Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ruffian: Matching the energy

December 27 2010

Ruffian and I had a great playtime. To warm myself up we started with some stick to me where Ruffian had to keep the same distance and slack in the rope whether we were walking, trotting, backing up etc etc. At first Ruffian had a harder time stopping when I stopped, and not taking any steps forward. Then he got really good at stopping but then he wouldn't come forward as easily. So we played with that for a while then I decided to try doing something else, getting Ruffian responding to the pressure on the halter quicker and lighter.

We did a cool little pattern which was doing Falling Leaf one way and then backwards "S" going the other way and just keep switching from one to the other. It was a whole lot of fun. Ruffian cantered the Falling Leaf and trotted the Backwards "S". He was turning really, really quickly and putting a whole lot of effort into doing the pattern. After that we went back to the Stick to me and Ruffian was so light. We did walk/trot/halt/ and backup and Ruffian kept the same distance and the same amount of slack in the rope. It was great!

Up next was Figure eights! Ruffian really wanted to move and play, so the challenge for me was again to match his energy and go 4 ounces more, just enough that he would notice me and respond. If I did more he would get worried because it would be to much pressure. It was challenging but fun. Ruffian did really well I ended up doing the same pattern that I do with Prince which is trotting a circle and then changing direction around one barrel then going back on the circle again and then repeating the process then putting a complete Figure eight in there every once and I a while. Ruffian did very well and he stayed connected and calm the whole time. At the end we got a really nice Figure eight at the trot and Ruffian had rhythm, relaxation and connection! It was really great!!

We ended there because it was a great spot to end and Ruffian had done so well! So we just hung out for a bit and then I unhaltered him and then I played with Prince!!

Naturally,
~Keri

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twosox: Don't be afraid but do what I say...

December 27 2010

Today I played with Twosox first. We started out just hanging out at Liberty and played some friendly game. I wanted to wait until he had relaxed before I haltered him. Before I put the halter on though we played around with leading by the legs. We have done it before but not at Liberty. Twosox did very well though and was so light! We also did backing up by the hocks which went extremely well and Twosox caught on so quickly! 
After I haltered him we played with some driving games. Twosox wasn't paying any attention to my phase 1 so we played with that for a while, looooooooooooong phase one, quick two, three, four. He got worried about that though so I had to balance that with friendly game. We kept doing that until Twosox was moving at a phase one. We did this on the forequarters and hindquarters. 

Up next was short range circles at the walk. Twosox was sure at first what I wanted but when he figured it out he did really well. Then we went to circles at the trot at about 12ft away. Twosox did well going to the right he trotted four laps no problem but going to the left he would break gait after two laps. Then he would turn and face me and then when I went to ask him to keep going he would back up, tossing his head, pulling etc etc. Once he yielded to the pressure I sent him on and he did the four laps with out breaking gait. 
We stayed there for a bit and I let Twosox lick and chew over that and then I un-haltered him. Before we do Figure eights again I want to get these circles fixed again. On the 22ft line I think that Twosox can stay counter bent on the circle and still maintain gait but on the 12ft line it isn't as easy. So I know what we shall be playing with!! :)

Naturally,
~Keri

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

I hope each and everyone of you have a wonderful day! I am very blessed to be able to spend this day with my family and it has been such a great day.

At this special time though let us not forget the people who are not with us, those who are fighting to keep us safe, the armed forces. They are not with their families and have to be separated from their loved ones. I pray that they will have a safe return and that they will be able to join their loved ones soon.

For the people who are not as fortunate as us, the ones that are homeless, hungry, lonely, hurting, let us not forget them. My prayer is that they will come to know Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour this Christmas season.

Last night, as per family tradition, we watched It's a Wonderful Life. Once again I was reminded that no matter how hard life may get, how pointless it may seem sometimes, we are here for a purpose and God has placed you and me where we are for a reason. We may not see it but we are touching lives, never forget that!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

God Bless,
~Keri

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ruffian: Challenging yet fun!

December 22 2010

Ruffian and I had a fantastic playtime today! We started out with Figure eights but Ruffian was in an extremely playful mood so I decided to switch to some traveling circles to let him move his feet more. We did them at the canter in one direction and at the trot in the other then flowed right back into Figure eights.

Figure eights can be really challenging for us because I have to encourage Ruffian to be exuberant, matching his energy so that he will recognize me and listen. If I don't have it just right he will get worried and it will be to much pressure. If I put to much pressure on Ruffian will turn counterclockwise away from me and take off but if I do it right he will put a lot of effort into it and be confident and have fun. Today I got it right! Ruffian wasn't trotting around the barrels the whole way though so I had to find a way to ask him for more without putting to much pressure on. I was able to get it and Ruffian trotted 2 complete Figure eights with connection. It was great! It felt so wonderful afterward to get that and to know that Ruffian was confident at the end.

I learned the importance of waiting for Ruffian ask a question before I sent him out on a circle or ask him to do anything. That made a huge difference in our play session also. We were also able to do leading by the chin, which for Ruffian was a really hard task because he didn't like it at all. We even did some Figure eights at the walk, complete by leading by the chin.
Then we went over to the fence and I played with getting on and off Ruffian, making sure that he didn't go internal or get worried. He took it all really well and then we were able to get a couple steps forward a long the fence then I would bend him and get off. We did this as a pattern and Ruffian gained a lot of confidence and he got the pattern quickly. We were able to take more steps before I would get off and he was so relaxed by the end it was amazing!

Our lateral flexions were so light and Ruffian was really good! Hopefully over the winter I will be able to continue riding him bareback and getting him more and more confident with being ridden. I think in the past he was just pushed to far to fast and so the only way he knew how to get rid of the pressure was to lay down. So hopefully with more confidence he will stop doing that :)

We ended on a great note and Ruffian stuck with me at Liberty for a while before we headed over to the other side of the riding ring to leave.

Naturally,
~Keri

Twosox: Porcupine games and bridling...

December 22 2010

Twosox and I had a really good session today. We started off by playing strong, especially when it came to the porcupine game. Twosox was leaning and pulling on the pressure and so we did forequarter and hindquarter yields, and backing up by the nose. Once those were going well and Twosox was putting lightness and speed into it we went and did some circles. 

Twosox would get to a certain spot on the circle and then go straight and in doing so take the slack out of the rope and pull. So we played with that for a while and we did circles in both directions and ended when he was keeping the slack in the rope the whole time while trotting. 

Then we headed out to the front yard and we played with zone 5 driving with one rein. Twosox wasn't confident having me in zone 5 so we had to play with that. Eventually we got it though and we were able to get some simple walk, halt, back up transitions with out him getting worried and turning and facing me. 

Next we headed to the garage and played with bridling! It was a lot of fun and Twosox did so well! He took the bit very well and was totally fine with it! He moved his mouth around a little and then his mouth went quiet and he was fine! His head is definitely smaller than Prince's but it still fits well. He looks really sharp in it! 


Naturally,
~Keri

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Prince: Balancing Whoa and Go

December 21 2010

Mom and I went on another trail ride today but first we played in the corral and riding ring. After I saddled Prince we did some porcupine games, it was actually a pleasant temperature outside so it was a good time to do it because my fingers didn't freeze when I had to take my gloves off (I don't like doing any porcupine games with gloves on, I can't be as light as I need to be). Prince did extremely well and was very light. We did hindquarter, forequarter, back-up's, and such all with lightness, speed and distance! 
 
Prince and I then went up to the riding ring and we started with Touch it at the trot, where Prince had to trot to different things and touch it with either his nose, feet etc etc Prince did really well with that and it was a lot of fun. Next we did some circles and changes of directions a long with some transitions. 

Then we played with Figure eights again! This time Prince picked it up right from the start and he maintained gait the whole time. It was really nice!! Then we took a little break and I helped Mom with hers and Knightly's Figure eights. The last thing we did was I set up two barrels in the middle of the riding ring and asked Prince to jump them while coming towards me, then stop and back up to the barrels. I waited for Prince to ask a question (something that Mrs. Parelli talked about in the latest Savvy Club DVD) before I asked Prince to do it and it made a huge difference! Just that one small thing! It was definitely something I am going to play around with more. 

Before we headed out on the trail I bridled Prince. He took the bit really well and both time he accepted it very well. He is doing so well with it considering it is only his fifth time!!

Our trail ride was great. We rode up through town which was a first, normally we go out the back way or we walk the horses through town and then mount up. Prince did so well but wasn't 100% confident we carried on for a bit and then I decided to get off because even though we could have made it I wanted to do what was best for Prince's confidence. 

One of the main things both Mom and I played with was making sure the horses would stand still and not move forward until we gave them permission. Prince wanted to go but he was really good at standing still when I asked. Basically the whole way out we played with transitions and such, lots of backing up and all that. Prince was so light!! It was fun! 

Then we did some side passes from one side of the road to the other. Prince was incredible and we even took it up a notch and as soon as we got to the one side of the road I would switch and ask for a side pass the other way. Prince caught on really quickly and we did that for a good 100 feet or so. 

On the way back home since Prince had done so well in standing still when I asked and he was really connected we did lots of cantering!! I have never cantered so far so fast in my life but it was a complete thrill!!! It was a little cold considering we were cantering straight into the wind but both Prince and I had so much fun!! We had gotten quite a ways behind Mom and Knightly so we decided to catch up and it was light Prince picked switched gears and it was like we were flying!! Both of us just wanted to keep on going but I wanted to make sure Prince would still stop and wasn't disconnecting from me. He did fairly well. One time though we were cantering a lot and had to stop quickly because Mom and Knightly had come onto our path so I wasn't as focused on stopping as I was before but Prince still stopped pretty good. 

We rode through town going back home and Prince was doing well went and then a big propane truck came towards us. I saw it coming before it was really close so I got off and Prince and I just waited. Prince was worried but still stayed still. Once the truck stopped (the guy stopped right behind us) we walked forward so there was more room for Prince to move around if he needed too. Once we were a maybe 35ft from the truck the driver put his breaks on, which spooked Prince a little. Poor guy. 

The truck driver got out and came over and said that he didn't want to put his breaks on until we were far enough away. He said that he didn't want to spook the horses. That was really nice of him! We when walked the rest of the way home on foot and then hurried inside to get warm!! 

I was so proud of Prince and I think we both had a really fun time!! I might not get a chance to play with Prince until after Christmas so this was a great way to end for the week!!

Naturally,
~Keri

Prince: Trail riding in the snow!

December 17 2010

Prince and I had a really interesting session about Figure eights! Who would have guessed? ;) Prince had a hard time maintaining gait around the left barrel and on the other one he would make the assumption that I wanted him to come around and go through so he wasn't listening to me. So I switched things up a bit and I would ask Prince to go around the one barrel and then circle once, go around the other barrel and then circle once. That was going well and Prince started listening more and more and also got really interested and started asking questions.
He still would break gait around the one barrel so we kept on the same pattern as above expect every time he went around the barrel I would ask him to go into the canter. He caught on to that quickly and things were going smoothly. So I brought him in for a rest. He was pretty sweaty after all that running. I sent him back out and the first Figure eight we did was exactly what I was looking for, Prince maintained gait, waited until I asked for him to come around the barrel instead of assuming that was what I wanted and he maintained gait around the left barrel.

After when I was thinking about it I realised that Prince wasn't shaping around that barrel like he does around the right hand barrel. Which makes total sense because circling to the left is his harder side and also getting left leads is harder. So it comes as no surprise. My plan for next day is to focus on him shaping his body around that one barrel and I think that will help him maintain gait easier.

Then Mom and I went for a trail ride! We didn't go far as it was getting pretty cold and I had to go to work but we had fun. We stayed on our property the whole time but went down to the turn around and rode there. Prince and I did some cantering and it was so much fun! Prince cantered really, really fast one time and it was incredible! All I had to do to stop him was relax and I didn't have to touch my reins at all!!

I had my CB (Cradle Bridle) on but I wasn't using it, I had my reins attached to my halter. Prince had resistance to putting it on so I just waited until he got curious about it and he started sniffing it and checking it out then he actually took the bit all by himself!! I guided it in but it was Prince who wanted it. I let him have it in his mouth for a while and then I took it out. We did this three times and each time Prince took the bit. It is progress!! It will still take some time but I am not going to use it while I am riding until Prince willing accepts it with out any resistance.

On our way home we had to walk across snow that was on top of ice that had water under it. So Prince was sinking really deep. He was such a trooper though and even though he didn't like it he walked straight though it for me. He was great!!

I can hardly wait until we can go out again. I love riding in the snow even though one has to be careful about ice. It is still so much fun though!

Naturally,
~Keri

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ruffian: Gaining relaxation through transitions.

December 17 2010

This afternoon I brought Ruffian out onto the front yard to play. He has been wanting to come out for a long time and every time I bring another horse out he is always at the gate waiting for his turn. So I figured that it would be his turn and also change things up a bit for him.

We started with just exploring different paths, watching the boys sled and such. Then we did some circles. Ruffian wasn't at all relaxed so I decided to do transitions so help him relaxed some. We did simple trot-walk-trot transitions and that helped a lot. Ruffian relaxed and found the rhythm, relaxation and connection. Next we did some changes of directions and ended when Ruffian did a really nice, smooth change of direction.

Next we did some sideways up and down the front yard. Ruffian was so light! It was really nice! We went sideways at a phase 1 for about 30ft!!! Talk about lightness, speed and distance!!

Then we just hung out for a while relaxing and sleeping in the sun! Then we went back to the corral. But to get there I asked Ruffian to push the ball along the path and then push it out of the way so we could get by. He did that well and really got into it after a while!

He stayed with me even after I let him go so we hung out together for a bit and then I went inside to warm up a bit! It was a really good session because I learned that even when Ruffian was being playful, then would switch to being worried, it was so important that I stayed calm, cool and collected and was as light as possible but as firm as necessary. It made a big difference in the way Ruffian responded! This horses is teaching me so much!

Naturally,
~Keri

Prince: Riding in the snow!

December 16 2010

Today Prince and I played on the front yard and then rode. We saddled up and then we did some Circles, Changes of directions and Stick to me. The snow was slippery so we had to be careful but we were able to play strong and have fun. Then we went and got my cradle bridle on. Prince wasn't as accepting of it as he was yesterday but he still did fairly well. 

We rode on the front yard and just did some really small simple things. I left my halter and one rein on so that in case of an emergency I could use that instead of the bridle. We did some lateral flexions, indirect and direct rein, sideways and a little bit of point to point. Not a whole lot but we still had a good time.

For the next little while when I ride Prince I am going to let him wear the cradle bridle but not use it. I don't want to rush things and then Prince not like it because I took it to fast. Slow and right beats fast and wrong!!



Naturally,
~Keri

Twosox: Loss of connection.... and Figure eights.

December 14 2010

Well Twosox and I had a "Oh Boy" play time today. We hadn't played for over a week and it showed. Our connection was gone... the main pattern we played with was Figure eights. That pattern is very revealing! Ever since the Parelli Ohio Celebration I have realized that no wonder people just skip that pattern or try it but then thing it is boring! It is a challenging little pattern to master.... or even get good at :) But on the flip side it is a great pattern once we get it!

Today the challenge was that Twosox would break gait and pull as he was going around each barrel. Now that I think back I think I know how I could have solved the pulling... maybe. But hindsight is 20/20 right? ;) So we played with it for a long time and both of us got into a sweat! In the end though we were able to end on a good note and then go into the garage to cool off. I wanted to make sure that Twosox was fairly dry before I took him back out into the cold.

One lesson I have learned is that I need to play with Twosox more than once a week and that Figure eights is a patten that needs to be used regularly and can't be ignored... or they do fall apart :) Or at least with my horses they do!! I find them fascinating but I know that some people find them frustrating.... all I can say is that in my experience, that pattern is extremely revealing! You will find out a lot by doing that pattern!!

Naturally,
~Keri

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cradle Bridle has arrived!

Last night my Cradle Bridle arrived!! I wasn't expecting it for another 3-4 days so I was super excited when Dad gave the box to me!! 

This morning, bright and early, I took it out and tried it on Prince. He looks so handsome in it! I basically just let him wear it and get used to it seeing as it was the first time in almost 5 years that Prince has had a bridle on, and the very first time ever that I have put a bridle on a horse!! Yes I know, it probably sounds crazy but since I got into horses at the same time that I started Parelli, it is all I know. I had only ridden a horse once or twice before, and I was about 6 years old. So I have learned everything through Parelli, and I am very grateful to the program for that!!

Anyways, so Prince did a lot better than I expected. He played around with it for a while and then his mouth went all quiet and he was fine. I had to adjust a couple things here and there (I watched the latest Savvy DVD on bridling and etc over and over so I would get it right) and all in all I think it looks really good!! 

We did some lateral flexions on both sides and then we took some pictures!! Let me know what you think :) 





The top two are my favourites :)

Naturally,
~Keri

Prince: Having a purpose makes a difference!

December 13 2010

Over the weekend we got a lot of snow so it was a little harder for Prince to pull me in the sled because we only have one lane way (the path for the hay truck) now. But we were still able to play with it and we had a lot of fun.

We started by doing a lot of the same things that we did last day just to make sure that Prince was okay with it all again. He did well. We got some really nice circles at the trot with changes of directions with two lines!!

After I had checked everything out I attached the sled and we played with getting snappier transitions. Also I made sure that I didn't start walking forward until the sled started moving that way Prince would get used to me not moving until a little while after he started. That worked well and Prince really got the hang of it and responded really well.

Then it was time for us to try it! I sat in the sled and asked Prince to walk forward. We went from one end of the yard to the other and Prince did so well!! I had a little bit of trouble with the ropes but Prince was amazing. We got the second try on camera, it wasn't as good as the first one but here it is...


Already I have noticed a huge change in our zone 5 driving. We have a purpose and it is a whole lot of fun! Prince is getting lighter, more interested and we are progressing!

Until next time,

Naturally,
~Keri

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prince: Putting Prinicples to a Purpose!

December 10 2010

Prince and I had a lot of fun this morning! We played around with pulling the sled. Of course we took it in stages. This winter I want to play around more with getting Prince to pull me in a sled and such. So today we played with some of the ingredients.
First we started with doing some straight lines and circles with two 12ft lines dragging beside Prince (attached to the surcingle) he was okay with that so then I brought in the sled. Prince wasn't sure about it at first but after some approach and retreat it was able to be in all zones and Prince was confident with it being there. We were also able to do some walk trot transitions with the sled following in zone 5. 

Next I attached my savvy string to the 12ft line that was tied to the sled so I could put it through one of the rings that way Prince would feel some of the weight but if something went wrong I could just let go of the sled. That went well though and Prince didn't have any problems. 
So as the next step I attached the 12ft line to Prince so he was pulling it by himself. Again that went well and Prince didn't have any issues with that he was a little concerned going into the trot though so we had to play with that a little bit but pretty soon he relaxed and wasn't bothered by it at all. 
Next I attached the other 12 ft line to the sled and attached that to Prince so the weight would be even, not that there was much weight as it was only a plastic sled but there would be weight in it soon. Prince liked that better and was calm and confident pulling it at the walk and trot. 

About this time my test dummies.... oops....  I mean little brothers ;) came outside and the agreed quite willingly to try it out. Prince was perfect and we did both walk and trot! Both of my little brothers got a turn and then they both went. Prince was great and both my brothers enjoyed it a lot. 

Then my older brother, uncle and sister had a turn, one at a time of course. To keep it interesting for Prince though we went from grass patch to grass patch. He really enjoyed that :) I was able to go for a short ride myself while at the same time directing Prince. He got a little bit confused because he had to walk a couple feet forward before I would follow and normally once he starts walking I will start. So we played with that and we were able to walk from one side of the yard to the other. 

Prince got a long rest at the end and he got to graze for quite some time, until the hay delivery came and I had to go load it in the shed. But it was a whole lot of fun and I definitely want to play with it more this winter. 

Naturally,
~Keri

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ruffian: Playful!

December 10 2010

This morning I started with Ruffian. We had a good session over all. We played with some porcupine games first, getting the hindquarter, forequarter, and backup's light and with speed and distance. 
Then we moved on to Figure eights. Ruffian did really well but he would break gait while going around the one barrel so we played with that but then one time Ruffian decided he had enough and turned counterclockwise away from me and took off. Hmmm.... How interesting! I kind of thought that might happen. So once I had gotten him back we came back and carried on with our Figure eights. This time we were able to get the whole Figure eight at the trot then we ended. 

Next was circles. Ruffian did well and maintained gait well. So we played with some changes of directions and then I brought him in. We then hung out for a bit and then we ended. Ruffian is definitely an interesting horse and quite a challenge. He was really playful one minute and then introverted the next! But he is improving by leaps and bounds. At least he is showing signs of playfulness again! 

Naturally,
~Keri

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Prince: Playing with a lot of things... and maybe to much for one session.

December 8 2010

I think the title pretty much sums up what I learned from this session. That it is very important to find a balance and not to to much is one session. Prince and I had a great session but at the end I really noticed that both him and I were de-motivated. Prince was doing what I asked but he wouldn't put much effort into it at all. 
Here is what we did...

We did some zone 5 driving with one line. This winter I want to play more with Prince pulling sleds and such. So today we played with maintaining gait at the trot for longer periods of time instead of doing transitions and such. Prince did well and we did big circles at the one end of the arena.
Next we played with our yo-yo's. My goal was lightness and speed to the end of the 22ft line. We took it in a couple stages but in the end Prince got it and it went really well. Prince backed up to the end of the 22ft line with lightness and speed, which was what I was aiming for. Now hopefully we shall be able to maintain that standard :)

We also did Figure eights at the trot from 22ft away, jumping a single barrel (we played clearing the jump which meant Prince putting more effort into jumping), and leading backing up by the tail, which was interesting because Prince will put a lot of effort into backing up when we are doing stick to me, yo-yo's etc but he will go rather slowly when I ask for him to back up by the tail. I just haven't required him to do it any faster... until now. I asked for more speed and at first he wasn't sure he wanted to but, thanks to the newer/cleaner ropes carrying a really good feel, I was able to reinforce what I was asking and he caught on pretty quickly ;)

The last thing we played with was friendly game in Prince's ears, he doesn't like me touching inside his ears, not deep of course. So we played with that because I know that it will effect our bridling if Prince resists the bridle going over his ears, which he doesn't mind the halter doing but it is something that I didn't want to just leave. So we played with that and got that going fairly well. I will keeping playing with it and hopefully, somehow get Prince to even enjoy me massaging his ears :)

Naturally,
~Keri




Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: The new Parelli 22ft line, with the handle.

I thought that I would just type a quick post about some of my thoughts about the new 22ft line that the Parelli's released with a handle on the end. Now before we start, just so that there is no confusion, here is a picture of what it looks like:


I have heard a lot of people complaining about it and many different reasons why they don't think it will be any good and how it could be dangerous, etc etc. From what I gathered these people do not have this particular rope and so are just making assumptions.

Principle #2 is "Don't make or teach assumptions". So I was prepared to give it my best shot and see how it worked. After all, if Mr. Parelli thinks it is a good idea and will be useful, I am not about to say that I don't like it until I have given it a fair trial.

The only concern I had about it going into the session, knowing how in our riding ring everything that can get caught on something will get caught, I wasn't sure if it would be a touch annoying if it kept getting caught on rocks and such. However that was not a problem because it really isn't big enough to get caught on anything, unless that particular thing is really small. I did not find that it was in the way or annoying when I was doing something at a closer range. So that wasn't an issue.

On Monday I set out to give it a try. I started playing with Ruffian and right from the start I could see that when we were doing some patterns I wasn't giving Ruffian the full length and when I did give him more I was able to see how we needed to improve!

With Twosox I really got to test out the handle part and I have to say, I really liked it! We were doing circles and he was at the end of the rope, while keeping slack in it though, and I was able to stand totally in neutral and just pass the loop/handle around very easily. With the other style of rope I found it harder to do this. Not saying that it couldn't be done but this was quite a bit easier because I didn't have to really grip it. Also when Twosox started pulling and leaning on the rope a little bit it was much easier to hold on until he released. I felt like it set me up for success because I didn't have to grip the rope and hang on really tight if Twosox started pulling.

Also when I asked for a change of direction I challenged myself to keep my hand at the end of the rope, hanging on to the handle. Twosox took a long time before he would change direction because he wasn't listening to my body, he was relying on the rope. So we were able to play with it and get it to where I could stay at the end of the 22ft line and get the change of direction with the belly of the rope on the ground. So I was able to see where I need to improve.

I played with all three of my horses using this rope and I found the handle really helpful. Now I am not saying that any of the points I made above about its good features couldn't be done with the older rope style rope but I was able to learn a whole lot in one afternoon, things that I didn't even know I was doing, or not doing, all because there was a little handle on the end.

One thing that some people have against this new style is that they said you could get a foot or hoof through the handle. I would just like to say that it would have to be a very small foot or hoof. My 6yr old little brother couldn't get his foot through it with a shoe or boot on even if he tried. It is small but not to small.

So I am very happy with it and I also like how they have the swivel snap on the other end. It is much safer and easier to put on and take off in freezing cold weather :) People may say what they will but for myself, I found it to be very useful. Plus it shall challenge me to get even better with managing my tools. I believe that it will be a very useful feature.

Naturally,
~Keri

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Prince: Motivation.

December 6 2010

Prince and I had an amazing playtime this afternoon. I learned a whole lot about focus and motivation and lots of other things. We started by playing with our yo-yo's. It is amazing how new/newish ropes really carry an amazing feel! So much better than the older ones. I am going to try to keep these ones as new as possible. Maybe wash them more. Anyway, our yo-yo's is really starting to come a long and so we switched to the 22ft line. Prince was able to maintain the same speed in the back up all the way to the end of the 22ft line! Hooray! Progress! That used to be really hard for him.

Then we played with some Stick to me. We did halt to canter stick to me, and also canter to halt. It was really fun! Prince caught on really fast and we got some really snappy departures! Since Prince was listening to my energy so well I asked him to walk over to a barrel that was lying down, stop, sniff it and then I asked him to jump it from a stand still. He did and he cleared it! It was really cool!

After that we did a little bit of circles. We did a little bit of cantering but it felt that I was doing a lot more than Prince was. He looked unmotivated. So as he was circling I was thinking "What could I do to change things up a bit and motivate Prince?" There was a single barrel lying kind of in Prince's path but kind of not. So I turned to Prince as he was getting closer to it and focused right at the barrel, all eyes were on that barrel, and Prince jumped right over. I was amazed, though I really shouldn't have been but I was because Prince didn't try to go around it nor was he pulling on the rope. He kept the same rhythm the whole time and cleared it no problem.

Well after that Prince got really motivated and he cantered easily, while I was in neutral, a couple laps each way. While he was going to the right though he hit a patch of ice that was covered in snow and he slid and fell down. Thankfully he wasn't hurt and he got back up and kept on going, talk about don't change gait, don't change direction! I am just so thankful that Prince didn't hurt himself because he went down pretty hard. But he wasn't limping or showing any signs of being hurt. Praise the Lord!

I brought him in and gave him a rest though. I couldn't get over the look on his face, he was putting so much effort into everything!! The last thing we did in the riding ring was I stood at the end of the 22ft line and sent Prince over to the same barrel and to jump it. He did and the belly of the rope was on the ground! It was beautiful!

After that we went down to the corral and then I let Prince go but he stayed with me. So I scratched him for a while and hung out and then I went and gave the horses a bale of hay :)
It was a short but very successful and fun playtime. I ended when Prince was motivated and willing and I think that will make a big difference next time. I love playing with my horse's mind!

Naturally,
~Keri

Twosox: Learning to have no opposition relfex!

December 6 2010

Twosox and I played next. We started with playing friendly game with the plastic bag. He was pretty concerned about it so I decided to put my savvy string on the end and then play friendly with that and the bag would just be there, approaching and retreating. That worked really well and Twosox seemed to understand that it was just a friendly game. I am really trying to get my rhythm better. In everything that I do whether it is rubbing the horses, going through my phases, anything and everything. I want to get really good rhythm. I think it is getting better too!

Twosox was pulling quite a bit on the circle and he would keep breaking gait. So we did lots of transitions and then changes of direction... and I mean we did lots of changes of direction. Twosox would resist the pressure before responding, he had a lot of opposition reflex. We continued on until he was able to do several changes of directions with slack in the rope and he was responding with respect. Twosox had lots to lick and chew about after that.
We then played some more friendly game with the bag. He was a lot better already. Up next was Figure eights. The new 22ft line that I got has the handle/loop on the end and one thing that it has already shown me (which is what it was intended to do) is that with Ruffian and Twosox I don't give them the whole rope. Now part of that is because we haven't played on the 22ft line for a little while because of the ground being as it was, so hard and icy. So it just wasn't needed. But I do know that we hardly use the whole rope, especially with things like Figure eights, Touch it, sideways, etc. With circles it is easier but with other things is can be more challenging.

So I now know what my challenge is with Ruffian and Twosox, to get to the end of the rope!!

After we had played for a while we went down to the corral and I brushed Twosox also. He wasn't as dirty but I want to make sure they stay clean so that I can ride them this winter. Twosox stayed with me even after I let him go and so we hung out for a bit then I went and played with Prince!!

Naturally,
~Keri

Ruffian: Waiting for the relaxation.

December 6 2010

Ruffian and I had very good session, reviewed a lot, learned quite a bit, and over all had a very progressive session.
I brought out my new 22ft line because I want to play with more distance and also because the riding ring looked better than it has been for a long time. We start off on the 12ft line and did some Falling Leaf, jumping and sideways. It was really cool because Ruffian was standing by the a single barrel sniffing it and then all I did was softly send him and he jumped it and cleared it! It was really cool!

Part way through the session I looked at Ruffian and he was either bored, or he had gone introverted. To me it seemed like he had gone introverted but I wasn't sure so I decided to play with some circles and Figure eights next. That way he could get his feet moving and I could assess what was the issue. Ruffian had been doing everything that I had asked and was very light but he wasn't asking questions, which could have been a result of either of the two. So off we went. I put the 22ft line on and we did Figure eights at the trot. Ruffian was very light but the Figure eights needed a little polishing.

The good thing was that Ruffian stayed calm and fairly relaxed through out the whole pattern and didn't get worried because I was asking him to move faster. Once we got them a little better I stopped and let Ruffy have a little bit of time to think about it and then I sent him off again. This time they were much better, I didn't have to move my feet as much and Ruffian kept the belly of the rope on the ground the whole time, while also maintaining gait. When I disengaged him to bring him in his look had changed and he was asking questions!

Next was circles. I sent him off and we did transitions but mainly played with changes of direction. Ruffian wasn't breaking gait and I didn't want it to be boring and I also knew that Ruffian might want to crowd me a little bit so off we went!

I was right. Ruffy would change direction nicely but on his way through he would come in, not a whole lot but enough that I didn't want to leave it. So I really focused on getting his nose and neck over faster. Pretty soon Ruffian was keeping the slack on the ground and doing beautiful changes of directions, with out crowding me.

Ruffian was interested also and asking loads of questions. He was confident and relaxed, while also being light and responsive. What an improvement! He spent a long time licking and chewing afterward and also then fell asleep!

We then worked our way down to the riding ring and I brushed him, (1) because he was dirty and (2) because he had worked up a very little bit of a sweat and I wanted to him to cool down before I let him go. Plus it was a nice way to end the session :)

Naturally,
~Keri

Ruffian: Figure eights and more.

December 4 2010

Ruffian and I had an great play time today. We had some small breakthroughs and over all had a good time. We stayed on the 12ft line but that was okay because we still don't have a whole lot of room to play because of the ice. 
We played with circles and played with maintaining gait. Ruffian wasn't sure he wanted to trot around so we played the game, don't make we come out of neutral. He caught on pretty quickly. I had to make sure that when I was assertive I wasn't putting to much pressure on Ruffian because even though he is a LBE he can go RBI really quickly. 

Once that was going well we played with Figure eights at the trot. Ruffian did really well for not having done them in a while. Once he maintained gait and was listening well we stopped. 

I had a plastic bag on the end of my carrot stick just to add a bit of a challenge and see how each horse would respond to it being there. Ruffian had some issues with it rubbing him and moving around. So before we started anything I had to get him okay with it moving around. It took some time but in the end it worked well and Ruffian gained confidence quickly.

I think it is time to pick up the pace a little bit though because Ruffian is pretty confident at the walk but he looses confidence when I ask him to trot, and maintain gait, so we are going to play with that and see if we can get some of our patterns back up to where they were.

Naturally,
~Keri

Prince: Trying new things and taking things up to the next level....

December 3 2010

Prince and I had a great session today. We actually played with a lot but we were able to keep it interesting and have fun. We started out with Stick to me from zone 2/3. I want to play with snappy departure, graceful transitions, and quicker back-up's. We really started getting quicker, snappier back ups when I had a strong focus (physically and mentally). One thing that I have noticed recently is that my energy is not equal when it comes to going forward and backing up. So I have be playing with that and seeing great improvement in Prince's back up's!

We got our stick to me back up's really good and to the point where we could stop quickly and go backwards really fast and Prince stuck right with me the whole time. Up next was backing up by the hocks. Prince caught on fairly quickly. He got a little bit confused part way through so I just used my rope to help him get unstuck and after that he was very light and responded very well.

Next we played with jumping a single barrel and circles, both on the 12ft line. I have really been learning a lot about Responsibility #4 for the human which is - Use the natural power of focus. Especially being mentally focused, knowing what you want, how you want your horse to do it, where you will have to be to set up for success... etc., etc. It takes a lot to become mentally focused, but it is worth it because both you and your horse will have more success because you are the leader and you know what you want! So, with this in mind, we set out to play with jumping the barrel. I can get Prince to jump it fairly easily but he doesn't really offer it and there is hardly any slack in the rope...which means that if Prince was at Liberty he would just go around it.


We have been playing with it for a while and getting some success but it was kind of hit and miss. Today though we were able to get quite a bit of success. One of the main things we played with today was that I asked Prince to put more effort into jumping it. He seemed to know that I wanted him to jump it but he would hit is back feet on the barrel while going over. So I would reward the slightest try and then ask again. Pretty soon he started offering more and when he jumped the barrel and cleared it I brought him in for a long rest.


Next we played with circles. We did some cantering also which was really nice. Prince even put slack in the rope while he was cantering around and so we just played with that a bit and then ended.


When I let Prince go he stayed with me and then after a little while he walked over to the gate and looked like he was going to leave but then he came back to me! So we played at Liberty. We did Falling Leaf at a walk, circles, sideways, and stick to me. One of my goals is to be able to do the Falling Leaf pattern at Liberty and at the trot. It will probably take a while to get but that is my goal. Prince did very well with the circles. He stayed really connected and we were able to get them to be a little bit farther away also, instead of him being really close to me. So that was pretty cool.


Then we went over and hung out with Ruffian, who had followed us up to the riding ring and hung out with us the whole time. He was lying down by this time so we went over and stayed there for a while before I went down and went inside to warm up!


Naturally,
~Keri


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Twosox: Gaining more confidence.

December 2 2010

Recently Twosox has been gaining a lot more confidence in me and also in himself. Before he wouldn't go to the manger very often if the other horses were there eating and that resulted in him not getting enough to eat and consequently being thin. So since we have been feeding the horses better hay and in square bales I have been making sure that Twosox gets in to eat because I want him to get the hay and I also don't want Prince and Ruffian to get it all ;) I have been playing around with different strategies, whether I should send Prince and Ruffian away and let Twosox and Knightly eat or whether I should stay with all four and make sure that Prince and Ruffian don't send the other two away. These are the main two strategies that I have been playing with and observing.

I have found that letting all four eat together and just making sure that Prince and Ruffian don't send the other two away is the best so far. This way Twosox learns that he can be safe in there and he learns how to be a little bit more like Knightly in the sense that he is learning the difference between when the boss horses are just moving their head a little bit or when they are actually sending him :)

I have seen huge improvements already. Twosox will actually go to the manger with the other horses by himself and if he gets sent away he will wait a couple minutes and just go back in again. Plus our relationship has grown also. If he hasn't come over by the time that I am done putting the hay in, I will call him and he will come in and start eating, trusting my leadership.

It has been really interesting. Now recently since the ground has been freezing up and we don't have a whole lot of snow yet the corral is awful and really hard to walk on. So Twosox has been more cautious... and I don't blame him. I have decided to put some hay in the shelter for him instead of just leaving it all in the manger. And since the ground is really bad to walk on the other horses leave him alone for the most part because they don't want to walk on it ;) So far it has worked well.

Since I have been out with the horses each feeding time, (we used to just roll a bale of hay in, which was easier but with square bales it is too loose and the horses are wasting to much so we have to put bales in through out the day) it has been interesting to watch and see the herd and how they interact with each other. It is definitely interesting, and sometimes it can get rough! But I have enjoyed it and I have noticed little changes in the horses in how they respond to me when I go in the corral. One being that they will move out of my way for me when I am coming through, especially Prince! If I am coming through he will move over and let me by or if I am at the manger doing something Prince will wait and ask me whether he can come in to eat. Little things that are really amazing!

Needless to say I am also enjoying the extra time with the horses :)

Naturally,
~Keri

Prince: Trimming and playing!

December 2 2010

This morning I trimmed Prince and also played with him a little bit. He stood pretty well for the most part. Part way through I decided to go onto the front yard and let both of us stretch a little. We got some nice circles with changes of direction at the trot on the12ft line, yo-yo's with lightness, speed and distance, and sideways at a trot without a fence!! It was incredible! Plus when we were going to the right (Prince's hard side) Prince picked up the trot while going sideways, instead of me having to send him in a small half circle and then ask him to go sideways. It was really really cool!

We also played with driving the hindquarters and then bringing the forequarters around and moving them. Prince and I have done this before but today I wanted to see if I could keep the same rhythm and speed through out the whole thing. Prince moves his hindquarters away a lot easier than his forequarters so I knew our challenge would be in keeping the lightness and speed while driving them. I have to make sure that I was keeping the same rhythm and speed in my body and it actually went really well. Prince was a little bit worried at first since I was asking for more but when he caught on he was okay.

The rest of the trim went well and Prince stood well for it. I have switched to trimming them every five weeks and that seems to be working out alright. It will be nice to have a week off, even if it is every four weeks. However, if I see that their feet are getting worse I will switch back. But so far Prince and Twosox's have been well. Now Ruffian's and Knightly's might be worse because their feet have always been worse but hopefully they will be alright also.

Naturally,
~Keri

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Prince: Never stop progressing!

November 29 2010

Prince and I had a shorter session today. Mom and I continued to do little tasks and challenges. Prince came over to me when I got down to the corral. He stuck with me while I rubbed him all over and then haltered him. We headed up to the riding ring after that. Mom and I played with porcupine games in all different zones. Prince and I played with backing up faster by the nose, hindquarter yields with lightness, speed and distance.

Prince has come a long way in a couple months and has gotten so much lighter! But as Mr. Pyne says... "Be always pleased but never satisfied" I am very pleased with how far we have come, but do I want to stay here, NO!! It would be very easy to just stay where we are, being happy and content. But the problem with staying where you are is that you never do. You are either progressing or digressing. It will either be getting better or getting worse.

We then jumped over the barrels that were still there. Prince walked up to them the first time and actually, to my surprise made it over the barrels! I gave him a rest and then asked him to jump them again from the trot which was what I wanted the first time. He did that with out and any problems.

Then we set up the barrels so that there was two standing up and one lying down between them. It was in the middle of the area where we were playing and the goal was to have the horses jump towards us and then back to the barrel. Prince and I were up first. Prince jumped it but he offered to back right through the barrel. So we let mom and Knightly go next and then we tried it again. Prince cleared the jump this time. Not that he couldn't have jumped it before, but he wasn't putting a whole lot of effort into it the first time. This time he did it beautifully, and he didn't back through the barrels.

I ordered a cradle bridle on Friday. I am really excited! I had it shipped through USPS though instead of Fed-Ex because we get charged extra when they deliver it. So it will take longer to get here but that is okay. I am really excited to play with it over the winter and really start playing with Finesse!!

Naturally,
~Keri

Friday, December 3, 2010

Twosox: Having fun with little things...

November 29 2010

Twosox and I played up in the riding ring today. He came over to me after I had let Ruffian go. Mom and I did different small tasks with our horses seeing as over half of the riding ring was ice. So we stayed on the part that wasn't. It was a lot of fun because we had to use our imaginations to figure out what we could do.

The one thing that I wanted to do with Twosox was see if he could jump the two barrels with one in front of each other (doubled up). The first time I didn't quite set it up properly but the next time he jumped it no problem and turned, faced and waited, all with slack in the rope (a 12ft line!).

Next we each got our horses to straddle a pole lengthwise, one front foot and one back foot on either side. Twosox did that really quickly and so we then did friendly game while I was standing in zone 5. We did extreme friendly game and also friendly game in zone 1. Twosox did really well with that and stood nice and still, while remaining relaxed.

Then we played with tapping their feet to lift them up. Twosox had a little bit of trouble at first but once he remembered what to do all I had to go was very lightly tap his foot once or twice and he would lift it up and rest his toe on the ground. It went really quickly because he did so well! So we ended and I went and got Prince.

Even though we didn't get to do anything like circles that was okay. Hopefully once the snow gets here and there isn't ice under it, we can do more bigger things, but until then we are having fun with the little things!

Naturally,
~Keri

Ruffian: Leading by the chin and more.

November 29 2010

Ruffian and I had a really great session this afternoon. He actually came over to me when he saw me which was really amazing because Ruffian hasn't done that.... in well a long time. He used to always be the first one over to meet you but then when he was getting played with less and less he started to become more introverted and then that was when I started playing with him. It was really special!

I haltered him and then we just hung out in the corral while mom and I had a good conversation. While we were talking though I was watching Ruffian and it took him a long time to think and chew over just me haltering him. Once he did that though he really relaxed and we were able to play with leading by the chin. First though we had to do some friendly game around his chin because he was resisting that. I just persisted with it until he stopped moving his head around and trying to get away from my hand and then once he could except that then I started to ask for just one of two steps. Ruffian was really good and in the end we were able to walk around, turn, and stop and he was responding to the pressure appropriately.

Then we played with some more porcupine games such as hindquarter yields. I can't get over how light Ruffy had gotten! He pivoted a full circle, he was very light, and offered the speed!! It was incredible! We did that on both sides and then after he licked and chewed I let him go. We was a really good session for both of us and it was nice to be able to stay in the corral where the footing was a little better.

Naturally,
~Keri

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Prince: Overcoming resistance little by little

November 26 2010

When Prince and I went up to the riding ring things were starting to melt a little and so it wasn't quite to icy but it still wasn't safe enough to move around a lot. So I decided to play with picking up his feet and holding them between my legs, like I do when I am trimming. Prince has gotten a million times better and there is no doubt about that... the fact that he will even let me hold his feet, let a lone between my legs, is a major improvement from a year ago when I started trimming him.  But I can feel just the slightest bit of resistance when I got to put his foot between my legs and when I am finished and put the foot back on the ground.

So what we played with today was basically friendly game. I would put his foot in the right position so I didn't have to hold it with my hands and then I would rub him all over, scratching him etc and then I would play around with his foot, then hold it in a different position then slowly put it down, making sure that it was my idea the whole way.

Prince started to get the idea and by the end I could put his foot between my legs, rub him all over, then put it down and he didn't resist it. It was a great improvement. I did this with all four feet and each time it got better and better. By the time I got to his other front foot I didn't feel any resistance when I picked it up and got it into position but there was just a little bit when I let it go, it felt more like he was taking it back. So we played with that a bit and then once he had softened we ended.

He stayed with me at Liberty for a while before we both headed down to the corral. One thing that I noticed that was different about the way that Prince walked down the hill compared to the other two that walked down the hill was that Prince didn't look twice at the ice. He just walked down it, walked through the deep spots, over the water, he just crossed what ever was in his way.... I guess that is the mountain pony in him still ;)

Naturally,
~Keri

Twosox: Staying safe and having fun!

November 26 2010

Next I played with Twosox. I wasn't sure whether to go up to the riding ring or not but in the end we went up. Seeing that it was still icy I decided to play around with asking him to pick up his feet when I tapped them with the carrot stick. We had done this before but it has been a long time since we had played with it so I wasn't sure how it would go.

We started with the front left foot. This one was the hardest of all of them but I think the other ones were easier because Twosox knew what I was asking for. Once Twosox caught on he knew exactly what to do and he would lift his foot up and just rest the tip of his toe on the ground, keeping his weight off of it. I did all four of his feet and like I said earlier he caught on really quickly.

When I went to his back feet as soon as I asked he lifted his foot, and kept the weight off of while I massaged it. It was really interesting and I couldn't believe how fast he caught on!

After that we finished and then I played with Prince!

Naturally,
~Keri

Ruffian: Having fun with tying!

November 26 2010

I played with all three horses again today. We got a lot of freezing rain last night so everything was ice. It gave me a chance to use my imagination though.  First I played with Ruffian. We made it up to the riding ring safely but it wasn't any better. So we just hung out by the fence for a bit. While we were standing there I got the idea that I should practice tying Ruffian and getting him used to that. Seeing as if we ever have to trailer him somewhere... it would be a good start.

So I looped the rope around the rail and started out by just doing some friendly game, then some extreme friendly game in zone 2,3,4, and 5. Ruffian was so calm and relaxed he was looking around but he wasn't at all RB.

Then I decided to get the little sled out that was had brought up last winter. I let Ruffian see it first and then I started moving it around, he was okay with that so the next step was to push it back and forth a little on the ground. Ruffian wasn't bothered by that so I started pulling it behind me and I walked in a big half circle around him and kept doing that for a couple times until he totally relaxed and wasn't bothered at all by it, which didn't take long.

Even though Ruffian is a LBE I wasn't as worried about him moving his feet so much as him going RBI, which he does when he is worried,  feels pressure or anything else like that. But he did extremely well the whole time.

After that I started kicking around a basketball. Ruffian was a little worried about that but he still stayed still and didn't go internal which I was happy about! He even started licking and chewing after a while and then started lowering his head and yawning! Part way through I had shortened his rope so he only had about 1ft of rope. I wanted to see what he did when he couldn't move his head as much (I started out with quite a bit of slack in the rope).

Ruffian didn't move his feet once through out the whole session. We ended when he was relaxed, calm and sleeping. I was really impressed to say the least!

We slowly worked our way down the hill, trying not to slip. We were able to make it down okay but taking a longer route. It was a lot of fun doing really small things because we couldn't move around a whole lot. It was cool!!

Naturally,
~Keri

Friday, November 26, 2010

Prince: Reviewing some small things

November 25 2010
 
Today Prince and I just reviewed some smaller things that I want make sure we keep up on. Since the riding ring is frozen but there is no snow so it is really hard Prince and I played on the 12ft line and kept it simple. We did some Stick to me. We played with halt-trot transitions which got really light and snappy.
 
After that we played with some circles, yo-yo's, jumping the single barrel from a walk and trot, changes of direction at the trot on the 12ft line, and some Touch it. We did one Touch it where I wanted to get Prince's left hind foot in a small tire so I decided to do it from zone 5. To get the end result we used leading by the tail and sideways mainly but a couple times either Prince or I got it wrong so we had to play with it. It didn't take long though and Prince had a big lick and chew afterward. I love picking simple tasks and doing them it a little bit harder way! It is also so much fun! 

Next I hopped on and rode around bareback with my carrot stick and one rein. We did sideways, back-up's with no reins (using just my body), sideways over barrels, indirect rein with out and reins, and standing with all four feet on the pedestal. We didn't ride long because it was getting colder but it was still fun and it was nice to get back on and play with some little things... making sure they are working right for the next time I ride! 

I am thinking that I probably won't do a whole lot of riding until we get snow because of the ground issue. I am really looking forward to the snow! I am tired of the mud, died grass, brown trees... etc etc  :) Besides I am really looking forward to going trail riding a lot this winter :) All that snow!

Naturally,
~Keri

Ruffian: Gaining mental connection

November 25 2010

Ruffian and I had a great session today. We played with really getting him mentally connected to me as he was anything but connection. I could tell that his mind was a million miles away so we started with some stick to me from zone 2 along the rail. We started out with halt-walk-stop-back up transitions and then once those were going well we added in some trotting. Ruffian stayed with me really well for the most part.

One thing that I noticed was that even though I thought that I was "walking with purpose" I wasn't really. Yes I wasn't walking really slowly but when I actually started walking somewhere Ruffian put more effort into following. It was amazing how when I picked a spot to which I wanted to go and then went there, Ruffian started to go even more mentally connected and we had a lot more success. We did it on both sides and when it was going really well we stopped.

Ruffian was more introverted today and it took him a long time to lick and chew about it but I just waited. I wanted him to process it before we went on to the next thing. After he finally licked and chewed and started looking a little more alive we went on to leading by the chin... something that Ruffian doesn't like to do.

For a while I knew that he didn't like it and that he would just toss his head in the air and he wouldn't go. But since I wasn't really playing with him I didn't bother with it but now that I am trying to do simple things with excellence... well I can not ignore it. Over the last couple months he has gotten a lot better but there is still a lot of resistance even though he doesn't toss his head up any more.

The thing that I found the most helpful was again making sure that I was walking somewhere and not just aimlessly walking around. It was my job to go somewhere and it was Ruffian job to follow. This made a huge difference instead of asking for Ruffian so come but not really having a plan as to where we were going. Ruffian would sense that and decided that it wasn't worth following. All in all it went really well and Ruffian was really light and hardly put any resistance into following.
Then we took a long rest and again I waited for him to lick and chew. This time he took even longer but that was okay. I just waited... and froze! But it was worth it because in the end Ruffian let go of a lot of tension and was able to relax. Which was great.

I am always amazed by how much tension Ruffian actually has when we play! He is so tense and introverted. He literally is a totally different horse from what he was a couple years ago... and I don't think that is a good thing. But this is the horse that shows up and it is my responsibility to act like a partner not a predator, to be willing to take how ever long it takes and in the end it will pay off!

Naturally,
~Keri

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Prince: The need for maintaining the patterns...

November 24 2010

Today Prince, Knightly, myself and my mom went out to a friends place (where I kept Prince for two and a half weeks) for a play day. It turned out to be a nice day even though it was cold and windy, but at least the sun was shining!

The ground was hard in the arena because of the -11 temperatures over night so Prince and I mainly played in the field. We did some circles at the trot. About 8 each way. Prince wanted to see the new horses so he would take the slack out of the rope when ever he got to the one side but then he started to blow and stay connected the whole circle. Going in the other direction was of course easier because he had already figured out what I wanted. We also did some cantering on the circle. Prince had to figure out what I was asking but he got it in the end. It is amazing how when you do not do something for a while how it almost falls apart! I noticed that a lot today.

When Prince was there for those two and a half weeks we were getting things like drop to trot simple lead changes on a change of direction, 6-10 laps at the canter with rhythm, relaxation and connection... but now that we have been back home and do not have the same space to do those kind of things they have gone down hill.

We did play in the arena a bit and did some jumping, straddling the log, sideways towards and away from me and some other things. Then we headed out into the field to ride. We started with Follow the rail on the outside of the arena, which was grass so it was easier to ride on. Prince wasn't responding to my body at all. So we had to play with that quite a bit. Eventually he started getting better and I didn't have to make as many correction with my rein or carrot stick.

Then we went to circles. These were much the same as the Follow the rail. I had to make lots of corrections. Eventually Prince started to get it and when we got some nicer circles going in both
directions at the trot we finished. After that mom and I went for a ride up and down the road. We trotted for a long ways and then headed back over to the others. I felt even more in harmony with Prince today which was really cool considering it felt good before. We didn't do any cantering because of the ground being frozen but that was okay.

When we loaded the horses into the trailer, both leaving and going home we tied the horses last. So Prince had to wait quite some time because he was loaded first. I was really proud of how well he stood in the trailer, untied with nobody holding him, and he just waited patiently while Knightly was loaded and everything was ready! It was really neat!!

This was the last time that we are going to take the horses out there because winter is just around the corner!!! It is getting really cold now but in the spring I have the opportunity to take Prince out there again for two weeks!! So I am looking forward to that!

Naturally,
~Keri

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prince: So far in so little time!

November 19 2010

 I was so proud of Prince today!! Words can not describe how incredible he was! Today my older brother and Prince went on a trail ride with mom and Knightly. I walked with them the whole way just to make sure everything went okay but both my brother and Prince were incredible! 

Before we went on the ride though I played with Prince and got him saddled then my brother came and played with him. He got Prince to jump the barrels, yo-yo's, circles, Touch it and some other simple but important things. We went over lateral flexions on the ground before mounting up and then he got up. They did some Follow the rail, lateral flexions, 9 step back ups and some over things that would be important on the trail. 
For the first part I walked beside Prince and he was basically following me but later I was able to walk farther on a head or behind and Matt was able to keep Prince on track. He even directed him around some trees and to some nice grass (Prince liked him for that!) 

I was so proud of both of them! Prince took really good care of Matt and Matt, who had only ridden a handful of times before was so gentle but also he knew when he needed to get firmer. He was patiently persistent!!

On the way home my youngest brother who had tagged a long with us got to ride Prince home and I led Prince. I can't believe how far Prince had come in such a short time. It really made both of my brothers day I think. They both had to much fun and Prince enjoyed himself also. He was to motivated on the way out and then coming back he was walking so slowly! I guess he enjoyed himself quite a bit not to want to go home. 

Prince also seemed to do better on the gravel. He seemed to be walked better. So that was good too. It was nice to get out of the riding rind because the ground was frozen in there and really hard for the horses to walk on. Let a long trot and canter. Hopefully mom and I will be able to do even more trail riding this winter and I am hoping to take Twosox on more and more trail rides. It should be a lot of fun! 

Naturally,
~Keri

Ruffian: Making the riding ring a friendly place...

November 19 2010

Today while on the way up to the riding ring Ruffian and I came across a couple thresholds. I am not sure if it was just because he hadn't been up there in a while, or if he saw something different, or if it was because when ever we go up there we play and recently we have been advancing some things and I am asking for more. No matter what I reason was, we didn't cross the threshold until Ruffian was ready. When we got up there I decided to play a little bit and get some good things going and then end on a really good note and then just hang out. 
We did some circles, Falling Leaf and jumping the single barrel and then we went and hung out on the pedestal. Ruffian fell asleep and even after I took the halter off he stayed there so one of my younger brothers grabbed a brush and brushed him. Ruffian really enjoyed that because when my brother walked away Ruffian followed him! It was really sweet. 

It was good for both Ruffian and I to just hang out in the riding ring after we had a really good, provocative session.

Naturally,
~Keri

Prince: Online...

November 18 2010

Prince and I had a short but really good Online session today. We did some circles and played a little bit with our cantering on the circle. Prince stayed well connected and cantered a couple laps each direction and while maintaining connection the whole time. 
Our sideways at a trot is getting so much better! Prince picked up the trot while going sideways today... which is something he has been having a hard time doing. It was beautiful and he trotted sideways quite a few steps before I stopped. Even to his hard side he is starting to get it and we are making lots of progress with it!! 

Then we played with circles with a single barrel on Prince's circle and his job was to jump the barrel each time. He had a bit more trouble with it this time so I kept with it expecting a lot, excepting a little and rewarding often and by the end he circled at a trot twice in each direction and jumped the barrel each time. 

We ended with me putting my fingers in his mouth and he was perfectly fine with it! I did it a couple times and was able to move my fingers around a bit also :) Just another lesson for me in taking the time it takes and it will take less time!

Naturally,
~Keri

Twosox: Circles, pushing the ball and more!

November 18 2010


Today Twosox and I had a great playtime. We started out with playing with the ball. Twosox really likes pushing it around and kicking at it. I think of all the horses he is the one that puts the most effort into it and gets the most enjoyment out of it! Prince will push it when I ask and it will do it really well and Ruffian will sort of play with it but neither of them really get into it as much as Twosox! Which is really interesting because he is a RBI!! Who would have thought!!

Then we did circles! 10 laps each direction with out any correction! The first time we tried the other horses kept getting in the way so I had to move them. But after I did that Twosox did them really well and maintained the rhythm, relaxation and connection really well!!

We also played with some little things like straddling a pole lengthwise... one front foot and one hind foot on each side. Twosox caught onto that really quickly so I then asked him to back up and come forward while still keeping that same position! It was fun!

The session wasn't long but we did a lot more than we normally do. I wanted to test a couple things that I had marked off on the self assessment sheet months ago but we hadn't done them in a long time so I wasn't sure if we could still do them! But we still could and Twosox did very well with each task!

Naturally,
~Keri

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Prince: Getting back into the swing of things...

November 15 2010

Prince and I played in the field first today. We started with taking our yo-yo's game to the next step, getting it even lighter and with more speed. When we got that the distance came really easily. Even though Prince was backing up he was putting just enough effort in so that it looked like he was responding well. But he wasn't asking questions. That is what started it. I noticed that and so we played with a couple different things and it took me getting to an effective phase 4 for Prince to realize that I was asking him for more. Gotta love that long phase 1 quick 2,3,4! Prince started asking more and more questions because he was starting to get interested in what I was asking.

Then once that was going well I had to change things up a bit or else Prince would get bored again. So I would back Prince up and then send him off on the circle, allow him to circle for a lap or two and then bring him in. The next time I would just back him up and either bring him in to me or I would go to him. Just keeping it interesting!

Once all that was going well and I felt that Prince was prepared enough we played with circles at the canter.... something we haven't done in about a week because both Prince and I were taking a break of sorts. Prince did really well. At first he kept breaking gait so every time he did I would ask him for a change of direction. He caught on really quickly but was pulling a bit. So I just gently asked him to come off of the pressure and he did it really nicely. We got about 1 lap each direction so I stopped. We will just build it back up again from there... and hopefully this time keep it!!

Then we headed home and saddled up. Once in the riding ring we played with some circles at a trot with jumping a single barrel each time. Prince caught on really quickly to my surprise and we got 3 laps each direction and each time he jumped the barrel really nicely!

Next we did a little bit of friendly in Prince's mouth. He is getting so much better and accepting it really well. Then we played with sideways at a trot. Prince did really well and he is starting to get it figured out. Slow and right beats fast and wrong!!

Then we rode! The footing in the riding ring wasn't the best so we didn't canter but we did some Follow the rail, transitions, guiding him through a weave with my figure tips, sideways over things and jumping the barrels... all bridleless. Jumping was definitely a lot of fun!! After that I climbed down and we hung out for a bit before ending.

Naturally,
~Keri

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ruffian: Where did those circles come from??

November 12 2010
 
Ruffian and I had a really fun but interesting playtime today. He totally blew my mind away with his circles! He trotted around with rhythm, relaxation and connection on the 22ft line but he was trotting a 15ft circle or so and he kept the same amount of slack in the rope the whole time. They were by far the best circles we have ever gotten.

We also did some changes of directions and again Ruffian was so in tune with me that the belly of the rope was on the ground for 90% of the time!! Our transitions were smooth and Ruffian was really connected. But of course every LBE has to have a LBE moment here and there and one time as he was circling around he leaped in the air, bucked and then kicked almost all at the same time, then the next moment he was peacefully trotting around again. I just had to smile. That is Ruffian for you!

The next thing we did was some stick to me with Ruffian behind me. I wanted him to keep the same amount of slack in the rope no matter how fast or slow we were going. At first our draw was really good and Ruffian came off the pressure really easily but when I melted down to a stop he didn't stop until he was at my shoulder. So I would back him up to where he should have stopped, gave him a little time to think about it and then we tried it again. Then things switched and Ruffian started to stop really nicely but he wouldn't come off of the feel very good. We just continued to play with it until Ruffian trotted when I ran, walked when I walked, stopped when I stopped, and  backed up when I backed up. It Ruffian came forward one step when I stopped but we still ended with that one because it was the best we had gotten yet and it was still pretty good. Next time we will build on it and it will hopefully just keep getting better and better. 

After that we hung out for a little bit then I un-haltered him and mom and I headed home. It was nice to play out in the field and have a bit more space. Even though I know that soon I will have to go back to playing and riding in the riding ring.... or at least riding. I guess I will have to use my imagination a little and see what new things I can come up with! :)

Naturally,
~Keri

Prince: Struggling to adjust...

November 12 2010

Today I was having a really hard time with trying to adjust to being back home with Prince and having to play in our much smaller riding ring and not being able to advance with the patterns and tasks we were having so much fun and success with over the last couple weeks. I didn't even want to think about playing with Prince because I knew that I would have to think about really changing the whole way we have been playing. It is frustrating but I know that God has placed us here for this time and I want to be content with what He has given me. He knows best.


I seriously debated not playing with Prince today but I was able to gather myself up enough to do a little bit with him. The horses were in the field and so mom and I decided to just stay out there and play. Prince and I played at Liberty and then rode bareback and bridleless.

While played at Liberty we started with some w/t/c/back up stick to me and then did some sideways from different zones, hindquarter yields,  Figure eights at the walk around two rocks, Touch it, jumping a log while drawing at a trot and some other fun things. Prince stayed with me the whole time and was really interested. We both had fun and it was nice to switch things up a bit and get my mind off of what was depressing and frustrating me.

Then I mounted up bareback and bridleless but of course armed with my trusty carrot stick and savvy string ;) We did some basic things like sideways, back-ups, indirect rein without reins, and lateral flexions (can't forget those!). Then we put it all to a purpose and we rode over to where mom and Knightly were standing, took mom's coat and then went and hung it up on a tree branch for her. Prince did really well and responded to my focus really well.

Mom then challenged us to back a Figure eight. Of course me being the type of person that if somebody challenges me to do something, in regards to my horsemanship/ Parelli that is, I am always willing to try. We may not get it right away but we shall work towards it. I love a good challenge!! They make we think!

So off we went. Before we started though I thought back to one of the Horseman's Apprentice episodes where Mr. Parelli was teaching the Mastery students how to back a horse in a circle. I couldn't remember all of it but I remembered some of the main points. At first it was a little messy but when we were coming around the second marker things really started to click! Both Prince and I seemed to just get it. When I changed my focus Prince would turn as he was backing up and we would continue on. It was really amazing! I, of course, missed the middle a little so we have to reposition ourselves but I was pretty happy with it for our first try!

We ended there and took a little nap for a while. Then we went and played with Ruffian!

Naturally,
~Keri