Monday, May 25, 2009

Happiness Comes In Many Forms

Happy Memorial Day!

It seems like once you turn 30 the days (and years) just fly right on by. Once again time has gotten away from me and it's been a month since the last show and since I posted about my journey with Jayden my 5 year old paint gelding.

Although he had the opportunity to attend the May show in Tucson, many changes had taken place in April right before the Spring Fling horse show and I decided against going....I felt I needed a breather. In April I made the very difficult decision to move away from the trainer I had been working with. Although I enjoyed my time with her immensly and learned many good things from her, I felt that I need a shift (and so did Jayden) if we were going to start tackling some of the emotional signs I had begun to see in my horse.

Although Jayden was still doing his work (and to the traditional horseman you may not notice that anything had changed) I noticed that his feedback when asked to do things had begun to turn negative. I also noticed that he was much more emotional and reactive than he should be.

The April show was our first ever together as a team where we showed without the assistance of a "trainer." I watched him carefully for reactions to his environment and we showed only what I felt he was mentally, emotionally and physically read to handle. The result was success with the classes we did show.

In the last 8 weeks I've noticed some BIG changes emotionally and mentally in my horse. His relaxation has improved, he is offering to do more and more, the negative feedback is nearly gone and on the whole he is simply happier.

Part of the great thing I have learned is that it's important to NEVER stop learning. After a careful re-examination of my goals as a horsewoman and competitor, I have shifted my own mentality which I think has been key to some of our breakthroughs.

I have also been working with someone who has reminded me of some very important key points, brought out the best in me, the best in my horse and suddenly I am so excited about being around my horse that I catch myself going outside to the barn as many as 5 times per day (it's on my property) just to sit and be with the horses. Perhaps to some it would sound corny, but I am already reaping the benefits. My horse is healthy and happy and runs in from the pasture to see me!

What am I doing differently? I am incorporating A LOT of trail riding for both physical and mental fitness. Sometimes we haul out and sometimes just ride out to see the neighborhood sites. We see everythign now from cars and heavy traffic to rocks, bushes, paths up the mountain and natural washes.

Since adding regular trail riding to our program, I am also seeing Jayden's Horsenality Chart results changing. Whereas we would need preparation prior to hauling out and trail riding (to bring some of those dots to the mild side), he is now eager to get in the trailer, backs out calmly and with confidance, ground ties for saddleing and walks down the trail like a champ - curious but focused.

Although my Parelli journey is probably not "traditional" in the natural sense of the word (I came to Parelli after riding what is probably a Level 3-4 equivalent - hunter/jumper, dressage in competition), it's been a valuable and wonderful experience for me. Part of what also has me so excited are the new Savvy Club formats. I can't decide which one I want to be part of?!

Our new goal....we will debut again on the Paint Circuit in September after 5 months on our new program. I am so excited to see how we will do with newfound relaxation, confidance and better timing.

Aee you on a journey with your horse? If so, I'd love to hear your story. Drop me an email to