Monday, February 20, 2012

My Horse/Hitch Epiphany

I had an epiphany at work on Friday. Well, epiphany may be too strong a word, but as I was playing with a horse, I related what was happening at the time to a scene in one of my favorite movies. Is that an epiphany? Yeah, I guess not, but I'm going to share it with you anyway.

In the course of my job, I meet a lot of un-tame horses. Taming horses has actually gotten to be one of the best parts of what I do. It's so satisfying to help a horse who has been previously terrified of people, learn to be confident, friendly and brave. Soooo satisfying!

Anyway, in Parelli - the world's best horsemanship method of which I'm an avid student - we do something called "the horseman's handshake". It looks a little something like this:

 (Miss Montana-Banana - of the infamous "wild bunch" - and me in Montana - Feb, 2011)

The horseman's handshake is basically a polite way of approaching the horse, and allowing them the opportunity to approach us.

As I was playing with a very shy and skeptical horse at work on Friday, I wanted her to touch my hand with her muzzle - for her to come all the way to me instead of me going and touching her. This is a novel concept for most of the horse world - when it's the horse's idea to touch us, it helps them to be so much more confident. We humans tend to always do stuff TO the horse: catch them, saddle them, mount them..... but if we can get the horse to want to catch us, be with us, allow us onto their backs with their permission, the possibilities are truly amazing.

Anyway, back to my shy horse; I would hold out my hand and she would approach me, but couldn't come all the way up and touch me. It was so temping to reach out and touch her (that's the predator in me that I still have little mental arguments with everyday), but instead, every time she stopped 2 inches from my hand, I waited a few seconds for her to close the gap and when she didn't, I drew back. We repeated that about 6 times, she would approach, I would offer the handshake, she would stop 2 inches away and I would wait and then retreat. Finally, she touched me with a whisker and I immediately turned my back and walked away. (I'll let you in on a major horse whisperer secret: the best reward for a prey animal - a horse - is when the predator walks away, or takes the pressure off. Pat Parelli says, "The best treat is RETREAT.") The next time I offered my hand, she lightly touched me with the end of her nose, and of course I immediately retreated. And the time after that, she nudged me confidently with her nose. After that, I could touch her neck all over and rub her without her getting worried. Now you all might think I'm weird, but that's totally my idea of a good time!

So here's the epiphany (and now you're REALLY going to think I'm weird) the whole thing reminded me of this scene in Hitch:
(bear with this, the good part's toward the end, I couldn't find a shorter clip)

Isn't that great?! We can go 90%, but the horse should come the other 10%. Brilliant, right? Man, I love my job.

And because I love Hitch, so much, I had to include this scene too:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cleaning Out

I still feel like I'm trying to catch up from my holidays and busy photo season in that I'm still working on things that I've neglected for ages. Today I put in my new back up battery for my computer system and it prompted me to clean off my desk and a bunch of things that I've been stuffing into the little desk organizers. I found a bunch of random things that I need to scrapbook or something like unto it. But since I haven't scapped in years, I thought at least I could preserve them on this blog.

One of the things I found was an old calendar page from July 2006 that I'd saved. One was something I'd written down on the 5th, it said: Brynn said to me (while I was making peanut butter bars) "When you get done, can I lick the stirrups?"

Pretty cute, and I guess having a horse trainer for a mom had rubbed off on her already. Also on that calendar page, was an innocuous little note saying, "Nick came". Nick was a horse, a very special horse, who came to me on the 23rd of July 2006 and left on the 24th of July 2009. He was a horse that Marty's cousin got in lieu of a bad debt and sent to me because he couldn't handle him. This horse turned out to be my perfect partner and my dream horse and I was devastated - and still am - that his owner showed up with no warning and took him away. (And then took him home and found he didn't want him and later sold him to someone else, when he knew how badly I wanted him.) My photographer friend Molly took a photo of the two of us on a trail ride at work and emailed it to me a few months ago. I used to ride Nicky all over town with no bridle on at all - a previously uncontrollable horse. In this photo, we're just riding in his halter.

Such a pretty boy. Man, I loved that horse.

I also found a poem that Jaxon wrote for me on Mother's Day last year. I scanned it to have a digital copy because it's so great:

 Here's a translation since it's a little hard to read:

A MOM Poem.... a Moem :) :) by Jaxon

roses are red
violets are blue
all moms are special
especially uou

you help a lot
you work wonders
but how many moms
are horse trainers/photographers

Mom, you are cool
Mom, you are da-bomb
I have one last thing to say
.... I love you Mom


P.S.  you're a great mom, you're always there for us.You're working all day (and half the night) yet you still have time to be a mom. Love you.

Isn't that nice, he's a pretty amazing kid.

I also found a quote that I had hurriedly jotted down while listening to General Conference - I think it was by Elder Holland, but I'm not positive. Still, it was worth recording.

"Apparently, the Gospel is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

All of these things and many more have been stashed in slots on my desk for quite some time. It always feels good to muck things out.