Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Saturday, December 11, 2010

11 weeks and No Updates...

Hello gang!

My life of insanity has definitely taken over my blogging time, but when I peeked at my blog the other day, I realized that it had been over 11 weeks since I last updated. Sorry!!!!

Just a brief "catch you up to speed on Fran's Parelli adventure"; I'm now heading into week 9 of my Externship. I'm on campus in Reddick, FL, and learning an amazing amount of information! This has turned out to be exactly what I expected and more, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity.

In reflecting on the past 9 weeks, I cannot begin to decide what I want to blog about. There's SO much to this experience, it's hard to pick just one thing. Not to mention, as with every time a person spends time here, it's not just what you do and learn in the moment, it's the days, weeks, and months of learning afterward that is even more worthwhile to share. (Stay tuned for multiple BFO-themed blogs in January/February/March etc, I'm sure-ha!)

So I've decided to open that decision up to my readers. What would YOU like to read about? The entire event is far too much for a single entry, so I'd challenge you to come up with something specific for me. But I'd love to share the experience, and I want to hear what you're interested in knowing.

Let me know in a comment or an email: and I'll start writing something up.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Update Just For Petra

As I was doing my evening chores last night, one of my blog followers (and new friend!) Petra came up and teased me about needing to update my blogs more often, that a month without writing was simple unacceptable. So, especially for Petra, here I am, updating my blog ;)

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently in Pagosa Springs, CO as a working student at the Parelli Ranch. I've been here since September 7th, am in Pagosa until October 7th, and then I'll leave for Florida. I plan on being with Parelli until January of 2011 at least, hoping to start as an Extern on the 15th of October.

It's been a really wonderful adventure thus far. There are people here from all over the world for the Fast-Track Course, as Externs, Working Students, and Mastery students, and it's been a wonderful opportunity to make new friends, as well as a chance to spend some time with familiar faces.

I currently have Crest on site and Prin will join us in a few days from her current location at a ranch about 10 minutes north of the Parelli Center. It's been a wonderful opportunity to have my horses in such a beautiful place and with like-minded energy. We've had lots of fun playing with all kinds of things, and life is good.

I'm also totally in love with the town of Pagosa Springs itself. At home, I live in a pretty small town, so this isn't culture shock, and I love the home-y feeling. I'm already on a first-name basis with the gals that work at the local coffee shop, and they know my usual order.

So that's what's up for now. Updates on here will be time-permitting, and right now, computer time is pretty limited. But for daily updates, add me as a friend on Facebook!

Savvy on!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where did Crest Come From, Anyway?

 Since the lesson with Linda, I’ve had quite a few inquiries about where Crest came from, as well what his history was. Linda had implied in her blog that he was a rescue, and we never really did give much background on him during the lesson, so I thought a blog to clarify and share might be the way to go!

So just where did Crest come from , anyway? How did I end up with him? This big, handsome bay horse of mine has a kind of colorful history.  Crest was born May 23rd 2001 on a private farm in Kellogg, MN.  He was named “Crest” because he was born the day that the spring floodwaters on the Mississippi River crested in 2001.  He is by a tri-colored Paint stallion named Cherokee, and out of a red roan mare named Frog.  Both parents carry a majority of Thoroughbred lineage—this is why I refer to him as a Paint x Thoroughbred.

The owner of the farm on which he was bred was not a cruel-hearted person. However, he didn’t handle his horses much, and when they were handled, it was not naturally, to say the least.  Crest lived essentially feral as the second and younger stallion in large herd of horses until he was almost 3 yrs old.  His father was the lead stud, and he continually ran Crest off and wouldn’t allow him to be a part of the herd.  I suspect he was essentially run into the poor condition he was in when I met him, and not being allowed to be a member of the herd probably did considerable damage to the young Crest’s mind.

In October of 2003, a family friend of ours (also the ex-girlfriend of the farm’s owner), bought Crest. She was really the one who “rescued” him, not me.  He was loaded into a trailer (I’m still not sure how exactly they did it) and brought to Pepin, WI. When he arrived, he was a scrawny, wormy, sick-looking 3-year old stallion.   He was gelded, and then turned out into a pasture with two dominant mares who also liked to beat up on him.  The photo at left was taken a month after Crest arrived at our friend's place.

Our friend is a very kind person with lots of knowledge in holistic horse care, and is also interested in Parelli.  She nursed him to a place of better health physically, but Crest had some very intense mental and emotional scars, and she knew that she had gotten way more horse than she could or wanted to handle.  She called me the following summer (2004), and wondered if I’d be interested in giving training Crest a go for her. 

I was almost 14, and just finishing level 2 at the time. Though I had played with several dozen horses, and had started a few youngsters, including my levels mare, Prin, I had never dealt with a horse of Crest’s extremity before. Hindsight being what it is, I probably was not cut out to deal with a horse as fearful or as extreme as he, but at 14, I was cocky and bullet-proof. So I took him on.

I agreed to put 30 days of training on Crest. I remember the first day I played with him. Another “trainer” that I knew was there as well, and I opted to let her give him a shot first. Truth be told, I didn’t know what to make of him. Evidently, neither did she. She tied him to a corral post, slapped a western saddle (back cinch and all) on his back, and turned him loose in a round pen.  What I watched happen next is something I always keep in the back of my mind today, as a reminder of what he’s capable of: Crest bucked, and he bucked HARD. A minute passed, and he didn’t stop. Then two minutes.  And then the saddle came sailing off over his rump.  He had bucked so hard that he had managed to BREAK the back cinch, and loosen the front one enough that it slid back and over.  Once the saddle was off, he ran a couple more laps and then stopped at the gate, head out towards the corral, dripping with sweat and literally shaking.

Not knowing exactly what the right thing to do was, but also knowing that what had just happened was not right, I went over and snapped a lead onto his halter, and said “Okay, I think I’d like to try some things now.”

A long story short, after not thirty, but ninety days, Crest and I had still not made much progress.  I had taught him the 7 games online to a level 1 standard, but he was still very reactive, very spooky, and prone to go into a frothing panic if something worried him. He was terrified of anything touching his back legs, and of course anything on his back.  We had hardly made ANY headway with him carrying a rider. I could sit on him, but he was so claustrophobic that if my legs touched him at all, I was in for quite a ride. Obviously not at all what a person has in mind when they start a riding horse.  

Anyone who knows me knows that to give up on something is just not in my nature.  But after being hurt at least twice a week for the final month, I was beginning to have some realizations.  I realized that Crest was WAY more horse than I had given him credit for. I realized that I did not have the savvy to help him be a partner for myself, let alone someone else. I also realized that he had the potential to be a super horse—I’d never met a horse so sensitive before, nor one with as much versatile athleticism and as natural a mover as Crest.  And finally, I realized I had two options: either I would dedicate myself to learning what he needed, or pack up and go home. 

So I did what any obsessed Parelli student would have done:  I threw aside everything that had already happened, abandoned the “must be trained” timeline, and I bought the horse for myself! Crest came home as mine on July 22nd, 2005.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), our story still hasn’t been the “happily ever after” scenario that we might have hoped for.  Crest has constantly challenged me to grow and evolve every time we reach a new level, especially when it comes to being ridden.  He still has residual baggage about having something on his back, there have been a number of scary “near misses” we’ve had, as well as one really bad accident, and there are still days when I don’t know what to do with him.  This is part of why his online and liberty are so advanced, but his under-saddle savvys are not—his confidence blossoms and play drive emerges when we play on the ground.

But our lesson with Linda has led to a much greater understanding of why he does what he does when he’s ridden, and it has led to a strengthening of bond and understanding that we both had only dreamed of before.  It has allowed me to let Crest be the horse that he is, and help him by shaping his innate character for the positive, and becoming a leader that he can feel confidence in. Now, not only am I riding Crest, but we’re riding and doing things with more confidence than ever before—we’ve even cantered bareback with relaxation on a trail ride now.

I hope this clarifies and gives answers to some of the questions people have had about Crest, and I hope it also sheds some light on why this was such a complex, but necessary lesson for Linda to teach in the way that she did. Crest’s layers run deep, and he carries some heavy baggage, and he and I both needed to be taken to that limit, but not over. Linda delivered perfectly, I know that I’m grateful every day for those 3 intense hours in that arena in Columbus Ohio.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Born to Fly

Hi folks,

More blogs coming soon, I PROMISE. I've started two that I need to finish.  But for now, I wanted to give you a little treat. Or...well..I think it's a treat, I'll let you make the final judgment ;)

Below is a video of me playing with Sunny on the day that I took her home.  She taught me lots while she was here. Some of the big things were being in the moment, as well as an acute sensitivity to personal space, and understanding comfort/discomfort motivation to a new level.  I'm very proud of what the two of us were able to accomplish in our time together, and I hope that her owner finds as much joy in playing with her as I did :)

Please let me know what you think!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Truck of My Dreams

Just for fun and off the topic of horses somewhat.

I've been sort of half-shopping for a truck for a couple of years now, but not until this summer did the push really start to get to me. (well, actually, all through the winter I lamented that I needed 4WD, but really...) I have a trailer already, (is that like getting your cart before your horse?) and I hate having to ask people to transport my horses everywhere, especially on longer trips.  I've been searching casually for a truck on craigslist and a couple other sites since April, and have gone so far as to call on a couple of ads, but not much has come of the search. 

I had gotten pretty much fed up with sifting through pages of ads, and was ready to start giving my specifications to dealer owners to see if they could find what I needed...I didn't think it was that complicated--2003 or newer Dodge Ram with a Cummins diesel motor, (prefer a one-ton but 3/4 was fine) in good mechanical working condition under $20,000.  I had some other specifications too, but they weren't the set-in-stone kind; I'd prefer a long box and crew cab, but wouldn't turn down a working short box in the right range. I wanted an automatic, but could learn to love a manual,  I would love to get something with a goose-neck ball already installed, but obviously was set to put one in if it didn't have one. I liked blue, silver, or white for color, but would take anything functional. You know, that sort of thing.

That is until Monday night.  It was pretty late, probably about midnight or a little later, and I was getting ready to tuck in for the night. But for whatever the reason (I, personally, am a believer in the Law of Attraction to some extent...) I got the itch to check craigslist for the first time in several weeks.

And there it was.  I knew it was the truck for me without even opening the ad (it was that "that's it!" feeling).   But when I did, my jaw hit the floor.  2003 Dark blue Dodge Ram 3500 Cummins Dually (BEAST!).  Crew Cab, long box, gooseneck ball already installed, and totally set up to tow. A truck that, mileage and condition included, blue-books for $17,000 for sale for $12,000.  The small used-car dealership had just bought it as a re-posess from Chrysler financial, and they weren't even finished prepping it to sell.

I went Tuesday morning to take it for a test-drive, and Wednesday,  I was back with a check.  Though the truck has high miles, everything about it is mechanically perfect. I'm still getting used to all the POWER in that thing, but I love it.  I've named her "Kat"... the acronym stands for Kick-Ass Truck, and it's a very fitting name--she doesn't roar, she purrrrrrrrs!  The photo above was taken just after test-driving on Tuesday,  and deciding that she was indeed my truck. 

I didn't waste any time getting Kat home and putting her to work. My trailer has been sitting in the same spot for 5 years (actually belongs to Richard,  my barn owner, and his truck doesn't have a gooseneck ball in it right now) and so we hitched up and pulled the trailer out to give it some TLC.  Spectacularly, the trailer is in great working condition, though it will need some more extensive work before I take it anything farther than locally.  I spent the majority of the afternoon yesterday pressure-washing the heck out of it, and it looks better, anyway. The photos at left shows the rig all hitched up--the top was taken pre-wash. The photo below is a fun one, taken by my friend Sherri, who generously let me use her pressure washer to get the project started.  It was definitely a  satisfying and productive afternoon, even if we did all get a little bit wet!

This afternoon was my first time hauling the rig with horses in it. My friend, mentor, and instructor, Kristi Smith, is here for the weekend to teach workshops and lessons, and instead of my usual afternoon spent riding my horses into town, I got to haul them myself. Thank heavens both of my horses are good travelers, because Franny was a little bit nervous, hauling my very own rig for the first time! (Interesting how driving someone else's doesn't phase me!) But all is well, and it's fun to have a little base to call "home" at the event :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

We're Featured on Linda's Blog!

Linda wrote a blog featuring the lesson she gave Crest and me!  Too cool, and a VERY informative read :)  Check it out!


Would love to hear what people thought! :)


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ohio Recap Pt 2: While We Wait for the Arena...

This month is proving to be a busy month for facility maintenance and upgrade at the barn. We're in the process of re-fencing a permanent dry lot for equines, as well as taking out a couple of old lines, and while we're doing that, we're (FINALLY) putting in a fenced outdoor ring.  There's a flat spot at the bottom of my playground that I've always used as my "Arena", but it proves difficult for things like Follow-the-Rail, and corner-to-corner, which actually require rails and corners! So I'm thrilled that we're actually adding those elements! More to come on the Heart and Desire Horsemanship Blog as construction begins and progresses!

 Anyway, most of the things that Linda had initially suggested for exercises while riding Crest are exercises (partial disengagement!) that are better set up for success, especially with a more impulsive horse, if they're done on a rail.  What needs to be done is this:  First, starting out, we need to establish some walk/trot/walk transitions.  In the downward transitions, I'll use partial disengagement  to "push" Crest down into the walk from trot, starting in his ribs and inside hind leg. I'll hold that until he can easily flow and relax in the walk, and he stretches his neck down. (See photo--though it looks like he's about to bash his head on the panel, I promise he was just stretching!)

Once those are smooth,  I need to ask Crest up into a canter, using proper fluidity and core strength, cantering in my body (as opposed to the  semi-fetal, fear-based squeeze and scream that I used to do, that usually results in Crest trotting like a dressage horse on steroids, and me about falling off). Once in canter, I'll allow a couple of strides at most,  and use the same partial disengagment concept to bring him down to walk again. Rinse and repeat.

However, as I mentioned before, all this requires a rail of sorts. So whilst we wait for our arena, Crest and I have been preparing to ride by playing with partial disengagement online. I must confess, I felt like a total fool the other night when I had this realization. Parelli is so much about preparing online for what you want to do in the saddle, and yet I had not connected the dots from the ground exercise of partial disengagement to the saddle. I had taught both of my horses partial disengagement online months ago, as a means to encourage longitudinal flexion online. But I had not used it as a means to encourage relaxed transitions!  So, that's what we're playing with now.  Crest learned very quickly what I was searching for,  and currently (as of 7/7/10, last I played with him), he's doing beautiful trot/walk transitions, beautiful (SMOOTH) canter/trot transitions, and is starting to find some rhythm in his canter/walk transitions, all on about 18 feet of the 22' line. 

So that's where we're at for now.  The journey SINCE the lesson has been so fulfilling in and of itself, I just am loving this process :)

So savvy on, and keep your eyes peeled for another addition to the "Ohio Recap" series, as I come to understand and dissect Crest's tendencies as a learner!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ohio Recap Pt 1: Processing, etc

I know my followers are going to kill me for this post. It's going to be a far cry from the "I can't wait for what Fran blogs about after that lesson!" post that a lot of people mentioned to me at the Ohio Celebration!

This week has been a far cry from break-through week. I've learned since being at the Parelli Center, that more often than not, "seeds" of knowledge are planted in your head, and you've just got to trust that they'll come about and grow when the time is right. I knew this lesson wouldn't be an exception to that, so instead of going out and immediately trying everything that Linda had us playing with, I've opted to take a slower approach, and allow the information to sink in as I go S-L-O-W-L-Y with Cresty.

The main things we HAVE played with have been finding responsibility and asking questions with the Patterns. That's something that I was confident enough in to begin with that I feel like I can support him through it. For those that weren't in OH, basically Linda commented that Crest wasn't asking many questions online, and that I was greatly over-using my stick to micromanage him though the motions, but he wasn't really thinking about the pattern. Using the figure 8 pattern, Linda had me interrupting Crest's pattern of continuing to circle, and then send him through the cones, and tag the center of the pattern...that way if he didn't put effort into it, he'd get tagged.

That's going well, today will be magic session #4, and I'm sure, just like with everything else, that we will begin seeing some understanding. Our previous 3 sessions have provided some small changes (the first session being the one some of you saw in OH), I'm having to interrupt him coming around the cones a lot lighter and less often, and he knows what he's supposed to do when I do, so I HARDLY have to bring my energy up and he goes through the cones. I call it success :)                                    

Other than that, I've not been on Crest's back since the lesson. Mentally, for me to go that introverted MYSELF, for HIM, was very trying, and I'm just allowing the experience to process and sort itself out before I dare go and play with what we learned there. Hopefully as things sort out a bit, and I understand more for myself what I'll need to do to help his many layers become confident, I'll have a more thoughts on the experience for you. For now, all I can say is that slow and right definitely beats fast and wrong, and I'm looking forward to what the future holds, but I need to think before I act.

So for now, keep it natural.  Stay tuned for a Part 2, and who knows how many more!  Stay savvy!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Website, New Blog, Exciting News, etc

Howdy folks. Yes. I did abandon you again. I had some things to sort out, here. But, the good news is, I am here now. Alive, well, happy, and ready to continue to learn, and progress in my crazy journey.

So, First order(s) of business. Who's game for some updated material?

I have a brand spankin' new business name, new website, and new blog to go with it!

I am now proud to call my business Heart and Desire Horsemanship. My website is getting the finishing touches put on, so if you go check it out immediately, bear with me if there are a couple of blank pages yet. You can view it by clicking here: HEART AND DESIRE HORSEMANSHIP WEBSITE Take note of the URL while you're there!

Secondly, new blog! A place for me to share all things going on with my business--Trainee horses, posture and trimming experiments with my own horses, lesson highlights, and learning opportunities. Check that out here, and FOLLOW: HEART AND DESIRE HORSEMANSHIP BLOG

Thirdly, I have some HUGE news! HUGE HUGE HUGE!

Crest and I have been accepted, and invited to participate as "Linda's Lesson" at the Parelli Across America event in Columbus, OH! You want to talk about one proud, excited mommy! I've been hoping for an opportunity like this for years with this horse. I told Parelli that my goals for the lesson were to gain some insight into a more safe, enjoyable, and eventually, progressive riding experience with Crest. Since his online and liberty are L4 quality material, I'm struggling to find where there might be a hole in our communication on the ground, and so am searching for thoughts from atop zone 3 to progress us beyond Crest's emotional tendencies. This'll be a wonderful opportunity to have a lesson with someone who is considered a master! I can't wait, and of course there'll be a play-by-play post (novel?) and many pictures to follow!

So, was that enough of an update for you? Will I see any of you in Columbus?

Savvy on!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Something to Tide You Over...

Hi Folks,

Though there is plenty to blog about, I'm pretty flat out around here, so the probability of me writing much for the next couple of weeks isn't too high.

For now, here's what you need to know:

~I'm in Wisconsin (home) for 3 days this week
~I was at Kristi Smith's in Iowa through this past weekend, assisting in her workshops
~South Dakota is alright--I've learned a lot, and we've had a foal born on the premises who's been my greatest teacher, along with Crest.
~My goals and time-line for the summer have shifted drastically, more details as I work things out myself.

In the mean time, here is a video of Crest and me playing at liberty last weekend. Some of you may have seen this if you follow my life on Facebook, but I thought it would be nice to post here, too. Enjoy, and I'd really love to hear your feedback. My relationship with Crest has becoming extremely important to me at this phase of my life, and I am so proud of how far both of us have come, in seeing this video!

So, that's it for now. I'll be back from SD in a couple of weeks, and my life should resume with relative normality. I hope everyone is well!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Yes, I'm Alive!

Hi everyone!

Just wanted to pop in and let you know that I'm still alive. Insanely busy, perhaps, but alive, none-the-less.

Things are going pretty well here at Heartland. The facility is absolutely gorgeous, and the people and horses are wonderful to be around. I'm playing with between 3-8 horses a day depending on the day, doing some facility maintainence (Fancy phrasing for "grunt work"!) and some work on Heartland's website, as well as taking lessons and developing my own horsemanship.

The current excitment around the barn is that we've got a mare who's due to foal literally any time. My guess is that she'll go tonight, she's starting to act a little "labor-y", getting cranky, defensive of her space, and isn't eating so much. I'm on the "foal watch" crew, which basically means I've been keeping really odd hours the past couple of nights, and have to be ready to spring into action at any moment. I'm well over-due for a nap, to say the least. I'll keep posted here as things progress, and yes, of course I'll have a camera at hand!

Today is technically my day off, and I just returned from a really nice ride out with Farrah, Farrah's husband Michael, and another gal who works here named Dana. It was a beautiful (albeit EXTREMELY windy) afternoon, and we had fun taking our horses out for a trek around the property and through the beautiful fields. Prin was wonderful and we played with some lead changes in the field, and are playing with developing her canter some.

So that's what's up here. I'm off to take a nap for the rest of my afternoon off so that I can stay awake tonight. I'll try to get this up and blogging again more often, but it's been really hard to find time to do more than check email occasionally, so I'll do my best!

Savvy on!

Friday, March 19, 2010

My South Dakota Adventure

So I've mentioned it, now it's time to elaborate some.

Prin, Crest and I will be leaving for Heartland Ventures (Click link to check the place out!) on Tuesday, March 23rd. I'll be working full time as kind of an all-around helper--Farrah I think referred to me at one point as the "Sha-BAM Instructor-in-Training". Yes, that will go on a name-tag, just watch!

Anyway, my duties will be as follows: playing with the young horses Farrah started (a few 3-year olds, several other yearlings/2-year olds), general barn-management/maintenance stuff--feeding, turning horses out, grooming, cleaning up, stalls (I am nothing if not ace at picking stalls by now), as well as developing my own horses, assisting Farrah while she's teaching, and keeping things running smoothly. Like I said, pretty general responsibilities, and all-in-all more great experience.

So that's what I'll be up to. I'm not sure how long I'll be there, (pending when I leave for my externship), but I look forward to it! I shall keep you posted as best I can--I intend to keep an album of pictures on my facebook page as we progress and move along in this adventure, so please add me as a friend if you haven't already, and keep track of it that way, too :)

Savvy on!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Elvis is For Sale!

Right side Confo

**If photos don't format correctly, click on image and it will open in a separate window**

**I'm Advertising this horse for a friend/student of mine**

Elvis is an 11-year-old Arab/Appaloosa Gelding. He stands about 14.2hh, and 1000lbs. He is dark bay with a star and two small white socks.

Elvis has been brought through Level 2 of the Parelli Program, and is a Left-Brained Extrovert. He has lots of confidence and energy, and loves to be played with. He’s a very brave horse. He knows the seven games up to a 22’ line, handles scary obstacles in stride, and has been ridden freestyle in both a Parelli hackamore and a snaffle bridle. He’s been ridden on trails, and was used in two lessons with 3* Parelli Professional Farrah Green in 2009. He is currently ridden in a western saddle, including a back cinch.

Though Elvis is a smart, playful guy, I wouldn’t suggest him for a total novice. He does best with consistency, and enjoys being played with on a daily basis, and appreciates a leader who can offer him variety and mental stimulation.

Elvis is only for sale because current owner is looking for an older, more reliable mount horse to introduce her husband to Parelli and riding.

Asking $1300, negotiable to a loving, Parelli home.
Contact Fran with any questions regarding Elvis.
Email: Cell #:715-495-0094

More photos below!



Back between the tires


Sunday, March 14, 2010

What a Week!

Life went from "busy" to "insane" this week, and since I've been eluding to some new opportunities on Facebook, I just wanted to share what I can about them :)

First of all, my externship audition package is off! I sent it out in the middle of the week last week. So begins the game of waiting. Usually I'd be nervous and unable to get it off my mind, but with all the stuff that's going on around here, I'm actually having to use that as a positive reminder to myself to get my mind off the STUFF I've to be doing! I'll keep you posted, hopefully I'll hear back on that in a couple weeks.

Secondly, I am relocating to South Dakota sometime in the near future! (I'd be more specific, but my coordinator is being a little vague with me about timing) Farrah called me a couple weeks ago and made a pretty interesting proposal. Apparently Farrah was asked to take up the position of barn manager at her current facility. Trouble is, she's taking that as well as instructing full time, and playing with their young horses, and even though Farrah is the queen of getting way more than I could get done in a 24 hour day, that's still just too much. So she asked if I'd be interested in coming out, taking up some of the management responsibilities, as well as finishing the young horses she's started. I'll be bringing Prin and Crest with me, and in exchange for my work, Farrah's offered me a series of lessons. I'll use that to finish up my L4 and get Crest going, I think. Talk about an awesome opportunity and more experience, which I'm so excited for.

Finally, slightly less for the positive, Prin has been sick. I'm still not entirely certain what's wrong, whether it's an upper-respiratory infection brought on by moldy hay, COPD coming on from the moldy hay, or some other kind of allergic reaction. In any case, she's been snotty and coughing some, right now I've got her on antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory, antihistamic, and soothing herbs. Poor little lady. I have lots of faith that she'll be okay, but it's just sad to see them when they're not alright.

So that's what's going on here. As I find out more of what's going on, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Extern Audition Video

Hey All,

Just wanted to share this--in addition to the compulsories, I put together some "Just for fun" clips with my horses to go with my Externship Audition film. I felt like even though our compulsories looked really good, I wanted to showcase some of the things I'd been playing with my herd beyond that.

Check it out, and I'd love to hear your feedback!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Well That Was Humbling...

So I did something different today.

I went out to the barn and had my mom film me just for the heck of it. I saddled Prin up, bridled her, and rode some patterns at a L2 standard--casual rein with Carrot Stick, like what's required as a compulsory for the extern audition. It's been about 3 months since I've had enough decent footing to play with anything other than isolations and follow-the-trail, so I wasn't expecting perfection by any means...

As the title implies, I was given a bit of a check to the ego. Not only does my riding look horrific (Tell me, Fran, have you ever ridden in a saddle before?), I seem to have forgotten how to be NEUTRAL!

I confess, I've neglected my fundamentals a little. I've done so much bridless riding on Prin that I forgot how to ride casually with reins and a bridle! I found myself lifting my reins before switching my focus, lifting my reins before asking her to turn with the stick, lifting my reins to stop, lifting my reins, lifting my reins!!! Arrrgh! Beautiful excuse for my LBI to lose impulsion, I'm so sorry, dear Prinny!

So, needless to say, I'll be teaching myself to ride again this week! I'll probably continue filming it, too. It's really good friendly game for me, because I tend to get kind of bracy in front of a camera, too. So, I shall keep you posted.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Progress with Cresty

Hi folks!

The past week has been a really educational week for me with regard to that big bay horse of mine! I'm still in the process of becoming "unconsciously competent" with the information I've learned, and since a recap of the sessions would be ungodly long, I'll hold off on writing this as a "I actually know what I'm talking about" sort of article for the time being.

Here's just a quick, overall recap of what's come in our relationship, and things we've been focusing on and playing with.

**Bringing confidence in zones 3 and 4 to a new level
**Expressing himself with obstacles (Vs. me telling him what to do with them)
**Emotional balance in the canter online to a new level
**Maintain gait, maintain direction, more laps, 22' and 45' lines
**Western pleasure gaits (!!!!!!!!!) More on this in a later post--this is important!
**Purpose to the circling game
**Levade (okay, I admit it, this one is for my own entertainment!)
**Excellence in sideways from Zone 1

Our progress has been huge on an emotional level for both of us. I made some discoveries about myself when he becomes emotional, in that I have a tendency to want to just put him back and not deal with it--talk about dumping my horse off a cliff when he needs a leader most! Time for me to start finishing what I've started--and the results have been FANTASTIC. Crest has gained tons of confidence in my leadership, and the things he's been offering throughout the past week have been amazing...yesterday he began to stretch downward, slow down, and use his back in the canter online. I've NEVER seen him do that, even in the pasture on his own. He also offered a western pleasure jog at the end of the 22' line yesterday. THAT definitely passed the mental "Does that horse look rideable?" test in my book, although I'm holding off from riding him for now.

So. That's what we've been up to. I will continue posting, probably in smaller, specific-task/behavior oriented posts, since this horse has so many interesting behaviors to consider! It's certainly taken some time, but I'm beginning to see this horse in a different light, and I think I'm actually, dare I say, enjoying the complexity?

Savvy on!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Slow and Right...

"Slow and right beats fast and wrong, and slow and right BUILDS fast and right, and NOTHING beats fast and right!" ~Pat Parelli

Over the past few days, I've gained a new appreciation for that Parelli-ism. You see, I've been hitting a new level of incompetence with Crest. It seems to happen more often with him than with my other projects, which is not all-together to shocking, but this particular bout of incompetence has been a bit more extreme, in that I couldn't simply step back and research my way out of it.

To be honest, this all started with my realizing that I'm unconfident enough that I cannot canter on Crest and feel safe, and I feel like that's really holding us back from progressing into L3 freestyle.

It's cause by different things for both of us. For me, it's fear. I've never been hurt cantering on him, but I've had too many near misses and little hits to my confidence that have built up over time, as well as not recognizing fear and plowing my own thresholds. That's an easy enough problem to solve with approach and retreat mentally--but then actually fixing my fear on his back is really hard, especially since it's not a worry about my ABILITY to canter (put me on any other horse and I'll canter standing up, backwards, forwards, you name it, all with confidence), but in my ability to canter ON HIM.

For Crest, it's an emotional issue. He comes unglued really fast and really easily with a rider. You've probably heard me elude to that fact in prior posts. It used to be that he had a hard time controlling his body--he'd get very emotional even cantering online, but after spending the early summer with Farrah, and spending the majority of the fall developing his online to L4, that's not much of an issue anymore. When I get on his back, though, he falls apart. I'm sure I'm not helping. I tend to want to canter, but only a little bit, so to speak. That trust isn't there 100% a lot of the time.

The issue I was faced with was how one builds confidence as a rider, while helping the horse become a less-emotional individual WITH a rider. To me, it seemed like the kind of thing that shouldn't be solved at the same time, but the problem was, I couldn't seem to find another way to do it.

I sent emails to 3 friends of mine who are Parelli professionals, seeking their thoughts and feedback. Two of the three gave me really really good philosophical thoughts to with these thoughts now line the frame on my monitor as I type this. The third came back with "hands-on" information, and this is where "Slow and right" comes in.

We often generalize that extroverts need to move their feet. They are, after-all, extroverts. What I seem to forget, apparently too often, is that confident, Left-Brained horses are not always confident left-brained learners. In fact, in Crest's case, he's not a confident learner at all.

The FIRST thing my friend said in her email was this thought-provoking paragraph:

"You have to make your horse's confidence primary. When you get him calm, confident and trusting, it will be easier for you to trust him. I think that you're not paying enough attention to his emotional state and pushing him over thresholds that you are probably not even aware of. Slow down, make it easier for him. Break things down in to little chunks. And where necessary, get off for HIS confidence - which probably goes before yours. And when I talk about his confidence, it may not be that he's afraid, as in prey animal afraid, but that he's lost confidence in your leadership."

...Naturally. We've been through this before. I think there's a blog entry from early 2008 with nearly the same advice with regard to a different subject.

So for the past week, Crest and I have been taking it SLOWLY. When I say slowly, I mean observing MICROSCOPIC behaviors. I've re-watched some key demos in the Liberty and Horse Behavior pack, and have actually incorporated some things Pat has done with Casper into our liberty play, here, as well as lots of short pattern-oriented rides. Haven't seen any huge effect yet, but again, "slow and right..." We'll get there, it's been a great lesson in dropping the time-line (which I hadn't even realized I had on him!)

Interestingly enough, the effect that this has had on Prin is for the better, too--I think my introvert is feeling a little resentful--"Sure, you'll finally slow down if it's HIM?" ...nah, kidding! But seriously, she's doing really well as a result, too--the giddyup and go that she's got in her draw, flying changes, and circling game are pretty impressive. It's only taken me 7 years and another horse to teach me the lesson, but hey!

So anyway, with that said, I'm off to go play with a couple ponies.

Friday, February 19, 2010

...and Fun Was Had by All

Today has been an absolutely remarkable day. I had two awesome plays with Prin and Cricket, and they're soooo worth sharing about.

I started out this morning playing with Prin. Last night I got a round of inspiration to start playing with some Finesse again, for whatever the reason. I've been avoiding the savvy as much as possible because I tend to turn into a scary person when I ride with contact. I've been focusing my attention to the details and pieces of successful finesse since November, and it suddenly dawned on me that all of my primary pieces were in place at suggestion level. I also came up with some new ideas for ways to develop lateral maneuvers without a rail to follow (I felt brilliant!), and wanted to play a little with it, at the walk, just to see what we could get.

Prior to today, when I'd pick my reins up at the beginning of our session, Prin would be fairly heavy. I'd have to do a fair amount of suspension rein and duck-landing transitions before she would be light enough in her front end to even handle "coiling the spring" so to speak, and collecting up.

Today, I just lifted my reins and her head came in, when I picked up contact, I felt her ENTIRE FRONT END come up to meet my hands. Not that I didn't believe it was possible, but I've NEVER felt anything like that come out of Prin before. It was exhilarating and we hadn't even moved yet!

We rode some figure 8's, focusing on keeping zone 5 closest to the barrel (focusing on keeping weight back and HQs flexible), and she felt REALLY solid. Did several more figure 8's with leg yields through the middle, and then played with the weave pattern, doing haunches and shoulders in through the cones. This all went really well, the neatest thing I found was that she was actually a little TOO flexible in her lateral stuff--it used to be that she couldn't do haunches and shoulders because she was so braced and locked up. Though she's still not 100% correct, I consider over-flexibility to be a HUGE step in the right direction for her. And the best part was, neither one of us ever lost our patience or our confidence. HUGE HUGE HUGE. It was awesome, and a huge success!

Next, I played with Cricket. I'm in the process of developing her into my lesson horse troop for 2010, and so I've been playing on developing her knowledge for patterns in online/freestyle up to Level 3. She's doing really beautifully online, especially, but recently she's been getting a bit presumptuous about the circling game, and has lost a lot of her play drive. I'm sure I've just drilled her a bit, is all, so today, I set out to make it right and bring her curiosity back out.

I used the touch-it game as my motivator. Cricket is innately a very dominant LB horse, set into some very resentful, almost RB-esque patterns from poor previous handling. I chose touch it because it allows for a horse's dominance to come out through the nose, something Left-Brain extroverts especially have a tendency for.

At first, she wanted none of it. Though she would touch the cones, she would do it with a "Why would I WANT to do that?" expression on her face. But as the game progressed (cones, barrels, round corral panels, tree limbs, etc), her curiosity started to take over, until she was getting a bit playful. Below are a couple of photos I snapped as we played toward the end of our session. The photo with the barrel was taken right before we quit. She had knocked it over, and had pushed it about 10 feet, before settling in to bite it. The one with the cone was taken just before she knocked it over, and then picked it up. Isn't she just the cutest?


"I'll knock it over, then bite it!"

As you can see, we had fun :)

Alright, off to bed. Savvy on, folks!

Parelli's Newest 3* Professional

Hey all,

I just wanted to share some super exciting news. I talked to Farrah Green today, and she shared with me that she received her 3* PARELLI PROFESSIONAL RANKING yesterday!

If there's anyone I know who deserves that promotion, it's Farrah. She's been working hard to achieve that for 3 years, and it's so time for this. She's 3* and more in my book, and I'm SO PROUD AND HAPPY for her. She is amazing. I cannot wait to see what she continues to offer the horse world with this. Congrats, Girl!

Farrah and her two super horses, Caesar and Wesley.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Somewhere in Level 4, Precision is Born

Hey all,

Just wanted to share a few photos from today with you. I'm not usually one to be very pleased with the way things turn out with pictures, but I'm quite happy to see the results of these! My horse looks very happy and content in all of them, her physical posture is AMAZING, and I actually don't look too shabby either. I guess that's what L4 is all about--isn't that where mental, emotional, and physical come together to form a magnificent performance creature?

Anyway, check 'em out! If the computer screen formats the shots funny or cuts a piece off, click the image, it'll open the photobucket link they're taken from :)

FQ Isolations
FQ Isolations done with refinement (Mane hair and body language!). She's in mid-speed spin here, actually. I can't get over how blissful she looks!

Trotting Part 1
Trotting. She's looking VERY through and athletic in her movement. Very driven from her HQ, and looks very loose and light in front end, not to mention HAPPY! WOW! Plus--that trot is actually getting hard to sit!

Trotting Part 2
Just a hair more flexion, and she'd be vertical on her own volition! Wow. HUGE for this stock horse. Talk about developing self-carriage! I love her so much!

So that's all for now, let me know what you think if you feel so inclined :)

Savvy on!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lemons to Lemonade

Hi Folks,

Gonna get a series of short blogs here over the next couple of days. The weather for the most part, is beautiful, but I've been kind of caught up in my head, so writing is essential. Anyway, today's topic is going to revolve around a segment of the January Savvy Club DVD with Dr. Robert Miller, entitled "Lemons to Lemonade".

Dr. Miller is a world-renowned veterinarian, writer, public speaker, the developer of foal imprinting, promoter of natural horsemanship, and also a long-time friend of Pat Parelli. (Click HERE to visit his website) This segment was filmed at a 4-week Masterclass course this summer in Pagosa Springs, where Dr. Miller was invited to give a talk, and told some stories about Pat to the class. He centers his talk around Pat's ability to take difficult situations, and turn them around and work them to his advantage (Hence Lemons to Lemonade). Some of the examples he gives are just befuddling--I knew Pat was good at that, but I didn't realize he was such a master at it. It got me thinking, that is for SURE.

The past couple days here have been kind of chock full of disappointments. In addition to several financial explosions, and bad experiences, I was supposed to be at Kristi Smith's today through Monday at a weekend set of workshops. The weather is looking rather unpredictable, so Kristi had to make a very difficult decision, and cancel the event, and reschedule for April. Yesterday was a very emotional day for the both of us--she more-so than I, probably, though I certainly did my fair share of crying.

In all of my frustration last night, that segment of the DVD kept haunting the back corner of my mind. I finally gave in to temptation and pulled it up on the Savvy Club Vault and watched it again. If nothing else, the lesson to learn from it is exactly the title of the segment. In hearing some of the situations that Pat managed to make good (And from another person's perspective--not his own!), I was reminded and inspired to do just that.

So--even though I'm very disappointed not to spend the weekend with Kristi, you know what? It's 27 degrees, sunny, and not windy. Our driveway is plowed and I started teaching both my horses some neat things yesterday--what a shame it would be to not finish what I started! So this weekend, my goals are to help Crest find rhythm and relaxation for two laps of canter, both directions at liberty, and to teach him to find connection better doing stick-to-me to the right. With Prin, I'm going to finish my externship audition tape, and develop more connection and energy in our large-area liberty.

Savvy on, folks!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stickin' Out Like a Sore Thumb

Apologies on the hold up for Pt. II of my article/story, folks. I'm typing rather slowly as it is, as I had a bit of an accident on Monday.

A rather long story short, I was trimming my barn owner's mare, Izzy. It had gone really well, up until the last 3 rasp strokes on her last (left hind) foot. She lost her balance slightly, and her hoof slipped off the hoof jack. Would not have been a bad incident, except that has her foot fell, it caught my gloved hand between her un-rasped hoof wall and the hardened rubber topper of the hoof jack. At the time, it just hurt like the dickens, but a minute later when I took my glove off, I was greeted by an almost entirely-skinned thumb that was bleeding freely, and piebald bruised thumbnail.

I ended up getting 5 stitches put in, and honestly, the Novocaine needle experience has proved to have a longer-term effect than the actual stitches, it left a nice bruise at the base of my thumb that actually hurts more than the injury.

So anyway--doing my best to get that second part out to you. Just know that I'm typing with my hand wrapped like in the picture below ;)

Monday, January 25, 2010

One of Those Opportunities, Pt I

I'm finding it increasingly irritating that I'm stuck inside due to this weather. It's making my writing material somewhat limited, but at the same time is forcing me to spend more time indoors--perfect for blogging. So today, for your reading pleasure (and since I conveniently left you hanging in my last post) I'd like to give you an in-depth recap of the lesson I had with Kristi Smith two weeks ago, since it was a very neat experience. I've broken the entry into two parts, since I can tell it's going to be long!

Kristi hosted a series of workshops at 7A Ranch, in Oxford IA (about 10 minutes from where she lives) on the weekend of January 10th-11th. Saturday held a set of L1/2 workshops, and Sunday, L3. I reconnected with several old friends, and met some really fantastic people during both days. One of the women in particular, a fantastic gal named Mary Anna, and I hit it off immediately--it was one of those "instant" friendships. I'll give you one guess at to what horsenality SHE was ;) Anyway, she was signed up to participate in all of the workshops, and the communication she had with her GORGEOUS Oldenburg mare was nothing short of amazing. The horse looked at her with the most beautiful expression throughout the weekend, she obviously is someone who has put lots of time and energy into the relationship and Parelli program.

Anyway, I was fascinated with this pair throughout mainly because I couldn't quite peg the mare's horsenality. She looked just so genuinely happy, all the time, always asking questions, playful, wanting to follow her leader always, but wanting to play, too. I guess that's what Parelli is all about, but even so, usually you can pick the information out of the excellence just by reading tendencies. Not the case for me here. Anyway, I digress.

So, come Sunday morning, Mary Anna approached me with the introduction of "I wanna talk to you!"...I still get kind of bracy about that kind of approach from being in high school, but I was pleasantly surprised when she explained to me that she had to leave early to get home, but that she was signed up and paid to ride in the afternoon workshop, and would I be interested in taking her spot with her horse. WOULD I???? And turn down the opportunity to play with such a high-quality horse? I think not! What a compliment!!

I'm not going to lie, I'm always a little geeked out playing with other people's horses that they've so much time on. Not that I don't trust my own ability, but that I feel like the intricacies of the relationship won't carry through. It's pretty irrational, but it happens, and usually I'm a little too light as a result.

The FIRST thing this mare taught me was how to calm down. When I went to her stall, she turned her head and I swear, this wave of just easy, settling energy just washed over me. I was able to relax and halter up, etc. Once in the arena, the goal was just to put the horses through their paces in prep for riding--walk/trot/canter online, over a jump, etc. Five minutes in, and she taught me another important lesson, and that was about true neutral. Neutrality is something I struggle at with home with Prin, my being an extrovert who tend to want, and want it now, and Prin being an introvert who, until recently, didn't uphold her responsibilities very well. At any rate, with this mare, I found that if I didn't totally relax my body, neither would she. And the interesting thing was that even though disharmony with her was NOTHING compared to disharmony with my guys, it was more uncomfortable for me to feel.

I experimented a little with what breathing and neutral in ME felt like to this mare, and discovered that I really, truly had to RELAX my body, breath through my entire core. I figured out that I carry a tendency to inhale and hold a brace my shoulders, as if to say "KEEP GOING!" I really tried to pattern this new feeling into me with this horse once I figured it out, and at home, it's actually changed Prin's entire demeanor at the canter on the circle--I figure "What the absolute worst that's going to happen? She breaks gait?", and she actually really appreciates the attitude shift, and is less prone to break gait. Anyway--I digress again. Lots on my mind, obviously ;)

Anyway, after a little bit of testing the waters, we saddled up, and after a little more moving about, I mounted up.

Cont'd in Pt. II..

Friday, January 22, 2010

Road Trip!

Okay, I'm seriously REALLY BAD at updating this bad-boy. I think I might be the last person to actually accept that fact, but hey. I try. I really do!

Anyway, Prin and I had a little adventure over the past couple of days! As I had mentioned in a previous post, one of my goals currently is to head to Florida to do an Externship at Pat's barn. There is an application process to this, and one of the things that they ask for is an audition video. It's a pretty basic thing, the requirements are online, liberty, and freestyle, show saddling and bridling, ride some bareback, and some patterns under-saddle. All pretty easy stuff to do, provided you've got the footing to do it in the winter, which we certainly don't, right now.

So, on Thursday, despite freezing rain warnings, Prin and I loaded up and hauled to The Horse First Farm in Brooklyn (just south of Madison), WI, to film my tape with my friend and 2* Parelli Professional, Michelle Manshardt. This was my first solo haul, and it was a bit stressful--Firstly being that I was driving a borrowed rig, of course carrying my baby inside, and with the weather. Fortunately, it went fine, and I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to drive with a trailer. (Previously I'd only driven a couple small rigs locally is all) So that's a new arrow in my quiver of "stuff I can do within the horse world".

Thursday was pretty much my warm-up day. I still have a tendency to get a little paralyzed and forget how to use my brain in front of a camera, so the better a plan I can have ahead of time for what i need to show, the better I do. Prin was pretty much the happiest I've seen her in weeks, and after some tips and suggestions from Michelle, we had improved several aspects of our relationship (including our much-struggled-with large area liberty) substantially. My horse now sticks with me in the 100x200 arena (with a couple other horses in the arena at one point) without thought of leaving--too cool!

We finished out the evening at Sr. Peppers (local Mexican restaurant, one of my favs!) and had some nice chat time.

Yesterday was filming day...ahhhh! I'm not going to lie, I totally clammed up. Michelle was very patient with me, and although I'm sure it was really hard for her to watch, she was wonderful, and was able to play enough friendly-game with me and the camera, that after starting over several times, everything flowed. We got everything but three tasks filmed (freestyle patterns on a casual rein), simply because we were so crushed for time, my camera battery died, and Prin was HOT (talk about totally NOT being in condition to be moving for an hour and a half straight). But I feel REALLY good about what we got filmed, which doesn't happen very often. Though it's really kind of a glorified L2 tape (7 games on a 22' line, and at liberty, some bareback riding, saddle and bridle, mount, etc), everything looks SO quality and flowing, I feel very confident that it's exactly what they're looking for. I've got a few more tidbits to film before I send anything in, but I really do feel good about it!

So...that's what we've been up to. The time spent between my last few posts has pretty much been spent keeping my horses alive and getting other aspects of this application package put together. Oh, and I had a lesson with Kristi Smith in there a couple weeks ago too, on a gigantic, fancy Warmblood mare, who had a lot to teach me about emotions and fluidity. But that, my friends, is another story all together. So until next time, savvy on!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A New Year!

Hey, Folks!

Remember me? The girl who promised that she'd start blogging more consistently, did it for like two weeks, and then disappeared again? Yeah, hi. When I said that, I had forgotten that holiday season makes my family into a pack of crazy creatures that run around like chickens with our heads cut off. I'm back, I hope, for a while, now.

So, first things first. Happy New Year! I can't believe how fast 2009 flew by! A year ago tomorrow, I left for my course at the Parelli ISC. That's mind-boggling to me. Seriously, where has time gone?!

Regardless of that, 2010 is looking to be a big year. What are your goals? Do you have something you'd like to accomplish with or for your horse? With or for YOURSELF? I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to share!

Here, 2010 is looking to be the year of my dreams. I didn't blog about this earlier because I still had details to work out, but I feel pretty confident in sharing now. My parents and I have been talking, discussing, and making plans, and as of right now, I'm in the process of putting together my application and audition package for the Parelli Externship and Parelli Professional program! No idea when I'll be going yet, but there is positive motion in the right direction. I will definitely keep everyone posted. Besides this, I'm also going to try to begin the process to become a Certified Equine Podiatrist through KC La Pierre's school. That'll be another pretty hard-core commitment, so if I don't get through it this year, I won't be broken-hearted, but it's a focus point for me, anyway.

Besides all that, I have some personal goals, and goals to accomplish with my horses, as well. They are listed below:


*Graduate Level 4 with Prin
*Bring Crest into Level 4 in all 4 savvys
*Finish teaching LB to drive
*Buy a truck (I've got a trailer, but nothing to pull it with!)
*Earn my 1*, perhaps my 2*
*Build my business


*Grow first and foremost as a learner. 2009 was a challenging year for me as a learner. I'd like to improve my ability to handle feedback, as well as to learn and see the good in negative experiences.

*Grow as a teacher and inspiration.

*Share what has been shared with me

*Lose 10 lbs. My Wranglers should not be fitting as tightly as they are right now!

*Develop and grow as a trimmer and photographer. These are good trades and abilities to have. I'd like to continue to learn about them, and possibly add them to my list of services :)

So there is a list. I'm not going to put a timeline on myself or my horses this year, but I'm not going to forget or give up on these things, either. It's a balancing act, and I strive to be centered!

So, here's to a savvy new year, and I'll be better about blogging now that life is not so insane! Don't forget to tell me what your goals are for the year!

Savvy On!!