"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


  1. What would Snookie do..I love that xxx

  2. I love the 'what would Snookie do' comment as well! Your writing style is hilarious and I feel for your 'aha, I'm a moron' moment... had plenty of those myself! Keep writing :)

    Samantha & Aspen

  3. thanks so much, you are so sweet! WWSD = what would snookie do....love it!


I know I am not perfect.....so be nice!