Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 18

Yesterday I went out to Raven with a plan of going through several of all we had done and to move on to some new tasks. But plans change. First there was the weather. It was snowing and blowing so much around here that I was getting cold after about 30 minutes and I was bundled up and moving around alot. So what I had hoped would be an hour or hour and a half turned into about 50 minutes of work. Secondly, I began with doing some invisible round pen work since I had her in that mode. My plan was to go into the round pen and do some ground driving and such. But instead we just worked on getting her to trot around me at liberty. I worked with her on this alot. I found that sometimes it is best just to work on one thing rather than trying to do multiple things. I really wanted to get her good at sticking with me at the trot. She left me a few times and I had to bring her back. However, in the end she stuck with me. It is an exercise that I just have to keep working on. Then I wanted to have come towards me and follow me on a circle with my two sticks and she did that pretty good. She does it at the walk fine. I then wanted her to leg yield away from me while was doing this. I got a couple steps in each direction. Which brings me to the third reason my plans changed. It was slippery for me out there. So I could not move as confidently as I need to in order to do these tasks. I don't have 4 feet to help with balance. If one of mine slips I go down. So I finally had enough and we found a good place to stop with her coming toward me as I walked backwards.
Sometimes our plans change and we have to adapt. The Scripture says that that Lord directs our steps, Prov. 3:5,6 and so if I make plans I need to be flexible and move with Him rather than against Him. As I am trying to develop Raven to be a willing partner and follower of me so God wants me to be a willing follower of Him. Sometimes, rather than trying to accomplish alot you get alot more done by just getting one thing done well. That is what happened to me yesterday. Today it looks really white and cold. We got a couple inches last night, but at least today it is not blowing.
So be flexible today. Don't think you have to get it all done today.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 17

Brrr! is it cold outside. I had a few minutes and thought I would work with Raven some. Got all bundled up and got the saddle out there and began to work with her. But I decided to not even saddle her up. Instead I worked on the invisible round pen tasks and refined them more. She was alot better even today sticking with me. No mind you this is all without a halter. I moved forward with her disengaged her changed intentions and changed sides. We moved forward disengaged 360 degrees not losing forward and then kept right on going. We did the 4th task having her at a walk and trot stay with me as we spiraled down into a smaller circle. Did task five which similar to task four only staying on the circle at walk and trot with me. I even have her backing up with me at the driveline which is task one from ground school. I worked mostly on task 6 while facing horse- drawhier to me at a walk and trot. I walk backwards in a circle with a stick in each hand beside her withers forming a vee with my arms and she walks towards me as I move backwards. I have her backing up too with my bubble. She does it well at a walk. We started to get the trot several steps and then stopped today. That was when I decided to not even saddle her. I didn't want her getting sweaty at all. Besides, it was a good place to quit. This is working so well, when I left the round pen she stood where I left her. I had to go back in a few minutes later and in a direct way release her from my leadership.
There are times when we just need a break from the everday. With a horse you might get something small accomplished and then quit for the day. It just seems like a good place to stop. But you come back the next day and make even more progress. It was that way in Jesus life. Repeatedly, I read in the gospels where Jesus went into the wilderness to pray, usually after a long day of people pulling on His time or when there is a big day ahead. One time after a night of prayer, He selected the apostles. That is good advice for us too. We need to get away and relax and pray or reflect and refresh. I do this daily in my devotions daily. Sometimes it looks like getting out and taking a walk with Brecht or if she is brave enough to weather the cold, Sharon. Sometimes I do my best learning just ruminating on some passage as I walk or drive or lay down and take a power nap. I advise you to do the same. Carve out a time where you can just relax and ruminate.
make time for R and R.

Day 16

I figured I better write this before it slips by me. I had a profitable time with Raven yesterday. I decided to just do a review of the tasks in the Movement course (3) before continuing on to the horseman's course (4) and the invisible round pen tasks. But I gotta tell you it is coming together nicely. I worked on the balanced turn on center from the ground and she does fine from the left side, but the right side is another story. Part of it is me, not getting out of the way so she can make a smooth transition, and part of it is that she doesn't like me on that side. It is just like us though. I am right handed, so don't ask me to write something with my left hand and be neat or to throw a ball with my left hand, I throw like a girl then. Raven just needs more work on that side. It is like this, God knows our weaknesses and strengths and usually has us work more on our weaknesses. The Apostle Paul said, 'When I am weak, that is when I am strong.' When we are aware of our weaknesses we depend more on Him for strength. So Raven has to depend on me on her weak side. So we will continue to work that side. When she can rest with me on that side that is when I know we have worked it enough for now, but it will always be something to come back to. I also did some more ground driving and she is getting more comfortable with that, switching sides and even givine me some leg yields, which I have to be able to get those consistently before I can move on from that exercise. She will get there it just takes time and persistence.  We did all the mounted tasks except for the gauntlet and ball tasks, because I don't have them. She is getting real soft and I am even have just dropped the reins and directed everything from transitions and directions with my leg and seat. We did pretty good, but we need more work here.
Finally, we did the invisible round pen tasks mentioned in an earlier post. She comes right to me and is looking at me when she moves around me. I can move her off with me and have her trot around me in a small circle. Today given the chance we are going to review the tasks 1-5 which she can do  and start working on task #6 which is -while facing horse-draw him to you at a walk & trot - in both directions. This is with me walking or trotting backwards on a circle and having the horse stay with me.
The last task for this class is 'from the driveline have horse canter around you in small circle.' But right now I cannot do this task because the snow pack is too icey. She slipped and almost fell the other day when I asked her to canter, so I have to wait until the footing is not so slippery for her.
All of these tasks are designed to make my communication with the horse as if we were one. As if my thoughts were her thoughts and she willingly does what I ask. Paul in Philippians 2:5 says, "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." That is my goal, to have God's thoughts be my thoughts; to think the same way He thinks and in that way I can walk in tune or oneness with Him. My relationship with my horse simply mirrors that for me. I am not there yet, but it is a goal to go after and become.
So til next time, seek to walk in tune with God.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

day 15

Sometimes you have to pull out of the day the time you can to do something you love to do. I only had about 45 min to work with Raven today. I am working the round pen tasks of the horseman's course, which is the fourth and last level. The first task is to draw your horse to you from walk, trot and canter. This is using a larger pen, no round pen, and no halter. This is what I have called working at liberty in previous posts. What you do is have to have the horse go around in you in a circle, no round pen, so they can go where they want. If they break away you bring them back and continue the movement on the circle. Raven does this no problem. The idea is to watch for the things that show the horse is really paying attention to you, ear cocked toward you, licking and chewing, head down and such. Then you ask them by your body language to turn toward you and face you. Raven actually will look toward me as if to ask me 'please can I come in and rest?' At that time I just step to her rear slightly and she faces up to me and comes to me. She does this at all the gaits. So this task  is passed.
Task 2 is without a halter ask the horse to disengage hindquarters, change intention and change sides. So basically you are walking forward at the drive line and then move in such a way as to cue the horse to disengage while not losing forward motion and when the horse moves their head toward you let them move in across with their shoulders and change sides.  Raven does this good too.
Task 3 is to do the same thing only disengage 360 degrees and then move right back in the same direction you were going. Again as with all the tasks this is to be done from both sides. Raven and I do this ok too.
Task 4 is a bit harder from the drive line at walk, trot -spiral horse into smaller circle. This one isn't as easy as it sounds. Without a halter you have to keep the horse with you as if you were leading them and you are positioned between their eye and the drive line moving in a circle with you on the inside. When they sort of lean their head toward you stop and rest. The point is to get them to stay really tuned into you and follow you lead both to move forward and to go in a circle. Raven does this well from the left side, but the right side she doesn't like me on it. So guess which one we worked on the most. She kept wanting to move away from me and trot so I just made her go then gave her an opportunity to rest next to me on that side. We quit when she willingly stopped and rested with me on her right side.
That is also where we stopped working the tasks. We will review these and then move on to the next task next time.
You can imagine why it is necessary to do these tasks. It is important for the horse to have you as his leader. Whenever there are distractions of frights if your horse is its own leader, well, you might be in for a wreck. But if you are the leader, well, she might just take her cue from you as whether or not its a good idea to be scared. That works spiritually too. I have learned that situations in my life are just God working me until I find my rest in Him. Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30.

The rest in life is with the Lord. You can run on the rail if you want, by doing things your own way and not submitting to the Lord. But rest is in the middle with Him. Sometimes the rest is with Him in the middle of the storm in your life. And you can either have a wreck by going your own way or you can submit to His way and have rest. The choice is yours. When I work with a horse, I don't make the horse do anything. I simply make the wrong thing uncomfortable and the right thing easy. It often takes time for the horse to figure it out, so I help him by rewarding the slightest try he gives me. God does the same with me. The Bible says "the way of the transgressor is hard." Proverbs 13:15. But doing things His way is easier in the long run, and that is where He wants me. He doesn't want to run me ragged around the arena. He wants me and you to learn to rest next to Him. Sometimes it takes lots of running for us to figure that out. So ultimately, what I am after with Raven is the same thing God is after with you and me. A relationship based on a willingness to be together no matter what.
So til next time stay in the middle will ya!

Day 14

We are moving through the tasks with Raven. I have been ground driving her and it has been interesting. Ground driving is harder than you think. It is one thing to get the horse to go forward while lungeing a horse. It is another to get them to go forward with calmness when they have a line hitting them on hocks or across their butt or getting caught underneath their tail. It really starts to get interesting then. That is why it is necessary to go through all the steps before you actually use two reins while ground driving. One of the tasks is to drive the horse forward then have them turn and change sides. This is huge, not only are you teaching them to follow their nose, but you are asking them to allow you to go through their blindspot which is directly behind them. They see you on one side and then you disappear and reappear on the other side and that can scare them real bad. However, this is why it is important to ground drive a horse. Think about it, a horse is a prey animal, you are a predator to them. You are teaching them that you are not a predator though. Think of it this way, you are in the wild and you make a deal with a lion. He is telling you he won't eat you and you just have to trust him. But a lion is a lion and you can process that information and reject it because you are human. You can think through these things and reason about it. A horse cannot, but that is what you are asking the horse to do. Remember God put in a horse to fear man, Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 9:2. So what you are asking them to do is to go against their God given instinct and trust you. Everytime I ask Raven to change sides while ground driving I am asking her to trust me that I am not going to eat her. It was God asks of us oftentimes when we are forced into a change. Like a job loss, or a move or health issues. He is saying to you and me, 'trust Me. I am not trying to destroy you.' It is a learning process that takes time in our lives. God demonstrates He is not out to get us by sending His Son to die on the cross for us. So everytime we think God is either not there when we need Him or when we think He is out to get us, look at the cross that should dissolve any doubt in your mind, Romans 5:8. So back to the horse. The only way to get Raven to become relaxed with me going in and out of her blindspot is to do that lots of times until you see her relax. Then back off. I want to do everything from ground driving that I do from her back: go forward, lateral flexion, leg yield, stop with softness, backup, change direction and so on. Yesterday I had her doing leg yields almost by accident because I was actually asking her to turn, but my position and her posture was telling her to leg yield. So I caught and kept asking her. She is better on one side with turning than the other so we got some work to do. She is getting softer with a stop and back up. This also teaches both us to pay attention to my body language. I need to get so I can push her forward with my body bubble without verbal or physical cues like slapping her with the line. She is getting real good at it though.
Then I worked on transitions with halter and she did pretty good at downwards ones from trot and canter down to a walk.
I got in the saddle and we went through our routine of lateral flexion, vertical flexion, backup using seat and legs, counterturn and disengagement. Then asked her to move off and did transitions of walk, trot, walk even cantered a bit. I wanted to work on another task of doing a figure 8 at the trot while posting on the correct lead and then changing leads and posting as we were going down the straight part of the figure 8. To pass the task I have to be able to do this correctly, meaning I change my posting in one beat and pick up the correct lead. So we worked on this and many more tasks before we were done.
I also moved up to the horseman's course, the fourth set. I worked on the first three tasks of round pen and had no problem doing those with Raven. I will list the tasks in a later post. But we are almost half way through the 30 day workout and things are progressing pretty good. I have seen areas I need to work more on. Other areas I just have to refine to a higher level. But progress is the key.
God bless you today and get out and enjoy some fresh air.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 13

Well yesterday had a good time with Raven. I worked on all the tasks up this point. Then worked on the 1/2 balanced turn and got that down. Then worked on the complete balanced turn from behind the drive line. I finally figured out that it wasn't that I was looking for her feet to cross over but rather for her entire body to be soft with bend and head somewhat down and relaxed. Then to walk down the diagonal and she will follow me while crossing her feet and then shifting to the other side and keep the shoulder moving. It took me  awhile but I got her to do that. Then we quit. The next task I have wanted to deal with was the ground driving. So I hooked up the two lines and moved her off. She didn't like to switch sides at first but we kept at it and started to get more relaxed. I was able to move more behind her as if I was actually riding in a cart behind her. Then we just worked on getting a soft stop and changing directions. We did this for about 20 min. and then I got on her back and worked from the saddle and did all the tasks in the mounted class and most of the ones in the refined class accept the one requiring two riders and the figure 8. I am really excited to work on the next level after reading the tasks, because that is where I go bridleless and that is what I am working towards.
I will keep at it.
God bless

Friday, February 19, 2010

day 12

Oh boy! had the fun of playing with Raven again this evening, rather yesterday evening. I finally got the hang of the complete balanced turn on center from behind the drive line. I needed to pay attention to her softness and bend of her whole body and when my position lined up with hers then to draw her to me and across so that she switched sides and I could keep moving her feet over. We still have some practicing to do but mainly if I keep myself in position and get her prepared for the move it will happen.
Then I practiced sending her with the 22' line getting ready for ground driving. We are starting to get a good handle on this task. My main problem is my pen is too big and she can get going to fast for me to keep up. And my rope handling needs improvement. But we will get it. I can't tell you how much benefit I have realized there is from taking the time to work with her on the ground. She is so much more responsive and soft when I am on her. There is just a relaxing nature to it.
One other thing I restarted was asking her to kneel. She does it when I ask, but I upped the game with her. I don't let her up until the count of five and she is relaxed. My goal here is to ask her to kneel and to stay down so that I can get on then when I ask her to get up she will. So we will prgressively work on this.
Poor old Jake. I think he is feeling neglected because I haven't worked with him at all since I started this 30 day endeavor with Raven. He will get his turn though. I am going to do him next going through the same things.
Take it slow and easy today and you will have a more harmonious outcome.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 11

I got started on working on doing the tasks of 1/2 balanced turn on center. That actually went really good. I realized I had been doing this one alot with Raven and didn't know what it was called. I learned also that to have her cross her front foot in front of the other that I had to step out of her way so I had to remember to step outwards towards the imaginary corner that intersects the drive line and my outside shoulder about 3 feet in front of me. Once I did that she did the movement correctly. Position is so important in horsemanship, being in position on the ground or in the saddle will help the horse move correctly. If I am out of position it will most likely hinder the horses ability to do the movement I am asking for. There must be some spiritual analogy here? Hmm. Anyway, we accomplished that task.
The next task to work on was the Complete balanced turn on center from behind the drive line. This turned out to be harder than I thought. Here it is like asking the horse to move forward as if I was lunging her and moving with her like I was riding her from the ground. But staying in time with her front feet and walking in a circle I have to ask her to cross her outside front foot over in front of her inside front foot adn to do it when she is just picking up her outside foot. I was getting a little messed up here. I could time the feel on the lead line with the foot ok, but I think something about my body position and hold on the lead wouldn't give me enough feel to get her to cross over. Then move out of the way switch sides and keep pushing her shoulder over. I did get it accomplished a couple times, but I still need to work on this one.
We worked on it for about 15 minutes then moved on to the next task which was using my 22' line to ask her to move off just as if I were ground driving her. This is to get her ready to ground drive with two reins. I started her years ago with ground driving, so I thought this would not be much problem. However, it was a bigger issue than I thought. She accepted the rope fine, and by the time we quit this task she was letting me flip it over her and pull her butt towards me. I just need to get more proficient at the use of the rope. So we have to keep working on this one.
One thing I noticed is that all that ground work in a relaxed manner makes her a softer ride in the saddle. I think she picks up on the ease of feel and the relaxed energy. We worked on leg yields, transitions and for about thirty minutes had a great time as far as I was concerned. We were doing balanced turns on center, disengaging and back ups then move shoulders 90-360 degrees. We were doing counter turns where she is shaped one way and moving her shoulders in the other crossing her front feet in front of the other in the direction of the turn. I wished I had more time but all in all it was very productive. It is amazing what can be done in a short amount of time if you just take it slow. In horsemanship slower is almost always faster.
Well time to get on with other things. Until next time, keep your mind in the middle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 10

Yesterday I had a brief opportunity to work with Raven. Sometimes only having a short period of time to do something forces you to focus your efforts on specific things. In this case, I stuck completely with the tasks for the 3rd level course. So I took about 15inutes with the ground work mvoing through the tasks I knew. Task 1 is draw horse to rest spot from a trot. That is having horse trot around pen and then by your body language and movement asking him to stop and face  you or even better walk towards you. Raven does that well. Task 2 is million dollar move which is described as briefly as while being in front of the drive line of the horse, disengage his hindquarters and then ask his shoulders to move over changing sides. So you move from the right side to the left side or vice versa. Raven does this fine.  there are two more tasks in round pen that I haven't worked on and will which helps to prepare the horse for ground driving. The ground school tasks 1. leg yeild sideways on circle we do fine. 2. progressive desensitization through movement which is moving sideways on circle you flag a horse out, we do this fine. 3. 1/2 balanced turn -change sides-move shoulders from drive line. This is using a lead line standing to the side at the drive line facing his hip, with lead in outside hand and flag in inside hand you move to the outside of the triangle while he crosses outside front foot in front of inside front foot. We do this fine. 4. is a completed balanced turn on center the same as before but starting from behind the drive line and bringing the front foot across and then changing sides and moving shoulders all the way around for a complete turn. We do this fine. 5. move shoulders with a flag. This is from a stand still in front of the drive line pushing the shoulders over the feet crossing in front of the other. we do this fine too.The last two are ground driving which we haven't done yet.
I did all this and more in about 15 minutes of ground work yesterday. But remember it took lots of hours to get to that point. These are simple warmup exercises for me now.
In the mounted tasks number 1 is back 3 steps and move shoulders 90 degrees, do it both directions. No problemo for her. 2. is move shoulders 180 degrees, no problem again. 3. at a walk, stop without touching reins, she does fine. 4. at trot, stop without touching reins, she does this fine. We keep working on this to refine it more.
In the mounted refined the tasks are 1. walk trot and back transitions using just seat and legs, with vertical flexion. fine. 2. ride a figure eight with vertical flexion at a trot post on correct diagonal changing shape and our diagonal on the straight part of the pattern. We haven't worked on this alot but I would rate myself a 4 or 5. 3. complete a balanced turn on center we do this no problem. 4. stop with vertical flexion from walk. Ok. 5. stop and back 3 steps with VF maintaining VF. We are ok at this. 6. Stop with VF from trot, no problem. 7. Disengage 180 degrees, back 3 steps move shoulders 180 degrees maintaining VF. We can do this but it still needs work, probably a 5 or 6 on this one. 8. is using another rider to work with and I don't have that.
I worked most of these yesterday in the 45 minutes I had and did okay. I need to do the ground driving and work on the mounted tasks more.
have a good day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 8,9

This covers yesterday and todays work with Raven. Again we are going over each of the tasks and trying to refine the movements. I spent about an hour each day. With 1/2 an hour on ground and 1/2 in the saddle. Yesterday was like going backwards. I don't know if it was me or her, but it seemed like everything was just harder to do. She wasn't as soft laterally so we had to work that resistance out of her. She wasn't responding as well on the transitions from the ground. But she is doing all the tasks. I have been working alot on bending her on a circle which goes like this: I ask her to go foward, then reach down the inside rein and bring it softly back to my leg, she bends laterally on the circle. So each time she picks up her inside hind leg I softly apply my inside leg and rein while applying the outside leg alernately to keep her from going into a leg yield and to keep her moving forward on the circle. This has helped to really get her soft. It forces her inside hind to reach across and in front of her outside hind, not in a disegagement but her hips have to get moving to catch up with her front end because they have travel farther on the circle. I also sit slightly to the inside and push with my seat. All of this works together to get her to be soft and responsive. I found this works naturally into a leg yield if I want, simply by opening my outside leg and pushing with my seat to the outside in time with her lifting her inside hind foot. My rein simply keeps her in position laterally and vertcally. Now it sounds like a lot and it is but with repetitions it begins to be second nature to me and to her. So then, today when I started to work with her it seemed the opposite of yesterday, everything went pretty good, there was even more softness and I love softness in her. Some days are good and then it seems like things go sour and then they get even better if you push through another day. That is the way it is in anything isn't it. But you take a break and then come back later or the next day and find out that in yesterdays mess you had a breakthrough. But it took the mess to see it. Sometimes that is the way it is for me spiritually. One day it might seem like nothing is working out and I get mad or do something stupid. But I work through it and get back on track with confession, 1 John 1:9. Then the next day I am back on top of things. Whether with horses or with my own spiritual growth it takes work, the work of an athlete who wants to compete and win. He is willing to sacrifice time, sleep, favorite foods, leisure time etc. in order to have the best chance to win. So we do end up doing what we want to satisfy our own cravings. Mine is to be a better horseman, which leads me to be a better man and better Christian and husband, because I learn about my own shortcomings. Probably the best thing I am learning is that if it isn't working with my horse it is my fault. Come to think of it that is the way it is in my marriage too! Just to update you as to the Reis series, I am through the second course and working on the tasks on in the Mentor course. I can do most of the tasks now, but I will explain them in another post.
Until next time, stay between the ears.

Monday, February 8, 2010

day 7

Well I barely got it in but I did it. It was a beautifully sunny day and I wanted badly to get some time in with Raven today, but I had other more important tasks to accomplish. However, at the end of the day I still was able to squeeze in an hour of work with her.
She is getting so soft to my feel in the lead or rein, even my seat and legs. I am picking up more and more on being able to push her with my seat, especially if she is collected up nice. We wnet through all the tasks rather quickly. I wanted to get to working circles with her to get her more laterally soft and then worked on trasitions with my seat and legs. She is working out well and I am refining my own horsemanship in terms of the details of riding. To give you a for instance, I was asking her to do a leg yield and to do that I have to get her prepped, by getting her head and neck shaped to the right or left (soft laterally and vertically) then if I keep my legs drapped around her like spaghetti, and my hands soft so she is collected then shift my seat just a bit to the inside off center of the saddle, then by rolling my butt under me makeing a C shape with the small of my back and pushing with my seat and adding my inside leg at the time that she is picking up her inside hind foot I can drive her hind foot across in front of her outside hind, the front doing the same thing and simply push her into the leg yield. Sounds like a lot of details and it is alot to keep in mind but that is why repetitions are needed so that I get good at it and it becomes natural.
We often think that spiritual growth as believers should just happen, but it happens the same way, with lots of repetitions of doing the right thing. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 4 that we are to exercise ourselves in godliness. This is what he is talking about, doing the right thing so many times that it becomes the natural thing for us to do. For example, take a person who gets angry and swears everytime something goes wrong. If he has the Holy Spirit in him, for without it he cannot do this (1 Cor. 2:14), then he can consciously choose to not swear when things go wrong. He can put that off and put on controlling his mouth by choosing to think on something good at that time, like thanking God that he got a flat tire or the computer crashed.  As he does this enough, though he will have lots of failures in the process, he will find himself starting to hold his tongue and not only that but also think right and do right in the situation. There is no replacement for going through the conscious steps in the process and doing it lots of times. Horsemanship and Spiritual growth are connected.
Enough for today, hopefully more tomorrow, unless the storm actually does come.
Have a good one.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 6

After my two trip to speak in Jackson I am back. Raven and I had a great time this afternoon. The sun was shining bright and so was our workout. She is getting so light, there is a lot of float (slack for you none horseman) in the line. I had her doing backups, disengaging etc. with the lead dragging on the ground. Of course it helps if you can get these manuevers without a lead at all, which I can with her. I had her working on leg yields, and turn on hindquarters, that might be called a balanced turn on center, where I walk beside her come to a stop, as her to back up and when her outside front foot lands she is ready to pick up her inside front foot at which time I step out of the way and ask her to move her inside foot toward me and back which forces her to bring her shoulder inside and turn on the inside hind foot and go in the opposite direction. Quite an interesting move from the ground. It works in the saddle to, but you gotta know the foot falls of the horse to do this. She is getting good at this. We did round pen tranisitions trying to get more refined at downward transitions. Once I got in the saddle I got her buttery soft with the rein by using my leg on her side. Then we walked lots of circles working on lateral softness constantly using my inside leg and rein to soften her. Then it was back to transitions using my seat and legs and minimal or no rein. She stops good and turns good with leg and seat. Footing is still too slippery to do any loping or even much trotting, but we did some. Worked on leg yields trying not to use much rein except to position her poll. I had a great time with her today. You might wonder why I keep doing the same things over and over again. Well, because it takes lots of repetitions to get a horse to learn a cue. Sam Burrell said that it takes 300-400 reps to teach a cue and another 3,000-4,000 for the horse to learn it well. That takes alot of time in the saddle doing it every day or at least 4-5 times a week. It obviously takes alot longer if you only ride or work with your horse on the weekends. I am so blessed to be able to ride as much as I do. It also takes a willingness to get really cold. Well, until next time. By the way if anyone has any questions or would likes something clarified just send a comment.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

day 5

Well I went over all the tasks for the Awareness course in all four levels and the only things I cannot do are the large ball exercise, a scarey object that helps horse overcome his fears, and the gauntlet which also helps in this area. But everything else, desensitizing, sending, transitions, leg yielding etc. These Raven already knows. There is one other thing and that is an exercise where I sit on a fence and get Raven to rest right next to me. It is not as easy as it might appear. The horse doesn't want to rest right there because you are above him and so with a process of moving their feet you teach the horse to rest next to you while you are on the fence. I haven't tried this yet. I will begin to work on this next time. Progress is going good. I rode bareback at first. It is neat how you can really feel where their feet are at as they move under you while bareback. It is a closer step to true unity with my horse.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

day 4

today Raven and I went over the basics refining more of the round pen task of transitions and we did it not in the round pen, but in the other pen were the boundaries are farther. Just wanted to refine my body language and position more and to do it at the right time, like when she is looking at me for direction. We are connecting. Then we did the mounted tasks and those went real good, but again we upped the anty by doing it in the bigger pen so that I wouldn't have the round pen fence to keep her corraled. It forced me to use the rein a few more times, but she is getting used to it more and the footing is a little better. Even though it was warmer out, the footing was slippery so I really couldn't get her into an all out canter, though we did a few times working on transitions with my seat and legs. Did lots of leg yields and stops and back ups. However I find that I need to move on to the next course, cause we know these movements, they just need refined more. Gotta go get ready for a meeting.

Monday, February 1, 2010

day 3 of big idea

I am back peddling a little bit on the course tasks. I decided I wanted to refine what my horse is doing a little more. So I am working on the tasks esp. sending around the round pen, task 4 in cround school, where I have to transtion from stop to walk to trot to canter and back down in both directions without a lead line. I worked on that today till I got alot of improvement from Raven. The pen is slipper and choppy for her footing but she went up into a canter, but she slipped a few times so I didn't push it. I also wanted to work on refining my mounted tasks and more, esp. forward motion with transitions as above without using a rein. In fact, I did it with the rein on the saddle horn and even accomplished a collected stop and back up and turn on the hindquarters and disengagement then moving in other direction all without a rein. I think we have upped our game a notch. I am going to keep at it, hopefully daily, and improve even more. Some may think I am crazy since it is snowing and and maybe 25 degrees outside. I gotta admit my toes get cold. My goal is to work on this tues and wednesday then I will be gone til Friday evening and pick back up on Saturday. Then I will move up to the next course tasks.
Lots of fun in the snow.