Aslan: Our first day as a team
So after much though, anxiety and wondering if I am making a huge mistake, I dived in and purchased Aslan. With the timing of me discovering his advertisement, that he's been for sale for a long time and no one scooped him up, and a few other things, the whole situation makes me think that God was okaying me to go ahead. So I did. Hopefully my intuition is not wrong.
Aslan might not have as much training as I would like, but he is a lovely horse, we seem to have a personality match and I think I can manage this training thing. It won't be easy, it might not even be pretty at first, but we are a match and it is possible!
Even better news, Stephanie invited me to a clinic. So our first day together, we spent in training, getting to know each other. Most of the pictures got ruined, so I don't have much to share, but it was awesome.
She reviewed the process of escalation of pressure. She uses the 4 stage Parelli system. Stage 1 is as soft as possible while stage 4 is whatever takes. 2 and 3 get progressively louder until you get to 4. The hope is to never have to go past stage 1. Nothing new but just a neat way of thinking about it.
Her backup starts with your leadrope hand, you point your finger at the horse:
Stage 1: Finger wiggle
Stage 2: Wrist wag
Stage 3: Forearm wag
Stage 4: whole arm - side to side with a lot of loose rope. - the snap will likely hit them in the chin which reinforces the "don't ignore" me part of stage 4.
She then taught us to pull the horse in smoothly by bending forward and pulling on the rope in a sweeping motion.
We even practiced these two techniques over a pole to get lightness and exactness. Aslan did pretty well for our first day together. He was quite distracted and looked around a lot, but that's ok.
We practiced running beside our horse again and also did the running desensitizing technique (run beside and toss the carrot stick rope over and around). When I attempted to move up and ask for different speeds, you could see that he was nervous. I was not standing close enough at times, and Stephanie recommended working up to a faster walk and slower walk, then eventually ask for a trot.
Yield the hindquarters was a more difficult exercise because he really wants to turn and face me. The exercise works that you bend over, look at the hindquarters and tap ever increasing to 4 (then whap on 4). THEN the horse should face you. He is very uncomfortable with someone on his left side.
This then leads to the circle game, where the horse runs around you (you don't move) and he has to maintain course and speed until you ask for a stop and yield of the hindquarters. If he were to stop, then you ask for a yield and back up. Then repeat the exercise again. You work up to 1 circle, then 2, 3, 4 and so on. This is done at all the paces.
That was as far as we got in a half day clinic. It was great and helped us to start off our relationship.