"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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The 'techno' challenged- FREE ebooks

I dont know if i am techno challenged, behind the times, or just plain stupid......but I 'discovered' something this weekend andi thought i would share my discovery....though y'all probably already know.

Apparently.....you can get and/or sample many books online for FREE.  if you go to google, type in what ever you are looking for, either by author, title or subject matter then hit enter.
once you have your search results.....look on the left hand side of the screen.  you will see the categories..."everything, images, maps etc".....if you dont see the category 'books' then hit the category 'more' and you will then get 'books'.......click on that....and viola.....a list of books

once you click on a book you want, then look at the top.  you will either have a red button that says, 'get ebook'....ie a free book....or you click on 'sample'.....most books that have samples....apparently only have a few missing pages from the book.  if you dont see the ebook button or the sample button....then that particular book is not available in any other way than good ole fashioned paper and binding .....or possible kindle/nook.

to take this one step further....there is an iphone app....i got it, so i can read my books on there....but only the ones with the 'ebook' button.

you can also save books to a library, even just the sample editions, categories include 'favorites' 'reading now' 'to read' 'already read'.

you have to sign into google to save books though.  anyways....i am reading a few french classical dressage books right now, one of them from the 1800's.  how cool is THAT!!!???!!!!

Savvy On

Monday, February 27, 2012

DVD Review: * Syliva Burrage ~ Piaffe etc.

Piaffe, Passage, Musical Reinless Riding

I got this dvd, because after my thorough enjoyment of the “Piaffe Revealed” dvd set, since Riz credits this trainer as one of his mentors, I thought I would check it out. What a disappointment. Man I hate this. I honestly do. But as a parelli student, I can guarantee you, you will NOT like this dvd…..and honestly I would hope most anyone else would not as well. I give her props for what she can do, but not in the manner in which she does it. Let me say, she never beat her horse or anything else like that…..but if this were the only way to learn piaffe….I would have to just pass and never learn it. While she stated one of the horses was quite hot and wild prior to commencing learning piaffe, and that learning it has calmed her down…..it sure did NOT appear that she was ready mentally for a grueling lengthy session. When the ‘gentle’ demand to perform exceeds the horses ability…..you get the same results as if you had ‘forced’ him to do it with less 'gentle' methods. And, while she was getting a lofty piaffe in hand, she was not getting the same results in the saddle. Now I don’t have an issue with that per’se……UNLESS…..in the beginning you degrade others for the exact same thing…..and ‘sell’ yourself as the answer/solutiong to the problem…..and…..THEN…..exhibit the same sort comings you say your program circumvents. I also just flat did not agree with her method of teaching passage. Though I have never done it before, so quite obviously am not an expert……like I said before….IF…..’that’ is the way to do it……NO THANKS…..I’ll pass. I went straight to my friend and said if I ever look like that, you better slap me off my horse immediately. With all that said, I did learn one teeny thing in the length of a 1 min span….and that was a stick technique to teach the ‘hop’ phase. It was a good ‘visual’ for me, so I totally ‘get’ that part now, though I may end up doing it differently.

Considering I have seen other ways to teach Piaffe, ways that suit MY style and what I am sure my parelli friends style would be, as well as most likely classical dressage buffs style…..I would like not to give it any stars at all, I have to give it one star….because it is a good example of how I ‘do NOT’ want to look…..but you might glean an idea or two like I did. Again, I have reviewed well over 100 dvd’s in the last year, few have been such a disappointment. Again I just want to remind everyone, this is MY opinion, of the dvd alone, and I recommend if you feel I am not worthy to judge anything…..please review the dvd for yourself and make up your own mind……cuz trust me…..I hate being disappointed like this….I would have much rathered been fascinated and inspired and writen a great review…And truth be told, I have seen parelli students do it WAY better.

Click here get more Info about Sylvia Burrage.

Savvy On


Friday, February 17, 2012

DVD Review: *** Riz Ilyas ~ Piaffe Revealed

My most in-depth review!  Wow.....WOW.....I have been chomping at the bit to get my hands on this dvd set.  Normally I will write a seperate review on each volume of a set as I recieve/view them...but since this has been 'unavailable' for rental since the nano second they got it in stock.....I didn't want to share my enthusiasm after getting Vol 1....until I got my own grubby mits on Vol 2.....basically being selfish and stingy, not wanting to alert ANYone else to beat me to it.  A while back I was involved in several online discussions regarding not only the appropriateness of teaching ANY horse of ANY level the Piaffe, but also, the reality of whether or not ANY one could actually do it...even a novice....as the author claims.....then add to that.....IF his style of Piaffe was even 'correct' be it classical or modern, or if it is just a trick for backyard horse enthusiasts.  I can assure you, there is quite a debate over these dvd's.....in every subject known to horsemanship.  You name it...someone is talking about it.  Anyways, when the attacks started.....I defended him....not because I know him or had seen the dvd's (at the time) for my self....but because no  one HAD seen them, nor were any of the discussion participants educated enough to judge a 'correct' piaffe....much less had they themselves ever ridden dressage....bascially.....my stand point was this.....do your research before you judge something.  If you havn't seen the dvd....how on earth can you judge if is good bad or indifferent?  So....I opened my big mouth....and said I would get the dvd's, review them as I do all my dvd reviews.....BUT.......ALSO.....obligated myself to test it out on my own horses  (something I wanted to do anyways) and share my progress as I go along.....and if possible.....get a real novice to join me in my experiment.  For all intents and purposes....as far as dressage goes....I would consider myself a novice.  Others may not....but I do.  Why?  Because:

 #1~Theory~In all my study, in the years gone by, as a scholar, I fall quite short to many many people who have had the resources to study far more intensivly than have.  Though my desire and passion is there, my book worming is just a drop in the bucket compared to the serious intellectual Classical Dressage student.

#2~Expert Mentorship~In all my years, basically I did it alone.  I had few, if any, live mentors to study under.  Most that I found in my area were either not classical or too expensive for my puny budget.  But I did have one that was a bit 'out there' as a human being....but he taught me alot in the few lessons I could afford w him.  Luckily he boarded his horses where I did...and I was able to watch many lessons w other students and watch him ride his own horses and he was gracious enough to answer my MANY questions I grilled him with.  Which had led me to the discovery that many of the great riders are actually quite obscure, and NEVER recieved nor attempted to recieve a gold medal or a blue ribbon of any kind.

#3~Glass Ceiling: I only made it into L3 before my mare foudnered and was retired.  Though I do pride myself on the fact that as a backyard Classical dressage enthusiast, with minimal funds and a $500 TB mare....I made it that far....CORRECTLY...on my own.  Pat Pat Toot Toot......(that's me patting my back and tooting my horn)

#4~Reality Check:  I am now a middle aged woman, ouit of shape and over weight who has not ridden but a handful of times in the last 4 years due to injuries from a car accident....and my horse is a 14yo green rescue TB mare with the equivelent training of 30 "traditional" days under saddle and a "tying up" issue (medical condition...google it).....AND....I don't have an arena....My reality SUCKS....go figure! 

Based on these three things alone, I don't think I could ever consider myself anything other than a novice....in dressage land...though I am hardly a novice horseman....far from it in-fact.  I decided to create a new blog, for the sole purpose of tracking my progress in the experiment to see if the claims could be true.....that anyone could teach any horse to do piaffe.

Click here to follow the experiment.

So anyways, On to the long awaited reviews

Piaffe Revealed ****

Disk 1 ~ Classroom Session ~ Theory and Equiptment
Riz is a great speaker, charismatic and down to earth.  He is humble, not flamboyant and REAL.  He is a real student of the horse, and yet he is not arrogant about his knowlege.  Watching the dvd was like talking to a good friend.  He used common sense language and was never boring.  He went over the body points and how a horse USUALLY reacts when touched there.  He went over useful equiptment, and this was quite extensive in the 'whip/guider' department..  He of course covered the principles, uses and mis-uses of training the Piaffe..  He points out that the Piaffe is NOT the 'end' of the means, rather the 'means' to the end.  And he is not alone in this practice. 

It is a philosphy that I have seen from several French Classical trainers, and have seen them use the Piaffe for many good reasons, quite early on in a horses career.  It is a falacy that only special people and special horses get to do the Piaffe when they are good enough to think about going to the olympics.  IF we remember that Dressage = Training.....and ALL the school movements are excersizes to produce a well rounded and trained horse.....and that the goal....the "END" if you will, is a horse that is light, relaxed, responsive, balanced and obedient......NOT.....Piaffe.....then we will better be able to see the Piaffe in the same light as a 20 meter circle and a 'working trot'......nothing more than an excersize.....Piaffe is the 'MEANS' to the 'END'.....rather than being the 'END' itself.

Unfortunately there was a few areas of the dvd with sound quality issues.  The rest was spot on.  However I discovered the sound issues are not present when the dvd is played on my computer, only when played on my tv with my dvd player.  (but I have never had sound issues w other dvds) Remember that vol 1 is not the 'how to'...it is the pre-requisite understanding needed before the "how to".  I just wish I didn't have to wait now for vol 2.  So for now...this is where I will go to draft mode....

Disk 2 ~ The Arena Session ~ principle into practice

This dvd is the 'how to' and it is quite thorough.  He has deconstructed all the step to train the piaffe and made each step very clear.  It covers 2 pre-requisite exercises that must be in place before you begin the actual steps to start training the piaffe. Those perquisites should be a no-brainer for parelli students because they are similar to tasks in L2 online, friendly and stick to me, though it needs to be done this very specific way so it translates later on when you get to the part where you put it all together. The next two exercises, the leg lifts and goat stance should also be relatively easy for a parelli student due to ones understanding of the porcupine and driving games, though it might require L3+ savvy.  Then you get to the part where you begin to put it all together, and this is where you will truly discover if a 'novice' has what it takes to teach piaffe.  I believe that parelli students will fare better than the average novice, even though he does explain everything from how to apply the pressure, how to release and how to reward.  Feel and timing are needed and those are two things that cannot be bought.  Only father time and mother experience can help you in that department.  He then moves on to doing the piaffe in long lines once piaffe is relatively understood and if you have made it to this point, it is yet another cross road to separate the savvy from the un-savvy.  Parelli Level 4 students have yet another leg up as the driving game from zone 5 is already being established.  I will say, long lining is a bit of an art all to it self, and as he states, it needs to be confirmed prior to doing it with piaffe....for obvious reasons. He then goes into the pillars, though he advises extreme caution here and reminds every one that the pillars are NOT mandatory, but he does go over how to do it safely and sanely should it be something you want to do.  After that, he begins the piaffe under saddle, once piaffe is well established in hand and in long lines.

Now that I have described what he covers in the dvd, let me talk a teeny bit about the quality of his work.  I don't think that any 'natural' person will have any contradictions to what he does or how he does it.  He is a good horseman, kind and talented, and it is all done quite naturally.  Again he is a good speaker, down to earth, no and I sincerely mean NO ego in this man what so ever, it is easy to listen to him talk without my mind drifting or being annoyed. The quality of the organization of the material covered is very good....some minor sound quality issues, though as I stated before, playing it on my computer solved that.  The whole thing is simple in design and concept, yet just because something is simple, doesn't mean it is easy.  When it comes to the 'quality' of piaffe produced, I would have to say it is closer to classical principle than many if not most modern competitive piaffe's.  So for all those dressage queens out there, as a philosophical argument here, I have to say, if you are going to do something 'wrong' anyways (what you will do if you follow many modern riders) why not check this dvd out?  He holds classical principles to a higher and more correct standard, and for the cost of just one lesson with gold medalist, you can get the dvd, and in the end maybe learn more about it than you could in a lifetime of lessons.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying lessons are useless, cuz I'm not.  Just saying, I don't think the subject of piaffe as a whole, has been covered before like this.  So if you want to know more about it, this is probably as close to a one stop shop as you are ever gonna get.  The poll is high, nose in-front of the vertical, and the horses are using  their hind ends....that is more than many GP riders can do....even though they SAY they are doing it, they are not.

When it comes to applying very correct classical principles, if you know 'what' they are.....and feel they may be lacking or a bit substandard in this dvd, let me say that as long as you know what they are, you should have no problem adhering to them with this method.....regardless if your classical back ground is in French or German.  I did notice with one horse he could have lifted a bit better from the base of his neck over his topline, but I think it had a tad bit to do with his conformation.  Again, there is NO reason, if you know the classical principles, that you can't tailor this system to your desires.  It is a great road map and skeleton.

Now for the whole 'even a novice can do this'....I kinda went over this a bit, but want to delve just a hair deeper on this.  I "REALLY" think this is going to be based on ones definition of 'novice'....which just may be a highly subjective term.  I stated why I would consider MYself a novice, and to ME it is not the same as a begginer, rather a step above it.  Though websters dictionary, and most people first thought, IS infact....."beginner".  So the more I thought about this, I asked my self....what are the stages of horsemanship?....and where do "I" fall on the scale? So for arguments sake here....lets go with this scale for a better understanding of what I think you might need to be in order to actually do this.

Beginner:  I just got here, where do I start
Novice:  Survived the beginning and ready to be serious
Intermediate:  I know my way around pretty good with little help
Experienced:  I can take care of me and mine without putting much thought into it, it's a habit
Apprentice:  Pretty good now, and learning from a master to teach beginners
Journeyman:  I'm really good now and can teach even the experienced
Master:  An artist

So based on this scale, I am not a novice, somewhere between Apprentice and Journeyman category, but not in the dressage department.  So, do I think a 'novice' could do it?....anything is possible....though I would have to see it for myself to believe it.  I don't know his definition, but the dvd is laid out in simple steps, and is simple enough in theory that anyone can understand it......execution of it is a whole 'nuther story though....isn't it?

I would have liked to see a trouble shooting section with maybe a horse that had not already been taught ANY thing about any of the piaffe exercises.  Though each of the horses he did use, did not do things perfectly, so there were plenty of times he was able to show things that might go wrong and how to correct it, I would have loved to see what the process of day 1 leg lifts looked like.  He did talk about safety ALOT so that is good.

So why only 3 stars?  Well, simply because this is a very specialized dvd, if you have no desire to do piaffe, well then it's not a must see.  But if you DO want to do piaffe....I give it 5 stars because you just aren't gonna find a dvd like this anywhere else.....at least I havn't seen it yet....but I am still looking!

Click here for more info about Riz Ilyas

Click Here to Follow my Piaffe Journey
Savvy On

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tried endo tapping w cha'cote

Well, that was an interesting experiment.  I thought I would try out endo tapping w cha'cote to see if I can get a 'calm down' cue for him for trailering.  After watching the dvd I was intrigued and I found a small tennis ball that I was able to jam onto the end of a broken lunge whip.  Even though he did it on the dvd with a lead rope and was using it to encourage the head to come down and also to keep the horse from walking off, and he also did it next to a wall so the horse could not escape sideways.....I decided to try it at liberty, just to see his reaction to the tapping.  Cha'cote is a highly sceptical horse when it comes to objects, and also is high headed even when he is relaxed.  He did show some skepticism when i approached him with it, but he didn't move, so I started tapping just behind his withers. He was curious as to what i was doing, but again didn't move.  I used impeccable timing and released if his head even moved a millimeter.  I tapped for a good 20 min or so, and while his poll never dropped quite to the level of his withers....he did fall asleep.  Goofy boy.  My arm got tired of tapping, so I showed him the ball and his eyes bugged out of his head.  I did the usual retreat as he went to sniff it, and i had his head on the ground in about a minute.....i also was just tickling his whiskers for a cue and he would follow the ball down to the ground......i found that really interesting.  I tried tapping him on his legs to see if i could get a response leaning toward picking them up at all.....nothing.  Then i tried tapping on his croup, and he instantly started stepping back n forth with the hind legs....so i started to alternate the tapping on top of the hips with the leg i figured would likely be picked up next and within a few minutes i had him kinda baby piaffe-ing on the hind end.  i stopped there because i don't want to mess him up for further lessons and i was basically just goofing around to see what his reaction would be.  i finished the session having him follow the ball and play stick to me and i just love how he is so bonded to me.  we sat for a while w him nuzzling my hair and neck and rubbing his chin on me.  he is such a good boy.  so that was my first endo-tap session, and now i will just ponder the results.

savvy on

Friday, February 10, 2012

A day in the mind of "ME"

While I am getting ready to embark on my next super cool horsemanship adventure, (sorry gotta keep y’all in suspense for a while about it) I am about to (hopefully successfully) learn something really cool….a childhood dream of mine. And the very thought of actually learning it….has caused me to be a bit nostalgic. And in doing so I am pondering many things and it has come to my attention that I am not like everyone else. Not that I didn’t know that already, or haven’t had these thoughts before, but really….I’m a gal that walks to the beat of my own drum. Turns out, I really AM horse crazy. Not like the “normal” horse crazy gal, rather quite obsessed. Sometimes it makes me wonder if I am bi-polar or something. I have in the past referred to myself as dedicated, passionate, and immersed…..but it seems as I have gotten older, the friends to whom I used to categorize my self with, have grown out of it, but somehow I haven’t. According to the thesaurus, there are other words I could use that just might be more fitting….such as self absorbed, fanatic and insane. I can’t really say why I am this way, I only know that I am, and have been since the day I was born.

It all started when I was 2 years old and went to a flea market with my mother. Seems strange but I actually remember this event. How many people can say they have a vivid memory from when they were a toddler? Few, I suppose. But there I was, in a dimly lit warehouse, looking up at a table with some kids toys, and saw the most beautiful sight to ever behold….a Breyer horse. Not one, but two. I have no recollection of how I may have communicated to my mother that I had to have them, but I remember paying a quarter for them and my mom let me hand the money over. One was a grey appaloosa with his tail missing and ears sheared off, the other a black horse with a white mane and tail and the western saddle and bridle were part of the mold.

He had a gold chain for reins and some pretty serious white scuff marks over his whole body. They were the first of many to come and the catalyst to a life long obsession. I can’t remember what happened to the black horse, other than I have not seen him since I was a small child, but I still have the appy, though one of his legs has been in a drawer for years, waiting for me to unpack its counter part and superglue them back together. That leg has been in the kitchen junk drawer of the last 3 houses I have lived in, and I just can’t seem to have both the leg and the horse in my hands at the same time. My husband asks me from time to time to remind him of why I still have it. My only reply is that “It is a historical artifact to a very important cosmic event…..HELLO???....do you even KNOW me at ALL??”

Shortly after I acquired my treasures, I saw a real horse up close and personal…..and it has been down hill for my parents, friends and loved ones from that day forward. My mom, single at the time, could not afford to buy me a real horse, nor even pay for lessons….so the very next summer, my great grandparents drove me 400 miles to visit my aunt who had an Arabian ranch. Little did they know they would repeat the same pilgrimage each summer for the next 6 years, until they got too old and paid to fly me down there the following 3 years.

By that point I had gotten a paper route at age 10 to pay for riding lessons, and the summer before I turned 13, was the last to be spent at her ranch. I had seen the alternate Olympics in 1980 and decided to ride English from then on, and also aspired to become “Rookie of the Year” in show jumping. And of course I dreamed of going to the Olympics, like many other young girls do.

About the same time, the movie ‘The Black Stallion” came out in the theater….and thus….another life long dream of mine was sparked….. To have a wild horse, befriend him like no other human could and ride bareback and bridle-less on the beach…..the same dream of every other girl my age on the planet. So I think it really is no shock that so many middle aged women, like myself, who were the at the same impressionable age as me, when Walter Farley brought “The Black” to life on the big screen…..are hung up on horses.

I however would be obsessed. Driven to the point of insanity. With an insatiable appetite to learn all that I can and an inability to talk about anything else. I have spent 40 of the last 42 years completely and hopelessly blinded by horses. I eat, sleep and breath horses. Last year on a visit with a long distance friend, I cried on her shoulder about how much I missed her and how lonely I was. I needed a horse friend to hang out with, some one to enjoy this with and for her to hurry up and move back home. We talked about ‘me’ and what on earth could possibly be wrong with me. Of course the conclusion was that I was deeply passionate in a way no one else could understand or keep up with….kind of a useless bit of trivia really….as it was an explanation to my problem, it did not solve the problem in the least. She is as close as I guess a friend could be, to ‘keep up’ with me, and it has been torture living without her all these years. Thankfully, she is coming home in a few short months….just in time for the good weather.

I often think back to that little girl, in her room drifting off to sleep, dreaming of horses. Horse pictures plastered all over her wall, doodles of horses on all her school books. Driving with her mom thru the country side, fantasizing about galloping alongside the car on a horse. During recess pretending to be a horse, cantering thru the school yard, whinnying and snorting and being made fun of, while other girls were already worrying about make up and what to wear. She dreamed of black stallions and flaxen maned horses……hoping that someday, she could have a horse of her own. I wish I could speak to that little girl and whisper in her ear as she drifts off to sleep, not to worry, someday you will own a black horse and ride it bridle-less. Some day you will befriend a wild horse with a flaxen mane and he will trust you like he trusts no other human. Someday you will know way more about horses than you could ever possibly imagine. Close your eyes sweet heart and dream to your hearts content, not all of your dreams will come true….but this one that you dream tonight WILL come true, and some day you will have more horses than you know what to do with. Someday your life with horses will be better than you could ever hope to dream. Close your eyes now sweet heart, you only have to wait a little while longer.

Deep in my heart, I know that if the little girl could visit me now, she would love to slap the ever loving tar out of me and tell me...

Stop whining about what you don’t have, what you can’t do or what you have lost with age. Look out your back window, look all around you. You are not an OLD woman YET. Can’t you see you are living my dream? So… Live it …..PLEASE, for me. Please don’t let my dream die because it is getting too hard for you…you wimp. Who cares if your crazy, insane, or single minded……so am I. You are me, so keep living our dream please.

So with that said, off I go on this next leg of the journey.

Savvy On


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

DVD Review: * J.P. Giacomini ~ Endotapping: Basics under saddle disk 2

Endotapping: Basics under saddle disk 2
Well I was not as impressed with disk 2, as I was with disk 1. Not that I was drop dead impressed with the first one. I didn’t feel it shed any more light to the subject and it actually caused me to feel confused and lose some respect too. I was intrigued after the first disk, with the implications of the Endo-Tap being a bio-mechanical mechanism to facilitate a conditioned response to ‘calm down’, and assumed I would see similar results under saddle. However it seemed to me that the technique was varied quickly, and the horse in the second dvd while improved on the ground, she appeared to become more upset and nearly out of control while ridden….though it is my speculation that it was not directly due to the ‘endo-tap’ rather a lack of it or the variation they applied or other things done or not being done. What I don’t understand here, is if someone were to say to me this was one example and not a good one at that and not to judge the whole method based on THIS disk….well….honestly, who’s fault is that? I know I would not want to present something as MY educational material, if it was not a good representation of what I do and am just left dumb founded as to why anyone would show this horse, THIS session as an example of how to do this method. For that reason, I am only giving this disk 1 star, and not even sure it is worth that. Surprising since I felt the first disk had useful ideas, though I felt as I watched it, that if I tried it, I would modify it a little bit…..mainly by releasing sooner when the horse is on the right track….and I am going to see if the method helps with my mustang who has some trailering issues….But I whole heartedly know I would never emulate what I saw on disk 2. Just my honest opinion, and as always when I don’t have a good review….I refer to the author of the dvd to get clarification/explanation. Please also read my review of disk 1 which is far more favorable.

Savvy On