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

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.