Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trevor & Tara came to Reno!

Last week I took my mares Dove & Spice to Reno to participate in a clinic with Trevor & Tara Carter. This was only the second clinic for my mare Spice and the first long haul trip I have taken her on. Needless to say she did beautifully despite my being a tad nervous. Of course it was Dove, my secret weapon, who ensured our successful trip. She is my rockstar! We had a great clinic turnout- 9 participants in the L1/2 class and 15 (or was it 16?) participants in the L3/4 class. My good friend Marie coordinated the week long clinic and I must say she outdid herself this time! Marie as always you are THE BEST my friend!! XOXO The facility we played at is called "The Farm" and it is the most beautiful & serene place I have had the privilege to play at. Candy opened her home and heart to us all for the week while we played in her lovely arenas and cavorted about her awesome playground, and enjoyed evening dinners on her back patio, complete with a bonfire. I only wish I had taken some pics to show y'all, your jaws would drop! Thank you Candy for ALL that you did, my horses & I felt so at home. I also got to meet Ramona & Bree who were so gracious and inviting along with Jeane who took ranch logistics to a whole new level. Thank you ladies for your warm welcome and friendship I just love you all!! And to my friends whom I haven't seen in over a year yet we picked right up where we left off- my BFF's you are cherished!! So I must confess that I am still processing all that I learned. I think I'll be soaking on it for some time, but I will try to give you some highlights.

Spice ...... what can I say but she was true to form. She can grow to 20 hands high and really move when she gets her life up. Gotta love her athleticism, oh and the way she can flick her forelock and look like Paris Hilton! And it did not help that Dove was hollering at her all day. What was up with that Dove? LOL Here are some shots of Trevor showing me some new carrot stick moves for when she wants to run over me....

first back up against a fence!

and then swing your stick!

AWESOME- worked like a charm but I had to out persist her. Trust me she is even more persistent than Dove so I was tired at the end of the day but oh so happy with the results. Trevor had a great sense of humor and quoted Pat "You've got to have more moves than a pound of ex-lax!" Yep with Miss Spice that is true. She is one smart, athletic horse who is sweeter on Dove than she is on me AND confident in her own abilities to get what she wants. So look out here comes Spice! In the end we had this pretty picture of quiet feet and attention if only for moments at a time.

**Thank you Jeane for these great pics of Spice & I.

After our first day of class I had the privilege of signing up for a lesson with Trevor so I asked him to ride Spice. What a beautiful sight to see. He started out with a walk/trot passenger lesson as she was rushing into the canter. When she wanted to hang out in the corner closest to Dove he made it uncomfortable there. In the end they were cantering about softly and even to the opposite side of the arena from the Dove magnet. I was riveted and even if I had my camera I don't think I would have taken my eyes away for a second. Trevor is such an accomplished and talented horseman that he made it look simple and elegant. This made for great preparation for our second day where maybe I could ride .... if Miss Spice would be my partner.

Day 2 with Spice was more of the same online- getting her attention, keeping her out of my space, finding the comfortable and quiet spot for her feet, and then catching my breath! She was much less bothered by Dove's hollering and in the afternoon..... drum roll please.... we rode! Another student had a young horse and so Trevor took the two of us to the round pen in the playground and we both ended up riding together! Miss Spice sure has a big lovely springy trot and what fun to end our two day clinic with some walk, trot and squeezing from the top of Zone 3. Wahoo! Thank you Trevor for another dream come true. Although we ride at home this was a first for us- to ride away from home with new horses & humans. As I tucked my big pony back in her paddock, I was very proud of her try over these two days. As my friends said repeatedly, she is a lot of horse, but I know she also has alot of heart and desire. She is my dream horse and with time she will become my dream partner like Dove has become. PNH ROCKS THE PLANET!

OK tucking the kleenex away now..... on to the L3/4 clinic with my Dovelet! What can I say about Dove other than I feel so honored that she decides to be my partner. Yes she too can get busy feet but with Parelli we can now direct those feet and her little hemi engine. ;) One of many highlights from our 3 day class was seeing how Dove is now more accepting of long line driving. She has a mixed history with ropes and her hind legs, some of which I will never really know the details of but she gave me her all when we played with turning like a cart pony. Although I may not actually put a cart behind her (I'll save that for my gelding Cherokee as he NEEDS a job, but I digress) this exercise certainly helps her "hunt the middle" as Tara said. Dove looked so cute as her tail swooshed softly while she concentrated on moving more sideways in a turn and even though circling was more stressful as the rope hugged her precious HQ she had a few moments of lowering her head and jogging softly. Hallelujah progress is SWEET!

Day 2's afternoon was playing with a million transitions which lead to canter departs! This is where her little hemi engine comes in handy as Dove offered 4 simple lead changes across the short end of the arena. Yehaw! I have to admit my friends that it wasn't my "plan" to ask for lead changes, I was simply trying to help her get unstuck on one side by changing up sides each time I asked for the canter depart. She answered by changing leads softly and easily. OK I snacked on a bit of humble pie for assuming she wouldn't actually change leads and then reflected on her offerings. Wow my pony has some interesting answers in her little blonde head. I need to pay more attention and catch up!

The morning of Day 3 found us all playing with 7 games on a 45' and then transitioning that to 7 games at Liberty in the big playground. What fun! Dove scampered off a couple times but came trotting back to me... eventually ;) She was in a very LB "what's in it for me" frame of mind. Not a bad place to be! Before lunch we played with what I felt was a great game of freestyle riding with 2 carrot sticks. We split into two groups and each group rode in opposite directions. One group on the rail and the other 4 horse lengths away (track 4) in the middle. Look out Barnum & Bailey here we come! LOL Tara would instruct us to change tracks but keep our direction, or have us change directions but keep on our track. It that wasn't challenging enough she then had us find a partner from the other group and then switch tracks once we passed. Phew what a mental puzzle that turned out to be! Tara was so very brilliant and patient as she had us slow down and try it one pair at a time, adding a pair of riders after each switch. Awesome! We eventually got it enough to at least not run into each other. I wish we had video of this as you would enjoy our silliness, waving at our partners and laughing. We had great attitudes!

We rounded up our afternoon and final day of the clinic with Parelli Games! We first had an online tournament where you could opt for one 45' line or tie your 45' into two lines. We had at least 3 takers on the two line challenge. Right on ladies! For me the highlight was when we played with our 45's from on top of our horses. A worthy challenge that we all succeeded at. If it were not for Key # 7 -Support = Trevor & Tara and all my savvy sisters support, Dove & I would have had to sit this out. Instead I got to see how brave and trusting my horse has become. My hat is off to you Lovely Dovely for truly giving me your all as we threw the 45' out, coiled it up and then did the same with a partner! Oh yea! Trevor helped Miss Dove & I prepare and then handed us off to Robbie and Miss Bella who were our awesome patient partners. This was no easy task as Miss Dove can get quite jiggy with it having ropes around her HQ. A BIG thanks to Robbie & Bella whose focus and patience enabled Dove & I to participate in the partners game segment. Our team accomplished 5 games in just a little over 3 minutes with a 45' line between us- yes my friends we had to yo-yo, circle each other, sideways together, squeeze and then coil up the rope! Miss Dove you have truly come far and Miss Robbie you are one accomplished horsewoman! Folks Robbie did all this bareback!

This week in Reno was like a "Mini Pagosa course." Trevor & Tara are brilliant, amazing horsemen. They are so patient, creative, endlessly knowledgeable, talented and F*U*N as instructors that we hated to see our clinic end. Can't wait for next year. They also left us with many cool quotes and reminders which I have listed on the left navbar.

...... now where did I tuck that kleenex box....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yeowza my horses learn fast!

Expect alot, Accept a little, Reward often ....

When I can see and then reward the slightest try they get it almost instantly! I've been reading Richard Bandler's book "Using your Brain for a Change," and he talks about how fast our brains learn. Holy smokes Batman my horses showed me their super learner brains this past week.

We focused on transitions and change of direction on the circle in 3 savvies- on-line, freestyle and liberty. Each horse has a side that is easier for them to change direction on and a side that they are tighter in their ribs and thus transitions are harder. This was very fascinating to sort out and play with.

Somewhere in the middle of the week a light bulb went on in my head and I realized that every good dance partner finds a way to announce a change whether it is tempo, direction, foot fall such that they can dance as one. Otherwise you end up with an echo or a hiccup or a misstep from your partner as they try to catch up. Anyone who has ever danced ballroom knows how that feels. Ugh.

OK so I put that together with what my mentor & I talked about in our last session and tried adding a sound queue just before I ask for change of direction online. WOW.... all 3 of my horses got it on the second try. Although I was being as careful as I could to be consistent with my body when asking for a change, this little extra auditory signal gave them a head ups that a change was coming. And of course prior and proper preparation laid the foundation for this extra queue to make sense to them. I got 2 beautiful eyes easily on both sides from Dove & Cherokee. Spice still spaced out when changing R to L so we'll go back to the basics first before adding in the queue again.

I also tried playing the game of 1 cluck for trot and 2 clucks for canter while practising our transitions online. It became a game of don't make me pick up my stick but this time with an audible queue added in. We will still need to play with our go buttons a bit more before this game will be as easy for them as the change of direction. Still it was a fascinating experiment.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Week 3 of Fast Track @ Home

Fun sums up my week pretty well!

On Tuesday I had a teleconference session with my mentor
Rachel Jessop. For this session I had videoed our Liberty Audition in our makeshift round pen. Dove & I received a "Wowee" from Rachel when Dove offered to circle me closely at the walk! Rachel gave me great feedback and instruction on some areas to improve on as we progress our Liberty to Level 4. Although this audition video is good enough to submit, it was our first in the new round pen and so I want to practise a bit more and see if we can improve on a few areas. Either way I told Rachel that I would submit a video, either this one or a new one in two weeks before our Reno clinic. Yippee that is exciting.

And a note to my friend
Sophie, I think you may be interested to try this make shift round pen as I think you mentioned that you too only have large arenas at your stable? I had a difficult time asking for circles at Liberty in a large arena - Dove would simply leave. :) My version is 6 barrels set across one end of the arena and then I tied a strip of orange plastic fencing around the barrels. Because Dove would occasionally either duck under or jump over (that was a big surprise) I also put a cone on top of each barrel and then some object like another barrel, cone or block between the barrels to make it look more solid. I had tried using a bigger strip of fencing however the wind would pick up and then the fencing acted like a sail and would take all 6 barrels down. It was a funny sight to see me trying to tie the fencing that day. Then we spent a week playing online in what looks like a "circus" ring before attempting a Liberty session. So far she hasn't jumped or ducked under. Spice has helped as she often blocks the gate while waiting for a turn. lol Here is a short video clip of our "circus" ring. You may get ideas of how you could make one for you and Panter?

And if the Wowee from Rachel was not exciting enough, Dove started offering to paw the ground, much like Spice when she tried to teach me her version of Spanish walk. And two nights ago Dove offered to do this while I was riding her. So we have been playing with both of us pawing with one leg and then the other together online and while riding. That was super fun! I have been playing with both my mares together in the arena not only to save time but also to help them feel more confident and able to focus on play vs. the bogeymen in the bushes surrounding the arena. It is often a challenge as the free roaming horse will frequently stand in the way of our play or mug for a cookie. LOL they really do learn while watching. This is why I believe that Dove suddenly offered to paw the ground. She saw Spice get rewarded plus it was probably easier in her mind than circling 6 laps at the trot please. Oh boy I have my hands full with two smart, athletic and playful horses. Sure keeps me on my toes I tell ya.

We ended our week with a "Can You" challenge from my friend
Josefin. "Can You" trot or canter for 4 laps with only 1 send? Dove offered 5 laps at a relaxed jog and Spice gave me 4 laps which is a first for her! Plus Spice had 2 of the 4 laps with her head low and a relaxed trot while going left. Cool! I'll see what Cherokee offers tonight. Then we'll play with the canter next week. Although we've been playing with canter circles we haven't played the "Can You" game of 4 laps yet. This ought to be interesting.

Well friends that is all for now. How has your week been? Did you have any surprises or BFO's (blinding flash of the obvious)?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Can You?

In the last 2 weeks I have been playing with a "Can You" I saw John Baar give Jason Zulli on a recent episode of The Horseman's Apprentice. "Can You" do all that while just holding the popper at the end of your 22' line?

So I tried playing with Figure 8's with Dove while just holding the popper. Talk about a fun challenge! I think Dove enjoyed it even more than I did. Spice liked it too but Cherokee had a hard time with the extra distance. So we'll gradually increase it until he too can do a Figure 8 while I only hold the popper.

Here's a short example of this "Can You" with my mare Spice.

This of course caused me to think of more "Can You's" for my horses & I to try next week. Pat Parelli is famous for some really creative ones. I'll be reviewing the Savvy Vault for sure!

So my friends I put the challenge to you too. "Can You" hold only the popper and do a Figure 8 around a cone or barrel or other obstacle?

And then how about you come up with another "Can You" challenge for us to try? I can't wait to hear from you!