Saturday, March 28, 2009

My nice clean ropes

Forgot to show you my lovely clean ropes from my cleaning frenzy yesterday.

The boys all had a day off today.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Coco the brave

I had to put Coco and the boys in the stalls today while the digger was here and I decided it was a great time to have some undemanding time with Coco. The poor thing was not very calm initially as the digger was making lots of noise as he tried to shake out the clay from the bucket. Eventually he calmed down as did the others and I sat at the front of his stall so my back and bottom was in his stall but not my head or legs.

I felt his breath on my back giving me a real good sniff all over, then up my my neck, then he started licking my back (my top) - it was so cute and such a big break through.

I spent the day giving them carrots and apples and watching them snooze.

During the times the digger was busy just digging and not coming towards them, I washed my saddle blanket (finally) and dried it and put the inserts back in, washed and dried all my ropes, cleaned the brushes, combed Maraschinos mane, and swept the washbay!

Don't you love his mane.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


An update on Coco. Normally he will come up to me quite easily now and comfortably stand about a foot away - even with me beavering around him. I took this video today of him following me up to the yards just before dinner time. You can see how initially I was facing him with the camera and walking backwards - see if you can see when I turn away and hold the camera behind me, and then when I look back at him.

Canter circle

We had yet another day or blue sky and no wind today. And no rain forecast in the near future. Which is great because tomorrow a digger is coming to dig a long trench in the boys paddocks so they will be in the yards most of the day.

Today I decided that Garbo needed to be able to canter more than 5 laps of canter on the circle (22ft) without changing gait - so that he can develop some balance and rhythym and relaxation. Well we got 3/4 of a lap at the most - the rest of the time he trotted and I suppose we did about 10 minutes all up, he would canter on the same half and stop in the same half. During one ask he did a buck after a spurt of energy so that was interesting.

We will try again tomorrow!

After that I asked Garbo back on the tire (it's really high) and he put both feet up there and stood there for ages checking out the view!! I was so pleased since I screamed and scared him off the last time. I gave him a carrot. I was a bit worried how he would get off but decided that he would know the best way and just started walking off and he backed up and jumped off that way. Clever boy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Forest ride - gorgeous day

It was clear blue sky and cool air today - a wonderful day for a ride. He loaded perfectly both ways and we were early but he was very cruisy while we waited.

And look - here's Critey... don't they look similar?

Because Garbo was a bit fitter this time, after last week, he had a wee bit more energy than the past few rides. We had a long trot which was really nice and a small canter at the beginning. On the way home we cantered up Andreas Hill and he jumped two parts that were ditches on a hill under tree roots (if you get the idea), and then about half way up I could feel he wanted to crank it up a gear but I wasn't ready. He did a little head down kind of 'let me' buck but I asked him back to walk and he stopped. Bronwyn was very impressed that we were back at walk calmly - without a bit.

He was completely covered in sweat after an hour and we had a nice 10 minute cool down walk back.

In the car park were two Halfinger (sp?) palominos!!
4 Palominos in one carpark.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Maize gone

The maize got harvested today so I decided I would try Garbo on the follow the rail again - there would be no boogy monsters imagined in the maize. Well he stopped every couple of steps and I just patted him and off we went again, stopped again, off again, stopped again, patted him, explained all the maize was gone so it looked all different again. Off we would walk. Got round one lap fine in the end - even stopping to eat grass a few times.

I also tried the other way and he did a little spook at the same spot - you know I really think he is having me on. I asked him to carry on using phase 4 and off we went.

After that we tried some figure 8 trot - it wasn't great but wasn't terrible. The uneven ground and long hooves perhaps are not helping - I dunno.

We got up on the pedastal!

I am looking forward to my lesson. Also trying to think of ways round this. Without putting my confidence in danger.

Off to the forest tomorrow with Bronwyn and Critey - he will like that.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Email from Carol Coppinger

Thanks for submitting your Audition. I am now back in the US and realizing that all of the e-mail I sent while I was in Australia was not kept. This means I was not sure if I had sent you your results! You passed your OnLine with Level 2++!

So just in case:

In reviewing your Audition it was obvious that you have a wonderful relationship. You had several areas that were level 3 quality. To continue and keep improving now you want to focus on getting more distance between you and the horse and allow the horse to have his responsibility. This means you standing still and allowing the horse to circle and start thinking towards the center. As you are getting this going you may have to allow him to circle for 30 laps before the rhythm, relaxation and contact really gets solid. This will set you up for level 3 and level 4! Also the Patterns are a vital part of growing and moving into those upper levels.

Looking GREAT!!!

You should get your certificate in a few weeks.

Figure 8 again

Well my darling husband shot this without me knowing (focus hey!) and Garbo was actually going ok at the time bit 80% of the ride was a bit of a battle.

errr... right please Garbo
The photos actually look better than it felt. It was quite frustrating and he wouldn't stay on any pattern... I tried to end on a good note after about 30 minutes (we walked the pattern) and then I decided to put him online instead.

Carol Coppinger emailed me again today - thinking I didn't get the email on Sunday and said "In reviewing your Audition it was obvious that you have a wonderful relationship. You had several areas that were level 3 quality. To continue and keep improving now you want to focus on getting more distance between you and the horse and allow the horse to have his responsibility. This means you standing still and allowing the horse to circle and start thinking towards the center. As you are getting this going you may have to allow him to circle for 30 laps before the rhythm, relaxation and contact really gets solid. This will set you up for level 3 and level 4! Also the Patterns are a vital part of growing and moving into those upper levels."

So - I decided to keep Garbo trotting on the circle for 30 laps. Then 30 laps the other way! Each time he walked I would ask him back up to trot. If he came in without me inviting him in the 30 laps started over! He came in twice on the first direction and once on the right. He was completely knackered (he will sleep well tonight) but you know what - he was definitely in a nice rhythm and relaxed at the end. At the beginning he was running faster away from the maize (I decided to do it over by the maize), and would slow to walk going towards the maize, and would look out towards the maize on the maixe side of the circle.

So by the end he wasn't worried about the maize - so I really felt like I achieved something sensational - 30 laps at trot!!! OMG.

So I will let him have two days off, or one depending on the weather on Sunday, since today was Day 4 or riding! And on Sunday or Monday I will try the follow the rail again.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Figure 8 at trot finally

Persistent and patience paid off today. I started on the ground and made sure Garbo knew what the driving game on Zone 1 with CS meant. He did. So on I got and started cloverleaf, making each turn with my eyes, then body, then rein, then stick... just at walk...

We rested at X, and tried again. After a few times we went round the rail again at walk and he started pretending to see scary things in the maize again. I wasn't feeling confident enough to deal with it so we went back to clover leaf. He got a few bonks on the nose when he wouldn't turn away from the gate (back to barn). Eventually he got it and we managed a whole pattern without using the stick and not much rein.

Then I thought we would try figure 8. I think I have been making the figure 8 too close together (the two ends) so I used the tire for one and a cone which was quite a way away. Initially it was a mess and I had to use the carrot stick alot, but after about what seemed like 20 goes he settled into the pattern at trot and so did I! I felt like we were barrel racing LBI style!

I have finally realised I just haven't been riding enough - I have been doing something once and moving on (or not) and not getting the hours under the saddle so to speak. Today made a real difference - instead of worrying if he was bored or unmotivated I decided to make it his job to stay on the pattern and stay in the gait.

I even got my carrot stick under control!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Maraschino Trots

Garbo and I had a BIG ride today - the longest ride we have had at home since we moved here - it was at least an hour. He decided he couldn't or wouldn't trot the cloverleaf pattern today and I began getting a bit frustrated. I tried using the carrot stick but with trotting it was bouncing on my shoulder and hurting!! I chucked it outside the cloverleaf and tried with the rope of the hackamore instead and ended up fighting with him so realised I needed to change tact.

I put him on the follow the rail pattern around the outside of the paddock, first at walk, then added two sides of trot. He pretended like he saw something scary in the maize a couple of times during trot but I was persistent in asking him to go back to the rail, and then to trot again and told him that trick wasn't going to work on me today.

We changed directions and did the other way at walk, then trot, and then kept going and kept going until he was not arguing about going out the gate each time we got there. So we went round about 10 or more times in all I think. In the end he had spouts of a nice slow trot, and spurts of a yeeha trot which I asked for him to slow down.... eventuually when we had about 4 laps with no corrections with the reins we stopped.

As Pat says "the more you use your reins, the less the horse uses his brains".

With my recently gained knowledge from watching Pat with Honey I had some new tools to try with Maraschino. He has always been jumping with the carrot stick and string, and what I realised is that just using it for the other games actually can help them gain confidence (with the carrot stick, as well as with other things). I managed to get him to trot today - first time.... he was very good. He panicked (panic-a-holic) a couple of times as he tried to understand - especially when I tried to trot with him. I didn't brace but went with him and a stopped quickly as soon as he reached the end of the rope.

At the end of it all he yawned alot and rolled his eyes back and stuck out his tongue so far...

I then played friendly game with the carrots stick and string and guess what - he wasn't jumpy! Yahoo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cloverleaf Trot and Digger

I played with Garbo first on the ground to try out a few strategies I had learned from the conference. I used less to ask and used a really long phase one and a really slow phase 2,3,4, (which Linda said can really work for a LBI)... so I pointed to ask for a circle, he looked at me, I upped my energy, and then waited.... it only took a couple of tries and he left, then trotted.... I also concentrated on asked for change of direction with my finger before using the stick - and that worked too!! I actually got him to trot in a circle on the end of the 22ft line for about 5 laps before I asked in in.

The digger was right next to the wash bay digging a hole today - so about 8m from Garbo when I bought him in. He got a little teeny bit right brain but not nearly as bad as what he would have been 18 months ago. It only really took a bit of you you from zone one then three, and some sideways to get him standing still. I groomed him with the line over my arm just in case rather than tying him up. After some grooming he was a lot calmer and I saddled him up.

I took him into the middle paddock (I had already set up a clover leaf patter with the cones) and asked permission to get on. Once on he stood still till I asked him to go, and we stated the pattern at walk. Soon after that a big truck arrived so I got off just in case it had really noisy airbrakes or something (the day that I was at Wendis when a gravel track arrived flashed into my mind at the time - it tipped the gravel out - just after I thought - hmmm wonder if I should get off - this was pre-parelli - and Garbo bolted out of the arena and I fell off.)

Got back on and walked the cloverleaf then George came out just as we started trying to trot it. I was a nightmare for the first round, but the 2nd and third time he settled into a nice trot and actually relaxed his neck - you can see the difference below. It was a great ride and he had a big relax at X this time.

I really concentrated on not using the reins till phase three to turn, turning my eyes and body first. In the end he was starting to get it in all but the turns away from the gate. We are going to try again tomorrow. We also went over that jump you can see in the background.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The last day

Well today was the last day and by the last session which started at 4pm I was completely knackered. I have just come back to the hotel and ordered a pizza, ate two pieces and now I feel a bit better. Although I have to get up at 4am.

Pat worked again with Honey and it was so amazing to see how brave and curious she was today and she tried so so hard to do what Pat wanted... asking questions and going on the tarp and the pedastal, and in the trailer. Her new steward was announced and she will be returning with Honey at the next conference so everyone can see the progress she has made.

Then Linda did a lesson with a cowboy on Finesse. In a western saddle and cowboy hat she showed us how easy it was to get finesse. Well I say easy - Justin the student made it look easy, he looked like a dressage rider, and his horse looked amazing - and all effortless. Linda has been training with Walter Zettel who also disagrees with the way modern dressage is heading (or at in fact) especially the Rollkur. I hope to be able to acheive Finesse one day soon. Linda said she will be sharing more with us on the Savvy Club over the next year or two. was launched today - the same guy that developed Mozilla - so I am off to register.

I passed!!

Just got this email from Carol... yeehaa!

Hello Vicki,

It was so nice to meet you! i was able to view your video and Congratulations you passed your onLine with Level 2++ savvy! To move it on up into level 3 and 4 you would want to get your horse out and away from you as Pat gave examples of at the show. Really putting the Patterns to use as you learned at the conference will get you well into the level 3 and 4 areas! You had several things checked off at level 3 quality! (Rapport, Technical, Techniques etc.)

Nice job!

You should get your certificate in an e-mail very soon.

We look forward to getting more Auditions!!

Have a great day


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 2 SSC

Another full day today. I have just come back to the hotel to get some proper food - the dance is tonight - there was a big thunderstorm just as it ended today so I thought it won't matter if I am late back...

I labelled my DVD this morning and then today I found Carol again and gave it to her and she said "oh I am glad you found me - they (Linda and co) are looking at it now", and pointed to the sound box "but it was missing" - Oh I said and gulped, she said she would take it over to them. Here's me thinking she was just taking it back to USA and that it would most likley get lost in her luggage. I think that was the initial plan but she must have mentioned she had received it to someone.

Then at the same time before she got there, Neil Pye said over the PA that someone last night had come up all excited about the new auditions and handed in their audition - and they had watched it and they couldn't see anything wrong so far - because it was empty - lol - and could I find the dvd if I have it and hand it in.... OMG...

Then about 10 minutes later Hana said she saw Linda and Carole watching it- OMG.

How exciting!!!! How scary!!

So I haven't heard anything yet - but fingers crossed. Cool huh!!

Oh - then we in the breaks we could queue up and get book signings signings or whatever one at a time - I queued for Linda - and I said "I just want to say thank you" and she said "that really means alot!" and she smiled that lovely smile of hers and put her hand on my arm. I told her I had only been riding for about 4 years but that now my confidence is so much better..... - she told me a bit about the fear articles in the Savvy Mag and the next savvy club dvd....and how traditional methods of teaching and riding can knock the confidence out of you. She is so lovely. You really get the feeling that they really do care.

Today Pat worked a bit more with Honey the rescue Palomino and she is coming along really well. He did the beginnings of what he called 're-naturalisation' where he did what a mare would do with her foal and directed the horse alot, told her how fast or slow to walk and which way and when to stop etc. That really seemed to make Honey more confident.

And that's not on zoom either - that's how close I am - front row.

Linda then did a segment with a Right Brain Introvert and a Left Brain Introvert so we could see the difference in what she did and the horse as well. I learnt quite alot about doing less and going slower, like getting the LBI to walk really slowly.

I am waiting for my room service dinner - they said it wouldn't be too long but it's been ages.

This lady was amazing - rode her horse in a cherokee bridle only.... she got a L4 ribbon.

Update - went to the dance and Pat played electric guitar with the band and Linda's sister sang, and her and her other sister sung back up (for one song). It was great - line dancing and all and seeing that cowboys certainly can dance!

Day One Savvy Celebration

Pat and Honey

Arrived in Sydney after having to catch the early flight (getting up at 4am) and just in time to find a seat and hear Pat talking in his opening talk.

It was the Savvy Spotlight today. People and their horses in the 4 different savvys. All of the horses were RB and trying to leave every opportunity they could with 2000 predators watching them. It was sad as some had come on a 5 day road trip with their horse just to do it.

This lady had an awesome Palomino and she was going to get him to jump fire but the horse had other ideas.

The only negative thing I think the savvy spotlights do is make people a little direct line. Of course the people who were not direct line and just waited and did patterns with their horse to fix it got a higher mark for their relationship. It was inspiring to see some of these people get blue, green and black ribbons when I looked at them at times and thought - I could do that. (not all but some).

The key message today has been they are now marking for relationship first over everything else.

OK more soon plus photos - have to go find a toothbrush and toothpaste and there is NOTHING in or around this hotel. Still nice bed so all good.

I stood about 2ft away from Pat, and about 4 from Linda last night at the VIP get together. But there were always more outgoing people (RBE's) in front or ahead of me getting in there just as I would think the time was right - so I have not actually spoken to them yet - but Vicki - lets not get direct line about this- it's not about meeting them!! Just to be this close is awesome. About 2000 people here I guess. Thought there would be more.

Anyway - need brekky - there was only shit food yesterday - and shit soy coffee - but that's better then no soy coffee anyday.

Oh - I gave my L2 DVD online audition to Carol Coppinger!!!!!

Ah - got back to the hotel so pleased with myself for having the guts to take it on the day and ask the right people if I could hand it in - and found the actual DVD in my laptop - I have given her an empty jewel case.... arrggghhhh - my turn to get direct line to try and remedy this today!

Wish me luck.

ps I can't upload photos yet - will do the photos at the airport on Monday. (crap internet here with download only in the hotel).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

L2 Online Audition filming

I started setting up the paddock with all the obstacles. It was blowing from the southwest quite strongly. I only had one stake for the tarp so I had to use hay bales for the other three corners so I started wheel-barrowing the old hay bales into the paddock and Garbo started snacking on them!

I then got Garbo in to give him a brush and get all the knots out of his tail before his big debut.

I decided to have a practise run and it took me 15 minutes so I decided to just film it and see how we went. It was a bit of a disaster. I had a jacket on and Garbo presumed (correctly) there were treats in the pocket so he didn't move any further than a few feet away from me the whole time. The figure 8 was around cones and he he kept standing on them, missing them, circling me instead... then we kept getting the rope tangled in his legs and my carrot stick weilding was less than impressive. Good grief!

So - I stopped and George said it was pretty good... I had a think and decided to re-film. Took my jacket off to see how that would go and put the treats on the barrels and the tarp.

Much better!! The whole thing went much more smmothly and we got it in under 10 minutes!

I am working on a small version for the blog... watch this space.

This is what we did;
  • sideways over a pole, sideways without a fence
  • stick to me trot, stop, back up, and over a jump
  • pedastal - two feet and all four
  • umbrella opening and closing
  • Figure 8 trot
  • travelling circles with change of direction
  • trot over a hill
  • Over tarp
  • Through two barrels (squeeze)
  • backwards by tail

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pedastal L3

Yay - we did it - first pop!! How cute is he!!

First we had the front feet, and soon after all 4, no hesitation at all really.

When I got George to come and take a photo it took three goes to get all 4 feet on but all in all only about a minute.

I looked up on the self assessment sheet to tick it off and it's Level Three. Cool!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

L2 Online Audition

I have been preparing to film my online audition this week.

Equipment; 22 foot line
Obstacles; 2 barrels
Compulsories; Friendly Game using Carrot Stick/String; Leg Massage; front and hind legs; Trot to back up leading horse behind you.
Gaits; Back up, Halt, Walk, Trot.
Patterns; Touch It - Feet, Figure 8 at Trot.

I watched someone's on the forum - she passed and it was no worse than ours will be. So I am going to take the plunge and do it.

Just found a pedastal so I am going to try that tomorrow then do some planning. Charging the camera.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Windy and Itchy

As you can see it was very very windy today and Maraschino and Garbo were both in need of a good scratch. I didn't ride as it was so windy (not that enjoyable when it's like that).
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Cloverleaf Game

Garbo coming to see me as I was taking photos of the house - Hi!

Before I rode I decided to check the fit of Garbo's saddle it's still good. Probably bridges a little in the middle but my Equipedic pad would fix that.

Pulled out my Stages booklets of the old L2 last night and started reading the Freestyle sections. It said to set up two lines of poles about 30ft long, about 4ft apart and back your horse through them every time you ride, and also go sideways along.

Then it said to make a cloverleaf pattern and ride that until your horse gets the pattern, yes, it's probably in the Freestyle patterns too but I have not got to that yet - soooo much to do!

So I set up 5 cones, one as X in the middle and the other four as E for entry and exits of the clover leaf pattern. I walked about 15 steps from X for each come so that E to E was 30 steps. I think I could make it longer for Garbo actually.

So we tried it today - I was wondering how Garbo would go with it - being LBI and not that interested in repetitive riding but he seemed to really enjoy it - and after once round he got the pattern. It said to rest at X after each pattern for at least 5 minutes so they fall in love with X. I also gave Garbo a treat at X but he found it hard to stand very still but we got to about 3 minutes I think. On the last pattern he stopped at X by himself. So he certainly 'got' the pattern. We only did it at walk - well I tried briefly at trot and Garbo got all snooty and pretended to get all spooky in one corner - hmmm - something to work on - like I said a longer E to E I think for trot.

Pat says in the booklet if they can't stand still at X you didn't prepeare them enough online - ha - I did a couple of circles around the washbay as I tightened his girth. As you can see he was pretty cruisy about the whole thing. This picture was taken just as he dropped the hackamore from his mouth after picking it up off the stool and chewing on it.

Then we trotted back to the washbay and into his yard, I decided to try the backing 30 ft - so backed him out of his yard with me in the saddle still. He did it - lovely and straight and no hesitation. Just goes to show -he does know how to do it - just chooses when and where he will.

Then we backed up and I counted 30 of his steps until I asked for stop. I got it so I was basically just lightly combing the rope reins. Very pleased with that!

This is Maraschino coming over to see what he is missing out on after we backed 30 steps. Two years ago I would have not been able to ride in a paddock with 'loose' horses. Actually even a year ago (apart from Blue).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Play Sunday

Today I decided to do an self assessment check of some of the tasks on the L2 checklist.

I got Garbo in and gave him a groom. Maraschino just stood nearby in Garbo's yard or by the gate gazing at us, I told him he was next.

I checked on our Extreme Friendly Game and Helicopter at Zone 3 and Zone 5, Garbo was like - what are you doing? but nothing to bad - he didn't move and I reassured him by having my hand on him, so all good! (mental tick in the box).

I (for some reason) decided to get on Garbo bareback and the washbay....I had the savvy string round his neck. We had a bit of an extended conversation about mounting from the fence, as soon as I got on the top rail he walked off! We got there in the end. I had to be a bit assertive and say actually I want you to stand here while I get on. Please. Thank you.

Once on I tried to turn using the carrot stick and Garbo was not having any of that. Hmmmm - how interesting. I managed to get back up with the CS in the end - to the point where anytime he saw the carrot stick in his peripheral vision he would back up. Funny - you have to laugh.

I got off and we worked on our travelling circles at trot after some touch it (point A to Point B on 22ft). Once we started travelling circles Garbo decided we were playing touch it. Again all you can do is laugh. I would be walking forward and he would be circling behind me and suddenly I feel the rope taut and he's trying to touch the jump stand with lots of focus and intent.

We then tried some cloverleaf, or figure S's - basically walking backwards (me) while I changed direction at each half circle. Garbo was really good at it.

I really concentrated on keeping Garbo out on the 22ft line, and not letting him just come in when he felt like it.

He did really well so we kept it short.

Next I got Maraschino and we just worked on some porcupine game and of course friendly with the CS and rope as he is still jumpy with that. I was stroking him with the CS and SS and he was still and sleepy looking and suddenly he jumped like he had gone a bit introverted. His hind end is a ball and his front end a chair....that's a LB trait... hmmm - how interesting.