|Mercury inspecting strange plants that grow here while we Share Territory|
I decided to treat myself, significant other plus Mercury and 3 dogs to a much needed, well deserved holiday in Florida. I missed Mercury a lot after traveling so much. So I decided I wanted him with me on vacation. Fortunately, have trailer, truck and an agreeable stable to board him at temporarily, and the whole furry family can come along. Florida is quite horse friendly due to the heavy competition influx during the winter so it lends itself well to short term boarding.
What I wanted to share was my experience with Mercury and using the Waterhole Rituals to help us stay Connected in a foreign environment and routine to what we are both used to. I spoke to the owner of the stable prior and explained a bit about Mercury and his horsenality. They understood he would be adjusting to a lot of things over the first few days and how to make it less stressful and safe for him. Mercury would have to adjust to much less turn out time, hotter temperatures, a new routine, and lots of strange horses and humans handling him. I knew he would be full of energy and very curious about his surroundings and all the other horses.
The first day Mercury was quite fresh and un-focused which was to be expected. I Shared Territory with him in his stall and ate lunch with him. I let him know I was there as much as possible. I was able to do some Liberty work with him before our first ride in the strange place. It was definitely necessary because he was distracted and needed some suppleness work to loosen him from standing in the stall and trailer so much. I am grateful to have the WHR as a tool because it really helps me communicate with Mercury and help him settle in unsettling situations.
I first let him move around freely and then started with Leading from behind, Draw and Primarily Eye Contact to help focus him on my requests. I always see a particular ritual as being important to each individual horse, and Eye Contact is one I practice with Mercury a lot. He wants to look everywhere at everything not in a spooky way but curious and interested. Once he focused on my requests I would reward him by taking him to eat some grass or over to a particular horse to visit and Say Hello as long as he was polite about it.
The second day, I was able to put Mercury in a large grass paddock and play some more. He was still very energetic and distracted and interested so it was nice to be able to work with the WHR again to help him settle and relax and follow my requests. I did some work with food, Leading from Behind and Companion movement. At the end, we were able to do some more advanced Leading from Behind movements and then take it to Single Line. I was happy with where we finished up doing some Liberty Collection to Single line Collection. I look at this experience and each challenge that comes up as an opportunity to build a better partnership with Mercury. You cannot deepen Connection without going outside your comfort zone. I look forward to these experiences because they often bring up "difficult" conversations but it is all in how you look at it. It is the horses' way of communicating. It may look difficult, but it is just another conversation between me and my horse. Some are easy and some are not so easy. The not so easy ones are the best ones if you detach from the outcome and desired results. It is like a difficult conversation with a person. If you let it, it can be a path to deeper Connection and understanding.
Today I was able to do some more Liberty in the large grass area. Mercury was still energetic and distracted and today was quite warm. I set about doing the same exercises and had no attachment to whether he was calm or not, or did anything I requested actually. I was more gauging how he felt and asking him questions. I had limited time and as always I only do what seems to be appropriate. I decided I would hop on him bareback and bitless for a few minutes and see how he felt. He felt much more focused and responsive then previous days and did some really nice mounted work. I was really pleased and had no idea he would be so much more focused and willing.
With this work, you must always stay in the flow without expectations. If you do, horses always offer so much more. I will update as we go along. I have found a beach that allows horses and since Mercury has never been to the ocean, that should offer new and interesting Connection building challenges!