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Bariz, Katrina, Myself and Billy Blaze

Billy and I are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. My good friend, Katrina, won a week long course for herself and a friend at the Parelli Ranch in Pagosa Springs Colorado!!  I’m that ‘friend’!!! To say I’m excited would be a massive understatement.

Together Katrina and I filmed my Level 2 Freestyle Audition and I passed with a 2+! I was shocked and amazed at what Billy and I could accomplish in such a short time. (9 official rides under our belt!) I think this shows the power of the Parelli program put into action, in the way it was meant to be, one level and one savvy at a time. Billy and I are through our level 3 in Liberty and Online and are now official Level 2 graduates with our freestyle audition under our belt. I feel like we have a real shot in the Level 3 Freestyle to Bridleless course we are headed to.

Wish us luck with our long trailer ride and adjustment to the new neighbors and new altitude! It’s going to be quite the adventure. I’ll be sure to take lots of notes and share, share, share when I get home.

For now, we’re off!

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i think it’s time to repost this little poster…

i’m finding out more and more that when i live my life on the internet, through facebook and my blog, people will decide that they know more about my life than i do.

this can feel quite disconcerting.

especially when they are giving “advice” then when i don’t seem to be taking their “advice”, they attempt to shame into doing what they want by using words like:

I think you need to stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about your animals.

and

I think the relationship between horse (and horse) is more important than between horse and human.

these words were said because this gal feels that i am not putting billy and chloe in together fast enough.

however she is not here trying to manage the emotions that came up when i brought chloe home.  i found that introducing another horse has caused some stress for billy AND chloe.  at first they would rarely stand beside each other along the fence line.  if billy was on one side of the pen, then you would find chloe all the way on the other side… 50 feet away from billy and doing so deliberately.  when i would switch them around chloe would show signs of being worried and would sometimes get quite upset if billy even thought about getting too close.  these reactions were clearly fear based.

because i knew chloe’s mom so well i can understand where some of her anxieties come from.  she learned some of her herd behavior from her mom at a young age and through at least one instance of being chased through a barbed wire fence by other horses, has come to her own conclusions about what other horses can mean to her.

i have been spending quite a lot of time honoring her fear, but then pushing through some of her thresh holds in a safe and constructive way.  she will now allow billy to sniff and touch her, IF he is haltered and she is loose.  there is no screaming or panicking that occurs when it’s controlled.

i really feel that to bring chloe home and just toss her into the pen with billy would have been equivalent to taking a horse that is afraid of the trailer, forcing them in and then slamming the door on them.  that would result in a horse even more frightened of the trailer, while also learning the lesson that it can NOT trust YOU!

we will all choose to navigate our journeys in our own ways and i do believe that it is VERY important to honor how others choose to do things.  in context of course…

when words are tossed around that are meant to be hurtful it’s very hard to take someone else’s advice seriously.

having this gal tell me that i am, in essence, acting in a selfish way by attempting to keep everyone safe while i integrate my herd has caused me to want to shut off my facebook and quit the blog all together… but i know that’s the RBI side of me.  so it’s up to me to decide how to handle this.

i’m choosing to share it here, then drop it.

i will do what i believe is best for BOTH of my horses.

and you know what?

i don’t care what you think 😉

I love to journal.  I have new notebooks piled up around my house, beside my bed, next to my computer.  I have filled notebooks tucked neatly into book shelves and put in boxes under my bed.  I save them all.  I will go back through, re- reading things I have struggled with in past years and note changes that have taken place in my life.

billybooksI also keep journals for my horsemanship journey.  Each time I play with Billy I write down what happened in our session, the good, the bad and even the ugly.  (Yes from time to time things can get a bit ugly…)  These notes have been so helpful to me.  There have been many times that I feel my journey is stagnant and we are stuck, not moving forward, taking too many steps back. (Like right now…)  Then I’ll pull out a binder and start reading entries from earlier in the year and once again I remember just how far we’ve come.  I recognize issues that are still cropping up and I get inspired all over again by something I had a breakthrough with.  Then I remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

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Every year I go to Susannah Conway’s blog and download her Unravelling workbook.  It walks you through a series of questions about the year behind as well as the year ahead.  These are meant to get you thinking about the good things that you’ve accomplished in the year behind and about the goals and dreams you have for the year ahead.  I often fill hers out with my horsemanship goals in mind.  As I was doing it this year I thought maybe I could write something similar to hers but using questions geared toward horses and our horsemanship journey.  If you are like me you have embarked on this journey to become better with horses as well as to become a better person.  Having goals and dreams is an important part of this journey.

If you are interested in Susannah’s Unraveling Course please click HERE and give her a visit.  I really love her.  If you’ve found something similar elsewhere, put together by someone you love, please share the website in the comments below!

Now onto the PDF I put together…  Enjoy!

To upload the 2014 Goal Workbook for your Horsemanship Journey, click HERE!

Then make up your favorite cup of coffee or tea, pull out some pretty pens or markers and dig in!

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billysgrumpyface

the first thing i think i need to focus on is being more particular about the little things with billy and with myself.  mostly with myself.  i need to focus on being completely 100% consistent in how i am around billy and what i am looking for from him.

1) no pushing into my space anymore.  instead, give him something to bump into when he does that.  just demand a little more respect without getting mean or mad.

2) asking for things with a quiet phase one and then just waiting.  lately i ask with a phase one and then go to phase 4 when he doesn’t listen.  this has caused quite a bit of stress for him and he is become more withdrawn, feeling pushed and pressured instead of engaged.

3) stick to the patterns longer.  i think i start a pattern, he gets worked up and emotional and i stop the pattern looking for calm and connected.  but all i have succeeded in doing is causing billy to feel more and more emotional about the patterns.  so stick to the patterns UNTIL he is calm and confident.

4) listen more.  i will quiet my mind and offer a clearer picture in my head of what it is i am asking.  if i have a lot of chatter and thoughts about things other than our sessions that is going to muddy the waters.  so be clear in my mind about what it is i’m asking for.

5) do more allowing, set it up for billy and then allow him to find the success.  i too often will set it up then FORCE him through to the success.  pushing him with my stick and string, smacking the ground, the obstacle, him if he is in the way.  this has all added up to a pressure cooker for him.

6) spend more undemanding time with him.  i have stopped doing that since winter is here, but last year having access to the indoor arena meant that i did it more often, just sitting with him while he played with his huge orange ball or shadowing him around the arena allowing him to do what he wanted.  i need to get back to that.

i want to take some time to implement these actions to see if we can get back what we had before this summer.  i truly believe that if i give him some time and WAIT, he will come back around to his happy, bright self.

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apparently i did not write my last post very well and it caused some confusion.  i will not enclose billy in a small pen and make him run as fast as he can.  as a parelli student i know that this is a useless way to help my horse through an emotional situation.  i’ve witnessed several horses “round penned” until sweat was coming out of their ears and they could barely catch their breathe.  this was not what i was writing about.

when i said i would have billy in a fenced in, safe area, what i meant was i would close the gates that lead out to the two different 10 acre pastures and just play with him in the playground area that i have set up.  this area, including our yard around the house, is 3 acres.  we know where all the ditches, sagebrush and slippery spots are in this area so i can safely send him out on a circle at a canter or gallop and not worry about him stumbling in a hole or slipping on the wet ground.

my plan so far has been to send him out in a circle, then ask for the canter, then i walk.  i walk all around so he doesn’t have to canter on a small circle.  i have him a 22′ line so i can reach him if he needs a little help cantering, but with all the walking it’s very much like having him on the 45′ line.  he has to navigate a few things like sagebrush, the blue barrels, the little shallow ditch that runs through our play area and so on.  having these things to do also helps his brain get to his feet faster and more effectively.

once he can lower his head and breathe out, blowing out his nose, then i immediately disengage and bring him in for some friendly game and a few cookies.  i’ve done this the last two play sessions and in the second session he relaxed much faster.  when going to the left he was able to lower his head and blow out after just one canter lap.  going to the right took a little longer.  i sent him out and brought him in a few times today and he stayed in that relaxed frame the entire time he cantered.

now sometimes everything completely falls apart on the third day… but only tomorrow will tell that!  and i must watch myself as well.  as buck brannaman says, “treat him like the horse you want him to be, not like he is”… or was yesterday!  and our horse is our mirror.  if i’m not relaxed and confident it is likely that billy will not be relaxed or confident either.  so i must remember to breathe as well.

thank you to all that posted in my comments yesterday!  your ideas are wonderful and i plan to put each one of them in action.  i’m game to try anything to help billy through this.

just know that i will not just send him out to blindly gallop wildly in a small enclosed area.  there is nothing for him to learn in that scenario.  i am all about helping my horse, holding his hand and offering him the best deal i can while we work through some of these sticky spots in our journey.  after all that is what parelli is all about!

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billy has started to get extremely emotional when i ask for the canter on the circle.  he used to just not offer it, now he’ll pick it up but quickly goes RBE and tries to run away.  a few times he’s ripped the rope right out of my hands and RACED away, tail flagging.

this new part of our journey kept me awake last night.  as i mulled it over, i started to break it down for myself and billy.  we have been playing with him picking up the canter and i’ve had to get REALLY interesting to achieve that.  then i started to wonder if he has always been emotional about the canter and that’s why he wouldn’t pick it up before.  once his feet start to move he seems to get more and more worried until he is galloping madly about with me standing in the power stance in the middle trying to hang on.

i think to help him with this i’m going to have to ask for the canter, then ask for the gallop and just keep him there, in a fenced in, safe area where he can’t get away.  i think i’m going to have to ask him to go closer and stay longer in that uncomfortable place.  it’s uncomfortable for me too so this should be interesting.  i hate to see him scared or worried, but i won’t be able to ride that canter/gallop unless i help him (and at the same time help myself) become more confident about moving his feet more.

i’m surprised at this turn of events because he can trot all day long.  when he got scared he used to disengage and come right to me, but the last week or so he has started to turn all the way away from me and just take off.  how interesting!

i was awake trying to think back, to see if i could remember anything that happened in our sessions that caused him to feel so stressed.  i can’t remember anything.  so i will just tackle this new problem head on and see what we can accomplish.

parelli gives us so many wonderful techniques, ideas, support and knowledge that if we can break it down in our heads, we can solve the problem.  all we need is time and courage and lot of determination and we can make a breakthrough.

billy and i have worked through many issues as they have popped up.  i have faith that we can work through this one as well.

but it will take courage (on both our parts) and determination.

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this article is an eye opener for why america is producing so many mediocre instructors.  wow!

here is an interesting article by tom moates.  i agree with some of what he says and disagree with some.  there is always something to learn from everyone, even when that someone is downtroding what you believe in 😉  i have read a few of tom’s books that he wrote about harry whitney.  i really enjoyed them, though once again i felt that he had misinterpreted things that parelli teaches.  that seems to happen often in the “natural horsemanship world” and mostly i find out later that the person who is misquoting, or misunderstanding the program has never studied it.  i feel that it’s difficult to make a clear judgement about something until you’ve put your time in and learned what you can about it first hand.

this pony is in amazing shape!!!  what an imagination these two have…

at the david lichman clinic he talked a lot about using music to get rhythm and relaxation.  this video is the ultimate example of this!  i’ve loved this video since they rode this test at the 2006 world equestrian games.  i sat on the edge of my seat watching it then and every single time i watch it now i’m on the edge of my seat, clapping, with tears in my eyes.  these two are simply amazing…