Okay, I have slept a bit and now here is the more detailed report.
From Wednesday to Friday I visited Josepha, Ralph and the boys. We had a great time playing with the horses.
The shy and introverted Don Jamie discovered his inner lion. On the first day we only moved around in the arena a bit and on the second day we discovered the joy of playing with the pedestal. After about half an hour he noticed that the pedestal would not eat him when he carefully touched it with his hoof (but that hundreds of little carrot pieces were coming instead) and after another twenty minutes he even realized that kicking and pawing the pedestal was even better - and finally climbing up with both frontlegs. And this made him feel that he was big and strong actually. He did not want to stop this for two hours and the expression on his face was priceless. He felt like he was in charge. This also transferred to other things, like stepping on or over the snake (aka pool noodle) and killing it for me, although in a very gentle way.
After a while he even started demanding his treats, which I happily rewarded. The only thing that did not get him a reward was nipping me (he wanted to eat my fingers several times), all the other things he did got the treat dispenser going.
Owen was playing with Josepha and they were doing great after she had discovered that being calm herself made him relax AT ONCE (I have never seen a horse who is that much in sync with his humanÂ´s emotions and behavior), turning him from overexcited and nervous into a calm and relaxed Masterlion within seconds.
But maybe she wants to write more about how she achieved that herself. Anyway, it was amazing to watch that and the other really important lesson those two were showing was the power of being happy and grateful about what the horse is doing instead of just delivering the treats. I made a little video of that: OwenÂ´s 2nd time of climbing on the pedestal
(the first one was even more cute and almost brought tears to my eyes). I also played with Owen for a while and he was great, but he kept looking at Josepha like â€œCanÂ´t YOU take over now?!â€
Here is another video of Josepha and the O-master
. Bianca has more videos and Inge and Franziska took lots of pictures, so there will be more for all of you to see.
With Ino we practiced backing out of our space from behind the fence so that it would become his default exercise when he is getting overexcited and it would be less dangerous to play with him and less necessary to put pressure on him. I used my hips for that (thanks to the broken arm I had the chance to practice a bit lately) and he was amazing and stepped backwards when I moved my hips towards him a bit.
I also tried to play with a guest horse from JosephaÂ´s neighbours. Boy, that was a lesson in humility! She was so insecure and skeptical about me and even after almost one hour she still didnÂ´t want to follow me except for some steps, let alone running with me or offering exercises all by herself. Such an interesting experience and thanks a lot to Tanja for allowing me to play with her sweet little mare!
We also did some non-horse-playing things: On Thursday I finally watched my first horse DVD (Bent Branderup) and on Friday we spent most of the time just sitting in the sun, talking and making crazy plans about producing a movie showing the real nature of JosephaÂ´s interaction with her horses.
Thanks to Josepha and Ralph for inviting me to their place. I wish I could have stayed longer!
Friday evening we arrived at BiancaÂ´s, where almost everyone else was there already. I finally met my sweetheart Imperia again and I really had to be careful not to cuddle her to pieces. Funny, I have never been looking forward to meeting a horse so much. I wonÂ´t write about our training here but do that in her diary when I will have more time and BiancaÂ´s videos are ready. But it was absolutely wonderful. She is such an incredibly sensitive little horse, picking up the smallest signals from my body language and offering all kinds of nice things. I guess I am in love just a bit.
On Saturday we were playing with the horses again. ItÂ´s always so nice to see Bianca interacting with Evita, they are such an inspiration. But also watching the others play with the horses and analyzing how their body language, movements, rewarding strategies and general behavior influenced the horsesÂ´ reactions was most interesting and helpful. For example Els is sooo good at that. With her very careful observation of EvitaÂ´s reactions they have developed a wonderful communication. I also played with Evita and was totally shocked (in the best possible way) to see how safe she is even during the wildest games. BiancaÂ´s way of interacting with her is so beautifully systematic and controlled and at the same time so loose, positive and full of fun. Those two are my big, big inspiration!
And it was so nice to meet all those great people. I already knew Ralph and Josepha, Bianca, Dominique and Barbara and knew they were lovely, but this time I finally met Inge and Els after having known them only from the internet for two years.
Oh, but also getting to know Franziska, AnneMarie, Kim and John was a total delight and I am so much looking forward to next year. Speaking of that, we are planning to have the AND summer meeting 2010 at my home in Dresden/Germany, plus an additional clinic meeting at BiancaÂ´s.
Thanks again to all of you for coming! This has been so much fun and so much to learn for me!