Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

This is from last week, but I finally got around to finishing it. It was such an amazing experience I figured I'd post it!

Just got in from playing with Xena. I'll be licking and chewing over today for quiiiite a while!

I know Parelli says horses are our mirrors, I never quite understood the multitude of how much that meant until now. Exposition: I guess I've been a touch "difficult" to be around the past few days, stressing over random things, and taking it out on my friends, trying to not care and just keep moving forward with the horses. There was somewhat of an issue with one of my friends... it probably can be described as a B**** fight, but at least on my end, more a LBE fight where I was participating for the sport of winning (LOL! Only teenage girls capable of that?)and not really caring about the outcome. Ended up friend was still pretty mad at me by the end of it. What I'd usually do with that is forget it and go jump on Mesa to gallop around bridleless for a bit. That isn't happening, so I try to use the cool part of the morning to accomplish another saddle lesson with Xena. You know, calm and therapuetic like. HAH!

So I take her to the round pen, she seems calm enough that I don't need to let her jump around before playing. So I try to move her around before thinking about the saddle, probably the only savvy idea I had all day!!!!! I have my head in the clouds, a headstrong attitude, and am still humming Pink's I wanna get in trouble, I wanna start a fight. Funny how horses pick up on things. I go left, Xena goes right. I say stand still, she moved. I say cross the pole, she says karate kick the pole. Although I constantly conciously know that everything this horse does is an affect of something I do, I am wondering why she's trying so hard to be bad. She was "spooking" at invisible objects. I could literally see her jumping around pretending to freak out, but staying surprisingly left brain, almost LBE on adrennaline. Not normal for her at all. I try to focus her random bursts of energy, but she runs to the end of the line and blows herself up, then stands there calmly with a funny cheeky look on her face. I said outloud to her "It's almost like you're trying to start a figh---OHHH!!!!"

I stood there for a minute, shocked at my new revelation, staring at my horse who was staring right through me. She was mirroring me! She had the same dominant moody playfulness that I was experiencing, and it was equally abnormal for both of us RBIs. Everything started suddenly making sense.... like why sometimes this one very playful Arabian I used to ride would constantly engage in bucking fits with me, no matter the tack I used, and she didn't do it for anyone else. She'd pin her ears and crowhop each time I asked her to do something, but her expression was otherwise playful, not right brain or angry. And why when my friend first discovered that her dad got a new girlfriend and was steaming, the normally calm school horse she rode reared, spun, and tried to dump her. And why some days little arthritic Mesa would leap in the air at her own shadow, and leave me flying that kite all over the trails. Awesome!!!!

So I unhaltered Xena, and went in to the barn to go chill with the kitties and figure things out. It was funny because I wasn't angry at myself or the friend, but I had to get rid of the "bring it on" energy I was toting. It was getting hot, so I probably shoulda cooled off in the house, but I stayed in the barn and pondered the situation. Heat makes everyone lazy. Once I had come to a place of being much more calm about everything, wanting only to have a nice quiet session with my introvert, not a big dusty fight, I went back over to the round corral.

I must have been quite obviously thinking about how I didn't want to do much moving around in the heat... because I couldn't get her to move!!! AT ALL!!! She was solid as a rock and I felt like I had to keep waking her up to talk to her. Mind you, this is maybe 15 minutes after she was running around like a mad woman. I laughed at this and grabbed some carrots and did a little walking stick-to-me. Perfectly in tune with me, whaddyaknow.
Even if we don't always get the horse we expect, we always get the horse we need, huh! I'm sure once Xena's taught me the proper path to emotional control, my friends will thank her.

Till then, I probably oughtta meditate every day before playing with her LOL!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer fun :)

Xena has a bunch of really large spider bites right now, so I've just been hosing those off a few times a day and taking her grazing. The hose is under a shade tree with a bunch of grass - she doesn't object at all!!

I think there is tremendous hope for Mesa and I.... SHE GALLOPED to me in the pasture the past 2 days!!!!!! She eagerly leaves her gelding buddy to come play with me now, and... well... she's galloping! She is still underweight and a bit stiff, but she is improving tons with being able to be on pasture for about 3 hours a day (working up to all day), and my new super old horse feeding program. Mom says I've turned the feed room into a hippie pharmacy with all the stuff I'm feeding her, but OMG it's working! She isn't stocking up as much when I take her out in the mornings, she's gaining some weight, her coat looks better, and best of all she's actually digesting her food!

Sugar finally let me touch her back right leg. That one's been a long time coming. I am SO excited.

Everything's going quite well! Gotta go finish hosing off horses in this crazy heat!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Guess who's wearin the saddle!!

All dressed up and nowhere to go! See see, doesn't she look cuuuute in it!

(Oh, and those are bug bites on her shoulder, no longer hives, yay! I need to buy her a fly sheet though. In other news I ordered an air pad today, but we used this old fleece thing to play with.)

Today was all about 7 games with the saddle. She was awesome! I let her investigate the saddle and pad for a while, and paw at it. We practiced some circling, letting her stop at the saddle. Since we did the work with the rope around her enough, she had very little reaction to actually getting cinched up. Course when I went to stand next to the stirrups I practically had to promise her that I wasn't getting on, and she was very clear she didn't want me to. But it wasn't about the saddle. She's good at being RBI and freezing, and I see how it was easy for her early trainers to sneak stuff on her while she's pretending to be calm. It's equally easy for anyone to blow her up, so I had to be careful to not approach any more until she un-froze. She has a good poker face (lol!) but it's her all-revealing tail that I tend to watch. There was one point I was standing in zone 3 and it was sticking straight out!!!! I got rid of most of her tension with a little "saddle? what saddle?" attitude, and kept her moving her feet. It took some convincing to teach her that she could wear the saddle and walk at the same time, but soon she got it. She makes me laugh. Then I put the savvy string around a stirrup and waved the stirrup and fender all around, making noise, throwing it up, letting it flop on her, until I got all the reactivity out of her. At first she'd freeze for a second, jump into a quick step or two, freeze again. By the end I could rattle it around all I wanted and she was calm. She definitely didn't think she could trot with it on, but I got 2 whole laps of trot within a few minutes! Guess that's how I could tell she was mainly RBI today... she doesn't do trotting when she's LBI!

To finish off, I put my foot in the stirrup and jumped up and down a few times both sides. She was a little resistant at first, then she realized that's all I was going to do and she quit caring. Can't wait until I see it blow her mind during our first pushing passenger lesson, when she learns that riders don't need to be micromanagers!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Deworming is FUN

Yes that's right, I said deworming day is fun around here.
Yesterday mostly the only real play I did with anyone was with syringes. I grabbed some maple syrup from the kitchen and some applesauce and headed to the barn. My little mini Charm has always been perfect with medical things, I never even halter him to do it. Most of the others I can do with a rope around the neck. Princess wasn't too happy about it, but 4 syringes full of good tasting stuff and she was less skeptical. Ghost loooooved the maple syrup mix!!! So after playing with that for maybe 5 minutes, I can walk in, give some from the good syringe, then the wormer, then some more of the good, and she's totally happy, relationship intact, and healthy horse. That was fun! Mesa was skeptical of the syringe, but she's good and usually tolerates it without any fuss. I got the wormer in her no halter as well. But i think to get her to actually like it, I'll keep playing with good tasting stuff. Our little stallion Freedom is notoriously awful, but I do like playing with him on it. We got to where I could get the syringe in his mouth without him striking, so I decided to play some more of these friendly with the mouth games before actually worming him.

Xena is a bit touchy about her mouth anyway. I tried a rice bran alfalfa mix, but she was just not having anything shoved down her throat. I decided I certainly wasn't going to push this, so I made it a game like everything else we do. I call it "What can you do to make the syringe dissapear." I had a small empty 20 cc one to work with. First I offered it to her to snif it, and she went the other way. Someone has clearly fouled her into it, so it's my current goal to get it done with her permission. I followed her around until she looked at it, and then I'd back off. If she either put her head down or toward me, the syringe and I walked backwards. This got pretty good until she was offering lateral flexion to keep the syringe away LOL smart horse! Then I upped the anti a bit and started to touch her wherever she would let me with it. I scratched her neck with it, rubbed the sides of her face. Then if she actually put her nose on it, it would go away totally and I'd put it behind my back. Pretty soon she was touching it every time I offered it to her. Then I started rubbing her forhead with it, working down towards her mouth, and releasing if she put her head down. She did amazingly well with that, because she realized that she could control its actions. Pretty soon, I was sitting on a bucket with her head down next to me rubbing her face with it. I rolled it all around her mouth, under her chin, inside her nose, and then I'd stop whenever she let me put either a finger or a piece of it in her mouth. After just a few minutes of this, her head was close to the ground and I could put the syringe in her mouth and she'd just half close her eyes as I rubbed her face.

I decided that was more than I expected so I just quit there, quite proud of my smart girl! I think we'll do a week long program of this, maybe one more day of it being empty and then I'll try to see if she likes honey. Hardest part will be getting something she likes in there, the picky little eater! Eh, there's no wormer in the wild, she'll live a week without it lol. I'll do the same for Freedom and Mesa until everyone is confident with taking it at liberty.

I've seen people with a bunch of horses to worm end the day with broken cross ties, upset humans, and hard to catch horses. Thanks to Parelli, I left the barn smiling and laughing about our fun new game, can't wait to try it again today! Then I'll continue our other programs of friendly games with tack and scary noises outside the pen. Thanks PNH, for making every day a good horse day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Xena, meet tack.

Yes, indeed, that means Xena and I got to play with real tack today! Progress is fun!

After a bit of a warm up, I layed a bareback pad and cinch on a bucket in the round corral, and hung the bridle on the fence. We played driving game/touch it on the end of the 22' with them. She spent a lottttt of time investigating the pad. I carried it around a bit, then put it back down, and it was like she had to check it out again every time it moved because it might just be different now lol. We played the same with the hanging bridle. I put some molasses on the bit. She wasn't to sure about the taste but she took the bit just fine. I guess I'll find out what she thinks of molasses when I try again tomorrow!

We did a ton of approach and retreat with the pad and cinch. We've been doing some with a rope around her and she's done pretty well. At first she was RBI and zoned out most of the time, did the tongue sucking thing for several minutes before licking her lips. Then with more retreating and reapproaching she was blinking and chewing and blowing constantly. We tried a few circles after I took it off, and she felt like being LBI. I got one step my first send. 3 my next. She cocked a leg like.... I don't feel like moving. Bipolar horse! I laughed and did a little of lead by the legs to take advantage of her calmness.

So I was going to end the session there, huge success. BUT THEN (there's always something isn't there!) she went RBE x 1000000!!!!! Ugghhh I hate when that happens. My dad had come to mow the lawn, and although she could care less about the lawn mower, she lost it when he walked around the back of the round corral to check something out. Remember our round corral is 6' solid wood so she can't see out unless she tries really hard. She heard those twigs snapping under his feet that she couldn't see and I was afraid she was going to crash through the walls! Rear-buck-gallop-snort, lather rinse repeat. I had him stop walking and come pet her, that helped for a second but when I turned around she took off again. He walked away so she stood still for long enough that I could make an escape. I hope one day I'll have enough savvy to do something about it, but our tiny round pen just puts me too close for comfort to those flailing feet.

I went out and started walking around snapping twigs until it appeared she had calmed down a bit. I was going to take her out when I heard the noise again... this time coming from a deer 15 feet from us. She flipped out again at that and snorted for several minutes. Mmm.... tripolar horse!!!

The obvious solution is take out some boards so she can see out, which I plan to do. But the discovery of her fear of the unseen is just to big to pass up. The boards shall stay until scary sounds outside aren't an issue. Oh boy!

When I put her back, I walked over to the giant branch/twig pile and stomped on it. No reaction. I walked off and she followed me across it herself!!!!! The snap crackle pop didn't bother her when she knew what it was coming from. FASCINATING!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good horse day!

Yesterday was SO much fun!
I got past many milestones that I had been putting off with Xena. In the round corral, I played a bit more with lifting her feet, and got her fronts at liberty. Her back feet we are playing the "kicking the carrot stick doesn't mean you get out of lifting your foot" game. We played on the 22' line, and she felt so good that I was confident in taking her to the big arena.

The big arena's fence is barely 3' high, so I've been worried she'll jump out just because she can. And last time I attempted this she got realy right brain and snorty. This time, she was totally confident! I know last time she was probably feeding off of my nervous energy of trying to let her graze but frantically avoiding the kick zone. With the 22' line, it didn't really matter which grass pile she followed lol! There is pasture all around the fence line, so of course she was sweet on the rail. Once we had done a couple walking laps, I tried put your nose on something, and she missed the targets multiple times by trying to pull me towards the grass. Passive persistance... pretty soon she understood that after she finds the target, we can go graze. Once she found every bucket, two cones, and a trash bag, I sent her over the fence, and she nudged the little plastic holders that used to be connected to electric fencing... like "Hey, I found something! That means I get to eat now." And then put her head down to eat. :D I laughed out loud at that one.

After that, she stayed totally left brain! In fact, was a downright LBI! Luckily I had carrots in my pocket. We did a few circles, and turned those into weaves, until I got one perfect pattern with her focused on me. She is getting SO light on the halter! There were a few times where a loud car would go by, or she'd spot some monster off in the woods invisible to the human eye (lol!), or a plane would pass, and she temporarily tunes out. This used to be a precursor for the snort--buck--sustain-an-injury pattern. Yesterday it only took the lightest of bumps on the halter to get her back to earth and back on her job. Responsibilty has done this horse well! At the end of the session, she gave up on fighting with the fence to get a few grass blades, and actually left the rail to get a forhead scratch. I love my horsey!!!!!!!

So it got me thinking... I have such a strong mental connection with her, communication is nearly effortless, she's so much like me... It's impossible to have a bad horse day with her. Yes, Parelli people are supposed to be like this with ALL horses, and I'm working on it, but Xena just can do know wrong. There's still some dust with the others. Haha, Xena's the only one to give me a debilitating injury, and I still think she's perfect! She is teaching me to love everyone as an individual though, rather than letting the left brain antics drive me nuts! I dont wanna jinx it, but I got a feeling that level 4 with her is more than a distant dream.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Movin on up!!!!!

I've decided that Xena and I are well into level 2, because she's smart like that and remembers everything we played with before her hives came. After watching the new Level 2 DVDs, I have some level of confidence that we can get through this pretty quickly. Funny, after watching the online levels 1 and 2 the past few days, when the clip stopped, it left me a feeling of "...that's it?" It was like there certainly wasn't any new info in level 1, and level 2 was the same thing only with a longer rope and obstacles. Because they are my friend's, I brought my notebook with me to take notes so I can return the DVDs to her quickly. I think I wrote exactly one thing down, and that was "remember your body blocks." So out I went with my 22' rope to the round pen with Xena. I tried to think of everything Pat did with the grey demo horse on the DVD. Low and behold, there were some things that weren't as easy as they looked. We had fun playing with those. You know, maybe that's all level 2 has to be... longer ropes and better sensitivity. I'm feeling so much less restricted now!!!

I fly sprayed her, brushed her, and cleaned out her front feet at LIBERTY for the first time!!! I'll admit that since she kicked me, I've been hyper aware of when I'm in the kick zone. She picks her back feet up WAY high, as if she's going to kick, exactly like she did before she actually kicked, so the rest of the feet cleaning session was teaching to lift them by tapping with the carrot stick. I'm quite grateful that the carrot stick is the length of her leg. I hope someone thanks Pat for that lol!

Anyway, the majority of today was spent hanging out with her and thinking about when I'll ride her, how I'll do it, and that (knocking on wood with fingers crossed!) we might possibly be somewhere like level 3 before winter. In my mass confusion of how the whole levels thingie worked last night, I went on a youtube rampage. I looked at what I could find of old school Assessments, people resubmitting failed tasks, and then compared it to the new one. WOW am I glad of the new standards!!!! I was also looking through 4 and 5 year old Parelli Forum posts, and saw how the whole tasking thing got some people stuck in level 2 for an embarrassing amount of time. The good thing, though, was that I got to see some of the things that were once Parelli signatures, that are now excluded from current material... i.e flank ropes and Cherokee bridles. The tasks were difficult, I could see, for some people to accomplish, depending on the horsenality and personality match. But I like seeing what they were, just to play with them for fun. The youtube videos of how LIGHT some of those old level 3 horses with just 45' lines around their flanks were responding, made my jaw drop. In any case, the new formatting seems SO much easier to get through. My friend who is just beginning said she hasn't even watched the whole new level 1 DVD, because there was so much information being presented at one time it was overwhelming. Well, I guess then this new shorter version would certainly fit her best! No telling how slow she'd go with the old level 1 lol! (although I do wish that somewhere they would include the bottle simulation from the old level 1 on communication - that was priceless!!!!)

In other news - I'm having issues with playing with Mesa again. NOT, by any means, because we aren't getting along. In fact just the opposite - we are enjoying level 3 liberty and she's THE horse I can't wait to finish breakfast to play with... but lately she's dropped some weight, her joints crack, her back is atrophied and hollow... and I kind of feel bad about asking her to move around that old, decrepid body. Is that like ridiculous? I know I just had that awesome ride with her the other day. And if you close your eyes, she feels great to ride. Plenty spunky. She's just having old horse problems, not digesting her food, even though I'm pumping her full of double what the others get, it just comes out mush and she stays thin. :( Perhaps I would feel a bit better if she could have 24/7 pasture, guess that means I gotta fix the fence. She's so arthritic that I feel bad playing with her, yet I'm paranoid she'll jump a 3 foot fence. How hypocritic is that! LOL.

Life would be perfect if fences fixed themselves, there was a Miracle Feed for old horses, and back legs didn't kick. Hmmm, I spose emotional fitness is learning how improvise those things hahaha.

Savvy On everyone!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Problem gelding chapter 2

Yesterday I played with my friend's gelding again, this time in our big arena that is surrounded by food. He was a bit skeptical of me at first, so I took it slow playing 7 games with him in the middle of the arena to create a bit of rapport with him. Because Xena keeps teaching me how important that is. Once we had the games going well, emphasis on friendly, I decided to ignore the food and put him on a pattern. I need more obstacles in the arena, but for now we have 2 small cones. So I sent him on a figure 8 around those.

At first he wasn't paying any attention. He had focused all of his attention on the grass on the other side of the fence. Our direction changes were like fighting the tide. But it actually surprised me as to how quickly he noticed we were on a pattern. Within just a few repetitions, I didn't even pick up the stick and he looked at the cone and did a tight circle around it! Then I sent him over to the grass to eat... because he's allowed to eat if it's my idea lol!

I let him eat while I did a simulation of this with my friend. I was her naughty horse, and she had to make sure I stayed focused on the pattern, and teach her when to stop. Takes a bit of rope savvy, that pattern. We grabbed her horse and I first did some put your nose on it with him... I think he must have some emotional attatchment to food because he's always nervous when I take him away. I asked him to snif the first cone, he did. I asked him to snif the second cone, and he sniffed it, licked it, picked it up, and tossed it! RBI victory!! Then I felt he was confident enough for his unconfident owner to play with. As she was learning the mechanics of it, dropping the stick, accidentally missing the cone, circling, forgetting to disengage... he began to think of the grass less and less, and I had her quit when she got one successful figure 8, with him totally focused on her. Then I had her send him back to the grass.

By the third time, as soon as she started walking back to the cones he picked his head right up and offered to follow! I let them end on that note (and because it started raining) to go grazing.

It's moments like those that remind me that no matter how frustrated or stuck I feel with my own horse, this is what I want to do with my life.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reading the situation

I've been making as much progress as I can lately, weather permitting. A tornado warning every other day is less than helpful. Anyway, I had another epic realization the other day that I felt like writing about.

So my friend recently got her first horse - a ranch broke, calm, RBI gelding. He's the type that had no relationship with people, but is just a little angel. He does it all without objecting, and if he's scared his eyes just get bigger and bigger, but he won't move. He's quite literaly the perfect horse. Welllll....... he was.

He has a foot injury from someone improperly shoeing him before she bought him. He's such a little love though, when we went to try him out, I rode him up and down hills and trotting in circles, and he just trudged along with a slight limp. Anyway, she basically gave him 2 months off. She did a little bit of Parelli online level 1 with him, but she took multiple trips back to LA, his foot was still sore, so it was prettty much minimal. He basically got brushed and spoiled with cookies. The other day she got a saddle, and his foot is fine now, so we decided to see how he would do. He was a BRAT!!!!!!! And you know, those ranch broke RBIs are usually the type that you can let sit for a while and then pull em outta the pasture, and they are still perfect. On the ground when I went to back him up, he bit me! Every time! he's totally nippy now. When I got on him, since there is food outside the arena I didn't exist. He tossed his head any time I picked up the reins, and started spinning around to avoid my legs. He pulled the reins out of my hands multiple times, and he was just all around awful. He did the same bareback, so I'm sure its a relationship issue rather than saddle fit. She got the widest saddle she could find, and it fits him beautifully. I'm jealous! Anyway...

It took me 10 minutes of phase 1 cues to back him into the stall and keep my limbs attatched. His even more of a RBI owner pretty much threw the rope in my hands and backed off. It felt like playing with a problem horse. It kind of reminded me that when your horse spazzes out, all bets are off, all previous reputations no longer apply, and you just adjust to fit the situation. The next day I treated him like I had no clue who he was, brand new horse, and did ground work in the round pen before saddling him. I guess it was just that little bit of moving him around to re-establish the missing leadership. And the fact that there's no food in the round pen. But he was perfect! He was listening to me every subtle cue. He didn't test me once. So I felt confident to put my friend back up on him... and she said now there's the horse we bought! Funny how that works.

I see this lesson seeping into my own life as I adjust to fit situations with people, without regard to any preset expectations. I think that's why my circle of friends keeps coming to me for help. I mean lord knows I don't know more than any of them about life, some are even older, it's just the Parelli pschology + being present with people that gives me the right perspective. Horsenality/personality info and everything... when you can be 100% present and truly analyze what's going on, you can react appropriately. Hah, adults are people who practice making simple things difficult. Perhaps Parelli studies keep you forever young? :)

Xena's hives have been totally gone for 2 weeks now. I'm thinking it was the shavings, because they cleared right up when we changed her to paper. She's been running herself around in the round pen every day. I'm pretty much going over old material with her... I haven't quite decided why. Maybe because I'm afraid to get hurt if I expect her to be calm with something that she's not, and partially because level 2 is the one level that I've only ever blindly groped at, never had any specific study. It seemed easy enough, as it was with my other 7 and the thoroughbred I took to level 3. It seemed like just the empty space between levels 1 and 3. I can't even tell you when I really "did" level 2 with Ghost, or Mesa. It just came softly without fumbling and getting stuck and nervous. With Xena it just seems so confusing because there's a higher bar for her. WIth my others, I just wanna have fun with them. But she's got to be "my" horse that is attatched to my name when I become a Parelli Professional. I have to take her to the ISC to study with. She needs to have a perfect foundation. I can't be expecting to ride with Walter Zettle and then pull a a dragon out of the stall one day. How RBI am I, staying still rather than moving forward to risk failure. My friend with the above horse is bringing over her level 2 today, so I have a map. I have the new level 3 and 4 that I've been using on Mesa and Ghost. Hopefully I can fill that gap quickly, because when your horse turns around to push the round corral gate open with her butt, you know she's done the same patterns way too many times. LOL!

Between tornado warnings today, I took her to the front pasture to get rid of some of the grass that very picky Mesa left. It was so peaceful I lost track of time, out there in the field leaning up against her, like time no longer matters. I always feel that way around her. When it's just the two of us, we are the only two creatures in the world. She's kinda magical. I love my horsey!!!!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Long overdue update! NEWS!

So I guess I lost track of time and haven't said anything in a month. Don't worry followers, you haven't missed a thing, I haven't done anything significant in the way of playing with horses. In the past few weeks we just moved out of the boarding barn with Barn Nazi in it to our own 17 acre ranch. Xena's hives are touch and go. Here one day, gone tomorrow. We spent the last month experimenting and experimenting with hay/shavings/food/stalls/... etc. Still no definitive answer.

Mesa on the other hand is doing awesome!!! She's galloping around and enjoying life. Her leg has healed from the injury, her ankles haven't been as swolen as usual and I WILL get her in shape enough to film those darn auditions this summer if it's the last thing I do! Most people sincerely under appreciate the blessing of a young, sane, sound partner!!!

Those of you who have been following for a while may remember that when I got Xena I made sure she didn't get to have contact with other horses in the beginning so that she'd pair bond with me, instead of another horse? Well I sure proved that theory! The day we moved them in, I put all 8 in their stalls and was so exhausted that I just went inside and fell asleep on my matress on the floor. All I did with the horses that day was feed them. The next morning when I went to take them out, Mesa's threshhold was opening her stall door, and Xena's was 3 feet out of the barn. Both flew around like kites on the end of the rope. It was a smidge of a downer, knowing I must have looked pre-level 1 simply trying to save myself from flying hooves of wide-eyed monsters. Emotional fitness? I'll admit that at first I took it as a personal insult that my horses were so herd-sweet that even my play time + the endless supply of grass was less important than being in a stall with the others. I thought, Xena's never gotten attatched this bad before, they don't even like each other, why doesn't she see ME as her herd already??

Eventually I figured it out, and the problem was that I was being more of a caretaker than a partner. See, I had 1 safe area to play in, it wasn't really fenced so they all had to be on leads, in was 3 feet tall so the biggies could jump out, so I had 8 horses plus 2 dogs to play with on ropes every day. All I did was try to give each one a turn for exercise, and move on. Well when you drag an introvert into a new place, tell her she doesn't have time for grass, then start pushing her around in circles, she's gonna explode!!! Why on earth I didn't think about the rapport that I needed to build first to be able to properly get her moving I don't know. Chores make people direct line that's for sure! In Mesa's case I hauled the extrovert kicking and screaming away from her herd, stuck her in a scary pen, and told her to listen to me, when I was the least of her priorities. Of course she blew up and went RBE and couldn't wait for me to put her back. After that I took small grazing trips with each of them. I took Mesa out to eat the grass just out of the barn, and around to Xena's window, then back inside. Outside by her stall. Little farther away. Back inside. Eventually she didn't even want to waste her time going back in. I repeated the process with Xena. No, not going - where are we going - grass - grass doesn't matter - where's Mesa - I don't like this - we're gonna get lost - grass - stall - why back inside? - going out - I dont wanna - Mesa!!!! - grass, grass, grass is good - back inside - but the grass is outside - let's go outside - let's go that way - let's find Mesa - there she is! - don't bug me I'm eating - hey slow down - why are we trotting - we're trotting to grass, good idea - I like this grass - no not going back in, good grass over here - trotting again? - hey even better stuff over here - alright where ya wanna go - shade and tall grass, sweet - wait wait don't put me away - hey where are you going? - *whinny* - what about our grazing adventure? .........aaaaand so Xena was now finding me a herd leader and more important than noisy clingy Mesa. :D

Yesterday was an awesome day. I played some seven games with a bucket with her. She was calm and it was a hot afternoon, and her hives were down, so I sat on her while she grazed. She's gotten used to me doing this now, she's so comfortable. Can't wait till we actually move. Just gonna take a bit more mutual trust. Probably more from me than her at this point.

Macy has been awesome. I rode her bareback for the first time seriously doing anything since before winter. OHHHH that canter! Smoooooth as butter. She was listening to every subtle cue I could give her, even some things I didn't remember I taught her!

And the kitties!! We ended up bringing home all 6 kitties, and they are quite comfy ruling the barn! I just love the Mama. We named her Pheonix. I get so distracted doing barn chores when the 5 little puffballs climb in my feed buckets, jump on the broom, crawl up my pant legs, do sommersaults in the barn aisle... awww never a dull moment.


This is the front arena/pasture, going to be Parelli Playground.

One of the 10 back pastures :)





If nothing else, the sunsets make it worth it.