FOCUS gives you FEEL. FOCUS and FEEL give you TIMING. FOCUS, FEEL, and TIMING give you BALANCE.

The Responsibilities

  • For the Human
  • 1. Don't act like a predator
  • 2. Have an independent seat
  • 3. Think like a horse
  • 4. Use the natural power of focus
  • For the Horse
  • 1. Don't act like a prey animal
  • 2. Maintain gait
  • 3. Maintain direction
  • 4. Look where you're going

The Principles

  • 1. Horsemanship is natural
  • 2. Don't make or teach assumptions
  • 3. Communication is two or more individuals sharing and understanding an idea
  • 4. Horses and humans have mutual responsibilities
  • 5. The attitude of justice is effective
  • 6. Body language is the universal language
  • 7. Humans teach horses, horses teach humans
  • 8. Principles, purpose, and time are the tools of teaching

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29, 2010

After a traveling weekend (to the Columbus Ohio PARELLI event!!!), I got to sneak in a couple of hours with Sonny this morning. He came to me in the pasture, but I was within 20 ft of him before he noticed me. But, he did come willingly to me. We played mostly inside, last session of 7 on 4 feet on Pedestal !! I tried figure 8 at the trot, and he gave me a half way decent one, and several not so decent tries,,but I marked it as teaching session #1. Weave at walk/trot is going nicely-this was session #3 ,and it's improving, getting quite nice, I can see that he's getting the pattern of it. He gets the figure 8 pattern at the walk really well, but it hasnt' clicked with him on the trot. how interesting.
Today was session #3 on level 2 trailer patterns. I also asked him in, and got all 4 feet, but he was skeptical and didnt stay in long. I ended after a nice 2 feet in with calm attitude,,,lots of praise and called that task quits for the day.
We did bounce ball on horse, he's calm on the right side,and a tad skeptical on the left, but tolerates it with only minimal drifting.
We played some on the 45 ft line , I was super clutzy with it today, and I had difficulty getting him to make a circle, he made half or quarter attempts, then would change direction on his on. I did get a few complete circles, and did get the canter a couple of times, sometimes snitty, sometimes calm.
Completed session #3 on hold up a foot with ss.
Worked on change of direction at trot =this was teaching session #4, he's getting better, no arguing today, he's getting the idea,,,still have to wiggle the rope, or wiggle string for a slight slow down first when he's going to the right.
He pushed the ball several feet with his nose, gotta work on with his chest, I guess.
I seem to be always too tired to do obstacles, just seems like too much thinking involved. Maybe I need to plot a course ahead of time , and do that first.
Of note, on the 4 feet on pedestal, I got it from a further distance, about 4-5 feet away, which isnt much, but is a change,,usually I'm right at the pedestal.
He won't send thru the shower curtain, but will lead thru.
I've been working without my check list, just looking at it and checking after the session. I need to USE it DURING the session. duh, Fay.

Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often.
I inadvertantly got into a very predatory stance, crouching as turning to ask for a change of direction, can't figure out why, but I leaned toward him and it really freaked him out for a few seconds, I felt like a JERK. When he reacted-tossed his head and kicked-I immediately realized what I'd done, and couldn't blame him for seeing me as a predator, big time, but I also felt that I had to send a coil to let him know the kicking is NOT EVER acceptable. It smoothed over very quickly, he calmed and I asked him in for scratches and reassurance, then all was well for the rest of the session. He took off in a hard canter once on the 45' line, but no buck or kick.
I watched L4 liberty today, and I'm confused about change of direction. Pat shows and says to turn with the horse for change of direction, but the other dvd in the vault shows him turning against the horse for a change of direction. Maybe it doesnt matter which way you turn, as long as it gives the horse the message that something (a cue) is coming. ????
Anyhow, I'm inspired to have another libery session with Sonny and see how much of L4 we can do, I think most. However, also confusing , the pattern dvd shows a L2 for liberty, and contains tasks in L3 that arent taught till L4 in the new levels. I wish they'd make sure the levels and the patterns (also task lists) all continually match, it's confusing and would be (is somewhat) frustrating except that I plan to complete all 4 levels anyway, so I want to do/learn it all anyhow.
Be patiently persistent in the proper position.


Friday, June 25, 2010

June 24, 2010

Finally had a chance to go to the barn, only for a short session, but it's been almost 2 weeks since I've been. Work schedule is a cruel taskmaster, plus family reunion was last weekend.

Had a very good session! Sonny popped right up on both pedestals like he's been doing it all his life. Not a stumble or even requiring a second try-even on the taller/smaller topped pedestal.

Also, change of direction at the trot is getting considerably better. On a left circle, it's good enough to be moved to the 7 session list. Not quite there yet on a right circle, but he's turning much better. It takes a little wiggle of the rope to get him to pay attention, but then he does come toward me and give me two eyes, and does change direction when I ask with the rope. On a left circle, he was starting to turn even before I lifted the rope to suggest the new direction. Nice!

The big trailer was out, so we were able to do L2 trailer pattern with the small trailer. Still good on that.

Bouncng the big green ball on him, and holding up a foot with SS for 30 secs went very well.
I was melting in the heat--triple digit heat index, so did very little stick to me at trot-I was too hot to even keep it up and try to correct. He didnt pick up the trot inside, but he did stop and back from the walk fairly well. Going toward the pasture for turn out, he picked up the trot--not on a rail/wall, and did stop and back up nicely. He gave me a fabulous savvy unhaltering with hardly a cue from me. Good boy!

Here's my current list from memory--the actual crumpled,sweat soaked-now dried-paper is in the car. I'm getting ready to leave in an hour for the Parelli across America stop in Columbus, Ohio-so kinda in a hurry. Sooooo excited !

7 session list

4 feet on pedestal--#6

hold up a foot with SS-3

travelling circles-3

L2 trailer-2


weave at trot-2

stick to me at trot-3

sideways with rail-3

I'm leaving things off, cant' think of them,,,will correct another time.

PS he didnt come to me, but allowed me to approach and put his nose in the halter.

L is working on a lesson with a 2* PP for a group of us, M has a playdate planned for the 10th.

Slow and right beats fast and wrong.


Monday, June 14, 2010

June 12, 2010

The oppressive heat impacted our session. Heat index was 104. I took multiple breaks the 4 hrs I was at the barn, and offered Sonny water each time. We played mainly with 4 feet on pedestal, change of direction at trot, undemanding time, bounce ball on horse, pick up soft canter on cue/circle,,,oh, and sideways facing the trailer-side and back. I had planned on more, but had to adjust because of the temp. and humidity.
4 feet on pedestal: Sonny has this nailed, even on the taller, smaller pedestal. A foot slipped and he came off/fell off rather clumsily, but readily tried again when I asked him, after getting his footing back. Good boy!
Change of direction at trot: Getting it, but it's still pretty ugly at times. Still noticeably better going right. Betweeen last session and this one, I gave it some thought and decided that the keys to success which must be missing are knowledge,technique, and support. Inadvertently, I ran accross a video in the SC vault that was helpful. I was browsing the liberty self assessment video and watching Pat do change of direction at liberty, made me lick and chew. He turned against the horse's direction in a crouched position for about a quarter of a circle then ran backwards, still crouched. Watching it, I could almost feel the draw from his bent inward belly button to the horse. I'd never seen that particular technique before. ahhhh, new twist on technique, new knowledge, support received. So, with what I had already thought to do, and this new approach, I was getting better success. Sonny is still bracy and somewhat oppositional, but I was getting a change of direction most of the time. He did argue about it a few times, and he did ignore all cues(opposition?) and just keep going a few times, but by the end of the session, I believe he was clearly getting it. Maybe playing more intentionally with the draw in some yo-yo's will help ,too,,although I thought/think my draw at yo-yo is good, quite good, actually....hmmmm
undemanding time: this is probably way over due, esp since he has not been coming to me or letting me approach him in the pasture. Today, he stopped and winny'ed at me on the first whistle, then turned and trotted away to the far pasture. I went back to the barn and retried after 20-30 mins. He turned away and trotted off when I tried to approach. Retreat to the barn for another 20 mins, went to the far pasture ignoring him, and found a big rock to sit on. Tried to outlast him, hoping he would get curious and come to that side of the field. He didn't. Neither did any of them. But, he did let me approach , and accepted a cookie and the halter. In the indoor area with the undemanding time, he did come to me , after a bit, and nuzzed around , prob mostly looking for treats, but he hung by me for a bit, then left,,and came back another time.
Bounce ball off horse: While at liberty, before rehaltering after the undemanding time, on a whim I started bouncing the ball and for the first time, I was able to bounce it high enough without him stepping away to try bouncing the ball ON him. He was slightly skepical, but allowed in on both sides, even rolling it completely over his back and off the other side. Adding this to the 7 session list. yay!
Pick up soft canter:continues to improve, especially to the right (no surprise here), not only picked up a soft canter with a soft/medium expression, but went 3 complete laps , then I asked him to transition down to trot, he did that within 2-3 strides. very nice. To the left, he picked up a not so soft, but not snotty-bronco horse style- canter, but wouldnt maintain direction beyond a quarter of a circle unless I caught him just before he did a quick change of direction on his on, and drove/asked him to continue. Most of the time he was faster than me. I don't think I ever got a complete lap to the left. Next time, maybe I'll continue to drive beyond the first quarter of the circle before I go into neutral and see what happens.
Trailer: surprise opportunity to work on L2 online trailer pattern of sideways. The small trailer was gone out, so there was room enough on one side of the bigger trailer to sideways down the side (facing the trailer), accross the back, then back again all the way up the side. There wasn't room to go up the other side like the pattern actually requires, though. Sonny did so good, only hesitated a bit when he had to make the corner each way, and since we've never done any sideways with that kind of maneuver, I was very pleased at how well we did overall. In spite of the far side being unavailable, I'm chalking that one up as session 1 on the L2 trailer pattern!! yay! cause I know we've done the back of trailer squeeze many times. Wonder when I'll get that opportunity again??
I was a little bit dissappointed that I didn't get to work my entire plan for the session, but by 9pm I was very tired, and there wasnt a dry stitch on me anywhere. Sonny seemed to fare better than me. He never worked up a lather even with a lot of trotting and some canter. He was dark with sweat in areas, but not lathered. I did do a whole lot indoors-covered, and didn't go to the roundpen untill the sun was very low in the sky--not so brutal. Of interest, I'm noticing how well his back, just in front of the croup is muscling up,,he has a much better topline than he had 6 months ago when I did the hill therapy with him. He got some better immediately, but most of the improvement has been over time, and I can't help but think it's to do with the fact that we are playing more consistently with the higher gaits since my course in April, and he is relearning how to use his muscles more effectively. I can't tell if his head is nodding down at the trot yet, it definately used to nod upwards,,,,need someone else to play with him so that I can watch him all the way around the circle with him relaxed and not feeling driven.

Knowledge, technique, and support are availalbe somewhere!! just look, ask...
I've written to a PP to schedule a semi-private lesson in freestyle !!


Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7, 2010

Crummy ending to a crummy day. Drove the 45 mins to the barn, and Sonny didn't want to play. I went to the pasture 3 times and he didn't come to me. I even walked almost to him, and he walked AWAY. He's only done that 3 times in the 2 years that i've owned him, and the other 2 times I had done something to really tick him off (in his opinion) in the session prior. So, I'm wondering wasssup ??? Hmmmmmm, the only things I can come up with are that #1 the last session and this time were in the evening,,,,does the grass taste sweeter in the evening and he just rates grazing over playtime with me/cookies ?? cause I've noticed that none of the horses are coming to me except good ol Justin and donkey Jasper, but usually some others come to greet me....... #2. I've become more focused so far as having a plan of how our play will go , these last 2 sessions,,and especially today. Could he feel my focus and it felt too much like direct line thinking to him? I mean, I really had a PLAN, even had stuff written down for the first time ever. Of course, I knew it had to be flexible,, play with the horse that shows up, etc....but ya can't play with a horse who doesnt show up. :(
Chances are slim to none that I'll be able to go to see him tomorrow, and then it's back to work, and no barn time possible untill the weekend. Meanwhile, to work on my horsemanship, I'll read SC forum, maybe watch the pattern dvds.
Play with the horse that shows up. *sigh*

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June 5, 2010

Recently instructor C asked a group of us via email : "what can you do today to improve your horsemanship?" I love that question and it's especially meaningful on a day like today when I'm unable to go to the barn.

Today I'm hopefully improving my horsemanship by reflecting on my most recent sessions- what went well, what needs improvement, what jewel of a moment I may have not appreciated at the time. Then, if I can, later today I'll find dvd's or information on the savvy club vault to help me problem solve.

Hmmmmmmmmm, some additional thoughts on yesterday's session that I didn't include in the post: I need to work on my FOCUS. In order to use the natural power of focus, I need to have much better focus. I feel that Sonny is becoming more of a partner with me, and he, at times, is really trying to tune in to me, and I need to help that take place by being much more aware of my focus. Yesterday, I realized that I was looking at the ground when asking him to go forward with me. I was thinking of what to work on next instead of being in the moment. From here on, I intend to majorly improve my focus!

Change of direction at the trot is broken. Session before last, he was doing consistently well on a right circle, and not so great-but doing it- on a left circle. Yesterday, I could hardly get a change of direction at the trot in either direction. Once yesterday, on a right circle, he showed opposition reflex and argued about it to the point I chose to use a phase 4 to correct him and finally get the change. The only things that I have thought of to fix this are focus and timing. Next session , I will begin to THINK of the ask for change of direction as he comes past my off shoulder, then begin to LEAN backwards (before actually moving backwards) as he gets to 10 oclock, then I am going to avoid pulling suddenly on the halter as I move backwards, just a few seconds hesitation may be enough for him to anticipate what's happening (before what happens) and respond correctly instead of getting high headed and oppositional. Can't wait to try it!

Once we get the change of direction at trot fixed, then back to the figure 8 at trot!

Weave at the trot ,I believe , will be improved if I ask (and get) Sonny to slow his trot as we go along. I'm having a hard time keeping us together, and he's getting a little unconfident. It's working, but can get lots better.yeah!

Our bring-in from circle online works great, so it was a mystery to me why it didn't work at all at liberty. I turned all the way around with him, leaning and looking at his rump, and he just kept going, in fact, got a little head up/uncofident with a harder look in his eyes, going a tad FASTER. how interesting. I finally turned my back to him, and that got him to soften and come in. Obviously, he's feeling too much pressure, but I can't yet figure out why. hmmmm, I wonder if online he feels a pull on the halter that I don't even know I'm delivering ,,and that's missing at liberty. Wonder if actually watching the L4 liberty dvd would help. Duh, Fay!! why did I try circle game at liberty BEFORE watching or reading any instruction? because I assumed (yikes!!-dont make assumptions) that things that are working great online should work at liberty. Now, I'm eager to seek information and tips on this one.

Two jewels that I didn't think a lot about at the time yesterday: on the circle Sonny had the best arc in his body that I think I've ever gotten from him. Aso, his nose/attention was slightly inward. The best yet!! It was in the roundpen, which , I'm sure made all the difference, ,,but maybe it can become a habit that will transfer to when we play outside of the roundpen.

When asking for 4 feet on the pedestal, I needed to realign him for the approach, and I was hot, sweaty and getting tired, so impulsively, instead of walking him away and back, or even yo-yoing him back,, with me in front of him and the pedestal between us,,,,I leaned sideways and stepped over myself while rolling the carrot stick in a circular motion toward his ribs and he took one step sideways which lined him right up where I wanted him. I blew right past that yesterday, as I was concentrating on 4 feet on the pedestal, that I think about it...that was huge. He stuck to me/mimiced the shape of my body by arcing his in the same way and crossing over his feet the same way. Huge!!

Issues: patterns that I haven't figured out how to do or how to work on: L2 trailer pattern is impossible the way the trailers are parked right now, and I hate to ask for any of them to be moved since I cant do it myself with my vehicle and V is always so busy doing all that she has to do at the barn every day...L is rarely there the same time as me, and I hate to infringe on her time with B horse to move her trailer out for ME to play around it. Need to think some more on this one.

L2 push the ball--Sonny pushes it great-but with his nose not his chest/legs. Instructor K at the course said it didnt' matter, but I wonder ...the dvd shows with chest/legs. She's probably right,,but it bugs me still.....

L2 obstacle course--ok, so I can't have one as inclusive as on the dvd, I can't continue to let that stop me from this pattern!! I can set up an obstacle course , watch the dvd, and start working on it!! gotta do it !!

OK, got a game plan to keep working on all the L2 patterns, (got the handy dandy worksheets and my blog list of 7 sessions ---2 great tools to keep me progressive) and I need to recheck the L2 self assessment tasks and make sure I'm on track with them.

Keeping things positive, progressive, and natural,

PS I think this blogging thing may be way more helpful to me on my Parelli Natural Horsemanship journey than I ever thought it would be. I'm glad I started it !

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4, 2010

Sonny & I played for 2 hours today. I wish I could've stayed longer, but I had a doctor's appt.
He didn't come and catch me at the gate, in fact I had to walk to within 15 feet of him before he'd come to me. Also-neither Jasper the donkey or Justin (another horse) came to meet me either, and they are usually right there in my face to get a cookie. How interesting......
Sonny and I played stick to me walking in the pasture to the gate, not as well as yesterday, but fairly well. We went straight to the roundpen and worked on maintain gait at the circle. He did very well, this is improving nicely. He was able to pick up a soft canter when asked, and maintained it untill I either asked him to go down to trot, or brought him in,,,of course since this was only the 2nd day and 2nd session of a soft canter when asked, I didn't prolong it. I think the longest I let him go was a lap and a half. Such a big improvement from less than 2 months ago when he would get emotional and take off in a head tossing , bucking snit most of the time when I asked for a trot. Yay!
We also worked on liberty in the roundpen and that went fairly well. I realzied that we needed to 'learn' the stop and back up better online before trying for it at the trot at liberty. 4 feet on a pedestal is becoming an easy task for us. He let me hold up a foot for 20 seconds with the savvy string (thanks to instructor K at the April course), and we did weave at the trot, but not as well as yesterday.
7 Session list:
4 feet on pedestal-session 3
weave at trot -session 2
hold up foot w/ ss -session 1
pick up soft canter-session 2
online stick to me at trot on a rail-session 0
traveling circles at trot-session 2
sideways facing a wall/rail-session 2

Not good enough to put on session list yet:
change of direction at trot
figure 8 at trot (see a big connection here???? )
play on 45' line
move hindquarters toward me on a mounting block

I think that's it for today.
Keep it savvy.