Sunday, April 25, 2010
Three Times the Charm
Charlie is adorable. He's cuddly, cute, and energetic. He's got a wonderfully happy personality when he is with us (not so with visitors - he has fear issues from not being socialized properly). Charlie is the newest addition to our dog family. We picked him up from a rescue located in Montreal. He's very smart (he had to learn English!) and believes that he is the size of a Mastiff when in reality he is 10 lbs. of Tasmanian Devil. It was a bit of an adjustment for everyone in our household. He came to us with attitude. There was a lot of fighting at the beginning, which we were not used to. Our dogs had always gotten along, even when new ones were introduced. The difference here was that Charlie was an adult dog (3 yrs. old) when we got him, was not neutered until he went to the rescue group and although loved by his previous owner, Charlie had lived a solitary life before he came to us. Our three dogs have sorted it out amongst themselves. The similarities between Charlie's story and Gem's prior to becoming part of my life is actually quite amazing.
When I ask my dogs to "come", my older girl and male will come immediately. Charlie will pretend that he didn't hear you. He casually looks away (she doesn't mean me) and may even start to saunter off in another direction. You ask him to come a second time in a sterner voice...maybe he will look at you (wonder if she means me?) and start to slooooowly walk in your direction. You ask him a third time in a much sterner voice and he will look at you (oh, she does mean me!) he will pick up the pace and come right to you. Having to ask Charlie 3 times to do something is now the norm. Unless, of course, there is a C-O-O-K-I-E involved, then it reduces the number of requests to 2. Why??
I have come to recognize the same pattern with Gem. When we first start our session, he's not bad. I think he's more excited about hanging out with the other horses than he is with hanging out with me. :-) We do our warm up. OK, now it's time to work.
Me: OK, time to to do crazy 8 patterns. Let me press my leg against you to show you which way I want you to go.
Me: Come on, now. I am pressing my leg against your side. Move it.
Gem: You talkin' to me?
Me: LET'S GO!!! Move it! I want you to curve this way!
Gem: Oh! You want me to do the crazy 8 pattern.
This scenario is usually played out throughout our session. It might only happen sporadically, or it might happen every single time I ask him for something. Of course, it usually happens when I am having a lesson. LA seems to regularly see the worst of him. I am at a loss on how to make him more consistent with his response. On a bad day, it can be exhausting.
But, when we have a good day, it rocks. Today happened to be a good day. The sun was shining and the temperature was around 12 degrees Celsius. It was windy and the dust was flying, but we didn't care. Gem and I rode out in the front paddock. The moment I put my foot in the stirrup, I knew it was going to be a good ride. I could see it in his eye. His trot was amazing; steady, consistent, his head slightly tilted to the inside, his chin was down. Another rider commented on how good Gem looked. My seat was solid, my hands fairly quiet and I was conscious of my breathing which was easy and strong. At a walk, we did squares to practice turning and bending. He stood patiently when I asked. We worked together for well over an hour. Today's ride erases the last bunch of exhausting rides. It was an awesome afternoon. Wish LA could have seen it. :-) BTW, I wouldn't recommend dust as an exfoliant.
What was I thinking....?