"A horse is like a mirror, and it's reflecting what and who you are."

This is just a little diary of my horse life. I teach natural horsemanship and dressage. I am currently working on getting back to L4 Parelli after a car accident and surgery.

I suffered from a fear of failure, as things had not gone according to planned after my time off from my injuries. It had been an paralyzing disability (fear) but my healing is coming along nicely, and I hope to pass my level 4 before the end of 2011.

I don't know where I am going, but I am NOT lost!

I am now reviewing dvd's and books, and blogging my reviews. The link on the left in the categories (DVD Clinician Reviews)will take you straight to it. You will find links to the websites of all dvd clinicians I review and they are located on the left hand side bottom of page of the page. None of the clinicians or trainers I am reviewing, sponsor, endorse or authorize this site. For more info about them please click on thier link.

I hope you enjoy!

Savvy On,

I will be giving Savvy Star Ratings based soley on my opinion of it's value to a parelli student as such

***** Must own

**** Must watch

*** Worth watching, but you won't die without it

** Eh' take it with a grain of salt, you will have to filter alot

* OK, but there is better stuff out there to spend your time and money on

0 stars....skip it, it just isn't worth your time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mustang Make Over Day 7

This is day 7 of working with the Mustang. It is the first day he has ever had a halter on in 6yrs with humans and the first day anyone has been on his left side.

White Whale Harpooned!....12-21-09

Now for getting the beast in the boat by getting that halter on! I got the rope around his neck today and managed to get on that left side today. It was a a hilarious sight to see me fumbling with the rope, stick ,string and carbiner clip. I hoped to just be able to throw the rope over his back and work it up to his neck and fasten the clip. Not. So I threaded it through the end of the carrot stick and tossed it over utill he was comfortable with it enough to let me grab the other end then he blasted away. It was several attempts into it before I got the feel for it. my arm was tired from lobbing that heavy not over his back so many times. But once caught, he was surprisingly light to the aids. He was leading well off the rope, lowering his head well and then I attempted the dreaded (his dread not mine) left side. Wooo Hooo was that a bit explosive. make no mistake....this IS a WILD horse. He was very adamant about me NOT being on that side. I was able to toss the string over his back a few times and drive his face away a few time. When he leaves....it is lightning fast. All I can say is that I am thankfull for all the practice of closing hands slowly and opening hands quickly. That woulda been one HELL of a Learn Burn! I am happy for Cha'Cote that he finally has a second chance at a good life with humans. Today, after I went in to his stall, left to open round pen and came back....He actually walked halfway to me, waited for me to open the stall door and didn't make me go in to shoo him out. His flight path through the barn is lower and slower now, but a trot still none the less. It is finally suppose to rain tommorow...we both could use a break. He has had two days off in the last 9 days. Although I think I may go out and spend some undemanding time with him while it is raining. In his stall though. He is not going to get off that easy. He has been doing that for years. This is his last chance. Oh...and I brought him a bucket to bring him some grain. He bit me twice yesterday when I tried to hand feed him. He tried to get in and get out so fast he missed the treat all together. Anyways on his way back to his stall, he saw that bucket and hit the brakes like a reining cow horse winning a medal for a sliding stop. snorted at it and went into his stall. I dumped the grain and stepped back and he was soooo sceptical of that bucket. He came in....by way of approach and retread with alot of low snorting and then he dive bombed the bucket and was gone so fast I know he only got one pellet in his lips and then tried to suck in, but his lips were so tight he couldn't. Finally he decided it was safe and ate his special treat much to the despise of his stable mates!
Savvy On

Tower request fly by....helicopter ...Check...12-19-09

Cha'Cota's owner met me out there today. She was very imressed with his progress. How could I ask for more? We had a nice quite session. I brought my son, but forgot my video camera...DOH! So I pulled out my phone and had my 11yo son take 49 43sec vid's over an hour and half. He did such a good job filming but the Quality was...well let's just say....not optimal. Not fun to copy and paste in the phone and then upload and edit. BUT, I now have some footage for you to view. Check out his page for pics and video's.

day6 part 1 & part 2, very bottom of page


 So back to his progress. Today was the first day he faced me in his stall. I used the carrot stick for the first time. When he saw it, he jumped out of his skin. He is overly hyper aware of everything! But he settled into it nicely and ended up yeilding to the pressure on his poll from the string and leading and lowering his head. We got to experience the extreme friendly game slapping the ground and helicopter, all on the right side of course. I was able to play friendly game with the string on his face, but still no hand on the bridge of his nose. Kandi is coming with me tomorrow and will tape me some more and I will attempt to get a rope around his neck and get on that left side. he did start to show me a little of his left eye by staring at me straight on and one time when he disengaged he crossed my path with the left eye as well. He is a great little guy and he is fullfilling a life long dream for me of taming a wild mustang.
Savvy On

A matter of Trust 12-18-09

In trying to explain to less knowledgeable horse owners why their horse is afraid when they are so nice to the horse. It dawned on me today, as Che’Cote’s owner is a 14yo girl who has had him a year, with little success and thus given up. She is not the first human to give up on him, but she was able to brush him a little and give him carrots. After having played with him for a week now, I give her a lot of credit. He must have liked her but not trusted her with his safety. Some may ask, why he would trust her enough to let her brush him but not enough to put the halter on. Being that he needs such strong leadership, I know that is the answer, but how do you explain it to someone who does not know what leadership is.
This is what I came up with.
I like my 11yo son, he is a pretty cool kid. Annoying at times, we have different interests. He likes WWE Smack down, I like horses. It is agonizing to watch it with him, but I do it for him. But just because I do that, does not mean I will trust him to let him drive my car. I trust him to start a fire in the fire place when we are home, but not when he is home alone. I like my son, I even love my son, but I would not expect him to be able to protect me against an attacker. If you think about it, we all know people that we like as friends, but we wouldn't trust them to watch our kids, balance our check book, or with a deep dark juicy bit of gossip! Most people think, in respect to being told their horse doesn’t trust them, automatically think that we mean the horse thinks they will hurt them. And sometimes this is the case, but in most cases it is just that the horse doesn’t trust you to protect them. They also may not trust your judgment. This comes about usually when you ask your horse to do something and they end up getting scared or hurt. So it is vital to set things up in a way to prove to your horse that he can trust not only you, your ability to protect him, but your ability to have good ideas as well. The more times we can have our horse do something that works out well for him the more likely he is to trust us. But it only takes one lapse of good judgment to for him to think “I knew I couldn’t trust you”. So if you don’t know what leadership is and are having problems with your horse….you need to learn and fast. If you do know what it is and are having problems you need to look at your ideas and do they not work out so great for him in the end. An example would be asking him to side pass over a barrel, you don’t keep him lined up very good, he ends up getting a leg caught on it and the barrel flings up at him and scares him or he gets hurt. He will blame you, as it was your idea. Thus causing him to question all your ideas. Eventually he will take the responsibility for navigating such things, but until your skills are good enough, he will blame you. Some horses aren’t so judge mental toward us, but those are the ones that aren’t lacking your trust causing you to seek answers.
Trust, Respect and Admiration are seperate but intertwined. Have you looked at yours lately?
Savvy On

No Halter yet...but maybe Liberty 12-17-09

Would you believe it did NOT rain….AGAIN! It was suppose to be winter storming all week. Why couldn’t it have NOT rained when I tried to take Ochi over the pass? And it is not suppose to rain again until Monday. None the less, I took advantage of the clear sky and visited Mr. mustang again. I talked to his owner today and convinced her to change his name. I told her it is bad Ju-Ju to name a wild horse after violent explosives. We put our heads together and came up with a name. Che’Cote after a famous, peace making Creek Indian Nation Leader….also a character on Star-Trek Voyager (Don’t even get me started on my love of Star-Trek). It seems to fit him well, and maybe he can become a brave soul like his new name sake, rather than living up to his old one!
I only spent a half hour with him, it was foggy and I knew it would be a bad drive home. We quickly reviewed all the previous days lessons and upped the anti by 2. I managed to get the lash of the lunge whip around his nose and taught him to give to pressure and take a few steps forward and to the side, add that to the online list….and to the Liberty list….we can add backing up. Yes he backed a few steps with me at his side facing the same direction.
So I have to remark on what “I” have learned during this last week. Sometimes we can soooo think that we are not being a predator or thinking like a predator. We have our own time schedules to keep, and want everything to go as quickly as possible, but with in reason. Then something happens to make you see that you were. I kept saying, “I know if I could just get the halter on, we could progress so fast”. While that still rings true, I wouldn’t have learned just what I am capable of….without a halter. It definitely forced me, to go by HIS time table, to have a dazzling explosion if I blasted through a threshold, and another if I stayed quiet too long. I have had to think…..think….and think some more about possible ways of getting that halter on. Ways that are within my capabilities, unlike a lariat. Heck, at this point, I am thinking that we could go quite a ways up the liberty ladder, with out a halter at all. And that just may be my plan. Keep picking at the halter, but in the mean time, shoot for the stars at liberty. Seriously, let’s not get lost in the clouds. But who knows, I think I will give it a try.
Savvy On

Nailed a Horsenality down 12-16-09

Completely in fashion with the season, the weather man cannot predict the weather. It did not rain, so I paid the mustang another visit. It is vital for his success that I get as many sessions done in a row that I can. A gap at this point will only mean a back slide. Maybe not a big one, but a back slide none the less. I wish I had a video camera as it seems I have never been able to capture on video any of my initial work with difficult horses. Only the images in my head remain. Anyways, I started out in his stall again, and was able to get to the point where we left off last night in only a few short minutes, tossing the whip over his back and legs and petting his neck. I sent him out to the round pen and he immediately faced up and begged not to have to run around. He only walked more than 5 feet away from me one time, went ¼ lap and came right back. I was able to get my hand on his poll and teach him to lower his head. I was also able to get to his left side about 10ft away at a 45 degree angle to his shoulder. He would let me stand there for a minute then walk to me. As long as I don’t show him my palm, I can walk right up to him and pet him now. And last night was the first night, that I can recall ever seeing him blink at all. He had a huge lick chew session, where he actually rolled his eyes back in his head. Was the first time he yawned and opened his mouth when he lick and chewed. It lasted about 2 minutes.I was just filling out the horsenality chart for him. It is hard to tell with a wild, scared to death horse. I wasn’t sure if he was more of a right brain introvert or extrovert and now I know why. He has 7 dots in each quadrant. However ALL of his dots in the RBE are in the extreme range (a couple I even put on the super extreme) and in the RBI quadrant, 3 are in the mild/moderate. As far as the Left brain side, he has 2 dots in the LBE and none in the LBI. I have also looked again at the strategies for both RBI/E and thought about how he has reacted to my attempts at both. Based on his reactions to RBI strategies, he does not respond well to me be being really quiet , slow , soft and waiting. It seems to scare the bageezers out of him. On the other hand, While it is too soon to determine what he will be when he becomes confident, I suspect it will be an LBE with RBI tendencies, which is probably why I am drawn to him. I tend not to be drawn to, in fact I with-drawl from, introverts. He reminds me of our little Shetland Spirit who is an RBI with LBE tendencies.Being that he seems to be in the extrovert category, he will always need STRONG leadership. And this little guy was so lacking any leader ship for so long, it is no wonder that he is so scared. There are a lot of gentled mustangs there. But he is a hard case. Besides his natural un-gentled behavior, some of his behavior is learned. He has 5 yrs of out lasting a predator and watching humans give up and go away. He was round penned and not asked/allowed to disengage and come in, so staying out there is what he thinks he is suppose to do. At times over the last 5 yrs he has had someone who was able to brush him on his right side and feed him carrots. My biggest concern at this point is those feet. One front hoof is quite long and low, the other is short and high. Since I trim all my horse’s feet myself, I dare to think of how hard this will be to get done. Since the car accident I cannot be bent over for long and usually one hoof will do me in for the day. But, one thing at a time…….gotta get that halter on!
Savvy On

Mustang Breakthrough 12-15-09

Wow! What a difference a day makes. I did some homework/research and confirmed my next brilliant idea before trying it out on said mustang. I decided to try some pole training with him and use my 22' line. Wasn't sure if I was going tonight as we just can't trust any weather people around here. Turns out it wasn't raining when I got off work so I headed out there. I was planning on just using my rope as I had no pole. I saw a longer lunge whip when I got there, so grabbed it to usher him from his stall. But when he decided NOT to leave the stall, I went with it. "You want to stay here? Great me too" "Lets play friendly instead" So I carefully positioned my self and started to rhythmically toss the whip over his back or what ever else I could reach. I will admit, I was very cautious as I was afraid of being trampled or him spinning and kicking me. He freaked out at first. You woulda thought I was tossing a rattle snake at him. I darted out of the way a few times, though he never came at me. After about 50 or so tosses, he was ok with it, so I started rubbing him on his back and neck with the stiff part. Then I started to bounce it on his neck. Then rubbing it on his face as I took it away. I was able to toss it around his back legs without him giving a swift kick to object. I was pleased and sent him into the round pen. He did not run thru the barn in a fractious panic this time, but trotted none the less. I stayed in his stall for about a minute, hoping that after a few repititions of not being chased thru the barn he may choose to travel at a walk at some point. Once there, he was attentive, and eager to face up and not run. But once I started to approach and retreat he thought working might be a good idea, so I helped him with that too. I used more pressure than he wanted, and decided if that was his choice he would have to go to the left and look at me with that eye. He didn't want to do that, so becoming a partner was a good idea. He was disengaging on the right like a pro, letting me touch him quickly and for much longer, AND I was also able to toss the whip over his back and have him not leave. Not the fist time of course, but by the end I was almost leading him with it over his neck as I was disengaging him. At the very end, he was standing close to me, both facing same direction, and he was letting me stoke his jaw, with my fingers up on the left side of his face. He even offered to look toward me, a teeny bit of porcupine accomplished, and I quit when he took a tiny step closer to me while I was stroking. I was a tender quiet moment that made me fall in love with him. I walked away and opened the pen, he softly trotted into the barn, and rather than make a b-line for his stall. I let him explore the barn and find a few bits of hay laying around and then asked him to go to bed. I walked in with him. Tossed the whip over his back a few times, stroked his neck, and left. Heaven. The halter is still my white whale. But I didn't feel frustrated at all tonight, in fact I left with HOPE on the brain. Wish it wasn't going to rain for the next few days. I hate to let a back slide in. I wish he could be here for me to play with more consistently. But wishing won't change anything. All I can do, is not get greedy or let my genetic predatory responsed kick in next time. I think I will dream pleasent dreams tonight.
Savvy On '

Stick with what you know...when you don't know..12-14-09

It is not raining today, so I figure I better go and play with this mustang as it is suppose to rain again tommorow. I have a plan to do the friendly game with my lariat, then make a loop in it and hopefully get it over his head. Hmm, I smell a predator and I am not the only one. I start by sending him to the round pen and then getting those feet moving with the lariat. All is going well but as I start to get close to him with it, he wanted no part of it. Not to mention, I have no idea what I did to it, but lariat won't coil right. It's like a slinky that has been played with by a two year old. I coil it and ....boing....it won't stay. Now I am starting to get tangled up in it. It seemed to just be getting in my way with him as well. Frustration set in, so I chucked it over the fence. Now back to business. By the end of the session though he was disengaging and facing up on his right side pretty good and he was coming off the fence by about two lengths. And more willing to let me pet him on his right side. I also noticed that he has been sent around in the round pen to death with ever asking/allowing him to come in. I had to put a little more pressure than I would have liked in order to make looking at me seem like a good idea. He still doesn't want to look at me with the right eye, but at least we made two laps with out him trying to stop and turn around. All in all, progress was made albiet in small incriments. I did leave feeling a bit disapointed as I know we can make great progress with a halter. And I am feeling a bit like this may be more of a project than I have the desire to take on right now. I have four horses at home that are not getting any play time due to the weather. Hmmm, I guess I have some thinking to do.
Savvy On

Playing with a mustang 12-12-09

So a friend called me and asked for help. She got herself in over her head and has a mustang that is supposedly somewhat gentled but not halter broke and they need to re-home him. I said I would help get him halter broke so he could find him a new home. Of course never having gentled a true wild horse, I made no gaurantee. I told her I would come and and play with him and see what happens. So as only my luck would have it, it was raining, and I had a christmas party to go to right after. But aint no little bit of water gonna scare me. So I played with him for about an hour. I was told he would do better in the round pen than in his stall as he hasn't been touched in there much and is more comfortable in a larger space. So he was sent through the barn to round pen and we got under way. He wanted no part of me and certainly no part of being touched. That's when I found out he hasn't had anything done with him for months and it was only on his right side to about his withers. I did alot of approach and retreat and in the end he let me touch him a few times on his cheek and neck. Of course he will not even look at me with the left eye. I didn't make a big deal about anything as out in the rain is not the ideal first date. After about an hour, I quit when he let me touch him and it started to pour. It was raining so hard we couldn't even hear each other talking in the barn. I was soaked down to my panties. Luckily when I got to my friends house she had her flat iron and blow dryer plugged in for me. All in all it was a good first meeting, and it let me know, getting the halter on him will be my white whale. I will get back as often as I can, as she lives a distance away, and as weather permits.
Savvy On

We passed L2 ... 2++ 11-24-09

I got to work today and checked my email, and found a wonderful surprise. The results of our OLL2....Passed 2++. Ok, so not the most momentous and grand gesture in horsemanship, but for me and Miyagi it is. I am proud that I have learned enough, to take a wild RBE rescued pony, had the guts to actually put my fat butt on international view, and make her a trusting partner in 5 weeks. I first want to say that I am proud that I did not let two fighting kids in the background piss me off. And that I resisted all urges to turn around and KILL them! So a week later I was asking myself, as I was talking about how smart Miyagi is, and it dawned on me, that maybe...just maybe...my horses aren't getting smarter....I am. I doubt 8 yrs ago, when I started on this venture, I could have achieved this in 6mos. Let alone weeks. I got proud...not too proud...as my skills have changed little in the last 2 years since my car accident. So I am most proud that I am completing something I gave up on two years ago. I just watched my OLL1 tape, the one where I was ripped from my couch cushins and forced to produce. And what a difference a few months of playing with my horse made. I didn't recognise my self in the L1 tape. I hated how deteriorated my timing and skills had become, that's when the fear of failure set in. But one day I looked in the mirror and told myself, not only do you have to deal with the horse that shows up, but the YOU that shows up. If Snookie goes all RBE on me, I just treat her accordingly, I don't dismiss her as worthless. So neither should I treat myself that way. Today, I was on top of the world if not on top of the horse! I am already starting L3 on line with Miyagi, and have hopes to tape that in the near future. But first, I am concentrating on L2 freestyle!Savvy On

Ochi found her forever home...Yeah! 11-21-09

What a wonderful day for Ochi. Long for us humans though. The day started at the crack of dawn, blanketed in a thick layer of fog, as we headed to the soccer field for the season end tournament. It was COLD! Usually I am all for girl power, but the first team my son played was comprised entirely of russian robot girls. They were GOOD, dominated the field and won 2-ZIP! We rushed home to unblanket everyone, and clean Ochi up from her romp in the mud left over from yesterday's showers. She was none to thrilled at being hosed off for the second time this week. We headed out again to the soccer field, to be trompled by a lack luster team with a Brazillian Soccer Savant Ringer. He had magic shoes and the brains to back it up. He looked like someone had plucked him straight off a proffesional team to pummel a bunch of 11 year olds. Some how we mangaged to make a goal, but lost 2-1. One more game at the crack of dawn tommorow....yuk!So we rush home, to anxiously await the family who is coming to meet Ochi. They arrived and from the moment they got out of the car, it was like a fairytale. They were a wonderful animal loving family with two horse crazy girls, age 12 and 2. It was adorable to hear the little girls voice say her name. They fell in love with her instantly, and I could just feel it with all my being that they were the right home for Ochi. We made arrangements for me to take her to them next weekend. I couldn't be happier that I decided to bring home two mini's that day instead of one. It was meant to be. I will post pics after I deliver her.
Congratulations...Patti, Josh, Britain and Ysabella!
Savvy OnMichelle

Ochi Mama 11-18-09

My head is realing. Two weekends ago I posted an add for Ochi. When I got little response I thought nothing of it. The economy is in the toilet and horses are luxuries. But it dawned on me that people may think my ad is the same horse for sale by my friend. So I changed the ad to read "different mini", and also sent a shout out on my friends apparently large e-mail list. I am quite honestly overwhelmed by the response. I would have never dreamed it. So many loving arms reaching Ochi's way. We have a very nice gal coming this saturday to look at her, and at this point, she seems like a perfect home. I of course have my fingers crossed that the meeting goes well, everyone falls in love, the clouds part and angels sing from the sky. If not, I have a hefty list of emails to respond to. I feel so bad, turning people away at this point as nothing is a done deal, but I also don't want to make appointments, have people plan thier weekend, and then cancel on them either. So if you are reading this before saturday and are interested, feel free to still email me so I can keep you updated. If it doesn't work out on saturday, I will have to figure out a way to be fair but keep Ochi's needs at the forefront of my thought process. Thank You to all who have or will inquire about Ochi....and we will keep in touch.

Miyagi's breakthrough 11-14-09

If you aren't moving forward, your moving backwards....so they say. A bit of a cheat here, but L3 online is supposed to be done with the 45' line, but you can audition with the 22' line. My yard really is not big enough to warrant using my 45' line, so I decided to move Miyagi on to L3/4 patterns. When we played the other day, I tried using nickermaker's cookies and she turned her nose up. I remembered that she seemed to like the peppermint cookies, so I brought those, my 22' and Drving lines. I figured I am just gonna play and see what happens. The objective was to start really working on transitions while circling, weave, lead by the tail and friendly game/passenger lesson with driving lines. Let me say...hmmm how interesting. She picked up the weave at a walk quite easily. It took us a few minutes to get our bearings with the driving lines, but for a horse who would not let me past her withers 5 weeks ago, I think it was just the right medicine. She was leary at first, and having a little trouble understanding how to "go", but once we got going it seemed to really make her more comfortable having me back there at all. Being able to move, and just being gently guided so we could steer around the yard ornaments, and realizing that nothing bad happened and i was my usual "friendly leader" self, she settled into it nicely, and has a nice rein back on her. We both have room to grow in the not letting the ropes get under those feet, as I have never "driven" before this year. And I only played with it a few times with Rose before the mini's came. Deffinately a learning curve there, no matter how big or small the horse. We then played with leading by the tail, and man did those cookies work wonders. She finished off the bag and I will have to get more before we play again. When we were done, she was taking two steps back from the tail. We met our objective minus transitions. And with that i felt we had crammed as much learning into once session that we could without me getting too direct minded. So the really interesting part is how curious she has been with me since then. She is actually coming to see ME. Leaving food to come see ME. Sniffing ME, saying hi, and just hangin' round ME. The expression on her face is much sweeter and less grumpy looking. On a high, this little lady has weasled her way into my heart. I don't know how, but she did....must be the extrovert in her. I tend to be drawn to them. HMMMM How interesting!Savvy OnMichelle