Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Friendly Game

     Friendly game just starts out as a way to show yourself friendly to your horse.  Your body is relaxed and "friendly".  You might just stand nearby.  You might toss your string across his back, like a horse flicking flies away with his tail.  You might rub an itchy spot.
     At first, you just want to show yourself friendly.  But gradually, you want to show other things as friendly...especially things that could be potentially scary.  This phase is a combination of desensitizing the horse and also teaching the horse to trust your cues.  For example, let's say you are opening an umbrella next to your horse.  You are teaching your horse that (1) the umbrella is not scary after all and (2) as long as you are relaxed then the horse can be relaxed.

     Toward the end of the summer, I started adding the more advanced friendly game.  I did this very slowly, much slower than necessary.  It was all new to me, and I was preparing as though it were new to WhiteStar.  But she has trained many a student before me.  She dozed off while I carefully introduced new "scary" things into our friendly game.  It was all "old hat" to her.

     We had developed a pretty amazing friendship by this time.  True, I was still very much a beginner.  But I had a strong feeling of comradery with her. 
     I knew that she was extremely patient and forgiving.  I knew that she was gentle and kind.  I knew that I could make goofy "beginners' blunders" or try something new, and it would be okay. 
     She knew that I genuinely loved her and wanted good things for her.  She knew that I would face any lion on her behalf.  She knew that I was not just "learning on her" but that I actually cared about her.
     In other words...we were friends.


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