"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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Protecting your herd of 2...a lesson in leadership.

I set out to give ONE horse a bath, and thru a series of events, moved up a to a whole new level leadership....of course, not before screwing it up royally first.

So we got a new horse 3days ago, and Snooke passed away 2weeks ago, she was the leader of the herd.  Rose has done a good job being the leader since snookie has passed, but this new horse, Syrah (my latest rescue) has caused quite a ruckus!  72hrs of an all out battle for world domination.  Rose has been HIGHLY protective of Cha'cote. And at times tries to protect spirit, but has yet to master, protecting two horses at once.  and spirit being the 11hh Casanova, little will stop him from wooing syrah. At this point, neither Rose nor Syrah are 'leader' of the whole herd, but Syrah (a 15.2 american cream draft horse) is alpha, but Rose is still leader of Cha'cote and Spirit.  Spirit is trying to be leader of Syrah and have his own herd, and sometimes tries to keep Rose away from her.  I am learning a ton about the water hole rituals and herd culture, now that there is a whole new dynamic to the herd.

there has been much discussion round the world about the difference between an alpha and a passive leader.  that the dominant horse is not always the leader.  that got me thinking about what IS a leader.  by it's very definition, it is someone who has commanding authority or influence, therefore, you cannot 'lead' if no one follows.  So being a leader is about more than domination.  BUT....the definition of alpha is simply....something that is first.  So I guess you CAN have an alpha who is not the leader, and you can have a leader who is also alpha.  Snookie was both.  Rose is not.  So far, and this could change in the future.  Syrah has asserted her self as someone who gets food first, and does not move when rose asks, but everyone follows Rose.  No one follows Syrah

So I wanted give Cha'cote a bath.  Since his reintroduction into a herd, 2 months ago, after 7ys of isolation, he gives the other horses no reason to challenge him, and runs at the very sight of them.  He has not given me any trouble catching him, until last night.  I walked in, and Rose was desperate for my attention.  Following me around, gently asking for some love, and probably protection, as she has taken quite a beating. Ordinarily this is not an issue, but since she has been chasing Cha'cote around for 3dys, keeping him away from Syrah.....If she was part of a package deal with me.....he wanted no part of ME.  I couldn't get within 20ft of him.  When I finally did, before I got the halter tied, rose and syrah trapped us in the corner, he bolted away from me, and with all the feet flying around lately, my life was more important that trying to stop him from leaving.  that was mistake #1 as far as cha'cote was concerned....something I would come to realize about an hour later.  in the moment....i was OBLIVIOUS to domino effect this was about to create.

since i coudn't catch cha'cote, and couldn't get rid of Rose, I decided to halter rose and bathe her first.  spirit left the pasture with us, and when I was done, i turned her loose with him in the yard.  During the bath, syrah was noticeably upset that they left her.  So after i turned rose loose, I got cha'cote, and left the gate open for syrah to come out too so she wouldn't be alone in there.  Mistake #2.  coming out the pasture is a 15x15ft corridor between the above ground pool and my hay shed.  rounding the pool is a corridor between the pool and the back patio.  between that is a tarp on the ground to walk on.  the bath area is on the other side of it, and cha'cote was unsure of crossing it.  we were making progress, albeit slow, when syrah comes up behind him, scaring him.  I was unable to prevent this.  Mistake #3.  still oblivious to chain of events that were now quickly adding up.  she left to find the other horses, and we continued working on the tarp.  next thing I know, a thundering herd comes up behind him, again, me unable to stop it, he finally had enough of me and this crap, bolted, and I had to let him go.  rose and syrah fought over him for the next 5 min, chasing him around the house, down into a ditch, cornered him in a small space(4 horses in a 10x20 dead end), and as he tried to get out, they were stepping on the lead rope, feet started flying, and alot of squeeling.  he was terrified, and there was nothing i could do to help him. finally he made it out of there, and they chased him back into the pasture, i closed the gate, and then they chased him around for another 5 min before i could get them off of him AND get him to trust me enough to get close enough to grab the rope.

Now for mistke #4...my husband walks out with the carrotstick/string and proceeds to "help me" by keeping the path clear for me to get him out the gate.  I go thru first, and my husband was unable to keep them away, and he bolted AGAIN.  now I spend another 5 min trying to catch him....trying to also keep my husband in line, the herd in line, and somehow convince cha'cote, that he could trust me, AGAIN, to let me catch him.  now the issue was soley his.  not the other horses chasing him away from me.  sighs....i finally got him caught, barked something at my husband, retrieved the carrot stick......had to 'handle' my husband softly because i didn't want to squash his new found horse whisperer ego, not get a rope burn or my skull crushed in.  it took ALL of this for me to realize.....hello you friggin moron.....PROTECT YOUR HERD OF TWO!..........screw everyone and everything else and PROTECT YOUR HERD OF TWO!


I was so worried about everything else, I was not IN the moment or the vicinity of decent frame of mind, and missed a vital cardinal rule. they will not let you trap them (halter and rope) if you then do not respect your new responsibility of protecting them.  you take away their ability to leave, so you dang well better never let them down when they need you.  there is no way around the fact that he needed me, and I let him down.  it wouldn't have been such a big deal with many other horses.  but this one...I blew it...and I blew it big time.

I had my husband man the gate, as it is a tight mental 'squeeze' as it is for cha'cote, and with the current situation, i may as well be asking him to jump into the grand canyon.  i led him around the pasture, tagging anything in my way...mainly rose and syrah.  I needed to prove to cha'cote that I and I alone, am going to protect him.  That he not only can trust me to protect him, but that I have good ideas too.  because he was pretty convinced at this point that I had the skills for neither.  I was successful, to my surprise, in keeping the herd more than 30ft away while we approached and exited the gate.....whew!  it was not easy, and we had to make several attempts, with me spinning and chasing them away, but it did alot for our relationship.

never before did he really NEED me to be a leader and 'protect' him.  when snookie was around, she never attacked him, nor would she let anyone else.  i can't even remember the last time i had to walk into a pasture with a carrot stick, for either my protection or a horses.  it just never occurred to me that I would need it.  so for now, I will have to always walk in with one when i need to do something with cha'cote, even if it is to just pet him.  i need to prove to him that I am a LEADER, and everyone else needs to learn that we are OFF LIMITS when i am with him. period.  no if's, and's or butt's about it.

I am the leader.  ME....not Rose...Not Syrah.....ME.  And I think after the justice I delivered yesterday......they know it.  I just need to prove it day in and day out, never letting a moment sneak up on me when I am not prepared....basically....always be prepared.

to balance it out, i will spend undemanding time, sharing territory with them, just hanging out....like a leader does when they don't have to LEAD.

Snookie never would have let this happen. So i guess I will forever be asking my self in situations....what would snookie do?

Totally forgot to mention the fairy tale ending!

When I was all done with his bath.  I took him to the pasture, and took the halter off, and we walked around at liberty together, moving all the other horses in the pasture!  finally he was done and left me quietly....

Rose was staring at me, begging to see me.  I waved her over and she came straight away to me, and we did the same thing.  except we did  not push chacote around.

it meant alot to me to have this special time with each of them, and i think it meant alot to them too.

Savvy On

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good Golly.....Meet Miss Molly

My newest rescue. I got a call about a woman losing her house and only had days to find a home for her. I went out expecting to find a draft cross nag, and imagine my surprise when I see this gorgeous cream beauty. Turns out, she is a rare and endangered breed, an American Cream Draft Horse. I will take special care to not only keep her needs and well being at the fore front as I find her a new home, but also the survival of the breed. She appears to be the rare 'champagne' color, making her just that much more special to her breed, as they are all suppose to be champagne, however, due to low population numbers, they are allowing mares with the 'cream' gene and black skin to be registered along with the 'champagne' gene and pink skin mares, until the breed is stablized. Stallions must be pink skinned.

Here is some pics and video of joining the herd.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The new herd dynamics

Well, now that Snookie is gone, I am left to ponder how the dynamics will change.  Cha'cote was finally in a place where he was not terrified of the girls, and would rest with everyone under Snookies favorite tree, with Snook and Rose just a few feet away.  He also was getting to the hay before Spirit about 50% of the time, without Spirit dominating it away from him.  I used to feed Snookie and Rose at one end of the pasture and Cha'cote and Spirit at the other.  Because I was always feeding enough hay for Snookie to never be hungry.....everyone else is fat porkers.  Now....left with feeding them the proper amounts, if I split the pasture in two, there are not enough flakes for them to eat together and someone would always be left out.  Last night I fed them all under the same tree, and Rose was not quite sure what to do, it was not her normal place to eat.  She went from pile to pile, with the other two scatter about waiting for her to make up her mind.

I decided this morning to feed them all in Snookies spot....and cha'cote was afraid to go over there.  So I went out and walked there and he followed.  I moved Spirit so cha'cote would feel comfortable to stay, and it seems to be working out.  Rose is not pushing them around....yet....so I think they will be ok this morning.  I feel like it is important, in the face of great change, that I feed them together, so they can bond as a new herd with a new leader.  Should they squable and someone be shoved of the food for good, I will re think it for sure.  But for now, it is sink or swim.....this is your new herd....work it out.

Rose is still calling for Snookie and is looking to me for comfort.  I hate that I wont be here to be a part of the new bond, but maybe it is better that way.  It is what it is, and I think we all will survive.

I think now that Snookie is gone, Rose may come back to me as the leader.  Fingers crossed I get my levels horse back.
Savvy On

Friday, July 15, 2011

Euthanasia....what you need to know if you love your horse.

I had contacted the organizer of the euthanasia clinic a while back regarding Snookie, and she contacted me last night, ironically, to let me know of an upcoming clinic near me.  I let her know what was going on, and sent her a link to Snookies video.  She was unable to leave a comment, so she emailed me and asked me to share this. 

"This is part of being a good horse owner. The horse owner is a guardian, we fence them in and feed them well and care for them so we can love them longer . With our love and care they live longer so we also have to be prepared for doing what is right for the horse and not what we want.
There is nothing and I mean nothing sadder about horses than the regret someone has when they go to see their friend and the horse has been down all night struggling and paddling in the dirt or mud to get up and died alone.
What you are doing is giving her a send off to heaven with love surrounded by friends it is a gentle end which is what every horse owner should want for the noblest animals on earth."

Deb Stewart
Back in the Saddle Project

Thank You Deb.  While she is not in some horribly injured state, that would have obviously made this decision easier for me, to see her struggling was killing me.  As it is, it took me 9mos to make this decision.  And for every day I put it off, is just another day of selfishness.  Being too weak and not having the courage is just another way to strip her of another ounce of dignity.  I could not, and would not, want her to suffer a tragedy, waiting for me to get home and find her, and put her out of her misery.  It has taken everything I have to see this through, and in a few minutes it will be all over.  Deb put in words, my hopes, fears, and love.

A quote from BLACK BEAUTY

The horse was an old worn out chestnut, with an ill kept coat and bones that showed plainly through it. The knees knuckled over, and the forelegs were very unsteady.There was a hopeless look in the dull eye that I could not help noticing, and then, as I was thinking where had I seen that horse before, she looked full at me and said,  "Black Beauty, is that really you?"
It was Ginger! But how changed! The beautifully arched and glossy neck was now straight and lank and fallen in; the clean straight legs and delicate fetlocks were swelled. The face, once so full of spirit and life, was now full of suffering.
..."I wish the end was come, I wish I was dead. I have seen dead horses, and I am sure they do not suffer pain. I wish I may drop down dead and not be sent off to the knackers."
I was very much troubled, and I put my nose up to hers, but I could say nothing to comfort her. I think she was pleased to see me, for she said, "You are the only friend I ever had."
Just then her driver came up, and with a tug at her mouth, backed her out of the line and drove off, leaving me very sad indeed.
A short time after this, a cart with a dead horse in it passed our cab stand. The head hung out of the cart tail... It was a chestnut horse with a long thin neck. I saw a white streak down the forehead. I believed it was Ginger; I hoped it was, for then her troubles would be over.
Oh! If men were more merciful, they would shoot us before we came to such misery.

Savvy On

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Greatest Horse to EVER live....Snookie

My beloved friend of 24ys is starting her next journey tomorrow.  At 27yo she just isn't doing well, and it breaks my heart to see her amazing spirit slowly leave her weakening body.  She is tired and is ready for a long peaceful nap. I see no need to make her beg me for it.

I was just some dumb kid when we met, and she was a crazy lunatic laid up with a track injury.  But she was so beautiful I could not take my eyes off of her.  I have never seen another chestnut with the striking flaming copper color she used to be.  It never occurred to me that I really knew little about horses and was about to strap my self to a nuclear rocket.  My momma always said...."stupid is as stupid does".  I muddled thru allot of hard times over the years to be able to keep her, to be able to understand her, to be able to heal her many injuries, and to wait out the long year to know if she would survive the founder than ended our dressage career.

We have had some wild and wacky adventures and still managed to become so in tune with each other, that at times I lost my self in her movement and could no longer differentiate between my body and hers.  It was always so spiritual that it seemed like a dream.  The harmony of our thoughts was amazing and mostly we did not need to 'speak' as we knew what the other was thinking. I will never 'know' a horse like I know her.  I can predict her behavior with life saving accuracy.

She was a city girl through and through and honestly detested anything 'country'.  Her fear of cows, pigs, sheep, deer and turkeys is unrivaled.  As the quintessential Extreme RBE with a spirit fuse a mile long....often it would take her days to come off an adrenaline high, all for something as trivial as a perceived boogy man hiding behind the garbage can.  She knew where it belonged and if it moved so much as an inch, it must be him, there to ambush her while she was not looking, so she was ever so vigilant to keep her eyes peeled on high alert at ALL times.  She knew the exact location of every others boarders brush box, tack trunk and other barn trinkets, and was most proud of herself to alert me all to the changes that go on at night in the barn after we humans leave. Which made boarding in a 40 stall barn a bit of panic palooza for her everyday. Imagine the joy ride I got when a tack closet large enough to be a horse casket arrived.  She was convinced it was for her, and I didn't see that end of the arena for months!

Despite owning the 'craziest' horse on the planet, she was gentler than a kitten where children were concerned.  She babysat all my friends and their kids, and we would have to nearly beat her to get her to jog if they were aboard.  If they were leading her, she would always put her head down low, so she could see them well and take special care not to step on them.  So it was always amazing to me, her hatred for men.  Whom if standing too close, she would conveniently not see them while looking away, and step right on their foot.  Pretending to be completely unaware of the screaming and shoving, she would shift all her weight to that food and grind it in as hard as she could.  As I would approach she always had the 'who me?' look as I removed yet another soon to be ex-boyfriend from underneath her.  After my first date with my husband, I told him if he wanted to see me again, it would have to be at the barn.  He complied, and as we walked with Snookie thru the vineyard holding hands, I told him, in no uncertain terms, would any man ever come between her and I.  18ys later he knows I was not speaking lightly.  And even though he affectionately calls her 'the old bitch bit me again'....he has nearly killed himself on many occasions building her the fences and barns.

Snookie has a way of creeping into your heart by running it over at a dead gallop.  You can't help but fall in love with her sweet and gentle ways....Even though every one knows she may trample you if she thinks her life depends on it.  It is her belief that it is every man, dog and horse for them selves....and she takes care of SNOOKIE.  She would spook at everything and it was your job to figure out how to stay on if you wanted not to walk back home on your own two feet.  Should you fail in that task, no worries, she would be patiently waiting for you back at home....wondering what took you so long.  One time I fell off and woke up an hour later with her hovering over me....."Pansy....what part of hold on don't you understand?"....guess I took too long.

We already had an amazing relationship when I set out to prove some fellow boarders wrong that natural horsemanship was crap.  To watch me torture her thru the first year, knowing I was an accomplished horse woman already, must have been a comedy for my neighbors.  Snookie was none too happy with the carrot stick and me being 'persistent'.  Finally one day she gave me the 'look'......"Get better fast or die"....she was pretty serious about that too.  That is when I was introduced to Parelli, and much to her relief my savvy grew quickly and she didn't have to kill me.  This will sound weird, but I could have passed level 3 (old green levels) about 2ys into it, had I used Snookie, but at the time, I felt it would be cheating.  Don't think I haven't kicked my self in the ass everyday of the last 8ys that I didn't do it with her when I had the chance.  We already rode bridle less before I started NH, and had the finesse as we were well into 3rd level dressage when she foundered...and my dreams came to a screeching halt. Thankfully she was here to help me get started on a new dream though, and it has been just as wondrous a journey because she was always there by my side.

In her final years, she has been an excellent herd leader, and has been teaching Rose the tricks of the trade.  She will be passing the torch to Rose tomorrow, and if she is half the horse Snookie was, she will make a fine leader.

She has taught me about unconditional love and acceptance, not only of others but of myself as well.  She has held that mirror up to my face countless times, and showed me the truest parts of myself, whether or not I wanted to see it.  She was honest, and never lied.  If I didn't do it right, she would tell me right then and there.  More often than not I ate dirt as a part of my 'lesson'.  But thankfully, she was unconditionally forgiving of my shortcomings and mistakes, and never once held a grudge.  She lived life in the moment, and never took advantage of my lack of knowledge.

I think back to my youth, in my bedroom in town, drifting off to sleep dreaming of horses. horse pictures all over my walls, doodles of horses on all my school books. hoping that someday, i could have a horse of my own. when driving with my mom through the hillside, I would imagine I was riding a horse in the field we were driving by, cantering and jumping all the fences. i would and still do, get whiplash if I actually ever see a horse. My friend and I would be playing like we were horses at recess on the playgound, while other girls were already worrying about what to wear. I wish I could speak to that little girl and let her know, don't worry, someday your dreams will come true. someday you will have the horse of your dreams. someday you will have more horses than you know what to do with. you wont go to the olympics like you will later dream of doing, but this dream that you dream tonight, WILL come true. you will have amazing relationships with horses, achieve things you will never dream possible, and meet so many friends along the way, you wont know what to do with yourself.  so close your eyes and go to sleep.....otherwise someday may never come.

Good bye my friend
We have reached the end of the trail

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

RIP My Friend Snookie ~ Video

Snookies last day is this friday 7-15-11. We have shared an amazing 23yr Journey. Please wish her well on her voyage over the rainbow bridge.

I want to thank Matt, Barb, Doc and Maryanne at West 12 Ranch for breeding me the most perfect horse, for if she had been a good race horse......she would never have been mine.
I am still working on this video, still needs a tweak here and there, but this is good enough for now. It is long....sorry, hard to cram 23ys into a short video. My best friend took us to the river sunday and took some really nice pics. Thank you Kandi.

Savvy On Snookie
May your fields never again be fenced.
I love you!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Major pest explosion creates set backs

So check this out...as IF....my life isn't an annoying enough interuption to my horse journey....the stinking weather has wreaking havoc around these parts.  The long wet winter, then the long wet spring, cut WAY into summer, including snowing in JULY when it should be 105*.......has caused an explosion of all sorts of pests.  Normally one species a year gets out of control, and it is a different species each summer.....last year it was the flies.....but this year makes last year seem tame.  The flies are beyond out of control and my spalding fly predators coupled with fly spray, are barely making a dent.  My horses water trough is full of aproximately a hundred tadpoles, so at some point we are going to have a frog/toad explosion....I just don't have the heart to dump them out and kill them.....they eat FLIES.  I am hearing horrid reports of the rattlesnake boom, but fortunately have yet to see one myself (always a hope regardless of the situation).  As if all that isn't enough, we got home on sunday after boating to discover our house engulfed in ants trying to escape the heat.  They were in the pantry and all the food in there, in the laundry room and kitchen, a trail across my desk and back down to the dog food that the dog understandably stopped eating.  In the hallway and bathrooms, and all over my bedroom night stand.  The next to worst, is the leave cutter bugs, that normally do not come in the house, that are also in alarming numbers this season, have decided the warmth of my tv screen and my body at night.  It is bad enough that I have a phobia of spiders crawling on me in my sleep, to now have these stupid lawn bugs wake me up crawling on my leg or something.  So now for my poor horses misfortune.....JELLOW JACKETS.  Living in the country has thickened my city skin, and I no longer run wild screaming at the sight of an innocent honey be....but I have yet to get over my fear of the thier evil cousins the jackets and hornets.  OMG, they are off the hook right now.  It all started when I went to feed my horses sunday morning and found two yellow jackets sitting on my hay.  I screamed for my husband and the fight has been on since then.  There was a huge nest in my hay shed, an even bigger one in my tack shed, an even bigger one in the tack room of my horse trailer, not to mention the couple dozen more that are in between  the shingles of my roof.  I estimate that there were close to 200+ jackets buzzing about my house that morning.  We got some spray and my husband knocked down all the nests he could physically reach.  We hung a trap and hoped to catch the ones that didn't die from the spray.  Well it has not helped the horses water trough at all.  We caught a few under the tree, but last night there were still about 30+ hovering over thier water, with the horses in the shadows just watching, parched and desperate for water.  I moved the trap near the trough last night after the jackets nested down for the night.  I just called my son at lunch today to walk out and see if we had achieved any success.  Of course NO.  So I googled "jellow jacket trap" to see what solutions I could find to this problem.  I was surprised by what I found and hope to have success tomorrow with this FREE home made trap that I will make tonight when I get home.  Here is a video I found on one version, and here is an article on the other version.  Similar, but a bit different, so I will try both, as the commercial brand is NOT sufficient this nasty out of control season. I swear if fall rolls around and the turantulas are out of control too....I will just faint.  What does all this have to do with setting me back on my journey you ask......well it is too damn hot with venomous and annoying pests buzzing about for me to be outside!
Savvy On

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hey check this out.....3 Cynthia Royal dvd's for only $19.95 !!!!!

It appears that Cynthia Royals dvd's are now available for download with an e-price of only $19.95.....TOTAL....for all three dvd's.  Holy super savings Batman.....You're not a very bright person if you don't take advantage of this one!  This is a dvd set that I gave 5*'s to.  Hurry Hurry before the price goes back up!   This includes the 2 disk set of her Malibu CA clinic, and her bridleless riding disk. Now, I did purchase this and am downloading it now.  A few things to keep in mind.....well really just one....your computer.  You will need about 6000mb of free space on your hard drive.  the dvd's are divided into chapters, and each one takes about 5min to download on my computer....a few of them are larger files and took about 20min.....but my computer is not the most, 'technologically up to date' thing you will ever find......and your speeds/download times may vary.  Me personally, I have an external, usb extra hard drive with 3tb....yes...terra bytes....of portable storage. It will hold about 300 dvds or about a million pictures or half million songs.  I know...a bit of overkill, but my techno memories will last longer than me, and I will never lose 3000 (non backed up) pictures, and 1200 songs, again to a crashed hard drive.  But that is just me.  Surprisingly the storage disk was only a little over a $100 on ebay. Anyways, just keep your computer in mind when ordering.  the sections come zipped (compressed file).

Also, when you order, the dvd's are available after PAYMENT is confirmed.  it took about 5 hours for me to get my email with instructions.  Not bad, considering the amazing financial savings.
Click here to get straight to the order page

Savvy On