Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prince: Online and Liberty

April 18, 2011

This afternoon Prince and I started with Liberty. We high a couple really high points and a rather how interesting moment. We got some amazing circles at the trot and canter. Prince cantered about 20ft away from me and stayed connected. About half of the circle the fence was there but the other half there was no fence so Prince was fairly connected.

We also played with sideways towards me and away from me and close range circles at the trot. I was looking for Prince to put more effort into turning and into the circle. He did well and when we got a couple nice, close range, circles at the trot we ended.

While we were doing circles (long range) I had asked Prince to circle to the left but he changed direction and went to the right. He left at the canter so I asked for a transition to the trot before I was going to ask for a change of direction. Prince must have gotten confused and he ran into and through the fence. Fortunately he came away with nothing more than a small scrape on his side. I think what happened was that Prince felt the pressure of me asking for the downward transition and because he wasn't thinking "downward transition" it was pressure that caused him to jump sideways and go through the fence. Liberty in a round corral is hard for us because Prince feels pressure, even if it is as simple as walking circles, but because we do not have a round corral I can't help him through that. Next time I have the opportunity to play in a round corral I think we are just going to do undemanding time :)

Then we went Online and played with cantering on the circle and getting the rhythm, relaxation and connection, flying lead changes, jumping barrels while circling at the canter, and then we played with cantering up to the barrel and straddling them. This was a lot of fun because I didn't want to tell Prince the answer yet I had to support him and help him solve the puzzle. So there were a couple times where Prince would jump the barrels and then slow down, which was progress in the direction I wanted so we kept on going and eventually we got it. Prince cantered up on the end of the 22ft line and did it perfectly, all at a phase one!! It was amazing and the look on Prince's face when he did it was priceless!! He looked at me and ask a beautiful question :)

We also played a bit with Figure eights at the trot and canter and Prince is starting to getting more even on both sides. Which is really great because he still has a hard time cantering on the right side. We are getting there :)

Then we hung out for a bit, licking and chewing over our session :)


Monday, April 25, 2011

Twosox: From problem solving to progressing!

April 18, 2011

We started out with doing figure eights around everything, tires, pedestal, barrels. We played it like a traveling figure eight which was really fun because Twosox found the rhythm, relaxation and connection so quickly and he was trotting around both ends beautifully!! He had a huge lick and chew afterward and then we

We are really moving from problem solving to progressing. I feel that I am starting to understand what he needs from me and things are coming together very nicely!!

Next we played with jumping a single barrel in the middle of the riding ring. I played around with waiting for Twosox to become straight/square in front of the barrel and being able to wait. We went back and forth from one barrel to the next until Twosox could line up square with the barrel and then I asked him to jump the barrel coming toward me, on a yo-yo draw, and he jumped, cleared it, from a stand still on the first try!!! I was blown away with how well it worked!! It seemed to make so much more sense to Twosox and he was willing to do it after he learned he had to stay square and straight. This is definitely a strategy that I am going to try with Prince!!  

Up next we played with spinning and go on the circle. At first Twosox wasn't putting much effort into it but once he figured out the pattern he started putting lots of effort and we ended when they got really smooth and quick!!

It really was an amazing session and Twosox was so willing to try and I felt that we really had zero brace. Now I need to start teaching him new things so that he doesn't get bored :)


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Parelli Core Values

Put the Relationship First

*whether with your horse, spouse, family, co-workers, customers...
*use open, honest & respectful language (non-violent communication)

Be the Best Me That I Can Be
*pursue a positive perspective
*be impeccable with your word
*be solutionary
*don't take things personally

Get it Done, with a Little Fun ~ Create Fun with Individuality
*celebrate individuality - you are free to be yourself
*have fun activities outside of work without horses sometimes

Exceed Expectations
*aim to deliver more than the student or customer expects

Embrace Never Ending Self-Improvement
*for us individually, as a team and as a family
*nurture learning & change
*embrace imagination & creativity
*create support & promote opportunities for personal & professional growth

Do More Wish Less
*how can we be more efficient & effective
*work smarter not harder
*how can we best utilize the resources we have

Be Humble
*service above self
*values before our egos
*being authentic about helping the world from the 'spirit' of humility

Truth, Transparency & Trust
*zero gossip

Keep it Natural
*it's a lifestyle choice

Friday, April 22, 2011

Five years and counting...

Yesterday, April 21, 2011, marked exactly five years since Prince came into my life. He was abused, neglected, and terribly underweight. He didn't see any reason to trust, love, or be with people.... and I don't blame him.

Five years later we are official Level 3 Graduates (aiming for Level 4), he is fat (trying to stay fit), and tries his heart out.

Here is a short video capturing just a short amount of our journey...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Prince: More flying lead changes... these are fun!

April 15, 2011

 So Prince and I kept things short today as I was looking after Ruffian plus I had to go to work. All morning I didn't feel emotionally prepared enough to play with the horses so I spent the time with Ruffian and we worked our way from where he was in the bush to the riding ring. Ruffian can't walk forward but he can backup, and move both his hindquarters and forequarters fairly easily. So we ended up backing 90% of the way to the riding ring and then Ruffian was able to walk forward the rest as it was mostly down hill.

Thanks to Parelli we had no problems navigating our way through the many rocks, trees and hills. Ruffian took it all in stride and we made it to the riding ring alright. I was so proud of how well Ruffian handled it all and how he trusted me to guide him. I love this horse so much! 
Being able to do that with Ruffian and seeing that at least he could walk a little ways helped me to feel better and be able to play with Prince, who had been following me everywhere when I was up there, then look at me with his head hanging over the fence when ever I walked away :) 

So I ended up playing with him before I went to work. We had a lot of fun and played a bit with rhythm, relaxation and connection at the canter on the circle and then did some Figure eights at the trot and seeing as they went so well we took it up to the canter. Prince was still having a hard time getting that one lead so I decided to do circles and see if he would have an easier time getting the leads that way. He did. The first couple times he would canter through the change but he wasn't able to maintain the canter on the other lead so we kept playing with it and after a couple tries Prince got two beautiful flying lead changes in both directions!!! 

We took a long rest and then called it a day. Prince is trying so hard and I think he actually likes it just as much as I do!! I am also excited because this means we are one step closer to being able to do our Level 4 Auditions!!! Flying lead changes were really the last major thing that we need to accomplish. The rest is just refining the stuff we can already do, which we have been playing with already. It is all so exciting!!!

Prince: Getting even better!

April 14, 2011

 Today Prince and I had another great session this morning. We played again with Figure eights and I wanted to see if I could help Prince get the flying lead change on his hard side. We played with it on the Figure eights. Prince got the flying lead change on his easy side no problems but he was having a really hard time getting it on the other side.

So we continued to play with it for a while and then I decided that I needed to help Prince bend more around the barrel on his hard side because he wasn't able to bend and come around that barrel with the same easy as the other one, and so creating the issues with Prince not being able to canter around that barrel. The thing that I found extremely helpful was really focusing on my draw. I had to really pay attention to matching Prince's energy and also, after I thought about it, I figured out that there was also a slight hesitation between the draw and the drive. For a while it was a quick draw and then drive. But that caused Prince to pay more attention to the drive than the draw, and so our draw got less and less.

At the trot Prince still had a hard time trotting around the one barrel so concentrating on the draw made a HUGE different. Prince got it right away. He started trotting around both barrels no problem and we got a few really nice, smooth figure eights at the trot, which will lead to better Figure eights at the canter.

The next thing we did was zone 5 driving with two lines. I put the two 22ft lines through the stirrups, first time for us as I wanted to make sure that our zone 5 driving was solid and going very well before we tried that. It went so well and it was so much easier to not have to worry about the lines getting caught under Prince's feet :) We did yo-yo's, circles, sideways, touch it, and Figure eights!! It took a while before Prince found the rhythm, relaxation and connection on the figure eight and then we stopped. It was tiring running behind Prince for that amount of time :) But fun, very fun.

We also played at Liberty for a little while. We played with sideways without a fence while I stood in the center of the riding ring. Prince got it really quickly and put so much effort and energy into the sideways. So we played with that and then did some circles at the walk and trot then we got some really nice canter stick to me with my hand on Prince's neck. It was really nice! I especially because Prince will pin his ears when we do close range tasks at higher speeds, i.e. the trot and canter. We kept cantering until Prince put his ears forward and then we stopped.

We also played a bit with zone 4/5 driving at Liberty and just kept things simple with easy transitions, turns and such. Then I bridled, mounted and rode! I didn't do a whole lot in the riding ring before I rode down the hill and rode circles. I did do lateral flexions, indirect rein and some sideways. I am really pleased at how well Prince did in responding to the bit and not reacting.

Then we rode down the hill, opened the gate and rode out onto the front yard to ride circles. Opening the gate went so much better than I ever would have imagined!!! Prince was such a partner!! We went sideways over to the gate, hesitated, opened it, rode through and turned and came sideways back over and closed it. It was an incredible feeling.

Circles went very well. Prince knew exactly what to do and we got them done really quickly. We both picked up the circle size quickly, it helped that Mom and I had measured out a proper circle before ;), we only had to do a couple circles each way and then we stopped because Prince did it so well.

Then we finished with sideways and it was even better than last day! Prince was light in the mouth and went true sideways! I really felt his hindquarters coming under me instead of lagging behind. I unbridled from Prince's back and then let him graze for awhile before dismounting and we went back up to the riding ring.

Again I finished with Prince licking off the bit and that really seems to be making a difference when I come back next session.


Ruffian: A lesson in dealing with the unexpected, mentally, emotionally and physical.

April 14, 2011

Sometime between feeding the horses last night and feeding them this morning it happened... let me explain. 

When I went outside this morning to feed the horses with Myles I heard a horse nicker but didn't think much of it as Prince often nickers when he sees me coming with the hay so I carried on as normal. 

The horses were just coming in, or at least it looked like that, so I didn't think anything of it that Ruffian was standing at the bottom of the hill as the horses were scattered all over at the time. He didn't come up when we got there with the hay so I told Myles just to keep an eye on him and make sure that he didn't try get to the closer piles of hay while I was setting them all out. Ruffian didn't move so I brought each horse over to their pile of hay, he still hadn't moved.

As I was taking Knightly over I suggested that Myles go bring Ruffian up so Myles went down and a couple seconds later Myles says in a rather excited voice "Keri!!! Ruffian nickered at me!!" I replied with something to the effect that that was really sweet of him!! Ruffian really loves Myles so I wasn't to surprised that Ruffian was glad to see him. 

I still didn't suspect anything when I went down to see if Myles needed any help as it appeared that Ruffian was not going to move, this was a little unusual as Ruffian is really light and responds very well, even to Myles. 

I looped my carrot stick and savvy string around Ruffian's neck and asked him to follow me but he wasn't going to move. This was when I noticed blood on Ruffian socks. It was under some mud and dirt so I couldn't be sure but I thought that he probably cut himself and that was why he wasn't moving. 

We managed to bring him up to the riding ring and Myles brought Ruffian his pile of hay as the other horses were out on the hill eating. Ruffian was eating alright so I went and got a cloth and some water and started wiping the blood and dirt off. But I was surprised to not see any cut at all. I am not sure how I noticed it but that was when I saw it, Ruffian managed to puncture himself on his left hind leg just above and to the left of his sheath and the swelling was something fierce.

At that point in time I couldn't tell if it was a puncture or a gash because of the swelling. All I knew that was Ruffian couldn't walk and he was bleeding. We got him water, which he drank, and drank, and drank. I was glad to see that he was drinking alright or else we would have had a whole new set of problems but I didn't like the look of that swelling.

We put ice on the swelling, made sure Ruffian had hay and water and he stayed in the riding ring all day, moving very little as could be expected. We just had to keep an eye on it for now. Ruffian was in otherwise good spirits so we just made sure to keep ice on the swelling as much as possible and drank lots of water :) 

This is just one more way that God is testing my mental and emotional fitness... and physical because I have to carry buckets of water ;)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ruffian: So close to Liberty, but still holding his hand

April 12, 2011

After I played with Prince and I played with Ruffian. He was standing at the gate looking in and looking a lot like he wanted to be played with, so much so that he left the other horses who were sleeping in the sun... yep he wanted to be played with ;) I walked over to the gate and invited him in, well he didn't need much inviting. He was ready to come in as soon as the gate was open. He is such a cool horse! 
I didn't have my halter with me as I had put it away so I decided to just loop the 22ft line around his neck and play that way. I was prepared that he might pull, or at least try and possibly get away from me in the end so I was only planning on doing little things so that Ruffian would stay confident.
Well, it was beyond incredible!! I was so shocked!! Ruffian did so well that we ended up playing with the ball (He even brought it to me!!), traveling circles at the trot, sideways, jumping a single barrel in the middle of the riding ring, figure eights at the trot (even around the ends completely with confidence, which is huge for Ruffian at the best of times) yo-yo's and draw at the trot, leading by the tail, and touch it!!! Like I said, I was shocked! 

Ruffian was so  light he only pulled once but the rest of the time he kept slack in the rope and/or the belly of the rope on the ground!! This horse is amazing!! 

Ruffian looses confident quickly at Liberty so this was a great way to get him more used to the idea of Liberty and yet I was still there for him if he got confused or lost. It was great and we both had a lot  of fun so say the least! 

Then since Ruffian was in such a great mood I haltered him (I borrowed Knightly's halter since he was grazing outside the riding ring) and climbed up and rode. Ruffian again did so well and was very confident. We did Follow the rail, played with the ball, indirect and direct rein, and point to point. Then I waited for Ruffian to lick and chew and then dismounted and we hung out together for a while and then I let him go, which was more like just opening the gate because he didn't want to leave. He followed me back to the other side of the riding ring :) 

I love this horse!! He is so willing and hardly has any baggage. He is so much fun to play with and be around!! 

Prince: Circles, Figure eights, Flying lead changes and more!

April 12, 2011

Today Prince and I had an amazing session. We played with circles at the walk, trot and canter, Figure eights at the trot and canter doing simple lead changes and then flying lead changes on one side. Prince still has a hard time cantering around the right barrel so we are playing with getting more flexible!! 

I couldn't believe Prince was giving be all these flying lead changes. They were incredible! The really cool thing is that I played with the ingredients and when they got good enough the whole thing came together and we are getting flying lead changes right left and center!! 

After the Figure eights we played with some sideways where I stood in the middle of the riding ring and sent Prince sideways to the fence, while I kept my feet still. Prince had a bit of trouble with this the last day. He wanted to drift forward but today he was straight for 99% of the time and I only needed to correct him once or twice. Then we played with sideways towards me building to getting it with more distance, where I am farther away. It is coming along nicely!!

I then bridled Prince which hardly took any time at all and then I mounted. I checked out our lateral flexions, direct and indirect rein and Prince was so light on the bit! He kept his mouth still most of the time which was great! I am learning a whole new meaning of lightness!!! Also when Prince starts leaning on the bit, mainly because he doesn't understand, I will support with something other than the reins, such as my legs, carrot stick etc this has really helped Prince to understand what I want without me having to go up my phases with my reins and because we already have that foundation Prince understands. 

We played with some follow the rail and then I just wanted to do a couple Figure eights at the trot before we went down to the front yard to ride circles, it is the only place we have which is almost flat, open and big enough to ride circles. 

But Prince had other ideas, He was quite resistant when it came to riding the Figure eights. So we played with trotting circles around one barrel and then when we got a nice one we would go trot circles around the other one. This worked fairly well and we stopped when Prince was light and we were in harmony. 

Then we rode down the hill and proceeded to open the gate but we had some complications. Part way through the process when I had the gate part way open and we were standing still resting, so that Prince wouldn't learn to just hurry up and go through the gate, I discovered that top hinge had turned and the gate slid off... so there we stood, if I let of the gate to get off the gate would fall over if I just stood there holding it we wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon. Fortunately Mom was just up in the riding ring and she was able to come and assist us. Prince had a good chance to practice his ground tying (and not eating grass at the same time) while Mom and I fixed the gate. It was a how interesting moment!!

Once the gate back in place I remounted and Prince and I rode circles!! As I have stated before I love circles!!   It took me a couple circles to get  a proper circle and yet again I learned that Prince really knows what a circle is, he will find a good circle way faster than I :) But once we got into the swing of things we got it going really well. We did circles both directions and stopped in the center once and out on the edge once because I have to keep the resting spots balanced or else Prince will either cut into the middle with great confidence or want to go to the outside of the circle. Gotta love Left Brain ponies!!! 
After the circles we played with some sideways and Prince was AMAZING!!! He we true sideways !!!  We went from the well to the apple tree, which was about 25ft or so, and back a couple times and it was such a great feeling!! 
I unbridled Prince while mounted and then dismounted after allowing him to eat for awhile. Then I put a bit of honey on the bit and let Prince lick it off with out putting it in his mouth that way we stay balanced and he doesn't just see it as something to go in his mouth... :) 
Needless to say we had a blast and learned a lot!!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Twosox: Progressing from last session

April 12, 2011

Twosox came over to me this morning when I went out to play with Prince so I decided to play with him first seeing as he wasn't going to leave me anytime soon. He practically put his head in the halter... I guess he wanted to be played with :) 
So off we went! We started with traveling circles on the 12ft line. I was looking for him to find the rhythm, relaxation and connection. He didn't have any of them. It didn't take long before he was searching for the answer to the puzzle and when he maintained gait, relaxed, and connected I brought him in for a rest. 

Figure eights were much better today. The first three times Twosox came around the right barrel he wanted to go the opposite direction so we went in that direction but made it my idea. Ruffian was lying down again but we just played around him. I have learned to treat him like a obstacle such as a barrel or pedestal, and just go around him. A couple times we literally did circles around him, Twosox was on one side trotting around and I was on the other. Ruffian just slept on. 

On the forth time coming to the right hand barrel Twosox was light and connected and softly came around the barrel and we continued on with the Figure eight pattern. Once Twosox was able to walk around the end without stopping and then trot through the middle we stopped. It took way less time this time and it was really amazing to see the change!!

We played with the ball next. At first Twosox did exactly what he did last day and just walked right past it, so I did exactly the same thing as I did last day and allowed him to go past it, then I asked for a change of direction, tagged behind him and each time he got to the ball I would relax, offering to him the chance to stop. If he went right past it I would to the same thing as before. This took some time before Twosox started to play the game and search the the answer but pretty soon he would trot up to the ball and stop, look at me and then I would ask him to push it forward. 

He picked up on it really quickly and pretty soon he followed the ball where ever it went and then I asked him to bring it to me, and he did!!! It was amazing!!! We had a long rest and lick and chew over that and then I un-haltered him but he stayed with me for a long time, yawning, licking and chewing and then I scratched some itchy spots and then Twosox moseyed over to some hay and I went to play with Prince!

Prince: Unexpected Liberty Session

April 11, 2011

This morning when my brother and I went out to feed the horses Prince wasn't so sure he wanted me to be his boss so he tested me in a couple ways... one was that he didn't not want to ask permission to come in and eat his hay. So after waiting for a long while I decided to take the other horses over first and then do Prince afterward, it wasn't really fair to make all the others wait for Prince. So I brought Prince back to the riding ring and after the other three were eating happily I decided to play with Prince a little before taking him back over to his hay. 
We played at Liberty and did Figure eights at the walk first. Prince was so connected... which was weird considering his attitude previously. I think part of it was that I wasn't worried about him leaving because I would have expected it. After that we played with jumping a single barrel. 

I wanted to make sure I was making it a game so I didn't tell Prince the answer by continuing to line him up with the barrel and etc I allowed him to go past the barrel but sent him with more energy. It took a while but I would just keep re-suggesting it and finally he offered to put his foot on it, which I rewarded because he was starting to think "barrel". Then I backed him up and asked him to jump the barrel and he did and he didn't just jump it  but he put effort into jumping it. We ended there and went and this time Prince was more eager to ask permission to come in to his hay. I think I came out the leader with both of our dignity intact :)


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prince: Little Liberty Demo

April 9, 2011

This afternoon a friend of ours came over with her daughter and grandchildren to see the horses. I was getting ready to leave for work but I had about ten minutes until I had to leave so I played at Liberty with Prince. 

We did close range stick to me at the walk and trot, sideways towards and away from me, jumping a single barrel, Touch it from 15ft away, straddling a barrel, pushing the ball, leading by the tail, and extreme friendly game. 

The whole time I was thinking of what Mr. Parelli says about impressing them when what you know, not what you don't know (very loosely quoted) and it worked :) I kept it simple and short (because I didn't have a lot of time anyway) and I think they were impressed :) I was really proud of Prince and how well he did, especially the fact that the other horses were eating and I took him away from his food!! Well, not exactly because he did come over to me when he saw me but he was eating. That in and of itself would have been enough, my LBI left his food to come see me!!! 

I love Prince so much! I am so blessed to have him on this amazing journey!


Prince: An Amazing Session

April 8, 2011

After haltering Prince we headed into the riding ring. Prince was... how shall I say this.... being very much a Left Brain Introvert. He would do what I asked but only put enough effort in to get it done. Nothing more. So we played with motivational strategies while doing a fun little task. The task we were playing with was where you put the rope on the other side of the horse and then ask your horse to follow the feel, turn and then head off on the circle. 
Well at first Prince was like molasses in December.... very, very slow but that was okay! I love a good challenge! So I allowed (I almost said "let"!!) him to go slowly for the first one but then I decided on which strategy I would use so get his mind engaged!! After he had come off of the feel I tagged behind him as he left this worked well and Prince started getting more and more interested. 

Prince started getting his mind engaged but I wanted to also advance the task I was looking for a bit more speed in the spin stage, Prince was putting a lot of effort into moving off onto the circle by now so that wasn't an issue but Prince wasn't as light as I was looking for when following the feel. So as I asked Prince to follow the feel I used my carrot stick to support his front end moving over. This worked very well and Prince got very snappy!! He put energy into it and on the last one it worked like clockwork so we ended! 

Up next was circles!! We did these at the canter mainly but started with some beautiful walk - trot - canter transitions!! I mean these were the best we have ever gotten Prince went into the canter at a phase one and maintained gait for 4 laps to the right like it was no problem at all!! I love how light our transitions are now!! To the left it was the same light phase but Prince had a bit of a hard time maintaining gait because he had a hard time getting on the correct lead. Once he found it though he had to problems maintaining gait and cantered for about 2 laps before I brought him in for a rest... and a long rest it was indeed! 

Then we played with sideways at a trot!! Prince totally blew my mind away with how well he did with this today. We trotted sideways for at least 30ft all at a phase one!!! Both directions were amazing and the last one we did Prince trotted sideways with out the fence!! Our fence is not straight, that is another story but it is what you get when you live here in Canada, but it was really amazing because I sent Prince around in a half circle but before he got to the fence I asked him to go sideways, like I normally do, but this time we ended up about 3ft from the fence... and Prince didn't go backwards ;) we went totally straight sideways at a trot :) I was so proud of Prince and so totally happy!!! It was amazing beyond words. 

Up next I bridled Prince which took a matter of seconds and then I mounted up bareback to ride. Today I wanted to focus on teaching Prince to follow the feel from the bit. My strategy was to put the slightest amount of pressure on with the reins, attached to the bit, and then support with the carrot stick instead of getting harder with the bit because Prince didn't know what that pressure meant and how to respond to it.

The only problem was that Prince has gotten so light that he responded to everything I asked with out me even having to touch my reins. It was all body.... hmmm I had to change the strategy seeing as this one wasn't working... although I was really glad that Prince was so light ;)

I decided to do some indirect rein and lateral flexions seeing as I could do though with my reins and it not be a phase four. This worked really well and we got some really nice lateral flexions with Prince's mouth totally quiet. Indirect rein was pretty good also. Then we moved onto the nine step back up. Prince opened his mouth and wasn't to sure how to respond to that pressure so I used my legs to help him instead of increasing the phases with the bit. This all seemed to work well so we did some follow the rail and transitions and then ended.

I was really pleased with how well Prince did responding to the bit and afterward I let him lick some more honey off of it so that he wouldn't just see it as a thing to go into his mouth. It was really an amazing session and I went away feeling very happy with the progress we made and things we learned!!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Twosox: Learning about "Zero Brace"

April 8, 2011

Twosox and I had a fabulous session today. We started off with some zone 5 driving with one rein then played with the green ball. Twosox would show a little bit of interest and then walk right past it, not really putting any effort into actually pushing it or doing anything regarding it. So I made it a game. I knew that if I "made" him do it he wouldn't get it and I didn't want to tell him the answer because he wouldn't become a puzzle solver. It is amazing how easy it is to just tell you horse the answer... or you give him very specific hints until he stumbles across the answer. 
Like I said earlier, Twosox wasn't putting any effort into it really and so we played the game, you can go past the ball anytime you want but I will just change direction and resend you to it, while playfully tagging behind you. We did this about 4 times and at first it didn't really look like it was working. Twosox would just put his nose on the ball, and then walk around it. But slowly he started getting more interested and so we kept with it and then he started asking questions (very small, quick questions) I knew he had gotten it when he pushed the ball about 20ft, he was light on the rope (not pulling like he was before), asking questions, connected and when the ball left the fence he followed it and brought it to me. 

We had a long rest and time to lick and chew over that for a while. I felt like I am really starting to understand how to motivate this horse, and that is to not tell him the answers. He is really good at doing what he is told but his mind is not in it at all. I believe that this is could be the missing key that I have been looking for over the past year and a half!! 

After that we did Figure eights. I had a pretty good idea what Twosox was going to do so I had time to plan ahead and know what I was going to do if he braced. This is anther area I have been discovering with Twosox, no brace. What does that mean? How does it apply? What do I have to do to get zero brace? These were all questions that I had to figure out and just recently I have had the opportunity to see how they actually work!! 

It was always easy to get in a argument with Twosox. He knew how to push my buttons. So when I recently started playing with Twosox more, and wanting to progress, I knew that this would be more issue I would need to address in myself if we were really going to progress.
So off we went. The left barrel was great, nice and light Twosox was connected, soft and didn't brace. The right barrel on the other hand was where Twosox has always had a problem and today was no different, expect I was prepared to respond differently. He came around that right hand barrel and when I asked him to come between myself and it he said "no" and started heading in the other direction. So I said.... "let me help you!!" and we went trotting sideways across the riding ring then did a traveling circle right back to the barrels and continued. 

This happened about ten times. Twosox said "No" and I said "Okay, let me help you" I was having fun! Twosox about the third time in Twosox started going less and less sideways and more and more forward so I paid extra special attention to that the next time. 

After about the tenth time Twosox started to think about not bracing and he started to come around the barrel and stop. So I would lightly ask him to continue on, he would have a little bit of opposition reflex to the pressure on his head but then move forward. The whole time I made sure that I was offering the lightness that I wanted to have in the end. It was all so fascinating!! When Twosox walk around the ends, not stopping, we ended. Both sides were light and Twosox stayed connected. 

The best part was that Twosox didn't snort afterward. Quite often he will snort but right after he will lick and chew, all the while blinking and having his head really low. So I am not sure if it is a right brain thing or left brain but either way he didn't do it. He had a huge lick and chew and yawned for about 10 minutes then I took the halter off but he stayed with me so we just sat there for a while thinking :) 

So I don't know if that is exactly what Mrs. Parelli talks about when she talks about "No Brace" or "Zero Brace" but this is what it means for me and Twosox. Not getting a argument with him, taking his idea, "helping" him it and then bringing it back to my idea. 

One really cool thing also is was I was having fun the whole time! I had a smile on my face and it had changed from a frustration into a fascination!! 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Prince: Circles!

April 7, 2011

 Today Prince and I did a little bit of one line zone 5 driving but mainly focused on circles. We started with a really nice, straight, phase one Yo-yo to the end of the 22ft line (something that has taken us a long time to accomplish) and then we focused on canter sends and maintaining gait at the canter for four laps in each direction. 

Prince did it very easily to the right he cantered the four laps only breaking gait one or twice but picked up the canter again without me having to ask. To the left Prince had a little bit more trouble getting the correct lead but once he got that he maintained gait no problem. So after four laps each direction I brought him in and we had a nice rest. 

We haven't done circles in a long time because this winter was extraordinarily icy so it was really nice to have a chance to focus on them and I was really pleased with how well Prince found the rhythm, relaxation and connection quickly and he remembered it all so well!! 

We then spent some time hanging out together and then I helped Mom with Knightly plus played with and rode Knightly myself. 


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Prince: Zone 5 driving.

April 6, 2011

Prince and I focused on zone 5 driving this morning. We haven't done this in a while so we started off simple with some transitions, yo-yo's and touch it, then we did circles at the walk, trot and a little bit of canter. My rope handling skills left a lot to be desired and so the rope kept getting under Prince's legs but I was able to figure that out eventually and then I was able to keep the ropes in the proper position!! 

At first Prince wasn't yielding to the pressure from the lines or the halter so I made sure to reward the lightness, especially on the circles, where Prince was having a hard time. With in a couple minutes though he found a nice circle and we got some beautiful circles at the trot with lightness!! Then we added in a couple changes of directions and then I brought him in for a rest. 

After that we played with sideways. Something that has always puzzled me but I let Prince be my guide and depending on what feedback he gave me I tried to respond appropriately. At first both he and I were not getting it but after a lot of trial and error I finally started getting something. I was playing with were my lines had to be for me to influence the proper zones in the direction I wanted and eventually we started getting things figured out! 

Prince picked up on his right away and it seemed so easy once I figured it out! We ended when we got some nice steps sideways in each direction. I sat down on a tire and both of us had a big lick and chew. Then I let Prince go but he stayed with me so I stayed a little bit longer before heading down to go inside. 


Ruffian: Trimming and Liberty.

April 2, 2011

Trimming. Ever since Myles has been playing with Ruffian I have noticed a HUGE change in Ruffian! He is 100% more confident and when I ask him something he doesn’t freeze up and go internal because of the pressure! It was amazing trimming him today he was so confident and relaxed!! I was so happy!!!

 Ruffian and I had a short but fun Liberty session this afternoon. He wandered into the riding ring as I was letting one of the other horses out so we started playing. Ruffian can, and does, loose confidence really quickly at Liberty and it has happened where he was broken through rails because he gets that scared.

So we have slowly been building his confidence and now he is so much more confident. We were able to do stick to me at the walk, sideways, lead by the chin (!!!!), jumping a single barrel on a squeeze game, and we finished with some undemanding time. He only left once and got a little bit worried but I was able to very, very, very slowly and with just the slightest amount of pressure, get him back to me.

I was really proud of how well he did and how we both were able to have fun :)


Twosox: March 30 - April 5, 2011

March 30, 2011 

I scratched some itchy spots, gave him his supplements and hung out for a bit. We have been having a lot of fun lately since I have been playing with him more!! 

March 31, 2011 

Today Twosox and I played Online for a short while and then moved onto Liberty! While we played Online we played with some circles on the 12ft line, changes of directions, sideways over poles, Touch it, leading by the hocks and some other small things. Then I took the halter off and we played at Liberty. 

We didn’t do a whole lot at Liberty but played with stick to me with my hand on Twosox’s neck, Touch it, leading by the mane and some other small things and then we spent some undemanding time and I brushed Twosox… man can he shed a lot of hair! :) 

April 3, 2011 

Undemanding time. 

April 2, 2011 

Twosox and I played at Liberty today. We had a lot of fun playing Stick to me, leading by the mane, pushing/pawing and kicking the ball, Touch it, and jumping single barrels!! At first Twosox wasn’t to sure about jumping the barrel but after a couple tries he jumped over it no problem!! It was really fun! Then we hung out for a bit and I groomed Twosox again. He is shedding so much! 

We had so much fun and were able to give Mom some pointers on leading by the mane. Twosox is so much fun!! He left a couple times but came back quickly. Our Liberty is getting so much better!!

When he did leave I took it and used it and asked him to canter around. He had an easier time getting into the canter at Liberty than Online… Hmmm… how interesting. I am going to play with that more. The weather has been so nice that I have been spending so much more time just hanging out with the horses which is really nice!!

April 5, 2011 

I was away all day but when I got back I needed some time with my horses so I hung out with them, scratched itchy spots and breathed the fresh air. Being in the city gives me a headache I was born to live outside :) But it was a productive day nonetheless :) I just appreciate my horses so much more when I return :)


Last week I have played with Twosox a lot (and I loved every minute!!) The best part is that Twosox has become a different horse when I walk into that herd. Instead of just carrying on with his own thing, he will come over to me and want to be with me. Even if the two boss horses are with me he is right behind them waiting for his turn :) What a change!! I am loving it! 


Prince: March 30 - April 5, 2011

March 30, 2011

Today I was away all day so I took the opportunity to spent some undemanding time with Prince and Twosox after supper. Prince kept hanging around for the longest and then I realized that he was trying to show me an itchy spot. We had a great time together and I got a lot of horse hair on me to say the least :) Gotta love shedding season!!  

March 31, 2011

Today we did some small things at Liberty as Prince was still coughing when he moved to much. So we did some stick to me at the walk getting everything with more speed within the walk and also testing our back-ups. We also did some sideways towards me, circles at the walk and trot (close range) and then we just hung out for the rest of the time and watched Mom play with Knightly.  

April 2, 2011 

Yeah I know I am very behind here :) My priorities are not blogging… which you probably could easily figure out ;) So Prince and I had another Liberty session today. We did some walk/trot/canter stick to me with my hand on Prince’s neck, then we did some circles, backing up onto the pedestal from 15ft away, leading by the hocks, spins, and then we ended with me sitting on the pedestal and asking Prince to jump a single barrel on the other side of the riding ring. It took two tries but Prince figured it out in the end and the look on his face was priceless!!  

April 5, 2011 

I was away all day but when I got back I needed some time with my horses so I hung out with them, scratched itchy spots and breathed the fresh air. Being in the city gives me a headache I was born to live outside :) But it was a productive day nonetheless :) I just appreciate my horses so much more when I return :)  


Monday, April 4, 2011

Prince: Hanging out with my boy!

March 29, 2011

 Prince is still showing signs of not feeling well so when we got home from our trail ride this afternoon I took him out to eat some grass on the front yard. Not a lot because I didn't want to him eat to much grass but I also wanted to hang out with him. We went out at Liberty, as per my Mom's suggestion ;) Prince had come over to me by the gate and didn't want to leave me so I allowed him to go out onto the front yard then I haltered him after I unhaltered Twosox.

Then I climbed up on Prince bareback and let him eat for a little while longer. It was just to tempting to get up on Prince. It was so  much more comfortable than having to stay on the ground :) 

After about 45 minutes we went back to the corral, I fed the horse and then headed in for supper :) 


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Twosox: Trail riding

March 29, 2011

Twosox and I went on a trail ride with Mom and Knightly today. Before we went I had a lot of preparing to do.  I saddled up first. That went well like normal. Twosox didn't have any issues with the saddle today which was good. We did however have some issues with cantering. 

I was (and still am) not sure if his behaviour is left brain or right brain and that is the challenging part. It looks left brain/dominate but at times it feels like right brain/ lack of confidence/ scared. What ended up happening was that when ever I would ask Twosox to go out on the circle he would toss his head, and back up, pulling. A lot of opposition reflex there!! So after a lot of trial and error the phrase "zero brace" came into my head. So I decided to try instead of stopping Twosox from backing up, which wasn't working, I took his idea, went with it, made it my idea and then came back to the circle. This worked really well!! 

Twosox stopped pulling back and got light and connected again. Now this didn't help the cantering issue but at least we got our circles back to normal. 

Twosox was 100% more confident jumping today. He jumped the single barrel that way by the fence no problem. Just another reminder to take the time it takes and it will take less time!! 

Once I felt that Twosox was ready to ride I mounted up. We did lateral flexions which were fairly good then we moved on to the 9 step back up... which was broken. After playing around with it and not getting anywhere I dismounted and played with the porcupine game in zone one, backing up. Then I remounted and tried it again. This time it was much better. Twosox wasn't trying to escape and but at the same time he wasn't bracing. He was light and his head was lower. 

I felt that Twosox was not in tune with me and he was distracted. At this point I was thinking that a trail ride was definitely out of the question unless I was able to help Twosox get focused and listening to me. I picked circles so help get the rhythm, relaxation and connection that I was looking for and it worked very well! 

I LOVE riding circles. I could do them all day... RBI much? But of course I have been blessed with a LBI and a RBI/LBI so I have to make sure not to over do the pattern that I love so  much! 

Today our center was Mom and Knightly as they had just done circles and so there was a nice track in the dirt. Twosox needed many corrections at first but made sure to stay as consistent as possible and pretty soon we started getting really nice results. Twosox relaxed, he started getting straight on the circle and not looking out. We both gained a lot more focus. 

We stayed at the walk and kept it simple by meaningful and ended when I only had to make two corrections. Doing this pattern really made the difference in Twosox's mental, emotional and physical state. Things were looking up!

Twosox and I took a lot rest and then played with sideways. Which in the end went well and Twosox gave me some nice, soft sideways in both directions. Then we played with all 8 of our responsibilities at the halt for about 30 minutes as we waited for Mom to be ready and then we headed out! 

I was ready and prepared not to get on Twosox until he was ready and not before. He was definitely more confident and I felt that we could at least have success Online. We stopped at the end of our road for a while to talk to someone so I was able to see how Twosox handled the traffic, he was fine. We have ridden through town twice before (Twosox and I) but I wasn't going to make any assumptions!! 

Twosox was fine walking through town and the only little hiccup was when we came across a man whole... the exact same one that Prince spooked at last time we were out that way. So we did some squeeze games until Twosox was more calm about it and wasn't so scared. Then we carried on. The last time Mom and I rode out there were piles of wood chips on the side of the road and so I wanted to see what Twosox thought about those before I mounted. Things were looking up!! 

There were no issues with the wood chips. Twosox walked right up and started eating them :) So I mounted up and we continued on. Twosox was very relaxed and we were able to do lots of walking and trotting. Twosox took it all in stride and was calm, cool and collected! Again I was reminded of how smooth this horse is to ride!! His trot is to die for... but I guess that means a rough canter? Hehe we shall see. 

On the way home we trotted most of the way and this was when I saw Twosox start to totally relaxed and he started stretching, blowing, licking and chewing and etc. His head was almost on the ground!! At one point I felt something different happening under my saddle but quickly realized, to my complete joy, that Twosox was lifting his back up!! It was amazing!! 

We dismounted and walked through town and home again! It was such a great ride!! Twosox was a champ and we both had fun!! 


Friday, April 1, 2011

Twosox: Determined to progress.

March 28, 2011

Today I played with and rode Twosox for the first time in a long while. Yesterday, Sunday, was exactly three years since I bought Twosox. This got me thinking a lot about how far we have come but how over the last 6 months or so I really haven't progressed a lot with Twosox. Progressing is challenging with his horse and most of the time it felt like we were solving problems every session and never progressing. I had a hard time staying emotionally calm, cool and collected and so Twosox knew how to push my buttons, whether he knew it or not. 
Then since Twosox had this eye issue it was pretty easy for me to just give him time off and not do a whole lot with him other than what was needed for his eye. So with all these thoughts going through my head I got very motivated to play with him more and get through our problems and start progressing!! 

Twosox has a lot of potential and I know that with consistency we can progress. His eye seems to be healing well and since it doesn't seem to be bothering him I felt it was an okay time to start up his advancement once again.

I hadn't put my Natural Performer on Twosox yet so I thought it would be a great time to do that plus depending on how everything went I might ride. My goal is to get Twosox well rounded in all four savvies, just like I am aiming to do with Prince. 

Twosox did well with saddling. He stood well well and didn't have any issues with it at the walk and trot. We did some Touch it, pushing the ball, sideways, 12ft circles at the walk, and some other low key things then we moved on to circles on the 22ft line and other things from farther away. We did Figure eights at the walk and trot which went really well!! Then we did circles at the trot with changes of directions while I stood on the pedestal. Twosox was so connected and relaxed!! It was really, really amazing!! 

Then we played with getting the canter on the circle by changing direction. This is one thing that has always been hard for Twosox and it used to get me frustrated. The cool thing today is that I was able to stay totally calm, cool and collected, even though things didn't away go smoothly!!

Twosox did have some buck in him when he got into the canter but after a couple really strong, high, bucks (I was glad I was not right those!) he did buck any more. Some we had some fairly nice cantering off of a change of direction we moved onto jumping. At first Twosox was avoiding it because jumping to him equals stressful so I just went with it, letting him come between me and the barrel if he needed. Stopping when he was able to walk or trot up to the barrel. Pretty soon he was able to jump it confidently and so I brought him in to me for a rest.

When I felt that Twosox was ready to ride I checked our lateral flexions and then mounted up. We stood still for a long time, we hurried up to do nothing. Twosox had a major lick and chew and was yawning. After a while I did a passenger lesson just letting Twosox walk where ever he wanted so that he would get a feel for the new saddle. This worked really well and his head was so low!!

I had forgotten what a comfortable horse Twosox was to ride!! He is so smooth! We finished up shortly after that, Twosox was very relaxed and calm. It was a great way to end! Tomorrow we are hoping to go on a trail ride depending on how Twosox does Online and while riding in the riding ring. We shall see!