On Sunday, when I gave a lesson, my wonderful student surprised me by lending me a dvd to watch. It was Buck Brannaman’s Groundwork. I haven’t yet watched all of it, and I couldn’t wait to try what he was teaching on the tape. I’m glad I did, because I got to see something pretty fascinating.
Yesterday there was quite a chill in the air, and I gave my student the choice of having a riding lesson, working in the round pen, or having a sit and talk session huddled around the kerosene heater. She chose the round pen, and I showed her a snippet from the dvd. I figured when I had it right there, I’ll let her see the master at work. I suggested she try it with Promise, my sister’s horse who battles EPM, whom this student loves very much. She agreed, and we set out for an adventure.
What we were focusing on was getting a horse to back up, and then to ask it to back in a circle until the movement became fluid, and the legs freed up. Promise actually backed easier than I thought he would at first. The circles proved to be a bit more of a challenge.
This was not surprising, because something goes wonky in his hind end when he has what I refer to as “episodes”. It was more challenging for Promise to make a backwards circle to the right. Sometimes he would kick at his belly and swish his tail. (No, he was not colicking) With some persistence and patience, he finally released something, and his movement got much better. Such a simple exercise produced such a dramatic change.
In addition, there was another fascinating development. One of the things that I loved about what I’d seen so far from Buck Brannaman’s teaching was his emphasis on the bond between horse and human. (Probably not a surprise that this is something I loved!) When Promise’s admirer first started working with him, he was pulling at her to eat grass, and not paying attention. Through her communication and requests, he gradually stopped that, focused on her, and started to relax. Not surprising, and still so cool to see.
Next block of time I get, I’m so excited to try this with the other herd members. I’m sure some interesting things will be revealed. I feel like a little kid with a new toy, and I haven’t even watched the whole movie yet. Always so much to learn!!