Saturday, April 30, 2011

BFO: "How Interesting!" Understood

This is my last school weekend. I have finals then two months before I leave. In fact, exactly two months from Sunday, I will be arriving in Colorado. I am so squeezed for time, I feel that this has truly been the most difficult semester I have had yet. I keep projecting myself into the summer, thinking of how it will feel to be on my way to the fast track, on my way to my future.

Today I enjoyed my time with Blu. It was so interesting to handle catching Blu. He was immediately locked onto me when I stepped outside and called him, and he locked on again when I got through the barn to the doorway of a run in stall. However, he did not come to me. He just stared. That means that coming to me was a lower priority than not going through the knee deep muck. I just waited, but today I eventually sat behind a large, old door leaning on the barn. As I was hiding back there, watching Blu stare at the door, I realized that I was actually experiencing great excitement with something that used to be frustrating and disappointing. I was having fun playing this catching game of not moving my feet, even though it was taking a long time (It took almost 20 minutes for Blu to get to me). I know that yesterday may have been tough for Blu and that he may not have been sure about whether or not he wanted to play, but I knew that it was okay. I didn't tell myself to feel this way, I genuinely felt pleased. Before, I was not FEELING that, though I knew I should.

Today, I got to see Ginger interact with Blu. I recognized the offensive and defensive head positions that came up in a Parelli DVD I watched recently. When the horse is on the offense, his head is usually tipped in the direction of travel. In defense, the head is usually tipped away from direction of travel so the horse can see the pursuant. That was cool to observe. At some points, as she chased him, I could see him thinking he'd rather brave the muck than hang out with her anymore. When he first decided he would come to me, she started chasing him again and chased him away. Ginger would go in spurts. She would chase him, stop and come off adrenaline, rest, and start the cycle again. The last time she chased Blu, it was set up just right that I thought I could draw him to me. I peeked out around the door and called Blu. He spotted me and came clambering through the muck, hustling to me. He stopped by me, unlike Hoosier, who had come in a while before and simply stopped by me and then continued inside. What a cool learning situation, and what a good feeling to embrace.

I sat with him while he grazed multiple times. I liked the way he waited for me to give him permission to eat, rather than diving down. He also had nice feel when I asked him to pick his head up, even though I often had to swing the stick sometimes.

Amongst grazing, we also visited the road. He flinched a few times, but no bolting. I also asked for some sideways to me and he was confident, though his HQ was dragging a bit. I did not correct him too much, though because it was not a priority and it was in the beginning of our session--the priority is soft, comfortable communication, undemanding requests at that part of the session.

Blu is excelling in the hindquarter yield in motion. Today was the second session I tried it at the trot and he is already much improved. On the first session, he was falling in, leaning out with his head up, trotting faster, and it took him longer to experiment through to the correct way of going. Today, he was cleaner and leaps & bounds more confident. He did not lean on the rope, nor did he fall into my space. He was able to stay out at about 7' from me. To improve further, I will begin counting the number of circles I ask him to maintain, how many times I have to use the stick, and how far from me he can maintain.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Lurvely Rides, Lurvely Horses

Blu was just outside a run-in stall soaking up the sun. He came right in to be haltered.

I played with water crossing with a driveway puddle. I focused on waiting for his intent to change. When it did, I took him to graze. Reapproaching the puddle, he was already a changed guy. He was focusing on the puddle instead of ways to not go in the puddle. When he put two feet in, I walked off with him and grazed some more. Even though he walked around the puddle, I was still happy with his change. I was also happy because I triumphed over myself. I got tight during our first try and had to kick myself. But after that, I was all relaxation and positive leadership.

Next, we did the HQ yield in motion. I was tickled with his performance, so much so that I tried it with the trot. We stuck with it until he had a break through at the trot, but that did not take long. I would like to see him able to do this exercise further out on the line and for him to become more coordinated at a faster walk as we go along.

I put his bridle on sitting on the ground. I had to stand up twice when his head shot up to look at something, but he took the bit right into his mouth and was fine with the bridle. For mounting up, he dove for the grass, but when I asked him to bring his head back up, he brought it up and came sideways to me by himself. Um, AWESOME.

After combing the reins and riding in the road while combing the reins, I played with HQ yields while riding him, too. I had to work on my timing. I timed my cue with the left front leg. When it landed, I cued the right hind leg to step under. Blu wanted to speed up at first, so I went back to relaxation. He was stopping with exhales just fine, but after our revisit to relaxation, he was much more level-headed.

Blu really caught on quick. Our first try with this the other day was a bit fumbly, but today he did great. Today I also had the reins attached to the bit, not the halter. I was better, too. One cool thing is that we did the hq yield in motion in the road, too, and he was totally relaxed. He never spooked at a car.

We floated right into a trail ride that was a mix of finesse and freestyle. I asked for leg yields from side to side of the path as we went along. I let him go at his own pace for a stretch and practiced matching him—including his sudden dive for grass. Then we played with grazing respect. HQ yields in motion were thrown in, too.

On the way home, he was a star as I got the newspaper and mail from his back. Then I hopped off and let him graze for a bit.

When I went outside, Misty called to me and marched right up to the gate when she saw me.

I saddled her up in the barn.

We played with sideways to me and a puddle. She was a little bit aloof.

When I got on, I did so knowing I was about to do some problem solving (with that aloofness and tightness). I contemplated whether I wanted to fix it on the ground instead, but decided I wanted to try some things on her back. Of course, I knew that if what I tried didn’t work, I could just hop off and work on the ground some more.

On the ground, I had done the falling leaf pattern to move her around. I switched us to a squeeze game between the trailer and me, then opened the door and had her step up. Now, under saddle, I wanted to see if I could shut the door.

We did the fluid rein until she blew out. When I began on the door, I would just stop at the door and wait for a mental/emotional change (toward relaxation) before moving on.

I tried hindquarter yields and motion and did leg yields from side to side of the driveway at the trot. Misty is so much more maneuverable than Blu. It’s very interesting. I think Blu is good for me because, as a rider, I have to get my position and timing just right to send the message to his feet. Misty gets the idea with little precision on my part.

When I felt a change in her, we went on a trail ride. I rode her out to the back at her pace. We worked on grazing respect a bit.

Going down the flooded aisle, I had to zig zag and exercise my patience because she refused to go forward. I could tell it was an "I don’t want to" matter, so I zigged and zagged her from grass to grass. Once we got so deep (literally), I was able to ask her off and she went straight and even cantered through the water. It was fun. She was not in a hurry on the way home.

When we got to some grass on the asphalt, she refused to go forward. I recognized that it was another instance of not wanting to, so I just waited her out and eventually she was fine.

The final leg of our ride was to go down the round about 30 times from our north to south driveway with turn face and wait after each traverse. It was cool to feel her change.

I enjoyed my time with Misty and I managed myself much better, too.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pody Cleaning!

Maggie was braiding Ginger’s mane, so I stayed in and groomed Blu. He has some very itchy belly spots. I worked on toleration of my fingers up his nose in preparation for his strangles vaccination that is coming up in a week or two. He did pretty well with that.

At one point, he pinned me between his butt and the wall when I asked him to move his hq away, so I got a line on him. I did not really use the line, though and he respected pressure after I played with it a bit.

Finally, I cleaned his pody. Gross. You can probably guess what his pody is…

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hindquarter Yields in Motion while Riding

We brought the trash bin up from the road. As pressure/nerves built up with the road behind him, he rushed forward. I gently yielded the HQ and waited for him to relax. He was fine from then on. By the road, he was fine with the cars that went by.

I put the cradle bit in his mouth with no bridle. He took it into his mouth every time I offered it, but his mouth was never quiet. I still don’t have a bridle to put it on.

We played with HQ yields in motion (check out the April DVD—the dynamics of motion is what I have been playing with for the past few months) on the ground. I had to tweak, but can tell he is getting it. I was ready to try it riding.

Blu was good for me mounting from the trailer. I practiced feel in order feel the corresponding Hleg to time my cue with to send his HQ under and across at the same time as lifting the front end. I went back to friendly and relaxation with contact when I needed to.

Blu was feeling great, so I decided to take it to the trails. On the road BLU WAS AMAZING. On the way home, we had 3 cars go by, from the front and behind and he did not get tight, rush, bob his head, or hustle to the next driveway.

On the trail ride, we landed into the HQ yields, or rather lifted into them. On the way back, I worked on grazing respect by following a pattern. I focused straight down the center of the path. When he followed that with me, I would focus on a piece of grass and he would easily tune into that focus. As we arrived, I would shift my focus up and lift. When he stopped his diving (he eventually arrived with me and stopped with the lift), I would relax and look down. To come back up, I went through phases of light tapping then clacked my legs. He eventually went with just a touch on the reins.

Tonight was a very nice study of feel for both of us.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Blu escaped from the pasture today! It became the missing link to my final project. I used the hoof prints as a land art piece that Blu did all by himself--no guidance from me.

I sat with him while he grazed. Silly pony.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Break From Running Around

I have been going a mile a minute in this last week of class (!). I went out and took Misty grazing so I could unwind a bit.

Finals week, here I come.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Painting Pony: Second Time Painting

Blu took 5 minutes of provocative peek-a-boo to lure him through the muck and to the barn. Very cool.

Today was our second session painting with paint. We had a cool thing happen in the garage. He was a little tense and I waited, but even when he sighed, he was still not totally LB. I had him wait outside the doorway while I unwrapped candies (I had run out during painting and needed more :D). He heard the wrappers and perked up and suddenly got super curious, stretching his neck in, and pretty soon was just like he would be if we were outside unwrapping candies.

I sat with him while he grazed and also worked with water crossing with puddles in the driveway. I used reverse psychology to have him go sideways and "NOT put his hooves in the water in front of him!" That worked pretty nicely.

I really like his painting after today’s session.

After our painting session, I took Blu on a walk. Motor cycles scared him, but we got him back to an LB state and he didn’t spook at any of the other cars.

I used transitions to get him off adrenaline then I used transitions to see just how much he could read of my body language to make the smallest gait changes between the walk and trot. Cool.

On the way home, he came sideways to a fence post so I could ride him through the giant, deep puddle.

Walking home, he was great on the road—I had dismounted and was walking with him.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Painting Pony: First Time with Paint!

Today I was going to move onto painting with paint for the first time...rather, Blu was going to move on to that. I waited him out for him to come through the deep mud to be haltered. It was AWESOME. 10 minutes. I did it!

As I said, today I added paint! I had to go back through and fix ingredients, but he did a great job. I can see how this will evolve! We grazed, walked on the road, and went on a walk. He was perfect on the road and doing sideways in the ditch. We had some really nice leaving-the-grass moments and some not so nice :D. Check out this video of our progress!

A friend stopped by to chat and I showed her how he is doing with the painting thing :D

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Painting Pony

I am teaching Blu to paint for my final project in my Mixed Media and Installation class. I am having him create 5 pieces. Each piece is created through the relationship I have with him. Today, we did our first piece.

It is about weight. Horses are heavy animals. If you are in the presence of one, it is very clear that they are powerful. Each hoof carries so much weight! The front end naturally carries more weight because of the head being on the front end, but Blu specifically carries the most weight on his left front foot. So, this first work is a minimalist sculpture. I took a slab of clay in a plastic bag, plopped it on the driveway. My plan was to play the touch it game. First have him touch it with his nose, then get it set up so that he touches it with his left foot. NOT his right foot. Just the left foot. At first he was set up to get it with his right. With a small adjustment through communication, I got him set up for the left foot to be it. He pawed it and the plastic ripped a bit. When I unwrapped the slab, it was perfect. It was not a typical hoof print. It had a mark from him biting it and had the mark from him pawing it.

Blu was adorable, today. He was light when I lifted him from the grass. He made amazing progress learning to paint, he did great on the road and on our walk, and he followed me under the tree I went under to avoid mud (that was the CUTEST squeeze).

Here is the sequence of learning:
1: Touch it. He got a cookie after he touched it.
2: Nodding. I taught him to nod on cue by nodding when he did and giving him a cookie. Now he nods on cue. Eventually, I will encourage him to paint by nodding.
3: Bite it: I kept the brush on me and if he ever presented mouthy behaviors during a session, I would let him bite it. Eventually I presented him with the brush and gave him a treat for biting it.
4: Hold it. He gets rewarded for holding onto it longer.

This is going to be a fun art project!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sensitive Horses Need Sensitive Humans

I spent the afternoon cleaning my room and painting while Blue Level two Parelli DVDs played. So, I had high quality and paying attention to tiny details at the forefront of my thinking when I went out to do chores.

Ginger is VERY sensitive and easily becomes physically uncomfortable at the slightest pressure or noise. I had to fill her water bucket in her stall. I took all the time I needed to do a lot of retreating and re-approach. When she would start weaving or go to the corner, I would lightly tap the hose on the wall. I stopped as soon as she stopped weaving, stopped shrinking away. But I did not do that until quite a way through basic retreat and waiting. I was very sensitive to my energy and where I was looking. It was difficult to look away and still see her because outside of my glasses, my peripheral vision is super blurry. To keep looking away and know what she was doing, I had to sense her energy.
When I was done, Ginger was a changed horse, though she was still too emotional to eat. I went to her door and sat down with my back to her. Shortly after, she came up behind me and blew, then began eating.
It was really cool to watch her follow the hierarchy of needs from safety to food!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Panera Sammy To-Go

My gramma brought home a great sammy for me. I ate my dinner while Blu ate with me by the road. I was relieved that he came to me immediately—yesterday was a little yucky on my part, though we ended well. He was really confident with the cars. He lifted his head up twice and as we left, he was just a little bit nervous so I did two gentle changes of direction. He snorted and relaxed. It was a nice way to eat my dinner.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Three Horses at Liberty

I took Misty out of her stall to put her out. I did not have a line, just a finger through the halter loop. I had her go sideways around the trailer, then sideways toward me around the trailer. I played with her at liberty in the pasture and put a blanket on her because she was shaking so badly.

I worked on relaxing when I poked his neck. Special things to remember about how got him into the round pen. With Ginger and Misty, he was VERY quick to stop and eat and had the lowest quality draw. When I had the three horses in front of me, I was having them all go sideways and I found out that the best way to get that to work was to have Blu on the end pushing the girls sideways. They did a pretty awesome job.

When the girls left, I played with a barrel, and the circling game, with drawing repairs and grazing breaks sprinkled in.

One REALLY cool thing that happened. I had him come in close and sat down and he continued on. I also tried the hindquarter yield in motion. At first, he thought my lifting hand meant go faster, but I just played with it and stayed focused. He GOT it! I let him come in closer, but he GOT IT! He was a little emotional, but I was stoked that it worked.

Misty had good draw in the round pen. She was emotional, but good draw. She was great with the sideways in a line. On the circle, she would stop with Blu.

Ginger has AMAZING draw. If she has a question or concern, she comes straight in. I measured my success with her by when she was able to graze. Food is way down on the priority list for Ginger, so for her to eat, the stars need to align. She was very worried about being on the circle with the other two, but she soon relaxed. She is so obedient, it gave me a picture to aim for with Blu. For the sideways, she was super. When I yoyoed them out and in, she was great both ways. I feel like she is more of a right-brained introvert—she has that wall flower air going on. However, she is on the cusp and I respect Maggie’s assertion that she is a RBE.

I loved playing with Ginger! It is a totally new perspective. I can also see how it would be really easy to think that you are having success with your rbi because she is being so obedient, but is actually concerned and worried.

Some real interesting things. In the end, I figured out how to get us straightened out with a cloverleaf patterns. Did my massages before hand.

I sat with him while he grazed. I also gently picked the mud packs off his elbow by breaking them up. It was time consuming, but much less painful than plucking them out. He followed me around fine. I noticed that he had such a lightness when I asked him to pick his head from the grass.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Coggins Clinic

Misty is usually very bad about trailer loading. There was a time when I could just point and shoot and she’d go in. It’s something that has to do with showing and is a long story. I have not played with the trailer at all, either (tsk tsk). So, it was time to load her up to take her to have coggins pulled. She had been tied up for 10 minutes already.

I noticed some major changes in her compared to last year: she did not have diarrhea. Last year, when I came out with her shipping wraps to work on the friendly game with the trailer without the trailer, she instantly had loose stool. This morning, she was nervous, but she never even pooped at the vet’s, and in the trailer, it was all solid.

To load her, I walked her to the trailer, and sat right in the middle of the door way so she could not get in. That seemed to instantly change her. I gave her a few minutes like that. When I asked her to get in, I just kept her head straight. I let her go backwards or forwards, but she had to keep her head straight. She went back and forth, all the way in, all the way out, a toe in, two, jump out . . . I just let her do that until she could go in and stand in front (it’s a four horse with two straight loads in front and two behind).

I was really pleased with her and I was glad it only took a five or ten minutes, though I was prepared for any amount of time. I was also happy with myself for how calm I stayed.

Misty was good for the vet. She goes in with Blu for a float in June.

Blu went up to the vet’s to get his coggins pulled with the other horses. He went right into the trailer. This kid goes backwards into the trailer—of COURSE he goes forward in! He did swing around to bite the vet when she poked him on the right side. He is usually perfect for the vet, but I think his neck is sore on that side. He’s had three days off of heavy playing. I will make sure to do plenty of TTouches for him on that side and his neck massages.

I have to give him his strangles vaccine myself in a few weeks. It goes in a pipette up the nose, so I will be playing friendly game with his nose to get him ready for that.

I bought a first aid kit from my vet. It was exciting, because it is a part of my fast track trip coming to life.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Good Nurse

I called Misty and she ran to me. I gave her peppermints. Later in her stall I groomed her and applied gel to her rope burns. She is SO good about it. Poor baby :(. She was exceptionally cooperative.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blu's New Skill and Not Feeling Ill

The weather was gorgeous, but I was SO ill today. I took some pain killers and finally started feeling well enough to go play with Maggie. Maggie was having a great time playing with Ginger. Blu looked up and came to me through the muck when I called. I got the trash bin up with him, grazed, then played the circling game with HQ yields in motion in both directions. He did a nice job of that, but I would like them to get a little bit better before the trot.
Then Maggie videotaped Blu backing into the trailer. It took him 54 seconds.VIDEO

We went on a trail ride (Maggie on Ginger, too). We rode back to see Lady and Moses (neighbor equids), ran through the water, rode through the overflow of the pond, and Blu rode down the road, totally chill.

Blu, Ginger, Misty, Maggie, and I were in the dog pen. I groomed my horses and chatted with Maggie.

Misty got to come in and graze with us. I groomed her and also put gel on her burns. She was really good for that. Later, I frog leaped onto her :D while she grazed. She was very accepting of that.

I took a video of Maggie playing with Ginger. Maggie loves her horse, and it makes me so happy to be with those two.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rope Burns and Learn Burns

Misty came right to the gate! We chilled in the barn for a bit while I figured out what the plan was. After saddling her up, we went to the pasture. I braided her hair and she really seemed to enjoy that. We did the weave with slightest/lightest body language in the shoulders. Circling game with change of direction and transitions.

Misty came sideways to me as soon as I stepped onto the fence. Tonight, she was really defensive and a few times unnecessarily went after Blu, causing him to shut down his forward movement in the weave pattern. She was really going too fast for Blu when we were working on the canter. Blu fell behind and the rope got caught under her tail. The end of the story was a rope burn under her tail after about 30 seconds of spinning around with Blu dragging behind. We went on a trail ride to relax and she really did enjoy that.

Blu was not wanting to come out of his run-in today because it was so mucky outside of it. He was very accommodating for haltering, he just did not want to come out of his stall! He was really nice for the weave, relaxing and catching up with us. He got shut down on the center cone a few times when Misty cut him too close, so I got careful to give him plenty of room. He had trouble keeping up with Misty when we cantered around the pasture. He was super calm (albeit confused) when Misty got the rope caught under her tail. On the trail ride, he was pushing her off the trail, so I fixed that. I also worked on asking to graze. He is so cute!

In Ginger’s stall, I tended to Misty’s rope burn then sat with her and gave her cookies. She was superb. Poor kid.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

First 80 Degree Day of the Year

What a beautiful day! I had to work all day, but in between shifts, I played with my horses. I ate lunch during undemanding time with my mare; Misty did not want to come up front. She started to once then just stayed out in the pasture. . . how interesting!

I enjoyed grooming Blu and I washed his mane (it’s 80 degrees F today!). It was so white and shiny.

We drove with the surcingle and featherlines through a weave pattern. I worked with him on following a particular track of the pattern and going precisely through the center of the cones. He was cutting in too close to the cones sometimes.

Bridleless, we checked out how he was outside and decided to go back to the pasture to get him thinking with me; he was a little spooky. We did the weave pattern at the jog and Blu was great. He was really bending around the cones with his whole body. One unexpected element to spice things up at the end: we cantered off the weave to the middle of the pasture and stopped at a cone out there. We were ready for a trail ride.

Blu really spooked at Ellie under the tree, but then was calm after he got to talk to her. I was fine because I saw Ellie before he did and I was attentive to his body.

It may have been our first bridleless trail ride. We went through the foot deep water. He was so easy going. Fun, warm time!

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