Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Finally. As I write this, it's 1:01 am, and I'm seriously writing this and then going to BED. I'm too tired to think straight right now. My online and my freestyle are up, and embedded below. Liberty to come tomorrow. I'm still struggling to get it off the camera.

Enjoy! And please give me some feedback, I'd love to hear it!




Okay, perhaps some of the more exciting news in recent times, I'd like to throw a big shout-out and congratulations to Ms Farrah Green, who totally passed her Level 4 yesterday!! She has been waiting for the result on her liberty, and jokingly been telling people for a week now that she has 4.5 feet of her black string. she's got all six! She passed her liberty L4++, which is AWESOME.

Congratulations, girl!

I'm off to go teach now.


PS--I'm through filming my L3 stuff, as well, I'll have those up soon!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Five Fingers, and A Ton of Laundry

Hi all,

Quick informative post tonight, I'm TIRED, and want to go to bed, but not without saying hi to my lovelies! HI!

Long story short, I'm home from Madison for a day, before blasting off for another day of lesson excitingness with Farrah. Right now, I'm waiting for a load of gross, wet, dirty laundry to finish doing its business...hence the title. The place where we stayed is a gorgeous barn, but the drainage systems they have worked out are slightly, erm, questionable, especially when it rains for 3 days straight, so the result is lots and lots of muddy pants cuffs, aaaaannnd super dirty shoes.

Speaking of shoes...I got some new ones this trip. "What shoes?", you ask. Vibram FiveFingers! These shoes are seriously the most amazing thing ever--Time Magazine agreed, too, they were the 2007 "Most Useful Invention". Anyway, for those of you who are familiar with the concepts of Natural Barefoot in horses, it's actually very similar in people. Our foot has tons of tiny little muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, etc, that are designed to MOVE.

Nature intended the human to land heel first...ALWAYS! What traditional shoes (and particularly riding boots!) do is this: They typically jack up the heel and arch for "support", and include a pointed toe, which causes toes to contract and "stick" together. As a result, much of a person's weight lands on the toe/ball of the foot, causing an unnatural position. Consequently, the body strives for the heel-first landing and makes up for it by bracing the knee, kicking the calf and ankle out, and slamming the heel into the ground, sending all kinds of shock and negative compression all through the body. There's a cause for aches and pains if I ever heard one! I challenge you to stop and think about how you walk in your boots/shoes.

What the Five Fingers do is very neat. They are, quite literally, a toe-shoe. They resemble a toe sock, but are complete with a full-strength Vibram sole. The shoe is light-weight and flexible, and encourages the foot to flow in it's normal way, hitting heel-first and weight rolling through to the front, but while providing the support and protection against rough terrain (the anticipation thereof also causes a brace, which is why these are better than just going plain ol' barefoot)

What I've noticed personally is a huge increase in awareness of where my hind-quarters are (so to speak, haha), as well as a HUGE change in posture, flexibility throughout my legs, and overall athleticism. The back pain I've had for several years is instantly gone (interestingly enough, all it takes is to put my boots back on, and it's back). I can easily run double the distance I used to without getting tired, and my riding has taken a huge turn for the better, with my "long legs" emerging quickly, my balance being more refined, and my fluidity much more subtle and easy to obtain.

Natural Barefoot...ALL THE WAY!

If you're interested in reading more detail from the creators themselves, check out the FiveFingers site at

I own a pair of the Women's KSO in Palm/Gray.

Savvy on! I'm off to BED!

PS-More on my trip with Farrah on Tuesday, after my brain has fully recuperated!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Updates from Madison

Hi All,

Life has been crazy the past few days, and is liable to remain so for the next week or more, so I thought I would shoot you a quick update and let you know what's going on in the life of Fran.

Tuesday evening, Farrah arrive at my house to teach private lessons on Wednesday. Her horses stayed at Sherri's. We had a nice low-key evening and hit the hay relatively early. Wednesday morning started at 5:30am, and involved lots of running around setting things up, etc. We got everyone rounded up (including LB's second ride loading up in the back of my car!), the arena set, and all that jazz by 9:00am, and lessons began.

Long story short (I'm going to avoid posting details of people's lessons publicly, if you'd like to hear specifics, please shoot me an email) it was as fantastic day and fun was had by all. Farrah and I ended with an inspirational demo with the 4 of our big horses (LB watched). Crest made an AWESOME cameo, playing double online while I rode Prin bridless. Pictures of all this next week (you'll understand why in a moment)

For the rest of this week and all of next, I'll be traveling with Farrah. We headed out for Madison, WI, on Thursday morning, to spend time at the Midwest Horse Fair, and then teach a clinic next weekend. Our trip down was uneventful, thank goodness. We had a lovely sushi dinner that night, and then hit the hay.

Friday was day 1 of Horse Fair, and Farrah and I both woke up with the beginnings of a cold. Nonetheless, we spent the day handing out flyers, editing website stuff, talking to customers, and promoting Parelli and The Horse First (AWESOME new all-natural boarding facility built by some good friends of ours, check out the link!) After the fair was done for the day, we went out riding and we had a FANTASTIC ride. I rode Prin, of course, and Farrah rode Wesley and turned Caesar loose. We rode like crazy people for an hour and a half, trotting, cantering, galloping (I haven't done that in a year at least!!!!) and just generally enjoying the gorgeous evening. I think the particular highlight was Caesar, overall. He's not a very naturally round horse, and Farrah's poured a lot of energy into getting him to look good and carry himself better, and BOY did that show! He looked FANTASTIC! He and Prin were having "extended-trotathons", and he honestly looked like he'd blow them away in the high-level dressage arena. Awesome.

Saturday, I was super super sick. I could hardly breath, let alone do anything productive. I kind of stuck to myself for most of the day, did some website editing for Farrah, and then moseyed around watching presentations for the rest of the day. We hit "The Old-Fashioned", a restaurant owned by another friend of ours, for dinner, and then headed home and after doing chores, crashed (almost literally!) for the night.

Today is the last day of horse fair. After this is finished, Farrah and I plan to go for a ride and do some playing. This week is going to be fun, Farrah will be teaching private lessons on Thursday and Friday, and then a clinic on Saturday and Sunday, and I'll head home Sunday night.

Somewhere in there, we plan to film all the L3 auditions for Prin and me, and see if we can attempt some Level 4 stuff (we'll see how that goes, I think I may be able to do online and freestyle, but like I said, we'll see). I'll get those videos up ASAP. So anyway, just keeping busy for now. I'm going to finish up editing Farrah's calendar, and then head out to lunch with a Parelli friend of mine.

So, I'll try to keep updated, but if I don't, it's only because life is crazy good :)

Savvy on!


Monday, April 13, 2009

Lovely Liberty

Sherri and I rode the ponies down to her place today so that they can be "readily available" for Lesson Day with Farrah. The ride went pretty well, I rode Crest, Sherri rode Prin. Crest was a bit riled up, but anyway, another story for another time.

I debated going back out for a while this evening. I had a migraine earlier, and was really lethargic, but a bite to eat and some homemade Gatorade did the trick, and at about 7:00, I decided that I wanted to go back out and play a bit.

I decided to take advantage of Sherri's gorgeous play pen, and play with Prin at liberty. Our liberty has been sorely lacking recently, simply because #1, the footing in our round corral was terrible up until last week, #2, I've been too chicken to relive my last liberty session at the Parelli center and #3, with regard to #2, I've wanted to develop a more solid L4 online relationship before taking the line off.

Anyway, in the round pen, Prin was kind of un-responsive at first, but after a brief "Hello? It's ME!" discussion, she was flying, and on a whole new level of liberty I'd not gotten from her in quite some time. Very snappy transitions upward and downward, as well as some GORGEOUS sideways toward (trot/canter at phase 1 and 2!), and a couple of nice spins, and a flying change of direction.

Our draw is a little sticky, so I need to play a bit more with getting "come to me" worth it :) Cookies will help immensely, I imagine :)

Anyway, I'm off to play with the finishing touches on my stupid tax sheets. Gotta get those sent off tomorrow, weeeee! (I sound enthused, but on the inside, I'm gagging).

Savvy on!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Inspired by the Lyrics...

"When you cry, be sure to dry your eyes,
'Cause better days are sure to come.
And when you smile, be sure to smile wide,
And don't let them know that they have won.
And when you walk, walk with pride,
And don't show the hurt inside,
Because the pain sill soon be gone."

~"Dream Big" by Ryan Shupe.

The past two days have been two of the most emotionally trying days for me in a very long time, and it's non-horse related, entirely. In addition to my being my allotted week to be moody, I've been sent lots of challenges to my emotional fitness for whatever the reason. Maybe it was time for a reminder that I'm not invincible, maybe it was time for an attitude check (I'm thinking that's it, actually), but whatever the case, it has really sucked, and I certainly don't pretend to have been right, either.

So, when I'm stressed, upset, angry, or just need to think, I often turn to my iPod. I'm always inspired by lyrics to songs. Even the music on my blog are songs that mean something to me on my journey to whatever I'm after--excellence in horsemanship, with people, as a person, you name it, the songs are meaningful (ask me sometime, there are some cool stories to some of it!)

The song quoted at the top of the page is one that, though I've heard before, didn't really hit home with me until last night, shuffling through my iPod at 2:30am, trying to fall asleep on the couch at my friend's house (HAD to get away). I had had a huge fight, a blow up, a debate, a meltdown, and finally a raucous dance party, and was honestly an emotional piece of work. The song, a pretty country-style, mostly acoustic piece, mellowed my nerves enough to keep me from over-thinking my situation (something I tend to do when I'm not confident or comfortable)and it put me in the state to really take comfort in some music. The lesson approached in this song are SO simple, and things that every person should consider, and remember. That, put into a beautiful song, and it's perfect.

Not entirely sure what the concept behind this blog was, other than to let you know what I've been up to. I'm off to bed now, and am determined to make tomorrow a better day, and be a better person because of this off spell.

Savvy on!

PS--Go check out the full lyrics to that song. Fantastic. I'm going to use it for my L3/4 freestyle audition :D

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It Started as "Touch It"...

...and then got bigger...much much bigger. Muahahaha.

I had another really awesome playday with Prin today. She's been in a very naughty, playful mood recently (ah spring, I love you!) and so we've had a ton of fun PLAYING!

Today started out in what could have been a bad way. Prin pulled the "you can't catch me!" card, and took off (at the speed of a slug on steroids...ooh the trot!). I ran with her instead of after her, and she thought that was pretty funny, so she joined up and we haltered. Almost immediately, Prin revealed that she wanted to play touch it (she pulls off circle toward obstacles), and so I obliged. It looked fun enough. So, I sent her to a barrel from about 40 feet away. Prin trotted over to it enthusiastically, and put her nose on it. She nuzzled the barrel, then got a sassy look about her, and pushed it over. She turned and checked in. I had no idea what she had in store, so I just shrugged and allowed her to proceed.

Prin proceeded to shove the now-sideways barrel with her nose. It rolled. She seemed very satisfied with the result, and did it again...and again...and again...This lasted for 5 minutes, until I had an idea. I decided that we should put it to a purpose. So, I sent Prin to get her barrel, and guided her through the motions, until she brought the barrel to me. When it got to me, I relaxed, gave her a good rub, and a cookie.

*Prin pauses* "Wait...You mean...I get a cookie if I bring you barrels? I'll be right back!" Prin leaves, and takes me to the other barrel. Which she proceeds to knock over, and start to push, this time, bringing it right up to the other one, and setting it almost perfectly next to it. She turns, questions, with the unmistakable look of "See? I did it!" I gave her another cookie, and cracked up laughing. Prin loves it when I laugh, and so she went and started pushing the barrels again. Oh my horse, the comedian. The continued for another 10 minutes. Moral of the story? I think I need to bring my big green ball back into action, my horse is getting cow-y again!

After all that commotion (I've not seen my horse that genuinely amused in a while), we played with zone 5 driving again, which was splendid again. Love my horse! Love spring!

More tomorrow :)


PS--One week to lesson day with Farrah. One spot open still, anyone interested? Auditors welcome, too! SOOO Excited!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On the floor, LEVEL 4! Let's go!

Nope. You don't get the background on that title. Inside jokes remain inside. But maybe you can imagine ;)

So, long story short, Prin was FANTASTIC today. I decided to go out and play with some patterns online at L4, with hopes of continuing the development of our rhythm and flow throughout, and find what kind of holes I've got and start smoothing them over so that my auditions have the best chance for success.

I set out a weave and a figure 8, haltered Prin up (after playing some REALLY AWESOME stick-to-me in the 4 acre paddock!) and snapped the line on. I started out just playing with some transitions online, getting them snappier at the end of the 45', which she immediately fell into, and was totally great about. I also played with some increasing and decreasing circles (like a bulls-eye online)at the trot and canter. She found her rhythm REALLY nicely there. Once she got the idea, I asked her to weave and figure 8 just at like the 30 foot mark, to see if we had any resistance. But much like the rest of the session, Prin led herself flawlessly through the patterns. Awesome! Yay communication.

Next I brought her in and tied the line into long line driving reins. Started out just playing with transitions there, and got her to do several simple changes, etc, before heading over to the patterns. We started with the figure 8 at a walk, which she did pretty much effortlessly. She basically started offering the trot after about the second go-around, and trotted the pattern beautifully. I stopped her at "x" after successfully flowing through the pattern, and then Prin offered something VERY interesting. She started offering to back to me, which, usually wouldn't be a big deal, but I decided to play with it a little. I started to back the figure 8 pattern, and she followed. Once, twice, three times around, without my having to touch the lines other than keeping them out from under foot. It was fantastic! I stopped and gave her a rub, and she licked and chewed really heavily. Did we learn together or WHAT?!

I was so pleased that I took the halter off, and put her back on the spot. She was SO wonderful! I'll try to get some photos today. She's just awesome :)

Savvy on!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Busy Busy!

Just a quick update because I'm a bad blog host. I'll try to get some real information up soon, but for now, just a general update will have to do :)

It's been pretty busy around here. We've had several days of crappy weather, with several days of nice weather. Fortunately, regardless of weather, I've been chained to the computer arranging things for something I'll mention in a minute.

On the nice days, I've been able to play quite a bit. Cricket is doing extremely well with her riding, and has been enjoying daily brushing, online play on the hills, (actually, much to her dismay) and a little bit of light riding here and there to get her conditioned. I plan on taking her on some longer walk/trot rides on varied terrain to get her in condition starting later this week. Prin and Crest are keeping me busy and progressing in the patterns. Prin and I are smoothing out our Zone 5 long line driving patterns in the hopes of auditioning for not just L3, but possibly L4 online. Also, today we uncovered some interesting porcupine games that need some play. I'll report back on that as it goes. Crest and I are just having a fantastic time progressing for once. Every session I've had with him within the past two weeks has built higher and higher. He's a super horse!

My lessons have really picked up now that there's no snow and it's not 20 degrees, too. I'm having a blast teaching and learning from my students and their experiences, and I'm really enjoying being back into my routine. Let me know if any of you want to get back into lessons and training! Always looking for more contacts!

The vet was out today to do vaccinations and pull Coggins, etc. All went fairly well, we've got a few that need some play with needle prep, though! Some of these horses hadn't been handled much at all in the past year or two, let alone vaccinated, so that was an interesting time. I also had him do an exam on Cricket's weird leg, and he diagnosed it as mild string halt that wouldn't get better or worse, and confirmed her totally sound for riding.

Also, recently, (as referenced to in the previously-mentioned computer bondage-hehehe) I've been pulling out all the stops to organize a private lesson day with my primary instructor, Farrah Green. She'll be passing through Pepin on her way to the Midwest Horse Fair, and asked if I'd be willing to set a day up for her. That'll be Wednesday April 15th, weather permitting. I still have two spots available, Cost is $115/90 minute lesson, and well worth every penny. Farrah's incredibly knowledgeable and ready to share! If anyone from our area (MN/WI or otherwise) is interested, please let me know!

Other than that, life is good. Plans are slowly but surely coming together. I'll try to keep this as UTD as possible as we go along here.

Until next time, savvy on!