Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Thought I would let you know what is happening. Yesterday I was able to spend some time working with Jake. We went through all the tasks of the Freedom course. We have some refining to do, but that is alright. He needs to soften up a bit and I need to work on my feel with him. But we spent about an hour going through things at a slow easy pace. Later I worked with Raven. I quickly ran through some warmup exercises on the ground. Then we got to work on trying to get her soft and get her hindquarters loosened up and really stepping over so that I can start to work on getting a hauches in. I tried it several times but could not seem to get it. I think it is more me than her but hopefully later this evening I will get a chance to try again.I think I get out of position when I ask for it or I blow the transition in some way. I just went back to other things that she knows, like stop, backup, leg yield, side pass, disengaging and such. One thing I am sure of is that it will come with time and try. Well gotta get back to work.

Friday, March 26, 2010

one more ride

I was out there yesterday and worked with Raven on LY toward me. She does really good on one side, so worked the other side until she gave me one good one without having to use the suggest cue. Then bridled her up and rode her for 45 min or an hour. I wanted to work on a haunches in,but had to get her real soft in my hands. I kept changing things up on her and finally went to work on the haunches in. I spent probably 20 minutes just trying to get that and was getting more and more frustrated so would try something she knew and then went back at it. Still couldn't get. I was up to Jaime's this afternoon and he showed me 3 exercises to do to help achieve this. Then I did it on his horse Joker and got a feel for what it feels like. So the next time I work on this I know what to feel for. Anyway I was able to drop off the course to the lady I borrowed it from and got back in time to see a lady who is in the hospital and take Sharon out dinner.
Been a good day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More progress

First off, the horse deal doesn't seem to be working out. Lot's to do with that one even if I wanted to keep it.
On on another note, I took some advice from my friend Jaime and did more riding than ground work today. However, I did get the LY toward me really good on the left side and pretty good on the right side. She sticks with me pretty good now. I wanted to ride most of the time today so I did. I worked on worked on stops and back up without using rein at w, t, c in both directions and she did really good at w and t but needs more work at canter. However, I rarely used the rein at all while riding and I rode for probably 30 m or more. Then I used the flag while riding, again without the rein and even directed her with it. Next time I will introduce the second flag and if she handles that good then it will be time to take off the bridle. I find that sometimes the session goes alot better and there is more progress when I just slow things down a bit in my own body and agenda. So we had a good session. I am planning to start Jake in the next day or so to see how far I can get him in 30 days.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 30

What a beautiful day. I was able to spend about 1 1/2 hours with Raven today on day 30 of working through the reis program. I can tell you that we have made a lot of progress. I went back to some basic tasks at first, just doing some balanced turns on center from the ground and then going to some LY towards me. We probably worked on these tasks for an hour everything from backing, staying with me at a walk and trot and then moving on to the tasks using the flag sticks in the invisible round pen. Then I got on her and my intention was to work on transitions and changing leads and lead departures. Then go to using the stick to get a disengagement. We did a lot of cantering around and changing up things with figure 8's and trying to do this with the vertical softness. Then we went to the disengagement with the help of the stick which is task #1 in horsmans course mounted class. That is what we stopped with and will continue on with.
My plan is to continue with Raven, but now see how far I can bring Jake in the same amount of time. He knows alot of this stuff too, but I know he is not going to like ground driving and such. I can tell you that just to go through some of the tasks at one time takes a good while. Because you have to have rest times in there to reward the right behavior. My thinking is that if I just worked on one or two tasks at a time til they got that down real good then move on to the next one and keep coming back to refine the previous ones. It would take a good while each day.
I have been offered a Peruvian Paso, bay, 15 yr old gelding, about 15 hands, but way under weight and long toed for free, along with the Aussie saddle. I dont' know if I am going to take him. He will need to have his teeth floated, vet check, and put on some weight before I can ride him though, probably have his feet trimmed. If I take him, my plan would be to get him in shape and see what his healthy attitude is, working for 60 to 90 days and then sell him. I am praying about it and will let you know what I do. That will put a little bit of change on what I do. I also am supposed to have 2 horses coming this spring to work with. Well gotta go. Have a great day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

day 29

This is going to be a short one. I started out jsut going through some of the tasks in invisible round pen, kinda taking it easy. I had every intention of riding, but time ran out. It is funny how time can get away from you when you are having fun. Raven was very cooperative. I could tell she was trying to figure out what I was wanting. I had her LY toward me on the left side, but she didn't want me on her right side. So guess which one I spent my time on. The right side. I had to go back to some basic stuff in order to get where I wanted to be. Everytime I asked for a LY toward me she would think I was asking her to go away from me and so I had to keep recapturing her. A few times I had to move her out to try to get her to stay with me on that side. Finally I got a step. I rested and asked again and nothing. A few tries and catches later I got another step. I could have put the halter on her but decided to keep trying without it. Anyway there were lots of other things we worked on to get to LY like disengaging and such. We worked for an hour on things. Finally, I asked for forward and then for LY toward me and she took 2 steps. I quit right there. I was looking for a good place to quit 'cause Sharon was calling. Anyway it was a relaxed and productive exercise even though I didn't make as much progress as I wanted. The thing is we are getting more and more tight in our working together and that is good.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 28

This was the day that I rode without using the rein at all during one of the tasks. I didn't have the guts to take it off, but I got a walk trot canter and back down. I also got stops from all three gaits and and ride forward 6 steps and back 6 steps all without using the rein at all. I am certain that I could have done it without the bridle but it is probably a little different for the horse too without a bridle on. She may think she has free rein- literally. Anyway I did the first 4 tasks of the horseman mounted course. Prior to this today I went through the ground school tasks and the invisible round pen tasks but two or three. I haven't yet had the horse canter around me, task 7 in invisible round pen. And I have yet to lead her by the lip and ear task 6 of ground school. Nor the obstacle course task 4. But I made lots of progress in LY toward me and away from me today. I would say it was a good time. As Tom Dorrance used to say, 'any ride in which your hat doesn't come off is a successful ride.' I second that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 27

Well, you never know what you are going to get from day to day with a horse. Yesterday seemed like somewhat of a setback. But tonite was alot better. That is the way it goes in working with horses. One day can seem like a flop and the next a great success. Tonite I determined to just go out and be calm and relaxed. I saddled her and started to work with basic things she knows, did some lunging in invisible pen just a little bit. I then side passed her around the perimeter of the pen in both directions and then thought I wonder how she will do if I try to get to LY towards me. And she did it. I took it one or two steps at a time the length of my fence and then back and did that a couple times. I even had her moving towards me and LY. She did pretty good at this so then I ground drove her and refined that better. I am getting the hang of LY and turns and so on. We worked on 180 degree LY with me being the pivot point. She stops real soft, no pressure on the lines at all and backs real good too. Then I got in the saddle did some spins and lots of walking circles then moved up to trot and canter. WE have the softness thing down, it is usually me that is the problem. We did some lead departures and keeping in frame with her. That was alot of fun. I cooled her out doing some stops and LY in both directions. This all took about an hour and half. You know to go through all the tasks in the course would probably take a good couple of hourse to complete.
But I still am not close to bridleless riding. I have to get some of this other stuff refined. But I would say the next month or two of solid work and we will be doing it.
Til next time. May God bless the trails you ride.

Day 26

Have you ever had one of those days where it seems everything goes backwards? I know you have. Well, last evening it was that way for me. You may recall in my last post I said that I had Raven leg yielding toward me a few steps. It has been 3 days since I worked with her and thought that was a nice rest for her. So I went to work with her in the invisible pen and worked on the basics just to see how she was feeling and how soft she would be. She did good so I decided to work on some of the tasks, kinda putting them together. She was doing fine with the halter on because It was easy to stop the forward movement or her from running off. So I took it off and tried the walking toward me as I backed away. I even got her trotting toward me and leg yielding by moving the air beside her. She did real good. So I tried the leg yield away from me, without halter and she kept interpreting that as me wanting her to move off. I tried several times, even putting her face to the fence I just couldn't get it. So I went back to the halter and let the rope get to the end as I LY her. I tried again without it with the same results. On the other hand I did get her LY toward me the length of the fence. She does better on her left side than her right, but that has been the same with everything. I decided to move on to other things so I had her doing transitions walk trot canter and back to walk and stop. She does good at those.
I got in the saddle and worked on some spins, using things I learned at the expo. That was good we were drilling some holes with the inside hind. We did alot of cantering around working on softness and stops and transitions with my seat and turns with my legs. We worked on trotting on correct diagonal and asking for canter in correct lead and so on. But now it was pretty much dark and she was all sweaty so I just walked her worked on various exercises at the walk and then quit.
All in all it wasn't too bad, but I was hoping for alot better progress without the halter.
Sometimes that is the way life is though. You expect one thing and get another. James 1 reminds me to count it all joy when there are various trials in my life because of what they produce in my life, like patience. But I can learn from the trials and back off an debreif myself as to what was going on and what I need to learn from the situation. I think this taught me that I need to just go slower and more gentle and I will get more of a positive outcome. I actually had found myself getting angry with Raven because she wasn't doing what I wanted, but the real problem was me. I wasn't communicating as clearly as I should have. Oh well. I am glad she is so forgiving..
So my advice is the next time things aren't going as planned, take a step back, a deep breath and go slower and see if you get a better outcome.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 25

Yeah! and I mean that in the extreme. I have been working up to the task of being able to draw Raven to me in a leg yield from both sides. I have been working to this point with the previous task of having her follow me while I walk backwards and then asking her to leg yield from there. But now I have been going through the process of getting her to leg yield toward me with a halter and to go away from me. This she does. But in trying to get her to leg yield toward me just using the sticks has been quite the challenge. I have been slowly step by step working to this. She finally did it in both directions yesterday so I quite that task and moved on to ground driving which is going much smoother with leg yields alot easier and even doing a 180 degree LY from one spot.
This is making the riding portion even easier. I have been still working on softness everytime I pick up a rein and also using my seat. Everyday there is improvement here.
I still don't know if I am going to make my deadline of bridleless riding by day 30 but the steps are in place.
For now she has 3 days off as I am off to the MSU Expo to help Chad Coppess from Paradise Ranch do his crosstraining and cowboy church on Sunday. have a great day. If you are there this weekend look me up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 24

Yesterday I had some time to get out and work with Raven and tromp through the mud. There was alot of it. I worked with her basically on Ground driving and getting her to leg yield in both directions and stop and back up with softness. I then worked on getting her to leg yield while I stood at the fence and she shuffled one way or the other without moving me off the fence.
I also was working on her sticking with me at liberty at the walk or trot. She does pretty good at this. I then moved on to having her move with me while I backed away and had her leg yield to the right or left. What I am working toward is the task where I have to have her leg yield toward me without a halter. We are not there yet. She leg yields away from me alright with a halter. I still need to refine that without a halter and then work on getting her to move toward me sideways/leg yield. Once I can do that really good and have her stopping with my seat in the saddle at a walk or trot, then I will be ready to move on to the mounted class in this leve. I worked with her for a little over an hour yesterday and to tell you the truth, I ran out of time. So I didn't even get to ride her. However, the ground work is fun and makes riding all the more easier and soft. If I can't get her to do these movements from the ground I definitely won't be able to from the saddle. So I have to keep working and playing and trying and it will come.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 23

Had a great time working Raven today. I am working on the ground driving and had her leg yielding pretty good while was the pivot point, meaning she was leg yielding in both directions as in a half moon shape. At the start though she didn't want to work. So I had to change her attitude by moving her around until I saw an attitude change and then let her rest beside me. We did the task of having her move towards me while I walked backwards and had her doing leg yields with this too. The only thing I haven't been able to do in this task yet is to do it at the trot because it is still too slippery. We then went out on the road, I only had about 20 minutes of riding time so really wanted to work on stops from walk and trot without using rein. It went ok, but not what I am after yet. I had to quit before I really wanted to for an appointment, but it still was a good time.
I also had time later in the day to work with Jake. He is doing well he can do most of the tasks as Raven and today just did some ground work with and without halter, leg yields, back ups, stops, turn on center etc. I had about 45 minutes with him. He is favoring a leg and I haven't figured which one. I am not sure if it is because of the bad footing or one of his legs hurt. So I didn't really push him. But he knows to be with me is the best thing. Whereas Raven has to push it a little.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

day 22

I was able to get out with Raven today and really work alot with her. We went through the main tasks I needed to work on, like comeing toward me while I walk backwards. She did pretty good. I even got some leg yield steps on both sides just by pushing the air. I was able to ground drive her for about 20 minutes getting some good leg yields and real soft stops. I am even able to stand behind her and get her to swing one way or the other a few steps, that is getting her to leg yield one way or another as in a half moon, with me being the pivot point. Then I got on her and moved her through the mounted tasks. Then we got out on the road and went 3 miles working on softness, leg yield at walk and trot. I did lots of circles with her. She will get soft going in a circle but not so easily in a straight line. So we had to keep going back to the circle and then straighten out. We did most of this at the trot and we did some cantering around too. She really softened up and on the way back. I did alot of working on stopping with my seat at the walk and then the trot. I really want this 100% before I attempt to go bridleless. It is different out in the road then it is in the pen. There are all kinds of things that are distractions. So while the weather is good I am going to try to do most of my work with her out on the road. I like to use the corners for a nice area wide enough to do some good size circles.
We spent about 2 1/2 hours today and it was really refreshing.
Have a good evening. til next time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Just so you know I worked with Raven a little bit today. I am working mainly on the task in the horsemanship class where I ask her to walk toward me while I am walking backwards holding a flag stick in each hand. She is shaped to the left or right and I want her following me around a circle at a walk and a trot. I also want to have her leg yield in both directions by me pushing air or energy in the appropriate direction in time with her foot. I am getting there. She does well at the walk, but still working on the trot and then because of iciness I still have to be careful. I also ground drove her and she did the best yet and did leg yields in both directions. Again, I discovered it is about my position and about her being comfortable with me in her blind spot and showing up on the other side. It went really well. I quit on a good note with me driving her up to the barn.
Gotta  hit the hay.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 20

I decided I am going to write this now. I recently came in about 7pm from working with Raven in the invisible round pen. I was going to put this off til tomorrow but why procrastinate since I am sitting here at the computer anyway.
Well we did the same old review of things, ground work tasks that I have mentioned before. My problem is time and footing. Time, because if I go through all the tasks combined in review to make sure I can nail them correctly it would take me probably an hour or more and I wouldn't have time to work on the newer things we are learning, like trying ot get her circle around me at a trot. That is, she is to be sticking with me. We can do it, but I want it better. She only went away from me one time and that could have been because I got out of position myself. I am learning the lesson of speaking impeccably and without mistake when I ask her to do something. Some things I still have a problem asking for correctly. As for the other problem, despite it warming up in mid day today, ice is still a problem. I could fall and she could slip so I have to watch it.. Anyway, we pressed on and worked on getting her to follow me while I walked backwards in a circle, even trying some leg yields in both directions. That didn't go real well though. I ground drove her using some leather reins my brother made me some years ago. The worked better for me since they are more balanced, but they are only 16' long and I wish they were about 20. But the ground driving is getting better I even had her leg yielding in both directions pretty good. Then I got on her back and worked on my seat cues with her. I was getting it so refined that I could ask for forward one step and back one step and get it just with my seat. The stop and back up minus the reins is also working well at the walk. It was too icey for me to try trotting around and asking for it. I know she can but like I said in an earlier post, I want it 100%. It is that 1 time when I ask for it and don't get it if I am bridleless that bothers me. To tell you the truth I am wishing the ground was dry and soft so that I could really work on this more. But I am getting done what I can. I really want to get to the point where I move and she moves, I stop and she stops, I back up or move sideways and she moves accordingly, even at the pace I am going. And I want this no matter what is going on around her, whether there are other distractions or not. I also want this not just from the ground, but from the saddle too. is that too much to ask? No! It is the only thing to ask and to shoot for. I have learned that I have been satisfied with too little when it comes to horses and even other things in my life. I don't mean to be more hedonistic, but rather I have been satisfied too easily with things in life, rather than shooting for better things that God has. Those eternal things of value instead of the earthly things that won't last. Everything rusts rots or just plain ends up thrown away. But there are things that are eternal that last forever, like my relationship with the Lord. He wants me to move when He moves, stop when He stops, relax when He says to, don't worry, rejoice no matter what. It is that and those other things that last eternity. He reminds us in Philippian 2 to have the mind of Christ; to think as He does. You want to know what He thinks is important read the gospels. In Luke, Jesus reminds us that a man's life doesn't depend on the amount of possessions he has. But how do we live? Like the one who dies with the most toys wins. When really he lose if that is what he or she puts her hope in. So next time you ride a horse, or think about horsemanship, ask yourself what is really important in life? What will I know is important when I am on the other side? let that be your goal. So live Matthew 6:33 out in your life. Have a good one.

Day 19

Ok, what a beautiful day yesterday was to work with Raven. I decided to refine some abilities with Raven after watching the video on beginning to ride without a bridle. So I went back and covered some issues like turn on center and ground driving and getting better at that with her responsiveness to my feel whether it is asking her to go forward or stop or back up our leg yield. Then I spent the last 15 minutes of our time in the saddle working on stopping with my seat at the walk and trot and going forward. I want those a hundred percent of the time. So I just dropped my reins on the horn and using my seat asking to go forward and trot and back to a walk and a stop. When she was doing that ok I went up to trot and asking for a stop from a trot without using rein at all and then asking for a backup with my seat. She is getting real consistent, but I need to work on her following me with a flag stick in my hand and doing some more invisible round pen and ground school on the 4th level before I move to riding bridleless. I still have another 11 days to work on this and hopefully by the end of that time I will at least being riding a little bridleless, but there is much to do yet. It is a beautiful day out there today so I hope to get out there later this evening and work with her. I will let you know.