Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Once I got home from my final exams, I got on the computer for a little bit then crashed on the couch. I watched the 3rd DVD in Karen Rohlf's Results in Harmony series then put it in the mail. Crashing on the couch again, I tried to take a nap, but my dad needed help with my truck and the dogs needed to come in. Soon after, my gramma got home with groceries. Then my gramma came in to watch the tele and I went upstairs. Unfortunately, I am terrible at the napping thing and ended up on my laptop updating my blog. Before I knew it, it was 8:40.

I limped out in bare feet. It was a bit chilly, but I did not feel like putting on socks and therefore did not want to wear shoes; sure sign of a child needing a nap--only I am an "adult."

Misty called and came trotting to the gate when she saw me. She stuck her nose in her halter and came sideways to me when I stood on the picnic table. She was pretty excited and walked off as soon as I was on. I was exhausted and just going for a ride, so I did not mind. I did no ground play, so what can I expect?

I took her over to some grass and she grazed happily. However, when I asked her to go back to the driveway, she balked and began going backwards and rearing. Instead of holding the pressure on until she did what I wanted, I tried something different: I waited. Misty is a mix of LBI and RBI and RBE. Right now, she was kind of high and needing to move her feet, but she LOVES food, so she was happy munching along. So, standing doing nothing and not being able to get grass was not comfortable. I knew that if I added pressure with my legs, she would just back up. So, I waited until she got antsy. Then it was our idea to go forward and she did so happily and we were off on our trail ride.

On the road, Misty was great, no tightness when traffic went by, no hustling to get to the next drive. The balking came up a lot on the trail ride, though. This can be very frustrating, and it used to be, but I happily recognized that I knew what was coming and I knew I had all the time in the world to wait. I was not bothered in the least. This type of patience reminds of when a friend was teaching her dog to not pull on the leash. She expressed her frustration that they hardly got anywhere on the walks because of all the stopping and waiting for the dog's attention and for slack in the leash. I asked her why she didn't just go out on a walk by herself first so she could devote her attention to her dog instead of fussing over the fact that she was not getting to walk. I don't know if that made sense, but it did at the time, and it does, now. It's not about the walk; it's about having a conversation with your horse, being with her, enjoying her company and her honesty.

So, next time your horse balks and you get frustrated, maybe recall that you know you came on a horse because you'd rather sit on a balking horse than walk alone.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good Grief, It's a Chromograph!

What an amazing day! Today was my last day to finish up my final project for my Media and Installation class. I had two pieces to do with Blu: the color map on a horse blanket and the tail swishing painting. Both projects caused hysterical comedy.

Again, when I went to call on Blu, he did not want to go through the muck to get to me. However, unlike yesterday, he immediately began to walk to me (he just stopped when he got to the muck's edge, then looked at me). I waited and he decided to chat with Maggie. Maggie shooed him away and he came to me.

My plan was to take Blu on a trail ride to the deep water on the neighbor's property to get his legs cleaned off for recording. Then I was going to do the color map.

I warmed him up on the ground, first. His HQ yields in motion were good. He got the line taught at the trot, so I had to wait for him to relax.

On the road, Blu was a saint. He was so relaxed. I loved my trail ride with him.

My mom and I brushed Blu off so putting the paint on would be easier. I marked where the horse blanket covered then we began painting his white spots yellow and the brown spots pink. This piece is called "Chromograph" and it is a cubism influenced work because it explores the form of a horse flattened onto a single plane, which is the blanket. I chose yellow and pink because those colors would be easier to wash off and I am projecting the video I made onto the blanket.

Blu was excellent for everything except when it came to riding him in the uncomfortably snug blanket. He "bucked" a bit and was generally sour. I was profusely apologetic, of course.

For his bath, Blu was great. It was nice and warm out, too. He still has some pink and yellow on him, though!

Later in the evening, I came back and did the tail swish painting. This one is called "Grievance" and the idea was for me to ride him and cause his tail, which is saturated with paint, to swish onto the canvas. I put a fly mask on him to protect his face from paint splatters and I put a vinyl table cloth around his butt and clipped it around his legs to keep his just-bathed behind from getting painted. I thought this would be simple because all I have to do to cause Blu to swish his tail is to ask him to go into the trot without any prior and proper preparation.

Principle number 2 of natural horsemanship: don't make or teach assumptions! Hehehe. Blu walked, trotted, and cantered in that funky getup and not one swish. I was baffled. He didn't even get spooked by the weird table cloth deal going on back there. I reloaded his tail, got back on without the table cloth, and tried again. Eureka! I think he was too confused by the table cloth to get annoyed at being asked to go. So, I was accidentally provocative. Too funny!

I let him paint with a paintbrush in his mouth a bit before taking him to graze and putting him to bed.

Today was fun and it would not have been possible without my mom's help! Now that I have all the footage and art work I need from Blu, I just need to get it all put together in the exhibition format for the critique on Tuesday!

Natural Horsewoman Out.

My Advice on the Particulars of Pressure

"Hey, I’m new to all this parelli stuff. So far its been great. Have a few question though, and wondering if anyone out there can help me out.

When I try the "Can you?" part of the program I can do it all except the part where Pat taps the lead rope with the carrot stick and his horse backs up. When I try, my horse walks forward. I didnt persist with it coz it still doesn’t make much sense in my head. We train them to walk forward when they feel pressure on their halter, so when you tap the lead rope, they feel a jerking pressure on their halter, so of course they’ll move forward….. confused, can anyone explain this?"

I liked this question because it made me think and I like my response:

Hi, [new Parelli student], and welcome to the journey. You are correct that you would just need to persist to clarify it with your horse. As soon as [your mare] stops walking forward, stop tapping. Eventually, she will understand to not walk forward when you tap the rope. Once that’s clear, you can stop tapping as she tries to do what you want, which is back up (first her mind, then her body position, then her weight, and finally the feet). Just remember to keep rewarding that slightest try.

The point of the tapping is a rhythmic pressure. If you think about it, wiggling the rope during the yo-yo game also produces a pressure on the halter. In either case, the horse has to read cues as a collective, not as independent. What I mean is that sometimes, pressure on the halter should draw the horse to you, but the feel should also be "drawing" as well as your body language. It’s how you are teaching your horse to not make assumptions—your horse has to read all of the signals coming from you, just as you have to read all of the signals coming from her. Don’t worry, though—horses pick up on it much faster than we do.

This is why it’s not a trick. It’s body language and communication. Those are principles #3Communication is mutual and #6Body language is universal and #2Don’t make or teach assumptions! :D

I hope that helps. What a good question—very thoughtful.

Natural Horsewoman Out.

About Me

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I am a young horsewoman with a million things on my mind. I have been a student of the horse all my life. As a little girl, I had a desire to understand horses on deeper levels. I believed that there was no such thing as a bad horse, and I believed that all horses were beautiful. One might say that I was a naive child, but I guess I don't have an excuse anymore, because I still believe all of that, and Parelli Natural Horsemanship is helping expand on this perspective.

What We Are Currently Playing With

  • Moving Close Circles at Liberty
  • Soft, Balanced Canter on 45' Line
  • Zone 5 Driving