Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What I Dreamed is . . .

I remember fantasizing about coming here to the Parelli campus. In my silly fantasies, everyone loved me and the important ones liked me so well that they asked me to stay and work here. Soon, that fantasy became something I believed would truly happen with all my heart and soul.

Since I have been here, I treated every day like it was an audition for a part on campus. I went out of my way to make this place feel like home and I tried to make friends with everyone I met. After a while, I got really good at making friends and being helpful.

When the Liberty & Brideless Summit came I kept doing the same thing as before, only now I had more people to befriend and help. Suddenly, some of the people I was auditioning in front of were expressing an interest in me working for Parelli, just as I had originally dreamed so long ago.

At first I discarded it from the realm of possibility, this thought of staying here and working. Then I realized that these ladies were serious and so I got serious. I began playing the friendly game with the idea of staying in Colorado and working for Parelli Central.

Now I am less than 24 hours from knowing whether or not this is going to work.

Looking back, the funny thing is, by the time I was "auditioning" for a job at the Summit, I did not even know I was doing it anymore. In other words, it has become a pattern for me to go out of my to make friends and be helpful. I am getting all tingly realizing what kinds of doors this could unlock--then I just need to have the courage to open them.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hip Flexor

On our day off, Faith and I got to audit Linda's Instructor Horsemanship Course. We were both pretty stinkin' excited about it and you can't imagine how grateful we are to have been allowed to. In the early morning, I was in the office helping some of the student/instructor people who needed office help, but after that, we did simulations of the stead rein and then seated posting on the barrel. I did not post on a barrel, but I did watch and take good notes. It was educational to say the least and I was pretty excited to see the riders ride it later on.

Linda came up and set us up to do another simulation on stability. Faith and I were partners for this one. We stand on the flats of our feet with our knees bent as much as possible (keeping the heels touching the ground), "crunch your dots" down our sides and on our front, tuck our butts, focus ahead with neck stretched up like a string is pulling our sternum back around and over our shoulder blades and up through the top of our head. Then, the other person tests the stability by gently pushing the front, back, and side of the positioned person's shoulder. Next, we tried putting something out of position and feeling how that affected stability. It was really crazy how little it took for stability to be lost and also interesting to see what affected all of the stability (front to back and/or lateral) and how much or little each tweak changed stability. An important observation was that sometimes what felt like stability was actually just brace and by opening the hands, we can isolate stability without brace.

Watching the riders in the first group, I took lots of notes. Linda shortened stirrups if the lower leg was mobile, telling us that after a couple days, the hip flexor would open up more and the stirrups could be lengthened without the lower leg becoming unstable. Linda also corrected crookedness in the riders' stirrups and shoulders. It was really interesting and when I watched the second group, I took fewer notes because I mainly just watched and tried to make conjectures about what Linda would have each rider do to become straighter and have better position. By the end of the auditing, I had a brand new eye through which to observe riders.

In the 75' round pen on the 45' line, I played with his circling game and played a game of canter on the big circle, walk on the circle close to me. I had to go back to online once and then it made sense to him and he sent on a small circle right away.

I saddled him up and took him to the small coverall to find that the guys had left the volleyball stuff out--including the net hanging in the middle of the coverall. At first I said "Aww, man," then I realized the opportunity here and took Blu in. I played with sideways then had him canter a couple circles before mounting from the fence.

We proceeded to take down the volley ball net without using the reins. He was awesome; it's like he was born to take down volley ball nets! He never spooked or flinched with all of the shaking, dragging, and wrapping up. I pitched the bundle in the corner, made a couple laps around the arena freestyle and relaxed then began practicing the positioning I learned from Linda. It felt like being back in the show ring.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lower Gaits

Circling game on line
  • release on connection
  • test connection with change of direction
  • do a draw in if not changing direction with slack
Ride a million transitions then relax ride in pasture

I made that plan during dinner while talking with Faith and Karin about being prepared to be somewhere for a certain amount of time and about the winter and Karin's winter beach rides, amongst other things. I was happy with my short plan and headed out to put it into action.

I had no clip on my 45' line, so I just stuck the hondo through the halter--also, this meant that it would come off if he was too heavy or I was too heavy.

After a great couple of yoyos where he did not make any assumptions, I sent him off. He went off very slowly and with a bit of unsureness. My aim was for connection, though, so I did not fuss over it too much. In the beginning, I played with his feel by reeling him in and out. I did a draw in at the trot when I saw him connecting with me. I did changes of direction, too and the line stayed on the ground. There were some deer around that he was watching, but he was really awesome at focusing back to me again. I took off the line and tried it at liberty. His sent was a straight line to the rail, but after a lap or two, I stepped back and it only took about 10 strides for him to draw to me and they were all thinking strides as he considered (possibly) whether to continue on, change directions to the outside, or change toward the inside. I think he was not considering draw in because when he did step toward me, he started to continue into a change of direction but then wiggled straight toward me again. I ended on that because he trotted all the way to me, had great expression, and he chose connection.

After saddling him, I wanted to warm him up in the savvy park, but he went into his stall. Since it looked like that's where he wanted to be, I played with him for few minutes in there. I wanted to do a simple squeeze, but he was tight and worried. I just stuck with it until he figured out the game. Now he left the pen willingly with me. In the Savvy Park, I started with a puzzle for him to solve. Sideways to the tarp walls, yield HQ into tarp walls, back through tarp walls, trot to me through tarp walls. The first time, he made an assumption/offered to back into the tarp walls. I don't know if it was right for me to stop him--probably not because he was stiff when I went to bring him back to me. I cut the distance in half and tried asking him to come to me. He did, I backed to my old spot, then asked for a trot and he came confidently. The second time through was smooth and from the original distance.

I asked Blu to jump the embankment on the circle and he presented a bit of no and can't, so next time I want to do something to help that if it's not slippery.

I rode him bridleless in the small coverall doing a million transitions within the walk and trot gaits. As I worked through the walk, I kept reminding myself not to try the trot until the walk was working slow and fast.

Working the gates went so smoothly both ways and when I put him in his pen, I stayed mounted and backed him in. Since that's a pattern he knows, it went really smoothly, too.

Tonight, I learned again the importance of waiting for the horse to find the answer in a lower gait before trying a higher gait. Maybe that's something that I could apply to myself a bit more, too. I will keep an eye out for parts of my life that I am skipping steps and getting direct line. I am just not thinking about what it's really about in those instances, anyway--it's really about the connection I have and the connection I am reciprocating with during whatever "gait" we are in.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Transcendence: Sea World

I have often read or heard stories of people in the Parelli program and thought, "What would I give to be in his or her shoes?" Over the past 9 weeks, I have had some amazing experiences: a lesson with Kristi on taking the next step with finesse; a lesson with Ryan on the lead change ladder; yoga with Theresa Zenner; moving to the ranch--but not much that truly set me apart. Today, I had a moment--rather 45 minutes--of transcendence into a pair of shoes that I would say "What I would give to be in her shoes!" about. 

We had a special tour scheduled for a beluga whale trainer from San Antonio, Texas' Sea World this morning. I had given a tour to a man from Iowa in the morning, so I now had an idea of what was about to transpire--or at least I thought I did. Shirlee was so nice and very thoughtful--she came to observe the parallels between what she does with the whales and what we do with the horses. So, what she really wanted to see was a session with a horse. The trouble was, Pat is in New Mexico for a cutting show and all of the instructors are in Linda's course doing simulations with barrels. When Genna asked me if I would be willing to do a demo for her, I was calm only on the outside.

Genna drove the golf cart, Shirlee sat shot gun and I sat in the back in the bucket thing. We showed Shirlee Arena Grande and the Savvy Park then went up to Pat's area. There, Kalley Krickeberg was giving a demo on Champ to potential buyers, so Shirlee got to see some basic Seven Games while ridden. Next, we drove down to the Lower Barn to see what Linda's course was up to. They were doing simulations, so we told Shirlee about how we like to learn through simulations before doing it with the horse(s).

The last stop for Shirlee was to see someone in session with a horse. Faith had just gone into town, so it was just Blu and me. I had really hoped Faith would be there so we could show Shirlee the property game and so Shirlee could see the super cool advanced things Faith had going with Judge.

I took Blu to water and walked him to the small coverall at liberty then put the halter on to go into the coverall. Then the transcendence happened. I realized I was about to give my first demo. It was a teaching experience! I got really calm and from that point on, everything that came out of my mouth just fell out like the words knew what to do and where to go. I read Shirlee as we went along to make sure I was not going too deep into the psychology of it. During Blu's soak time, Shirlee shared her experiences with the same concept, so I felt comfortable sharing what I was sharing.

I went through the Seven Games in order, sharing the purpose of each game and any theory concept that came up. During friendly game, I showed her the zones and then did extreme friendly game in zone 5. I talked about knowing when to approach and retreat and when it is okay to move on to a new activity as well as understanding the comfort zone. Shirlee shared a story about a beluga whale who was wary of having someone swim with her but could handle humans in the wading shelf, now after expanding her comfort zone and using approach and retreat.

Next, with the porcupine game, I showed her how I used different phases, which could be refined over time, getting body awareness before asking a body part to move, the two spots horses move each other with, supporting with the driving game to refine the phases, and the release that teaches. Driving game (yield from rhythmic pressure) went similarly, but I showed her a draw, stick to me, and a close range spin as well. When I showed her the variation of the driving game called stick to me, I explained how connection is priority. I explained drive vs draw, which lead us into the yoyo game and the equalization of to and fro movement. I showed her how I could use just my energy and intention to drive and draw Blu and shared with her the experience I had of him making assumptions with this game in the past. I explained to her how in Parelli, by not teaching assumptions, we were creating a language with which to have a conversation rather than creating tricks with cues.

Circling close went slow at first, which was perfect for me to explain ending on a good note and being particular about what I wanted whenever I came out of neutral. I also told her that draw was important for close circling, so I did not want to shut him down for checking in with me so often--rather, I just encouraged and returned to neutral. We ended when he made a lap without stopping and asking a question. Then I put Blu on the savvy string, telling her then that we had 9', 12', 22', and 45' lines as well. Then we showed her a circling game of Blu maintaining his 4 responsibilities.

Next up was the sideways game. I took his halter and line back off and sent him sideways away and to me. My emphasis on this game for a good note ending was to end when he had equal movement of forequarters and hindquarters, which meant no lagging. Then I showed her sideways with me in zone 2 doing stick to me position and ended when he put effort in by crossing over. At that time, I shared the importance of the stick to us as an extension of our body since horses have long bodies but we have tall bodies--so I could use the stick to touch zone 4 to tell it to move over, too.

For squeeze game, Genna found a pedestal and I had Blu go stand on it. I talked about how the pedestal was a simulation for a bigger squeeze like the trailer, also explaining some of the funny looking things in the Savvy Park as trailer simulations. I told her about the idea of preparing a horse with a really difficult simulation so that when it came time to ask for a simple task, they were confident in their ability to do it, as is the case with the really tiny trailer in our Savvy Park compared to the larger trailers horses come with. Then I showed Shirlee a basic squeeze game with the wall and me. This is when I shared the send, neutral during allow, and the turn, face, & wait of the squeeze. I also discussed the concept of a flight line in the wild and how humans breed for different flight lines for different types of go in horses, i.e. racing. I retouched on assumptions and talked about making sure all the butterflies were landed before I asked him to go. Oh, and we talked about Blu having confidence to function at a distance from me and not crowd me. Shirlee's smile seemed to relate to that concept.

Then Genna stood 12' from the pedestal and we attempted the figure eight around the two. Blu presented me with an opportunity to talk about his puzzle solving and how even as he was confused, he was checking in and asking question. We ended on the note of Blu walking around Genna and back to me, not stopping at Genna (hehe).

I closed our session with two positive patterns. I explained how horses are pattern animals and we are the ones who have to choose which patterns to instill in them. So when I put the halter on, we have a pattern of him coming to the halter, chasing it really, and putting his nose in it. This also demonstrated another concept I shared about having permission--knowing that if he put his head in the halter, then I knew I had permission to move on--and that if he didn't, it would not be wise to move on, anyways. Both of these concepts resonated with her and the rules that MUST be followed for safety's sake when playing with a whale. I showed her the concepts as they apply to mounting by climbing on the fence and Blu following the pattern of getting into position with just a wave of my hand, explaining that the same idea applies there, too, that if he did not get into position, I did not have permission and the ride would probably not be a good one, possibly not a safe one.

After watering Blu and putting him to bed with his fly mask (by holding it up and him walking into it, no less), I came back and explained the property game to Shirlee since Faith and I couldn't show her.

On the way back to the office, Shirlee told us how they used target sticks for the whales to chase and the idea of taking what she knows the whale will be willing to do in a given moment. She also shared about how they understood that the whales are unique in their personalities, though the trainers did not necessarily have it down to such a refined science. Another interesting tidbit I think she took away was the idea of responsibilities, especially not to act like a prey animal, which belugas are, too. Hmm! I commented on how it was really cool for her to be in a community of people who can't force because there isn't really a way to force a whale--and also on the fact that everything they do has to be at liberty. It was such an engaging conversation--Genna and I just soaked it up!

We picked up another tourist before the liberty demo and she knew a graduated extern that Genna was fond of. We gave each of them a lovely tour packet of goodies to go home and enjoy. I also told Shirlee about our Summit coming up and the deal of it being shared on Parelli Connect--so she might join the Savvy Club for the free 30 day trial just to see some of that.

This was such an amazing experience--I wonderful way to start my day. I learned the value of sharing (in a demo) what I can do--not what I can't. I kept it all at the walk and basic and it looked nice and soft. No dust :) What an opportunity to share what I love. Shirlee left with the offer to contact her for an invite to Sea World next time we were in San Antonio. How cool is that?

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Warm Wind

Today was such a warm day. I felt enveloped in it. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was uncomfortable, but it was a pleasant day no matter how you spin is my spin on it:

This morning I started my day at 5 a.m. I took a (WARM!!) shower, watched a McLeod's Daughters episode, took care of Blu, and thoroughly enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes, egss, and sausage. Yum!

Today was a special day because the Instructor Horsemanship course had check-in. Faith was out most of the morning because she was up all night with Judge...actually, Genna went back to bed, too because she stayed up with them, as well. So, it was just me and LeAnn in the morning. I had binder work to do and Pat invited some folks over for a tour. For that reason, I was in the front office working through binders a chunk at a time after I made up a tour packet. The tourists never came, but that's just as well since I was running all day.

I had a new experience taking a 45 minute phone call. I used my calming-voice voice and the principle of having a way to go up if I could not provide an answer. When I finally hung up, I felt really good about helping the lady out.

Throughout the day, right up until check-in, we were building additional binders--rather, Faith came in and started building. Then, at 2 pm, Jenny Trainor arrived for check-in. So, instead of a 3-5 check-in, we had a 2-6 check-in! :) Hehehe. It was really fun to meet so many instructors. I have a lot of new friends, now :).

Dinner was DELICIOUS! We had fried green tomatoes for dinner and apple pie for dessert. It was so lovely. The atmosphere was so jovial because of all of the Parelli Professionals meeting all their old friends. It was fun.

After dinner, I went out to go for a ride. I took Blu to water and then to the small cover all. Blu acted like he wanted to lay down, but then changed his mind and wandered off so I snuck up on him and flicked him with my savvy string.We played at liberty for a little bit, WTC stick to me with him putting effort into the ketchup. Then I got on the fence and mounted him with permission. I played follow the the rail a bit, getting in harmony with him at the walk trot and canter. He was a little worried about the change from the coverall to the rail, so I only changed gait/direction when he was consistently confident. Cindy Gianini watched for a bit and was very nice about handing out compliments that made me all fuzzy inside. I ended with a stop in the middle from the canter.

We worked the gate and he did it perfectly like butter--it was so smooth! We jogged off to the hill pasture. We cantered, grazed, trotted down hill, cantered across the pasture toward the extern barn, circled, then grazed. Then we did simple lead changes on the straight on the way toward the honey comb. After a good graze, we jogged back home. We stopped under a tree and I dismounted and let him graze. It was all so soft and it was all bridleless. The wind was warm and that made it just . . . lovely. So lovely.

I love Blu.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ryan Rose's Birthday

I am going to mix things up and start with the lunch. During lunch, Faith and I learned how to fix the round pen, lead by Michael. We fixed the rail that Blu kicked to pieces last night. It was fun because I got to use the reciprocating saw. Hehehe. It was actually really easy and Faith and I now have a little tiny bit of facility experience, now.

Today is Ryan Rose's birthday and I made him a card for the office people to sign. I spent the whole morning drawing then painting it. Then Genna came in with jobs for us to do: binder jobs! At one point, I put yellow paper in the printer to print off copies of a section of the binders. I couldn't find the document and after five minutes I remembered the yellow paper still in the printer. I looked up at Faith and said

"You know, I have yellow paper for this but I still can't find it. Pretty soon here, someone is going to print something out and be sad that it's yellow."

Right after I finished saying that, we heard Berin in the other room shout an exclamation. "See, Faith? I don't think he wanted that in yellow."

But, this sin was only after Berin had said how much he liked my drawing of Ryan and Glo, so I had some cushion in the emotional bank account with Berin--I hope. Either that or I hope that by the time I come back for the mastery program, he has forgotten about the yellow reports that were supposed to be white...

At the campus meeting, I wanted to share about how cool it was to be in the office and living on campus, but Genna shared with campus how cool Faith and I were and I decided to wait for a while. I don't know why. But, to repent for the fact that I failed to share my highlights, I decided to ask Berin if I could stand up and share what went on it the office over the week.

Right after the all campus meeting, the Barr's showed up. We had been expecting them all day, so we were all set to help them settle in. I got to drive a golf cart for the first time. Dave and I loaded their tack up and drove it down to the tack room. It was AWESOME!! John and Kathy are the picture of kindness; it's really comfortable to be around them. I thought about the clinic that they held in Michigan in July--it must have been a good one.

It was dinner time and Faith's horse was colicking. Genna and I brought Faith dinner, then I walked Judge while she ate. Genna stayed with her through the vet's stay. Judge was an awesome patient--the vet really liked him. I wanted to stay up, but I needed to find my cell phone charger. I bid Faith good night and went to my cabin to search. While I slept, though, Faith was up until 3 a.m. with Judge.

I had a really good feeling that Judge would be okay, but Faith, was very worried because it was the first time he had ever been sick. It did make me grateful for Blu's health, though. I sent my energy to Faith and Judge before I went to bed.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lions and Horses and Bears, OH MY!

Blu is the bomb!

After dinner last night, I gave Blu a semi-bath. By that, I mean that I left his coat on while I rinsed his legs, neck, shoulders, and face off. I did not want to get his back all wet because Faith and I wanted to go on a ride. Blu was a bit worried while I bathed him, but once again, he did not move hardly at all. The reason he worried was Judge and Faith left to play online in the playground--Faith also gave Judge a bath and it was full body at that, so she wanted to get him dry.

Somehow, the big green ball from down in the small coverall ended up in a pen. Blu and I walked it down the hill to take to the 50' round pen. Blu kicked it as we went along and one time it got away from us and rolled to the 100' pen where Kim Shannon was riding. I hustled over to start rolling it away, but Blu took the hustle out once we got there because it took him a bit to get into position--confusion about what I wanted was the culprit.

In the round pen, I took the savvy string off his neck and played at liberty. His stick to me was nice and soft and I turned it into a close circle. On this first one, I waited for him to stop before correcting him. When he got a lap without corrections, I yielded his HQ and brought him in.

After some more stick to me, I did a yo-zone 1 direct-yo. He tipped his nose left--Yay! Then I sent him left at the trot and asked him to do a close circle at the walk after several laps. Aha! Lights were going off in his head. I added my savvy string to my carrot stick and sent him off at a canter--just the stick had not been effective previously. When he asked if he could come in, I said yes and simultaneously sent him around in a close circle. He licked and chewed as he walked a sure, confident circle around me. How cool is that!

I did a change of direction in stick to me and Blu put a lot of effort into scootin' to ketchup--not mustard. He followed me to the fence and got into position when I wave my hand. After testing his walk trot and canter with a game of push the ball or canter a circle, we worked the gate and left. Faith decided to not come with me because Judge was still wet, so Blu and I trotted off. Blu was a little tight, so I just kept a good feeling with him. When we got to Arena Grande, he had relaxed. I asked Anna if she wanted to come with me and we rode off into the sunset bareback and bridleless on our tri-colored tobiano Paints.

Blu was so relaxed on our ride. He made nice canter circles around Anna as she walked. He maintained gait as Anna went up the hill and even maintained it as we went down hill behind her and came back up. We let the horses graze while we chatted. At 7:30, we headed home. Blu and I serpentined down the hill at a nice jog. I did not have to use my legs or string or stick at all.

Berin talked to Anna for a bit about next summer's externship and the January 1-Star Course. While they talked, I swapped between letting Blu graze and doing something so I could get better responsiveness to pick up his head when I asked him to stop eating.

I jogged home and stopped to let Blu graze under a tree. The grass is so nice! He enjoyed his pit stop, but needed some correcting when it was time for him to stop eating. On the way over the hill back to the pens, I practiced his "eat" and "stop eating" cues.

When I fed him, I had to throw pebbles at him until came to me with a nicer expression.

Last night, I had to make a trek to and from the lodge in the dark and all I could think about was getting attacked by a mountain lion. I was hustling! This morning, I had a bit of a late start, so there was no hot water left, so it was a cold shower for me.

The day got considerably better when Dennis the Cook came in with a bouquet of 7-week old Yorkies and his pockets full of them. It was adorable! I got to hold one of them--it was like a fuzzy maraca.

This morning, after cleaning the thermometers from the courses, a couple of tourists came in. They were from Michigan, so I got all excited. Unfortunately, tourists are off this week while Jae is out, but I sent them off to wander around campus with some Savvy Club goodies and information about joining Parelli Connect. I hope they join or at least try the 30 day Free Trial.

I love being in the office. I love getting meet all these customers and helping them out.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Last night I had an interesting sleep--I woke up very disoriented, having flipped my head to the other end of the bed. I had the early start I wanted at 5 am. In the cold darkness I hustled down the hill to the lodge with what I hoped was everything I'd need from my cabin.

The shower in the lodge bathroom is tricky, but I have been using it on campfire nights for the past 2 months, so it's not so bad for me. The deal is, it can only be hot or cold. Turn it right and it gets hot; left is cold. The answer is to turn it to hot and back to cold when it changes to too hot. When it gets to cold, turn back to hot. So goes the lodge bathroom shower. I don't know what the outside showers are like, but the space is super tight, so I'd rather master the bathroom's shower.

Breakfast this morning included delicious pastries. I nabbed some food and went up to care for Blu at 7:30. On my way back to the office, I washed my boots up.

The morning started out with blogging, for a few minutes before I asked Genna if Faith and I could get started with putting binders together for the instructor horsemanship course coming in this weekend. So began the epic job of the day! We found the guts of the binders were filed in many places and there were duplicates and expired bits stashed in miscellaneous locations. I will say in short that I first did a lot of copying and printing (the computer files of originals were also quite scattered), then I did a lot of organizing, recycling, and refiling. Next time we make binders, it will be a quick task! We made 26 binders today. Soon we find out if that was enough.

Before our lunch break, Genna, Faith, and I went out to water and feed LeeAnn and Bill's horses. I took care of Rio. Rio was a little pushy at first, so I just shooed him until he came back without trying to push. Walking back to his pen, I was particular about him not pushing into my space. I let him graze a bit before putting him back and feeding him. Then I hustled over to water Blu.

Lunch was super delicious: chicken quesadillas. Faith and I watched a bit of McLeod's Daughters in the office before resuming binder-building at the end of lunch break. It felt so good to finish. The files are looking much better. Hopefully it was a help and not a hindrance to put things into a proper place; at home when I tidy and organize my family can get cranky about missing items hehehe.

My plan for the night's Blu time is to bathe him, take him out to graze, then maybe ride him in the pasture a bit freestyle--just recreational sort of stuff. After such a long day of organizing, I am ready for a recreational ride!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Goodman's is a Good Place

As you begin to read this, I would ask that you smiled. That is how this post is meant to be read.

Yesterday afternoon, I went into town with Julie Cross and Christine Corbridge to put some things in the mail. As I was about to leave, Anna came and whisked me away to take my luggage in the cabin because it looked like a storm was coming. The little golf cart was actually quite impressive as it maneuvered in the rough terrain. My cabin is much bigger than I thought it would be. I was excited to get back and move in properly.

Julie and Chris are 3-star Parelli Professionals, but they are going to be better known to me as a couple of hoots. To say the least, it was very entertaining to go downtown with them. After the post office stop, we went to Goodman's and I nearly died. Keep that smile on your face, I am only going to share how much it kills me to see a lot of potential Christmas gifts for my family and not be able to put cash down, yet. Goodman's was a beautiful shop. They had a nice selection of quality Western wear and lot of unique gift-idea items.

I would like to get everyone their presents, here. This is a very special place and I don't see why I shouldn't spend the money here. I have to remember that I have to pack it and take it home, but otherwise, it's kind of a given. I am going to wait until after the performance summit, though because I might want to buy some things there.

Dinner was quick because I wanted to run out and play with Blu after I unpacked my stuff. I had a great time with Blu in the small coverall doing liberty and bridleless riding with the ball. His transitions were so light and I used what I learned from Ray Hunt in the morning; in stead of upping my phases when he didn't follow my body to change gait, I just maintained it and he got the picture. Aaaahhh!

In the evening, Mariah Helms and I headed up to our cabins together. We were both trying to get to the cabins before the sun's light was completely out. On the way up, we laughed about mountain lion and bear fears mixed with overactive imaginations. When we parted ways, she was kind enough to lend me her little flashlight for the night.

My parting thought for Monday is the views I have from my cabin's porch. The mountains, the sunset, my horse down the hill, the birds hopping in the brush.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Firsts, Again- YAY!

I woke up at 4 a.m. to pack my belongings into Anna's truck. We left at 5:15 a.m. and said good bye to the condo. It's another day of firsts. It will be our first day in the office as a team for Faith and me; our first night in the campus cabins; our first day of exciting new food every meal; my first day of horsemanship sessions (aside from feeding and watering) outside of courses on campus! I am so excited.

Faith and I did the students a favor and cleaned out the fridge. We disposed of all food items turned science project and organized what was left so it fits better. It looks much better and we could add all of our food in! We had to run back to the condo really quick to grab Anna's cooler (oops) before breakfast (PANCAKES!!) then we fed and watered our horses.

Blu and Judge were both a little tight and worried about the image of one of the water troughs turned upside down. I walked Blu to it with pauses at thresholds and he relaxed and got some molasses water. I had a "respect at feeding time" moment with him because when I came with food, he pinned his ears. I shooed him until he had a nicer expression. I think he is ornery about his new neighbor because he has not been like that during feeding the whole time we've been here. I picked his pen while he ate happily. It was a mucky mess, but the poop is gone. Hopefully the mud dries up some today.

I sat with some pancake-eaters (and Ryan who was eating his Capt. Crunch peanut butter puffs) before heading up to the office. We were supposed to be there at 8 a.m., but I was antsy so we were 20 minutes early. I read Ray Hunt's book for a bit before Genna came in with papers to file. Faith and I filed away and learned how to make labels. While we were chipping away at our first task, I answered the phone. Mark Brown from Central patched a distressed student over to me and I am going to mail a lost and found item to the student when I send my mom's charger home. Heroic effort for the day: check.

In the office today, I learned how to:
  • print labels
  • make new folders
  • locate office supplies
  • fill out retail invoice and calculate discounts
  • transfer calls
  • make copies
Julie Cross (uh-oh, I'm already namedropping--it's all downhill from here hehehe) is taking me into town to mail some stuff this afternoon and tonight I am going to play with Blu for the first time since Thursday testing!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Productive Kind of Day

    I hopped out of bed at 4 am and made pancakes for us then packed them up with the fixings and got ready to leave with Anna and Faith at 5:30. While I waited for the cakes to cook, I watched the Weather Channel. It made me feel like home--it was the first weather channel watching I had done since being here in Colorado. Even the coverage was on the east coast hurricane Irene, it was comforting.

    Faith and I ate our pancakes in the lodge--they were delicious and super thick. I like mine with Nutella spread on them. We got to talking about auditions and ran over to the computer room to watch Sarah and Woody in their liberty audition. She is so inspiring with her soft phases and such responsiveness from her horse.

    When it got light out, we went up to the pens and spent the next several hours cleaning out pens. Unfortunately, a lot of the students that left on Friday and Saturday did not clean their pens out. I talked to my gramma and mom while I cleaned. It felt good to work like that. So good in fact, after the pens were done, we retreated to the tack room and deep cleaned it. I swept under all the saddle racks and Faith made the porch look clean enough to eat off of. I wouldn't do that, but I think it is an effective visual.

    Faith and I caught a ride back to our condo with Jewel Cousins, a fast tracker/1-star course student who was staying in town with her hubby for a few days. It was cool to hear about her experience in the 1-star course and we really appreciated her taking us home since there weren't any other students to do it. Fortunately, we saw Jae as we drove out and she agreed to pick us up in 4 hours at the cafe by our condo.

    At the condo, we got to packing up our stuff so it could be loaded into the truck the next morning and moved in to the cabins on Monday. We watched the weather channel while we worked. I dumped everything in the living room and packed it up. I also did all my laundry. Faith unpacked all the decorations that I had put in a closet when we arrived. I had taken photos of the original placement of everything and Faith did an awesome job putting it all back. Once all our stuff was packed and ready to load, including our food, we plopped down and watched several episodes of McLeod's Daughters. We most certainly earned it!

    The two of us ended up chatting for a while at the cafe because we did not realize that poor Jae had recruited Chris Corbridge to pick us up. It was a good chat and the air was nice and cool, so neither of us minded. We arrived in plenty of time to enjoy volley ball. I got better this week, I think. Ash brought a different puppy she was a big star.

    It started thunderstorming and lightning struck the ranch--it was so loud! Anna commented later about hearing someone ask so-and-so if so-and-so's dog heard that thunderbolt. Anna got a real kick out of "thunderbolt" but I didn't tell her it's really a word. Of course, that got me to thinking about whether it is a valid word. Interesting, thinking of something you can only here being a bolt. What is a bolt, anyways?

    At home, I made spaghetti noodles and sauce. I used Morning Star crumbles for the meat. It was a good dinner. Afterward, I took a bubble bath and a shower. I needed a good soak before shower and bed. This was one productive day. After today, I think I want to get up this early every day.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Saturday, August 27, 2011

    Empty Pens

    I woke up early and headed out with Anna and Rachel. Rachel was going to catch a ride with Sylvia to the air port at 7:30, so I had a couple more hours to spend with her. We had a good time and I helped her print off her itinerary so she could get her tickets at the air port. I will miss Rachel so so much.

    Actually, a lot of fast trackers left today and I was saying a lot of good byes amongst helping them out in the office. I was in the office alone because it was supposed to be pretty quiet...I had a busy morning, though! A lot of students stopped in with questions and papers to file and problem-solved my way through it all. It was really empowering when I knew the answers right away.

    Anna took us home and we watched McLeod's Daughters for several hours before returning at 7 pm to water and feed the horses. The place was deserted. It looked so strange. I remember it looking strange between the last two fast tracks. But this time, a new group of fast trackers were not going to come in the next Monday. This was it. How very strange to see all those empty pens knowing that.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Any Other Day

    This morning was just like any other morning for the longest time. We met at 8 a.m. in the lodge for a meeting with Lee Palmer and had a Q&A for what our next step would be from here. Just like any other day, it seemed. Just like any other day, I am not sure what my timeline or schedule looks like, but I do know where I am going to end up--in an externship then up through the mastery program and out in the field as an instructor.

    Just like any other day, the instructors had fun exercises to test our skills. We all headed outside to play a game of hunker down. Hunker Down is a game that tests your feel. It is really testing your focus, feel, timing, and balance. Two people stand on buckets about 12' apart holding the ends of a 45' line. On "Go!" they reel in the rope. The object of the game is to get all of the rope or stay on the bucket longer. The trick is that when you yank, the opponent lets the line drift so you lose your balance and fall off. However, if you let too much drift out, then you will run out of rope. I won against my first opponent. Then all the participants who lost played to try and get into the next round. Then a winner and loser/winner played. I beat that opponent, too. After two more rounds, I was the winner of the class. Then it was me vs. Ryan Rose. Everyone was cheering me on and in less than 17 seconds, Ryan got greedy pulling the rope and I let the rope slide through my hands--and off the bucket he fell! It was so cool. I played against Pete Rodda later and lost. He had a different technique of trying to throw the rope around me. It didn't make it, but it did cause me to loose my focus which lead to the collapse feel, timing, and balance--and off the bucket I fell. I was redeemed a little bit because Ryan played against Pete and won, so by extension, I beat Pete :). I was the champion hunker-downer of the class so I did a victory lap of high fives :)

    Next we played a game I have never played before called Helium Stick. This game is supposed to test your porcupine game, but it really tests the team-manship of the group. The point of the game is to lower a graphite telescopic pole to the ground as a team with everyone maintaining contact with the stick. The set up is to have two rows of people facing one another with there index fingers held out to support the stick. The tricky part is that when everyone goes to make contact with the stick, the stick is so light, they push it up. The result is the stick seems to float up instead of going down--hence the name "Helium Stick." Some of the members of our group became quite upset and even though everyone participated in answering as a group "I am" to the question "who is responsible for getting the stick to the ground?" there was a lot of blaming and dissension right up to when that stick landed in the grass. I learned an extremely valuable lesson about the difference between a group of strong individuals and a strong group.

    Nicky Mummery and I had a conversation about the factors that affect how well a group bonds and turns into a family or team. We used the last fast track of some 60 students who became the most closely knit fast track anyone has ever witnessed and our 20 or so students who are some of the strongest individuals the instructors have seen in a fast track. We concluded that it has a lot to do with the set up of ground rules on the first day. An interesting observation is that the smaller fast track's instructors did not arrive until after the first and second days, so the leadership was a little wonky for the first few days. We made a conjecture that perhaps those first few days are crucial to creating an environment of boundaries and that those boundaries are somehow related to the atmosphere of the team. Hmm...It was a super engaging conversation with Nicky and I gathered a lot of observations to use for making courses more successful or having a successful student(s) as an instructor.

    I took care of Blu and got back to the lodge in time for our final circle. It was surprising how small the circle was compared to the final circle of the last fast track--that circle took up the whole room. Ryan led us in recalling what we did weeks 1-4. For week 3, Bonnie unveiled the comic I drew of last week's conga horse with Ryan spooking at the fast trackers following him and his spur stuck in an office chair. . . moving on. Strange how long ago that seems and how much we did each week. Then students shared highlights. The emotions were muted compared to the onslaught of tears and sniffling last fast track. That is why I did not say anything--I quickly turn into a mess and for the time being, my psyche was maintaining a state of disbelief that it was over.

    My favorite part of the meeting was flash mobbing the instructors with quotes from the course. I had Ryan's "A snaffle should fit like underwear--no wrinkles. At least that's how I wear mine--just trying to keep it natural--the 7th key to success is support," and Tanya's "I'm the frog!" where she lays down on her stomach during the horse shoe up and puts her arms and legs off the ground behind her so that she's shaped like the frog of the hoof. We were all in hysterics.

    We closed with gifts for the instructors. Bonnie got the most beautiful purple scarf because she fancies wearing silk scarves when we are out horsing around in the sun. Tanya received yoga lessons with Theresa Zenner at Parelli Central for the rest of the month and Theresa's yoga DVD for after Tanya leaves. Finally, Ryan opened up his gift bag to find a beautiful framed photo of him spinning Glo bridleless, an awesome Aussie Slang encyclopedia, and a gift certificate to his favorite stop for ice cream in town.

    After lunch, I went up to the office to see if I could help out. LeeAnn Thacker gave me the Volunteer Manual and I got to "work" making myself at home per LeeAnn's directions. I memorized the extension numbers in the manual and cleaned out the closet. I helped out some of the students who were leaving and needed office-y help. Mostly I blogged, though :).

    The office closed at 5 and I went down to the lodge for dinner. Tonight was super-special because the 1-Star course wrapped up today and Dennis made cake and ice cream to celebrate the new 1-star trainee instructors. The cake was delicious, but the ice cream was the real treat--our first ice cream on campus. All of the students from my fast tracks that went on to the 1-star course graduated. It was an exciting evening.

    At home, we watched McLeod's Daughters and the episode was very sad. I was set up in a sad disposition when our roommate Diana left. I hugged her-big hug- and laughed remembering the first time I hugged her during the first week. I kind of had no reason and it really confused her. The incident became a big part of our evidence that Diana doesn't like hugs, hahaha. For the first time all day, it hit home that everyone was leaving me again. I can't wait to see them again.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Chocolate Sundaes are Tastiest When Shared with Good Friends

    Testing is a state of being for some people. What happens in a test and how one performs in a test might not be close to how one would do in an "any other day" environment. I think the ultimate destination one would aim to arrive at is the absence of any discrepancy between the performance during a test and "any other day." This reminds me of what Kristi Smith told us during the last fast track about what it means for a horse to have a behavior or maneuver truly trained.

    "When a behavior or maneuver is truly trained, the horse will do it no matter when, where, by whom, or why it was asked for"

    When I reach the point of being truly trained to do what is tested of me, what I do will be a true reflection of "any other day." Today, during the final horsemanship testing for Fast Track #5 2011, I got one step closer to that goal for my personal growth; although our horsemanship has plenty of room for growth during testing, it also got better.

    On line testing weather was gray and wet. Blu was a mess, but I went straight to testing anyeways because the line for the hose was so long. Blu was sluggish for his yoyo and sideways, so I played with him a lot between that test and the circling game test. It paid off because Blu had great connection on the circle. I didn't even attempt cantering because he had something great going at the trot.

    Loading into the trailer was lovely and relaxing--and humorous. I stood on the fender because sitting on it would have gotten my pants all wet. Blu sidled up to me and it took me a moment to get him to go away. Then he loaded right onto the "float." I had a bit of trouble getting him off the trailer because he did not want to step into the giant puddle just outside tr trailer. Hehe.

    Liberty testing in the 50' pens was just doing the 7 games in 5 minutes. I was last to go. First I squeezed Blu under a 12' line tied to the fence. I was the only one to not just squeeze between the fence and person. Woohoo! Then I did extreme friendly game and lead by the tail with a great turn. Next I had him do two close range spins on the haunches. He did a nice yoyo but left for the sideways. He got it on the second try, though. Finally, circling we got a change of direction at the trot on the first try. I tried to go for one at the canter, but he got frozen so I just drew him to me. I felt really happy with that.

    Before lunch, we got through the first part of freestyle testing, which was to saddle your horse, showing the cinching process and to mount & dismount from the right side. Blu was great! We went on a point-to-point graze around the grounds before I put him to bed while I had lunch.

    Warming up for freestyle testing was so relaxing. Not one sign of butterflies. I was taking it easy on how much energy I asked for, but I was very particular about snappy transitions and practiced perfectly. It felt SO GOOD. I wish that had been my testing. Then testing began and I was caught in an assumption that I had really been relying on: the canter back-up yoyos were done on the slope at the top of arena grande, not the flat on the bottom of arena grande. During warm up, I did yoyos perfectly with Blu within the smallest space. Our yoyos were supremely wonky during testing! That'll teach me, huh?

    Our cloverleaf for Ryan was much better, but Blu still fell out of the canter and picked up his new favorite lead--the left one. I did a simple change after a couple strides, though. Our final task with Bonnie was indirect to direct rein with a supporting rein. Blu knew what he was about, but I over shot 180 degrees a few times. Oh, and he did hold neutral lateral flexion for 16 seconds without reins--too bad we need 30. Just another thing to keep improving on!

    We flowed right into finesse testing. Tanya's test was walk canter transitions. It went much better than the first time, but we have plenty of room for improvement.

    With Bonnie, we did shoulder-in and haunches-in. Yay! Something we can do really well!

    The final test with Ryan was to leg yield in both directions at the trot then serpentine with two flying lead changes. The leg yields were wonderful and we did nice simple changes.

    After testing, I went out to the pasture and rode around. First we loped up the hill and watched the new cows. Then we rode with Dani, Diana, Charity, and Stephanie. We cantered circles around Charity and then went home.

    Just like any other day, I put Blu to bed like he was my best bud and then I deviated from any other day routine--Anna dropped me off at the Pagosa Brewing Co. for the last fast track shindig. It was a slow start, but then Ashley Tippets showed up with her new puppy and that really livened our little table up. What a cutey patootie. I chatted with Bonnie when she got there, learning a bit more about how she ended up as an instructor and intern at 19. Faith, Bonnie and I went into the bar to buy a sundae--Bonnie inspired us!

    Faith and I shared one. It was DELICIOUS. I hope I get to have another before I go home. Then Faith and I inspired everyone and almost all the fast trackers present came into the bar for a chocolate sundae. It was so comical, this bar filled with women eating sundaes and two guys sitting off to the side drinking beer. That was a good time shared with friends.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Hot Air

    One of my favorite parts of being in Colorado is the change of scenery. Even on a bad day, the back drop is range of tree-covered purple mountains and sprawling fences. Today's back drop was even more exciting and it was a great day.

    We started focus stations right away this morning because at ten o'clock, we were all riding down to the extern barn where the externs had something to show us. I got Blu ready to ride really quick and then rode to Arena Grande.

    I started by riding around doing snaky bends because a hot air balloon was landing in the Parelli pasture down the drive behind the trees. That got Blu worried about the north side of Arena Grande all over again. I did get Blu blowing out and relaxing, but I had to return to getting the rail on that side to be a nice place for him again later.

    Next, I played with extending Blu's time that he would hold neutral lateral flexion without reins. We got up to 16 seconds and moved on to the question box. I had him walk, trot, canter, stop, back up, and turn on the haunches. I kept it to the right since that is the side that needs buidling up.

    I wanted to try out our cradle bridle out, but as I played with soft feel, I realized his emotions were still too up from the hot air balloon for us to achieve anything. I played follow the rail and cantered him in circles every time he went off the rail. It took a long time for us to make it around once, but by the time we did, he was sticking to the rail and relaxed--and it was time to go see the externs

    Blu was second in line after Ryan and Glo. On the way down a hill, he tried to sneak around them, but he only got his nose beyond her tail and I put him back in line. Blu had one pausing moment once we got to unknown territory and I don't think he would have had it if Glo hadn't jumped. The next time Glow jumped, Blu did not have a reaction. I used fluid rein to help relax him as we approached the extern barn. His head got level and he totally relaxed in his gait.

    The externs performed in a drill team. They did a great job and it was fun to watch. The 1 and 2 star instructor course students were there, Linda and her students were there, as well as the media team. Ryan told us that the externs were under a lot of pressure to give a great performance because our fast track is so advanced. I thought that was really cool and I think the externs succeeded in giving a performance worthy of our cheers.

    I put Blu to bed with his blanket and breakfast before meeting in the lodge to watch some footage of great horsemanship in finesse and freestyle. After lunch, we had freetime and I spent it in the computer room blogging and parelli connecting. On my way back to the lodge for the theory test, a student stopped me to let me know Blu had gotten out and been put into a pen. I could see from the lodge that Blu's coat was not on. Quickly it came to me that I never buckled his front straps and I hoped his coat was not demolished somewhere. I rushed through the theory test (it's okay, I have gotten 100% on it two times, now, so I didn't need to actually take it) and hustled up to check on Blu. I found his coat, still buckled up and put him in his pen to be re-coated then cleaned his pen and gave him dinner. Oh, and he got out of his pen by walking out of the completely open entry/exit spot--I forgot to put up the chain in the morning.

    It started pouring and hailing right as we were to begin our tool savvy test. We ran up to the small top and tied knots and threw out our 45s. Sharon bought me some jelly beans on a Parelli Central trip because I asked for a piece of candy from Central and I shared them with everyone until the campfire started. Sharon is so sweet :).

    I called Mom and chatted befor leaving the BBQ early. She told me that she found the breeder/owner of Misty and Ginger--or rather, Beth found her. I am so excited to hear more from Beth. I enjoyed talking to Mom and Ellie until we got home.

    Today was a nice day, lots of change from the everyday routine. A good day in Parelli Land is always a highlight-of-my-life sort of day.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Stretch Time and Soak Time

    Tonight Anna and I hustled home to get ready for a full evening in town. We were going to join Theresa Zenner's yoga class and then go soak at the hot springs.

    The yoga class was amazing. In the beginning of the class, Theresa asked us to dedicate our energy for this evening's practice to someone. I picked a friend. I thought about my dedication to that friend throughout the class.

    The yoga class moved quickly from pose to pose so it worked cardio at the same time as stretching and flexing. I was really good at stretching, but the hardest parts were supporting positions with my wrist. Focus was extremely important for the balancing positions. My favorite was the tree pose. At the end of the class, we took the position of the corpse with a lavandar cloth over our eyes for a long time. I loved it so much! I was ready for a good soak--my shoulders were tired and everything felt. It didn't feel sore, really, I could just feel everything.

    At the hot springs there are several pools spread out in a beautifully landscaped and tiered setting on the river. The atmosphere is very natural and I think I much prefer it at night because the lighting is beautiful. Anna and I ended up in the 102 degree pool with several other Parelli employees and students. It was a Parelli pool!

    After such a long day, it was good for my mind, body, and soul to stretch and soak in everything I had learned and felt.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Linda Parelli

    I remember when I first saw Linda Parelli at a tour stop. Her sense of humor was so entertaining and she was so sweet. She made everything she did with Beau fun and we could feel how much she enjoyed what she was doing. Linda's performance that day is the reason I fell deeply in love with Parelli Natural Horsemanship; she is the reason I became a student of Parelli and a member of the savvy club.

    When I began to learn from the box levels, Linda was my teacher. She continued to use her sense of humor and I was grateful for her clarity in communicating. Pat made appearances, but Linda was humanized by her constant presence. When I met her years later for the first time, I was amazed by her willingness to talk about things in depth. The next time I saw her in person, I presented her with a painting and I felt like I was giving a painting to a close friend who had no idea who I was.

    One thing that has surprised me while I have been here at the Colorado center is how rare it is to see Linda Parelli. In my head, I realize that I have a picture painted in my mind of the old course designs that were taught by Linda quite frequently. Now Linda is a scientist and discovering and writing about her findings. I realize that all those years I took Linda's presence for granted. It seems that it is a part of the dynamics of DVD lessons and being a progressive teacher. So many students must feel as impacted as I do, now. Another dynamic is that as Linda and Pat continue to get better, they deserve to teach the best students with the most advanced skill sets when it comes to face-to-face teaching. I am glad that she has come to that point in her teaching career because now I will know that if I end up in her "classroom," I am on the right track.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    From the Cradle

    This morning we started by playing a carrot stick toss game by the lodge. Ryan was once again impressed by the prowess of our class. We were in a circle and everyone had to toss the stick to the right, which mean throwing a stick and catching one at the same time. We got it in minutes and he claims that it usually takes an hour to get the hang of it. I guess we are just an amazing fast track! In the end, in stead of a savvy clap, we all threw our sticks into the air on "VY!" of "SAVVY!" Bonnie Mcintyre caught it on video.

    We went off to start our focus stations, next. I spent an hour getting Blu warmed up, saddled, and warmed up some more. I played in zone 5 and won the game with a jump. I focused on connection on the hill by the pens during the yoyo.

    In Arena Grande, about 10 of us were prepared for a trail ride led by Bonnie. Bonnie asked me to be the caboose horse and Blu was great, there. He did not mind getting too far behind if he did. I chatted with Charity during the ride. Charity looks just like Jodi from the TV show McLeod's Daughters. If only her hair was blonde!

    We rode by the base of Scooch Mountain. Bonnie told us the story of her externship group going down it. Apparently a lot of them cried. It can be very dangerous because if the rider is not confident and sure of herself and the horse gets sideways, they can flip over. Next summer, I am going down it.

    On the way home, Bonnie had us space out 20' apart and then the front horses turned at a certain point and wove through the line of oncoming horses then joined the tail end. The horses got really relaxed, which was the whole point; Bonnie let all the horses get relaxed on this exercise then graze before heading home. When we got into the pasture by the honeycomb, Bonnie led us in leg yields before we grazed together again. That's when we all agreed to prank Ryan by telling him during highlight sharing that we did Scooch Mountain.

    The stage was set, Ryan asked for highlights. Bonnie said "My group has something to share!" and we all shouted in unison "We did Scooch Mountain!" Ryan's face turned into one of pure confusion and Bonnie told him we were just kidding.

    "What did they say? I couldn't understand because they all said it at once."

    How hysterical is that?

    Ryan gave a demo on zone 5 driving after an unexpected liberty session with Scamper. He found out that he has to have something going with her by Thursday so he can show it at rehearsal for the Summit.

    In the workshop, I snagged Ryan and asked for help with Blu's and my canter transitions with soft feel. After watching, Ryan highly recommended a cradle bridle. I went to the tack room and grabbed the cradle bit I bought over a year ago. In Arena Grande, I put it together and put it on Blu. He took it from me nicely and had good response to it when I tested it on the ground.

    After riding around without touching it for a few minutes, I did fluid rein and he stretched right into it. I played the friendly game with soft feel and we progressed to holding it. Then we did walk trot transitions. Everything was effortless and no fussing. I couldn't believe that this tool had been hanging in the farmhouse for so long and I did not touch it. To my credit, we are now THOROUGHLY ready for the cradle bridle.

    I finished our evening with a lope in the pasture. Blu and I chased down Sandy Stanway as she drove off, but otherwise, he grazed on top of the hill by the honeycomb. I unsaddled him right there on the hill and carried the saddle all the way back to the tack room.

    Natural Horsewoman Out

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Giving Yourself Permission

    I have learned a lot since I have been here, and one of the most empowering lessons I have come to truly grasp is what a good student I am. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I realize what I achieved and came to understand at home from the DVD courses I took. It is clear that I just need to continue to experience the principles and techniques to get them intertwined with the fibers of my thoughts . . . and then the real learning will begin.

    This morning Pete and Ryan lead the morning logistics meeting with flex and fast track students. Pete has a ritual of giving Dove chocolates to his students and then adding "in Parelli" or "on my journey" to the end of the little proverbs on the wrappers. The flex track students agreed to share their chocolates with the fast track students. Mine said "Give yourself permission on your journey." That is important to me because I have the tendency to be hard on myself.

    The fast track headed over to the round corrals to play a game of "Use Your 45' Lines to Push the Ball Across the Other Team's Line." My team was called "Buffalo Gals" courtesy of Lee Ann, and we won 3 out of 4 games! I learned that when your rope is wet and sandy, it is painful to reel it in quick!I played driving from zone 5 on the rail using my stick and rope for corrections. That made much more sense to Blu than just continually correcting by moving up a zone.

    Ryan Rose watched me play a circling game to give me observations and pointers about the status of and methods to improve our connection. Ryan said Blu needs more variety and less predictability, now. Also, his one-sidedness coming in is something to fix, not just observe. For his change of direction, if I have to use the line, I should just draw him in and start over. At liberty, if he is not drawing in for the change, I should put energy on every time he passes behind me and wait for him to ask a question then change his direction. That's actually a technique I have tried before.

    So, first I fixed his one-sidedness. He would come in and put me in his left eye. I played a game of sending him back out on the circle immediately if he put me on the side and resting if he put me in the other eye or straight on. For the rest of the session, he was changed.

    Next I needed to find a way to make it interesting. I sent him back out the gate, and with the panel still open, I sent him around the outside of the pen. At first he wanted to turn and leave, but I just stayed persistent in the proper position. It was uncomfortable for him out there because the line kept getting jarred on the bumps of the panels. After a few laps, I began reaching out with my drawing feeling each time he got to the gate. After one pass, he began to respond to the feeling with opposition reflex. After a few passes like that, he came right in and I brought him in.

    In the lodge during a horsemanship and theory question time, I shared the story about the circle on the outside of the pen. Ryan used me as an example of a good puzzle solver later in the meeting. Praise and recognition for the day!

    I talked to Lee during lunch about my new path with Parelli since the Florida campus externship is out of the picture. I was pleased with what she said about my new plan. There is something to be said for staying on campus for eons, doing everything consecutively and fluidly. At the same time, though, there is a lot of value in doing a little then going home to get experience and returning again. With the externship starting May 7th, I would be able to do 2012 spring semester at MSU and then finish the externship during the summer so I could start the 2012-2013 school year. I still have to talk to my parents about this plan, but it is my goal for the time being.

    Linda was a fashionably late for her 2 o'clock meeting with the flex and fast track students, so the instructors put on a sort of spur of the moment talent show. Tanya pulled out her stock whips, Pete danced, Jamie did card tricks, Grady told terrible joke, Maddie sang Amazing Grace, and Bonnie and Tanya sang an Australian kid's song with the hand/body motions. In Parelliland, waiting around is fun.

    I asked the first question "What is the best lesson you learned last week during filming?" Linda talked about never making assumptions about what her horse was okay with. She told us the following story:
    It was time to do the section on spooking. The horses were completely fine with the people hiding in the bushes, so Neil suggested opening an umbrella. So Linda had to talk through how to deal with a spooking horse as her horse was spooking at this umbrella--for multiple takes. What happened was the horses got desensitized with each pass while the humans got sensitized because she anticipated-- "Oh gosh, here it comes."--and got tighter. But that was not the worst of it. What she really learned was that Hot Jazz was not okay with a camera man in zone 5. As she and Pat went over a hill, a camera man was posted just below it and was supposed to shoot them walking by but stay stationary. So as they went down the hill (after waving good bye to the camera on top of the hill) the other camera man turned with them and Jazzy shot up! For the next takes, the camera man knew that he was just supposed to stay still and get them walking by, but Linda learned that Hot Jazz is not a fan of camera men in zone 5.

    I also asked about making myself clearer about what I want when I am asking for a soft feel in walk/canter transitions so that he can win the game faster. Linda's answer was to have an instructor help me through it. The group got a valuable lecture on fluidity, though because a common problem with soft feel, collection, and transitions in general is the rider not moving their body as they are asking for the transition. She demonstrated the very lateral swing of the walk, the vertical rise and fall of the trot, and the rock of the canter that the rider should do in the upper body.

    Linda was of course a great speaker for us and she brought her doggies with her, so we were all more than entertained. She promised to bring Remmer up to campus some time before the end of this week, too. What a treat that will be!

    In the afternoon, a thunderstorm was rolling in, but we did not cancel our ride right away. Like magic, the clouds disipated and we never did get rained on during our workshop. We focused on lateral movements and Blu was amazing. He did every thing and it was the easiest it has ever been for us because Blu was finally comfortable moving his body that way. Everything is just falling into place!

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Backing with Quality of Movement in Mind

    I woke up this morning ready for an adventure to Ignacio. Stephanie was going to drive Diana, Faith, Rachel, Gina, and me to Ignacio, CO for the last day of a cutting show Pat and Caton were competing in. I have never been to a cutting before today and I was so excited to have my first show be one watching the Parelli's.

    Blu's pen was mucky from rain last night, so I decided to let it dry up a bit before picking it out. I gave Blu a bucket of water and his food then we headed off.

    The drive to Ignacio is beautiful. I was reading my Tony Robbins book, but I took time both ways to look at the views of the mountains.

    We arrived at the Sky Ute Fairgrounds in only forty-five minutes. Pat was first up on Skyline and it was awesome! He scored a 70, even with a 3 point deduction for lifting the reins inches off the neck. Watching the competitors, it became evident what a technical sport cutting is.

    I was struck most by the cooperation and support the competitors have. I don't know if it is just a part of the culture that goes with the sport or not, but it was really cool to witness the comradery amongst these people. One thing unique about this sport is that it cannot be done alone even though the competitors are scored as individuals. There is the cutting individual receiving judgment and a score then there are two riders holding the herd and two riders holding the cow from running away from the cutting rider. These four holding riders were competitors and they shouted out support for the competitor. Everyone was doing their best to help everyone else.

    I learned the point system well enough that I could guess pretty close what the score would be. Pat got a 70 on Skyline, but on AR Chex Olena and a horse owned by someone else, he got 65s because the cow got back to the herd, which is a 5 point deduction every time it happens. Once the cow is alone, the rider can only use cues invisible to the judge's eye--no legs, no reins. Caton rode his new horse Bolero and I guessed correctly that he had earned a 70!

    On the drive home, I really got into my book. It made me very happy and I was ready to enjoy an afternoon of volley ball when we got to the ranch. Last week, my team won 8 out 10 games, but today, we lost them all! However, I put a lot of effort in today. I also took one for the team when Bill Thacker served one right to my face. It has been a long time since I've been hit in the face playing sports, so I guess I was due! We all had a lot of fun and I am so ready to play next week!

    At home, it thunderstormed intensely. We watched three episodes of McLeod's Daughters before bed. They were dramatic episodes and the thunderstorm intensified the whole experience.

    I am so ready for this week to start, as usual :)

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Dinner with Cats

    Tonight we had a blast at dinner with a huge group of students. Tanya Bennet was the only instructor who could make it and she seemed to really enjoy herself. Our group kept growing like a big amoeba (I'm feeling scientific today) but the waitresses did an amazing job keeping up with us. It was tough when our dinner came out bit by bit because the waitresses had to find where their customer was. I watched a waitress go up and down one side of the table looking for the customer who she had taken an order from. When the dinner was going unclaimed, Tanya stood up and clanked her glass announcing "grubs up" to get everyone's attention. The waitress had all of our eyes, now and asked "French Dip on this side of the table."

    "Oh! That's mine!" Tanya said. Everyone burst into hysterics.

    We talked about policemen and driving tickets for a while and then the conversation switched to the cutting show from that day. One of the fast trackers said she did not know what to say to Pat when he asked her what she learned. Tanya gave us an answer for next time: "Go with stopping in mind. Stop with backing in mind. Back with quality of movement in mind."

    At the end of dinner, a couple of adorable feral kittens started watching us on the balcony. I took some of my chicken left over from my delicious thai salad and began feeding them outside. They were so cute and they made me miss my kitties. One of the waiters said there are 8 kittens, but we only saw 5: a black on, two tigers, and two gray seal points. The kittens struck up conversation about our pets at home that we all miss. Although there are so many reasons I don't want to go home, seeing my beloved pets and people is one aspect of going home that is most welcome.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    The Final Parelli Games for 2011

    This morning I had a rude awakening message. I immediately began to come up with solutions, but they all depended on the cooperation of my friends. It seems that with so little time left to fix things, the answer is going to be separation, and that is really too bad. I can't make anyone want to fix it, though, so I have to accept that I have done all I can. It's hard to stand back and do nothing, but as we learn when building the precision pen, standing back and doing nothing is usually the hardest task of all.

    The entire incident--and the other dramas that have risen up over my stay here--have shown me a lot of who I am as a friend and a human being. I like what I have seen and I am happy to be myself. My goal is to keep on keeping on. I hope that I can positively affect those around me so they make changes for the better, but I won't go the extra mile for someone going in the opposite direction. To me, that means that I can't force my friends to put effort into making positive changes; it means I have to just keep on keeping on in my own journey and be ready for the moment any one changes directions to come with me.

    I have formed deep bonds with everyone here, some are much stronger than others. I find the stronger ones are the ones that have been tried and come out of the challenge. I hope we all come out of this challenge.

    I was going to play in some of the games, but I realize how tired Blu is and since testing is next week, I want to give him space and time to recuperate. I approached his pen only when he was looking at me. He was bothered by something in the bushes so it took me a while to get to him. Once I did, I had a peppermint candy for him. He was excited to get to water and go out to graze. I spotted Mary Anna, a fast tracker from last month, and ran over to hug her. Blu ate while we chatted, then Pete joined us and I hopped on Blu while we chatted. I rode him around with just a set of finesse reins around his neck. We went to the hill by the instructor horse pens where the water drainage makes the grass green. On the way back to the pens, Charity snapped a photo of us. Blu had perfectly perky ears.

    I got to watch Anna do the liberty tournament with Pat Parelli's goat, Billy Jean. It was adorable.

    Tonight is the final hurrah dinner for the fast track 5 group. I can't believe how fast these weeks go by. I love everyone here and I look forward to seeing all tonight.

    I am going to commit now to what I am going to focus on in leiu of feeling hurt and betrayed. In stead, I am going to focus on the friendships I have formed, the personal growth I have made myself and witnessed in others, and the awesome activities planned for this weekend. I make my own reality, and my reality is beautiful.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Learning How to be Left Behind

    A bit of a dramatic morning with our ride to the ranch was how my day began. I am trying to be in control of what I focus on, so I discarded some thoughts that would not help my situation in any way and focused on cheering up my roommates and relaxing.

    After noon, I realized that I had the phone numbers from some of the other carry-on fast trackers. I got a hold of Sue Ellen and she came to our rescue. The horses were very happy to see us. I had an unfortunate run in with Anna during which I voiced my feelings on being left behind. It would seem that my efforts to discard bad thoughts were for nought because I was actually just stuffing all my bad thoughts.

    I was quite contemplative of how I should have been thinking. I spent the afternoon with Dani at home taking notes on Parelli material. Dani and I went to the Ranch in the evening and I played with Blu. I had wanted to ride, but I just got to a good place on the ground and put him away. Playing with Blu helped put things into perspective and I finally came to the true realization that everyone was doing the best with what they had. That is the truth I choose to believe.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    The Farrier

    The farrier was scheduled to come and put new shoes on Blu's fronts and take the shoes off the back. Blu did an even better job than he did last time and his feet look great. He had a couple tugs, but he was asked to keep his foot up for a long time. I set up another appointment with Trevor (farrier) for September.

    I had a little bit of time left before the Parelli Games shut down for spotlight, so I warmed Blu up and did the freestyle tournament with him. We were roughing it a bit on some of the tasks, but the externs complimented my patience. It was then that I noted a big part of my growth here has been my self control when it comes to performing a task with my horse.

    We watched the spot lights and Blu grazed and made friends with Rachel McMillan. I once again did not make it onto the spotlight list in time, but there is next time, right?

    Dani went to Durango with some friends for the weekend and Anna was in town with Faith at the tack store in the morning, but in the afternoon, Rachel and Faith were at the ranch. They caught a ride home with another Parelli student and I stayed. I watched a Robin Hood movie with Karen _______ and Humphrey Dirks, two wonderful Parelli Professionals from overseas. It was a good movie and I was able to help us enjoy the show better by getting the screen brighter. Hehehe.

    Anna came and took me home later in the evening after I fed, watered, and cleaned up Dani, Faith, Rachel, and Fliss' horses. It was a really weird feeling being on the ranch so long with so few people there. I was exhausted when we got home. I was hoping to go to the fair for the dance there, but we didn't have enough room in Anna's truck. I was exhausted, though, so I was okay with watching some McLeod's Daughters and going to bed.

    Today I learned about the joys of taking care of lots of horses; and I am not being sarcastic! I loved taking care of the horses and being on the ranch all day.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Ryan's Remuda

    This morning after another round of carrot stick game, Tanya gave a wonderful presentation on "A Bit of Savvy" and Ryan gave a demo on saddling, bridling, and mounting in Arena Grande. Tanya taught that when it comes to tools, what really matters are the hands using it. She covered the concept "thin to win" the porcupine game by having us lean on our partner's hand then leaning on a pen in our partner's hand. That was a very effective illustration! Tanya covered the Parelli bridles/bits that fall under beginner, intermediate, and advanced level 4 as well as Pat Parelli's bits. Next, highlights from Ryan were:
    • do more down, right, and back to balance out your horse because they are usually already really good at up, left, and forward
    • if your horse doesn't move her feet when you start to move yours, don't move your feet, use your stick/rope/tool to get her moving her feet
    • we want it to be safe, functional, and clean green & handsome, in that order
    • RYANISM OF THE DAY: "the snaffle should bridle should fit the horse like underwear--no wrinkles. At least that's how I wear mine--just trying to keep it natural."
    • ANOTHER GOOD RYANISM: "I guarantee that you'll get these reins in your hands and you'll find belly buttons all over the place" (referring to the rein postion for indirect rein)
    • "Don't let the horse be wrong for too long"
    Ryan also shared the concept of staying in the "green zone." You imagine that the smallest area for your horse to do a maneuver, whether it's follow the rail or doing rein position, is the green zone. When the horse is in the green zone, he is left alone. If the horse gets out to the yellow zone, do something, and if the horse gets to the red zone, do something EFFECTIVE!. If the horse gets beyond the red zone, you are not in control and should return to on line.

    For our morning play session, I went through Blu's massages and found stiffness in his neck and soreness on his withers. While I cleaned his pen, he stuck with me.
    I took Blu to the hill by the pens and warmed him up. We played with yoyoing back just a step or two because he kept going after I stopped asking. Then I had him walk, trot, and canter then over a log.

    Saddling, I taught him to be even more of a partner by stepping to me with his back when I held up the saddle/pad. Picking out his feet, he did not go introverted.

    I played with Blu's zone 5 driving weave. I ended up in zone 2-3 and quit when he finally made a 1% effort to yield his front end from my belly button while I stayed in zone 3. While I was doing that, Pete was participating in a demo for the Horse Behavior and You course with River--it was super inspiration.

    Then we did sideways for a bit, trotted over the cavalettis (he went straight to them and trotted over lovely). On the way to the arena grande, I drove him from zone 3.

    In arena grande, I warmed him up with yoyo and circling game. He was going really nicely. The first time he got to a barrel, he stopped, the second time he stopped, and then I set the barrels together because they were all jumbled up. The third time, he went right over.

    When I got on, we were alone in the arena. I started him with follow the rail and rein positions whenever he went faster than I wanted or got emotional. Once we had followed the rail at the walk trot and canter, I took him back to the walk and worked up to the canter with swing the shoulders. Blu was great. I turned him around and did it again in the other direction. Blu was AWESOME!

    I exited him out the cow gate mounted then left him tied up for lunch. Right after lunch, though, we had a meeting and broke for our first remuda. End story is that Blu patiently waited for an hour or so.

    I was in the remudea with Ryan. His remuda was only fast trackers who were in the last fast track because our needs are a little different from everyone else's. Instead of individual coaching sessions, he had us discuss as a group. I really appreciated that our unique situation of having just ended the fast track the week before was being respected. My focuses for the week were making the circling game interesting to get more laps at liberty, zone 5 driving and sideways on line, swing the shoulders and million transitions.

    Ryan is putting a lot of emphasis on tending to the connection and harmony, having focus without being direct line, being progressive, and getting closer instead of louder. These are all things that I think I am getting better at recognizing. The more I learn, the more I see it is a balancing act, the more I experience the balancing act, the better I get.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Mustang Campus Meeting

    This morning we started with playing a game to improve our carrot stick toss. The tecnique is to push the butt of the carrot stick with one palm while you guide the direction with the other. We started with the name game then we played it so that if you couldn't name the next key, principle, or quality, or if you didn't catch the stick, you had to do the chicken dance.

    Then we went out to the savvy park with 45' lines and our carrot sticks and savvy strings to practice tool savvy lead by Tanya. I have the quick draw down with both hands and I had pretty good feel wrapping the string around a person, but the 45' line practice we did was AMAZINGLY eye opening. My 45' line works! Woo! I need to work on building its memory by throwing it out and recoiling it more often.

    Then Ryan went over knots again and also taught us the picket line knot and the pretzel knot. The pretzel knot took me a minute to get, but now I have it down.

    Our all campus meeting was special because most of the campus was going to be at the fairgrounds for a Parelli demo. Also instead of highlights from everyone, Kalley, Rhett, Ryan, and Berin shared their experiences from the past weekend at the mustang event in Reno.

    Each was asked what the biggest thing they learned was:
    • Kalley: Patience and belief in the principles under the pressure of being the only woman and having all those people watching.
    • Rhett: Winning the porcupine game because once it was won, they quit resisting and got really sensitive to the halter really fast.
    • Ryan: Zone 1 vs zones 2 & 3 acceptance; making friends with his horse and putting the relationship first.
    • Berin: putting the horse first and thinking like a horse; understanding WHY the horse is doing/thinking something.
    When asked how they chose their horse, Kalley had my favorite answer. All of them were funny because after the colt start in May, the competitors knew that "picking" was making a mad dash for the one they wanted. Kalley's conclusion to her story about "picking" her horse was "Some of us got the one we wanted and some of us got the one we needed."

    Kalley also said something interesting about ranch raised colts vs. mustangs. She said she preferred the mustangs because the colts had more opinions about humans (that were not so good) and the mustangs had a better understanding of herd dynamics and the language because they depended 100% on that language for their entire life.

    In the afternoon, Ryan Rose, our course leader, gave us a quick demo about preparation, specifically warm up strong to ride soft and get in harmony on the ground so you can be in harmony in the saddle.

    He got super interesting with his LBI Glow. He asked her to just turn her nose for the send and played the game of "keep circling until you offer to go out of your way to jump the barrel." Ryan actually showed us lots of ways to make games out of preparation.

    I went out and played with Blu after the demo. Most everyone else went to the fair. I let Blu graze while I threw out my 45' line and practiced twirling my rope. Then I took him over to the round pens and played between the two 50' pens.

    While I watched Pete play with River at liberty, I played with Blu's feet. Something EXTREMELY interesting happened. I was having him lift his hind foot and then releasing when he lifted his hip. Then I picked up his foot, tapped it, set it down, and it was like putty in my hands. I went to give him a cookie and his lip was drooping and he did not take the cookie. I tucked it in his cheek. I stood back for a minute then pinched his neck. He gave a tiny response, but not much. I took the cookie out of his cheek and sat down in front of him. I watched the flies fly around his whiskers. He began to respond to them, then he did a lick and chew and took a cookie.

    Next he tried to roll. I had to tap him back up before he flipped over, though because he was going to roll into the round pen. He got up and yawned. I took him into a round pen to let him roll. He pawed some, but that was it. Then I scratched him where he asked and he enjoyed that. There was a lot of big yawns.

    Conclusion: Blu has some serious issues with his back feet being handled and tonight he gave up his life at one point. After dinner, I talked to Pete Rodda about my observations. He made me feel better about having caused Blu to go there because it was a mistake that gives me experience with something I will someday be able to reference with a student. The strategy to find the threshold I had crossed was to watch VERY closely for his skin, lips/nose, eyes, breathing, or ears to change and retreat from that threshold. Places to watch for a threshold were on the approach to zones 4/5, massaging legs, pick up feet without catching them, pick up and hold a moment, pick up with increasing length of hold, stretch out a little, stretch out with increasing length of stretch, play with lead by the back leg.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    The campus meeting was chan

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Freestyle and Liberty Testing

    This morning I helped Suzy load up Thai and head out. She let me put Tim Sullivan on my laptop. I gave her a big hug and she drove off. She is an amazing lady and a very good friend.

    I hustled out as soon as we were dismissed for Freestyle testing. After warming Blu up to saddle then to ride, I made haste for Arena Grande. The grand plan was to warm up Blu in Arena Grande down by the end that Blu is nervous in.

    I wanted take Blu a lap around the Arena Grande before testing to let him relax. Ryan was testing follow the rail and clover leaf in there, so that happened to work out great. I took Blu for a lap then we began our test. That lap was a good plan and then I only asked for the walk for our follow the rail, so Blu was great. I trotted the cloverleaf and Blu did a great job on that too.

    Next we squeezed over barrels, did canter/back up yoyos, and controlled catastrophe with Elli. Blu did GREAT for all of it.

    With Bonnie, we could not hold neutral lateral flexion without reins for 30 seconds, but he did have nice FQ and HQ yields without reins. His sideways without reins went well to the left, but not to the right.

    Finally, Tanya watched us saddle from both sides, go through the cinching process, bridle from my knees, then mount and dismount from both sides. That went REALLY nicely.  Blu was such a partner by stepping to me when I waved my hand, taking the bit from me for bridling, and standing while I mounted. Thanks, Kristi.

    We finished early and I took some time to wander around and cheer other students on as well as encourage others.

    After lunch, freestyle testing began. Blu and warmed up in the 100' rp with transitions. All the testing for finesse was in the Arena Grande. With Elli, the test was to leg yield at the trot twice and to half pass at the walk, down 20m of a 60 m line each maneuver. Blu did well for where he is with understanding that.

    Our canter to walk transitions at the far end did not go well, in fact, cantering was rough after waiting in line--his impulsion went out. He got a bit emotional, too. We did haunches and shoulder -ins and he got emotional again.

    Next, we nearly killed Tanya Bennet in the canter circles with lead changes. Blu was making his first circle and began drifting out toward Tanya. Tanya jumped out of the way and I couldn't tell if it was theatrics or real, but I was glad she did. That is going to be a funny story for the scrapbook. But then Blu did a good job on the trotting circles after blowing out.

    Finally, after all of the tightness and drama, Blu was relaxed for Bonnie's pattern. We trotted to her, halted for 7 seconds with a soft feel, 9-step back up, then did a FQ and HQ yield in each direction.

    Testing finished early, again, so I had some free time to blog. Then the campfire started. I had my first burger--it was delicious. Campfire Wednesdays are always fun because Tim Sullivan is a great entertainer. Members of the community come over for the BBQ and Dennis cooks a mean bread pudding with tequila sauce for dessert. Tonight was so relaxing; testing was over and everyone really enjoyed one another's company.

    Charity, a fellow fast tracker who is from Australia began to teach us the Fiador knot, but my roommates were tired so I only got 1/2 way through it. We went home, and watched a couple episodes of McLeod's Daughters and hit the hay.

    Natural Horsewoman Out.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    On Line and Liberty Testing

    Testing was so relaxing and Blu was so amazing. Ryan Rose said this was the highest level testing (over all) on the first day he'd ever seen for a group of fast trackers.

    I was a little late to the morning meeting because the time on the board was off by 30 minutes. I was fortunately only 10 minutes late, though. When I came in, Ryan was finishing up collecting the long term and short term goals of the students. Then we all stood up and introduced ourselves. My non-horse fact was that I am studying graphic design.

    My long term goal is to become a 7-star instructor. My short term goal is to achieve a more consistent connection with Blu. To me, that looks like Blu taking off at whatever speed and gait I ask at any point in time and understanding our finesse maneuvers or plain old yields.

    On line testing was in the morning, but first Pat Parelli dropped in and chatted with us. He blessed us with his presence for a long time. I love listening to Pat and it's always exciting to hear him when we are here because it is a rare treat. Pat talked about the mustang event a bit, of course, but his main topic was that this campus was a dream and that it was especially chosen for us students. That is amazing. This place is amazing.

    Pat also spoke on the 7 types of riders and the three ways to stay positive out in the real world. The 7 riders start with "N" (and I can't remember one):

    1. Natural
    2. Normal
    3. Nuts
    4. Nuisances
    5. Nerds
    6. kNockers
     The three ways to stay positive are
    1. don't go the extra mile for someone going in the opposite direction
    2. teach at the student's level
    3. feed with a spoon, not a shovel
    On line testing was so improved from less than a week ago. I warmed Blu up in the small coverall. He was RB at first, but I just stayed relaxed about it and stayed slow. I noticed some times that I said "No" when I could have just redirected him. I kept that in mind for testing.

    I was headed for Arena Grande when Ryan Rose spotted me (not to difficult as I was walking right by the trailer) and asked if I was ready to trailer load. This was the task I did first on the first testing, too. This time, though, I knew it was going to be so much better. "Sure."

    We had to start by picking up all four feet from one side. Blu displayed some opposition reflex for the back feet, but he relaxed after a moment. I hopped on the fender and Blu hopped right on the trailer.

    Next was Humphrey's circling and yoyo in Arena Grande. Blu was slow and crooked for his yoyo, but did 45' and he trotted to me part of the way. His circling game has plenty of room for improvement, but it was SO much better than the last fast track's final test circle. He was maintaining the canter MUCH better, just a few corrections. His change of direction came to a trot/walk then into a canter. The other direction was quite wonky because he kept changing back to the other direction.

    Bonnie's test was to squeeze over a barrel then stand face and wait for both sides then go sideways to the end of the 45' line without a fence. Going over with me on the left, Blu stepped over after one approach and stop. I just backed him up and asked again. The other side, he jumped right over. For sideways, we only got about 15' and he petered out. Weird, right? He did come sideways back to me nicely, though.

    Lastly I waited in line for the zone 5 driving weave and figure 8 without a Carrot Stick with Karin. I noticed that Blu was really understanding that when he stepped through the line and got stuck, he could come toward me to get untangled instead of following the feel of the rope on his chin. The weave had a very confused energy. The figure 8 was really slow and had some brace at first, but then he got better connection and relaxed.

    Liberty testing was SO cool. Karin had us stand on and under the tarp then squeeze over barrels and SFW (stand face and wait) for 7 seconds both ways. Blu left at first but reconnected quickly then did a nice job standing on and under the tarp. He had a graceless squeeze game, but he went over. That was the only task I made it to before we broke for lunch. Leaving the honey comb, I hopped over a log and Blu hopped over right after me.

    When I finished lunch, I spent 15 minutes on line on the embankment letting Blu graze then I asked him to jump up the short side and down the tall side. I accepted little tries and asked him to back away every time he tried a little harder. In the end, he went down nicely and I got to see a real picture of NOT pushing my horse over the "embankment"/''cliff'' that came in handy when I was asking him to squeeze over into the honey comb the same way he'd left earlier. Going in, I accepted his tries and ended when he scooted a foot from zone 4 closer to the jump.

    I got in line to do Humphrey's task, but no one was going to Ryan's task, so I volunteered myself even though I really did not want to start with the circling game. Circling entailed WTCB and change of direction showing maintainence of gait throughout. Blu maintained gait nicely after an intial grass dive and he did not anticipate the send. For the COD, he broke gait and I had to wait for the draw. I forgot to back him up on the circle so I had to resend him. That time, he anticipated the send and I just went with it. Backing, he did it lightly with some stick.

    Then for Bonnie we had an unsticky stick to me with good stops from the canter, though. His tail backing and zone 5 friendly game were great. Finally, Humphrey tested sideways, 360 FQ and HQ yields and a close spin. He did great for the sideways and yields, but left me for the spin both times we tried. However, he earned quadruple cute bonus points because from the other side of the pen, he came into the outheld halter. SO CUTE! Everyone watching said he was adorable.

    Testing was such a different experience this time around. I couldn't believe how different the atmosphere was just by having half the class familiar with the schedule and tasks. It was an amazing demonstration of a positive affect of herd mentality.

    Later that night, I rode Blu over Arena Grande so I could warm him up in the far end that he is afraid of. Following the rail, I asked for rein positions every time he got impulsive. When we got to the far end, I got him onto a fig 8 and stayed on the same tracks at the walk and trot and in a bend until he relaxed and began blowing out. Then we did giant cantering loops of consistent size along on the rail until we got to that spooky corner and we stopped and dismounted. By then, it was pouring so on the way back to the pen, Blu wore my shirt on his head to keep the rain from going down his ears.

    Sopping wet, Faith and I got into Suzy's newly fixed truck. She stopped at the city market and bought ice cream and boston cream pie to throw a good bye party for her last night in the condo. It was so much fun and it was a delicious dessert. 

    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