About Me

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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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some New Fun and Definite Progress!

This is a photo of Fosse with Heather's visor on! Whiskey is the horse all tacked up. Aren't they cute?

My sister Heather and her boyfriend Doug Have been visiting Rick and I for a week. We have had a great deal of fun and productivity like removing trees, cleaning paddocks and the barn, putting up hay, playing with horses, boating, swimming, fishing, and more! We have been fortunate to have fairly good weather too. The horse fun has been incredible and creative. Doug has played photographer (Heather a little too) so we have some fun images to share. (The only thing we missed was us playing with Whiskey and Fosse online and me riding Whiskey because Doug was helping Rick prep the boat--all well, maybe next time!--You are not missing anything...I don't look too good anyway, LOL. Heather looks great!)

Okay, so about the horse fun. Heather and I were able to get in real play time twice this week. She loves horses but is not a horse person per se. She also believes in the Parelli path but does not have the knowledge base to apply it. She tried very hard and takes direction well. The first playtime, we played with the horses on the ground first (of course). What we discovered is that her leadership with the horses was a problem and so, rather than play with both online, we focused on Whiskey.
Using the front paddock (the one with the huge tree jumps), we explored the games while I talked to Heather about how and why we did the games, and showed her what the different levels of the same game would look like, how combining the games created another skill, etc. It was fun! We tacked him up with the Parelli hackamore and my western saddle. This saddle is pretty but does not fit him properly. So, we took it off and then tacked him with my Theraflex and English saddle--much better. (I think I am going to sell my western saddle--anyone interested?)
Anyhow, I than mounted up to ride him. He lacked impulsion but was not biting. Rather than have some kind of battle, Heather and I decided to have a fun game of point to point--she was the target. Armed with treats and having Fosse as her sidekick (at liberty), Heather would walk to somewhere in the paddock and I'd walk Whiskey over to find her, then she'd give a treat. Eventually, I'd ask for several tasks like walk past Heather, slalom around the comes, then back to her, then the treat. It was really cool and he was having fun.

We eventually did this at the trot too. Success and fun. Caught up in the moment, I decided he was doing very well and so, Heather could have a pony ride on him. He's not been ridden by anyone else and as you know, his right-brained introverted mind can be an issue. However, Heather is brave and was willing to give it a go. (She also was not interested in riding without me as the life-line.)
The plan was for me to lead her around and she be a passenger. When she mounted, he had a sour look (her mounting was not exactly smooth but he dealt with it). I then gave him a treat and we walked off, he was okay with this. Heather and I quickly realized Whiskey was having fun and so, we decided to up the fun and I'd play the games with him while she was the passenger! Oh wow, what a challenge and what fun. This was an entirely new thing for him, to look to me as the leader while someone else was passenger, and play games and think! So cool. (I wish she loved here, we would have so much fun.)
Whiskey was acting like I was being provocative and fun for him and he was trying very hard to play and accomplish the tasks I asked him to do. Heather also got to have the feeling of a sidepass--she loved it. We tried a little trotting but, Whiskey got emotional, so we went back to the walk and ended on a good note.

After Whiskey was done, we gave him a bunch of treats and then, I decided to hop on Fosse bareback for a lap or two. During the Whiskey play time, he hung out with us and had fun too. He got treats, and was able to watch what we were up to (and did not feel left out).
I lapped Fosse around just at a walk and then, Heather mounted and I lead her around at the walk too--she hadn't been on a horse bareback in years.
Fosse was good but, we did not want to push our luck so we opted to just walk and then call it a day---off to the boat for some sunshine, fishing, and swimming on the St. Lawrence River.

Weekly Task Challenge: Let's Go For a Ride

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

From the new assessment rubrics.


Use a 100' round corral or whatever you have (where you feel safe.)


Start on the ground, playing the 7 games to prepare your horse (and yourself). This will enable you to determine what side of the corral he woke up on and test your communication and relationship. This could take 7 seconds, 7 minutes, an hour, whatever it is, it is ok, take the time it takes. Make sure your horse is ridable and that you are his/her partner. Use your 12, 22, and 45 foot ropes, obstacles, etc! Be creative and keep it fun.


Tack up using your Parelli Natural Hackamore or bridle with snaffle bit. However, you must do this while sitting or kneeling!

Saddle your horse as if you were hugging your horse. Use your Parelli bareback pad, English, Western, Aussie, or other saddle--your choice. (Or no saddle at all.) Remember to cinch in three steps, be polite to your horse.


Rein p0sition is casual rein with supporting carrot stick. Now, play the games while mounted, work on patterns like ride the rail, million transitions, figure 8, weave, question box, and use your obstacles!

Your phases should be:
Phase 1 – 3.
Phase 1 – 3.
Long phase 1, quick to 3.
Phase 4 should rarely be
necessary. Use of expression,
body language.


Refer to the new assessment guidelines on the Savvy Club Website

Review the Parelli Patterns, Freestyle DVD

Parelli "new" Level 2 Kit (blue box)

Parelli "old" Level 1 Kit - Partnership

Questions? Let me know! Have a great week!

*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.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is your horse ready for the vet?

Today, the horses received examinations, vaccinations and Coggins tests from the veterinarian. I marveled at how far they have come over the years (Fosse used to be quite afraid). Today, they were both loving on the vet and vet tech, everyone, people and horses alike were relaxed, and the work was no work at all, in fact, more like play time! IThis is a new vet for them and I told her that we practiced Parelli Natural Horsemanship. I also told her that she had to introduce herself to the horses before starting her work, she agreed and the visit was fantastic. Anyhow, I thought I'd share a bit of information to help you prepare your horses for the vet. So, here goes...

After reading an article in Equus magazine about helping your horse become a better patient, I quickly and easily made the connection between this and the basic skills we all should have being Parelli students. We have no excuse if our horses are not good patients, we know better!Equus Article:William, Jennifer, Barakat, Christine, "Help Your Horse Become a Better Patient", Equus, Oct 2008, i 373, p.34-37, p40.

This week, evaluate your horse's confidence and his willingness to yield to your "needle" (simulations for this exercise). Needle Shy or Needle Savvy? Is your horse ok with needles--you know the kind for vaccinations, medications, and diagnostic tests?

This was a Level 2, liberty assessment task (L5). *Now is an on-line skill Level 3 in the Parelli Patterns

*From the Level 2 Assessment Sheet:L5.
Pinch your horse’s neck and show that he relaxes and yields to it (needle prep. as in new L2 Program).qualities of Level 2” in DVD#8

See also, "Assessing the qualities of L2," DVD#8Level 2 Kit

LEVEL 2:• Horse turns head toward student, relaxes—apositive reflex to a potentially negative stimulus
PRE-LEVEL 2:• Horse braces• Horse is unconfident, panics or leaves• Student is rude and abrupt (no Friendly Games before or after)• Student shows lack of “feel”• Displaced behavior: ears back or swishing tail

If you are having trouble with this needle task, here are a few resources to help you become successful! This is not an exclusive list. Parelli has many other things out there to assist you in your learning. Please refer to the Savvy Club Website for additional educational resources (you must be a member to access this site) http://www.parellisavvyclub.com/

Parelli Level 2 Kit (new level 2-blue box) --There is an instructional portion in your kit. Please see it for details.
Parelli E-news, Sept 5, 2008, http://enews.parelli.com/2008/enews090508.pdf
Parelli Patterns, Online Skills DVD, Level 3
Parelli Savvy Club DVD, "Attitude/Knowledge. Needle Shy Demonstration" (57 min), May 2006Pat Parelli, Jesse, Karen, Cash and Sage In this demonstration Pat helps Karen's mare, Sage, with her dramatic claustrophobia and fear of needles. While riding Cash, Pat plays the Seven Games with Sage to develop trust, leadership and expose Sage's deep fear of confinement. This demonstration is not intended to teach the techniques for dealing with this kind of problem. It is to expose just how deep and severe it can be in some horses plus show the Level of savvy required to address it safely for both horse and human. IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNING: This session contains Level 4 techniques. Please do not attempt. In severe cases such as this, please consult with your Parelli Endorsed Professional.

Linda Parelli Posts on the Savvy Club Forum

Good Evening Everyone, Linda Parelli posted on the Savvy Club forums and I thought you'd be interested in what she had to say about her accident and recovery. I am glad she is doing well. (The photo above is of Linda, Remmer, and Allure.)

Hi Everyone,

Thank you all for your good wishes and healing energy. I want you to know that I'm recovering well, doing better and better every day...until I sneeze! The worst part is that after 6 months of barely doing much riding and playing with my horses, I finally was getting time to play every day...and now, well, I guess I'm going to doing more thinking and creating on other levels for a short while again. Certainly I've gotten some much-needed rest. I know Remmer won't mind the rest either; he's got his lovely pasture full of spring and summer grass and Allure to bite when he feels like it!

I've heard a few rumors about what might have actually happened, so I want to make sure you know the facts:On Thursday, 9th July I took Remmer into a big meadow to canter a few laps and whittle on his belly. I'd been doing this every day for 5 days, so this was like any other day. Then all of a sudden he tripped and stumbled, and he tried valiantly to regain his balance for what seemed like an eternity, and then I remember nothing until the hospital.

A friend who was with me saw the whole thing. She said when Remmer finally fell that he tried to avoid me but ended up rolling over me and then I was upside down between his legs, both of us on the ground. As he got up he again tried hard not to step on me but jostled me between his legs and that's when most of my bruising and black eye must have occurred. My four ribs broke when he went over me. At first she thought both Remmer and I were hurt as he laid there a few seconds, but thankfully he was alright.He stood up and stayed with me. My friend ran over and thought quickly about what to do. She knew she had to go for help so she jumped on Remmer and galloped to Pat's barn. Within minutes there was help and the ambulance had been called. When they got back to me I was coming around and asking the same questions over and over. What happened? Is Remmer alright? I don't remember any of that. In fact my next recollection after Remmer stumbling was in the hospital. But apparently I was answering all the questions they asked me correctly!

Thanks to the red light (photonic therapy torch) my recovery in the hospital was very fast, going from being barely able to move with so much pain to a day and a half later being able to get out of bed and walk unassisted. The nurses were even curious at that point! So they sent me home and I've been improving steadily every day - in fact my ribs feel so good that my bruised knee and hip hurt more!

So now it's just a matter of patience. But after a week I'm back feeding my horses and canoodling even though it might be a few weeks before I can do much more.

My mind is strong, but my body still needs time to heal (take the time it takes). Pat and I have decided that I will not be flying into Kansas City this evening for our Celebration. I will be with all of YOU and Pat in spirit - focusing on a speedy recovery (the doctors said it would take at least 4 weeks to heal)!

Pat is going to fill in for me and also take a lesson with Walter Zettl, so that will be pretty special and unique to this Celebration event. I look forward to hearing all about it - please do share your experiences with us via Share Parelli!Thanks for all the well wishes and incredible support you are all showing us. I look forward to seeing you in the future on this shared, savvy horse lovers trail.

Yours naturally,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Weekly Task Challenge: Slaloms!

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


Use cones, logs, barrels, what ever you have. Create a slalom course.


Start on the ground, teaching your horse to slalom. If you need to use porcupine first, that is ok, then move onto using driving game (and any other game to communicate with your horse--be creative), increasing your distance from your horse making him responsible for his position. Use landscaper's paint to draw a "do not cross line" for yourself and be mindful of your "proper position" and to keep yourself from micromanagement. Try backing your horse through it too! (You may need to cross the line for this part of the task.) Use your 12, 22, and 45 foot ropes!


Start by walking your horse through the slalom. Then, try it at the trot and canter. Now, back your horse through it! Try this using one rein, two reins, and just carrot stick riding (no reins). (Do you realize you are playing the games while riding too?)


Parelli Savvy Club DVD - Issue 18 June 2006--IMAGINATION “Parelli Games & Puzzle Solving—The Slalom Puzzle” with Pat Parelli and Magic (12 min.)

Parelli Tournament info: ON-LINE #3 SLALOM

Questions? Let me know! Have a great week!

*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.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's Not About the Saddle

This is a photo of our Great Dane, Morgan at 11 months old.

I want to start by acknowledging that saddle issues can be very serious and you need to be sure yours is safe and that it fits both you and your horse. Today's post is about my issues with Whiskey not being about the saddle.

This is a photo of part of our horse playground. There will be more to come as we develop it.

Today, I decided to play with Whiskey and ride. I also decided I did not want to haul out my English saddle but rather, ride in my Parelli bareback pad with the Parelli hackamore. The horses had been turned out all day in the big field so after I retrieved my tack, I put it in the playground on the big tires and went to get them. They had all of their fly gear on so, I removed Whiskey's but left Fosse's on. I haltered Whiskey and we walked out to the playground, Fosse followed.

This is a photo of part of the horse playground. We call it horse henge! LOL

Whiskey seemed curious and so, I played for a few minutes and tacked him up. (While we played, Fosse picked up and tossed the tack everywhere--he had a good time.) Then, we proceeded to play on the ground some more working on figure eights with the cones and then with the big tires--this was new and really cool--I used the 22 foot rope. Once I felt like he looked rideable, I decided to mount. I walked him over to this mounting stump (a tree that hubby cut off that is great for a seat as well as a mounting block located on the fence line. I mounted up and he stood there, waiting for me to ask something of him. I asked for several flexion on both sides several times and gave him a treat. We then walked off and proceeded to practice passenger and riding the rail, walking though obstacles, figure eights, and backing. He did well on all accounts but we could use some work on the figure eights.

So, why is it not about the saddle? Firstly, I was not using a saddle and my fear was that he needed one and didn't like bareback. This was unfounded. Today he did not try to bite me at all but, I can say that he looked to me more as a leader and asked questions. To me, this was all about leadership.

Remember the Parelli Formula: Rapport, Respect, Impulsion, Flexion and that was what I needed to eventually achieve success! How exciting.

I won't bore you with all of the details tonight but suffice it to say, we had a great ride and just like it's not about the trailer, its not about the saddle either.

Although I wrote this in an earlier post, I wanted to highlight it again.

Leadership is NOT:

Power. The idea of power is offensive, rude, and simply out of line. Keep power trips out of the picture and you will create a safe environment for your relationship to grow.

Waiting for something to happen and hoping the other party will make the first move to allow you to lead.

Leaders get the ball rolling, allowing the relationship to build and happen.

Being closed minded and thinking that you are always right.

Leaders also make mistakes and you must own up to them for the relationship to work.

Leadership IS:

Knowing that change starts with you! If there is a problem, it stems with you, not your horse---kind of like your computer. Computers are not intelligent, they can only think in terms of one and zero. It is humans (the operators/manipulators) that actually make them work to create the wonderful things we do with them. If they are not working right, it is usually our fault. Do you remember seeing Pat Parelli on more than one occasion take a "bad" horse and make him a "good" horse? The horse did not change, his leadership changed making him react differently to the situation. (This is not magic, this is leadership.)

Being able to always find the positive in any situation. Dwelling on the negative does nothing but sabotage you and your horse.

Not having power-trips. POWER is a dirty word!

Understanding that you are a role model, you are infectious--do your horsey friends want what you've got--you'd better hope so because if they do, chances are you are doing something wonderful with and for your horse.

Knowing that your horse is evaluating you on a daily basis (perhaps every minute, every second). Does he believe in you and your leadership? Are you trustworthy? Does he want to be with you? Remember you are a predator asking a prey animal to follow your lead---to some horses this could mean something akin to trusting a lion to take them home to meet the pride for dinner. (Do they think they that they are a guest or the main course--hmmm?) Does your horse see you as a scary dominating predator or a partner?

Acknowledging a job well done at the very moment it happens. Remember this quote, "Pressure motivates but it is the release the teaches"--Pat Parelli? The release is the acknowledgement or reward (a cookie never hurts either).

Someone who leads by example, listens, compassionate, self-aware, tough and courageous, optimistic, intelligent, fun, motivational, creative, accurate, concise, dedicated, punctual, sensitive, enthusiastic, accountable, troubleshoots, understands verbal and non-verbal cues, is able to trust, is trustworthy, plans, and prepares.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Two for One, How Fun

Things are going well here at the farm, despite the rainy weather. (I am still dreaming of an indoor riding arena or round pen.) So, I was going to ride again the other day again but, after briefly playing with, mounting, and riding, my horse Fosse was clearly was not fit to ride as he was truly right-brained and unable to communicate with me--something quite unusual for him. Therefore, I dismounted and played on the ground again, working out some kinks--and good thing I did. After some online play, I sent him at liberty and he was bucking like crazy and really carrying on (fyi--saddle was still on). Anyhow, we had fun but, I cannot say that he ever totally went back to the left-brain frame of mind. Truly though, they both, Fosse and Whiskey, were right brained and did not look fit to ride. The reason was some hay baling being done near us (a new thing) and all they could here through the woods was weird machines and voices but could not see anything--I don't blame them, I'd have been skeptical too. My leadership was good, I supposed I could have pushed the issue and worked through it but frankly, I had a long and stressful day at work and decided to take the path of least resistance while also getting in some horse time.

So now about the "two for one." Tonight I played online with both horses at the same time--definitely a challenge and fun. I was going to ride but forgot the horse trailer keys (where my tack is) and was too lazy to go back to the house to get them (yes, another long, stressful day at work). However, we had a blast and really got creative and provocative. Now, I only had my halters and 12 foot lines but it worked (wish I'd have had my 22 foot lines--they were in the horse trailer). I had the two side passing together down the 12 foot alleyway on the way to the playground, slalom around cones together, figure 8's around the cones together, circling both directions at walk and trot together both directions, circling around the huge tires, in between them, and on the outside together (ones sticking out of the ground side-by-side like the tires Pat and Linda have), traveling circling game (individually), and s pattern(individually). What fun! Their different horsenalities were really evident and the comparisons were quite interesting during these tasks. They also were engaged and interested in me and the tasks--they were asking questions and I think Fosse was looking at me thinking, "why won't Whiskey move out like I am." Remember Fosse is a left brained extrovert and Whiskey a right brained introvert. Fosse has lots of impulsion and Whiskey has little impulsion. So getting them to come together and play in our pair of three was challenging.

Then, I cleaned out the paddock and barn, fed the horses, and came back to the house. I may trim hooves this weekend because they are due and all it is going to do is rain (from what I can see at weather.com).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weekly Task Challenge: Figure 8's

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

On the Ground:
Stand in a hula hoop or on a pedestal (or use something else to keep your feet still--your horse is the one who should be moving, not you). Ask you horse to figure eight around two barrels, cones, or whatever else you can think of, in both directions, and at all gaits. Do at least 4 figure 8's per gait and direction.

While Mounted:
(Only if you and your horse are ready--be safe not sorry!) Ask you horse to figure eight around two barrels, cones, or whatever else you can think of, in both directions, and at all gaits. Do at least 4 figure 8's per gait and direction. Try this task using a casual rein (or one rein) and a rope halter. If using a bridle, try to stay our of your horse's mouth! Be thinking about only contact with one rein or the other, not both...bits and contact are for refinement, not steering and stopping!

As always, refer to your levels pack and other Parelli materials (hint--the Parelli Patterns for this week's task would come in really handy).

Have a great week!

*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.

Please Send Well-Wishes to Linda Parelli and Remmer

From the Savvy Club Forum:

Linda was cantering Remmer in a field when he tripped and stumbled for about 20 feet trying to regain his balance. At the end he fell and pitched on his nose. Linda was knocked out for a few minutes and under his feet when he tried to get up. So she was bruised on her body and legs and got 4 broken ribs. Remmer is fine. Thanks to speedy attendance and good care at the hospital (plus the red light - photonic therapy), she was discharged home after the second day as she was recovering quicker than expected and could now walk by herself as well as get up and down from bed. She is at home continuing her recovery and as you know with broken ribs, it will be some weeks before she can ride again. But she is in great spirits and not much pain.

I contacted Parelli and send a note to Linda and Remmer. They said thank you and that she was doing well. I truly hope so.

Due to this accident, the helmet issue and Parelli has cropped up again on all of the forums and is something they should address as a horse corporation. I believe that she should have had a helmet on, it is safer, and offers a good example to everyone, especially kids. I understand the argument that a helmet can offer a false sense of security but, I'd hope that even in that case, it would save someone's life. If they want to market their own, I'd buy a Parelli helmet! Horses are inherently dangerous, no matter how good you are and how good they are. I wear a helmet (most of the time--I know, not good enough) but have been thinking that it may be time for a new one. I bought mine several years ago, it is a Troxel Legacy. In any event, wearing a helmet should be a choice, not a law but, it is a good idea.

If you haven't seen the video (required watching for 4H programs) entitled "Every Time, Every Ride" check it out.

Lastly, a fellow horse lover I constantly coorespond with wrote this. I think it is very insightful and wanted to share with you all, "Now, I wish I didn't have to wear a helmet, but I have people around me that would be hurt if something happen to me -- let a lone all the work they would have to do if I was injured. I think, in someway, it is kind of selfish not wearing one. "

Anyhow, Linda, Remmer, please do take care and get well soon. I am thinking of you and sending positive thoughts to the Universe!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Me Too! (Getting Back in the Saddle)

Good evening all, I hope that your summer has been fun so far. Well, after as you now, due to unfortunate medical issues, I've been out of commission with regards to riding my horses. Well, I am finally riding again! Tonight was the first time and it went really well. Now, I warn you, it may be nothing extraordinary to you but, to me, it was fun and I gauge it as successful.

I played with Whiskey (RBI) on the ground and riding for an hour and a half! The ground preparation was quite extensive, lots of variety in the games, playing in the horsey playground (car wash, barrels, horse-henge, tires, cones, mailbox, etc.), in the round pen (cones, liberty, barrels, tarp), lots of mosey and grass munching everywhere, a visit to the horse trailer, saddling with savvy (several times--English saddle, Theraflex, Parelli Natural Hackamore), mounting and dismounting, and then riding. We worked on pushing passenger and ride the rail. I was very careful and diligent to use a long, long, long, phase one (to the extreme, as much as I could stand it (like I learned in level 2) and then he finally offered to walk forward and each time, the wait was less and less. If he'd stop, I'd just say, "me too' and did this throughout our ground play and riding, I said it aloud too, not for him, but for me, as a reminder to be patient. There was a little of the biting behavior I've talked about over the years but, I held fast, played with it using several strategies including (but not limited to), shoving my boot in his mouth--boy was he surprised, treats, flexion, and also used my reins to direct his nose elsewhere, I changed it up and kept him guessing, and we worked through it. Overall the ride was quite successful and I feel just great (I think he does too). We did very well at the rail exercise and passenger, figure 8's while riding need some work but, we will get there. Another thing to note is that I trusted him, no micromanagement, I allowed him to put his head down and munch a little, I used a casual rein (rode the buckle so to speak), and was his partner and leader, not a nag.

This all truly took leadership, patience, and persistence, definitely in the proper position and definitely taking his horsenality into account. The ground preparation was paramount I think and took about an hour for a half hour ride. Totally worth it.
Fosse (RBI) and I played next and he got about an hour of my time, equally divided between ground play and riding. We did much of the same as Whiskey and I except I rode Fosse bareback at first and later with the saddle (all with the hackamore). He was simply excellent and in addition to ride the rail and passenger lesson, we also worked on riding figure 8's, backing, disengagement of the hindquarters, etc.
I really am happy to be back in the saddle but firmly do believe horses are about way more than riding--just meaning that I completely enjoy them in all of our encounters.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Power of Assessment

Using assessment can often help us grow, learn, and change. Educational appraisal is often used as a means of documenting our skills, knowledge, and even beliefs, in measurable terms that can be compared over time. However, self-evaluation, whether official or unofficial can be intimidating, depressing, and even scary. Many people avoid any form of assessment as to avoid feelings of failure, admitting inadequacies, and as a self-preservation mechanism.

People who avoid assessment often have several excuses such as, but not limited to:

· Evaluation is to satisfy others
· I don’t need to affirm what I believe as true
· Evaluation is only for professionals
· I don’t want to see myself on camera
· The objectives of the assessment are not my objectives
· I am successful and don’t need someone else to tell me that
· It costs too much
· By the time I find out, the evaluation will be dated

But, the truth is the truth and using assessment should be a welcomed addition to your horsemanship journey, there are no good excuses (trust me I’ve tried a few of them myself). How else are you to understand where you are and thus, plan where you want to be? You need to make short-term and long-term goals and this exercise in humility and reality is the starting point. There are many ways to assess your skills and I believe that using all of these strategies (or others you may think of) help create an environment conducive for clear and truthful reflection and future progress. There are many ways to understand where you are. Personally, I have used (and still use) many methods to assess my progress and thus foster progress. Here is a brief list of what I have done or am doing:

· Maintain a Savvy Club Membership (I’m a Gold Member) in order to have access to resources and support. I use these learning tools to assess what I know and to learn more.
· Review what educational materials I have in my library and which ones I’ve actually studied, make sure all materials are reviewed (several times).
· Purchase all new materials available for my library, review many times.
· Constantly take notes, memorize, and recite.
· Write a blog to reflect on my journey (you could also use a regular journal).
· Created quizzes and take them myself, several times over time.
· Use the Parelli Levels Assessment Criteria (pre-2009) as a self-assessment tool (I also used it to officially assess for Level 1 back in 2006 with my horse, Wilbur).
· Use the Parelli Levels Assessment Criteria (post-2009) (self assessment so far—will be doing official assessment as well).
· Video tape myself playing with my horse, review, work on areas where progress is needed.
· Invite horse friends, also on the Parelli journey, to view and comment on my skills, what do they see?
· Create play groups, play dates, and educational meetings to encourage progress within myself and others—networking and comparison with others.
· Create and am a member in several Parelli online groups-- networking and comparison with others.

I am finally ready to get back to more serious progress on my journey to Level 4 with Whiskey so today, I videotaped a 30 minute session with him. My goal was to see where I am and gear up to submit the L1/L2 Online assessment to Parelli. Some things I was interested in learning were: How do we look as partners? How well was I handling my tools? Was I communicating with my horse is a clear manner?

What I learned was that I did not look as proficient with my tools as I once did, that my horse and I were communicating fairly well but, he was invading my space too much, that my posture was not as good as I thought, and that overall, we were having fun. I also was able to note that one instance where he went right-brained felt more serious in person than it looked like on tape—how interesting. I look forward to getting back to where we were (pre-relocation from Virginia) and progressing as far as we can. The reality that the video gave me was telling and valuable but only because I looked at it seeking the truth. I plan to tape again and will do so, at least 3 times a week. I will continue to incorporate the other strategies I listed above as well. This is a process and takes time, dedication, and honest assessment.

My challenge to you is to discover an assessment method that works for you and do it. You will be pleasantly surprised on how easy it is once you are willing to discover the truth.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Teleseminar Question: Saddle Choices

This is a photo of Whiskey in a Theraflex pad and my cheap English saddle mentioned below.

I recently sent the following question to Karen Scholl and Pat & Linda Parelli for their teleseminars. Each had a teleseminar this evening. Karen's was at 8pm-9pm EST and Parelli's was at 10pm-11pm EST.
Here is my question:

"I currently ride in a cheap all-purpose English saddle with a Theraflex pad. It seems to work well and I know the Theraflex has made a difference (as opposed to a fleece pad). At this time, I cannot afford an expensive saddle (like a Balance Saddle, Parelli saddle, or other high-end type saddle). Can you please talk about attributes one should be looking for in English and Western saddles (trees, bars, etc.) and what brands you might feel are fairly decent while being less expensive (let's say, under $1000)."

Karen Scholl's Response: (Para-phrased)

"If you ever find the answer, let her know. She gets the question all of the time. She has a Balance Saddle for her English and loves it and is also looking at another brand (no opinion yet so won’t mention the name). She said to ride what I am riding in now and in the next year or two, invest in a good saddle when I can. If she’d have invested in a quality saddle in the first place, she’d have spent less money than on all of the cheaper ones she kept buying. Has bought everything and we do need to watch our money but the thing with horses, in a hobby that has your safety in its hand, you are putting your life, livelihood, and well-being--you are entrusting it in your equipment. Every time she tried to save money on equipment she's spent more money. Stick with what I have, decide with what I want, be on her mailing list, the new saddle she is investigating has potential she will email info soon on her mailing list. Good craftsmanship is not cheap. Much going on in the industry behind the scenes (IE Made in China) is a serious problem. Any reputable saddle shop will let you try before you buy. Has not found anything under $1000 that is quality gear. Remember, the saddle must fit the job, must fit the horse, must fit the person."
Image from KarenScholl's Schedule Web Page

Pat and Linda Parelli's Response (Paraphrased):

Unfortunately, my question was not chosen for the Parelli teleseminar. If they respond via a faculty member from the ISC I'll let you know what is said (although I did post information about saddles on my last post about my second phone consultation with the ISC--read it)!

Weekly Task Challenge: 7 Games While Seated

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

Are you up for the challenge? Try sitting in a chair, on the ground, on a barrel, on your atv, and anywhere else you can think of! Once again, be creative but be sure to be safe! See how your horse responds to your newly found position and body language. Can you still effectively communicate? Then, if you think you've got it down, up the level of the task and try it with an obstacle! Be imaginative and resourseful! Remember that there are thousands of ways to play the games. Have a great week!

*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, July 01, 2009

The end of an era...Frasier RIP

Today was a sad day. We had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Frasier. RIP little guy. We love you! (He was 14 years, 8 months, 7 days old.) He was born 9/24/94. There is so much to say about his life but for once, I am at a loss for words...my heart will never heal.