Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm melting... I'm melting.....

Since my last post we've had 6 straight days of a sweltering heatwave. My horses and I were sweating standing still ... in the shade! Thus most of our play time was imaginery. I must say we all did fantastic! LOL

We did manage to have some splendid moments with the water hose, and my horses enjoyed buckets of water soaked hay for lunch this week. Each day I kept thinking, ok tomorrow it will cool off a little..... so today when I felt a little warm breeze this morning I almost fell off my chair and spilled my coffee as I scrambled to get to the barn. I turned the arena sprinklers on to give the arena a little spritz and then grabbed my girls for long overdue playtime.

All of that visual practise paid off! As Dove & I tested our "shoulders in" online I could barely keep up with her. She was zooming about, almost floating really. This must be what David meant when he said when we got it, Dove would feel so soft like I was pushing a cloud. Ok well Dove was a cloud today. She has got this shoulders in on 3 tracks down! I thought to myself (hmmm maybe I said it out loud), that I need to try this while riding next time as I was huffing and puffing trying to keep up. And of course our circles are better. She's maintaining contact and traveling on the circle with all zones much better. In fact it was so good that we tried playing with maintaining the canter. It didn't take too may tries before she got it. At this stage she is not yet bent while cantering the circle but I did notice some moments of it. :) BIG GRIN I quit on a great note and she licked and chewed.

Since Spice is still a bit off from her altercation with Dove a week and a half ago(aka she did not yield to alpha) we played the Yo-Yo game. At first she kept assuming it was move back two steps and then turn left or right. Ah ha..... I thought, I can help you with this. Don't teach or make assumptions. Spice has been yo-yo'ing straight for sometime, however we had been playing with our circling game before she got injured so she started to "assume." It was truly fun to make it a "game." It took her a few squiggly HQ moves before she took a step straight back and I said Yeah and released. She looked at me and you could see she was starting to "think" about this. A few more one step at a time isolations and she was answering with lovey Yo-Yo's WITH a beautiful alert expression on her face. Yeehaw Eureka we got it!

Sometimes it's the little things that make us the proudest.

I hopped on Dove and ponied Miss Spice back to their pen. It was Cherokee's turn. He was eager as ever to get out of jail. Down to the arena we moseyed and I let him offline for a roll. He took two steps and then stood by my shoulder. Hmm... ok let's play! I wanted to check out where his circling game was. The walk was nice, but he was getting distracted and wanting to leave (veer off straight). Ah ha I recognize this! Then it dawned on me.... although Cherokee isn't as far along as Dove, I feel that I have progressed my savvy enough that I can help him travel straight on the circle now vs later having to fix it like I am doing now with Dove. WOW maybe this is what Pat means that once we get to Level 3 we start to have something to offer the horse. This is so COOL! So I tried playing the "don't leave me and keep looking at me" circling game. Have you ever played this? I'll try to explain, however I may need to refer you to David Lichman for a proper explanation. At first you ask the horse to circle you at a walk. If the head starts to look away, give them a pop with the savvy string on their HQ and say "look at me, don't leave." When they look back at you smile and ask them to continue walking. They will almost be walking around you sideways- with a deep bend in their body and both eyes on you. Exaggerate to teach. As you progress they will move farther away as they circle and have a nice bend in their body on the line of the circle. Although both eyes are no longer on you, one ear and one eye will be. Then of course you will try the trot and then eventually the canter. Today Cherokee & I played with the walk AND trot this way. He is THAT smart my little pony boy. Gosh he picked this up so quick that I was floored. I also had a BFO that this was a great extreme friendly game... sort of. Popping him on the HQ and then smiling when he looked at me may help him be less likely to bolt off when I use it in the future. It's become a game!!

Ok going of to bed to do some more thinking at night, coz we are going to play some more tomorrow!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm Back.... on Track!

Yesterday marked a grand return to our Fast Track @ Home with a lovely horseback ride in Briones, the regional park that sits just across the road from the barn I board my horses at. We took the Orchard Trail and Dove was brave, curious, athletic and fun. We rode with a good friend who brought her young horse. While Dove wasn't 100% confident the entire ride, she was calm, trusting, motivated and willing. Awesome my little rockstar is! She proved to be a great partner for my friend's young horse too. We even opened and closed gates. A major progressive note for us. Yes all that gate petting and patience paid off! I had Dove loaded down with saddle bags carrying yummy treats for our ponies and us- little bags of hay, grapes, pears (Dove's favorite), water and power bars. We stopped mid ride for our snacks. The horses were delighted to discover what Dove was carrying. Their little pierced lips stretching out for one more bite of juicy pear said it all.

That was an awesome kick off to getting Back on Fast Track @ Home. Although my horses and I have been doing little mini sessions here and there over the past 3 weeks, I haven't felt well enough to start back on a steady program. Frankly I was frustrated at how quickly and easily I got winded and tired. Thank goodness for Parelli and working on my emotional fitness or I may not have survived. Plus in the midst of all this, Dove kicked Spice good on her left stifle last Sunday. That left her with a wound and nixed our lesson with Rachel next Monday. Big bummer, REALLY big bummer.

Instead this week we all played when we could and had loads of undemanding time. At one point while giving Spice a quick bath in front of their pens, I noticed that Dove was standing in the line of the water spray. Hmmm, how interesting. She usual moves off rather abruptly. Did she want some relief from the heat or did she notice Spice getting some grazing time during bath time? Probably the latter, however while Spice as drying I took Dove out for a bath and she stood perfectly still. Even when the hose wrapped around her legs, which used to send her into orbit, she did not move. This was amazing progress. Where did this come from? What helped her be more confident? I am reminded of the saying "it is often the little things that make the biggest difference." This gives me much to think about and observe.

So today we will start by playing the same games we have dabbled in these past few weeks: The "perfect sideways everytime" game and the traveling "straight on a circle" game. Sort of a pick up where we left off kind of day. I will check our progress online and see if we can expand these games back into our freestyle riding sessions. I pledge to appreciate the "try" and reward our progress "today" vs. getting stuck in how far behind it may feel I have fallen during this time off. Principles before goals. No matter how fun and rewarding the goals would be to attain, positive and progressive principles will carry us through a lifetime of ups and downs. And help us open many more gates in regional parks!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Adjust To Fit The Situation

What a week I have had. The ups and downs made me think of "Adjust to fit the situation." OK so I finally adjusted by Wednesday... but only because I had to. I am THAT stubborn and my sinuses were THAT irritated. I am not one to go down for the count that easily. ;)

My week started out great I was so pumped up to begin my second Fast Track @ Home month that my family could hardly stand to listen to me. ;) I had all these fantastic plans and "Can You's" that living with me was like living with a honey bee buzzing around the house. I plan to visit my friends in Reno in early October so I calculated 30+ days until then. Perfect amount of time for a second Fast Track @ Home!

On Sunday my Mom & I took a trip to the De Young Museum in SF to see the Musee d'Orsay Impressionist exhibit from France. I LOVE Monet but at lunch all I could talk about was my horses. Gotta love Mom coz she listened with interest. XOXOXO Mom

Monday found me playing with "Can You send your horse in a perfect circle of cones" I set the cones at about 3 feet from the round pen fence and asked my horse to walk, trot and canter in the "cone lane." Because of where Dove & I are at in our relationship I tried it at Liberty. In the beginning Dove wanted to "touch" every cone. Well that was very cool! This horse has some amazing thoughts going on in her head I tell ya. As we played more with circling we had some eggs and goofy circles. So I asked her to figure 8 around the cones in the "eggy" or "scary" spots and soon she was circling in the cone lane at Liberty. AWESOME!

NOTE TO SELF: Fig 8's or squeezing really helped. :-)

Then I remembered what we had as a Liberty task during Fast Track tests in CO - have your horse stick to you in the cone lane as you are outside the cone lane. So we tried that but added transitions. Oh Boy!

-->So friends here is your "Can You" for next week: Can you ask for stick to me with walk, trot, & canter transitions while your horse stays in the cone lane? Have fun!!

On Tuesday our integrative veterinarian came for a follow-up visit. Dove & Cherokee were perfect (no excuse for them now LOL) but Spice had done something to her left hind hock the day before (she has great timing). Dr Robson gave her some adjustments and prescribed some acupressure points for me to follow-up with as well as 2-3 days rest. :(

Then Tuesday night my sinus crud came back with a vengeance I have not had in years. So I finally realized on Tuesday that I needed to rest. UGH! The ONE thing I have to admit to being really really ANNOYED to is being knocked down or sick. I am a lousy patient. ;)

So Wed and Thurs I tried to slow down and get well because David Lichman was coming for lessons on Friday and I was NOT going to miss that! My son Chris took over lunch and fly mask duties on Wed and Thurs and I used the time to work on my Fast Track @ Home plan for the month.

By Friday I was good enough for lessons. Basically I pulled myself up by the boot straps. Thank goodness my horse Dove is such a ROCKSTAR! Spice was not only injured but was starting to colic due to the drastic hot/cold weather we had this week so I fortunately I had enough time to treat her before David arrived. Then I had to decide if I would take 2 hours of lessons with Dove or split the time with Cherokee. Eeeeks I was not really prepared to take a lesson with Cherokee on this day. I was willing to give it "go" but thankfully as usual David had the answer - the other student & I would split my 2 hours up. In our first hour, Dove & I worked on flexing or bending on the circle on the ground. Then, after a break while the other student had her lesson, Dove & I did the same while riding. It was amazing to have the feedback on how bracey and stiff Dove was and what to do about it. (More on this later as I am still processing) I was STOKED! Needless to say I have updated my "Can You's" and Fast Track @ Home plans.

I had "planned" to play with passenger lessons @ walk, trot & canter in our new round pen BUT now I will switch to what David showed us which is what I think Pat means by being "straight on the circle." Meaning your horse has ALL zones on the circle. If you have seen or heard Pat's recent videos and audios you will recognize it. You horse will have ALL ZONES from the nose to tail on the circle. There will be a natural bend to their bodies as ALL ZONES from the nose to tail are on the circle. Ok enough repeating. :)

So my plan for this next month of Fast Track @ Home is to play with ALL ZONES on the circle AND relaxed both online and riding. And depending on how we progress with this THEN we will try adding transitions and maintaining gait.

Why not get your better best NOW instead of LATER having to FIX something? Hmmm, I'm lickin' and chewin' and ADJUSTING!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A week of Successes for many!

This week turned out to be full of surprises! It started out with me nursing a sinus cold due to this crazy weather and resulting allergies. Great, I thought there goes my horse time. Then the weather hit a blistering 97 degrees on Wed and was still quite hot at about 94 degrees yesterday. So I decided it was meant to be an easy restful week for all.

So what were all these surprises you ask? Well let me tell you. ;)

First on Tuesday, I had a great session with my mentor Rachel as we discussed all the fun and exciting things that took place at the Reno clinic with Trevor & Tara. We also reviewed a practise session of my Freestyle Audition routine. I asked for help on jumping as my horse is cool with it but I am a tad nervous. Egads those barrels look so high! LOL. Rachel is a former eventer so she knows jumping. She gave me some super tips on jumping and in addition how to reorganize my routine such that we don't go over the 10 min limit. No easy task with all the patterns we are to show. Those of you playing with your auditions know what I mean. ;)

Then just after our session ended on Tuesday I received an email from Parelli Auditions..... they passed our Liberty Audition with a 3++. Needless to say I was STOKED!! I wanted to run out to the barn that minute and tell Dove. Oops I had an anthropomorphic moment there. LOL.

The next day I heard that Jeane (new friend I met in Reno) received a pass on her Freestyle Level 2 making her a new Level 2 graduate. Wahoo Jeane!!

Then yesterday my good friend Marie sent me an email that she just passed her Level 3 Freestyle, making her a new Level 3 graduate. Awesome Marie!

In addition my two Fast Track friends from Sweden got some good news- Josefin passed her Level 3 Online Audition and Sophie passed her Level 3 Liberty Audition. Yeehaw to you both!!

And I just found out that Ramona (another new friend from Reno) just passed her Level 2 Freestyle, making her a new Level 2 graduate. Way to go Ramona!

That makes 6 of us with successes this week!!! Ladies we are ALL on a ROLL! What fun for us all to get this news this week. The Parelli Audition department is really working hard to get our results to us. They know we are all waiting anxiously.

Anyone else receive a pass on their Auditions this week? Let me know if you have. It is such fun to share successes.

Since it will be another warm day today I will take it easy and play with our new round pen. My barn owner has been trying to find a spot to reassemble it for the past year. We decided to put it in the upper arena for now. It is good to have a round pen again as my two mares Dove & Spice were running under or jumping over my makeshift round pen made of barrels and tape! LOL. Those two never cease to amaze me.