Monday, August 20, 2012

Intro Reserve Champions!

Long and low and loose and forward thinking went pretty well.  Still needed a bit more forward in spots, and more bend just about everywhere (which should help steadiness in bridle) BUT she was interested and not scared!  Except she was mighty skeptical of the flowers!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

mantra for the next week

long, low, loose and forward


There's a schooling dressage show next Saturday.  When the date was finally set, I admit I rather hoped to take two horses and ride intro B and Training 1 or 2.  But you know this training other people's horses thing, it isn't a straight line.  Ok, so training horses at all isn't a straight line, but trying to work out what is best for the horse, while working toward your training goals, while working inside your own parameters and the owner's parameters.  You have to ride the horse you have today and yet work toward the horse you want tomorrow, and frankly you don't always know who they want this horse to be, and you don't always know what this horse is capable of anyway.

Anyway.  Jin.  You know, I would have hoped she'd have been more advanced by now.  But she isn't.  Whether that means I'm not any good or not, I am not sure.  I do know that in the process, I'm at least not hurting her.  So there's that.  I'm also being stretched, learning, trying things, so there's that too.

I'd pretty much already given up the idea of being able to ride them both in the show because, well, because.  And Jin wasn't suddenly getting a canter so even intro C was out.  And a week out Jin's owner says, "If you think she can do it, you can show her."  Well, of course I think she can do it.  I don't know whether she WILL or not, but she can.  And I take her up to the arena with the specific idea in mind to ride through A and B just to test us.

However, on the first attempt at that there are horse eating chairs sitting outside of the arena and riding the horse I have today meant that it was an accomplishment just to eventually walk around the arena on a long rein almost but not completely relaxed.  And also an accomplishment to lead her to within 20 feet of those threatening plastic chairs.  So that's what we did.

I wondered the next day if it would be different.  The tarps the chairs had been on were still there but at least the chairs were gone.  It was worth a look but not the flat out right brain introvert panic of the night before.  We went in the arena and it was fine.  After working some with another horse and rider, I rode those two tests.  Intro A went fine, but it is rather . . . ummm, boring.  I saluted for intro B, went for the corner and immediately got her kick out, piss ant, I don't want to do this attitude showing.  To which I responded first with a firm "no".  And maybe a little bit of, oh-you-want-to-kick?-I'll-give-you-something-to-kick-about.-I-didn't-think-you-wanted-to-kick.  But then I loosed the reins completely, to the buckle, and asked her just to trot forward, because when she does her little kick/buck thing, forward is what she so isn't doing in that moment.  Completely around the arena a couple times with some circles both directions.  And of course in doing that I also had time to think.

Yes, probably in thinking "dressage test" and "show" I had asked for more collection, more connection, that Jin can yet handle.  She just isn't there yet.  And in asking for that, I got that kick/buck for an answer.  Which as I would have told my kids is an inappropriate response, but, ok, I understand.  The answer here is that she can't kick/buck and I can't ask for that much collection and that forward will always be the right question and answer for now.  I need to ask for connection, but softer, looser, never sacrificing forward.  Not Pierre is wrong with two things:  She doesn't need to be shorter, even for short periods of time, quite yet; and connection will come from the butt so that isn't enough trot for now -- what she needs is more forward, forward is always the answer, and that will eventually get us to canter.  If he heard me say that he would probably say that is what he's been saying but it isn't.

Long Low Loose and Forward.  If I can remember to do that, if I can ride that no matter if she's scared of the judges stand or whatever, long low loose and forward without too much driving leg either (dear right brain introvert you always have an escape! it just happens to be in front of you and it happens to be in the shape of this test) long low loose and forward and if she can stay as relaxed as she can stay under whatever her circumstances are that day, it'll be a good test for us.

Long low loose and forward is how success is defined this week.

Also, Parelli moments.  Non-parelli-ites might wonder what all the equipment is for, why play with a pedestal.  It's just circus sorts of tricks, after all.  I mean, I thought those things so I would assume I'm not the only one.  If the pedestal isn't in the arena now, I will usually put it there (and that ain't so easy) because I find that working with it just relaxes Jin in particular.  The ball can do the same sort of thing -- I love it when both the ball and the pedestal are available to play with, and I find that I use them in the most serious "lessons", as a break, as a lesson, as a reward, as a change of pace -- but somehow they are more than these things too.  Maybe horses just like being "circus" animals.  Or maybe it is different enough for the human to really change things.  I don't know, I just know that it is a real resource to be able to play with them.  Anyway, Jin is now fairly good at getting both front feet on the pedestal with just an offer.  Today I asked that she move her back feet up closer to the pedestal (in prep for eventually putting all four feet on at the same time).  And she did of course.  Just two steps, one with each rear foot.  She gets a bit of confidence as a learner with each step.

Then we walked over those tarps on the way back to the barn.

Friday, July 20, 2012

soul soothing

Life continues to go.  I make a vow by the stars and moon to work with Inky every day and then the next day something makes it impossible and there it goes again.  I will I will I will.

Meantime, things do go in a flow.  I had a light couple of weeks riding at the barn because of various things.  I had a not-Pierre lesson.  And it seems there's a bit of perpetually trying to find my footing sorts of energy.  Riding lately, and it seems for quite some time now, has made me wonder if I'm really not so good as I think I am.  Nothing can make me feel as competent or as insecure as horses.  And it isn't in the audience.

Riding lately has been . . . challenging.  Like I'm an idiot.  Maybe not that bad.  I guess I would have hoped for and frankly expected more progress in this amount of time.  I mean, I can always find something to be insecure about.

But every now and again there is a day.  Like friendly game with Jin that I wrote about before.  Which has continued by the way.  Today was such a day.  I'd heard Linda Parelli saying something on some video about being able to just move very slowly with introverts and I moved more slowly today, despite not having my line and just doing a bit of "on line" with the bridle reins and dressage whip.  We've worked on getting two front feet on the pedestal and she's been getting more willing and consistent with that but today I just approached with her to the pedestal and offered and she got up, both feet.

So riding then we went sort of passenger although I don't think I yet have the full concept of passenger lesson to Parelli but anyway, I let her go where she wanted but began expressing to her, I'd rather go down there and when she didn't, that was fine, next round let her know again, that's where I'd like to go, until I went relaxed rein (I think that's what they call it) and asked her to follow the rail which did take some corrections on the "scary end" then changed direction and follow rail more.  All this time mostly trotting, very forward, a little fast, but burning off that energy she has and getting down to business.  Changed follow the rail to cloverleaf and doing less and less "correcting", changing direction every so often, in cloverleaf periodically stopping in the middle sweet spot to rest.  Then using, hmmm, what did they call that, riding to the corners, some of that, to get a little more stopping in.

And then when she seemed really ready, I took up a bit of contact, remembering following hands and no leg (as per notPierre lesson) and asked for bend and she rounded beautifully, mostly, and what resistance she had wasn't as big as it had been, and asked for stretch, and just repeated that at walk for awhile, then asked for transitions to trot and just did bend, round, no leg, and then would change direction across diagonal with lengthening, then would sometimes lengthen on long side, and just contact, stretch, shorten, lengthen, round through bendbendbend.

She actually tried to get pissy once.  This has been a "thing" with her.  And she got a bit of a firm "no" at that point, almost a paddling, and she honestly didn't try again but went very very well.  That was perhaps my "non-Parelli" moment, but at the same time, sometimes it is, umm, no.

Oh, I did forget to mention that I mounted at the barn and rode to the arena, which we often do with other horses but almost never do by ourselves.  Today was by ourselves.  We went up into the field just a bit and she wanted to go so I let her and she cantered, left lead (right is her more willing side in the arena), easily if only about 8 strides.  But with a rider.  She once did a nice quiet right lead canter in the arena but only once honestly.  Usually she resists and objects.  So I thought this was a nice opportunity to do it just because she wanted to.  However, at that point she was a bit "up" so I dismounted and we went on to the arena where we did the rest of the above.

After riding, we left out the back gate of the arena (where we try to enter and exit since the front gate is the sweet spot) and walked around outside and she wasn't scared at all, and we went all the way up into the field by ourselves and she was a little tense near the top but turned and walked down calmly, and walked on over to the barn, finished our thing.  She opens and closes that back gate rather well.

It was truly exceptional.  Now to ride Blaze tonight.  Now to get a good ride in on C.  Ah, there's that straight line thinking self coming in there!  LOL!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Real Friendly

You know, I love working with horses, right?  And I think the regular work, the cleaning work, the health work, is just as important, if not moreso, than the training work.  I mean, they HAVE to be well taken care of or there isn't anything else to do with them.

But this training work, and this learning Parelli thing, it's so good.  Sometimes it is nerve wracking too, in that it can make me feel like I'm not good enough, make me question whether or not I can really do it or not.  But every now and again you get a day like today.

First of all, the Parelli stuff is beginning to jell a little for me.  I'm beginning to see that if I work on this online, it is going to help me do this from the saddle.  I truly *get* so much of the philosophy -- the do WITH and FOR not TO your horse.

Jin is the horse at the barn I work at that I've worked with the longest.  I did my level 1 video with her, I worked with her in the Carol Coppinger level 2/3 clinic when I passed my level 2s.  She's green.  She's RBI who sometimes slips a bit E although, well, she says "I could go" but if you say, "ok, go right ahead then" she backs out of it so it is almost like she's faking that extrovert.  She really acts like she just wants you to leave her alone most of the time.  She's not really food motivated (although she's learning treats).  She's never really responded well to scritching her.  She progressed fine until she felt a bit confined and since then we've had "issues" that we haven't worked through yet.  Although progress continues to be made, it might be measured in millimeters.

Today she'd been out for a few days, not in the barn at all.  Today I stalled her all day which she doesn't mind but she's generally ready to go out, and can get grumpy if I ride after evening feeding instead of take her back out.  So I'd planned to just leave her in a bit longer and then play with her online after we'd finished the barn work.  I went in her stall, with her in it, to clean it.  She usually easily moves to the other side of the stall and doesn't "say" much while I clean.  She might "speak" once or twice, moving around the stall, or to the door to see if it isn't time to go out yet, but I don't believe she's ever, in all the time I've worked with her, ever asked for anything.  I can scratch her on her itchiest spot and she just sort of shrugs.

Today I went in there and asked her to move to the other side of the stall and she presented me with her shoulder, clearly asking for something.  I started scratching.  She stretched her neck out and started making faces; "OMG, that feels so good, yes, please, there."  So I scritched her and scritched her.  And then backed away and asked if she would come (draw).  She had to think about it but yes she would.  And I scritched her and scritched her.  And backed away.  And tried other places.  And did both sides.  And went away.  And came back again.  And she came to me and she came to me and she came to me again and again and asked for something that I was able and willing to give to her.


I turned her out.  We'd done our "Parelli" for the evening.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Level 2s

So here it is a few months later.  I sent in the video and got my level 1.  Now, through a clinic, I got my level 2s!  I really need to concentrate on Inky because to go very high, I'll need a dedicated horse to do it, and I could dedicate her . . . or get her really going and try to sell . . . I don't know, but right now I'm feeling the feeling of pleased.

Oh yeah, and Carol Coppinger rocks!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Horse and Soul, Lexington, Virginia

Quotes that I wrote down while at the Parelli Horse and Soul tour stop in Lexington, Virginia on February 11 & 12, 2012:

"Don't do to horses -- do with and for horses."

"When the horse changes, you change."

"It's ok for the horse to get bothered if you don't get bothered."  (which, I have to say, was the thing that most intrigued me my very first encounter with Parelli, with Richard Knapp and Vinnie, when Vinnie was a holy terror and Richard was calm in response in a situation where I would have been, "Oh no you don't!" -- and I'm still very interested in that.  I will say that the horse Linda was working with when she said this was scared, not dangerously aggressive, which was what Vinnie was.  Vinnie, I realize now, was a LBI -- "you are not the boss of me!" -- horse -- except as aggressive as an extrovert with it)

"The more you can go with your horse, and then come back to your idea, the better."

"People say, 'I don't have time to do this.'  What?  You have time to be in the hospital?"

"Introverts can be harder for humans to deal with because you have to do a whole lot of nothing.  One test is, are they interested in you?"

"Don't use aids to get horses to do something.  Use aids when they don't do what you want."

"Before you become a good rider, become a good passenger."  (and to this one I have to say, I don't think I've yet been just a passenger so I really look forward to doing more of this and learning the magic of it)