Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Balancing the Body: Head, Shoulders and Middle

Day 1

Balancing the Body: Head

As I continue to move boxes to reopen my tack store for 2 months, I am a little sore today. My neck is a little stiff and my shoulders hurt a little last night. As I laid in bed last night, trying to find a comfortable spot, I thought about how I could balance my body. Centered Riding exercises can help in all areas of your life, not just riding.I decided to lay on my back, so there was equal pressure on both shoulders, with my head straight on the pillow.

I balanced my head, tipping it back and forth a little, trying to find that balance spot where my neck wasn't as sore. and it worked. I found a comfortable spot and went to sleep. This morning, I'm constantly rebalancing my head to find that spot where my neck isn't sore.

So as you're sitting there, or go ahead and stand up, what body area feels a little off?

Can you rebalance it by tipping back and forth or putting more weight there,then go back and forth, from too much tipping or weight to too little, trying to find that neutral place? How does it feel after you rebalance?When you go back to continue to do whatever you were doing, does your rebalancing of your body make a difference? Play with this and let me know. Next time you ride, take the time to rebalance each body part and let me know how you feel. Start with your head, and it will make a difference! You will be looking up at least 2" higher. Even stop and do your head now. Look at a spot, remember that spot, then rebalance your head by tipping it back and forth, less and less, to find that neutral spot. Remember to go sideways also. I usually start sideways, then do the chin up and down last.

Let me know!

Day 2

Balancing the Body: Shoulders

hmmmm... does this sound hard? Think about how stiff our shoulders get? If I'm tense, my shoulders are always tense. When I'm tense, I may roll my shoulders back to loosen them, but I have never balanced them. Until now. Once again,with moving tack store boxes, my joints are letting me know that I'm not as young as I used to be, and I keep doing the things I always used to do - bymyself. So after the 3rd day of loading boxes by myself, and having a little bit of help unloading, my knees and shoulders are letting me know that I'm older. Thank you very much!

So today, I balanced my shoulders. I move them forward and backward, finding that neutral spot. I lift them up and down, finding that neutral spot. I roll them backward and forward, finding that neutral spot. Moving those shoulders help to loosen them up. Moving them into the neutral position keeps them from being stiff. When I go to bed, I'll be moving my shoulders, finding both that neutral spot, and that comfortable spot! What area of your body stiffens up when you ride, and what do you do to loosen that area?

Day 3

Balancing the Body: Middle

Head, shoulders, now our middle. Acutally, it's the whole body! Where is our upper body when we ride. Forward? and over the horse's shoulders? Making the shoulders sore? Backwards? and over the horse's loins? Making the back sore?

Or in the middle? Over the horse's center of gravity?

To balance the middle, lean forward and then leaned backward. Lean a little less each time, until you settle into neutral. You are balanced. Relax. No really, relax your whole body. Sink down into the saddle, into the stirrups or irons. Relax your head, your shoulders, your middle, your thighs, your legs, your feet, your arms, your hands. Enjoy the feeling of being totally balanced with your body.

Embrace this feeling.

Embrace the feel!

Then enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kanopolis CTR

October 22-24, 2010

Last week, I was preparing for the Kanopolis CTR. Located near Marquette, Kansas, just north of Salina, the park is a beautiful place to ride. The pictures don’t do it justice. With a mixture of canyons, river views, and prairie, it is a breathtaking place to ride.

We had fantastic weather and a fantastic ride! It looked like it could have rained at times on Friday, but it went around us, and we stayed dry all weekend.

Both Saturday and Sunday started out a little chilly, but you only needed a light jacket if you had other layers on. By the end of the ride, we were down to short sleeves. The ride is beautiful, but I didn't take as many pics as I wanted to. I rode with Shari, and as always, she is awesome to ride with. Wiley was a calming influence for Savannah, and we had a near perfect ride by Sunday. The stony hills are a challenge, and this is a great place to ride if you are thinking of going to the mountains. This is a tough ride, as I think 5 horses were pulled due to lameness on Sat, and another 2 on Sunday.I was very pleased with Savannah. I didn't think I would have a good ride, because she was very uptight on Friday afternoon. Even after an hour pre-ride, she was ready to go! I was ready to sell her or give her away.We ended up placing really well. Savannah was 3rd and I was 2nd out of 7 riders in my division. Now, I may just keep her!

Shari placed 5th in CP (Competitive Pleasure) and Wiley placed 2nd. And, they achieved a 1000 miles of NATRC Competitive Trail Riding with this ride. Congrats, Shari and Wiley.

My friend, Virginia, placed 3rd in both Horse and Horsemanship! YEA! I got to visit with Jonni from Trot on Hank, and she placed 2nd on Horse and 5th on Rider in her Open Division and with this ride, achieved the National Championship! I had a great time talking with her about her Tevis Ride this year!

Saturday obstacles started with a rocky decline with both judges watching. We had to open and move through a very heavy gate, that swung open away from the rider and downhill. As soon as you opened it, it swung open fast. I only had to open and go through, but even with watching other riders, the gate swung away from me fast and I left go of the gate. CP and open had to open and close the gate.

We had a judged mount after a P&R, and Savannah stood still. We had to lead the horse up to a mounting block and mount. After another P&R, we had to walk to the judges and back between 2 trees. Savannah did well at this, but wouldn’t come forward between the trees, which wasn’t part of the obstacle, so I just backed her a little more and walked around the trees. I don’t think I lost any points for doing that. CP and Open had to back between brush.

On Sunday, we had to take a detour off the trail to a rocky area. We had to walk down a steep rocky hill, while CP and Open had to step down from a large rocky area. At another obstacle, we had to continue walking down the path, and walk over a very large log. Savannah, with her long legs, had no problem. CP and Open had to side pass a smaller log, while stepping over a branch on the log at the same time.

After the last P&R, we came upon the last obstacle with the vet judge. We had to step up on a large rock, about 2’ high, with the horse's two front feet only, and settle. Savannah stepped up and stepped back down instantly. I asked her to do it the 2nd time, but she backed off again instantly. We’ll have to work on standing still longer. After we left this obstacle, the Horsemanship judge was hiding. As we walked up a hill, he was watching to see if we were riding heavy or off the cantle. I only saw him because there was a hiker at the top of the hill. As I looked back to tell Shari there was a hiker, I saw the judge up behind the rocky ledge, and waved at him! Lol

All of Savannah’s P&R’s were great. She made all of her metabolic points. When we checked in on Friday, she started loping and acted up a little, getting her a 4 for attitude. We were to check out on Sunday with the same attitude, and anything less would mean missing points. She actually started loping again on Sunday, but I don’t know if we lost points. I didn’t stay for awards, as the trip home was almost 4 hours. I was thinking of staying with Shari, and following her home, but decided to leave. The cards will show up in the mail soon.

My thighs were sore on Monday! I think I hold with my thighs going up hills, to help hold me off the horse. I think I better start keeping more weight in the stirrups, and hold less with my thighs. I better keep moving , as it hurts a little to sit down and stand up. By the end of the day, my legs were almost back to normal.

I was only able to ride 2 CTR’s this year, but I can’t wait for next year’s schedule! I’m ready to keep riding the trails and competing!

“Embrace the Journey!” Come along on the ride with me!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Makenzie is tough!

This is Makenzie, after she tangled with a table. 22 months old and quite a cowgirl! That's how you "Cowgirl Up" little girl. You didn't even cry! I'm sorry you are hurt. Wish I was there to give you kisses and hugs. You just keep up with those older kids!

Miss you, honey. and love you, bunches and bunches!

Makenie says, "Mommy, purple eye". LOL

Makenzie is back to being silly!

The morning after. Makenzie is saying "purple eye".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Wonderful Fall Day of Riding

Camp Moses is beautiful!

I rode with Tammy, from

We had a perfect ride. I rode Shaggy and she rode Windy.

I decided to take Shaggy because I have missed riding a trotting horse. I knew Tammy would want to trot, and trot fast, and lope. And Shaggy would give me that type of ride. Thanks, tv, for the wonderful 3 hour ride. I told Tom you were risky to ride with though, as I came back with 1 bruise and 2 long scratches! LOL

Shaggy did absolutely beautiful for his first trail ride. Even though he is 7, he sat on the back burner, and remained a quiet, confident gelding. Nothing seems to bother him, and I am enjoying the ride that he is giving me. I gave him today off.

I did get a ride in the fields today. Over 6 miles on Savannah. I rode her up and down the terraces about a dozen times. Here in eastern Nebraska, that's my version of preparing for riding hills. Then we hit the harvested corn and bean fields.

I took the time to stop and enjoy the scenery. Trees are just starting to change. Today was a warm, 74 degree day. The Nebraska wind was blowing though.

Then I did something that I have been wanting to do for a while. I haven't ridden my stud, Duke, in a long time. He stood wonderfully while I groomed, saddled and bridled him. I lunged him in the round pen for a few minutes, and was surprise that he had a few bucks in him. Granted, it's been awhile, but he has never bucked, and it was good to see that they were only half-hearted bucks. I took him to the outside arena, and lunged him for about 15 more minutes, waiting until he was going around quiet.

Tom had to work, and I called him to see when he was coming home and told him I was going to work Duke. I thought it would be a good idea for someone to know! :-)))

Duke stood quiet at the mounting block, and it was like we were back in show mode. Oh my goodness, now I remember why I have always loved riding him and now I remember why I want to keep riding him. His lope is awesome. Powerful and deep, and a joy to ride. He stops on a dime. He moves wonderfully off my legs. I just love riding a horse I trained. It seems that no matter how long it has been, we, the horse and I, always remember. I can't wait to ride Duke tomorrow. He makes me want to go out to ride! It has been awhile since I have been this excited, and Duke makes me excited to ride him. That is a good feeling. I guess today has been my best ride this year.

I thought Tom would get home before I was done, and I rode for an hour, but he got home after I was unsaddled. I'm hoping to ride tomorrow, and I want him to take pics!

I know... things happen for a reason. I have been wanting to ride Duke for a long time. 3 years ago, I was going to geld him and ride him. But I decided to breed and have babies. Then this year I thought about riding him, but decided to breed again. But now, I really want to geld him, and ride him. He is an absolute joy to ride. I understand him. I know what makes him tick. He can get mad when he is pushed the wrong way, and I understand that. I don’t want him to be mad, I want him to enjoy the ride. As much or as more as I did. Maybe now is the time.

My camera takes video, and I hope to get that on the blog tomorrow. And I will take pics. He is a handsome guy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Parents 65th Wedding Anniversary

My parents were married October 15, 1945. 65 years ago today.

Last weekend, Tom and I flew to PA for a surprised Anniversary Party. Dad knew about the party but didn’t want to tell mom (pronounced mum. Remember, I’m from western PA).

Mom is going through some dementia, and we are sure she is in early stages of Alzheimer’s. She will not be tested, as she thinks they will tell her that she isn’t right in her head. I understand. She knows that she doesn’t remember everything that she does during the day, and she is fine with that. I’m glad, even though I don’t understand how she isn’t upset that she doesn’t remember. But I’m very glad that she isn’t upset and she seems fine with how she is. She also has Scleroderma, which has arthritic symptoms, giving her poor circulation, which affects her hands and feet and makes them very cold.

Dad has some health issues, even though he is still very healthy. Like all older men, he has had his share of Prostrate issues, and is on medicine for that. Like a lot of older people, he has cataracts. He had one removed about 2 weeks ago, and had a bad side effect that has caused him to have no vision in that eye. The prostrate medicine can cause side effects during cataract surgery. Dad’s eye went through a lot of movement towards the end of the surgery, causing the eye to fill with blood. The blood was drained a few days later, but there is still no vision. We are hoping that within a month or 2, the vision returns. Dad needs the cataract on the other eye removed. He is understandably very nervous to have that surgery!

Many couples don’t see this Anniversary milestone. We are glad that our parents have stayed fairly well and are happily married.

Enjoy the family pics!

Happy 65th Anniversary, Mom and Dad. We love you.


Perfect Weather

October 14, 2010

These past 3 weeks have been gorgeous. 70 to 80’s. Sunny days with a light breeze.

Last month, as I rode in the arenas, I was feeling claustrophobic. In the outdoors. How is that possible?

Because I was bored. I needed to accomplish more with my riding and with my horses. I needed to add miles, not circles. I needed to be able to move out in a straight line instead of riding in circles, reverses, and crisscrossing the arena.

I could have been going down the road, but I really don’t like to do that. 2 reasons. Mainly for safety. I think traffic is too fast. But I also don’t like road riding for the well being of my horse and his/her legs. I think the hard packed road has little give for long trotting. If you can ride the soft shoulders, than it is better on their legs.

Finally, crops were harvested and I have been in the fields since. With only flat land here, I have to take advantage of the terraces to do hill work! Isn’t that just pathetic? Lol But when I put the horses up and down those terraces a few times, they start huffing, so at least it’s getting their heart pumping. The steeper terraces also teach the horses to walk slower down the hills.

I just love the top of the terraces. With just rolling hills here, and they are barely rolling, I still have a sense of being on top of the world. I just love trotting and loping those fields.

I hope to get pictures posted soon. But later today, I am riding with my friend, Tammy, from One of my favorite places to ride is Camp Moses Merrill. Located about 35 miles northwest of me, it has rolling hills, steep hills, and TREES! With the changing colors, today’s ride should be beautiful!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One Year Later, “The Change”

One year has already passed since I lost Finny. Everyone said, “Give it time.”

I don’t know how I feel about this any more. Some days I feel empty to any feelings. Some days, I can still cry. A few friends emailed me this week to see if I needed to talk, but that is one thing I can’t do this week. I do know that I can’t talk about Finny. Not this week.

I’ve realized many things over the last year. It was ok to be sad for a very long time. It’s ok to continue to be sad. It was ok to be angry, guilty, depressed, lonely. Those feelings have subsided and have been replaced with an acceptance and an emptiness.

It was also ok to move on. Enjoy another horse. Go back to trail riding and competing. It was ok to continue on with what I love. And it was ok not to feel guilty.

That was the hardest thing to accomplish this year. The guilt hung on like a splinter under the nail. It would throb and hurt some days. I wouldn’t feel it for a few days. Then I would do something and hurt the nail again, and the pain would be awful. More awful than it had been before. But eventually, the splinter is gone, so was the guilt.

A peace is settling into me. I didn’t feel it until today (the 9th), the day before the anniversary date that I probably will never forget. The peace might be coming from the fact that I’m driving through the Pennsylvania hills, back home for my parent’s 65th Anniversary party. As I look out the car windows, and see the changing colors, I feel a change in me. Just as the seasons come and go, and just as the trees change into majestic colors, the colors deepen into a brown, die, and fall off the trees. There is always the hope, no, more than hope, there is the reality that there will be color again.

Some things are always there. The trees are always here. The fall colors in western PA are always here. Always breathtaking beautiful. There is always a change.

There will always be horses. There will always be death. There will always be a breathtaking beautiful horse. There will always be a change.

In the last year, I have come to accept that. I don’t like death. No one does. But now I can look forward to the change. I can start to feel the change that Finny had in my life. He has made me see that every horse is special.

Just like the leaves are becoming more colorful as I travel north, so are the changes in my soul changing. I love these hills. I love what the hills do for me. I love horses. I love what horses do for me.

I just told my husband, Tom, that even though we have seen these hills and changing colors for our first 22 years that we lived here and went to college, and then for the next 6 years while we lived in PA and Michigan, it seems like we have never seen these colors before. They are so bright. I am struck by this beautiful scenery.

Having Finny in my life feels like that. I feel like I didn’t have a special horse in my life. I just rode. Then, as I look around me, now I see all the special horses. Now, I remember the fall colors that I grew up in, and now I see the beauty that was inside Finny.

Thank you, God, for my time with Finny. Thank you for putting him in my life. One of the saddest poems I read a year ago, was that You needed my horse for the angels to ride. I cried so hard when I read that. Now that thought brings a smile to my face. Finny has the life that he deserves. He has the kindest riders riding him now. And he is looking down at me while I’m driving through these beautiful hills, sharing the color and beauty of the day with me.

Until I can ride you in Heaven, my Friend. I will always love you, your gorgeous black coat and face with the large white blaze, your fabulous lope, your heart.

I’m home and now, in my heart, I know that you are too. Have a fantastic run today among the clouds. I hope you think about me as much as I think about you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Corn is Harvested

Corn is harvested off the fields! That means I can ride in the fields. Now the beans are off, and I can enjoy some nice places to trot out and to lope.

I have been waiting for this to happen for a month now. When I rode the fields the other day, I could smell the freshly cut scent of corn. It smelled so good.

Today was a very warm day. The last 2 weeks have been days full of sun. No rain. Sunny with a slight wind. I needed to feel the warmth of the sun on my face. Nothing is better for the soul than feeling a good horse underneath you and the sun warming your back.

I’m riding 4 horses. 3 of my own and 1 training horse. And I’m getting a 2 year old ready to ride. The training horse is ready to be ridden outside the arena and have hour long rides in the fields. He has had a month of desensitizing and slow arena work to build up his confidence. He has had 2 short rides in the bean field behind the barn. Now he is ready to go further.

My 3 horses are all so different from each other. Savannah is the gaited TWH (Tennessee Walking Horse). She is only 4, but I’m getting tired of her looking for things to jump at. I am building up her confidence with as many short and long trails rides as I can. I try to ride with other horses also.

Shaggy has had his first couple of rides to the field. I just love riding him. He is 7, but he was on the back burner for 5 years. That is turning out to be ok, as he is a confident, gentle horse. He He isn’t scared of anything, and when he is hesitant about crossing a ditch, he has a lot of try. He eventually sticks with it, and crosses what he is hesitant about, and generally without jumping the obstacle. He perks his ears and trots out.

Dixie is the 16 year old mare that I bought in May as a replacement lesson horse. One of my lesson horses is in foal, and that only left me 1 good horse. I wasn’t sure if Dixie was going to work out as she has a very fast trot and lope, or should I say canter. But the more I ride her, the more I like her. She loves the fields, too. I was discouraged with how Savannah was always looking to goose, and the day before the Peter Campbell clinic, I took Dixie to the field. I enjoyed the moment I got on her to the moment I got off her. She made me realize why I love riding the fields at the trot and the lope.

I love the outdoors. When I think it’s too much work, I just need to get on a horse and ride the fields and CRP land. I need to sit on top of the rise and feel the warm sun and gentle breeze. Some days, the wind isn’t so gently, but brisk and cold, but that is ok. It is exhilarating if you let it be. Riding can be that way too. IF you just let it be. No matter what is going on in your life, or with you, just go ride. Let everything else disappear, if only for a short time, and ride the ride.

“Embrace the Journey!”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Peter Campbell Clinic Day 4

MONDAY, October 4, 2010


I started the morning with Duster tied to the trailer again. He did fine at the trailer by himself.

Duster was still a little jumpy when the bag touched his flanks and belly. But he stood still as I moved the bag from his hip, down and up his back legs, belly, up and down the front legs, up his neck, and over his poll and down his face.

Peter took Duster and moved him with the horse, asking him to move his hips away. He reached down and moved the stirrups against Duster’s sides. He had me step up into the stirrup, reach over and rub the neck on the opposite side. I had done this the last few days that I had worked Duster at home. He had me rub behind the saddle, as that is where the horse is a little goosey if the rider drags his foot across his back when he mounts and dismounts. I stepped up and down. Then I stepped up and sat down into the saddle. Then stepped down. I stepped back up, sat in the saddle, and Peter had me hold the Cheyenne roll of the cantle with one hand and the horn with the other hand. He moved Duster around with his horse for a minute, than I stepped down. I felt no resistance in Duster. He moved off freely. Duster is ready to start riding at home. Later in the morning, Peter asked if I wanted to ride again or if I thought I had done enough. I wanted to end the clinic with Duster relaxed. I was at a good spot with him and I was happy where I was with him. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish with Duster. I wanted a young gelding who wasn’t so pushy and was more respectful of moving where he should move.

Shaggy: practice moving the hips around without the reins, moving the hips to both the inside and outside to reverse the horse, at both the walk and the trot, on a very loose rein

We started our last session of the last day with loose reins. We continued to practice moving the hips. Then we moved the horses out at the walk, asking them to reverse by moving their hips to the inside of the rail or to the outside. It was easier to reverse the hips when we were pushing the hips towards the center and the head went towards the rail. It was more difficult with Shaggy to move his hips to the rail and have his head come to the center. Once he started moving his head towards the center, he would walk a very large circle to reverse, instead of swinging his hips in toward the center. This should have taken a few steps, like a forehand turn on a long loose rein, not a large slow circle.

Peter said that they will blink as they move their hips - each time they step around in a half circle to reverse, they will blink with each step. This is a “ah ha” moment. And it was fun to watch to see when the horse blinked and when he didn’t. If there was any resistance, or if the horse didn’t move his hips freely, he didn’t blink.

We practiced snaking down the side of the arena - move hips slightly in, then slightly out. This sounds easy, but it was not, especially on a very loose rein.

We ended the clinic with this last exercise - pick up the trot, move the hip out so the horse faces the fence, then ask the front end to move over, with the head and neck level. Always asking for a lightness, asking for the jaw to be down and in, always asking for the head and neck level. Sometimes we stayed at the trot and did ½ circles or full circles. We mixed up the patterns, but it was always about keeping the horse moving. Every now and then, we would pause, but just for 1 second, then continue.

Any time the horse pulled on your hands or lifted his head, we were to stop the transitions, ask for the horse to soften, then continue the transitions. We were to work as fast as we could without “upsetting the horse”. Towards the end of the 4th day, the horses were responding with a quietness and a smoothness that they didn’t have the first day. Feel was developing.

The week after the clinic, it took me days to process and write about everything that we did. I’m not doing anything with my 2 year old This week. I will continue with Duster next week. I should have a few rides on him before I leave him alone until next spring. I will continue the work with Shaggy, as he is ready and more mature to continue on. My goal this fall is to free up his hips and to move his hind quarters more freely.

I hope you enjoyed this very long read. I have read, and re-read, this about 6 times. The progress on each horse is amazing. The one thing that I’m most impressed with is that both horses became calmer and calmer as their training became more intensified. Over the course of 4 days, they were taught a new exercise, and then we had an hour of repetition. We varied the exercises to keep the minds of the horses fresh. As we worked harder, the horses remained more in focus to us, the rider. It goes to show you that you can work your horse intensely, and by being consistent, you will have a more broke horse. One that is respectful to you.

Come along on the ride with me. “Embrace the Journey!”

Peter Campbell Clinic Day 3

SUNDAY, October 3, 2010

Duster: stand totally still while being rubbed with the flag, from tail to nose. Rub neck and hip, step up and down from the stirrup from both sides.

I started this morning with saddling Duster tied to the trailer instead of in a stall. I left Shaggy in the trailer so he had a buddy close, but couldn’t easily be seen. After saddling Duster, I unloaded Shaggy and led him to the stall area, away from Duster on the other side of the trailer so Duster couldn’t see him. I want Duster to get used to being alone. He waited patiently without whinnying and pawing.

I touched Duster all over with the bag. He needed to stand still while the bag moved up and down his back and front legs, under his belly, over his shoulder, up his neck and over his head. I rubbed him on his neck and behind the saddle. I moved the stirrup leathers against the sides of his belly. I repeated this on the opposite side. Interesting that he was goosier on the near side, the side we handle the horse more often from.

I stepped up and rubbed Duster on the neck and hip. When he was goosey and moved, I stayed where I was until he stopped moving, then stepped down. I repeated this a few times on each side of him.

Duster didn’t want to trot when I led him from the ground. Peter worked Duster from the ground, and got him to lead better from the ground. He “drew” on the lead rope, picking up slack and making it tight on Duster’s nose, than instantly releasing him Duster stepped forward. He worked the same way, with a stronger feel on the rope when he “drew” and made the rope snug, asking Duster to trot. Then I did the same, asking and being light.

Peter led Duster from his horse, helping him to lead better. Peter continued to lead him around with his horse, asking for him to move his hips over from horseback, walking off and asking Duster to step forward without hesitation. After that lesson, Duster trotted each time I asked him to from the ground.

Shaggy: moving the hips around without touching the reins

We were to walk, stop, reverse the horse with the horse moving the front end around in a pivot, keeping the head and neck level, stopping when the horse raised his head and ask for him to soften (dropping his head and neck, and then the jaw to the inside).

The next set of exercises included stopping and reversing. We were to move the front end ¼ way towards the rail, with lightness, stopping any time the horse raises his head, and ask for the lightness again before continuing on to complete the reverse or the full circle. The jaw should be tipped towards the turn. We finished the reverse by asking the hips to move over. Then we walked a full circle, reinforcing the jaw staying tipped towards the inside of the circle.

We mixed this up with walking and trotting circles to the inside, both a full circle and continue on the same direction, or a ½ circle and reverse directions. We also stopped at both the walk and the trot, moved the hip to the rail a quarter turn, then turned the front end a quarter turn to reverse the horse. Stop, pause 1 second, and walk or trot on. We also walked or stopped and asked for a reverse, taking the hip to the inside and shoulders out. We always asked for a lightness, tipping the jaw down and towards the turn, and always stopping the second the horse resisted and pulled on the bit and on our hands or lifted his head.

The final exercise was to move the horse’s hips without any contact on the reins. Basically, we were to do a forehand turn without reins. Peter said not to cheat and touch the reins. The horse was not to trot when he felt one leg on him. Many horses speed up when they feel legs, but 1 leg means to move the shoulder, move the body or move the hips, NOT to trot. It took many transitions to teach the horse and to get the horse to be respectful of that one leg. I needed to touch the reins in the beginning, to start the reverse, and I needed to add a LOT of leg. Shaggy isn’t dead sided, but he isn’t as sensitive as some horses. He doesn’t move his hips and hind legs as fast as Peter wanted a horse to. I will be working on this to ask him to move more quickly and more freely.

Peter Campbell Clinic Day 2

SATURDAY, October 2, 2010

Duster: stand still while being rubbed with the flag, lead better at the walk and trot.

I continued to work Duster with moving him with the bag, from side to side and reversing. Touching him all over. Having him stand still. Duster turned when he was suppose to, without coming in to me. He stayed at the end of the lead rope. He kept his full attention on me and was not worried by anything else in the arena. He didn’t care when the steers, on the other side of the cement wall, were being fed. Duster learned his 1st lesson very well and today was lesson #2. Duster still didn’t want to lead without lagging behind, and he was not going to trot.

Duster needed to free up his hips and move them over. His horse helped to push Duster’s hips around. Peter moved Duster around with his mare to get him to disengage his hips. He held Duster’s head close to the horse, and asked his horse to move, and by doing so, Duster HAD to move his hind legs. His movement became freer and freer and he started crossing over with his hind legs instead of just stepping sideways.

Peter led Duster from horseback, asking him to move forward without hesitation. Duster would pull slightly against the lead rope then move forward when he felt the pull from the lead rope against his halter. I know some of the hesitation came from not knowing the horse that he was asked to come up beside. The mare pinned her ears, telling him to stay away from here. Eventually, he walked and trotted freely beside the other horse.

Shaggy: Reversing at the walk and trot, trotting out.

Shaggy had to be light, meaning giving to the bit in all the transitions. He was to stay light, reversing with lightness, with head and neck down, and with jaw down and to the inside. Our exercises today including MANY reverses. Reverse in a circle to the inside at the walk and at the trot. Reverse at the same rate of walk or trot. Walk, stop, ask for lightness, back and walk or trot off. Repeating this many times. Trot out, posting at the trot. Sit the trot and ask for lightness. Walk and stop with lightness. Trot out, trot slow, walk, stopping with lightness, back. Pause. Many transitions. I think Shaggy is beginning to stay lighter and he is beginning to not toss his head with the trot.

Peter Campbell Clinic Day 1

FRIDAY, October 1, 2010

I took 2 horses to the Peter Campbell clinic. One was Duster, a 2 year old that hasn’t left the place until today. He’s only been saddled for the last 3 weeks, being ground driven, lunged with the saddle on, but didn’t have any riding. The other is Shaggy, a 7 year old gelding that I have given about a month of riding each year since he was 3. This year, I started riding him regularly since May. He needs to move better off my legs. Both of these young horses are by my Stud, Duke, a son of Good Asset.

Duster is my 2 year old. He is extremely bully and pushy. A big puppy dog who is gentle, but had a mother who was herd mare, at least for the last 5 years. Duster isn’t scared of the older geldings. He just walks among them and pushes into between them at the feeders.

Duster: He was to move around me, turn from side to side, turn between me and the wall. He was to stay back away from me and not push into me. He was to pay attention to me and not to all of the commotion in the arena.

I’m glad that Duster is a quiet guy, because he came into the arena with his head up and ears perked and snorting. Where did all of this come from? He heard the cows next to the arena being fed. They couldn’t be seen but he wasn’t too bothered by that. Then a water sprinkler was wetting down the small arena on the other side of the ¾ cement wall that separated the 2 walls. The was hitting the wall, making that spritzing sound. Duster has heard the water sprinkler before, but hearing it and not seeing it was 2 different things. His mind was on that instead of me.

I started to lunge him while Peter was talking to the group. He didn’t want us to wear our horses down to get their minds, but to make them change directions on the lunge line instead, with the aid of a flag attached to a short whip. I had to move from the end of the arena to a spot on the long wall so I could work him.

Duster had to have a major attitude adjustment on the first day of the clinic. With the help of a short stick/whip with a flag attached to it, we were to make the horse move around us in a circle, and then stop and turn. We worked on moving the horse’s hips and shoulders. We worked on moving the horse’s body away from us. Duster still didn’t like all the noises. Peter said that, to get his mind, make him move where I wanted him to move and when I wanted him to move. I was not doing a good job with getting Duster to move away from me with the bag/flag. Duster knows how to lunge, but that first day, he didn’t want to stop, or turn, or move where he was suppose to. I was starting to sweat. He was being the bad kid in school! Peter came over and asked if he could work with him. I said of course, Peter wanted a YES, and Duster went to school. He graduated with more manners. I was able to do the same work with him. Duster had learn to respect the stick with the flag, to respect the lead rope and to move his body where it should go.

Duster ended the day more respectful and more quiet than he started the day. He learned to move his hips and that was the start of having him pay attention to me and not to everything else that was going on. He stayed at the end on a relaxed lead rope. When I moved, he turned his body to follow me with his eyes. The exercise that Duster had to learn was to actually move his hips, crossing his hind legs when he moved them, therefore freeing up his hips more.

Shaggy: Walking out, getting the walk as fast as you can. Extend the trot. Walk or stop with lightness.

During the afternoon session, I rode Shaggy. We did a LOT of walk, trot, extended trot, walk, stop transitions. The main emphasis was on stopping light and giving to the bit. We were to walk and pick up a light feel on the reins, asking the horse to soften. When the horse softens, he will lower and tuck the jaw to the inside. If there is any resistance or pull against the reins, adding more leg to get the horse to move forward.

It is important that, when the horse hardens and pulls on the reins, you have the horse pull against himself and do not pull back. Be ready to soften your hold on the reins the moment the horse softens. Shaggy did well the first day until we picked up a trot. I usually ride in a shank bit, with a covered broken mouthpiece, and he gives beautifully to that type of bit. In a snaffle with no leverage, there was more resistance. At the trot, he was beginning to throw his head up to evade the bit. I kept the hold on the bit steady with my hands, and left him to figure out where to put his head. We will be working on this for the next 3 days.

Peter asked us to walk out, and walk out faster. We were to get the horse to move out a walk and ask for the fastest walk that we can get, until right before the horse would break in to a trot. We did many walk trot transitions. We stopped after asking for a lightness on the bit first. We walked one or 2 steps, then trotted. We asked for a long extended trotting, with a long rein. We asked for walk and/or a stop with lightness. That took some thinking to stop the horse, without the horse throwing out his jaw or lifting his head. As you slow down from the extended trot to a slow trot, then to the walk, and right into the stop, you are asking the horse to give to the bit, lowering the jaw, and stopping with the head and neck level.

We worked in pairs and walked, trotted and loped circles around our partner. This was a fun exercise. I was paired with a beautiful Friesen stallion, and didn’t know he was a stud until the next day! He was a delight to be around. We walked circles and half circles. With each half circle, the horse to the inside went to the outside. The outside horse had to trot when the inside horse walked, and he had to lope when the inside horse trotted. We were to stay even with each other, without letting one horse get ahead or behind the other. We were to make our own circle, paying attention to keep our own horse light, yet stay together. This exercise seemed like it shouldn’t have been easy to do, but after many circles and half circles at the walk and trot, we were able to do the lope circle easily. I was amazed at how light and easily Shaggy did the lope circles. That was his best, collected loping to date!

Shaggy got lighter and lighter as the day went on. I still had resistance on the bit at the trot, but he did soften each time. I know he doesn’t like the bite of the bit on his tongue, but as my hands stay light, and he pulls against himself, he will soon realize that he is causing that discomfort himself. Stay light, ask for a softness, and the horse will respond.

I think the tiredness, that I was feeling after the first day, comes from total concentration of what we were working on. That, and traveling back and forth with 2 horses. I was going to stall them every night, but I didn’t want them standing in a stall from 4 pm to 8 am. They loaded easily so I took them home to be outside in their outside lots for the evening and night. I know that would keep them relaxed for the next day’s work. After their workouts, I’m sure they needed to relax their minds and bodies too.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Peter Campbell Clinic Day 1

First, Happy Birthday, Sara! I can not believe that 28 years has passed since I held my baby girl for the first time. I do miss those years of when you were little, and it was just us playing together. But you know the feeling, because now you are doing the same things with Makenzie. Have a fantastic day!

I am almost too tired to post. I think the excitement of participating in the clinic, along with 7 hours of clinic time, has me almost too tired to move. And this is from a person who rides a lot and who is pretty active outside.

I think my tiredness come from anticipation of what will happen at the clinic. I also took 2 horses. One was a 2 year old that hasn’t left the place until today. I think the tiredness comes from total concentration of what we were working on.

Duster is my 2 year old. He is extremely bully and pushy. A big puppy dog who is gentle, but had a mother who was herd mare, at least for the last 5 years. Duster isn’t scared of the older geldings. He just walks among them and pushes into between them at the feeders.

He had a major attitude adjustment today. We worked on moving hips and shoulders. And moving the body away from us. Duster didn’t want to stop, or turn, or move where he was suppose to. I was starting to sweat. Peter came over and asked if he could work with him. I said of course, Peter wanted a YES, and Duster went to school. He graduated with more manners.

During the afternoon session, I rode Shaggy. We did a LOT of walk, trot, extended trot, walk, stop transitions. Shaggy got lighter and lighter. We worked in pairs and trotted and loped circles around our partner. The main emphasis was on stopping light and giving to the bit.

I hope to be able to write more over the next 3 days. I think I’ll sleep good tonight!


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