Monday, June 27, 2011

RC's Journey

It's hard to believe that I have not blogged since June 9th?!

Things have been going very well with RC's training. He is coming along so nicely and is really a very smart and willing horse.

One of the reasons I have not written anything since the 9th is because I have been absorbing so much information from Matt that I've been at a loss about what to write.

I have spent the last 10 days with house quest and have been busy enjoying family and friends while they were here. Thanks for the visit mom and dad and everyone else. Our annual Fathers day run was here in Truckee this year and we had 3 wonderful days of motorcycle riding in the beautiful Sierra mountains. Everyone has gone home now,the last to leave was my son Jack who came home for some R&R after just graduating from The Art Institute of San Francisco with a BA in Media Design. He is in the process of interviewing with a gaming company in North Carolina and I have mixed emotions about that. Of course I want him to get a job that he can enjoy and be fulfilled, I am not excited about him being so far away. We are very proud of him and he is a talented level designer and am sure he will be very successful.

My Daughter; Kaydie is busy looking for apartments in Santa Barbara and will be moving in August. So as of August we will have no children living with us for the first time in 24 years and it is really kind of weird to imagine.

Okay so back to RC, I have gotten to ride him 3 times so far and each time I feel a little more confident and comfortable on him. I watch he and Matt together and am in aah at how much this little guy can do with a skilled horseman on his back. He is getting stronger and more coordinated every ride, he is learning to carry himself correctly and really enjoys making the moves correctly when Matt ask him to do so. He is learning how to make his turns very smoothly and Matt is pretty excited about his ability to spin. Well I am not so sure Matt would call it a spin, however he is setting him up to do an amazing one someday! It is really fun to watch this little horse starting to ask Matt questions and looking for the right answers too.

Matt is teaching me as much as possible about what he is doing with RC. It is my goal to learn all that I can from this very talented horseman. I have found that all I think about day and night is what I am learning from him and about horses. I am beginning to look at everything I do, with or without horses from a whole new perspective. I pay attention to how I move my body and where my weight is distributed when doing so and thinking about how that effects my horse and what he needs to do in order to move better. I watch how I am using my hands and how fast and hard I grab things. Wondering if I can do it softer and slower, how soft can I tap something with the end of my rope and am I micro-managing as I work with others. How is my leadership? Am I someone I would want to follow? I wake up in the middle of the night running things I have seen with Matt through my head and wondering how can I apply it, I am addicted to learning this stuff!

I rode RC on Thursday while Matt was coaching me with my riding, at one point he asked me to come over to the fence where he was and side pass RC up to him. My first thought was;" oh no this is going to be hard"! So I aksed RC with my leg and weight and before I knew it he was gracefully side passing right up to Matt. I was amazed and so excited to be sitting a top a horse that was so well trained and then realizing he was mine, I could hardly contain my excitement! Matt began to tell me about what I needed to do differently and I had to stop him so I could just savor the moment I had just experienced!!

I hope that soon RC and I will be ready to do our Parelli level 2 freestyle riding and submit the video for assessment and then we will be on our way to level 3. I hope to start tagging along with Matt at least one day a week so that I can watch him with a variety of horses and learn all that I can learn.

Stay tuned for more of RC's adventures and I hope that you are all enjoying our wonderful summer season.

Thanks for reading our updates.
Cindy and RC

Thursday, June 9, 2011

RC's Journey Day 11

Today was day 11 of RC's journey and instead of our usual beautiful morning drive to Loyalton, our lesson was at 3pm. I think my hubby appreciated me actually showing up for work this morning.

While I was eating lunch I looked out the back window and saw RC basking in the warm sun on dry dirt. Something that has not been available for about 7 months. I wondered if he was going to be willing to get in the trailer and take a warm afternoon drive?

When I went outside I yelled "hey RC its time to go to school, meet me at the gate"! I went in got his halter and came out to find him standing at the gate. I didn't have my muck boots on and was hoping I wouldn't have to get my shoes dirty. I opened the gate he leaned his head forward into the halter, held it there while I put it on and out he came and right up into the trailer to the front ready to be tied.

YES!!!!! I love this stuff, my horse actually wants to be with me and go with me!!!!

We got to the ranch and let RC have a roll and then I started walking over to brush him and Matt asked me to stop come back and get my horse's attention and ask him to join me-hmm that would be cool.

So I did and RC did and I felt my heart singing YES!!!! I love this stuff!!!!

After I groomed him, Matt went in and began saddling him while we continued to talk about the lesson from the previous day. When he was saddled Matt asked me if I noticed what had just happened? Pausing and thinking I said "no"?

He went on to point out that RC had stood quietly and calmly in a comfortable position while Matt saddled him at Liberty and now Matt was smiling and very pleased with RC. (I think he was saying "Yes I love this stuff"!) :-)

The entire lesson went like that, Matt riding RC and sharing principles,purpose, techniques and timing with me. Helping me to see the power of focus, feel and patterns. I watched my horse moving in sync with his rider today. I saw how Matt's patience and perfect practice with this youngster was developing him for so many opportunities in the future. I saw my horse begin to understand the power of body language from his rider.

I saw a shift in both RC and I today, something clicked for both of us today.

I learned about self-confidence and how I too can go into the round pen with my horse and spend a hour doing very simple yet powerful things with and for my horse. Things that will keep us both engaged with each other and keep it interesting and fun at the same time not just for me, for both of us. Whats amazing is I learned all of this while sitting atop the fence of the round pen.

Tomorrow is a very exciting day for me, it is the first day that I will get to climb up on top of this amazing young horse and feel him and with him. I am as excited as I was the night before the first time that I ever got to ride my very own horse when I was just a young girl. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our life together and I will savor and cherish every moment.

Today I felt the power of the passion and commitment that I have for this horse and our journey together. It has been a long time since I felt this so strongly and I know that we will continue to achieve our goals one day at a time.

Thank you everyone who is following us along this path and I hope that you are enjoying it as much as we are?!


Saturday, June 4, 2011

RC's Journey Days 6-8

Day 6-8

It has taken me a few days to write this blog about RC’s journey. I have found myself spending a lot of time licking and chewing on the lessons that I have learned in the past 3 days.

First I feel that I need to share a little bit about RC and myself before getting into the details of the last 3 days.

I am an Equine Experiential Coach and I work with individuals, couples, families and groups. My horses and I help people to explore their beliefs and behaviors through interactive activities. This gives our clients the opportunity to discover strengths and weaknesses in themselves and then together we create a game plan on how they want to move forward from that new understanding.

Horses have a very strong sensory awareness and are able to sense and mirror things for us that we are unable to see about ourselves. Horses have been some of the best teachers in my life and is the reason I have decided to do Equine Experiential Coaching (EEC). Sharing these powerful teachers with others is something I am very passionate about.

RC is a 3 year old American Paint horse I adopted 2 years ago from a PMU ranch in North Dakota. He came to me after the loss of Rondo; who was my 24 year old Parelli Natural Horsemanship partner. Rondo was given to me by a very dear friend when he was 9 months old. Needless to say RC has some pretty big horseshoes to fill! Since the first day I met RC our relationship has been very special. Becoming certified in EEC and continuing my education in Parelli Natural Horsemanship has made me much more aware of how I interact with my horses. I am learning everyday about the psychology of the horse as well as their behavior and how they interact with each other as a herd. My relationship with RC is stronger than any other I have ever had we are learning and teaching each other about things every time we engage with one another.

The journey we are on together is one of growth and exploration. It is my goal to become a Parelli instructor and RC is my partner in this dream. Together we will work our way through the Parelli levels and on to sharing it with others. We will help to teach people about horses, humans, relationships, life and how to live and love unconditionally, however first we must experience this with each other.

RC’s sixth day of training with Matt began with some play time in the round pen. He tends to need to do a little rolling and running before he is ready to focus. Once RC let Matt know he was ready to join him in the days lessons he was saddled and out into the big arena they went. They started with the circling game having RC circle in both directions and asking him to maintain a trot. This was pretty easy going to the right however not so easy when asked to go to the left. RC was pretty sure that his pen was the better place to be and decided it was time to let Matt know about his decision. Matt recognized very quickly that RC was bumping up against something that he was uncertain of and needed some guidance in order to help him find the right answer and a more comfortable way of moving around the circle.

Horses live in the present moment and every day is a new day bringing with it new experiences. Even though RC has done the circling game with Matt every day for the past 5 days, each day has brought something different to be learned. Every day he is asked to step out of his comfort zone and into his learning zone. It is Matt’s job to keep him from entering into the panic zone, as his trainer and leader discovering where these zones begin and end in a safe and effective way.

There are 3 zones in which we spend our time, imagine if you will a circle with another circle around it and then another around that, creating three circles. The inner circle is the comfort zone, where we spend most of our time because it’s comfortable. There is not a lot of change taking place for us when we are here. The next zone is the learning zone we must leave the comfort zone and be willing to be uncomfortable in order to learn new things. It is natural for us to experience a degree of discomfort when we are challenged with new experiences and if we are able to allow ourselves to be a little uncomfortable we learn how to achieve something new. As we learn new things our comfort zone actually expands automatically. The last zone is the panic zone this is the place where we are fearful of our safety and survival instincts kick in. We are in the reptilian part of our brain and thinking is not something we can do at the moment. If for some reason while we are in our learning zone we tip into the panic zone any ability to learn has disappeared. This is the place that memories of bad experiences are born and will be triggered anytime something similar is experienced. Sadly many of our horse companions are pushed into this zone unintentionally by inexperienced trainers setting them up for a lifetime of challenges.

While I watched Matt working with RC and saw his uncertainty developing and he was beginning to act like less of a partner and more like a prey animal, I was not really sure what was happening. Matt stayed fully present with RC and when this young horse began to get himself so worked up beginning to enter the panic zone, he took him back to a place that RC was familiar with. He allowed RC to accomplish what he was asking him to do in a way that he had done before, bringing him back into the left side of his brain and back into his learning zone. RC calmed down and was reconnected with Matt and then back out into the arena they went. He was able to accomplish the same task in the bigger space without the comfort of the round pen. From there they went out into the pasture and had a wonderful time trotting, cantering, circling and even some side passing. RC ended the day feeling very confident and happy.

I spent the day thinking about the lesson and realizing how important it is to have a professional starting my colt and helping him to learn safely and effectively. All day long I played the session through my mind, observing and learning more each time.

Instead of sleeping that night I found myself deep in contemplation about the three zones and how they apply to me and my life. I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety about pursuing my dream of becoming a Parelli trainer. I realized that thinking about the commitment and the unknown of how I would find the funding and the time to accomplish this dream would put me into my panic zone.

As I lay in bed with my heart racing, my palms sweating and fear surging through my body, I wanted to default to my normal response which is to shake it off and stop thinking about it. To get back into my comfort zone and postpone this dream even longer.

Instead I found myself thinking about Matt and RC and what had transpired when he was challenged with something he was not sure he could do. I imagined I was on the end of the rope and my heart filled with fear was the horse. I did not quit and hung in there allowing myself to be uncomfortable long enough to explore some options. When I felt panicked I would take my thoughts to something I knew I could do. Bringing me back into the learning zone and then I would begin to imagine about what I could do next. My heart rate slowed down, my palms were no longer sweating and the fear had dissipated.

I laid in bed in amazement at how RC’s experienced had helped me to successfully navigate myself through a very uncomfortable moment. It also confirmed for me that I am on the right track and pursuing my dream and sharing horses and their gifts is absolutely what I am meant to do.

I was unable to be present for RC’s seventh day of training. Matt introduced RC to a new level of the friendly game with swinging a rope from on top of him allowing him to feel and see it swinging all around him. Then they played with pulling a log around from the front and the back. RC thought that this was pretty fun and enjoyed pulling it from the front. It helped him to learn how to engage his hindquarters and he discovered just how powerful he is. He also got to feel the difference of having reins held in one hand versus two.

This may seem like no big deal to those who have older experienced horses or have not had a horse before. If you would like to have an experiential opportunity to gain an understanding, tomorrow morning when you get dressed pay attention to what leg you put into your pants first or what foot you put your first shoe on. Then stop and do the opposite and do so for the next four days and that is the awkwardness this youngster is learning to accept and explore.

Day eight brought with it a new level of communication, Matt began to ask RC to carry himself a little more collected and on the proper lead. RC complied after they spent some time with the questions and answers part of the process. My young horse is becoming more confident and capable every day. He looks to both Matt and I as we pull up and is excited to come out and play. He is beginning to develop a new understanding about the human/horse relationship and enjoys being with his people even more. Every time I walk out to the corral he turns and comes to me with the “oh boy here she comes” attitude instead of turning tail and going to the other side of the corral with the “oh no here she comes” attitude.

Thank you Matt for providing RC and I with the proper beginning to allow us to achieve all that I know we can be together.