Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Can horses tell time?

Went to the barn around lunch and rode Cici in the ring. I mentioned to her that we would not be riding for a long time and we would be done by 2:00.

After her initial testing, making sure I was certain I really wanted her to trot, she was soft and forward. Lovely out on the trails trot. We played with the cloverleaf pattern and my not picking up the reins for the turns. And most of the time she was willing to maintain the trot through the question box.

Then crossing the ring in the middle she slowed down and stopped. We were facing the long wall. When I lifted the reins for her to go forward she started to go sideways to the left. I love that she offers things so I shifted my weight and allowed her to continue. She went sideways past the tack room door. Kept going a bit further then stopped and swung her hind end onto the track and stopped.

We were now on the track with my left shoulder close to the wall. I glanced over to the wall and found I was sitting right at the clock. Eye level. And the clock said 2:00!

Laughed so hard I just had to get off. Who can argue with such logic?!?!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bath Day

Bath day! Its in the 70s already and its only 10:30. Now I'm not the sort of horse person who gives lots of baths. Okay I'm not the kind of horse person who gives any baths. Its a once or twice a year thing. Read this article about how daily or weekly bathing is bad for their hooves. This is good enough for me. Want great feet. No bathing.

I look at this as an expedition. Have to make plans about when to do it, have to gather up gear cause its scattered from my basement to my garage to the tack room to the storage stall in the barn. I don't give baths and I still have so much STUFF! How is this possible? Buckets, shampoo, sponges, scrapers, curry comb, nozzle, hose, horse. The list goes on. This morning I came across an article on How to Wash Your Horse. Great! More stuff.

As a Parelli student I figure I'll think of all the things I've seen the other people around do, and do the opposite. The "wash stall" is two posts on a patch of gravel surrounded by grass. Everyone walks their horse in, turns them around and ties them to the cross ties. I walk Cici onto the gravel, let her face "the back" and the grass and allow her graze as I soap her up. Article said I didn't need to wet her down before soaping. Thinking awesome, I get to skip a step.

Soap up one side and she is doing great. Standing pretty still and eating. Turn on hose and get a bit of a reaction from her, then she just stands as I rinse one side off. Then scrape.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I should have stopped here. But into "this is bath day" so plowed ahead. Cici was getting a bit restless and not standing still. I'm letting her wander and eat grass and trying to get her back onto the gravel. In the process, as she is headed for the bucket with soapy water, I think, "oh no, don't knock over the bucket!" She hears my focus of the bucket and over it goes.

Note to self: pay attention to where you place bucket of soapy water. Off to the side by the post would be a really safe place.

Side two is a bit more of a challenge. Oh she doesn't do much, just more movement and I didn't take the time to acknowledge what was happening. Amazing how those blinders snap into place. Well in the process of moving around a lot Cici is heading straight for the plastic container of shampoo that is lying on the ground. And YES she steps right in the middle of it and the shampoo shoots out in a beautiful arching spray.

Note to self: more careful attention to where you place the shampoo after it goes into the bucket of water. Probably off to the side by the bucket by the post would be a really safe place.

Maybe Cici is trying to tell me "Enough! No more soapy water and no more shampoo!" Hmm.

Rinse phase for side two goes relatively well. I'm wearing my tall muck boots with pants rolled over the tops. I'm wet only from my armpits down. Not too bad. Sunglasses still on, hat still on, hair is wet-but that is sweat. I am proud to say I left my iPhone in the car. I knew what was possible.

Pull out towel and rub her down. Do notice she does not like her hing legs wiped. Are we done? Oh no, she is stepping on the shampoo bottle gain - getting every little last bit out. Guess she didn't approve that brand.

Note to self: Consult with Cici in future brands of shampoo.

I reach out with hands full of soap (from rinsing the sponge and bucket) to move Cici off the bottle. Now she has soapy hands on her side and hind end. Have to rinse her off again. Scrape the water off. Towel her down. Flies they love a wet horse.

I'm done. Cici is done. And I look at the debris that is left all around the "wash stall" that I'll need to clean up once I get Cici back to her paddock. I let her graze a little to help the drying. She is looking all golden. Gorgeous.

Back to paddock she goes. She looks over her shoulder at me as she walks away. And then she drops and rolls. Flies love a wet horse you know. She knows what to do about that.

No wonder I don't bath my horse! All that effort. All the water. All that soap. All that sweat (mine). For what? 3 minutes of a clean shiny horse?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Horses and Husbands

Another conversational blog by Jamie Greenebaum & Jolene McDowell

Jamie: My husband is not a rider. I started to say not a horse lover, but that is not quiet true. While he is not comfortable around them himself, he totally supports my horse addiction, even enabling it.

I broke my arm a few years ago when Cici was stung by a bee on her belly and leapt in the air. I fell to the ground. As I was waiting for the bones to heal, Robert drove me to the barn every day. “Take as long as you need” he’d tell me, and he’d sit in the car reading a book. I would sit in the paddock with Cici and Casey.

“Why are you doing this? I know how upset you are about the accident and how you blame Cici.” His response? “You need horse time to completely heal.”

Jo said: What a heartwarming story, Jamie. A few years ago I was in the running for first place in State in my Hunter-Jumper division. Every competition counted. The week of our biggest competition, I got a call from my son, saying their second child was on the way. I wrote off the competition and hopped on a plane, arriving into town before the baby. I was privileged to spend the week with them, helping out.

Mentally I had given up the competition, but as my plane landed back in Salt Lake City my trainer called, “The competition is running late, and if you hurry, you can make it.” I started to tell her I was just getting off the plane when my husband buzzed thru saying, “Honey, I have been watching this competition and it’s running late. I got your clothes (out of the dirty clothes), I’ve warmed up your horse, and I think we can make it if you drive straight there.” I told my trainer, drove straight to the competition, changed in the back of the trailer, and got to the ring 30 seconds before my turn in the arena.

I think what we’re both trying to say is that whether they ride or not, whether they practice Parelli or not, it’s hard to do horses without support, and husbands can be a remarkable support.

Jamie said: I've noticed posts on Parelli Connect regarding husbands. How they have given their wives the opportunity to reconnect with their dream of horses. How they build things such as barns, slow feeders, cavaletti. Dig post holes and put up fencing. Even go ranch shopping! And how they are there for their horse crazy women.

Jo said: My husband calls himself “A Desperate Horse Husband”, but it’s always with a smile on his face.

We have different styles. He’s an old cowboy type, who was riding bareback from childhood. I think it’s important to support each other respectfully, no matter what our styles. While my husband doesn’t “practice Parelli”, I did notice him saying “Well, Parelli says . . .” when a friend mentioned a problem with his horse the other day. He had it right, so I just walked away quietly with a smile on my face.

Jamie said: I think my husband would agree with “Desperate Horse Husband”! While he is not involved with horses, he often tells me to “Go to the barn.” I pause and thank him for his willingness to share me with my horses.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Assessing Struggle

I started thinking about assessing and how some people seem to move through the levels and savvys and assessing, and others, like me, get stuck.

A long long time ago, in the dark ages, I did an in-person Level 1 assessment. Looking back I am not sure how I managed to even make the appointment. Remember my heart pounding and worrying about how my mare Jeepers would react to my nervousness. Fortunately, she was a LBI and just rolled her eyes and helped me out. Well that was until we got to passenger lesson at the trot. By then she had had enough and headed straight for the lone tree in the middle of the paddock/riding ring. The tree with low branches.

We passed and never looked back. That’s the problem.

I came to Parelli to develop my relationship with Jeepers, and to feel confident riding out on trails. After going to the barn, grooming, tacking up and riding in a ring, I realized I wanted more. More of a relationship, more of a connection, more confidence, more more more.

It has been quite a journey, my confidence has slowly built up and I ride the trails. Oh I still have thresholds but with Jeepers’ help and understanding we ventured out. I remember the first time we trailered with a friend to a new trail head and I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m one of them!” (A trail rider). I now ride with Cici who is a RBI. Quite a different experience.

Before I saddle up I spend lots of time on the ground online checking to see who has shown up that day. Cici has taught me never to assume. She can go from seemingly “fine” to what I call her Blonde Bombshell Ballet (BBBs) – leaping, bucking, galloping, airs above the ground – in a nanosecond.

I’m following the Levels and the Patterns. I’ve moved from a 12’ line to a 22’ and have just begun playing with a 45” online. Freestyle I play with the patterns, have begun to use a carrot stick riding and even ride with a bareback pad. I just haven’t assessed.

Did I mention I am a Right Brain Introvert? And that testing or being judged is not my forte? My thoughts range from: Why go through the anguish of taping an assessment? What is holding me back? Do I need to? Why should I bother? I can do a self-assessment. What difference does it make? I’m developing my relationship and connection with Cici, my confidence has grown, and I’m trail riding – isn’t that enough of an assessment?

Lying in bed last night, out of the blue, my husband asks me what’s the issue with assessing? Huh? Where did that come from? How does he know? He’s been listening to me?!?! He said he thought not assessing was holding me back. That I was probably further along the path than I knew or took credit for.

He asks what I need to do for an assessment. I explain about the taping, the requirements and go on to describe some of the YouTube assessments I’ve watched. Where the cameraperson is running down the path in the woods and the image is bouncing up and down. Where the camera is set up at one end of the ring and the person and horse at the other are soooo tiny you can barely make out what they are doing. About the relationship each person has with their horse that shines through. About the little moments where they take the time to acknowledge and show their love.

He offers to be my cameraman in a few months when he is feeling better. How can I refuse? It’s not just about me any longer.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Moving to LB

Lesson with Avery. In preparation I spent an hour online seeing how Cici was feeling. Started out with the 45 and touch it, step on the cone, sideways over the barrel, sideways down the wall without my moving my feet. A bit of friendly and porcupine for backing. And on to circling. Cici loves the 45. She loves to drift out and circle.

I start to ask for changes of direction on the circle when she is moving slow. Noticing that she will now stop and just pull back when I ask for her to turn in to me. How interesting. After a number of changes of direction she agrees it is just easier to move at the gait I request.

When I ask Avery about this later she says Cici is being dominant. LB dominant. Oh no! LOL

Move over to the cones for figure 8 and change to the 22'. I've kept one clean - was washed - for the lesson. The others weight a ton with mud and dirt. Start asking for change in the center and Cici goes into bucking, leaping, galloping. I encourage her to keep moving and then ask her in with extreme friendly.

Almost an hour of a horse who really doesn't want to move and then bam! Moving for sure! And now Avery comes into the ring. I ask her about Cici cone-nection - where she goes to a cone and put her foot on it and stops - looking very pleased with herself. What is this about and how do I get her to move? More LB behavior apparently!

Avery had me ask for change of direction each time Cici went to a cone and stopped. And then to circle around both cones once before asking for change in the center for figure 8. Talked about keeping the bubble of my circle the same size. That for every step I take back I need to do the same number forward for the draw and drive to be equal. Hmmm how interesting.

Cici sure was moving now. Certainly RB. She goes RB when learning anything new. Today we play with figure 8s at a trot and canter. She was moving her feet. Took a while before she was able to slow her feet and mind.

Mounted up to see if we could continue to work on this. Riding her the issue was when she stops. Walking around the ring and she stops. Back up and then direct rein to change direction. But only want to see her eye (like in dressage) and the move her shoulders over. Avery got me a kidz carrot stick to tap on her shoulder - said to annoy more than anything.

So stop? Okay lets back and then change direction, oh and move those shoulders first. Lots to think about (me). Practiced at walk and trot. And wow what a difference in quality of gait. Had a free hip swinging walk and a forward moving trot. Awesome. Now all I need to do LOL is remember everything and practice!

Avery said Cici will test me a lot. That she will become dominant and LB and she might get worrying and RB. But test she will!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Letting Go

A Conversation Between Connect Friends about Grief & Loss

By Jamie Greenebaum & Jolene McDowell

Linda Parelli suffered a tremendous loss recently with the death of Westy. In the messages of comfort and show of support, a lot of people talked about their losses of beloved companions, both two and four-legged. As Jamie and I read these, we realized that Parelli has indeed become a community and a loss for one is a loss for all.

Jo: It’s never easy letting go. We develop such an attachment with the beings we love. It’s hard to lose them. Unfortunately, we all know the experience of grief: shock, disbelief, crying, exhaustion, confusion, feeling lost, depression, preoccupation, guilt, anger, bitterness and oh, the missing, missing, missing as we struggle with new life patterns.

Jamie: Jo, your words go right to where it hurts the most - the missing. It’s a tough subject as it brings alive all the loss I’ve experienced and the emptiness that is left behind from all the lives that have touched mine and are now gone.

Jo: Yes, the emptiness can take over. It’s so hard to watch others go on with life as if nothing monumental has occurred, when our world is reeling. The depth and intensity can be overwhelming, as if an tsunami has wiped out the world as we knew it in one swipe.

Jamie: To the world at large, we are expected to continue as if nothing has happened. Oh, you can grieve, but not for too long. You need to move on. Get on with your life. Others express their sympathy and love, but they have their lives and we are left alone with our personal devastation.

Jo: It’s hard to open that hand quickly and let go graciously, with no brace. It’s hard to not hold on to what we love, resisting . . .resisting. . .resisting the devastation. The level of grief will vary, depending on the gravity of the loss and the individual. It is so personal. We all meet it according to our individual personalities and life experiences. Yet meet it we must, for grief comes to us all. It is the price of living and loving.

Jamie: Yes, in a bittersweet way, grieving can open us up to more love. But it sure is a hard way to get there. I think being able to let go is the true gift. A few short years ago, I had to make the decision of when to let my mare go to those green, green pastures. Like you Jo, I came late to having horses in my life. “Jeepers” was my first, and she taught me so much. She brought me to Parelli. We were together for 12 years. As her health declined, she waited patiently for me to be ready to let go. That was her final gift to me.

Jo: Just like you, and so many other Parelli members, I have had a lot of losses in my life. I like to say that grief and I are old friends. And it’s not so bad. It’s good to realize you can handle life and what it gives out. It’s good to develop resilency. It’s good to realize that, indeed, as one door closes, another door opens.

Jamie: I’ve never looked at it that way: “Old friends”. Yes, I suppose we are. But I’m not sure it is a friend I look forward to encountering again and again.

Jo: It took my son Nathan 12 years to talk me into a dog. And then this adorable Petite Shelty came into our lives. We called her “Shelley”. I never knew a dog could be like her. When my three sons and their friends would play basketball in the driveway, she would run circles around them until she left bloody paw prints on the cement. She wouldn’t stop running until they stopped playing. Not a week goes by that I don’t think of her, and it’s been 18 years.

Jamie: Don’t you find that out of the corner of your eye you sometimes catch a glimpse of one who is gone? If you run after the image it vanishes. But it was there for that split second. I do believe they are with us, always in our hearts, ready to remind us of those special moments.

Jo: When I was young I thought the one thing in life I would not be able to handle was the loss of a child. Well, I guess I am stronger than I thought. While I may not see the child I loved so much out of the corner of my eye, he certainly is always in my heart. I love to visualize my precious grandparents, my son, my dog, and by then, a few horses that I love greeting me as I enter the doors of heaven. That image alone keeps my feet on the straight and narrow!

Jamie: I believe our loved ones are patiently waiting for us in heaven. However, they don’t want us to hurry!

Jo: Agreed! In talking to others on Connect about this blog, many people mentioned their losses as well. Karen Daniels said she’d lost 2 brothers in terrible accidents and her father from cancer. Jennifer Snitko said “I think this is a very timely and important blog considering Westy’s death and the other human deaths in our Parelli family, not to mention all of our community who loose horses every year. Of course, it struck me particularly, as I lost a very special mare (my first horse as an adult!) this September“. I asked my Connect friends what helped them overcome their sorrow, and almost unanimously they said “Time, remembering and love” After the sorrow passes, there is joy in remembering what we loved so much. Everything we loved in the past, helps us love better in the future. We realize we are better people because of the beloved’s presence in our lives.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Avery - June - Round Pen

Liberty is all about "the truth" of your relationship with your horse. Nothing to fall back on. Free fall!

Start out online and checking the relationship. Asked for disengagement of hind end and then send front end around - just a couple of steps are fine to begin with. Building on 360 degree turn. Both sides. Wait for her to be soft and connected.

Then remove the halter and do same at liberty. If Cici is not trying then tag and send her off. Which in the beginning we do a lot of. She quickly comes back to me within 1/4 of the way around. So we try again. Slowly, ever so slowly she gets it. And I get it. But the process of learning is challenging especially for Cici. She is an unconfident learner. Nostrils crunched up, breathing short and rapid and she tries to guess what I want instead of taking the time to listen. But as I get better at my asking she gets better at understanding.

We still have fast laps around, stops for nibbling the grass, stops for visiting with Cruise on the other side of the fence, or Cheeta. And when she does stop I ask her to keep going. She can change direction very easily on her own - but need to keep her going in direction I ask. Get to see a few sliding stops when she thinks she is going to change of direction on her own and I suggest otherwise ; -)

After the disengagement is going fine - both sides then on to check out yo-yo game. Quickly see the importance of two eyes. Because without two eyes when I ask for back she takes it as a send. So off tag she goes. Now she is getting more confident out on the rail so further distance before she comes in. But when she does come in she has a soft expression - question - on her face with ears forward.

Work on first just one step back and then draw towards me. Then two step yo-yo. The three. What a delicate balance. What fun! Look Ma no hands!!! (okay no Ropes).

I learn to be very particular in my body placement to be sure that the turns are facing me rather than away from me - head vs butt. Which of course means I start out with a lot of turning away (butt) turns initially. But I learn. Also learn importance of getting back to center.

End when she is trotting around relaxed and keeping an ear on me. Wow!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Round Pen

Mary called me at noon today to ask when I was coming over to the barn today. Just to tempt me further she said she had a surprise for me. And just to further tempt me said it was round and in the shade.

Of course I dropped everything to go and see the ROUND PEN! I can't believe it, Mary did this really and truly just for me! She put it up in Cruise's paddock - large sand paddock, perfect place. He still has lots of room and can go in and out of pen. When I got there Mary was just so proud of what she had done. She was concerned that it wasn't really round, and thought that if she swapped the gate and one of the long panels that would help. Then decided to grab the two other panels that are in Cici's paddock and while I was waiting for Cici to finish her lunch, Mary finished up.

There is even a back gate so I can walk Cici out her back gate down the fence line to this gate and go into the paddock with round pen. Amazing. Needed to put a handle on the electric top wire, Mary shoveled to make a path and voila we are all set!

My first time in a round pen. Didn't want to overwhelm Cici, her girl friend is on one side and Crusie is on the other but she seemed fine. Started out with 22 foot line but since she didn't seem to be bothered, not like the outside ring, I unhooked the line.

Clearly she has been worked in round pens in her past life. She took to the rail and walked and trotted like a pro. She knew what was expected of her. Asked for transitions and then a few change of directions - how cool is that?!?!?!? Both directions and disengage hindquarters. She came to me, licked and chewed and I felt that was enough for first time.

Grinning ear to ear. Thank you thank you thank you Mary.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Unedited Casey

Just got a Flip camcorder. And Kim has requested a video of Casey, her namesake, and storytelling. Here is the unedited, unfiltered, rough cut of our first attempt to sit down with Casey and the camcorder LOL. I'll work on figuring out how to use editing software. Promise!