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)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Concentrate on What You Have

As I was watching the video of the Yoga instructor performing the stretches, I thought to myself, “I will never be able to stretch that far”. I saw her poise, and thought, “I’ll never look like her, with those long and graceful, almost ballerina-like, moves”.

But that is not what should matter, I thought instantly. I said the same thing out loud to Hubby, maybe to reinforce my thoughts. He said, that is correct. Anything you do is going to help your body. I know that whatever I do, I’ll be able to stretch further and not have that soreness around my neck and shoulders. I want to do this to improve my balance, which will transfer to my riding. I’ll do this for myself and not for anyone else.

As I stretched last night, (I need to change the time to mornings, but that is on tomorrow’s topic about setting a schedule), I focused on myself. I mirrored the stance of the instructor. I watched, I went in the poise, then I looked to see how she looked. I’m realizing, and she stated this also, that your body will realize when something is right. I’ll go into the pose that is comfortable and right for me now. As I learn, I’ll be able to stretch more.

Towards the end of the session, one comment the Yoga instructor said on the dvd was to let gravity stretch out your body. I came to understand that as I was stretching. Standing, and bending over from the hips, with my head down, I could feel myself relax.

As I relaxed, I could feel my back let go a little and stretched down a little, without me trying to do that. It was an amazing feeling to just totally surrender and relax, with no “holding back” and just let my head and arms hand down. I’m sure by the end of the session, I was ready to relax. In a quiet room, listening to the soft music and soothing tone of the instructions, I could close my eyes and just be there. Go into a position with breathing, stretch, close eyes, breathe, and relax. That sounds soothing just writing this and re-reading this.

I need to think about changing my Yoga time to morning. The instructor said that there is something spiritual about Yoga and stretching first thing in the morning, with the morning sun coming up and the quiet and peacefulness of the mornings. Maybe that is when I’ll do most of the stretching, but I can already tell that I’ll want to end the day with a few stretches, before my shower. I can tell that to relax my muscles at the end of the day will be just as soothing to me as starting my day with Yoga. Yoga allows the body, and the mind, to relax.

Yoga slows you down, lets you concentrate on deep breathing, allows you to slowly stretch out your body, and relax. Yoga is calming and peaceful. Maybe I’ll need to do a few Yoga stretches before riding too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back to the Weight Machines

After my first Yoga class yesterday, and waking up with a slightly stiff neck this morning, I thought I better get back to exercising on a regular schedule. I felt pretty good after consistently exercising every day back in January. But then life got busy, and exercising took a back seat.

I can’t get up early to exercise, since I want to stay in bed, to the very last minute that I can, in the morning. I can’t exercise after supper, as I’m ready for a shower and glass of wine. I can’t exercise in the middle of the day, as I better be outside with the horses. When do I exercise? I better find that time, and find it fast, because this body isn’t getting any younger, or any less pudgy in places.

Yesterday, I used the weight machines and walked on an elliptical machine for 12 minutes. 10 minutes forward and 2 minutes backward. You’re not suppose to go backwards, but backward pedaling mimics the movement that you feel when you ride. I love it that my legs are strong and I only had a slight tightening in my calves after using the machines, and none this morning. I don’t love that I have almost zero, zip, nada upper body strength. Oh, I’ll take that back. I have some strength, and I can move the weights, but on the very lowest weights.

Back in January, it didn’t take very long to move the weights from near zero to 3 or 4 levels higher. I could tell the difference, not only in my biceps, but in the movement that I had through my shoulders. I used to struggle with “opening my chest up” when riding Centered Riding. The weights that I did in January reinforced that movement and loosened up my shoulders. By the end of 2 weeks, I could feel my legs toning up and my shoulders ached less.

Now, I’m not quite back to square one, but almost. I think muscle memory is helping. My shoulders don’t hurt. I think my neck hurts, only because of the Yoga stretches yesterday, and possibly doing too much stretching along with just starting weights again. Yesterday I could only walk 12 minutes, today I walked 15 minutes, and I felt like I could do more.

Hand in hand with exercising is eating well. But I love red meat. I’ll compromise with a salad when I eat a steak. No potato. No bread. I’ll eat more fish like we had tonight. Broiled on the grill, lightly seasoned with minimal salt and pepper. I need to learn how to season meat, but I need to season with herbs that don’t bother my stomach. Oh, and I also had a salad tonight. With Italian dressing. I dipped a piece of fish in the Italian dressing and it didn’t taste too bad, but the dressing is tangy, so I would season the fish with it, but with a very small amount.

You are suppose to wait for 2 hours to do Yoga after eating a snack and 4 hours after eating a meal. Hubby said that what I am used to eating, I ate a snack instead of a meal for supper. I think I’m going to be hungry later.

I’ll put in my Yoga dvd now and I’ll try to follow along. Then I plan on soothing my body and soak in a tub filled with very hot water.

Yoga and Horses

Monday, March 28, 2011

I had my first Yoga class today. Yoga and horses? Yes, Sally Swift, of Centered Riding, relied heavily on Alexander Techniques and Tai Chi for stretching and balancing exercises, and to prepare the mind. All good things when it comes to riding.

And Yoga is not easy! The stretching is ok, holding the position maybe ok, getting into position - not so easy! lol

I wasn’t the only new student to Yoga. There were at least 2 other ladies there that hadn‘t had a yoga class before. The instructor was young, but very clear and concise with her directions. She talked through the stretches and gave us time to perform the stretch at our own speed. I really liked her style a lot

The instructor had mats scattered around the room. I positioned one towards the back, and where I could see myself in the mirror. I found myself looking up and watching the instructor to see how she did a stretch and how she looked, then glanced at myself in the mirror. They were not mirror images!

Yoga is a mindset, and brings a peace and calm to your body. As the instructor talked us through the movements, I found it easier and easier to get in position and to hold the position. Breathe deeply, close your eyes, relax, and hold the position as long as you can, without overdoing it or causing strain or soreness to your body. And it became easier to hold the stretch the longer you “allow” your body to relax.

I would glance sideways to look at the instructor. I knew I was to be looking down and relaxing but I wanted to make sure I was doing the stretches properly. I’m sure I didn’t totally relax into the stretch as we were suppose to. But I wanted to make sure I was correct, as she cautioned about having a certain frame, like knee over ankle, I’m sure for balance and support. I’ll learn more as I keep going to lessons and I watching my tape.

My legs and arms were shaky at times. I would hold the stretch as long as I could, and believe me, it was not for very long. As the session continued, my arms, legs and core were being used in ways that they hadn’t been used. The shaky limbs weren’t a bad thing, and they didn’t hurt. But I realized what areas of my body I needed to build up endurance.

When we stood and faced the mirror for some standing exercises, I found that if I concentrated and watched myself in the mirror, I would hold the pose longer. If I glanced to see how someone else looked, I would lose my balance. I found that if I relaxed and just looked straight ahead without staring, I would just “be in position” and “be there in the moment” without trying to “hold“ the position. Every time, I came back to my mind and begin thinking about what I was doing, I would lose my position and my balance a little.

That was my moment of realization of what Yoga is all about for me. I need to let my mind go! I need to be in the “moment”. I need to totally relax, let me body do the position without thinking about it, let my mind go, and be calm. It’s almost like letting your mind go empty, without realizing it, until you come back to your mind and realize that you were actually not thinking about anything.

You are aware of what is around you, and then you’re not. It was like emptying your thinking process and letting go. A total surrender. And when I felt like that, I could feel the tension or tightness leave my shoulders. I only felt my deep breathing. I could close my eyes easier and be content.

As I breathed deep, closed my eyes, I let go. Not concentrating, but just stretching. Not staring, but aware. Not worried about losing my balance, but staying calm.

The breathing came very easy for me, since I’m doing the deep breathing with Centered Riding. Actually, I was breathing longer and deeper and got a little behind in the movements. But that was ok, as the movements are to be done at your own pace, and especially with stretching, should only be done as far as you want to stretch or able to stretch.

Yoga is going to help my riding! Yoga is about balance and breathing and calmness. Yoga is bringing everything that Centered Riding is bringing to my riding. Everything that horses need!

I keep going back to the difference I feel in my balance. In just one session, I know I can find an “inner” balance to rely on. That inner balance is a strange feeling as I’m thinking about it right now. I feel something inside me growing. I feel a strength.

And as I search for that inner peace and calm, I‘m feeling it. With Yoga, I feel it .

Now to put in the disk and continue on my own for a week. I feel a few muscles that need stretching. I’m sure they will be stretching as I ride, too!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Morning Reflections

Sunday mornings are my time for reflections. A time for me to sit back and enjoy life. A time for me, to look outside and daydream and think. All the while, enjoying my mug of coffee.

With the chill this morning, I’m sitting by a fireplace, toasty, with a coffee mug close by, always full. Lounge wear, including thick socks and a wonderful, Kerrits brushed fleece sweatshirt, is keeping me warm.

High 30’s, low 40’s are warm temps compared to mid-winter minuses, but when it’s cold and damp, it can just be downright chilly. I would rather deal with 10 degrees and a crisp morning than 30’s, damp, breezy day, and that usually comes with mud.

Yes, spring is here. Last week was lovely, 50-60’s with one day near 70! This past week, not so much, with 40-50’s, some windy days, some rain. Then we woke up to that dreaded 4” of snow Friday morning, only to be gone by noon, leaving more mud.

I will be ready to see blooms like this, which we don't have yet!

Back to reflections. Like the reflections off of water, what you see may not be directly in front of you, but off to your side, above your head, or somewhere in the distance? Where you stand and the angle of what is being reflected determines what you see. One little ripple in the water changes that appearance, and things may not seem as they appear.

Isn’t that how horses are? You see the horse in front of you, but that may not be where the horse “is”. The horse may be looking elsewhere, to the side or something behind you, far in the distance. Your horse appears confident, but may need you to build his confidence. A horse may appear calm, but may need you to be calm so he feels what calm is. A horse needs his leader. The water starts somewhere. Where do you start so your horse stays with you, each and every moment you are with him/her?

What is being reflected back at you through the horse’s eyes? What is the horse thinking? What is the horse revealing about him/herself? Is there a quietness and calmness there, or are there turbulent waters? Does the horse travel peacefully, like a lazy river, or do you feel the rapids? Do you hear the thundering waves pounding as the horse gallops, or do you hear the gentle ocean waves lapping the beach while you lope in control? Water can be controlled, and so can your horse’s emotions. Find a way to bring both you and your horse to those safe waters.

Isn’t that how life is? Water can reveal much about our self. And about others. And about horses. As I see quiet waters, there is a peace and a calmness. I feel relaxed. I have a feeling that is where I want to stay for a long time. I can sit, and be still, and take it all in. I feel the quiet waters drawing me in, letting me be there peacefully, enjoying my time there, without rushing.

Now to bring that calmness to everyday living. To bring that calmness to the horse. To find that moment of tranquility in the hassles of the day. Picture the moment of calmness that you feel when you see or think of water. For me, the soft lapping of water on a beach makes me smile, and totally relax, especially as the sun sets. For me, the quiet river, nestled among trees makes me feel closer to God and to feel that He is with me always, and brings me peace. For me, the hot water running down my back in the shower, after a long day, takes away any stress and soreness of the day.

Water has so much healing powers. If you let it. If you let it! Think about it…do we take the time to see what will calm us and relax us? Do we take the time to let, what we enjoy, embrace our lives, and bring us peace and happiness? Yes, let it happen! Find that moment, that minute, every day, to find that place that is your heart and soul and where you want to be.

Water. Trees. Mountains. Beaches. Horses. All God’s creations. All good with the right mindset, in the right hands, and with the heart and soul of peaceful waters.

Enjoy your day. Enjoy any moments of tranquility that you have. Learn to bring those moments to your life when you need them most, if only for a minute. Take that time to bring yourself back to God, to his creations, to yourself. When you have the need, take it. Take it for yourself. Take the time for your horse. Take the time for your family. Take the time to be the person that you want to be.

As I ride this week, I will start the ride with a picture in my mind, of those tranquil waters. I will end the ride with a picture in my mind, of a trail leading through trees, looking down on a calm lake or river. As I ride, I will feel the peace of the horse’s soul as my soul finds that same peace. I will end the day, allowing that warm water to bring it’s relaxing powers, taking away any tension.

As I finish my coffee this morning, feeling the heat of the fireplace, I feel the calmness inside me. I breathe deep and enjoy the moment. Nothing else matters. I have the love of a good man. I have the love of a good horse. I have the love of a good dog. I have the love for the country and for nature, and nothing else matters right now. I feel God’s love all around me.

“Embrace the Journey!”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Arena Work on the Last Day of Training

Tammy ( came on Friday for her 2nd lesson and to take Windy home after her 2 week “Spring Tune-up”. I worked on supple-ing (sp) Windy, getting her to start to collect and to stay collected at the trot and lope. Tammy also wanted me to get her to side pass better and to stand at different obstacles to mount.

First, let me say, we woke to a winter wonderland! (See previous blog post). At 7 am, we had 4” of a very wet snow, hanging onto the tree branches. We are glad that it was wet, because by 10, the driveway and sidewalks had melted, even though the temp was in the mid 30’s. By noon, the snow was almost gone! Tammy came at 1, and there was very little snow. Actually, the temp wasn’t that bad, and when we rode, we had to take off our winter coat. Geez, winter coat at the end of March!

I rode Windy first, showing Tammy what I had worked on during this past 2nd week. I showed her how to keep Windy traveling straight, how to keep her shoulders up, and how to travel in a circle, with a slight bend in Windy’s body, starting with the head. I ask a horse to travel with the jaw tipped back towards the point of the horse’s shoulder, without a bend in the neck.

Once I trotted and long trotted Windy some, and worked the collected trot at both speeds, we moved up to the lope. Windy takes a lot of leg to stay collected and loping, as she is still building up stamina for this. She has come a long way in 2 weeks, as her body, and her mind, can work the whole hour, staying in frame and staying collected. I showed Tammy how to stop and roll back to the outside to help to hold Windy up and not leaning into the circles.

We worked on 2 tracking (half pass), side passing, and forehand turns, asking that hip to move both directions. We walked the logs, and worked on side passing both direction.

When Tammy rode, we worked mostly on the trot. Everything goes back to the basics, and Windy rode well at the walk and the trot. Tammy circled her, serpentined, and reversed directions. Riding small and large circles. Changing directions smoothly.

As we moved up to the lope, we will continue to work on keeping Windy collected. We cooled down with working the logs, and standing quietly at the dismount.

I am very happy with Windy’s progress in 2 weeks. I am really pleased that Tammy is happy with the results. I look forward to helping Tammy during lessons!

Friday, March 25, 2011

March Snow

Can you believe this?

1st Day of Spring was Sunday!

Now, instead of buds, we have snow hanging on the limbs.

The snow sure is pretty!

But 4" is just too much, and temps in the 20's!

The snow just is hanging on the trees this morning. No wind.

And as I was taking these photos, it was very quiet and peaceful outside!

But... snow! I don't even think the robins can you believe this!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Burning the Ditch

Today was cold. High of about 38.
Little or no breeze so hubby decides to burn the ditch.
We found a way to stay warm.

The horses watched, slept,
and basically didn’t act any different,
even though there was smoke
and fire about 100’ away.
They usually play with the hose when the hose is in their lot.

I ate smoke.

and more smoke.
The slight breeze swirled, so sometimes the smoke went away from me
and sometimes not.

I’m sure once everything turns green it’s going to be lovely to be rid of all the weeds.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Looking for an Endurance Horse

Photo of barn we saw. I didn't want to show any of the horses since I'm not interested in them. I pictured this barn for the construction - cement block frame, which hubby always liked due to the structure. Notice how the sides and windows were put in with the blocks turned sideways to allow air flow, allowing the horses to see each other, and to see outside. Smart planning!

A couple of days ago was our 30th Anniversary. Monday, I went looking at some Arabs, to potentially do Endurance Rides. That was a fantastic Anniversary day, to do something horsesy. Afterwards, we stopped to see Caden and take his mommy some flower plants for her birthday.

I’ve decided on looking for an Arab for CTR and Endurance rides. Why would a Quarter Horse fanatic want a different breed to ride?

Why would I want a smaller framed horse when I’m used to having a 15.3 hand horse under me? I’m used to a horse with a larger framed body and muscling. I’m used to horses who act like big puppy dogs, after some years to mature. I love the QH big stride of the trot and wonderful, deep lope. I love covering the ground in a collective, smooth canter.

Arabs are known for their endurance abilities. They are bred to cross the dessert. With a large heart girth and nostrils, they have the ability to take in a lot of air. Their fine legs gives them the agility to move. Their light muscling keeps them from tying up and their thin skin helps with cooling down. And their “want” to move out and go makes them a popular choice for those riders who want to move out.

Arabs cover the ground, ears perked, and ready to move out. No different than a sensitive QH, Arabs can move un-expectantly. Arabs have a ground covering walk, but they can trot all day. And I love a big trot on a horse. I better find an Arab who has a big trot, and loves to go!

The main reason I want an Arab is that I want to move out and go. I want to have a horse that will be competitive at endurance rides. I want a horse with a lot of heart and a lot of try.

I want a horse to be my riding partner on these fast trails for the next 5 or 10, or longer years. I have Shaggy for trail riding, Centered Riding, and dressage lessons. I have Duster coming along to become a buddy as much as Shaggy is being. And I have Starlet’s new foal that we are expecting to follow in them.

I’m looking for another horse for another reason and for another style of riding. That is why I’m looking for an Arab. Maybe looking for an Arab brings the excitement back to riding. Looking for an Arab makes me want to ride Shaggy for a different reason than for competition. Shaggy is going to be my “go to” horse for everything else. The Arab will be my “go to” horse for when I want to compete.

The search continues. And like Caden, I'll be wearing my helmet, too!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

30th Anniversary

March 21, 1981 - March 21, 2011

Hubby and I celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary yesterday! I was just too tired last night to get much posting done.

Time just flies, doesn’t it? It just seems like yesterday we were at the church, snow blowing around us, with not a care in the world. We were married at a church in the small town that I grew up near, as the small country church couldn’t seat everyone. We had some snow the night before, and some of hubby’s family couldn’t travel the 3 hours to come to the wedding. We rented a fire hall, mom had bought all the food and the hall ladies served the food. Has anyone else had Pigs-in-the-Blanket at their wedding reception?

Within months of getting married, we moved from near Philadelphia to near Pittsburgh. Living their for 2 years, we had a baby girl. We moved to north Detroit, living their for 3 years and had a baby boy. Then we moved to Nebraska, and within a 1 ½ years, had another baby boy. We were on a small acreage for 6 years before moving to our current location. 19 more years have passed. Kids in and out of high school and college. Years of showing horses, from 4-H to Open Shows to QH Shows. Mock Trial. FFA and FBLA. Football games. Wrestling matches. And lots of horse shows. Grandbabies coming.

30 years of living with my best friend. Some ups and downs, but mostly ups.

30 years of trying to make each other happy, even though there were sad moments.

30 years of Christmases, Valentine’s Days, and Birthdays.

30 years of Anniversaries. The 25th was very special, as hubby surprised me with a Surprise Party and a Renewing of our Vows. He totally surprised me with sneaking photos out of the home for a friend to make a slide show. He organized the food. He invited friends. He found some of the items from our wedding to set out! I didn’t even know that he knew we had that stuff!

Kids are gone. We are both working, and partly working for ourselves. We have been empty nesters long enough to enjoy it, and to start remodeling the house!

We try to make each other happy, but some times are tougher than others to do that. But those times are unhappy times, so we try to do what the other person wants and we try to do something “for” the other person. That is what love is all about.

We’ve come to a time in our life where we are really trying to understand each other, and what we each want out of life. We are trying to give each other the freedom to enjoy our own hobbies, yet manage to stay involved. We are at a point in our lives where we want to do things together, yet have breathing space to do things separately.

This could be a hard time together, as we are spending more time together, without kids and activities. Without extra work. And we this could be a great time together, as we have the extra time to enjoy each other. To do things together. To go places together.

To ride together. To enjoy the sunrises and the sunsets. To sit outside at the end of the day to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of ice tea together. To lounge together in the evenings.

30 years have past. 30 years are ahead of us.

Happy Anniversary, Honey. Thanks for the special card.

Love you Bunches and Bunches.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Great Training and Ride Day

All photos are of Windy, compliments of Tammy (

I continued working Savannah on the ground, asking her to give her hip both directions. My young 3 year old gelding, Duster, came over to bother us, as I was working Savannah in the horse lot. 2 things were very interesting. Since he was right there, I asked him to move his hip. Him without halter or lead, me holding another horse. And he gave his hip both directions. Secondly, this young gelding is never tense. As I was doing these manuevers, he would lick and chew. Hmmmm. After the Chat group discussion about Van Hargis saying licking comes from a tense horse, I’m seeing a young, very confident, horse lick and chew BECAUSE HE UNDERSTANDS SOMETHING. Him, tense? I think not. Bully in a non-pushy way, yes, but never tense. I adore him, as much as I adore Shaggy’s big puppy dog ways!

I’ve had Tammy’s, ( horse Windy here all week. She was in for a tune up on giving to the bit and collection work at the trot and lope, standing still while mounting, and side passing. Yesterday, Tammy came today to watch me ride Windy and to take a lesson on her. After we rode, we went to the field to ride.

Windy showed a little attitude at the trot, which she got corrected for, but then rode off without hesitating. She has learned to stay collected at the trot, giving nicely to the bit. We circled and made small figure 8’s, while she stayed in frame and had a very smooth trot. Coming out of the figure 8, we moved on down the rail at the extended trot. We stopped and reversed and went the other way.

Once her trot leveled out and stayed smooth, I asked for the lope. There was no kicking out and she kept her nose tucked. I am working on her stops, asking her to keep her nose tucked and stopping with her hind legs under her. She is starting to understand the moving with her body in frame is better for her. I’m wondering if the kicking out was a sign of soreness or defiance. But as I work quietly with her, she appears to understand that the collected movement is easier than head up and hollow back.

Tammy took a lot of pics and video. Hubby always said I should set the old camcorder up and video my rides. They are very insightful! I saw where I need to work on Windy. I saw how I rode. I saw how the horse responded with what I did.

Tammy rode and did very well. I had encouraged her to quiet her hands and she did a great job. I asked her to carry my hands a little higher, at the height of the horn, as this helps to lift a horse’s shoulder. I was amazed that I rode with hands a little lower than I wanted her to ride. But my hands are moving slightly, very little, and I really need to watch myself ride more often!

I had a wonderful time riding and teaching. Maybe it started because I Centered myself and started with some Centered Riding exercises with Tammy. Maybe because I centered myself and became calmer. Maybe because I centered myself and enjoyed the moment.

Tammy and Windy responded well together, and we took Windy to the point where working became hard for Windy. I talked about that with Tammy. Windy had worked physically and mentally, and all 3 of us were done. Let’s find something easy to do and be done.

The 3 of us walked to the barn. Tammy and I got a cold drink, I bridled Shaggy who was already saddled and standing quietly tied, and we headed to the field. How much fun is it to ride horses that are matched movers? I needed to be a little cautious with Shaggy, as he just came back from having a sore ankle a month and ½ ago. I have been riding him with sport boots to support his ankle.

We weren’t long in the field before Tammy wanted to move out. LOL Slow trot, extended long trot, then a slow lope for me and a little bit faster lope for Windy. We crossed the road and rode a ½ mile north, then a ½ mile west, weaving through the fields. Trotting and loping. Extended trotting and posting. Loping. We circled back around, adding another mile to our ride. Then letting a little bit loose and running. Tammy was ahead, Shaggy felt good, and I just HAD to let him out a little. Oh my goodness. Have you seen on the races when the TB is held back, let go, and he spurts ahead? Now, Shaggy didn’t spurt, but he went. I told Tammy I was behind her, then I was beside her, then I shot ahead. Tammy went sideways, lol. I pulled Shaggy up, as I didn’t want to strain his leg any more that I already had.

He is a mover. Maybe a better mover than Finny. Maybe things really do happen for a reason. We only know afterwards the “why”. All I know now is that I’m glad I kept Shaggy and I am enjoying riding him. I have always like his “looks”. He was handsome at 6 months, and at 3 years, and now. What a mover! I just need to balance my Centered Riding work, and my future dressage lessons, and the trail riding with his mind. I want to keep him as balanced and calm as I want my life.

Tammy and I ended the ride by walking through a CRP field, kicking out some deer, twice. We walked a tree lined field, enjoying the scenery. Walking back to the barn we only rode an hour and a ½, riding almost 6 miles. And the tension, and the last year and 5 months melted away, and I was in the moment.

The training and lesson day ended with 2 friends catching up, lounging on chairs, with a glass of Shiraz. The only sounds were the birds in the trees and the horses moving in the distance. The day was still warm, and there wasn’t a breeze, and it felt wonderful to just lounge.

Take time for yourself each day. I have enjoyed sitting with a cup of coffee at the end of each day, listening to the sounds outside. Today, I sat with a glass of wine with a good friend. And the peace and calmness was there.

After a deep breath, I sense the beginning of a different way of life. I life I want to share with my grandbabies. After many years with horses, I am still learning. I am learning that I am always learning.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Moving Savannah's hip from the Ground

Shaggy loping

After yesterday’s Horses Are Our Lives Chat Group discussion, I decided Savannah needs more ground work. I need her paying attention to me! And not looking everywhere but at me. (Click on name if you would like to join in the discussion or follow along).

After riding the other 2 horses, which I’ll talk about after this, I took a rope halter and cotton rope lunge line down to the lower lot. I planned on just working Savannah where the other horses were, so she had to pay attention to me.

I gave Sara my carrot stick to use, so I used a buggie whip in its place. Now, I know what it looks like to ask a horse to give its hip and I know how the horse is to respond, but I’ll sum up my time with this: Hubby asked if the horse is confused/getting it/learning or me?

I teach my horses to lunge, so giving Savannah credit, she thought I wanted her to lunge. Nooooo. When I point to your hip, you are suppose to move that hip away. Don’t lunge. Don’t run off. And Don’t run over me.

I shortened the lunge line. We went from a 20’ line to a 15’ line, and I could pull her head towards me easier when she went to lope off in a circle. I have the rope halter on, but sometimes it’s easier, well all the time it’s easier, if I use a chain over the nose for a little more control. Last year, that big girl would just turn her neck and pull the other way. The chain gave me the leverage that my body, and arms needed, so she didn’t pull away from me.

Shortening the line, and being a little quieter with the whip, helped. Finally, I got her to where she would just move her hip, and cross over her hind legs, and look at me. From both sides. So I petted her and left her looses. Enough for 1 day. Especially with me trying to hobble along and hold her with 2 gigantic blisters on the back side of my ankles, where a pair of old boots rubbed earlier in the day. I knew I shouldn’t have used them, but we were burning a little bit of brush, and they were the oldest pair I have. I was only in them for an hour, and I have the largest blisters that I have ever had! They still look nice, and now I know why. They pinch my toes, and after the blisters today, they are going in the goodwill bag!

Hubby thinks Shaggy is going to be his horse.

After burning brush this morning, the wind picked up. I free lunged Windy a few minutes, and she wanted to run. She is collecting up nice at the trot, and is staying soft and starting to extend at the long trot, instead of just picking up speed. She is starting to lope off while giving to the bit, but she still doesn’t like to be collected. Today, she gave me some kicks, and was told that wasn’t nice, and we reversed and loped off. Many times. I think she got it when one time, I reversed to the outside, and the next step was a lope step. Good girl.

I continued asking Windy (Tammy's horse, of to stand still and mount from whatever I had around. Mounting block, upside down feeder, old water tank. Only when we approached something different was she hesitant. But she is learning to side pass over from the ground, and most of the time, she stands still.

Windy is starting to anticipate the side pass now. Today, I stopped and pause going over the logs, instead of just walking over them. Stopped and used some Centered Riding Breathing. Then asked for a step or 2 of the side pass. Windy likes to back up while going sideways, so I’m constantly asking for more forward motion. Anytime I work the 2 tract (half pass), I start walking forward first, then asked for the movements. My legs always need to be further back on Windy’s side, and I reinforce moving the hip by doing forehand turns also.

Shaggy is learning so fast. His lope has come a long way in less than a year. I really need to keep things slow for him, as he wants to think fast and do it. His trot is awesome, and I found myself working on the extended trot while in 2 point position. His trot will condition ME for CTR’s this year! Once again, I didn’t work him long, maybe 45 minutes, as I want to condition that leg that had been sprained a month or so ago. We loped both direction, and instead of working on him, I found myself working on myself and another Centered Riding exercise. As we lope, I lifted my shoulders, and I imagined my center going up and around, spinning backwards in a nice large pattern. I wanted him to slow down and have a lift “up” to his stride. What a difference in your own position when you do this.

I didn’t get to bring the 2 3 year olds into the barn and have them stand tied. I think I will add them to the agenda next week. But I did saddle Dixie, my 16 year old mare that I purchased last spring as another lesson mare. I took her to the field for a little over a ½ hour and for a 2 mile ride. That girl will be my extra trail horse. Point her and she goes. Down a short bank, straight down for 2 feet, and she couldn’t care. Through the fields. Ears perked, wanting to go. No whinnying. But she is out of shape and was huffing. I stayed out just long enough to get a few early sunset pics.

Next week, I’ll need to saddle both Chick and Dixie, and pony one so I can get them both to the field. I don’t pony horses, yet! But I will start. I wonder who will like to lead and who will like to follow?


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