Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Monday, July 28, 2008

LBE Humor

Oh my...

Well I had my final session with my ponies before I leave for Maryland tomorrow morning, and man was THAT an adventure. I rode Crestor and Knightly, and both were full to the brim of LBE humor, hence my title.

Starting with Knight, I came out into the pasture with my pockets bulging with cookies...and the little demon knew it! He's usually an easy goin' little guy, mosies up, says hi, whatever...not this time! I must have had the "I have cookies" vibe going for me, because nosey little Knight pushed his way to the front, stuck his nose into the halter, then started nuzzling my pockets...SO cute!

We played a little on the ground, and then went for a little XC gallop up to Mickey's. He was fabulous, just went along with it like a trooper, he actually tried to chase a car at one point, cow-y little squirt!

Next I took out Crest, and Mickey took Cricket. Oh my GOODNESS did I have a good time with Cresty! It's been about a week since I've actually PLAYED with him (we've been doing a lot of riding, just not a whole lot of PLAY!) and we had a BLAST.

I snapped Cresty up to the 22' line (lacking a space big enough to do anything with the 45' at the moment, since the north paddock is off limits to grow back a bit), saddled him up in the fluidity saddle, and away we went. I started out with some circling (get the blood flowin') and he was PEPPY! It's so much fun to watch Mr. Athletic move under his accomodating saddle, he rounds up and powers with his hind end SO MUCH. Anyway, watching/playing with that was fun, but it also got me thinking (everyone repeat after me: "Oh NO! Not THAT!")

Several weeks ago, someone commented that when I played with Crest on the ground, they thought I sent him RBE when I matched his energy and got him up and playing. I won't disclose their name, but I was thinking about this tonight as we were playing, because you never know, sometimes people see things you don't. But honestly, as I played with Mr. Crest, his eyes NEVER left me. His play drive was up, he was doing cutting manuvers, arching his neck and doing close range circling around me and tossing his head, rearing and pawing, backing up, trotting to me, making quite the show of himself, and I'm sorry, but he wasn't the slightest bit RBE. And very rarely does he go there on the ground anymore. My good friend calls him "Mr. Brightside" for a reason! So I'm especially perplexed as to the origin of that analysis. Ah well.

So anyway, that aside, we had a blast. Just so much energy and stuff, FUN! I ENJOY being LBE with my boy. He's a hoot, and I'll miss playing with him on this trip back east.

Anyway, bedtime, we're up early and on the road, ugh. I'm going crazy already just thinking about it...but I will catch up on my sleep I suppose. See you all next week Thursday :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Oh Happy Day...

Huzzah! Finally! I got it, I got it, I got it! I found out what it was on the Cradle that was preventing a response. My horse LOVES the solid chin strap. Just adores it! She had one headtoss, and it was because I forgot to loosen it before I let her graze, and she went "Oh CRAP! My jaw can't move!" But it was much milder than I was expecting.

I rode on the big rings for a nice little hack out with Richard and she was super light, (Richard rode her and was getting some of the lightest transitions I've seen her do with someone other than me...) and then we came back and I rode in the arena on the small rings, and I couldn't believe the results there. She held vertical flexion with just the slightest amount of pressure, and from my reading it wasn't because she felt like she had to. I was absolutely thrilled!

Also, I reshimmed my saddle. I've been needing to, but haven't found a moment where I could actually stop and THINK about what needed doing, it's all been just "well let's try this for a ride and see how it goes..." because I've had to ride so many horses in a day. So I actually got Prin, my shims, my pad, and my saddle out, and really went to work figuring out what it was that PRIN needed, not just what I could throw in that might work.

What I came up with was kind of interesting. See, Prin doesn't really fit categorically into any of the pre-made Parelli shim patterns available through Parelli Collection. She's an uphill horse now, with little to no muscle loss in her shoulders due to her poorly fitting saddle, so the only shimming I really NEED is that to put the saddle uphill (which is a pain, but I know a standard would have been too narrow) Anyway, as far as shimming for her lack of muscle went, she only needed one thick shoulder shim. Then, I put in a thick wedge a little farther forward than the wedge instructions suggest. I put the saddle on after putting that in, and it was only just a hair downhill, which is mind boggling, because I've had to use upwards of 4 shims previously. (In other words, it pays to be particular!) So, because it was a little downhill yet, I threw in the other thick in the shoulder, and it was gorgeous. It felt better to ride in than ever, and when I took the pad off, Prin's back was one flat, even sweatmark! YES! Why do I have to leave on a trip NOW?! Just when I've gotten things figured out!

Anyway, tomorrow'll be busy, I have to pack, and then spend time with Crest, Cricket, Knight, Buddy, and Scoot (back to the old shimming routine...) so that they get some attention before I go. Hopefully will take some sale pix of Cricket and Knight too. I'll post those if I do get them.

Savvy out!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bridle Wisdom and Problem Solving

Round two...DING!

In the heat of my frustration, I ripped out my November Savvy Times to have a go at Bridle Wisdom before I totally gave up on my bridle. And of course, being an article written by LP, I find every single answer I need, before I get a chance to say "yeah...but" and come up with an excuse to email her! YAY!

Notes and Things for tomorrow:

*NEEDS to be on the Small rings for collection! I did not know this! I figured it would be *better*, but I've seen Linda and Remmer do it on the big rings, and figured it's something one should be able to do.

*Transitions, galore--encourages horse to elevate with the bridle on the small rings.

*Overbending--try a curb strap perhaps? Suggests that it helps "elevate" horses that come behind the bit, (tendency in horses that aren't forward moving...PRIN!)

*Non-Elastic chin strap. Put on loose and allow Prin to get used to feel. Head tossing etc is "normal". To quote the article, " first the horse may show concern when he feels the noseband restrict him and throw his head around or even run backwards. One needs to remain calm and allow the horse to do it, as after several repetitions he will stop, having realized what happens before what happens happens."

*Zone 1 is key in LB dominant horses, so solid chin strap will help. DUH!!!

I feel renewed...Thanks Linda!

Praise and Material Things...

This post may be a bit more philosophical than some of you care to read, and that's fine, but I need to express some thoughts that have been floating around in my mind for the past few days.

Humans are motivated by praise, recognition and material things, and this has become PAINFULLY obvious to me in the past month or so. I am not by any means a wealthy person. I am however a good saver for things which I want, or deem "necessary" in my life. I saved for 2 weeks shy of a year to be able to afford the saddle of my dreams. I have it now, and LOVE it. The changes in my horses are phenominal. And yet today, I couldn't get the shimming right, and I'm frustrated as hell about it. Granted, I'll take 15 minutes tomorrow, and probably get it right, but that's not the point right now.

I just spent $300 on a Parelli Cradle Bridle, promising myself that "You think Prin's light right now in the bit she's got, wait until you get the cradle" Wow...I've grossly overestimated my ability to do finesse, as well as my horse's readiness for a piece of tack of that magnitude. And why? Because I'm human...I'm materialistic...I always have to have the BEST of something. And the thing is, my horse couldn't care less! Of course she couldn't, it's really no surprise, she's a horse, they have no use for material goods, they're motivated by their safety, and comfort level! YARRRGHH! And that's what makes horses and humans so incompatible, and why it's so amazing when the two species CAN interact on a high level, it's when the middle ground is found. (Yes, I am a poet, and I DO know it!)

I am, in short, very frustrated with the Cradle bridle. Mainly because I don't know WHAT is wrong. I know that with correct use, it'll be a brilliant tool for both my horse and for me. And I know the reason I'm not getting a firework display from Prin when I use it is for several reasons, some being lack of good footing, lack of motivation (who wants to move forward with a poorly shimmed saddle and grass all around anyway?) and of course, improper preparation and settings. Now that's all fine and dandy, except that I dont' know how to correct 1/2 of that.

I wear a rubber band around my wrist, and it reads "WWLD"..."What would Linda do?" It's there for me in times like this, to provide me with a much needed smack in the face and the ability to step back and examine the situation with savvy, not with frustration. Well, "WWLD" is screaming at me "You're a student, you (AND YOUR HORSE!) are on a learning curve, and when you don't know the answer, instead of getting frustrated, either with your horse or yourself, you need to take a step back and start researching." But the question remains in my head..."WHERE?! HOW?! WHAT?! What do I research?!" Some of the answers are becoming apparent to me as I write this.

Anyway, my concerns lie in the reason the Cradle is not an instant success. And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I might be able to actually do some research. If you couldn't tell, my entire attitude just did a flip...I'm going to go sleep on it now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cradle Photos--and SPOTS!!

So Micky had some technical difficulties with my camera, but some of these pix turned out pretty well of Prin and me in the cradle.

Also thrown in are a couple cute ones of Phoebe (my student who looks a bit like a mini-me) on Prin, and me on Cricket (who looks a bit like a mini-Prin) We called it our "Blondes on Spots" photoshoot-lol.

Blondes...on spots

Okay, Cricket, you lead a small, sad life, standing next to Prin...she's just so gigantic!

Trying to figure out the light settings on my way-too-complex camera...look at my horse's pretty ears!

Pretty Cradle
Okay, make that muley ears...I never thought she had particularly big ears, but I'm re-evaluating that. Also, pretty Cradle bridle!

Tankalicious! My LORD she's round!

Lighter hands, and also, I need to fix my leg, that just bothers me.

Working on our bends on a smaller circle...good practice for engagment...

One of the first (and best!) truly collected canters I've had...this was a DREAM to ride!

I look pensive, Prin looks her :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Cradle Bridle-Pt 1 of ??


So my Cradle bridle arrived today. It's beautiful, the leather is actually much lighter a brown than I have seen previously, and it looks VERY nice against Prin's chestnut hair.

As far as settings go, I'm pleased with the fit. Prin's on the Middle hole of 5, and it fits perfectly there. So glad I got a a Large and not an XLarge headstall. The 5" C3 bit is great too, so all is right with the world. I had to experiment with chin straps and bit rings though, and here's what I noticed:

*Prin is NOT unusually light on the big rings

*Prin does her best finesse on the small rings

*Prin's mouth is quieter overall

*Prin's mouth is QUIETEST and LIGHTEST on the small rings, with the non-stretchy chinstrap. Must have done more finesse than I give myself credit for...

*Riding on the big rings is "typical" Prin, that I've had since November

*Riding small rings is like having power steering. UNBELIEVABLE

*Prin finds the "engaging your HQ" concept easier with the cradle? Odd because that has nothing to do with her head. Maybe its that I'm not having to ask for the bend as much? I really don't know.

*Prin does not drop her shoulder and lean into turns with the bridle on

As much as I know you all will hate me for this, I forgot my camera in all my excited rush. I WILL take photos of Prin in it tomorrow though, since its SO GREAT and how soft and willing she is in it. She actually seems to LIKE IT a lot!

Oh and a side note...I need to reshim...again...YARGGHHHH!!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Great playday!

I had a GREAT evening play session with Mickey, Prin, and Knightly last night. I was kind of insistant with Mickey that she play with a horse, because the past few sessions, she's come down and watched me and asked questions, which is GREAT, but she needs to get some play time in where she APPLIES the knowledge too-haha. I didn't get to watch much, I played with Prin mostly (more on that in a sec) but what I saw was really great. Mickey started out with Knight, who she's absolutely in love with. They warmed up playing on the 12' line, playing games with cones and working on refining the yoyo game. Knight's got personal space issues, which is hysterical, because he's such a little horse and Mickey's so tall, that it's a bit like a Shetland pony trying to shove over a tree. They did really well on that though, from what I saw.

I played with Princess on getting her to lighten up and be snappier on her transitions and send on the 45' line, and then did some liberty. She's getting more and more extroverted by the day. What's REALLY funny is that last weekend, Linda told me Remmer was getting the same way, so COOL!

I swear, even 6 weeks ago, I never would have dreampt of having THIS MUCH FUN with Prin, and that's saying something, because we always have fun. It seems like we've all of a sudden hit another breakthrough period, and things are just GREAT now. She's becoming more of an extrovert, and we're starting to blossom.

After the ground stuff, we hopped on and I did some bridless riding, and Micky and I played follow the leader (Princess did all the leading, we just sat back and let 'er rip) and then we switched horses.

Knight and I tore around causing trouble (LBEs need something to DO!!!!) and Micky experienced her very first bridless ride!! I was SO PROUD of her. She kept marvelling over how LIGHT and RESPONSIVE Princess was, and almost how comforting it was to not NEED the reins. They walked and trotted, turned, changed directions, did some circles and some backing. I was really impressed with how well Micky did, and also, how great Prin was. She was REALLY responsive to what Micky asked, and took it slow at first when she felt Micky's unconfidence. I'm SO proud of my horse, and of my "little sister" :)

So that was my great session last night. I expect I'll blog again later today about today's sessions. I have a lesson lined up in 1/2 an hour, so I'll talk about that for sure! Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You want to______? LET ME HELP YOU!

Oh yeah...and breath while you do it!

I had an adventuresome session with a VERY RBE Scoot this morning, and I thought my readers might like to hear about my handling my least "savvy" horsenality.

The RBE has always been kind of a rough area for me. I come from owning one EXTREMELY LB mare, and then a gelding who was RBE for about 6 months and then turned mostly LBE (He still has his RBE moments, but they're mild). Handling extreme fear in a horse is not something I'm particularly good at. I know what to do only from hearing Pat and Linda and other people's experiences, and I probably handle it fairly well in retrospect, being a L3 student, but compared to my imagination and creativity for the LB side, RB isn't fantastic.

Today, my plan with Scoot was to build his confidence a bit. I've played with him about 4 times previous to this session, teaching him the principle games and getting some purpose, and have basically found that he's that he's a very smart, sensitive horse, who is easily offended and bothered by too much of anything. My phases have to be perfect, etc. I anticipated him to be a bit like Crest to start out with, but little did I realize, he's almost IDENTICAL.

One of my greatest...erm...(I don't want to say "regrets", Linda's been training that word out of my vocabulary) Okay, one of the things I feel the worst about (and have since learned from) is the arrogance I went into starting Crest with. I was a cocky, arrogant 14 year old who thought she could handle way more than she could, and I've learned through the amount of times that horse has hurt me in one way or another, that I need to rely on the knowledge and information that others willingly have shared, and not think I know everything in the process. So anyway, to my story.

I started out today, feeling like Scoot was just being a bit TOO offended. I mean, there's a good reason when my phases aren't right, but after 4 sessions of earning his trust (Which I do have, he trots to me when he sees me coming)acting like a baby when I THINK about throwing the savvy string over his back in a friendly way, is a bit much.

Those of you who follow the program religiously know that Pat and Linda say to interrupt the pattern when a horse goes RB. Well, let me put it this way. Scoot was LEAPING around on the end of the line...not just prancing a little, he was LEAPING, and I wasn't even trying to get the savvy string on him. I wanted to see him stand still before I even tried that. Well the little Australian voice in the back of my head (yes, I do have Linda in there!) was shouting "INTERRUPT THE PATTERN!!" and I hard as I could...multiple times...and then, all of a sudden, That little voice started to talk again "Fran...if you can't shut it down, then what? Make it your idea!" and I FLEW into action...My energy came up, my intention came up, and my attitude shifted to exactly what my blog title is..."You want to go CRAZY?! LET ME HELP YOU!!!"

Now I was in an area where I have several obstacles...a log, several fence lines, a round corral, a jump, a pedestal, and water tubs and buckets. Well, we went FLYING. I sent Scoot over the jumps, into the fence, through the water trough, between things, over the pedestal, into the round pen. We circled, squeezed, sidewaysed (is that a WORD?!) crazy fast. We changed directions more times than I think Scoot could comprehend. We were basically insane. About 3/4 way through this entire episode, I started to realize how TIRED I was getting, I was really winded. And then another voice came into my head, and she'll be flattered to know it. Farrah Green started saying to me "Breath, Fran...Breath while you do it!" and I couldn't help but laugh. Go figure. I'm running around like a lunatic with my breath held. As soon as I started to breath, so did Scoot, and then all of a sudden, he just stopped and LOOKED at me. He started licking his lips like mad, and I realized something.

I handled a pretty extreme RBE fit CORRECTLY! I scored BIGTIME points with myself, and I'm REALLY proud! All that, and following the little voices of my mentors in my head, which are slowly but surely becoming my own voice.

The rest of my session was uninteresting in comparision. We did some things, yes, but that was what i wanted to share. Hope someone found that interesting, and please tell me what you thought!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Busy Week

Sorry guys, behind, behind, behind. I'm exausted, and really don't have much energy to recap the week's events in great detail, so here's a small, jotty list, comment if you have questions.

*Cricket's abscess popped out on Tuesday, no longer a lame girl
*Virge arrived on Wednesday
*Farrah got sick, and couldn't go to tour on Thursday
*Thought I was going to take her spot on Savvy Team, but couldn't
*Left for tour on Friday
*Hung out with Savvy sisters/had a good chat with Linda, Nita Jo, and Jesse Peters on Friday
*Saturday of tour--Cranky and sleepless, took care of Maylynn, Nita Jo's mare, saw lotsa people, had a couple hysterical conversations with Linda
*Went riding with Lori Wegner on Saturday night...very fun.
*Sunday morning took care of Nita Jo's mare
*Great tour day, got used as a model, and will now NEVER let Pat stand behind me again with the intent to demonstrate how to get a horse to round it's back
*Drove home
*Filmed a new video on Monday
*Gave Scoot his first ride, which had some FUNNY moments...he's a little mother bucker...and yes, you did read that correctly.
*Ordered my Cradle Bridle on Monday afternoon
*Edited video today
*Got an AMAZING message from some one on the forum...Made me cry to think that I could inspire someone like I did her.

Watch my new video here:

If you have questions or want details on anything on that list, post a comment. I'm REALLY tired, and will try to get back on track tomorrow. Thanks loves!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The New Boys!

It's been a busy couple of days around Brown Coulee Farm...we've been hauling horses and shifting paddocks like crazy. I may have mentioned in an earlier blog (I seriously am so wiped out I can't remember squat) but I had two new geldings arrive for training over the past couple of days. So, here's the lowdown.

First horse:

Name: Scoot (I've taken to calling him Zoot Scoot Riot...)
Gender: Gelding
Height: 15.1
Color: Red Roan, hind socks, and a blaze
Horsenality: RBE/LBE

Scoot is the first horse I brought over. We trailered him yesterday, which was an adventure, because neither he or his brother (will delve into that later) have seen a trailer before. Anyway, it took an hour and a half to load him, but I was expecting nothing less, and it was all done with savvy, no force, and he loaded confidently and cooly.

Anyway, after one play session (tonight) I have decided that Scoot is primarily LBE with an RBE reactive side. We learned the Principle games and some yoyo (yes Scoot, my space is MY SPACE!) Some things I've noticed so far:

-No respect for personal "bubble" whatsoever
-bothered by rhythm of any kind, though not an extreme problem.
-blocks approach towards zone 4 on the right side
-very playful/mouthy (picks up EVERYTHING in his mouth)
-EXTREMELY intelligent, learns within one or two attempts
-arrogant as all get out ("You just taught me something, and I learned, but hell if I'm gonna show it!")

Some Pix:

Staring at the herd

Walkin' along

Prin and Scoot shmoozeling...LOVE!

Second horse:

Name: Buddy (Disgustingly fitting)
Gender: Gelding
Height: 15.2
Color: Red Roan overo paint, big wide blaze
Horsenality: LBI/RBI (I say RBI only because he seems "lonely"...)

Buddy is...well...a brute. He was an interesting horse to load today, not because he fought particularly hard, but because he was so quietly and sullenly persistant in saying "NO!" Buddy is a pretty typical LBI, big, brutish, pushy (he sticks his shoulder into ANYTHING and PUSHES) and is kind of a punk. Did load after almost 2 hours though, again, no force, no impatience, he loaded 4 times fully and confidently before I asked him to stay in, and he rode quietly.

The sad thing I did see in him today is when we got him into the pasture, how just...well, unloved he is. Prin, who absolutely FELL IN LOVE with Scoot, literally beat the crap out of him, and wouldn't let him come near her. Poor guy ran the fenceline (even with two other horses in the paddock with him) screaming for the others. I have yet to play with him (wanted to give him the night to settle in a bit) here are some observations:

-kind of a loner, though not by choice
-pushy as sin (I've NEVER met a horse this bad about it)
-curious about other horses
-defensive when it comes to being pushed
-evasive but a "closet curious" about humans type of horse.

He'll be interesting to try to partner with because he's kind of disinterested. Looking forward to the challenge. Pix to come of him as soon as I remember to charge my camera battery. He's a very handsome, beautiful boy.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ugh Humidity

It has got to be 100% humidity out there. Seriously. I spent 2 hours giving a lesson this morning, we came back, and both my poor horses were just DRIPPING with sweat, and we hardly even DID ANYTHING PHYSICAL! That was okay though, because we gave them the water bucket treatment (Oh BOY did they like that!) and then we giggled as they rolled,and then Crest decided it was too much work to get up, and just laid there looking dumb.

Soaked Cricket's foot in the evening, she seems a little better, but of course still lame. Played around with Prin for about 40 minutes, I let Dawnelle (Cricket's previous owner) and Richard both toodle around in my fluidity saddle, which I think I'd better lock up, for all the people who want it. The quote of the evening belonged to Dawnelle, with regard to riding in the fluidity: "Who needs FURNITURE when you can have a SADDLE like THIS?!" A very good question indeed!

G'night, hopefully won't be as so stinky humid tomorrow.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Trail riding and Fluid Reins

Had one very long, busy horsey day today. Got up to the farm around 2 O'clock with every intention of reading for most of the afternoon (BLOODY HOT! DANG!!)and then riding in the evening. Well, I got out there, and Cricket, my poor poor Cricket, was solidly REFUSING to use her lame leg. So, slowly and carefully, I put her, Princess, and Knight in the north paddock, and let them graze, and then called Virge, who, thank GOODNESS is home now. From what I described, Virge said it sounded like Cricket might have a deep absess in her foot. So, this afternoon involved lots of running around looking for epsom salt and hot water to soak feet in. Hopefully she gets better after this treatment.

But now for something completely different, related to the headline of this blog. I rode Cresty tonight on a trail ride. This new saddle has given me OODLES of new reasons to ride him, and I'm not regretting a second of it! The past few rides I've put a bridle and confidence snaffle on him so we can start actually erm, PROGRESSING into our riding. And I'm finding, go figure, that part of our riding issue is caused by Crest's complete and total BOREDOM with what we've been doing. He gets out on trail and he's completely different...he goes "OOH! This is INTERESTING! New places! New things! SPOOKY MAIL BOXES! New sights!" Once he settles into a rhythm though, I've found that I'm able to start some fluid rein concept, and that he GETS IT. Gets it so well, in fact, that I had Mikaela hop on and ride him tonight...she rode him about 3/4 of the distance home, and she did fluid rein, as well as some sideways and back, and she DID NOT stop marvelling about how well he's doing once. And this is coming from MICKEY...Who isn't the most confident rider on an energetic horse. So YAY!

Pix and updates to come soon! Sorry, I'm bad, but hey, I'm BUSY!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pix of Prinny!

These are a day late, (taken yesterday) but what do ya'll think?

First some ground stuff:

Learning to lift a leg (prep for Spanish Walk)

Cantering on the 45' line

zone 4-sh Canter
Zone 4-5ish driving (It was supposed to be 5, but I had toget up on her a little)

Standing, and by the way, look at her topline. See how ROUND she is? Yeah, that's after 14 rides in my fluidity saddle. She's NEVER had muscle like that before, compare it to my header picture. Seriously!

LEAP! She's SUCH a good jumper!

Ta-Da! For the record, I am in the process of teaching the lie-down task. She's at the point where I *could* push her over, but I REFUSE to do it, because I know this horse really well, unless it's her idea, she doesn't learn it.

And now a couple riding shots:

Trotting...even see now, how round her trot is. That's completely new. And I LOVE it.

LOL...I was pointing and giving Crest the evil eye, because he was pondering mischief)

My horse is an amazing jumper...I LOVE it!