Friday, May 13, 2011

L 2/3 Advancing Your Freestyle Riding Workshop w/Jerry S. Williams, 3* Parelli Professional 05/01/11

May 01, 2011

Take your freestyle riding to the next step! Learn the process of developing your partnership with your horse into one with real harmony. Advance your impulsion, lightness and connection as a rider.

As with the online workshop, again we looked nothing like the finished product of an advanced L 2/3 Freestyle partnership with real harmony, but rather looked awkward, confused, and all the other things we went through in the online workshop. I do have to say though, I had fun and I hope Renegade did too; he certainly was expressing himself throughout the workshop and I mean that in a good way, he was very relaxed.
We played with FTR at w/t/c (canter only if you felt comfortable doing so) and although we did walk and trot, Renegade was not being partner enough for me to try the canter. Also, I was riding in my English saddle and it’s pretty new to me so I’m not quite as confident a rider as I am in my western saddle. I am working on it though!! After a bit of a warm up, Jerry introduced us to a more refined direct and indirect rein and how we would use them. After some instruction, we tested our new knowledge by using a direct rein to move the fq over then an indirect rein to move the hq over. Jerry also told us the importance of using a supporting rein to help keep our horses straight and how we shouldn’t “crank” their heads around to do the hq yield. The movements of the reins are very subtle, more of a slight opening and not the huge, sweeping movement we used in L1 and L2 for turning. It’s more of a slight “opening” of the rein, just enough for your horse to feel the room to move the fq over or a slight “closing” of the rein to move the hq over. Leg position is also very important; either right in front of the girth or right behind, toes pointed out, pushing either the shoulder or the hq over. The reins are merely for support.
We also played with backing a circle by moving the fq and then the hind quarters, sort of in a “Z” pattern. I have to admit, I cheated a bit by using the outside rail of the honeycomb pen to help my horse and I both understand what we were supposed to be doing; it helped set us up for success.
I wanted to post these notes/comments/thoughts well before this but gosh I’ve been busy lately and am just now getting around to it! I’ve been busy playing with these concepts for the last several days before I forget what I learned. I’ll post more on our play sessions since the workshops later.

L 3/4 Advancing Online Workshop w/Jerry S. Williams, 3* Parelli Professional 05/01/11

May 01, 2011

Advance your online skills to the subtle elegant communication that brings out the expressiveness of your horse. Learn how to move from just Asking to Suggesting. Bring both your 22’ line and 45’ line.

As in all our learning/teaching opportunities, Renegade and I certainly did not look anything like the description (above) of this workshop. We stumbled and fumbled, we were awkward and clumsy, and generally looking anything but elegant!!! That being said, we learned a lot during this workshop and I can see the road to where we are going clearly. I want to enjoy the journey but I so want to get to that elegant and subtle communication stage in our relationship.

Some of the things we covered in the workshop were how to advance our 7 games to challenge ourselves and our horses and how to develop strategies to become more imaginative in our game playing to better engage our horses. One of my favorite things we did with our horses was play jump rope, a version of the extreme friendly game. The game takes teamwork: you, your horse, and a second person. Your horse “holds” one end of the rope and your friend holds the other end while you do the jumping of the rope. Definitely an extreme friendly game and I must have prepared Renegade well because he stood like a pro while Jerry swung the line for me to jump. The only problem we had is that I CAN’T JUMP ROPE!!! I used to do it all the time when I was a kid but somewhere on the way to adulthood, I became a giant clutz. I either jumped too early or too late; either way, I got tangled up in the line every time. Ah well…it gives me something to play with until I get good at it. Maybe I can even teach Renegade to swing the rope!!

Other ideas we played with to help us become more provocative and advance the games with our horses are: greater distances, more speed or effort, straightness, lightness, lower or more refined phases, and some strategies to help us with that. I can’t wait to play with everything I learned but I need to remember not to overwhelm Renegade with everything at once!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Liberty Series #4 - Circles and Change of Direction w/Jerry S. Williams, 3* Parelli Professional 02/19/11

Jerry began the clinic with the statement “don’t use horsenality as an excuse”. Many of us tend to use horsenality to avoid actually making progress with our horses or dealing with problems as they become apparent. We need to instead use horsenality as a tool to develop our strategies that will allow us to advance.


These are the human’s goals for the horse, it’s our job to use the horsenality traits to develop our strategies to meet these goals.
The first thing Jerry had us do is to establish our baseline for the circle. That is, on one send, how many circles or how many strides can your horse do with you in neutral before breaking gait, stopping or coming in to you. Don’t worry about anything right now, just how many circles or strides do you get? Make sure to do both directions and also take notice of the quality: arched, stiff, relaxed, soft bend, short choppy stride, gait, etc.
When I sent Renegade he traveled 1-1/4 lap to the right at a trot on one send and he had a slight bend in his body, his trot was even and rhythmic. When I sent him to the left, he only traveled about 1/2 lap, had no bend in his body (happily he wasn’t counter bent) but he was straight rather than having a soft bend. Jerry likened it to a motorcycle/gyroscope that leans to turn. I noticed my send was not effective hence the quality of Renegade’s circles were equally poor.
Jerry reminded us, we get the RESPECT (mind) with the send. The quality of the send determines the quality of the circle and the distance traveled. Funny, I already knew this but didn’t really “know” it since I wasn’t using it!! I plan to change that in our future play sessions.
We also need to ask ourselves if the horse understands it’s a game? How do I determine understanding? If yes, the horse will put effort in to my request and will have a willing attitude, want to be a partner, and ask questions. How can I make it a game? Attitude!! Instead of asking your horse to do a task, ask “can you” questions. Example: a task would be 5 circles at the trot, a “can you” would be can you trot five circles to the left? Also, name the game or boundaries, i.e., can you trot 3 laps to the left? If horse answers yes, I go in to neutral. If horse answers no, I resend him.
How do I tell if my horse has exhuberance? He’s putting effort into the task/can you.
One of the horses was crossfiring in the hind end. Jerry suggested slowing horse down, then ask again to avoid rewarding the crossfiring by letting the horse continue. As soon as you get a response in the proper gait with no crossfiring, bring your horse in to reward.
As I said previously, my send was ineffective so Renegade’s circles were poor as a result of that. Jerry played with Renegade a bit to demo some changes that will bring about better results:
1st send – Renegade left to go on the circle but wasn’t terribly responsive, Jerry tagged the ground behind him to create more energy and Renegade put in a small amount of effort but still pretty unresponsive.
2nd send – send was more effective, actually tagging Renegade’s butt several times when he didn’t move out. His circle was a bit better but still not great, he did put in a little effort but not a lot of enthusiasm.
3rd send – send even more effective, tagging Renegade’s butt with an even more effective phase 4 and he moved out more enthusiastically and the circles were better.
With each send when Jerry got more and more effective, Renegade caught on to Jerry following through and began to put in more effort and was more willing.
Jerry’s suggestions for improving Renegade’s responsiveness: When sending, keep him within touching/tagging distance, be effective with the send and follow through with phases with cs and string, bring Renegade in BEFORE he slows or stops while it’s my idea then resend, don’t wait for him to break gait or stop. This is where your baseline evaluation helps…if you know from the baseline he’s going to stop at half a circle then bring him in just before that. Also, DON’T DRILL – get a little improvement, move on to something else, then go back to the circle or change of direction game later. REMEMBER…it’s not about the circles…sending and resending IS the game!!
Change of Direction wasn’t bad, was easier drawing his left eye (when he was traveling to the right) than drawing his right eye (when he was traveling to the left). Renegade was pushing too far into my space on the change of direction. Jerry had two strategy suggestions for fixing this: I say no by holding my ground and throwing energy at Renegade’s shoulder by tapping it, flicking with cs and string, etc. to push the should over and out of my space or I can put more energy into my drive and draw by moving backward quickly to draw then moving back to center quickly creating an energy push to move Renegade’s shoulder over.
Renegade responded with a LB no a couple of times when asked to draw. Strategy for this is to run forward, tag zone 4, get his eyes, and draw backwards quickly. Just make sure not to let him invade my space.
NOTE: Remember to be clear in my body language. Stand up straight when drawing, don’t bend forward as this can confuse my horse and cause him to think the game is over. The three ways to draw are: draw in a straight line backwards or I can turn with my horse as he circles – this creates a bit of a squeeze on the hq (make sure it’s zone 4 and not too much of a squeeze) and as his hq squeeze a little closer to the rail, he should look in. Take the pressure off by moving back and drawing him in. The third method is to use the 45’ line as described earlier.
Other observations and BFO’s: more and more pressure is causing Renegade to give less and less so reward often but give less rest time between asks. Don’t drill, do a little, move on, then go back later. Also, keep it short…a 20” liberty session is long enough!!
Terri/Beau: baseline: ask for the canter to the right 3 laps. Be effective with the send – send with authority, if horse breaks gait spank the ground with a “ha, ha, gotcha” attitude. Go back to neutral as quickly as you can. Head shaking = dominant (zone 1). Beau becoming more LB? Notice which side horse has difficulty drawing in for change of direction. Take pressure off by moving backwards further and faster to create the draw then resend by moving forward (pushing the shoulder over). If moving straight backwards doesn’t create the draw you can spiral to create it then when successful, return to neutral in center. Another alternative is to use 45’ line looped around horses neck, the only time it comes in to play is when you want to suggest to/help your horse follow the feel of drawing in. Don’t pull on them, just use the rope to suggest. This helps the horse learn the pattern, limits their being wrong for too long, and helps with the bending/flexing.
???/???: horse doesn’t want to come back in, slow down, etc. – may have history of being lunged A LOT. Need to dhq so attention is on you can be done in several ways: sneak a peek at zone 5, tag, turn away as soon as horse’s attention is on you or squeeze horse by stepping towards rail – if horse passes me I spank/tag the ground and continue playing the game or leave out on circle and wait for horse to ASK to come in. Take notice of eyes, ears, ribs, rhythm, can I back away and draw horse? Horse says no, o.k…do another lap, then try again.
Karen/Kristy: Kristy having difficulty especially when traveling to the left. She’s crossfiring and has no bend. This is causing her to be rigid in her body and making change of direction difficult for her. Need to work on helping her find the bend in her ribs.
1.       12’ rope
2.       keep forward motion on a fairly large circle
3.       either put hand on girth area or us the cs to get in time with outside hind leg
4.       when the outside hind  foot is on the ground, use either your hand or cs to create a bit of pressure on the girth area (a gentle push or tap)
5.       the pressure should cause the horse to step up under him/herself (not as in a hq disengage but more along the midline)
6.       you should be able to feel the ribs “give” a bit. It won’t be a huge flex but a gentle give.
7.       Make sure to time your pressure with the outside hind – it helps you apply the pressure with the proper timing to influence the inside hind
1.       send horse out on circle
2.       squeeze horse at zone 4
3.       not a huge squeeze, just subtle
4.       should cause horse to bend ribs a bit, stepping under self
5.       may look inside circle rather than straight ahead or to the outside
6.       once you squeeze and get a slight bend, move back to neutral

The biggest BFO of the day for me: IT REALLY IS NOT ABOUT THE CIRCLES OR CHANGE OF DIRECTION!! What it really IS about is observation, the relationship, taking care of my horses needs, and fixing the problems that show up BEFORE moving on. In other words, “Excellence is simple things done well”. If I pay attention to all the little things and work on our foundation, then excellence will follow!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Liberty Series #3 Workshop, Drive vs. Draw With Jerry S. Williams 01-30-11

What is drive and draw and what/how do we create it? Drive and draw is energy, physical and mental. Think of it as pushing away (drive) or sucking towards (draw).
Drive creates draw = the better your drive, the better your draw will be.
Drive is masculine = generally easier for men, women tend to be softer and want their horses close, women sometimes find it hard to be assertive enough with their drive.
Draw is feminine = generally easier for women, women tend to be softer and want their horses close, men sometimes find it hard to be soft enough with their draw.
Horse can be scared and “need” to be with/close to you = you are really driving them to you, not drawing them in.
Energy = three forms: grounded, going (pushing) out, coming (drawing) in.
Neutral energy = think of it in terms of growing roots, no more sack of potatoes or going limp – should be more refined now, feeling of growing roots rather than going limp and slumping. That was fine for teaching in lower levels but needs to be more refined now.
TERRI AND BEAU SPECIFIC COMMENTS (but can pertain to anyone):
Connected when close but lost connection when Terri moved out farther away. When moved back in closer, regained about ½ the connection.
LIBERTY IS ABOUT MAINTAINING THE CONNECTION. If you lose it while playing at liberty can play the catching game to get it back. The object is to maintain the connection and not to just get your horse to do stuff!!
How to deal with ears back, head tossing, “snotty” attitude: start slow then speed up, start asking for snappy, be provocative, do the unexpected to keep their interest and get and keep their attention.
Looking outside the circle: move slightly off center by walking at an angle towards zone 4 until horse starts looking for/to you, asking the question “what are you doing back there?” then bring them in.
Sometimes you’ll break things while playing but overall you should be making progress.
Be aware of frame of mind, both yours and your horse = know where they are, LB, RB, switching back and forth, confident, unconfident, obedient, just going through the motions, etc.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Advancing Liberty Workshop with Berin MacFarlane 09/25/10

Advancing Liberty Workshop with Berin MacFarlane 09/25/10
Berin started everyone out online, checking the 7 games and whether our horse was acting like a partner. It’s important to also check the quality of the games: is my horse light and responsive, is there slack in my rope, am I still getting opposition reflexes, does my horse want to be with me or leave at the first opportunity? Get the connection online before going off-line!!
Observe, Remember, Compare: observe what you are doing, remember what you get, compare results
Think in different lengths of rope vs. 12’, 22’, 45’…even a 45’ can be 38-3/4’ if need be
Building positive patterns online to establish communication and foundation that will transfer to liberty. Liberty is not to prove what we can do with our horses, it’s to show how well we’ve prepared online.
Allow vs. let = awareness: if we allow rather than let it implies an awareness of what we are doing in each moment, each action/interaction with our horse.
Positive reflexes vs. opposition reflex = yield (less that 4 oz., light, polite): positive reflexes are light, responsive, less than 4 oz. and yields are positive reflexes indicating confidence and acceptance. Opposition reflexes indicate horse has not accepted or doesn’t have confidence in what you are doing.
Really good hq yield = better everything else: the better your hq yields are the better everything else will be at liberty.
Pay attention to quality of everything while warming up online: softness, lightness, acceptance, confidence, positive reflexes, your phases, consistency. Remember, life up is first phase.
Do point to point to get consistency first before doing downward transitions (you will end up in zone 3-4). This is to establish impulsion (forward, controlled movement) because without impulsion you won’t get much else. You can tell when your getting good impulsion…you will start ending up in zones 3 or 4. Beware adding too much variety or downward transitions too soon or you’ll lose impulsion and cause confusion, get consistency at the point to point first.
Build at walk, get consistent, get good in all zones then can move to trot, get consistent, get good in all zones, then canter…once that’s going well then increase distances. When working in close, be safe especially if your horse gets exuberant…don’t get kicked if they “give you the hoof”!!! Safety first!!
Life up, Life down: be aware of phases, for starting or stopping it’s life up or life down as first phase!!
For a Smooth COD Online:
rope in outside hand
cs in inside hand
prepare for turn: swap hands passing cs UNDER rope (rope to inside hand, cs to outside hand)
slide stick back to hq
yield hq, draw fq around
be ready to direct on other side
Hang in there a little bit longer for consistency: sometimes we get bored and want to add or change things to keep it interesting but the horse needs us to stay with something a little longer to help them really “get” it. Look for signs of relaxation: stretching, blowing out, head down, softness, etc.
Positional Truth: always be aware of body position and what your asking for: disengage hq = game over and come in, partial disengage = bring your eyes to me, be ready for something else, shoulders perpendicular to rail = helps horse stay straight and I’m not pushing him into or pulling him off the rail.
Quality online
Observe, Remember, Compare
Think in different lengths of rope
Building positive patterns online
Allow vs. let
Positive reflexes vs. opposition
Confidence and acceptance
Really good hq yield
Life up, life down is first phase
Consistency first
Safety first
A smooth COD online
Hang in there
Positional Truth

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Introducing a Soft Feel Workshop w/Berin MacFarlane 09/11/10

Introducing a Soft Feel Workshop w/Berin MacFarlane 09/11/10
Started the workshop off by saddling up our horses then out to the playground to warm up a bit, move them around a bit, then a few minutes of quiet time practicing having horses stay out behind us, staying put and not creeping up on us while Berin covered the concepts of the workshop with us. Then Berin asked us to observe a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11.
Berin had us play a bit more online, then had us mount up and FTR (in both directions) at a walk until our horses were relaxed and acting like partners, maintaining gait and direction on a loose rein. Once that was going well, we moved into trotting FTR until horses were following the pattern. Once FTR at trot was going smoothly and horses could maintain gait, direction, and impulsion Berin had us begin introducing a “soft feel” on the reins.
To introduce the soft feel we had to move our arms in an exaggerated way, like when swimming: arm up and over at the shoulder then down in an overhand motion to the reins close to the mane then combing the reins in an upward motion with a bit of “drag” on the reins. We repeated this pattern, alternating arms/hands until we felt our horses give a little bit. Once our horse gave a bit, then we were to let loose of them (stop combing the reins) and just follow the rail for a while – give them a release!! The longer it took for them to give…the longer the release, then start again. If your horse wants to come off the rail, make sure you’re not causing it (sitting crookedly, putting more drag on one rein than the other, etc.). If you need to put them back on the rail, just increase the drag on that rein for a bit…do it sooner rather than later…when you first feel them start to drift off the rail!!
Berin said quality was not important right now, that all we were looking for was the slightest try. He said some horses might go behind the vertical and others might root their noses out a bit but that was o.k. for now as long as we were getting a bit of a downward give. He also said we might feel our horses raise their back a little as they stretch down and into the bit and that’s what we want…it’s a GOOD thing!! The other thing Berin said was o.k. is if we felt our horse pull on the reins a bit, not a jerk the reins out of our hands pull, but a pull as in them taking up contact with the bit, it will be more gentle…NOT a jerk!!
When you start combing, make it fluid and alternate arms in one continuous fluid movement. When you are almost done combing with one arm/hand, make sure you are ready with your other arm/hand to take up the combing so it’s continuous and not jerky or so that you are not giving a release with each change of hands. Make sure you put enough “drag” on the reins when combing, especially in the beginning until the horse gets the idea. We are exaggerating to teach at this point, refining it comes later.
Berin recommended doing this exercise in the confidence snaffle. He said it’s possible to teach it in the cradle but it makes it more difficult and takes longer, the snaffle is easier and they get the idea quicker. He also said this exercise is better done at the trot…your horse must have good impulsion before beginning to teach this, if not, they will keep stopping with the pressure. Also…the trot is good for us because we have time to think about what we are doing and we should all be pretty good at FTR at trot by now!!
Terri added.... I remember.....More drag when the horse is having difficulty and less or very light drag when he is getting the idea but you just want them to maintain it a little longer.
Also we have to sightly lift out of the saddle and round our backs and shoulders the way we want them to stretch as we are combing the reins in the freestyle swim motion. Soreness might set in the next day for both us and the horse as we are all learning to use our bodies differently.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Carrot Stick Riding Workshop with Berin MacFarlane 07/03/10

Carrot Stick Riding Workshop with Berin MacFarlane 07/03/10
Saddle and warm up your horse
Do three cinching
Is horse acting like a partner? If yes, go ahead and mount. If no, continue warm up
Phases for carrot stick: out to the side at 90 degrees, out to the side at 45 degrees big overhand circles, closer to zone 1 small overhand circles, touch zone 1
When using two carrot sticks make sure to only use one at a time – DON’T MICRO-MANAGE by holding your horse’s zone 1 between the two sticks.
After using carrot stick, make sure to go back to neutral and do lots of friendly
Use the reins if necessary to reinforce/for control, but try to leave them alone
Make sure your friendly game with carrot stick is good in all zones, rubbing, swinging, tapping noises, etc.
Check lateral flexion in both directions
While doing FTR you can pass carrot stick back and forth between your hands to get comfortable with tossing it, handling it, feeling it, knowing where it is, etc.
Carry carrot stick in neutral (on shoulder or straight up), FTR at a walk and when that’s going well, stop riding, ask for flex towards fence using phases
Horse should flex zone 1 toward fence and stop. The idea is to just flex zone 1 but if horse turns body that’s o.k. for now. Eventually just want zone 1 to flex without moving feet.
When FTR and flexing to stop is going well at walk then can try trot then canter.
Eventually add in a barrel in the corners, FTR at trot, when get to barrel slow to a walk, come off the rail and circle the barrel, come back to the rail and leave at a trot. Do the same at each barrel and do it in both directions. This is beginning to build for simple lead changes. If at canter, come down to trot, circle barrel, come back to the rail and leave at the canter.
Do weaves in both directions at walk, trot, canter
For Renegade, long lines to build impulsion, not a lot of circles – they stall him out
While doing long lines, point to point, when we arrive at the target point, give him a long rest
If Renegade dives for grass, reach carrot stick over shoulder and tap him on the bum, don’t change my focus (so don’t look back at his bum…get eyes in the back of my head!!) – keep my focus and keep it strong!!