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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Horse Hooves

I've had growing concerns over my horse's feet over the past 6 months and I think my trimmers trim has changed. This summer, my horse's started to have hoof wall breakage on the sides and other things that are new and cause concern. I've been wanting to take over hoof care for my horses and a woman named Gail has come into my life who specializes in teaching people to trim themselves. How convenient! If you build it, they will come...

I met her today and we started with Z's feet. She had some compliments for Z's growth and function but the trim did not impress her. The biggest offense was the over grown bars. She's become heel high and developed a very upright hoof. I've been watching that develop and actually asked my trimmer about it recently. She also had sooo much flare on all 4 hooves and some wall separation starting on the front right.

I decided it was time to start taking this over and we did a trim on Z's feet together. They looked amazingly better at the end. It took a long damn time (2.5 hours) partly because Gail is focused on getting it right and partly because she was teaching me along the way. I was a little stressed missing work for that long, but it worked out ok. Z's frogs are very healthy and her hoof structure is strong. However, a few more months of unbalanced trims would start to take a toll.

She looked at Rain's feet and saw the same offenses, but additionally a less healthy frog. Rain's frog is actually looking a bit thrushy. Too much tissue is left on the frog, inviting bacteria. We did not look at Gemini together, but after Gail left I was able to take a look at his hooves with my new knowledge and see the same problems plus a little more on the hinds.

Now, I'll order my own tools (for now, rasp, knife, and nippers) and see what I can do under Gail's tutelage. I spend $150/month on hoof trims. That's $1800/year. Wow. I can gain some knowledge and pay Gail to spot check my work for much less. I think I'll spend a few hundred getting the right tools, but that's not a recurring cost. This has been a long time coming and I'm too smart of a woman to pay someone to make my horse's feet not functional.

To my trimmer's credit, she was great in the beginning. Over the 2 years, I've seen the trim change and this summer it got so noticeable that I had to take action. I've been defending her trims and having barefoot horses for 2 years.

Monday, September 1, 2008

More Video and Canter transitions

We got the best canter transition EVER and the softest canter EVER!! Sooo cool.

Taped the online stuff. Sideways isn't ready. Lots of things looked pretty good, I think.