"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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Did I achieve my goal? And where do I go from here?

Well, it is here, my birthday.  41yo today and what do I have to show for it?  My goal was to complete my official assesments of L4 by today.  So the answer is NO....I did NOT completely achieve my goal.  Looking back....at the 'ME" of a year ago.....who was then looking forward.....I had quite a lofty goal.  At first I thought it would be a no brainer.  My horse Rose and I, were near complete with L4 before the car accident and I thought it was reasonable to get back what we had in a year.  Of course things didn't go as planned and my strategy has had more than a few makeovers in the last year and a half.  Turns out riding is a huge risk and one frought with pain as well, so that is certainly on the back burner until a more suitable and safe option comes available....ie some training for Rose and some pain pills for me.  For now I can accept that, as depressing as it is.  My goal of completing L4, originally was to be done with Rose.....but since the levels are about the human and not the horse.....I got in any vehicle (horse) that was capable of making the journey with me.

One of the first major overhauls to the plan, which originally was to just do my L4 auditions, though I had never officially assessed any level prior to this past year, I realized that starting at the top was the worst thing I could try to do.  So, back to the beggining I went.  I passed L1 without owning or knowing anything about the patterns program, nor having any reference video's on youtube to be a guide.  I would have just died had I not passed THAT!  From there was a bit of a depressed stale mate for a while, when all the 'fear of failure' stuff kicked in.  Then I rescued Miyagi and Ochi, and taking a step back from Rose was a good thing and allowed ME to move forward and Pass OLL2 with Miyagi.  It was just a minute later that Cha'cote fell into my lap, and he needed me soo bad, that I put my own goals and needs aside to get this boy to a place where he could have a normal life.  One day in early spring I got a wild hair up my butt and pulled out Rose and hopped on and taped my FSL2 and passed that.  Feeling a bit better about my self, I managed to get up the gumption with Rose, to tape my LibL3 one day, out of the blue, and passed that as well.  Then I was really starting to get back to my self...I thought....BUT it was OLL3 that turned out to be my nemisis.  Good lord, Rose and I were locked in a battle of wills for so long, I still don't know exactly how to fix it.  It got to the point of realizing there was just NO way I was going to be able to tape it with her.  Everytime the camera came was on, it brought out the worst in us both.  Cha'cote luckily was just getting to that point in his journey, so I gave it a shot with him. And we passed.  That whole thing of course was a side journey in and of it self that is documented in earlier posts. 

So all in all, what have I gained and achieved, in my personal Parelli journey?  An official graduation of L2, and only needing to pass FSL3 to graduate offically L3.  I passed a total of 5 auditions, with the help of 3 different horses.  I saved the lives of 2 miniature's and one mustang.  I got my ass off of my couch, and out of a deep depression.  I stood up for myself and fought for my achievments.  The big question now is.......
Where do I go from here?  What is my next goal?  And what path will I choose to reach that goal?

I have discovered a few new friends along the way, and am in the process of unloading a bit of dead weight around my neck.  For the moment, riding is on the back burner, obviously, so I think I am setting a goal of Liberty  and Online L4 by 3-31-10.  I have alot of fixing to do, in order to figure out my relationship with Rose, and alot of growth to tackle with Cha'cote.  Neither of which do I think will be achieved in a short period of time.  But I also don't want to leave my self with no goal in sight.  I need something to hold me accountable, or the time will just dwindle away into nothingness.  my 30's are gone, and my 40's are well under way.  If I am not moving forward, I am just standing still.....and that aint good for no-one!

I am currently playing wtih Carolyn Resnicks water hole rituals, and I am trying to audit a Brent Graef clinic next month, as I believe that the biomechanics of the horse is vital and something that has been highly lacking in my journey for the last 9ys, and before my horses all turn up lame, I would like to study from someone who is both natural, but also puts proper movement at the forefront of the journey, not the tail end.  I am eagerly awaiting some dvd's of Hempfling, Rashid, Royal, wrangler Jayne and Branneman.  I think some of my questions will be answered in some of these other avenues.  The Parelli levels are about the human, and technically I have already learned the material, I am just trying to get to a place where my horses and I can do it in harmony again.  I think one of my issues, may be that because I have learned it, but am persistent in trying to re-create it, it is not doing what is best for the horse, as the levels are designed for the HUMANS learning.  So now that I have an issue with my HORSE, I need to get out of the foundation classroom and step into the horseman's classroom.

Interestingly, a university has many teachers in many subjects.  You gain the broadest education, buy being able to see a 'subject' from many perspectives, not just one.  Just as a high level dressage test is judged by 5 judges sitting in 5 different places, that gives each of them a unique perspective.  A fault or an accomplishment can often be seen well from one angle, be glaringly obvious, and yet at the same time, completely go un-noticed from another angle, like a blind spot.  It is easy for faults to go unnoticed if you always ONLY look from the same vantage point.  It is best to get the foundation and move on quickly, to step outside the pretty red-blue-green-black....'boxes" and see what else the world has to offer.  After all, it was the outside world, who filled the 'boxes" to begin with.

The pavement behind me is in the past, I am currently in the bottleneck, there is a fork in the road, and my rest of my life ahead of me.......stay tuned to see which way I turn.

Savvy On

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waterhole ritual #1 ~ Sharing Territory ~

Well, an interesting turn of events for sure.  I am excited to be with my horses.  More than that, I am inspired.  I have not felt this way in a very long time.  I can't remember the last time I was inspired like this.  Has to be more than 3ys ago.  I rented Carolyn Resnicks waterhole rituals.....gotta love giddyupflix.com.  What a magical store!  So I watched the whole thing, and read some notes, and then watched rituals 1 & 2, then headed out to just be with my horses.  But in a way like I never have before.  It is like undemanding time with a different perspective.  I think this will be the answer to the puzzle....."what is wrong with my relationsip with Rose".  And that has me all kinds of excited. When I read some clinic notes on her Waterhole Rituals, it sung to my soul.  Turns out, I instinctually was doing these with Cha'Cote.  To say that our horses are our best teachers, if we are ego'less enough to listen, is an understatement at best.  So when I saw her actually DO them, I knew I was onto the treasure of the century.  It is way more than horsemanship, it is a very spiritual way to be with your horse.  Probably the most natural thing I have ever seen in my life.  It isn't training, it is an enhancement to training, and if it were the first thing done with a horse, would solve more problems before they ever become created.  So there is my schpeel....here is how it went.

Now I have done undemanding time a 1000 times with my horses, but her idea of the horses having to court the leader, to learn the manners of the herd, set forth by the leader, I knew this is where some of Rose's problems are stemming from.  We have been in a dominance battle, and that is a behavior entwined between lower members of a herd, NOT the leader.  So I brought out my chair, and Buck Brannamans book "the faraway horses" and copped a squat to just be and share thier territory.  I have to say that I am pleased that ALL my horses want to be with me immediately, and all were VERY respectfull of my space, and had GREAT manners as far as I was concerned.  But still all over me like a cheap suit!  Miyagi was the first to gently frisk me, but before she could finish her investigation, Snookie and Rose came up.  At this point, I hadn't even had time to locate the first chapter of my book.  Which BTW is soo far very well written, at least the 2 pages I managed to read.  So here I sit, Snookie caressing my hair and neck.  Rose was at her side, pondering if I was worth her time. 

Since I felt Snookie had good manners I let her continue, and watched out of the corner of my eye Rose trying to scootch forward with out my noticing her.  Finally she edged her way infront of Snookie to give me a peek, and then she pinned her ears and ground her teeth and snaked her head at Miyagi. I felt this was rude so I got up and moved a few feet over.  She looked curious and both followed me quickly.  Still behind me a bit, Spirit approached me in the front, but was hesitant of the dynamic duo over my shoulder.  His curosity was KILLING him.  Miyagi was content with her strip search and stayed close, but far enough from Rose to start taking a nap, but faced me the entire time.  Again Rose was rude, but this time to Spirit.  Up I got and moved 3 ft again.  I am on a hill, so positioning is critical here.  Rose was now irritated at my behavior and left and snookie joined her.  Spirit finally got his time to investigate me, and of course my book.  He took it in his mouth, and since he is sensitive, I did not reprimand him, I just got up and moved again.  He came back and started licking me.  He is a licker!  Now jealous, Snooke comes back, for good I might add.  Rose right behind her.  Snookie came right up and claimed me, her knees right up against my bum.  I pet her gently some more, and as I sat there I was thinking that there is no better way to spend my final days/years with her, than this.  I was so peaceful.  Then Rose....came up and was behaving, I reached up to pet her and she bit at me.  So I chased her away strongly, then glared at her when she finally stopped and looked at me.  To my surprise, Snookie stayed with me.  Spirit got just close enough for me to reach my hand out as far as i could, he stretched as far as he could and licked my fingers.  Rose came back, sniffed me, and we had a few words (eye contact) as gave poor spirit a glare.  Previously I would have been filled with pride that my horses were fighting over me, but this is feeding her dominance, and lessening my leadership, thus to be part of the herd....MY herd, she has to behave in my pressence.  Now she was more infront of me, facing away.....I let her be there as long as she kept an eye on me....the second she glared at him again, I slapped her butt and sent her on strongly again. 

She left circled the herd and cam back in at my shoulder and this time she had a sweet expression as she approached me.  She did not change her expression, and investigated me again.  I pet her as a reward for being so polite and havin good manners, and this time she accepted my favor.  There was a softness to her face I have not seen in a while.  I sat there stoking her and snookies muzzles until they both were so close to me it felt like snuggling on the couch with a date!  You know the kind of infatuation where you just can't be close enough to someone.  But not in a rude or pushy way.  A mutual way.  it was nice.

My spirit is filled with wonder and excitement as I was with my herd, and they were WITH  me.  Everyone ended with eyes closed and napping with me while I finally got to read a page just as the sun set on the tip of the mountain.

I will repeat this again tomorrow and add the second ritual 'hello".  I am hoping that I can get to the third on friday with Rose as I think this is exactly what we need to finally move forward again, with nothing to brace against.

Savvy On

Friday, September 17, 2010

Can you teach herd respect?

So I played with Rose again last night.  I noticed immediately that our last lesson was still with her.  She was not to keen to be with me for one, but once she decided to come to me, she was much lighter and MUCH more respectful.  We mostly played the circling game, and she upheld her part very well.  Much nicer to have her GO….and then maintain.  We also played with a new game, the beginnings of Spanish walk and beginning of a bow.  Just tinkering, as raising a leg is actually one of HER favorite games to play on ME.
So the interesting thing is this…..while I was feeding them this morning, I noticed something I have not seen in a long time.  Rose was cautious while approaching Snookie to eat with her.  Usually they eat practically nostril to nostril.  There has been a no permission needed policy about this for quite a while.  But I saw her creep in like she had foundered, and very cautiously reach her nose toward Snookies.
Hmmm, I wonder if this has anything to do with a renewed respect for MY leadership, being transferred back to respecting Snookies leadership.  How interesting?
Savvy On

Monday, September 13, 2010

Well Well Well.....wouldn't CHA know!

I tried to tape my L4 Liberty yesterday.  The first half was not bad considering....

1.Snookie was loose in the arena with us.
2.Both girls were in heat
3.Both had a boyfriend tied to the fence on the outside of the arena.

Rose was like trying to move around a dead cow.  Snookie was squeeling and striking at the boys (not nearly as dead in heat as Rose)  We warmed up, and the girls would run as fast as they could to be by the boys before I could show up and ruin the party.  Finally my friend was ready with the camera, but....in retrospect.....i think Rose was already done at this point.  She really had no problems with DRAW.....but the STICK.......STUNK!  She would do the task, and then split.  And then come back.  I didn't worry about it much at the time figuring I will just hyperspeed the tape in my lonely moments for the audition.  In the arena we trailer loaded....both of them got in BTW, I could NOT keep Snookie out......we did a weave, friendly with the big green ball, lead by the tail, some stick to me, a few of the 7 games......

BUT....then I had the audacity to ask her to do a figure 8.  Nope.....all i saw was butt crack!  She came back, we tried again.....butt crack!  I thought this might be the case, so....as I had planned the night before....we went to the round pen, for the fig8, circles and flying changes.  Never mind the fact that last weekend she did some AWESOME circles in the big arena, real small and stuck like GLUE.  But as usual, no camera around to get it.  So anyways, off we head to the arena.  I hosed her off on the way as it was hot out.  this is where it all fell apart.....just as it ALWAYS does when i attempt an audition.  Started off good, got really nice figure 8's, which would also be really nice flying changes......if the COW would canter...... so long as cantering was not on the menu she was fine.  she would have probably trotted for me all day, but canter....heck no....not without some serious work on my part.  I was sweating like a hog and getting tired myself, and my shoulder was killing me.  It is not suppose to be like this, she is suppose to work....not me!  So there we were.....the Hog and the Cow, going no where.

So I pulled all my "tools" out of the brain shed.....but the one thing i knew i should do....i didn't because i was direct line for the audition.  AGAIN. so with in a few min, i knew it was lost.....worked on getting one canter circle.....and headed back to the arena for shade and online PLAY.  We played with the send.......to toys....."hurry up and get there to play" was the theme.

So I thought about it the rest of the day, and night, and dreamed about it, woke up with it on my mind, thought about it all day today.  What is my strategy going to be?  I know what is broken.....it has been boken for 8 months......YO-YO/DRIVING.....and the lack of an effective phase 4.   It is the one thing I found is a very common 'comment' on audtions......"She doesn't believe you will go to phase 4".....I just don't do much of circling or yo-yo on the circle at home because of the horrible ground conditions.  I feel just terrible, so I don't make anyone do it much. 

And then the phase 4.  What is a phase 4?  I sure was going "there"  but I was having to run out there to tag her.  And the more she saw how much work it was, FOR ME, the more confident she was that she could outlast me. And made a game of how many times she could get me to come out of MY circle.  A phase4 is......what ever is EFFECTIVE...not how hard you can whack your horse.  It felt like i was beating her, yet it was far from effective.  So I knew, with a horse like this, who is wickedly smart, I had to be smarter than her, not stronger or faster, as that is just imposible. Not to mention, on top of it all...............
Hello nimrod.....how can it be good enough for an audition if you dont DO it.....EVER??  So.....since I know she can see my weakness', and then strategize against my inferior skills compared to hers.....I got out the lunge whip.  I am not moving a single inch......but i have to be able to tag her.  Took her a few times before she realized I was the all mighty, all powerfull human with the long arm of the law!  Sometimes I used a long phase one and a serious tag, other times broke the phases down to equal times, and in the end the game of response.....move NOW, you don't have that long before you get tagged.  I sent her out, and if she stopped, i reeled her in, gave her a love, backed her out, stood in neutral for about 20-30 seconds to make her REALLY wonder what was coming next.....then .....I brought my life up....and .....GO!  If I got a NO.....she got a tag.  I did less, she did more.

I cried once or twice.....but I am not a chump.....for the good of the relationship....if she doesn't respect me....we dont have a relationship.  But I also know, she has to feel like a winner too, so of course.....she did not get tagged if she could beat me to it with a snappy depart.  I stood there during the the friendly moments in between sends, and was looking at all the kick marks and bit marks she has on her.  ALOT!!!!  I have never seen a horse so tore up before.  they are every where.  It dawned on me.....she is vying for Snookies position.  She senses weakness and old age, and must be checking in regularly to see if Snookie still has what it takes to be the leader.  My guess is......YES.....

So she must be not moving fast enough, trying to hold her ground with Snookie....and thinking I am no better than her.  Well not today my friends......NOT today.

Phase4 lives.....and unlike the Snookster....I left no marks.....other than on her EGO!!!!

Game plan.  play this game again wed/fri/sat.....and trailer over again to the arena/rp and give canter a whirl again.  We got a great send.....snapiest departs I think she has ever given me....and that not so great working hindend driving game.......moves like a charm now....hide your hiney strikes again!  In the end, she was upholding her end of the bargain with circles.....not changing gaits.......many laps.

Video will be uploaded....well when ever my friend bestowes it upon me.....so....cant say!