About Me

My photo
North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Monday, November 05, 2007

We Are Moving!

Hey Everyone! We are moving from Virginia to New York! So, I'll be in touch soon. (And yes, the horses are coming too!)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Catching, Curiosity, Liberty, and Riding Success

Playing with Whiskey is getting more and more interesting and fun. Last night, he saw me with the bareback pad and walked away, out of the arena, and up the hill. Rather then pursue him, I just played with the horse that showed up, Fosse.

So, Fosse and I played on the ground a bit and then I rode him in the bareback pad and rope halter, one-rein, and we worked on not only PPL at the walk, but steering and point-to-point via my looking and thinking about where we needed to go, and he did it, with ease. We also rode through several obstacles initiated by each of us. Fosse is definately going to be a great time. I did try for a trot but he was not clear on my request--a bit premature on my part. Once we were done, I took him out of the arena and fed him. Whiskey was watching from the woods but not buying in---yet.

I returned to the arena and there was Whiskey, hanging out at the gate. I suspect he wanted dinner but, the bareback pad was hanging on the gate and I decided to saddle him. I haltered him first and then saddled him with the pad. He did not fuss at all and seemed ready and willing to play, if only for a bit.

We played on-line at firist. I would ask for a walk with one smooch and a trot over the obstacles and down the arena by asking for a trot with two smooches. He immediately changed gait as requested. it was totally cool. Rather than play on the ground on line much longer, I let him go loose in the arena still tacked up. He followed me. I then asked for a circle. He willing circled me --this is a first at liberty for us. What made this experience even more fun was, I was able to ask for a walk by on smooch and for a trot smooching twice doing this too. I also was able to do this with him close by me and far away. Whiskey and I were really partners and he looked great--this was so fun.

Finally, I rode him. We did walk-trot PPL using the one and two smooch technique. He and I did fantasitc! One time he even rung his head around in a playful motion, he was having fun! He is willing to trot out quite a bit more now and understanding the tasks. He even made some talking noises at me, happy horse talk--how interesting as he is usually silent. Whiskey's personality is really blosseming. By the way, he is looking better than ever too!

BTW--Mini-Me is doing much better. He has been sick if you recall but seems to be improving. He is in our version of a stall situation (horse trailer with three dog kennel panels out the back. He is happy. taking his meds, and looking better.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Good Thoughts for Mini-Me Please

Mini-Me is sick and I am asking that you please send your good thoughts his way. He is showing signs of toxicity and/or laminitis but not founder. Something has been up for a few weeks but, I thought he was just kicked or something. He is sore/lame, acted surprised when I touched him this morning (but I thought he saw me), was shaking in pain two days ago but was better after banamine, is acting sore and snotty now (when I went to feed and medicate him a few minutes ago), allowed the goats to push him around last night (very unusual), and Fosse is ignorning him (he usually hang out with him). I think there may be other things but I cannot think right now.

I have no concrete diagnosis, only suspicions (that may be totally wrong--I wish he could talk). I have him on bute, SMZ-TMP antibiotics, and confined (using the horse trailer as a stall, padded the floor with 2 bales of shavings), have the dog kennel panels as a turnout attached to the trailer). feeding hay and very minimal grain (enough to give him the pills about 1oz alfalfa pellets, 1 oz Ultium with a little molasses and oil), and water.

I have consulted with two vets and this is the plan for now. Anyhow, I am worried about him. (I did not realize until this morning how much I really do love the little guy.) .

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Has My Horse Been Abducted by Aliens? --Just Kidding!

I just had to share (as usual). Whiskey and I are making progress in leaps and bounds these days! (Which is why I joke about an alien abduction.) LOL

Tonight, we were able to work on pushing passenger with walk-trot transitions! He only offered one ugly look and nip attempt at my foot after the first transition. I used a lot of friendly game after shaking the lead line at him. This worked well to get him back to being calm and paying attention. I believe this behavior was because he had forgotten what it felt like to trot with a rider on board (we've only trotted a very few times and not anywhere near each other time-wise for a variety of reasons so it may as well have been the first time).

Anyhow, after that one incident, we had several walk-trot transitions around the arena. These were all sitting trot with the Parelli bareback pad (an English fleece pad underneath it) and a Parelli rope halter and 12 foot lead (riding with one casual rein). Once again, a lot of friendly after each halt and a lot of time and patience to get started again (using my phases slowly and deliberately). I am using several cues and experimenting. It seems that when I lift the rein, wait, then one smooch for walk, two for trot, he was getting it and was not agitated. I do use some leg pressure but only when needed. He is a very light and responsive horse so I am careful with my phases. I also did a little spank the air/hair as needed. By the end, two smooches and we were off!

By the way, his diet change is agreeing with him and he looks great, is eating well, and has gained weight--finally! It has taken me so long to find the right combination for him. He is also not exhibiting out of control herd-bound behaviors either (although we have not been back to camp).

Also, this evening, when he was eating his grain, the others left. I went out to put him back in the arena (remember he is separated to eat). I gave him one piece of carrot and let him go back into the arena (at liberty, I point and he goes). The arena leads to the upper turnout and barn. Once in the arena, he started to run up the hill to see the other horses. I called to him by name and he returned to me! I could not believe it! And, I just happened to have more carrots in my pocket. :) So, I fed him, gave him a last rub for the evening, and said goodnight. I am so happy and I think he is too! Yeah!

(Image from A White Horse, by Stacey Mayer. Click for Copyright Info.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Morning Tidbit

I just had to share. I went out to feed the critters this morning. I decided to crawl up on Whiskey after haltering him (I was in my t-shirt, shorts, slip on sneakers). I did not go out with the intent to do anything but feed. However, I felt compelled to get on my horse and hug him. (There is a lot going on these days.) Anyhow, I was now on Whiskey, looking at the mountains, I hugged him, spoke to him, and then, I asked for him to walk forward (not with a voice command but with the cues I learned through PNH).

He moved forward and was very happy to do so. There was no biting, no head flipping/bobbing, no gulping noises, no sudden stops, no snotty twists and turns, or any other indication of irritation or concern. We walked around the arena a few times (maybe 5 minutes if that) and I dismounted. I then walked him to the front turnout and fed him (and went back to feed the others). I then proceeded to water the critters and gave out a few apple treats.

It does not sound like much but to me it was definitely important and progress. I like that he was pleased to do this with me, thanked him and told him I needed that time with him. It seems like I am getting through to him.

What a beautiful morning!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Clarity, New Focus, and Treats

Whiskey did GREAT the other night. I used treats though (I am ashamed. LOL) Anyhow, I have been working on keeping him separated from the herd at times, we played in the arena with no one else there, then, I rode him, bareback with the rope halter. When he was successful, I often, but not everytime, offered him an apple treat. He seemed lighter and happier. I also used a great deal of friendly game. On the ground, pre-riding, I was very clear and also asked for a lot from him. So, we are getting there!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Whiskey, Issues, the Vet, Etc.

Whiskey went alone with us to camp this past weekend (Thursday-Sunday). There were good and bad times--some very good (two walks a day on the 22 foot, destination was up to him--went well, people coming by with horses or horse trailers--he went nuts, on the trail, walking with Smokey there, he was nuts--not typical as he has been able to be ridden wtih him. But the bad were horrific including beating the heck out of the trailer on the way home--it was swaying on the road was just not acceptable.

I called Carol Coppinger last night and she wonders if he has gastric ulcers. She said that the things I am doing with him sounds on track and that horses don't typically blow a gasket like this unless something is really going on.

I spoke to Dr. Lamb today (the vet) and she said maybe ulcers but the cost to even try to medicate is almost $1000 per month!

We have opted to change his diet and work on additional training--still doing PNH. Dr. Lamb agreed and is hopeful that thhings will work out. She said that she understands and is fine with the choice we have made.

Tonight I played with the horses (in the woods and the arena) but paid particular attention to my interactions with Whiskey. I think that I have discovered something. I don't believe that I have been as good of a leader to him as I needed to be. With Fosse, I was always willing to push his buttons and really lead, hard at times. With Whiskey, I think I've let him off the hook when maybe I should not have. I think this is because he can be such a quiet horse, not an in-your-face horse. Anyhow, I am being more persistent and very clear about my expectations with him and, expecting more out of him. The result, I think that we had a little progress tonight, he seemed surprised but, more respectful. More later!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nice Evening with the Critters

I had a wonderful evening with the critters tonight. Here they are all eating after our playtime. Tonight I played with at liberty with everyone and we had a fun time. They got to run around the arena and I sent them through the obstacles, mostly the jumps---they were leaping, bucking, and Whiskey was especially animated!

I also played on the ground and saddled Fosse, approached and scratched Minime (without him trying to leave), and rode Whiskey. Whiskey did fantastic--the best in sometime. We are making progress, again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Deprivation Training

Today, I played with each horse on the ground and did a thorough grooming job. Whiskey was in the front turnout and the others all in the arena. I went to get Mini-Me and he started to head away from me. Rather than chase, I totally ignored him and there Fosse was, ready for what ever I had in store. I played with him on the ground, utilizing some new faux-cavaletti I created and he was quite intrigued. We also played with the other item in the arena (jumos, cowboy carwash, tarp, barrels, hoses, cones, etc. Then I groomed him (Mini was watching and ended up moving so close that his head was almost in Fosse's tail. I would touch him as I passed by to continue my groom job but, not give he too much attention at all.

After this, I grazed Fosse in the lawn for a few minutes. Whiskey called to me--we were not our of sight so it wasn't a herd bound thing, he actually was trying to get my attention. Whiskey was next. I ran through the same things as Fosse and there was Mini and the goats, tagging along through it all! The goats, throughout everything were always nearby (Mini too), they worked through the obstacles, and even got a little grooming when I was doing the horses.

Lastly, I played with Mini. Funny how now all of a sudden he was eager to be haltered! We ran through the ostacles and 7 games, he did very well. I am truly encouraged and know that with him, the more aloof I become, the more interested in me he becomes.

How interesting, depriving your horse of attention after he decides to run away from you. Rather than chase, just walk away--all of of sudden you become interesting!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nice Relaxing Evening

We had a nice time this evening, undemanding chill time. Rick and I sat in the lawn with Mini-Me grazing on the 12 foot lead (he even came over for scratches and sniffed me several times), the dogs and cats were running around playing in the yard, the goats were in the arena laying down sleeping, and Fosse and Whiskey grazing the lower hill by the road. It was a lovely time and a great de-stressor. We were able to chill out and talk (or not) and there were no phones, computers, or other noisy, 21st century interruptions.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Trimming Mini-Me Tonight and the PNH Connection

Mini-Me was in dire need of a trim (his toes were long--I trimmed him 2 weeks ago). I ended up taking quite a chuck off. I had been fairly conservative but this time, needed to do a good, shorter trim job. You'd be amazed at how normal they are starting to look--I am thrilled and glad I learned how to trim. He was also having lameness issues on the front right leg--I think he was kicked (gave him Banamine and rubbed with DMSO). So, this little guy had a lot going on tonight.

Anyhow, so why am I telling you this? Well, let's step back a bit and let me remind you who he is. Mini-Me is the mini-horse rescue from 6 months ago (he had woolly-mammoth hair and elf shoes with rockers). He is a head-stong, not overly trusting mini-horse who also has catching issues. For those of you who don't have minis (or those with docile ones), this horse can only be described as a head-strong, alpha gelding with an attitude and swift moving hind quarters. He is also very intelligent. He has learned the 7 games but is not great at all of them yet--and he is more than willing to challenge me as herd leader.

While trimming him tonight, I had issues with his rear feet. He even bit my head (hit my hair and scalp. He wanted to swing his hind quarters, offered to kick a few times, etc. This was something that occurred two weeks ago and it ended up being a knock down, drag out, war between us. He and I were both frustrated, I cried (twice), felt guilt about my anger, and he was pissed off too. (But he was trimmed.) I did not want tonight to be the same thing (or ever for that matter). (By the way, he was not this bad a few months ago but developed this rear feet phobia and attitude recently.)

I have been learning a lot from you all and a lot about myself, especially about dealing with stress, confrontation, and my own frustrations. PNH has also helped me through this process.

So, how I worked through this issue tonight was to tie him, then as he leaned and tried to manipulate his body to get out of the proper position, I leaned back into him. I used the nipper handles to porcupine him in the hindquarters area above the flank when he tried to push into me (my hands or fingers were ineffective), he knows this game and would eventually move off. I used tons of friendly game throughout the session. I kept rubbing his leg and hindquarters, would pinch his hock to pick up the leg (he knows this too). Then, if I could get it even a centimeter off the ground, I'd hold it and release when possible. Then friendly game. If he offered a kick, I tapped him on the hindquarters, then friendly again. Eventually, I was able to use the nippers to knock of the toe and rasp to finish (although not an excellent finishing job, good enough). The trimming took about 1 1/2 hours. But, in the end, we learned a bit about each other, I think we left on a respectful note, and no one got hurt. I even was able to easily catch him after he was released back into the arena to put him on the grass, and then again to put him away later.

So, I guess what I wanted to share was that Mini-Me and I each had an experience of new communication, learned how to not explode on each other, and got the job done.

Aren't horses interesting?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Whiskey and Wine

So, did that title get your attention? LOL.

Whiskey and I had a brief but fun time last night. I rode him bareback with the rope halter, walking passenger lesson. He did try to bite me a few times but I was able to deter that. My friend saw this and was shocked at this behavior although unable to offer any ideas about why he does it. It is good to note that he does not do it when we have gone on a trail ride (not that we have been on many--maybe like 3). Anyhow, we only played for about 5 minutes before riding (sidepassing over a one foot high log) and then riding for about 10 minutes. I did experience progress on his behalf but, we still have LONG way to go. Afterwards, he enjoyed a few sips of my wine--and loved it--weird horse.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A new strategy

After reading the recent Parelli E_news and in thinking about my recent riding issues with Whiskey, I wonder if some of it is strength too. Recently, he has some weight loss due to a lost battle with a bees' nest. Anyhow, he is looking much better now (in the last week) from that and in addition, I increased his caloric intake. So, I believe I will now incorporate "hill therapy" with our play time (and I will start my morning workouts for me again too). :) We certainly have hills at my house (and jump obstacles).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Whiskey Update -- Progress, I think.

I played with Whiskey again this evening. Last night I took everything back a notch tonight and started with some non-demanding time (I sat in the arena on the ground until he and the others came to see me. I then moved to the games, obstacles, and saddling. I also layed over him from both sides bareback. I believe he expected to have to "endure riding" and opposite of what he was expecting, I did not ride nor attempt to even mount. I noticed a bit of anticipation on his part and wanted him to understand that there is more to our relationship than riding. :) This seemed like a great idea and he seemed to really be happy tonight. He was walking when I walked, stopping when I stopped, etc. He was in-tune with me even though the other horses and goats were lingering around. A good evening all around.

Well tonight, I played with him on the ground first, remembering wisdom of my Parelli network of friends, and put my principles and relationship before my goals. I did not just hop on and try to ride him. Anyhow, on the ground, I asked him to move sideways along the fence, over a pole, over a log, over cones, around a tire, etc. You get the picture. He did very well and some of these obstacles were totally new with this movement. My position was on his side or facing him. I also incorporated the other games. I then mounted bareback with his rope halter (one reined). I leaned over him three times before swinging up (all from the mounting block). Once on, I checked his flex and used a lot of friendly game. I then asked for forward movement, passenger, only at the walk. He was a little resistant (biting at my foot at times) but did move forward without much effort on my part, he just had some small protests. I continued to work on his flexion. and more friendly. Itfelt like we are back to the beginning when I first started riding him. However, rather than totally push the issue, we accomplished mini-goals and I dismounted. I then took him to the turnout for his grain and asked for a side-pass through the gate (sometimes we walk forward and other times, back into the area too).

So, I believe we had a good evening. I would be lying if I said I did not feel some frustration about not being able to ride him like I could my old horse Wilbur--or even like I had in the past few months. I know that riding is not the "end all be all" but, it would be fun! However, in time, I think that will happen. I think that we need to come back together as solid partners and get back to making progress.

I plan to take him back to horse camp Sept 21-23 and Sept 27-30. I am taking him by himself and plan to play on the ground first and then assess if we can do anything else. I plan to be more patient and a true partner paying close attention to his needs. Thanks for listening! I truly appreciate your support, affirmations, and feedback.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Evaluation Task: Thoughts about Whiskey and Me

Each week, I post a weekly task on our Parelli Play Group. This week was to evaluate our relationship with one of our horses. Here is the entire post on that: [parelliplaygroup] This Week's Task: Evaluate your Relationship: This week's task is to look at your relationship with one horse and evaluate it.Think in terms of where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to be in the next year. Consider using examples to illustrate what is going on, explore your feelings and reactions, explore you horse's behavior and horsenality. Be as creative and thoughtful as you can with this evaluation, it should be a true and deep look at your relationship.Once you have done this, please post to the list about your experience. Be sure to talk about why you chose this horse and your relationship with him/her as the one to look at.
Here are my thoughts on the evaluation task...as posted on the PPG listserv.
Dear PPGG--
This task is a timely one for me. I am going to evaluate my relationship with Whiskey. I have chosen him because he is the horse that I am playing with most and probably the one who I will travel with and take places on a regular basis.
Our relationship has been interesting. He came to me as a pushy, introverted horse who had no manners and definitely emotional issues. We have only done PNH with each other although he had other handlers/ owners in the past who did who knows what. He was also taken (by me) to a "trainer" who said he should be euthanized because he would kill me or someone else. I totally disagreed (and still disagree). He was kicked out of her barn and nothing was done with him (nothing beneficial anyway). He was also beaten onto the a trailer and got hurt. He loads very well for me now--but I took the time to work with him on these issues.
I have had him for a few years and we have made huge progress. I started him myself (using a rope halter and bareback). It has taken a great deal of time for him to trust me (or anyone). I know that many of you have read my posts about him on my blog and on this (and perhaps other) listservs. We have been through a great deal.
I would like to talk about this past weekend at the horse camp. This event will help me illustrate where we are and hopefully through this reflection, shed some light on our true relationship. I am aware, concerned, but have a plan. One thing to note, he is very easy to read, I can tell when he is being uncooperative versus a total mental shut-down.
Rick and I took the three horses to the White Cedar Horse Camp from Friday-Sunday. They all loaded up great and off we went to camp. Once there, they were housed in an 18' x 20' corral. Fosse and Mini-Me were fairly pushy at times with Whiskey but, overall they were OK together in these close quarters. We had a regular schedule and everyone seemed happy. I know we were thrilled to have the dogs & horses with us.
On Saturday, I decided to take Whiskey out for a ride. I guess seeing everyone else riding made me want to get out there and do it. I had no intention of riding with anyone though, only wanted to be by myself. I have not really ridden or played with my horses too much in the last weeks because because the Arabs got into a bees nest and were stung very badly (except the mini--we have been playing together). I was giving Fosse and Whiskey time to heal.Anyhow, so here we are at camp and I wanted to ride. My initial thoughts/expectations were to just get the horses there but not necessarily ride. I guess that changed--why I am not certain--where did this new expectation/ pressure come from?
I tacked Whiskey up and barely played with him on the ground (this goes against all of my principles-- in hind sight I am thinking what the heck--I was not being a good partner-why did I do this--what is wrong with me? I think that I felt jealous that everyone else was riding and why shouldn't I be able to? I have no clue---I can be an idiot. ) I mounted and he stood still but, after a minute or so, he got very antsy--there were other horses and riders nearby. I decided to just move him out. We walked through this small piece of wooded area to the road (by the way, he also had hoof boots on for the first time). We walked a few steps and he stopped. I asked for forward movement and got it. Once at the trail head, I asked him to walk around the metal gate, he refused. So, I decided to walk the two loops in the camp. The first loop he did rather well and some people complimented us. I felt proud of our accomplishments and our partnership. He was nervous about thewater containers and the dumpsters but nothing too bad, he spooked a little sideways one time but once again, I was not nervous and he calmed right down. After the completion of the first loop, and what I consider total success, I decided to try the next loop and this is where everything fell apart.
To get to the second loop, you have to go near our camp (where Fosse and Mini are having a fit). I made it part of the way and I could tell Whiskey was starting to meltdown and shut-down. He ended up (in front of people) trying to buck or rear, tossing his head violently. I one-reined him, he tried to blow up, and subsequently he fell to his knees and then stood up, I was able to calm him for a minute and dismounted without incident. I was not scared at all but concerned because I could tell that the mental state of my partner, Whiskey's well-being had been compromised, he was a total basket-case.
While on the ground with him, I watched in horror as he kicked out, kicked his girth, rung his head, hollered, acted like he was out of his mind. I have seen this before in him but not for a very long time. I played the 7 games with him where we stood and then, as we headed back to camp, I felt sorry for him, I was humiliated (not sure why I care what other people think though). One lady said, "Oh yeah there is a typical Arab--see why I left mine home?" I realized at that moment that my horse scared people. I was devastated.
While sitting at camp, I felt terrible, depressed, and could not get this incident out of my mind. Was it me? Perhaps I am not a good partner for him, was it situational? Is he just not mentally capable of being a "normal" horse? Anyhow, you can only imagine the gamut of things running through my mind. Rick was clearly able to see my despair and later that day encouraged me to saddle him and just take him out on the 22 foot line, no riding (unless I really felt I should/ could). I did just that.
While saddling him, I was thinking that maybe he will break down right there because of what happened in the morning. Not at all, he was calm, quiet, and all went very well. I took him out on the 22 foot line and had my carrot stick. We worked on the trail head entrance and walked down the road leading to the trails that branched off the main drag. He started having another melt-down and was clearly unable to pay any attention to me, his "partner". I was so saddened by this. I kept thinking, why/how could this be happening? We have made so much progress over the last several months.
So, in addition to the 7 games, I started ground-driving him with the one line. This was something we hadn't tried and it worked quite well. (I remembered Linda Parelli using this technique with Allure-- who is somewhat like Whiskey in mindset and Cindy doing it wit Junior on the trail a few weeks ago). It gave him something to do and we were able to head towards "home" in a calm fashion. Once back at the metal gate, I used it as a place to do more side-passing. Then, I asked him to go back and forth through the gate. Finally, I asked him to back through via porcupine game, he did it with ease. Finally, another hint of success and left-brained behaviour.
I started to think I was getting him back (he had been bouncing between right and left brain so much that day, I was getting lost as to where he truly was--and getting exhausted) and so we walked to a grassy area near the camp site to graze. I thought it would be a welcomed, non-demanding time for him with the benefit of munching some grass.
He was okay for a minute or two and then exploded again. We worked on the games, etc. etc. While walking him back to the camp, he reminded me of the explosive, hyperactive, unreasonable, Thoroughbred race horses I used to deal with, not a pretty sight. Once back at camp, he proceeded to try to "cow kick" me, I kicked back with the end of my carrot stick--his mind came back. I felt terrible but, this horse tried to hurt me and as "boss mare" I had to do something about it. (I put DMSO on the area in case it swelled. It was just one "kick" but, it was a tad hard--a phase 4 for sure. At this point, I was beside myself. I tied him to the trailer and I groomed him and made up with him and he ate his grain. He seemed totally back to my sweet horse Whiskey. No harm, no foul, no hard feelings. HMMMM.
One thing to note, when I took Fosse for a walk by himself, or Mini- Me, they were totally fine. Whiskey by himself at home has been fine-- most of the time.
To me, it seems like I passed a critical threshold and was dealing with herd-bound issues I had no idea were there. I took my own agenda and ignored my horse telling me that he could not progress further. The entire thing just got out of hand. The guilt is too great to stand, I love him so much, I feel so bad that things went so wrong (after some true success).
So, in closing, this is what I believe about our relationship. I do not believe it is broken nor do I think it is perfect. I plan to spend an inordinate amount of time with this horse and go through level 2, now. I may tape me doing level 1 tasks with him (just for me) as a precursor to our level 2 work--I have not decided yet. Rick an I plan to take him, alone, to horse camp as much as we can before the place closes. I may ride, I may not, but what I am going to do it work on us (Whiskey and me), away from home, away from the other horses.
By the way, last night and this morning at home, when I called him to the arena (for food), he came willingly, galloping to me, was cuddly and wanted scratches. I think he still loves me. I know that I love him, more than I can express. This horse is with me for life, we just need to continue to work on our communication and partnership.
I don't know if this is a thorough account of what happened and what is going on, I am exhausted just by thinking about it. But, I think you get the gist of it. I get very emotional about my horses and also know that frustration can get in my way. Frustration with myself, my horse, and, and other situational (or people) interference. I need to work on this as well.
My plan for the rest of the week is to play with Whiskey but have the other horses locked out of the arena. I believe that we need one-on- one time right now. Rick is going to try to get my round-pen situation remedied as well. I want to start doing more liberty tasks in there soon.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Still Here...

I just wanted to say that I am still here. The horses were stung by bees and I have not done much with them for two weeks. I wanted to allow then time to heal. Anyhow, we are camping next weekend with them so I'll be sure to tell you how it goes!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Excellent Evening with Horses (and wine)

I just had to share about this awesome evening. I am SO HAPPY with my horses (and hubby).

I went out to the arena this evening with the idea that I wanted to ride.The horses were not coming down and I started to feel depressed. I was thinking that they are not interested in me and that maybe they are getting sick of spending time with me. Rather than just leave, I sat in the woods and just waited (IE. The Catching Game). Mini-Me came to me first. I was not looking at him at all. He came up behind me and started nuzzling my pony tail and nibbling on my shirt. It was so cute and unexpected. Then, Fosse and Whiskey came over, nuzzling me, licking me, and being so sweet. Okay, so they DO love me still I thought! I walked to the arena and they followed.

I put up the "gate" (it is just white electric fence tape) and the goats, horses, and I were in the arena for some play time. The goats are funny, usually in the way at some point but, I think they are having fun too.

I started playing with Whiskey first. I saddled him with my Theraflex pad, English saddle, and Parelli natural hackamore. We played on the ground using the 22 foot line and carrot stick. I practiced this week's serpentine challenges too. Then, I mounted. For the first time, we worked on pushing passenger at the TROT! He got better each time I asked him to move forward. I also got better about allowing the trot and not micromanaging.It was excellent and we definitely made progress. It seems as if, after time, we started to really trust each other and work as one. We are starting to "get" each others rhythm.

I then saddled Fosse the same way (he has never had a saddle on, only the bareback pad). He and I worked on the walk and steering. We also went through the obstacles (this is all after ground play by the way). He also did very well. He did a little ear pinning but, it was at the other horses and goats (I think). He is really doing well and accepting new challenges.

Finally, I played with Mini-Me. We played the 7 games and he is finally understanding the sideways game. He is really cute and fun to play with. He is also starting to understand that the carrot stick is not a threatening item. I actually haltered him with the same hackamore as the Arabs! He is quite flexible.

After opening the gate, everyone except Whiskey went up the mountain. He actually started waling next to me and went through the obstacles that I walked by. He was playing "stick to me". How exciting and unexpected. I actually left him in the arena and then he finally went up with the others.

When I went back to the house, I enjoyed a few glasses of wine and a nice dinner (made by Rick--who also has been preserving our homegrown food all day as well.)

Overall, a great day (yeah, also went to work, a very long but productive day there too).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fun at the Horse Show

Whiskey and I had a blast! It was interesting trying to balance showing in 4 classes, judging 9 classes, and assisting in judging 1 additional class. I work best under pressure and this was definately full of it! What FUN! I got very positive feedback about the club, the judging, etc. I am certain we will be very involved again next year.

Whiskey and I did very well this year. We placed in every class we entered. Here is how we placed:

Western Model 5th
English Model 4th
In--Hand Trail 2nd
Costume 1st

By the way, my dog Sid got 2nd in the dog show and Rick got 6/1st, 2/2nd, and 3/3rd in the canning division.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Great Horse Time This Morning

It was so nice this morning that I had to go out and play with the horses. I got out there at around 7:30am. The air was cool, fog over the mountains, and a slight breeze.

Fosse and I played first. I sat on the mounting block and waited for him to come to me, he did (Whiskey did not at this time by the way). I got a few kisses on the cheek and then, haltered him while sitting. I then sprayed him with fly spray (which he is totally fine with now--unlike the past where he would blow a gasket)--Whiskey got his dose of spray too (unhaltered) , and then put on the bareback pad. I walked him, in-hand in the arena playing the games and going through obstacles. Off to the mounting block next where I mounted and then just sat there. When we started walking forward the goats followed us around too. Whiskey was rolling in the arena and then bolted up and took off running. It startled Fosse but, I used one rein and halted him. We were fine, no worries, just savvy. We rode around the ring in both directions, at a walk doing pushing passenger, steering, and going though the obstacles. I then dismounted, loosened the girth, and walked him through the course in-hand again. I took off the bareback pad, then the halter (we were in the questions box). He just stood there wondering what was next. I porcupined him back out of the box and told him he could go. (This is ride three and this horse is excellent! Pandapas here we come.)

Whiskey was next. I went back on the mounting block and took a seat, waiting to see if he'd come to me. Fosse did and started cleaning my face! Anyhow, Whiskey got curious and came over. I haltered him and put the bareback pad on him. Same drill as Fosse, ground, riding, then ground. He had a few temper tantrums (as usual-- during riding but, he is becoming more responsive and these fits are not as bad as in the past. He eventually would do well through the obstacles and ring but, all at a walk, no trotting today. He is responding to leg pressure and I take it off as soon as he is moving forward.

I then haltered Mini-Me, put fly spray on (he is a bit skeptical about this still) and we did the obstacles and 7 games. He is great at everything but sideways. I am seeing progress but, he is not quite there yet. I also plan to start ground driving him soon.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pandapas Fun with Whiskey

Today was simply fantastic! I went with my Parelli Play Group to Pandapas Pond. I first took Whiskey for an in-hand walk and then rode him. He is fantastic! We worked on walking and trotting--very exciting. Here are a few photos (not too flattering but all well). I cannot wait to ride him again--especially trying to work on the trot in the arena.

He and I have never really worked on trotting at all, this was SO FUN! He did not offer to buck or anything. At one point, he was getting antsy and I dismounted. It was time, he and I worked hard. So I hand walked him back down the trail, worked in-hand at a water crossing, and then we walked back to the parking lot, side by side. We both needed a cool down anyway. This is why I LOVE people in PNH, no shame, no judgements, just safety and fun!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fosse's First Ride!

I just had to share, I rode Fosse for the first time this morning!!! Can you tell how excited I am? Unfortunately no one was around to take a photo of me on him. I got Fosse several years ago as a baby who was to be put to death because of a grade 5 heart murmer. The vet had finally cleared him for riding (on flat or easy terrain) late last year but all I have done was sit on him, two or three times last year and play tons of ground games since I got him. She is amazed at how healthy he is and looks (besides the murmer of course).

So, how did we do it? We played on the ground for a bit, working through obstacles, then I saddled him with the Parelli bareback pad using obstacles in between cinching to make it a "saddling with savvy task" (first time he has ever been saddled with anything by the way), once saddled, more obstacle and ground work.

After that, I layed over him twice, then mounted. I sat there, flexing his head to each side several times. I then thought, what the heck, and asked Fosse if he wanted to walk! He stepped around a little, getting his footing, using the Parelli techniques ("My Horse Won't Go"), I asked him for forward movement and got it! We walked around the arena, went over groung poles, and around obstacles. He did great! I look forward to riding him again soon.

I also rode Whiskey today. He did well but was up to some of his usual antics. We had fun regardless but, I warned him that he may have competition now! LOL

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mini-Me is Making Great Progess in Many Ways

Today I played with Mini-Me. He is very intelligent, brave, and willing. We were able to accomplish all of the 7 games with success, go through the obstacles, and then a grooming session. I even put the bareback pad on him back (just for fun--it is almost as big as he is).

I have become very fond of him and he seems to trust me much more now. I did not walk up to catch him for this playtime, he came and sought me out. How exciting! I sat in the arena, and he came to see what was going on. Fosse aand Whiskey were not interested. Whiskey came down and got a drink and left. Fosse never bothered to come down at all.

Mini-Me is looking great and totally different from when I first got him. It has been an amazing transformation. Check out some before and after photos. (By the way, the top photo at the beginning of this post is of Mini-Me and Fosse.)

This is when when I first got him (he was a rescue destined for a bullet by his previous owner)...

This is him now (4 months later)...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Making Use of Time No Matter What

I am very sorry to report that we had to cancel our meeting today. I did haul Whiskey to Clare's this morning in hopes that we'd meet up. I ended up driving back to her place after the library picnic in a thunderstorm, loaded him in the rain, and dodged raindrops and torrential downpours on the way home. I look at it this way, he got in good trailer practice, grazing time at a strange place, I got to practice hauling him around and backing the trailer at the house and at Clare's. So, it was a good experience for both of us overall.

Rick fixed my trailer (obviously) but, on the way home from Clare's, my electric cable ended up dragging and wore through--no lights, no brakes ARGH (the truck seems to be sagging for some reason too---I WANT A NEW TRUCK!). Rick just looked at me, smiled, and said, no problem, he'd fix it right away (but not tonight). He is a gem.

I decided to get in some horse time this evening and worked on trailer loading with Fosse primarily and then a little with Whiskey and Mini-Me. It was fun and yes, Fosse did load, several times. It was time well spent, fun, and very productive. I do have to figure out something for the mini horse though. The dividers in the trailer are at a height where he can slide his back under them. I see this as a potential hazzard. So, we are going to have to be creative and figure something out. I want a solution that is easy to put on and remove--hmmm, I'll have to think about this--I bet Rick will know what to do.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Trailer Practice

This evening I was getting the trailer ready for tomorrow's excursion. Our Parelli Play Group is having a meeting at Pandapas Pond. I decided to work on trailer loading with Fosse and Whiskey. Whiskey loaded fine (no surprise there, he loves this trailer). Fosse loaded only his front half. The interesting part was, when I asked him to get his front feet off of the trailer (using yo-yo or porcupine game), each time he decided he did not want to and pushed into me or bended his body in such a way that he'd avoid me and thus not getting off. After he did remove his feet from the trailer and disembarked, I'd ask him to load again. He'd put his front feet back in and each time, stomping them harder as if to say, I had them here and you made me remove them! All I can say is... how interesting.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Good Riding and Horse Play This Evening

I rode Whiskey tonight and it went quite well! I started by playing on the ground with him using obstacles and testing our communication and skill together. Then, I saddled him with the Parelli Theraflex pad (paying close attention to the shimming) and my English saddle. I usually ride him bareback or with the Parelli bareback pad so this was one fairly new. I also used the rope halter and 12 foot lead. I think I may have ridden him one other time with a different saddle about 4 months ago. At first, he was pissy and not overly cooperative moving forward. This time however, there was not one incident of biting or nipping. This time, a bit of ear pinning. (Remember, he has not moved forward yet.) Rather than push the issue or dismount, I looked it as him testing me. I took a step back, did not get frustrated or scared, and just breathed deeply, relaxed, and checked for my position (to be sure I was in the proper position). I made some adjustments. I then lifted my reins and used my savvy string (spanking the air) to ask him for forward movement. He gave it. It took about 3-5 5 minutes and I got him to ride the rail and go through obbstacles for the next 30 minutes (at a walk). I used the savvy string and leg pressure (with no objection from him--first time) . I also allowed him to eat a little hay that was on the ground (showing confidence and trust to allow his head to drop--especially because in the beginning he showed a bit of a desire to possibly buck). He liked this. I would allow one mouthful and then ask for forward movement. He complied with no argument.

After our excellent and fun session riding, I dismounted and fed grain to the horses. (Oh, by the way, it was thundering and sprinkling during all this.)

When Fosse was finished eating, I played with him on-line and at liberty. It was a riot. We were playing like I've seen Linda play with Remmer--so exciting!

So, I really had fun today and I think they did too.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Discovery and Learning, Ponderings about Today's Horsey Fun

Today, Clare and I took Parlay and Whiskey to the White Cedar Horse Camp an Recreation area in Dismal, Virginia. This area has very nice camping, day-use, and trail areas. Apparently, there is also good trout fishing!

Our journey started this afternoon when Clare came to the house to pick us up. My trailer still needs a wiring job and so, she agreed to transport us. Whiskey's trailering experiences have not always been pleasant (he was beaten on one once), and he is used to my 3h-slant load stock. Her trailer, is a cute, 2 horse straight load. Loading at the house took about 5 minutes, Parlay was already on board. Clare pulled in, turned the trailer around, and we began the loading task. Whiskey was skeptical but, willing to load after some coaxing. I find that with this trailer, I am not always certain where to stand and how to proceed whereas with my trailer, I stand on the end, point, he loads (it just seems more open and roomy), and I walk in and tie him and put the divider in place. So, this was a challenge for both of us. I am thankful for this experience and Clare expertise with her trailer and the loading issues. She helped keep us both on track. It is really not about the trailer but the task, the confidence of horse and human, and the savvy to accomplish the goal. Once both horses were loaded and comfortable we then hit the road to the camp. (We had them just sit and hanout on the trailer before our departure--you know, hurry up and relax.)

Once we found the place (the directions were not very good), we were delighted to run into the camp host and talked about the facilities and policies for usage. This is a definate place for a trip whether you plan to ride, do ground training, or just hang out with the group. It was about an hour from Rich Creek, Virginia. The fees are reasonable and the accomodations are nice (and new). The sites have are level and gravel. Each includes a tublar steel corral--there are single ($15/night) and double sites ($25/night). There is a playground and dogs are also welcome.

Ok, so imagine this, we are in the parking lot of the day-use area (free by the way) and Whiskey decides to not unload! He is used to backing out but, is reluctant this time. It is a good thing to remember that each experience with the trailer and horse may differ and using our skills and techniques always come in handy. Using the yo-yo and porcupine games, we were able to unload him. I am finding that now, unlike the past, I am calm, cool, and not anxious about these trials and tribulations. In the past, I would get so frustrated and angry. Parlay does not unload by backing and unloaded by walking off front-ways. This is a task Clare plans to work on with her.

We decided to "dog walk" the horses and work on obstacles rather than ride. Clare was not feeling well and I have not done anything substantial with Whiskey in a long time. Our first obstacle was a stone covered bridge. We asked the horses to go off the side of it and the ends, no problem. Then the water crossing. It was a babbling brook. Whiskey leaped it, several times, very high in the air--I think he is a pegasus with wings. Parlay was wonderful and crossed it with ease. Clare's work has really paid off. This horse is coming along nicely. Then, we did other tasks like backing while we were seated eating our snack -- Clare had Parlay playing the hot/cold game with her sandwich, backing up embankments, sidepassing, walking over logs, one foot at a time, very slowly with pauses, etc. On the way back, the water again. This time, on the third try, Whiskey walked across, not as good as Parlay but, calmly and better.

This takes us to the parking lot and trailer loading to go home. Whiskey decided to not load immediately. We were trying it without Parlay on board yet (oh by the way, she is in heat and has been flirting with Whiskey throughout our excursion). A good-looking "cowboy" comes over to offer his advice/help. He soon realized, thanks to Clare, that we were thankful but uninterested. She even asked him to not go behind the trailer and he complied--thank goodness. He did walk away from us while we were talking, frustrated I am sure, with these "weird women" and their non-compliant colt horse (as he called him). Clare would eventually load Parlay first and Whiskey, was still not loading but, he was not alarmed either (he was in the very beginning though). We ignored him, and used several approach and retreat, driving, and other games/techniques. He was on the trailer within 20-30 minutes. He was not afraid and was pleased to be aboard. We then waited a little more before pulling out, just to be sure the horses understood that there was no rush or urgency to worry about.

When we got back to my place, we soon realized that the trailer and truck running lights were not working. We unloaded Whiskey first--he offered to back out and did like he usally does on my trailer. I was able to locate, test, and replace the fuse that had burned out in her Chevy truck. Clare was able to travel home safely.

So, what did I learn. I was able to recognize and remember the fact that Whiskey has really only been off the property 5 times and thast we have a lot of learning to do, together. I was able to understand that taking the time it takes really does mean something and know that I need to spend more with Whiskey. I also was able to better comprehend the need to understand the major differences betweeen "them and us" (regarding horsemanship styles) and that I have to remember I already have one strike against acceptance simply for being involved in PNH (IE. the cowboy deal--he really meant well but, assumed that the helpless women needed his help, yadda, yadda, yadda). I also remembered how much fun Clare is and why I love natural horse people. Patience is not just with our horses, but with each other.

Tonight, while watching the Next Food Network Star, Bobby Flay said something that rings true to me, "If you're not nervous about your passion, you're not passionate about it." I tend to feel nervous while "performing/playing" with my horses in front of people. I am not sure about all the whys but my own body image is one thing. Failure or making a fool of myself another. These are things I need to work on. Clare also says that nervous could also be excitement. Anyhow, I have some work to do on myself as well.

Well, that's it! Night all!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Annual Trail Competition and More

This is me with my friend's horse Parlay today.

Our Southwest Virginia Natural Horsemanship Club group (our two members Dian and Donnie) hosts an annual trail competition. Today, I was part of the ground crew. You can see the photos at http://s109.photobucket.com/albums/n77/arabhorselover1/Trail%20Competition%202007/

I also had a chance to ride Whiskey (at home) this evening. He did very well. Although he is still exhibiting the nipping at my feet behaviour, it is not as prevalent as before. I look forward to taking him to the next Parelli Play Group meeting at the end of the month.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Communication and Horses Makes My World Go Round!

I finally had some time to spend with the horses today. Everyone (including the goats) was in the arena. I played with Whiskey on the ground for a bit (just on the 12 foot line) with obstacles. I then decided to ride him. It was interesting and fun.

Rather than take all of the equipment out, I decided that I needed a direct communication line with him. I had felt a bit anxious about riding him because of his issues in the arena and thought that the pretenses of bareback pad, breeches, and helmet would only make me have a false sense of security and possible barrier between us. So, I rode him with one-rein and his rope halter, I wore my summer shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals. I also needed to show him trust and avoid micromanagement. Now, I don't intend to get into the helmet debate right now so please, let's not go here (please note that I usually wear mine).

So, as usual, he was trying to nip me in the foot/leg. He was not flipping his head this time and mounting was a non-issue.I wiggled the rope to deter him. Using the "My Horse Won't Go" techniques (lift rope and your energy, smile with all 4 cheeks, smooch, spank the air, spank the hair, squeeze legs) and long phases, I discovered a few things. (By the way, the Parelli literature seems to list these in a different order http://www.parelli.com/info_page.php?page=article&lit_num=16&title=My%20Horse%20Won't%20Go!&t=lit --I will investigate this too. I have found that if I just lift energy--smiling and spank the air, it works instantly.)The most predominant thing I learned was that smooching annoys him and leg pressure can be used if the phases are followed correctly, if I give him ample time to respond, phases like in Level 2 (and no smooching--LOL).
So, using persistance, proper position, and patience--especially this, I was eventually able to get him to walk forward and keep moving, sidepass, go backwards, and stop with confidence. We did pushing passenger mostly and a small bit of steering. I also flipped the rope over his head several times changing the rein. Everything was done at the walk. I did ask him to walk over a ground pole several times and was even able to use leg pressure to ask him to turn around. He also enjoyed going after the goats and other horses.
I feel excited and ready to continue. I cannot wait to try this again tomorrow! What I love most is that this horse has taught me a great deal and although our progress has been slow (for a variety of reasons), we have made progress nonetheless.

Monday, June 11, 2007

It has been a long time...

Well, I am finally back home and will have time to spend with the horses again. I have been traveling for work quite a bit and have barely seen them.

So an update...Wilbur has been placed in a new home. I downsized a bit. So, right now, I have Fosse, Whiskey, and Mini-Me. Wilbur needed more pasture and geriatric care than I could provide and his new home is going to be great!

The Parelli Play Group is going strong and I am very pleased with the progress overall. We are getting ready to plan our 4th meeting.

I was trimming this weekend and really need mini-sized equipment. My regular horse-sized stuff does not work well for Mini-me. For Fosse and Whiskey, my tools work well.

So, that is it for now, I'll post again soon. Please keep checking back!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Weekly Task Challenge: Backing Your Horse

If you don't know what to do, have little time, or are just feeling stuck, try the weekly task challenge (posted on Wednesdays) as a way to at least do something with your horse! (It just may motivate you to do more.)

As you know, being able to back your horse is a very important skill. It takes patience, persistence, and savvy. This week's task is to practice backing your horse. First practice on the ground, thorough gates, barrels, and other obstacles, Then (if possible) work on it while in the saddle/bareback, in the round pen, arena, field, where ever and everywhere! Remember, obstacles, hills, and other challenges wil help increase your skills, your horses's confidence, and make you both a success!

*Weekly tasks are based on many different Parelli resources I have studied as well as my own ideas on how to proceed through my journey. Some of the content was copied to make it easier to put up in a timely manner. Please consult http://www.parelli.com for any official instructions or materials.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Whiskey and I Made Progress Today

Today, Whiskey and I made great progress and had fun too. After grazing on the beautiful grass for over an hour, I retrieved Whiskey and took him to the riding arena. We played using the 22 foot rope, rope halter, and carrot stick. In thinking about what Linda Parelli said in the L2 DVD about using a 22 foot rope and a "thing" as she put it, I decided to use a ground pole as our "thing". This of course was because I need my horse to be curious and not bored, I needed the tasks we perform to be useful and have a purpose too.

I was able to get Whiskey to sidepass over the groundpole while facing me. It took time but, he finally understood what I was asking. This was the first time we were able to complete this task. I started with asking for a sidepass while being on his side as this was more familiar to him. I then began to position him for success and eventually was able to get him to pass over the pole while I faced him with relative ease--I was thrilled. I then added two barrels and asked that he sidepass over the pole with the barrels in zone 5. (This is just a variation of sideways and squeeze game together.) He finally did it and I stopped that part of our playtime. Please note that there was a lot of friendly game used too--he reacts well to praise and love.

I decided that I also wanted to see where he was emotionally about saddling and then possibly mounting and maybe riding (sounds like "nose, neck, maybe feet" doesn't it?). So, he and I left the arena (I switched out the 22 foot rope for the 12 foot rope) and headed to the horse trailer. I gave him a horse treat and then got out my bareback pad, girth, and helmet. We walked back into the arena. I used the Parelli saddling techniques and took a great deal of time saddling him. His lips appeared to be pierced tightly and I took this as a sign of him shutting down or going catatonic. At this point, the bareback pad was on and secured with the girth but not tightened totally. I stopped working on that and played with his mouth. I massaged his lips, inside and out, rubbed his tongue, and pet his muzzle. He loosened up and I was able to continue cinching in stages. Taking this time to prepare him and make him more comfortable paid off and was the right thing to do (in my opinion).

Once sadddled, I thought a great deal about past experiences (especially the last two or three) with him regarding riding. He has been emotionally unfit and difficult to deal with--perhaps even unsafe. So, I needed a new, open-minded approach. I decided that I was possibly micromanaging him and pushing the phases too quickly. These were two things I would definately have to work on today.

So, I mounted after laying over him a few times, rubbing him and checking that it was ok with him. He stood perfectly still and seemed okay with me on his back. I took several, exaggerated, deep breaths and massaged his withers (something I would do throughout the riding portion of our time together). I decided to ride him in the rope halter, one-reined (to avoid micromanagement). I used the phases to ask him to walk forward. He seemed touchy about leg contact so I tried to avoid it. I opted to bring up my energy (smile with all 4 cheeks), use my savvy string and spank the air for a long period of time, and smooch if needed. His walking forward would eventually come much sooner as the lesson progressed. He seemed to appreciate me avoiding the leg. (This also made him less likely to toss his head and try to bite my leg.) Now, I realize we will have to work on contact but, that was not something to do today. Overall, what I did was use a long phase 1 to allow him time to comprehend what I wanted--it worked and I felt like we were connecting.

Rather than steering him, I decided to do a passenger lession. He only wanted to walk and seemed to prefer walking a few steps and stopping and all by the gate. In the past, I would have discouraged this, tonight, I just let him do it. The task at hand was for him to walk and for me to be a good passenger. By the end, he actually walked around half of the arena and this was the point at which I stopped the lesson. I dismounted. We then headed back to the horse trailer for a treat and I took off the tack. I proceeded to take him to my "grooming tree" and tied him there, fed him his grain and groomed him.

I almost forgot to mention, my mini-horse called Mini-Me was with us in the arena the entire time. Today, he let me catch him several times and seemed very interested in what we were doing. He actually nipped Whiskey's leg when I was riding! This little guy is also coming along nicely too--more on him at a later date.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Yummy Grass! and Mini-Me

Rick and I put up a new fence (electric tape) for the horses this evening. It was in a grassy area and they were so happy. We have very little grass areas (but are creating new spaces all of the time) so this was a real treat. We will use it for night-time turnouts (aout an hour or so at a time).

The mini-horse, we are calling Mini-Me (although I usually just call him Mini) is doing well. He is much easier to catch and today, for the first time, let me pet him without having a halter on. He is really starting to exhibit trust.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wilbur and Cantering

Well, Wilbur and I are doing great with cantering. He is finally doing it and I am comfortable with him doing it. We were able to canter all over Clare's fields and paddock at our PPG meeting on Saturday. It was FUN! I rode him in the bareback pad and rope halter. Whoo-Hoo!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Reconnecting with Whiskey

Whiskey and I have had a bit of distance between us. Therefore, I am trying to reconnect with him. As you know, the new Parelli Group is going strong. We are setting goals and reporting. Here is a post that I sent regarding my progress.

PPG note
Good Evening Parelli Play Group--

Well, I have played with Whiskey again--this morning. My goal was to ride him in the arena and then in the woods two times during the two week lag between our meetings. If you recall, I modified my goal noting that maybe he was not ready for the riding component and that we may have to work on other related issues.

This morning I played with him and we had what I would consider a great session. He came down to the arena and said hello. I put a halter on him and played with him a little. Then, I saddled him with the bareback pad. I took a long time to do this (probably 15 minutes total). I used a great deal of approach and retreat, asked him to put his nose on the pad, etc. I then used a very long phased cinching with several tasks in between the three cinchings. I did this specifically because I have recognized that I may have been rushing the phases with saddling and mounting tasks with him which may be part of our problem (including of course the lack of time we have spent together since the fall). In any event, the saddling exercise went well as we worked through the process together.

Next, I stood on the mounting block. He decided to circle me and instead of correcting him, I allowed it. Then, I asked him to disengage and then sent him in the other direction. I think he was surprised with this. I then asked him to stand at the mounting block for me to lay over him. He nipped my leg and I nipped him back by pinching his neck (phase 4 porcupine game really). I proceeded to lay over him, he looked as if he might try the nip again so I blocked the action, layed over him, he pinned his ears (not totally back but, I could tell he was annoyed or upset). I got off of him and played friendly game for a bit and then started laying over him again, rubbing him all over, and then standing on the mounting block. I did this maybe 15 times and each time, I noticed a progressive change in him--for the better. He eventually relaxed and was fine with the activity. No biting or ears laying back. He was calm and relaxed.

This is where I ended the session. I did not mount (as he may have expected). I walked with him on a lose line to the water trough, took his halter and the bareback pad off, and released him. He took a drink. The other horses had been coming in and out of the arena the entire time but at this point, Wilbur was the only other horse in the arena. I layed the bareback pad on him (did hot cinch it) after haltering him. I then just took it all off and gave him a good scratch. These horses had no clue what to expect from me today.

Wilbur left (slowly, not running away or anything) and Whiskey stayed around. I walked to the shed to get their breakfast ready and noticed Whiskey looking for me--it was so cool! So, I took a few treats down to him. It was wonderful to see that he was not upset and not wanting to run away to the herd.

So, personally, I think I was successful these past two weeks. I may have been able to actually do the riding tasks but, as you know, the last two weeks have been less than normal and i have only played with Whiskey twice, MIni-Me once, Fosse once, and rode Wilbur once. I typically play with them all on a daily or every other day basis. In any event, I think progress on our relationship (Whiskey and I) and communication skills are going well. We are reconnecting for sure.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Trail Ride on the New River Trail

My friend Clare and I went to the New River Trail at Draper, Virginia for a trail ride. I took WIlbur and she took her horse Smokey. This photo (from the Washington Post), represents what we say while we were there. The horses were riden WTC and hand-walked over trestles like this one. We also got to see part of Claytor Lake. This was a fun-filled adventure for sure!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Total Undemanding Time Today

TOTAL undemanding time today--I really mean it!! LOL I went in the arena, Wilbur was already there. He and I met up (he came over to me) and I happened to have a few apple treat cookies in my pocket. I gave him scratches and cookies. He then left. I walked over to the new gate (Rick put up for me today--he has also redone the fencing--more photos later) and I turned around and Wilbur was there. I had no more treats but lots of rubbing and scratching. He stuck around. Then, Fosse, Whiskey, and Mini-Me (Rick is now calling him "Hippie" because of his huge mane), came down the mountain to check things out. I got some more treats andjust scratched them and gave them treats--even the mini was interested (a first). I then left the arena and got their dinners ready. I started feeding them Purina Ultium http://www.ultium.com/ (My friend Clare also feeds it and her horses look great.) and apparently they really love it. (I also got new hay--we have had some major nutrition issues in the last several weeks.) Anyhow, I yelled down for them to run up the hill and they all were bucking, jumping, and galloping up to me with happy whinnies!!! (They usually just walk or trot up. We do plan to put in 4 tie posts in the arena to start feeding there but for now, they have their own trees.) It was so cool, they seemed engaged with me. I really think they loved to treats but, it seemed like more than that kept their interest. (By the way, they all finished their dinners too, I may finally have a yummy, nutritional hit!)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Parelli, Motivation, and Learning

I have been catching up on Savvy Club DVDs today and thinking about our newly formed group. Yes, I have revived the Parelli Play Group. http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/parelliplaygroup/ I cannot even begin to tell you all how pleased I am with this.
I was watching the September 2006 DVD this morning, the segment with one of the Level 2 Parelli students, Yvonne and her horse (an Arabian mare named Escada). Her journey has also been featured in the Savvy Times (I am going to have to review the articles.) She really gave me some insight on the idea of not going out with an agenda but just letting things come together with the horse. I tend to be an agenda driven person (if you haven't noticed already), probably part professional hazard (for those of you who don't know me well, I am an academic librarian) and part Sagittarian personality http://www.astrology-online.com/sagittar.htm. Apparently this was something she learned from the Parelli Behavior and Liberty DVD set (something I just cannot afford to buy right now-$649 yikes). However, I am going to take some of the tid-bits from the Savvy Club DVD and apply them with my play time today. I was reluctant to even watch the segment (not being driven by one of the Parellis). I cannot really explain why but perhaps my assumption was that I would not learn from the time spent (26 minute segment). I was wrong. I really gained insight and knowledge by viewing it.

Ok, so how it all went. I was out with the horses twice today. The first time, there was a lot of undemanding time. It was my goal to see what my horses would do and what they would be interested in.

Wilbur saw me and left. Mini-Me ignored me totally. Whiskey and Fosse came to investigate. I did have Fosse putting his front feet in the trailer; I then tried to get him to load with the savvy string only. I think that for today, he was pushed too much. He did come back several times but was not convinced he wanted to stay with me, totally. (Oh, did I mention that there were dog cage panels behind the trailer and he was basically in a 10x10 dog cage with one side swung open? I was shocked that he came in--Whiskey did too, at the same time--no claustrophobia here folks). Whiskey came a few times but really was more interested in what Fosse was up to. When I went to get the halter, Fosse and Whiskey left. I found this all to be interesting and depressing. I question why my horses are not interested in me--could it be today? Could it be because we have done little since November? I am just not sure. Other times, they seem so much more interested in me.

I went back out this evening to feed. They all came running down to their trees to be haltered and fed their grain. So what is this all about? Am I just their waitress? HMMM

After they were finished, I released everyone and took Whiskey with me to the arena. I played with him a little, saddled him with my English saddle and Parelli Natural Hackamore. I then rode him. Overall, I think it was successful on many fronts. He was willing to move forward and we weaved in and out of cones, side-passing, and stopping. This was all at the walk. He also bucked a few times. Rather than bailing out, I worked through this threshold of mine and was fine, I lived, I was ok and so was he. Whiskey is an emotional horse. I am convinced that this behavior was a left-brained temper tantrum. I really thought long and hard about this and he probably wanted to be up with the other horses. I dismounted one time and played on the ground with him again. Remounted, only for a few minutes and then dismounted again. I took his tack off, blanketed him, fed him cookies, and he was reluctant to leave me. Does this mean he really does like to spend time with me? HMMM

Overall, I am really satisfied with our time together. I believe that we are making progress. And no, I did not trot today. Why? Because, I believe that would have pushed the limits a bit too hard today. This is the first real, successful session I have had with him since November and I believe that we made true progress, both of us.
Another thought---I have not done too much with the horses since November (remember I got injured--my fault, and then the winter weather--oye!). This may also have some implications.