"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 31, 2010

Happy New Year Everyone!

This is gonna be my year....I can just FEEL it!  I wish you all happiness, peace, love, joy and great horsemanship!

Savvy On

WHR herd 10/22/10

Ok, so this is my first pitiful attempt at leading from behind. it was a couple months ago. I learned alot about scattering a horse during this....rather more like scattering a herd....rather more like causing THEM to be a tighter unit, and keep myself on the outside of thier priviledged little club.

Mistake #1 was before I even entered the pasture.....I chose to try to lead a herd before I knew how to lead one horse....DOH! So then....mistake #2....I didn't spend any time just hanging out with them, bonding, before I got all 'dictatorbitch' on them. Mistake #3....I put too much pressure on them the first time I sent them off. So basically I spent 15min trying to figure out what I was doing, that I screwed up in the first 5 seconds! Sad thing is that I really, in my mind at the time, didn't put much pressure on them.

So I played damage control, learning that my hill was steep and my horses swift! Of course you cannot hear me huffing and puffing during this....but I most certainly was. mistake #4....I really should have put the stick down, and figured out a way to just hang with them, as they really didn't let me close enough to even try....not that I did try. I did try not to pursue them, the best I could (hill and fat butt helped with that) as Carolyn describes when they leave you, faster than a walk, do NOT run after them, just keep walking at a snails pace pursuit.....again....my fitness level played into that well!! It does look like I am chasing them off, as they tear off away from me, and since you cant see me in the video, I thought I would share that bit of info. What you do get to see, is what I saw....or more like DIDN'T see....as I tried to work this out. You get a birds eye view of my energy pushing on thier bubble and scattering them....again and again and again!

You get to see a few of my missed opportunities to collect them.....and then....Snookie.....being the grand leader that she is.....she collects and then leaves with her belongings! I was schooled by the master. She is soo good that Miyagi joined in, and I wasn't even playing the game with her.

6min into this, I changed 'games' and went with taking territory....mistake #5....again....I should have been trying to do the first ritual, SHARING territory. Thankfully, around 9 min into it, I tried to share a little space with them, but as you can see at about marker 11:30...Snookie comes to yet again gather her belongings and I went bact to trying to lead from behind.....and off they went....two peas in a pod.....without me.....again. I realized I have ALOT to learn, and just quit to start fresh another day before I made things worse.

If you notice, through out the video. Spirit is smart enough to know when he is not in focus and just sits back and watches the 'fun'. Smart boy he is!

Savvy On.....
or not...

WHR Snook leads from behind

OK all you WHR fans out there.....this is how a true LEADER leads from behind. You are going to have to study closely, because Snookie has to be sooooo soft to move Rose, or else she will scatter her instead of lead her. It took Snookie 6mos to a year after Lily died, to learn how to quiet her self down in her requests in order to gain Rose's respect and willingness to follow her lead. for 6mos she used her abrasive style that she used on Tigerlily and she did nothing more than make her own self fret all day while Rose was scattered all about the pasture. All because she put too much pressure on Rose, so Rose would just take off, rather than patiently walk off and follow Snookies directions from behind.

Now she does OK for Snookie, most times she doesn't run off, but she doesn't always go where Snookie wants either. You can see in the video, Snookie has to make several attempts to get Rose over to the water trough area, as Rose kept circling back to the trees. Snookie has learned to just patiently keep requesting until Rose complies.

I made this video because after learning about the water hole rituals, I watched them interact, and learned that while Rose is a very dominant #2, she clearly is not #1, as this video shows Snookie is the leader. It was then and there that I knew the truths of the WHR's, and knew I needed to learn them....NOW....if I was to ever be as effective as Snookie to truley gain Rose's respect, love and companionship again....that she freely offers to Snookie, and once used to offer to me, long ago when Snookie was busy with Tigerlily. I am very hopefull that the WHR's are going to teach me how to gain Rose's respect as her LEADER and quit fighting over the #2 position.

The WHR most definately ARE the horses living breathing daily culture, and it would behoove us all to learn them!

Savvy On

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Isn't it AMAZING

At how quickly people will turn thier backs on you?  Jesus wouldn't do that, why do humans?  If a christian lost thier way for a while, would Jesus turn his back on them?  I am not a religous person, per se, but I was certainly raised to know his love and compassion, and HIS faith in US.  I am often surprised at how many 'devout' christians, just don't get christianity.  Same goes for PARELLI.....They read the words, but completely miss the message.  I just kinda noticed, that some other LARGE groups and clubs do the same.  Should someone not put on the face of being 'pure' they no longer have value or intrest for the group.  I bet if Jesus was still 'alive' and was the leader of a group, HE would be telling his followers, to support and love those that are waffling, because they are the ones who need to hear his message and feel his love the most.  But here?? No....tow the line or ye shall be shunned.  Whisper or SHOUT against the name and ye shall be burned.  God....I wish more people truley understood your love....I know I do.

From Michelle....you know who I am....the ever constant angry waffler.....Luv Ya Big Guy!
Thanks for all the gifts, friends and love you DO share with me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jueli's Journey

Blast from the past....this is Jeuli.....a rescue from years ago. She is the 'bucking' horse that was chosen by Chris Cox for a bucking horse demo at the Western States Horse Expo. She is now doing 3day eventing with her new owners. I miss her and wish I could have gotten thru MY trust issues with her. Anyways...this was also my very first online video that I made. She was starved and her winter fur made it hard to see in the pics, just how skinny she really was. She turned out to be a very beautiful horse, and would have jumped the moon for me if I asked her.....she really thought I held all the stars in my heart. I miss her!

Monday, December 27, 2010

5-5-5 I am soo mad.....rescue rant!

Well here goes, it was bound to happen that I one of my rescue operations were going to finally piss me off to the point I can't hold back.  So we rescued a $3500 Bull dog today.....and let me say....price per pound....about a dollar!  This dog is so fat he can barely move, breath or sleep.  Meet Bruiser.  He is 6yo, and clearly a big boy.  His nails were curled back under his paws and he could barely walk to the end of our driveway.  Bout as laid back as a dog can get, but he doesn't even know his own name.  He acts like he has never BEEN called anything.  He loves attention.  He was filthy greasy dirty.  I just can't understand why anyone would pay $3500 for a dog they won't take care of.  Clearly he was fed....but that appears to be it.

So I would really like to take the opportunity to remind everyone that OVER feeding is just as unhealthy as UNDER feeding.  If an animal is so fat it isn't functional....it is tooo FAT!  They do not have the ability to go to the store buy the food and over/under feed them selves.  Animals suffer the same types of disease from obesity that humans do, one of which is lethargy, which just exacerbates the problem.  Proper low carb diets are in order for all animals as sugars create insulin problems in animals as well as humans.  PLEASE take the time to learn how to properly feed your animal BEFORE you take it home.

Bruiser will be looking for a new home near immediately, we just could not leave him behind.  Being that English Bull Dogs are generally 'special' needs, we will be screening carefully for the right home for him.

We now have 5 horses, 5 cats and 5 dogs.....where is Dr. Doolittle when you need him?

Friday, December 24, 2010

The REASON behind the reviews

Ok, so whether or not anyone can read between the lines or not, I was having a bit of.....difficulty.....on my PNH journey.  In many ways.....my car accident, the surgery, constant pain, tasks, levels, auditions, relationships, biomechanical correctness, Catwalk, feeling like a failure, depression, some 'domestic" issues, corporate policies....."holy crud batman......this is a long list.....how can you continue on?"

I started to seek help elsewhere, and not one to jump ship in the middle of the ocean, I much prefer the idea of waiting until we dock at the next port of call, and safely arive to shore!  So I took the advice of some other 'friends' on where I ought to start looking.  I wanted advice from others that I knew.....were studying and taught the same things that I believe in.  There really was no one place to come and gather 'objective' reviews of the 'available' material.  I have few options for 'live' instruction, so dvds and books are all I have to go on.  So I figured....If I am doing a mad dash rush through a long list in my giddy-up que....taking notes for myself....I may as well share my observations....from a parelli students perspective.

I know no one is perfect, and I know why most people ARE parelli students.  they are looking for a great relationship with thier horse.  Pretty Plain and Simple.  I am on the hunt to find other methods and techniques that are along the same line as parelli, certainly not the polar opposite.  I am not looking for a replacement in the sense of ONE person to follow.....EVER again.  NO one has all the answers.....but I am re-disovering that Parelli comes the closest to my horsemanship morals and to the ideals I hold dear.

So I hope these reviews are helpful, but as always, they are just MY opinions of the things I am observing...and my self discoveries while I am reading.

May each of you find peace and love and beauty with your horses, with out force or fear.

Savvy On

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DVD Review:** Nevzorov "Haute Ecole Principles"

Nevsorov Haute Ecole Principles. **

First let me start with....

The Good: 
I must say that the production of this film is top notch beautiful as though the money spent was for that of a box office hit.  The imagery and mastery of horsemanship are not to be missed.  You may not learn a whole bunch as it is clearly not educational in the traditional sense, but I think for the higher level student, there is something to be learned in just watching. His horses mover more correctly than any I have seen in quite some time, and all with out means of restraint.  No halter, no bridle, just a cordeo (rope around base of neck NOT near the head) and when lunging a lunge line.  The horses are taught to self collect, and are given the time to build these muscles correctly by not asking too much too soon for too long.  Careful consideration is given to building an athlete with out losing the horses innate spirit and sense of play. 

He gives an indepth description of how to use a cordeo safely, and explains just how vulnerable the horses trachea is to severe damage, in the area that most lasso's are placed when roping a horse.  You can clearly see that his use of it is VERY light, and most of what he does appears as if nearly by magic.  However I know better, and know there is alot of time put into the communication he has built.

He advocates giving frequent breaks for 'free play' that encourage a horse to be more willing to work hard and concentrate for short periods of time.  He also has a very kind way of 'touching' the horse with a twig and shows many examples of his touch.

The Bad:
He does give some very 'scientific biomechanical' explanations....so get out your horse anatomy atlas to interpret.  He is very against the use of halters as according to him they destroy balance.  Can't say that I can argue with him as I have never taught a horse in halter what he can do without one.  But that doesn't mean I am going to toss all mine in the fire just yet.  It's all fine and good within the confines of your own private indoor school, but when you are speaking of the liabilities of safety that most of us are limited to adhere to....a halter does make a bit more prudent if not 'legal' sense.  He goes on to remind that the lunge line should only be used when the horse is already well trained in hand.  In other words, lunging is dangerous to the horses body unless both the handler and horse are well trained. Hmm, after watching his horses 'lunge' how can one argue.  while maybe not practical for new owners, or even owners of good and decent education......HIS horses were stunning to watch.  Also not practical for the 40 and fat group is his own extended trot to match the horses extended trot.  It well make take me another 40ys to get that fit again!

The Ugly: 
He actually advises letting a highly charged stallion gnaw on him with NO reprimand.  To merely move on to the next move.....lethal at best for an inexperienced horse person.  Luckily HE is a master and handles it beautifully, an art form everyone should strive for.....At least he does give a warning at the begining that this is not an educational movie, and no attempts should be made to duplicate it without first understanding the schools principles.....Problem is....this IS his only 'educational' dvd ABOUT his principles......he apparently made it so he can say...."You're wrong in what you do, I am right in what I do.....but I will never reveal my secrets."  Now knowing how he feels about ALL things traditional, even in the new NH sense of the word, I have to say it is quite egotistical of him to think laying a horse on it's back for that long.....IS in any way natural or comfortable or biomechanically correct for the horse.  Tit for tat I guess, like a spade calling a spade....a spade.

CRAP....what's a girl to do??  Guess I will have to continue on in my mediocrity, because if this man had his way, us forty and fatties would be allowed to breath within a mile of a horse much less own and train one.  Sad thing is I would gladly send him money to learn how he teaches the "self carriage".  Oh well, my money stays just as green in my pocket his does.....he he...At least I learned a few things watching it and was mezmerized at it beauty.  He is a master horseman, there is no doubt of that.  One for a budding dressage queen to admire and aspire to for sure!

I have to say I only give this 2 stars as, only an upper level student will likely even be able to notice all the subtle and intricate communication, or understand the biomechanical correctness he strives for.  If you want to see what it online should look like....I give it 4 stars.  But have to knock it back to 2 stars for the fact that he doesn't tell ya HOW to do it.....

Savvy On

Monday, December 20, 2010

DVD Review:*** Karen Scholl: Trailering for Women

Trailering for Women ***

I really enjoyed this dvd.  There is a little issue with sound quality, but not enough to make in-audable.  I like her way with horses, and she is very clear in her descriptions.  She explains every detail, and is very thorough.  It reminded me of a few bad  habits I need to fix and gave me a few ideas for my trailering with Cha'cote, which is the reason I got it in the first place.  I will say that she is very in line with Parellil methods, but there is enough different about her that it gives a new perspective on technique, which I really enjoyed.  More tools in my tool shed of knowlege.  Who doesn't need that.  But since it is so similar, I only gave it 3 stars as it mirrors close enough that you 'could' live without it.  But if you are having trailering issues??.....I give it 5 stars.  She covers getting prepared prior to starting the trailer loading, the trailer loading itself, and how to CLOSE THE DOOR!!!! the one thing most others do NOT talk about, and the one thing Cha'cote doesn't want me to do!

She has a great perspective on the 'try' that I admire and found refreshing. 
She talks about how we need to convey to our horse, through our handling the message that "it is important for you to get on the trailer".  Not because we said so, but because his very life depends on it.  Just as we would not let him step off a cliff.....it is 'important' to listen to us.  I like a tid bit I saw in a 'bridging' piece of student just playing with thier horses, that she doesn't appear to teach strong phase 4's.  I like the way she backs a horse.  It is soft and supple and pain free. She has a great way of sending and disengaging and is great at desribing the how of it.  she also does not believe in letting the horse take off and go at a RB pace.  she when she ask the horse to go, she expects him to leave quietly.  REALLY like that!!  No screaming demons racing around you, wondering when they will ever wind themselves down.  When it comes to the trailer loading she is quiet and has some really great tips for tying IN the trailer and closing the door.  I think anyone with trailering issues should check this out.  Even if your 'issue' is just wanting to know the safe in's and out's of trailer loading and hauling, this is a gread dvd.

I enjoyed it enough that I will be viewing more of her dvds as I would like to see her perspective on a few other things as well.  Have trailer......'got savvy'??  She does!

Savvy On

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Zone 5

Well things were even more confident today...I noticed I need to give a bigger break and release the try for longer, but all in all he did really good. Today was the first time I was ever able to reach his tail with the hose....no more squirting between the hind legs. he got got his legs and tail washed, mane trimmed, tail banged....hims purdy now! He also even got on the pedestal all by himself when we had the tractor going....so cute!

This video shows me too, and shows me expiramenting with different techniques and strategies. he didn't want to put his left hind on there today, so we finally got it in the end. he did not get both on together...but thats OK!

Savvy On

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Beginning zone 5 touch it

So my last two sessions with Cha'cote have been starting touch it with zone 5. Got a really rocky start....which is what told me how badly I needed to do alot of it. At first the closest zone5 could confidently stand facing the trailer was about 25-30 feet and a couple of feet from the pedestal. Last time we ended with one foot at a time backing onto the pedestal. This time we easily got 2' from the trailer and inched our way to about a foot from the trailer. we started out pretty easily getting one hind foot on the pedestal, and also backing over a log. He backed the front feet over the small jump and of course when the camera wasn't on, he backed both feet onto the pedestal.....wooo hooo. He is getting WAY more confident already with his feet, and thinking while purposefully and slowly moving his feet, rather than reacting and quickly taking them off of something.....yeah! Will try to get more video tomorrow

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DVD Review:***** Mark Rashid; Finding the Try

Finding the Try *****
This is a VERY good dvd.  When we talk about approach and retreat, releasing on the slightest try….in order for that to be effective, I guess we ought to know what a try looks like….shouldn’t we?  In this dvd, he gives a pre warning that it isn’t a ‘how to’ on the exercises, but rather simply for looking for the try during the exercise.  So that in and of it self is amazing, because it isn’t about….you MUST do it MY way.  It is simply….this is how I do it, might not be a bad idea if you did it too….but lets look at the horse and look for the try.  He also does not point out all the tries, as he wants YOU to be looking for them. 
Having said all that, it is pretty good ‘how to’ of a few very basics, that all our horses need to know.  Such as:  Halt, Rein back, yield hind/fore quarters, impulsion, and collection.  All from the saddle.  What I loved about it is that he is so soft and so subtle, he HAS to point it out to you or you won’t see most of it.  Don’t we all want to be so quiet, with the smallest aids, that no one else can see them and they thing it pure magic??
In watching it, it became glaringly clear how few of us really do see and reward the beginning of a try.  He also doesn’t do phases, so to speak.  He will if he needs to, yet he just seems to never really need to, because his timing is so impeccable that the horse gets it sooner, and thus no need to go to phase 4.  In the dvd he uses an old trained horse that needs some refreshing, a young filly with only 10 rides on her, and hard headed Belgian that doesn’t want to stop or go.  He does all the exercises with each of them, and I was amazed at the lighting fast results he got with that Belgian. 
Throughout the dvd, there was little to no fight, because of the way he views the horses response.  When he asks a horse to do something, and the horse doesn’t give the desired response, he doesn’t see it as a wrong answer, thus does not argue with that answer, and considers just about anything a horse does is a “try”.  The horse IS trying.  He is doing ‘something’ to try to figure out what it is we want from him, so making him feel wrong will only cause resentment towards you.  Now this doesn’t mean let a horse drag you around or run you over or buck you off….nothing that drastic…..but the core difference is in by using a whisper in the first place, and rewarding even the ‘thought’ of doing the right thing, you just never get to that place where the argument leys.  Your horse is more confident and more willing to stay calm as you are not creating a stir in the first place.
Another refreshing point to the dvd is him showing the try in the impulsion department.  I have never been a fan of saying that a horse has to drop gait in order to correct him. I agree that you have to wait for him to make a mistake before you can correct it.  Not doing so is a part of micro management.  However, there are 4 gaits within each gait.  In trot, there is the working, collected, medium and extended trot.  If you ask for a working trot, and your horse breaks to collected…that IS a mistake and break in gait, and should be corrected. And vice versa if he breaks to a medium trot when you ask him to maintain working trot.  He gives a VERY detailed example of this….I loved it….as this is so often mistaken for micro management.  Sure when you have a young, green or spoiled horse, you have to start with just maintaining the 3 basic gaits, but you really should quite quickly be more particular about which trot you ask for, or walk or canter.  You will have a more emotionally fit, supple, obedient, and biomechanically correct horse, and thus less chance of lameness in the long run.
Now the one thing I found annoying was the kissing, but he stated before he started that you could use seat and leg rather than voice, and I think he used voice because it is an aid that we all could tell he was using, and thus be able to see the try or lack there of, immediately after the cue.  But it does reinforce to me….that it is not going to be MY primary vocabulary….it is just annoying….but it is a good example that it is effective.
I loved his simplicity in the lateral work, and his technique in particular for yielding the forequarters.
I think ANYone, regardless of their level….should watch this dvd before you place your rear in the saddle.  It honestly will save you a whole lot of time arguing with your horse, because you missed the try!

Savvy On

Monday, December 6, 2010

Am I missing vital puzzle pieces?

I said in an earlier post about god giving me the pieces to the puzzle so far apart, that I can't make the picture out or what the relationship is from one piece to the next.  I am somehow missing....the big picture here....pardon the pun.  I did a little high tech project here to explain how I feel right now.  Lets suppose I saw a picture, and I liked it so much, I bought it.  But it was a puzzle that I had to put together myself.  Here is the picture on the box. 

I get the box home, I open it and start puting it together.  All the pieces are falling into place, just as I was told they would.  But then one day I notice I have an incomplete picture, kinda like this.  I look everywhere, and the missing pieces are no where to be found.  I call the store and they tell me that all the pieces are there.  But I can't find them, so I start to think it is my fault, that I some how lost the pieces myself.  Not a big deal, since I am told the missing pieces are not vital, and I still have a very nice picture.  And when people look at my puzzle, this is what most of them see, a pretty nice picture.  It is almost complete,and most people don't even have half of thiers done.  I am doing pretty good, BUT if I want a new picture, I will have to have all my pieces in place.

Well, since I decide, I want to get that other picture, and they do not have the pieces to help me complete my picture, I muddle around, desperately making up the pieces myself.  I do a pretty good job of filling in, but lets face it, it is kind of obvious that while all the holes are filled, something is still missing.  I figure it is still ok, and I can get by with this.  I am still nearly done, and gratefull I have made it this far.  And a few people see my puzzle like this.  Pretty darn good.

But as time goes by, I start noticing, that my picture has no essence.  The story is not there and the picture doesn't make any sense, the meaning is just not there.
And the harder and closer I look, I see that the pieces that are missing are so vital, that with out them I cannot have the picture I dreamed of and that since I never had these  pieces all along, that maybe it was my imagination or that I was being naive in thinking that they were ever in the box to begin with, as I was told for so long.  And upon further examination, my picture really looks like this.  Most people do not see the picture like this.  They cannot see, what I can so easily feel.  They are still building thier puzzle, and havn't run out of pieces yet, so they don't even know they are missing.

So of I went on a quest for the missing pieces that I just can't get at my local store.  For some reason, they either have never seen my pieces, or they are holding them back for some unknown reason.  But that's ok.  I am finally at a place that I can say....that's ok.  I found a few stores that keep them in stock.  I may have to do some running around to get each and every piece, but at least I know they exist now.  They are not a fantasy, they were not my imagination as I stand here looking at the first piece in my hand, I know I have never seen anything like this before.  And guess what, I had one of the pieces myself all along, and lost it so long ago, that I couldn't even remember it.  But, I lifted up the couch, and found it right there, all along.  Now that I have expanded my horizons, God is throwing those pieces at me faster that I know what to do with them.  And the funny thing is......Finding these pieces is giving me a whole new picture to play with.  How long did it take you to notice the picture changed?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Whole Heart: #3 Perceptions pt2 What am I doing?

So what IS my quest?  Level 4, to get back what I once had.  The Journey to the Black String.
But why am I so catatonic?

There I was, on my journey, so clost to my goal, my first destination, I could taste it.  Then...WHAMO...my life turned upside down in a flash.  A flash that has blinded me for far too long.
I thought my mistake was thinking I could just pick up where I left off.  But that didn't give me the result I expected or desired, and I was devestated.  The harder I tried, the worse it seemed to get.  And now I think I know why.  Not that I haven't uttered those words before...but God keeps giving me the puzzle pieces so far apart, that it is hard to see the picture in my mind.  At the very least, I got another piece of the puzzle.

I can't remember how I got to level 4 in the first place.  Why is that? I know some of the obvious reasons.  But now I know the subtle reasons...the reason that really matters.  Parelli has a map for success.  A pretty good one too.  Obvious reason #1....They keep changing the lay of the land on me.  #2 the tour guide is often not available or helpful with the lack of an in depth look at L3/4 education.  But that is not the real problem.  At least I don't think so anymore.

After completing chapter 1 of this book, it has revealed to me a revelation about my journey.  And all journeys really.Ya know how google maps you type in your current location and destination and it gives you the directions?  And how you can drag and drop your path to choose a different one?  That is how the levels pathway kinda is.  The problem is, it doesnt account for detours, traffic jams, pit stops....you know....the 'what if you dont get the results you think you should be getting"

Mark reminded me, that results are just that.  They aren't good or bad.  Just valuable feedback that will direct you to your next move.  This is how I got so stuck.  Stuck because I thought my results were bad because they didn't yeild me the outcome I thought they should and thus reacted negatively toward them.  Rather than view them the way I did the first time I traveled down the road to L4.
"We need to remember what the horse offers in response to our request, is simply information, nothing more, nothing less"  It isn't wrong or right.  It is just information to help us decide what move to make next.  Kinda like a Tom Tom navigator.  If we deviate from our predescribed route, it keeps us on course by giving us directions from our new 'current location'

because it was so long ago, I can't remember all the little detours we took along the way.  Each little nuance....request I made....her response to each request, that led me to the next step.  Since I was learning, I had no arrogance or ego, underlying my interpretation of her response.  I have been so busy trying to stay on the predetermined route, that I was ignoring my horses response.  I just kept making all right turns, and ultimately going in circles ending in the very same spot, all in the name of trying to get back on this predetermined path.  How on earth can I remember every little spot I placed each foot, of every step of the way the first time I traveled this road?   And really, even if I could, the problem is, each of those steps were taken because of what ever response to her feedback in the moment, and thus not appropriate for THIS step, THIS time.  I need to pay attention and navigate myself, based on todays response, to this moments request.

So on this path, this time, how do I plan my route?  What requests will I make?  What IS my destination?  Until now, I thought my destination was a black string.  And ultimately it is.  But from where I stand, this is like charting a map to China.  THAT is a huge journey!  I think what I need to do first is figure a way to navigate out my driveway.    I need to have smaller trips in mind.  Smaller goals.  This brings me back to my success with Cha'cote and the 'why' I had success with him and not Rose.  Unlike Rose, I had no 'path' try and remember and duplicate.  He was a virtual clean slate.  I had no choice but to keep things small and simple, and take one day, one step at a time.  I had NO intentions of auditioning with him.  That seemed almost impossible anyways, so I never even had it on my mind, or the map.  And in so 'not' doing, I arrived there sooner with him, than with Rose, a horse who had been there before and has NO confidence issues.  Just like he says in the book...

"Those that don't worry about making mistakes, will make less mistakes than those who do worry about making mistakes"

So now I think I just need to pick a task & ONLY one task.  Probably go back to the basics....AGAIN...That's right, the 7 games on a 12' line, and the L1 patterns, and friggin do it right this time.  Try my hand again at those driving lines, something that has no memories to chase down. Not have some arbitrary reward in mind, other than that of the relationship with my horse.

For all intents and purposes, I am a better L5 than I am a L4.  Sounds wierd, right? But I know why.  I am a better horseperson now than I was 3ys ago.  How can that be, with so many failures in the last 3ys?  Kind of obvious now, and really only important to me and my ego.  But here we go anyways.  I have taught the 7 games to well over 100 horses. I have alot of experience with rank horses.  Having worked on 2 large TB breeding farms, RB extroverts are kinda my thing.  But they exhaust me. I have taken 7 horses through what is now known as the current OLL2. And of those 7, 4 thru what is the current OLL3.  And of those, only 1 thru what is the current OLL4. 

Since L5 is about specialization, difficult horses, teaching, training, colt starting etc.  I have been doing those since before parelli, so I do them quite well, it is only the subject matter that has changed a bit.  But I only have experience with 2 horses with L4.  Snookie in the freestyle and finesse, back in the day, we could have passed those with our eyes closed.  Turns out, I was quite "natural" in the saddle, before I knew what natural was. 3rd level dressage and bridless riding kinda covers the freestyle and finesse dept.  And since nothing I have learned in parelli is different than what I was already doing....guess I was doing parelli too!  And then there is Rose with the online and liberty.  Rose is my liberty queen and the only thing we havn't done much of is driving with 2 lines.  And here I am beating myself for something I don't have as much experience with.  I don't know why I am so hard on myself.....ego I guess.  I think I need to start treating myself like I do my students.  Focusing on what is good, not my mistakes.  My horses don't care what color my string is...why should I? 

So that is my revelation for the day.  Drop the ego, and give myself a break...we all make mistakes.
I wonder what chapter 2 has in store for me.

Onwards and Upwards to Savvy

Another obvious, is my complete arrogance that I know more than my horse.

Book: Whole Heart, Whole Horse by Mark Rashid

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Whole Heart: #2 Perceptions pt1... Here it come's...bring on the tears! Spooky scary.

Man this book is good.  I'm not even PMSing! I had to put it down because I started crying.  NO NO....it's ok...good tears.  I started the first chapter.....and his story (stories can be good for teaching a lesson I am learning) seemed to be going off on a path about something other than horsemanship.....but I was rivited.

Just before I started to read the chapter, after reading the preface...I was thinking about my session today with Cha'cote....as if pony palouza wasn't enough....the preface story got me thinking a bit, about why I keep getting direct line about the trailer, no matter how hard I try not to.  I mean, it wasn't all bad...and it ended on a good note.....zone 5 nearly against the trailer....but that was after I beat my self up for the hour I had just spent with him......somehow making the 'not about the trailer...ALL about the trailer"

His preface helped me to come up with the all too often, hush hush, not talked about EGO.
Even though I would not consider myself egotistical, I guess, in the end, I really am.  Not about my success's, rather my failures.  I stood smoking a cigarette, thinking more coherently than I have in a while, what if someone gave me permission to fail?  What if?? someone actually said to me...."Just because you are level 4 doesn't mean when you fail, we will strip your success right out from under you.  You don't have to prove to me that you are level 4 by gettin this horse in the trailer.....I can see that you are."

What if?

So I came back in, and cracked open the book.  Holy mother of all that is creepy....do you know that is what the first chapter is ALL about!?!  Basically, in this chapter....that is what he said to me!!!!

Of course he didn't write...."Michelle...it's ok if you dont get this mustang in the trailer...no one will think less of you".....but you get the gist.

He tells a story of when he was a kid, how a mistake of dialing a phone number just one number off, ended up so good, he actually grew up a little by whom answered the phone.

Moral of the chapter so far....mistakes are ok...and can lead to good things.

Wo why am I crying?

It is funny how we have such an emotional attachment to words.  How one word can lift you up, tear you down, or stike you so deep to your core that you can't even breathe.  That word for me was 'paralyze'.

He spoke of mistakes being opportunity for growth and goes on to say

"The problem is, fo rsome, just the simple thought of making a mistake can be enough to paralyze them into a state of inactivity and perpetual fear of the unknown"....MICHELLE

So, if anyone has read the header on my home page.....I state how my fear of failure has been.....paralyzing.

How on earth, could this seemingly "just a horseman" be so wise?

I don't know, but I am ready to pick up the book and continue reading........as it seems he wrote this book just for me....so I best get to reading it.

Savvy On

Book: Whole Heart, Whole Horse by Mark Rashid

Whole Heart: #1...WOW...I am awe struck!

Completely and utterly gobsmacked!  I just got my two new books that I bought, and I think I have just found an unlikely source of a philosopher.  I haven't even started the first chapter...just the forward and the preface, and I am touched to my soul.  What book is that you ask?

Whole Heart, Whole Horse
Building trust between Horse and Rider
By Mark Rashid

The preface alone has enough in it to cause me to lick and chew for a lifetime.  I cannot wait to meet him in the spring when he comes to town, and I am more than thrilled that I signed up for a 1/1 lesson with him in Nov '11.  Nearly a year, but something tells me, it will more than be worth the wait.

So it starts out with this seemingly innocent question he had in the early morning fog between sleep and coherent thoughts of being awake.

And how that very simple question, gave him a profound epiphany to his teachings and horsemanship.  His journey to the answer to the question is the sum of the preface.  I have to say that he is an excellent writer as well.  It just sucked me in, and before I could move on, I just had to share my excitement.

So here is the question, try to answer it for your self, and I will get back to you on his answer...it will most assuredly surprise you, as it did me!

"What is mightier....the Rocks in the Grand Canyon, or the River that Runs through it?"

Feel free to comment your answer, and the reason you chose what you chose.

Savvy On

Book: Whole Heart, Whole Horse by Mark Rashid

Mini Palouza Parade Pics

She was the best horse in the parade. Of course I am biased, but .....seriously.....We were able to go up to the kids lined on the street and let them pet her, what a great way to introduce horses to kids. She let a bunch of kids help get her ready and take her for walks. One kid was trying to gain confidence with animals, and we couldn’t get rid of him!

He took her for a few walks and gave her a bunch of cookies. I am so proud of her! She wasn’t bothered by any of the bows, bells or antlers…..and she was a perfect ANGEL, and I think she would make a wonderful therapy pony. She loved all the attention. So if anyone knows anyone who is looking for a therapy pony…..here is your girl! Not bad for a rescue, who kicked all the ASPCA investigators knee caps off! That is why I picked her out of the 13 that were siezed that day. 

Being the oldest, at 12yo, and the rest 1-4ys old, I figured she would be the hardest to place, and the most set in her ways and harder to train.  Of course she passed OLL2 with a 2++ 6 weeks later....but hey, can I help it if I'm gooooood....Just kidding.....better than what they gave her.....they had spray painted them all with letters to identify them, since they were all black.  She got the letter "B".....and they meant it!  When I asked if she was pregnant....the investigator said the stud would have had to be pretty ballsie to mount a #$%^& like her!
We still have no baby over a year later....and the way she treated my friends stud today...I'd say she was right!  More pics on my website click here

Friday, December 3, 2010

It’s not about THE…….Trailer!

It’s about the ……RELATIONSHIP!

How could I be so direct line? AGAIN!!! What the heck is wrong with me? Ya know that little predator just sneaks right in, without warning, and without notice. It takes hold of our thoughts and actions, and before we know it, we abandon all that we know, to get something done. Usually during a difficult task, that may take more than a few sessions to accomplish. So what I think is happening, is that it is soooo gradual, in minute increments during each session, that you don’t see how it is accumulating, until it manifests itself into a full blown predator palouza, that is ALL about the trailer….the relationship flies out the window….with us completely oblivious to what just happened. ARGH!

Cha’cote was getting in the trailer GREAT, once he figured it out. He was confident, calm and trusting while thinking his way into the trailer and he had no problems staying in the trailer as long as I didn’t close the door. Back in august is when it all started, and it was a 1~2 whammy to his confidence. First was the day I taped my OLL3 with him. My husband had removed the wheel chocks to use to protect his precious MG Midget, from what I have no idea. During the filming, Cha'cote got in, felt the trailer really rock, then decided since it hadn’t done that before….he now had good reason to question going in again. Then a couple days later is when he went on his very first outing, and that is what sealed the deal to our trailering doom and gloom.

The next time I went to trailer load him, he said “NO WAY….I know what happens when I get in there!” I had plans that day with a friend, and I got REALLY predator on him, and in the end we did not make it to our destination. It was one of those days that you wish you could erase from your life forever. So then I tried to kiss and make up with him, and you know the saying about RBI’s…..all he can think is…..’I knew I couldn’t trust you not to push me’. And he was right.

So I left it alone for a few weeks, then made my move. I did a lot of undemanding time/sharing territory with the trailer, and that helped a lot. We picked at it here and there, until he was good about going in again….but he still didn’t want to BE in there, unless I was in there too. Nor did he want the door shut. So here I am at a loss for how to really help him. I haven’t had an issue with trailering horses since my HUGE monumental BFO with Ann Kiser 7ys ago. In fact the opposite, I have helped a lot of horses overcome thier trailering issues, so now I am feeling like a failure and knowing I am letting him down, and my ego is a little bruised too.

Talking it over with my friend and student, I had some mini moments of mediocre intelligence, but it is genius I am seeking here. In the end, I reluctantly agreed to try the only solution that came to mind. It seemed reasonable, however, I know that technique will get you so far, it is the principles that get all the way home.

So how do you diagnose a problem? First you figure out the game or games that are broken. This is mostly comprised of the main three games…..friendly, porcupine and driving, and/or the principles and concepts that may be forgotten about, and then think of solutions, experiment with them, and compare results. What's so hard about that....right?

I think it is safe to say that it is obvious that the friendly game needs some help, not surprising since that is his hardest game. And the conccept that my friend and I kept hovering over is ‘making the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy’. But I have been doing that, and the usual technique of ‘a lot of work outside the trailer, rest in the trailer’ really makes him more right brain explosive. I told her the only thing that makes him uncomfortable and start to think about going in, is backing up. He doesn’t like any tugs on the halter, and usually a finger wiggle to back up, is enough to make him start going forward. So the plan we came up with is WAY more backing up than I had been doing. Maybe a few laps of yo-yo around the trailer would be in order? It’s settled, yo-yo is the technique, and discomfort/rest the concept. Not exactly genius.....but it was the best I had to go on at this point.

Now I hadn’t had a chance to work the theory out in practice yet, when I come across a thread on the forum that seemingly has nothing to do with my problem, and only read it by chance anyways. I had skipped most of the responses, but something made me read one of them….and low and behold the lights started blinking and fireworks bursting in the sky. Hmmm….it’s not about the…..trailer! How on earth that one left my brain is beyond me.....but at least someone jogged my memory! Someone mentioned playing the touch it game with zones 3-4-5. He touches the trailer really well with zones 1-2-3. Why on earth it never occurred to me to do it WITH the other zones I will never know…..but…..does a predator really ever think more laterally anyway? I also learned something about myself. I am REALLY good with new horses or difficult horses….it is the ones that I KNOW can do something but won’t, that I have trouble with. And that is when I go all ninja predator. When I can’t understand why they won’t/can’t do something that they have already done to great success. Hmmm, now what is up with that?

Good news is….I have a plan, and just need the weather to help me out a bit, to see if I can put the principles before the goal. Plan: Lots of touch it with zones 3-4-5 on all sorts of things via yo-yo and sideways, and lots of friendly putting all zones near the trailer via yo-yo and sideways….ALL the parts of the trailer…..and lots of yo-yo around the trailer with rest in the trailer. And above all else remember….it’s NOT about the trailer…..it IS about our relationship and his confidence. I also promise NOT to push my RBI, and remember I have brought him a long way in a short time since I rescued him, neither of us are failures….we have all the time in the world to get in the trailer.

So there is my plan, fingers crossed….wish us lots of savvy.

Savvy On

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter juices flowing.....I need sun!

Well it seems that mud, muck and darkness are upon me, and here to stay.  The horses and myself depressed....so I decided to not let the winter be a waste of time.  With the dvd review thing I am doing, it is something to keep me somewhat busy....but....shippping times are slower than netflix....I still sit around waiting for them to come....SOOO, I decided to start a few books too.  I haven't read a horse book for YEARS.  I used to be found with my nose in one, every spare minute of the day when I was riding dressage. So I have a library of great dressage books.  I did read 'the far away horses' by Branneman a couple months ago and it was a delightful read, but not really an educational one, rather an auto-biography.  As someone said on the savvy forum today, more like lessons thru stories.  He is a great story teller for sure.

Well I signed up with some other members to do a book club, and didn't get my book ordered in time and will be behind them a bit in the chatter.  The first book club book is, Tao of Equus.  I also got Mark Rahids "Whole Heart, Whole Horse: Building trust between horse and rider".....So it seems I will be doing book reviews too.  Guess I should get one of those bookshelt widgets for here...I am soooo NON savvy with computers!