"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 30, 2011

War Horse Website.....get all the real life facts

There is a wonderful website for a War Horse exebition in the UK.  Obviously I can't swim all the way over there, and that's ok...this website is the next best thing.  It has tons of historical pictures and videos and of course the history of the war horse.  Of course some of the facts and statistics are quite sad.  The average life span of a war horse from the time it set foot off the train was 6 weeks.  Any ways, I thought I would share.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dusted off my dressage gear.....YUK!

I am horrified to have to admit the condition I found my $300 gorgeous Stubben bridle in.....well the parts I have not been using for 8ys.  I bought this bridle for Rose and Tigerlily way back in the day and used it in it's whole....ONCE.  From there I was using a different bridle for Tigerlily's MOOSE head as this one was just too small, I sold Rose shortly after buying it, and with it's burgandy padding, while it looks smashingly FABULOUS on a near black horse...it looked lame on Snookie.  So for her and Lily I used horsemans rope reins with slobber straps, or rope reins with snaps (finesse reins).  Since I bought Rose back a few years later....by then I was only riding her in a halter and was mainly focusing on freestyle riding.  When I decided to start her in the bridle again a few months ago, I dug it out, but left the caveson and reins in the tack shed.....and apparently years ago let it get covered in dust and then tossed in a box with a myriad of other unused tack. 

I noticed quite immediately that when it comes to riding with contact, I do NOT like riding with rope reins.  I have very independant hands and do not like the weight in my hands.  To me it feels like it lies to me, like making me feel as though there is a couple ounces of contact, when in fact there is NONE.  I much prefer to get the glaringly obvious weightless feeling when we have lost the contact, and also prefer to have the wight of the contact only in my hands....not the weight of the reins.  It just muddles up everything for my brain.  When I want 2 ounces of contact.....4 ounces of rein kinda gets in the way.  So....I decided after a few rides now that I needed to go dig my coveted black web dressage reins out of the spider infested no mans land.....the dreaded shed.  And there I found with it....the caveson.....treated like some piece of insignificant crap leather.....covered in dust.  I did all this amidst cooking Cristmas dinner....as only a true horse crazy person can do.....my husband staring at me as took more care in the kitchen with my bridle than I did the whole meal.  LOL.....

THEN.....as if cleaning it wasn't good enough....the leather felt too stiff and it needed my special care....conditioning in the way only *I* can do.....by hand.  I have a wonderful beeswax conditioning salve that is quite expensive and I see no reason to waste any on a towel or sponge...so I massage it in with my bare hands....and yes....I did say 'massage'....like a shiatsu queen I carefully and thouroughly buttered up every nook n cranny.....and it is now so beautiful again.  It is hanging under my saddle like a prized trophy.  and in the open for viewing like the Mona Lisa.  I can't wait to try it on Rose again and see just how pretty she is in it, and just how light those reins are gonna be.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The zoo grew by a half pound!

Well despite my efforts to not rescue anything else... My husband brought home Mondo's (our chi hua hua mix dog) baby sister. There was no way I could compete against 4 pairs of sad eyes begging to keep her. So I proudly introduce Paris.... The Pomeranian chi hua hua, which I have now titled.... Chihuameranian.... We could do no less than name her after a wealthy socialite, since we named her big brother Armando Montelongo, after the reality tv entrepreneur real estate mogul.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DVD Review: ***** Walter Zettl ~ A Matter of Trust 1/1

Vol. #1 Disk 1 *****

Now THIS is a "basics" dvd.  It is practically a "who's who and what's what"of dressage as far as basics go.  It is PACKED full of ALL the basics of dressage...infact more than 'just' the basics.  This is a German Classical style with senstivity and gentleness.  I really enjoyed it.  There was so much packed in there that this could very well take you several sittings to get thru it, depending on how much you know already.  If you are just starting out in dressage, this is a good place to start because nothing is left out. I will say, due to the shear volume of material, that they go quickly, so be prepared to have your finger on the pause button so you can take notes or rewind to hear something again.  There is not a lot of indepth detail on alot of stuff presented, this is really just an indepth overview of everything you should know to get started.  As i have seen of MANY great dressage masters, there is not alot of emphasis on the riders position, mostly on the 'how to train the horse'....so i would say that, like you will find about anywhere else, you will need to seek else where for rider biomechanics.  And that is OK.  No one can be everyTHING to EVERYone.  I highly recomend this dvd for its solid and classical 'basics'.

There is reviewed and explained and demonstrated:

The 6 Principles of the  training scale:
Rhythm, Relaxation, Contact, Schwung, Straightness & Collection

The Golden Mantra:
Ride your horse ~ Calm, Forward & Straight

Well Explained and demonstrated:
Calming exercises/patterns
Forward exercises/patterns
Straightening exercises/patterns

Suppling exercises/patterns

There was beautiful scenes of horses and riders of all levels, and most of them were poll high most of the time.  It is a pet peave of mine...so...i pay close attention to it.  sorry.
For more info on Walter Zettl click here

Savvy On

Sunday, December 4, 2011

DVD Review:**** Sylvia Loch ~ Body and Balance work

Body and Balance Work ****

This was a GREAT dvd. It was simple yet very detailed.  Well organized and compromised just about any movement you want to do with your horse.  It is a classical equitation dvd and covers from the basics to lateral work to flying changes. She has a group of students go thru body awareness exercises on the ground, and during the lecturing shows clips of the students, herself and another trainer riding the movements on horses, showing both the before and after, the bad then the good.  The exercises are for awareness and are simple to do.  It is not complicated in anyway, her concepts make sense and seem easy to apply while in the saddle, which many equitation exercises are not easy to do in the saddle.  I think this dvd will be valuable for any rider, not just dressage riders.

All the riders looked good in the saddle, well poised and balanced and her concepts seem to make positive changes in the students work in the saddle.  She does not leave out the who, what, when, where or how's.  The entire dvd was well organized, flowed easily from one exercise to the next, no confusion in following along and everything seemed like it would be easy to remember from dvd to the arena.

For more info on Sylvia Loch click here

Savvy On

DVD Review: 0 stars ~ Dominique Barbier ~ Mastering the Basics

ZERO Stars ~ Skip it!
Mastering the Basics

God I really hate to do this, but to be fair to worthy media, I just cannot recommend this dvd. Before I get slammed with a slander suit, let me remind you, this is ONLY......MY.......OPINION and I am sure there are people, somewhere, who found this dvd helpful. Regarding 'what' I could even begin to speculate. I was highly disappointed on so many levels, I just can't even give it one star rating. I thought long and hard about my ratings definition prior to my decision. 1 star means I think it is "OK" but better stuff out there". Honestly, I didn't think it was OK on any level, and there are 1000's of things out there better to chose from. IMHO

The whole catalyst for my reviews in the first place, was because I am a Parelli Level 4 graduate I was waiting around for them (PNH) to get around to making some upper level stuff, particularly DRESSAGE, and also to see and learn other methods of NH in order to expand my NH knowlege base. I knew I wasn't the only Parelli student searching for compatible information, so I figured as I came across stuff I would share MY opinion of what I found. Period. So while I am far from a Master in either NH or Dressage, I am also far above the average novice horseman and capable of making the determination if something is worthy of me investing my time and money into learning, or something I would not waste my time on.

I am going to grade and review 3 aspects here.

1: How well it will coincide with not only Parelli Natural Horsemanship, but the General world of Natural Horsemanship as a whole.

2: How well it coincides with what "I" understand to be BASIC Classical Dressage Principles, be it French OR German

3: How well it is presented as a media outlet for home study learning, based on presentation and information presented (or not presented) concepts discussed ~vs~ results shown.

1: As far as PNH/NH goes, I felt it was sub par on every level, even compared to watching novice NH students. The horses in the video appeared to be agitated, nervous, and generally not to happy. As an NH student, you will likely feel as I do, that we spent alot of time, energy and heart to produce a happy well adjusted horse and don't want to chance doing things that will upset this mental/emotional balance. Despite this dvd being labeled "basic"...it was not clear to me what was 'basic' about it. He was kinda all over the place....and thus the horse seemed to follow suit. I honestly do not see how an advanced student would be able to understand it....much less a novice. On the one hand he was using very advanced horses and what appeared (at first) to be novice riders. More on this in the dressagy review. I just didn't see much that could be considered 'better' than basic NH. There are far better recomendations I could give to PNH students as a dressage extension beyond the confines of parelli, AND within the confines of parelli. PNH is already, in and of itself, better at doing this stuff, be it French (Pats kind of style) or German (Linda's kind of style)

2: Classical Dressage principles....OY~VAY....I squired one of his books many many years ago. At the time I just didn't 'get' what he was saying and alot seemed "mystical" and I was looking for cold hard technical facts. I was just at the beginning of my german classical study. I put the book down, found many others that were what i was looking for, realized he was 'french' and never picked it back up again. BUT...in all these years, I still believed, albeit in my limited 'french' understanding, that he was indeed a MASTER of the FRENCH classical school. After watching Phillip Karls dvd's.....I was nearly horrified at what my dressage eyes were seeing. MASTER?? If what he showed was indicative of french 'mastery' (which i know it is not) I don't want any part of it. Not only were the students in the dvd's painful to watch ride, so was he. The stirrups were soooo long, and the feet so far in front that they were horribly balanced in the rising trot work and I have beginner students look better than that in a matter of weeks, so to see a supposed master ride that unbalance i was shocked. He suggested that the rider keep her hands ON the saddle, if I recall right, at all times. Not for balance as an un-confident rider, but to 'keep the horse on the bit'... what? WHAT?? Now, as we move on, this is supposed to be a BASICS dvd, yet all the horses are being ridden in a DOUBLE bridle. There was no mention as to why, but I have never seen ANY one use a double bridle on green horses with green riders, which is exactly what i presume at least one student/horse pair to be. And lastly some core classical principles.....The poll 'should' be the highest point at all times, not here my friends, not even close. At times it appeared to be 'deep' if not downright close to 'rolkur' even if momentary....that is unacceptable in any classical school of thought. The horses hind quarters could not directly follow the forehand due to stiffness and lack of control from the leg, on turns the haunches would just spin out like they were on a carnival ride. I can't even get started on the lunging. I will say that when HE rode his upper level horse, things appeared to be a bit better, it was hardly done with principles, style or grace that I would want to emulate. in ANY fashion.

3: Media attributes. The trifecta of shame. PNH has a reputation for producing in depth, top quality, provocative, well organized and formatted media that we parelli students have become accustomed to. Top notch in every aspect. I am not suggesting i am some princess here that cannot see the good in other peoples work. Not in the least. If you read any of my other reviews, you will see that I am hardly parelli biased. I give credit where credit is due. But I won't sit here and give it where it is not due. I usually try to find SOMEthing positive about even the worst dvd's. So I will say that he does state some good concepts in there, but in my opinion what he is saying is not the results shown on the dvd. You know, the words don't match the view. Then there is no congruent format. It is not well organized despite having 'categories' and the intention of material was not clear. It was very confusing as to what the heck I was watching and why. My only saving grace is that I not only am better educated and can just reject his notions and move on. But also that I didn't pay any money for this dvd. I would then have been a disgruntled consumer as well and felt a little on the jilted side wonder how I could in good conscious sell this dvd to someone else. The only thing I can tell anyone at this point in my French Classical Journey (the beginning btw, after 20ys german) is to seek out Phillipe Karls dvd's, I highly recommend them and will be reviewing others soon.

Clearly I am not affiliated with the author of the dvd. So....By all means contact him directly and ask for clarification/explanation of what he was doing, to give him a chance to refute/rebut my review. It is my personal opinion it is what will be needed to understand what was going on in that video anyways. So that is the best place for more info. Click here to go to his website. Maybe things are different now, or maybe they were having alot of problems while filming. He has nice pics on his site. But this dvd is what it is and I stand by my review of it.

On a personal note. Honestly my heart sunk when I saw him in the rising trot. Just goes to show, now matter how many 'fancy' things someone can do, they can still be lacking severely in even the very basic of basics, and that words can be cheap.....but the picture can be worth a thousand words and a million dollars and a lifetime of chasing the wrong rainbow.

Savvy On