Saturday, May 29, 2010

Joey Day 5

Kathryn, ask all the questions you want. That is just fine with me. Also, if I don't blog it I write a journal on the training I do anyway to give to the owner. That way they know what I have been doing with their horse. Also, it helps me to stay focused on the details of the training so I stay on track. It also helps me to debrief each session.
So today, we started with a review of all the tasks. We had a break through, YEAH! on his disengagement when at liberty too. Come to find out it was more my positioning then his when I asked for it on his right side. So I learned from him. Really he is coming along nicely as we went through the tasks of flexion, disengagement, backup (which he has made a marked improvement) counterturn (shoulders over). I also did some Jeffries method where I lay on his back bareback to see how he reacts. He did well. So I saddled him, no problem. He stood fine for me even while I made some adjustments. Then I lunged him on a 22' lead to see how he moves with the saddle. He is standing to be flogged now. I also had him do some transitions up and down the gaits. Then I did some of the sending and changing sides exercises or squeeze game. When he settled down and gave me a couple calm movements in both directions we moved on. That was when I bridled him. I don't know if he has had snaffle bit in his wouth. He carried it well, though he has a upper tooth that might bother him. It didn't seem to when the bit was adjusted. I did some flexion with the rein. Then up and down on each side a couple times. He stood fine for me to mount a couple times on each side. Then away we went. We rode for the last 20 min. or so. I had him disengaging, circling and moving forward at a walk and trot, and even a canter in the right lead. Kathryn if you can learn to get your seat and move with him at his gait, you won't want to canter. It is a good ride. I have to learn to move with him better, 'cause he even moves different than my walker. I wish mine moved like him. He was soft and moved off easily. We did a bunch of circles and disengaging before I let him just move forward in a straight line. He seemed relaxed and when we finished he stood and lowered his head for me. I forgot to do some flexion exercises before I got off so I got back on and finished with those. Like I said, he did wonderful today for our first ride together.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Joey Day4

Ok, this in answer to Kathryn's question in the comments: What is a disengagement? I think Parelli people call it 'Hide the heiney' if that is how you spell it. It is when the inside hind foot crosses over in front of the outside hind foot. The inside being the side you are on. You are trying to get the hind end away from you. Why would I want to do that? Well, for a number of reasons. A horse's motor is in the hind end and you take that away from them when you make them cross their legs like that. Just see how much mobility you have when you stand having your legs crossed. When I was a kid, I was playing little league baseball as a right fielder and would stand out there with my legs crossed. The coach told me not to stand like that because I would not be ready to move quickly to go for the ball. It's the same with a horse. If a horse's hind legs are crossed they can't buck and they can't run. So the disengagement is like an emergency brake. That is what a one rein stop is all about, which I am working on with Joey. By the way, I want the horse to always be facing me, and not giving me two hind feet. So if I go in his stall, he should move his butt over and give me two eyes so that I can walk in safely. In addition, you have to be able to move the hindquarters separately from the front end in order to do a leg yield, side pass, or haunches in movement. Basically, what I am working on with Joey is separating all his zones and teaching him to move them when I want and how far I want. Tha is why I have been working on moving his shoulders, flexion, disengagement and so on. At present, he is backing when I ask, moving his shoulders over, giving me a balanced turn on center, disengaging his hindquarters, moving forward, vertical and lateral flexion. Now I am just trying to refine them more and be able to do them with less rein, and more body language.
Todays workout began with some backing up and disengagement and vertical and lateral flexion. He is making improvements all around. Then I had him lunging on a 14' lead and halter for a few laps, then I took the halter off and worked at liberty with him. He moves off well and even goes up to trot and canter in both directions easily. We haven't been working on those upwards and downwards transitions as much as we will from here on out. I just wanted to get that connection. He would still leave me if he could. I can tell that he hasn't really submitted to my leadership as I would like, although I have him doing figure 8's to change directions. This is done by drawing him to me, giving me both eyes, and then when he crosses the plain I move back towards his shoulder and continue sending him in the other direction. He did much better today, much smoother and kept the gait better. Judy, this is the exercise that Jesse had Fred doing at your clinic. However, Joey still keeps pushing me with his shoulder and barrel/ribs, with his head to the outside. But, he is starting to break down his defenses. When I ask him to stop and give me both eyes, which is the same as asking him to turn to the inside and change directions, only I release him to come to me. I an wanting to draw him to me as the resting place. He does that. But the moment I ask him to disengage his hindend on his right side,  he instead gives me his butt and moves off, to which I add a spanking and make him move. Then I ask him to draw to me again and do the same thing. He doesn't like me on his right side. He keeps blocking me and wanting to move off on from that side. His left side seems to be ok. I can disengage him and keep drawing his eye toward me at liberty. I am confident he will get better.
Today I also saddled him. He stood for that just fine and I moved him around. The saddle is rolly polly on him even though cinched down, because he is so fat. I am curious to find out if I will just kind of roll around him when I get on the first time.:} At any rate I moved him around and then played the squeeze game with him sending him between me and the fence several times. This exercise works on forward motion as he goes by me, then I disengage his hindquarters, when he does that he gives me both eyes, then I move his shoulders over and ask him to go forward between me and the fence again. I just repeat that several times until he is doing that real calm and smooth. Then I quit for the day. From here on out I will also saddle him each day.
So far Joey has done real well for a horse that really hasn't been handled since last fall. He is learning his ground manners and I am very happy with the progress so far.  One thing I have noticed about him too, is that his hindquarters are taller than his withers. At least, it appears to me that way.
That's it for today.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Joey day3

Sorry this is so late, after helping my daughter move, watch my granddaughter graduate from kindergarten, I now can get to recording what I did with Joey earlier this afternoon.
I got him haltered, he seemed eager to go to work, I put him in the round pen. This time, I started to ask for  disengagements. I used at shorter line for that. He is getting sharper on that. In fact, it is getting to where if he senses I want that by my body language and position he gets his hinny over.:} That is a good thing. Then I worked on some flexion both sides and desensitizing with the stick and string, or carrot stick as Parelli calls it. He still likes to move off and actually I can tell this irritates him because he tries to move into me so I make him get out of my space moving his shoulder away from me and keep up the string over his back until he stops moving. He is one I do have to get stern with in this area. Then I put him on the 22' line and lunged both directions asking for transitions up and down and asking for an inside turn and move off again. We did several figure 8's doing this. Then we worked on back ups again. Then I started putting it all together by asking him to go forward, disengage, then move his shoulders and change sides. I then decided to take him off line and ask him for walk, trot, canter and changing directions. He has no problem going in the right lead (clockwise or to my right) but he doesn't like the left lead. In fact, I found he has a hard time getting into the left lead. He most often, when going counter clockwise, would take the right lead and have trouble getting into the left lead. I am not sure why.
My goal is not to kick up alot of dust or get him all tuckered out, by doing the liberty rd pen, however, I want him to hook on tom. He would hook on when I walked to the rail and ask for a change of direction when he came around and met me with two eyes. Then at a certain point I would let him stop instead of continue with the direction change. Or just ask him to follow me. But I am sure he would not stay with me if he wasn't bound by the pen, even though he would seem to follow me. Whenever I asked him to stand and let me flog him with kindness, he wanted to move off. And if I asked for a disengagement he would move off. So we had to go round and round with this. However, I think I am able to read him pretty good, I just have to make sure I am speaking impeccably with him on my cues. He is making good improvement in my book. I also have been leading him around and making him stay in a certain position. Then I would stop and back up and today, he was reading me pretty good and we were almost moving in unison. I was pleased with that. Tomorrow, my plan is to do some quick reviews and move on to liberty in the round pen to get that hooked on more set. I also plan to do some balanced turns on center, which we already have been doing in order to change sides. Then more desensitizing, Jeffries method, and saddling. We will see what happens.
I think he is making great progress and I am learning alot myself.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Joey Day 2

I got my measuring tape out and measured my morgan mare who is 14.3 hands and 900 pounds according to my tape and she is in really good shape. Compared to Joey, I can stick my hand sideways between the tape and Raven's hide and have 2 inches left. So Joey is quite overweight.
Well, anyway, I got him in the pen with halter and 22' lead. I started to work on backing him and decided to get forward motion out of him and let him relax a little more. So I had him moving at a trot 5 laps in both directions then started asking him to change directions several more times. He was doing this pretty good so  let him stop and rest. Then I worked on lateral and vertical flexion. No problem there. He only got confused 1or 2x on each side. And I did it 10x on each side. He did real good at this. He is going to be real soft. Kathryn you did real good at working his softness. This is what will help him get into position/balance in order to be relaxed in his gait.
Then I worked a bunch on backup. He is getting better, but still to sluggish at this. But my walker is a similar way. I wonder if walkers have this issue. I have heard they do. It is like he doesn't know where to put his feet. Then I worked on disengagement of hindquarters. This went well. And as I said, I am always changing things up, paying attention to his body language and reading if he is getting mad. I could tell yesterday some of what I was doing was making him mad. He started swishing his tail and pawing with his front feet so I took that and just let him move his feet and relax. At that time I was merely flogging him with light strokes of the stick and string. He wanted to keep moving so I kept it up til he stopped. I did the same thing today, but he didn't get nearly as restless. In fact, finally, he stood still and let me do it. This is a step in getting him to stand still when saddling or mounting.
The last thing I did with him today was to have him move around the pen and work more on changing directions with flow and transitions from trot to canter. When he cantered I had him just a few steps then let him back down and stop with a disengagement and one step back and rest. We did this several times in both directions. This will also help him to not want to buck when I ask for a canter from his back. That has been part of the issue with this horse according to his owner. So tomorrow we go back and review and then take it one step farther if not more.
It has been so hot out there 87degrees today, I think. So we were both soaked. But after walking him off he was pretty relaxed with the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I forgot to give his bio yesterday. He is a 13/14 year old paint, Tennessee Walker. I measured him today as best I could>14.2 hands and obese, over 1100 pounds by my tape. I could easily depress the fat on his side 3/4 of an inch or more. Anonymous asked when he is do to foal. He kinda looks like it, but the anatomy is just not there.LOL. So today was his first day of a total equine makeover. Both in training and weight. We will see who the biggest loser is.
Wow. He is a nice mover. His gait is really smooth. After I got him in the rd pen, I had him on a rope halter and a 14' lead line. I just had him move around, lunging him at whatever pace he chose. By the way, I had no problem with forward movement with him. Which is great. He was a little anxious, so moving his feet is a really good thing to do to get him to relaxe. He wanted to trot in his gait and I just stood there and watched. He is going to be a smooth ride. I did that in both directions several times then when I saw him begin to relax let him stop and stand by me. Time for exercise #1- give to downward pressure on both sides. On a scale of 1-10 I would rate him at a 9. I barely had to have pressure on his poll and he went to the ground. I thought, Wow! This is going to be interesting. So I asked him to leave his head down. He did and there is no grass where he is at, only dirt. He did well in that so we moved to task #2.
Task #2 is lateral flexion. I would rate him initially at about 5-6. He is soft, but other things easily get his attention. So we did that 10x each side. Then I flogged him softly with the lead around his legs, back and neck. He stood pretty good, we had to go around in circles a few times, but he just was trying to figure out what to do.
Task #3 is lateral with vertical flexion. Again, I would rate him a 5-6. But after 10 x or so he was getting realy light. He got confused a time or two and wanted to move his feet so I just stayed with him until he got the right answer.
One of the things I do is to keep changing things up for him. For example, I didn't ask for those flexion 10x in a row. Instead, I would ask him 2-3x then walk him off. Then ask again from the same side and then walk him off again. I did this 3-4 x until he was real relaxed with that then move on to another task.
Task #4 was back up. This I would rate about a 1. He required intense motivation, repeatedly. So we really hammered on this. But like before I changed it up. I would ask with my body, then wiggling the rope, then really wiggling the rope, then the hitting the stick on the line, then waving it in front of him. All of these things I did several times and kept changing it up and then when he backed a step I just walked off. Then we got to a certain point where I would walk off and stop and back and let him run into my elbow. I just kept changing it up and after about 10 minutes, I think, he was doing ok. We upped it to about a 3 or 4 on the scale. One thing about all of this, just because I move on to another task doesn't mean I never go back to that task again. In fact, just the opposite, I keep reviewing.
Task #5 was disengaging the hindquarters. He was probably a 4 because I could tell he knew how to do it but he was really dull and sluggish at it. So He and the stick met a few times then we rubbed it away. After working both sides several times we began disengaging with a one step back up. Mind you he is still sluggish, making improvement in just the time that we had.
Then I just led him around the arena and began to practice all of these tasks, asking for a stop and backup, then walking off. Then stopping and asking for a disegagement and so on.
I finished with about 10 minutes or so of lunging in both directions trying to get two eyes then asking him to change directions. He was doing pretty good. We ended with a walk around the paddock outside the rd pen, a cool drink of water and a good brushing. He did well for the first day. It was about 86degrees out and we worked an hour so we were both sweaty.
It was a good first day of training. Everyday now is just building off of the previous one.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Joey is here!

Finally, the day has arrived. I picked up Joey from his home in Glenn around 9am this morning. He came right up to us and let me put the halter on. His boarder said "He thinks he's going to better pasture with his buddies." Well, in a way he is, but it isn't gonna be greener. See the pics of the paddock he is in now. Anyway, we had an uneventful loading experience. He basically walked right into the trailer and away we went. When we arrived I lunged a few minutes to let him move his feet. He was quite beside himself with his new surroundings. Then I took him in his paddock. I was leading him around the perimeter as I do any new horse here and came up with the idea, since he wanted to move so much, I would just direct his feet in what is known to Parelli and Reis people, I think, as the 'sending' and 'squeeze' game. I wanted him to know where the fence was at. So I just sent him in mini circles in one direction as we slowly rolled around the perimeter. Then we went back the other way working the other side. Finally after one time around he relaxed and went between me and the fence at a nice walk. I got to work on backing him, moving his shoulders over as well as getting some good forward motion out of him, all just because I needed to get him familiar with his surroundings. Besides, this was all his idea you know. I usually like to walk them calmly around the fence in both directions 2 or 3 times then let them go. Then I usually let them acclimate to the place for a day before I actually start working him. But he designated it a different way. Besides, I believe my relationship of training began the moment I step in his pasture when I went to pick him up. So we are starting to build a relationship.
Some may wonder why I walk them around the arena fence in both directions. You may be thinking, 'can't they see the fence?' Well, 'Yes' and 'No'. Yes they can see it, although it is an electric wire fence. But no they can't see it if another horse or something else is chasing them and they are in flight mode. They will go right through it. Also, horses are two sided, so I have to lead them on both sides so they see the fence from both sides of their bodies. Thus, I walk them around so they know exactly where the fence is at. It also gives me a chance to build a relationship of leadership with them too.
He is getting to know the other horses with a 8-10 foot alley between them. They can stand in their stalls and see each other and get a little smell to say howdy to one another. But hopefully, they will stay away from each other for the duration and Joey will settle into the routine nicely.
The plan is tomorrow to go in the round pen with a halter and lead and work on pressure and release exercises, some lunging and transitions to gain respect. Can't wait.

Joey, waiting outside his stall.

I think he likes his stall.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

its in the details

Have you ever heard that before? I have. I find it to be very true, especially with horses. I was able to work with both horses tonite 'cause Ken came over and wanted to practice on Jake. So we got out there and began to review some things. Now mind you, it has been a couple weeks since I showed ken these exercises, but he had taken notes.
He knows the backup, lateral and vertical flexion, disengagement.
Well, he started with the backup and that wasn't working so good so I had him just warm up Jake to get his feet moving and his attention on him. Then we went to lateral flexion.
I really got a glimpse of the details as I was watching Ken and correcting his speed and hand position. I can get a good flex, or backup or disengagement, because I know the details of body position, energy, direction, hand position etc. Ken is still learning these things, but he is getting it.S
So he started getting the lat flex and then the vertical flex. The difference in cue is very slight you sort of have to tweak it so that you putting just the right amount of pressure just where you need it and when and then release at just the right time.
I went fishing with a friend years ago. I thought I was a pretty good fisherman. We were fishing for bluegills. Well, he had the finesse down so much that I could hardly see his bobber move and he was able to move the line ever so slightly and catch the fish. Whereas, I couldn't finesse it that finely and missed most of the time. He caught his limit in short order the began to help me and the two others who were fishing with us.
That is the kind of 'feel' that goes into working with the horse. And once you start getting the hang of it it is alot of fun.
After he worked on the flexion then we went back to backups. He got Jake going pretty good after a few corrections from me and then he was doing a pretty good job. He just needs to practice. Ken worked on the disengagement and here is where position and energy was really noticeable. He couldn't get Jake to stand still so he could get in position to ask for a disengagement. I noticed that both his arms were raised in a more energetic posture and Jake was reading him that way. So I told him to put his arms down and exhale. Guess what happened. Jake stopped moving. Ken had light bulbs going off in his head with that one. Then he could get into position and ask for disengagement.
After that I wanted to teach him how to lunge him properly so he had to learn how to move Jake's shoulders over to get him into position to go around him in a circle. Again body position and arm position is crucial. But after a few times he got him moving. He just had to watch he didn't get ahead of the driveline. Then it was on to changing directions. With that there is moving the shoulders over, forward motion, then changing directions by sliding the correct hand down the lead and pointing in the direction, moving the shoulders over and asking for forward motion again, all this in a sweeping movement that is fluid. I had him do this several times and then it was time to quit.
It is hard to explain in this format, it is easier to show, but the details are so important.
Anyway we had a great time and the horses are better partners for it and so are we.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Keep on riding

Got another chance to mess with my horses today. I needed to trim Raven's feet. Boy, that is a tough job. I had to take about four breaks. Not that it takes a long time, but that it is hard to bend over like that and rasp, and nip, and dig with the hoof knife and then have it all flat and even and balanced. I think I am having Eric, my farrier for Jake do her next time. Then I wanted to work with Jake for an hour or so. I did some ground work on a 22' line had him walking and trotting on a circle while I stood in the center. I had him doing some leg yields and balanced turns on center. Then i took the line off and did the circle at liberty with him. He stays with me pretty good, although one time he decided to leave me. That I squashed by making him run faster for a few laps. Should be able to do that with unruly kids who want to disobey. Make 'em get busy doing something then when they start to straighten up let them have a rest. I Know a man who runs a boys home out west who does this kind of thing with the boys who would rather spend their energy acting up. So he makes 'em spend their energy until they wish they could stop. I think this sort of thing would solve the ADHD problem real fast. Anyway, back to Jake. I then started doing exercises that will lead to more liberty work. Then I hooked him up to do some ground driving with him. We did this for about 5 minutes. He did pretty good but got a little confused because I was asking him for some leg yields. I was having trouble being precise in my asking for forward rather than leg yields. But he will get better. I noticed that he was also real soft and collected up while I was driving him. I felt this under saddle too. I had him really trotting and tried some cantering, but he has the wierdest canter. It's like he doesn't know what to do with his feet while cantering. Now he does canter without me on his back and it is not too bad if I am going down the road. At any rate I was really after being buttery soft at the trot and walk. He is. Then I put him up.
I had to get my round pen back up today too, as I have a horse coming this week hopefully, and I will need it. I gotta get a place set up for a more permanent round pen.
Gotta go.  The woman of the house has got my attention.

long ride

Yesterday, I went on a long ride with Raven. My farrier had asked me to go with him and a group of his friends on a ride a couple weeks ago. So a friend of mine and I were supposed to meet them at Ely lake, about 4 miles as the crow flies, from here. However, my friend canceled. I went alone. I figured that it would take about an hour, 7 miles of riding, to get to the meeting point. So Raven and I started off at a trot, after a good warmup. I thought after an hour of steady trotting Raven might be slightly winded, we turned off the road onto the Ely lake trail and after a few minutes hooked up with my friends. A couple who were riding Tennessee walkers, A family of 5 on their horses and Eric and his wife on their horses. We doubled back on the trail I was on and headed east to Pine point/Swan Creek trail and rode a real nice trail along the bluff of the creek. As I said, I thought Raven would be somewhat winded, but these new acquaintances of hers got her energy up and she was like a cannon ready to shoot out of the gate. I took up the end of the line and had to keep turning her to keep her from riding up the butt of the horse in front of her. After about 20 minutes of this, I moved up the line and got behind the walkers. It's funny, but a horse can tell where they need to be in a line and when she got behind those walkers, she settled right down and stayed behind them. We had a real good ride and it was pleasant riding with others. When we got to the DNR office we split up. They headed back to their horse trailers at the horseman's campground and I turned south on 46th heading home. I thought I might have a time of it with her not wanting to leave the other horses, but I could sense she knew we were heading in the right direction. We continued walking a while, then she wanted to trot.So we trotted and cantered for the next 5-6 miles till we were about 3 miles from home and I let her walk. Well, let me put it this way, she didn't ask to walk, but I had her slow down. I also took the opportunity to really work on various movements, leg yields, circles, shoulders, moving the hip over etc. as we were going. I couldn't really do that on the way over because I needed to meet up with the group, but I was in no hurry to get home so that afforded me the opportunity to work on things I would normally work on in the arena. By the time we got back she was really soft, responding with vertical softness when I simply picked up the rein. All in all I figure we rode about 20 miles over the course of 5 hours and only got off 2x for a much needed potty break. I am sure she was glad to be back but I am also sure that she could have went some more with no problem. I think I might work up to going farther. I mean they do endurance rides of 25, 50 even 100 miles. I don't know why we can't. work up to at least 25.
On another note I should have 'Joey' coming this week. I just have to get the round pen back up and get the contract back and we are good to go.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

two rides in one day, wow!

Hey, I got the chance to ride both horses today. What a lucky break hey? I started with Raven. We didsome ground work at liberty. Which I might add she did pretty good at. Did some leg yields away and toward me. I have really been just refining my relationship with her. We did this for 30 min. on the ground then I got on and we started, as usual, with flexing and then backed a few steps without use of rein. Then, of late, I have been just moving her forward without any contact on the rein and just warm her up at a walk, then a trot, then a canter on a loose rein and stopping on loose rein. Then I start to get lateral and vertical flexion because I am warming up to trying to get the hips to move over easily with forward motion and vertical flexion so I can make my attempts at getting a haunches in. So we did some walk trot canter transitions with vertical flexion and did some tear drop exercises for shoulder control. I am just isolating each zone of the body from the others and moving them where I want. So finally, we got to the exercises attempting to get a haunches in. I think I got it a couple times going to the right but couldn't get it going to the left. She just kept wanting to speed up when I put my leg on her to move the hip over.Haunches in is like a car two tracking. You know the front end going on one track while, becaue the frame has been bent the hind end of the car follows another track. So it is with the horse. The front feet follow one track while the hind feet follow a slightly offset track. To get this the hind feet have to be real soft to move over and the front feet have to stay forward with the head vertically shaped to the inside of the bend. Thus the horse is moving in the direction of the open side of the C shape. This is called 'into the bend' whereas the easier movement to get is going away from the bend of the C. Anyway our time was almost up so I took the time to ask her to kneel several times and wouldn't let it count as a kneel unless she relaxed enough to let me stand up and wait five seconds then I let her up. My goal here is to be able to have her kneel and then I get on then ask her to get up.
Well on to Jake. he did real well I worked at liberty for a few minutes first, his choice, cause he didn't want to catch me. So I made him move his feet until he concluded he would be able to rest if he came and stood by me. That by the way is the secret to finidng peace and rest in life. Get close to God and when the trouble comes, the pressure of life is poured on you, just lean in to Him. Take His yoke upon you and He will give you rest. At least that is what Jesus says, Matthew 11:28-29. Anyway, Jake didn't take long before he decided he had enough of running if he didn't have to. So I saddled him while he stood nice and quiet. I did some ground work on a 22' line then at liberty, asking for change of directions, balanced turns on center, leg yields, and so on. Then it was time to Ground drive him. No mind you, Jake doesn't like things behind him so I was ready for a slight bit of kicking up of the dust, but low and behold he was better than Raven was. He did real good, went vertically soft right away, was doing leg yields and turns. Stopped pretty soft in my hands. So I worked at this about 10 min. Then wnet to riding him. While I was putting the bridle on and getting ready to ride, I thought to myself I should have the lady I am training a horse for next week ride Jake cause he doesn't buck. At least, he has never bucked on me. He bucked on my brother Mike before, but that was because his hat came off and the stampede string caught on his collar making the had float behind him like an out of control kite and Jake took to doing a running buck. But Mike stayed with him like a good hand. Then he also bucked once on my son in law when his wife handed him a coat. But Josh came off in well under the 8 second rule. That was years ago. Well, I got on and as with Raven was riding on a loose rein and decided to dare him to buck with my hat mimicking what Mike's did. Guess what, he called my bluff and took to bucking right off. It was a comical sort of thing though, I got a slight rein to bend him a little and let him continue to buck, even daring him to. I kept it up with the hat until he settled down. Then I did it on the other side, because a horse is two sided. Anyway, then I went to asking for softness and did some trotting on him. By that time our time was up and we quit.
What a great ride time though.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ducks on a mission

The other day I was walking Brecht down the road. We were on our way back from our two mile walk. There is a certain place where ducks choose to reside. I say choose because they are free to waddle where they may. There is three of them. One is a Malard, the other two are females and it is funny because that Malard corrals his girls. It had rained pretty good that day so the roadside was full of puddles. Well, when we were coming back by their residence, I saw those three ducks satcheting as fast as they could toward the road. I mean they were moving as fast as their webbed cushions could move them. Kinda reminded me of someone whereing flippers at the beach trying to run. It is a funny sight to see. Well these three were moving so fast, I knew they were making a bee-line for only one place, the puddle.
Now when I was a kid, puddles were my thing too. I never let a puddle pass where I didn't think it deserved a good waddin'. Reminds me of the time a girl pushed me in a puddle one morning on the way to school. Surely, I wasn't doin nuthin' to her, she just hauled off and pushed me from behind and I landed face first in the dirty water. Well, I couldn't go to school like that so I thought it was my way out of school. Grandma would have none of it nor my explanation. She knew I wasn't a puddle jumper by no stretch of the imagination. To my recollection I got a good scolding and still had to go to school.
Back to the ducks. I just had to stop Brecht, as I chuckled to myself, and watch and see which puddle they were going to and if my thinkin' was right. Sure enough, they went directly to the biggest puddle and started waddin' and slurpin' muddy water. No here's the thing. I thought surely they would sit down and have a bath of sorts, kinda spend some time in the duck spa. But no, that Malard drove them, or led those two girls up and out of that puddle and over the edge of the road like they were on a mission. Reminds me of another male proclivity. That is we men have to get where we are goin'. No stops for pleasure and sight seein'. We gotta get there. Short potty breaks only, right? Well, I guess he had somewhere he was a goin' because they didn't even hardly stop to enjoy the water.
After that, I prompted Brecht it was time to continue, enough of a rest stop, we gotta get going and accomplish our mission.
Sometimes I can be like that with horses. I gotta get where I want to go in the training agenda. I am on a mission and I refuse to let anything get in my way, even a thousand pound horse. Trouble is, that is when things start to go awry. So just as when I am on a trip with Sharon, I have to stop and let her have a potty break, in horse lingo that means I have to take a step back and slow down. Give them and me a chance to process the task at hand what is being accomplished and what isn't. With horses, slower is faster, accomplishing one step in a movement and then taking a break is better than trying to ask for 5 or 6 steps or even as little as 2 steps. It might be that I only look for a try, a muscle movement in the right direction before releasing the pressure and giving them a break. It all depends on the place we are at in the training as well as their attitude at the time.  Come to think of it that is the way it is with Sharon and I. I stop when she tells me too and I better have the right attitude about it or else. In fact, here she comes now wanting to go somewhere so I better get off here and hurry her to the next watering hole.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Work with the horse

Finally, got to work my horses last night. I had the vet out to check Jake's leg lameness. I thought it was the right hind and discovered that it was the right front knee. Go figure. I guess if his head bobs it is the front leg not the hind. He is a little sore in that hock, but not like the knee. Doc Brown did a test on his knee and it showed sore because Jake did some dancing to get away from him. But when he tested the left knee in the same way, it didn't bother Jake at all. I guess when you are a 19 year old horse you tend to get arthritis in the joints. So now it is going to be some joint supplements and liniment when I ride. Surprising thing is that when he is playing around he seems to be just fine.
He and Raven had their shots and coggins and a once over. No major problems at all.
So I got to play with both of them later. Jake I took through his paces doing several exercises with him and he did well at them. I think my next step is to move him into level three work and do some ground driving.
Raven I worked mostly at liberty with. I am learning to be a lot softer in my cues and more demanding in my expectations with her. It is fun refining our relationship and seeing how subtle I can be and still get the right response from her. We did several mounted exercises, but I still can't get the haunches in. I think I am missing some component or just not trying long enough. So I will have to get Jaime to school me on this. I am still working toward riding at liberty too, but there is just not enough time in each session to get everything done. Anyway at the end of it all I had her kneel several times and stay down longer at least 5 seconds after she relaxed and I stood up. When she gave me that one time I quit and put her up. I got to work with her not against her.
That is a lesson we all need to learn isn't it. To work with whatever it is a piece of wood if you are a wood worker or metal, or a seamstress, etc.
It is the same with any relationship to work with the other person rather than against them. The old two legged gunnysack race is a good example of what happens when you work together or at odds with each other. It is the same in my relationship with the Lord too. If I work with Him; with what He is trying to do in my life or the situtation, then things go much smoother. A ship at sea in full sail makes faster and smoother progress going with the wind than against it. It works that way with horses too.
So whatever your situation, make sure you are working with them or it in such a away as to make the most progress. It might take more time, but you will go faster in the end.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

ground work

I thought I better get this posted before I forget. Yesterday I had another opportunity to get out and work with Raven before church time. I was planning on going through some of the ground school and round pen tasks in the 3rd and fourth levels, but didn't make it all the way. I started doing some things with the 22' line then moved to liberty work. We did good but I was trying to get her to stick with me at the trot and she kept wanting to leave me so I made her go and then gave her opportunities to come back to me and she did. I am picking up on the little details that tell me she is still braced or not really wanting to join me so I move her away again. In the end though she wanted to stay with me. I had planned to do some riding, but the time got away from me only had time for the ground work. That was fine, though, because I just want to refine my relationship with her more and more. The problem is having the time to get out there and work with her.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I am presently sitting on my back porch while it is raining. It is getting kinda cool so my fingers feel like they do when they have been cold in the winter. You know stiff and slow moving. Come to think of it that is what I am in the morning when I get up. Have you ever thought about your horse having the same problem? That is why I always work slow with my horse in the beginning of a play session. I want to warm her up like an athlete does, but I also want to check her attitude and get her attention focused on me rather than on what else is out there. So the moment she sees me we are making a connection.
Last night I was able to work on the 22' line for a time going through some exercises. Then I did some liberty work with her she is hooking on me nicely. Then under saddle we did a lot of work on softness and moving her butt over. I am trying to get a haunches in but if the hind end won't move real slippery like then it can't be done. So we did a lot of work on that. I have to up the intensity though I am certain. We have hit a plateau that somehow needs to be broken and reach new heights in our connection. I can visualize how to do get the haunches in but I can't work it out physically. I might have to get my instructor here to help me with this one. I am also trying to get to the point where I can ride at liberty without bridle, but I still have several tasks to accomplish before that will happen. All this just takes time. I worked on kneeling with her at the end of the session. She relaxed and I could have stepped on her but instead opted to end the session with that.
It was fun, relaxing and calming, though we did have a few moments where she decided bracing was the best answer. So I had to work that out of her before we quit. Her head was in my hands at the end though in a nice relaxing way. Maybe today we will get a chance to play again before church.

Monday, May 3, 2010

good weekend

Well, I have had a great weekend. I got to attend, auditing of course, a Parelli clinic not far from home. It was with Jesse Peters a Parelli instructor. I enjoyed the lessons and friends. I learned too that the tasks or games as they call them are somewhat the same that I already know. I do need more refinement though. I had to work on some of the tasks on Raven last night when I had the opportunity. I did the tasks with her. Then today I was able to spend the day at the clinic and then came home and worked with Raven again. I am working on the 22' line which I didn't do much work with in the past except for driving. But I did use it in the past for driving. So I got out there this evening and worked with her on the long line. Then I worked with her at liberty and again as I related in past blogs. Raven is doing real good as far as I am concerned. She sticks with me most of the time and makes me look good. I am also working hard on getting her kneel better so that if I want to I can mount her from the kneeling position. I am still trying to get a haunches in, but its not happening yet.
Anyway it is always a good day if I can work with the horses a little each day. I gotta move on to some other tasks this evening so gotta go.