Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lesson Questions

Went to a group lesson today.  Was really excited about it.  Figured I need some engaging new things to do, and just plain need some inspiration.  Ended up all angst-ridden and undecided.

I didn't like it.  I don't know if I'm just being hard-headed and stuck in my ways, or if I really don't like the way "they" do things.  This person studied with the Parellis.  Parelli isn't my favorite thing, and I really dislike their "carrot stick" unless I really need it, then it's a good tool.  I just don't feel like I need it.  Not with Joseph anyway, and not really with Scout anymore either.  So... Am I just being stubborn because I don't like the tools and the exercises are just slightly out of kilter with my normal body language?  Or do I have a bad taste in my mouth over it for good reason?

I did find some holes - we haven't worked on backing up from direct hand pressure on the nose and that was hard for him, although he can back up from halter pressure, lead rope jiggling, verbal commands, and simple body language.  Funny how none of that translated to finger pressure on the nose.

He did a lovely pivot and dug himself a little hole in the ground.

Body control wasn't much of an issue and he did especially well considering all the distractions.  He was the only horse not being ridden, and there were horses everywhere around us - being ridden and being horses out in the pasture.

He did not move his head away from the stupid stick very easily.  I don't understand why you need to use the stick to move his head, so I asked, "Why???" and she said she uses it when riding bridleless.  I don't think you should need sticks to ride bridleless...  Seems like it would just be noise getting in the way of true communication.  But we stuck with it, and we got somewhere.

We did the weird little exercise where you send the horse in a circle and then give them no input, expecting them to stay in the same gait going round and round (you don't even turn with them, you pass the rope behind your back) until you ask them to stop.  I have always thought that's a bit goofy.  Aren't we supposed to be having a dialog?  But it actually was neat to watch him work his way through it.  At first he was very worried.  He'd start to stop and look at me, and I'd just point my finger and lift my stick if necessary, and he'd move along again.  It wasn't long at all before he could go in a complete circle, and he was very calm and quiet.  Apparently this helps them develop self-confidence and give them responsibility for staying on task.  I don't think it caused him to become detached  from me, but it wasn't a dialog.  He went about as fast as a turtle too, but I think that was mainly because he was unsure.  Usually he has my body language and the quickness of my steps to mirror in order to gauge how fast he should be going.  On his own responsibility, slow was the way to go.  Probably because he was trying to process while not making mistakes.  He's a perfectionist.  I think doing a bit more of this (without over-doing it) will be a good exercise for him.  I can imagine him being proud of himself because he thought through it and figured it out on his own.

He recently discovered that apples are good, after all.  He had a big sloppy drooly time eating my apple core right before I took these pictures.  He thought the other horses were fascinating.

I'm really on the fence about this lesson thing.  I feel like I'm being unkind and closed-minded, but I also feel like Joseph and I have a good thing going, I'm not a complete nincompoop, and our relationship is coming along quite well in our own "organic" fashion.  BUT getting out in a group is a great tool in training, and shows us surprising things we didn't expect (both good and bad).  I just don't know if the specific lessons are the kind of things I want to be teaching him.  Really it mostly comes down to the exercise where I wave the stick at his face and he turns away.  I don't like it.  And that's just one thing, and I can opt not to do it.  But I think I've already come off as a stubborn and difficult person...  But I guess I need to not worry so much about what people think of me, and concentrate on protecting my horse from things that I believe are wrong.  Oh, woe is me, decisions, decisions.

I'm not really complaining.  Any time with my horse is a good thing, especially on such a beautiful day.


Kate said...

You have no obligation to put up with methods that don't suit you - there's nothing unkind in that. I also find Parelli work not very useful and I think in some cases it misinterprets how horses understand things - sorry, Parelli people - I have lots of friends that do Parelli. Who needs a stick? I certainly don't. I also believe that you should work with your horse, including when lungeing, which means I move in a smaller circle with the horse, matching their energy - I think it's insulting to the horse to just stand there in the middle. I also find Parelli methods somewhat rigid - every horse is expected to behave the same way and there's usually only one approved answer to any question. If it works for you, fine, if not then don't do it.

Anyhow, you should do what you find comfortable for you and your horse, and not feel like you have to make nice - not that you'd ever be rude but you know what I mean.

Sarah W said...

Lessons can be terribly useful - but it sounds like this is not the right instructor for you. Parelli may not be right for you, either, but from what I understand, part of the trick with Parelli is to find a teacher who approaches it as a tool and not a way of life if you're not already gung-ho about it.

Also, there are some things that you state here that are, to me, red flags about this individual instructor. I can't think of a single good instructor I've worked with that would throw a new student right into a group lesson, for one thing; it's hard to evaluate a new student if they're sharing space and time with a bunch of other people. The fact that the answers weren't satisfying to you is kind of a red flag too.

Of course, the biggest one is that you feel angst-ridden and undecided afterwards. Speaking as a veteran of several mediocre and two very bad instructors... if you don't feel positive or at least neutral about the experience, don't go back.

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

Kate, I felt that way about tje circling exercise too until I saw the change in Joseph when we tried it. I think they are correct when they say it gives them self confidence by letting them work it out on their own, or at least it seemed to work that way in this case. I wouldn't want to do it too much though.

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

Oh, it's not her fault about the group lesson thing. I wouldn't have gone if it had to be an individual lesson. Can't afford that right now. And I don't think she's a bad instructor, I'm just really hard to please. I am looking forward to trying some of the riding exercises on Scout. Maybe I'll try going again but take him next time instead of Joseph.

Lea and her Mustangs said...

Not every trainer/teacher will have everything you need. Take what you like and let the rest go. You do your way and be comfortable in it. I use a lot of Clinton Anderson but not all. I am not a Parelli person either but I have seen some of it work wonderful. Don't do anything you are not comfortable with and don't feel guilty or confused with it. You do a good job.

C-ingspots said...

I love going to clinics and group lessons, but like you, certainly don't agree with everything from anyone. I like what Lea said and agree about taking what you like and leaving the rest. Parelli is not my cup of tea either, but I guess it's helpful to some. I enjoy being in a group and getting ideas and new exercises to work on. Always working by myself gets stale fairly quickly, and anything new is a good thing for the horse. I feel like you though sometimes about being narrow-minded...maybe there's good reason for it. :)

Keechy said...

I've always been a fan of other groundwork type exercises more than Parelli type ones, but recently I bought a young horse sight unseen and he turned out to be a really bold, bossy, grumpy, piggy sort of horse. My usual quiet ways were not working and I could see him turning into a right rogue if I kept persisting in my usual way (he just saw it as weak), so with the help of a trainer I switched to the carrot stick and circle stuff and bingo he began to mind me more and behave himself. I guess that is why we learn from as many people as we can, to add to our toolbox, because every horse we encounter is going to be a bit different. Having got a handle on him, I still sold him on. I could do it, but from choice would not keep a horse like that in my life. He would forever be waiting for me to soften so he could take advantage. The new owner, who is a carrot stick kind of person of strong character, totally loves his boldness and sass and will enjoy keeping him in line. Horses for courses. :) I think Joseph is more of a cooperative type than that. Your ways are working and building a strong bond with a gentle horse who wants to please. If some bits seem to fit into your routine then go for it, but don't change for change's sake.