Monday, September 14, 2009

Beginning with the End in Mind

On Sunday, Guinness & I decided to make a little foray to a local recreation area. It is a popular place and he'd never been there before. My son joined us on his bike.

As soon as Guinness got off of the horse trailer, he was captivated. His eyes were big as he took in the "herds" of people and bikes. He is ridiculously brave though.. (Surely he wouldn't last five minutes as a wild horse!)

We headed out of the parking area and into the woods, with my son in front of us on the trail and Guinness eager to chase him. Pretty much immediately, I had to set G. straight about who was "lead mare" and who was "low man" in our herd of two.

Whenever he got too close and tried to push past me, I would (in order) flap my elbows, look sideways in a threatening manner, squeal, stop/back up, swing my rope, and (once) kick backwards! It only took a couple of times before he obediently followed me like a big, brown dog, and dropped back each time that I slowed down.

Whenever bikes, joggers or dogs approached us, I would direct him to the side of the trail to turn and face the spectacle, and then wait patiently until the coast was clear. He caught on to this routine very quickly. It was a beautiful day and the park was very busy. He had lots of opportunities for practice.

We continued down the path until we reached a stream where we practiced crossing water. Guinness took a hard look at the stream, and then painstakingly attempted to cross via some stepping stones. It took several crossings for him to figure out that the stream was only about 6 inches deep. ;-)

This was an incredible learning opportunity for him. I was so pleased to have done this *unmounted*! There were no other horses around (he did try calling a couple of times to check) so he had to rely on me. Since I was right in front of him, he learned how to follow at an appropriate distance and to match my speed, including sudden stops at the word "whoa." (I sometimes jogged and could hear him gaiting behind me to keep up.) I took the time to stop at choice bites of grass and to "smell the poop" on the trail - just to prove to him that I have good ideas!

In the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Habit #2 is "Begin with the End in Mind." Since Guinness is so ready to soak up information and to learn, I have to constantly envision how I want him to ultimately interact with me and with the world.

As we proceeded down that path, I experienced a strong sense of "knowing" that what we were doing together was the perfect first experience, setting us up for a lifetime of hitting the trail as partners. Wow.

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