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Welcome. Thank you for bringing your curiosity here. I write to make sense of my life and to be heard, understood perhaps. I hope this makes sense to you. Together we can share some moments thanks to the vibrant dynamic connections that are possible through this amazing webworld. Even if I sit alone as I type, I am not feeling isolated, not from you, not from myself. All contents on this blog are my original writings and artwork and photography (unless attributed to another) and protected by copyright law.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Joe Wolter, August 2007

I took few notes. I have many memories. I will share what I can.

I took my two Morgans, Fairlane Rusty and Fairlane Kacee, riding Rusty the first two days, and Kacee the last day.

My experience of Joe was better than ever. I felt like I was celebrating ten years of clinics, as ten summers ago was my first clinic experience, there at Piper Ridge Farm in Limerick, Maine, and with Joe Wolter, and with Kacee, the only horse I had at the time.

Things have improved in ten years. I feel good about that!

Zero pressure. That is what horses prefer, and they can learn to hunt for it when around us. That means we have to present our ideas to them so that they can find the answer, and in finding the answer find zero pressure. It is quite simple. What is hard is retraining the mind and body. I suspect with someone very new to horses it would be an easier path. No old habits to replace.

I am grateful to all those who keep helping me, and especially to Libby Lyman for her help this past year. Phone calls, email exchanges, and a clinic in person helped get me tremendously much clearer about what I can do to set it up so the horse experiences our time together as his idea. Let it be his idea. I have blogged about this phrase on my horseytherapist blog.

I have ridden more this past year than before, more regularly, with clearer plans about what I was working on. It has paid off. Joe tweaked my timing especially. I am grateful for his increased outspokenness with ideas about what to change, something different to try. I need that. Not all the time, but now and then it just helps me over a little bump in the road. Or a larger bump in the road depending on the horse.

Go with him so he can go with you.

Let him work at it -- it will mean more when he finds it.

Let him do the work. You do less, he does more.

Set it up so he feels like he's winning.

You can draw when he's already giving, but not when he's braced.

Let him find his way off pressure. Don't help him so much.

Fix it and leave him alone. Let him fall off, then you can fix it again. Maybe you'll find that he fixes it himself.

Settle for the slightest try, the smallest change.

Help him get straight, even before you walk off.

Ask for more than you want.

Start with the thought of what you want.

Offer him the best deal first, then back it up. But always offer him to best deal first. The horse remembers what happened before what happened happened. Pretty soon he'll be moving off your lightest request, off your thought to do something.

We create the braces.

When you reach for him, feel him reaching for you. That's what you want it to feel like.


We all had some good laughs about translation problems, the challenges of finding some common understanding of certain phrases and words. Joe understands now that some words and phrases that he uses all the time are meaningless and/or misunderstood by us, so we cleared up as much as we could as we went along. Even some basic cultural differences such as the morning he was coaching someone with trailer loading. Joe asked the woman 'would you like to use the longer lead rope?' that was lying on the ground near by. She declined and continued doing what she was doing. A moment later, Joe spoke up again: 'Oh, right, I remember. I'm in New England. I've got to say 'use the longer lead rope.'

What an eye opener for me. To Joe and his background, a suggestion is a request, even a directive. It occurred to me that if Joe was going to make the effort to say a suggestion out loud, it really was worth doing, otherwise he wouldn't just be formulating an idea and verbalizing it for the sake of hearing him self talk!

The following is a list of phrases I heard that might warrant some translation to make them crystal clear to some of us who didn't grow up in the same environment as Joe Wolter did:

Go with your horse.
Let him go.
If he throws slack, you take slack.
Get quiet when he's straight.
Support your horse.
Let him work at it.
Turn him loose.
Get him hunting.
Corner him a little.
Your hands will complement your legs.

I might run a contest to see who comes up with the most interesting definition, or the most hilarious, or the most accurate, or the most bizarre!

What I cleared up about my timing, is that I tended to wait too long -- waited too long to release for the thought, waited too long before I backed up my suggestion with some support to help him find his way off pressure, waited too long while he was getting more and more commited to his own idea before setting it up for him to work at it more. (So... how did I do using some easily misunderstood phrases to describe my successes of this past weekend?)

Oh, here are some notes I did take:

Totally halter broke is when you can put rope on him anywhere on his body and he won't let the slack come out.

Get it so when you reach for him, he reaches back for you.

Don't put him on it, turn him loose just before he finds it. (This was working on a circle that we had in mind, where we helped the horse find the circle but didn't keep him there but helped him back to it when he veered off, time and time again. At some point the horse starts carrying the idea of the circle that we have in mind, without our needing to use any rein or leg.)

I can think of two things I really deserve to celebrate from this clinic as clear indicators that I've learned something in ten years:

1) Kacee stopping from a suggestion on a slack rein.

2) I directed my horses early enough to avoid even coming close to invading anyone else's space.


Blogger Wiola said...

Hi! Thank your for your comment on my blog, I shall look into what you suggested :)

1:36 PM  

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