Monday, January 18, 2010

Natural Horsemanship = Balanced Horse

On January 5th I received notification from Parelli that I passed my Level 2 online!! I'm awaiting my red savvy string and certificate from Parelli for my official Level 1 pass (I skipped straight over this) and then for my certificate for my Level 2 pass online! I passed two levels at once online but until I pass my L2 freestyle I won't receive my blue savvy string. This was a HUGE moment for me!!!

Natural horsemanship has transformed my previously grumpy, sometimes frozen and slightly unconfidant horse into a horse that is equal on both his right and left sides, can be clipped without a twitch, will put his feed on ANYTHING, will trot out when I ask and will follow and stick to me where ever I go....with or without the halter. Last week he came to me while running with two other horses with just a small indicator of body language. He just put the brakes on did a sharp 90 degree turn and zoomed over to me. I almost cried. If you've never had your horse come running to you, it's a feeling you can get addicted to fast.

It's raining here in Glendale and it looks like it might drop 3-5 inches on us before it's all done this week. Probably no riding for me :( I am awaiting my new Parelli Finesse reins, Level 4 materials and 45 foot line. We're working most things at 22 feet and ready to start heading father down the line. I can't wait for it to stop raining and we've got 4 days of storms to go!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Busy Arenas Help Horses Relax

Today was a blast!

Since we stopped boarding horses, I mostly ride alone in my arena. Today however was a blast from the past.

Beth, Marnie and Stacy were all riding while I was doing my warm-up and audition footage. I'd forgotten what fun a busy arena can be and it's great for the horses. Not only do they become accustomed to traffic and other horses moving in and out of their space, they learn to focus on their human and not necessarily what everyone else is doing.

In my video you can see Stacy practicing the Follow the Rail exercise in a halter and lead rope. Watch for her to ride by flipping the rope over Abby's head in the background. This simple exercise alone can help your fluidity and the power of your focus on riding with an independant seat.

Marnie was giving Beth a high-level Dressage demonstration and doing some incredible movements; basically dancing with Spice! Beth was watching but also perfecting her trot and canter with Kolby and I think I was on my own planet!

Today marked my 5th session with Jayden this week and I think I spent about 10 hours total playing with him. We filmed my audition video today, you can see it here. What I loved about this video was watching the level of relaxation my horse has. When I first started out playing with him 3 months ago he was nervous with me in zone 4 (his hip) and zone 5 (behind the tail). Watch me as I move around him swatting the ground with the carrot stick and string. He is relaxed, I can lift his tail and his posture is one of confidance and maybe even a bit bored! Just 3 short months ago I couldn't do this exercise without him flying sideways. He is no longer bothered by things swinging in his hind zones and doesn't kick when tied and frightened at all.

Working this program has definately hightened my communication skills and our joint understanding of him. I can read him so much better, know when to retreat from something (whether an idea, a threshhold or simply pressure) and when to push farther. His confidance as a learner has skyrocketed!