Thursday, January 21, 2010

Holly The Big Horse

I went over to Molly's again, today. This time, I played with another one of her horses, a Belgian Warmblood (+ some other breeds, like QH, for one). She, like Cantata, was extremely friendly. When I went out to meet her to put the halter on, she quickly started to check me out and "follow me" (I just backed up when she started walking to me; there was no elaborate dance, just a simple two-step sort of deal; very positive and pleasant). She continued to be friendly as I put the halter on. When I went to put the halter on, I said to myself: "This is a big horse!" I think I said it allowed, to. Her withers are just an inch lower than the top of my head! I am so used to Misty, the small Arab, and Blu, the reining sized Quarter Horse, that it felt intimidating to be standing next to all of the height. I was not afraid, but you may know what it's like if you have ever walked into a remodeled grocery store. Where is the produce? Why did they put the bottle returns in the back? What happened to the pet supply? She had to learn how to respond to the pressure on her poll as I put the halter on, but she did fine. She even put her nose in once she found the hole; I told you: very friendly horse.
I learned the horse's true M.O. the moment we (Me and Holly, Molly and Cantata, and Molly's sister and a Morab named Cherry) left the gate. Holly started with crowding me. It is a tiny, crowded (with 3 horses, that is), so I could not do too much but let her walk in a zigzagging line as Molly worked the second gate so we could get out. Holly seemed to not think about how big she was. She had her head to high, almost bumping on the door way, and she was trying to squeeze into spaces she did not fit into lengthwise. On the walk to the pasture, she got a bit worse. She started to make the instinctual inhaling snort that signifies unsureness in fearful way. She was not wanting to trot, but she was swinging along at a good walk. I let her walk in front of me and then yielded her so she put me on her other side. A couple of those helped out a bit. I was just letting her cruise and staying out of the way because she was also not next to me at all. She seemed to be a couple miles away in a distant field (mentally). That is a dangerous combination if you care about not getting stepped on by a giant horse with shoes on!
Once we were into the big pasture we had come to play in, I rubbed her for a bit then began to work on her yields in the front end. She was like concrete in her shoulders--she was so strong against moving them away. After a bit of time, I made quite a lot of progress and she was feeling less and less like a horse who was going to plow me over (which never happened, by the way). By now, I had determined with confidence that she was a Right-Brained Introvert. Her introversion is frightening. It may be because my two do not become it so obviously and deeply. She is just gone from her eyes. Her position is head up, staring off into the distance, so the next thing I did, now that she was trying to play footsies with me, was to get her head out of the clouds by asking her to keep it down. I would walk a few steps, stop, and bow. She got a treat when she mimicked me. I progressed the head down thing to walking with me with her head down as I walked bent forward. She had this "Hee hee, what are we doing? Are we sneaking?" modality to her, which is exactly what I wanted. Anything but "I'm not here. You're not here." Later, I showed her how to search for the cookie on the ground when I tossed it there. That way, I could stay standing or toss a cookie to her when she was far away and I wanted her to stay out there.
I played with the yoyo game only a little bit here and there because I did not like that her head went up during it, which usually ended with her going stary-eyed and not thinking much. I really wanted to focus on her head staying down and her relaxing or engaging in conversation with me.
I liked this horse. She was not extreme at all, rather, a confident horse with baggage from her old owners from several years ago. She is kind and obediant and does not know that she is REALLY TALL. She definitely needs time to think things over. I did not do very many things with her, today, just small variations of the same things and relaxing.
It was not very challenging, but it was different from what I am used to. It was probably not challenging because I did not have to be quick on my feet. I did have to stay ON my feet, though. I sit down a lot with Blu and Misty, but I do not think it's a good idea to sit down next to a giant horse that does not really pay attention to where her feet are (specifically, what they are on!).

I really had a great time with Molly and her horses. All of them are sweet and well-meaning. I am used to other people's horses being conniving and distrustful. It is so sweet to see them so happy.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

how I haltered them, played with Blu, played with the ball, played with a jump, the pedestal, got on Misty and played with Blu, did flying lead cha...

"how I haltered them, played with Blu, played with the ball, played with a jump, the pedestal, got on Misty and played with Blu, did flying lead changes on Misty, jumped off Misty to give Blu a cookie for laying down, played chase with Blu and Misty, put Blu back (and in the process attacked Misty and advanced the Spanish Walk), played chase with Misty to get her draw better for the weave, and finally sat on the pedestal with her thinking"

This is from January 15th, when I did not have time to record the session.

I let Blu into the north pasture, first. Before I ever thought of haltering them, I stood and waited for them both to come to me so I could give them a cookie (that is a good way to start things when you have a moody mare and an obnoxious gelding) for standing together peacefully. Then, I went to the halters and they both followed. For Blu, I sat on my knees and waited for him to be an active participant in putting on the halter. After it was on, I rubbed his face and he enjoyed that. For Misty, I stood by her, waited for her to stop eyeballing my hands ("Cookie?" eyes), and then put the halter on standing up. When we were done, I tossed a cookie on the ground for her to find.

I played with Blu with the ball, with a jump, and the pedestal. Blu was cooperative and playful.

I got on Misty and played with Blu at liberty. Then I did flying lead changes on Misty when Blu wandered off. I had not planned to, but the opportunity presented itself and Misty was feeling very united, so...

I jumped off Misty when I saw Blu digging in the snow and about to lay down. I wanted to give Blu a cookie for laying down. Once he got up, I played chase with Blu and Misty. Once they were cooperating with each other and chasing me together, I put Blu back. I had to attack Misty when she came at Blu. Once Blu was on the South side, I still felt connected to him, so I walked into his side and ran around with him and advanced the Spanish Walk.

When I went back to the North pasture, I played chase with Misty to get her draw better for the weave. She was still not connect 100%, though, so I finally sat on the pedestal and let her relax with me for a while.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dynamic Duo

I had another day with both my horses, today. After watching some videos on ParelliTube of Parelli Students with their horses, I wanted to go out and play with my two. I have high goals, but today was not intended to be a teaching day, just a day to work on harmony between the two.

If anyone thinks it is hard to get a beautiful relationship going with a horse, I will match your horse and raise you a second that does not get along with the first in any sense of the phrase. I am not saying a I had a bad day, or that I did not make progress, though. There was much less animosity between Misty and Blu. She did not bite him once while we were all working together. In fact, it was quite a nice two hours.

Both of them saw me and came to the fence when they saw me. I had basically every line and stick we own out there to choose from. Once we were all in the North Pasture, I gave them treats when they both arrived before me. Misty took her time coming over the first time, but the second, they stayed together pretty well.

Before I go on to how I haltered them, played with Blu, played with the ball, played with a jump, the pedestal, got on Misty and played with Blu, did flying lead changes on Misty, jumped off Misty to give Blu a cookie for laying down, played chase with Blu and Misty, put Blu back (and in the process attacked Misty and advanced the Spanish Walk), played chase with Misty to get her draw better for the weave, and finally sat on the pedestal with her thinking, let me say these things: today, I have left with a less than satisfying feeling. I know we did some amazing things--today was the first day that I asked for flying lead changes in a long time and Misty did them pretty effortlessly--but there was something missing. I don't know what. I think I am upset about the week starting up again...but I don't know. Maybe it was because I felt a disconnect with Misty, today. The tiniest bit less drawn, today. I still just can't shake that feeling, though. I suppose that perhaps, I did not make a big enough step, today, and now I am disappointed and feel that my "epic streak" is over.

I will not record what I did for this session, now, because I have a lot of work to do. I wish I had someone to talk this out with, right now.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Maternal Audience

Last night, I slept for about 15 minutes then I had a nap this afternoon for an hour or so. Long story short, I was so exhausted, I was high (I use this adjective in the most delicate manner, of course, as this is a public journal. There is a sort of high that takes hold of the body as you approach the 36th hour without sleeping). At 2:00 p.m., Bridget was coming over to show my mom what she has been doing with Conner, and at 3:30, the woman I give Parelli lessons to was coming over for her lesson. I had a full evening!

Official Records:
45 minutes

Went into the pasture with a carrot stick and Misty was looking but not coming. I played with her to get her unstuck by waiting, driving her and pointing, until at last, she shot forward and arced back to me in a medium sized bullseye. We ran, and I mean ran, around the pasture. I skidded to halts, ran back and forth, and bowed my head every now and again with her to let her relax. She was very in tune to me.

I had her go around a couple obstacles as I stood on a tire. When I walked on, she left me, or so I thought. She actually just trotted over to the big pedestal and looked at me. I was about 30' away, so I stopped and had her stand on it with her front end. It was a long distance with tiny phases.

I ran to some barrels and she went around them ( a line of 6). I stopped in the middle of them. Now, with her on the other side facing me, I drew her to me. She sincerely thought about jumping them before she trotted around them and said "Tah dah!" I then asked her to jump back over, and she reared low, balanced for two seconds and slow motion leapt over them (a controlled levade). I was pleased.

Misty put her halter on. It was beautiful. She was gentle and cooperative. I tied the 45' line into two reins and began to play the friendly game so she could get used to the feel of the line on her hocks. I called it a day when she had a confident walk in the reins (I was standing on the side so that the rope was resting on her gaskins).

Tonight when I returned for the lesson, Misty and Blu were both in the north pasture. They were playing so much. Also, Blu laid down right next to her. I hurried over to him and flopped on the ground. He was startled a bit and almost got up, but then he relaxed and rolled. I gave him a cookie.
So tired.. . ca..n't... type...any....more.

Natural Horsewoman Out

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Norm

Bridget came at 7:00 this morning to play with Conner. I did not plan on doing anything with Misty or Blu, just watching and coaching her a bit. I went out and sat on a barrel to watch, but it was so cold! So, after a few minutes, I went into the barn and grabbed a neck string. Misty had been following me all morning, but when I went back into the pasture, she stayed by the fence and just watched me. When I got to the big tire pedestal, I stood on it and whistled. She looked up at me, but still stood still. Finally, after the fifth whistle, she came to me. She had maneuver Conner and Bridget because they were in her path, but she was persistant. I rewarded her with a cookie when she got to me. I put the neck ring on and yielded her hind quarters to me so I could hop on. She stepped right over when I brushed my glove on the far side of her and she put her head down when I gently touched her poll. I stayed warm as I rode her around and it was a nice thing to just go out and feel in harmony and know she was ready to ride.

This is the norm, now. I do most of what I do with my horses without bridles or lines. I can teach them at liberty and I can teach them with out bridles. I am so glad that this day has finally come and I do not want to ever feel that the relationship that I have with my horses is anything close to normal.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Down Deer Time

Official Records Information:
30 minutes

I went into the breezeway to get a carrot stick and line(s). I had no plan, but I quickly decided in my head that I just wanted to play on the ground at liberty. It is considerably warmer today and the snow is condensing, so I figured it would be a good day to run around. I was putting the savvy string on the carrot stick when I decided to just have some quiet time. It has been a while since I just had quiet time with my horse. I have been so successful, and my horses have done such remarkable things, I figured it would give me a chance to see if they agreed things were going well.

Misty met me at the gate. I only had crumbs in my pocket, so I did not give her anything. She followed me to the back of the pasture. There, I did some back lifts. Then I walked into the corn crib and I sat on the steps. She stood and stared at me for a while and I just sat and got comfortable. She was nosing me, not nibbling, just putting her nose on my shoulder and resting it there, as I sat there. Once, she walked to the West door way and I turned over so I had my back to her. She came back to my shoulder pretty quick! Every now and then, she would perk her head up and look out the door way. I would just exhale slowly and keep my eyes soft (she could not see my eyes, but I believe that the tension you get in just your eyes can cause tension in your entire body. try it sometime. make an angry face, then soften your eyes. you should feel your shoulders drop and it will be hard for your face to stay in that position). She finally sighed.

Later, I was watching out the door and I saw some cats running around in the weeds and bushes. As I continued to observe the scene, I realized that the animal was much bigger than a cat. I continued watching, and now, Misty was in tune and watching to. I suddenly got up and just walked away to see what it was. Misty was on my heels. It was a baby deer. We stood and stared at each other for a couple minutes. I crouched down and stroked Misty's shoulder. Ginger came by and was very high headed and spooked. Misty did not even look up at her. She had a cocked leg and had her head down by me. The fawn and his mama walked away and Misty and I went back to the corn crib.

All this time, she had not left. I should doubt that if I went through the records of all the quiet times I have had, I would not find one in which she did not leave me (both physically and mentally) for at least a small amount of time. Once, after staring out the door and then relaxing, she looked at me, then kind of wandered out of the corn crib. But this was different than usual. She still kept a mental link with me. She checked in by looking at me every once in a while and keeping an ear trained on me. I was just sitting still, hands in my pockets when I felt a whole treat buried deep in the corner of my pocket. I whistled, and she looked up and began walking to me with intent to arrive somewhere. She ate the treat very happily and I found another (!) and gave it to her. We sat together a bit longer, then with two minutes left to my 30-minute quiet time, I stood up and went out to the pasture. When I turned around, all the way on the other side of the pasture, Misty was standing in the door way watching me. I smiled and trotted in place and she trotted to me with great energy, neck arched. She walked with me back to the gate and we parted. It is always sad when we must part.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Harmony Session

Misty and Blu
3 hours

Britney and I got to the farm and began building a temporary fence for Britney to do a riding session in. It was about 40' x 20' made of barrels, two sides of existing fence, ropes, jumping standards, and ground poles. Both of our horses were very involved during the building of it (Conner and Misty caused us to build the same section several times!). Misty got blocked in. I didn't do it on purpose, she just stayed on inside as I was adding the final barrels. She was drawn to me today at a high level. Lately, she trots to me a lot to close the distance and will only canter if the distance is very large or I am running away very fast. Today, she cantered to me in that small arena several times.

After playing the circling game in there to see how she would do in a large area (I sent her to the left first and she made a 1/4 circle and came in, then I sent her right and changed her direction when she tried to come in. She kept going to the corner a ways away from me, and when I turned and smiled at her, she trotted back to me. I will have to play with that some more.), I ran abruptly to the fence we had made and jumped over the barrels and kept going. I had hoped that she would run after me and jump the barrels, but when I turned around, she was on the other side of the barrels staring at me like "Why did you go over there?" So I beckoned her to me. After about twenty seconds of deciding how to get to me, she pushed a barrel out of the way and thoughtfully stepped through the tiny hole. As soon as she was through, she cantered to me, head up, tail flagging, snow flying. I screamed and turned and ran (not afraid, just excited!). I love it when we run together. She comes up behind me from the right or the left and her head arcs toward me. It is like she is greeting me. When we run together, I feel her being conscious of my every movement. I skid to a halt, she skids to halt. I jump in the air, she jumps in the air. I trot, she trots. I bow my head to the ground, she bows her head to the ground. Someday, I will lay on the ground, and she will lay on the ground, but not today!

I started to walk off and she walked off. She veered away to go touch a barrel. When she turned and looked at me, I smiled and looked to the big tire pedestal (I did not even point and she felt my focus!). She walked over to it and began pawing it. After another question, I smiled and nodded. She stood on it. I let her stand there and relax, then I beckoned her to me and she came back. Next, I walked over to the tire pedestal and stood on it. Once she got there, I began to ask her to get into position for me to jump on. It took longer than usual, but I feel that when I am asking her to come sideways to me or yield her hind quarters to me, it is important that I wait until she is volunteering to do it before I actually get on because that is their way of giving or withholding permission. It is not a good idea to get on a horse that has nothing on but a neck string without permission! When I did jump on, she stayed in place and waited patiently for me to settle on and ask to move forward. Her head did not come up or anything. It was very pleasant.

I wanted to ride in the arena corner to corner with rests to work on her sensitivity to my focus. She hit two corners with less than 5 corrections, but when she got to the corner that had the water trough and the line and halter, she evaded the corner and went to the line and halter. I tried to gently put her back in the corner and let her rest, but she would not stay, so I moved on to the next corner. Other than fixing her hind quarters, which somtimes swung away when we stopped, she completed two more laps. Still, even when I moved the rope to a post over the trough, she would not stop there. So, I had to change the technique. Next time we arrived to the corner, before she got to the place where she cut the corner off, I pushed her off the fence. Using this reverse psychology, she got tired of making tight circles and went insistently into the corner. There, she relaxed and got a drink of water. Having had success, I decided to be done with focus riding.

The next time I turned approached a corner, I did not stop riding in the corner, but rather, kept walking in my body. Misty stopped and thought sincerely about jumping, but was opposed to the idea. She looked at the other barrels. Maybe those would be better to jump? Finally, she pushed the barrel I had focused over and walked through the opening. I yipped and hopped off. She seemed happy with herself, I know I was.

At this point, I walked back into the pen and let Blu in with us. I wanted to play with them together at liberty to help them get along under my leadership. I ran around and they both trotted after me, but Misty pinned her ears and Blu would come to me in wide arcs to evade Misty. I came up with two ways to get Misty to see how I wanted her to treat Blu. I would walk off with one on each shoulder. When Misty pinned her ears, looked back and tossed my head. If that did not change her expression, I kicked out. The other method I used was to run from them and not give cookies until they had both arrived. Several times, Misty cantered to me in the short distance. On a separate note, once I stepped side to side and with each step, Misty changed her leads! Anyway, after several chases, Misty let Blu come in a straighter line to me. I was so happy with the harmony we all achieved today. These small successes will take us on the rode to true unity.

I put Blu back on the other side and ran around with Misty for a bit. Then I talked with my friend, Bridget. Misty and Conner stood with us, Misty did not become a nuisance, though. She was much more respective. When we were done talking, we put the temporary pen away and fed the horses.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Crazy Blu Pictures

Official Records Information:
30 minutes

Goals for Blu: Play with Blu on the ground on line and at liberty; Maggie wants to take pictures.
Goals for Misty: I played with her unexpectedly, but I just wanted to play with her at liberty in the pasture.

My sister wanted to me to play with Blu so he would buck and run in exuberance the way he has done quite often lately. I went out with the 45' line, halter, and carrot stick with a savvy string attached. Blu met me out there and I haltered him.

I played the circling game, first. His changes of direction were much better than they have been. He has benefited from the sessions of the past week where I worked on those direction changes. He disappointed me however in his craziness. He was actually quite tame tonight. Not a single buck. Just obedience. If you think this is good, I agree with you, but at the same time, the bucks I see nowadays with Blu are bucks of wild exuberance, not "I don't want to" bucks. I enjoy the high energy that he exhibits during our play sessions. I guess he was just not feeling it tonight, which is just too bad for my little sister.

I took off the line and left it in the snow. I hoped that maybe he would be a bit more "Yipee" at liberty than he was on line. I played some cutting games to get his play drive fueled up. He always enjoys that. Then I ran around the pasture some with him. He generally trotted, but he kept up (with all the layers on, the boots, and almost a foot of snow, it's not hard to keep up with me). He was just happy and pleasant.

What came next is a first for us. I was doing my stick-to-me and then I felt that feeling I get when I realize there is an opportunity to teach something new and I know I will have success because of the optimal circumstances. I stopped moving forward and just did my trotting march in place as I turned on the spot. Blu continued at my side, circling me in a tiny circle. Next, I put my arm out, rubbed his neck, then applied rhythmic pressure to the air to ask him to increase the distance. I put my arm down when he reached about 10'. That is the first time I have ever done anything resembling a circle at liberty in a large, non-circular area. Next, I yoyoed him out and sent him to the right on a circle. I was very gentle, but he made a quarter lap and took off. He looked at me and came trotting back, excited. I jumped around a bit and we just played. I chased him around and then he chased me around.

I stopped and stood with him and relaxed and let him even out his breathing while I did TTouches on his neck and back. Once he was breathing normally, I began to paw the ground. He pawed it with the correct hoof and I gave him a cookie. Then I walked, trotted, stopped, and laid down. He did the gaits with me and watched as I did the last. I did it like a horse the best I could. I dug a bit with my hand as I leaned down, then I put my hands and feet close together and rolled down. He looked at me and rubbed his nose up and down my boot, looked at me, put his nose on my hair, looked at me. Then--this is super exciting to me--he pawed gently and put his back very close to his front legs! I gave him a treat and waited, but then he seemed to change his mind and went back to nosing me. I played with his lips to give him the social contact he needed (I believe that horses like Blu are nibbly not just to explore but also because horses socialize using their mouths, i.e. grooming. An excellent way to fix the gentle but unwanted nibbling is to rub their lips.).

I called that a session and rolled up the line. He followed me into his stall and I gave him a bite of hay there. I felt extremely good about this session, even though the goal of getting photos of Blu being a nut was not fulfilled, my sister snapped several shots of Blu and me playing. A few of them are quite excellent.

Official Records Information:
30 minutes

Goals: Just to be with Misty at liberty. I did not really have any specific goals, I just saw her and did not want to go inside without playing with her.

I had a carrot stick with me as I ran to the back of the pasture. Misty was running after me and we did just what I wanted to. We ran, jumped, cut, and ran some more. There was so much energy and excitement!

Toward the end of the session, I jumped the fence to let the dogs in. Misty ran to the fence and waited for me. I ran back to her, jumped the fence and ran around the pasture. She ran excitedly after me. I suddenly flopped to the ground and laid out. She slowly came up to me and smelled me. I jumped up and ran again and she came after me again. We were having so much fun.

I cried when I left. I was cold, my pants were all wet from laying in the snow, and my fingers were numb; but I did not want to leave. I am having more and more emotional issues with leaving the horses. If I could, I would rather just stay there with them. Not having a session or anything, just being with them. I imagine I would stand around with them for hours and run around with them for hours. It would be a pleasant existence.

I went and sat on the front porch to contemplate the way I should handle those feelings and how I should live my life with my horses and people. When I finished, I got up and hopped off the porch. I looked to the pasture, and somehow, from 75 yards, I could see her in the back of the pasture, and she saw me. I began walking to her and she began walking to me. We met at the fence, arriving at the same time. I pet her face and talked to her, then walked back into the house. When I threw a glance back and she was still watching me.

Natural Horsewoman Out.
Natural Horsewoman Out.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tire Horse

Official Records Information:
45 minutes

Goals: Ride Misty freestyle in the driveway

Misty met me at the gate and I haltered her kneeling at her head. The haltering could improve because it took a minute for her to keep her head down near the halter. However, it was not bad because she put her head in the halter eagerly in the end and I stayed on my knees.

I had Misty in the halter with a carabiner clip attaching the savvy string to it. The carabiner clip acts like slobber straps by delaying the feel to the horse with its hinge action.

I brought her out and we walked together to the tire swing that is cut into horse form. There, I stood on the swing and had her come to me sideways so I could mount. She had no concerns for the swing's motion as I climbed on.

On the drive way, I worked on her sideways. She was dragging her hindquarters again, so just kept tapping the hindquarter that needed to go until she went correctly. After about 5 minutes, she was going sideways well both ways with light cue.

Next, I wanted to work on her stops with me. There are 3 trees next to the northern leg of the drive, so I had her trot between the trees and stop when she got to them. She had perfect stops going toward the road, but when we turned around to head in the other direction, she was not in sync at all. Then, backing up to where I had requested the stop was a huge issue. I just stayed persistent in the proper positions and she figured it out. I ended the session when she stopped nicely in the direction of the barn.

I worked the gate as though I were still riding. I would like to work on this concept some more, because it was interesting. I stood in her left zone 3 and had her come sideways toward me, which was difficult for her to understand at first because it meant she needed to squish me, so to speak, between her and the gate. I opened the gate when she was standing close enough for me to reach it if I were on her back. I let her through it by asking her to back into the pasture, abandoning the riding position. Usually, the moment I start to set her up to go backward through the gate, she finishes setting herself up and backs in/out on her own, but it took a moment for her to realize what was going on. To me, that means her mind was very engaged with the previous exercise and she was still trying to process what had happened.

So, that concludes my entry for today. I will post again soon.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Plastic Bag and the Bob Cat

Official Records Information:
1 hour
Goals: Ride Misty freestyle/bridleless after some ground play outside the pasture.

Misty saw me, but it was another one of those days--she did not come out to me, just looked at me and looked away. I had the 45' line, halter, and a carrot stick with a giant plastic bag tied to the and of the string. I got her eyes on me and sent her running. Conner bolted, but she did not seem terrified of the bag. She only completed one lap before looking at me. I turned and ran as fast as a could, the bag flying behind me. I looked back and she was flying at me. I kept running and she ran by my side for a while, completely disregarding the bag flapping behind us. I stopped and rubbed her and gave her a cookie. Someday, I will get one of these runs on tape, because she is so beautiful. She left me as I began walking, but she just went to a barrel and touched and looked back to me. I smiled and pointed to the next barrel and she went and touched that one. The next barrel I pointed to had the 45' line and the halter sitting on it. I met her there and gave her a treat. I knelt by her neck and she put her head on the ground so I could put the halter on.

I played the friendly game with the bag and she did not have any trouble spots, as I suspected. she even didn't mind it going under her between her legs.

I yoyoed Misty to the end of the line and she went out with a medium speed but obediently. I would like her speed to increase and the phase it takes to back to go down (right now, it's at a phase 2-3).

She circled nicely at the end of the line, then I asked her to come in and I drove her from zone five (behind the tail) to the gate. She is getting so good at this, she really understands the carrot stick as a distal forehand driver. I continued the zone five driving down the drive way and to the mail box. She showed slight unsureness on the way there. I think that the fresh environment (it's been a while since I worked with the horses outside the pasture) relieved her of some of her self confidence. The success of the mail box restored her, though. She went purposefully to touch the trailer and a bird house, next.

I took her over to the yard south of the barn near some trees to play the circling game. I took the bag off the string because it was getting tangled in the line. Misty was fast on the circles and had beautiful flying lead changes at the slightest cue to change directions. Her impulsion came up between having the new environment and the fact that the neighbors were moving manure with a Bobcat. She calmed down a bit as I continued changing directions, but she was still eying the neighbor's barn.

I did falling leaf pattern on the way to the Aisle (the 20' lane that runs between our and our neighbor's fence line). She was blowing out, making that instinctual snort, so I put her on the fence and pushed her sideways faster and faster. She was doing a great job of keeping up, but she was still upset. I changed tactics to half circles on the fence. I really encouraged her to go faster and she was cruisin' and turnin'. She finally came out of it a bit and I put her back on the fence and ran sideways for another 50'. I knelt by her head and she put it down by me. If her head went up, I gently asked her to put it back down again. When we stood back up, she was relaxed. I had her go sideways at the trot back to the barn. She was lagging her hindquarters at first. When we got back to the open, I changed it to a half-pass from zone 5, first at the walk then at the trot, then I yielded her hindquarters. She was all ears and I walked with her back to the pasture.

I was going to ride bridleless, but my ride pulled in and it was a fine place to end, so I gave her a treat, put my equipment away, and gave her another treat before leaving.

It was an exciting day, but I am sad to have not been able to ride bridleless. Maybe tonight when I am giving my lesson, I can ride Misty bridleless. I am teaching the 7 games. . . hmm. We will see.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Little Song

I made one friend in my first semester of college (I will call her Molly). Luck so has it that she lives near me and has horses. We talked quite a bit about the horses and I shared stories about my Parelli and natural horsemanship sessions. Toward the end of the semester, she said that she thought Parelli might work for one of her horses, a Lippizan X Arabian, who was flighty and quick to bolt under saddle. I was happy to hear that she was interested because I have never played with this type of horse and I knew that Parelli would indeed work for her horse. The horse's name is Cantata (Pronounced cun-TAH-duh). It means "Little Song."

On this past Tuesday, I went to her house armed with a ball, a tarp, a Parelli rope halter, a 17' line, a 45' line, and a carrot stick. I took my student/friend, who I will call Bridget to watch me and talk with Molly while I played with the horse, so she could explain what I was doing. This was the plan, but I had no idea how it would happen when I got there.

Molly's mom was there and she came out with us. First, we met the other horses, one of which was a foal (Justin) and his nanny (Valley). I hope to go back and play with him some day. While we stood with the baby, we talked some. This family reminds me of the way I was before Parelli. PNH will be really easy for them to move in to. They are on the right track, there horses have a good home. PNH will make sense to them and become second nature quickly. I know there are some people who struggle making the transition from doing things the old way to the natural way. I am excited to see how this changes their relationships with their horses and their outlook on horses.

Back to Cantata, Molly took her out to a round pen, and there, I asked her to take off the halter and let her go. Molly stayed in the round pen with me for the whole thing, but that was ok with me. Her mom stayed out and Bridget talked with her. Later, Bridget said she was surprised at how much Molly's mom understood what was going on inside the pen.

Molly started Cantata to free lounging, and though she was pretty--a beautiful mover--she was far from confident. I was surprised at how quick she was to be friendly before Molly sent her out. Molly's mom said that Molly is the only one Cantata will follow that way, that she really loves Molly. Well, I followed her hindquarters, asking Molly to stick by my side. I told her that the moment she would look at us we would move away. A couple times, I went to the edge to change her direction and Cantata did not even see me until she was almost on top of me. Then, she would dig down and bolt off. Finally, she gave me a look. Molly and I had separated somehow, and Cantata came to me. I did not hear her, but Bridget told me later that Molly's mom was surprised at that. It did not even take too long. Cantata is much friendlier than I expected. It is what makes her dangerous.

I haltered her and put the 45' line on. I let her be a part of it and asked for her to put her head in the halter so she would continue to feel that I was doing this with her, not to her. As we walked off, the line got between her legs and she started off to running around the pen again. I lifted the line so she could feel it on her legs and she would not step on it. My goal was for her to become desensitized to the rope without stepping on it and getting burned, then I would put the thicker line on to play with her so she would stay safe. It took many laps and several changes of directions before she relaxed and came back to us. Molly did a great job ducking and not getting tangled. It was the worst part of the whole thing, but I kept my body calm and the pressure down. I used that time to observe again how once she got going, she became introverted and was just going with a glazed eye. Molly's mom said that she was probably thinking back to when a trainer lounged her a certain way.

With the 17' line on, the first thing I wanted to do was to show her that the carrot stick was not a lounge whip and could be a good thing. So using the principles of relaxation, rhythm, and retreat, I swished it from side to side low, walking away. She became very agitated and I let the entire rope slide. Molly stood by the gate and so I knew would go straight to her, now that I was the most threatening thing in the pen. I asked Molly to take the line and just let Cantata move. Whenever Cantata relaxed, I stopped with the movement. I left the carrot stick at the other side of the pen and approached Cantata at her pace.

Standing on Cantata's left, I played the friendly game, tossing the rope over her back and off of it until it meant nothing. My thought process was that everything means "go" to Cantata, so I want to first make everything mean "relax" before I start asking for forward motion. That is why the carrot stick first had to be used in the friendly game and why the rope first had to mean nothing, or else, I would not be a safe haven to her.

Now that she was confident about the rope being tossed over her back, I asked her to go forward by ever so gently tapping it behind the withers (behind the drive line). It did not take long for her to get that. We headed for the carrot stick and she immediately became unconfident. I let her pause at thresh holds on the way to it and when we arrived to its proximity, as soon as she looked at it, I turned around and left. She was definitely baffled, which is what I hoped. The next time, I wanted her to touch it before we left it, and after that, I stood and ignored her, talking to Molly. Cantata's curiosity came right up and she was nosing it and even moving it around.

I moved on to teaching the yo yo game, and that would be my last task before I could no longer stand the cold. She wanted to come in and it was slow going before she finally made the connection.

Cantata licked and chewed a lot throughout this session, and her eyes blinked a lot after she got over her fear of the line. I can't wait for Molly to start her journey with Cantata. I predict that her innate curiosity will really come out with time. This horse has a lot of trust in people, she just gets afraid, frozen, and explosive. Her life is about to get a lot more safe feeling.

This was the first time I have ever worked with another person's horse in front of them, and it was the first time I have ever played with a right-brained extrovert (aside from Misty at shows). It went great, though. I was only nervous about Molly and her mom for a little before I entered the pen. I did not let myself go inside that pen until I knew my way and knew that those nervous tensions were gone. It was a good feeling to have a clear mind, as well as a big stepping stone for me towards my goal of self-domination and total self control. One thing I did battle with right up until I walked out the door was how to talk about Parelli and what I do without sounding like a total twot--a jerk. It was not until Wednesday, when Molly came over to my farm and played Misty that she was able to reassure me that neither she nor her mom felt that way.

So, this was the first of what I hope to be many play dates with other people's horses, as well as the beginning of a new life for a Little Song.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Catch Up

Epic adj. heroic; majestic; impressively great. This word describes every encounter I have had with my horses since the new year began. 2009 is gone and I am here now, happy to be here. The things I am achieving are what I have always wanted, but I am always shocked when I get there. My horses generally run to me. I have taught Misty how to roll the ball with her nose. She will roll it as she walks next to me or run after it if I kick it. Treats helped her get that playdrive built up like that. Blu has learned to paw with the leg I paw, and I am beginning to move it to when I am on his back. Unfortunately for my journal, I did not record a lot of these sessions, so I will have to bask in memories and get down what I can, now.

January 1st
I worked in the morning, but when I got home, I went to the farm and played with the horses.

January 2nd
I dewormed Blu without issue. I approached him where he was sunbathing in the pasture and he walked to me. I played with his mouth and gave him the paste, no lines, no problem. When I got to Misty, she was having none of it, so I went back to the barn and grabbed a piece of twine and a carrot stick. She was very willing to work with me when I came back. I put the twine over her poll and

January 3rd
I did not even see my horses. I got home very late from work.

January 4th
I did not see my horses, today, either. After working in the morning, I hung out with a friend and went to a 4H meeting.

January 5th
What a great day! I did chores with my friend in the morning, went back a couple hours later and played with Blu for half an hour. We went and watched the movie Avatar then drove out to Mason to play with a friend's horse. I am blogging a separate blog for that time.

January 6th
My friend from Mason came to my farm and she played with Misty while I played with Blu. We had a great time. I taught her some of the basics on the ground and then we rode. Misty was friendly with her, a bit crowding in search for treats, but I showed her how to block her space. We rode bareback in the halters. We stood and talked a lot, and it was during those times that Blu would get bored and paw, and that was the time that I began to move pawing to a cue "under saddle" (we were bareback). It won't be long before he will be doing the Spanish Walk! And all of 3 sessions, only parts of which were dedicated to this, he is already learning the cue for it with me on his back. Blu was very sticky to me, but also very mouthy today. He was getting super bored because I kept standing around watching Misty and my friend. I ended up putting him away for a bit so he could bother Ginger and Hoosier while I sat around watching Misty. When I went to get on, he took a while to give me permission, but I waited it out. One time, when he swung his head around to bite me, I stuffed a treat in his mouth, and he was kind of like "what?!" That is when he finally stopped swinging his nose at me and stood still so I could jump on. While riding, I worked on protecting our space from Misty. She was especially ticked yesterday, but I protected Blu. Blu has also been a bit upset by me shifting my weight forward or backward to dismount or reaching for something. He puts his head up and tenses. I have not ruled out back pain completely, but after some friendly game of me leaning forward and backward until he relaxed, he was fine with weight shifts. I worked on the pattern of going through the box then turn, face, and wait. I also worked on some isolations. I had him going forward with his hind end as his front end went crooked (shoulder-in) and halfpasses at the walk and trot.

January 7th I have only fed the horses this morning, but I will be going back down later to play with both horses at the same time (I think). I plan on riding Misty while I play with Blu on the ground at liberty.

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