Thursday, April 30, 2009


I started online in the round pen. Garbo saw the pole and decided he could stop there, and then come sideways to me. Thanks Garbo!

This photo is not complimentary of Garbo - it was after I backed him up at Liberty. Just after this photo I gave him a carrot - that helped. I returned to the middle and he went to follow me in so I asked him to back up again, then gave him another carrot, and returned to the middle. Circles were better today but I need to be able to use less CS, as he shows a little unconfidence after I have used Phase 4.

I added the pole - as before he has always stopped at the pole (after giving a treat for stopping over the pole...) - so we worked on that today - I asked very quietly for him to continue each time he stopped over it (and looked at me with a big question). You know what he did next? He didn't stop at the pole, he just made the circle smaller so he didn't have to trot over it. LOL.

I used driving game to ask him to go back out. Then after a few circles at trot I asked him in and gave him a carrot. I think I really need to work on this too - because when he comes in without me asking I use the CS to say no- I didn't ask you to come in, so now when I do ask him in he kind of runs in and then sides up to me instead of face on as if he thinks I am going to ask him out again. hmmmmmmmmmm.

I backed him up and asked for a circle again, at trot. He started well and then did a bulls eye (we have not done that pattern yet) and started creeping closer and closer and also getting faster, he cantered, he ended up cantering round me about 5 ft away!

All I could do was laugh - what else can you do with these smart horses?

So - leave me a comment - what do YOU do to get your LBI further out from you while he is circling.?
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Round pen

This is my new round pen - not sure why I have not done this before. I guess because we were doing liberty in a larger area, but I realise now to get Garbo further out from me at liberty then I need to have 'a security' area.

It was hilarious when I was setting it up - Garbo was acting like there was magically going to be some new grass once I had finished.

We started online, I forgot to take my 22ft, so it was just the 12ft. I didn't do a whole lot to warm up and then took the line and halter off. Garbo kept stopping on the circle, on the edge and looking at me - very sweet but having the defined circle made me really concentrate of being clear on what I was asking.

As Pat says - if your horse doesn't do what you asked - you either asked wrong or you asked the wrong question.

So we kept going... I kept asking very quietly and tried not to shout, but I needed to tag once or twice. The sneaking pose didn't really work today. I was really trying to be clear in my send but I realised I needed to work on a snappier send so I put him back online briefly.

I said - please go left, and if your neck is not out of the way by 'now' then you'll be tagged. That got his attention. I also worked on his backing up because at liberty when I asked for back up he went sideways as if to start the circle so I reminded him what back up actually means. Then I took the line off again to make sure he remembered. I concentarted on rhythmic pressure to back up but asking quietly. While online I asked him to come in and he came right in and stood over me so I practiced asking him to stop a bit further away. Finally he got it. He looked a bit worried - he has never really liked staying out after back up - actually he's rather be right next to me all the time.

He spent alot of time putting his head down when he came in.

Ok so back off line - we did some stick to me, walk, trot and canter and back up.
Then we tried some sideways and circle again. I worked on downward transitions with the carrot stick - for some reason Garbo gets that when he is doing stick to me but not on a 22ft circle. Maybe he is picking up my body language rather than what I am doing with the stick, when I am slowing down next to him.

He got too close to me a few times, and tried to come in alot, so I had to tag him once when he turned his back end to me when I asked him to go out again, and he kicked out with both legs - so I kicked him back with the savvy string!! But I got him. He didn't try that again.

One thing that was good - was change of direction! Phew. It's made me realise our long range liberty needs some work, but our short range is level 3. Good and bad.

I am supposed to be going to the forest tomorrow but it's due to rain so I think I'll just do some more of this tomorrow afternoon if the rain stops in time.

This last picture is of Garbo grazing after his sponge down.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

UDT Coco

I saw that Coco has a big stick caught up in his mane and his halter now looks a bit tight so I need to work towards taking it off.

I chopped up three carrots and put them in my treat bag and after Coco had finished dinner I went into his yard and sat down. He came over for a carrot. Each time I gave him a carrot I would make it a bit more challenging for him so I added one thing each time;
  • I moved my other hand rhythmically while he took the carrot
  • I clinked the snap open and closed in one hand while holding the carrot in the other
  • I put the carrot on the closed snap
  • I put the carrot on the part of the snap that joins the line so that when the snap was open he had to lean over the open part of the snap to get it
I between times I held out my hand and scratched his nose on the end.

In between carrots he would go over to his salt block, check his bucket, and then have some hay. He didn't get upset about anything. I stayed in there for about 45 minutes. At that time Maraschino decided to get a bit worried about the goats next door and that upset Coco a bit so I decided that was enough today and let them all back into the paddock.

I got some pigtails out and dragged George and his tape measure out to the paddock and we measured out a 60ft round corral. Tomorrow I will add the tape and try it out - can't wait actually!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Less is so much more

Well I finally watched the April Savvy Club DVD and Linda did a demo with a LBI and showed how doing less with Introverts can get them to offer more. Most people with LBIs know that we spend most of our time doing 80% of the work/moving around, and the gorse does about 20% at most! They love to prove that they can make us move our feet more than them.

The example Linda did (well just one of them) was to ask for lateral flexion with about 1oz of pressure on the halter - with one finger and to release as soon as they moved a mm. So I did that with Garbo today - before I even started grooming him. I out my finger in his halter and put the tiniest amount of pressure on it. You could see his lip whiskers quivering which usually means he's thinking about it - and then finally he moved his head towards me about 5mm. I released. He then turned his head all the way towards me and licked his lips! Hah.

I did this about 10 times each side and he licked and chewed after every single one. To a non NH onlooker it truly would look like I was doing nothing at all (they would be bored to tears), but at the end of it he yawned a big yawn. Now Garbo hardly ever yawns. He yawned alot throgh the beginnings of Level One - so normally when he learns something new, but not much at all in L2.

We did some back up and come forward with the halter, and I tried to see how little it would take for him to respond. It didn't take much at all. I then tried porcupine on his FQ - he has not figured out that one yet. LOL.

I groomed him in between all these tries, I am fed up with yet another cover, I have a rain one that has a mesh lining and as he has had no cover all summer - one night of this and all his wither hair has been rubbed short, as has his shoulders. So I swapped him back into his Mark Todd one. I can't find another one like that -it's waterproof and has a flanelette lining rather than nylon - it's really nice.

It's been raining most of the day so I have been watched Parelli DVDs.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The boys

The boys were running around a bit for a while tonight - I think some of the rubbish blew into the paddock - it's the first real wind since the brickies started and each pile of bricks has heaps of cardboard squares in the packaging - it goes everywhere.

After the run around Garbo and Maraschino stood up on the clay pile and played the driving game for a bit. It's quite funny.

Freestyle L2 Results!

Dear Vicki,

Thank you very much for your Freestyle Level 2 audition! The assessment team has viewed your audition and it was a pleasure. We appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your horsemanship journey!!

Let me be the first to congratulate you on achieving a Level 2+ Savvy Freestyle!!! This also completes your Level 2! You should receive your string and certificate within 4-8 weeks!!!

You have an awesome relationship! For using the mounting block, treat it as a squeeze game where your horse puts himself in position rather than you taking the block to him. Also, I'm not sure what type of hackamore you are riding in but if possible we would really like to see you in a Parelli one. Yours is a bit too big, and the knot ends up touching him in the neck rather than being a focal point.

Thanks again for your dedication to your horse and to the Parelli program. We look forward to viewing your future success. Have fun and keep it natural!

Julia Ryman
For the Parelli Audition Team 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pushing Passenger

I just found this photo that my Mum sent me a while ago. This is me having a donkey ride as a kid. Looks like I am doing pushing passenger. You know I always used to think I was fat as a kid (various reasons) but look how long my legs are! It's a shame that life can change the way you think about yourself as you grow up. Well other people anyway.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Coco sniffed my face

I can't believe I forgot to blog this yesterday. I crouched down in front of Coco and he came over, I looked down and sideways a little and he sniffed my fingers a couple of times to see if I had any treats. Then I felt his breath on the side of my face then he sniffed my hair. It was so sweet. After a while he wandered off. I am looking forward to the day when these photos won't have this ugly halter on.

Ride before the rain

This is little Coco looking through the gate at Maraschino getting a groom. Almost like he wants one too one day. Hopefully he will be brave enough soon.

I was good and picked out Maraschino's feet - I normally avoid it because he kind of kicks out when I pick up his back feet - it's a bit scary since he has such long legs and he is very fast when he wants to be - plus bending over at that end means your head is near those feet!
Anyway he was better - slowly but surely we are working on it. I can massage and brush his legs and feet now (all of them) and also paint hoof oil on and put cream on his little scratches on his white area (they were pretty sensitive when he had mud fever over winter). Today I cleaned out all for feet and also sprayed copper sulphate and water onto his frogs to get rid of the thrush - plus he has a little bit of seedy toe.

I had already ridden Garbo - I tried to squeeze a ride in before it rained - in the end it never came to much.

Garbo didn't seem overly happy so I knew I would have to take this ride a step at a time and see how we went. I played with him a bit on the way to the tyre and we did a quick figure eight round the wooden spools. He was great for mounting which was just as well because I had left my carrot stick in the wash bay.

He is also really good at just standing now after I get on.

A couple of things happened today. We started with follow the rail and he decided one side of the paddock was scary - at one point freezing and not backing when I asked. Just looking out to the distance. I couldn't see anything so we kept on. I spent more time over the other side and would try back over there again every now and again. I did lots of trot to walk to trot doing a transition at each post on the fence. I would add back up when required. Also we added some turns off the track and back the other way at trot and Garbo would go into canter... but put his head down.

I used phase 3 then 4 at one stage when he would not go forward (away from the tyre - seems the tyre is now the end spot!) and the popper slapped him on the rump and he bucked. He seemed very pissed off about it.

I decided after 25 minutes to end on a good note and we walked round the rail and ended at the tyre.

Then I put him online after taking off his saddle and I asked him to walk round the rail with me in Zone 3 on the end of the 22ft. I was particular about him staying on the rail, and therefore on the end of the 22ft. Then we did a couple of trot circles and I asked for canter. Going to the right he could only canter for 1/2 a lap withour transitioning to trot, and to the left he would put his head down. Not sure what's going on there. He bucked a bit initially too. So that maybe means I have not been doing enough canter online so how can I expect him to do it under saddle.

He was happy enough at dinner time though. Maybe he is a bit stiff or sore from something.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Follow the rail today

I rode Garbo today after helping a friend catch her horse (more on that later).... I decided before I got on that we would do the Follow the rail pattern as well as transitions and indirect and direct rein turns. I would also make sure that it was me steering 100% of the time. I watched the Level one freestyle pattern follow the rail - it's funny - Linda said things get added to your DVDs while they sit on the shelf and today that was so true. There was Pat doing the indirect rein turn to direct rein turn and leaning back with the other hand and touching the rump - hah!

I also noticed he worked on dropping and picking up the reins without looking as well as butterflys and trombone to bend to a stop (rather than go direct to bend to a stop). I decided to work on that as well and noticed how soft his indirect rein turns were on the rein.

So before I even got to Level 2 freestyle dvd I had seen exactly what I needed and decided to get on with it - well actually first I had to go see my friends horse.. like I said - more on that later.

So after a bit of head down work since Garbo seemed to be a bit on edge and looking next door at the cows alot, I saddled up and got on at the tire after some more mounting (come sideways towards me) practice.

Maraschino looked on and sniffed Garbos saddle. Making notes!

We started with follow the rail - I got some on video - just at walk at this stage. I have no idea what the sqeaking noise is.

We did lots of follow the rail, added in lots of transitions, some back up and I worked on getting my indirect rein and direct rein turns softer. Well I must say Garbo's transitions to trot today were amazing - I just breathed in to bring my life up and he was off.!

He tried to decide to cut a couple of corners but I was persistant and backed him up to where he left the rail (and resisted going back on) and off we would go again but I would go back and forth lots in the 'sticky parts' of the rail.

I was pleasantly surprised how good he was and how prepared he was to do as I asked. At the end I was trotting the rail and turning off in a circle to canter (quite a large turn back to the rail) - I was actually only asking for trot but he offered canter on each turn so I allowed it.

After 25 minutes I turned towards the tyre and we cantered to a stop. I got off and gave him a carrot.

All in all a great ride.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lesson with Russell Higgins P.1.

Russell Higgins and I had a three hour lesson today. I got up early so I could pick up the poos so the paddock would be nice to ride in, and to give the boys some hay. He arrived on time at 9am and we started with Maraschino.

Maraschino and Garbo body searched him for treats and told him lots of secrets while we chatted about all three. Coco stood back and was not too sure if he could come up to me with a stranger next to me, but later in the day he did.

Russell asked me to play with Maraschino a bit in the middle paddock, we did some touch your nose on that, and some circle, and some yo-yo. Then he asked me to ask him over a jump - of course he just stepped right over it. Russell said he looked very confident.

Russell said there are 4 yields - back, forwards, HQ and FQ. He also said backing up cures biting but I think we have that nailed now - he is such a fast learner. We worked on using the carrot stick and string each time on the circle send for three times in a row to improve the send, aiming for an imaginary line of where he shouldn't be by the time the string lands there. We got some lovely trot but the 12ft line was a bit short at times. He said initially not to drive him out if he floats in, and not to use the carrot stick to keep him out if he heads in (all things I have to now do with Garbo, until he gets the basic "I'll train my human to stand stand still". So it was sharpening up his send and he said to also create a little positive stress is ok. I guess I was always worried of his reaction (as it can be quite RB) but Russell said "you can tip toe round a horse for 10 years"... he also said motion can cause emotion and that I should try and do more with him in trot and canter now too.

After doing some driving FQ and HQ seperately, we worked on drivng from Zone 3, which initially Maraschino just wanted me at his head especially on the far side, then we incorporated both and walking beside Maraschino, I would yield his FQ 180, then swap the carrot stick to my other hand and yield the FQ 180 (in the same direction of the turn) and so we would end up walking along the same line - in the same direction - kind of a moving driving FQ and HQ while driving from Zone 3. Initially Maraschino was not keen at all - I asked Russell to demo what he was meaning and Maraschino thought that rearing would be a much better idea than yielding his FQ away from the CS up in the air. But within only a few goes he was calmly doing it. What I learnt from that was - if you are doing a pattern or whatever and you get a reaction - just keep focused on what you want rather than on reactiong to the reaction - that's what Russell did.

Maraschino learns so fast. Russell asked when I planned on starting him and I said in a year or so. He agreed that would be a good time as he could still see his joints were open. He also said that there is really nothing I can't be doing with him on the ground - and have I thought of doing an Audition with Maraschino? I hadn't!

Russell told me how to use the 22ft rope to mimic the girth, and to do a bit of driving, circle and yo yo as well as friendly each time I play with him. He suggested I start and finish with friendly but to challenge him each time - not to just do the easy stuff that he feels comfortable with. That way when I do ride him, nothing will be a surprise. or ecxample he got me to drive him with the carrot stick by holding the handle at his shoulder and the tip near his nose - that way we were getting him ready for carrot stick riding.

So - it was a big day for Maraschino - he did alot of licking and yawning and thinking - and he learned alot too. It's also given me ideas for advancing what I have been doing with him. I'll just work through the patterns.

Russell Higgins Lesson Part 2

Next was Garbo's turn. After saddling up Russell asked me to pay with him on the ground while I tightened the girth in stages. Boy - what a difference between today and the last time I did this in front of Russell. I felt co-ordinated and Garbo was responsive and attentitive, - he commented on how nice it is to have a horse that was so in tune to me and asking questions so often. I took that as a compliment (he doesn't really give compliments).

Then I got on and we did some point to point and Russell said he was surprised at the nice trot Garbo gave, he said he was expecting a slug! He liked his trot alot. We did a small canter to show Russell how Garbo gets a bit excited and he said he didn't really notice anything. Just goes to show how well I know Garbo and I know what comes next!!

Russell set up a small arena with the tyre as one point and three jump stands as a kind of oval shape - about 40m long I guess. What I had to do was walk to the top marker and trot round the outside of the markers to the tyre, then walk back round the other markers back to the top - then trot - but use more than I normally do for phases - ie go one step further - which meant slapping myself with the rope. This was to get Garbo anticipating the trot at the marker and for it eventually to be just my life up, and for this to also translate into canter. He didn't want me having to use the rope to ask for canter.

By the last lap - oh after about 4 half halfs he said trot the whole way but ask for a faster trot at the marker, we did about 15 more laps. Yes, I was knackered as was Garbo but the last lap he got the pattern and went round really nicely.

Then he got me to do it all again. He offered canter a couple of times and he said to just let it happen.

Next he set up two jump stands a little way out from the rail, about 40m apart from each other.
This time I had to walk from one marker to the other along the rail and use indirect rein to turn round the marker and transfer to direct rein to get back on the rail. So we would then trot along the rail, down to walk during the indirect rein, and then up to trot on the direct rein. This gave him quite alot of impulsion. After doing that for a while I had to also lean back and put my hand on his hip, with my indirect rein hand after the indirect rein turn, while guiding him back to the rail with the direct rein. That took a bit of co-ordination!

We did that for a while - about 30 minutes I guess, Garbo was completely knackered when we stopped.

Russell suggested I not try Canter Passenger at this stage, as with an LBI it would take my leadership away -and that is what I have to work on. Leadership in the saddle. For example me doing all of the steering rather than me some and Garbo some. He said this will stop him being so distracted.

I wasn't sure that I was not being to tough with my indirect rein turn so I shall watch Pat again on the patterns DVD.

He suggested I do follow the rail at trot for 20 minutes. LOL. That is something I don't do for that long. And then to turn into the centre at canter and bend him gently to a stop. That way he will get to learn that canter ends in stop and rest.

So that's a good thing for me to try in a couple of days.

Russell also said that if you lead the nose the body should follow, if it doesn't you can bump the rein to reinforce.

I washed him down as he was covered in sweat, and he then went and rolled in the dirt and covered himself in it!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

March DVD

I watched the March DVD yesterday. I didn't feel that my fear of riding was as bad as Elizabeth's so did not feel the need to do what she did for myself but I noticed they said it was a good thing for your horse as well so I decided to do it with Garbo (and then maraschino) today. Garbo doesn't like me mounting bareback - maybe I am crap at it - but he either steps forward or sideways away from me just as I go to get on. I have to stand on a chair or tyre to get on.

First I gave him a good groom, in readiness for tomorrow. I also took him for a graze by the hay shed since there is not much grass in the track at the moment.

Rubbing him while I was standing on the chair was fine but as soon as I rubbed him with my leg he stepped away. This gave me the opportunity to work on getting him to move towards me sideways with the carrot stick on the far side while I stayed standing on the chair. We had to do it a few times before Garbo decided to do what I was asking and to stay there while I lifted my leg.

Then I leaned over him and rubbed him - again he stepped away twice so we started over, and worked on moving towards me again.

After an hour he was standing still while I was leaning over him, and getting on and off. This photo doesn't show me very far over his back because I had to use the camera timer and only had 10 seconds to get on, and Garbo was wondering why I was suddenly was running over and up and on!! (hence the ears back in the photo).

I noticed he finally relaxed and didn't lift his leg, swish his tail, or step away by the end of it,\. We ended the session there. He yawned quite a bit after that.

Then I decided to try it with Maraschino since Linda said on the DVD that this technique is what they use for starting young horses. I groomed him first - I have some before and after photos below! I had to put conditioner on the end of his mane as it's really dry and split. I managed to lean lightly over his back within only a few minutes and he was very calm. I was quite impressed. He wasn't worried about me standing higher up either.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Ha - I decided to have a little play with Garbo today and to take him into the middle and try the tire, for a photo mainly! Well his foot started sinking into the sand (George and I had stood on it and packed it down - but bring along a 600kg horse and see what happens). I rushed the photo as I was worried how he was going to get off with one foot stuck in the sand! He was fine -but we need more sand... or something!
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

videos from yesterday

Hopefully you can hear the birds..

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Forest ride

Had a great ride in the forest with Bronwyn and Critey today. We dodged a couple of light showers because the forest canopy protected us. Garbo loaded perfectly both ways. Since those two hour long sessions I have not had a problem. Cool huh.

This is the road up to the horse park - looking lovely with the autumn leaves.

We had a lovely long ride - all walk - and we were out for 2 and a half hours! By the time I got home I had been gone three hours so George was just about to text and see where we were.

Garbo was really good. I am not quite sure why but he was taking the cross country routes today instead of the main track. I was really concentrating on not using the reins to turn and to just use my body.

We heard a few deer rutting... it's a strange noise (it's roaring season). Critey is listening here.

Going a bit off track here past the Toi Tois.

Garbo going through the drive through!

As you can see he was pretty sweaty when we got back.

When we got back Maraschino came trotting up to the gate but George said he was really good - and we were away 3 hours - great news!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Level 4 here we come

Hee hee - this was taken in June 2006. had you going though hey!
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My letter to Pat and Linda

I just typed this up to send in with my DVD audition...

Thought I would share...

Dear Pat and Linda Linda

I had the pleasure of meeting you in Sydney at the conference and I expressed my thanks. I wanted to outline my gratitude again with my Level Two Freestyle Audition DVD (enclosed).

I started riding only a little under 5 years ago. I had always had a dream of learning to ride but as a child we could not afford lessons. I got older and forgot about it, only going for treks on school horses where and when I could. I fell off badly on my 21st birthday on a trek where the horse just made a B line for the barn on the way back and turned a corner at canter and my body didn’t follow. I fell off and the horse ran over me – it’s hoof clipping my face which knocked my front tooth through my lip (broke my front tooth off and sent it through my lip to my chin!

I didn’t get on another horse for nearly 20 years - well apart from a riding centre in the UK – my boss shouted me a ride/trek while I was nannying in the UK – I got on and this snobby English lady made everyone trot in a big circle. She yelled out – “that girl can’t ride’ and I was not allowed to continue the ride with the others – it was very very embarrassing.

So – I kind of gave up my dream of riding – until the big 40 was approaching. (I am 42 now.) At 38 I decided to have lessons! I had just lost 20 kg and had the confidence to finally get back on a horse. The instructor told me to stand up in the stirrups and hold on to the mane – that was how to canter. Lean forward like a jockey he said. Well all we did was walk and canter over their farm with me holding on for dear life and one day there was a little jump – all the others went over – it looked small enough. My horse went over with me leaning forward as instructed, and then the horse stopped as soon as he was over the jump – but I didn’t and was catapulted over the horses head and broke my arm – right up by the shoulder- so no cast, no wires just a lot of pain and sleeping sitting upright for 6 weeks!

As you can imagine my confidence was shattered. I had to re-look at what I was doing. I changed riding instructors and found one that was better for my confidence but it was a slow road. My riding didn’t seem to improve that much. I would question the instructors on ‘sawing’ the reins and using ‘morse code’ on the reins to get the horses head ‘down’. I hated it. I went from one instructor to another – all of whom focused on getting the horse in an outline or to have contact, none of them instructed me on how to ride better, get my balance, or improve my seat. That was all supposed to come naturally, and in time. I would see people that had ridden for years and think ‘wow’ they make it look so easy.

I finally adopted a horse that had been abandoned. My instructor said he would be good for me to learn on. Turned out he (in hindsight) was a RBI and bolted several times with me on his back. I fell off a few times, luckily no injuries, apart from to my confidence. I loved him to bits but decided he was too old and had too much baggage to ride.

6 months later I decided to buy a horse as I was addicted (despite all that!), and found a gorgeous Palomino Swedish Warmblood. Finally I thought I can take my horse out and enter competitions and win ribbons and have fun and go to the beach etc etc etc. The first month I did so much – going out all the time, but slowly my confidence started to diminish. During one jumping lesson I fell off twice! Oh – I forgot to mention I fell off two of the horses that I trialed during my search to buy – yes - over jumps!

My first ribbon day I accidentally entered the wrong ring for the first round and someone came over and told me my ‘jacket was wrong’ and that she could see daylight under my girth’. Nice! Garbo proceeded to jig jog around and call out to others the entire day. I got 2nd place for best rider in the Mature ring. It wasn’t a fun day. I entered him into a couple of Golden Horse Inhand shows where he won lots of ribbons but on the ground he would cut me off during the trot out so it was difficult to show him off to his best.

Over a period of about a year my confidence was at an all time low. The last show I took Garbo to was a Ribbon Day and in the ring with 40 other horses as soon as they started trotting he turned into a bucking bronco. I stayed on long enough to exit the ring and got off in tears, walked him back to the float (trailer) in tears, cried all the way home and have not been back to another show since.

After two years of owning him I finally found Parelli. However it wasn't straight forward - 6 months before that, I had seen a demo at an Horse Expo of a (so-called) Parelli instructor and I hated every minute of it (turns out he was a sacked PP) – the horse looked scared to death so I dismissed this ‘Parelli’ stuff and carried on trying all sorts of other methods and trainers. This included Monty Roberts, Trisha Wren, Andrew McLean, and dressage lessons. None of these people made any difference to my horse. They labeled him lazy, stubborn, obstinate, and hard to ride. Basically they told me I had too much horse for my ability. They couldn’t ride him well so how could I? Being a beginner and all!

Our arena lessons were full of bucks and kicks and he seemed miserable. One thing prevailed though – even then, I spent a lot of time with my horse – we were best buddies, and he was always pleased to see me – even if my attempts made him frustrated. I questioned my instructor on why he opened his mouth against the bit – she told me to get a flash noseband. I didn’t want to and was always loosening it when she couldn’t see. I searched for a more comfortable bit and got a myler bit – but I hated having to ride with a whip to get anything done. No one could really give me the answers I was searching for. I went to clinic after clinic and tried various riding methods including lunge lessons with a classical dressage rider and horse. All very well on a smooth horse but my horse had a bouncy trot and canter.

For the whole 12 months before I started Parelli my horse was intermittently lame. Vets would come up with suggestions like I needed to canter the hell out of him, or that his feet were trimmed unevenly, but no one knew - or fixed it. I did my own research and realised he was Bridle Lame - even at times on the lunge without the bridle!! I was at an all time low.

Then I saw a CoverAll ad in a magazine and went to their website (I would love one in my dreams!) and saw a Parelli testimonial. In the background I could see people doing things with horses I could not believe. Then I saw Linda saying how she used to have a horse that she couldn’t ride in the wind, or the rain, or with other horses, away from other horses etc etc – that sounded just like I had become! I searched for more videos on the internet and within a week of researching Parelli I signed up for Level One home study.

That was July 2007, in October I passed Level One and here is my Level 2 freestyle audition. I have not looked back – I have every instructional course DVD Parelli have issued and belong to the Savvy Club. I think the materials are so professional and easy to learn.

I have not returned to a show yet, but I have returned to the forest for trail rides, now in a hackamore to everyone elses amazement (and horror in some cases) and I have just started riding bareback. My husband and ‘normal’ friends have noticed such a change in my horse, and in I. One friend who I had not seen for a year commented on how muscled and toned he was – little did she know we only ride once a week sometimes. The rest is all online and liberty. My confidence has slowly returned and I attribute that to Linda and Stephanie saying it’s OK to get off!

We now have our own property and my horses are at home. Sadly my adopted first horse died of colic in January 2008, but Garbo is loving Parelli – he adores liberty, and we are getting there slowly on the riding front. Our relationship has only got better – I think he is super pleased I found Parelli!

So I just wanted to say thank you – I have only fallen off once since starting Parelli – and that really was just that I slipped off, literally, during a small spook while riding bareback, and as you can see I am jumping now and not terrified of it. I have only attended one Parelli clinic so I have done all this by myself – I have only one Parelli friend nearby so it’s been a challenge doing it alone but worth every day of it!

Thank you again Pat and Linda.
You inspire me.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Horse Expo

Hana and I went to the Horse Expo today and we found ourselves underwhelmed. We decided that we look at horses and riders through different eyes now and the cranked shut mouth on the Grand Prix Dressage horse, or the so called western riders pulling on their horses mouths, or the stallion handler yanking the chain bridle everytime the horse tries to stand on top of them, or the Hunt horses looking extremely uptight with their heads in the air anticipating the canter, - just don't do it for us anymore. It was a pleasant afternoon in the sun and we got to catch up with a whole pile of people anyway.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Freestyle L2 audition

We filmed my L2 Freestyle audition today. Garbo was a star and was surprisingly full of energy. We jumped the jump three times, had a couple of small canters and lots of trot. I am impressed with how well he is tracking up in this trot and how the angles are even. And he looks happy!

These are stills from my video which I am still trying to upload to Youtube.

Who would have thought, that if someone had predicted 2 years ago I would be cantering and jumping in a rope halter, but things change hey!