Sunday, May 31, 2009

Plastic bag

Garbo doesn't mind plastic bags - he knows they normally contain food, but after the neighbour spooked them all by throwing a white frisbee around (or something), which in turn made a mess of my paddock (horses not the frisbee), I decided to do some de-spooking.

He doesn't look worried here does he - to the untrained eye - but he is .... (aeroplane ears as Jane calls them) - but he is gaining confidence with it as long as I don't try and touch his legs with it.

I spent some time walking away playing extreme friendly, this photo was taken with me walking backwards swishing it up and down.

Then I held it towards his withers and then shoulder, then legs again- not perfect but good progress.

At the end I held it up high and as soon as he touched it with his nose he would get a hay cube. This worked really well. He was seeking it out. Maraschino leant over the gate to see if he could eat it... lol

We also reviewed the lead by the hind leg lesson from yesterday - Garbo remembered and came backwards at a really light phase on the rope. Then I tried at liberty and he was great! Then we tried lead by the mane - I added the savvy string to the halter loop as a back up instead of a rope and started by asking him forward with phase 1, then 2 on the mane. Once he took a step I gave him a hay cube. Then we repeated that about 5 times and made a circle round the wash bay. I also asked for stop with the mane too which he figured out really quickly.

Then I tried on the far side! Hah - he just decided it was time to look the other way and sniff everything (the chair, the cover, the hose, the bucket). Maybe it has something to do with his mane being on the near side, or do I just lead too much from that side and not change it up enough.?

It's really cold now - southerlies, it got down to 5 degrees by 6pm. While I was playing this game it got really windy as the Southerly arrived and bitterly cold as I spent 10 minutes afterwards putting back all the divets that I could in the paddock.
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Blinding Flash of the Obvious

Funny what you think about, for ages, one way, then suddenly you go 'oh'. OH.

When I first got Garbo I was a brand new horse owner and while I think I was perceptive I didn't really know how to read a horse well. I noticed he was grumpy about being groomed so I enlisted the help of a Natural Horsemanship Trainer and she said 'just use softer brushes - he must be sensitive'. Well I accepted this and have done so, for the whole time I have had him.

In the last couple of years I have really been studying how Garbo interacts with the other horses in his herd (and other new or strange horses). So far I have never seen another horse boss Garbo around, he has always been the more dominant horse - and quite quickly. He asserts himself quickly and uses phases and once the ground rules are laid he is very fair with his phases and hardly ever connects with his teeth.

It usually only happens once (poor Coco)...

The reason I have been studying this so much is because this is basically what I am trying to achieve with him. Pat said last night in the Teleseminar that horses do not get 'offended' by us doing something (phase 4 for example) but they do get scared if emotional or anger is added to our actions. I have always worried that Garbo gets offended when I use Phase 4 but I look at Maraschino and he just idolises Garbo for bossing him round.

I have, in the last few months, therefore been more assertive and particular about what I am asking him to do (if he doesn't do it - like stay out on the circle for example), and he has not seemed to enjoy our sessions as much. So perhaps I have been getting angry or emotional about it. I shall really work on staying emotionally neutral even at phase 4. Perhaps I need to practise that hitting the barrel with the carrot stick and then friendlying it straight afterwards.

Anyway - back to the subject at hand.

So - no other horse has ever groomed Garbo. It was something Pat said about dominant horses last night - that you can have dominance with respect, and I suddenly realised that when Garbo gets me to itch him in his itchy spots - he is allowing me to - I should take it as a compliment. The fact I can groom him is not something I should take for granted. I know most non PNH people just do things to their horses without asking permission - and will laugh at this but I looked at our grooming session this afternoon with completely new eyes.

My goal has always been to be a passive leader, not an aggressive leader, like in the book by Mark Rashid - Truth About Horses. It's great.

The other thing I got from the Tele-Seminar was someone asked how to get their LBI out away from them (instead of circling close to them) - hah the bain of my life.... Pat said to use Yo Yo and sideways to get the horse out and away on the end of the line, and for sideways to swing the carrot stick and string like you would a rope and if they walk into it- well... (rather than hitting)... so looking forward to trying that.

I know alot of people would be envious of Garbo's 10m canter circles round me at Liberty, but we really need to expand our repertoire. I think he is bored with that now and he tries to dominate me. Another thing that was discussed last night -dominate vs leadership. There is no fear with true respect and you can be dominant with respect. Just like a horse.

Pat also said to train your horse to 'load for life'. And if you can train your horse to load well, do lead changes and liberty, then you will have a well trained horse.

He also said on the last audio cd that a horse in training should not realise he is being trained - it should be fun for him.

More information in!!!

Friday and more 45ft line

My hubby took this photo while I was at work - he texted me saying 'sleepy time for horses'. How sweet. He knows I like to know what they are doing when I am not home. I really cannot wait to be working at home again - it's been a long year going 'out' to work.

I bought three rock salt blocks on strings (like soap on a rope) today for the boys yard and was busy attaching them when Garbo came and asked what on earth I was up to.
Then he said could you pass me some carrots from in there please. He is such a schmoozer. Linda talked about Remmer and Allure being schmoozers last night in the Tele-Seminar. I am sure if I opened the door far enough he would come in and help himself.

Ok so more 45ft work Garbo! He didn't like me rubbing him with it much but better than yesterday. Every time he made a change for the good I gave him a hay cube. He held his breath and swallowed for a bit and then kept tossing his nose towards me trying to make me stop, but I persisted and eventually he let out a breath and then a big sigh and a lick so I gave him a treat and took the rope away.

Then I put it on his back while I took photos - he wasn't tied up and the wash bay gate was open, but he didn't try and leave.

See the sneaky introverted lick.

Then we did some lead by the hind leg (backwards)... tried initially with the lead rope on the ground - a little bit of opposition reflex here but once I reinforced it means back up, with shaking the rope attached to his halter he got it and we did a few lengths of the wash bay with a hay cube at each end before walking forwards to start over.

He got it without the lead rope in the last few... we will see what that's like again on Monday - or Sunday if not too wet - won't be doing anything tomorrow I don't think except keeping dry!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

45ft line christening

After the play session with Maraschino I grabbed by 45ft line and showed Garbo. He had a sniff but he didn't think much of it while I was trying to untangle it - it had not even been unwound yet and I got it in March at the conference. My bad.

So once I hooked him up he seemed fine with it while I practised throwing it and curling it back up. Then Garbo got it round his legs and that was fine too.... phew.

I yo-yo'd him all the way to the end first pop, using phase two I suppose. Uphill too.

I tried sideways but HAVE NO IDEA how to drive him from that far away - he knows I can't touch him and the only way the yo yo works is because phase 4 connects with him - but you can't do that with sideways or circle. Any ideas? I guess I have had the same problem with the 22ft as well. Tapping the air really does nothing, neither does the 'look'.

It took a bit of approach and retreat to get the 45ft rope on him - as you can see is is not at all impressed. We will work on this a bit more.

On another note - I have been reading the Savvy Times and the article by Pat on Finding Neutral. When in neutral on the circle game you should not be focussing on the horse (if he will stop or change gaits or not) because they can read our intentions - so a true neutral is gazing away or thinking about something else, or talking to someone. Interesting hey.

I find it interesting that they can read our intentions - no matter if we try and fake it. It's so true!

Our first Tele-Seminar tonight at 9pm - I'll let you know how it is.

Mr Maraschino - my little RBI

I thought I would play with Maraschino first today to see if it made any difference to his emotional state when I take Garbo out of the paddock. Well - as I thought - Garbo got all upset. I am going to load a video below to show you. Garbo settled down once he realised I was not taking Maraschino away - and that we were just playing in the next green bit. Garbo doesn't run around when he gets emotional - he does the same thing on the ground as he does under saddle when emotional - he crests his neck and lifts his front feet off the ground like he is going to rear (or jump out), and then bucks!

Anyway - doing a bit of approach and retreat with Maraschino while we played 'put you nose on each fence post up the fenceline' and back again, calmed Garbo down and he carried on eating grass.

The photo above is Maraschino just after Garbo had had a little hissy fit - as you can see - it didn't help our play session. But - once we got back to it he figured out the Touch it Game really well and I gave him a hay cube. He gobbled it nervously. It's so hard to tell if he actually makes any improvement with his confidence - he gulps loudly like he is holding his breath and he chews on my zip end - he has always done this - it seems he does it more when he's a bit unsure.

Here's the video - as you can see it's almost a nervous thing for him....

In saying all that we did some sideways along the fence (uphill and downhill) and some circle at walk - and a change of direction (his first). He is still suspicious of the Carrot Stick so I tried to leave it on his back while we played touch it.

He grazed in between the games and each time he relaxed and touched something with his nose I gave him a hay cube. He will stand there next to the thing for what seems like 5 minutes, assessing the surroundings - and then reach out and touch it. I was pleased he touched the spade in the sand because it had flapping plastic next to it.

On the way back into the hay shed paddock, where Garbo was he touched the float coupling (he couldn't touch it on the way out) and he let out a big breath and blew through his nose (not quite a snort).

How interesting. All in all a good session - hope it was for Maraschino too.

George flew past us at one stage, circling to try and find us.....

Can you see Garbo's ears behind the fence?

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rain thoughts

It's been raining for what seems like weeks so I have not ridden since goodness knows when, the paddocks are too wet - not for riding but they will get pogged up - I hate pogs, maybe I am being precious but we only have two paddocks so winter riding really has to be outside the paddocks.

I could take Garbo out to an arena if I knew of a local one to hire. The other thing playing on my mind is leaving Maraschino behind. I did heaps of seperation training in summer but as Pat says if you don't seperate them every day then they get used to the other horse being around all the time.

I took Garbo out just before the last lot of rain and stuck him in the next paddock and every time he went out of view (I think), Maraschino would gallop round the middle paddock. I think it could have had something to do with the fact that Garbo was eating grass and he wasn't!

So - that leads me to think about what he might do to my paddocks while we are out. What I might do tomorrow is make up a little feed for Maraschino and do our seperation routine (away and back before Maraschino gets uptight- making each trip longer away)... that way I can take Garbo up the driveway. It's a shame it's due to rain on Saturday because I had an idea I could let Maraschino into the hay shed paddock (to eat grass) while I took Garbo up the private road.

Anyway - if the worst comes to the worst and I can't take Garbo out all winter - well - it's only three months... we coped last year ok.

I have set myself a goal to film my Level Three audition for liberty and online by Xmas - hah - that's three months to get it done after winter.... crazy or what! Freestyle by Xmas 2010.

My husband commented on "what would I do if I didn't have Parelli" as I read the Savvy Times in front of TV. He was meaning I would be bored - as Parelli takes up so much of my thoughts... I watch videos when ever I can, and I am always reading either Pat's book, or the latest Savvy Times, or thinking about how I will do this or that.... heck I even dream about Parelli. There is always so much to lick and chew on.

I groomed the boys tonight (always good for Maraschino to practice being tied up), and Coco kept coming up to me as if to ask if he could have a brush too - if only he was brave enough. I let him smell all the brushes and he licked my hand. He is definitely motivated by food.

I clean out the yards before I go to bed and when I am done I give them all a carrot. Coco and Maraschino don't take their eyes off me, watching and waiting. Maraschino nibbles on my belt loops and my zipper tassle... while Garbo looks at the hose (that's the last thing I do - fill up the water buckets).

I let Garbo graze in hand tonight on the grass next to the wash bay, it's very long, and then when I brought him back in to be groomed, he was busy leaning over the fence on one side of the hose that hangs down from the roof.... as he moved along the fenceline the hose ended up on his back.... I moved it off and carried on with Maraschino.. next thing I look over and Garbo is standing there just looking at me as the hose was over his back with the spray gun fitting on the near side. It was like the hose was playing sideways to the fence and he was doing it. Very funny.

I stuck the plastic bag on the end of the carrot stick tonight - he has never liked it much (Garbo) so that's a good winter game. I walked away and asked him to come to me and he did and sniffed the bag. After a few tries I ended it there. Maraschino just sniffed it as if to say 'does it have any food in it?'. I stuck the carrot stick over the yard gate and showed Coco, he looked up at it and then turned away.

I have rabbitted on enough - but what I do realise from watching all the Fluidity TV Shows on the Savvy Club over the last few rainy days, is that I need to ride Garbo more in an enclosed area to build my confidence, and his. The only way I am going to improve my fluidity is to put the hours in. So bit of a bummer about the dilemma above.

I have been working on my balance, every day not holding on to anything while I put on and take off my socks, shoes, slippers, and trousers etc.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I'm so tired Mum

I took this picture of Garbo this morning. The ground was quite wet as it had rained a couple of hours prior to this. He was trying out his new cover I think - plus christening it in mud!

Later in the day I let Garbo through to some more grass next to the hay shed and Maraschino came cantering over from the other end of the track. I decided to take the opportunity to play with him.

I haltered him and made sure I had treats (I think part of his excitement is that there is not much grass at the moment and he thinks he is missing out) - like someone I know says "it's like eating lettuce leaves" when she referred to the grass in winter.

I started with porcupine game, quick review and check to see if everything was working, FQ and HQ - got balls at both ends. He pushed a little with his nose when I asked him to back for the 2nd time by the nose (first time was a dream). Then I did head down with my hand on top of his head, he finds this harder than asking with the lead rope from the chin. He keeps his head down which is different to Garbo who has never been good at keeping his head down, too interested in seeing what is going on. They are quite different really - Maraschino is so very sensitive, Garbo is too but it's more 'taking it personally and being cross with himself for getting something wrong' whereas Maraschino looks to me for leadership constantly. When we play he does not take his eyes off me.

After that he did some of his huge yawns, his tongue sticks out the side and twists, eyes roll backwards. LOL.

Then I got the ball out and managed to get it on to his back first pop, almost as quick as Pat does, and I gave him a treat with it still on there (that took some doing - I swear I need another hand - or an assistant!!). I then got lateral flexion (offered) to get the treats while the ball was still on his back - clever boy (more than what I can do with Garbo with that big scary green ball).

We did 'kick the ball' too - played a bit of soccer on the wash bay and ended it there (all that took about half an hour and it successfully took his mind off Garbo being away finally).

No photos sorry - had my hands full!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Green ball day 2

I gave Garbo a groom (first thing he does when I take his cover off is roll in any dirt he can find).
Then we started on the green ball thresholds again. I gave him a treat each time he touched his nose on the ball.

Then I put the ball on top of the gate - he couldn't even look at it initially, and look all worried.

I asked him to be brave and come forward to the ball and eventually he did. I gave him a treat as soon as he touched his nose on it. He licked and chewed alot.

Then I moved it so that it was up against the post and me and slowly moved it up higher every time he put his nose on it comfortably. In the end he was a pro lol. This was above my shoulder.

I thought that was a pretty good session so ended it there and put the ball back in it's corner - Garbo was so funny - he wouldn't take his nose off it.

I have rushed putting the ball on his back before and he has had it on his back while he freezes and his back twinges. I notice his back does that sometimes just as I am about to put his cover on too. So I think this will be a good thing to get through.

Maraschino came over while I had it on the gate and sniffed all over the ball - funny doesn't worry my little RBI at all. Who would have thought!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Green ball

I could see the rain approaching on the rain radar right from when I got up so I made sure I did the yards and the poos and some more sand in the gateways before I played with Garbo. Since it was just about to rain I decided just to do something in the wash bay - the ground is still a bit soft so we would make a mess trying to do anything beyond a walk online.

Garbo has always had a fear of the green ball above his shoulder - ie I can't get it on his back with him remaining confident. So I decided we would work on that today with some treats. Hay cubes. I managed to get him to follow the ball and eat treats off it, and I had just started putting it on top of the gate for him to put his nose on, when unexpected visitors arrived (nearly jumped out of my skin as they just came round the barn to the wash bay area). It was the architect (sp?) from Harmony Homes, he has been up in Woodhill Forest at the Tarzan Ropes course and decided to pop by and see what the house looked like in real life.

So - I had to stop our session and put Garbo's cover on (as it was kind spitting) and go and show them through the house. Don't get me wrong I normally don't mind un-announced visitors but I only had a small window of time to play with Garbo and I was going to play with Maraschino as well, today and it was cut short.

I have been watching the TV shows episodes of Parelli TV on the Savvy Club forum. The "Video: Ep501A : 1- 7 -2009 - Lesson - On Line in Round Pen" was just what I needed to see today again. It shows a LBI horse reluctant to circle so I was able to see a clear reminder of the phases and tagging, and then the horse came in and crowded her like Garbo does and Linda said it was unconfidence and the last thing you should do is shoo him away. She friendlied him from Zone 3 where he wanted her and then backed him out again.

I also watched changes of direction at Liberty and I am just watching Hide Your Hiney now. It's good to see these reminders.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The verse that was in the front of the Savvy Times a couple of times was really cool - I decided to get it printed onto canvas with a nice border, to hang above my tack roon/feedroom doorway.

It's not about disposable horses... It's about relationships for life.
It's not about quick fixes and artificial aids... It's about savvy – true understanding and expertise.
It's not about winning and others losing... It's about win-win: you and the horse need to feel good about it.
It's not about me me me... It's about changing the world for horses, becoming a person of knowledge and influence and sharing what you know.
It's not about fear and doubt... It's about unconditional love and trust. Love for the empowerment of others; and trust that you'll never ask the horse to do something that would hurt or diminish his dignity.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Coco gets a scratch

You will have to try and get this visual picture really well so I can explain how it happened.

I was standing near Coco and Maraschino came over to say hi too. Coco didn't move, he was facing away from me and I was just by his right hind leg. Maraschino stuck his head between me and Coco's hind leg and put his nose on Coco's back. Coco didn't move. I reached under Maraschino's neck and touched Coco's hind end - just on top above his tail but on the flat part. He didn't move so I started scratching thinking that he would just think it was Maraschino grooming him.

He still didn't move, so I kept scratching and started breaking up all the caked mud, and seperating all the hair that had stuck together from the rain. He was loving it... I reached a bit further forward to see if perhaps his wither area would be his sweet spot but he moved forward as if to say 'no - just where you were is fine'.

At this stage I still didn't know if he knew it was me and not Maraschino - Maraschino was trying to help. Lol.

Then - Maraschino moved his head over the top of me and therefore put me next to Coco and Maraschino obviously on the other side of me. I had been watching Coco's ears - he had them on me - then he turned his head and looked straight at me scratching him, and he didn't move away.!!

Maraschino moved again then adn the spell was broken and Coco moved away.

I tried to get next to him again without Maraschino but he saw my direct line-ness and moved away.

I was so happy.

People have obviously used feed buckets to catch him in the past because if you move the bucket towards him he jumps away.

Anyway - one step at a time hey.

I saw some cute as covers for minis today and thought one day he can have a rain coat too like the big boys.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Coco progress

I managed to touch Coco on his hind end last night.

He was standing outside his yard after I let him out and I could reach down and scratch his bum without moving so I did, slowly. He jumped and walked away. Then stopped again.

Today I tried again and managed to scratch him for about one second. He turned and looked at me. He wasn't scared, I think he was just wondering what it was.

I have not done anything for days as it's been cold and rainy and windy. And we have mud! Just in one part - the rest of the wet areas are 100% improved since we put the drains in up by the house.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Maybe one day

Garbo wanted me to halter him today - ahah - so I rewarded him and took him straight out for some grass. It was a good opportunity to do some seperation practice for Maraschino as well. I also worked on zero resistance on the lead rope when I walked off (please).

I had the two big boys in for grooming again today and Coco wandered in and stood there like he was there for that too. I wish I could groom him!!

Just after this photo I squatted down and looked slightly sideways and he sniffed my ear, my arm, my pocket, and my leg. So he's definitely getting better.

I took this video yesterday - I timed it well for this song - as it says it all really.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Just resting my foot

Garbo has been looking at me with his ears back a bit while he is in his yard (not anywhere else so maybe it's a bedroom thing) - as if to say 'you can only come near me if you have carrots'. There is not alot of grass at the moment so he does get a little grumpy when that is the case (not that he is starving or anything!).

So today we worked a little on the catching game as he walked off when he saw the halter. Oh dear! Only took one more go to get his permission (I have run out of carrots and apples and treats - oh dear - don't tell Garbo - although I fear he knows!). We went straight to the pigtails and I worked on our weave pattern (in a circle). The pigtails that are my round pen, without the tape. I had to seperate, isolate and re-combine today. I only had the 12ft as it was a spur of the moment thing to play as soon as I caught him.

I decided to get him to weave by driving Zone 1 away from me. I tapped the air but didn't get alot so in the end I held a piece of line between my hands (about 2 ft apart) and drove energy towards him with that in a rhthym. That seemed to work.

I have been reading Pat's Natural Horse.Man.Ship book and for the send he says to also point your leg and foot in the direction you want the horse to move off. And to swing the rope at zone 1 till he does, then return your leg to neutral. I tried that today. Boy I really realised on the 12ft how much Garbo picks up on my body language. Just putting my foot out in the end would send him. He doesn't like me making contact with the rope end.

So then I asked for just walk while I stayed neutral - he kept offering trot but I wanted him to relax and just 'get it'. I used the rope end to twirl at Zone one when ever he came closer and you know finally he got the idea.

Then I worked on the dis-engage. He rushes in to me and stands over me, so I did star jumps as he came rushing in. He kind of stopped. Kind of. We kept doing it until he understood. Phew. Talk about brain power for both of us.

Oh - before all of this we just cruised around and I asked Garbo if he would like to try out the tire now that I put some more sand in it. He said "if it's ok with you I'll just rest my foot here for a bit". I said - that's cool.

After all of that, and ending on a great disengage, I took him up by the gate for some long grass.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Grooming afternoon

I didn't do chores today when I got home I decided to get my iPod out and play music in the wash bay while I groomed the boys. I just opened the gate and left it open. I decided to tie the lines to the hitching rings for the two big horses, so that Maraschino could get used to being tied up. My high hitching rings are so safe for him - he quite happily stood there finding his own boundaries without being in danger of stepping on the rope or getting tangled.

Then Coco walked in like it was no big deal as if to say Hi I am here too with the big boys. He nibbled on some grass round the edges and hung around watching me groom the boys. I would go from one horse to the other and I just kept my energy the same...I was singing actually which they all seemed to enjoy - don't they say singing helps keep your voice even and therefore your energy. Glad no one else could hear though!

Coco was watching intently while I groomed Maraschino, massaging his legs, and at one point he was about 5 inches from me - checking it all out. He wandered in and out and just hung out for the whole 2 hours - yes - it's a bit of a 'makeover' when they do get groomed -plus two horses you know.

I have been reading Pats book - Natural Horse*Man*Ship and I have got two things from it so far... when I pick up Maraschinos back feet or approach him from behind I should be sure his ears are facing me so that he knows I am there. I looked at his ears today while brushing his back end and they were both firmly planted on me - like someone had sewn his ears on back to front. lol. Good tip!

The other thing I got was that if you don't have two eyes (while backing or as you are about to send on circle) then they are thinking of going in the direction of the eye you can't see. Hah! That will be useful with Garbo.

I think Garbo really enjoyed just having a bit of a groom - he can act like he doesn't like it but once he settles into it I think he does really. He was quite smoochy after a while. And he spent ages smelling each brush before I used it. How cute is this face!?

Then I fed them and Coco stayed in the wash bay so I fed him in there and was working all round him filling up hay nets and water and he didn't jump or budge at all.