I realized that my energy yesterday was still too aggressive, demanding results. As gentle as the leading from behind was, it was still done with the intention of being a consequence of refusing the hackamore.
So I regrouped, read some Carolyn Resnick articles, and meditated a bit on what was happening. Then I took the hackamore out to Lucky and just got very quiet to watch his reaction. His high spirits are indeed hiding fear.
If I approached him with the hackamore, he evaded by raising his head, then turning away if I persisted. If I pushed when he evaded by following him, he moved more and got more head high. When I stood quietly with the hackamore, he would approach withing a few feet, head high. If I sat with the hackamore, his eyes would soften, he would lower his head and approach me cautiously, keeping a close eye on the hackamore. The slightest clank of metal and away he’d go.
My gut said to chunk the process down even further. Rather than make the goal to put the hackamore on him, I made the goal just to get him willing to stand and walk with me if the hackamore was hanging on my shoulder.
I starting by hanging the hackamore on the fence, and doing some companion walking with Lucky. (For those not familiar with Carolyn Resnick’s Waterhole Rituals, this is free walking, no tack at all, with the horse matching your movements voluntarily. Like joining up.)
Once Lucky and I both had calm, centered energy and were walking easily together, I got the hackamore and hung it on my shoulder. He immediately backed away. I was able to encourage him to approach by sitting whenever he got nervous. At first, he would walk with me several feet away only. Gradually he came closer in, even nosing the hackamore. Finally we were moving in unison. When I shifted the hackamore to my other shoulder, and moved to Lucky’s right side, I had to start all over gaining his trust. The off side took longer. When he finally came in and joined me, walking calmly, I ended the session.
Tomorrow I plan to do several short sessions like this, add in some EFT and TTouches, and hopefully get him to volunteer to wear the hackamore.
I must confess I am feeling impatient to get back on and ride again. I have to put those feelings aside, and allow this relationship to build at it’s own pace. The more I honor his free will, and the softer I get, the more responsive and obedient he is becoming, which encourages me that this process will lead us back to riding and partnership on the trail. He listens better than ever, and I can often direct him from 20-30 ft away easily.