Friday, December 31, 2010

As this year ends and a new one begins....

Many thoughts ran through my head today while I played with my horses for the last time in 2010. We all had a great time while I checked out where we were with various things. After the final play session I found myself pondering over what lessons I have learned from each of my horses this past year.

With Dove I learned the power of relaxation.
This has been a topic we have been exploring for some time. Dove came to me a bracey, racey pony with picture perfect bad banana posture-
the perfect Parelli cartoon of a RBE- yep that was my Dove. This past year we have played with asking her to lower her head down as a first response when she gets tense or worried. We played with this as she stood still, at a walk, then trot, on a circle, on a straight line, while riding, while playing with transitions and even while changing direction. Then we added moving her HQ out and creating a soft bend in her ribs while she moved. What I believe Pat refers to as traveling straight on the circle. When Dove finds relaxation as her first response the possibilities are endless. As this year closes we played with the beginnings of flying lead changes online on a Fig 8. Whoot Whoot! This is HUGE my friends for my little blonde pony was doing this playfully tonight. I mean it, she was having fun versus all tense and bracey. She was flicking her pretty blonde head at me as we played our little game of tag. When I unhaltered her she hung around, lowered her head, exhaled and then offered her version of spanish walk to me! We played with a little left and then right leg pawing the ground as we walked together. Friends there is nothing you can't do when the horse becomes a part of you! Thank you Pat Parelli ....thank you!

With Spice, I learned the power of my belly button. LOL.... no kidding!
Leave it to Spice to point out the obvious! She is quite direct my little spanish filly. While we played tonight Spice didn't want to trot let alone canter. Over this past year she & I have been exploring ways to elicit a soft canter depart (minus the head flick) while we play with transitions. Spice came to me with a good dose of LBE in her. Although she can get unconfident and big when worried and use her big shoulders against you, when all is right in the world she hovers between a LBI and a LBE. One minute she's asking What's in it for ME? and then the next second she can be a bit playfully naughty. So of course tonight I learned another lesson from Miss Spice. We were ending our session with some Fig 8's. As I mentioned earlier she wasn't keen on cantering tonight so I thought why push it. So instead we played with trotting the Fig 8 and speeding up to a fast trot as we changed directions. As I ran through my phases she started buck jumping into a canter as she changed directions. With a 50/50 chance staring at me I decided to reward Spice's buck jump "try" because frankly she did speed up - from a trot to a canter. The results were hilarious. As soon as I said the word good she stopped immediately and then looked at me.... you know the "where's my cookie?" look. We repeated this a few times and what I soon learned was that she was responding off of my belly button. My stick never left the ground. As she'd round the cone and I ran backwards, the minute I began to move forward facing her she was buck jumping and changing directions. I played with trying to not bring my life up so much as we changed directions and the results were better but not great yet. I think she plans to play this with me for another 6 sessions until I get it. LOL.

With Cherokee I learned the power of patterns to improve confidence.
When it came time for us to play tonight the sun had gone down and fireworks could be heard in the background. Needless to say my little gelding was quite uptight and looked like the Parelli cartoon of the RBI complete with puckered lips poor guy. I knew he needed time to be quiet but also needed help moving his feet constructively or else he'd explode in a frenzy. So we played with the Fig 8 for almost our entire session. When we tried a little circling he was gone- no connection- lost in his worried mind. So back to our Fig 8 pattern we'd head and soon we could change to a nice falling leaf or backwards S pattern. I ended on a good note and we headed back to his herd. Once back at the hay bar he was relaxed. So we played with another pattern- were we ride point to point up and down the lane. Ah the power of patterns as a place to go mentally, emotionally and physically and relax. Chero has taught me to see the pattern and use it to help him move to a more confident state. And from there we can do amazing things!

Well my friends the New Year is fast approaching. Tonight as midnight rolls around I will be dreaming of all the adventures to come in the New Year and all the lessons my horses still have to teach me!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ok I just HAD to share this

My younger mare Spice saw me set up my video camera the other day. I tape video of Dove & I for our monthly mentor sessions with Rachel Jessop, so Spice has come to know that this camera has my focus and has importance.

This day Spice was quite fixated on "touching" my camera. I had to shoo her way several times. When I sat down with Dove to play with bridling and had my backed turned..... well you'll see what Spice had on her mind. LOL. I do love this horse of mine's mind. She cracks me up EVERY day with her looks and antics and challenges me to be better.

I left the original audio so you can hear her too! Hilarious. I had to wonder if the "goods" I was giving Dove were in Spice's head rewarding HER for investigating my camera. The world does revolve around Spice afterall.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My amazing little gelding Cherokee!

These past few weeks we have had some good horsin' around weather and then some not so good. It has been a time to take advantage of both! What? Take advantage of not so good weather? Have you lost it? Well maybe.... but then again I am an avid student of Parelli and those 3 Laws keep ringing in my ears.....
1. Put the Relationship FIRST
2. Foundation before Specialization
3. Never ending self improvement (for me AND my horses)

Last week we had freezing weather all week- note to all I am in the San Francisco Bay Area in California so anything below 40 degrees is freezing... really...ask my plants they are all droopy and black spotted poor things. So when the thermometer hit 32 degrees we almost fainted. LOL. As for my ponies they are super fuzzy and enjoying the extra flake of hay. Then this week we were deluged by rain, the flooding kind... coz again we are in California where the summers are hot and dry and so when the rain hits the dirt swells..... oozes really.... all down the road, and the gutters fill.... ok you get the picture.

Now what's a Parelli student to do in this yucky weather besides reading books, watching videos and dreaming of warm sunny days filled with glorious trail riding? Pull out my rain slickers, muck boots, long johns, thinsulate gloves, and warm caps (all my friends who live in the snow country are laughing at me right now- I can hear you!!) and play with the list of items on the new site! There are several tasks that with a little imagination I can do under the dry cover of my horse's shelters.

So we have had fun and heaps of progress this week on the simple but not easy things such as lowering your head with only phase 1 while the rain and wind is pelting our shelters, or using a hand held massager to simulate clipping ears while I sit on a bucket, leading by the ___(fill in the blank) and the list goes on. Plus just think of all the undemanding time we can spend scratching.... ah my horses were jockeying for first position on that one! Staying warm and dry is such motivation to take all the time we need. In fact time whizzes by on days like these.

Then today the sun peeked out and I almost stumbled trying to get to the barn as fast as I could. I decided to check out how Cherokee was doing and so we moseyed on down to the arena. After some fun galloping on a circle- let me help you move your feet (RB moment) we had fun experimenting with our ParelliConnect task list. His progress floored me. Being particular without being critical I found that we still need more sessions to improve his confidence in some areas and straightness in others before we "tick" them off, but overall WOW! Here he was trotting back to me from a Yo-Yo on a 22' with his ears pricked on me! And there he was trying so hard to allow me to hold his tongue or scratch the inside of his precious ears. So why should I have been so surprised to find him to be excellent transport as we rode from the arena to his pen? Well because when we followed the hay cart up the road this time he trotted the whole way with his ears totally on me! And it was his idea!! The fact that we were bareback and in a halter made it super sweet. My little gelding was sooooo smooth. I was smiling ear to ear.