Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Amazing way to end the year!

The weather couldn't have been better. It was warm, the air was calm and I had a license from the hubby for a horse day. I wanted to finish my Online taping and get it to the ISC immediately as the assessment format changes with the new year. We had an online tape made from the other day, but I really thought our sideways could be a little better. And Steve was willing to play cameraman.

First, I agreed to help my boarder show her horse. I've been playing with Nina a little and giving her groundwork manners, teaching her the 7 games and just generally playing with her. The owner decided to sell her recently so I was going to show the prospective buyer what Nina and I have developed. She's an amazing Trakener/Hanoverian with a ton of confidence built in. If I could afford her, she'd be mine. She's about 2 1/2 now and full of energy and play drive. I started showing some things online and then went to the play area and her over the bridges and into the tire. Then, we went for Liberty in the round pen - something we've never done. She was happy to play and show her athleticism! I was quite impressed with her physical ability. She went straight up in the air several times, spun with amazing ability, trotted in to me and stopped with ease before overstepping her bounds. It was all quite cool and I think Loma started to reconsider selling that mare. I hope she does and I hope she'll let me help her if she keeps her. Not sure how I could help, but I'd certainly be willing to try.

Then, I went back out and got Mrs. Z. Time to film. We went through the whole thing - Online tasks 1-9. I feel pretty good about it. She wanted to gallop instead of canter on the obstacle course task, which was interesting. Not sure if she just felt good or if she was emotional. I'm watching the video to read her and see what I think. Otherwise, it was a good representation of where we are at this point.

Then, I took Cowboy out, did a little ground work and then took him into the arena for some passenger lesson. He was great. He cantered on the 12' line in my arena - surprisingly. He stood nicely for mounting, he practiced lateral flexion with me and showed nice improvement and then we did passenger riding at the walk and trot. We did more walk than trot as I'm trying to bring him along slowly and keep his confidence protected. I'm also trying to allow myself time to build up trust with him. I really like Cowboy. My dogs like to hang around while I ride and he is showing extreme cowiness by keeping them out of the arena! I've never ridden a horse that interested in pushing animals around. We'll have to develop cow-working together in the future. He's so cool.

I had 12 more hours of horse time in me, but alas, the day was closing down and I really needed to get ready for the New Years Eve festivities. I love my life.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Lesson with Kime

Had another great lesson with Kime. We started out with my saddle and did a saddle fitting. She changed my shim setup and added a 3rd set to the pad. My saddle was then a little higher in the front and Z had more room for her shoulders. We also talked about riding without the wool pad underneath the Theraflex. I use the wool pad because of the rubbing the Therflex was doing on her sides. I'm going to use the wool pad only intermittently for a while so that I can watch for even sweat patterns. After the lesson, we checked out her back closely for signs of tightness in my body while riding. We found that there were some ruffled hairs directly under my seat, meaning my middle back is tight while riding. I'm not surprised.

We focused on freestyle riding. We used the figure 8 pattern and I played with transitioning up and down without reins. Our stop is getting much better and I'm learning how to be truly consistent with Z. We talked a lot about where I look while riding and where I want to look for turning. For now, I'm over-exaggerating where my eyes look because my head needs to be higher and I tend to look down. I've known that I needed to fix that, but it's the first time I've focused on that with an instructor.

Later, I practiced riding with 1 carrot stick only and transitioning through halt, walk and trot on the figure 8 pattern. Our transitions are so much nicer and Z really moves out with a tremendously better attitude. I'm simply bringing my life up to ask her to up transition and bringing my life down to transition down. I learned that pointing my toes up high helps me to bring my life down.

For the next 2 weeks, I'll practice the bridleless riding, turning with my body and good focus, transitioning up and down and transitioning while turning (wow, that's hard!!).

We talked about Cowboy and some things to work on with him to help him improve. She highly recommended passenger riding regularly. That's where we'll go next.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

L3 Online - finally ready to submit!

Had a great day! Took Kendall for a short ride, her on Rain and me on Z. Z was, once again, a nut. She was worried and jiggy and kind of like we've just taken a big step back with trail confidence. We only went a couple miles, but I hopped off and did some ground work at a very fast pace. She was better and I got back on and rode her home. We practiced stopping with no reins the rest of the way home and just generally getting her listening. Backing up, sidepassing, half-passing, haunches in, everything to get her paying attention and partnering up with me. Actually, I think I got some pretty things out of her. I was also not at all worried. She bucked a little at one point and I was surprised - but handled her with bending and lateral work.

Before the trail ride, I played a little with Cowboy. I tacked him up and rode him a bit. We played with the teeter-totter and he did great - no worries or concerns. I asked him to jump a few things and we played a little with sideways. I had him wear a bit the whole time and once I mounted, I focused on looking for quietness in his mouth. I waited for him to feel calm and confident and then I hopped off! It's not going to take much to bring him around and I have to say, today I felt like I'd rather develop him than Gemini - because I think he's more predictable to ride. Maybe Gem and I would just need a little time to develop the bucks away, but Cowboy doesn't seem to have a buck - which is nice. One less thing to deal with. I wanted to play with him longer, but Kendall was ready to ride and I wanted to have enough time to get the Online taping done. I'm excited about the possibilities with Cowboy.

Taping was a pretty good success. Z did everything I asked. She was a sweaty mess when we were done. She went into the trailer with gusto! She cantered almost non-stop on the 45. She jumped the 3' jump and she went sideways nicely. I hope they pass this submission. If not, it's ok - means we weren't quite ready. However, we did things the best we know how at this point. I'm pleased with both of us.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Wonderful Horse Day!

5 miles with Rain and Gemini - an excellent time with Gemini being the best pony horse of his entire time with me. Rain gaiting like a dream! A fantastic ride. Very obvious that without alfalfa, they are much more relaxed.

Grabbed Cowboy for about 45 mins of groundwork - he was just awesome. Cantering online, maintaining gate and direction, sideways coming together. Also did some amazing jumps over 2.5 ft with ease. Maybe he can be a jumper??

Gem in the round pen for stick to me and circle at Liberty.

I love my life.

L3 Online - Almost on Film

We were out there for a couple hours today, but the footing still isn't quite good enough. Z is not comfortable jumping 3 ft with a slippery ground. Steve was out there with me and we moved the jump to a flatter, somewhat drier place and I started asking her to give that a try. She was definitely better with the new jump location but it was slipper enough still that I decided to bail. We went to the round pen and captured the circle by the flank task.

She's moving into the trailer with such gusto! I have to be careful to make sure it doesn't appear that she's escaping into the trailer (how profound is that!). Our sideways is better than ever and I can feed her rope while she goes sideways now. She's pulling a little at the canter on the barn side of the circle, but I think we're still more than 75% soft and willing.

Cowboy is here and I want to get some time with him. I've been focused on getting these ground tasks assessed and done and the other horses need some time from me.

Also, got Nina trimmed by myself. I changed my attitude and gave her the time she needed and she did great. She was giving me a little trouble in the prior trim and I realize I had started getting a direct lined attitude. Good for me - I'm learning. Need to catch up Gem and Rains hind feet and then everyone has happy feet for a few weeks.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Practicing the Online Obstacle Course

Every day lately, I check the weather, check the footing, check my time and wonder if it's going to be the right day to film my L3 online. Today could have been that day. The footing was much better, the wind wasn't blowing, Z was ready to do what she needed to do and things were looking pretty good. The only thing that wasn't great was with her jumping the 3' jump. For some reason, she was lacking confidence about the jump. She was cantering into the trailer beautifully, the sideways looks pretty good, she's backing straight up the hill and trotting back into me easily. A lot of things feel pretty good and I'm proud of what we've developed.

She got pretty sweaty and with the cold and snow on the way, I was a little concerned about putting her back with the herd sweaty. She hung out in the barn and ate hay with a fleece cooler on for a bit. Then, I decided to double blanket her for the night.

We need to get our video made and move on.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Attempting to Tape L3 Online

My sister was willing to video L3 Online of Z and me. So, I got my act together, moved my trailer, gathered my horse, and went out to warm Z up. It was cooooold. However, my horse was very uncomfortable with the idea of cantering on the icy and snowy ground. She was slipping and doing her best regardless, I just couldn't ask for her best on crappy footing.

I was feeling disheartened and I sat on my front porch with my sisters while Z ate what's left of the landscaped grass. It was good undemanding time, but I got no video-taping done.

I'm struggling with my drive to finish this year. Maybe the audition won't suck that bad. If the ground doesn't change, I won't have a choice.

Taking Kris for a ride

Zarah was full of life! Was it the alfalfa? Trail was snowy and icy, a little nerve-wracking. My ankle hurt, too. It was great to be out, even with the cold, cold wind. We went about 5 miles. Zarah needed to go about 15 more. :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

L3 Online - Making sure we're ready

My job has been overbearing this week and the weather has been even worse. We had arctic temps and broke records that were 60 yrs old! One of the nights, it was 15 below, no wind, no snow, just butt-a** cold. I couldn't bear to ask my horses for anything in that!

So, today I found time to get out and practice our online routine. It's about time to tape it and I think we're close to ready. I couldn't do the obstacle course with Z because when I asked her canter she was slipping all over. No pulled muscles or tendons! So, I just asked for a nice, slow trot and just a small circle around me. We practiced a nice, calm change of direction, and then worked on getting sideways a little faster. We played yo-yo up the hill and I tried to help her understand to trot back to me. I asked for a lighter response to backing by the tail and by the hocks. Finally, I loaded her into the trailer from at least 30 ft multiple times. I timed the trailer loading when she was ready for a break from the other things so the trailer could feel like a really good place. She bounded into the trailer each time I asked.

I think we're really ready. Our circle by the flank is good to go, driving with the horsemans reins is solid, it's time to tape. I'm looking forward to focusing on riding... RIDING! Maybe I can have the riding assessed by summertime 2009.

I ride...

A Simple Statement~ I ride.

That seems like such a simple statement. However, as many women who ride know, it is really a complicated matter. It has to do with power and empowerment. Being able to do things you might have once considered out of reach or ability.

I have considered this as I shovel manure, fill water barrels in the cold rain, wait for the vet/farrier/electrician/hay delivery, change a tire on a horse trailer by the side of the freeway, or cool a gelding out before getting down to the business of drinking a cold beer after a long ride. The time, the money, the effort it takes to ride calls for dedication. At least I call it dedication. Both my ex-husbands call it 'the sickness.' It's a sickness I've had since I was a small girl bouncing my model horses and dreaming of the day I would ride a real horse . Most of the women I ride with understand the meaning of 'the sickness.' It's not a sport. It's not a hobby. It's what we do and, in some ways, who we are as women and human beings.

I ride.

I hook up my trailer and load my gelding. I haul to some trailhead somewhere, unload, saddle, whistle up my dog, and I ride. I breathe in the air, watch the sunlight filter through the trees and savor the movement of my horse. My shoulders relax. A smile rides my sunscreen smeared face. I pull my ball cap down and let the real world fade into the tracks my horse leaves in the dust. Time slows. Flying insects buzz loudly, looking like fairies. My gelding flicks his ears and moves down the trail. I can smell his sweat and it is perfume to my senses. Time slows. The rhythm of the walk and the movement of the leaves become my focus. My saddle creaks and the leather rein in my hand softens with the warmth. I consider the simple statement; I ride.

I think of all I do because I ride. Climb granite slabs, wade into a freezing lake, race a friend through the Manzanita all the while laughing and feeling my heart in my chest. Other days just the act of mounting and dismounting can be a real accomplishment. Still I ride. No matter how tired or how much my seat bones or any of the numerous horse related injuries hurt. I ride.

And I feel better for doing so. The beauty I've seen because I ride amazes me. I've ridden out to find lakes that remain for the most part, unseen. Caves, dark and cold beside rivers full and rolling are the scenes I see in my dreams. The Granite Stairway at Echo Summit, bald eagles on the wing and bobcats on the prowl add to the empowerment and joy in my heart. I think of the people, mostly women, I've met. I consider how competent they all are. Not a weenie amongst the bunch. We haul 40ft rigs. We back into tight spaces without clipping a tree. We set up camp. Tend the horses. We cook and keep safe. We understand and love our companions, the horse. We respect each other and those we encounter on the trail. We know that if you are out there riding, you also shovel, fill, wait, and doctor. Your hands are a little rough and you travel without makeup or hair gel.

You do without to afford the 'sickness' and probably, when you were a small girl, you bounced a model horse while you dreamed of riding a real one. Now you are there. I ride.

--Author Unknown--(although, many of us feel she is our sister)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Level 1 Riding... Revisiting Foundation

Spent an hour...

1) A better whoa!
2) A better GO!
3) following her shoulders
4) Worked up into the canter

Trying to build transitions in Freestyle. Been working hard on Finesse transitions.

Friday, December 12, 2008

3 Hours with Kime

Another great session!

1) Sideways - Push z3 more and keep rope hand steady
2) Lead by the flank - I was doing it wrong...
3) Driving - Pretend I'm riding and those are my reins!
4) My shoulders should move with my horse's, my hips with her hips
5) Down transition in phases: stop riding, look at the horn, lift reins straight up, then lift 1 up!
6) Up transitions: IN phases! life up in me, then squeeze, then slap myself, the her
7) Mounting - correctly!
8) You can only work on 2 out of 3 things at a time: distance, speed, straightness

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leaving the first set of tracks

Took Rain and Gemini for 8 miles on the trail. Interesting points: no tracks in the snow but ours, Rain really worried over some changes on the trail (boat and camper), Gemini calling for home the last mile and getting off to ground work him. Rain wanting to MOVE! Me feeling a little less confidence (my ankle?).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Darn these short days!

I gave a long lesson, got 1 horses feet soaked and trimmed, rode Z for a bit and helped Kendall ride the pony. Wanted to do more, but there went the sun.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Getting 2 Going Indoors

Tonight, I took Z and Gem to a good friend's indoor arena to get them exercised. The days are so freakin' short and I'm not accomplishing a lot lately, which is maddening. With the help of my friends indoor, I can play with horses after dark and maybe get back on track.

I played with Gemini and had planned to ride him. However, I ended up only playing with him on the ground. We advanced our circle game and he's getting much better at being responsible for maintaining gait. We worked some on squeeze and sideways as well. We've got to spend more time on sideways. He did quite well through the 3 hours I had him there and actually, he was happy to follow me around at Liberty. I'm surprised how quickly he's re-bonded to me now that I'm playing with him again.

Z and I did a little groundwork, but mostly rode. We worked on lead changes and transitions. I rode in my English saddle for the first time in ages and it was kind of cool. I like my western an awful lot, but I'd like to spend more time riding in both instead of the majority of my time in my western. I have great saddles - I'm lucky.

They weren't too sure about loading in the dark, but they did after a minute or two of requesting.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Passing Level 3 Liberty!!

I got some great news this morning. My Level 3 Liberty submission was good enough to pass! Yes! It feels good to have something passed in L3 since I've been working in this level for 1.5 years. I'm going to next submit OnLine and I think Z and I are ready to put a good video together. I have to practice a little with her loading on the 45' into the trailer and make sure her sideways is not forward. A pre-video session is probably all we need.

I'm re-motivated. And I'm super proud of my horse.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Squeezing some time in with Z

I'm so discouraged lately. With my broken ankle and my job, I've been moving forward at a snails pace with my horsemanship. My ankle is slowly getting better and I managed to get an hour of daylight after work today. Kendall came out with me, which is sometimes great but not when my time is limited. She wanted to ride Rain. So, I tacked up Z and Rain, did a little ground work with each of them and we went off to ride in the front pasture.

I wanted Kendall to work on transitions. She could really use the help with getting more control of Rain. Rain doesn't listen to her that well and worse lately than ever. Kendall gets very frustrated and Rain completely checks her out. I really should ride Rain more often myself, however she is a different horse when I ride her than when Kendall does.

Z had a lot of energy today, which I love. She was ready to go! I had Kendall, so I couldn't let her move out. Kendall got frustrated at one point because she and Rain weren't getting along so great and she gave up. I ponied the two of them back to the barn, tied Rain off, and took Z for a little bit of riding alone.

We rocked the teeter-totter, trotted over the cavalettis and then did some walk/trot transitions in the figure-8 pattern near my arena. She was quite soft today and had a tremendous backup. Her transition down was very in-tune with my body cues, as was her transition up. It felt really good to ride her. In the last 5 weeks, I've ridden about 3 times because of my ankle. However, I'm not quite ready - my ankle was sore during and after.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Further Development with Gemini

Had an amazing time with Gem today. He was so good! We played with sideways, circle with a lot of nice allowing. I asked him to squeeze over some jumps and we played with more rocksliding. Then, I took him in the arena and we did more sideways on the rail, asking for more energy. We then did some figure 8's on the ground and he was really understanding it.

I had tacked him up and brushed him before I got started on the ground work and Gemini just seemed so calm and willing. I checked his feet and picked them out. He's just doing so great. I played with moving forward and backward with my back towards him and asking him to maintain the distance between us. At first, his Z5 would swing out, but after a few times, he got my drift and went straight forward and backward with me. Nice!

Then, I worked with asking him to canter the circle and maintain the canter. That's an area where we really need to develop. He doesn't want to put that much effort in and I have to convince him that there's no rest until I give him rest. So, when he transitioned down, I asked him right back into the canter. Once he gave me a 1/2 lap or so at the canter, I brought him in. That worked nicely as he was cantering full circles after a few minutes of me working it that way.

Finally, I mounted and worked more on lateral flexion and getting him quiet in the mouth. He's very chompy on his bit and fiddling constantly. His brain is running when his feet are still - seems that when his mouth has to move the most. So, once my ankle is better, I work on getting his feet moving so his mouth can be still. :-)

I got off, did a little more sideways and some squeeze between me and fence. Surprisingly, he hurried through the squeeze. I did it a few more times until he could go calmly through the squeeze. Interesting. I also had him circle over the cavaletti's just a couple times before going to the barn. He was so graceful and never clunked a hoof on a cavaletti. Not once.

I tied him off, took of the tack, and let him stand for about 30 mins. He's doing really, quite well. So pleased!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Playing on the 45 with Z

November, nearly T-day, and we have 60 degrees! I love Colorado. Work is lighter than normal as the holiday mood sets in and I managed to steal away and get a couple hours with my levels mare. I messed with her hooves for a bit, then put her on the 45' and set out for some moving circle game.

I was paying very special attention to increase my body language, especially with backing her, sending her and transitioning her down. She was more willing than usual to put energy into things and jumped several times without a 2nd thought. Jumping is not her easiest thing to do and it was interesting to see her jump so willingly. We played with the allow on the 45 at the trot and the canter and I focused on not giving her a moment's rest when she decided to try something different. I noticed that she typically changed her direction when she was on the barn side of the circle. She was also pulling a little on that side of the circle. I held my ground and she learned to move through that desire to go to the barn. We did some down transitioning, which is a little clumsy with a cantering/galloping horse 45' away in an aircast. :-)

I felt really positive about the time on the 45' in my front pasture and I was ready to try some things in the round pen. I drove her from about 10' behind Z5 to the round pen and that worked better than usual as well. It was obvious that my clarity and specificity in my asks was having an impact on her frame of mind.

We practiced some rock slide, some sending, some down transitions and kept her online for all of it. I played with bringing her into me INSTEAD of disengaging her hind on the circle. This will help my change of direction - increasing the draw. She was a little sweaty and the sun was going down. I didn't want her wet for the cold night setting in, so I played with asking her to WALK a circle around me. She's not great at walking around me, she prefers to trot. After a few mins, she would walk the circle in both directions.

I also paid special attention to stop her from going beyond the point of "face up". I learned in my last lesson that I need to stop her as soon as it occurs to her to avoid facing me, vs correcting her after she's way out of position. I'm not fast or overly assertive, just consistent and specific.

A great play session and I'll give her several days (while I'm in the mountains with my family) to think about things. Tomorrow, I will play with Gemini and/or Rain.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bringing Gemini Along...

He's been offering up some nice things and it's high-time I focus on bringing him along. He's gotten very little of my time over the past 6-9 mos as I've focused on Z and L3. Yesterday with Kime was great and so today, I picked him over Z (strange!). I started by brushing him down and making him look like a loved horse. Then I tacked him up and started playing on the 22'.

He did well and his allow on the circle was much better. We had a much nicer send, as well. We did some rock-slide and I'm still not getting a great sideways from him. I have to work on being as clear as possible. I'm not looking beyond him - I know that much. He's moving his fore very nicely, though.

I backed him using better body language and he knew just what I meant. I did transitions on line and they were pretty nice. We played a little with change of direction and got a decent one after several that weren't so great.

Then, I decided to take him the arena and ride him. My ankle is still sore and once I mounted I realized I still can't put it in a stirrup. So, I let my legs hang and we practiced lateral flexion and being quiet in the mouth, disengaging the hind, some slow walking and then some figure 8's. I decided I'd be more effective from the ground, so we did some figure 8's on the 22'. I felt better with my ankle situation on the ground and he was starting to understand that there was a pattern involved. He's obviously never done a figure 8! He kept stopping at the barrels and trying to put his hoof on it. He's sort of a one-trick pony that way. :-)

Actually, he did really well and I've very proud of him. He was calm, he was trying and he was easy to play with. He's my diamond in the rough. After he gains some muscle, gets a summer coat and develops more communication with me, he'll be fine horse to demo with.

A new coach for me!

I think I may have found my new coach and mentor. I've been working in my vacuum and really feeling a stunted growth. It's tough for students when they get to my level because there are fewer out there who can help me. This trainer actually told me that she has NO ONE she could pair me up with for learning. The only other students she has near me in skill (2 students) have no professional goals and so are less motivated and ambitious. This is a frustrating place to be, actually.

Anyway, I watched her play with Cowboy, my friends awesome grey gelding who is for sale. I was convinced that I wanted to get some feedback from her on what I'm doing. We spent 3 hours and I got some fantastic information. I know I'm accomplished, but there's a lot more I need to be advancing with - like my body language, my timing, my plan. I don't know what I don't know...

I started with Gemini. He's my next levels horse and it's time to bring him along. I played with him for about 90 mins and got some great things from him. I also made some important changes in my way of thinking and my way of going. First, I just showed her some things - how we play, what we do. She didn't think I sucked, but I had a lot of room for improvement. I guess I kind of knew that.

I'm not directing his energy enough. He has exuberance, I'm not giving him something to do with that playful energy. We talked a little about a time to play and a time to do what you're asked. I have to keep searching for that balance and knowing better when to say, enough silliness - let's get the job done.

Rockslide- backwards then sideways, alternating which way the fore moves. A great game for an LBI like Gemini or Cowboy or NINA! Gemini and I did that and I got some great sideways steps from him.

Moving the fore - my rope-holding hand has to be part of my body language. It goes quiet once the horse starts doing what I ask, essentially making my ask unclear. If I'm moving the fore in Z1, my hand should be helping to push the nose around. If I'm in Z2 or Z3, same thing, it's part of my body language and part of my focus.

Change of direction - G and I don't do that well together yet. We have to work on it.

Disengaging the hind - I should be walking toward Z5, not away from Z2!! I should be using a disengaging and steady handed rein. Attach my hand to my hip to steady it. The hind legs should cross over! Fix that before worrying about stopping the forward movement! Plus, allow myself and my horse enough room

Isolate, separate and recombine!

My send has to be good enough for the allow to work on the circle. I'm stepping into the horse's space on my send, which I should not be doing. We went back to lead it, lift it, swing it, touch it. I was not giving G the responsibility to stay on the circle and subsequently, I was getting less then a lap at the allow. We tweaked my send, and he stayed out there. Look where I want my horse to go. LEAD IT! Lead it with my whole body. Don't swing it, touch it if I don't need to.

Yo-yo - Z's is pretty straight. We've worked hard on that. When she tries to go past me and I move her hind to swing her back around, it doesn't have to be fast! It can be slow and right, until her head swings around and she changes eyes. I'm waiting to long to do something about her moving past me. I need to recognize it as soon as she has the thought.

Body language for the back up - I need to start standing up straight and pushing the energy back from my core! I'm now doing it more like a level 2 student. I need to bring her in with the energy from my core as well, sucking in my energy. Up tall for back, pushing out, up tall for in, but sucking in. Up tall to get her attention before anything else.

I was happy to get Z as I feel I've built a lot more into her than Gemini. I wanted feedback on my advanced project. We worked on the send, although Z's allow is great - she stays out there forever. I fixed my send with her like with Gemini and then we worked on transitions up and down. Our up transition was ok, except my body language is dull and weak. I understand that better now. Our down transition was not so good. So, we worked on that mainly. She taught me to step out with the outside leg when she hits my shoulder, then lift my stick, then if my horse reaches my stick, start to wiggle the rope. It was absolutely amazing the way Z transitioned down with just a step out. I couldn't believe it. Our transitions down were fixed just like that. That's why I need a mentor. Perfect practice is really tough alone.

Simulations - At one point, Kime and I did simulations and I was the horse. She showed me how to back me up, send me, slow me down, speed me up. What was really cool was that Z stayed right with me while I circled. Kime was essentially circling both of us. If I backed up, Z backed up. When I took a step, Z took a step. It was cool and we both laughed.

In the end, I realized my latest submission for L3 Liberty was not good enough. I'm expecting a fail to come back. I know more now what I'm missing and where to get better. Kime and I will meet on a regular basis tbd. I won't finish L3 by the end of the year, but I will finish it.

Kime quizzed me on the Parelli rules and principles. I don't have them memorized. She also talked about the phases of development. I don't have those memorized either. She's not going to let that fly. I have to start reciting the chants like a good student. :-) I also need to memorize the 4 responsibilities of the horse and the 4 of the human. Oye.

An hour with Nina!

I'm tasked with playing with Nina two times/month for an hour each. I also trim her hooves, which really need to be soaked (they are thrushy). A couple of my horses have thrushy feet.

Anyway, I took her out and we played with the trailer, did some sideways, squeeze over obstacles, backing, and just general foundational building stuff. She is pretty comfortable with the trailer and there was lots of hay in there from my last adventure to help give her a good incentive. She does not like to "jump" things, she prefers to walk over them or not go over them at all. I have GOT to put something to jump on the track. ARRGGGH!!

I then took her into the round pen and played with the ball. She could probably have a lot of fun with that thing! She mouthed it and I asked her to push it around. All pretty easy. Then, I asked her to hold it on her back - a good prep to having a rider up there. She was fine with it. Absolutely fine. She's a neat filly. And she's HUGE! I bet she'll hit 17 hh.

Watching a skilled trainer with Cowboy

Today, I watched Kime Conkright, a new 2-star Parelli instructor, play with Jen's horse Cowboy. Jen wanted an evaluation of her horse as she's trying to sell him and she's seeking leads as well as insight into the horse. He's developed quite a defensive edge and it makes him a little dangerous.

Jen has tried to take a step back and rebuild him by playing with L1. That's helped him settle down and feel less attacked. Kime helped him realize that running away is not the answer. I loved watching her play with him. It was good for me to see that I'm not far off in how I've handled him and that I also have a long way to go to get more effective.

He broke away from her a couple times, but the other times he tried, she held fast and he stopped using that as a trick. He seemed to finally start to figure he could get along with her after about an hour. It was need to see him change and made me appreciate him even more than I already do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fun in the Round Pen!

Had a great session with Z in the round pen. I shouldn't have done it, but my sanity was at stake. Stupid ankle!!

I had a plan. We started cutting (never tried that with her before), getting more serious about the ball staying with her and starting to learn the 360 turn. She was engaged and exhuberant. I was smiling lots and glad I made it out to play with her.

We played a little with change of direction, bowing, and then Kendall got on her bareback so I could help her learn more fluidity and balance.

It was fun!! But, ouch... Wonder how much I set my healing back.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Showing a Horse (and Learning from it!)

Today, I showed a potential buyer Cowboy, my bff's horse. He's an incredible grey gelding with a ton of athleticism. He's turned out to be more horse than she wants.

Two people came and I showed them some simple things by quietly playing with him online. I wasn't asking for much as I was in my aircast and not willing to get myself in trouble. He stayed calm and quiet, but they could tell I wasn't asking him for much energy. One of them took him and asked for a little more and Cowboy demonstrated that he can be obstinate.

Then, we tacked him up and the woman rode him a bit. He worked the bit a LOT and he tried a few of his other tricks (rubbing her off on the fence post, being hard in the mouth). She finally shared that she wanted to use him as a lesson horse. I was thinking, ok - now you're just wasting our time. She'd never shared that before. Cowboy is no lesson horse.

She trotted him a little and had to acknowledge his amazing trot, but in the end, it's not the horse for her. They left w/o him and I was a little glad. :-)

I learned a little more about Cowboy that day and I also got the chance to talk to them some about the training they do. They are about to embark on a 30 day training clinic with Dennis Reis. I'd love to do that. They had done 30 days with Clinton Anderson the year before. I realized that for me, I want to focus on Parelli. Maybe later I'll use other clinicians to that extent but for now - I'm a Parelli student.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Those who can't, Teach

I had a couple coaching sessions scheduled today, but I canceled because my ankle really needed to rest after yesterday's adventure. The weather was amazing, high 60's, sunny, light breeze. I was so annoyed to be down and stuck taking it easy on a day like this.

I decided to coach Kendall. I put Rain on the 45 and practiced getting a good circle with her. Then, I put Kendall on her back and tried to coach her and help her ride better. Now, she rides with gripped legs and toes pointing down. She thinks riding like a jockey is very cool, but I wanted to get her thinking about riding in harmony with the horse, beyond the 2-point. I started to explain "rise and fall with the one on the wall" and then I started helping her learn to ride the canter. I asked her to try to keep her butt in the saddle at the canter.

After some laps thinking about keeping her butt in the saddle, she started to relax her legs and she looked so much better! It was a big change and I look forward to her making more changes and getting her riding really good.

Rain is great with her.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Greenland Trail Riding AKA Biting off more than I can chew...

So, I'm battling this stupid sprained/fractured ankle. I'm laying in bed A LOT, and my husband has taken my son to Seattle for the weekend. My oldest son is driving and has plans of his own, so really I've got Kendall to myself all weekend. Kendall and I together with no boys means horse Time! I wanted to trailer out somewhere and have a great adventure with her.

We picked Greenland. Tons of trail mileage, plenty of parking, not too far to drive, a good deal. My neighbor and good friend, Marcy, came with us. About 3 miles from the trailhead, we got a flat. Doh! The adventure begins.

I'd worn my air cast all morning while I got the trailer ready and horses loaded, thinking I'd keep my ankle happy as possible before riding. I was feeling good and ambitious (the best and the worst thing about me) and decided to bring Gemini and pony him off of Z. Kendall would ride Rain.

We decided to fix the tire after the ride. A good move - let's get the party started already. As soon as I get on, my ankle starts cussing. Then, I grab Gemini's lead and we're off. Ouch! Darn it - I'm not ready for this! So, being who I am, I forge ahead.

About 1/2 mile in, there's a huge herd of buffalo about 1/4 mile away. My trusty steed decides that's is NOT OK! They made her quite worried. For the first time I realized, I can't be the horseman she needs me to be with my ankle. Gemini was a little up and excited and Z was thinking we were facing sure death by buffalo. And my ankle was cussing. I'd officially bitten off more than I could chew.

Luckily, Rain was being everything Kendall needed and Marcy was happy as a clam on her horse. Then, the trains started coming. Loud, long trains about 1/8 mile from the trail we were on. Z thought less of the buffalo because now our lives were threatened by the train. And again, I was reminded that I was vulnerable and not being everything my horses needed me to be. Finally, I asked Marcy and Kendall to let me stop and rest.

I tried to play some with Z on the ground and then I mounted and tried to get her calm. She was calming down and doing better, but my ankle was not. She was not happy about having Gemini at her side while were going down the trail, so losing him and just riding in some circles was a good thing. Being who I am, I forged ahead. Marcy passed Gemini's lead to me and we kept going.

Another mile or so, and I realized I had to admit defeat. I finally dismounted and asked them to take off without me. I wanted Kendall and Marcy to have fun. I felt bad for thinking I could do more guilty that I was already such a pain of a trail partner. Luckily, I convinced them to go. Gemini thought that was the worst idea of the day.

I was on the ground with Gemini, Z, my very sore ankle and my carrot stick. Marcy and Kendall disappeared over a hill and Gemini lost it. He reared and demanded to go with them. I tried to maintain, but he got the rope between his legs and was able to start moving forward. That was it. I had to just let go. He ran after the others and luckily they hadn't gotten far yet. Marcy grabbed him and I hobbled my way up to take him and try again. Ugh... I was in a bad place.

Z had gotten a little upset when he broke away, but luckily she settled fairly quickly. I took Gemini back and he tried to reenact the previous episode. This time I was ready. He soon realized he was stuck with me and I worked on giving him a reason to think that didn't suck so bad. I had Z, so it was tough to really do any serious ground work with Gemini.

Luckily, he began to settle and resorted to simply calling in his high-pitched winnie directly into my ear. I can handle a whinny. I was worried that he might rear and get me in the head with a hoof, so I kept him positioned so that I could be ready. As we walked, he got more and more settled. We came up to a bench and I had him do some things with it. That seemed to really settle him some more. He wasn't really calling anymore.

After about another 1/2 mile to mile, he was calm enough and I had walked far enough that I decided to mount back up and pony him home. I still had a tire to change and my trailer was a little dot in the distance. I felt a moment of hopelessness, but fought it and moved on. We had an uneventful ride to the trailer from that point.

We got back, I started to get the tire changed and after a bit longer, Marcy and Kendall were back. They had a great time and I was so pleased. I learned a ton about feeling like you've got more horse than you can handle, about how seriously scared Gemini gets when the herd is split, how Z doesn't trust a herd of buffalo or trains and about being sure I'm fully capable before I venture out with a pony horse. I can't be at all vulnerable and try to manage scared horses. I've got to be 100%.

Gemini demonstrated that he will eat grass very dominantly when he's nervous. He has a ton of brace that I need to correct, he has confidence issues that need to be handled, he has a lot of dominance that will really get out of hand when he's afraid. I look forward to getting him through L3 eventually. I know I'll look back on this someday, this day when he told me he didn't think staying with me was the right idea, and I'll think about how much he's changed and how I don't think he'd act that way again. We have some serious time to put in before that.

A last note, Rain is in heat. Could it be that he was especially upset with Rain leaving with another gelding? Could it also be that it was a bigger deal to him because she's in heat?

I'd like to take Z back there again... alone. We have some things to work through as well.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Finesse with Z

Had a fantastic ride on my mare today. I bugged out of work (which is killing my horse development plans!) in the afternoon and took a couple hours to practice some L3 Finesse things. I even prepared a list and carried it in my pocket.

My ankle was angry. I can't really put my foot in the stirrup and that makes cantering a little tough. However, we were able to practice moving the hind in the opposite direction of her head. We practiced transitions, figure 8's at the canter, simple lead changes, sideways from the ground from barrel to barrel, and after all of that in the arena, we took a short trail ride.

I needed it. I still have more healing to do, but it was worth it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Better Hooves

My "hoof care coach" came by to check out my work today. She gave me some good feedback and said if she hadn't come to check out my work, my horses would be fine with what I'm doing. HOWEVER, I need to get into more advanced bar trimming and understanding how to influence growth to get beautiful hooves growing.

All the horses had too much bar. We covered knife usage and getting the bar correct. Rain has a very steep inner wall and we talked about what I can do to influence more correct growth. For her, I'll work on helping the inner wall expand. How? Crap, I forget. I'll email Gail.

Gemini has the most amount of overgrown bar, really wrapping around the apex. He also has some concavity developing and I have to promote that with great bar maintenance.

Rain's toes were long in the hinds. I learned how to use my nippers to nip the toe and how to create the mustang roll with nippers.

Z has pancake hinds and we talked about the coffin bone placement and how important it is for Z's hind toes to never get long. There's a confirmation problem with her that has not been diagnosed, but her hind feet are saying something is wrong.

A good visit and I'm learning and getting better at natural hoof trimming.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

L3 Liberty - Not so much!

OK - today, my great friend Jen came over to help me get Liberty on tape. She gave me some good feedback. Z hates the L3 Liberty Assessment. I'm too intense and Z doesn't want to play with me anymore at Liberty. I knew this, but hearing it makes it more real. I realize that the Parelli program is changing it's assessment methods for a reason. I'm a perfect example of a flawed assessment methodology. I've worked hard and I've tried to play well, but at the end of the day, I can't figure out how to not make it about the tasks once the video camera turns on. It's a tough thing.

We looked at some older attempts I made at Liberty and decided I should just send those in. If they don't pass, I'll go for the new assessment and audition. I'll have to get creative, but maybe it'll be the best thing that could happen to my partnership with my horse.

Z's a tough gal. She's got lots of opinions and is very quick to tell me I suck. For a moment, I considered starting over with Gemini. I realized I can't run from this. Z is making me better and it's a challenge I need. I'll be fine. It takes the time it takes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Back on my horse!!

Finally. I could barely mount with my ankle, but it felt so great to be back on her after a week laid up with an ankle sprain. Kendall rode Rain, also. I couldn't put my foot in the stirrup, but I was able to ride around and do a few things. Made my day.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Remembering Dome Rock with Kendall

Today, I touched base with a friend from my trail riding group and got some pics from our camping trip and trail riding in September. Grateful for these great pics!! Thanks, Kathy!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Zarah for transportation

I'm helping a neighbor start her horse and I've been riding Z over for the sessions. It's great to ride her over, let her rest in a new place, then get back on and go home. She does so well and she comes up to me willingly and even enthusiastically when it's time to leave. Today, because I've been riding much less than normal, I had to start out with 15 mins of "let's get some harmony". We did lots of transitions, figure 8's and snakey bends by the barn until it seemed that she was thinking about me and "us" and not the herd or the barn. Then we cantered off w/o emotion.

This session with my neighbors horse didn't work out so great for me. I landed on my ankle wrong while playing with mounting energy and getting the horse used to it. I sprained it badly and even had a moment of nausea and dizziness. It was stupid and clumsy and I could just kick myself. The horse was doing amazingly well with the 7 games and then with saddling and mounting prior to my ankle sprain.

I finished up with the horse and hobbled over to mount Z and get my injured self home. She's so well prepared to be what I need her to be. I managed to get my butt on the fence rail, asked her to sidle over close to me, then clumsily mounted with one leg completely useless.

We slowly made our way home. A few times she thought trotting was a better idea and although I always prefer to move faster, the bouncing made my ankle angry. She came right back to a walk for me and then stopped trying. We have a spot where I normally let her eat grass. We stopped for a moment and she grabbed a few bites, but I had to get home. Another person was coming to my house for some coaching and the ankle incident had us running late.

I gave coaching for 2 hours from Z's back once we got home. My horse was so great! She was patient and calm and listening. I was able to demo some things with her to show what things look like when they're working well, like sideways or 7 games with an obstacle. My horse rocks.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trail Riding with my herd

I found the time to get all 3 horses about 8 miles of exercise. The weather is amazing and so warm, we're breaking records (will be 76 on Halloween!). After work, I hopped on Rain and ponied Z and Gemini. Kendall was going to go and ride Rain, but some friends of hers showed up and that was all she wrote.

Typically, I ask my horses to canter off from home. This seems to get them programmed to leave home with some energy and I like that. Gemini has become quite a nice pony horse - staying in his "box" and not lagging or leading. Z on the other hand, much prefers to lead and she's so much faster. When we canter, she gets ahead and I have to remind her to stay in her spot. She's much better about quickly recognizing my "get back" ask, but she still finds herself out in front.

Rain, the horse I usually ride when I pony two, is the slowest. :-) She's gaited and although she can gait so fast Gemini and Z have to canter, when we canter she gets passed up quickly. It's interesting.

What I do these days is keep the Natural Hack reins on the horn and ride Rain "bridleless". The reins are there if I need them, but these days I rarely use them. I have a carrot stick which I use to talk to the pony horses and for Rain if she's not listening to my body cues. I think back to my riding 2-3 years ago and realize I have now developed a pretty good independent seat. Ponying two and riding one bridleless has really helped me improve.

At one point on the trail, we were cantering and both Z and Gemini got the adrenalin rush and started to get playful/energetic. I had Z on one side bucking and farting and Gemini on the other side determined to "win the race"! I had to laugh. I asked Rain to transition down immediately and both horses shot out ahead and nearly head-butted each other as the hit the ends of their lead ropes. I had a thought to let them go since they had so much momentum but I held on and it worked out ok. Again, so glad I've developed a good seat!

We went about 8 miles and came home in the dark. There was no moon and so, it was DARK!! I had Deuce with us, my lab/shephard mix, a great trail dog, and he tends to keep any surprises at bay. The horses are pretty wooly in preparation for winter and were pretty sweaty, too.

I trimmed Gemini's hooves after we got back. It's much easier to do after he's worked off some steam. :-) He can be quite a treat to trim. He's LBE and has a good time with me at trim time. He was actually pretty tired after the ride and the last mile or so, I had to keep asking him to "keep up". He's fat right now - I need to fix that.

A great night with my little herd of equines. Looking forward to finding more time now that my job is settling. I've got 2 months to get something sent in for the 3 savvy's (Liberty is in and started). After the new year, the assessments will change and I'm a little hesitant to change gears after I've worked so hard against the old assessment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bowing and L3 Liberty

I had a short bit of time available to get some things going with my horses. I also was able to snag Steve for some video footage. I got some video of Rain doing tricks:

Rain fetches her doll:

Rain Bows:

Z and I got some Liberty taped (again). Ugh - each time has a blemish I'd like to fix. This is a hard, hard thing to do.

Sometimes I'm having fun, sometimes I'm just pushing my horse and I into a brick wall. I'm learning to take it easier on myself and my horse... slowly.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just a kick

Damn, I got caught in the cross-fire between Rain and Nina and Rain got me really good on the thigh with a hind kick. Sore, swollen, and out of commission for a couple days for sure.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cantering Bareback

With Steve out of town, it is TOUGH! Kyle needs shuttling to work, kids have homework, Kendall is newly in braces and miserable, Kendall also has a cold, I'm about to go on a trip that is my first organized meeting, horses need care (Nina needs a trim), work is tough (con calls all day), and I'm not getting nearly enough horse time. Good thing I'm not having PMS. My head would probably explode.

Today, in spite of all that, I managed to squeeze 45 mins of horse time in. Ahhhh, felt better. I grabbed Miss Z, did a few mins of ground work. I asked her to manipulate the teeter totter, she was perfect. I took her into the round pen and practiced some sideways, some yo-yo, some lead by the lip, tail and hocks, transitions on the circle, and trot in to me. All were great - she's highly motivated by carrots.

Then, with the bareback pad, I asked her to walk, trot and canter with me mounted. I haven't done any bareback riding in a while; I've been focused on Finesse riding. We had the softest, easiest bareback riding canter I can remember after a few minutes and so I hopped off and took her back to the barn. She was great and it was just what I needed to go back to my crazy world.
I've been considering other horses, mainly as I'm being asked more and more to take horses on or start horses. A friend has a horse she wants to sell and I think he's an amazing horse and he could be mine, if I wanted. I already have 3, I don't need another. He's cool though and he'd be fun to train. Tonight with Z reminded me that I need to stick it out with her. She's offering great things and when it's right, it's awfully damn right.

The better I get, the more people will want to give me horses or have me training/starting their horses. The opportunities will grow and become more available. I have to take it slow and easy. This is my journey with Z.

At least for now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

8 miles on the trail

Did a nice ride on Rain and ponying Gemini. Both are fat! Have to cut down on the grain I've switched to. Lots of cantering, and a full-out gallop.

Rain was very nervous going through the gulley (same place she normally gets nervous). Gemini had a hard time staying in his spot and snatching grass with no feel for me at the end of his halter. He does not have a soft feel. Rode Rain mostly w/o reins. All body and stick cueing. Makes ponying easier for sure. However, we need to work on down transitioning. She's not clear what my down transition means. Should be easy to build on as she'd rather walk anyway. :-)

Both of them have better looking feet. Rains hoof walls grow fast and I need to trim her every 2 weeks, I think. Want to build a more conical shape.

I need to ride Gemini, but lately I always manage to find something else to do besides ride him :-( I'm not afraid, just not up for the hassle. He needs the exercise!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Helping others understand Parelli...

... is TOUGH! oye.

Z was great - did what I wanted and then I rode her around a neighborhood with tons of dogs and noise and sprinklers and bags stuck to barbed wire... Stimulation all around. She did quite well. She had a few times of fear but mostly she was confident.

I didn't feel good after spending the time with the 2 people I was trying to coach. It was tough and I'm not sure I got my points across very well. Good practice for me but want to be sure I'm doing the program justice when I talk about it. Hard to do with non-Parelli people.

Bowing and Riding Z

I've been practicing the bow with Rain for a few years now. I started about 3 yrs ago and barely new what I was doing. She understands the concept, but she would never stay in the bow for long. Recently, I started working on it with her again and now she bows beautifully. I'm going to get some video and put it on youtube. It's pretty cool.

I recently started teaching Z to bow, as well. I'm using a very different technique with Z. We'll see how that goes. A horse has to have a lot of trust and confidence to get in such a precarious position as the bow. It's much easier for Rain than Z, as Z is not near as trusting. I also asked Z to circle me and practice transitions up and down. Her down transition is not as good and she tends to break back into a trot. This is important for us as we go back and retape L3 Liberty.

Kendall and I rode our horses bareback in the round pen after bowing. I asked Z to follow the rail at the trot. We also had the Equiball with us, so we had our horses kicking the ball around. A fun little session.

Then, I tacked up Z and we went for a ride. We practiced canter/walk transitions in a figure 8, snakey bends, sideways over a log (very softly) and canter transitions in a straight line. She gave me the nicest canter depart and down transition so I hopped off and let her eat grass. She's giving me more and more great stuff. My leadership is better and I'm expecting more. She also offered me a very vertical trot, nearly a piaffe, and a rode that a bit asking her to maintain. So cool.

Monday, October 13, 2008

4 hours with Terry Wilson


1) Fixed sideways by: being more particular, asking for more impulsion, sideways at the trot, sideways from barrel to barrel. Got the sideways for the L3 task after 30 mins.

2) Fixed our back up: that broke a few weeks ago. Slapped her hind end for more impulsion. She was lacking respect. Doh!

3) Did transitions with more meaning - got lots of elevation and impulsion. Just being too nice about things. Raise hand and correct her if she ever goes past it!

4) Started asking for a hind qtr yield with her head facing the opposite direction as her hind was traveling. Get a step or two and move on.

5) Practiced moving the hind, then following through with the fore on the rail. Keeping hands in small "box" and asking for vertical collection

6) Half-passing - set up a pattern along the rail with barrels/cones on the rail and on an inner track. Half-pass from rail marker to inner marker and rest. As horse gets the idea, move to the trot. This was tough and Z is very out of balance, one side is much softer than the other.

7) Terry set up large box with barrels and a pattern where you half-pass from one corner to the opposite, trot past, square around and half-pass in the other direction. Tough pattern. Terry got on my horse and tried this one with her.

8) Sideways on circle with me in the middle, Z5 in front of me, asking her to go sideways around me (like a tire spoke, horse moving from spoke to spoke)

9) Played with question box. Liked it - need to set one up for myself.

10) Need to keep taking up more and more of the reins - still giving too much.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gemini Day

Hooves, playing 7 games with Gemini from Z's back (great!!), figure 8 pattern with both of them - teaching Z to be a better lead horse and Gemini to be a better pony horse.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Playing in the rain!

Well, not really. Stuck in the barn with a few hours to dedicate is more like it. Still, there's plenty Z and I can accomplish in the barn aisle. I just have to get creative, which typically I don't suck at. :-) Today, I took about 45 mins to give her a nice trim. The front left didn't please me when we were done, but the others looked pretty darn good. I have to watch the hinds. She's had true bull-noses on the hinds and I finally know how to fix it. Now I have to be sure the toes don't get too long. I'm so thrilled that I can do this myself now. Absolutely thrilled.

We practice lead by the lip getting it softer, then played with getting her to sidepass to the stool I stood on for mounting (she's great at this now) and then yo-yo from walk to backup w/o reins and bareback. It was a nice, rewarding and calm session. Once I put her in the stall, she stood and looked at me for a moment through the bars - almost asking me if we were done. I didn't act, just stood and watched to see what she'd do. After a few moments, she walked into the run and waited. I wondered if she was waiting to see if I was truly finished goofing off with her. She looked back, then she walked out onto the track with the others - back to the hay under the shade shelter with Rain and Gemini.

I feel like I'm starting to be able to read her mind a little. There is no secret better kept than that between a man (or woman!) and his horse.

Using Horses for Transportation

I had an appointment scheduled to play with a Parelli student's horse. I've been playing with him over the past 3-4 months and this was probably our 5th or 6th time together. Today, he turned a corner... big time. Another time where I've had to say out loud, "Man, this shit really works!".

I could tell he was different from the start. Normally, Pat catches him in his stall and he's hesitant. I try to help her understand the Catching Game in these first moments. Today, he thought to walk away from Pat and then changed his mind. He took a few steps, stopped and allowed her to gently halter him. His initial reflex, to walk off, was stunted by his new found pattern of THINKING. I love a thinking horse.

We took him to the grass area and I started with Friendly Game. For the first time, he was completely fine with my stick and string. My jaw dropped. Then we did some driving, some yo-yo, some circle and some falling leaf. He was fine - no excitement or fear. He understand the language and the games and he was - for the first time - showing some confidence! Pat and I were both very impressed. For the first time, I thought the horse would someday be rideable. I'd had my doubts in our previous play sessions.

I quickly decided we needed to make things more interesting and get an obstacle. Pat brought out a rail and I started asking to squeeze over it. Then, I'd ask him to stop with it under his belly. I was doing this all from Z2 and Z3. Then, I moved to Z1 and asked him to yo-yo over it. The entire time, he didn't get excited, worried or fearful. He licked and chewed a LOT and he stayed calm.

It was getting cold and dark so we called it a day. I walked away so satisfied - we'd gotten through to him. He had no reason to trust a human attached to him by a rope a few months ago, now we could actually have a conversation and do some things together.

To add to my moment of glory, I got to her house by horseback. I rode Rain and ponied Z. They hung out in her arena while I played with her horse. When it was time to go, I went to the arena gate and they both saw me and immediately to me from across the arena. Z actually came a little ahead of Rain. I realized Z's draw has gotten much better than 1 year ago.

We worked on transitioning together the whole way there, something I've done very, very little practice on with Rain. It was good for Z to learn to maintain her position as pony-horse during transitions. We cantered some and had a nice ride over. On the ride back, it was cold and getting dark. We found a nice stretch and galloped together for about 1/2 mile. Z kept her spot, Rain kept her speed, I rode fluidly as possible. I was smiling the whole time and my horses were both partnered up with me very nicely. Everyone was holding up their end of the bargain. Rain broke into a nice sweat and I found a place to reward them both with some super green grass left over from our rainy summer.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Time with a new horse

I spent some time with a new horse, an Arab mare about 5 yrs old and just recently started. She's a rather spirited left-brained extrovert from what I could tell. She sure liked to move her feet and at first, I had a little trouble convincing her that it wasn't necessary. The owner was looking to get her into the trailer for her 3rd or 4th trail ride. I was looking for the mare to tell me she'd be ok with that.

But first, she needed to understand how to be around people at the end of a lead rope. She's a nice mare, but she hasn't been taught much about manners or having respect for the human nearby. So, we worked a little on building a language and me establishing some leadership. I wanted to teach her to lead nicely and I wanted her to start yielding to pressure at the poll. That was interesting - when her feet got stuck, I'd add pressure in Z4 or Z5. With the pressure from behind, she'd go jamming out in front, so I'd have to ask her to get back behind me. Then we'd go again...

She learned, there's no question. She was ears forward, licking and chewing, dropping her head in submission, all good stuff. I wanted to work on her confidence more. We played a bit more after I felt like we were starting to communicate and then I took her near the trailer so she could tell me how she felt about it. She said, loud and clear, she was not ok with the trailer! She pooped, lost her cool, ran around, called to momma (who was 20 ft away). I felt sad for her, she'd been trailered a few times already and she was obviously forced into it those times. I tried to explain that to the owners and hopefully I got my point across.

Just because a horse will do something, does not mean they are willing. There very nature makes them want to do what gets them away from pressure and that's what gets us into trouble. We have to listen when they tell us they aren't ready. And it's up to us to help them be ready for what we're asking.

In the end, I never asked her to load. I asked her to be ok with playing near the trailer and we accomplished that. Then, I had her owner take her and try a few things. That went well as her horse was much more calm now and had a clear understanding of what she was being asked to do.

It was, in my mind, quite successful!

Groundwork with Kendall

Lately, Kendall has been wanting to do more groundwork. I think she watches me and sees herself having more of an upper hand with Rain. Today, we seriously got started. We've tried a couple times before and she usually goes angrily marching off for one reason or another. One day, a little mud got on her pants. Another day, she refused to use the stick and again went angrily marching off. It takes a serious amount of patience on my part, but I'm willing to do it. However, she's got to listen to me and do what I ask so I can keep her safe. She's got an 1100lb animal at the end of a rope and I can't risk her getting stubborn and willful.

We started with games 1-4. Her friendly game is much better than it was. She's getting better at using the stick and string. We tried some porcupine and Rain was way interested in eating grass. I tried to help Kendall not get too frustrated. She actually did very well! Then, we did the Driving game and Kendall was awesome at that. Finally, we did a little yo-yo and again Kendall and Rain looked really great.

We'll do more games when she asks.

Then, I took Z off and did a little trailer loading, some circle at the canter on teh 45', squeeze over a 3ft jump and some flc's on the 45'. She had a ton of energy and she galloped her circles a bunch. I just can't remember seeing her go that fast on a circle. I was shocked and had to laugh.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Riding into the sunset

Tonight, I managed to get both Z and Rain tacked up and ridden. The shorter days are making it harder and harder. I started with Z and took her into the arena. We worked on more of our 1 million transitions, corner game, some sideways barrel to barrel, some figure 8. It was quick and I hated to feel like I didn't have much time, but that was the way it was.

Then, I took Rain in the arena. It was the first time in eons since I'd asked Rain to do something in an arena with me on her back. I wanted her to follow the rail and maintain gait. Both needed practice. I was riding her in an english saddle and I'd set out thinking to work on longitudinal flexion. She wasn't ready for that, so we went back to more basics. It felt good to ride her and I forgot how fast she can gait down an arena! It made me giggle!

She wanted to do the right thing and she felt a little energetic. I didn't want her to feel criticized but I realized I must of made her feel that way a lot when I was using her in L2. Sorry, Rain. I'm better now.

I also worked with both mares on bowing. Rain was able to bow quite nicely, but she's not holding it for long. We'll keep building her length of time in that position. Proud of her. Z is nearly down in the bow. Cool! I'll try to capture video and put it on my youtube page.

The sun was gone and I had to get chores done and spend time with kids. I could have done more... hours more. That's why I need 3 horses.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Stealing Time

I managed to get out with Z today for a couple hours. It was my first time getting out with her in a week because of work travel. We worked on more transitions. We practiced backing. Z used to have a great backup, and all of a sudden it stopped working. Together, we were able to get a soft feel back in action and a much better backup.

We rode in the front pasture and played figure 8 with 2 trees. We did 5-step canter transitions and worked on trot/canter downhill. We practiced circles and we need to keep working on them. They aren't very round. :-p

I loved spending the time and she seemed pleased to. I can tell by how much she things about the barn or the herd. When I'm doing well, she doesn't think about them and stays in tune with what we're doing together. Love it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Three horses on the trail

Today, I took all 3 of my horses on the trail for a nice 9 mile ride. It was a little warm today and the horses are just a little fuzzy in response to the shorter days of fall. I had such a rewarding time with my horses, though! Deuce, of course, came along and behaved himself as usual.

All the pony work I did with Gemini over the summer was paying off today. Z was also a well-behaved pony horse for the most part. Rain was AWESOME! She is my most amazing horse. I could not imagine asking Z to pony a horse off each side and I still can't imagine fully trusting Gemini on the trail to behave, let alone pony another horse.

I'm very grateful to have Rain.

When we got home, I touched up everyone's hooves and put them all in for the night. If only I had more time...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Natural Hoof Care Clinic

... with Gail Snyder. I learned a ton. I learned how to map a horse's hoof and how to know where the coffin bone is. I've always wondered how a farrier or trimmer knows that. I learned about white line disease, fungi, sidebone, ringbone, anomolies, the mustang hoof and how to approach a trim.

I started trimming my own horse's feet about 1 month ago. I've now trimmed them all multiple times as I learn how to use my tools and what foot I'm trying to create. I took off quite a bit of wall from Gemini's hinds on the lateral side, trying to shore up a more conical and balanced hoof. He grows a lot of wall on the lateral side since his legs are crooked.

We watched Gail trim the hoof of one of Robin's horses. I liked watching that and all of this made a lot of sense to me since I have already started looking at my horse's feet closely. I'm feeling great about taking care of their feet myself. I think I'll do a good job.

Corner game, Backing and Transitions

Today was another time where Z gave me a soft, soft canter and a beautiful transition from walk to canter and back to walk. We played Corner game, lots of transitions, riding the rail, some cloverleaf, and bullseye. We started playing with the figure 8 pattern, which was a no-brainer for her. I asked for a canter bullseye and realized I'd asked for it w/o properly preparing her for it.

We played with cantering corner to corner, and then canter transitions with 5 canter strides before walking again.

It was my first time riding her in a week or so and she did quite well. I was so pleased with her last canter transition, I praised the heck out of her, jumped off and walked her back to the barn.

Note: for some reason, her backup has gone hard and stiff. I don't know what happened or where, but she will no longer softly go backwards. I worked on it some today but need to continue finding her soft backup and helping her release the tension about going backwards. I must have done something recently when riding her. Perhaps it was the Dome Rock ride where she wanted to be with Rain and I had to hold her back.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Morris Animal Foundation

Today, I had about 20 people come over to listen to me talk about natural horsemanship and my Parelli journey. Work was busy and I had to finish a call just minutes before people started to arrive. A little stressful, but exciting.

One of the ladies brought her 3 minis and I ended up playing with one named Lucky. A cute appy colored mini with a brave spirit and a healthy dose of willingness. I used Rain to demo. I really thought I should be using Z, but I knew Rain would be so great for a crowd. And she was. We showed some tricks and all the 7 games. We talked about horseanalities and the Parelli program. We talked about horses and prey animal tendencies. People were interested and even had questions.

Before we ended, Nancy showed how she plays the Catching Game with Capaill. I also showed how to get Lucky to understand the games and asked him to cross a tarp. He was perfect about demonstrating his fear of the tarp and I played with approach and retreat. When I stopped asking and turned away, he crossed the tarp! It was perfect and people seemed impressed.

At the end, the 3 minis were fitted with carts and we rode around in the arena. That was kind of fun! I would love to have a cart and teach my horse's to drive. Oscar jumped on with me and we rode around with Summer pulling us.

It was a great day and I learned some things about myself. First of all, I trust Rain to demo with me. I don't trust my other 2 to "wow" a crowd. Hmmm... Secondly, I can easily talk about horsemanship for hours. I went on and on... I hope I didn't bore them too much. They all seemed appreciate and happy and I got lots of compliments. I also got 2 potential clients!

I'm so happy for the opportunity to share what I know with those people.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Riding Gemini

I'm slowly working Gemini into my routine and trying to be more regular with getting him going. I had some time and I was able to hop on him and play with a few things. He really would benefit from transitions as he's a little sluggish. He would also benefit from point-to-point, corner game and other arena games to keep him interested and improve his motivation. At this point, I find I'm overly sensitive to asking him for speed because that's when he's most likely to buck. I'm trying to be firm, but soft and I don't want to sacrifice my intentions of getting him to give me impulsion when I ask for it. I just have to learn to trust him more and that will take time.

We didn't have any issues and he no longer bucks when the rear cinch goes tight. That's a good thing. His trot is so smooth and he's a pleasure to ride. I will continue to practice backing and soft transitions with him. The more time we have together, the better it will get.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Play Day at My Place

I had 6 people come over for some Parelli play time. We talked about horseanalities, I had them all chart their horses and we talked about games to play with each quadrant for practice. We were to focus on the first 3 games, but I only ended up demoing on friendly. I had things I wanted to show on Porcy and Driving and I'm sorry I didn't get to them. However, I had one person who's horse needed leadership and I got sidetracked helping with that. Basically, having a couple people who don't know the games made it very tough to get through the games.

We ate some lunch and then mounted for some riding practice. I talked about using the suspension rein to lift the shoulder, combing the reins to get longitudinal flexion, hip-pointing and transitions.

Z was NOT with me and I'm not sure if it was because she'd had 2 days on the road and on the trail the day before or if I was doing something different. She was unhappy and extremely resistant to back. I needed to wait for her and I actually didn't know whwat to do at that point. She hasn't gotten rigid like that in a long time. She hasn't since my time at ISC. I'm some how forgetting what I know and/or what I've learned about partnering with Z.

I hope to get some time in the next day or two to address it and try some things. I might watch Linda talk about brideless backups again - get a tip and see what I'm forgetting to do. I've gone back to the pure way of backing up my horse from what Dennis was teaching and I may have a confused horse right now. I just need some time to experiment with her and figure out what she needs from me to want to partner up.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

M-Lazy-C and Dome Rock with Kendall

Had a fantastic 2 days with my daughter and my riding buddies from my Chenango days. There's a group of 8 of us that make up a group called "Riding Colorado". We rode many, many trails together and one of the members, Margi Evans, wrote 2 books about the trails. Since the first book was published, we've done a summer trip each year with our horses to ride somewhere new. Our first trip was South Dakota, then Buena Vista (missed that one, thanks to my job), then Red Feather Lakes. This summer there was a 2nd trip to celebrate a special lady. Nancy Mileger turns 70 at the end of the month and we all headed to M-Lazy-C ranch with our horses to celebrate and ride. Some of the group brought their husbands and I decided to bring my daughter, Kendall.

We had a blast!! So glad I took her.

The first day, we arrived in the afternoon and took a ride for a couple hours. Kendall wanted to collect different pieces of twigs from trees. It gave us good practice sidepassing up to trees, taking steps forward and backward, and getting precise about where our feet went. Kendall didn't want to manage Rain after a bit, so I ponied her for a lot of the ride. We got back to camp just as it was starting to rain. Perfect timing. We then got ready for Nancy's b-day party and put horses away for the night.

In the morning, we got up and packed up to head to Dome Rock for the day. There were 12 of us riding together! It was a big group and I was watching closely as we headed out to be sure my little girl was safe. Rain has been on so many trail rides and she's always safe and solid, but my daughter is only 7 and keeping her safe was my main priority. We rode together nearly the entire 5 hours. At one point, we held hands on our horses and I had a moment of motherly bliss.

Toward the end, I noticed that Z had become extremely pair-bonded to Rain. I didn't feel comfortable dealing with it among my non-Parelli friends, I'm ashamed to say. Margi wanted to take Kendall fast and away from the group down the trail. I couldn't tell if Kendall wanted to go or not, but I told her she couldn't. Margi decided to take off at one point and Kendall seemed sad that she couldn't go. She later told me she was kidding and she didn't really want to ride fast with Margi and that she wanted to stay with the group. That girl...

I managed to get Z further back in the group, away from Rain and she did ok. I'll take her on more trail rides where she can practice being away from the group and gain more confidence. It's interesting, because I trail ride with Z alone so often and yet she seemed to get a lot of her confidence from Rain in the group. I want to stop and really examine that and figure out how to help her feel more confident. That was her first ride with a group that size and maybe it's just a matter of more group riding.

Pics of our ride will be coming soon. We had such a great time!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My RBE horse on the trail

Yesterday, I had scheduled to coach someone with their horse in my neighborhood. I decided to use Z as transportation to the lesson. I had plenty of time and was committed to get off of her if she hit too big of a threshold leaving the property. Sometimes, she leaves fine and confidently and other times, her feet get stuck and she shows her LBI side. I've been playing a new game when her feet get stuck, where I let her eat grass whenever she starts to move freely. It's working well and we have lots of nice green grass available.

It's typically the first 1/4 - 1/2 mile where she's hesitant to leave and I used to just push her through it. Now, I ease her through it and always check in with her and get her opinion on things. I'm just much better at handling it than I used to be and subsequently, Z is almost always happy to see me these days.

We made it to the lesson in great time and worked on canter-walk transitions on the way once we got through the initial hesitancy. I took off her tack and left the 22' on her so she could mosey and graze while I played with my neighbors horse. That went fine. I tried putting her into the arena alone at first and she wasn't too thrilled about that. So, she got to mosey and that gave her confidence. When it was time to go, I played with her for a quick 2 mins, then tacked her up and off we went. For some reason, she went completely RBE.

I'm not sure if she wanted to simply race home or what exactly was worrying her, but I rode her for about 1/4 mile before I concluded that she needed me on the ground and making her feel safe. I got down, snapped the 22' back on her and we got moving. Lots of falling leaf, sideways, circle over obstacles (gotta love those yuccas!) and backing. She blew and blew the whole time. She seemed to be back on the planet and feeling ok again, so I hopped back on and asked her to walk home on a loose rein. She obliged and blew some more.

We had a nice, quiet walk home and it was getting dark. We stopped at a place where the nicest grass in the county grows and she got to chomp for a while. She was back with me and we calmly walked up to the barn and prepared to go our separate ways until morning.

Today, when I went to feed, she trotted up to me. Then a bit later, when I was in a run scooping and she was standing with me, she moved behind me when Gemini showed up. She was looking to me for protection. I chased him off and she sighed. This Parelli stuff really works!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Three on the trail!

OK - I broke through a new barrier today. Kendall, Kyle and I all went on the trail. I was on Gemini and ponying Zarah. Kyle was on Rain in an English saddle (pretty damn cute). He was wearing his slippers and tight teen jeans with a winter hat on his head. Kendall was complaining a little because she didn't want to be ponied, but I just don't know if I trust Z with a kid on her back. And Gemini hasn't been on the trail in a long time, so I was worried he might start bucking any time.

I actually got off and walked part of the ride. I had a buzz in my stomach and I wanted to be sure we went out and came back safe. I wasn't worried about Kyle so much because I trust Rain so much. She's just a sensible, honest and willing horse. Zarah I trust implicitly when I'm the one riding her. Honestly, I let Marcy ride Zarah once for about a mile on the trail when I was trying to help her with her horse, Holly. I think Jen rode Z once for about 10 mins at a trail head. Otherwise, it's ALWAYS me. So, I don't know if I trust her with Kendall or not.

Anyway, Gemini did fine and today was the first time that I sent him out on the circle with a saddle cinched tight and he didn't buck. I was so pleasantly surprised. Once we headed out I realized I had a buzz in my stomach. That was when I decided that I couldn't be a good leader with that buzz in my stomach and I hopped off and lead Z and Gemini for a mile or so until the buzz went away. It was the right thing to do and I'm proud of myself!

It was a good ride, with no incidents and I got off and on Gemini several times. I have to learn to trust him. It will take time.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Making up for lost time...

Today, I was able to get back into a groove with my horse. I planned to get Kendall out on the trail and try to get all 3 some exercise and movement. I also wanted to trim some hoof wall off my horses. After visiting with Gail, I was feeling pretty motivated to get Rain and Gemini some attention - especially on the fronts. I made the trip the day before to the farrier supply store and I was ready to go.

I couldn't decide who to take on the trail. Kendall was going to ride Rain, should I ride Gemini? Should I ride Z and pony Gemini? Should I pony Z off of Gemini? I had them all tied and I was getting hooves done with Gemini did the damndest thing. I wouldn't have believed if I didn't see it for myself. I was sitting on a stool and trimming his right hoof. There was lots of hoof wall to trim and I only had a rasp, so I was working hard. A couple times, he took his hoof back. When I'd go to get it again, he gave it to me willingly. Maybe he was losing his balance, maybe he just wanted a break from the rasping, maybe he was playing with me to see what I'd do. Anyway, I finally had enough hoof wall trimmed off to call it good. At this point, Gemini shifted to the right about a foot and picked up his left foot and his hoof and cannon bone in my lap. I had never gotten up from the stool and either he knew the routine and offered his other hoof or he liked the way the right one felt enough that he wanted me to tackle the left. Either way, I was amazed and Kendall and I had a good laugh over it. That horse is amazing. I'm so glad I never sold him.

After a little ground work, Kendall and I got underway. We trotted off, which made Kendall happy. We've had so much rain lately and the grass is green and tall. Kendall can ride Rain, but I wouldn't say Kendall "leads" Rain. So Rain was reaching for grass a ton. Kendall was getting frustrated and then she started to have an allergic reaction and her eye was itching and swelling. Darn! I grabbed the lead of her hackamore and ponied her back home.

While I had gotten off to help her on the trail, I'd put the carrot stick in the grass and left it. Dang it. Kendall was really falling apart. We got home as fast as we could, Kendall went in the house for Benedryl and I headed back out for my carrot stick. Z hit a few thresholds and I tried to respect them. We haven't left alone on the trail in a while. I used the grass as incentive. Everytime I asked for forward, I'd let her stop for grass after 10 feet or so. That seemed to work quite well. The grass is so gorgeous right now. Once we got to the mailboxes, I let her graze for quite a while. After that, it was easy going and she didn't have any 2nd thoughts. We worked on canter-walk transitions. We stopped for more grass often - I wanted her to enjoy the ride as much as possible and I really think she did. There were a few deer and one scared us as it ran up behind us. But otherwise, we had a fantastic ride together and covered about 10 miles by the end of the day. I have just really grown to love that mare.

When we got back, I spent a little time with Gemini and took him out to graze with me. He does just what I ask. It's pretty neat. Good day with some horse time. However, none of related directly to completing L3. Sigh.

Z Missed Me

So interesting. I've had very little time for horses in September so far. Although, typically Z is "ok" about seeing me and spending time, she really enjoys the herd. Unless she see's me hitch up the trailer, she comes to me at playtime (smart girl!). Today was different. We left the previous session on a semi-bad note. Not terrible, but not high by any stretch.

Today, though - she wanted to be with me. She stayed with me while I scooped, hung out with me while I just stood in the run, then when I went for the brushes she got so into it. Normally, she goes with the herd to the far end of the track to eat. Today, she watched them walk away and stayed with me. So unlike her. She missed me! I've been missing her, too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A short, hard play session

I had a little time, FINALLY, to get some horse time. I had big plans thinking I'd have lots of time today and it all fell apart. My life teaches me to be flexible, but sometimes I still get so irritated when my plans fall apart. I'm learning that my horse time needs to come first with my new job. With most of my co-workers on Pacific time, horse play in the afternoon is less likely. However, nothing seems to be happening before 10 am so I need to shift my day. I've been in a routine of getting up, catching any "hot" items at work, then feeding horses, then focusing on work until the afternoon. It's amazing how hard it is for me to consider getting horse time in the morning after years of this other routine! I'm not a morning person. Alas, I have goals and have to flex to reach them. Oye.

So, back to the session. We did some ground work, loaded in the trailer a few times (without any emotion or poop!) and then I mounted for some riding. We herded Gemini and Rain a bit, we herded some dogs, but Z just didn't seem very enthused. She was going along, but not interested. I had to pause for work in the middle of the session which did NOT help. I finally went back out for more and she wouldn't leave the barn area. Of course, I could have forced her but that's not what natural horsemanship is about. So we rode around by the barn working on sideways, bending, canter departing. We rode around the round pen, jumped the kayak and balanced on the teeter-totter. It wasn't very fun for either of us. She would do things, but she wasn't a happy, willing partner. I was irritated and Kendall called for me to make her some dinner.

It was a bad place to leave Z, but I felt like I'd hit a wall. So, I went ahead and called it a day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Savvy Conference 2008

So glad I went. I was thinking about skipping it because I was pretty stressed out. Here was my deal; I had traveled all week (left Sunday and arrived home Friday night), then it was labor day weekend. I spent Saturday with Kendall at Indian Creek on horses which was not a great ride (Kendall was feeling ill and crabby), then Sunday at Elitches where our bag got stolen and then left for us to find it sans our camera, then Monday doing farm chores (fencing, etc...). Then, Steve went out of town for 4 days. I had the kids all week to myself, second week on the new job, Delaney in football, Kendall had bad allergies lots of the time and Kyle needs shuffling for his job. Friday, I had to be gone for 6 hours handling the closing of an investment property. I was stressed and done.

And I committed to leave by 6pm to Marcy. I got home from closing at 6pm and I had no bag packed. ARRGGHHH!! I took 30 mins to spend with Steve (he got home at 5pm from his trip), then packed my bag and picked up Marcy at 7pm. I was cooked. As we drove and got closer to the ranch I could feel the stress start to evaporate. We got in about 12:45am and I was beat.

We got up early Saturday morning, about 6am, and headed out. I needed more sleep, but the conference wasn't going to wait for me. I don't think Marcy wanted to either...

It turned out to be a great day and I was so glad I sacrificed the drive time and the time away from my family. Some of the knowledge from my great 4 weeks in courses was solidified and I was able to understand higher level concepts than ever before. We got to watch Linda get a lesson from Walter Zettle and I understood all of it! I know how challenging it is to ride as well as she does because I'm starting to try that myself. She's so advanced, but I could finally appreciate how advanced Linda is. It was like I stepped up to a higher plane and saw things a whole different way.

OK, now to the facts. Saturday started off with Savvy team demoing together. That's always nice to watch while you chat with friends you haven't seen in a while. I'm becoming part of a growing faction of national Parelli students mainly because of the courses and I love to see faces from the past. I get a kick out of people and interacting with them. One woman I know took me to meet Helen Topp, her favorite Parelli instructor. Helen is quite an accomplished horsewoman who got her first horse through L3 at age 15. Then, while waiting to join the Parelli organization at age 18, she got 5 more horses through L3. Wow. I'll try to host her next Spring.

We watched Linda get the lesson from Walter which was absolutely inspiring. Walter made a clucking, hard kind of noise when she wanted Linda to get Remmer to pick up his life a little. By the end of the lesson, Remmer was energetic, lively and engaged. Unbelievable. His movement was light, responsive, the front end was high, the back end was engaged, simply gorgeous. It made me want to get my English saddle out and back on it. I loved watching this lesson. I learned so much. I can barely remember what else we saw that day because Linda's lesson was such a highlight. I know Pat came out and showed Caton off some.

On Day 2, Linda gave a lesson to Kathy on a LBE OTTB who was pretty emotional in the arena with the audience. It was cool watching the way Linda had Kathy managed the energy of the horse. The way she demonstrated putting the relationship first was spot on for me. She used the question box, lots of circles, approach and retreat. Then Linda gave a lesson to Avery on AHug, showing how to motivate a LBI.

They closed it off with a Q&A session with Mark and Pat. It started off ok, but quickly turned into a whiney, emotional love fest that I wanted to escape. We left as soon as it was over and missed Pat's finale session. We had a long drive home and I had a morning flight, so it was nice to get going.

A great weekend and so glad I went.