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.

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