Friday, December 4, 2009

Standing still

I am thinking and chewing myself. When I put the turnout on Cici - that is when she will finally stand still and not move away from me, after lots of approach and retreat - that she stands still. I mean right brain going inside still. Rock still. I'm not there still.

Once the blanket touches her, she is still, still, still. I'm beginning to wonder if she is even breathing still. I usually wind up with the blanket folded on her back. And because I am basically one handed I move it around a lot. And she stands still. I unfold it on her back, trying to figure out where the front it, where the back is, where the surcingles are. And she stands still through all of this. Until I am finished with all the buckles buckled and surcingles surcingled.

My "hmmm how interesting" has caused me to ask where is the chewing? The relaxation? The engagement? Can I get her to chew? I decided to experiment and I gave her a treat. Got her chewing. Put the blanket on her. She stopped chewing. So I gave her another treat. Momentary dilemma because I've added something different to the equation. Stand still or take the treat. Taking the treat means she is engaging with me. She took it and chewed, and chewed the first one and while she was still physically standing still she was engaged!

I sorted the blanket on her back and now with her feet still she is turning her head to me at her sides - lateral flexion - and looking for another treat. I don't have any more and I get her blanket front to back and buckled! And she is still with me emotionally!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Play session

Today I filled the outdoor ring with cones, yoga ball, hoola hoop, tarp, a chair - a veritable playground! We walked, stopped, woven between things, backed. Cici stood with her front legs inside the hoola hoop, she walked across the tarp, stop on the tarp, backed over the tarp. Touched the ball with her nose, smelled the hoola hoop, nosed the chair. All of this at liberty.

I picked up the hoola hoop and swung it around my arm at her side. She wasn't sure so I backed off and then started to walk away, like the other day. She followed and caught up with me in no time. I then twirled the hoop on both sides, over her butt, put it over her head. She stood, but was not completely relaxed. So I played some more. She finally lowered her head and blinked her eyes. No chewing.

When I was done with our play session, I looked over the ring and realized I needed to gather up everything. Thought about asking Cici to stay with me as I walked to the cones and picked them up - she followed. Put them by the gate. Got the ball, got the hoola hoop. Then I looked at the tarp and the rocks on the corners and lost my focus on Cici. She took this as an invitation to check out the edges of the ring for nibblies.

I tossed the rocks to the side of the ring, actually right where she was, not even a head lift. I struggled to fold up the tarp and survey the ring. Everything was now at the gate, so I walked back there to get the string to tie up the tarp. I looked up to see where Cici was and she was walking from the far side of the ring towards me. Okay you are done, lets go graze!

After I left the barn I heard from Vivian, a friend who has been helping me out by cleaning Cici's paddock. She told me today that she had one full muck bucket by the gate and was filling the second one. As she moved closer and closer to the gate, Cici looked over her shoulder and left her hay. She walked directly to Vivian, and stopped by the muck bucket. She then turned around and lifted her tail and pooped right in front of the bucket. Looked over her shoulder at Vivian and walked back to her hay.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today I played with Cici in the outdoor ring. I got my ball and cones and hoola hoop. Still nursing my left arm, so we walked around the ring letting Cici check things out and snort at them. Walked patterns around two cones, stopping at each one for her to touch with her nose, kicked the ball then I dropped the lead. She stayed with me as I walked, changed direction, wove in and out of objects. Kicked the ball in front of her and walked to it, kicked it and walked to it. She lowered her head and smelled the ball and then gave it a little push with her nose. Yippee!

I did some disengagement of hind end on her left side. Went to see how the right side was and she blocked me with her head. So back to left and tried right side again. After a bit of persistence she finally allowed me on her right, but when I asked for disengagement quickly repositioned me on her left. Hmmm how interesting.

Walked over to the hoola hoop lying on the ground. She immediately sniffed it and touched it with her nose. I asked her to walk forward and she place both front feet right in the circle. And stood quietly. Walked around more, back to hoola hoop. In and back out.

I picked it up. Whoa! Head up and she took a step back - looking at it now standing on edge. I backed up and then turned away from her and began walking away with hoop's edge dragging on the ground. She started to follow me about 3 board lengths (30 feet) away. And I walked and serpentined and changed direction and slowly she closed the distance. After just a few minutes I found that she was walking on my left - placing her right side toward the hoop. Hmmm how interesting! LOL.

When we were done I needed to put her turnout back on. With her offering her right side for the hoola hoop I was wondering if I could put the blanket on from that side. But no, she is quiet, but I watch her raise her head, watch her nostrils and that weight shift back - away. Lots of walking away, approach and retreat. All this still at liberty. What is interesting is that when she finally is willing to stand for the blanket it doesn't matter how long it takes me to sort out the blanket on her back - she just stands and waits.

Attention vs intention

Yesterday a friend came to visit with Casey (she just adores him) and Cici. She brought an apple for each. She was totally focused on Casey, oh fussed a bit over Cici, but it was Casey she wanted to see. And of course Casey was being himself and took the apple and really didn’t want to have anything else to do with her since no more food. He usually loves to have his arm pits scratched and my friend was really looking forward to accommodating him. But he would not let her near.

Thinking about this – I’ll go with too much intention! She was so focused on scratching him I think it was too much focused energy on his sides, and while he never went far he stayed just out of reach.

Cici, who now completely views me has hers and my time in the paddock all about "us" was like "hey what about me?!?!" I did scratch her, but quickly got distracted by my friend and Casey. No attention. Cici turned around and did a gentle body block on me with her hind end. And then she stood there with her butt facing me! Talk about intention! LOL

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I seem to be focused on Cici nostrils as an indicator of how she is. We played in the indoor - place of lots of flaring LOL. I set up two cones to use for yo-yo game, want to work on backing. I notice immediately that she is not flaring her nostrils but seems instead to be contracting them. Her nose has a wrinkle in it, her lower chin is tight. I ask her first walk between the cones, then back and give her time to just think about what she has done.

I stand facing her, looking at her nostrils. The right one is larger, longer top to bottom, than the left one. Not flared. I wonder if maybe I'm nuts in what I think I've been seeing. Maybe her nostrils are just different sizes. That is possible. And maybe I've just been imagining things.

As I am having these thoughts Cici looks directly at me and slowly lengthens her left nostril so that it is the same size as the right!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I am noticing that when Cici gets unconfident she will flare her nostrils and snort. Her breathes become very short, panicy. When playing the circling game, if I don't keep her attention she goes into automatic and quickly starts to breath as if she has run a 100 laps. She has her inside nostril flared more than the outside one! And it takes a long dwell time for her to release and relax.

Since I am able to move around more with my arm, I've started to halter her and bring her out of her paddock. I have to say she is very accommodating in that I ask her to lower her head so I can tie the halter - I still can't raise my left arm all that much. But just stepping out of the paddock is a bit of a nostril flaring event.

I had put cones out in the indoor to walk around and weave through and in no time she was taking short quick breaths. I realized my error - I asked too soon, so I just walked her around the arena to give her time to regain her confidence. We then just stood still and I slowly focused my attention on my breathing taking long slow deep breaths. I remembered Frederique saying he syncs his breaths with his horses so thought I'd try. In just a few minutes Cici was relaxing and breathing with me! Wow!

I then walked her around and wove through the cones and focused on keeping both our breaths calm and relaxed. As a right brain introvert her threshold is a very very fine line. This is a my challenge. Watching her nostrils is a great indicator of how she is doing!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Doing vs Being

I've been reading "Gallop to Freedom, training horses with the founding stars of Cavalia" by Magali Delagdo and Frederic Pignon. And Fred talks about observing and seeing what your horse is like, how she stands, how she breathes, how she holds her head, ears, eyes. He suggests trying different ways of touching and see what they like and dislike. And how to allow them to be themselves. And to be together with them. And some much more.

Today's undemanding time I thought I'd observe Cici. And try different ways of touching, scratching her. It is cold and muddy today. She has her blanket on and her neck and jaws are covered in dry mud. So I start to scratch the mud off of her. But she moves her head away. Hmmm, how interesting. I stand next to her quietly. And she stands next to me. I am noticing that when she chews she does it for much longer than before. I used to be happy if she did three chews. Now, well here I find myself counting, she will do six or seven. Notice I'm already doing things. Trying to get the mud off. Counting her chewing.

As the time passes my arm is getting tired so I go sit on the rock. She walks over to me. And quietly stands over me. I reach up to work some more on the dry mud. She moves her head out of the way. I drop my hand. I just sit. She swings her head over my head. Just breathing in my hair. She nuzzles my shoulder and starts to groom it LOL! But I have to sit still. Slowly I am hearing her. Quiet time. Just be.

She is teaching me to just be in the moment. No plans, no doing things, just be. Who is the master and who is the student now?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Continued undemanding time

Friday Cici, Casey and on the other side of the fence Bella, were all hanging out together. I walked into the paddock and after Cici greeted me I walked to the rock and sat down. Cici took a few moments then left Casey and Bella and walked over to hang out with me. Bella even nickered to her but she stayed by my side. How cool is that!

And today, Sunday she was standing in the shed. I came to the gate at since she looked at me I took that as permission to enter. Thinking back I could have waited at the gate to see what woud happen. Hmmm how interesting. I sat down and Casey came over. Started lipping my knee so I backed him up. Then I invited him in closer. Again lipping, which leads to nipping so I backed him up. By now Bella (mare in heat who has become his girl aside she is 16.3 and he is a very small mini) was at the fence making eyes at him so he backs and wanders over to her.

He nips at her through the fence. Can only reach up her arm pits and along bottom of her barrel. She squeals but stays put. Then noses touch, another nip and she turns to walk away. Casey saunders away from her, staying on the fence line and she completes a circle to follow him! Crafty devil is he. I can learn a lot watching this little guy.

All this while Cici is hanging out in the shed behind me, away from the fall weather flies that are biting. I am not paying her any attention as I am engrossed in Casey antics. I've been in the paddock maybe 10 minutes. I glance over at her and she walks out of the shed to where I am sitting on the rock. Sigh.

After about 15-20 minutes of rock sitting and hanging out with my girl I get up and walk away from her to see what she will do. She thinks about it a little while and then slowly walks to me. We stand together for a little bit and then I walk away again. She thinks some more and follows me. Then she walks off to Casey and Bella. I waited a bit then glance at her and walk slowly away again. Takes her a little before she is cutting across the paddock to my side.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More stories on Undemanding Time

Laura: At night I enjoy sitting in Sultan's stall and listening to him chew his hay, every few bites he swings his head over towards me and just touches my knee, I rub his face, he closes his eyes and then slowly returns to his hay...we repeat this over and over. Just last night for the first time I sat at the open stall doorway of Roo. I think I may have told you that he got right brained and unseated his trainer and she fractured her sacrum, so I am restarting him 100% naturally and she, luckily, is on board with this...anyway, Roo was eating and looking at me out of his right eye like he wasn't sure why I was sitting in the doorway and finally he left his hay and came over and sniffed me, I rubbed his face, he only allowed one pat on his face and turned away back to his hay...but this was huge for him, he is the fancy dressage dutch warmblood that had nothing but "make" in his 11 years of's alot to undo but his trust in humans and his confidence are starting to come out.

Kris: Undemanding time is something isn't it? I went over planning on riding doing some finesse and freestyle today and I got there and there was some kids playing around the barn and I just was not in the mood to be bothered today so I took Chicle for a walk to find some grass. I figured the kids would be gone when I got back and I would ride then. Well, we ended up being gone for 2 hours. we found lots of good grass. I sat on the fence and he placed himself next to me like he was saying get on. I thought oh that's funny I'll scratch his back. He moved away. Hhmm interesting, what is he looking for? Scratched again when he moved close, this time he swished his tail at me. Ok he didn't want a scratch so I got on. Yep that was it. We moseyed all over the place eating grass. It was so relaxing I couldn't believe I was out for 2 hours. I was in the best mood the rest of the day.

Undemanding time

The most wonderful thing is coming out of the accident. I am spending lots and lots of not doing anything time with Cici and Casey. Spent lots of time being either nibbled on by Casey or ignored by Cici. But I continue to sit. Sometimes I stand next to Cici and scratch her all over til she walks away.

On Saturday it was sunny blue skies and she was just standing still. I walked up to her left side and started scratching her withers. Moved up her neck to her no-no muscles and then began to work on her jaws. She stood still, eyes half closed.

Then she s l o w l y shifted her weight back and took maybe two steps backwards. I was thinking okay guess this session is over. But once her nose was past me she walked forward two steps. All I did was turn around 180 and began to scratch her right side. Eyes closed she sighed.

For about an hour she kept positioning herself for me to scratch, shoulders, hips, butt, jaw. Sometimes she would walk forward then turn back, sometimes she backed then walked forward! This was soooo wonderful.

On Sunday I wondered if it would happen again. When I walked into her paddock she walked to greet me. I went to scratch her but she walked away. Okay I thought, I'll just go sit on the large rock. I walked to rock and she turned and followed. We spent the next hour soaking up the sun. She stood with her head over me, sometimes dropping it to nuzzle my hair or ear or groom my right shoulder at bit. I kept the flies off her legs with my carrot stick. Lots of licking, chewing. We even had yawning. She started it and I got caught up and yawned and she yawned and I yawned. WoW!

Yesterday, Tuesday, I got there late in the afternoon. Hay time was soon. Usually she stands by the gate watching and waiting. I went and sat on my rock chair. She came and stood over me. Would glance over her shoulder at any activity in the vicinity of the barn, but stayed with me. Allowed Casey to join us. So the three of us just hung out together.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ground Bees

I haven't been posting for a while because I am sitting here typing one handed as I broke my not so humerous between elbow and shoulder on August 12th.

Out on a trail ride with Rebekah and Nancy, Ground bees stung Cici and she went up and spun and I just stayed and went down. Fortunately bees didn’t notice me, as I would up just sitting on the ground holding my arm thinking, yup its broken. As long as I didn't shift position it was fine.

Cici just ran off a few steps and stood there – what are you doing sitting on the ground and what do I do now? My two friends' horses were jumping around. Rebekah dismounted and walked up to Cici but Patrick was jumping and circling and I think the bees were after him. Cici took off and went back to the barn. Apparently removing her bridle in the process.

Nancy also dismounted as Dane would not stand still either. They both walked back with their horses, actually Nancy ran back, gave her horse to Mary and ran back to me. I was just sitting in the woods, enjoying the quiet. Had my fly swish to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Nancy got behind me and lifted me up to my feet by my butt and with her leading the way we bushwhack out of the woods to a nearby road. Rebekah had already called 911 so the ambulance was at the barn. They turned around and met us on the road around the corner.

Spent about 4 hours in Norwood ER before released. The Doc offered me percoset which I refused. Asked for something non opiate LOL. They looked at me in utter shock, conferred and then came up with 800 mg of ibuprofen.

The worst part of this is that I had a feeling. Before going out on the trails I did ground stuff with Cici. I rode her in the ring in first her halter and carrot stick and then bridle and carrot stick. She was a bit resistant at first but then relaxed. I kept thinking about falling off and hitting the ground. I tried to shake these thoughts but they just kept coming back. I said to myself Cici is listening to me, what is with this? I admit I thought maybe today I should not go out on the trails. But I kept saying why not? Cici is not spooky or resistant.

Nancy asked if she could join Rebekah and me. This was going to be nice. As we went through the indoor, Mary was teaching Julia and Sarah and she said to me, "If you need the paramedics just give me a call."

She has never said anything like that. I responded,"Have my cell phone."

Well have to say after the accident I told her that if she every feels like saying that again to anyone going out on the trails to stop them and not allow them to leave.

So here's a question, if I had heeded my premonition would that have been that or would the fall have happened another time another place?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Assertiveness training

I took a two hour lesson with Kelly this past Sunday. Found out the what I thought was Cici being unconfident after I asked for something, and therefore was giving her lots of time to digest is really her dominance and Kelly said she (Cici) is blowing me off. Oh Boy did I ever read that wrong. So the lesson was an assertiveness training session for me and an attitude adjustment for Cici. We are both working fine now.

Circling Game fixed. Backing is a work in progress. Kelly commented that Cici has very tense "nono muscles" and that I should massage them. Nono muscles are the ones on either side of her pole that when she says, "No I'm not going to do that" and raises her head are engaged! We even did a bit of sideways. Holy cow! Opps oh boy!

I had asked Kelly to bring a Parelli saddle so I could ride in one and see the difference. She brought hers. Duh. To say it was big, huge, humongous on Cici does not even begin to describe it. Kind of like huge saddle with a head and tail sticking out. Kelly is tall and her horse is apparently some enormous warmblood. When I say the girth she had, and the saddle has long billets, I quickly got out my 20" dressage girth.

It was incredible to ride in. Put me completely on my balance point. And when I first got on it - it felt like I was riding on a bareback pad. The tree is soooo wide, the literature says Parelli regular is 7x wider than an regular saddle's wide. And I have a wide saddle. Their extra wide, which is what Kelly had, was like - no words to describe it other to say that the next morning when I woke up my hips were not happy. Nothing that 2 Advils could not cure.

Rode Cici with the rope halter and carrot stick. Direct rein with support from the carrot stick - driving supporting porcupine. Cici was quiet with no resistance after the first carrot stick touch her face experience. And then after that no head tossing, just quiet turns. After a while I just had to see what riding with the bridle would bring. The same.

Oh and I learned how to fix the slow one step drift from the mounting block. Kelly said again a dominance thing. So there had to be consequences. And there were. When I got home and rode on Monday I only had to tap her on her butt once and was able to mount quietly. Hmmmm how interesting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's not about

At the barn yesterday Mary had a new horse that was dropped off as a possible candidate for a school horse. When I got there she yelled to me, “You are better at talking than I am....” I’m thinking huh? Now I think I’ve mentioned that Mary is incredibly intuitive with the horses. She likes to check what she is getting with what I do. She goes on that the new horse hates his name. Is that right? Yup! This is a very pretty paint black and white who has been a school horse forever. Kids come and go, trainers come and go and I get the feeling he has moved around a lot. No one person to love him.

Its interesting isn’t it? They want that “one person”. Herd animals, need a single connection. I get that over and over and over. Horses who’s person isn’t around much get in trouble. Horses that don’t have a person either explode or go inside themselves.

Mary asks me to help evaluate him. He had just come. I put a rope halter on him and took him to the outside ring to play with. First of all he is totally confused – where's the saddle? Where’s the bridle? Aren’t you going to just jump on me? Boy you are strange! You do funny things. (I can’t tell you how often I hear this when I play with a horse for the first time).

Aside from what I learned about him, I learned a very interesting thing about me. That seems to be my theme since I got Cici. I think its about her and found out its about me! Its not about the horse! As I am driving home I realize, one of those duh hit yourself up the side of the head moments that Mary values my expertise. Horse expertise. And asks for my help.

I think back to when I started out as an adult rider. Notice the word rider. I’m skipping over the adult. I “didn’t know much” and I completely depended on Cindy (trainer who became friend). I remember thinking lots of times how would I ever be able to take care of Jeepers without her. Then I broke out from under her to find myself in another situation where Pam made it clear she knew I didn’t know anything. Sigh. More years there. But obviously I’ve watched, absorbed, read, grown, explored and found my own way.

Mary does not view me as inept or unknowing. She asks my opinion and melds it with hers. I’m not saying I know everything and am treated like a guru. Just like a valued part of a team. Blows my mind!

So back to this horse. He does not like his name. Of course he was never asked. Think this is his form of rebellion. I hate it I hate it and you are not doing anything about it! So we blew his mind by not using it, doing quiet ground work and I asked him what he would like to be called. He said Black Beauty. He is black from behind his shoulders forward – all black face. And white and some more black. But he was not sure. Interestingly thinks of himself as black. I said we would see if we could not come up with some other names to offer him.

He is very nice, quiet, very curious which is a good thing – likes to check things out with his nose. Had no issues with friendly all over, string flipping over and around him, big yoga ball, walked right across tarp before I had it completely flat, ground poles, ropes. Hmm how interesting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Circling Game

Struggling, still struggling. Have a lesson coming up in a week and a half with Kelly and I want to show some progress. Maybe that's the problem. Think I need to have it perfect by then? No that's not it. I just would like a little better send.

Today I went back to putting the plastic bag on the carrot stick. Backing up still very sticky. But am getting a couple of steps. Then I ask and send with the plastic bag laden carrot stick savvy string. Surprise! Cici went out and out and I let the lead slide through my hand til she was almost at the end. She continued for maybe 1/3 of the way around then turned and faced and walked in to me. I thanked her for coming in and asking a question, backed her up a couple of steps and asked and sent her again. Again out almost all the way 1/3 around and turned and came back to me. This was all to the left.

This time when she came in she was giving me her right eye. Cici is very sensitive and lets me know when the pressure on one side or the other is too much. So I took the opportunity to ask her to go to the right. She took maybe 2 or 3 steps and immediately turned sharply back to me. I thanked her. Waited for her to thinking and chew and asked again. Still staying in close and only a couple of steps.

It was hot and humid today. I thought about how she was now standing facing me showing me her left eye. Hmmm how interesting. Too much right side pressure? I have to chew on this. I thought about the nice send on the left and decided I was going to stop for the day. Let her eat more grass.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Goddard State Park

I don't even know where to start. Today got up at 6:00AM to get to the barn to trailer with Rebekah to the Bay State Trail Riders Association's trail ride at Goddard State Park in Rhode Island. This is a ride I've heard about for two years. The trails are along the edge of Narraganset Bay. This is an annual ride, so its in the summer and hot. I never felt I could ask Jeeps to trailer that long a distance in the potential heat, then ride her for about 2 hours and then trailer back. So each year when Rebekah headed out I felt a pang of...well envy.

But I did it today with Cici! We had a wonderful amazing time. We had runners come up behind us. The first time she did a little spook. We passed a guy on a bike. Dogs. Cars. Crossed a road. Walked on the road. Saw a deer in the woods. Other horses, both coming up behind us, in front of us. Even heading the other way. Waves lapping the shore. Voices coming out of where? Had to walk through big puddles. Mud. Along trails in the woods, that then opened up on one side or the other to large expanses of ocean (okay bay) or grassy fields. Pass picnic tables. Did I mention dogs? Barking dogs. Hikers.

And through all this I was comfortable. Cici did her snorting most of the time. There were only short periods where she was truly relaxed and really lowered her head. I did not ride with a casual rein. I kept them bridged and worked on not having contact, but I did have them short enough so I could take contact easily.

I did a lot of yawning, like Kelly Sigler did in the clinic, to see if I could relax any tension I might have and to get Cici to relax. Apparently I was doing it loud enough that Rebekah asked me if I was going to be able to stay awake! LOL!

When we reached the end of trails and began heading back Cici really started to toss her head. I think she was just tired of the bit. The half way point was about what the longest of our home rides is. So I got lots of arguments from her about any sort of contact.

I learned I need to work more on her zone 5. Things, people, animals coming up behind her. More in zone 3. Saddling her in the field where she was more interested in the grass than me. Mounting, well I mounted from the right. Although out on the trails at one point we heard loud voices but could not see the people. Patrick would not go forward and Cici this time would not go forward. I hopped off and hand walked her past and then mounted from a tree root from the left. And zone 1 - the bit issue.

And I passed another threshold!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Doe

Out trail riding today with Rebekah and her horse Patrick. We passed a young doe standing in the woods about 5 feet off the trail. She stood still and watched with interest as we walked by. I don't think either Cici or Patrick noticed her as she didn't move.

The bugs were out in force, the little ones, and Cici was getting annoyed at them. I noticed that she will walk faster when she is annoyed. I swished her a lot and she seemed to forget about them.

Then on the way back Patrick walked right by our doe again. She had moved up the trail and was now standing in the middle of the blueberry bushes. We walked by her and seems she decided at that point to bound up the hill. The sound of her, maybe her movement, caught Cici by surprise and she, yup she took off. Boy was I caught off guard. But stayed on and got her to stop. Fortunately Patrick was ahead of us and since he had totally missed the deer he was just quietly waiting. Once we caught up with him, Cici relaxed and I went back to casual rein. Hmmm how interesting! My emotional fitness is growing.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


When I went out on the trail on Monday the bugs were pretty bad and going for Cici face and neck. She was doing a lot of head flipping, trying to get them off. Rebekah commented that I had forgotten my swish. I said I left it behind because I hadn't checked Cici out with it.

Well I did today. She was in the barn and I just took it out of my cubby and she startled in place. Hmmm how interesting. So I added it to the pile of stuff I was taking to the outdoor ring. Who needs a carrot stick when there is a swish?! She was quite leery of it. So lots of approach and retreat - walking away and letting her catch up. Waving it about. Gently letting it touch her side. Just taking my time. No hurry. No big deal. And after about 20 minutes I could swish her face from either side, up over her ears, under her jaw, up and down her neck. I friendlied the swish all over her body.

By the time I had tacked her up and mounted—from the left—I was able to swish her from the saddle. And this was a good thing because Kara showed up and we went out for a late afternoon/early evening ride in the woods. The bugs were out biting and I was able to swish Cici free of them.

Oh another first. First time we lead the whole way. She wasn't sure at the beginning going past Patrick's paddock. But I just asked and she went on. She quickly took the responsibility of leading seriously and didn't make many attempts to eat. So I was able to ride on a relatively casual rein. Those firsts sure seem to be piling up.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The horse that shows up

Between the rain and trail riding I have been playing on the ground with Cici. She is getting more and more comfortable with me and with this comfort is coming more dominance. And more LBI behavior. The Why should I do that? What's in it for me?

So I'm having to rethink what I doing. Backing is stuck, circling is stuck, she likes stick to me - well after a little convincing. Disengaging hindend and forehand are softening, playing with the ball - got it on her back on the right side! Some days she is more willing for me to play on the right side as opposed to the left. We have not reached a balance yet. Seems to be one side or the other. And I know better than to assume which side on which day!

Saddling is the same. Some days I do everything from the right! Some days I can mix it up. Some days its only from left. Mounting has been mostly from the right. I'm the one learning here it seems. Have you ever tried to mount smoothly from the right? After how many years of mounting from left?!?! And then out at Noon Hill's trail ride she was fine about my mounting from the left at the trailer and again out in the woods. Okay I get it, work with the horse that shows up!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trail Ride

Its been the Fourth of July looong weekend and I've enjoyed the trails with Cici and friends, Friday, Saturday, Sunday Rebekah and I trailer over to Noon Hill for an "off property" ride. Cici was a delight in just walking on the trailer and immediately chowing down on the hay. The drive is maybe 12 minutes, unloaded like the pro she is and stood quietly while I tightened her girth, put her bridle on and mounted.

She was ready to go! Patrick decided he didn't like the look of what looked like a plaster cast of a dinasour bone, don't ask me what it was doing at the trail head, so Cici lead off. Ears forward and a swinging walk. Now this is the first time I've taken her to a new trail. Okay I've gotten over the first time to a clinic, and the first time out on a trail ride. Guess I am making a bigger thing about it. More about my thresholds LOL, not hers. Hmmm how interesting. I write thinking I'm writing about Cici and I find I'm writing about me.

She was walking out! And we were leaving Patrick behind. We swapped off leading. Deep woods, tall trees with vibrant canopy of greens. The beginning trails are wide - some rocky most smooth ground. The only sounds are the birds and horseshoes on rocks, creak of the leather and our voices. Didn't see anyone. Squirrels, chipmunks, birds, a toad yes.

Cici walked through mud, water, over rocks, downed trees, up a rock wall, over a wooded bridge. Nothing seemed to faze her. And I didn't do too bad either LOL.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Go figure

Today was one of those hmmm how interesting days. Yesterday Cici had respect for the plastic bag on the carrot stick in zone 3 but when I asked for a back up she paid absolutely no attention to the plastic bag in zone 1. Today I played with the large yoga ball - bounced it up and down on left side and even got it on her back. But she would not allow me to bounce the ball on her right side.

I played friendly with the saddle pad and she stood quietly when I put it on her and placed the saddle on her back with a hug. After taking the time to slowly tighten the girth I walked her over to the mounting block. I stood next to her in zone 3, slapped the stirrup leathers, flapped the panels and jumped up and down. She stood still. I got on the mounting block and she took a step back. I walked her forward, slapped the stirrup leathers, flapped the panels and jumped up and down. Placed the mounting block at her side she stood still. I got on the mounting block and she took a step back. I got off the block and started to walk her forward when Cici put me on her right side! Hmmm how interesting.

So I thought okay I'll mount from the right! I walked Cici to the mounting block, I stood in zone 3, slapped the stirrup leathers, flapped the panels and jumped up and down. She stood still. I placed the mounting block in position, on the right side, and got on it. She stood still. I rocked her, she stood still. Foot in stirrup - up and down three times. She stood still. I stayed up, and swung my left leg over. She stood still. Talk about hmmm how interesting.

I had tied the lead to the halter to make reins. Lateral flexion to the right was soft. To the left oh boy! Had a brace. This is causing my head to spin. Everything is totally backwards.

I practiced dismounting the traditional natural horsemanship way as opposed to my old calvary way from Captain Collins LOL. Kick feet out of both stirrups lean forward and swing legs up and away. But Cici raises her head when I swing my upper body forward. So lets see what happens with the parelli dismount. But first I have to figure it out!

I mount from right and dismount from left four times. Cici stands quietly at the mounting block - the mounting block on the right. I'm getting better and better at mounting from the right. Go figure.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Life is funny. I went to a clinic with Kelly Sigler, 3 Star Parelli professional, and learned what I needed to learn, but it wasn't what I was expecting to learn. I took a one hour lesson with Kelly on Sunday after auditing all day Saturday.

I was excited to be trailering Cici to a Parelli clinic. The last couple of years with Jeepers I hadn't wanted to trailer her any longer than 15-20 minutes to an event. Oh we did trailer to local spots for trail rides, but clinics were always beyond our reach. This clinic in Rehoboth was about 50 minutes away.

Cici loaded with no problems, but in the end just didn't settle. When we finally got to Johnson & Wales she was wide eyed and soaking wet. Linda helped me unload her and said, "Oh she'll be fine" as Cici dropped her head to immediately start eating grass. She would walk a bit then eat, walk a bit then eat.

Me? I was an immediate wreck! Talk about emotional fitness. I found I had stepped over a threshold I had not even considered existed. I thought this might be emotional journey about letting go of Jeeps and moving on with Cici. But my anxiety was a total surprise.

Linda was a rock. She told me to breathe. She told me, again, Cici was fine. She told me I was here to have fun. She told me we needed to do more of this trailering LOL.

Once in the indoor and walking Cici around to see all the new things I quickly realized she was fine. I was still the basket case. Kelly suggested taking some deep breathes as I'm sure I had stopped breathing the moment we got Cici off the trailer. I started talking and telling Kelly about Cici and what we had been working on. As time went on I was able to focus more and more on the why I was there, and less on the oh my god what happened.

Kelly was great. She used all the tools I've learned in natural horsemanship, to help me. She took the time to explain things, to make suggestions, to adjust what I was doing, to compliment me, to help me move on. We played with the big green ball! And got it on Cici's back! I can't wait to go to the barn today and grow what was started yesterday.

Emotional fitness. Who knew I was taking a clinic on crossing thresholds and developing my emotional fitness?!?!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beginning circling game

Today was the first time I was able to get Cici to start the circling game. She has wanted to stay close to me and I could not move away from her. She has been getting more and more comfortable with backing. Hand on face backing. But this is huge considering the first time I asked where all I got was resistance, head up head down, head sidesways. I started out happy with her shifting her weight. Then one step, then two. Now asking for four and five steps. I can now put the lead rope on the ground and step away from her and she stands still.

So I tried a send. She moved off on a small circle. Very hesitant. One slow step at a time. Hesitate. Is this what I want she was asking? Should she stop now? She was moving stiffly. Hmm how interesting. She went less than 1/4 way around but I can see we can build on this. Is it lack of confidence? Or I am not being clear enough? Well I have the time this Sunday with Kelly Sigler, so I can get an expert opinion!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Its a cold cold rain

We've had what seems like days and days of gray skies and rain, rain, rain. I got to the barn today and Cici and Casey are standing out in the rain. Mary said she, Cici, insisted on eating outside. I put her halter on and walked her out of the paddock and she seemed to be moving slow and didn't stop to eat the grass outside the gate. I'm getting worried. When I get her into the barn I see she is shivering uncontrollably.

I try to dry her off and Mary gets a quarter sheet rug - one of those quilted kinds, which on Cici is a 3/4 blanket. I walk her up to the indoor and she has her head down, is not moving well and is shaking all over.

Linda was teaching a lesson. She takes on look and gets Vago's medium weight winter blanket and throws it on Cici and tells me to walk. Took her temp and it was 100.4. She's walking slow. She really doesn't even want to be moving but I insist. And she wasn't even interested in a treat. Walks with head down not interested in anything.

After about 20 -30 minutes she is starting to look around and notice that there are horses in the stalls in the indoor. And she is walking with me, not behind. Matt had brought in a wheel barrel with hay and she notices that. I grab a handful and offer it to her and she eats. Finally an interest in eating. So we keep walking and every time by the hay I grab another handful.

After 40 minutes she is no longer shivering at all. Linda helps me unwrap her so we can do a fashion show and see what of Jeeps' I have in my storage bin that will fit. I pull out a cotton Irish sheet thinking that will help absorb some of the wet and it fits her very nicely. It shrunk so it was small on Jeeps. And pull out the Amigo waterproof turnout. Its a bit long in length and below her knees, but can shorten the surcingle to make it fit her body.

Back down to the barn where we rub her down with towels to try and dry her off a bit more. Then the Irish and turnout. She's all wrapped up like a Christmas present.

I walk Cici back to the paddock and lead her into the shed where there is a large pile of hay. Then I take off her halter. She dives in. And she kicks Casey out. Guess she is back to her old self.

Scary! Really scary!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lateral Flexion

I've been working slowly on lateral flexion. On the ground with both the halter and bridle Cici is willing. I've been asking for her to hold the bend for a bit longer and longer, and for her to be relaxed.

Some things I've noticed. I watched the June Savvy Club DVD on Horsenalities. She is a LBI with a little RBI. She is very much "in my pocket", but she also will snort at new things. Hmmm how interesting. When Pat was working with the RBI and asking for lateral flexion he commented on how the horse's eyes were closing when he had the flexion and was waiting for the release. Said the horse was going inside. Cici sometimes does that also. Hmmm how interesting.

Two days ago when I asked for the flexion on the right we circled and circled and circled. I was on the ground. And when she finally stopped and I asked her to hold it she flipped her head before she did finally offer a release.

When I've ridden her the last couple of days at the walk and we continue to work on stick to the rail. I ask for turns will a very light wide rein. Both right and left. Just letting her get used to the feel and that I'm not going to haul on her. To the right if she starts to resist putting her nose in the air or shaking her head, I just try and maintain the same light feel until she releases.

I have my own things to work on like getting used to her stride and swing. 12 years with one horse is a big habit to change LOL. We walk around the ring lots of changes of direction. So lots of light contact. And I am beginning to get comfortable in the saddle on her. I even asked for a little trot today. Now that is another thing for me to work on!

Today I rode her for maybe 35 or 40 minutes. Started out with flexing both directions. Left fine, right a bit of an argument. Resistance. At the very end of todays ride I asked for first left flexion - not an issue and then right flexion - and for the first time ever, EVER she bent softly and quietly with no resistance. Hmmm how interesting! Oh Boy!

Know enough to have no expectation for tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stick to the rail and trail

I've been playing stick to the rail with Cici. Good way for her to understand her responsibilities of maintaining gait, direction and on the rail. I find it is as much a training exercise for me as for her. Can easily ride with loose rein, but don't always remember to pick it up before making correction. And understand that is part of the conversation, the helloooooo, before the asking. Hmmm how interesting.

Today I went to the barn in the morning. Saw Cici and Casey were deep into eating their hay. By the time I had visited with Mary in the barn and picked up Cici's halter and headed out she was at the gate waiting for me! Oh how this makes my heart sing. Sigh. She is interested in me. She wants to be with me. Of course as I write this I also think well today she was.

I've been playing with her right side issues. Hindend disengagement as slow and thoughtful as opposed to fleeing away. Get a nice slow careful step and then lots of dwell time. I've noticed that her chewing is increasing in length. She used to chew a couple of times and then stop. But I never got the feeling that the chew was really over. Now she is chewing for longer and longer.

Mounting block still an issue. Taking the time to make sure she is totally still before I mount. So what if this takes a while ;-) I flap the stirrup leather, I flap the saddle flap, I raise and lower my knee under her belly. And she takes a slow step backwards. So I keep it up until she is quiet.

Sticking to the rail is making more and more sense to her. I can truly keep the reins on her neck. And she isn't grabbing for the weeds that grow inside the fence, isn't grabbing for the low hanging leaves on the branches and for the most part she is staying on the rail. Our left turns are nice and the right turns are coming along with less and less resistance to the bit. If I am light she is light. Hmmm how interesting.

We did then go out on the trails with Rebekah and Patrick. For the first time I was able to ride with loose reins. I told her (Cici) that as long as she stayed on the trail and kept her mouth still (no eating) I would not get in her way. Oh I did have to make corrections here and there. But I didn't get into arguments with her. We did a bit of switching off who was leading and who was following with Patrick. With both of us, me and Cici, getting more comfortable with each other, it was a relaxed ride. Her head is now in western pleasure position.

I did hop off at one point, and then needed to mount from a mound of dirt. She quietly backed up. Back to a bit of disengagement and circles and back to mound of dirt, stirrup leather flapping and she stood. I told her that I hop on and off a lot so that she is going to have to get used to my mounting her in the woods.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Little Steps

It is the littlest steps that matter the most. Cici is turning out to be a phenomenal teacher. I keep having these duh! ah! hmmm how interesting! moments with her. I need to slow down on my goals and focus on what is right in front of me. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Halter Ride

I've been thinking about Cici's reaction to the bit and bridle. So I've ordered a rope hackamore. Thinking maybe if I can get her comfortable with that then the bit and bridle won't be such an issue.

Today I tried out my hypothesis using the halter and tying up the lead into reins like I always did with Jeeps. The good news is that Cici stood quietly at the mounting block. The bad news is she is as resistant to the halter as she is to the bridle. One very willful mare. Head up in the air and shaking back and forth. Head down and to the side. I was able to achieve a quiet bend to the left. But right is a whole other story.

She will bend turn her head around completely to the left. Just about put it in my lap. But not relaxed.

I asked her to walk forward and she was paying attention to Mary who was haying the far side. And then graining the outdoor horses. She could pay attention to everything but me. I had watched Linda on RFDTV last night with casual rein and stick to the rail. So I tried the casual rein with my hand on her neck. Lifting rein when I wanted something. For maybe 5 or 6 steps we had quiet head down horse. But the moment I lifted the reins - well back to "NO".

I keep reminding myself It takes Time. I knew she was a project horse. Just didn't think about how big a project LOL. I have the private parelli lesson coming up with Kelly Siegler on June 28th. Really looking forward to that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mounting Block

She does not like mounting blocks. Oh she doesn’t do anything mean or very obvious but...she will stop one step before. Stand very quiet. I walk her past to line her up with the block and she is fine. I get up on the block and she will just oh soooo slowly drift her hind end away from the block. I’ve done circles, disengagements when she does this and then walk her back to the block. The first time it took a little while. Next time only a couple, next time back to a while.

And I know its not about the mounting block. Just can't figure out what it really is about other than memories of kids.

Sometimes she stands still and I flap the stirrup leathers for lots of noise. Quiet. I rock the saddle. Quiet. I put my foot in the stirrup and sloooow drift of hind end. Sigh.

Of course my trail riding friends think I’m nuts. I mean I could just get on. But I keep telling them I won’t get on a moving horse. So they wait LOL.

Yesterday it wasn’t that long before she was quiet. But I know I have to keep working on this. Each day. I watched the Parelli Clipping Naturally CD and was blown away by all the prior and proper preparation. Wow! So that has given me renewed hope. And renewed patience. Take the times it takes. Even if that is a looooong time.

You know we went to the Celebration and saw Pat do something in even a couple of days that when we get home realize will take up months! Hard sometimes to hold on to the incremental changes and be happy with them.

Re the mounting, Cici was a school horse of one year and I’m sure that someone held her head as the kids mounted. I am also sure that her previous owner mounted from the ground. And the kids were not her favorite riders.

I was on the trails yesterday and she saw deer for the first time under me. Her head was up and Vivian was coming up behind us. And then Vivian said let me pass, Georgie is fine with deer. Well Cici did not like the idea of him passing us, and she started to back up into him. To avoid any problem I hopped off. And then wondered if I would be able to mount her out in the woods from a rock or tree. But also figured we were not that far from the barn and I could easily walk her back.

I walked her to a rock. She stood perfectly still. I struggled to get my foot in the stirrup, it was a small rock LOL. She stood perfectly still. I got up very unaltetically very ungracefully. She stood perfectly still. Okay this answered my questions about the mounting block. Guess I need to disguise it as a rock?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Casey Doesn't Forget

When Kendyl came out on Friday for the vet check of CiCi, she also needed to give Casey his last shot. He was not happy to see her - as she says they have a love hate relationship. She loves him, he hates her.

I had his halter on when she came into the paddock. I know to do this with him. He greeted her with pinned ears and teeth. I mentioned that he has been most happy when I just take him for walks. Not asking anything of him, just walk him, well like a dog. He walks and trots along at my side, happy as can be.

She reached out her hand and asked me for his lead. And she walked off with him around the paddock. He was delighted and walked next to her. No biting, no pinned ears. She gave him the shot mid-stride and hardly a notice from him.

On Sunday when I planned on walking him around he reared at the halter. Then stood so I could get it on. But as I walked out of the paddock and up the driveway he was dragging his little hooves. I let the rope out and he followed me about 8 to 10 feet back!!!! I swear I heard muttering about walking next to and getting stuck with needles.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We are family!

CiCi passed the vet check with flying colors. Another conquest, Kendyl is in love with her. I called Jill and have posted the check. I can't believe it! Yippee! Whahooo!

I got to the barn an hour before the usual trail riding time with Rebekah. Want to spend time with CiCi before I tack her up. Brushed her and off to the ring with a saddle pad. Work on Zone 3. A plan! I know that I'm doing LOL. Maybe, hopefully. See what comes up today.

I focused on standing behind the driving line and lift up saddle pad. Yup. CiCi raises her head and takes a step away. Keep doing this until she is standing still. Then I'm standing still, turned away a bit to take the pressure off her and give her time to digest what happened. And she lowers her head and licks and chews. And I have learned that just because she is chewing does not mean I can move on to the next thing. Let her chew. Let her think think think. Give her time. Reflection time. It does not take all that much time for me to be able to lift the saddle pad up on her back on both sides with her remaining calm and still.

She's mine! I'm hers! We are an official family now! Still can't believe it.

When I go to saddle her, quiet with the saddle pad, correction pad, saddle like a hug. Bridle and left halter on and back out to the ring. Now I want to see about the none issue mounting block. She still stands 1 step before and if I ask her to walk forward one step she will do so and then slowly swing her hips away from the block. Hmmm how interesting.

I walk her away and ask for hindend disengagement - circle until she gives me the right eye. Back to the block. Stops 1 step before, I ask for forward she comes up swings hindend away and I walk her forward and more disengagements. It really only takes 3 or 4 repetitions before she stands absolutely perfectly still at the mounting block. I flap the stirrup leathers, make lots of noise, rock her. She is perfectly still. "Is this all you wanted?"

We are family.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 5

The time is beginning to run together. Yesterday was switching the hollow snaffle to a french link and seeing the head tossing stop.

Today I decided to work on CiCi standing at the mounting block. I thought the issue was that she would not stand and then walk off before I got my leg over. I admit I got into a straight line thought process.

I played with her on the ground, I groomed her, I went to put the saddle pad on and up came the head. I was in the outside ring for the duration. So we walked around flapping the saddle pad up an down. And up and down. And she would start back about 4 or 5 feet and then be walking with her head at my shoulder. But when I'd turn and face her and raise the pad up would come the head. So of course right now, as I am writing this, it is making perfect sense based on what I much later realized was the issue. But not at this point in the play session.

I finally was able to put the pad on after lots of rubbing and taking the time. Saddling is not bad, stilling hearing Pat "its like a hug". So I make it like a hug. She didn't have any issues with the bridle. I left the halter on as I didn't want to be leading her around off of the bit just yet.

Girthing was done in pieces, lots of games and up a hole, more games, up another hole. All seems fine. Quiet and focused on me.

I walked her over to the mounting block and she stops 1 step before. I am standing on the block and ask her to walk forward one more step. Nope. So I get down and walk her around in a circle. Play stick to me. Stop at lots of places in the circle, walk behind, around, in front of the mounting block. Stop after it, before it. I even add a couple of plastic jump blocks that I can use as mounting blocks in the circle. I am now doing a step class, as I am walking up on the blocks and down. Thinking maybe its the sound. So lots and lots of up and down, lots of walking the circle, lots of stops. Still no willingness to stop at the "right place" for me to mount.

Now I think maybe I've trained her to be at my shoulder. And when I mount I would be at her middle. So I stop one step ahead of the block and then I walk back one step. She walked back on step with me.

Back to playing games porcupine and driving and backing. Back to circle walking. I glance at my watch and realize we have been at this for about an hour and the light bulb finally, at long last, goes on. ITS NOT ABOUT THE MOUNTING BLOCK!!!! DUH?!?!?!?

Its her Zone 3. So that explains the saddle pad, the spook when I toss the electric tape off the gate (it soars past her Zone 3), the not wanting to stand at the mounting block, my inability to get a good circling game because she keeps me in Zone 1 & 2. Gee golly gosh. LOL!

When I walked her back to her paddock we did some moseying. She was eating grass greedily and I asked for head up and twirled the rope at her hind end. I misjudged the distance and it hit her. Not that hard, but she spooked. And then walked head up to her paddock. When she turned to face me in the paddock she was head up and clearly very worried. Oh my god I have clearly broken our newly forming trust. I hang my head in shame. And take the time to reengage with her before I take her halter off. Lots of scratching and rubbing.

Later when I come back with the muck fork and bucket she is still concerned about me. Breaks my heart, we had come so far so quickly. I wait for her to come to me which she does slowly. I let her sniff me again, give her a treat and she now follows me and supervises my poop removal. When I leave she walks with me to the gate.

Today I learned the pitfalls of straight line thinking. I found out how sensitive CiCi is. I realize I need to give her more thinking/dwell time. Neutral. And I need to focus on Zone 3. Hmmm how interesting.

She is going to teach me soooo much. Hope I am up to her standards.

There is always tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 4

This is from yesterday, Tuesday. I brought just a saddle pad with me to play with Cici. Work on her head raising when the saddle pad is placed on her back. It is so interesting to work and watch this mare. She is very clear when she has an issue. And she is so willing to work with me about the various issues. She is presenting more of herself. Not only focused on me like the first time we played. She looks around. Notice changes. Listens. But all of this is done with her head up and feet still.

Carrot stick is completely acceptable to be raised around her. Slapping the ground - I did some walking away and she quickly was walking with me. I was walking backwards at one point so I could see her reactions and realized that she was following directly behind me. What I mean is that the first time I played with her and walked backwards to watch her she followed me a track to the left so that there was no way she could show her right eye. She walked straight, just a track over. And now she was walking right behind me - giving me both eyes! Hmmm how interesting.

A lot of changes are occurring and fast. And some of them are these kinds of changes that "just seem to happen".

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 3

When I got to the barn today Casey and CiCi were standing together. Yippee!!! Quite a change from her chasing him away.

She looks up when she hears me call her. She greets me at the gate. She is nuzzling me looking for treats. I give her one and also give Casey one. Peace.

I played with CiCi in the indoor. Played stick to me and get in sync with my walking and stopping. Also keeping a respectful distance and not jamming into me. She is amazing in how quick she picks things up. Morning hay was being tossed into paddocks and she could see this. I did plan on riding her so after about 20 minutes I put her back in her paddock. And she and Casey were eating the hay side by side! Another Yippee!!

When Rebekah showed up I got CiCi again and took her into the barn for grooming and tacking up. Had to go slow with raising the saddle pad and putting it on her back. New for me to be aware of what is going on. When I put the saddle on I thought of Pat's comment that is it like a hug. Slowly positioned myself for the wind up and slowly placed it on her back with nary a notice by her. Thanks Pat! The hug was perfect.

I mounted her and before I could bend her she was off walking. Walked her into the outside ring. Told Rebekah had to start here before going out on the trails. I bent her to a stop, took a bit of circling before she understood. She has a faster, shorter stride than I am used to. We walked and walked, and then I followed Rebekah on Patrick to see how she would do. And after a few minutes, I got comfortable with her stride and she was walking quieter and I said lets head out!

CiCi snorts when she has to deal with something new. Her way of expressing herself. As we headed out she is snorting. She was walking up Patrick’s butt. Found out how much she hates contact with the bit. Head goes up and there is head tossing. But not really exaggerated, just annoyed. She pretty quickly settled down, I settled down and the snorting stopped. She was willing to walk over rocks, through mud, over downed trees, and we even threw in some bushwacking. Nothing seemed to phase her.

I have borrowed a western bridle from the sellers, and I put my own rope ones on, so the feel for me was familiar, not those silly leather reins LOL.

She has so many holes in her training. Or lack there of. But she is good hearted and snorting seems to be all she does at new things.

It is clear that the guy who owed her (before he died of natural causes) just tacked her up, got on, and rode with no contact. Let her do what she wanted. She is not mean or malicious, just really clueless. As Linda said, a project. But this project I can do.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 2

This morning I knew I would have to deal with dominance issues. Yes we are a herd, but I do need to be able to go to Casey and halter him without CiCi commenting. I was prepared and had to do some specific driving her away. Boy can she be one determined Alpha mare. She didn’t take to my exerting my Alpha over hers lightly LOL. Got head tossing, and a bit of prancing toward and away from me. But she did give us space and I was able to halter Casey and take him out of the paddock for some one-on-one time, which I hadn’t done yesterday.

I took her into the barn for a grooming session with other horses. She looks at everything and you can just about hear her thinking. She is noticed by all the geldings. Patrick was looking as was Georgie.

We then went for a walk out on the trails, hand walking, and she was not disturbed or bothered by anything. Through the underbrush, over rocks, over trees, between narrow spaces. We were following for a while and then Rebekah and Vivian said go up ahead and see how she is leading. Not a problem.

She does not have very good ground manners about being lead in the woods. Doesn’t share the narrow trails well with me or yield when walking by trees, but that is something I can easily work with. I am just so used to Jeeps, who followed behind me. But then again I had done a lot of ground work with her for her to be able to do that.

As CiCi is settling in I am seeing more of her personality emerging. She is a spirited soul. When I put her back in her paddock, she trots (floating trot) around to reestablish her domain.

I’ve also noticed in the day and a half that Casey is not running away when she goes after him, he just gets out of the way. Of course I want them eating their hay side by side. But I'll just have to practice patience.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Went to pick up CiCi this morning. She loaded with no problems. My friend Rebekah, who I trail ride with, and had taken her trailer to pick up CiCi was amazed and delighted and said, We’re keeping her! LOL. CiCi unloaded, looked around and when I walked her to some grass she dropped her head and ate. Everyone, since of course all my friends were around to check out the “new horse” were amazed at her attitude.

I took her to her paddock, causing quite a stir with the other horses. Casey, the mini, greeted her with a squeal, then spun to kick her, and she arched her neck and went to kick him. I was at this point thinking that maybe I should have gotten a major medical policy on him! He took off, she took off after him.

She had her neck arched, back up, and was moving in a floating trot – gorgeous! I had not seen this side of her. What a mover. She chased him! He took off. Several skirmishes ensured. He didn’t challenge her again. They have a truce, he is standing away from her and she is queen of the paddock. He is wondering what happened. He is no longer king.

She is just standing in the paddock like she has always been there. Settled right in. After letting Casey know who is the boss. Again everyone commented.

At hay time we put out two piles. She just dove into the hay. And I had to move Casey’s to the opposite side of the paddock before he would eat. A little later she was at his pile and he was standing aside as she ate. He is very round, so I am not worried that he is not eating.

I am actually reassured by her behavior. I didn’t want him to be the aggressor and dominating her. When he first met my mare Jeepers, she was with three other mares in a larger paddock. He took one look at the mare herd and thought, MINE! And he immediately has the four full sized horses running around while he played stallion.

Jeeps put up with this for only so long before she turned on him and had him standing in the corner while the mares ate. Only after they were done did she let him eat. And they became best friends. So hopefully he and CiCi will be eating side by side before too long.

I did play with her for a little while. Can tell even though on the outside she looks settled in, she was a little distracted at first. But then she focused and was quiet while I did the friendly game with savvy string over her back. The first time I tried this on what Monday? she would flinch and but not move her feet. Now she is fine. She even offered her right eye pretty quickly. Found nice driving game. Very light. Backing up, away from me is a bit sticky. So will work on that. But for today just wanted to check and see how she was doing.

Rob suggested we stop by the barn on the way to dinner, it is our Anniversary. Boy what an Anniversary present! So he could meet CiCi. I went to the paddock, and of course she greeted me. Casey is on the opposite fenceline with Seamus and Cruise. He looks so sad. And when I go to say hi to him, after saying hi to CiCi she walked with me. And when we get closer to Casey she pins her ears and her head goes down and I interrupt her. No he is part of the family also.

She is clearly establishing her dominance, and in her world I am part of her herd. I will have to stay aware of this and work on it tomorrow so that I can be able to go to Casey and halter him without her driving him away. I was dressed for a dinner out, not horse play so I didn't do much more. But tomorrow! More challenges!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fast Learner

I went back to Raynham to play with CB again. I wanted to see what she retained from Sunday's play session. A lot! Stood facing her at the end of the 12 foot line and waved the carrot stick up and down. She walked up to me. Porcupined hind end and front on the left - she was light light light. And it only took maybe 5 minutes before she presented her right eye. Not completely comfortable, but she did offer. So I did a lot of scratching. And she did lateral flexion to do a bit of mutual grooming on me. And she even backed several steps from the just lightest suggestion.

Today CB spent a lot of time chewing. And standing with head lowered. Jaw is loosening. At one point I crouched down because I wanted to take all pressure off of her and she lowered her head to me. Amazing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Candace Bergen

I was at the barn this morning. Took Casey for a trail walk with Rebekah and Vivian mounted, me and Casey and Nancy and Dane walking. I told Casey I was looking for a new girl friend and I was going to visit one the color of the sun.

I then went back to Raynham and spent around an hour in the round pen with CB. When I got there I had a bunch of stuff that I took to the round pen. I glanced at her paddock and she was in the shed. Not even a head sticking out. So I did my thing. Put down the tarp. There was a little kid lesson in the BIG ring so I got some poles to put on the tarp so it won’t blow around and startle the pony with the kid. I also got the pink saddle pad because I noticed CB had reacted to it when Jill put it on yesterday.

When I had everything set I turned to the paddock and CB was standing at the gate waiting, having clearly been watching me.

I felt I would just check out a bunch of stuff. Do a mini assessment. Take the time it took. She wasn’t happy with the swinging carrot stick, so I walked ahead of her and played out the 12 foot line. I was holding onto the leather poppers before she would even consider following. I had left the 22 ft in the car, but I bet she would have been at the end of that! But again, she never did anything, just hung back. I kept thinking "take the time it takes".

Porcupine back up took a very short time for her to shift weight. And then take a step back. Guess I kind of use Casey as my measure. This was nothing like the first time with him. Where as a LB extreme E he put his head down, stared me in the eyes and said go ahead and make me move!

Once she understood release to pressure, head down was smooth and quiet. Lateral flexion – to say we walked in circles doesn’t even begin to cover it LOL.

Very soft and light on the left with disengagement both porcupine and driving. But would not give me her right eye, let alone right side. So I worked quietly with her, doing things, walking and changing direction, asking for her to lower her head, turn, back up, disengagement. It was all very very fascinating to me to note and observe.

Jill asked how things were going and what my thoughts were. I told her that the right side thing was intriguing. Jill said she would just do everything from the right. I said I would but she would not let me get on her right. Jill asked why I just didn’t go there. I said I was waiting for CB to give me permission. WHICH she did about 40 minutes into the play session! And then there was this release and she put her head down!!!! And chewed and chewed. And took a few steps with her head lowered and relaxed.

I took her pink saddle pad and lifted it up to put on her. Head up and step away. I have the lead rope draped over my arm, she is not tied to anything, unlike yesterday in the barn. Hmmm how interesting. So walked away flapping pad. Now here is an interesting note. I had done this flapping with the carrot stick and she ultimately accepted it. Or began to accept it. With saddle pad we are back to the beginning. Walked an flapped until my arms were falling off. Stopped walking and she did walk up to me. Then I did silly things with saddle pad - started rubbing her legs and her hips and her belly. Rubbed her sides up and down with the saddle pad. I can feel her thinking You are nuts! I told her lots of horses have told me that. LOL. But she started to relax and accepted the saddle pad on her back - both sides!!!!

This mare is holding a lot of stuff inside her. I don’t think we are talking exploding stuff, but I see the potential for a BIG change at some point. And it is going to come from unlocking her right side. Totally mind blowing stuff for me. And totally freaking me out that I can see the potential for change in CB.

First Ride

Linda accompanies me for a return visit and first ride. Saw Candace first on Friday. It's now Saturday. I realize I am focused on her mind and personality, size, general appearance but if you asked me about her legs and feet - well I could tell you she had them, but not even how she moved. That why Linda's with me. Objective assessment.

Jill tacks her up, note head raising at saddle pad, and step away. I am surprised that I even notice it. Also thinking Jill is not acknowledging it. Is that the if it I ignore it it will go away? Or if I ignore it they won't notice?

She rides her first. Candace is clearly out of shape. And she does not like contact with the bit. So her head is up and out and back is hollow. But she willingly picks up the trot and later the left lead canter, right is a struggle.

Now its my turn. That morning I rode Georgie. Vivian kept saying I was going to have to deal with his double reins, and that I would have to use both and maintain contact otherwise, otherwise, I'm not sure what the otherwise was. Georgie was fine. And now I am riding Candace with a bridle - bit and reins also. Twice in one day. And the last time I rode a horse with a bit was when?!?!? Maybe two years LOL.

After the last year with Jeeps - well Candace feels all wiggly! There is movement. Feel everything. Oh she is not supple but she is young. And these muscles, even out of shape muscles, feel oh so different. We just walk around while I try and relax and get comfortable with what I am feeling under me. I finally ask for trot and after a bit get one she will maintain and one that I feel I can relax and ride. Shorter stride for sure. But then again it has been quite some time since I've ridden a trotting horse in a ring.

Look I'm trotting! Looking I'm holding reins! Hmm how interesting


Answered a Horse for Sale ad for a Palomino, mare, 12 years old, 14.1 hands, quiet trail horse. First time ever looking for a horse. Jeepers "just appeared" at the barn, Casey well I guess you could say he "just appeared" also. But now I'm thinking about what I want. What is important? What are the criteria? Know nothing bigger than say 15.2. But I remember I have always thought a 14 hand pony would be perfect. Like to stay under 12 years old. Not too old, not too young, hey wait a moment is this all about Goldilocks and the Three bears?

Okay size and age. Color? Breed? Temperament? That one is easy left brain introvert. Quiet. Dependable. A bit of go would be nice. But not too much. Thinking mare, but that is not a deal breaker.

Candace was at the gate very interested in sniffing me. Curiosity that's good. She knows she is for sale and checking prospects out I guess. She had gone out with someone else and was returned. I halter her (rope halter) and lead her to the large round pen to play. She is focused on me. Attentive. Quiet. Soft. Quickly connects and plays stick to me with no problem. Does not give me her right eye. Or right side for that matter. Clearly has not had very much of anything done on the right. Hmmm how interesting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ode to Jeepers

Jeepers has passed on to greener pastures. I promised her that she would be going to a place where she would be black, shiny, and fat. She would be able to stand in fields of grass up to her belly. And that she would be able to eat all the grass she wanted, all day long….without my looking at my watch and saying enough.

I had to make the decision of when. She’s been ready, just waiting for me to be ready. We’ve been together for 12 years. We both started off scared and a little spooky. We gained trust and confidence together. It’s been a fantastic journey.

We started out at a barn with a group of friends. We rode “dressage”. When I asked her to work a bit harder she would always, always check with me to make sure I understood what I was asking. Did I really want this? Really want her to engage her hind end? Really want that leg yield? Really want her work?!?!?!

I used to part lease her to help pay her bills. One of the people I leased her to was a beginner. A real beginner. When I rode Jeepers the day after Rowan rode her I’d have to remind Jeeps that this was me riding and she could walk bigger, trot bigger, hey maybe even canter. Later I part leased her to Cindy for lessons. Mostly kids. I’d often saddle her up and walk into the ring and then tighten the girth. When I was tightening from the left Jeeps would turn her head to her right side and snap her teeth. When I was tightening from the right she would turn her head to the left and snap her teeth. Cindy told me that she did not do this with any of the kids who tacked her up. Jeepers was just fine expressing herself to me.

One day she was in a grooming stall. I was just reaching under to get the girth and she was turning her head away to snap. Two of the young girls who regularly rode her were walking down the isle. She saw them coming and turned her teeth baring snap into a smile as they walked past!

After a few years of riding in rings, in lessons, I realized there had to be more. I wanted more of a relationship, better communication, more confidence. I had a dream and wanted to continue towards it. I heard about Parelli Natural Horsemanship. And began a new journey. I spent the next three months only doing groundwork. No riding. Then I started riding Jeepers in just a rope halter. The moment I stopped with the bridle and bit she was more responsive, lighter, happier. Once I was asking her for bend and engagement. Working on a circle. A friend watching yelled to me, “You have her on the bit.” I responded, “I don’t have a bit!”

The last several years I’ve been trail riding her with just that rope halter, and my dressage saddle. Even trailering to local places for long walks in the woods. This was a BIG deal for me. But she handled it fine. And made it possible for me enjoy. I would think each time we were out, “My God, I am now one of ‘those’ people.” People I have seen through the years riding their horses in the woods. Not only was I riding with just a rope halter, but with the rope reins hanging down loose. I would laugh to myself as I rode with one hand on the rope and the other hanging down by my side. Confident and unafraid. Because my horse had become confident and unafraid.

Jeepers loved the trails and the woods. And has left me with many wonderful memories. She had a fantastic big swinging walk. I never experienced this in a ring. She could out walk anyone on the trail, no matter their size. She would walk over anything. Bushwack with the best of them. Straddle logs on the trail. Walk over branches and tree limbs and trees that had fallen across the trail. And never, ever would she willingly walk over a ground pole in a ring!

I told her that she had turned into a great trail horse. And she told me I had learned to relax! When we first went out on the trails I used chant to myself, swing swing breathe breathe swing swing breathe breathe. On one of our very early trail experiences, the horse we were riding with was freaking out. Prancing, leaping in the air, rushing. I was asked if Jeeps could lead. I was thinking she can but can I? She made it clear to me that she would take care of us, all I had to do was continue with my breathe breathe swing swing and leave the rest to her. She lead us all back to the barn quietly and steadily.

We have seen fisher cats climbing trees, black snakes, come across deer and more deer, and once a fawn was standing right in the middle of the trail. Jeeps never took a misstep, never spooked, stayed calm and focused. I was riding with my friend Vivian and we were chatting away. I heard Vivian say, “Up ahead to the side of the trail is a large bird feeding on the ground. We will probably startle it as we get closer.” I thought okay I can deal with this since I know its there. Vivian and Georgie walked a few more steps, a red tailed hawk exploded from the side of the trail and flew off. Georgie spooked and Vivian wheeled him around. Jeeps and I just watched the hawk. She never even moved. I thanked Vivian for the heads up. “What are you talking about? I never saw the bird, the last thing I said was where was the next green dot trail marker?”

She carried me through woods, up and down hills, over wooden bridges, through mud, still water, streams and rock walls. We walked on deer paths, wide groomed trails and everything in between.

She never let me down. Always took care of me. I tried to mother her, but she out mothered me. We have been through a lot together. I know I’ve made the right decision. Its over, done quietly and peacefully. Before she left she told me she would see her foal again, who apparently died very young. Jeepers had searched for her in this world endlessly. About a year and a half ago, she fell in love with a black mini, Casey, who is now part of my family. She considered him her foal. She is now with her own true foal. Live in Peace Mama.

8 May 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Broken Trust

I had schedule the Natural Balance Dentist, Krystin Dennis to come and check Jeeps and do Casey. I don't know how long it has been for him, and I've noticed his jaw motion is just to the left. I also knew he would have to be sedated so I also schedule Kendyl.

I've been practicing poking him in the neck for months now. I sit on the rock in his paddock and put his halter on. I then quietly bend his head toward me and first pat then poke then pinch his neck. He has gotten soft and absolutely fine with this. I am so excited to show Kendyl what an angel he can be.

Well Krystin arrives, then Kendyl. Casey takes one look at Kendyl and all the softness is gone. Back to that old hard eye. I told her about what I've been doing and she is willing to sit on the rock and see how he does. He does up! She just touches his halter and he goes up. I am so dissapointed. She assures me that she believes me about all the work I've done. Its just a matter of Love/Hate. She loves him, he hates her!

But she does take the time to sit with him and stroke his neck. I show her his most favorite spot to scratch, armpits and after a little while, while still sitting she quickly gives him the shot to sedate him. He only goes up off the ground in front a few inches.

Now we wait. His head starts to droop and he is a bit unsteady on his feet. Krystin puts on knee pads and positions her tools and herself in front of Casey. She winds up sitting down on the ground and puts her knees up so that she can place Casey's head on them to work. Kendyl reaches over to help put on the speculum and Casey is awake! So she gives him a second shot - now he has received the sedation of a full sized horse.

At one point I noticed that he was standing with one hind leg cocked and crossed over the other. I was worried that he might fall over, so I gently reached under to just place the relaxed leg squarely underneath. Well this horse drugged mini kicked at me as soon as I touched that leg.

Krystin works slowly and carefully. It takes about an hour before she is finished. At any point during that time if Kendyl came close, Case lifted his head. And when all was done he looked over his shoulder to make sure that Kendyl had really and truly left the paddock!

The next day I could not approach him with the halter. He would have nothing to do with it. So I put it away and just sat with him. He would come to me as long as the halter was not around.

Its now three days since the dentist and Casey is still leery of the halter. "You put that thing on me and then bring in evil people". He will still come to me. And stand and let me groom and scratch him. But pick up the halter and he stays just out of reach. Does not run away. Just not within touching range. When I stand in front of him with the halter, he backs up. Hmmm, how interesting. Quiet, straight back LOL. At the side with the halter, nice disengagement of hind end. At the side of his head, moves forehand.

So the trust we had is not completely broken, maybe cracked a bit. I'll just take the time it takes. No need to rush. Since he is not not avoiding me I know we will work through this.

Hay God

There was a hay delivery today. The huge tractor trailer truck parked by the side of the barn with the mechanical conveyor belt up to the loft. They were almost done when I got there. I was inside the barn, gathering up all the stuff I take to the paddock. All of a sudden there is a noise and down the ladder comes a bald, medium height, round man. Oh my god - the HAY GOD! Not exactly what I had ever envisioned for a God, but he lived up to the billing.

I mentioned that I had always talked to Jeepers about the Hay Fairy bringing her hay. But I hadn't thought about a Hay God. He quickly informed me that while he might be cheerful he was not gay LOL. He was the Hay GOD!!!

As he was getting ready to leave, I asked him if he could come and meet my mare. That she would surely appreciate the opportunity to tell him how much she enjoys his hay. He started to the paddock, but when I pointed out her at the far paddock, he reconsidered. He reached down and took a handful of hay. He blessed it - doing a cross over it. Apparently someone mentioned my faith, so he added Shalom. And assured me that he too was Jewish. Wow! Hay God is Jewish!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Woods and Trails

Today as I went to Jeeps' and Casey's paddock I thought about asking permission. I was loaded up with halters and leads, carrot stick, muck buckets and rake. Of course when I got there I found that they had just been hayed. I called to them, "just the cleaning lady", and proceeded to pick the paddock. The shed was a mess, clearly they had spent the night inside. I dragged on full bucket out of the paddock and then went back. I opened the gate and looked at where and how they were standing. Far side from gate, heads down in the hay, rear end facing the gate. Hmmmm.

I had Jeeps' halter and lead and my carrot stick as I walked a few steps into the paddock. Not even a flicker of an ear. So I bend down and selected a small stone. I have never tried this before. But I'm thinking of Pat from the Celebration. When I stand up to aim for a throw Jeepers lifted her head and looked at me. Permission! She watched as I walked up to her and haltered her.

We play squeeze game out the gate cause I am not bringing Casey with us. So gate isn't opened very far, Jeeps just walks out and we head for the trails. Grass is sprouting everywhere and the temptation is too great for her. So lots of disengagements to get moving.

I find that I now look at the woods and trails with totally new eyes. Where can we stop and back up? Where is there enough room for circles? Disengagements? Yo-Yo? The hills are now a place to run up and then do a little backing down. There are two tress close together that I've always ridden between. Now I play the yo-yo game between them. Found even more logs to step over. Its a whole new place!

By the time we head back and Jeeps is tempted once again by the grass I just look at her hind end and she walks on. We hear Casey calling for her and she picks up the pace. I ask for slower. LOL! She is soft and she is with me.

When we get back I give her her Speedi-beet and since it is now raining put Casey's halter on and play softly with him in the shed while she eats. This keeps him focused on me and not begging for food. The quieter I am the softer he is. There is that mirror again. Hmmmm.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back from Harrisburg Celebration

The Parelli event in Harrisburg PA was amazing. Watching the Savvy Spotlight - people who love their horses and obviously spend lots and lots of time with them and have amazing relationships. It was clear, its about the relationship. The wanting to do things together not the making the horses do things.

Pat's sessions were Master Classes. He wasn't selling the program he was explaining what he was doing with the rescue horse he was playing with. Things I can now recognize and hopefully bring home to Jeeps and Casey. Things to play with.

Linda's session on Introvert vs Extrovert, how to engage each and get them to connect. It was so on point for me to use with Jeeps (LBI) and Casey (LBE). So clear with Allure and Remmer.

On Friday, Pat was using dressage terms! Walter Zettl is certainly rubbing off on him. They see these goals for the finesse savvy. Really interesting to hear these concepts coming out of "a cowboy's" mouth.

And when Walter worked with Linda on Sunday - Wow! Loved when he asked for canter and Remmer gave trot, Walter was quick to say don't punish. Take what they offer and work with it. He is so into the relationship - why he sees kindred souls with the Parelli's. What a moment to consider a future of dressage where the relationship comes first. Not the frame, not the forcing the horse. The relationship.

By the time I got home my head was filled to overflowing with thoughts of things I can work towards with Jeeps and Casey. Saw a woman play on line with two horses. Hmmm, maybe we can work towards that. I remember months ago I was playing with Jeeps on line doing the circle game. Casey was at liberty in the indoor with us, the big indoor doors were closed. And he joined us, and trotted at Jeeps side, circling with her. There I was-one horse on line, one horse at liberty!

The Savvy spotlight gave me so many ideas. Pat and Linda gave me so much information.

So I went over to the barn trying to sort my thoughts and find a place to start. I know I can not go and play and look like the spotlight people. But I can start to think about things I can slowly build on. And be open to what horse shows up LOL. It was a shock when I got to the barn. It was not filled with Savvy people. Just my friends, doing their best. Re-entry can be hard.

I gathered my halters and carrot stick and went to J & C's paddock. They were just being hayed and I knew I didn't stand a chance of their connecting with me. So I did some chores while they ate and then politely asked Jeeps to lift her head. She walked off to the water bucked, drank and then turned and faced me and waited. Not a bad beginning.

My big realization came during Linda's master class. She mentioned that introverts don't like to move their feet, and they will give you very little and convince you they just can't. Well Jeeps has convinced me that she can't do any of the games any longer. Especially after the accident in January. I've been working on bringing her along slowly. But wait - I RIDE her out on the trails. Well I ride, walk (me getting off and walking for the hills and rough terrain), ride, walk, ride, walk. If she can do that why can't she do the games? Hmmm, how interesting LOL.

I know she is bored with the indoor or any ring for that matter. So I decided that I'll play with her out on the trails. I've been such a dull straight line thinker. I've been hand walking her out on the trails - up and down hills - to help her build up her muscles and stamina. But I walk in front - the trails are only wide enough in most places for single file - and she follows. We walk a loop and back to the barn. With my new eyes - my god how dull!

Today we went out and I stopped. She stopped. I asked for backing. Put my hand on her face and will the lightest pressure asked. She dropped her head down to the ground and since it is spring and there was grass right under her nose she started eating. Hmmm, how interesting LOL.

Being a new no linear thinker - which means I can adapt - I realized I needed to ask where there was no grass. Did a little, very little driving of hind quarters to get her head up and we walked on. Now that she knew about the grass had to repeat the disengagement numerous times until we came to a non grass growing area.

Asked for backing and rewarded the slightest try. This was the softest she has ever been. Guess this was the softest I have ever been. It was like experiencing a huge mirror being held up to me. Hmmm.

We walked on. We stopped. I turned and asked for backing. At first I had to put my hand on her face but quickly I just turned and barely shook the rope and she floated back a few steps. Winnie's Cookies certainly are a wonderful motivational tool. She'll work for food. She was soft, she was looking at me like what next? She was asking me questions! Now? How many?

I ran up hills, she trotted with me. Stopped at top. Backed. Oh what fun! Playing with Jeeps and she's engaged, connected and playing with me.

What else can we do? Besides disliking indoors she also dislikes ground poles. Well ground poles in a ring. On the trails she will walk over anything. Through anything. And there are lots of downed trees and branches on the trails that we always walk over. Hmmm. Today when we came to one of these I asked her to put her front feet over the tree and stand with the tree between front and back feet. I am thinking this can lead to sideways. But not today.

I've asked her to do this in the ring and her legs tremble as she straddles the pole. Here in the woods on the trail she is standing calmly. I never before thought about how many downed trees there are on the trail - well I now know - EIGHT! and that is just on one short loop. At each one I asked for just front feet and stop. After the second one she would walk up to the natural ground pole walk over and stand.

I was able to experience for a short time a partnership with my girl Jeepers like I saw with the people in Savvy Spotlight. I want to grow this relationShip with her. It certainly is about time.