natural horsemanship


Who doesn’t love a fair? This was my first time attending the Equine Extravaganza at the Sonoma County Fair and my husband and I were looking forward to watching the show. There was no actual competing at this event, just demonstrations and I love getting a chance to see other styles of riding and just seeing local clinicians and riders in action.
First up were a couple of riders demonstrating trail competition. I don’t know much about this but it looked like a lot of fun. Kind of like having to ride through an obstacle course.
Part of the test was dragging a log behind your horse. This young girl was really good.

Drag the Log

Drag the Log

Then you had to open a cooler, on top of a barrel, while on your horse. Without losing your lunch, of course!

Get Your Lunch

Get Your Lunch

A group of kids did some barrel racing and pole bending demos. Some of these girls were so tiny – but could they ride!

Barrel Racing

Barrel Racing

Pole Bending

Pole Bending

There was a drill team as well. That looks like a lot of fun…and you get to wear pretty outfits ūüôā

Drill Team

Drill Team

I was enjoying the show so far… but I could not stop staring at the gorgeous horse being warmed up off in the distance:

Who is THAT?!?

Who is THAT?!?

And out came this gorgeous piece of horse flesh named Verso, a 17 hand buckskin Lusitano stallion! <drool> <drool> Only my dreamhorse!

Verso

Verso

His coat was so bright, I was glad I was wearing shades!

Golden Boy

Golden Boy

A little girl named Violet literally stole the show. I think she is 9 or 10 years old. Oh my goodness. Riding on just a bareback pad, she had her own 20 minute routine and was riding a 5 year old Mustang that had only been under saddle a year.

She went over several jumps balanced on her knees!

She went over several jumps balanced on her knees!

My knees hurt just looking at that picture!

Then stood up on him, all while trotting around the arena!

Then stood up on him, all while trotting around the arena!

Expect to see this kid working for Cavalia very soon! And what a sweet and tolerant mustang. Next up were a group of kids from a ranch that trains mustangs and rescues. All these kids were Parelli Level 2 or higher. I was pretty amazed at how they started the demo. At first I thought all hell and broken loose and the horses had taken off. But I soon realized that they meant to do that ūüôā

Stampede!

Stampede!

One by one, each of the kids was able to walk up to the herd, look at their horse and the horse would latch on to them and follow them at liberty. Some horses took longer than others but they all eventually joined up with their human. Pretty amazing.

This horse was just gorgeous, and totally in tune with his young owner

This horse was just gorgeous, and totally in tune with his young owner

They spent the next half hour playing games in the arena, some at liberty, others on leads, some riding.

Playing games

Playing games

Pedestal

Pedestal

Sideways on the barrels

Sideways on the Barrels

Lungeing Carousel

Lungeing Carousel

Stacey Westfall, eat your heart out!

Stacey Westfall, eat your heart out!

My one complaint was I wish that all of the kids were wearing helmets, but all in all, it was a lot of fun to watch and I was inspired by the great relationship they each had with their horse.

Those of you who are still bothering to read my blog probably thought this would never happen, but it has!

Are you ready?

Tada!!!

I got on Jasper for the first time!

I can’t tell you¬†how¬†AMAZING it felt to¬†finally get on my horse! Although, I am sure some of you are familiar with that feeling. Of course, it was one of those impromptu moments when I had not planned or prepared for it! Thus no helmet (my bad!).
I had actually planned to get on him a couple of weeks ago when the photo below was taken, but Jasper was a little tense so we put it off.
Yesterday I was just going to lie over his back¬†as I’ve done before…but¬†the moment¬†just felt¬†right and I slowly swung my leg over as Michelle was holding the lead rope. Jasper was really calm about the whole thing and stood¬†quietly the entire time. He actually¬†swung his head around and nibbled my shoe! All in all, this first experience went better than I ever could have expected and before I got off I threw my arms around Jasper and told him how much I loved him!

Progress is going slowly but well with Jasper and long lining. This video clip is from 2 weeks ago. We moved up to long lining him in the bridle with a bit and one line attached. In this clip we’re giving him the time to figure out what we want (to turn). Eventually, he figured it out!

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turn Jasper, turn!

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good boy!

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“And I’m spent!”

Seriously Jasper, it was 45 minutes,! Mentally, it’s a lot for him, though and that’s why we’re taking it slow.

The Western States Horse Expo starts this Friday until Sunday. Although I am a little disappointed in this years lineup (or lack thereof), I am looking forward to seeing some of the clinicians:

Another horse blogger, Tracey at Mustang Diaries, is entered in the Mustang Challenge. She has been training a wild mustang for 3 months and now her and the other competitors have to show their mustangs in various in-hand and ridden work. John Lyons is going to be doing the judging Saturday night. All of these mustangs then go up for auction to the highest bidder ( I must not buy another horse, I must not buy another horse).
Lets all wish her luck! I sure admire her guts….

David Lichman, a 5 star Parelli instructor – which makes him next to God -er, I mean Pat’s level¬†– is working with gaited horses at the show and working with them naturally. I saw¬†him briefly last year and he does some amazing stuff with horses at liberty. But cmon, the mustache? Do you have to LOOK like Pat Parelli too??

Jane Savoie is one of the only english type riders appearing. I have all of her dvd’s¬†but have never seen her in person.¬†She looks like a really good clinician.

Chris Cox – now this should be interesting. On Saturday, his clinic is ‘Colt Starting a Warmblood Dressage Horse’. This is a real western cowboy type dude so I wonder what exactly he is going to be doing with this ‘dressage horse’. Hopefully not calf roping.

Johnathan Field – a Canuck (yeahhhhh!) will be doing natural horsemanship work. This is another Parelli disciple, but the Canadian version! I wonder if he uses a hockey stick instead of a carrot stick. Oh dear, I crack myself up!!
He obviously learned something from the Parellis – he has a 10 DVD set for 500 bucks….gotta love capitalism ūüôā

I am bringing lots of cash and looking for bargoons. I really need a pair of zip-up dress boots. Yes, I am riding again after a 2 year hiatus! At a farm close to Jasper. I have been riding a sweet 17.2 warmblood with a trot that launches you to Mars! If I can master that, I can ride anything.

And, of course, I will be blogging about the event and each clinician I see. So if you are at the Expo, I’m the one taking notes!

I should have probably just stayed in bed yesterday. I get to the ranch for my lesson and head for the port-a-potty for a quick bathroom break. Unzip my drawers and hear ‘ker-plunk’. Wha? Something fell out of my pocket.
I look down and there is MY PHONE. There WAS my phone to be precise because all that was left were a few bubbles as it quickly sank – I DROPPED MY CELL PHONE IN THE PORT-A-POTTY! GAH!
(Apologies for this if you are close to dinnertime)

AND NO, I DID NOT RETRIEVE IT!
No cell phone is worth that much!

To top it off Jasper was in a strange mood and would not listen to direction. He was pulling on the lunge line and dragging me all over with the ground driving. The complete opposite of our perfect day on Monday. Perhaps he was feeling my discombobulated state!

Ah well, here is a nice clip of Jasper from last week cantering nicely on the longe.

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A while ago, I posted about starting to ground drive Jasper. It did not go well. He kept wanting to turn around and face me. Apparently this is a common problem from what I am reading on other blogs.
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For awhile we went back to longeing. Jasper needed to learn forward command better, thus the tough love remedy for awhile there.
Since then, it’s been like a lightbulb has gone off in his head. His attitude is better, he doesn’t get so defensive about moving forward and he tests me much less than he used to.
On the longe he now knows:

  • Walk, trot and just added canter into the mix.
  • Turning both directions at walk.
  • Whoa – he stops on a dime at walk, trot and even canter.

With this positive progress we started back on ground driving and it is going much better the second time around. We started with only one line attached to him looped through the surcingle – no bridle yet, just a nylon halter.

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For now this seemed to be less threatening for him. Jasper, being a dominant personality, has had a real hard time with having his head moved around – when it’s not his idea – lol.
So for the last month or so, I’ve worked on lateral flexions from the ground. I remember when I could not even get him to turn his head an inch towards me, well, I used cookies held at the girth area and it worked wonders! Gradually I reduced the cookies. I can now easily guide his head around to both sides.

 

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The biggest thing I noticed with starting up the ground driving again, is that he is much less scared than he was previously. We worked up to moving behind him. I would start at his hip and walk around with him, eventually dropping back behind him. There were stops and starts, I would cluck him on or twirl the rope and rather than getting in defensive mode, he would move forward.
Things were going well, so we moved up to 2 lines. He now stops without turning to face us.


I think it had a lot to do with his confidence. He was a little fearful about not seeing something going on behind him. Boosting his confidence by taking a step back, adding in some steps, has worked wonders. It’s a great feeling to see your horse really try!¬†

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We started working on turning around with one line, which took him a minute to understand what we wanted but he eventually got it!

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Eventually moving to turning across the arena on both lines:


PROGRESS!!! I LOVE IT!! 

Jasper and I seem to have gotten over that hump that had me so frustrated. He is paying attention to me more and longeing is not an ordeal. It still takes a bit for him to muster up a trot for me – but I am working on it. He is a draft, after all!


Eyes on me – yeah!

To make things interesting for  Jasper instead of endless longeing, I tried some games yesterday with Jasper that came with this months Parelli dvd.

1. Push a ball
On a longe line, the goal is to get the horse to solve a puzzle, the puzzle being to push the ball. I longed Jasper in the round pen with the ball against the wall. I got him to stop as close to the ball as possible, if he went past it, turn him around and try again. At first he wanted to smell manure, and not pay any attention to the ball. Then he sniffed it. And I eventually got him to kick it for several steps. Sometimes he would push it with his nose.


Is it edible?

He was pretty good! Unfortunately Parellis do not take ~erm~ draft horses into account¬†or the fact that¬†they would rather crush through something like godzilla, than actually play with it. Jasper stepped on the ball, tripped¬† – and just kept on going. I was expecting the ball to go <POOF> but amazingly, it didn’t!

2. Games With a Gate
Longeing a horse in a circle, past an open gate. This was a good test for me AND for Jasper because it helped with my timing for keeping him going and for Jasper to keep him focused on me and what I am asking him to do. I tried this in the round pen to start and left the door open.  At a walk, I started from the other end and had him head in a circle towards the door and supposedly past it. At first he headed straight for the door and was planning to keep on going to that nice grass! He did knock me a little off balance but I brought him back in and asked for the circle again. He would walk a bit, then try to turn around and head for the door again! Uh uh, buddy. This got a lot of rope swinging to stop him from turning around and continue going. Well, he was going in the right direction now, but now he tried to cut across the middle as a shortcut to the door! More stick waving to get him OUT of my space and back on the circle. I stopped him near the open door and just had him stand there, until he focused back on me.


Me want grass

It took some trial and error but I eventually got him to calmly walk past the door on the longe line without pulling. Good boy!

3. The Pinky Test
Lead your horse around with only your pinky on his halter. It’s not about the pinky – it’s about how light your horse can be.

I would not have done with Jasper if I was worried I was going to lose my finger! ¬†We have worked a lot on leading, backing up, turning both directions. Turning into him into a clockwise circle used to make him very defensive and he would throw his head up. Now he anticipates me, and turns accordingly and lightly. It’s a great feeling! He can still be a bit sluggish so I could not work up to a trot. I am going to work on that on a 12 foot lead.

All in all he did great and PAID ATTENTION! Since he was doing so well, I thought I would throw the bridle on him with the bit and reins attached and work on some turning with the reins from the ground. This was only the second time I had worked with him with the reins attached to the bridle.

I lightly pulled one rein while standing at the side of Jasper to get him to do some lateral flexion on each side. I had been working on this with Jasper at liberty and he had picked it up in a snap. I was worried he would be resistant with the reins and bit in his mouth Рbut he was amazingly light! With a slight bit of pressure on his mouth, he would turn his head all the way in to his belly on either side.


It was a little hard to take pictures while doing this!

I only did this for about 5 or 6 minutes, then took the bridle off, and he got a big hug and a cookie and happily got to graze on some grass!

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