Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I got to do chores by myself this morning and then get started with Misty. Following the pattern I have kind of been doing with her, I walked to the gate. I mirrored her on the way to the gate. When she paused, I paused; when she looked east, I looked east; when she looked at me, I looked at her. After licking and chewing, she walked to the gate (and so did I). And thus began our session of awesomeness.

It only took 3 or 4 reverse psychology style pull-aways of the halter to cause her to put her head under my arm and right into the halter. It was nice enough to videotape (which I didn't of course--no camera).

This next part should really blow up your skirt--or kilt. I sent her away a bit and she immediately was thinking about backing out the gate. Getting her into position was a breeze because she was thinking on the same frequency. Hindquarters came to me and I was able to stay in my position to back her out. Then we waited for a moment for her to snort, exhale, or lick and chew before she ate (just a moment).

I let her graze for a while, but she was shivering, so I wanted to get her moving in the pasture. While grazing, she was very attentive to me and responsive to the line.

Since she was already offering it, I played with driving and backing her by the tail. We will be ready for a pattern, next time. She has so great. she was keeping me in zone 5 pretty well (sometimes she would move out of position and need correction) and stopping and going really well. For backing by the tail, she was steering great and coming back at a rhythmic pace. I stopped at a barrel when we were done to reward her.

Next was our circling game and yo yo time. I will do highlights to save time:
#1 I did a pattern of hindquarter yielding to get her really focused on me because she was kind of distracted by something. What I did was stand in front of her and look at a hindquarter until she yielded it (stick if needed), then turn away to the other hindquarter to yield that one. It ended up being quite fast because she was yielding very quickly, so it would look like me standing in front of her oscillating from left to right away from her face.
#2 I had to experiment with energy phases. It is so cool to play with that and see right before your eyes how the horse changes. Specifically, when I take it down a notch or two, Misty can back up without tossing her head up in the air defensively. It's like she is saying "Too loud!" She was going a bit slow at first so I would walk at her fast until she was going as fast as I thought she should and then take it down to my phase one. I repeated this until she could back up with relaxation at either phases (phase 4 then phase 1) and would maintain the speed of her phase four back up when I went back to phase 1.
#3 Simple transitions. I picked a spot for stopping and warmed her up with walk, trot, and stop transitions before adding the canter in. I always stopped in the same place, a place she picked because it is where she peters out. She got to being much better at stopping, but I will continue to see improvement as she gets them sooner and at lower phases.
#4 On the partnership side of things, Misty was great at putting the slack in the line. And no tangents today, almost, but she stayed on the circle after she met the line. So, she is getting less sucked in by obstacles.
#5 More of a low light is when she got very confused and tight when I was asking her to go left one time. She had been left before, but this time she was not sure what she should do. I stayed very quiet and soft, and she finally began to breathe then see what I was asking.
#6 I played with small circles. I started by just walking in the tightest circle with her on the outside. Then, with the line only between 3 and 6 feet long (if she got off balance, I let her drift to 6 feet), I had her walk then jog circles around me. I just asked her to go again if she stopped, and pretty soon, she gave me 2 circles with no stopping. Good start.

To finish the session I went and stood on a barrel, then gently asked her to come sideways to me. She came right over and I did my usual order, of petting her, scratching her, leaning on her, etc. When I got down, I thought it would be a good marker of recuperation of skills (we have lost so much) to have her go sideways over a barrel towards me. We got her over the barrel several times, but only to the first end. She never came any more over it. So I settled for sending her sideways away from me over the barrel. That was no problem.

Then I stood on the barrel, just to see what would happen. I asked nothing of her. She came sideways to me, then put herself into position for me to get on. This was a huge thing for us because she has not done this in such a long time.

I took off her halter, and she did not leave me right away. She did, but not right away--a much softer disconnection. As I walked to the water trough and washed off the savvy string, she waited outside the muck for me then followed me to the fence. Super! I went into the barn and got her a cookie. Then I picked grass for her. Then I went into the barn, got a couple cookie, split them into thirds (six pieces total) and played with Misty at liberty.

We did a lot in the few minutes. Sideways to and away from me were there. She offered spins. I played with differentiating between a hindquarter yield to and from me. She is so confident with putting her zone 5 in front of me. She backed right up with her tail then when I began backing up from a greater distance, she did it with just my hand in the air--or nothing but me backing up. I used a stop hand signal, but she did not stop the first time, so maybe that needs work. But the coolest part of the liberty session was when I asked her to trot to me and she started to, but then got sucked in by the tire pedestal. She got to it and lifted her foot up in the air, suspended it there, then suddenly put it back on the ground and looked at me. I invited her back to me and she trotted to me! This is the biggest breakthrough yet on her stuck-to-obstacle-ness. I was so proud of her.

I sat on the fence to see what she would do. I was hopeful that maybe she would get into position to be mounted. She walked by me several times before stopping sideways to me with her butt--not her back--in front of me. I itched her butt and scrubbed away her summer coat and the caked dirt. Sometimes, I would stop and start again. She finally began to wander around. Shortly after, I hopped down. It really made her jump and she nickered at me. It was weird. I told her I was sorry for spooking her and I would get her some cookie. So I went through the barn with a cookie, haltered Blu up with reins attached, went through his pasture and the gate, then gave her said cookie.

I stood on the barrel and Blu got right into position. I just wanted to ride him around while my mom rode Connor. I did various things, and all of it was good. We started just jogging around the pasture, then he sucked onto his rail that he knows and I followed it for several laps. Then I asked for the canter and we cantered right out of the arena and around the pasture. It was a very fluid session. One thing flowed into the next and then would repeat itself later. I just took what he was giving and had a pleasant time. We tested his spins--not too, too shabby. He cantered into the fence and stopped right at the last moment with me, trusting me all the way (that used to be very difficult for him to trust me with). We did a couple precise figure eights without touching the reins. Some tit for tat at the trot.

When we finished, we worked the gates, which he was marvelous with. Then we had to stop Ginger to take her coat off. When I took off his halter, I rubbed his face and he followed me to the back pasture. I rubbed him some more before leaving. As I was walking away, I looked back--and had to go rub him some more because he was so cute.

Blu gave me a great ride this morning. Everything was easy. Not demanding, really, but it is nice when he says "Yup." He is a good horse. So, I was not put out that Misty did not get into riding position. Rather, today's session with her gave me great hope. I know the light is at the end of the tunnel. For a long time, it has not been there, for me. It has been a long road of chasing dreams and getting lost; of condemnation of self and redemption thereof; of analyzing and reaccessing; of decay and growth. Now I see it is going somewhere and that Misty and I are going there together.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

1 comment:

  1. Very, very cool!

    Petra Christensen
    Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
    Parelli Central


About Me

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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