first time I post here, but have to share my success story! I'm so excited!
I started about two years ago, have done a short Intro course with Kirsty Jenkins and did the Introduction course (not done the exams yet). I have been reading, watching, learning, studying... played with my friend's horses as often as possible. My results were ok, I love the Dually halter and would never go back.
BUT... a lot of things did not work! Horses are still running away in the pasture, not standing still and the Join-Up... oh well. It worked well with Kirsty by my side, but all alone on the farm? It is just a little different. We don't have a round-pen, which is not a problem, I just have to run faster and predict the horse's next move really well. And I do need the excercise!
However I started encountering situations that were not discribed in the books or videos: What if the horse jumps out of the arena?
Well, Rosa did! And she was gone... ran to the other side of the field! Left me standing there by myself in the sand! I thought "What would Monty do?" I grabbed the halter and line and follow her, in the hot African sun. I was Monty and Roza my mustang, it was probably very funny to watch, but I got her attention! After some back and forth, she eventually stopped and I could put the halter on.
Since then I did not try any more attempts to do a Join Up in the arena. Too scared it would go wrong again.
One day I could not ride Roza, who had a little wound in the girth area and decided to play around with one of the other horses.
My victim was Panda, Roza's beautiful pinto mother and alpha mare of the little herd. She is very dominant and even when training with Kirsty, she was always very reluctant to join up.
Here is where my actual story starts...
I choose Panda, because she needed some Dually training, she can be very skittish on trail rides resulting in rather challenging side jumps and sliding stops.
My mind was not clear, I felt distracted by thoughts and insecurities about what the best way of starting the session would be.
My final thought was, I do not get around the Join-Up in the arena! I cannot desensitize a horse that does not trust me. Neither of us was happy about my decision, I was scared of failure and making things worse and well, of course Panda picked up my adrenalin and was very wary of my moves.
'Focus! I know how to do this!', I told myself. While turning her in all directions and rubbing her forehead, I tried not get tangled in the long line and used a basic breathing excercise to calm myself. In...hold 10 seconds... out... hold 10 seconds. We walked to the side of the arena, and I tried to remember what Kirsty told us, unhook and step back! Whoohaa, and Panda bolted off! And so did Jasper, our farm dog. Now I had Panda bucking like a rodeo horse, Jasper barking and running after her in order to protect me. He alarmed Henry, the Ridgeback. farm dog number two. Panda kicked after them while I tried my best moves and shouting at the dogs... Great! I had two options, interrupt the session, lock up the dogs and try again or...
I can't remember what happened in the next minute, but the dogs gave up (they are not very fit) and Panda did some really spectacular turns, I used all my energy and the long line to turn her around and move her through the corners of the arena. What a beautiful sight, her tail was up and her stride long and almost bouncy. The long line dropped out of my hand, and I tried again my magic breathing expertise to relax and get as the calm as a human being can get. Then I saw her ear turning in towards me, the circle around me became smaller, and she dropped a her head a tiny little! Now or never, I thought and I turned away from Panda. I did not dare to look back, standing there just breathing. When I felt I had more control over myself, I turned around. Panda stood still about two metres away from me, she had an almost friendly look in her face. I turned a little further and she made a step towards me! And another step! Licking and chewing! I walked towards her, rubbed her forehead and turned around again. 'Walk like a leader!', I thought. Panda followed me! I could not believe it! We did the figure of eight without stopping, I was now officially the happiest person on the entire planet!
If you have done a Join-Up yourself, you will never forget the feeling... The absolute trust, the horse shows afterwards, like it's all not their business anymore. They handed over responsibilities and tiny human is in charge now, if tiny human is relaxed so am I.
I lifted all hooves, rubbed back and belly. Panda stood there like a statue, hears low, eyes almost closing and lower lip relaxed and floppy. I gave her some time off... but she still did not move, just yawned a few times.
The little obstacle course was a complete waste of time for her, walking over a plastic tarpaulin made her yawn, backwards, forwards... booring, so I left it at that and took her back to her crowd.
So this was it, my complete breakthrough! Not that I think I'm great and I think it all worked because I am especially gifted. No, it worked because Panda decided she wanted to follow me, and she asked me if this would be ok. In a most distracting environment this horses made a decision and showed her natural behaviour, I just had to reply and take over!
It showed me that anyone can do it with any horse. We just need to learn more and try harder and try again and again!