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You've found the Mary-Dixon page about horsemanship.  Horses are my passion and my obsession.  They have helped me become a kinder, more confident, more patient person.  What they have taught me about them and taught me about myself is immeasureable.  I now try to teach folks about the nature of horses and how to understand each other which leads to a more confident human and a more confident little darling.
Adventure Horse Riding in NYS

1/22/12

#55 Just One Step



   #55  Just One Step
   Pix are not Dusty, but a different horse - Beau

You may get bored reading this and you may get bored doing this method but  read on anyway.  What the heck ? 


I want my horses to be brave and confident so I ask quite a bit of them.  This most recent quest was terrifying to Dusty, my Tennessee Walker (he's always been a very nervous nelly)

Our creeks are very rocky, and deep, and have about 2 to 5 inches of hard ice on top and snow on top of the ice. Our other horses cross them and are calm when the ice makes the cracking sound and they drop down into the dark, cold water and the ice cracks again with each step.  They just deal  with it.

.  Not Dusty, though - no way and no how. (actually I don't blame him !) 

Day 1     He just couldn't stop pooping when he realized what I was asking of him and he also got the shakes.  So, we were both happy IF we just faced the creek and took one step toward it and simply stayed there for a spell (the release or reward).  We did this about 4 times - not 4 steps  .  This  was no easy task at first.  (1/2 hour)

Day 2  Went back to same frozen creek - he was getting nervous & pooping just going there - and we did the same thing as Day 1 - didn't take long at all, we would just stay there little bit,  and then I asked for  "just one step" and then one more step and one more step, etc,  to get him to the EDGE of the creek.  We did this nice and slow with rests between each step - and, alas,  he finally got there at the edge and stood there. But, he sure wasn't going to go one inch farther.        (1 hour)



Day 3    A repeat of Day 1 and Day 2 - much, much easier and quicker than  
before and got to the EDGE of the creek relatively quickly.  He had his confidence up in himself and in me because I didn't push him over the cliff (didn't shove him into the water)  I tried the just one step, ain't happening, and I just knew it wasn't going to happen,  so we turn around and away, then approach again and just one step, nope, and again and again and again and nope nope nope (I was wanting him to get on the ice)

BUT, he lifted his foot out and over the ice. Great!  I gave him a treat and we went back home.  (45 minutes)

Day 4  By now, naturally, I think this is going to be many days to get the job done but I knew it and accepted it because I know my horse.  Geez, talk about patience!  So, the day was a simply a repeat.  He did go quickly to the edge of the creek and we just stayed there & when he picked up and stuck out his foot again, we just went home. I didn't ask any more from him.  (10 minutes)

Day 5  Back again doing the same thing, balancing on the edge of the creek  but this time we stayed even when he picked up his foot and stuck it out over the ice.  I did nothing and said nothing - just sat there.  So he did it again, then again, then again, and then put one foot on the ice !  I just sat there, didn't say a single word.  He put weight on it, took it away, did it again a few more times,then he put the other foot on it so now both feet are on the ice.  I said nothing  and did nothing.

Then the ice makes a noise and cracks, and his 2 feet go right down into the freezing water rushing among the rocks under the thick ice.  I said nothing and did nothing.   He just stayed there - didn't do a thing.!


  And, then, FINALLY, he crossed the freaking creek - ice breaking all over the place.    We then re-crossed the creek and rested, then did it 3 more times back and forth with no problem at all.  Then we found 2 other places and he crossed those with no hesitation.  He seemed quite proud of himself.
So we finally got the job done !!!!!!!!!!   (1/2 hour)


The reason for this blog is simply as a reminder about baby steps and  time and patience.
Rome didn't get built in a day & Dusty wasn't going to cross a creek in a day.                         

      *   The "time it takes and it will take less time"  - 4 days and tons of patience (more time) - he now goes thru
           any and everything with no hesitation whatsoever - even a frozen pond (less time)
  • Trust - he knew I wouldn't force him to do it (push him over the cliff)
  • Confidence - in me and in himself
  • Patience - Omg, the patience !
  • Baby Steps - reward the slightest try.
  • Consistency - he always knew how the lesson was going to go and that it was lesson
  • Persistence - I just didn't give up or get frustrated or impatient 
Adventure Horse Riding in NYS            Smilla13@gmail.com  (Mary Dixon)         www.RideNYS.com