"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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review: ***** "Lessons With Lendon" by Lendon Gray

25 Progressive dressage lessons*****

I cannot begin to say what a great series of lessons this book is comprised of.  Originally, back when I found them and completed them my self, it was a monthly article in a magazine.  They were so popular, that they took them and put them in a book.  Lendon has a sensible, natural approach to dressage, from step 1 to step 25, nothing is over looked, no short cuts taken. I had ripped out the articles and chucked the rest of the magazine, and still have them in a binder for reference.  These are the 'lessons' that finally got me on the proper and classical road to success, that I had searched for, for so long.  These are the lessons that finally fixed all the damage that an international "I" level dressage judge had created with us.  These are the lessons that finally got Snookie to stop spooking and running for the hills with me barely attached.  I highly recomend this book to anyone riding a horse of any level, you never know what steps you may have missed in your horses training, and you certainly don't want to create any holes with your new baby!

Lendon literally starts you off at go and whoa, because if you don't have that, what good is the rest of it?  From the very basics to preparing for your first dressage show, she generously shares advice from an Olympians perspective.  If you are working on your Finesse Savvy, you can't go wrong with this book as a resource.  Dressage saddle not required!

Savvy On

Feeling a little blue today....

I came across this old post that I never published, it was still in draft mode.  Boy...I'm surprised I didn't slit my wrists that day!...........

As I was getting dressed for work this morning, my mind was realing, as it always does, thinking of 1000 things at once.  Maybe if I had just been thinking of finding my blutooth, instead of everything else, I would not have searched the house 3x over to no avail.  But there I stood, in between jamies and work clothes, and caught a glimps of myself in my closet mirror (12ft long, kinda hard not to) as I was having a conversation with someone else in my head, and it dawned on me.....that despite my best intentions and efforts....I will never be ME again.  The 'me' I have been searching for now for 3ys.  Well, OK....yes I 'could', but I am not sure I could handle the sacrifices I would have to make.  Basically, I would need to give up all but one of my horses, so I could board again, to have daily access to good footing.  That also in turn, means more time away from home.....and who would it be that I keep.  Snookie cannot be re-homed at her age, and will not do well alone, even if i kept her and boarded one other.  It is kinda like trying to decide which of your kids you will shove out the door.  The reality of my property is just depressing. I feel like I have known this all along.  Seems like I have.  But it really hit me this morning. HARD.  So what do I do now.  I am not giving up, that's for sure.  But clearly I need a different goal.  This is something that I have also felt all along that I had.  And maybe I did.  There was an opening in the Mark Rashid clinic in april, I was first on the wait list.  but I dont have the $$ right now for a clinic, and will have to wait until Nov for my planned clinic with him.  But I soooo need it right NOW.  I am thinking of what I can do in my 'arena', to make it honestly usable for more than just playing around. Something that I can feel good about asking my horses to work in.  I think that has been a major set back, that I will not ask my horses to work on bad footing.  Sucks enough that it is small, it should at least be proper for good biomechanics.

Savvy On

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Miyagi is back....and oh boy....was the dust flying. Got some good behavior on video, from alpha to omega!

Wild Thang! video of chacote's freedoms

This is why I do what I do.....rescue those that no one can or will. To be able to set a horse free....free from hunger, free from physical pain, mental suffering, emotional anguish, and downright imprisonment. Freedom from those that neglect their needs, and then freedom from the past. Freedom from themselves. Cha'cote was a long time coming to be confident to do this.....I love the way he is walking in this video...with purpose and self confidence....WANTing to be a part of the fun, and confident enough to make his own fun. It has been 1 year and 10 mos since I rescued him, wild and terrified....begging to be set free.....and we are finally there. Enjoy with me the beauty of freedom.

Friday, September 23, 2011

DVD Review:**** 5Mike Schaffer: Right From The Start

Right from the Start****

It is refreshing to see educational dressage dvd's that so clearly show that many traditional and classical riders and their methods are 'natural'.  Most NH'rs think that the NH 'techniques' are what makes natural....well....natural....and they couldn't be farther from the truth.  The TRUTH is, natural is in your mind, it is in concepts and philosophy, not in a stick and a rope. 

Mike has a philosophy that if you start a horse on the ground to accept and give to the bit, before you get on his back, you will save him YEARS of confusion and pain.  I agree with this whole heartedly.  Another of his steps is to release knots in the neck with massage and to supple the horse with lateral movements on the ground before you mount up.  Nothing un-natural about that.  His technique was simple to understand and very well demonstrated with several un-started horses and horses he was re-starting that had years of evasions to the bit. His technique only took minutes for the horse to understand the lesson, because Mike understands.....it's all about the release.  He demonstrated this time and again.  He also shows a rider how to do this, and walked her literally one step at a time through the process, from ground to saddle.  The changes in the horse were nothing short of amazing.  

As for my dressage principles, I feel this is a great tool in teaching the horse to give to the bit, but I caution you, we do not want them so soft, that they travel around over bent longitudinally and behind the bit or vertical.......OR over bent laterally, crooked and falling out thru the shoulder.  This dvd is about 'giving to the bit', so remember, it all starts in the back end, driving your horse, straight, over his back, reaching TO the bit, TO the contact, and ACCEPTING that contact....not about a head set, or avoiding the contact.

I am giving this dvd 4 *"s as I believe very strongly it is a must see for anyone who is about to, or already has, put a bit in their horses mouth, and it is simple, concise, and not convoluted with any other content not related to the subject.

click here for more info about Mike Schaffer

Savvy On

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chacote makes a big move

Well he did it! He made the 75foot trek right after I fed this morning, leaving the comfort and safety of his sacred corner to eat with the girls! I guess the ant CAN move the rubber tree plant!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

There's an APP for that!

Aa a very satisfied but techno challenged iPhone owner, I just found out there is a blogger ap! I can upload pics such as this one of my cat passed out under the curtain, or this one of my lovely Rose and my now sold cradle bridle! No video upload. But I find this cool, as often my son hoards the desk top!

Tech Savvy On

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who's My leader Now?...horse behavior video

Dear Lord we are at it again.! Horse sitting for a friend while she is laid up....here are the antics when I introduced them!

So, I told you all about the new draft mare Syrah and my TB mare Rose....war for pasture domination.....it was about 2.5 weeks before Rose conceded that Syrah was the leader....or so I thought? They are best buds now, and I don't see Rose ever being able to move Syrah, and she does move out of Syrah's way....but I don't really see Syrah leading her anywhere. they just seem to go places together, but when push comes to shove....it is Rose who moves....

So now enters Hoss.....other pasture mates are Chacote the RBI mustang and Spirit the RBI(with humans)/LBE(with horses) shetland....whom is very VERY loving and playful with new horses! Everyone scatters about the pasture, Rose seems to be the dominant protector of the herd. the one to try to keep Hoss from the others, and the one to drive him away, and from what I could see, was 'herding' Syrah. there were times when Syrah was moving him, but mostly it was Rose. It didn't take long, and Rose n Syrah where at one end of the pasture, Hoss n Spirit at the other, and poor chacote in the middle. Spirit n Hoss were play biting each other for about 20 or so minutes, like geldings like to do, taging each others face, chest, neck n leggs to see who can take it the longest without moving. Too cute! I figured all is well for now and proceed out to help my son with his homework. I came out to feed later....and this is where things got ugly.....

Normally feed half the hay respectively in each upper corner, about 100ft apart, with a blind curve in fence so they really can't see most of what the other side is up to. girls eat at one end, boys eat at the other. i always feed girls first, they never come over to boys side, until they are nearly done. Just as when I put Syrah in there, both Rose and Syrah came over to boys hay and stole it. I though this was Rose, tagging along with Syrah, but when I couldn't find Hoss I started to look around....got a flash light, and found him in the lower furthest corner from everyone and all the food. Hmmm.....I called him, from the girls side as it was closer and the girls were at the boys side, he started to come, traveled about 5ft.....and Rose came tearing out of the darkness, she only had to go about 1/4-1/3 away from the boys hay, to effectively dominate both territories. Quite impressive IMO, to be able to dominate over half of that pasture while staying in a relatively small area herself. she went back to boys food, i called him, he tried again, took 2 steps, she went half the distance she did the time before....and was again...impressively effective. I tried one more time calling him, after she had turned back to the hay...he started to take a step, i heard movement from boys corner, but this time she must have gone only a few feet as she never appeard out from the dark corner....and was yet again effective. Sooooooooo....I had to go get a lead rope, CS/string and go get him and do some effective chasing of my own..........

I chased them from the boys hay, spirit stayed at girls hay, chacote was grateful to have evil girls away from his sacred corner, left Hoss with chacote, and then Rose and I had stare down. All the other horses were eating but her. Hoss was behind me in the corner, I stood with the body language that said....this is MINE....MY teritory, MY horse, I would not walk this way if I were you. She stared at me, in 'gear' 'foot waiting to let off the clutch' ....it was a SHOW DOWN....for 5...FIVE...minutes.......the second she lowered her 'posturing'....I lowered mine and stood in a neutral but still in a facing her position. As soon as she turned away, I did so as well...that took about 3 min......I then hid where she couldn't see me, i fiddle with the gate to make the noise so maybe she would think i left, to see if she was going to charge him if I wasn't there. she did not. i waited 5 minutes. I know later she did chase him....but the poor guy stood no chance of eating at all, at least he got a little before she chased him off.

This morning, i awoke to him and spirit, eating scraps of hay from the night before, and when I fed, I thru a few flakes farther down the hill so if he got chased off, he would stand a better chance of eating......I had to go in again and get him. even though they were not chasing him....he learned his lesson well last night and was afraid to pass them by himself....

anyways, i made a video for his Mommy to watch while she is laid up. he is like her baby and she misses him terribly. at least she can see pics of how he is getting along while she is in the hospital.

I got some good footage of the Rose and Syrah "herding" and "taking territory-ish' behavior, and was wondering if anyone else could see who they would choose as the 'leader' Rose or Syrah....cuz now I am confused....or maybe the dynamics changed when the new horse was introduced, and gave Rose the chance to be leader again...or maybe she was all along and I got it wrong.....
Savvy On

Sunday, September 11, 2011

DVD Review:*** Egon von Neindorff: School of horsemanship

School of Horsemanship ***

This was a nice view into one classical master horsemans life.  It was a little bit of everything from history of horses and classical dressage, his life's work and his school of horsemanship.  You get to see the master at work with many horses in hand, and lovely riding from his students.  This is not an educational dvd, but in horses, there is always much to be learned just by watching a master crafting his art.  It is like a glimpse into the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, as his principles are similar and of the same high caliber horsemanship.  If you like dressage and you love horses, this is a great dvd to watch, but educationally you wont die without it.

For more info on Egon von Niendorff click here

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DVD Review:** Leslie O'Neil Olson: 5 Simple Steps to Success

Five Simple Steps to Secure Solid Success  **

Well, I was a bit disappointed in this dvd.  The part that disappoints me is that she really missed an opportunity to make a top notch dvd.  60-70% of the dvd was testimonials from students of hers.  I'm all for testimonials, but as the advertisement to watch the dvd, not the content OF the dvd.  More on that in a minute.  Of the other 30-40% nearly half was of a talking horse, cute but honestly I think it detracts from the credibility of the information.  Then what you have left is the actual explanation of the 5 Steps.  To add insult to injury.....it was a VERY short dvd.  

Now let me get to the good of the dvd....the information she presents is VERY valuable.  I like her style of classical riding and yes, the five steps are correct and classical and IS the proper classical seat, and you cannot go wrong following her steps.  In the few minutes of view-able riding, I can see that she definitely is upholding the sacred classical riding principles and not riding in the 'modern' dressage style.  If she was near me, I would be taking lessons from her for sure.  Her students are fortunate to have her available to them.  The problem is that this little bit information, is nothing you can't read in a good classical book, or take notes on 3x5 card, or that isn't already outlined extensively in other dvd's.  It is simply the few laws of good equitation that we have all heard (albiet have difficulty doing) a thousand times over the ages.  This is where she failed miserably as far as an educational dvd goes....

Ok, so you showed us WHAT to do, could you please tell us now HOW to actually do it?

The testimonials from her students would have been more valuable, had she shown video clips of before and after of her STUDENTS.  Maybe even shown clips of lessons with them, to show how she helps them get from point A to point B.  While proper equitation IS simple in design, it is far from easy to achieve....especially on your own without an eye on the ground.  There was a few minutes of clips of her journey 'before' and 'after' and even one clip of taking a horse she currently rides, and then riding him the wrong way to show the difference in him, and how it negatively effects him, but in my opinion it was far from enough to honestly TEACH the principles.  Also, she demonstrated the equitation 'laws' on a rider who was sitting still on a halted horse.  It would have been far more helpful to then also show the laws in movement as well.  And how you might go about changing bad equitation, in a lesson, and see the changes evolve in a rider going to good equitation.

She and her students do mention quite a number of times, that it is YOU who needs to change, not your HORSE.....no truer words could be said.....but it is far more difficult to do.

I gave this dvd 2**'s instead of 1*, because the information is in fact correct, though you can find other dvd's that are far more informative with more detailed information on the HOW to get your body to do the things in this dvd.

She seems like a warm, friendly and knowledgeable instructor, I only wish there was more content to this dvd.

Click here for more information on Leslie O'neal Olson

Savvy On

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ride an olympic cross country course.....via helmet cam.....video

For my best friend who used to do 3-day, but can't ride anymore due to back surgery.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Swimming Horses video, My Hillbilly Holiday

Well, I've been thru allot in the last 3 plus years, and I have been hurt allot. By friends, family and total strangers. This video is ME.....getting my LIFE back. This is for all of you who think you got me down.....HA HA....I won't say it is easy, but every day.....I get a little bit stronger....and every day I get a little bit more of ME back.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DVD Review:**** Dr Gerd Heuschmann: If Horses Could Speak

If Horses Could Speak ****

This is a must see for anyone who rides a horse, not just people who ride dressage.  It was very informative regarding the way horses move when we ride them, without having to watch a whole series of dvd’s.  It was in-depth,  but for the purpose of making a point, not for lengthy detailed bio-mechanical education.  There was enough in there that was scientific to educate you on why it is important to care about the way your horse moves. 

It really makes no difference if you are striving to be a grand prix dressage rider, or working toward passing L4 Finnesse or Freestyle…..you should care how your horse moves beneath you and around you.  As for being a classical dressage nut myself, I still don’t know how the world got so far away from the ideals of proper movement in favor of Rolkur and hyper flexion.  It is an atrocity how most upper level horses move, and how people are so uneducated that they cheer for it.  Cheering for a horse having stolen from him what god gave him, his grace and purity of gait and rewarding the thief with a gold medal.  Sickens me for sure.  We should not be asking a horse to do, what we have not prepared him properly to do.  To ask your horse to circle, while mindlessly letting him travel head high and crooked and then wonder why he is lame or has behavioral issues, is irresponsible at best. 

This video also speaks to, albeit not their intention, trainers of the western and natural world as well.  And to be honest, I am ashamed that I let my horse move so horribly, for so long, all in the name of the all mighty  ‘neutral’.  We must take care to realize that learning ‘neutral’ is vital…but it is a temporary tool…..and teaching the horse his responsibilities should also be a temporary tool.  We should not carry on for too long, ignoring the fact that our horse needs to move in a healthier way, and ignorance is not excuse.  True, if you exercise his mind, his body will follow….but at what sub-standard level of quality?  I am disgusted with myself, that I let my eye get so lazy to the bio-mechanics because I was so focused on the behavior.  I am grateful that I have watched this, and can make a change NOW….because it is never too late to start building the horse of your dreams.  Unfortunately, there are no quick routes to Rome though, it takes time to properly build an athlete, with out breaking him down before he even reaches his prime.  Time to get back on the path of classical training.  I give this dvd 4*’s, and invite everyone to look in the mirror, because whether we like it or not, intentional or not, educated or ignorant, either we are helping our horse or hurting him....there is no in between.
He also has a book titled
Tug of War...."Modern" versus Clasical Dressage
Click her for more info

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