is very relaxed, so maybe she really is daydreaming and then seeing things.
She isn't nuts. Honest. Just ASK her...can a face like that belong to a nut?