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.