Very recently – yesterday, in fact – I was playing with Bonnie for the first time with firm Level 3 On Line goals in mind. My plan for the session was to practice our Figure 8s. Bonnie had other ideas.
Bonnie is not usually taken to bouts of energy or enthusiasm, certainly not enthusiasm in its physical manifestations, but I felt she needed a little run. So, with her on the arena fence and me roughly on the quarter line, I asked her to move off at a walk and mirror me. Walk, trot and then canter. WOW! She got the right lead and then got ‘happy’. She kicked and hopped her way around the arena. I thought, “if I mirror her, maybe this could turn positive,” so I kind of kicked and hopped (not literally) with her. We did this a few times in each direction until I saw a slight question from her and asked her to come in.
I was so excited, and not only because she stopped! For the first time in a very long time, Bonnie came to me with enthusiasm both physically and mentally – AND her ears were forward! She wanted to come to me. So far, so good. So I played with her idea and she loved it. Now I wanted her to play with mine.
Firstly, I asked her to maintain the trot throughout the pattern. As Bonnie is a Left-Brain Introvert, her usual tendency is to walk through the change of direction so I tag (or threaten to tag now) the ground as she goes through. We got this on the 22-foot Line quite easily, so it was time to up the ante and get out the 45-foot Line and ask for Figure 8s at the canter with a simple change through the change of direction. I thought dropping from canter to trot would be quite easy for Bonnie, but this time wasn’t quite what I had in mind; her canter was quite spirited and her Figure 8 was not quite as even as I would have liked, but we were stepping up a notch, so I let the quality of the pattern slide for this session. Having Bonnie’s life up was a positive step forward for her. Having gotten her cantering around the barrels, I asked her back to trot for the simple change. Nope… flying change! Not once but three or four times! I am still blown away by her willingness and exuberance.
What a great session. Bonnie showed me the meaning of truly conversing with HER. She had an idea, I understood her idea, we played with her idea in a way that could lead to or improve the idea I was heading toward, and then I asked her to play with my idea and she happily obliged.