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!


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




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Self sufficiency with natural horsemanship

I decided to attend the cow working clinic at the Longhorn Cattle Company even though I didn’t have many hours on my Quarter Horse gelding, Shyguy.  Turned out there were many like us!  New horses, new owners, not many hours, herd bound horses, it ran the gamut.  A few inadvertent dismounts in the melee of early morning warm up!  How many times have you almost decided not to go, instead of being grateful for the opportunity to spend time with your horse?  It’s all good, and good for challenging your natural horsemanship skills!

This time, I decided Shyguy and I weren’t ready to chase cows, but from what I observed, we will give it a go at the next opportunity!  I learned much about how our partnership had developed, starting with Shyguy catching me up!  How gratifying!

From a smooth self load, we took our turn getting parked in the large pasture at the event.  Shyguy tied quietly during the day, not minding when I left him by himself to check things out.  While we hung out and watched the cow practice, he remained quiet, not wasting energy.

We checked out the trail course.  Shyguy crossed water and the wooden bridge, putting his nose down to check it out, taking everything calmly; the stuffed toy at the bridge, the animal hide hung out, the mail box, ground poles, a log to step over, and an L-shaped pole maze.

We took time to hang out and share an apple.  Shuguy self loaded, and a quiet ride home.

The next time you have an opportunity to try something new, go and see how many natural horsemanship skills you can accomplish!  Leave yourself open to opportunity!


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Cow working with natural horsemanship

Today I attended the cow working event at Longhorn Cattle Company, home of the Akehurst family, icons of the Kittitas Valley ranch community.  This event was held as a fundraiser for the Washington Foundation Quarter Horse Club (WaFQHC).  It was a wonderful opportunity for inexperienced horse and riders to gain some insight into working cows.

The turnout was great, attracting members statewide.  Or maybe it was Greg Akehurst’s barbecue for lunch break that brought them from far and wide?

The event was combined with a trail obstacle course to give horses more experience with a creek crossing, a wooden bridge, ground poles, a log, a roping steer dummy, an animal hide, and a mailbox, to name a few.

You could come and watch, or volunteer to help, getting a variety of hands-on experience.  Something for everyone!

Don Akehurst started with introducing everyone to a tolerant cow in the round pen.  There were many attendees with no experience, young horses, new horses and new owners, all combinations!

From there, faster cows were used in the round pen.  After a wonderful barbeque and potluck lunch break, cows were worked in a pattern in the large arena.

This was a great opportunity right in our back yard!  I’m grateful I attended!

Take advantage of every opportunity you can for your natural horsemanship skills!




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