A Challenge For Smokey

Good morning, Friends!

img_1993One of Smokey’s major “holes” or task in need of tune-up, was mounting up from the mounting block.  When she wanted to move her feet, or move off from the block while I wanted to mount up, I moved her a little away, bridle work, disengage, back, and a head down cue, then back to the mounting block to rest, and basically ground tie.

She caught on to ground tying quickly.  It isn’t about the mounting block.  It’s about standing quietly anywhere I ask her.  These things, while giving a chance to learn, cannot be compromised on.  I’ve had horses, that, if they move one of their feet, and you don’t notice, and ask them to give it back (reverse that motion), then they have won!

Every day in clinic, it would take a dozen times up to the mounting block, sometimes resting, relaxing, nothing being asked, and then going to mount up.  My persistence had to outlast her resistance.

Teaching Smokey the hip over helped a lot, I felt.  It gave her a different focus, a clean focus, without past resistance issues, to prepare for me to mount up.  I used the hip over to mount up in the outside arena.  The last day I walked her over to the mounting block, stepped up, and did a combination of forward cue and hip over, and mounted up without delay.

I’m been guilty of not giving these issues much thought.  If someone wants to hold your horse for you while you mount, how will you do it by yourself?  I like to present myself as a self-sufficient rider when I go somewhere with my horse.  If you hold your horse, and bring the mounting block to your horse, they are similarly not learning anything, not learning the process.  Stumps and logs don’t move in the woods when trail riding.  These short cuts only short our partnership with our horse for working together!

Here is a short video on the hip over exercise.  I posted it in a previous entry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shRdOFinyMY&feature=youtu.be

How are you fine tuning your partner?  I’d love to hear!

Terri

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Smokey’s Silver Lining!

Good Evening, Friends!

Thought you might enjoy a quick catch up on Smokey’s progress, going forward!

14702501_1245484572139033_3138255733801437839_nOne of the first things achieved in clinic, was Smokey self loading into the trailer.  This was accomplished with the forward cue, which we use during bridlework warm up.  She caught on to this quite quickly.  Later, we had opportunity to give her a load up, tie, and back out.  I’ll work on that going forward.  I always enjoy having some follow-up goals to work on.

The next major achievement was an emergency one rein stop with disengagement.  We were shown in the following manner, which is a little different in how I’ve learned it in the past, but things do evolve, rider biomechanics has shown us that!

First, develop it on the ground.  It should be automatic when asked.  It should be clean and snappy, not sloppy.  I never gave it much thought, having horses that have been able to do it quite easily.  Smokey could not do it, so she required a bit of practice.  It is not the easiest thing for a gaited horse to do, but she should still have it instilled as a habit.

I used to bring my rein to my knee or waist.  Now I bring it to my belt buckle.  Sit tall and centered, leaning a little back.  Beware of any tilt to the side.  Have your left rein loose and your left hand on the swell of the saddle.  Bring the right rein up to the belt buckle, at the same time giving the right leg towards the hindquarter, asking for a disengagement to the left, as you look towards the back, seeing and feeling when it happens.

Here is a brief video of establishing this on the ground during bridlework.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RREg-stc-0&feature=youtu.be

I practice it enough for Smokey to give it softly.

Summing up Smokey’s and my work and achievements, are as follows:

  • bridle work from the ground to work on saddle skills, disengagement, and head down cue
  • mounting from the block
  • standing still for mounting up
  • standing still after mounting up until asked to move out
  • shoulder work, as in shoulder over, done on a circle, serpentine exercises, the start of backing in a circle
  • head down cue, leading to loose rein riding, including moving out on a loose rein, and stopping on a loose rein.
  • power steering, incorporating loose rein riding, lifting rein one side or the other for direction, then giving release, riding straight.  Work this with leg cue.
  • practicing learned skills in different environments, with the outdoor arena, and two outings to an extensive trail obstacle course.
  • starting liberty work, with a stay, come-to-me cue, playing and progressing
  • leading exercise to have Smokey stay behind me for trail riding skills
  • hip over cue to enable many situations, including mounting up
  • ground tying for as long as I want
  • roll back along the rail for teaching, and keyhole game for practice
  • de-spooking with various stuff

For the future, Smokey’s trail skills will be assessed.  These newly learned skills from our clinic, will be worked on and reinforced for them to become habit, for both of us!

What are you plans going forward for you and your buddy?  I’d love to know!

Terri

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Smokey’s Cloud

Good morning, Friends!

img_2071 My philosophy with regards to buying and selling horses, is, for one, no one takes advantage of you without your permission.  Two, in the world of used cars and used horses, it’s buyer beware.  Three, in light of that, I strive to do business word of mouth, to defray some of that risk.  I’ve had good luck with that in my thirty years of being involved with horses.  Four, before I sell a horse, I do the work to make sure the horse is consistent for me, plugging holes in training, getting help to do that if I need it, and riding it enough to know what I have so I can fairly represent the horse to it’s new owner.

Smokey was sold to me as a trail ready horse, but not a kids horse.  That when the owner wanted a “chill ride”, Smokey would be used.

My experience, once I started working with her, and wanting to ride, was that I have nothing more than a green-broke horse here.  I have not had a horse this green in twenty years.  We had no communication skills between us.  When I rode her, either in the arena, and the time I took her out, she expressed her crabbiness, lack of motivation I call it when asked to do something, by going fast, and she had no stop.  She acted thick headed and hard necked and wanted to do what she wanted.

img_2107The previous owner rode her with a twisted snaffle, which in my quick and easy reference, pictured, page 47, is listed as a bit of Last Resort; “There are a few bits which come under the general heading of the snaffle, but which could never be described as mild, even in the most skilled hands.  The twisted snaffle, once commonplace but now rarely seen, is one of them; perhaps a skilled rider can use one without inflicting damage, but such skill is rare and the twisted snaffle should come into the category of ‘not for general use’.”

img_1957I moved her with arena work, immediately into the Confidence Snaffle as sold on the Parelli.com website.  This is a Korsteel brand, and can be found on other sites.  This is one of the mildest snaffles, it still took Smokey quite a while to relax into the bit.

I now ride her with a Myler combination bit with a C3 mouthpiece, she is doing fantastic with it, and our recent work with clinician Angela Tanner in Newport, Washington has us riding on a loose rein.

This bit is also marketed by Parelli.com as the Cradle Bridle, however, it is available on other sites.  All my horses have loved this bit after progressing from a snaffle bit tune-up.  I’ve been using this bit for about eight years.

So now, not only am I dealing with a green broke horse, but one that has been started with ignorance and abuse with equipment, and inconsistent handling, in my opinion.

So I percolated on what I could do to remedy Smokey’s and my situation.  With a referral and reference from my good friend Robin,  I enrolled in an accelerated clinic of Angela Tanner’s, with the goal of finding and addressing Smokey’s needs, through working on foundation training.  Here is a link to her Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/hoovesof.mercy?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/EquineHeadStart/?fref=ts

Certified Trainers

The first couple weeks were pretty rough.  I seriously thought I would sell her to someone who had the time to continue her education.  IF she had sufficient trail experience, I might be seeing the worst of her now, since there was nothing instilled in her except a lot of resistance.

Smokey must have read my mind.  The third week we turned a corner and it started getting better.  You’ve been following my blog, so you can see that.

My point is, when you choose to have a horse, let’s give it the best life we can.  Be fair of what you ask, and get some education for you and your horse, I think that is a minimum.  Too many people have horses that never bother to step up their game.  The life of a horse can be quite sad, even in the hands of people who say they care.

There are many ways to rescue a horse.  Smokey is my $3,500.00 rescue.

I’m sixty-two years old, what do I want with a green horse with minimal experience and no skills?  However, I have started her, we have turned a corner, it will likely take some time, more than I anticipated, but I have the support of a great trainer, both human and horse, in Angela Tanner, and wonderful, supportive friends, that will help me work through it and accomplish success.  I know they all join up, Smokey is not one-hundred percent, however, I feel we will make it.

My next blog entry will be on Smokey’s silver lining, because every cloud has one, right?

Terri

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Report Card With Smokey

img_2069The week started out back at the arena.  This was our last week of three days.  A little silliness with the mounting block, but still an improvement.  Asking for the hip over, I felt her teeth on my arm, she got yelled at and a smack for her trouble!  After that, mounted up, stood still, rode on loose rein, reviewed head down cue, which builds the loose rein technique.  Dismounted, checked cinch and tightened, mounted back up without incidence.  Gaining some self sufficiency!

img_2072We started playing with some starting techniques to have our horse “come to me” first on the lead, and then without.  Smokey thought she could stretch her neck to me without moving her feet forward to play the game, haha!

img_2081We had another session at the obstacle course today, an opportunity for sunshine, even though chilly, our work kept us busy!  I did this session in-hand, practicing our leading exercises, keeping her back of me, like I want her on the trail if I feel the need to lead.

img_2084We had practice with the enclosure hung with noodles, that generated some curiosity, ground poles, umbrella, moved out of the arena to the trench and bridge platform, over logs, straddling and stopping for mounting, tree limb piles, boughs that got brushed along her sides, a log pile to pick her way through, a trail bordered by logs to go forward and backward, a campfire to check out, some flag waving, pulling a wagon, as you would a log, the car wash hanging strips!

Smokey received some practice loading up, tying, and then backing out of the trailer!

15078693_1351512981555407_5638419452387703885_nOur last day saw some de-sensitizing with some big balls, bags of empty plastic bottles, some boxes, that packing material that snaps, crackles, and pops!  I didn’t see anything that bothered Smokey.  We then learned and practiced roll backs, and put that to use with the keyhole game!  This day Smokey and I were coached at the mounting block to use small steps forward and the hip over, she was very responsive!

15055766_1351513091555396_3949547758171039315_nWe learned a lot, and together!  It was a great learning environment, and I’m grateful for having more tools of communication!

How have you been filling your toolbox?  I’d love to know!

Terri

You can catch a short video here of the keyhole game!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x8fVeFtlqg

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Week Ending With Smokey

img_1997Our last day of the week saw continued consistency and a variety of work and demonstrations.  The weather was beautiful to be in the outside arena!

Smokey is doing great with her warm-up of bridle work and hip over.  We had a demonstration of the sit down, and the lay down from the ground, as opposed to asking from the saddle.  During this time, Smokey ground tied, never moving a step!

The pattern I practiced today was the flower.  It’s challenging, I can become addled!  The goal is to become soft and fluid with your horse.  We have improved!  It was a real tug-of-war at first!  Poor Smokey!

img_2011Start in the middle, going counterclockwise around the cone.  Head toward a corner and go around that cone clockwise.  Come back in for a counter direction in the middle.  Go out to the next corner cone and to clockwise direction, and so on.  Then reverse direction!  Use inside leg, inside rein and alternate with outside rein and leg.  It really takes coordination!  It’s nice to have had some improvement from the previous week!

We also did some loose rein walking and gaited walking, practicing our power steering!

We finished up outside, with all the outside distractions of the busy corner intersection on the highway, with horses across the street and in the next pasture, and some spots of mud and puddles.  We did not do any speedwork.  We did bridle work through the mud and puddles.  Smokey was not too sure about that but did accept it.  I took her over to the mounting block, I asked for a hip over, she gave it, and I mounted right up, first time!  Lovely!  We rode on a loose rein!

I wish for you such an ending for your week!

We are off for a week and then resume for a last three days!

Terri

Here is the link for the hip over exercise.  The goal is to slap your leg once or twice to have them move the hip, making it easier for you mount up, whether from a block, log, or fence.  Take a look!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shRdOFinyMY&feature=youtu.be

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Breakthrough With Smokey

Good morning, Friends!

img_1996Smokey and I had a breakthrough on Wednesday!

We continued to show willingness and cooperation for her lessons on bridle work and hip over warm up.  Still showing improvement on the mounting block resting spot and mounting up.  We did the ten meter circle with shoulder out and light on the mouth.

We were shown the head down cue from the saddle.  Keeping Smokey on a small circle, and doing one side, the right side, I milked the rein giving her relief when she dropped her head.  The left rein I left alone, again, no pulling back on the right rein, no crossing over, leaving the left rein at the withers.

We did that for a bit, and when she was getting it, went to the ten meter circle, and on a loose rein, totally loose, asked for a gaited walk.  All I did was raise one rein to adjust if I needed, rather like power steering!

Smokey was head down, so soft, responsive and happy!  I could feel it thru the reins!  With this, I also ask to move out on a totally loose rein.  She is not really sure about that, so I squeeze her up a little.  I also ask her to stop on a loose rein, she again is not quite sure, if I need to repeat, then I ask her for a back, and she dips her head softly and gives it.

We are also getting sacked out to other horses working, which has never bothered us, one of the students throwing her rope, the tractor bringing in shavings, a former student dropped by and had her dog (on a leash), and another lady came to video!  Always something new going on, good for horse and rider!

What is a recent breakthrough for you?  I’d love to hear!

Terri

Here’s a link to that video on my loose rein riding exercise.  It is only about four minutes, take a look!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0dRIBTLhQs&feature=youtu.be

 

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Smokey Comes Along

img_1982Today was outstanding with Smokey!  She did great, and showed a lot of improvement!  I also like to think I improved also, because it takes two of us for a partnership!  Today, Tuesday, was the start of our third week of a three day cluster for clinic.

She did her warm up bridle work with head down, and consistent from both sides.  There were no issues, and without becoming emotional.

img_1991It took half the time to wait properly at the mounting block, because it’s not about the mounting block!  It’s not about the trailer!  Smokey is ground tying wonderfully, and she is catching on that she can do that at the mounting block also!

img_1993We did a pattern called The Square.  Cones placed at the four corners.  The goal was to turn a sharp corner, using inside rein, inside leg, then switching to outside rein, and outside leg.  It was a lesson in coordination!  After seeing my attempts without proper coordination, I started with just the inside rein when turning the corner, then going straight, then repeat at each corner.  This was also an exercise in riding straight, and staying straight atop your horse.  This incorporated proper rein usage; not crossing over the neck, to the buckle, I have my share of bad habits I default to!  I need reminding and coaching!

I got started on the “hip over” cue, which is very handy at the mounting block, or anywhere you might want to mount up.  We did that around the arena wall once.

img_1988Smokey and I had a cooperative day together, it was enjoyable!

How is your cooperative efforts coming along with your buddy?  I’d love to know!

Terri

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Wrap Up With Smokey

14702501_1245484572139033_3138255733801437839_nGood morning, Friends!

A little wrap up for the first and second week of learning!

I feel that I am exactly in the place I need to be with Smokey to get these skills assessed, and lack of skill, and have Angela coach both of us to success.  We are finding the holes we both have, and are building communication and confidence as we learn together.  I’ve thrown a lot at her the last three days, maybe more than has been thrown at her in her entire life! (9 years).

Angela also helped with loading, Smokey shows she is willing, but also needs to get comfortable with the routine of going somewhere, hauling by herself, and will eventually tie and use the divider, increasing her flexibility.  She is hauling loose right now, choosing to haul backwards, hauling quietly, and unloading calmly, waiting for my cue to step down.

I feel for the first week of three days, we have found solutions to disengagement, my space-your space, mounting block practice, bridle work, achieving some lightness with the serpentine pattern, and some basic loading practice.  We are on our way!

img_1868During the second week, we had a day at a wonderful trail course, with poles, for pattern work, ground poles, a different mounting block!, a trench, big tire filled with dirt, and lots of stuff that we didn’t have time to do.

Smokey wanted more practice standing still at the mounting block, we are ground tying, doing exercises for moving the shoulder, and the morning of the last day, Smokey tried her best to let me know that I am invisible, and I don’t exist!  She wouldn’t look at me, she wouldn’t let me approach her right side, high head tossing, so that was great we worked through that!

 I’m taking 12 lessons in weekly clusters of three, with a week off in between.  (for homework).  There are four of us, all about the same age, three are retired already, with the usual bag of fears and confidence issues, along with holes in our horses, lol!!  The lessons will work on foundation stuff, which I love, since it gives you a really strong set of skills when you go to do anything with your horse.

Angela Tanner is our coach.  She allows me to whine, and then tells me to get on with it!  She addresses our fears and the reasons behind them.  She never invalidates our individual experience or lack of it.  She meets us where we are at, and helps us meet the horse where he is at.  She understands that when we take a horse to a new environment, even to the outdoor arena, that we lose some of their focus and response, and how to deal with that.

I’ll give you more on some of the exercises we do, a lot of fun things that I looked at and said, not happening, and then it did, whoo hoo!  We are getting great direction on technique for rein and shoulder, and now progressing to lightness on the mouth, using our leg.

Smokey is coming along really well, (and myself also!).  She is self loading, cooperative and enjoying herself, especially when I can give proper direction!  Her “brake” with disengagement is now much more automatic.  She does really well at standing quietly upon mounting up until I give her the forward cue.  I have a screw in my ankle, so I need these skills.  I need my horse to make it easy for me, helping me to have a good time!

I wish you a great time with your buddy!  What have you been doing to achieve that?  I’d love to hear!

Terri

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Higher Education for Smokey

img_1790Fast forward to Fall!  With my goal of finishing up the season strong, Smokey and I are taking a series of lessons that comprise a clinic with the emphasis on foundation training, all the things we like to have automatic on our horses!

I threw a lot at Smokey the first week, three days in a row of mind and body work!

We started with bridle work, we imitate our rein placement on the ground, and ask that she stays out of my space.  Instead of leading/dragging, I give the forward cue and move forward when she moves out.  It mimics what happens in the saddle.  It builds lightness.  We follow with a disengagement and a back up.

Mounted up, I worked on a lot of serpentine work, raising the inside rein, alternating between the cones, building smoothness!

Smokey started out heavy in the face, which, unfortunately, makes me respond with heaviness in my hands, it can be a vicious circle.

We’ve started!  We will only improve on our partnership as we clarify the lessons needed for both of us!

Terri

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Sorting with Smokey

12735761_10208004027077404_372002298_nGood Morning, Friends!

We continued with arena play, sorting what we knew, and didn’t!, and having fun with the journey!

wp_20160226_027To improve our catching game, I spent non-demanding time.  Smokey’s curiosity had to check it out!

img_1056We had some groundwork, a start!

wp_20160223_001We had exercises over the rail, to improve her pick-up muscles!  Important to encourage sure-footedness!

img_0074Her gear was fit for comfort.  I had her in a double jointed snaffle to start with.

wp_20160223_047Plenty of coaching!

You’ll notice that she paces, which is considered undesirable.  The Tennessee Walker breed is permeated with pacing genes, so it presents it’s own challenges.  The general wisdom is to do as many miles at the walk as you can, that will help the rhythm of her gait.  It should help to diminish the pacing pattern.  So it is a matter of untraining undesirable muscle memory and replacing it with desirable muscle memory, hence the emphasis on the walk for many miles!

Then she came home!

Terri

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