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)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting Ready for the First Ride

September 27-28, 2010


For the last 2 days, I have lunged Duster with the saddle on. I have ground drove him and threw the lines around his legs. I have tossed the ropes over his head and saddle. I wave the ropes around his face. Nothing spooks him.

Yesterday, in the indoor arena, I brought Duster over to the mounting block and had him stand still. I jumped up and down on the block. I put my weight over the saddle. I reached over to the opposite fender and slapped it. Then I turned him around, facing the opposite direction while I stood on the mounting block and repeated the jumps and slaps. He was a little buggy eyed, but stayed quiet and stood still.




Today, I took him to the outdoor arena. I threw the rope around his head and legs. I tossed it over the saddle seat so he would hear different noises from the rope. I slapped the stirrups against his sides, making sure to do as much on the off side as the near side. I held the horn and jumped up and down from both sides. I put my foot into the stirrup and stepped up and down.

 
Tomorrow, I’ll do more of the stepping up and down. I’ll lean across the saddle seat. And I’ll see if Duster will walk off quietly while I’m standing in the stirrup. I want him to stay quiet and not to be scared.

He will be going to the Peter Campbell clinic with me this weekend. I hope I can do enough ground work there for me to be on him, but I’m fine if he is not ready for that.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ground Driving Duster

I have gone back to ground driving all the colts I start, as well as the training horses that I ride. I find that when I drive the young horses with long lines, they not only get used to the ropes around their legs, they begin to give to the bit better and learn how to turn. For the older horses that are in for training, it helps to develop a working mindset, as well as refresh them on staying soft and turning when they feel the pressure of the bit.



Duster, my 2 year old, bridled easily today, already accepting the bit in his mouth. But on the lunge line, he is slightly fighting the pressure of turning with the long lines. I don’t blame him, as this was his first day driving. This is only the 2nd time with a bit in his mouth. He is a smart guy though. He refused to turn, and as he refused and shook his head, he continued to feel the pressure on his mouth. When he gives and turns his head the way he is suppose to be going, he released the pressure himself, rewarding himself for doing the right thing. When he turned his head the way he is suppose to be going, and the pressure was gone, he dropped his head and moved on.



My first day of ground driving him went very well. I ended up being able to ground drive him on a straight line, turning in serpentines, and driving him in a circle around me. When I was behind him, I moved the ropes against his side, slapping the ropes gently on him, and shaking the ropes. Nothing I did with the ropes spooked him.



He is quietly bully, but he gives in and accepts his job. I wonder if he is going to do the same when I get on him! This week, I plan on ground driving me, desensitizing him to the bag on the lunge whip, and stepping up and down off of him. Maybe I’ll be able to ride him at the walk. Fingers crossed, as I want him doing as much as he can, preparing him for the Peter Campbell clinic this next weekend.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bridle on Duster




Yesterday, I took him, saddled, to the arena and lunged him. There was no buck in him as he took off at the trot, and even when he loped around. He is a little bossy and pushy, but in a pleasant way, and if that is possible, it is possible with this colt. He is gentle, but he just walks through everything. That is about to change. I made him change direction, and to pay attention to me.



Duster had the bridle on for the first time today. I brought him up from the lot, along with another horse to keep him company. I tied them both in their own stall, across the aisle from each other. They could see each other, but they weren’t side by side.



I saddled Duster, and today he was going to stand with the bridle on also. I bridled him with a harness leather headstall with a big, copper D ring bit. I like to have them stand tied, chew on the bit, and get used to it in his mouth. He took the bit easily, chewed once or twice, then just stood there. I left him stand tied an hour, gaining some needed patience while feeling the bit in his mouth.



Today, he lunged with the bridle on. I led him to the outside arena. He just went around like he has been doing this for awhile. He trotted and loped around like a pleasure horse.



He trotted and loped over the logs.




He walked over the bridge.




He didn’t care if the rope was around his legs. The only time he jumped was when he farted and scared himself.


I threw the rope all around him. Over his head. Over the saddle. Behind his legs. He isn’t scared of anything. I guess being a bully, but confident, colt has good points.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brushy Creek CTR 2010

September 17-19, 2010

We had a fantastic time at the Brushy Creek CTR. I rode with Diane, and her KY Mountain Horse and Savannah, my TWH, were well matched. Even though it rained Saturday, and was cool and drizzly on Sunday, both horses did well.

We were sweating Friday when we pulled in at 1pm, unloaded, and checked in. I had met Diane at a gas station about ½ hour from Brushy Creek. After checking in the horses, we had to get a weight card. We tacked up our horses, headed back up to check in, and we had to be weighed while holding our saddle, bridle, breast collar, saddle bags, and helmet. We rode late Friday afternoon for about an hour. The horses could stretch their legs, relax, and see some of the terrain.

The ride management fixed all of our meals, and they were delicious! It was great to get done with the ride, and be able to sit down to a hot meal and coffee, already cooked for us. Thank you, Iowa Trail Riders!
We were freezing by Saturday morning! It started thundering before 4 am and poured until just before 6. I got up in the dark and fed the horse, and then management said to come to a meeting at 7, since we couldn't ride where we were going to. Luckily, they have great all-terrain trails here. The rain had stopped, but there was the wind and dampness to endure.

We only rode 15 miles Saturday. We were on the horses for about ½ hour before we clocked out. The ride only took 4 hours with gaited horses! lol, and we had to make them walk slow the last 2 miles. We only had drizzles during the ride, BUT, after eating lunch, when it was time to bring the horses to the vet judge, it poured on us! I was so glad to get back inside the trailer by 3 pm and change into dry clothes. Savannah did great today, as well as Diane's Jordan. The 2 horses were well matched and got along. Diane and I sat inside my trailer after the vet check, warmed up, and had a great visit. I was planning on reading my Centered Riding 2 book, but only got a couple of pages read.

I had to call the farrier who was on call for the CTR. Savannah pulled a shoe in the only wet spot we had - a water crossing, where she sunk into a little mud! Arghhh - the shoes were only on a new reset for 5 days. The farrier came a little after 6 and replaced the shoe. Too many fine stones here to go barefoot.

Savannah did awesome at the obstacles on Saturday. She stood well for a judged mount, using the terrain to help you mount, we had to open and go through a gate, and were judged on a steep decline. Savannah does not trot with me "in hand" - something I should have taught her by now, and I have to work on that. And the other trot in hand that everyone had to do was to trot a figure 8 with your horse, but stay to the inside. That means, circle left, when you are normally to the inside of your circle, then stop your horse after completing the first circle, go to the off side of your horse, and trot your horse on a circle to the right, so that you stay to the inside of the circle. A lot of horses have trouble with that. I lead my horses from the off side, but I don't trot them from that side - I only trot the lesson horses from that side when I am in a hurry to get them to the barn and I have one on each side of me.

It started thundering before 8 Saturday night, and then it POURED all evening. I went to bed Saturday night listening to the thunder. Please pray it stops. I don't like riding in the downpour. I was sure hoping that it would stop before morning! I don't think it even got to 50 today. How can we sweat one day, freeze the next day, be wet, and then the forecast is for 70-80's next week? I hope we are not all sick. My jeans, through "waterproof" pants, were wet today!

We need to remember - this is suppose to be fun! and it is, when the focus is not on winning, but trying to do your best with your horse. I am happy with what Savannah can do well already, as a 4 years old, she crosses bridges over wide creeks with running water and fishing boats, doesn't bat an eye at garbage cans, signs, tents, etc, crosses water. Now, if she would just get used to the unseen monsters behind her....

It poured through the night Saturday night but stopped by Sunday morning. The horses were tied at hitching rails. They were set on a little bit higher ground, with the ground sloping away. That meant that even though the ground was dry, the horses were not standing in water. We got tacked up, and had a trot by the vet judge, who was checking for lameness, at 7:30. Weather was better, and we had a little bit warmer day. We did get drizzled on once, and the water crossing was deeper, but the day was just damp.

We rode over 15 miles on Sunday, and about 4 ½ hours. Savannah did awesome on all the obstacles on Sunday, except side passing a 6' log! We made it a few steps, then she wanted to step forward over the log or back up. We made it to the end, but it wasn’t pretty. She doesn't trot "in hand", but I was lucky, and that wasn't judged. The other obstacles on Sunday were taking a bag off a limb and handing it to the judge, walking over a small water hole and backing through it, going up a steep incline, 360 turn on the forehand. We had to stand both days for the judge checks and at the P&R's.

Savannah's goosiness was almost gone by Sunday. She did not like horses passing her fast, from either direction. I turned and faced the riders coming up behind her. And when riders had to pass us from the front, I asked them to walk slowly by.

We had a deep water crossing on Sunday, swollen from the rains the night before. It was a lot deeper than on Saturday. She went into the water crossing too fast, and lunged into the swollen water, splashing water up my legs and into my 1 boot. I felt water to my toes!

After the ride, management thought that it could be 3 hours before open division was in from the ride and before awards could be ready. With a 3 hour ride ahead of me, I decided to leave for home. Diane stayed and picked up the awards and certificates.

I ended up with 2nd Place in both Horse and Horsemanship Novice Lightweight Division! I was astonished. I knew I had a good ride with Savannah, but I knew that there were a few things that we had to improve in. I couldn’t have been more pleased with her demeanor the whole ride. Most of the time, she didn’t show her goosiness. With 2 days of riders behind her, she got used to them. I need to take the time to allow her to walk out, rather than slow gait. We will need to work on that long stretching walk.

Savannah did so much better than I expected. and she tied well at the hitching post for the 2 nights and 3 days! I think I came back with a slight head cold. By the time I got home after the 4 hour drive, I was really stuffy and had a sinus headache. I took some meds as soon as I got inside, and before bed. I did wake up clear headed, but I can tell that I'm getting stuffy. I did sleep from 10 pm to 8 am! I never sleep that long, even though I do need to sleep 8 hour nights!

It just goes to show that when you go into a ride with the "I just want to have the best ride that I can on my horse" attitude, and pressure is off on "winning", you ride more relaxed and have more fun.

And by today, I was stuffy! Maybe I just have some allergies I never knew I had. I’m so glad I’m not sick after the wet pants, wet neckline to my shirt, wet gloves, wet shoes and wet feet, and wet, damp weather!

Remember, this is fun!  And it is. I can’t wait for the Kanopolis CTR in a couple of weeks. With the way my schedule is, I can only make 2 of the 4 fall CTR’s this year. But that’s ok since Savannah is so young. This is enough for her young legs, and her young mind!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall Trail Riding Article

I was called to put some ideas together for a short article on trail riding for Star City Sports, a local publication.  I'm anxious to see what gets put into the article from what I wrote below.  It is suppose to be a short article, so I'm sure a lot will be deleted.  And I know there are other areas to consider, but limited with space.

The cooler days of fall make for perfect weather for riding. Messick Quarter Horses offer riding lessons and training for the show, pleasure, and trail rider.

Brenda is a Certified Instructor for Centered Riding and for AAHS, The American Association for Horsemanship Safety.
Brenda teaches the Centered Riding exercises in her lessons. She works on improving the relationship between the horse and rider, and teaches the rider how to improve the horse’s movement and control. Brenda has been competing in CTR, Competitive Trail Riding, for 2 ½ years.
To prepare the horse for a 2 hour trail ride, a day long ride, or a weekend ride, condition the horse with shorter rides. Begin your fall riding with an 1-2 hour ride at a walk. As the horse, and you, get back in shape, gradually increase the distance of your rides before increasing the speed of your rides. Make sure the hooves are trimmed, and if your horse is tender footed walking on stones, you may need to consider shoes or boots.

Prepare yourself for fall riding by layering your clothing. Add a lightweight, waterproof, windproof jacket to your saddle pack. As the weather gets colder, wearing a thermal lining with a windproof outer jacket will keep your warmer without the bulk of a winter coat. Remember to put gloves and a head band into your coat pocket, and they will always be handy when the wind starts and you are miles from your trailer. And remember to check your helmet - Every Ride, Every Time. If you haven’t started the practice of wearing a helmet, now is the time to start. I highly recommend Equestrian helmets. Protect your head.
Prepare your tack. If you haven’t been riding much this summer, now is the tie to make sure that all straps are good and Chicago screws are tightened. Oil your latigo and tie strings, making sure to pull everything loose around the D’s and taking care to oil where the leather bends around the D’s . Forgetting these areas can cause leather to dry out, crack, and break under the stress of riding. Going up or down a steep hill on a trail ride is not the time for saddle leathers to break!
Oil the breast collar well, and check to make sure it lies close but not too tight across the front of your horse. The breast collar will keep the saddle from sliding back. Some trail riders use a crupper as well, which attaches to the back of the saddle and goes around the underside of the tail, to keep the saddle from sliding forward.

Saddle bags come in all types and sizes. Take special care in attaching them to your saddle so they are no loose and bouncing on the horse, causing your horse to have sore backs and shoulders. It is wise to carry a knife, vet wrap, extra latigos or string, a small first aid kit, and water. Think about carrying your cell phone on your body, so that if you get separated from your horse, you can try to call for help.

Begin at home to get your horse prepared for trail riding. Put 3 logs on the ground, 3’ apart to walk and trot over. Practice side passing both directions in case you need to move away from a hole on the trail. Practice side passing to and away from a gate, and then try opening and closing a gate. There are very few, or no, gates at most of the lake trails. Get your horse used to being tied to the trailer, and saddle and unsaddle while being held, and then tied, at the trailer. Practice loading and unloading before the day of the ride.


If you have never been on the trails with your horse, find a friend to ride with. Branched Oak Lake is one of several lakes in the area with equestrian trails. I like this trail for beginners as it has some wide trails as well as smaller trails that weave between the trees. Most of the trails are fairly level, with some small hills.

Riding with a friend or two is a great way for both you and your horse to get accustomed to trail riding. Enjoy the outdoors and have fun riding your horse this fall.

Brenda is accepting training horses, and will prepare a horse for trail riding by riding in fields, through standing water, and over ditches. You can also come for lessons.
Email Brenda at messickquarterhorses@yahoo.com

Friday, September 10, 2010

Duster’s First Saddling


September 10, 2010

Duster is my 2 year old, out of Starlet, a Deck of Stars mare, and by Duke, my stud who is a son of Good Asset. Starlet’s mother, Skipa, was our first 4-H horse, who taught each of our kids how to ride and lope, about grooming and showmanship, and how to be really relaxed around horses. Skipa was your typical perfect first horse. Starlet was from my 2nd group of foals, which was already 15 years ago. Duke was out of an older show mare, a Boston Mac granddaughter, and he was very easy to start as a 2 year old. He has an awesome, deep strided lope.

Duster is like his mother. He knows his own mind. And he pushes others around, even the older geldings. Oh, he needs an attitude adjustment. And it needs to be this fall, at 2 ½, rather than next spring, when he is older, and stronger. He is pushy, because everyone but me thinks that his mother, Starlet, is pushy. I’m not sure how Starlet got to be that way, as Skipa was a sweetheart, but I’m sure at her age, she knew she was boss, and she was able to spread the word without being nasty about it. So that was how Starlet learned to be a boss. And Duster learned to be a boss, or so he thinks. His number is up.

Duster was handled this summer by one of my older, past 4-H kids. She really likes Duster, so she groomed, and led him around. And she taught him to lunge. But he hasn’t had any consistent work since July. I needed to wait until the days weren’t quite so hot before I worked the younger horses. They take a lot of energy, leading, lunging and saddling. That doesn’t sound hard, until you work a horse who needs to learn these lessons. I just don’t want to sweat that much, so I wait until cooler days.

I had the vet coming out to palpate mares, and while I was waiting, I brought Duster up to the barn. His mane was a mess. After I groomed him, I took the scissors to his mane. I knew that tangled mess was a lot of dead hair, and I wasn’t going to be able to comb through it. He has his daddy’s mane. Thick and long. I cut a very long show mane, then took the scissors and snipped up through the mane, so there wasn’t quite a straight line. I hope the mane looks better next spring.


Both Starlet and Goldie are in foal!  Both mares are Deck of Stars mares and are bred to Duke.

Duster was standing well. The vet wasn’t there yet, so I rubbed him with the saddle pad. He didn’t care. I went to get the little barrel saddle, which was lighter for me to lift on and off. I put it on Duster, and he didn’t care. I thought, well, he is standing quiet, I’ll just snug it up while he is tied here. He didn’t care that the cinch touched his belly, but then we groomed him there all summer. He didn’t care when the cinch got a little tighter, so I snugged it up enough that the saddle wouldn’t slip when he moved around. He didn’t care. I left him stand there for about 10 minutes, and he just stood there hanging his head. I tightened the saddle one more time and left him stand a little longer.

I didn’t want to rush him, and he stood quiet for about 1.2 hour, so I unsaddled him and put him back out to pasture. The next time, I’ll saddle him, let him stand awhile, and then lunge him with the saddle on. I hope he doesn’t have much buck in him!

Duster seems to be saying, "are we done yet? I've been standing tied awhile."

Keep watching for updates on Duster’s training. I’m planning on taking him to the Peter Campbell clinic next month. I want him lunging quietly with the saddle on. I wonder if he’ll stay quiet enough for me to be riding him by then.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Great Rides with a Friend

I am getting bored riding in the arena. I can ride the fields but I need to wait until harvest. I can road ride, but that doesn’t sound like a great idea to do with a young horse by myself. I have only had Savannah for 2 months and I would like to do some field riding before just riding the roads. So I have done the next best thing. I called a friend to see if I can ride with her around her place. And she said, “of course!” Thank you, Virginia!

I was suppose to go to the last PRR trail ride at Two Rivers yesterday, but I was just feeling down in the dumps. I needed a dose of V’s humor yesterday. And she didn’t let me down. After some corny text messages, like, when she asked me, “do you want to road ride”, and I said, “that’s ok, I have shoes on”. And she said, “I’m glad you have shoes on, what about your horse?” I knew I had made the right decision.

We rode for 2 hours yesterday, covering 7.7 miles. I had the option for road riding or going through the wooded trails. I chose the trails, and without knowing it, there were weeds and nettles. My horse does not like nettles! She wanted to rub her legs, and when I found a place where we could stop and let her rub, she was better. But then, we circled around, and ended up going through another patch! We finished the ride by doing some road riding. She has very wide grass areas to the side of the roads, making it easy to get off the roads when vehicles go by. Savannah is doing great. She is not afraid of cars and trucks, dogs, garbage cans, plastic on the ground, or cement bridges.

Today, we rode for almost 2 hours and over 6 miles. This time, we stayed out of the woods and only went down the roads. We went a different way, hoping that the dark clouds didn’t mean rain. We rain into a light breeze during the last mile, but no rain. Once again, nothing startled Savannah. I don’t even think she knew she was following behind Dani, and not beside her. Savannah does not like to be last.

Savannah loaded great yesterday and today. She refused to load when I first got her. She would turn her head and pull away from me. There was no stopping her once she could turn her neck away from me. She had the attitude that she could get away with this bad behavior. I think she had done that a time or not! I kept a lunge line on her, with a chain over her nose for control since that first time. She was not going to be able to pull away from me again. The consistent work has helped. She loaded both days with just laying the lead rope over her back and sending her in! She hesitated twice yesterday but I kept asking, and she went in and stayed. Today, there was no hesitation. She is becoming a good girl!

I came home in a refreshed mood both days. I knew I wouldn’t ride Savannah as long as I had ridden her the last 2 days. I am so glad that I called my friend and went to ride with her.

Call a friend and go ride together! What a relaxing time!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Time for Change

Summer is changing to Fall. Weather has turned cooler overnight. I love it when the trees start changing colors. But then that means cooler days. I don’t think any of us are going to complain about cooler days, with the hot days that we had all summer.

My goals are changing as I prepare for trail rides. I need to get to riding in the fields. When will those beans get off the fields so I can ride there? The arenas are starting to be really boring. I really need to let loose and ride those fields. I will like that!

My body is changing. I’m getting older and I don’t like it. I feel like I eat right and exercise, but inside things are changing. And I don’t like it. And I’m getting pudgy and I don’t like that!

I feel like my whole world is changing and I don’t know why. Our parents are getting older. Kids are getting older. Everyone has their own opinion. Except I’m not allowed to express mine, because when I do, someone doesn’t like me for it. I don’t like that either.

There is a turmoil inside me that no one but me feels. How can anyone else? How can anyone understand unless they have gone through those changes? How can I quiet everything inside me so I feel right about everything else?

My family doesn’t understand me and I don’t know why. I’m a pleaser, and I can’t seem to work hard enough to please them. Am I just a mom to them, but if so, why do kids treat dads differently? I don’t understand it and I don’t like that either.

How do I change? I guess I am the one that needs to change as I’m the only one who feels that things are wrong. I feel slightly depressed and I sure hope it’s the meds. Why am I taking these stupid pills if they are suppose to be good for me and this is how I feel. I don’t like that either.

I think the meds, that I have just started taking last week, are doing this to my mind, and I don’t like it. The meds are suppose to make your body work better. I felt better before this. I need my horse time. And I’m not even sure that I’m going to get it because the meds are kicking in and I don’t feel well. And I definitely don’t like that either.

I’ll be better tomorrow, I promise. The sun is getting brighter today and I’m heading outside. To work horses. Then I’m going over to a friend’s place to ride. I DO like that! I guess I’m not really depressed as bored, indifferent, and needing some sunshine. I really need my horse today.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

One Cup of Tea at a Time

Today, at church, the message was “To serve or not to serve.” We are to be in
service to the Lord. We can find a way that is a meaningful way for us to serve. I wonder how I can serve within my life with horses, all the trail rides and CTR’s and clinics.

This was a really appropriate message today. You see, Tom and I have been so busy, and he has worked so many long hours, that by Sunday morning, we just want to sit and relax. This has been going on now for just under 2 years. I felt like I just had to exist for a day and regroup. Yes, there have been a few times that we have been in Church, but not in a regular basis. Lately, I felt like I am finally feeling that something is missing.

Many of us have a long to do list. Some lists just get longer and longer with no time to get things completed. She had us think about prioritizing. We need to think about what is important and if God is first on that list? With God first, we don’t have to worry about the list. We pray and we give that list to God. Let God prioritize for us. The list will always change and grow, but God is a constant. Let him tell us what is important. Sometimes, resting the body and mind is as important as working a day to get some maintenance work done around the place.

While in church this morning, she told us to let go of everything that is at home to do and everything that is needed to get done on the list. We were to be totally in church, without the worries of the things that we need to do. We were to be at peace and in a prayerful mind. Doesn’t that sound like we should start and end each day? Don’t worry about the list, but start the day with a peaceful mine. To work on what is important to do and give up the worries to the Lord?

I really enjoyed the message by Pastor Susan. We don’t need to feel guilty by what we do or don‘t do. Her message was to find a way that each of us, individually, can serve. We can think about the Lord and be in prayer any time. But she reminded us that we need to be in fellowship with 2 or more people to have a sense of Christian fellowship and community. Yes, the outdoors give me a sense of God’s handiwork, but is that enough. I think I felt better when I had church as a constant, whether if was Sunday morning service, a bible study, or an adult fellowship time.

Of all topics today, the newsletter talked about a journey. (I have felt that I have been on a special journey with horses for more that a year now). We were to think about whether we had a journey with a life long goal in mind. One man’s journey turned into something totally different in the book, “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace”. Greg Mortenson set out to climb the 2nd tallest mountain, and by not doing so, he discovered that as he shared a pot of tea, he knew he had found a meaningful path to his life.

Isn’t that wonderful? When you least expect it, a new direction for your life happens. What happened in his life that made him open to the realization that there was a greater purpose? Are you open for that realization?

Just like the purpose of the book teaches us, we each as individuals have the power to change the world, one cup of tea at a time. How can we change the world?

What can we do, 1 small part at a time? Can we talk nice to each other? Or to a perfect stranger? Maybe our kind words will spark an epidemic of kind words.

One small part I do is to recycle. I taught my children to recycle as they learned about conservation in grade school. I continued to recycle cans, bottles and newspapers as they headed to high school and graduations. I figure that if I do my small part, the landfill will have the garbage of 1 less family.

As I think about this now, my lesson people used to know, by how I talked and hopefully through my actions, that I was a Christian. Today I wonder. Maybe as I haven’t been in church as often, and in the Christian community, the difference doesn’t show in my life. I need to change that. I’m ready to start back to church or maybe a Bible study on a regular basis.

In my horse life, what can I do? I can teach with more patience and empathy, one person at a time and one horse at a time. I can handle each horse and make sure to give the horse what the horse needs. I can pray and ask God to guide me through my training time, my lesson time, and my ride so I give that special animal that God created the time and patience that is needed.

Sometimes, it is hard to do that 1 small thing, to fill that 1 cup of tea, then to continue to fill that cup each day of your life. Maybe by changing a little now, our cups of tea will fill faster and faster each day, until one day, they truly do spill over.

Today, my special prayer to God was to give me the words that I need to say to my family. Maybe if I change my words, 1 small cup at a time, they will start to see that I’m not the same mother as I was when they were children. I want my family to understand me and to appreciate me. Do all mothers go through this? Our bodies change, or minds change, and how we think about things change. Am I the only one that feels this way? Will my children understand me, but only when they get to my age, to accept and understand that change?

I know that as I give this issue up to the Lord, and everything else that weighs heavy on my mind, I will not only feel better but I will be a better person for doing that. That way, I don’t go to sleep worrying and I don’t wake up worrying, and I’m sure that I will have a better night’s sleep.

What are your thoughts? How are you changing, one cup of tea at a time?

“Embrace the Journey!”

Friday, September 3, 2010

Makenzie and Caden



Makenzie is our almost 20 month old granddaughter who lives in Colorado. Caden is our 19 month old grandson who lives near us in Lincoln. They are so much fun!

We don’t get to see Makenzie as often as I would like. Last year, when she was a baby, it seemed like we were out every other month until Christmas. This year, we only came at Easter, and I was out in June. But Tom “Pop” wasn’t able to make it then. I was traveling back from Steamboat Springs after completing a Centered Riding Instructors Update Clinic. I was staying the weekend at Sara and Jakes, so Jacob and Amber came out for the weekend.



The cousins were together for the first time since Christmas. That was fun to see both grandbabies playing together.



Until this weekend. Tom hadn’t seen Makenzie for 6 months, and it was time to come for a visit! Tom took 2 extra days vacation time, making an extra long holiday weekend,. We are enjoying it! Micah is along and that is fun for Sara to have her brother here.

We were able to leave early enough Thursday to be here for supper and to spend a couple of hours with Makenzie before bed. Sara had to work today, Friday, so Pop, Micah and I got to spoil Makenzie, but her daddy kept an eye on us to make sure we weren’t letting her get away with too much. Lol



Makenzie is a talker! Imagine that with me as her grandma and her “momma’, who also does her share of talking! She babbles on, but I can tell she is telling us something, that’s for sure. Every now and then, a word comes out that we know, and if you listen carefully, you can tell what she is implying. What a vocabulary already.



How many times can we read the same book in 1 day? Night Night is a favorite. She loves books with animals in them. Today, I found all but 1 of her puzzle pieces and we spent some time finding the right spot for those pieces in the correct puzzle.

We went outside and went to the playset.



She and I spent time on the swing and slide while the guys mowed the grass in the front driveway area. Pop weeded her play area while I went up the steps with her, then had her sit at the top of the slide, while I went back down the steps to help her slide down. After a dozen times, we went to see what the guys were doing.



After lunch, Pop laid down to nap. Makenzie thought he should wake up and put on her shoes again. She couldn’t get over that he didn’t have hair on top of his head. Lol She liked patting his back, and belly, too.



We also visited Pody numerous times. Pody doesn't look as fat as he did in June!



I know, I know, she should have had her helmet on. But Uncle Micah was leading her outside to see Pody, and he sat her on bareback while she was petting him. Uncle Micah's hands were holding her the whole time. Pody wanted to follow them around all the time. I think he likes Makenzie as much as she likes him.

But guess what they have out here? Snakes, but just not any snakes, but rattlers! Oh my goodness! Jake said he saw his first, and only one, a couple of weeks ago, while feeding Pody, he heard it move in the grass! Luckily Sara was home and Jake kept an eye on the snake while she got a shovel. Makenzie is not allowed to wander alone, which she never does, but now my eyes are 20’ in front of me.



Makenzie got to ride the tractor with her daddy.



The guys worked on her rabbit hutch while she and I watched. She is going to be raising some markets bunnies, and starting a college fund.



She has a John Deere bicycle and loves it!

Makenzie helped me to work on the computer.



She loved looking at the pictures.

She is suppose to be napping. I’ve drank another cup of coffee, and have had a snack and taking my vitamins. I think I can keep up with her for another couple of hours. I hope so anyways.

I may be ready to sit down tonight, but I sure am loving spending time with my little sweetheart.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Despooking



I am desensitizing a training horse. She is afraid of her own shadow. She is afraid of loud noises. She is afraid of the un-expectant noises and quick movements.

I basically did the same as I did the day before. I free lunged her. I do this to set up dominance. I am her herd mare. She needs to look to me for leadership. I use my 60x120 indoor arena (most people do this in the round pen). I like to use the larger area of my arena as it will put less stress on the horse’s legs going around in circles. In a traditional 50’ or 60’ round pen, the horse is circling tight, and that puts strain on the inside on the front legs.



Then I worked her around the pen to get her to bond with me. I wanted her to walk up to me. I did have her approach me, but she never did come right up to me. The owner has told me that she takes awhile to warm up to people. I always will walk up to the horse, hold out my hand for the horse to sniff, and then rub the horse between and around her eyes. The mare became comfortable enough to follow me as I walk around and serpentine the arena. This is a good sign of acceptance of my leadership.



After she was comfortable walking with me, I started making noise with the bag. The day before didn’t go well when the bag was too close to her. I stayed further away from her as I was crinkling the bag. This took about 1/2 hour to free lunge her as I was making noises with the bag and for her not to be excited about hearing the bag.



I have an old whip that I have a very used plastic bag attached to the end. I swish that lunge whip around her until she stands still while I touch her with it and the baggie. I flick it around her legs and over her head. I lay it on the ground and drag it around her.



Then I attached the new bag to the old bag on the lunge whip. This made a big difference in noise as the bag was fluffier and filled with air. She went to her corner of the arena that she has used as her safety net. I stayed on the other end of the arena, swishing the bag on the ground and twirling it in the air. When she seemed at ease, I walked towards the middle of the arena, staying there when she became noticeably uneasy.



When she began to run down the long side of the arena, I stopped moving the bag and walked away from, her. When she went back up the arena to the far end, I began making noise with the bag again. As I got closer to her end, she started moving across that end of the arena, I kept changing her direction and kept her on the far end of the arena. When she quit moving back and forth, I started walking closer to her. I ended up being able to swirl the bag and slapping the ground about 30’ from her.



When she seemed to relax and lick her lips and chew, I moved to about 20 feet from her. I was able to move the bag on the ground about 10' from her head. Then I walked away with the bag dragging on the ground.



She would follow me, by she cocked her head at the bag, keeping one eye on that white bag.



But she followed me and that ended the day on a very good note.



She is still not relaxed but I ended up making enough noise with the bag that she is slowly become desensitize to that stimuli. Then I will move on the shaking a water bottle with rocks in it, holding a flag and flapping it around, and any other noise I can think of.

This horse’s first instinct is to run, and I want her to stop and think and wait on my for cues. We can not blame her for running as this is her natural instinct. I am hoping to build some confidence in her that she will not be so scared the next time something un-expectant startles her.

More on desensitizing next week.

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