December 22, 2010

Confessions of a Type A Personality

When we attended our Fast Track course, our parting gift was a free video audition voucher (in the Parelli program you graduate to the next level by submitting 10 minute unedited videos in the different savvys). I've only officially passed one level in Parelli because I had to do it to attend a clinic; in general, having no video camera and no real reason to officially pass a level has left me with little motivation to do so.

But external deadlines are good things for procrastinators like me, and I came away from my course determined to embrace playing On Line in a way I haven't before, so I thought, "Okay, December 30th gives me a couple of months to achieve some stuff On Line, and if I *do* decide to become an instructor, I'll have what I need to get started if I pass my Level 3 On Line."

So I recruited a filmographer and a friend who knows his way around video editing and uploading, and I set a date that would work with both their schedules while giving me maximum time to improve some stuff beforehand.

And off I went in my happy little OCD fantasy world dreaming up all kinds of things I could do. I spent hours listening to CDs in my car to find the perfect music, and I envisioned all sorts of over-the-top, camped-up musical-type numbers that Lupin and I could do together. (I thought, for instance, about using "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" and getting down on my knees during the circling game. Ultimately I jettisoned the song, but I kept the move.)

Once I had my list of compulsory moves and my list of things I wanted to include, I started playing around with the ideas with Lupin to see what would work. I spent over a month learning that waltz moves (or at least waltz moves done in waltz tempo) don't work as well as one could wish with horses, and that just because I can talk Lupin into going up and through a really high tree root thing multiple times does not mean that he's ever going to be happy about doing it.

Yet it was really an enjoyable process, I have to admit, because it was fascinating to watch my ideas evolve based on Lupin's feedback. It felt a lot like I was a director working with an actor, and over a few weeks we tried different patterns and combinations until we had a little routine choreographed. I didn't go through it much with Lupin beyond what I needed to do to work it out, but I was amused to think of the difference between this way of doing auditions and the ones I'd heard of where a Parelli student would just start doing stuff with her horse and someone would shout out in the last couple of minutes "Oy! You haven't done a circling game yet" and the Parelli student would throw one in just under the wire. (Of course, I told myself that I couldn't envision doing it that way, not because I was OCD, but because I didn't have any Parelli pals handy to help me out like that.)

In any case, Lupin and I had tested everything out in the ring and then moved out to the cow pasture--where I wanted to do the actual filming--the week before, and we were READY.

And then it snowed. Not a nice powdery snow, but slush, which was amazingly hard to run in. I decided against turning the whole thing into a Christmas-themed video and instead postponed taping.

My friend only had a limited time window on our "rain" date, but I wanted to go ahead with it because I was afraid that some heat in one of Lupin's feet meant that he was brewing an abscess (and by then we were starting to get down to the wire). So I got up early that morning to lug barrels and pedestal out into the field and have time to warm Lupin up.

He was a WILD MAN. I had left him in the stall the night before so his feet could dry out some, and he had some serious energy to burn. He trotted around in the ring snorting with tail high and then took off at a canter, but my Fast Track training kicked in and I urged him into a gallop and then threw some poles in his path. In pretty short order he was over thinking cantering was a good idea, though I was still dubious about taking him out by the cows, who were camped out all around our filming site. On a normal day if he was that insane in the ring I would not have taken him in the cow pasture at all, and I wouldn't have played with him right up by the cows on any day, but having a focus helped me move out of my comfort zone, and the experiment was a success. Lupin barely reacted, even when the arrival of hay caused a mass cow migration.

However, we didn't manage to nail our audition. I hadn't practiced the trailer loading much because I didn't want him to make assumptions and load up without my sending him. Every time I *had* practiced it, though, he had been more than ready to get in and the only difficulty was keeping him out until I asked him to go in. This day, however, he ambled around to the back of the trailer, then his head reappeared around the side with an "I don't get it--what am I supposed to do?" expression. After a few repetitions of this, our ten minutes expired with me practically jumping up and down at him. My friend had to leave, so that was that.

I kept my fingers crossed for the next 48 hours that the weather predicted for my next filming date would hold and that Lupin wouldn't develop an abscess. And I was lucky. The heat left Lupin's hoof, and the sun came out for the first time in a week for the few hours we shot the video. I very briefly warmed Lupin up on the circle and then he proceeded to do the best he's ever done on almost every single task the very first time through. Woohoo!

So now the only thing left for my OCD to fixate on is that there were a few glitches in the tape that make it look like I might have cut and pasted it, which is a little ironic since Lupin absolutely didn't give me any reason to even be tempted to do that. But I'm happy for my OCD to focus on technical issues with the tape rather than performance issues with my horse, who made the entire audition filming process an interesting and creative one for me.

Now I'm kind of looking forward to the next one . . .