Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Break

I've been having a great time with the Nigel and Lil!

Nigel is, as I've almost come to expect, learning things at the speed of light and Lil is much more confident than she was last winter.

Nigel offers to do levade (sustained rear with knees together) and mezair (basically rearing and pawing the air. used to be beating down doors in battle) all the time now. I have no idea how to cue them individually though! Yesterday I was able to count to 4 while he was up in the air. He's getting the idea that I like it when he perches up there.

He is clearly getting stronger.

I love it when Kip gets to play with Nige on the weekends and is impressed with how he's developed. I like to see him smiling and saying "woah! thats awesome!".

Riding Nige has been waaay fun. Our steering is getting A LOT better. The other day I almost took the bridle off. I decided to keep it on and just looped the reins over the saddle horn and did a pretty perfect walking cloverleaf pattern* without having any need to touch the reins. Big progress. Our canters have gotten better and follow the rail without touching the reins is very good at trot and coming along at the canter. We got a very pretty sideways at the trot too.

I've checked Nigel off on everything on the Level 2 Freestyle* list except open a gate. We did it in the summer....but I want to double check it ... its been so muddy by the gate to the arena since we put it in.

I've been asking him to get into the trailer quite often. Shutting the door and feeding some breakfast. That too is getting better all the time.

Lil and I are on a licking and chewing record! Plus she fluttered her nose (her little Right Brained Introvert* version of a nicker) at me two days in a row!!!

We've been doing sideways at canter away from the lead...kind of an interesting effect...and her extensions at trot are getting really pretty online*. She is now offering to do it undersaddle as well.

Yesterday we had a lovely ride. We got a really nice little bowtie pattern using canter walk canters. Super cool! I need to see it on video...her walking pirouettes are staring to feel really good.

I just don't know what I would do without the Horsenality* information. It would have taken forever to learn what she needs by trial and error. Yesterday she galloped it out for about a mile. The funny thing is that she seems to know that its ok to do it now. Like she's not wondering if its upsetting me. She just gets out on the rail and does what she needs to do. Then comes back and says "Phew" I feel better now. What do you want to do?"

Looking forward to more pony time tomorrow. Here are a few picts from Kip and I's playtime with the white horses yesterday.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Parellitube Submission

Well...I thought I'd put one together...

It was really fun looking through the footage over the last year.

To view it larger on youtube:
Parellitube Montage

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Apparently Boredom Sparks Creativity

Well, the arena has been too rock solid to do much on.... bummer dayz. I'm starting to get bored enough to get creative.

I'm trying to teach Nigel to hang up in the air a little longer ala Levade. He's short enough we can play with this in his stall. We've gotten to like a 2 second rear so far.

I think I'll work on lifting up a front leg ala spanish walk. Lil might like that too.

Also maybe Nigel will learn to pick something up and hand it to me. Maybe a hat? Or a brush or something.

ugh................... at least its sunny!

Here's a little Lipizzan Airs Above the Ground clip. I may be getting addicted to this breed. Hopefully Nigel is not one of a kind.

Also here is a hilarious vid about a couple of english ladies playing ponies. French and Saunders-Ponies. Omg. To horse people this is toooooo funny. Apparently Linda shared this with everyone at the UK Parelli Celebration.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

And its all frozen.....

In fact everything is frozen. It is dry and beautiful. But very cold (hasn't gotten above freezing) and windy.

Today I played with Nigel and the horse trailer for just about 20 minutes. Frozen. Toes, Nose, Fingers, Pattotie. Even with enough clothes to look like the little brother in A Christmas Story.

He is just so worried about it. In his little Nigel way. "I'm doing it. But I don't like it." We were back to just getting in and hanging out. Because a few days ago...

I thought we were at a point this week where I could drive him down the road and back. So Thursday I loaded him just like we've been doing. . . he was fine to shut the door....I opened it and closed it.....but as soon as I put the butt chain across he started to have trouble. He tried to hold it together and I went ahead and closed the door. Uh oh. Drama. He was not completely Right Brained*. I mean...he was thinking... but he was thinking "I WANT OUT!".

He was pounding with his front feet and rearing. Now bear in mind that he does this when he wants to be let out of his stall too...but there was a definite tone of worry. Jail. Claustrophobia. And not enough trust. One different thing he was doing in the trailer vs his stall was blowing. Like you would think a relaxing sound. But this was he was trying to calm himself down. Come to think of it, it was the same with the pounding and rearing. It was all faster. And the blowing seemed to wind him up, not calm him down. . . but I didn't leave him in long enough to find out.

I scrapped the idea of driving him anywhere and let him out. After that it took about 5 minutes or so for him to be able to get back in and stand there.

Today, he got right in. But he didn't want to stay in. He would stay in for about a minute and then have to get out. One time I coughed and it startled him... and he had to get out. Eventually I could rattle the butt chain and he'd stay in. Good.

I think its just going to take repeating this process again until he can cock a leg...then I'll start banging stuff around....then when he lets loose with that I'll try shutting the door again....then when he lets loose with that...I'll try driving just a little ways...etc.

The funny thing is with Nige....I still don't know if it'll be 2 sessions more....or 10. I'll bet my next paycheck though that when we get through this and he really gets confident with will change everything between us. And that. Will be great.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

and it was pretty clear that Lil and I's relationship is waaay stronger than last winter.

I was wondering if I'd even be able to put a halter on her safely. She was leaping around, tail over her head, snorting. Although I figured she'd be pent up as the horses were all in on thanksgiving day due to yucky weather....this was the most trouble I've seen Lil have so far this winter.

She came right up to me when I went to see about catching her. I did send her away a few times because she didn't feel safe but on about the third time she looked at me and waited to be invited in. As I put the halter on, Kip asked if I was going to be ok. With conviction I said: "yes! she needs me and I know what to do. we're going to be fine".

Now, here's the first: As soon as the halter was on and we were heading up to the arena, Lil calmed down. She even started sighing and shaking out tension in her neck. Ha ha! So even just on the way to the arena she was finding comfort. Wow. wow. wow. wow.

I've been watching the new Parelli Levels DVDs. As we know, a horse's needs are Safety, Comfort then Play right? (then food. lol) Well, Pat was talking about comfort. He was talking about horses finding comfort in movement.

Pressure motivates, but its the release that teaches..... I have usually thought about giving comfort as stopping. Giving a rest. This of course is effective...but as Pat was talking about letting your horse go out on a circle and just find the comfort in movement....I began to think about Lil and how helping her move...makes her more comfortable. Like I knew it was making a BIG positive difference. Obviously. But I was more thinking about it helping her get more Left Brained*...calmer...less emotional....etc.

Now I started to think about her physically being comfortable. Like warming up by the fire after being outside in the freezing cold for hours. Or finally stretching out on the couch after a long day at work.

So with this in mind, I turned her loose in the arena. I thought she'd really need to gallop around....she didn't want to roll...but surprisingly to me she was very very connected. I asked her off on a canter circle and she maintained gait and direction really nicely!

However...when I brought her back in...I didn't get any blowing out. Or really that much licking and chewing. So I put on the 22ft line and set up some barrels. Over the last few sessions I've been thinking of how to take this to the next level. This maintain gait maintain direction and look where you're going... I've felt that it's time to up the anti a little to make even more progress into her relaxation mentally, emotionally and physically.

So. The game was just a simple circling game at canter but I added jumping the barrels. We went about 12 laps (very connected it seemed) to the left then stoped. She was very still...I could have waited for her to come out of it but after a few minutes I decided to send her the other way and see what happened.

To the right after about 13 or so laps I could tell she was thinking more about maintaining gait and putting more effort in. She broke to trot a couple times then picked right back up into the canter. She was thinking! Excellent.

Then...........after oh my gosh like 20? laps, (remember that's a half a mile), when I brought her back...she blew and blew and blew and licked and even yawned a little!!!!! She hardly ever does that. It took very very little to draw her the rest of the way to me. Finally she rubbed and scratched her head on me which she only does if she's present and with me. Horray!

She rolled then fiddled around the arena...then I turned her and everyone else out to play.

A while later I came down to clean stalls .... she came over to the gate and hung out with me. What a great feeling!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A few of my fav Coco picts from FL 09....

From my recent attendance of the Natural Performance (Finesse* Level 3/4) and Riding with Purpose (Freestyle* Level 3/4) courses at the Ocala Florida campus of the Parelli Natural Horsemanship Academy.

Isn't Jetti a handsome boy. I love these picts because his presence comes across so well. Coco as usual your pictures capture the spirit of the moment and the relationship.

Thank you so much Pat for generously lending him to me for those two weeks. .... it was a very special time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Got 'em!

The New Parelli Level's packs arrived moments ago! I've been at work since 6:45 so I could have a look as soon as they hit the door. I'm starting with the Get Started Dvd....onto the Level 4 Pack. . . then this evening hubby and I will watch the Level 1/2 Pack...then Level 3. Then....being again! lol

Thursday, November 19, 2009

For those of you horse behavior junkies.....

Check this out....I was uploading vids from my blackberry today and found this one of Lil from earlier in the summer.

This is how long I have to wait sometimes for her to come out of her Right Brained Introversion. Just watching the video it seemed like forever. 4 and a half minutes!!! This is why when I mention that it took her less than a minute to lick her lips or that I could see an inch or two of tongue its a HUGE deal.

(sorry for the buzzing sound. better just mute it. at about 4min 30 she really comes out of it...if you care to watch all the way until she lays down you'll see her go back to her happy place)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Parelli's blog | Parelli

Parelli's blog | Parelli

Posted using ShareThis

This is a link to Linda Parelli's new blog. So cool to hear how she's getting on with Goyani. I'm so stoked for the new level's this weekend. I'm DYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYING waiting to order them. I just know they will help me advance my savvy.

I am also hoping that the Horsenality Profile will be out this weekend too.........

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Letting Lil Gallop It Out

I'm so glad that I know what she needs right now!!!!!!!!!!!

The horses were in for nearly 48hrs. (all their stalls have large runs but of course its not the same) Plus..even when Lil gets turned out she doesn't usually gallop enough.

Last night I put on forty thousand articles of clothing and sat in Nigel's stall while he ate. This turns out to be a great way to spend undemanding time with him. If I go in when he's not eating he just gets bored with me and wants to DO something. It was pretty cool. He seemed happy to have me there. He kept checking in and blowing out nicely. I say points for me. Ha!

Meanwhile in the stall next door....Lil was climbing the walls. Poor thing. The crazy weather freaks her out.

So today I squeezed in about 40min to take her up to the arena. She rolled right away which is always a good sign...then hopped up squealing and jumping around. Also a good sign. At Liberty* I asked her to maintain gait and direction which she challenged a few times but not in a scared way. After 15 quick canter laps I asked for a flying change which she was present enough to do but she wanted to change direction again so it took us about 7 laps to get 2 good ones maintaining gait to the right. Then she wanted to come in. The really really cool thing was that she was licking her lips within about a minute. And I could see like 2 inches of tongue!!!

We are working on hopping halfway over the barrels. Teaching it Online* at the took about 4 tries to get it today but then she licked and chewed within a minute again.

Also quickly did a few walk canter transitions and some stretching online...then waited for a final lick and check. This took a little longer but not too bad. She shook her head and as we were walking to the gate she did a few little bits of blowing out. Not like she does most of the time but this was a pretty quick session so I was happy. She was relaxed when I put her blanket back on and settled back into her room. Later when I set everyone free she walked out calmly. Yay!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

News From Linda's Blog.

Sounds like Mr. Remembrance got an abscess in his tootsie and couldn't make the trip to the Uk for the Parelli Celebration there.

Just wanted to say how impressed I am with Linda rolling with the punches, lucking out with such a fabulous replacement horse and above all putting the well being of our beloved Remmer first. Talk about being a living example of principles before purpose huh?

So glad Rem's abscess blew out and that he'll be fine by the time they all get back from the UK.

I got to see Carmen Zulauf's horse Goyani on vid recently (this is the horse Linda will be riding in her Walter lesson)...he is spectacular. I know I'd be super disappointed if I was going to the event but I'll bet this turns out fabulously. It will certainly be a treat to see Linda and Walter bring this all together.

Of course for those of you who haven't heard this news yet check out the entire story in Linda's Blog from today

Thanks Linda for being so wonderful. Give Remmer a big hug for us.......

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

and I am glad to be back home!

Well, I made it back from Florida. About 3063 miles from our door to Pat and Linda's.

It was a wonderful opportunity to be there for those two weeks. Just getting 3-4 hours a day of in the saddle time (in a fluidity saddle no less) was a huge gift in and of itself. Add on top of that getting to be around so many dedicated Parelli students all living their dream, plus learning and growing, plus being shephearded through the courses by some very talented teachers and having a wonderful horse to play with.... plus, getting to see and chat with Pat and Linda at their home... I mean really. What more could I ask for? (ok maybe having Kip there too)

I do have to say that coming home this time has been a completely different experience. Having our little Savvy Team as support...coming home to like minded feels good actually. Not so much like being ripped from the fold like it did last time.

I did get to play with Nigel and Lil yesterday. Nigel and I had our best play session yet. I missed Lil so much...and she seemed very happy to see me...but it is a whole different grove with her. Jetti, the horse Pat lent me while I was in FL, was such an extrovert...a very balanced one for sure but an extrovert none the less. Lil is SUCH AN INTROVERT! It is a stark difference. And I find myself struggling to adjust. I love her though...and am so glad to be back to share all I've learned. To be better for her....

A huge thank you to Ann Kizer. From the bottom of my heart. You made this happen and I am so grateful. Big Hug.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I must admit I am waaay outside my comfort zone at the moment. Kip and I came to Florida for the Savvy Club Gold Summit...

Next thing I know I'm getting to stay on for a couple weeks and participate in the Fineese L3/4 course and the Freestyle L3/4 course. Starting in like an hour!!!

Apparently when I get there I will magically have a horse and gear too!

I'm struggling with the speed of this leap of faith. But Pat has always said that he has made it a point to go out of his way to shake hands with opportunity. Seems like it has worked for him so I am trying to model his behavior.

And I think I've heard once or twice (lol) that if I'm comfortable then I'm not really learning and growing.

Well, at the moment, I feel like a weed!

Friday, October 9, 2009

and I am so loving the armpit thing.

Ha! It sounds funny right? But seriously, for whatever reason, Linda's explanation on Septemeber's Savvy Club* Dvd (I think it'll be on Octobers in more detail) of pulling our armpit back and a little downwards to curve our body on the circle just clicked for me! yahoo!

Lil is so sensitive about everything I do when riding. When I get it wrong she tightens, (she still tries now when i'm getting it wrong. which is great because she used to just say "forget it") when I get it right she just effortlessly does whatever we're attempting.

I wasn't sure exactly why this is working so well particularly at the canter. I learned (from an olympian) to sit on my outside hip, put my inside leg a little forward and ask for the canter. Pat congruently talks about thinking of boxing with the right or left hand leading corresponding to whichever lead I want. This has always made sense because it puts me exactly in the aforementioned position.

However, shaping my horse on a circle seems to require a little adjustment. Which does make sense considering I need to do in my body what I want my horse to do in her body. And on a circle if she curves correctly, her outside foreleg is reaching around in front of her inside foreleg. So if I'm leading with my inside that instance, I'm out of sinc.

When asking for shoulder-in or haunches-in or whatever I know to do in my upper body what I want her to do and also in my lower body what I want her to do. But, I haven't been applying that to a canter circle. Duh.

So as we were cantering around yesterday, I was just feeling it as I pulled my inside armpit a little backwards and down. Linda also talked about stretching into my inside stirrup whilst staying centered with my balance. As I was doing this I could feel that my inside hip was forward as it should be, and it felt However I describe it, it was working for Lil.

I'm thinking that my hips were actually doing what I wanted hers to do! I needed them to come a tiny bit to the inside. (or we could say towards the leading side or a little thought of haunches-in) Pulling my inside armpit back instead of thinking about stretching it forwards and up with my outside shoulder made all the difference. ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

So there we were cantering on a 20m circle, and I can feel that my hips are going kind of one way and my upper body is curved the otherway. Of course this works only when it makes a whole curve. So my torso needed to gently connect the two, melding inside to outside elastically. Which seemed to correspond to my horse's ribcage.

Also, as we know riding is an active thing. So as we're going around was mirroring her. Its not like my body just stayed stiff like that. In those moments, I was really fluid, it was like my hips, and upper body respectively, were moving with hers. When it seemed all to be in harmony, the diagonal of my body actually matched the diagonal of the canter! Well, whaddaya know.

Anyway, Lil was happy. And of course this made me happy. REALLY HAPPY. It has been a challenge for her to find balance, impulsion and relaxation in the canter. It got better first Online*, then at Liberty*, then Freestyle* and now shaping it a little in Finesse*, is just falling into place.

Linda talks about how if we're getting it, it shouldn't take that long to make a change. Who knew she'd be right again. lol. So funny that just a different description of the bio mechanics I needed in my body...did the trick. This is why I just shake my head in confusion when people criticize Pat and Linda for just regurgitating information. I say, "tell me again! say it differently! now tell me again? show me... show me with a different horse. . . can I see you teaching it to someone me again?"

So, we just did a few laps each way. It felt amazing. Then I wanted to work on walk-trot transitions because those have been a little funky....but I didn't. I got off. Yay for me!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Acutally, just hanging around......

I've been working a lot over the last few days and so I haven't had much of a chance to play ponies. But, I have had morning time to talk with them and evening time to hang around in the barn. Of course anytime I'm near them, I'm obeserving, comparing and remembering.

One cool thing I've seen is Lil napping with her lip hanging down. I though that that might have gone away for the winter already, but after we played on Saturday... it's back! She has been relaxed, happy and on the lookout for me.

Second cool thing: The other night I let all 7 horses through the gait. She now stops and stands with me as the others go by. I have been protecting her from the higher ups in the herd when she does this.

I wondered if she would trust me enough to get her through the herd and stick to me all the way into the barn. She is usually 3rd or 4th. I wondered if I would be Alfa enough to deliver. Well, without much hassle we did it! I'm pretty sure I got big points for it too. :)

Third cool thing: The other night, I just hung out with Nigel in his stall as he ate. I put my arm over him and watched him munch. As my fingers reached all the way down his other side in a hug, I wondered why I ever thought having a big horse was the only way to go. He's just so small and cute! Yet sturdy and strong with plenty of fancy suspension.

As I stood there, I noticed that he wanted to blow out. Like everyone else was doing. I could feel his barrel under my arm fill up and then he'd let out this little sigh. I thought about why he didn't just go for it.

My feeling is, that he doesn't trust me. He's not afraid of me certainly...... Perhaps what I'm trying to describe is suspicion. He seems guarded. Not in a scared, damaged, super emotional way. Its very, very subtle. He's just not let loose.

As the minutes ticked by towards 30 of undemanding time.... we had those few rose colored moments as the sun set.... and finally, he blew out. He let loose. His body felt different under my touch. Ha! ha! Success! I'm thinking that made a big difference to him.

So for both the white horses and I, it has been a lovely few days even though I haven't had too much time to spend. . . . .

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Guest Post! ...Freestyle Drama. by Lisa M (member of our savvy team the Aspiring Horsemen)

"do you wanna hear real whining, here it is!! i had pony time today. our preflight check is going great, right up until we head off to do patterns!!

i set up the question box and a bullseye. even set up pathways with ground poles. first off, let me say that i am not coordinated enough to ride with a carrot stick while worrying about a casual rein, where i'm looking, how i'm moving, life up, life down and my horses response to all of this, which by the way, isnt great. so, i abandoned the stick for a while and concentrated on everything else.

here's the cold hard truth as i see it right now, based on friday and today. i dont think i have a real grasp on life up/life down yet which i think is confusing my ULTRA SENSITIVE horse (whom you, emma, have now experienced) and what i used to think was impulsiveness i now think might be a huge communication gap and as light as i think i'm being i'm not sure its enough and i'm a little bit frustrated...........YES, I SAID IT, the hated word..............FRUSTRATED!!

i dont think i noticed so much before because riding with "contact" makes it easier to correct little misunderstandings BUT now that i'm trying to develop our freestyle, well, lets just say its a real eye opener!! we spent most of the time walking the cloverleaf just trying to make a connection. we did walk/trot/stop transitions around the bullseye and even those were rough.

i can get a walk from the stop, trot from the walk but its always punchy and a stop from the walk or trot but i cant get a walk from the trot, in freetyle. i tried sooooooooooo hard to find that happy medium of life down to a WALK not a stop and i did a couple times but then she'd break back to the trot. i did finally get a walk a couple times and went back to the cloverleaf with the question box but i just dont know if it sunk in. the turns were ok, sometimes.

i decided to try the stick again. she was really over reactive at first. i did a lot of friendly game with the stick, rubbing her neck and cheeks and even her nose and swinging it around. it did improve. we spent the rest of our session trying to make turns by looking, turning my body, leg, then stick. i tried oh so hard to not use any rein but OMG i'm just not that good!!! the walking did finally get better so we moved up to a trot. rough all over again. i felt bad because i felt like i was being really rough with the stick.

i rode with a short casual rein and again tried not to use the rein. in the end the turns got better and once i was able to make a few turns by looking, turning & using a light leg we stopped and walked for a few minutes and did lots of friendly game with the stick. but i really felt like i was rough on her and i know i lost my patience a couple times. had to actually stand for a few minutes and give myself one of those mental pep talks. but ya know, in the end, minnie didnt show any signs of stress and she looked happy. she had even been blowing out on occasion so i guess i wasnt as rough as i thought. but i sure feel inadequate right now. but of course, by the time i ride again i'll be over it and will just try, try again. so, theres my whiny hiney story!! i'm hoping for a do-over myself. "

Lol. Lisa is the best. Honest and the best commiserator. Just the perfect blend of whiny and impatient compatriot and yet moreover positive, progressive and persevering. ... and funny which of course is the best medicine a friend can give you.

Monday, October 5, 2009

and I was rushing. *pounds forehead.

I wanted to ride. Things had gone so beautifully with Nigel the last time we played....I took him for granted.

I only had an hour. (oh how I hate being rushed when its a Sunday and I'm playing ponies) We went out on the hill to play the traveling circling game, back up the steep part, jump the log etc. He did it all and in pretty good spirits but I had about 15 seconds of "dwell" time, (if 15 seconds even counts) in between things.

Now that our trotting circling game is really good, I started the stretching Online* exercise a la Karen Rohlf. He got it really quickly of course and even blew out a little.

We are working on sideways over the cavaletti. For some reason he gets worried about it. Just a little RBI*. But, Arrrrrrrg! I just wanna SCREAM (and cuss. I assure you I'm going it in my head) when I think about how I didn't wait for him. I just tapped whatever part wasn't moving. He did this little suck in of air every time. I was thinking of leadership and just letting the pattern work its magic. After twice each way he licked his lips like a good ole Left Brained horsey.*

The thing is I feel like I didn't build his trust in me. I'm noticing he's easy to push. For me anyway. He is just so good natured and when he's feeling unconfident or resistant I can still get him to "do it".

I don't know, I don't know, I don't know! I thought that leadership was what would help him to trust me. But maybe our language is lacking in spots. (I did check his porcupine game yielding the hindquarters and that was not good at all). Maybe love, (and I'll bet this is it) is lacking. Lacking, lacking, lacking. The thing is, I tend to err on the side of too much love and not enough leadership. (As I've said it was the leadership Lil really needed more of. So I had to step that up for her.)

Linda's advice has always served me well in the past. "You are free to experiment so long as you have your principles in line. If one strategy doesn't work then try something else." BUT I don't know what to try in terms of love. The last time I spend undemanding time in his stall he wanted to do something. I could hand graze...but for some reason that doesn't feel right to me. . will it really translate into a connection? I just don't know if it will...

Wait. How about me and my shadow!?! I could just have him on the 12ft line and let him wander in the big field with me mirroring him. Hmmm. That might work. But on the other hand he gets to do that all the time without me...

Maybe what it comes down to is more dwell time. Doing a little bit. A LITTLE BIT...and then chilling. Like until he gets bored. Not just until he licks his lips. Like I said, I think I just get sucked into how smart he is and how he will just do so many things. That stupid direct lined predator in me has reared its ugly head. (more cussing) I just want to pinch it off.

Why I let it come out is beyond me. (well, not beyond me..of course it is a perfectly natural human trait.) But it makes me so miserable! Every single stinken time.

I did get to ride. He reached for the bit and then followed me willingly to the mounting block. It didn't feel harmonious though. By then I think the sinking feeling of failure was starting to take over...we did our pre ride checks from the saddle and then the figure 8 at walk paying close attention to a little disengagement of the hind quarters each turn then straight. (same kinda thing as Karen's stretching exercise) Of course he did it. Stretched and relaxed. I got off and he walked down to the barn next to me with his ears forward and a loose neck. After we undressed, he walked with me at Liberty* to the piles of hay I had put on the hill. But I still felt like crap. It was all in spite of me. It still felt like I hadn't improved anything.

He's smart, generous, kind (thank god .. a little difference in his Horsenality*... I'd have been pounded on by now), and FORGIVING. And that is what I've been taking advantage of. To be fair, I guess I haven't done it maliciously...just stupidly.

Well. I am going to get it together. I am going to do better for him. I am going to be effective in putting the relationship first. Not just have it in my head and heart that that is what I want and believe in. Thats not good enough. This is one amazing horse. Brilliant. My dream horse really, in many, many ways. (and yes I know he's really hubby's horse) I am so lucky to get to play with him! *she cried in a strangled voice.

Damn it! I know this is a bit of a bummer post but I think its only fair to share the growing pains as well as the delights of success. Its not really real otherwise right? Gotta have the dark to see the light and all that. (for a more uplifting post see the previous one. lol)

Ok. *wiping tears and taking a deep breath. Today is a new day. I think I'll have time for a do-over too. The time allowed for self recrimination has been spent. I shall now flex my emotional fitness and make a change. After all, courage is not always big and loud. Often it is just a quiet resolve to persevere. That little voice inside us that says "I will try again tomorrow." Well, today is tomorrow......

Sunday, October 4, 2009

with Lil....and the change is slowly coming.

She's just more restless. I hardly catch her any more with her lip hanging down...sleeping. I see a lot more of her sucking on her own tongue out of frustration. (this is even when she's out in the field or in her stall so i know its not me.) Her ears tend to flick back and forth much more urgently. Its not too bad yet..but I am noticing.

The good thing is she's still really in tune with me. When I come by she gives me two forward ears and soft eyes. Perhaps she remembers that I can help her.

I know from last year that she needs to move. She doesn't tend to do that on her own. I mean not to the extent that she needs to. She's been out much of the week and I see her walking all over and even galloping for the few minutes the others do. The arena is open at the moment so they all even get to roll in the sand.'s not enough. Which is cool in a way. . . she needs me.

So yesterday was the first day that I had the purpose of really helping her move around to release tension and work off some cortisol. Already we had even more of a challenge because it was only an hour before sunset. (is that the time that predators have historically hunted?) This is typically a harder time of day for her than the morning or mid-day. I grabbed the wheelbarrow when we went because I needed to clean up the mess they've all made and with Lil on the line I marched on up like a leader.

As I picked up poo and talked on the phone, she wandered around and kept coming back to check on me. (good, good) I kept an eye on her as she wandered to see how much tension or lack there of she was displaying. I wondered if she'd lay down and take a nap. (of course a huge tell tale of how comfortable she is.) Several times she came near me and pawed thinking about it. But no dice. She didn't look too bad what I call the "square ears" (i'll have to post a pict...its a Right Brained Introvert* sign) but it didn't last too long. After a while she did roll but hopped up and kind of napped standing up. This was still pretty good I thought....

Playing at Liberty* as I think I've mentioned before seems to be the most effective. If we lived somewhere dry with more outdoor space I'd put her on the 45 and play the cantering traveling circling game all over. But, it's Oregon in October..and so we are relegated to the arena. (I swear I am NOT complaining. I am so grateful to have one.)

Anyway...she was ready to play for sure and offered to do lots of cool flying changes (we're working on the weave backwards and forwards now..) and I was still getting awesome draw at the canter. So I gave her a treat.....She went to her happy place and pretty internal. She was sucking her tongue (she does it in a different way in this state. straight out in front instead of out to the side the way we usually think of a thoroughbred doing).

A couple things about this behavior that I've discovered. She is still able to learn and listen to me and do stuff. . . but she DOES NOT GET BRAVER. In fact, she is much more susceptible to spooky or startling things. So I think about this, and keep at it until she comes back into the world. Licks her lips, lowers her head, loosens her ear, blows out and shakes her head.

Oh so tricky! But it sounds simple right? Oh, no, no. Since what she really needs is to move..I send her off on a circle at the trot. Yesterday, she obediently left off in the proper direction, beautiful rhythmic trot, stretched over her topline, maintaining gait and direction. (Usually a sing of being Left Brained*) But. Her tongue was out the whole time. She can show so many mixed signals and some are so subtle I miss them. So I left her out there.

One of my FAVORITE things I learned in Reno from Pat was that ten laps on the 22ft line ends up being a quarter mile. This was very very exciting information for me. A thoroughbred's flight line is between 2 1/2 and 6 miles right? So theoretically if I hang in there long enough with her she'll cross it.

She did about 12 laps before she licked her lips and seemed to make some changes. I asked her to go till 15 and then brought her back. We had a little dwell time...but she didn't nuzzle me or really connect...she stood about 5 feet away pretty still.

I asked her to do 15 the other way at trot. This time she didn't have her tongue out and was asking if she could come back a lot. Of course dwell time after the bring back then 15 laps each way at the canter. I had a cavaletti off the rail and as she went by I pointed at it and clicked (from the center of the arena while sitting on the barrel). She went directly to it whist cantering and hopped over instead of going around. She didn't loose rhythm just put it right into her stride. I thought: huh. I guess I really could ride that. Afterwards, she kept jumping it! That was really cool. Really really cool actually.

So that was a ways! 60 laps. And most of the time she was farther away than she would have been on the 22ft line. So lets say 1 3/4 miles? She even was warm to the touch when we finished with that. She was blowing out..but not too forcefully. When she really goes for it I know there was a lot of tension built up. Yesterday it wasn't like that. She even did the little purring blow out that they do when they are just relaxed and happy.

She looked quite rideable but it was getting towards dark and that wasn't my goal anyway... I must admit that I was beginning to wish it had been. lol. I have a few things to polish up in our L4 Liberty assessment so I figured we'd work on one of those. She tends to be a little stiffer going sideways right to left so I started to ask her for that...and a little faster. She kinda got it but when I asked for more she did a spin and came cantering towards a playful way!

"Take what the horse is offering" right? So when she cantered to me, I used that energy to ask a faster sideways but from zone one*. Then, draw her forward (she got so engaged!) then, drive her back and sideways. Before I knew it and without me meaning to she was playing that super cool cutting game that we see Linda and Remmer do so often! I laughed out loud. I mean really...what more could I ask for? Here my little RBI who for the longest time didn't play....was..well. playing.

It was great. Now, I'll be interested to see how things are today.............

Thursday, October 1, 2009

with Nigel the wonder pony! ( Lipizzan...whatever)

He was just so fun today. The rate at which he learns is unreal. ...I do have to prepare him properly.... help him get into that sweet spot learning frame of mind. When he gets out! He's almost like a difference species. (maybe he's really an alien)

We did lots of fun things taking advantage of the still dry ground. (yay for that) Traveling circling game was grrrrrrrrrrreat! He seemed to really enjoy it. Hardly touched the end of the line even while cantering and yet he was out there doing his thing. Up and down the big hill even. Then we ended up at the log and he hopped right over! What a good boy! Backed up and down the hills, into the arena...just romped around.

I had an idea to help him want to hop over the barrels. He is all for going through them. lol. Just pushed them out of the way, march through, turn face and wait. Today I put the cavaletti in front of it. Much harder for him to push it out the way with his knees.

I felt better about asking him now that we have our maintain gait, maintain direction, look where you're going over an obstacle so much more solidly. Sure enough he did it. Not super pretty on the first try because he gave them a shove with his nose first and had them in a bit of disarray when he jumped them. But the second time was great. Both times were with me on his right side but that's ok I think. We'll just add the other side later.

Had a great ride too. Man I love to ride him. He just seems so sure footed and solid. We got some blowing out right away too! Totally excellent.

He hardly kicked up at all going into the canter. I decided to experiment with really leaning back and even going more in my body. He extended the canter pretty well. It was funny though because it seemed like he was almost surprised that he was doing it.

Had some beautiful sideways and good bounce the rein to back up. I feel like I want to do the backing up with my legs a few more times. He does it. But now I want to isolate it to make sure he can differentiate all the different ways to ask. We've done so many of them...

Ah Nigel. He got lots of smooches today.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Educational and Inspirational Weekend. Sept 26th 2009

I was invited by my friend Donna (the beautiful red head on the right in the above picture. Beth is on the left and I'm in the middle) to attend a fundraiser for a local Farm Rescue. They do all kinds of animals. Chicken, Goats, Pigs, Doves etc. Of course, I shamelessly was focused on the horses. lol

For a long while I have wanted to give back to an organization like this. Its tricky though, because I haven't wanted to be around dangerous horsemanship or get involved with a less than legitimate group.

I'm excited about The Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary because the founder Wayne seems to have a good knowledge not just about animal care but about facility and charitable organization management. To me this is important for effectiveness and longevity. They are also endorsed by the Humane Society of The United States. In fact Scott Beckstead from the HSUS was the speaker there.

(Just as an aside: Pat Parelli was just given the HSUS horseman of the year award. How cool is that.
For more on the Parelli/HSUS partnership click here. )

They have about 10 horses on the farm at the moment. Each with its own story to tell of course. It seems though that they are all healing and my understanding is that these horses are home forever.

I did speak to the founder (another Wayne. Wayne Geiger.) about his vision for the future. They have about 55 acres and lots of good fencing...but not a lot of shelter. So they are keeping their numbers down. (Very emotionally fit I say especially when he's getting a gajillion phone calls a day with people trying to give away horses. ) He talked about building a barn and eventually having some volunteers that would be willing to help rehabilitate the horses and enable them to be rehomed.

The other thing that the President of the HSUS was talking about was a program where horses and owners in distress would be evaluated. If their situation is sustainable and they just need some help to get through this rough time, an option is to provide them with the resources they need (hay, grain, meds etc.). This allows the horses/animals to stay on their current property and with their owners. Cool idea I thought. Especially if the evaluation process is strict enough.

Anyway, its great to have a rescue to start to get involved with....go to work parties...maybe help with the fundraisers. They have a sponsorship system there where a person can donate a specific amount of money per month to take care of an individual. A goat is like $15 a month or something and a horse is $60. A great way for people to give if they don't have a lot of time to volunteer or the ability to adopt. Donna sponsors this cute little brown mule named Suzie. .

Just one other thing I'll share... They have a horse there named Sophia. She is a black and white paint. I could see right away that she was a Right Brained Introvert*. Immediately my little heart connected with her. She reminded me of Lil. Not in looks of course but in her body language.

Then I heard her story. She was a bucking horse. But since she is a RBI....when she got frightened she just froze. She was beaten in an attempt to blow her up. She must have just gone deeper and deeper and become catatonic. When they couldn't make her do what they wanted they threw her away. Like garbage.

On so many levels Sophia's story resonated with me. Its just so indicative (and of course an extreme case) of misunderstanding the horse. Not knowing about Horsenalities*. Not caring perhaps. I wanted to prove to her that people could be better than that. That she was safe to come out of her her blossom into a confident being in the world. Instead of locked away in her safe place. Man. I'm guessing that will take a long while.

I waited by the fence for a bit after the fund raising auction. Eventually she did come over...snorted when I reaching into my pocket for a treat...but hung in there. Obviously the folks at the Sanctuary have done a wonderful job in the few months she's been with them. I just wonder what the possibilities for her are....................

A few more picts...

As you can see these guys are healthy and happy.
This horse with a scar was hit by a car.

Friday, September 25, 2009 the driveway actually for some undemanding time.

lil undemanding time with mountains

We've done so much lately that I knew I needed to catch up on some undemanding time. I carved out an hour in the day today to just let her loose in the driveway to munch.

I sat out on a lawn chair enjoying one of the last days of sunshine.....I was watching Lil rip the grass out of the gravel and the dirt ..listening to her chew...

Usually she wanders all around. Down to the barn.... up to the house...down to the trailer... She has been checking in with me more and more. Just coming over to say hi before wandering off again. Horses are designed to eat and walk miles and miles after all.

Well, she stayed with me. Like really close. Within about a 20ft circle. And a lot of the time so close that I could touch her. THE WHOLE HOUR!!!!!

This happened to me once before with my lease horse in Florida. I was amazed then and I am amazed now. It is just so telling. It says our bond really is getting stronger. Like really and truly.

yay :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

and I CANNOT believe Lil and I filmed an L4 Liberty audition.

Seriously can't believe it.

I hadn't done very much Liberty* with Lil at all in the first 2.5 years of our partnership. We could play the 7 games and passed our Level 2 but its not something we played with a lot as our relationship just wasn't ready. We did a lot of Online* preparation.

This last winter my coach Rachel* suggested that I let her move her feet basically as much as she wanted when she was acting like a Right Brained Extrovert*. Bad weather has been really really tricky for my right brained horse. All the leaves and trees are moving and she can't hear with all the wind. Clearly she didn't trust me enough to take care of us.

We had prepared enough Online* that I thought she would stay with me in the arena (i.e. not jump the fence in a frenzy) if I took her off line. So this is what I decided to do. The 22ft line wasn't really long enough for galloping and I wasn't skilled enough yet with the 45ft line in that kind of difficult situation. Plus the arena is only 70 wide so even if she was on the rail I'd really have to be managing it. Of course the 45 isn't yachting braid either so if something did go wrong we'd be in more trouble.

So letting her really move around....buck...spook...gallop etc. started to make a difference. We had enough of a language that I could ask her to come back to me and yet stand 5 feet away. This was very very important because she can be so unpredictable in that state. Freezing...looking calm and sleepy...exploding...whirling away..all fun times. As one would imagine...much better to have her far away and unattached.

This strategy progressed into getting her to maintain gait and maintain direction....which is what started to change everything. She started to see me as her leader and that made her feel better. Braver. Plus, she had to concentrate to do it. I'm sure I'll be talking a lot more about this in a few months. lol

What I'm getting at though, is that basically within a few months we were able to self assess Level 3 Liberty and then send in and pass our audition with an L3+. As if by magic it had all come together.

And just this last Sunday, we filmed our L4 Liberty audition. Really Really REALLY unbelievable.

I'll embed the video as soon as I get a better connection but for now, here is the link. (as you'll see our weave is back!)
L & M Level 4 Liberty Audition 9-20-09

*see glossary at the bottom of the page.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

and dang it! I lost our weave with flying changes.

But it looked so cool! I needed to see it again. darn darn darn.

She had already done it brilliantly twice. I had used single barrels laying down as our markers. The third time I asked her...she offered to jump the barrel after the first change .... what am I going to do? She came to me and gave me two beautiful eyes and ears...we tried again...then of course I had rewarded her for jumping. I tried to be more specific but she just got confused. So I had to move more out to the side and just fix my draw.

I think I'll probably just go back to the good old figure eight because I can be more effective (understood) when sending zone 1* around. Then just gradually move back to being able to draw all the way through the weave.

The coolest part of the day was that she was WITH me. After we played in the arena at Liberty* (our usual warm up) we went out into the big playground. I got a super cool yoyo down the steeper part of the hill and pretty straight too...about 25feet or so.,.. and an enthusiastic draw at canter.

We got the stick to me at trot kinda half circles with change of direction...squeeze over the log etc...all with no thought that I could see of leaving. Into the round pen to get dressed...up to the the mounting block. All at Liberty. This is definitely a new level for us.

We practiced our Freestyle* with the savvy string and one carrot stick. I need to figure out a way to deal with the reins. I just want to use the string but I end up with reins eventually sliding over to one side or down her neck if I don't at least hold "the buckle". Hmmm. I might try to tie at knot maybe? And use my mecate holder on my saddle. Perhaps I should call the golden hotline.

We did trotting cloverleaf, canter figure 8 with a stop in the question box, sideways over the cavaletti. Had trouble opening that gait up there. Ended up needing to use the bridle. Interesting. We usually can do the one to the roundpen just fine.

It took me a few canters to realize that I wasn't using my new found fluid position at the canter that I had discovered last time. (As per the latest Savvy Club* DVD...pulling my inside armpit back a little bit and stretching a little more into my inside stirrup) Geeze, put a carrot stick in my hand and a hand on the string and I'm all discombobulated. Lil was getting cranky because I was having to used my stick so much. Once I fixed my position I was able to much more effectively just use my body to turn. She was so rolling her eyes at me.

Getting undressed and giving scratches I felt satisfied. I learned a bunch and have stuff to think about and trouble horse didn't get actually angry with me for bumbling about.....and I feel like our relationship is getting stronger all the time.

When the weather changes we will have big Right Brained* Challenges. The stronger our relationship is going into that the better off we'll be. I'll take all the prior and proper preparation I can get.

*see glossary at the bottom of the page

(bummer no picts in this post. i'll work on it)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A reader asked me to talk a little bit more about my experiences with teaching Nigel to maintain gait. It got me thinking about Clarity....

Soooooooo one of the MOST IMPORTANT things that Linda has given me is the permission to experiment. Of course I'm always trying to balance it. I don't want to let the horse be wrong for too long. But I also want to give the strategy a fighting chance.

With Nigel I really just started with small bits. And I have to say I use treats.....for a few is to give incentive...but the other reason is to clearly say "BINGO. you got it. that is what i wanted". I used to end up with certain horses frisking for treats all the time..but I figured out that so long as you get them to do something for it that goes away. (the LBE's especially. even in their stalls a lot of times I ask them to back up with a finger wiggle before I give it up)

In one of the Mastery Manuals* recently Linda was talking about how the level of our savvy is directly related to the level of clarity in our body language. And I've been thinking of that a lot lately...clarity. A clear plan. Making what I want clear to my horse and then being clear about letting them know when they got it right.

I've noticed that two big things happen when I give a treat to this end. My body language automatically changes and just logistically we have to stop for a second at least. My goal of course is to one day be so good in my body that I'll be super quick to soften and smile and go to neutral in just the right moment. But for now in the interest of clarity I am using it to say "that's it!"

I'm not talking always of course. But especially when teaching something new...or when I'm asking my horse to put in more effort like doing 3 laps instead of 2 or weaving at liberty at the trot instead of online. When asking Nigel to get on a stump...its pretty obvious to him when he's done it. So just a scratch and a rest is good. I suppose this is why they all love touch it so much. They know exactly what we want them to do!

Also, doing a walk lap is in my experience one of the hardest tasks at first! What I did with Nigel is just send him off at the trot. He went a few steps and stopped. I gave him a treat. Next, I sent him at the trot. He went a few steps. This time no treat. I just brought him in and re sent him. This time he did a few more steps. I brought him in and gave him a treat. So all I've done is just say...give me a little more (do a whole circle) treat....quit that game for that day. Next time start with something...(half a lap even) give a treat....a little more (whole circle) treat... a little more (2 circles or even 1.5 circles) treat. Try the other way. (2 circles? ) Treat. And quite that game for the day. Etc. That's it.

Another strategy that works well if I have a good change of direction is just that. Change direction. He breaks gait or stops..change direction. Until he puts in more effort. BUT. . . . the real key is to notice when they put in more effort. AND SAY BINGO. (Alot of times I even say it out loud to myself not for the horse but because that too automatically changes my body language.)

This strategy is basically using comfort and discomfort. The idea being that it is less comfortable for the horse to change direction than just to keep going. So they put in more effort to going. Again. I must notice the effort and reward it. If I get too greedy and want to much too soon, it doesn't work. To sum up...CLARITY and MOTIVATION is what has worked wonders with Nigel. He had to learn that there was a point to what I was asking. And of course some reason in the world for him to do it. lol

Doesn't hurt that he's blindingly smart either.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

and lots of things kind of came together...

. . . like the stump. As per older posts it has been interesting to see Nigel start to take responsibility for stuff.

When I first asked him to stand up on the stump he did it. (of course) but I really had to micromanage him onto it. 1* here, zone 2* there etc.

Last time we played I just sent him towards it from about 13 feet away. He looked at it and passed it. So I just let him circle and come back to it. It took about three times and he looked at me and stepped up.

Yesterday I must have been about 17 feet away...he marched right over and got up there. Excellent. Now we're getting somewhere.

Heading up to the arena he was blowing and relaxing. Going away from the barn!!!!

We've been working on our cantering circling game online. This was not all that pretty or harmonious when we began in May. Mostly I think it was a respect thing (not at all appropriate response to pressure. pulling on the line...not going...or going to much etc.) and also a big lack of rapport. He wanted away from me!

Yesterday again he took responsibility, he gave me slack in the line and did 4 laps each way with only one or two tiny corrections. This was up in the arena ...where the last time we played he was really right brained and kept trying to take off heading towards the barn. So this is great progress!

Another thing that came together. Maintain gait, maintain direction, and look where you're going. Playing the circling game over stuff has needed some confidence building. I've been just using a cavaletti about 12 inches high.

Several sessions ago he would slow down and needed a little help to even walk over. I could see there he was a bit worried about the whole thing. Of course with Nigel its usually like "eek! can i do that? oh. well, ok. " So as long as I don't force him in that moment of unconfidence he gets braver right away. A tiny bit tricky for me to know when to wait for a second...and when he needs a little encouragement. But if I get it right it works like a charm.

So it's been getting better clearly every time. First, walking over without stopping...then trotting to it and walking over picking up the trot after (obviously getting the concept of maintain gait)... then trotting over it but knocking it down....then yesterday.....voila! Jumping! Right off the ground like a good little motivated confident boy. Super.

Then I got to hop on. His response to the direct rein was nearly perfect. We practiced longitudinal flexion with the fluid rein at the walk and trot. He seems to understand that a lot more but he has trouble staying stretchy at the trot. Better though. Heaps better. .... I was hoping to get more blowing out...but no dice. I even waited several minutes before getting off...just in case.. dang. Oh well, I'll be looking for it again.

He felt happy with me when we undressed...and relaxed...and I just love riding him so I was happy too...he gently dropped the bit with his nose on the ground then he rubbed his head on me in a nice way....

I'm noticing more and more of a connection. Sigh. That's the best part.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

. . .and Yay! Yay! Yay!

Lil gave me THE BEST cantering weave with flying changes from zone 1*! Just switched my carrot stick from one hand to the other and ran backwards!!!!!

The few tips Linda was giving Amy in this last savvy club DVD helped me a ton. Really put my weight more in the inside stirrup and pulled my inside armpit back. Lil seemed to really like it.

Also revisiting the suspension rein. I found that I usually end up doing more of an indirect rein by not paying attention. Today I really focused on lifting it straight up. That helped a bunch too.

I've been doing this pattern of a 20m circle at trot and then a 10m circle and then a 20m circle and so on. . (like big bulls eye little bulls eye with a barrel for the small one) Well, I kept in mind Pat's demo this month of the minute indirect rein and then direct rein. Seemed to make a huge difference for the 10m circle.

I had to laugh at myself, it seemed Lil was like..."finally! geeze! I've been waiting for you to get this."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

well...the woodshed actually.

Haha. So the story is that I was spending some undemanding time with Lil in the driveway. She was munching the gorgeous green fall grass and I was studying the new Mastery Manual*. ........

Clop, clop, clop. . . I hear her shoes on the pavement. Well, our driveway is gravel and the only pavement is in the shop! I had left the door open and she was snooping around in there!
Although our shop is bigish, 60x40..there is A LOT of stuff in there. And not super safe for my horsey. So of course I went to fetch her. Pretty neat that she was confident and curious to head in there amongst all kinds of scary stuff and many squeezes. I stopped to take this picture as she was sniffing the cedar woodpile.

Here's the cool thing: She turned and looked at me. . . softly with her tail swishing gently. . I said "hey lady, you'd better come out. sorry". and she backed up to me around all kinds of obstacles (about 20feet) and out the door!!!! She did have room to turn around but she chose to back up. So cool to see her using the skills she and I have been practicing together.

I like it! . . . Can I mark off the level 4 task back from the tail and make turns? lol. ( just kidding)

Thursday, September 10, 2009 was great.

Had to stop and think about what the deal was with our backing from the tail. She has misunderstood me lately...turning...and not drawing straight back. So a Blinding Flash of the Obvious came my way. ..Can she back while I back standing in zone* 2? yep. zone 3? yep. zone 4? yep. zone 5??? tada!

We did a million transitions Freestyle*. And no impulsive trot. Lil got her feet done day before and her canter was like super slow, relaxed and rocking horsey. Plus when I asked she just lengthened her stride with lift off from the hind end. I love that!

We even got to do a tiny bit of Finesse*...and then back to freestyle. I have to admit that the Freestyle is improving our relationship so much I am finding that I care less and less about flying changes. I know that they'll come (they're really good at Liberty*)...but for now...I love that fact that she's getting happier all the time and less emotional. The improved relationship is really becoming the reward. And then the rest of it is just coming as if by magic.

She was even asking questions at the canter. Which of course means she was thinking...which of course is totally awesome.

We ended after undressing with some ENTHUSIASTIC draws at canter and some long scratches. I LOVE MY HORSEY!

Monday, September 7, 2009

and I just had a really nice time with Lil

The coolest thing I think is that now, when we have a misunderstanding two things happen. One: she doesn't get as offended and afraid..she checks in with me. And two: I notice more quickly if I've been unclear or she doesn't understand and that she's checking in with me.

Its been a deeper study for me of late to really try to balance the respect with the rapport. Like being willing to use my drive...and really say...move that! And yet be super quick to notice if she's asking a legitimate question.

As a result I am really feeling a stronger connection with her!!! It makes me so happy!

We played with maintain gait, maintain direction on the circling game at liberty for 10 laps or so. It is hilarious how horses count. geeze. She's got the 10 laps now. And "done?". lol

Her flying changes look so easy for her now. They look really rideable.

We got some beautiful sideways with 2 sticks. Got like forty thousand trot canter trot finesse transitions. Those were really easy for her!!!! But...going back to a self regulated trot afterwards took about 10 min. But, "oh boy" we got to do more transitions. And she didn't get too worried.

I am noticing the tongue now. She sticks it out the side and sucks on it. Its a stress thing. And it usually shows up this time of year. The weather changes...and she becomes a lot more of a RBI. Freezing and Spooking.

Last year I didn't pay as close attention to the little signs that started to build up. This year..I am going to try to be more vigilant. So I don't end up just going along...doing what we've done all summer.....and then end up pushing her mindlessly. I don't want to miss the tiny subtle resistances.

So it'll be interesting to see how far our much more developed and stronger relationship will take us this season.

I remember when I couldn't find an itchy spot on Lil at all. Now, our scratch sessions last for like 15 minutes! And I love that she shows me the spots. I even trust her to raise a hind leg right in front of me and say: "there please".

Perhaps this really is the beginning of a beautiful relationship. . . . .

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Had to post this pict .....

Again, this is Lisa. Member of our Savvy Team "The Aspiring Horsemen". Her horse Minnie on the left and hubby Jim (also a member of the A.H.)'s horse Jake.

That. Is cool.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Guest Post! by Lisa, member of our savvy team "The Aspiring Horsemen"

..........on to the progress report. minnie is doing really good with the carwash. i can send her through and drive her through, that was last tues.

friday we had an awesome session. worked on L2 online stuff. our figure 8 is pretty darn good at the walk and trot. most of the time i just looked and pointed, moving my feet minimally. we started really working on the weave. that was rough at first but it got pretty good when i'm on the near side but was still a bit rocky when i was on the off side (confidence issue). but we were gettin it! and most of the time i was just looking and pointing.

i'm getting 4 canter laps consistently now with just an occasional correction. woohoo!! i rode bridleless again. in the round pen of course but we did more stuff. we trotted quite a bit and did a couple figure 8's and change of direction (i told my mom it would be way cool if some day i can take minnie to a play day and do the events bridleless. not at a competitive speed of course. hehe).

the funny part is that jake is better at the weave than figure 8's & minnie is the opposite. i didnt everything that jim and jake did but i know that he's getting better canter laps!! a big deal for jake!!

oh ya, here's a jake funny..........jim & jake were just standing, jim suddenly realized that jake was standing there holding a foot up............probably waiting for a treat!!! and yes, he DID GET A TREAT!! he's such a goof!

sunday we took the horses to the show but i did not compete first off, minnie marched right into the trailer & took her position! i was soooooooo excited!! i threw the rope over her back & in she went!!

i played with minnie online during morning break, down at the scary end of the arena. she did finally relax and offered to WALK between me & the fence instead of shooting through. i only got to ride her in there for a few min but was able to walk calmly at that end of the arena.

after that i rode her in the warm up area. her & jake did really well with being separated. minnie only called a couple times & jim said the same about jake. minnie was a bit highheaded and impulsive at the trot though so we circled and circled and circled some more & did trot/stop/back transitions until she finally relaxed, stretched her neck down & blew out a couple times. it was like someone flipped a switch! one second i was doing circles with a supporting rein & the next we were following the rail on a casual rein.

everyone got to rest for bit after that, including me. it was nice to just sit & watch a few classes. it was jakes turn during lunch break. we had 45 min & i rode jake in the show ring the whole time!! he did really, really good! of course, he had the opposite problem with the arena. he wanted to be at the "scary" end because thats where we were parked. so, i created a sweet spot at the opposite end using cookies. follow the rail to the far end, stop, get cookie, move off at jakes choosing, REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT. took about 3 times & he caught on. after that he offered to trot, canter, whatever. i took whichever gate he chose as long as he went where i wanted to go.

he did spook 3 times at the office, bleachers, people, papers?????? who knows for sure. of course his flight distance is like 5 ft BUT he's alot of horse to have jumping sideways!! i finally got off & had him observe things & squeeze through a few times. after that he was fine. so, i got my passenger lesson for the day. LOL.

when lunch time ended i let everyone else leave first & he just stood there quietly. he was much more relaxed this time. no high head, never even thought of bucking. and there were quite a few horses out there all doing different things. it was a good day for jakey!!

when we loaded up, minnie marched right in again! its amazing! she's even unloading better. it just took that one day and 10 min of her standing in there checking things out. makes me chuckle!!!

monday..........another awesome play session! minnie & i did figure 8's & weave online again. i even asked her to do 8's while standing on top of a barrel. hehe. work on the weave.....much better than friday, especially when i was on the off side (alot more confident). work on sideways without a fence. decided it was mark offable!!! which means...........everything is marked off for L2 online!!!

THEN we started working on Freestyle!! we did freestyle figure 8's & weave for the first time!! aaaaaaaaaah! figure 8's went awesomely!! at the walk of course. not ready to trot them yet. the weave wasn't quite as good but it wasn't bad either!!

worked on follow the rail. she had several good moments & several moments of impulsiveness. so, whenever she broke gait we circled, circled, circled until she slowed herself down. i tried really hard to circle with just the carrot stick but that wasn't always possible, especially if she cantered. the good part was that the canter wasn't scary fast so i felt like i could ride it out & try to use the carrot stick.

she did run into the rail once & tried switching directions on me once (just another passenger lesson. lol). she finally started to relax & we did have a few good laps at the walk with a stretched neck & some blowing. i felt totally successful for our first real time doing freestyle.

jim didnt really do much with jake........gave him a day off. BUT he did have jake haltered for a bit & duke (our dog) was out there (of course) & jim tied jakes rope to duke and duke was leading jake all over the arena. jim got them to do figure 8's & tried a weave. duke weaved but jake cheated!!

i suggested that it would safer if duke learned how to hold the rope in his mouth took maybe 5 MINUTES to teach this to duke!! that dang dog picked up the rope on command & led jake around the arena. jim tried to get jake to trot for duke but of course jake thought that was the silliest thing ever!!! we will certainly need a video!!! duke has also learned how to pick apples from the tree. yep......all of our pets are THINKERS!!

One more funny about minnie. we put them in the small pasture yesterday for lunch. jake came in first so jim got him out. minnie was on her way from the big pasture. when she realized jake was already out, she made a mad dash across the arena straight for her stall! i put my hand up FROM THE AISLEWAY and she slid to a stop right outside her stall & hesitated. i quickly invited her in. i thought that was pretty amazing! she could have easily blasted right in..........she's done it before.........right through the chain no less!!

WHEW! so there it is! :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Key nearly jumped out of her paddock to get to me!

I was playing with Lil in the big playground (at Liberty!..I could hardly believe that) ...Key's paddock runs very close to the log we were playing with. She wanted to jump out so bad! There is a space where we only have two rails because a gait is supposed to be there. (damn spending freeze). I was laughing because she was tossing her head and backing up and really thinking about it. She didn't do it. . . but we nearly went to get the video camera.

So Liberty in the big playground with Lil. Amazing. We can do quite a few of the level 4 patterns and tasks in the arena, but it is time to test out in the field. Especially since we're rapidly running out of weather. boo hoo. (I guess we should have two more months but this year I don't know)

We got a really really nice yo yo back about 35 feet up a hill to squeeze through the oaktrees. Our draw from that was only at trot but man we could NOT have done that last year.

The close stuff was easy driving 360's...sideways along a log was pretty good too. Even the squeeze game over the log...but I have to admit I was a bit tentative with my driving game.

Attempting a circling game I lost her but it was so worth it because she came seriously cantering to me from FAR AWAY!!! like 75 feet. AWAY FROM THE BARN!!! I'm shaking my head right now. Hard to believe.

We played stick to me with transitions walk, trot, canter, halt etc. all the way up to the arena. I left all the gaits open and she did leave me and went all the way back to the barn. I wish at that point I had thought to use the round pen with the gait open because its way closer to the barn but oh well. Again we had a great draw and went over to watch Kip play with the trailer with Nigel.

Looked to me like they turned a corner. Kip was sitting in a chair near the mid bumper and loading him with just a suggestion. Super cool. He shut the back door for quite a while too and said that Nige was totally quiet eating in there. That was a first! Kip was grinning and feeling proud obviously. He commented that while it was all fresh in his mind he'd like to do some trailer play with Jackson.

Lil and I worked on our Freestyle with 2 carrot sticks again. Got sideways super concrete this time. I checked that one off this morning. Had 4 beautiful relaxed canter laps in the round pen each way and some very harmonious stretchy trot.

(oh and after I saddled her we got 15 laps at liberty at the canter with only one correction to the right. progress. more consistent. and she's even clearer on her responsibility it seems. and fitter!)

I have to say...even after 6 years of being amazed at the Parelli Program. . . I'm still blown away by what you can do when the horse (even in small stages) becomes a partner with you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

and FINALLY.....

Nigel blew out while I was riding. This is the first time ever for the Big Big blowing out and letting loose through his ribcage!!!!

We were trotting and I was using the fluid rein to ask him to stretch longitudinally over his topline. and voila.


only took 3 months.. lol. must have been Kips great play sessions this weekend.... things finally feel different with Nigel. Like he's actually interested.

Kip and Nigel video update.

Lookin good to me!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Northwood Four (Kip, Nigel, Lil and I ) visited Beth

Kip and I loaded up our two white horses and headed over to beths for a playday yesterday! It was super fun!

Kip had a great success with his horse. He took advantage of the bigger arena and did follow the rail including point to point with one barrel on the rail. Lil and I were the treat dispensers. He got one pretty big buck out of Nige and then some really nice canters. He was grinning pretty huge. Beth and I got some of it on video for him so that was cool for him to see.

I played with Lil a little at Liberty...we are getting a way cool draw at canter from like 45 feet away. In a straight line! And then I was able to back her around a single barrel and draw her towards me over it from like 30 feet. That was pretty dang cool.

Oh my gosh. I rode with 2 carrot sticks... and liked it!!! We totally did a "bridleless" weave at trot. Lil was an angel all through the making up of our routine for our audition. Our sideways with 2 carrot sticks is getting waaaay better.

We played the corners game at canter which was great to be able to do because on the long side she was really galloping so to just be able to keep her straight and stop in the corner...after just a few times she was regulating herself very nicely on a straight line. (we don't have those long straight lines at home.)

Beth rode Lou in Kip's cradle bridle. He looks so handsome in it.

Beth, Kip, Nige and Louie went outside to graze while Lil and I did follow the rail at the canter. Getting closer to check offable. . .

It was so cute when we were all done...Lil gave this tiny little whinny. Like whispering.. "hey guys?...are you out there?" We went to graze for a bit ...

Lovely time!

Beth stood on Louie the other day and I'm so proud of her I have to put this up.