Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trail time with Rain and Cowboy

Had a great 8-mile ride on Rain and ponying Cowboy. Haven't taken Cowboy out in a few weeks and with Z injured, I'm finding time for my other horses. It was a fast ride and the weather was really nice - warm, sunny and breezy. Rain's gaiting is so fast, Cowboy has to canter to keep up. The mosquitos weren't out yet, we went way before dusk. Cowboy learned his position so fast. After the first mile, he stayed right in zone 3 where I wanted him. I had to remind him once in a while, but generally he was doing his job.

It was funny when we left. I asked for a canter from the barn to my front gate (about 1/4 mile) and Cowboy was kicking out and feeling good! By the end of the 8 miles, he was ready to stand around quietly. He was really great and I'm glad he's here. He gets along wonderfully at my place.
I hosed Rain and Cowboy down (they were pretty sweaty!) and let them stand and chill while I played with Gem. I put him on the 45' and practiced sideways, change of direction and transitions on line. He's doing great! The change of direction has very much progressed. He's circling with the rope dragging on the ground, a great improvement. He doesn't have a lot of energy and doesn't stay in the canter. We'll have to work on his impulsion next.

I then too Gem into the roundpen and we played stick to me. He's pretty good with that if I go slow. If I ask him to trot with me he looks at me as if to say, "Seriously Tia, we're in a small pen, there's no reason to move fast." This is why the first levels horse should be an Arab. :-) He and I will have some more conversations about answering my questions appropriately.

It was a great day with my horses. I also got tons of chores done (lawn mowing, general clean-up, manure dragged, screen replaced, etc...). Excellent day!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Slow and Right beats Fast and Wrong

I had some time and I planned to ride Z, but she has somehow gotten a nasty wound on her right hind with a good amount of swelling. Doh!! So, grabbed Gemini for some groundwork and riding. His circle game is coming along so nicely! He's maintaining gait and direction very nicely. He's generally just very compliant and willing. I want to start increasing the game so I don't bore him. I expected him to buck in the tight rear cinch, but there was just an ounce of that reaction at the canter going to the right. I was expecting a big show, but he didn't deliver. Is that because our last session was right? I hope so.

I didn't warm him up for long before I felt ready to ride. I decided to just use the rope hack. Once mounted, I spent several minutes working on his lateral flexion and looking for a positive response. Once we had that, I asked him to back up with my seat. He had it! He remembers what I taught him a while back. This was my first time riding him in probably 6 months. I've been focused on groundwork with him and making sure we've got all the right ingredients for successful riding.

We took it slow and followed the rail with some corners game mixed in. We then tried some figure 8 at the walk. He definitely can be bracy and we'll keep fixing that up.

It was a short session, but he was doing so well and I wanted the ride to be a positive easy experience. I let him hang out in the arena to eat the goodies (weeds and grass). Then, eventually, went back in to get him. His response to me is very positive and I'm pleased.

A nice, slow and right session with Gem!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quick round pen session with Z

We're developing a backwards circle and I had 20 mins to spare so took Miss Z into the round pen. She can go about 1/3 of the pen circle now. She sometimes wants to turn around and I'm trying to figure out the best way to discourage that behavior and keep her moving zone 5 first. I realized at one point that I was asking her to do too much of the circle (about 1/2 the circle) and I took it down a notch to about 1/3. She was successful there. We'll keep building! I realize that having a horse this developed means we can do cool things in a short period of time. Want to keep developing her and doing more things that help her be braver, smarter and more athletic!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Time with Z

Had a great, great session with Z! We started working more on the backwards circle in the round pen and more spins. The bucket of grain as incentive to go backwards is amazingly effective! I sprayed her off and took her into the sandy round pen to see if she'd roll with me. She started to, but then she changed her mind. I'm going to try that a few more times. She was super relaxed and I finally just sat on the ground. She stayed very close and nibbled on the nearby weeds. I found a new place she loves to be scratched near her hock. We have absolutely reached an all-time high in our relationship.

Then, we left the round pen, tacked up and went for some riding. We practiced our freestyle backup, isolation of the ends, and figure 8's. We jumped 2 ft several time and we are soooo much improved. She glides over the jump, I stay back and in the saddle and we feel like we've found an amazing place of harmony. So proud of us! We did some riding on the rail while practicing some w/t/c transitions. Then we opened the gate and left for some trail riding.

All 3 dogs came along. I didn't have a great plan, just to see where she hit a threshold. We cantered up our 1/4 mile long driveway and at the top at the gate, we stopped and thought about things. I hit the button to open the gate and she gladly walked out and down the road. Very cool. We trotted away, some cantering, and she hit a few thresholds. I inadvertently pushed her through one or two and regretted it, but she willingly walked on. I'm trying to be good for her confidence in me as a leader and pushing her through thresholds does not help that.

Anyway, we rode for a couple miles, not far, and came back. My sore Great Dane was with me and I couldn't cover the mileage I wanted. We made it back and I asked her to turn away after a moment and leave again. It was more challenging for her to leave again, but we did it. I tried to take it slow, reward the slightest try and make the wrong thing difficult.

We went out a mile or so and then came back. It was such a fantastic night. I got her feet trimmed and tucked her away for the night. Just a great night.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Freestyle practice and Trail Time!

Great day with Z! Started building the backwards circle on the round pen rail. Using a grain bucket to incentivize her backwards try. Worked really well! Got some great spins started, too! I'd like her draw a little stronger at Liberty, we'll build that back up.

Then, the arena for more freestyle practice. We jumped several times with ease and I'm so much better about keeping my butt in the saddle. The more I stay in the saddle, the less I feel worried about the jump. Interesting! The isolated ends bridleless are nice, too. I'm so pleased with us. I'm focusing on the figure 8 and making sure she doesn't turn until I ask her to.

Then, we left the arena and got Rain tacked up so that I could take my little sis out on the trail. I switched saddles so Z and I went english on the trail. We went 8 miles, a nice long ride. Chrissy had a little trouble with Rain eating grass and I tried to start helping her understand how to "train" a horse with natural horsemanship principles. The concepts are tough and she really wants to yank on the reins - predatorial instincts. It's going to be neat to watch her grow and progress. I know she had a good and intellectually stimulating time!

The mosquitos were retarded and we left the trail thinking there'd be fewer bugs on the roads. There were less, but not a lot less. Had to call Steve to rescue us with more bug spray. Mosquitos really, truly get on my nerves.

It was a great day for me, the first long day with horses in a week or so. I've got hooves to trim - got one of Rain's done before I got tired of battling the mosquitos. She's got high heels and flare at the toe pillars. Z is ready for a trim as well. Everyone is doing well here at the ranch. Getting rocks ordered today to toughen up their feet and help make the track more natural.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Easy Patience with Z

First time with Z in nearly 10 days. She was slow, but willing. We started with some new things int the round pen and I was focusing on patience and giving her time. After my last week at the ISC, I'm studying her behavior more carefully and trying to determine if I give her enough time. We practiced some COD's at the walk and trot. I wanted to try to develop the spin, but her draw wasn't quite good enough. We practiced circle game very close in (nearly touching me) at the walk. I'd like to increase that to a trot next.

I hopped on for some bridleless riding practice. I know I just have to get my video in for Freestyle! We started with isolated ends (extremely nice) and then some sideways (still some forward). We worked on the backup, getting softer all the time. Then, we left the round pen and I just played with focused circles - using a weed as our center. We worked on some transitions (trot/walk) and then I played PPL at the walk around the property. She kept asking if she could stop at a particular point and eat grass. I did not allow it. We circled the round pen, working on canter transitions and a soft canter.

Finally, we went out to the front pasture to practice jumping. Now that I'm leaning back in the jump, I'm much more fluid in my seat and I'm also much more confident to jump higher jumps! yay! Thanks to Kime on that one. I was leaning forward and getting fetal, triggering a vicious cycle of being off-balanced and wanting to be more forward in the saddle. We'll keep working on it.

We ended with UDT while I picked weeds and she ate grass. She was super relaxed and happy to be with me. It was a great session!

Gotta, gotta, gotta get my video submitted.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Playing with Gemini after the ISC

First time after our trip. Played on the 45' and he actually got away from me once. He was looking for the herd and definitely pulling his circle in that direction. I decided to put him on the 22' and go into the round pen. I'm trying to teach the down transition on the circle but he keeps turning in to face instead of staying on the circle. We really worked on an improved sideways as well. I expected more than ever. He's taking more responsibility than ever on the circle and we got 8-9 trot circles - a huge improvement. We'll slowly build up to cantering circles over the coming weeks. His yo-yo was soft going out and coming in, very nice! We will spend more time playing stick to me as time goes on and build more squeeze games out of the play area.

I wanted to ride him yesterday, but I'd decided to play with him while tacked in the western saddle with the rear cinch tight first. He tends to buck wildly when the rear cinch is tight. It's been a long time since he's worn a western saddle and I didn't want to hop on until he had a chance to get comfortable with the rear cinch. Somewhere in his past, someone was mean to him with a western saddle. His bucking response is so strong. Poor guy.

He bucked like crazy once in the canter. Repeatedly. I played with him for 90 mins or so and the bucking was over after the first 5 mins. I plan to make a program of this (7 days) and see where we end up.

A good session! He had more extroversion than normal and his positive responses are better all the time. Cool!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 4, Pagosa Springs, The Truth

All week, Gemini has amazed me. He learns so fast, he's being obedient (hard for his horseanality) and he's offering tons of try. We working towards L3 online and liberty at this point. Today, I got 5 circles on the circle game for the first time. A big progression for us! His sideways is coming along very nicely. I'm sending more provocatively and it's amazing how much better his allow is when I "secretly" send him. His mind is engaged when I make more of a game out of it. I'm just having a blast with him.

We also practiced a new trick, lifting his front leg and holding it up. I'm just amazed by how fast he learns. We've gotten two solid tricks put in place this week. I can't imagine what I'd get after 6 months focusing on his development.

One of the themes for today was Savvy Spotlight. The program is trying to promote the spotlights and help people perform better for Pat at the Celebrations. They decided to allow us to do spotlights for each other and provide coaching. I'm not much of a showman and having people watch me is so nerve-wracking that I immediately went introverted when they talked about it. However, I pushed through and got in the round pen and did one with Gemini. We aren't that developed yet, so we didn't have any great things to show off. However, we played all 7 games (20% of your score), he had ears on my the whole time (40% of the score - relationship), and we used the entire pen (20% of score - use of time and space). I'd doubt we'd have done well in the Imagination area (20%), but it was good for me to go in and try. I was proud of myself. I really don't like showing off that much. I have to get better at that. Gemini was right there with me, which was huge.

Today, Pat showed up and talked to us for an hour. Honestly, he doesn't look too good. His skin looks unhealthy. I'm sure he's tired from life on the road and having to be in so many places at once. I wonder if the stardom gets old, too. It was a good talk, though. He allowed us to ask questions. Then, Linda showed up and did another hour or so with us. There is a new product coming out that explores horseanalities and personalities and will provide insight into how you can interact with your horse and get the best results with your personality taken into account. Pretty cool stuff! Linda is an amazing woman and she's done a lot for the horse world. I look forward to this release.

Tonight, Mark Weiler was scheduled to talk to us at 7pm. So a new friend and I decided to go eat some dinner and have some cocktails prior to that. We got back pretty late, but we heard the end of Mark's mini QandA session. I'm not a huge fan of Mark's, but I know he's a lot of the reason that Parelli has reached so far and wide. He's a marketing guy. He ensures that they make money... lots of money. It's a triad - Mark, Pat and Linda. Not sure how happy everyone is, but they've built it and they are pushing it forward. It's an interesting thing.

The weather was beautiful, my horse is giving me positive feedback, got to hear Pat, Linda and Mark all talk to us as a group... a pretty great day in Parelli-land.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Arrival Day, Pagosa Springs "The Truth"

Taking 3/4 Liberty course

Great drive, no issues. Gemini was great. Less than 6 hours.

Arrival and orientation. Name game. Me and my shadow. Played with Gem. He wanted to cruise the whole place and meet every horse we passed. Likes the tall grass - the tips. A good lawnmower. Met a woman who finished L3 on her gaited morgan. She also has a good friend who studies horse coloring. Very interested in her friends opinion of Gems color.

Gem and I are going to have a good week. I'm excited.

Savvy string hanging out of the door and scraping on the highway for hours.

Gem very motivated by treats. Have to remember that and use it. I'm forcing him too much. Loved walking around with him. I could completely imagine being on his back.

Nice to see familiar faces. Small class - 40 or so students. Moving in Harmony has 20 or so.

No hay cubes, alf/grass hay mix thrown to horses - 2 flakes. I'd feed more if I had my choice. We'll see how that goes. Horses need to have more to munch on.

Tons of horrid looking feet. WTF? Julia's horse has egg-bar shoes and pads. WTF?? To ride on the sandy arena? Now I just know too much about hooves.

Lots of compliments on Gem - he's a very attractive horse. Very different reaction from people than Z elicits. Interesting.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Trimming and Prepping for the ISC

Eeegads, what a day! Messing with my truck to get ready for the 7 hour drive to Pagosa for a week at the Parelli Study Center. There's a blown fuse and I played novice auto-mechanic to try and fix it. Guess what, it's still broken. Crud. Inflated all the tires. Paid bills. Cleaned up (not as much as I wanted). And I had to get Gem and Cowboy trimmed - they were overdue. Just growing more and more hoof for me to work on day by day.

I started off the morning by getting the horses back on the track. They've been living in the front pasture for a few days, grazing away. A wet, wet spring has led to an amazingly green and beautiful 35 acres. They're so happy out there, grazing and hanging. And for me, less hay to buy! Everybody wins, at least until the big eaters like Gem start to look pregnant. He's what you call an easy keeper. So, a few days of grazing and he looks like he's ready to foal. Geez.

Eventually, I started to trim Gem. He was looking for the herd and very uncomfortable without them. I took him and ground worked him, thinking to get him with me and cooperative. We had a really nice session! His sideways w/o a fence is coming along nicely. Change of direction is pretty good! Worked on circle game and transitions - up is much better than down. Can you say extrovert?

We went back and tried to get 'er done, and we weren't in much better shape than before the groundwork. So, I got a little more done and then found a place to quit. I left him alone for a while. I was sweaty and tired and I had other things to take care of and stores to hit before they closed.

A few hours later, I came back and started up with Gemini again. For whatever reason, he was a different horse! He let me get my work done with no problem. For the back feet, he couldn't have been better if he tried. Still, I didn't get a great trim on the hinds. I was just so tired and I still needed to get Cowboy done.

Cowboy wasn't as tough as Gemini, but he did offer a little challenge. He doesn't have as many tricks up his sleeve as Gemini, but he's not easy like say, Rain. He had a TON of hoof and I nipped off a full 1/4 inch. I let him go too long. His frog looks great and he's genetically got great feet.

Whoo- I was beat. I won't be doing the 2 geldings on the same day anymore.

Jumping practice

After nearly a week off... She wanted to be with the herd and my leadership was more challenged than usual. She calmed down and we practiced jumping, circles, riding the rail, figure 8 and some sideways. Tried some UDT after, but she was more interested in the herd. That's what happens with a RBE who's had nothing but herd time in a pasture for a week. How interesting...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A visit with another barefoot trimmer

Today, Kris Warner, a barefoot trimmer came over. She heard from a friend that I was trimming my own horses and doing a good job. She wanted to come see my horse's feet. How interesting! She likes to network and I had inquired with her about doing a couple of my horses for me when I was too busy to keep up with all 5 because of my job.

It was nice to meet her and talk about hooves. I didn't have a lot of time so we only spent about an hour, but I was glad she made the trip and had someone to talk "feet" with for a bit.

The horse world is small. Never know when our paths will cross again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A visit with my Barefoot mentor

I had Gail Snyder, my mentor for barefoot trimming, come over today to check up on my work and advance my learning and skills. She gave me a good grade for the work I'm doing - a nice thing. I'm going to keep working on Rain's shape from her crooked legs and I'll make sure to keep the bars from creating a bump or lump next to the groove.

We talked for a while on nutrition. I have not spent a lot of time studying horse nutrition and I struggle with the idea of feeding my animals better than I feed myself. I guess the difference is that they don't have a choice... I do.

We talked about Pergolide a bunch, too. She's a very educated woman who cares deeply for healthy horses. I like her a whole lot.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Horse camping with Kyle

It’s been a great day with my son. Kyle turns 17 tomorrow and his request was to go camping with me alone. First of all, how cool is that? How many 17 yr olds want to spend their birthday in the woods with their mom? I’m so glad we have the relationship we do.

Secondly, he wanted to ride on this camping trip. Now, I know that was about making it more fun for me, and I appreciate that. I love to take my horses away, to the trail to enjoy nature and spend time asking them for nothing after a nice trail ride. To make it even more fun for me, we brought my favorite dog Deuce. I thought it would be nice to have him in case we ran into any trouble. At a minimum, he could serve as our sentry.

Well, we got a late start. I had a ton of chores to do and Kyle slept in. I just had to get a horse’s feet trimmed. I’m behind on feet and my wrists have been sore. I’m not wearing my wrist braces when I sleep and I really need to. I decided to work on Nina’s feet, since I’m paid to do hers. Mine can wait another day or so.

Nina is a little tough to trim. She’s better all the time and we’re coming to some nice agreements, but today she had some good ideas to give herself releases from the trim process and we had to come together. It was great for me as a horsewoman to use what I know works and let Nina make the choice to act like a partner in the process or to take the hard road. It didn’t take long for her to chose the partner route. And once she did, things went swimmingly. We got it all sorted on the first hoof, so the following 3 were a breeze. Summer is nearing and the temperature is warm. I was pretty hot in my trimming apron and gloves. Gotta find some summer trimmer gloves.

Her feet look quite nice. She was due for a trim, but I’m super happy with the shape of things and the hinds are self-trimming very well. For the hinds, it’s just frog management and touching up the horn for cosmetic purposes. Pretty cool. Gemini and Cowboy are very due for their turn with the rasp and I’ll get to them by the end of the week.

Ok, back to the camping trip. So, we didn’t get to the trailhead until 3:30 or so. Which is fine, the time getting organized and on the road is part of the adventure. And with the long days, we knew we’d have light until 9pm or so. However, even though we’d crossed our fingers and sent out positive mojo, we still got the rain. Grrr…

We rode for about 2 hours and the rain wasn’t letting up so we headed back. I was bummed, Kyle was just fine with it.  He rides for me, I know this. We got back, started our fire using the makeshift lighter fluid consisting of an aluminum can bottom (about 2” tall), filled with small rocks and rubbing alcohol. We’d gone and rounded up kindling and firewood with ease and we had charcoal to cook our dinner. I was quite impressed with us and it was fun. The fire started up beautifully and the charcoal did it’s thing. About 45 mins later, we had lemon chicken, baked beans and red potatoes ready to go. Aluminum foil is such a great thing. It’s about 8:45 now, Kyle’s asleep already (did I mention he’s 17?) and I’m watching the rain kill the fire. Doh! It was a nice fire…

Deuce is out on my sleeping bag and I’m wishing I’d done a better job of managing to be out of work tomorrow. I should have canceled my meetings and taken the whole day off. Instead, I thought I’d be home by noon and didn’t want to take the day. Dumb. I have no cell service so I can’t call in now and explain that I’d had truck trouble or something like that causing me to miss a day. I’ll have to drive to cell service in the morning and throw in the white flag for the day so Kyle and I can spend more time out here. I love it!! It’s quiet and peaceful, thick forest of trees, green from the spring rains everywhere. The trail we rode has lots of water crossings and Deuce can lay down and get a break in the water. He’s a water dog through and through.

Looking forward to tomorrow. I’ll manage my responsibilities quickly and efficiently and we’ll have the day to play. I deserve a day off.