Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Inner Critic

I went out to see Sir Galahad the Defiant this morning. He was friendly enough, just not interested in doing what I had in mind. The good part, though, was that because he was defiant but lazy and therefore slow, I was able to really practice the stuff I’ve been doing with Jay.

I made him run around the pasture when he decided not to stay with me (making the "wrong" thing difficult and the "right" thing easy). I discovered that I could control his direction from halfway across the pasture, and turn his hind end away so that he faced me, with no difficulty and from a considerable distance. When he did consent to stand with me, he moved his forequarters away nicely so that I could change sides. Finally, I haltered him and we did Parelli's circling game on the halter and lead rope. Galahad doesn’t like it because it’s work, but he did it, sort of.

After I was done, we walked down to the creek. He wouldn’t drink while he was on the lead rope, but he did lick the salt block, and then I took the halter off. His girlfriend Sissy came down also, and after the two of them drank, they galloped away together, bucking and kicking. It's nice to know that he does have someone to romp with, at least sometimes, when she's not in heat.

One final interesting note: I put him back out into the pasture, then before I left, decided to go give him a cookie. I waved to him from a ways off while he was eating hay, and as I raised my right arm to show him the cookie, I saw his head jerk to my right also. At first I just though “Oh, he saw me.” But then I realized that no, he saw me and interpreted my gesture as a “send” to that direction. His muscle memory/habit kicked in, and without his wanting to, he responded appropriately. Cool!

When I left the ranch, I spent the drive home beating myself up over what I should have done—mainly, countered his defiance by raising his energy up beyond what he wanted to do, and thus make the original requests easier by comparison.  If I had, he would have joined up more readily, and followed more willingly. But I did do a lot of things very purposefully and pretty darned well. The horse was at liberty, I have to remember, and I had good control of his direction and speed anyway. That's no trivial accomplishment. Next time I’ll practice even more.

So I need to watch out for those old tapes that play endlessly in my head, all reflecting not the real me but my false self, my inner critic. The current tape loop is, "You're no good at this training stuff. You can't even manage your own horse! Who do you think you are?"

Um, excuse me, but I think I'm proving that one wrong.


  1. Ah, the old inner critic. No experience with that one, nope, not me! Good for you being able to silence it, counter it, give it a dose of reality. Your posts are showing that well.