Friday, June 28, 2013

a little something for the weekend

SONY DSCwhat a great blog post!  as usual this pops up just when i need it...

oh boy... conscious incompetence!

speaking of wanting to pass my level 4 online.  LOOK at this video.  wonderful.  this is what i'm aspiring to!  i must admit that it's videos like this one that have me so nervous.  i think this is beautiful and clearly shows a wonderful relationship and yet she passed with a 4+ not a 4++.  if i want to be an instructor i have to pass with a 4++.  eeeek!

just for fun here is her level 4 liberty audition video.

my video made it into the parelli weekly newsletter!

another great article by pat parelli... is your horse stubborn or fearful?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

direct line

i've been really focusing on passing our level 4 online and at liberty.  being goal orientated has not helped my horsemanship lately.

i had to go back and remind myself to respect myself as a student.

then i had to remind myself to do this for my horse and not to him.  when i start to get so goal orientated, direct line, billy starts to feel like i'm doing things to him and the line between work and play get's real blurry.  i'm sweaty.  he's sweaty.  i'm breathing hard. he's breathing hard.  and the savvy hits me like a ton of bricks... which leads to me just stopping.  just put my stick and string down, give billy some rope and take a seat for a little while as he grazes around me.  ripping up the grass, chewing and ripping and chewing.  just the sound of that calms me and helps me to engage my brain again.  this journey is not just about me.  it's also about billy and helping him to be the best he can be.  along the way he will teach me to be the best i can be.

Friday, June 21, 2013

a little something for the weekend


here is the saddle i bought for billy blaze last year.  we aren't sure just exactly how big he is going to be when he matures.  i figured the adjustable gullet was a smart idea...

my friend Carol made billy his headstall.  it's a beautiful black and brown english bridle.

billy's halter is the blue one.  i think he looks so handsome in blue!

this book is so cool and really helped me to understand what is happening in billy's body when he is moving.

i LOVE my hoof pick...

this is billy's favorite brush.  i love the name ;)

i love this treat bag.  it lays nice and flat against my side.

and this is my favorite 22' line to play on.  it has such a nice light weight and doesn't get heavy when it gets wet or sandy.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

SONY DSCthere has been a lot of learning going on all over the parelli world.  people are in pagosa springs learning at the parelli ranch.  some of us are stepping out of our comfort zone at home.  some are starting to step into the purpose part of their journey with dressage shows, cuttings and reinings, jumping events and endurance rides.

something that is resonating with me the last two days is how both horses and humans do their learning outside of their comfort zone.  while staying in our comfort zone is a great confidence builder not much actually happens in there, learning wise.

progressing is one of the key elements to doing parelli and being a horseman/woman.  if we aren't progressing then we are stagnant.

but progression can feel like pressure if one tries to rush things.  after my last post many people pointed out that this is a journey and the enjoyment comes from the every day processing of this journey.  the end is not the goal because if we are truly getting our better best and never letting it rest then we are continuing to grow and learn daily and there is no end.  not really.

so how do we progress and keep it fun, playful and challenging without feeling like pressure?  that is the burning question i have.  i've decided to break things down into smaller steps.

my plan:

  • to teach billy flying lead changes online and on my cue.

  • to get our canter circling game solid.

  • to teach billy how to jump halfway over a tree trunk or barrel.

  • to get our two line driving really solid.

to do these things i need to break everything down into small manageable steps.  both for me and for billy.  after all i'm learning as i go and at the same time trying to teach billy.  things can get really confusing really fast!

the thing i will be focusing on the most is my emotional fitness.  i need to stay in a peaceful place in order to be progressive.  as soon as i start allowing my ego in things fall apart and billy gets confused.  he knows when i'm doing this for him and when i'm doing this to him.  and he's not shy about putting me in my place when i'm busily doing things to him.

so we will practice two line driving every day, even if it's just a short 5 minutes tootle around the yard.  i will continue to toss in the canter circling game, counting strides and getting him to a place where he has the confidence to canter 6-10 laps without breaking gait.  i will find myself a tree trunk so i can start the half jump with something a little smaller than the barrel (and a little longer...) and i will practice sideways towards and away while walking and trotting to prepare for flying lead changes.  billy actually really enjoys two line driving because it feels a lot like stick to me and he loves stick to me.  so knowing that i can keep it playful and fun for him all while stepping out of my comfort zone and dipping my toe into the pool of new and different...

while reminding myself what parelli is all about:

"A philosophy of understanding a horse's needs; being a good, effective and kind leader; using psychology rather than mechanics; working on confidence rather than desensitization; and developing a relationship based on love, language and leadership."

~ Linda Parelli

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

SONY DSCi have been having a lot of anxiety about the program and succeeding in my level 4 online and at liberty.  there are days that i feel there is too much.  too much to learn, too much to teach.  just too much.

and i'm tired.

today is one of those days.  billy and i have been addressing a few issues in our circling game.  he would canter, but not maintain gait.  he will maintain direction so we had half of the equation, "maintain gait and maintain direction".  david lichman gave me some wonderful insight into how to teach that maintain gait and it's been working wonders.  without making billy tired. which was ultimately the key for us...

then i think about all the things we need to accomplish for level 4 online, 10-20 laps at the canter, jumping a barrel halfway (this one is the hardest things for me to teach!!!), long reins; walk, turn and back up, stick to me with a simple lead change (what!? eeeek!), flying lead change with a change of direction, flank rope on the 12 foot line, spin and go, jump upright barrel or double down barrels (according to ability of horse), backwards under a tarp.  these are just a few of the things we have to work on to complete our level 4 online.  i haven't even touched on level 4 at liberty!


my brain gets all clogged down with the pressure of getting all these things.  understanding them myself so i can break them down and teach them to billy.  then i start to feel panicky.  after all this is just the beginning of our journey.  we still have to start the riding part of it!


then i'll have a whole other list of things to stress me out.

but at least i have a purpose.  i have a goal.  not an end goal because this is a journey of never ending self improvement, but a goal.  that goal will change depending on what i need to get accomplished.

for me it's about more than being able to check off a skill on a list.  it's about really truly understanding WHY i need to be able to check that skill off.  then making sure it's a skill that we can return to over and over again.  knowing it's solid.  i don't want to rush the process.

i do want to ride soon, but i set a goal for myself to pass level 4 online and at liberty before i ride.

maybe i should just go spend some undemanding time today :)  give my brain a little time to decompress...  or should i just keep pressing on, slogging through the muddy marsh of information and tasks until i can tick them all off with confidence.

sigh.  just one more question for me to answer.

Friday, June 14, 2013

a little something for the weekend

SONY DSCthis video makes me want a halflinger...

these two clearly love each other and have a great time together!

the lighting and footage in this video is gorgeous!

i love cavalia!

this is a great video about clicker training.

i saw this video awhile ago and really loved her message, safety, safety safety!





Thursday, June 13, 2013


billyseye"in the steady gaze of the horse

shines a silent eloquence that

speaks of love and loyalty,

strength and courage.

it is the window that reveals

to us how willing is his spirit,

how generous his heart."


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

emotional fitness

udtthere are days that things just don’t go well.  even when we have all these techniques in our mind and can implement them well, we are still emotional beings, as are our horses, and emotions can take over.

being emotionally fit is very difficult for me.  i’ve had and handled horses all my life, but haven’t been doing parelli for very long.  i used to be “normal” in my horse handling.  one of the rules that weighed heavy in my mind then, was that it was paramount that i win.  in every situation i must win the game.  though at that time it was more work than play.  it didn’t matter what the session looked like as long as i came out on top.  most of the time if things got tricky both the horse and myself would come back to the barn sweaty, tired and grumpy.  i didn’t want much to do with that horse and i’m certain it didn’t want much to do with me.

one of the things that really drew me into parelli was the idea that being with my horse could be fun, a game.  horses were always work for me.  i would enjoy driving them or riding them, there was lots of laughter and good times.  but when things didn’t go well or “right” it was all business and things could get a little ugly.  i never beat my horses by any means, but i did win the argument.

my goal now is to keep our session fun.  even when things go wrong.  that does not always happen and man do i beat myself up when i fall back into my old pattern.  i have to remember that i spent 34 years doing it the “normal” way and only 2 years the natural way.  it might take a little time for me to be totally consistent with my emotional fitness.  this is not an excuse for my behavior when i fall back into old patterns however and  when i do, the best thing i can do for billy and for myself is to stop whatever i’m doing and put him away.  just stop.  don’t push through my problem and make it his problem.  when i do that i can break down the trust that i’ve worked for 2 years to build up.

it’s important to remember that trust can take a long time to build and just a short time to break.

when billy doesn’t do what i’ve asked it’s usually because he doesn’t understand what i’m asking.  sometimes it’s because i haven’t proven to him that i’m a good leader that day.

escape comes from a place of fear or confusion.

disrespect comes from a place of contempt or disregard for me.

yielding to the pressure comes when he has respect for me.

if i’m angry or frustrated i can become very predatory and scary.  billy may try to escape me in that situation.  which can lead to me feeling even more frustrated or angry.  that’s when i have to quit.  just stop.  put him away and come back later with a different frame of mind.  after we’ve had a rough time i feel like it’s a good idea to go back a bit and spend some undemanding time with him.

undemanding time is time spent with him when i am not asking him to do anything.  for me this usually means i take a book out to his pen and sit and read for awhile.  i will sit in with him or just sit outside his pen along the fence.  he will come and stand over me and doze when i do this.  sometimes he tries to eat my book, or my hair, or my clothes.  i have my kids stick with me to help him back off a little if he gets too friendly.  this time is very relaxing for both of us.  i think of it as a reset.  i’m not frustrated or angry.  i’m just quiet and relaxed.  this puts both of us in a better frame of mind for our next play.

it can be easy to get frustrated with this process.  that is why people quit horses.  they get frustrated or scared and just walk away.  to me, horses are my passion.  being a natural horse-woman is my passion.  the journey and the process fascinate me.  that is what keeps me from walking away.

i remind myself that the principles are more important then the purpose.  and more important than the goals, the relationship must come before the goals can be met.

this journey is a process.

and always i remind myself to play with my horse, work on myself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

neale donald walsch

SONY DSC"the deepest secret is that life in not a process of discovery, but a process of creation.  you are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew.  seek, therefore, not to find out Who you are, seek to determine, Who you Want to be."

~Neale Donald Walsch

Monday, June 10, 2013

the process

billysnosedon't get frustrated with the process.  respect yourself as a student.  everything is a learning experience.

this is a very difficult thing for me.  being a RBE i tend to need encouragement.  it's important for me to know what i'm doing right, as well as what i need to work on.  negativity really brings me down.

if an instructor is hard on me, without offering encouragement, it paralyses me.  i begin to feel like i am incapable.  i become incapable of putting the halter on billy.  i start to think that maybe i'm too dumb to be a horse owner.  it's quite debilitating!

it takes me some time of just being with myself, sitting with billy, not doing anything WITH him, but just spending some undemanding time.  i spend a little time talking to myself.  telling myself all the things i'm bad at. then i talk with handsome hubby.  he reminds me how far billy and i have come.

then slowly i remember the above adage... respect yourself as a student.  if i'm being so hard on myself then i don't respect myself.  if i don't respect myself then how can billy respect me?

then i start the re-building process.  and i remember that each problem usually leads to an amazing breakthrough.  it can be the darkest before the dawn.  and i start looking for the dawn.

remember to be fascinated by the process rather than defeated by it.

mistakes aren't bad... they show you what you need to work on!

and the best learning takes place outside of your comfort zone!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


billyandiredoneif i push billy blaze when he is not checking in with me i can cause him to blow up or become very introverted and distrustful.  learning to read my horse has been the biggest part of my journey.  understanding when he is feeling confident, left brained, or unconfident, right brained and then dealing with the horse that shows up, moment to moment.

sometimes a horse that has gone introverted will lower it's head, then cock it's hind leg.  people often misread this as relaxed when in fact the horse is so stressed that it feels it can barely cope.  horses that do this tend to really surprise their handlers and those that are watching by completely exploding when pushed.  if the horse has it's head very low to ground and it's breathing is shallow and quiet, the eyes are staring and not blinking and it's not moving it's ears... watch out!  the best thing to do is to wait.  just find some patience and wait for the horse to work through things.  it can take a long time or just minutes.  the waiting will mean so much to the horse and in doing that the horse will gain immeasurable confidence in you as a handler.

as i learned and understood billy's psychology, got into his mind a bit and started to understand how things made him feel we shot forward in our horse-man-ship skills.  understanding why my horse is reacting to things in a certain way is extremely valuable for both of us.  it expands the trust i have in my horse and the trust he has in me as well.

i started to understand the way he sees the world.  when he is scared it's because he literally thinks he is going to die.  he is not trying to be difficult or "stupid".  he really and truly thinks he is going to die.  when i understood this i was able to slow down and really start to think about how to help him, support him, in this journey we are on together.

i understand how it feels when adrenaline rushes through his body, i've felt that exact thing in my body.  i have a flight or fight response as well.  when i get spooked or scared sometimes i want to run away too.  having someone with me that can stay calm and collected, has an amazing effect on me as well.  once i understood this about billy blaze i was better able to be that calm and collected person for him in scary situations.  when he started to look to me for peace and quiet things started to change in our relationship.  no more spooking and running away!  now if he gets scared he will turn and look for me.  BUT he doesn't run me down or jump on me.  he will come to me, park himself in front of me and lower his head to help him come down off the adrenaline.  he will sigh, lick and chew and take a minute to think about what happened.  amazing!  this will prove invaluable on the trail if i ever fall off or he gets spooked when i'm not holding onto him properly.  at least i won't be left miles up in the mountains, to walk home.

instead i have a partner.  it takes a long time to gain your horses trust and a short time to lose it.  so take care of that trust at all times.