Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moonlit Walk at Midnight

I know I said I was taking a break, but something terribly important happened to me at midnight this morning. I had just watched The Truman Show and I everything that had happened all my life compounded on me. I had the distinct feeling that I was no one, had nothing, and was going nowhere. I have always felt like I was just a conscience in a body, and I don't know what that conscience is. As sick and sad as it is, I struggled with this feeling before I even started going to school.

So, last night, I went out into the snow in my pajamas. I am usually afraid of going outside at night, but I was very blank. I was without fear, just blank. I got Misty out of the barn, which she was very glad to do (she hates being inside). I let her go and went to Conner to lead Misty by example. I lead Conner to the back of the pasture and of course, Misty followed us.

I stood in the back, both horses loose and choosing to stay out there with me. I talked to myself in my head for a long time. Why am I here doing things? Why do people have money? Why can't I just do what I want to do? I don't want to become a vegetable in front of a TV or computer screen, I want to have no boundaries and do amazing things with horses. I want to challenge myself and study and learn while I am young and capable. I don't want to go to college and spend all this time in the city and learning hardly anything I want to know.

I see people who things are going well for and people things are going . . . not so well for. . . and I wonder why there is no balance between the two extremes. I want to help everyone, but there is only so much of me to go around.

I turned around and ran up to the front of the pasture and the two horses came pounding after me. I know horses so well, now. I gave them both hay and went back to the back to sit. I sat and looked at the sky, the trees, the snow, the fence, the moon, the clouds, and the rest of the world. I love to watch, but I hate to see. I don't like the way things are. I realized that I must change what I can and leave the rest to God. Some would leave it to Fate, or Chance, or some other ominous word, but I am one of those who leaves it to God. I have a lot of comfort in that.

I don't know how long I sat on the barrel, I just sat out there until I did not have the feeling that I wanted to leave it. I have commitment issues, but I sat on that barrel until I wanted to sit on it forever. Then I went inside, laid on the couch and went to sleep.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Taking a Break

I have been working like a maddog and my internet/pc's are flipping out to boot. I am taking this chance to make a quick update before I take a purposeful blogging break. I need to catch up my written journal before the new year (I am backed up to May! Luckily, I have drafts of my entries to put into the journal).

I have had epic sessions with my horses since the internet puked on me (go figure). Misty came barreling full speed through the snow to me and played a magnificent cutting game with me. Blu and I had an amazing round pen session with the seesaw (new obstacle for my horse playground). On Christmas day, I rode Blu and reached a new level of connection with him as we drove Misty and played the catching game with her. Blu really knew that there was a mission and he was ready to get movin' and then stop and back up as soon as Misty faced us. Then, today, I fixed a bucking problem we started the day out with. First, I checked her back to make sure she wasn't hurt, then I worked on the underlying problems and got some really amazing refinement with bareback one-rein riding. She did shoulder-ins, haunches-ins, and half-passes. She needed me to ask for more permission before getting on and before I asked after the emergency dismount during the bucking rearing (landed on my feet), we had an intense groundplaying where I focused on asking her to match my energy and movement. By the time that I asked permission to get on, she was most obliging. Once on her back, I worked on focusing her mind on various things and maneuvers so she did not have a chance to think of bucking. I also rewarded her with a lot of treats to help her enjoy the time I was on her back. I stayed gentle, as I was teaching her newish manuevers.

So, here goes my break, a hopefully shortlived one!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Heart Puppeteer

The heart puppeteer
pulls gently on my heart strings
Makes me feel things

You can take what you want from it. I know it sounds like the most ridiculous thing you could find in some 15 year old girl's journal, but please let me explain how it is not some silly Haiku. The whole thing plays on the idea of your heart strings being controlled by things touch you heart. Puppeteers make puppets do things, like dance and walk. My puppeteer is my horse, and he makes me feel happy, humbled, strong, smart, creative, all collectively referred to as "things" in the haiku. Some might say that a puppeteer has a negative connotation because the puppet can't do or think for itself, so I balanced it out with gently. My horses don't haul my heart around, and some relationships do that. Not Blu or Misty. I go from day to day growing and changing a little bit with the passing of time. Also, a puppet is helpless to the will of the puppeteer, as I cannot help but be drawn back to horses again and again. A friend once told me that she can't imagine that God would put such a passion for horses in my heart if He did not intend for me to always be involved with them. I have a God-given passion for horses, so horses are the puppeteers of my heart.

Official Records Information
1 hour
Evening (3:40 pm-4:40 pm)

I showed my friend how I put the rope halter on for the right side. I put the Savvy String through the loop on the left side and use that to hold onto. Then, it is just the same old procedure. The only difference is that once the halter is on, I have to walk around to the left side to tie the knot. It was the first time I had ever tried it, though I came up with the idea between my friend asking me about haltering from the right and someone asking on the Savvyclub Forum. I am pleased that Blu did everything like a pro. He has been bridled from the right side, but I attribute his good haltering to our relationship in general.

I had to walk Blu to the gate at liberty. I drove him in zone 3 (his barrel) from about 6' away. He got sticky at first but then went along very well.

I had the 45' line hanging on the gate. After I attached the 45' line, I had him go through the gate. He had a much better turn, face and wait than yesterday.

Once the gate was shot, I started walking away. I turned around to see what he was doing, and there he was watching me. I smiled and asked him to trot to me. He put his head up at first, but then came forward at the trot. I stood with him for a while after that to give him some initial chill time, especially since he had not been too keen on trotting to me.

I did some friendly game to see where he was on that day. Then I played distal stick to me (like the matches my gait at a distance. He matched all three gaits really well, the canter was not the best. His upward transitions were nice, and he did great noticing my downward transitions in my body.

figure 8- This did not go very well yesterday, but today, we built on the progress we made yesterday, and at the end, he really understood the pattern at the walk. I focused on letting him figure things out on his own and getting more particular as he understood more of his responsibilities. One time he went to the barrel and just stood over it. I waited for him to ask a question before I directed him on. He licked and chewed after that! When I was done, he could do them without any carrot stick, just me stepping gently forward and backward.
cow game at liberty- After having such a good feel on line, a feeling like there was no line, I decided to take the line off. I did extreme friendly game, really whipping that carrot stick and while I walked all the way around him. His ears were concerned at first, but then he ignored it. I started out a million dollar move series, then it turned into the cow game. He is really getting speedy! I moved fluidly into stick to me from a distance (cow game increases dominance tendencies, so I did not want to put myself in nipping range. I asked for the walk for a few steps, then trot, then I did a burst of speed (I just ran as fast as I could for 30') and stopped. He stopped a good distance ahead of me, but when I started running backwards, he ran with huge life towards me. It is amazing to feeling all the energy coming at you then have it just stop when you stop. We relaxed for a while, then. I sat on the ground by his front legs and he kept his head low by me. He was not investigating my coat pockets or nibbling, he was just chilling with me. That surprised me that he was able to go from all of that dominance and switch to being calm just like that. The reason I sat down was to help him come off the adrenaline rush, but I had no idea it would be so effective!
weave at liberty- awesome Awesome, AWESOME! He really understood this, especially after the driving and drawing we had been doing this whole session. There were four barrels distanced about 7' apart. I deem him good for walkin' the weave at liberty!
freestyle weave- I put the savvy string on the halter to use as a one-rein in combination with a carrot stick. As we were walking to the barrel to mount I put the savvy string (which was attached to Blu) in my coat pocket to test how well he followed me (the string stayed in my pocket!). I mounted from a barrel that was on its end. I did not get permission immediately, so I waited for him to give permission (he did not move his feet, he just looked back at me and tossed his head once. Once I was on, he waited to go until I asked. For a long time, I had to use lots of carrot stick in the beginning. The first time through, he stopped at the barrel that had the 45' line and put it in his mouth and swung it around for a bit. When he dropped it, we moved on. It got tangled in his feet and he had to maneuver himself around it throughout the pattern, but he managed just fine without any frustration or fear. Another time, I took my coat, hat, and gloves off to put on a barrel. He put his ears back in a concerned position at first, but then was fine, of course. I ended when we got through an entire length of barrels (4) with no more than light legs.

Box set up from this morning (Squeeze Freestyle)- I went across the two sides that did not have the elevated ground pole. He followed my focus really well, but his hind end yields were not as nice. He dropped inside shoulder and got hard in the face. I worked on getting the hindquarter yields parts better (bending with a softer feel, keeping the shoulder raise, and getting more sensitive to the leg cue. I was also doing different things in my body like focusing on which front leg I wanted the weight on and lifting my inside shoulder. He did not stop as well he usually does throughout this exercise, though he did well maintaining gait and speed. We did it once at the trot and that was nice (at the end of the trotting one we got Misty who was playing with my coat on the ground). I ended when he had this awesome light pivot on the forehand, I really paid attention to when he was licking and chewing and waiting for him to lick and chew.

I dismounted directly after the awesome pivot and massaged his back. He enjoyed that immensely. Then I gathered up all the articles of clothing I had shed (Misty took the liberty of spreading them around a bit, which was funny to watch) as well as the tools I had dropped here and there. I took Blu to his stall and gave him some hay. While I was out talking to my friend about Conner, Blu stood with his head hanging outside his stall. When I went in to grab stuff and leave, I gave him some grain. Sometimes, he makes ugly faces as I am feeding him (which I fix), but he was really sweet and soft this time.

I had a really wonderful time with Blu, today. He was just success after success.

I will be coming back to this post to elaborate on the abbreviation above, but right now I have to go...Natural Horsewoman Temporarily Out.

A Good Day

So far, today has just been a good day. I woke up to my mom asking where a box on the front porch had come from. At first, I thought it was one of my christmas packages, but she said it was addressed to "The Green Family." No return address, also, no postage. It was six in the morning, and my sister was up til three, so someone dropped this box off in the early morning. They went to great lengths to be unnoticed. Inside the box were some delicious muffins and . . . $100. We don't know who did it, but I think it's better we not know. My mom seems concerned to find out who it was, but just knowing that someone or a group of people is selfless and thoughtful enough to do something like this is a miracle to me.

I went to the farm to feed the horses after eating a muffin. When I was finished feeding, I brought brushes out and brushed Misty and Blu. They enjoyed that.

I got home and was getting out Christmas stuff (very much in the spirit, might I add) when my friend who plays with Conner called at 9:15. She was coming down to the farm and wanted to know if I'd like a ride down. I said yes and away we went.

Official Records Information:
2 hours

Again, when we got to the farm, the horses were still cleaning up loose hay. Unlike yesterday, it was much warmer today. I set up a box made of four ground poles with one of the ground poles elevated with a drainage tile (less than 12''). I also got all of my ropes and grooming stuff around.

Misty was not 100% about me coming over to see her after I made initial contact with eyes. I went to the fence near her and tied my halter to it. Then she gave me permission to brush her. I picked out all four hooves from one side with no problem. She still does not lift her hoof when I snap my fingers.

When I was done, I stood up straight and drove her to her halter at liberty with the carrot stick. She seemed surprised at this as I have not tried catching her that way very often. Haltering her level two style was a cinch, as there was hay on the ground!

On the 45' line I drove her from zone 5 (behind the tail) to different things with the intention of eventually taking her to the ball. She was trying to do all sorts of things with a barrel on its side beside touch it with her nose. I just stayed focused and when she finally looked at it with intent to touch, I relaxed. Then I drove her to the tire pedestal. This was more clear to her, now. So, after visiting the barrels with less confusion, it was off to the ball. I moved on from the ball after she rolled it once with her nose. Some notes on her driving, I swung the carrot stick at zone one to turn her and she is getting better at turning before I swing. The next step will be for her to keep me in zone five.

Next I had her squeeze over the barrels, or through the gap she made between them. It took a couple passes before she had a high quality turn face and wait. That is when I decided to make the squeeze game the main focus of my ride.

I put her on the 12' line so I could work on backing by the tail. I got 4 steps with just the tail. She got it pretty quick.

I made reins out of an old set of draw reins that I will not use as draw reins anymore. She was great for mounting. No trying to move or having a bad expression. When I was on, she went right off at a walk, and instead of asking her to stop, I asked her to go more than she planned to make it my idea.

In the box, I did yields on the haunches and fore hand, aiming to stay inside the box. Then I did some point to point riding to get her going. She had an ok focus on my focus factor, but it could have been better.

My pattern today was to ride through the box, stop, bend neck, yield hindend, wait. Her job was to keep the line straight, watch where she was going, and maintain gait and speed. At first, she kept needing to be corrected with the straight line, she would hit the ground poles, and slow down inside the box. Also, she was not too sensitive with the hindend yields. I did a good job maintaining a focus and energy, and by the end, she was trotting straight over at the same speed, was stopping with me, not knocking the poles, and she was much more sensitive to the rein (I just slid my hand down to get the bend) as well as not dropping the inside shoulder.

Misty was in a great frame of mind after all this. I was really happy with her. She even hung out with me for a while as I coached my friend with Conner. Then she decided to go and eat more hay, of course.

I learned so much as I coached my friend. I am reading the book True Unity by Tom Dorrance. What a read. I am currently in the chapter that is his students writing about their experiences with Tom. I read some profound things. Some of them I used with Misty, but a lot of them I used in being a better teacher today for my friend. She had a huge breakthrough with her horse and with herself. She has a problem being assertive enough and was talking about how she does not want to become aggressive. I just suddenly said something that I did not read in Tom's book, but from his readings, it inspired me to say it: "Horses forgive. If you ever push him over the edge by being assertive when you shouldn't be, you of all people will be able to get his confidence back again. You are an expert at building confidence." I don't know how that made her feel, but it is probably one of my favorite things that I have ever said to a student.

I am returning at three to work with Blu. I felt really good about myself today. What a good day.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day Nine: Refreshing Refresher

Official Records Information:
45 minutes

Brr! It is pretty cold up here. I bundled up and went to the farm with my friend who I coach with Conner. She was playing with Conner in the North pasture while I was playing with Blu over there. She is really making progress with him. He has done small circles with her at liberty in the wide open and he ran to greet her the other day!

Anyway, I decided to use a stringless carrotstick today, and that is all I had as I got Blu to the North pasture. He was standing with his butt to me and I got him to yield it, then I walked him to the gate. He wandered off while I was shutting the gate, so I knew I was in for a good "catching game." I loosened his feet by walking casually from hind end to hind end. Every time he yielded the HQ I was after, I turned away and started arcing to his other HQ. Eventually, he started following me. This was a good example of improving the draw by improving the drive.

My plan was to tinker with the barrels. I sat on a barrel and directed Blu to touch another barrel. I had to stand up a couple times and get clearer. I drove him to another barrel from zone 5 (behind the tail). Then, after relaxing there, I drove him to the Jollyball. He rolled it around a bit and we moved on.

I worked on some cow play and million dollar moves. He was very animated, and also getting full of himself, so I backed him up with speed for about 20'. I had not done to much trotting, so I asked for the trot. He did so with a nip at me, but I had positioned myself 4' from him so he would not get me. As we went along, I kept him at that distance by raising my hand when he started getting closer. I stopped and he stopped without any headtossing, then licked and chewed. We trotted again and he started up with a headtoss. I ignored him and kept him at a distance as we headed for our next stop.

I dug through the snow to the scrubby grass beneath and showed him. He ate that then dug for more while I stood at his shoulder and massaged his back.

Next stop was the gate. We moseyed over and it felt good to have him following me so respectfully and confidently without any strings attached. The gate was a dream. He set himself up to sideways through it, so that is what we did. He waited while I locked the gate and followed me to his stall where I gave him a flake of hay.

We were going to record today, but the camera's batteries were dead and it was snowing pretty bad. Maybe next time.

Today was a nice day. There was definitely a tone of "refreshment" on the whole session. Blu was pretty mouthy, too. He was trying to nip at me a lot or trying to nibble. He never landed anything because I never gave him the chance to reach me with that end. As the session dwindled to the end, though, he had basically ceased with the mouth. I was so happy at the end!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day Eight: What does that bump mean?

Official Records Information:
Blu and Misty
30 minutes

Tonight, feeding the horses, I got to have some time with both of my equine children. I brushed Blu, who was covered in dried mud. He enjoyed the currying and contact. I was only with him for about 10 minutes, though.

Later, when I was walking Misty through the yard at liberty, I felt a bump on her nose. Once she was in the light of her stall, I let her get a bite of her mush then began to investigate the bump. Outside in the dark, I had thought it was a scab at first, but it was really covered in hair. Inside, it looked like a 3/4" diameter hair-covered scab/wart. I messed around with her nose and she let me stick my finger deep up her nose so I could feel around on the inside of that part of her nose. Nothing inside. My sister came over and picked it off before I could tell her not to pick at it. I will keep my eye on it to make sure it is not some kind of fungal or bacterial skin infection.

I brought the big ball in and I was able to bounce it off her rapidly with 100% confidence on her part by the time I was done. I also stood under her with my back pushing up on her belly to do some belly lifts for her, and she was in a total mindset of partnership.

It was wonderful to be with my horses tonight. I can't wait to have my next formal session with them!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Missing Horses...Naturally!

I have not laid my eyes on either of my equine friends since Sunday night, and I have not had a session with one of them since Wednesday afternoon! And this is going to be another rough weekend. I wonder what it will be like when I return to them?

Natural Horsewoman Out.

About Me

My photo
I am a young horsewoman with a million things on my mind. I have been a student of the horse all my life. As a little girl, I had a desire to understand horses on deeper levels. I believed that there was no such thing as a bad horse, and I believed that all horses were beautiful. One might say that I was a naive child, but I guess I don't have an excuse anymore, because I still believe all of that, and Parelli Natural Horsemanship is helping expand on this perspective.

What We Are Currently Playing With

  • Moving Close Circles at Liberty
  • Soft, Balanced Canter on 45' Line
  • Zone 5 Driving