Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

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!!