Sunday, May 29, 2011

It's over sob sob

This is most likely what you'll find me doing a lot over winter!! Practising my consistent contact even while trotting and my position for finesse.

Linda said this afternoon that this is the missing piece for Finesse Level 4 but we should start it now because it will improve our relationship with our horse in so many ways. I can see how it will for Garbo. And it's all about making the arena interesting even for an LBI too. There were a few LBIs.

Ok so here are some photos of the same horses, day 1 to day 2, notice the difference in the riders also.

The above photo is Duncan on day 2 , look how cool his should hip heel line is, compared to the day before.

Lilann got on his horse in the end because Duncan needed to see a mental picture of what he was aiming for.

Pretty cool huh.

Fiona got some awesome results too - I just was not so good at capturing them, sorry, it was dark by now.

The summary of the course is; you and your horse should enjoy contact. Using pressure and release you can teach your horse to get contact with nose, neck and feet. Without a fight, without fear. Linda said most horses think when you pick up contact they'll hit a wall and be blocked, this way they are not, they always get an open door.

Lastly - a photo of steady Eddie...for practising our positions on before we get on the horse.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sugarloaf Equestrian Centre

This is it from Google Earth, where we are... That's the big arena...huge.

Day 2 and my brain is full - Game of Contact

This is the Sugarloaf Equestrian Centre pussycat. Cute hey. He or she spends the day smooching round everyone, or sleeping in the sun.

Ok so I am back at the hotel but by about 4pm today my brain was full. The riders this morning started on barrels, practicing rising trot. I had forgotten that trot with contact was my big problem, as my hands moved and made the contact inconsistent. So it was great to see a simple fix!!! Apart from a different way of rising which I will go into in a minute, it's a case of hinging your shoulders and moving your elbows back as you rise, so the relaxed hands on the reins makes a soft consistent contact.

Ok - so rising trot, belly button in towards your spine, tuck pelvis up towards same bellybutton, rib cage together, rise by putting the weight down into your knees, not your feet, and keep the distance between your bra and belly button the same as you do. Oh and don't forget to keep your shoulders over your hips, and your back straight ( not hollow), oh and ride your horse and breathe at the same time!!! And relaxed arms, armpits down, strong elbows. Ok - got it? Lol

As Linda keeps saying "pretend it's easy"!

Now you know why my brain is full and that was just the first simulation before the riding in the morning.

I do have some photos but they are on my phone so check back on Tuesday for added photos of the simulations.

So first 4 riders mounted and this is Fiona and her LB - extrovert I think!! This photo shows her taking the contact because the horse is not taking it. His head is behind the vertical, his strides are short and he's not tracking up.

A second later he takes the contact and his stride is through and he looks much better. This is the confidence stage only. There are 4 stages.

Duncan made some amazing changes with his position after the barrel simulations. Note the line; shoulders, hips, heels, nearly perfect.

Alex had an extreme Left Brain Extrovert and so did Claire, and Linda rode Claires horse to demonstrate how fast and busy you have to get to calm an LBE down.

Afterwards the horse did a lot of processing, at the time I took this photo the horse kept shifting his weight constantly, thinking, thinking, thinking.

Linda on Claire's horse.

Then in the afternoon it was Steady Eddy time. The plans are going to be refined and then provided - yay. It's to refine your position for finesse and to fix things like flapping legs, legs moving out or back or forward, and to help you figure out if your back is hollowed or not, and to see if you lean for turning. It's all about tweaking your thighs, added to all of the above.

Then it was the 2nd group of riders turns. Fiona made some awesome progress into Stage 2 and 3 with her horse, at the trot, where most of stage 3 is done at.

Linda the demo'd on Jo Cool again and he was so much more confident today. Sorry it's blurry - it was dark and I turned my flash off so not to spook the horses. Looks kinda cool though right?

Do you think I will be able to sleep?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day 1 of Game of Contact

All I can say, is WOW. Amazing Amazing Amazing. Linda is such an awesome teacher and I could watch and listen to her all day.

We started in the classroom for the morning and heard the story of how the Game of Contact came about. As you probably know Linda left her dressage background on a back burner once she found Parelli, knowing she would get back to it one day. 15 years later she decided she was ready to tackle dressage again and Pat knew the Master for her to study with was Walter Zettel. Just the title of his DVD said it all - A matter of trust!

What she found during the first two years of working with Walter, and her Pilates instructor, was that; it was hard, and no one could really explain exactly what contact was. Apart from the Dressage Stipulations saying it should be elastic. But how?

Even Master Dressage instructors couldn't explain exactly 'what to do' to get that elastic feel, and a soft contact. When Linda figured it out one day it was after a lesson with Walter on Remmer (who reminds me so much of Garbo), where Walter was telling her to get more impulsion yet Remmer wasn't going forward, so she used the crop, and he kicked out (exactly what Garbo does to crops and spurs) - and she finished the lesson feeling 'mean'.

Boy do I know how that feels. Casting my mind back today to my many dressage lessons pre- Parelli where Garbo was just not interested in going forward. He would pull me forward as you can see here.

Plus his stride was short, and not up over his back. In this lesson I had taken off the flash noseband because I couldn't bear the idea of having to strap his mouth shut. My instructor thought I was nuts. So all my - 'why do I have to do that? - surely I can get him to do this without force and so he's happy?' questions were answered today. Horses and humans can enjoy contact without stress and fear. Yah-friggin-hoo!

We don't have to pull, or brace, and neither does the horse, and even better news, if we are studying Level 3 or 4 we can start this NOW. OMG.

So after some simulations of resting hands, and strong elbows, we broke for lunch and then all met out at the Sugarloaf Equestrian Centre.

The riders got to start with simulations (in true Parelli style - muck up on each other first before you subject your horse to yourself) on teaching the horse that the reins and bit don't mean stop!!! Of course that's what Garbo does, and most horses, pick up the reins or take contact means stop.

Linda had the breakthrough after her upsetting lesson mentioned above. She decided to start with freestyle reins and ask Remmer to go forward without using her legs, just a 'smile with all 4 cheeks'. Then when he was moving forward, she would gradually take up the reins and contact, and he'd slow or stop. So she turned him to 11 or 1 o'clock and as soon as he moved one foot, she released the contact. It only took 30 minutes for Remmer to be moving forward with this amazing trot, with a nice contact, rundown back, and tracking up. Without using legs or whip. !!

In the classroom this morning we saw lots of before and after videos of horses that only had a few sessions of this and complete improvement. Amazing. Sick of me saying Amazing yet?

Ok so next the riders and Linda simulated the horse trying to evade or fight the contact (above, behind, head flicking whatever), and for the rider to stay with resting hands, but hinge the shoulders to maintain the contact, no matter what the horse did, then as soon as he takes it nicely, release.

With resting hands, no matter what the horse does with his head, your contact remains the same, soft and consistent. It was amazing how when people didn't have resting hands that the human horse simulator commented on how harsh it felt, and blocking.

So the humans played this for a good 30 minutes before they got on their horses. Actually Linda did a demo first, on Chris Colebridge's lovely horse. She made it look super easy, but as she keeps telling us, it is!! You just have to get your forearm to relax, and to hinge from the shoulders, have strong elbows, and then worry about your position more once you have contact. That's another set of body training and mind training - belly button in, pelvis tilted, ribcage together, armpits down. Lol.

Just after this the horse relaxed forward and stretched into the bit.

Then the riders (all but one whose horse had other extrovert ideas) got to have a go. It was so interesting seeing them progress so quickly. Gives me hope!!

This is Steady Eddie - the simulator which we are apparently going to get to have a go on, and Linda says we can build one at home lol... *George*..... to work on our position.

Cool huh!!

Oh - and the best bit - we are getting an email after the course with notes and the stages - and what to do in each - there are 4 stages. Confidence, stretching, frame and collection. Very exciting.

I'll be back tomorrow with more...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Maraschino's on the mend

Maraschino had a wee bit of a run around this morning after seeing or hearing something in the fog, out in the paddock, so I got him into the yard again. I have ordered the Grass Nosode Homepathic treatment and he's going to get Stramonium in the PM and Grass Nosode in the AM - it's for the grass staggers type symptoms from the grass toxins. He calmed down really quickly once I haltered him which was a good improvement. Not some rearing terrified horse on the end of a rope like he was two weeks ago.

So in the afternoon I loaded them both and off we went to Woodhill Sands. Maraschino loads 100% better than Garbo does - maraschino just walks on and gets himself into position! Garbo still needs shifting over.

Maraschino was a little up and a little snorty - especially when some other horses arrived... but in general a big big improvement to two weeks ago - so it's really good that all my remedies are working.

I did some nice fast changes of direction and S bends with Garbo and used the 45ft rope again - with gloves this time. Then I had a wee ride which was great. I got off after a little bit because Maraschino was freaking out a bit at the horses that arrived and so Garbo became distracted.... I got off and we did some fast work online to un-distract him.

Gorgeous day as you can see  and loading on the way home was fab too - all in all very successful.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


When I was as Primary School - we used to have playlunch - (morning tea). Today we have a Parelli version of that, Jane, Hana and Claire came for lunch and we investigated the pasture, said hello to the boys, then had coffee and lunch, and then took the boys for a walk up the road.

Maraschino freaked out a bit about the geese and ducks next door  - not something he would normally do so the grass is still effecting him alot. We are not there yet. But Jane was fab with him and by the end, after we did lots of approach and retreat he was quite calm so it was a good trip out. It's great to have others to help so I can take both of them up the road.

Then we had another coffee and a few hours had past already!

Coco being his gorgeous self

Playing approach and retreat up the road (away from home)

Me and Garbo - hanging out

Playing still inside our property - making sure Coco was ok alone

LB vs RB

Off we head...stones ouch Mum
Thanks guys.

Teenage horses

Just listening to David Lichman's podcast about teenage horses (4 years old). He is saying often about 30 rides in they decide that perhaps they have been too obliging. At 4 years old they start to realise how strong and powerful they are and decide suddenly that "actually no I don't think I will" ...

Really interesting!

He says it's easy to fix but you need to be ready for it and to notice it.


Garbo has never been a fan of the plastic bag. Last month I was listening to David Lichman's Podcast and it dawned on me when he said "you have to try really hard to kill a horse with a plastic bag"... that I just have to persevere, and Garbo needs to realise he isn't going to die.

He was a little dominant and a little distracted this afternoon - hearing the turkeys in the distance. So I got the carrot stick and plastic bag out. Initially he was pretty skeptical but he eventually got better after I used approach and retreat with the bag rubbing his rear hoof. As soon as he put his ears forward, I stopped and let him sniff the plastic bag. After a while he was getting alot better so we went out to the grass, and he was much more interested in eating grass - not really worried about the bag at all... truly LBI hey.

Maraschino was pretty good today but every night at dusk he looks over towards the same area in the distance and stares.

I am going to the Game of Contact next weekend so I need to monitor him closely this week and set up a schedule for my horse sitter.

I also worked on Head Down for Garbo too - another thing we didn't spend "two days" on back in Level 1... I think I actually got through to him!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Homeopathic treatment

Well first day on grass was all good for Maraschino - however today I missed this mornings dose and he ran around twice. On the plus side, no where near as much sweating - only on shoulders and not loins, tummy, flanks etc. And secondly - he calmed down really quickly once I caught him.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What a strange weekend

Maraschino started running around again in the round pen - staring out into the distance, then running away, then back to stare some more.
It seems we may have matched the symptoms perfectly to the particular grass toxin - it's ergot fungus.. 

I think that the most probable candidate — by far — is ergotism. This is caused by the fungus Claviceps purpurea, which produces a varied and complex mixture of toxins.  In addition to ergot alkaloids, C. purpurea producess histamine, tyramine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and sterols. Some of these are powerful vasoconstrictors.  Since all the ergot alkaloids are structurally similar to lysergic acid, they are also potent hallucinogens (LSD symptoms).

After a warm bath to get all the sticky mud off him after his run around in pen - see how tucked up he was (again)

But the strange thing is - he was calm and relaxed like this

So - all day Saturday this is how he was - tied up high - calm, relaxed, ate hay, drunk water, licked salt - for 6 hours while I did the yards, barrowed 30 barrows of peelings to the round pen, and changed two steel gates to bungy gates. Six hours without any panic, pulling back, herd bound behaviour (the others we way aways).... I kept thing about Pat saying "it's good for a horse to learn to be tied up for long periods of time" or something to that effect.

Again this morning I tied him up for four hours - in gales and squally showers - fine. Mind you I am not getting alot of work done!

I have just contacted a Homeopath and ordered on her suggestion Stramonium -she thinks it will have some good results within 24 hours, 5mls twice a day and so he should be ok to graze again by the end of the week. I'll keep you posted. If you are interested the website is

Just for the record - he is also on (and has been for 7 days) - Magnesium, Toxin Binder (2 weeks) and salt.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My new Topp Feeder

Jools installed it for me the other day while she was trimming the boys
Holds 4 biscuits, 5 at a push...
Cool huh

Gorgeous sunset tonight just after rain stopped

Maraschino back to normal practically.... licking me and breathing into my nose when I go out to poo pick at night

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Update on the boy

Thank goodness for him and for me - he was in the round pen all day and relatively calm - I caught him easily with the freak out and he led nicely. I let him have some old long grass for 30 minutes while I barrowed six loads of peelings into the pen....

My Parelli friends have been so kind and helpful and led me to adding more salt which really does seem to be working.... thanks everyone....

Here's an except from Jenny Paterson's Website

Potassium in the grass.

Potassium is involved in cell division so it is always in the tips of growing grass. Rye Grass, Clover and Lucerne are normally 3-4% potassium. This can easily double when fertilisers are applied to enhance growth, especially potash (potassium), urea, superphosphate and nitrogen.
Horses consume approximately 2% of their body weight per day, therefore a 500Kg horse can consume 10Kgs of pasture/day meaning they can consume 300-400g of potassium/day. Their daily requirement is around 25g (up to 40 or 50 when in heavy work). At the same time, as grass gets high in potassium it is extremely LOW in sodium (0.02%). The same 10Kgs of pasture yields a mere 2g of sodium.
On actively growing pasture the horse is consuming too much potassium and too little sodium.

As potassium is always in the tips, short grass and grass just a few inches long may contain the same levels of potassium.
All the literature states that too much potassium is rarely a problem when the kidneys are functioning normally as any excess is excreted in urine, BUT:
  1. Horses on green, growing pasture are flooded in potassium (hundreds of grams) at the same time...
  2. As sodium levels are grossly inadequate (approx 2g).+6

Monday, May 9, 2011

Maraschino visits Woodhill Sands

Maraschino had never been to Woodhill Sands before. I really want to utilise it this winter, with both of them, so off we went this afternoon - it was such a lovely day (again) - we have been so lucky with the autumn weather. Coco didn't see us go and I yelled out to him we were off but he was eating...head down, bum up. Some visitors told me they called in and he was running round a bit... but he was ok when we got back... not like he doesn't need the exercise.

Maraschino had been in the yards till Jools came to trim their feet, then in the round pen for an hour till we left, and he was calm as, so signs of the mycotoxins effecting his brain.

For those of you overseas who don't get mycotoxins in your grass... this is a summary...

A horse with mycotoxin exposure will have clinical symptoms that are often not obvious or unique. Behavioural problems are the most obvious and include spooking, bucking, rearing, girthiness, lethargy, poor performance and aggression to name a few. These symptoms are the tip of the iceberg though, a large acute dose of some mycotoxins can kill a horse but the biggest problem is chronic sub-lethal or low doses. These can cause organ damage to the liver and kidneys, suppress the immune system and ultimately lead to secondary bacterial infections and general unthriftiness. This is often expressed in digestive disorders such as diarrhoea, feed refusal, colic, weight loss and dermatitis. 

Yes, he's lost weight - it definitely makes them hallucinate and imagine all sorts!! Scary stuff.

So he's off grass and on a toxin binder, extra salt, then I'll add magnesium.

So - we arrive at Woodhill and Maraschino had never been there before so he was a little alert but nothing too bad. I was working Garbo on the 45ft line and my friend had Maraschino and just started working him a little. Then I saw what happened - the extra movement and exercise actually caused the toxins to circulate more I think and he got so high on adrenalin - nothing could make him calm... sure he licked and chewed but he'd be snorting at the next scary thing within nano-seconds. The poor boy - he was completely covered in sweat within minutes - another thing that seems to happen with mycotoxins.

Garbo being really good even while Mr M far away ..
What are you going to think about doing here Garbo?
The good news was that Garbo was NOT effected by Maraschino's stress - amazingly. I was really pleased, so pleased I got on and had a wee walk around - we walked along with my friend leading Maraschino too for a bit - Garbo even tried to 'snap him out of it' but nothing did.

Mr M positively terrified but looking stunning!!

The few seconds he was standing still

Garbo's like 'whatever'

What was that??????

I am sure it's going to eat us Garbo

After a bit we headed back to the float and after a while we loaded - thank goodness he still loaded well, one missed approach - thank goodness we started well with floating!

Michelle babysitting the boys while I went and paid my ground fee.