Saturday, August 30, 2008

Indian Creek and Canter Transitions

I was in California all week starting a new job and I was glad to get some horse time today. The last time with my Levels horse, Zarah was 9-10 days ago. I used Gemini for the 1-day clinic with Dennis, which was 7 days ago.

I'm a lucky mom when it comes to time with my daughter, Kendall. She wanted to take a ride badly, so we decided to trailer out to Indian Creek. Kendall was crazy excited and we packed a cooler for drinks and a Kendall's "trail book" for taking notes about our ride. Kendall loves taking notes. I had the camera for once, too.

Kendall has had a rough August fighting allergies. Took Kendall, not a great ride. :-( Great to be riding though!

Came back, rode Z for a couple hours. Nice canter transitions and fantastic snakey bends! Very nice. Just great to be messing with my horse after so many days.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dennis Clinic, Saturday August 23rd

I hosted Dennis Paschal for a 1-day clinic. He's been a great new mentor for me the past few months and I want to share new knowledge with my people every chance I get. I think I'm a share-aholic. I digress...

So, we started out on the ground (duh!). We took turns trying different games on the ground in the playground area. Everyone got a turn on the hot seat with the others watching. Dennis had the watchers helping the lucky bastard in the middle by giving hints or saying where the human could better help the horse. I've done a similar format with the mini-clinics I've given. He had an audience of varying skills so I think it helped keep things interesting. He had us sit in a chair and play circle game with our horses. If that wasn't too challenging, he had us doing change of direction. At one of my turns, he took Gemini from me and kept him for a while. That's not my favorite thing at all. I want to work with my own horse. It doesn't help me if the instructor takes my horse. He kept him for quite a while, too. Grrr...

We started to gear up for riding around 11:30am. Since I'd chosen Gemini, I had to go through our bucking routine. I put the saddle on, cinch it up with the rear cinch a little tight, then send him on the circle. Invariably thus far, Gemini will offer some good bucks. When he does, I immediately let him rest when he's done bucking. It's an interesting game and Gemini hasn't tired of it yet. After 10 mins or so, he's ready to be ridden! Seems crazy, but... well, it's a little crazy. That horse has somehow wiggled his way into my heart and I'm determined to get to a great place with him over time. By "time", I mean probably 3 more years. HA!

Dennis left Nancy out a few times and I don't know why. Maybe it was because he didn't know her (or Amy). At least twice, we had to remind him that Nancy was still waiting for her turn when he was moving on to something else. I think that made her feel bad and rightfully so.

So, the riding was ok. We worked on Dennis' way of backing the horse, doing things around each other, circling the arena and eventually canter departs. I blew it with the canter departs. Gemini had been great the whole day but with the canter departs, something we've never done together, I asked with too much force and he went to buckin'. A couple humps later and I was on the ground. Darn it all! I got back on and got a little extra attention from Dennis. He had us do some canter transitions and lead changes. I know I just asked Gemini too hard and I learned a great lesson. I really got up asking myself what I could have done better. I patted myself on the back for that.

Pat and Marcy audited most of the day and afterwards, several of us drank wine in my barn. That was the highlight of the day, for sure! We gabbed about the clinic and about my experiences at the ISC. Girls talking about horses - the perfect way to end it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

3 ft jump and a trailer

We practiced our L3 online skills, trying to prep for shooting some video and assessing. Z has never been much of a jumper, but she is getting better and more confident the more we practice. I decided to incorporate treats and see if she responded to that. She really started to put some serious effort into it! What a complicated mare. So, we squeezed over a jump I put in the front pasture, starting at around 1.5 feet and increasing it as she felt successful. We got to a 3' jump in no time flat. I guess I was a little surprised. Was it the treat process? Is she just better at jumping these days? Dunno...

We also started playing with trailer loading on the 45'. We practiced that plenty of the past year, but it's been a while. She was willing to load from a decent distance, but she turns around once she's in the trailer. I think I'll have to put some grain in there or something. Not sure how I'll keep her facing forward. We should work on it from much closer and build. The trailer is so large, it's easy for her to turn around. I believe the task is supposed to demonstrate backing the horse out of the trailer. I'll play with that some more.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Video Liberty... again

Well, I tried to get some chores done. I dragged the roundpen yesterday and today the arena. I moved a 3ft jump to the front pasture for my online savvy video assessing. I want to try to get the Liberty video done. I had it down the night Capaill got hurt.

Today, she started turning to the outside on the FLC at Liberty. That's a new one. So, back on line we go. Trying not to be frustrated, but I've made the fatal mistake of setting a time line for us for this week. I can't push it, I'll only make it take longer.

Then, just as it started to rain, I decided to take her to the trailer. I loaded her and got in with her. My 2 pound puppies jumped in, too. There was hay and carrots on the floor from our trip home from the Parelli ranch. We sat through the storm in the trailer - about 30 mins of hail and hard rain with a stray thunder roar here and there. The hail hitting the trailer made her nervous, but I was able to relax her fairly easily. It made me snicker, thinking of my horse, 2 dogs and I in the trailer waiting for the rain to stop.

I've got Z in the run for a day or 2 to get some extra bonding time in before I go to Cali. Tomorrow, I'll focus on getting the online stuff covered.

Tough, Bloody Night

Monday night, August 18th. I was right in the middle of getting a great Liberty assessment on video when I noticed Capaill was stuck in the fence. His right leg was stuck in the wire. I dropped everything and ran. Steve was my cameraman and he instantly jumped on the ATV to meet me there. We did a first try to free him, but the wire was too embedded. We needed to cut him out.

Steve drove back for wire cutters and a lead rope. I stayed with Capaill and tried to keep him calm. I was hoping to avoid him wrestling any more and embedding the wire deeper. He was bleeding profusely. There was a steady stream of blood dripping. It was like a faucet. I knew he could bleed out and we had to be swift. After Steve came back with wire cutters and we freed him, I had to figure out what to do to get the blood flow under control. I tried a tourniquet at first. It made a difference. I was using bailing twine. Capaill was not a maniac, but he wasn't very cooperative. He would rear and move periodically, but I just stuck with him. I'd give him a 5 sec break and get back on it.

He was still losing too much blood. I tried compression by putting a towel around the wound with medical tape as tight as I could. That was ineffective. Finally, I decided to try to simply bend his leg at the knee and hold his feet as close to his barrel as possible. Bingo. Blood flow came to nearly a halt. I really thought we were going to lose him. As I was trying to stop the bleeding, I was also trying to get a doctor on his way. Tom's on-call service wasn't working right (Dr. Squires', actually). Finally got a callback from Dr. Meuller, but Tom was already on his way.

I was holding the leg, Nancy showed up and was holding the lead, Pat was passing Nancy carrots in an effort to keep him eating and alive. He was sweating, shaking and shivering, and he seemed to be in shock. He had loose stool frequently. I really thought he was a goner.

Tom showed up with all his calm reserve and I could finally start to see us coming out of this with a horse on this side of the grass. He blocked him from the knee down Capaill calmed. He was then able to get the wire out. It was fugly. He then bandaged it enough so that Capaill could walk to the barn. He was in the west pasture and would have to traverse about 5 acres of pasture. It was dark and I was amazed we'd gotten done what we had with only the lights of the ATV and later a small flashlight.

Tom decided not to stitch it or cast it. He didn't think Capaill would do well in a cast and it would require that for any stitches to hold. So, he cleaned it up nicely and wrapped it tight. Capaill severed a major artery and one of two nerves to the hoof. However, he's going to live and we are all so relieved. We'll have to watch and see how it heals. Oh boy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Day Ten, Fluidity 2

I walked away a much better horseman. I'm so grateful to the have the opportunity and ability to experience the Parelli ranch and the courses. It's changed me in profound ways both with horses and with the people in my life. I really looking forward to practicing all I've learned and submitting my partnership on video for evaluation and feedback. Level 3 completion by the end of this year feels possible.

Z had a hard time getting back into the trailer and I took her away from the trailer to work on our communication and her confidence. We had really developed her jumping from a walk over the 2 weeks so I wanted to practice that with her. We also played at liberty some and practiced the teeter totter. When we went back to the trailer, she got right in. I also had plenty of carrots (her favorite) and used them to reward her efforts. I know being in the trailer alone for 6 hours is hard for her, but she was willing after we played and we got it done.

A great way to end the course with me putting the relationship first! Sad to leave, but excited to use my new knowledge. We are soaring!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day Nine, Fluidity 2


The moment we've all been waiting for...

So, in preparation, check ribs with Snakey Bends. Make sure you ALWAYS have relaxation! I have to demand this in my lessons with Dennis. Also, if there's a behavior during Finesse riding that you want to lesson, exhaust it!

FYI: Left-brained horses typically DON'T like their faces petted. Right-brained horses typically DO like it.

We worked a lot on getting shoulders in and haunches in. A tip given was to get straight on a circle going really well. Once it is, move together in a straight line and you'll have your shoulders or haunches in. Played with that quite a bit and will continue to do so.

Flying Change Ladder:
1. Transitions -
- Cha-ching with suspension rein until the head drops
- canter/walk transitions (Best when cantering 5-7 strides)
if your horse gets emotional, walk longer between canter departs. Work on impulsion!!

2. Swinging the shoulders
- build to swinging shoulders at the canter, but start at a walk.
- focus on your weight shift to help the shoulder get soft and fluid
- use your stick for support when building this (as with moving the hind)

3. Serpentines
- practice walk/canter transitions with a walk in straight of the serpentine
- use cones to mark your straight and your canter depart
- Practice: transition down with suspension rein, shift weight, swing shoulders, canter depart

4. Flying change!
- simply eliminate the walk in the serpentine

Practice the ladder using finesse and concentrated rein until you no longer need the reins.

A "slip change" is a lead change over a few strides. These are good - means the horse is putting it all together and trying to manage the flc.

I realize I need to ride with my carrot stick ALWAYS! I need it to get good, light responses and I need to become savvy enough to manage my horse with reins and the stick together. Linda is working on a Finesse stick that's lighter and easier to manage than the carrot stick, but the recommendation will be to get good with the carrot stick first.

Tips: If the suspension rein gets heavy, lift it higher!
Using the suspension rein, put weight on the outside cheek, lift inside suspension rein and push with inside thigh (asking the horse to bend at the ribs).
The Serpentine pattern is VERY important. Build it - it's a positive pattern

Z and I rode in front of the class in the demo and my focus was to keep her relaxed. She did amazingly well! She did get worried a couple times, but I was able to immediately respond and bring her back to me. I was proud of both of us and demoing was a good friendly game for me. I was nervous and wanted to retract my volunteer offer. She gave me her best and I made sure to take care of her emotionally. We got several compliments after the demo and one from an instructor! We've come a long way and we are going to make it.

I played some games with Kim and Molly (leapfrog around the big top) then with Chance (circle the other at a higher gate). All of this was great practice for us and Z's emotions were better every day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Day Eight, Fluidity 2

Remuda with Kristi. She has great remudas.

Ronnie Willis said, "Ask the right question. Ask it at the right time. Ask with enough information that your partner can answer it."

Kristi talked about all the great horseman out there and the students that come through the ranch. Pat thinks horseman have some level of talent, skill and try. Pat would choose TRY over skill or talent. We also talked about attitude and playing with horses at liberty. If your horse leaves you at liberty, think of it more as your horse taking the leadership instead of your horse leaving you.

We did a simulation called the "Diamond Game". Four of us together made a diamond shape. The person in front would do things and the others would follow. The diamond could/would change direction and suddenly a different person would be in front and become the leader. It was kinda fun but it was good to see how quickly and easily someone else to take leadership. I also realized that I like to be the leader and would keep it for a long time until I'd feel guilty for "hogging" the leadership. :-)

There are more simulation games in The Equus Project (google this and get more ideas). Kristi also talked about playing "Hide and Seek" with your horse. You hide and when they find you, they get a treat. I wonder if Z would want a treat bad enough to seek me out. Maybe.

Steps to Power:
1. Confidence, MEP Go=Whoa
2. Longitudinal Flexion (longer strides)
3. Shaping and Balance (1 million transitions)
4. Lateral Maneuvers
Power - Suspension - Engagement


Build equality and balance in our horses! Watch for inequality and rebalance constantly. Also, whatever we want to do with our horses, we need to do in our bodies first. I was fascinated to learn that Spanish schools spend up to 4 years developing their horses on the ground before asking them to carry a rider. Those horses are very mature before becoming mounts.

I think it was Walter Zettl that said every horse should have 10 trots developed. We talked about trots and threw out some:


There were more... couldn't get them all down.

Pat came and talked to us and said something great... "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything". I like it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day Seven, Fluidity 2

The focus today was latitudinal flexion. Remuda was good with Cameron. Lots of discussion on the longitudinal flexion lesson and how to ask for collection from the point of getting the nose down. Baron talked about asking for a bend by pushing your knee into the horse and causing your ribs to bend.

Cameron talked a lot of shaping the horse and watching them from the ground to see how they are moving and what they prefer. You can also tell how the ribs are moving and if they have an easier side. If you have the horse circle you and spin the hind to disengage, you can watch to see how much they horse gets under itself. Typically, one side will be harder than the other. Practice to get them to match. Also, disengage until the fore swings. See how long it takes for the fore to swing. One side will be slower than the other. There's a relationship between that and the ribs. I didn't quite understand that in the lecture. Another thing was that when you asked the horse to disengage, notice when they steps backwards instead of under. That will tell you which direction the ribs are stuck because it will be too hard to disengage and they will fall backwards instead.

She talked about watching which hind the horse lands on first after a jump. That first landing hind will be the strong hind - which may indicate that the horse pushes it's ribs to the opposite direction. To fix the ribs and balance the horse, ride on the high side. Try to perhaps make the stirrup shorter on one side to help you position yourself on the high side.

The suspension rein should always be in the inside rein. Also, watched Cameron play sideways and she did it from Z1/Z2. I tend to do it from there because it seems more effective but it seemed past instructors would stand more in Z3. Reassuring to see Cameron also do it from Z1.

Cameron talked about the side of the horse the mane falls on. She said that because of gravity, the mane will fall on the side of the horse which is lower, meaning the ribs are "stuck" on the opposite side of the mane. I'm trying to trust the program, but my horse had a mane that fell to both sides - almost split down the middle. I've been brushing it fall on the right for many months. I don't think that means my horse's ribs are stuck on the left. I'll think about that some more.

We talked about Snakey Bends (which I think are an amazingly effective pattern!) and how they can help your horse become straight on the circle. We have to focus on bending OUR ribs to the help the horse bend hers.

I was going on a trail ride with a few others and Z didn't want to go. It felt very left-brained. It was slow deliberate instead of fast and disheveled. My horse had a plan to avoid the trail ride. I was trying not to brace against her and taking her in a circle in the direction she was working on. Cameron walked up just in time and gave me some very effective info. If my horse is left-brained and pulling with her own direction in mind, go with her but also ask her to disengage in that direction. If the horse is right brained, take them back to where they are comfortable and work there! Cameron got behind me and played the rider holding my belt loops. I tried to be afraid and go back to the herd, she would not fight me and she would direct me back. It actually made me stop and look at her. When I tried being left-brained, I got deliberate in my action and she just kept causing me to turn from my hips. After a couple tries, I gave up. We both laughed and I realized that psychologically, it made perfect sense.

Julia did a demo with her horse "Monkey" showing how to watch the ribs from the ground and help the horse shape up. She drew a dot on the shoulder and a dot on the hip. She talked about watching for the dots to get slightly closer together and reward. She asked her horse to go over cavalettis and watched for even steps, bent ribs and responsibility with the feet. Monkey looked very nice over the cavalettis and never hit one with her hoof. Julia had the cavaletti's shaped in an arch, designed with 2' distance at the center and 5' distance on the outside.

Julia also had Monkey go over some jumps. If they jump with noises (grunting, heavy breathing) continue asking until they change. If they make noises in the jump, it's often because they are landing too heavy on the fore.

Molly and Wolfgang demo'ed for us, and Baron coached us on keeping the horse straight on the circle by using the inside knee/thigh. I practiced that with Z and realized I wasn't applying my weight that way. It helped my outside hip to lift off of Z's back and allow her to bend better.

Molly had problems with impulsion with her horse so she didn't get a chance to do much of the exercise. Wolfgang was able to do a little more, but his horse seemed pretty unhappy with the Cradle the entire course.

Great day for Z and I! Spent 6 hours with her. I spent between 5-7 hours with her everyday of the course. Amazing and allowed our transformation to really occur.

Things I want for my property: honeycomb, tires, taller bridge, ball.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day Six, Fluidity

Showed Kristi the canter. She said we looked great! Hugged myself a bunch and then I hugged my horse a bunch more.

Suspension rein. Quack, quack, Cha-Ching!

1 Million transitions!! How many have I done? Maybe 300-400?

We did lots of Fluid Rein. I have to offer more drag and tension when Z's head gets higher. Then, relax as her head goes lower - comb slower and lighter and then not at all when her nose is low.

I asked about rein leathers weighing down the snaffle (like Dennis mentioned to Jen) and got a good answer. Avery said, "Trust the program". She explained that it's up to the horse to carry the snaffle. That it's the horse's responsibility and none of the very accomplished Parelli riders have had any trouble with the weight of the rein leathers. Well, of course. Trust the program. Do I fully trust it and is this the right path for me?

After spending the weekend riding the canter with my butt pushing back in the saddle instead of forward, I realize my horse has wanted me to know this for a long time. Sorry Z. I'm catching up to you, though. One day at a time. I'm also letting her push me up in the trot much more and that also feels a ton more fluid.

Z nickered at me like an extrovert today! A huge, long nicker! Not her normal way of doing things. I was very far away, too. I was jazzed. Our relationship is in such a great place. We have more work to do.

I played with her at liberty and worked on getting her to find a relaxed canter with no strings attached. It took time. She had to do lots of laps before she could relax and realize she'd need to be more efficient if it was going to last. It was a nice change and I rewarded it every time. Her maintain gait was great, but it was a smaller round pen than mine at home. Maybe perfect for this type of practice. She comes in to me at the trot nearly every time now. On line and far away or at liberty. I've got to get my ground work for L3 in to the Faculty now.

Transitions!! One Million of them!! (Freestyle)
Suspension rein simulation with Ricksta was interesting. We practiced pulling straight back and then doing the Cha-Ching rein. We also worked on Quack, Quack, Quack... simulation the down transition of a duck landing and doing that in our bodies. I do that already, but it was great to practice it and I found myself saying it on my horse while I rode. Helped me be consistent and precise.

The suspension rein should be straight up and the tension should NOT increase! It's almost an arched movement since the pivot point is the bit. We want our horse uphill and this suspension rein builds that. Cha-ching - similar to pulling the slot machine handle.

So, Quack, quack, quack... Cha-Ching! I wasn't doing it right at first. You have to hold Cha-Ching until the horse finds the feel. I was looking for the stop, but I then learned to look for the head to drop. Ahhh- haaa.

Work on this method in the down transition. Then work on it during the gait. Then during up transitions. Play with this just a little each day - introduce this gently for the best affect.

I had another day of 5-6 straight hours with my horse. Brilliant. Also did a trail ride - a very micro-managed and slow trail ride, Parelli style. Ok for short rides. Not what I'd enjoy regularly. Lots of rules, but I understand the "why" so I tolerate it. Not that enjoyable. I want to go fast!! :-)

Sunday, Fluidity 2

Awesome day with my horse!! 6 straight hours with her playing with online tasks, obstacles and riding. An amazing day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Saturday, Fluidity 2

Played a great game with a fellow student called "Can You". You take turns thinking up things to try with your horse, and you both try it! Simple game and I had a blast! I watched her play with her horse and she watched me play with mine. I think we both had a great time with it! My horse jumped 3' from a stand still for the first time. Awesome. She also surprised me with some other things she did. I'm hoping we play again - maybe even a game mounted.

I'm paying close attention to my horse's expression and I did have to get after her a couple times for her nasty thoughts. She went right-brained one of the times I had her moving quickly. Such a balance and so hard to know what to do. She was very RBI today during our play time. I think. :-)

Day Five, Fluidity 2

Today was a stretching day for sure. I've been working on getting a soft canter from Z and not having a lot of success. I've worked with Dennis on canter departs and gotten some things going. I've also worked with Terry and learned some other ways to approach it. All in all, I haven't figured out how to get Z to move off into the canter gracefully and happily. She doesn't do it with a smile on her face online or under saddle.

Today, I decided to ask Kristi for help. I don't do this often, so I must really know I need help here. She came to take a look and I decided I should show her what it looks like online first. My horse was giving me the hoof. She was saying, "Hoof You!", when I asked her to canter. Kristi told me I needed to get it right online first and she suggested we play very quickly the 7 games. So, that means 2 steps of sideways, 3 steps on the circle, 1 falling leaf, 1 rolling rock, 4 steps backup and 4 steps drawing in, 2 steps the other direction sideways, a change of direction... and so on. Constantly changing. My horse was absolutely frothy.

I would test her every so often and see if she could canter online with a better look. She definitely took some pot shots by kicking out at me sometimes or trying to pull the rope from me a little. After 30 - 45 minutes, she decided I had changed and maybe she should, too. Ahhhh... She actually had sweat between her back legs and she was drenched. Kristi told me not to ride a canter until she fixed her attitude. We did a little liberty first, then I sat in the round pen with her caught up on some phone calls.

She had calmed down and it was time to ride. So I took her back out, asked for a few things online and got the hoof again. So, we worked some more on playing the games FAST! She was quicker to give in to my leadership than the first time and I put her bridle on and hopped on. She trotted nicely around the honeycomb and she felt good. She also offered the canter a few times - an ears forward, happy canter! I took her off the circle and did some snakey bends. We went up the hill and she did it again - offered a soft canter with ears forward! Gulp! We just had a relationship issue. I realize that's what it all boils down to. If the relationship is right, you'll get what you ask for with your horse. BFO moment.

Z earned grazing time. I hung with some classmates while she ate grass for quite a while. Tough, but highly rewarding day.

Walter Zettle says the trot is the most valuable gait for jumping. Today was all about bits - a bit of savvy. That was very valuable information. I felt like a knew a lot of things already, which was interesting. However, it was interesting to know when to use the small part on the Cradle bit. Also, you can skip using the horsemans reins if you have the savvy with your hands.

Remuda was fantastic. Kristi talked about learning and being uncomfortable and being good to yourself. She talked about her Uni experience and how she didn't have total faith in the program and she had a bit of attitude. She had to figure out how to move forward in Uni and she grew a ton. Cool. I like her the best. We also did a simulation with cantering and riding the canter.

HUGE BFO!!! Wow! So, if you push back at the canter instead of forward it makes a huge difference for the horse. We tried on each other. It helps the horse get light on the front and helps the rider be more fluid. So, of course, I spent the weekend playing with that. My horse said emphatically, "Thank YOU!". Wow, ears forward, happy cantering. Excellent.

Back to bits... A snaffle bit is just a bit with no shanks. Level 1 and 2, use the bit for control (1 rein for communication). Level 2 and 3, use the bit for contact (2 reins for communication). Level 3-4, use the bit for collection. Small rings on the cradle. More than 1:1 pressure on the bit for rein contact. You can also loosen the nose band and use a curb strap on the cradle for more chin action.

Tom Thumb - a tortuous bit. No clear message and causes the rider to have to really pull to get a reaction on the horse. Mylar makes bits called B2 and B3 - great for western excellence. The english double bridle allows lateral and collection with the 2 different bits. Western double bridle is the bosal with a western bridle. A curbed shank is less severe than a straight shank. The english bit on the double bridle is called a Bridoon. The curb/shank is used for rounding and the snaffle for flexing on the english double bridle.

Level 5 plus - the spade bit with a cricket. The cricket gives an audible for mouth action - so you know if the horse is settled and rhythmic or upset and grinding.

Slobber straps = rein leathers.

Fluid Rein - 3 steps:
1) Confident in Zone 1
2) Stretching the top line (getting fluidity)
3) Lengthening the stride (adding energy)
Make sure they are tracking up

We used our hand to show vertical flexion - with the curve of our knuckles representing the curve of the horse. It was hard to get just the neck and not also the body. Interesting.

Don't do fluid rein in a rope halter!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day Four, Fluidity 2

My best ride with Z!! Man, oh man! Worked up the hill on canter transitions and she is ready to RACE! I have to teach her to canter slowly and I'm not sure how. She can do it online, but not under saddle. I'll ask tomorrow. Also, sometimes my middle back gets a little tight - where am I bracing? Have to ask that, too. Also, Z's back has changed again and it's time to check shims! That's cool. Her back looks good and strong and her posture is great.

We were working on a million transitions and she can do great stopping from my seat at the trot or walk but once she's in the canter, she's gone. I thought if I cantered her up that big hill she'd get tired, but she's off to the races! I giggled, but I didn't really see a change in what I was trying. She was breathing so hard and even a little sweaty, but still have to charge up the long hill. Anglo-Arab!

Playing online today I had 2 different people tell me we looked really pretty together. Z is soft and round and bending nicely on the circle and responding so well to me asks. I'm very happy to see her positive change and I realize it's because when I'm here, I slow down and focus. When I'm home, I'm in a hurry to get something accomplished. I will try to maintain better what I build here when I go home this time. She definitely likes me better than ever. She's happy to see me and very, very will to do what I ask. I'm amazed by what we're getting together.

Notes on yesterday: For the squeeze over a jump game, know your horse's flight line and adjust the cone's length from the jump to accommodate. Also, yesterday Z's backup got heavy. Did I get too greedy? Try adding cones and giving her a point to point backwards.

The most important thing to cure brace is to retreat! And slow down...

Today's theme was Leadership and the Parelli Formula. Leaders have to be compassionate and polite to gain respect - not only strong. I thought the morning remuda with Baron and Linden's mustang was fantastic. The horse was an RBI and had an amazing amount of try! He was going to trailer load for us, but the horse just wasn't ready. Instead Baron worked on getting the horse to cross a little ditch in the ground. That was plenty for the horse and we watched him come out of his shell. At one point, the horse went inside himself and Baron patiently waited for him to come back. I loved it - a great demo.

Bits should be used to give your horse MORE power, not less. What would my normal friends think of that statement?

Today, I had to ask myself - what level am I? Do I have impulsion problems, making me L2? Do I rush to get things done or do I take my time and do it with flexibility? Hmmm...

Process of Change:
Denial - "I don't have a problem." "It's not my problem."
Blame - "It's my horse's fault." "I never had this problem before Parelli."
Anger - "Freakin horse... faculty...Parelli..."
Chaos - The darkest hour before the dawn.

We did simulations where we had to get a partner to complete some tasks with their eyes closed. I did it with Tiana and it was very nice. She had a soft feel and I felt safe with my eyes closed. When I was the leader, the task list was too short. I wanted to manipulate her more. Hmmm... how interesting.

How to be a successful student...
lack of ego
allow yourself to make mistakes
enjoy the journey
positive people
laugh at yourself, don't be too serious

Ten qualities of a horseman:
heart and desire (Most Important)

I missed the simulations because of work, but it was more seat-builders and ball time. Those are quite interesting and I definitely learn something. I also get to hear more students talk and it helps me examine myself more.

This was the best day so far.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Day Three, Fluidity 2

Quick notes:

in the arena grande with others (instructors, too)
Feeling very UNfluid - tried to round my back
didn't have a plan
rain, so went to big top
finally, did josh lyons bending exercise and got Z going with me
on the pedestal mounted
sidepass over a cone
practiced half-passing
some crappy canter departs
Lindsey looked at hooves - and liked them!
Z generally doing well - need to get a better handle on my 51%

announcements with the program, assessments, new levels (patterns)
discussion with Uni student - what do I really want?

For the learning part of the day, we started with simulations with Baron in remuda. I partnered with Sally and we played horse and human with a savvy string as the line. Baron called out games and we got our "horse" to do them. Interesting to play with a Uni student who has passed L3. Made a big difference in how I perceived her motions and asks and how I asked her to do things.

Purpose of the Squeeze game? To build Confidence!!! And shorten their flight line.

We talked about jumping, how we have problems with jumping and why horses over-jump (because they lack confidence).

We watched some amazing jumping clips of normals, unhappy horses in the Olympics (pretty sad) and then of some horses Linda and Pat have helped. They are jumping over 5' jumps with these horses! It's amazing to me and something I never think of doing. Is that because I'm afraid or just not that interested? I don't know right now.

When jumping, push back on the front of the saddle and stay more upright. This way, you're less likely to get too forward and in your horse's way. Emulate the Pushing Passenger position for jumping. That's how Pat can jump picnic tables in a western saddle without crushing his chest.

We played with some patterns over jumps. Squeeze over, turn and face. Then, squeeze over and back to the jump. When I practiced this with Z, I was surprised how little issue she had in zone 5. Many people couldn't get their horses to back to the jumps more than a step or so. Z knocked the rail off with her hocks. Nice - good girl. This maneuver really increases their confidence.

She was definitely right-brained about riding in the big top with the other horses. I had to settle her with snakey-bends, Josh Lyons style. Worked very well and I had her mowing grass and settled pretty quickly after. Now, how do I get her to canter that pattern? I will try it tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day Two, Fluidity 2

We had a good talk in the remuda and then started simulations. They were very, very good. I partnered with Jenny and Molly. With Jenny, we did swapping partnerships. That was interesting. Jenny and I are both leaders. However, with Molly it was very fun! She led, then I led, then I allowed her to lead. I gave her leadership (no talking) and just waited for her to take over. I waited. And waited. About 30 secs later, she finally took leadership. We laughed about it afterward. Z has taught me to WAIT. I've gotten quite good at it.

We had more discussion on brace and I realized this is my time to figure out brace. How I create it and how I cure it. Sometimes Z uses her head to take leadership and I've created that pattern in her. Today, she went to yank her head away and there was nothing to pull against. I wasn't there bracing against her and I could see her look back at me like, "Hey, aren't you there?".

Horse - don't act like a prey animal, don't change gait, don't change direction, watch where you put your feet
Human - don't act like a predator, have an independant seat, think like a horseman, use the natural power of focus.

Funny - I could recite the horse responsibilities but only 2 of the human responsibilities. ???

We watched a video of a Russian martial arts expert. It demonstrated the idea of staying balanced and flowing with the attack instead of getting tense against it. Also, rounding your back and bending your knees - "so your eyes would be attached to your feet". He avoided blows and then assaulted his opponent. It looked very fluid and easy and we all tried it. Interesting how hard it was to move my partner when they stood straight up and how easily they lost balance. When the stood as the Russian man demonstrated, my partner could "glide" around when I pushed.

We talked about Fluidity; what it means, what the dictionary says, words that we think of when we picture a fluid rider. The idea is to be "smooth over rough ground and not rough over smooth ground". I like that one.

Learning phases: UI to CI to CC to UC.

Had a great couple hours with Z. I'd taken her out after lunch for some grass time. Then later, after working a little, I tacked her up and took her adventuring. She's still a little RBI about it, but I started to feel like she was LBI and it was time for me to step up my leadership.

I took her to arena grande and we practiced riding the rail, circles, going over jumps a little, pushing passenger at the trot. We did some ground work, too. I'm spending too much time working on things we know, I think. I need to shake things up. She's settled in enough and it's time to get things to seem interesting to her.

Day One, Fluidity 2

I'm writing about day one on day two because I just plum ran out of time yesterday. Hopefully, I'll remember it all...

OK, so, there's a girl here who's doing her third 6-week session. No joke. Her third! She's a L2 student. Three summers in a row. Holy crap! I'm a dedicated Parelli student, but this person is a DEDICATED... PARELLI... STUDENT!

Anyway... the first day is a lot of the same stuff from the first day of the Horse Behavior course. Meeting the faculty, rules and logistics, horseanalties, the cute Goofy movie about how to ride a horse.

Things to remember and refreshers we covered:

- There are 4 moments in a second
- There are 5 areas of confidence: LTHEL (leader, themselves, herd, environment, learning)
- There are 3 C's: control, confidence, competence
- The center of the horseanality chart is The Learning Zone
- Pre-reqs for Saddling: WTC online, WTC over a jump, stand still for saddling
- Pre-reqs for Riding: WTC online (saddled), WTC over a jump, stand still for mounting

We had a good discussion about what Finesse means. Baron started with a reading from the dictionary and then we all threw out words that meant finesse to us. It was a long list in the end.

Pat says to be great with horses, you have to master trailer loading, FLC's, and liberty. Hmmm...

We then talked about Dressage - which should demonstrate suppling, balancing and obedience.

Then, about BRACE. Brace. Arrrgghhh! I have brace and thus, my horse has brace. They talked about how L3 students are usually really fixing that up because they were probably creating it in L1 and L2. Yep, that would be me. If I never brace against my horse, she never brace against me!

Pat says that the only force that should be used on a horse is 4 ounces and focus.

So... how can I rid myself of brace? I realize I have to spend some serious time thinking about this. Repeatedly, I've heard "understand your horse's idea first". I think, in small doses, it sinks in. I had a huge BFO in this discussion however. And then after, I played with my horse focusing on brace. I made every attempt to flow with her on the ground and mounted. At one point, I asked her to load into a trailer. She's a good girl and she did. She had her moment of peace with me, I backed her out and she immediately took the rope with her in the opposite direction as if to say, "I'm NOT doing that again!". Say wha?? Where you goin, horsey? Normally, I would bump her and ask her back. Instead, this time, I went with her for a step or two, then gently pushed her hind to get her nose to face me. I really think I blew her mind. She was wondering where the tug of war was with me! Ahh-haa, Zarah. Pay attention, I'm getting better.

Linda says, "The horse holds the timelines." Pushing it will only make it take longer. But, of course.

We did "sticky hands" simulations several times and it was very interesting. I learned a lot about feel and allowing my partner to lead sometimes. Do I ever let Z lead? Ever? Because I should once in a while.

We also saw a demo with Baron and his mare showing "Me and My Shadow". This place changes my perspective so much. I'm a much better partner for my horse. She saw me from 50 ft away, raised her head and winnied for me. Not a nicker, a winnie. My heart melted. She also gave me her best try ever over barrels. She just tried and knocked them and tried until they moved enough for her to walk through. Loved it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Arrival Day, Fluidity 2 cont'd

After dinner, I decided to get my horse out of her little, tiny paddock and get her moving. I warmed her up briefly, then hopped on and off we went. We practiced circles at the trot and canter, cantering up the hill and stopping when I ask, she got onto the pedestal like she'd been doing it her whole life. Funny, we must have left that in a good place from the last class. I'll hug myself and my horse for that one.

She hit some thresholds as we walked off. I try to respect them while still making some headway. After she started to settle, we worked on bridleless circles and they got much better quickly. She started out a little bit right brained, but she settled down quickly. We cantered and tried some flying lead changes. She seemed to get about 1-2 out of 3. I know I can cue her better, so we'll work on that.

On the canter up the hill, I think the hill I picked was too steep because she was beat at the top and I had a hard time transitioning her up. She was pushing to even give me the trot. I asked her to go down the hill collected and use her hind end. She felt very balanced and underneath herself. That was nice. She also went through the car wash like she'd done it a million times. Another hug for our partnership.

We ended with a nice 25 min walk together, stopping occasionally for the long weeds with the purple flowers. Man, she loves those! Her leg wound is ugly and I forgot to pack Swat. Probably have to go buy some to keep flies off. Lovin' my horsey.

Arrival Day, Fluidity 2

Things started out a little rocky for me on a personal front. I left too late and I forgot my horse's paperwork. Dang IT!! So, I arrived about 15 mins after the check in period (third to the last) and I didn't have my paperwork ready. That's a rough way to start. I settled everyting in and made it to the orientation. It's run by Kathy and Baron. I'm really looking forward to what I'll learn, but I need to find time to settle.

A couple familiar faces, but not the same as doing it with the friends I made in the Liberty course. Now, I need to make new friends! With my resignation tendered, I'm hoping to not be too tasked with work stuff. I'll be able to handle anything work related after 11:30-ish am. Hoping things work out ok. If not, I'll deal with it.

There are fewer students than the Liberty course I took. But, an amazing thing - 8 instructors! Including David Lichman! Now, that's cool. Marc Rea is also here. I know and have worked with his brother. Linda Green is here, who I've never met but tried to take a clinic with. Seems like a lot of students are L3 students, too. A whole different deal to get here and see students riding bareback and playing at large liberty in the play area. Pretty neat. I'm trying to not feel intimated or competitive. That's one my challenges.

We have a lot to learn and I'm very happy to be here. Need a good night sleep and a fresh mind.