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..."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blaine days...

On Tuesday, we went down to visit my horse, Blaine. I loaned him out while in Tanzania (and will continue to do so while I'm in America) and was interested to see what he'd be like after 3 months apart. Someone once told me that the real test with 'problem horses,' is whether they'll allow another person to handle them. In one of Linda Parelli's DVDs, she talks about some of the different forms of confidence - that of self, environment, as a learner, in the herd/human and routine. Essentially, true confidence will extend to any situation. Many horses will start trusting a human, but that confidence and trust will be limited to only *that* particular person, and often only in that environment. How often do you see a horse dragging its owner around a showground, with the owner wailing: "he never behaves like this at home!"Its my theory that true leadership produces confidence in all aspects of life. 

Anyway, I was interested to see what Blaine's confidence would look like, as his biggest issue had always been that of trust (confidence), especially in humans. There was a stage where he would allow me to ride him, but if anyone else tried, they'd get bucked off.. where he wouldn't allow a male anywhere near him. Funnily enough, he was always tolerant of children, perhaps this is because they are far less demanding and dominating than adults. At the beginning of this year, when I started looking for a loan home, Blaine had developed a certain amount of confidence at home, so much so that he had the confidence to express himself, even confident enough to be a bit cocky! But in a different environment, without me..? Longfields is a peaceful environment, it would be hard not to relax here, but it did concern me that Blaine hadn't been in anywhere near a busy yard in the 5 years that I'd had him. 

3 months down the line, with a lot of handling from his loaner, Tracey, Blaine is even MORE confident than the last time I saw him. He is still as playful as ever, and has kept a huge amount of his sensitivity. I think there are a couple of things affecting his confidence - firstly, the leadership I've offered him over the the years has given him the self-confidence he needs. Secondly, Tracey has been hugely accommodating, and willing to take the time it takes. She has never put Blaine in a situation that would undermine his confidence. Perhaps I can be a bit too goal directed at times, so Blaine finds me too intense; Tracey is a lot gentler than me. Third, he is being kept at a lovely yard, but I think the most important factor is the timing. He was ready for this.

We had the most amazing day together! I love having my owner camera crew (aka my mum and sisters) and they got some cracking pictures...they took loads, so I'll be uploading more when I've got some time on my hands! ALSO, we managed to film our Level 3 Online Audition (yehaaaa!) and, I still need to edit it, hopefully our Level 3 Liberty as well!

If you'd like to veiw my Online audition, here is the link:

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Parellising =D

Well.. one of the exciting things about being home was finally being able to touch my blue string! For those of that aren't familiar with the Parelli program, the levels system is similar to that of the martial arts grading. I completed Level 2 in March, and my blue string arrived while I was in Tanzania. My brother has been guarding my string jealously from my sisters and mum, all of which have now got their red strings (level 1) and can't wait to have their own blue strings!

I'm off to see my precious horse tomorrow. I loaned Blaine out while I was in Tanzania, and we'll be continuing that loan while I'm in America. We're taking our video camera along, as I'm hoping to film the final bits and bobs for the Online aspect of my Level 3 assessment. 

My flight to Colorado is now booked, weyheyy its so exciting!!! I'll be flying at the end of the month, which gives me enough time to celebrate my 18th birthday, spend time with my cousin visiting from South Africa, and spend my final week spectating at a Parelli clinic run by Silke Valentin! I think that all these things will leave me amped up and full of gusto for the Parelli office. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

... and there are fat ponies back at home, too!

Well... I've come to the conclusion that I'll never be able to keep my distance from the equine species for long. My first day back home in the UK, and I was already wandering down the field to meet my sister's new pony, and to say hello to the other four chubbies! Of course, the fact that my parents have bought a (really snazzy) quad bike, makes trips down the field even more appealing..

 Helping Julie with Tim

I'm so impressed at how the family have developed in their horsemanship. Longfields is such a learning zone; there is always something on the go. With Parelli being a main focus, we regularly hear the voices of Pat and Linda Parelli echoing through our house in DVD format, and of course reflected in the way that we think and speak!  

Preparing for a hack with Kate on Cloud, and me on mum's pony, Teri

8 year old Kate has got a great new pony, called Cloud. It seems as if he'll be the perfect match for feisty and independent-minded Kate, who wants to do everything 'for herself.' Although lacking in confidence, Cloud is essentially a very Left Brained pony, so it will be interesting to see the partnership develop between Kate and Cloud. I've been helping Kate with him, partly because I couldn't keep my hands off the ropes, and partly because she needs some assistance. This week we worked on refining the Seven Games, softening Kate's phases (she tends to be a bit too quick, resulting in all her cues becoming hugely unsubtle), and getting Kate up and riding him. She was so pleased to have hacked him out at the beginning of the week, and finished the week with cantering him - both in a saddle on the bridleway, and bareback in the fields at home!

Long phase 1, quick 2,3,4

13 year old Julie is doing great work with both her ponies. JJ seems to have gone lame, and we're concerned that its an old leg injury affecting him, but the extra time has freed Julie to do more with Tim, and they are doing some fantastic work together. Timmy is extremely right brained, and being a right brainer herself, Julie has now got the maturity to understand Tim and give him exactly what he needs. In a recent session with the two of them, we played at extending the 7 games. We realized that the foundations are now in place to further challenge their relationship, so I set Julie some challenges, such as playing the games from behind Tim (zones 3, 4 and 5)


I've been rewatching the new Parelli Level 3 pack, and these are a couple of the things I've been picking up on:

  • You’re either sensitizing or desensitizing your horse. Working with a pair like Kate and Cloud, I have become so aware of not assuming things. Both of them tend to be very busy, and will act on what you told them to do 20 mins ago, but of course the lesson plan may have changed by then! They can be deceptive, as their 'confidence and obedience' may look amazing, until you realize that you didn't actually ask them to do that task... when you correct this, the pony/child may not seem so confident anymore!  Of course teaching assumptions is relative to sensitivity levels; if you're unintentionally teaching your horse to react - you're sensitizing him. But, say you don't follow through with a particular task, you teach the horse to disobey you - desensitizing. You want to find a 'sensitivity balance' where the horse respects you, and tunes into what *you* are asking them to do.
  • You have to understand prey animal psychology. Safety, comfort, food and play (in that order) are highly important to prey animals. You must find where your horse is at; there is no point in offering a horse comfort when they are actually seeking safety, and vise versa. 
  • Some horses dignity is not intact because they’ve been put through force fear and intimidation. They only react, and never engage. They feel as if their dignity has been taken away. I love the way that dignity sums it all up. After all, how can we expect a horse to respect us, when the human race has never respected them? The start of a relationship with a horse, the place where they begin to engage, is when we hand them back their dignity. When we respect them. I find that recognizing the smallest things (as Pat says, the slightest try) is what makes all the difference... for instance, if the horse doesn't want to be touched, how about respecting that, and not touching him? But, if we're respecting them, there is an expectation that they respect us. They don't have to like us immediately, but they must respect us in turn. 
  • You can shoot a gun off any horse... once. Confidence is for life. Exposing a horse is the start of confidence. Stay away from right and wrong, just do the natural thing. Confidence does not necessarily equal sensitivity (response)