Linda Parelli teaches that with horses, instead of getting mad or frustrated, stop and think "Hmmm, how interesting" Then take the behavior and think of it as a puzzle and how do we solve it. That has been happening for me with Chloe "I dare ya' to cross this line" pony.
A couple of weeks ago I was wondering around the pasture. Pip was following right along at my shoulder. We stopped and I was rubbing Pip's ears. Chloe came up with her snarky face on and Pip was getting ready to clear out. I didn't want her to take out over the top of me so I leaned to the side and gave Chloe my best boss mare look. As I was leaning she spun around and offered her hind hoof to me.... and not in a nice way either. I got out of the way and then thought, "Hey! I'm not going to let her push me around!!"
So, I stepped back into place, noting that I was out of kicking range. Then I did my own kick in the air, kind of like that sketch on Saturday Night Live,,,you know, "I'm Fifty!!"
The first kick she just seemed kind of startled. I took another step closer and did another in the air "I'm fifty" kick. She moved. I kicked. She moved. I kicked again. She moved more. I kicked again. She moved about ten steps. Then I stopped. She blew. It seems we had come to an understanding.
A few days later and Pip and Chloe escaped. The neighbor got them corralled up. I think I mentioned this before. The interesting part was when I went to get them to bring them home. I took the halter into the small corral, no pretences, I never hide the equipment. And the pony that has refused to be haltered, came up to me, planted herself smack in front of me and stood stone still while I slid the halter on and led her through the very narrow gate. She stood quietly while I chained it closed. Then we started across the pasture.
We moseyed along. She was good.... until we dropped over the edge of a hill and Pip was out of site. Then it was time to get excited. Now I have always been concerned that my blocks and my ability to act was slow, but when in the moment, I surprised myself. Chloe wanted to come over me. I blocked...fast! She stopped. Blinked. Then moved forward more cautiously. We continued. She hollered for Pip and had to start moving. It was like Linda was in my head. I could hear her saying that a right brain horse has to move it's feet. So, I let Chloe move. Then she started to run in tight circles around me. In my head I heard Linda say that no matter what else was going on to protect my space. I flipped the end of the rope and popped her in the belly when ever she got too close. She stopped and gave me space each time. As long as she just moved her feet to move ahead or to get rid of adrenaline then we were okay. As soon as she started to get too much acceleration or started to get frantic, we went into a back up then I "put her into a box" until she could blink and think. Then we moved.
Mac was sitting in the truck and watching the event. He said I scared him half to death, but I wasn't scared. Through the whole thing I felt clear. I felt in control. I felt I was giving Chloe communication on how we were going to proceed. We all made it in one piece and after she was put into the pasture she acted like she was torn between running off and being frantic, or staying with me. Well, she had to go be frantic cause I had to go get Pip as well.
Pip stood and got her halter. It was the first she had been haltered without getting a reward after. We both seemed to have forgotten about it. Then we took off moseying. I had the 22 foot line so she was allowed to graze until I got to the end of the rope then she had to catch up to me. I would reel her in and then let the rope back out as she ate grass. After we got over the hill she didn't seem to want to graze so much and pretty well just stayed at my shoulder. During our whole adventure, her attention seemed to be focused on me. She paid no attention to frantic Chloe, and never once answered her calls.
I'm still pondering all of the little things I've done lately because of the ponies that seem to be adding up to something bigger. I'm still chasing the dream... and some days I think I might be gaining a bit of ground.