Friday, February 19, 2010


Misty and Blu
1 hour
blu came over
let go
blu/down time
fig 8
blu pedestal
let go/put away

... Is that descriptive or what???

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Peace, Harmony, and Unity

Official Records Information
45 minutes

All I wanted to do today was be with my horse. Down time used to seem like a necessary chore, like brushing your teeth. Well, over time, brushing my teeth has not become enjoyable or something I look forward to, even though I do it 2-3 times a day every day (I hate the taste of toothpaste and looking like a rabid being). Conversely, the more I study my horse and spend time with her, the more I want to be with her all the time and am completely ok with "not doing anything with her." Some would call what I did with Misty today nothing, but what happened between us today means so much to me. I have decided to share today's experience in a story format, less narrative and rigid than usual. . . here goes:

We pulled into the drive way and my mom, scanning the pasture asked "Where are the horses!?" I had already spotted the two grays in the northeastern corner of the North Pasture, just standing. As I pointed them out, Misty saw us and began to decide to move. She was not moving yet, just deciding that she would. I got out and she immediately met my eyes. It was a warm feeling, the same one that fills me every time my horses really meet me and see me, and I see them. I could have just turned around and gone home then and lived off that warm feeling until summer rolls in, but instead, I walked on to really greet my friend.

I spoke only with my eyes that I would be right back and I ran in the barn and grabbed a handful of pellets to put in my pocket. Misty had begun the trek from the back of the pasture, and when I came out, she was still 100' out. I ducked in the pasture and whistled the tune I have been teaching her to come to then smiled and trotted in place. She had already picked up her pace when I came in the pasture, but now she began trotting. Her eyes were sparkling with life and her body language was loose and happy. Recalling it makes me cry tears of absolute happiness. What other possible response could there be to a horse coming to you like that?

She arrived and I talked to her a while before remembering I had something for her in my pocket. She was not searching for it, though. She was just being with me, choosing to be with me, and choosing to stay with me. I decided that we should go for a jog since I did not want to do any ground work or riding, so I started to run to the back of the pasture. I glanced back after 40' or so and she was standing there watching interestedly, so I whistled and faced forward again. The next thing I knew she was cantering behind me to catch up. Then she dropped to a trot and we just jogged around the pasture. I did figure eights and circles, tight turns to see how well she was sticking to me. I had no carrot stick, just me and muck boots that were filling up with snow. Nothing I could do, not turn or transition could shake her. She was also completely calm and level. Sometimes, she gets excited when I do this and will leave just to do a circle and come back because she has to go fast than me, but she just traveled along relaxed.

I stopped and asked her to bow a few times. She was lifting her leg high in the air for me to take before I even asked for it, or rather, she lifted it when I began to focus on the hoof. She leaned back a bit more than she has been as I pulled the leg back. She was beginning to see an ends to the pull and offered even more cooperation, rather than opposing me.

When I had rewarded her for doing so well bowing, I left her again and walked to the northeastern corner of the pasture where she and Conner had been standing and looked out over everything seen from there. The lake, the woods, the neighbor horse and donkey, the Back Pasture. I turned and Misty was looking at me with interest again. I smiled and beckoned her to me and she came right over. Together we watched everything for a while. Standing there looking at the untouched snow of the back pasture, I decided that we would go for a walk back there. I would need a line because I knew I would get in trouble if Maggie saw me taking her back there without one (the fence could have been down somewhere, and therefore the horse could escape! Oh my gosh!).

Misty followed me closely up to the front of the pasture and waited for me at the fence while I got the 18' line out. When I came out, she was there, still connecting with me. When I held up the loop, she dropped her head through it. I just used it as a safety net on our trek through the South pasture where Blu, Ginger, and Hoosier live (the gate to the back is located in the South pasture).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Official Records Information
1 hour

Both of the horses made a good first connection with me when I got out of the truck. I was the one who had to break the salutation because I went to get the halter and 45' line and stringed carrot stick. That is definitely a good thing to see.

I let Blu catch me, which was pretty easy, then haltered him with a wonderful feel as he turned toward me and put his head in the halter, then waited so patiently as I tied the knot. I wanted to savor that nice feeling for a while and I took several minutes to talk to him and rub his face and neck, down his legs, across his back, and under his belly.

I flowed right into going sideways from there. I put him in position so he was facing me then I put the carrot stick out to his right to ask for a side pass to his left. I let him get himself coordinated and thinking before asking him to speed up and straighten up. Then, I changed direction. He was exceptional; he went so straight, and the carrot stick usually stayed on the ground. He learned that fast.

I moved right into asking for more speed and floated to his side as we went. Again, at first he was confused and frazzled, but it did not take as long as it did last time for him to relax. As a reward, I stopped and let him come in and really relax. After a few minutes, I sent him on a circle (the send of which I yoyoed him all the way out to the end of the line and he made it with a few phase 3s, but mainly phase 1-2. Throughout the game, he came closer and went back out to the end, never staying at the same distance for long and generally pulling toward the barn (which is in the pasture). I drifted with him and stayed at whatever intensity I needed to be at to be appropriate). I could sense a bit of tenseness, so I began asking for changes of directions in order to fully uncover that issue. You see, Blu gets really upset when asked to do changes of direction sometimes. If there was something going on besides focus and calm, asking for a change in direction would let me see it. He was canter and pulling and really tight for about 10 changes before he got lighter and calmer.

He came in for another period of just chilling. After a nice long five minutes, I took off the halter because I wanted to see if he wanted to leave and give him a chance to make himself heard. I began walking and he followed for a few steps then stopped. I watched him thinking and watched him make the choice to go somewhere else. Then he went somewhere else. I remember thinking "Maybe I don't want to write about today," a thought I quickly followed with "I will make today a day worth writing about!" What ensued was a catching game that was very in depth for what I usually do for catching Blu. I played with Ginger for a while, protected Blu from Ginger, played with Misty over the fence, sat down to be in a completely unthreatening position, waited, approached and retreated, moved his hips side to side to get his feet moving...all with no goal of catching him, just to have a long time to observe him and let him observe me. It was his idea to approach me, and when I held out the halter, he came forward, put his head in and then put his head down so I could reach to his throatlatch to tie the knot again. He has never put his head in the halter as I stood in front of him holding it up for him. I have put the halter on that way, but he has never put his nose in by himself. It means a lot because a horse has to have a lot of things mentally, emotionally, and physically in place to do it. The halter is in a blind spot (below the nose), so they have trust that it is safe, they have to want to put the halter on, they have to stand while you reach around (so there are multiple chances for them to change their mind and leave), they have to have the human standing with all of its pressure (eyes, front of body, toes, knees, hips, belly button, shoulders, and face) facing them, and then there is the cooperation of putting their head down for the knot and adjusting. I took it as a very good sign that all that time I spent wandering the pasture and doing all those things and doing all that nothing meant something to Blu and changed his attitude about me.

I tested how he was following me, now as I walked to the open area of the pasture. I wanted to try the circling game and changes of directions with this Blu. He followed willingly and pleasantly. I yoyoed him in and out several times to make sure he was not jumping the gun and to check his straightness. Very straight and appropriately responding to the tiny finger wiggle all the way to the end of the line (as he got further out, though, he sometimes did not go two hooves at a time back wards). More importantly, he was super willing to come right back in again.

When asked for a circle, he stayed soft at a nice jog and had open-handed, soft changes of direction. I was only using about half the line and I did a few bullseye patterns. He had great feel and spiraled right in to me.

I took the line and played the cow game and he was not as enthusiastic as he can be, but he was definitely enthusiastic. He did not push against my hand in opposition reflex when I laid my hand on his face when we finished the cow game, which is a huge sign that he did not get belligerent or dominant after playing that game.

As a last thing, I introduced the "Dame" command to my cowboy hat. He only got so far as to bite the hat, but was immediately familiar with the command, which is very exciting!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Gift of Fate

Official Records Information
1 hour

I was not going to get to play with horses today because I was supposed to be working a 4H bake sale all morning and afternoon and then rushing to work until the evening. Fate would have it that so many people signed up to help that we only needed to stay for an hour and a half, so I got to have a session with Misty where I was going to have none.

Before I began about today's session, let me just say that early this morning when I was doing chores, I took Misty to the pasture by leading her by the a strand of mane and she was SO sensitive to it. She responded properly to pressure every time I put pressure on her mane to pull her closer to me sideways, forward, or backward. It was a great experience.

Onto today, I wanted to do 2 line driving, or at least prepare her for it for another session, and I wanted to ride bridleless. So, I took the 45', the halter, the stringed carrot stick, and the green ball. Misty was in the corn crib pen (a fenced off area that has no gate attached, so the horses can go in and out of it through the gate opening), and she met my eyes and held them fine. I whistled to her and she began walking to me, but Conner was kind of in the way and she did not want to squeeze between him. I ended up pushing her out the other side of the corn crib and the whole time she was trying to connect with me, even from the great distance that was between us. It was very nice. When she came out of the other side of the corn crib, she looked for me, saw me and when I whistled, she trotted to me. I began trotting backwards and then stopped she stopped and slid right to me. She put her head down and it did not push me, but just touched me. How nice, much better than if she had put it to the side or something.

I drove her from a good 15' feet in zone 3-5 to the obstacles in the pasture, which is where I had the halter and line set up. She put the halter on very nicely, head turned to me. Once, before the knot was tied, she looked out. I just stopped tying the knot and she put her head down and toward me again.

I drove her to the ball and she immediately began to push it around. Once when she looked at me for more direction, I sent her in a circle. I let her choose the distance and she stayed around 12' out. When she got to the ball again, she stopped rolled it some more. The next time she asked a question, I sent her again, this time moving the circle so she would hit another obstacle. It was a couple barrels and ground poles piled up and she was immediately trying to figure out what to do with it. I was too tall to sidepass over and to jumbly to jump, so she kind of fidgeted back and forth around it. When she finally looked at me, I smiled and sent her off in the opposite direction.

I maneuvered her so I was in zone five and then I just followed her at the trot. We went all over the pasture, starting as a sort of passenger lesson on the ground to let her get confident with me following her in zone 5 then I slowly began to direct her. She made the transition so well that I decided two line would not be undoable for today. I repeated the process of letting her wander and get used to the feel of the lines on her and what they meant. She felt her way out of several binds. As I began to direct her, I felt it would be better if she saw a purpose to the direction.

I put her on the pedestal to stay while I set up two barrels. She got all 4 feet on there. I think that is a first, or at least the first time she did it and stayed on condfidently. She was not ground tying to it very well, though. would only stay for 15 seconds and then try to come to me. I just kept putting her back on it. Because she was not staying ground tied, I did not put the barrels as far apart as I would have liked (they were only about 15'+ feet apart and I would have put them about 50' feet apart. When I went to do the figure 8, she really wanted to not go around it and she got very confused. I just stayed patient and soft until she understood.

I only did one figure eight because I decided that her go button needed attention with two lines before we could do anything pattern-like. I got her away from the barrels and into the open pasture and trotted behind her while she trotted. I also asked her to half pass in both directions, and she understood and executed it in both directions.

I felt like we had harped on driving for long enough and she was also feeling particularly together, so I coiled up the line, put the savvy string around her neck, and got on. I was going to frog leap on, but I couldn't get any traction to jump. Seeing as how it has been ages since I did that, I was happy that she was perfectly fine with me jumping around back there.

I started with some focus riding. I was first and foremost concerned with checking that she did not want to just run to the gate. She followed me nicely, not perfectly though. We went to T-posts, the barrels, and the pedestal. When I got to the pedestal, I asked her to get on with only the front feet. My aim was to yield her hind quarters once we were up there. At first, she was not understanding, but after the few initial tries, she caught on and yielded both directions perfectly.

Next, I tested then fine tuned her stops, goes, backs, sideways, and spins on the haunches. I only trotted because she was hollowing her back and I did not want her to loose her footing because of her all-over-the-place-posture. She got a bit rounder as we continued. Her halfpass was light, no string needed. I got her to where she could stop and go without the string, though her backing often goes crooked. I give it 3 stars out of five. Her turns on the haunches are getting better. I started by trotting a circle and tightening it until I asked for a spin, but I also did plain old sit and spin.

When I felt like any more would be too much, I spontaneously jumped off and ran to the front. I swept up the carrot stick and 45' line as I passed them. I looked back and whistled. Misty was just standing there watching me, intrigued-looking. I did not watch to see if she would follow. Later, as I was reaching the front fence line, I looked back and Misty was gone! I looked in front of me and she was running in front of me! I stopped and she stopped and bounced over to me. We played with the ball for a few minutes then I tossed it over the fence and took her halter off. Misty put her head in and toward me, then as I took it off, I gently dragged it toward me and her nose came to me and she totally stayed connected. So good-feeling! I gave her a good face scratching before climbing through the fence.

I gave her some hay and went inside the house, a very happy and lucky-feeling person!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Big Blu Eye

Official Records Information

2 hours

I called Blu into the North Pasture and he came right over, albeit slowly and with pauses (kind of ho-hummy). He is always so good at yielding his hindquarters after he squeezes through the gate, but when I walked off, he did not follow. Rather, he ho-hummed over to the corn crib pen. interesting. I did not want to chase after him and force him to yield and come back to me, so I asked Misty to come over to me. I jumped on her after I put the halter and 12' line on her one-rein style. Blu was kind of watching us out of the corner of his eye the whole time, but it caught him by surprise when we began to come after him. I used the stick and string to push him out of our way and we drove him until he would give us two eyes. Then, just like that, Misty and I would turn and walk away or back up, and, like a fish after a lure, he would come to us. Along the way, I ended up bending Misty and putting the line to two reins because it was two much to be trying to keep the line from falling on the ground when I went no-handed with her to focus on Blu. Also, as a side note, she was getting a bit high in the beginning, but she mellowed out toward the end. After two times that Blu began to walk to us but then changed his mind, he came all the way to us. It was probably and 5-8 minute engagement, but it was well-worth the time of getting those two to work together some more. They were both much better behaved when they were close together. Misty did not try to bite him and he was being much more respectful, more focused on me. Misty did put her ears back a few times.

As soon as Blu was stuck to us, I dismounted and let Misty go with a treat for both of them. Blu was excellent for haltering, putting his nose right in the hole. I stood with him for a while and played the friendly game, but not for too long. He is beginning to move more toward being an extroverted horse and he likes to keep moving on to new things.

I wanted to teach sideways to being faster and more responsive at the walk. Standing in front of him, I put the carrot stick on the driving side and grapevined sideways. I got him to where he would go sideways evenly (not dragging the front or back) with the carrot stick just dragging on the ground, equally well in both directions. It took about 5 minutes. Then, I began to ask for more speed. His eyes would bulge out of his face (hence the title of this post) and I just waited until they got smaller again and his head went down.

I was running around the pasture chasing him sideways for about 1000'+ before he got relaxed in both directions. I was on the 12' line, so it probably looked like I was being dragged around. I wish I had a video of it, it must have looked so funny! To finish the entire thing, he climbed onto the pedestal and put all 4 feet on it, like "safe!" I stood and talked with Bridget, who was playing with Conner, and let Blu relax. He was very touchy feely. I had my hands all over his face and he was really loving it, and so was I. He got to relax like that for about 5 minutes and it was his first time on the pedestal with all four feet and it was all his idea.

I felt like he would be a wonderful horse to ride now that he was acting so together. I lead him to a barrel, climbed on the barrel, and asked him to yield his hindquarters to me. After I few taps, he understood and moved right over. I put my foot on the right side of his back and rubbed it to see if he would move away. Now that he was sure of my intentions, he still stood still, so I slid on.

I was riding with two reins and no carrot stick. I began by testing how well he was steering, then how well he was listening to my seat. Both were excellent. I was trotting once in a point to point fashion when he suddenly offered the canter. Not just any canter, though, a round canter. I thought maybe he was going to start bucking, but I glanced down at his eye and he was happy. It was so great. We cruised all over the pasture like that. I worked on switching leads. The insides of my legs were sore from pushing him over to change leads. Our sideways is a bit broken. We worked on it some at the trot, but until it gets perfect at the trot and acceptable at the canter, he probably won't be doing any flying lead changes under me. He did break to a trot and pick up the correct lead. I also want to mention that his steering at the canter was never tight. I never asked for sharp turns because I did not want him to fall down, but he was really loose in the arcs we did do. He was also really coordinated. It just all felt good and I hope that I can continue to build on that. Well, I know that I can continue to build on that.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Official Records Information
1 hour

You don't get much better than today. I had that same unbreakable feeling with her that I had before I took that long break from horses. I did everything at liberty until I went over the hill outside the pasture to let her graze when we were done.

When I got dropped off, Misty made eye contact right away and nickered to me. She followed me along the fence after I waved to her then went inside. I peeked around the lilac tree that was between us, and she peeked and saw me, ears up and eyes bright. I waved again and went in to feed the dogs. When I came out, she called again and began walking up. I ran out to her and got what I needed in the barn. I kicked the green ball into the pasture. The kicking startled Conner and then when it landed on his butt he really took off. Misty chased the ball down and began rolling it around, though! I was laughing so much, but this was a serious tip off to me about what she was today: a confident horse whose leader was me, not Conner.

I climbed through the fence and pointed to the ball and gave her a cookie for pushing it. For the next half hour or so, we played with that ball. I stood and followed in all kinds of positions in relation to her. I stood behind her and whenever she stopped before I wanted her to, I clucked. I used the carrot stick to direct her, too. I also walked along beside her, as well, and other times I kicked it and stayed in one place and let her go get it. She brought it back to me several times, which pleased me. She was really excellent! She would only push it with her nose, but several times, when it stuck in a rut (the foot of snow now had many tracks through it), she would push it and it would roll back and after that happening several times, she would carefully push it out with her head or the side of her leg. I also ran off several times and played with her extreme stick to me. We did some cow game and she was rearing/rolling back to keep up with me. I also did some spins. I got three in a row! I remember when I first saw the Parelli horses having their horses spin at liberty. I thought, "That looks impossible! How will I teach that?" Well, that was before all of this winter I have spent experiencing Misty running to me and having better draw than I have ever known with a horse. Once, I sneaked away to the other side of the pasture while she was playing with the ball and then I whistled to her. She looked up immediately and cantered to me. Then I put my head down and so did she and she got a cookie.

While we were down, I picked up her foot and asked her to bow. I have not taught her this, yet, but I started tonight. She completely yielded to the pressure of me pulling her front (left) leg back as I held a treat for her to bend down and get.

When I was done playing with her, I raced her to the gate. She read my focus and beat me there. She was on a bit of adrenaline, but she was still connected to me. That was the best part of it. The other day, when her energy came up, she sped off, but today, she was always checking in with me in her high energy times.

After I put the halter and 12' line on, I grabbed a chair and took her behind the barn to let her graze. I used my boot to dig a hole in the snow so she could reach the grass. Unlike Blu, she does not paw regularly. She would only use her nose to uncover more grass. She ended up with her head buried in the snow a couple times!

Tonight, after I fed her, picked out all four feet from one side (left) and she was great for it. I would like her to get better at giving me the foot I want before I physically ask, but from a normal perspective, it was a great experience.

In closing, I love my horse.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One Foot Under

official records information
1 hour

My younger sisters had snowdays today because the winter storm that is raking across the midwest dropped a foot of snow on us. Luckily, I collected all of our obstacles that I had strewn about the pasture and put them in piles (on my mom's advice, of course), so the pasture is not full of landmines, but groundwork was pretty out of the question, from where I stood (no pun intended). I did not want to soak my pants and socks trudging through that mess! Suffice it to say I had a general idea that I would keep things short or go for a ride.

I hung the 12' line on the fence and carried the stringed carrot stick, halter, and 18' line with me. I met eyes with Blu and smiled. I was glad when he came over to the fence to greet me. Misty still had not done much more connecting since I first greeted her walking out of the house. Rather than going to her and getting her to put her eyes on me, I decided to use some reverse psychology and attend other horses until she got curious enough to come say hello. So, I moved on to Conner. I played some friendly game until he relaxed. Every chance I get to do nice things with him, I do. He is getting better and better at reading me and jumping to the conclusion that I am there to chase him away from Misty's food or something. Once I was on his other side, Blu was there by the fence looking over it. While I was petting him, Misty came up to me. Might I say, Misty was so soft and quiet in her presence, today. She stayed completely connected while I rubbed her and scratched her. Her newest itchy spot is on the points of her shoulders and around the underside of the neck. I walked all around her and then scratched her itchy forehead. Putting the halter on was a nonevent, aside from her pleasant and enjoyable cooperation.

I did not just huff off into playing a game, though. She was so relaxed, I wanted to find a natural transition into playing. I began to pick around in the snow for pieces of hay, which is what she had been doing before I came out. After a few minutes, I began to walk off and she followed happily.

I backed her up with a tiny wiggle of my finger and sent her on a circle. I let slog through a few rounds then slowly began to ask for more. It was a moving circle and by the time we reached the gate, she was trotting steadily. She came right in when I yielded her hindquarters.

When I went to the gate, I wanted to do something different there besides just walk through it or back her out of it. I decided to do something I have not ever done with the gate, just doing simple squeeze game through it. Misty did fine going out, but she was disinclined to come back in. I waited for her to come through on her own then changed tactics to the yoyo game, rewarding her with scratches when she came back in. I stood with her for a while and massaged her until she began to doze off.

I did the falling leaf pattern to the place on the fence where I had left the 12 foot line (I had decided to go on a ride out in the snowy world). The falling leaf got her more connected and awake.

After I had a helmet and 12' line, I took Misty to the the trailer. I let her go and used my carrot stick to position her so I could get on from the ladder. She was super cooperative, but she was confused at first and started to wander off. I hopped down and drew her back then got on the ladder. This time, I stuck my carrotstick in the rein, and with one cue to back up, she backed up and swung her back over to me!

She went right off and I did a couple bends to make sure she was stoppable. Then I did some forequarter yields. Rusty! She had major issues loading onto her haunches. I had her trot sideways in both directions down the Aisle. She was super soft, but it can deffinitely improve because I really need to have the reins keeping her from going forward. We went to the back and she ate the dried chickory and wild carrot for a while.

On the way home, I worked on those forequarter yields. I asked her to stop and back up then go forward and back up. Then, I asked her to stop, back up, and yield. That perfectly loaded her onto her hindquarters and she was doing perfect, soft 180s.

I took her into the barn for a bit to take off ropes/helmet, then I took some hay out to the pasture (just a handful). I let her clean up by the fence. Just more time to relax. I stopped again and scratched her some more before putting her away.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beautiful Summer-Winter Day

Official Records Information
2 hours

It was so beautiful today! Thirty-two degrees! The weekend was frigid with extreme gusts that sucked the warmth out of you within moments, but today, the sun was blazing and there was not a bit of wind to be felt. It felt like summer! Hooray!

I let Blu onto the North side and went from there. He followed me to two barrels I had set up, about 6 feet apart. One had ropes and the halter on it and the other had a pile of carrots on it. He went straight to the one with the ropes on it. I let him smell them for a few seconds, then I began to drive him to the other barrel. He wheeled away and ran off when I began to follow him. After I attracted him to me again, we basically repeated the same thing, only this time I let him have more time at the other barrel. This time, when he ran off, I did not chase after him, but I watched. He began looking at poop. So, I walked around and kicked the poop-sickle piles. I especially tried to kick them at Blu, which got his attention eventually. Once he was actively watching me, I went over and laid on a barrel (which, by the way was so warm!). Within a minute, Blu's wet nose (which had been smelling horsey poop and snow) touched my forehead. I lead him to the carrot barrel with a strand of his mane as support. After he had cleaned it up, I went to the other barrel, grabbed the normal stiff rope halter and went back to the now empty barrel, and he followed me.

I asked him to hand me the halter with my "Dame" (pronounced "DAH-may," meaning "Give me" in Spanish) command and pointing at the halter. I wanted him to understand that when I held out my hand, I wanted him to put the halter in my hand. We are getting there. He understands that he does not get a treat until the object is in my hand, I think. I walked to the other barrel to halter him with the Parelli halter. He was super cooperative with haltering, no obstinacy whatsoever.

I yoyoed him out and he was completely backing up at phase one. He was sluggish to go, but I ddi not tag him the first time because we were on an icy patch. I began moving the circle to somewhere with better footing. I ended up standing in the foot deep 5'x6' hole we have. There, I did lots of change of direction until he relaxed and did them lightly. Maneuvering the hole helped him to relax quicker because it was too difficult to do it while he was not calm. I also got his respect during the allow up by improving the send.

Unlike Misty, Blu's sideways has really become poor. I basically had to reteach him to go sideways. He was also non-responsive when I asked him to yield his hindquarters to me. I taught him to be responsive to that and moved on.

I did a stick to me that flowed into a falling leaf. He was very controlled and smooth, so I took him grazing.

I took Blu out to the driveway and did stick to me and pawing on cue. He was threatening to bite every time we went into the trot, but not with his ears back. He would just reach his mouth over and bit my jacket or try to bite my hand. It was slower, not like a snake strike and not like a snail, but medium speed. I began to put the line to his mouth every time I asked for the trot, and twice, I put the line in his mouth like a bit and then asked for the trot. After that, he stopped trying to bite and maintained a very pleasant demeanor. Furthermore, I did many transitions from walk to trot with little time staying in the same gait, and he stayed right in sync. His paw needs work, though. He is hitting a hurdle when we move it to the driveway and I ask for the one foot to paw then the other.

After I put Blu away, I stood with Misty and sort of had 10 minutes of down time. It was just a nice hang out sort of thing I had to do because Misty was asking...

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Testing to Teach

Official Records Information
1 hour 45 minutes

I went out to the North pasture with a halter and 12' line, a stringed carrot stick, a savvy string, and a carrot stick. I sat on a barrel and every once in a while, I would look at her with increasing energy/intent until she looked at me. She began to wander in a path that would bring her to me in about 3 days because of all the wandering she was doing at the speed of a snail. A few times, I began to have to get up and start approaching before she would look at me. I began to change my approach to a assertive catching game. I separated Conner out of her way so she could lap around the pasture without getting drawn to him. He is getting better and better at reading when I am trying to move him and when I am not trying to move him and reading my intentions overall. Misty ran after me once and we sat in the back of the pasture so she could come off adrenaline and relax with me. I guess I did not give her long enough because she took off again after investigating a tire.
I "caught" her again, during which she slipped and fell over. This time, I took an especially long time before I asked her to go off somewhere. I gave her a good leg massage. Then, so she would have a physical connection to me, I lead her with a carrot stick over her neck for a while. I also made that sound that horses make when they blow out of their noses and she copied me every time.

Once I put the halter on, I did not go directly to doing something high energy because I wanted her to be 100% off adrenaline, so I started leading her with her head way down (by walking with my body bent over. We walked over the giant tire pedestal confidently, jumped over barrel confidently (and without pause).

My goals were to test things out today. I wanted to see how all the games were (with obstacles) and see what I wanted to work on. I started with the friendly game during the catching part of our session, and I had done stick to me (porcupine/draw), so now I worked on going sideways. I had her go sideways to me and away and she was excellent at coming to me, which was very unexpected. I have hardly been working on it, but I have used asking her hind quarters to come to me quite a bit, so I imagine that it was just a clear transition for her because the parts of the game were very solid. I would like sideways away to become lighter in phase, right now it is 2-3.

I had her do moving circles with obstacles in the way. She squeezed through a hole between two barrels no problem, but she was disinclined to maintain gait, so that is something that needs more attention. I know that my canter on the circle is not solid, for sure. I would also like the change of direction to get consistently lighter (2-4 now).

Later, I got on her and rode passenger lessons, focusing on footfalls. I would give myself a C for today because I was consistently getting the right foot falls and staying in sync. A grade of B would be if I could do it at with multiple gaits in one go without ever looking and an A would be if I could influence the feet from knowing the footfalls. It was a very good exercise.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Directly to the Heart of the Problem

Official Records Information
30 minutes

The title of this blog is "Directly to the Heart of the Problem." You may have guessed (or, you may have not guessed) that the "Directly" refers to direct-line thinking. I had been cleaning out stalls for two hours and Blu and Hoosier had been coming in and out eating hay out of the aisle. I approached Blu with a line, bent down, and had him pick up his leg. I was planning on working on his acceptance of having me do various things with his feet. Well, it was rude to say the least. I hardly said hello, for heaven's sake! He left, pretty quick and I immediately realized how ridiculous I was to have the mindset I had been using.

I played the catching game and did long range join up in the pasture. Once he was following me around at the walk and trot, I stopped and just was with him for a while. That is where "the Heart of the Problem" was; I needed to get his heart before I did something with him. I massaged him for awhile and then moved on naturally, rather than directly, on to body exploration and finding his "can't-won't-don't" spots. He let me scrub his eye areas, he was comfortable with me touching his face from the front, his ears...then I moved down to his legs...then around his tail and sheath. He was perfectly happy and relaxed.

I walked back to the barn and he followed me. There, I worked on desensitizing him to rearend handling for the day when Blu's temperature needs to be taken. He lifted his back leg a couple times in warning, but I just held in there until he relaxed (just lifting his tail touching underneath).

Tonight, I went and visited Misty after chores were done. I rubbed her all over, did belly lifts, then worked with her butt and teats. I also thought about what kind of things I did with the horses that I came up with all by myself. Here is what I have so far:

1. Standing under the horse to do Belly Lifts
2. When I first started to play with Misty on the ground (before I could ride her, when she was 3 years old), I used to walk to the end of the lead rope, and then stand there until she came to me. I remember how accomplished I felt at coming up with that and how good it felt when she put slack in the line. That was before I ever read about any other horsemanship but "The Black Stallion" movie.
3. Picking up the Halter- I taught Blu to pick up his halter and hand it to me.
4. Spanish Walk- I am teaching Blu the Spanish Walk by teaching him to use his pawing habit on cue.

That's all I have, but I plan on expanding it as much as I can. I am all for copying others. It is so unhealthy to put blocks on yourself from using other people's ideas, but I think it is also a sign of poor growth if you don't have creations of your own.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Justice in the Flesh

I went to Molly's house again on Thursday, the 4th of February. This time, I was playing with their weanling, Justin. I have spoken with him before, but I was happy to get to focus only on him. I have heard many stories about Justin from Molly. He is a spunky, outgoing colt with few fears, if any, and he loves people. I am sure his sweet dam and sire have a lot to do with that, but I contribute 90% of it to his humans. It is so clear that they are doing everything right with him. I, of course, have never had foals; yearlings are the youngest age group I have worked with. However, I have seen plenty of foals of other horse owners and I have never seen a foal that was well-mannered. It was never the case that I felt there was no such thing as a well-mannered foal, but I had yet to see one.

The Latin origin of "Justin" is "justice." Justin is the culmination of what happens when there is justice for the horse. It is completely unfair for the horse brought into this world and then not prepared to exist in domestication with their spirit in tact. Justin has personality coming out of every pore, but he is still easy to handle.

Dropping that rant, after watching Molly play with him for a bit, I played with him a bit. I put the rope around his flank, belly, and girth and led him by each. He completely yielded without so much as a kick in protest. He is definitely still a character; he made several displays of exuberance while I was watching, but was always quick to come back. He is very drawn to people. After leading him around in imaginative ways, I began to lead him back to the front of the area where Molly was. He wanted to hustle, so I rewarded him when I was done asking him to match my pace by letting him go to her. How cute!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Pleasant Surprises

It seems that I am behind in recording my time with the horses. Not to worry. In the past week, I have had all of 4 sessions with the horses, if you can call them that.

friday january 31- catching and grazing, 30 minutes, Misty, afternoon
I went out to the back of the pasture and sat on a barrel that was in the very back northeastern corner of the perimeter. Bridget was playing with Conner in the round corral and Misty was standing by that fence, which was all the way on the southern fenceline (about 200+ feet). I just sat and waited. My plan was to just have down time if she did not want to be haltered or to come over. If she did come over, I was going to do very little and then take her out to graze on the newly uncovered lawn behind the barn.

Fate had it that something spooked the horses. All of them. Misty's head and tail went up and she began to trot around. Within moments, she spotted me and came trotting out to me. I was absolutely surprised at this! As a horse, she was saying "Oh my gosh! You my safe zone! Save me!" That means so much to me! I keep getting surprised at this, when I have periods of time where I don't get to have a good long session (or at least longer than the interaction of feeding and talking or massaging for five minutes) and my horses still do these things that make me feel so happy.

I had a halter and 12' line and stringed carrot stick with me, and she put her head right in while I stayed seated. I was prepared for her to say "Well, now I feel safe, so...SEE YA!" but instead, she cooperated. I made the walk to the gate interesting by playing all seven games with the various obstacles that are sprinkled in the North Pasture (barrels, pedestal, tires, ground poles). I report that everything needs some spit and shine, but she was still impressive.

When we were finished, I took her out to graze. I played some friendly games while she was grazing and tested her focus on me. It was very relaxing.

wednesday feb 3- mirror, all the horses, 15 minutes, both, afternoon
I was in the barn photographing an installation art piece. I was using the Mylar mirror (which I meant to bring down to the farm in December) to reflect light onto the artwork. When I was done, I took the mirror out to the pastures to introduce the horses to themselves. It was funny to say the least! Misty was infatuated and followed me like I was carrying grain when I went to take the mirror to the other side. Conner wanted nothing to do with it and stood far away looking on. Blu was terrified but curious. Ginger ran around like a looney while I played the friendly game with Blu. Blu eventually was chasing the mirror around to touch it. Hoosier stayed in his stall and never met his reflection. So funny!

friday feb 5- Bridget at liberty 1 hour, afternoon, Misty
I read a thread on the Parelli Savvy Forum about two women who went into their Liberty round pen and divided it in two with ground poles then played a game where they had to keep each of their horses on their own half. If the horse went to the wrong side, the other person protects her herd of two and shoos the horse back on to its side. I asked Bridget if she would like to try it. The groundpoles were frozen to the ground, so we used the 45' line and 12' line to make the line.

I only had the tetter-totter on my side, which Misty had never encountered before. I started by playing the catching game at a slow rate and taking my time. I did a lot of giving her time to explore the tetter-totter. She was quite AWESOME, if I do say so myself. She was curious and kept going further everytime I presented it to her. I led her over it with the carrot stick through the halter and leading her over it at her own pace. She managed the change in tilt perfectly, like she had done it a million times!

Another fabulous moment was when she went away from me at the trot once and ran into the rope on the ground and skidded to a halt when she saw it. She had apparently learned from the two times she had crossed over! I beckoned her back to me and she trotted to me.

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