This is the place where I record my current learning experiences with horses. I’m personally aiming to become an excellent horsewoman, but the nature of horses is that they are truly catalysts for personal development. So, while half of my musings will be from a point of observation and communication with horses, this only reflects the way that I am personally developing. Because of this, it is my hope that you can relate to my blog on whatever level you wish. If you are a fellow horseman-in-training: good to meet you, it's wonderful to be on the same journey! But at the same time, if you are a complete stranger to me or to horses, you are just as welcome. Hopefully this blog will bring you some amusement; even if it is just laughing at how mad we horse people can be!

In this blog, you can find pages about my life so far, mentors, and of course, horses and my adventures with them.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory..."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I've decided to stay on at Mufundi. Anja has now headed back to school, and I've moved into Geoff and Vicky's house (deluxe to the max! :))

A well earned lunch break, spent down at the stream en-route to the orphanage!

The guest lodge will be relatively quiet over the next week or two, as all the Easter crowds have headed back to their respective workplaces. Its a great opportunity to prioritize over the horses and horse-workers. We were so busy with guests over Easter, that I didn't have much time for anything extra. We'll also have time to sort and clean all the tack and bits'n'bobs in the tackroom, it will be a big job, but we've got the time!

Friendly Game with Dowdy and Bahati. The most common phrase coming from Dowdy these days is: "Always Friendly first. Rafiki, rafiki"

Driving Game, our conversations go something like this: "Imagine that your ears are back," "...But his ears are forward" "Yes, its good (Nzuri San/Saafi Sana) he is paying attention. Your ears must be back though"

This week I'm continuing to teach Dowdy and Gramsead the Seven Games (we've learnt 3 so far); they've been learning the games with Noita, the yearling, and Bahati, both of which I've already taught the Seven Games. It's so much easier to learn on a horse that knows what he's doing! The idea is that when the guys are more competent, they'll start teaching the games to other people and horses... and so the domino effect begins

Playing the 'touch it' game, and driving from the middle of the horse.

I am very much aware that-with a limited amount of time to spend here-my main focus should be on teaching Dowdy and Gramsead. This will hopefully enable them to train the horses (especially backing the youngsters and handling the foals) with a different mindset.

Gramsead: Attentive when he is here, but unfortunately not the most committed of people.

I decided to send off an email to the Parelli email-list to see what other people think I should prioritize on, hopefully it will give me a couple of ideas, and if nothing else, start a great conversation:

Hi All
I have to say that this is the quietest the list has been in a long time, hope it means that spring has arrived and that you're all out playing with your horses! My excuses for being so quiet is a)lack of time b)lack of motivation and c)lack of internet...
I'm having a ball over here in East Africa. I've now moved up from the coast, and am volunteering at a lodge in the Highlands. With 19 horses to play with (including 3 foals and a yearling) 2000 acres of mountainous range to ride over (and take guests on treks - spent an average of 4 hours daily in the saddle over the last week), very teachable workers to Parellise, and HIV/AIDS orphans to occupy in the afternoons, I think I've arrived in my element :)
I’ve realized that -with only 4 weeks to spend here- there isn’t really much time for me to dilly dally with pointless concepts. I would like to make a lasting impact (to sow seeds, so to speak) and I think the most effective way to do this, is to Parellise the (incredibly teachable and keen to learn) workers as much as possible. There isn't much point in me playing with the horses, only to have my work undone by the two workers (for lack of a better word), or to show the guys things (level 3 tasks) that are too advanced for them, as this could only frustrate both them and the horses. So, I have been thinking about the foundations of the Parelli system, and the fundamentals of the programme. If the two workers could come away with some of the Parelli mindsets/attitudes, they'd be on the right track to discovering the horse. The exciting thing about this place is that there are already such fantastic foundations in place - the horses live very natural lives as it is, they generally think that humans are great things, and the workers are very caring and gentle. I find that there is no need to 'undo' other people's problems, rather build on the basic set-up that is in place.
One of the 7 'attitudes/keys to success' is support, so thats a big reason why I'm making contact with you all. Many of you are far more experienced than me, but all of us are ultimately on a personal learning experience through Parelli, and many times, the things that made learning easy for us, will also help others. Perhaps things that are second nature to some of you, and seem perfectly obvious to you, will not be so clear to me. So, I guess my question is firstly: 'What do you think the fundamentals of the Parelli programme are, and with a limited amount of time in which to influence these guys, what do you think are the essential principles/values of Parelli?’ and secondly: 'How were these concepts brought home? What made them relevant to you?'
A couple of things I've come up with are: The 7 games, the 7 attitudes/keys to success, its not about the -, pressure motivates but its the RELEASE that teaches, LB/RB, partnership (51%/49%) rather than chauvinism, prey/predator psychology
And now you see why I could happily be here for a year or two...
One example of making these things relevant is this: the horses are free to roam all afternoon, and one of the workers always stays with the herd - so my first task was to make them aware of the horses communicating, and to stop them from interfering. Each morning I’ve reminded them that they are 'students of the horse,' which entails them not being allowed to reprimand or speak to the horses while they’re out grazing. I explained what the seven games are, and got them to keep a record of what games they saw the horses play throughout the day. They have already been making small adjustments, such as realizing that the horses use driving game a lot more than porcupine, whereas they guys/workers had been using mostly porcupine (steady pressure) when moving the horses around (for tacking up etc.) I hope that once they're more aware of the horses communicating with each other, they'll be able to imitate the horses, and communicate using the 7 games rather than human methods.
We've all had 'aha!' moments - those times when something just goes click, and makes the world of difference in our horsemanship, so please do share. I find this an interesting discussion topic in itself, but practical examples that I could share with the workers would be useful. Easy tasks/activities that could illustrate certain concepts, and get them on the right track to discovering the next thing would be brilliant –concepts with a domino effect, so to speak. I do have a couple of limitations, my lack of Swahili being the biggest, and the next biggest being the fact that the only Parelli material I have with me is my Carrot stick, 12 ft line and halter. But hey – these limitations aren’t too drastic, as there are still SO many things to learn and discover. Such exciting stuff!!!!
Hope you’re all well, savvy on!
Kerrin x
L3 Student (recently received the news that I passed my L2++ with a lot of L3 ratings, and a L3++ for my friendly game! BIG SMILES)

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