Fun With Elvis!

Good Morning, Friends!

Elvis has started  his education!  Z is sacking him out, having fun playing with him!

Elvis is started with giving him exposure to all kinds of things!  The round pen is used for some basics, followed with bitting up, using a pony bit to get him used to packing it, and and introduction to bridlework will follow.

Saddle pad, noodles, picking his feet up, and a start with “come to me”.

The sunshine is a wonderful change from the cold of early Spring!  I’m enjoying having the opportunity to have training time at the barn while I wait for temperatures to drop a bit!

Don’t forget some hang out time, what they really want!

Happy Trails!

Terri

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Day 2 of Clinic

Good morning, Friends!

Day 2 of the Brandi Lyons No Limits clinic came overcast and cold, with temperatures at freezing!  A great motivator to get moving!  Warming up with bridlework and mounting up!  The day before Whiskey gave me a great hip over at the mounting block, such a great focusing exercise and one to build precision with!

After warm up, Brandi requested a ride on Whiskey!  He was quite excited and gave it his high stepping best!  He wanted to shy at the noise of the speakers set up by the auditing benches.  Brandi worked him at the “long and low” as a warm-up exercise at the trot.  We revisited this on the last day.

Our focus for the day was groundwork with a lot of shoulder over, starting on the far arena wall and working towards the speakers and audit area, since this gave plenty of opportunity for spooking.

We also went to a separate area and worked on sacking him out to noisy plastic bags, and such, to help Whiskey settle and keep his focus.

The rest of the afternoon was focused in the saddle, starting again at the far arena wall and working towards the speakers and audit benches.  We used two cones and did figure eights with the shoulder over, increasing our precision with the feet.  Brandi calls this the barrel pattern.

For the last exercise of the day, we practiced the “lay down”.  This starts with the head down cue from the saddle, using a “milking the reins” techniques, a contact and release when the head lowers.

Angela Tanner had started Whiskey on this at the barn, so he picked up the finishing touches quickly!  After this is achieved, we are done, and Whiskey is put up for the evening relaxation and dinner!

It was a great day!

Terri

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Elvis Joins the Big World

Good Morning, Friends!

Our Winter was long and cold and the pasture took it’s time thawing!  Footing was poor, progress was delayed!  Of course, I believe everything happens in its proper order and time.  I’ve been involved with horses long enough, and seen the seasonal changes enough, that I have become philosophical!  I always seem to catch up and it is all good!

These are times that can be maximized in their own way.  I took the time to hang out, groom, give TTouch sessions, and just enjoy.  Whiskey was a great help being Big Brother! while taking charge.  When the shoer came, Whiskey was Mr. Solid while Elvis was curious about everything!  Gratefully, my shoer is very tolerant, Elvis got the elbow just once!

There were a few of us that got weanlings at the same time, a project with a built in support system of friends!  Laura Sanchez, one of the peeps, came to visit and we had fun playing!  I had familiarized him with the halter, so we were able to slip it on and get it adjusted.

We cooled him down a bit on this hot day, did some leading, and called it good.  He was scheduled to go into the training barn the next week, at Angela Tanner’s, to start building his skill base, get gelded, and after gelding care.

This is a fun project and  a great learning experience for me, however, I made sure I had the support of Angela and her team to make it a success!

Stay tuned!

Terri

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Finally Summer!

Good morning, Friends!

Wow, a long Winter’s nap we had!  While I was glad to have gotten an early start to the season tune-up in February, the long, overcast days had me setting aside my motivation for blogging, so here I am, catching up my progress!

With preparation started, Whiskey and I attended the Brandi Lyons Horsemanship clinic, a four day “vacation” to reconnect and push progress further.  I had not been on Whiskey for a year, and, while I live with him at home, our progress got sidelined with Smokey and her progress!

Settling in for clinicDuring tune-up preparation at Angela Tanner’s, a certified Brandi Lyons instructor, Whiskey was taught the hip over for mounting up.  I love this for focus!  He was also started on the lay down.  Horsemanship has evolved over the years to encompass these skills for a well rounded horse and partnership.  These skills are a combination of cues that are taught and then combined.  For example, the lay down starts with the head down cue given in the saddle.  This has taught both Smokey and Whiskey to ride with a loose rein.  Power steering comes from taking up one side or the other rein, using the outside leg with the inside rein for your directional aid.

Another “new” skill is the shoulder over.  Whiskey and I need to work on this for better trot-to-canter transitions on a circle.  He needs this for his Cowboy Dressage, but more importantly, for control of his front end and feet.

Shoulder over starts on the ground after basic bridle work is started, and progresses to the saddle.  Whiskey and I did a lot of this in clinic.

As mentioned, while Whiskey is a seasoned show horse, it seemed to be a trigger to be at a “new” arena!  He was quite ramped up at the start of the clinic!  And to be fair, I had not taken him anywhere for a year, except for Angela Tanner’s facility, where he had a chance to relax in the new environment!  My goal is to have him be relaxed no matter where we may find ourselves!

Because of his excitement, I remained on the ground doing bridlework for warm-up on Day One of the clinic.  Everyone else was mounted up, even though their horses were also displaying signs of being somewhere new!  However, I saw no need to be in the saddle until things calmed down and we could be better focused!

After observing everyone, Brandi had a few words for each of us.  She very graciously complemented me in staying on the ground under the “pressure” of everyone else being mounted.  I’m willing to do what my horse needs and seems appropriate at any given moment.  We all have to deal with the horse that presents right here, right now!  By the end of the day, I was in the saddle and we were on our way!

Terri

 

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Five Steps of Preparation for Your Backcountry Riding Vacation

Friends, all I can say is that I have seen some wonderful country from the back of a horse! 

It’s a little different with a horse, they are doing the work for you, while you have the advantage of this perch to look around on.  While hiking, you are likely looking down and don’t have the elevated view!

  I spent twenty years riding and camping with my horse.  These are processes that have worked for me. My most recent trip was in 2012, after which my daughter, about nine years old at the time, wanted my company for vacations (!), and many areas, routes and destinations, were burning with rampant forest fires.  So I set it aside for a while.  I’ve kept track of favorite riding areas, and new ideas put out by folks gaining experience!  Hopefully, this will springboard you into researching your own ideas and what might work for you!

Where to Go?

This should be determined by the level of condition and trail experience of your horse, and of your riding buddies going with you.  In the old days, it was the folks who would commit to keeping their rig tuned and ready in good repair, and a consistent conditioning and exposure program for their horses.  Having dabbled in endurance riding for five years, I’d condition as if for a twenty five mile ride, and then I could be quite confident that I could go on my trip and not worry about my horse.

Lake basins are great places to visit.  Great views and moderate terrain that everyone can enjoy.  Diamond Peak Wilderness in south central Oregon is a good one.  Traveling through Crater Lake National Park, is wonderful.  Mt Adams is a repeat favorite, both from Mt. Adams Horse Camp and Keenes Horse Camp.  Author Kim McCarrel writes trail books that encompass many areas of Oregon and Washington.  She covers many areas I have ridden and her information is reliable.  Her website is http://nwhorsetrails.com/

Facebook site Holly’s Horse Tales and Trails is also good information on areas of Central Oregon that I have camped and ridden.  Her blog brings back many happy memories!

The Open Trail Project is a great site with a Facebook site as well, for an archive of national horse trails, and handy record keeping tools.  Check it out here:

http://www.opentrail.us

We Are Trail Riders is another .com and Facebook resource for the rider with national riding sites.  Check it out here:

https://www.wearetrailriders.com/

These resources will help with map selection and other land management resources.  I always used Green Trail Maps and checked with the Forest Service on trail conditions and closures.  Map stores are also great resources, Bend Mapping and Blueprint in Bend, Oregon, is a great resource for trails outside the Diamond Peak Wilderness area, which are every bit as nice to ride as those within the wilderness boundaries!

We all started out with camping in our horse trailers!  Over the years, we all managed to upgrade to some form of camper ( I had a pop-up for seven years), and while it afforded lots of comfort, what it really did was organize us!  It’s really nice to not have to set up camp when we arrived!  And it was really nice to have a sense of organization so we could concentrate on riding!  Not to mention sleeping with a warm face if you want to use the heater!

I found that year after year, August was a good time to travel the backcountry.  Late snow melt was generally gone, and bugs are scarce!  No issues with wasps or bees, and the no-see-ems are most active in July in those high mountain meadows. You have a little less daylight, and depending on elevation, you can encounter occasional overnight temperatures near freezing.  Still, I have found it to be the most enjoyable time to ride!

Thinking of packing in?  I always bring what I need to stay overnight if need be.  But I wouldn’t qualify that as packing in, lol!  There are a couple of near-30 mile loops that I would like to break into two 15-milers and stay out the night.  Tons of material out there, my favorite being the guys from Montana at Trailhead Supply.  Catch up on their blog!  They regularly attend the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington (BCHW) Rondy in Ellensburg, Washington.  They have given a great mini-seminar on getting started in packing for women, always to a “sell-out” crowd!  Here is their website link:

https://www.trailheadsupply.com/

Here is a link to the rondy:

http://naturalhorsemanshipandyou.com/2983/backcountry-horsemen-of-washington-rondy-ellensburg

I like the idea of the over the saddle panniers to keep it easy!

What to Bring?

Food for a week!  The camper refrigerators, even the small ones, can hold a lot!  It’s fun to trade off meal duty with your buddies!  Fry pan burritos were easy after a ride, and quick!  And me, I can eat hot dogs the entire time!  Check around and you’ll find what suits you!  I’ve also done cheese fondue when it was my turn to cook!

A water resistant blanket for your horse and a lighter sheet.  When your horse has been working all day, they will appreciate a cover in the higher elevations, and whether it is your enclosure or a horse camp, not a lot of room to move around to keep warm.

Clothes to layer.  I used my cross country ski clothes!  I layer with tights and pants of choice for chafing, Sporthill sells a wind resistant ski pant that is tapered towards the ankle, which I found handy.  A stretchy vest, my Outback jacket, and  the Outback rain slicker that folds into a backpack, that is easy to tie on the back of the saddle.  Headgear of choice, which included helmet, or straw hat, or wool hat, or the Outback waxed hat for rainy days, all got their use!  Half chaps work well for bushwacking and for keeping the heat in your lower extremities.  I’ve used cowboy boots, rubber boots, riding tennis shoes, paddock boots with thinsulate, all had their place!  And remember, you are camping, so pack light, wear everything multiple times, its OK to get and be dirty!  I used conditioner for my hair so the dirt and sweat wouldn’t stick!  Maybe the suntanned face was part sun, part dirt!

How about water?

We mostly camped in designated horse camps, or primitive camped when there was an appropriate area, as in the Ochocos out of Prineville, Oregon.  It used to be that a trailer water tank only held about 25 gallons.  There are more options now, check out http://thedistancedepot.com.

I’ll take advantage of streams and nearby lakes to make my water last, and carry a camper hose that spirals into a convenient carry tray to take with me.  Those can be purchased most anywhere, I bought mine at the local Bi-mart discount store.

My horn bags are designed to carry a water bottle in each side.  I use a refillable stainless steel one, and the other is my Seychelle water filtration bottle.

Most campsites will have pens, either wood or metal, many in Washington State have highlines.  I carry my swivel attachment that will allow my horse to pull back and not panic.  I also carry my own highline kit.  You can purchase a highline attachment for your trailer, lightweight corral sections, or use an electric corral set-up.  Mainly it’s what you prefer and what you think is best and easiest for your horse.

Feed and Supplies

Equipment is quite sophisticated these days, but even with a simple rig set up, you can manage to have fun!  I take weed free grass hay and alfalfa, I find my horse appreciated a little extra after an all day trail ride!  I organized daily feed rations in baggies, and took loose salt to add.  Dynamite Specialty Products has an excellent loose salt, as even the vets rarely carry it anymore, our past go-to source.  https://dynamitespecialty.myvoffice.com/ShoppingCart/index.cfm?FuseAction=CategoryShop&CategoryID=91&ParentCategoryID=4

We would buddy up in twos, one hauling the horses, and one hauling the hay and supplies!  It worked great, and gave us the advantage of the extra rig in case we experienced any troubles!

Enjoying Mother Nature

We want to set up our trip in our favor.  Do our homework, plan our route, and also be flexible if conditions change.  Respect Mother Nature, and your limitations as humans, small pebbles on the beach.  Be thoughtful of choosing your horse buddy, and your riding buddies.  There should be a sense of responsibility and support towards each other when traveling the backcountry.

I do travel with a cell phone and battery pack. Will your battery pack last a week?  Likely not.  Will your cell phone work everywhere?  Likely not.  However, that is the part I like the best about horse camping, going far enough away to make you feel you are “away”, and not having to worry about anything except the needs of yourself and your horse.

Horses have a great sense of direction, they have never failed me.  They always prove the “no, it’s thatta way” person wrong.  Take some orange surveyors tape to mark intersections.  Everyone should pack a gun.  Three shots is the universal signal for help.  I figure if I had to wait it out while someone rode for help, I could stave off a few critters, or put my horse down if necessary.  Stay on the trail.  Avoid game trails that may look inviting.  Keep well hydrated and graze on saddlebag snacks.  Becoming dehydrated and having low blood sugar contributes to poor decision making.  Turn around if you encounter unexpected obstacles that will deplete your horse’s energy or put them at risk.  Use common sense.

Even though these methods and tools may be considered “old”, I would still be comfortable today traveling as such.

As a basic overview, I hope this inspires you to research for your own camping adventure with your horse!  There are lots of dude ranch offerings, but nothing to compare with your own fine animal taking you down the trail with cooperation and enthusiasm!

Happy Trails!

Terri

Photographs:  In order of appearance:  Blue Mountains, Oregon, Olive Lake in the background; Metolius-Windigo Trail from Sisters Cow Camp, Sisters, Oregon; Rim Trail, Newberry Caldera, La Pine, Oregon; Sister Mirror Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon; Croften Ridge Trail, Mt. Adams, Washington; The Ochocos, Oregon; Crater Lake National Park, Oregon; Muddy Meadows, Mt. Adams, Washington; Stag Lake, Diamond Peak Wilderness, Oregon

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Reconnect With Whiskey

“No heaven can heaven be, if a horse isn’t there to welcome me.”

~Author Unknown

Snow and ice and frigid temperatures!  But. . . .it is February, the time we want to be at the arena tuning up!  We’ll be ready as soon as it melts off!

I’m reconnecting with Whiskey after a season off.  Work and life distractions, let’s sweep what we can under the carpet and get back at it!

Whiskey has been in the barn at Angela Tanner’s for a couple of weeks before I started integrating with him.  I’ve started with lesson time, and also participated in a Saturday four hour workshop.

It starts with the bridlework.  Rein hand to your buckle, other hand with the dressage whip as a MOTIVATOR!  To TAP the side of the horse, like a TICKLE!  NOT a stick, NOT a whip.  If Angela sees you be too heavy handed, inadvertently of course, she will come over and remind you!  I cluck to Whiskey for the forward cue, and only lightly tap if needed.  It doesn’t take long for Whiskey to move forward with the verbal cue only.

From bridlework, we ask for a disengagement, and for Whiskey, wait until he relaxes his neck and head, then ask for a back, with a soft rein.  Say “whoa” and release.  Relax.

Relaxation is the key ingredient for Whiskey.  While he was bred to carry his head high, he is after all, an American Saddlebred, I am helping him be relaxed in his work and carry himself in a relaxed frame.  Each horse has his own translation of relaxed frame, as it applies to their conformation.  Find where this is for your horse! That is my goal for him.

Continuing the bridlework, we add the shoulder over.  Take five steps straight, then take five steps promoting the shoulder over.  I turn my body to an 11:00 position, and Whiskey needs to angle over using his shoulder to move away from me.  This will translate into the saddle.  I repeat both sides, using the 1:00 position alternately.  Often!

Angela comes to check in.  She reminds me to not lean on Whiskey, as this creates brace.  He needs to step out of my way and move his shoulder over.  Whiskey’s right side, or shoulder over to the left, is not as smooth, so we work on that side often, until it becomes as easy as the left side, or shoulder over to the right.

Whiskey and I also practice our relaxation at the mounting block.  There is a big wooden one in the arena.  We have been practicing our hip over, for easy line-up.  Whiskey is becoming nice and relaxed with this!  This is a new skill for him, and it’s lots of fun to learn new skills together!

How have you started your season tune-up?  I’d love to know!

Terri

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Snow Day With Elvis

We have been buried in Winter!  Frigid temperatures, icy snow, makes for poor footing and just time enough to throw hay and minimal horse keeping before losing feeling in my hands!

Elvis’ pasture mates got hauled off to the training barn for start-of-season tune-up, it is February, isn’t it?

He had a couple of days whinnying for his past company, and staying safe under the overhang of the barn.  When his absent owner returned the following day, he came out expecting me to have his buddies with me, he had made that association!

He remained friendly, greeting with his nose and welcoming swipes down his face, scratches under his chin, and along his body.

Next day, the routine was repeated, me hanging out while he licked his plate clean.  I had the Parelli carrot stick with me this time, as I sat, making lazy circles, which did not seem to bother him.  He reached over and wanted to check it out, the string, the stick, and then back to his dinner.

He joined me out in the pasture to further check out the stick and string, biting the end of it, then decided he would have some attitude and ran off!

Today, it was obvious that he is becoming more comfortable out in the wide open range of the pasture, lying down for a nap, and meeting me as I came through the gate with his treat plate.  While I threw hay, he finished and joined me at the feeder as I sat on the edge, hanging out without agenda.  He continued conversation with me with his nose and wiffles.

He wanted to be standoffish instead of close, but changed his mind as I was making my way to the gate, deciding to again check out the stick as I offered as an extension of my arm.  While holding the string against the stick, I touched his shoulder with it!  He flinched, but stood for another touch, and then decided he had enough!

Would this be the start of working with liberty?  I’m taking what’s offered and working with it!  I think it’s timely to introduce the stick and starting concepts of my space-your space!  I’d love to know what you think!

Terri

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An Interactive Day With Elvis

Sometimes they surprise you when you start making an impression!

I came out in the middle of the afternoon and there was Elvis standing under the tree by himself.   Whiskey and Smokey were disbursed in other parts of the pasture.

I opened the gate and Elvis made his way towards me.  The others started to gravitate in my direction but he was not deterred.

He kept his focus….

 

Elvis ended up putting his nose right on the phone camera!

He’s a funny one!

Terri

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Touching Noses With Elvis

img_2198Good morning, Friends!  First snow!

img_2116An update on Elvis!  Our interaction progresses.

img_2109I continue to give him Ttouches, and rubs all over, touching under the belly, down the butt, front and back of legs and reaching up towards the ears, which he is a little shy still.

img_2114I’ve taken his rope halter and rubbed it all over him.

img_2153 Very good with that.  I’ve introduced the grooming brush.  He’s good with that.

img_2142When I hang out with non-demanding time, building some of that in so I’m not asking anything of him every time, he says hello with his nose, once, maybe twice.

img_2204When I feed pans through the fence, he sticks his face through and blows on my neck.  I’m in love!

img_2165When I brought Smokey home from clinic, he stayed at the gate and hung there for a few minutes!  Smokey had ambled off.

img_2119It’s gratifying to see the small and steady improvements and his interaction growing!

img_2207I have a soft and short “get down” rope that I played with him yesterday, rubbing him with it, putting it around his neck, just played for a few minutes.  I ordered a size up on a halter and am waiting for delivery.  I use a lot of approach and retreat, and I love on Smokey and Whiskey for good examples.

img_2164I look forward to progressing, it is a fun and gratifying journey!  I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am!

Terri

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A Week of Ttouch

Good morning, Friends!

img_2150I give everyone some Ttouch every time I go out to intereact with the horses.  Ttouch was developed by Linda Tellington-Jones.  I have a couple of the older books, her newer one, The Ultimate Horse Behavior and Training Book is wonderful and I like the way it is organized.  It has a forward by John Lyons.  You can explore more of this concept and practice here on her website:

http://www.ttouch.com

Today, for Elvis, Clouded Leopard on shoulder and back, strokes on neck, front and back of front legs.  Abalone Ttouch on the butt.  Touching a different part each day.  Today was back of front legs, which brought his head around, belly, and butt.

img_2149For Smokey, Clouded Leopard on shoulder and back, Lick of the Cow on girth, Abalone Ttouch on butt.  Checked for tight tail.  I’ve done Tarantulas Pulling the Plow the other day.

img_2097For Whiskey, Clouded Leopard on shoulder and back, Lick of the Cow on girth.  I finish all with Noah’s March, which puts the finishing touch, and integration, on a horse at the end of the session.

img_2110All received strokes on the neck where the carotid artery sits.

Clouded Leopard, Lick of the Cow, Abalone, Belly Lifts, and Tarantulas Pulling the Plow are my mainstay of Ttouches.  I always end with Noah’s March to finish and integrate.  I use Hoof Tapping and Neck Rocking as needed.  I also give Belly Lifts.

Does this sound like a foreign language to you?  Check it out!  Our community brought Practitioner Debra Potts to teach us, give us Centered Riding lessons, and help with saddle fit.

The Abalone, Connected Circles, and Lick of the Cow’s Tongue are for trust.  Belly Lifts, Clouded Leopard, Hoof Tapping, Neck Rocking, Noah’s March, and Tarantulas Pulling the Plow are Ttouches for Awareness.

I like blending it in my grooming routine, or non-demanding time.  I like to do Connected Circles along the topline after riding to see if there are any reactions, discomfort, caving,  to a saddle fitting poorly.

Ttouch was emphasized in the endurance riding world when I dabbled, in the late 80’s, early 90’s.  It was, and still is, a way to release discomfort, in the horse’s body.  Tail work helps to ease fear.  A way to give back to the horse giving touches that can only be done by you, their partner!

How do you like to “give back” to your buddy?  I’d love to know!

Terri

 

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