Thursday, November 21, 2013


Today was Jake's day to workout with me. I wanted to try to go through as many of the intermediate exercises that I could do with him. There are 34 of them. So we got off to a calm start. I went through all of the ground work exercises. Some of them he needs work on, but he could do them. The last one which is bridle bending is the one that we need the most work on. That is where I use the rein and have him circle me while I bend his nose down and walk him around me. He is supposed to be bent around me and get soft with his poll lower than his withers while moving forward on the circle. He is real good at this on the right side, but the left side is much stiffer. Once he does that softly then I am to move his shoulder over while he is soft and bent. So his shoulder moves away from me. We didn't do this part because we were just starting to work on the bending. I will probably do that tomorrow with him. The last part of that is to YH and then back him up. He will do that with softness. Anyway by the time I got to that exercise we had already worked an hour. Then it was time to ride him. I was able to get through the first 12 exercises of the 17 in the riding section and that was not going through them with a lot of work on each one. He clearly needs more work. By the time we got to this point were we were doing some serpentines we had been riding for an hour. So that was a two hour workout with him. I had planned on working with him then moving on to Raven. But not enough time. I worked with Raven yesterday getting as far as I could. She does well too. I think Jake is better in some things than Raven.
I am planning on applying for a spot on Clinton Anderson's program to go to his ranch and have him work with me on the intermediate exercises. I have to make a video of me going through all 34 exercises in the level and then send that in. He will pick several people to come to his ranch for that purpose. So I am going to give it a shot.
That means I gotta get this down.

Monday, November 18, 2013

In tune

Last Friday, opening day of deer season, I was sitting in my tree stand and, as often happens, my mind drifted to thinking about God and then horses. I was pondering my relationship with my relationship with my own horses. You see, I have often read and heard about having a relationship with the horse that is so close that it is as if the horses feet are merely an extension of my feet. In other words, that we move as one, whether on the ground or in the saddle. As I was thinking on this I gave thought to whether I want to be in tune with the horse, or the horse in tune with me. These may appear to be the same thing, but not so. If my goal is to be in tune with the horse then the horse, in a sense is in control. It is about the horse, that everything I do is an attempt to get to know the horse better so I can move as one with him. On the other hand, if my goal is to get the horse in tune with me, then it is about what I want, where I want to go and to do. Now, here is the way I see it. Pardon me if I get a little preachy here. God has created us. He desires a relationship with us, not because He needs us or is in some way incomplete without us, but because we need Him. In fact, we do not naturally seek after God, according to the Bible, Romans 3:11. So God selects out of the mass of humanity and does things in our lives to irritate us enough so that we will look to Him for rest and leadership. He is not trying to become in tune with us. He already knows all there is to know about us. He made us. What He is trying to do is to get us in tune with Him: to think and do what He wants us to do. Now that is exactly what I have come to the conclusion of, although it has been my view for years, just couldn't put it down. So my point is that I want to get the horse to be in tune with me what I think and do and where I want to go. That means that I do have to know the horse in general and my horse I am working with in particular. I have to know what I want to do at the moment: I want to walk forward -how can I best get the horse to do that with me; I want to move to my right but the horse is in the way - how do I get him to move over in such a way we are moving as one?. The same thing works under saddle. I know it is not that simple. But each thing has to be broken down, just like when you learned to tie your shoe. It had to broken down into manageable little steps. After those steps had been practiced with enough efficiency you no longer actively thought about each step you just did them and it became a habit so that now tying your shoe is second nature. The same with each movement of the horse. You must know what you want to do then break it down into manageable little steps and practice, practice, practice with enough efficiency that your horse is reading your mind. That is a little bit of what I think horsemanship is all about. Have a good day.
Oh, by the way, I did work with Raven today. Though I didn't ride her. I only had a little bit of time so I worked her at liberty. It all started when I was working on setting some posts for my arena. I wanted to just walk up to her and rub on her as she was nearby. But she took off on me. Now I cannot allow that to go without recourse, so I walked after her, not mad or anything. But when she stopped and gave me two eyes I backed off. Then walked up to her as she stood and I rubbed on her as I intended. Then I decided that since I couldn't ride today, I would work her at liberty just a short time. So I asked for lateral flexion then I asked for YH. She was real soft so I asked for more steps then a YF and a backup. She did all of this without any touching or connection other than she was tuned in to me. Then I did some intermediate exercises like touch and rub where with slightest pressure of fingertips she lowers her head or moves hindquarters or forequarters. She did real good here too. Then I asked for Leg Yield toward me and she did that on both sides. It was working real good. I only played with her for about 10 minutes and then released her. I loved it and she then followed me for a while on her own.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Last couple rides

The last couple of days I have had really good rides on my horses. Monday was Jake in the rain. Still we had a good lesson. I am noticing that I am getting much softer in my whole approach and not so 'git-r-don' attitude. My entire methodology has been getting a makeover as I am attempting to be more soft inside myself. Tuesday and Wednesday was Raven time. She is doing so well too. I have been working a lot on bending transitions with both of them and have noticed much more softness in their bend which means the are softer all the way through their tail. Then when I pick up the rein to ask for softness they more willingly give it to me. It is quite fun to work at getting their feet to be my feet and so when I think I want to move a certain way and then move through the steps to get their it takes hold and we make that move. Like tying your shoe. When you first learned there was all these steps to go slowly through until it was tied. But after much consistent practice now you can do it in the dark and blindfolded just by feel. I read something about Buck that struck me. He was in the arena putting on a clinic and he was astride his horse with eyes closed just listening to the rhythmic foot falls of the horses and he could tell when there was a bit of a dust up about to happen because the rhythm of the feet changed. Now that is horsemanship. So here I am trying to become one, in a sense, with the horse I am riding at the time. Trying to get the movement I want without any more bother than when I want to pick up my right foot to step forward. Or if the horse is a little bothered to help them find the center where there is peace. Sometimes that takes a little helpin', if you know what I mean. Jake and had that seemingly soft feel today as I approached him and then stroked him. I have taken to stroking rather than patting my horses just to be softer with them. We went through several exercises and then I saddled him tried to scare him with a plastic bag, but he has been through it so much that it doesn't seem to phase him. In the riding part, we worked on bending with transitions, yield and bend, and pole to pole. All of which incorporate him rating my seat and getting soft from his nose to his tail and there was no irritation with having to trot. He just moved real nice. I also was just working on putting his feet individually where I want them with my own leg pressure. He does pretty good at sidepassing too. I think the next thing we need to start working on is the cloverleaf exercise. It shouldn't be but another couple weeks and we will be working on advanced stuff. I lost track of exactly what day I am on with these guys since I have not been able to ride them both each day, but I think we must be around day 35 or so. Maybe a few days on past that. It sure is fun.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Exercise list.

I was able to work with Raven this evening for about an hour. I am working very easy, calmly with them attempting to keep them in a calm state of mind throughout the lesson. I am getting real good results with the groundwork there are still a few in the Intermediate I need to go over yet, but I need to watch some videos of them to see exactly what is expected. Here is a list of the GW exercises. my horses know all but a couple: 1. Changing sides, this is where I stand still and I move the horse so that I am on one side of him then the other by using the slightest pressure. 2. Run up and rub-the horse stands still and I am maybe 10-15 feet away and I run up to any part of their body with them standing still. I even wave my hand, hat, make noise etc. 3. Desensitize to plastic bag 4. slap and tap -anywhere on their body with them being bothered 5. changing eyes - moving their feet and change eyes I am connected to. 6. touch and rub-nose poll and forequarters- this gets them to move with the slightest pressure 7. Out back-back them out to end of lead rope and then invite them back 8. C pattern -I send them around me, then YH and YF and back in front of me and repeat back and forth like a C shape 9. Throw to a stop -Horse is being lunged and I toss the lead rope over their back until they stop 10. sidepassing on fence - my horses don't need the fence 11. Leading behind - this is where the horse stays behind you at whatever gait you are at and they stay with you, even backing up. 12. Turn and go -this is where you throw lead over their head and over their butt and they follow the pressure of the lead and turn and go in the other direction 13. Circle driving transitions - this is lunging up close and they can change directions with smooth flow 14. Line driving 1 - not sure what this is, though my horses line drive 15. circle driving transitions on long line - have not tried this yet. 16. Bridle bending forward around, YH, YF and backup. All but 14, 15 my horses do pretty good. In the riding part 1. vertical flexion at walk, mine do 2. cloverleaf - this is the pattern I do at trot and canter. I worked on this with Raven tonight. She is getting better at it. 3. Yield hindquarters and bending -this is the transition from YH to bending where the horse moves in a circle bent around my leg. Raven and Jake do all these and more. I will list the other exercises next time. Raven had a good lesson tonight though. We make good progress every time we work out. With the darkness coming earlier though it is getting harder to have the time to work with them. I still have another 30 days of my training cycle I want to go through in order to get through the advanced level work.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

bending and cloverleaf

The last two days I have gotten some riding in with Raven and Jake. I have been mainly working on some bending exercises with both of them. This gets them to be soft from head to tail because they are bending around my inside leg with softness. I do it at the walk first then move up to a trot and walk. The way I do it is to pick up the inside rein and bend their head, adding my calf/spur and asking them to keep their head/neck bent with softness until I release it. They are also to be following their nose around the circle. When I move up to the trot or canter and ask for this I first sit deep in the saddle as a cue to slow down and then pick up the rein and add my leg. This gets them to start to listen to my seat and leg. I walk them in a few circles like this with softness then go on another 20-30 feet and do it again. Another exercise I have been working on is the cloverleaf. I basically ride a cloverleaf pattern. This helps the horse to follow his nose again and also follow my seat as I bend in the direction of the cloverleaf. Many of the exercises in the intermediate we know, both GW and riding, but I am trying to refine things enough to move on to the next set. However, when I only have about 20 minutes of riding by the time I get through my GW it doesn't make for very rapid progress. Not to mention that rain we have been getting. I don't like to get the horses all hot and sweaty if it is raining out too, especially with it getting cold. The last thing I want is a sick horse. So I am on about day 28 with these guys, since I often have to alternate ride days. But the key is that we are making progress and are becoming the better for it.