Kessy, like all horses, just simply loved Diane Sept's gentle ways of teaching and encouragement. We had started Monday afternoon to work on the trailer loading thing, but as with all important lessons and accomplishments there was much more underneath that Kessy needed to understand and feel good about. The first thing Diane did yesterday was to spend about an hour just introducing herself to Kessy. They had never met.
|Diane, Kessy and Saturday getting to know each other|
It was so much fun to watch. At liberty, Diane walked with Kessy all through her treed pasture, mixing in relax and release exercises along the way, and weaving in and around the trees while connecting. Eventually Diane took her to the barn to do some serious relax and release exercises, and it was wonderful for me too, because while over the years Diane's taught me so much, she mixed in a number of new exercises, too.
The purpose of this body work is not only to connect, and deal with the areas that Kessy was "stuck," but to gradually let Kessy understand Diane was the leader. That was new to Kessy, because while I like to think I'm a great partner, I'm not a good leader, and as Diane explained many times to me, that's not fair to the horse. She did tell me though, that the work Kessy and I had done together made it possible for her to do the things she did with Kessy Monday and yesterday, the groundwork had been laid physically and mentally.
After an hour in the barn Diane took Kessy back out to play among the trees and in our yard, teaching her that it's okay and proper to do what she is asked, and showing in a kind and giving way that there are certain boundaries. That folks, is the most remarkable thing about Diane. Before she ever works at "teaching" a horse, or person, she takes as much time as it take to get to know and understand the horse, the person, and the underlying information that may be the issue. Be it health, confusion, or any number of things seemingly unrelated to the situation she is asked to address, she works with and for the horse building tiny steps toward the end goal.
Monday afternoon and evening she worked with Kessy two and a half hours before they ever ambled to the trailer. Kessy stepped right on. Then Diane went in with her and spent a good while with her just helping Kessy understand the trailer is a comfortable place.
Yesterday started with Diane doing more of the same with Kessy, release and relax exercises and then leading her among the trees in ways that seemed difficult for Kessy to do. In the most patient and encouraging way, Diane taught her that even though to Kessy, the "other way around the tree might make more sense," Diane wanted her to follow her path. Follow her leader. Over and over (and by golly I wish I'd have taken a few pictures of this) Diane worked with her among the trees, instilling the thought that Kessy must learn to politely do as she is asked, and showing her we would never ask her to do anything she could not accomplish.
Then it was back up to the trailer, for some on and off practice. Our good friend Chris Cooper had come by to watch, and before we took Kessy for a test drive, I took Chris and Diane for a ride in the trailer. They made an astonishing discovery. With top doors off the trailer exhaust fumes came in! Is that why Kessy quit loading after I'd taken her for a few trips? We put the top doors on before we went any farther.
|Kessy steps right in as Diane watches|
Diane and Kessy practiced a few more on and offs, and Chris took a turn, too. Then it was time to hand Kessy over to me. Kessy clearly mastered it, but Diane now needed to transfer the lead to me. My weakness, with my own horse, is that I have a harder time "being the leader" which again Diane explains is not fair to the horse. I do better with other folks' horses. Diane explained that is not all that uncommon either.
Diane handed Kessy to me, I loaded her easily, spent time in the trailer with her, and loaded on and off a few more times. Then we took Kessy for a test ride. All went perfectly, and she loaded again nicely after the ride. It was a long day for Kessy yesterday. Diane started at 8:30 and it was about 2:30 when we called it a day. I can tell you, Kessy loved every minute of it.
I loved every minute of it too, and not only had a terrific refresher course on how to be a better partner by being a better leader, but learned some great new exercises I can add to my "Therapy For Therapy Horses Clinics"
Thank you Diane for all you do to help horses and their people ... If you would like to talk with Diane about clinics or lessons please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 717- 336-6346
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry