Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I also came up with some more goals for the new year. The first is to reduce the amount of treats I feed Sora and to build up more time between treats. Mainly I just need to be smarter about this because I don't always pay enough attention and then Sora gets two handfuls of grain for a simple trick and when she does something really spectacular I'm completely out.
I did make one big change with treats this winter and Sora is getting Purina Senior as treats instead of the unhealthy snacks she was getting before. The senior is a low sugar palatable feed that Sora loves and the grain instead of cookies tends to be easier to feed without getting fingers caught in an anxious mouth. It's also so much healthier thanks to the low sugars.
My other new goal is to push her more when I think she is getting a behavior. Too often I settle for just the beginning of the behavior because I'm so amazed by my incredible horse that I don't want to push. However I realize that if I ever want to make any kind of real progress its time to see what she can do and begin pushing her gently to work harder for rewards.
Hopefully everyone in the midwest will survive this incredible ice storm we are supposed to have. As if our weather hasn't been crazy enough this year already!
Monday, December 27, 2010
First I want to make sure she is really strong, fit and moving well before I ever get back on her. Luckily the timing is right for this because I wasn't planning on doing much more riding until she gets to be five in May.
To do this I am going to go more methodically through the AND exercises then I have in the past starting with teaching her to lower her head while she is moving. For an Arab this will be tough :) but because of the endorphins it creates it will not only calm her but do a lot to strengthen and stretch out her back.
Another big goal is to get her more comfortable with things on her back. She has always been touchy with the saddle and even though she is good about it I can tell she is uncomfortable. Since I've never really ridden her and she hasn't spent much time with a saddle on so I don't think its discomfort, just a lack of experience.
I also need to work more on her hooves both with perfecting my technique and also making sure she is more comfortable with her back hooves. Luckily I have a patient and helpful hoof trimmer so working on my technique should go well.
I'm sure I'll think of more so I think I'll add a couple every day until new years and then make a master list.
Finally, over the past couple of months while I've been so busy I can barely see Sora other then at feeding times I've been inspired by my friend Hannah. Here is an incredible picture of what she is doing with her horse Mia and a link to her training journal which is also incredible.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thank you to all who have stuck with me through this extremely quiet period :) Happy Holidays everyone!
Friday, October 22, 2010
I've been far too busy with my classes, work and applying for jobs to do anything with Sora other than trim her hooves, pick burs out of her mane and spend a little time with her. Because of that I have zero motivation to work with her even when I have a day off and a little time.
I'm reassuring myself that this is my last semester of school and that as soon as I'm done and have a job and am able to board Sora I will be soooo motivated to make progress with her and I'll finally be able to spend the amount of time with her that I want to.
This is the reason I haven't been posting. I miss reading everyone's blogs and miss writing in mine. Hopefully I'll be back, full time again soon.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
The confusing part is about Jackson. As I mentioned in a previous post I thought he had foundered. He showed allllllll the classic symptoms, had always been overweight, had recently been more out of shape, had that incident where he got into the corn etc. Because of this we had the vet out again and after carefully examining him this time he wanted X-rays.
I've never had a horse x-rayed before and didn't know what to expect but the wonderfully positive vet and her assistant made it easy. Going into the x-rays I thought, according to the vet and my own knowledge of Jackson and founder in general, there was about a 95% chance he would need to be put down. I was surprised when the vet took the first x-ray and said, hmmm, that's interesting. After taking all four she called me over and I saw that there was absolutely NO rotation, none, zip.
"He didn't founder" the vet concluded.
"Hmmm, so then what's going on?" I asked
What we found is that he has two big abscesses in each front foot. We feel that a combination of more constant trims that are stressing his soles a little (which will eventually be a good thing) and possibly some laminitis explain the abscesses.
Mainly the most incredible news is that he's already feeling better. He's walking around in Duct Tape and Diaper creations (note to self, purchase hoof boots at some point) and getting daily Epsom salt soaks along with Antibiotics and Bute.
(Obviously the above pictures were from before he foundered as I would carry him now to keep him from being uncomfortable if I could)
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Today was wonderful! Great weather, great horse and great training session. I went out originally to work on the fence but while I was in the horse's pasture I couldn't even do anything because Sora was right in front of me and was blocking me even from walking sometimes. I finally listened to her and took her out.
Recently one of the behaviors I've been working on is getting Sora to put her foot on things, like a pedestal, to make hoof care easier for me and to teach the beginnings of the Spanish Walk. For a while she has just been pawing when I ask her to leave her hoof on the object so today I decided to show her what to do. I placed her foot on the crate I was using and held it there for a minute while feeding her treats. When I let it go she left it a little longer and I continued to feed her until she took it off. She chewed for a minute with a thoughtful expression and then neatly placed her other foot on the crate and left it. I fed her treats for about a minute as she left it there while jumping up and down and giving her a hug (yes she does like hugs lol).
After that I worked a little more on liberty lunging her, in our front yard with good grass underfoot, and she was perfect. The best change is in her behavior and courage in different conditions and environments. A year ago with the same circumstances she would have been flipping out, galloping around with her tail flagged, snorting at everything I asked and difficult to catch. Today she was calm, studious and thinking hard. She is so interested in trying to figure out how to behave to get treats that she's not even paying attention to the scary things or just doesn't care about them anymore. It is the best change out of everything!!!
I also was able to do some more work on her hooves. It is completely up to her most days whether she wants me to work on them or not. This works because everyday she is out I do at least a little so they never really need it. When I do NEED to work on them I tie her and she's perfect. Today though she was happy to show off her knowledge of when to pick up her hoof. The cutest thing is that since I let her pick up her hoof before I take it sometimes she mixes up which one I want. Today I wanted her to pick up her left rear and when she was grazing, not paying enough attention, she kept picking up her left front and holding it up like "look lady, I've got a foot up, it will just have to do." and of course it does, I just work on that hoof instead. Kind obliging girl probably thinks that hoof needs more work anyway lol.
Monday, September 6, 2010
For part of it I've been sick but mostly I've just been unmotivated. Part of it is probably that the horse we've had the longest, Jackson, foundered about a month ago and it's been tearing my heart out. He's finally better to the point where he is walking around sound and in much better spirits.
It wasn't anybody's fault really that it happened, just a bad collection of events. He's older and gotten heavier and when he was at his heaviest he broke out of our drylot, diet program, and got into our corn field. The other two horses are fine because they are in better shape and Sora is also younger and better able to bounce back from the excess sugar. Still hard not to blame myself.
Today I finally went out and spent some more time with all three horses and it was wonderful and very motivating. The cooler weather is making them all more energetic and cheerful and Sora was extremely happy to run around and play with me after the long break and I figured out how to ask for two behaviors that I've been having more trouble with, namely putting her front feet on a pedestal and sidepassing.
Hopefully you will all be seeing more of me in the next week or so =)
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The thing that I'm realizing now is that as long as there are a few things in place there is far less danger doing this than in relying on any tack at all.
First, trust - Trust that Sora has in me and that I have in Sora. Since I trust her I rely on her to make good decisions which includes not even letting me on her back if she's nervous or unwilling to have me there. Since she trusts me she believes that if something happens that she's scared of I'll take care of it/kill it =)
Secondly, Awareness - When I get on Sora with or without tack I am extremely aware. Aware of my surroundings, the temperature, and anything that could be possibly scary. If I hear that a truck is coming up the driveway I get off, if I see that the other horses are running around I get off. Soon the other points such as trust and practice will mean that I don’t need to do this as often simply because fewer things will be scary. Because I’ve spent so much time with her now I know intimately what will set her off and how.
Third, Practice – Practicing working around things that are scary on the ground, practicing quick dismounts, practicing a good (really really good) Whoa for when it’s needed etc.
Finally, Flexibility – Simply the fact that if Sora doesn’t want me on her back that day I don’t even climb on. If it’s a cool windy day and Sora is hot we work on fast energetic things, if it’s a hungry day Sora gets to graze while I groom or rasp her hooves. Because of this Sora and I feel free to do whatever is best and it has meant lately that even on some days I wouldn’t plan on riding, Sora has overruled me and in that case I go ahead and ride. Once again trust paying off.
Lastly the whole thing works because of intent. I am completely committed to doing what is best for Sora. I don’t bring anything negative into our relationship together. No pain, no fear, no pressure, no force at all, ever. Because in the end what I want is a friendship relationship with Sora, not one built on control, force, fear etc. Once in a while I need control for farrier visits, vet visits, first aid etc. but because I never force anything on her Sora is willing to go along with me when I NEED something and is quiet and well behaved because she trusts that I have her best interest in mind.
Because of my proper intent Sora’s whole way of moving has changed. She’s off her front and using her hips and hind legs more, She’s well balanced and much, much, much calmer. All I needed to do was show her how much nicer it is to move/be that way and once she tried it she realized that I may sometimes be right =)
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Very, Very bored....
Now you probably are too lol.
I still haven't even been able to do ANYTHING outside *sobs*. I've been cleaning tack, calling around about getting the zippers in my boots fixed, reading riding books and trying to catch up on blogs that I've been missing out on but the one thing I really want to be doing I can't.
I wanted to at least have a picture of Sora getting a bath today but it was hot enough that my sister refused to come out to take a picture and holding a hose in one hand and a camera in the other is not likely to end in the survival of my camera. Because I don't have any new pictures you get to enjoy the outtake from our last picture taking session where my horse is checking out my sister =)
The weather this Sunday is finally going to be cooler and I truly can't wait to get outside again! I've just finished reading Empowered Horses by Imke Spilker and it is one of the simplest, most enlightening and uplifting books,much-less horse books, I've ever read. It has two main suggestions for improvement that I can't wait to try. Namely her version of playing is very different than I've been trying and she emphasis the importance of teaching a horse to step carefully under their body. We'll work on it on Sunday and maybe I'll even be able to get a new video!
Finally news =)
First, this weekend I'll probably be going riding with Erika again, either on Sunday or both Saturday and Sunday. We're going back through our little town and Erika was so impressed that she told her friends so I'll be tour guide to some other people as well. I can't wait!
Secondly, two of my AND friends, namely Hannah and Ivy, have been invited to speak and present at a big horse expo in Wisconsin. At this point I'm planning on going to cheer both of them on but it depends a little on my school schedule.
Finally a fun video of someone who is much better at multitasking then me.
Monday, August 9, 2010
A few days ago she was still quite nervous, yesterday she stood still only if I didn't spray her hips and needed me to hold her still and today she came to be sprayed without a halter at all. Of course I was sneaky and when Jackson came over earlier to be sprayed off, also without a halter, I gave him treats and made a big deal over him. Sora came trotting up like "hmpf, you didn't tell me treats were involved" (pout) and pushed her little chest into the spray. After that I altered hosing her and Jackson and giving them treats while they stood. It was cute as they tried to make the cuter face to get me to spray them more.
During all of this Khepri, always the critic, grazed and pouted that I had forced her to get wet.
Friday, August 6, 2010
It's funny to think now about what I was looking for when I bought her and how different that is then what I'm doing now. When I starting looking for my dream horse being competitive at Dressage and a calm and trainable nature were both at the top of my list. Now I don't care about any of those things and while a powerful movement still means a lot to me I feel like everything else matters less than the bond that I have with her.
Yesterday my hoof trimmer came out to do the hooves of the other two horses and must have had something bothering her because she yelled at both horses and snapped at me for the first time since she's been coming here. Part of me wanted to tell her to just leave and part of me could see that our horses were being testy (maybe because of her attitude in the first place) and wanted to just wait it out. That's the part of me that won and while eventually she got over it and calmed down I was very uncomfortable about the whole thing. The reason I even write this is that while our trimmer was yelling Sora came over to me and started playing, lightening my mood and calming me down. After that I was able to roll my eyes at the trimmer and try to work with the horses to make it easy for her.
Because of Sora's playful mood I decided that it was a perfect day to play/train with her once Erika left. I planned on riding her with my new saddle but couldn't quite work up the courage since I hadn't been on her back in a while and hadn't ridden her with a saddle in quite a long time. So I pulled the saddle once we got to the mounting block and slid onto her bareback with just the cordeo. It was wonderful, she was in a teaching mood and so I started to figure out how she wants me to cue for going forward, tilt my pelvis forward and tighten my butt muscles, and turn. She would stand completely still until I got it right and then reward me with a few forward steps or a turn. When she wanted me off she backed up a couple of times and stood still and I obliged and got off. I was so happy I walked around for the rest of the day smiling =)
Happy second anniversary baby
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Today the heat isn't sooo bad but because of the humidity the horses, standing completely still in the shade, are absolutely soaked with sweat. Even if I felt up to dealing with the heat I can't ask Sora to move because it would be near abuse in this weather.
I have come up with some interesting hot weather activities to keep our horses occupied. I've had them bobbing for apples and have filled up a huge tub of water for them to splash in and dump on themselves. Today I went out with a sponge and got the worst of the sweat off of Jackson and Sora. Khepri was having none of it and was likely to just get sweatier because she was upset if I had continued. I have worked on some of Sora's simple and quiet tricks while standing in the shade but even then my temper is short so I've been avoiding anything tough. Sora has wildly improved on the Cordeo and I hardly use her halter anymore. She's also learning to pick up each foot on a number cue. Right now I still need to point at the hoof I want lifted but soon I won't even need that anymore.
I have been online a lot more because of the heat and would love to share what one of my friends in currently accomplishing with her mare. Hannah lives a ways north of me and we've met up a couple of times. We met on the AND forum and after finding that we lived quite close to each other became friends. This video is of Hannah riding her four-year-old PRE mare named Maia. This is after only a handful of times cantering with someone on her back and as Hannah explains she's still unbalanced partially because of Hannah's position. If you would like to see further back story you can go to youtube and see what Hannah has to say.
I'm amazed at the trust and communication between Hannah and Maia and I'm incredibly amazed by how far she's come. Hannah has done all of Maia's training bitless and most bridless and started seriously training only this spring.
I also got to spend the end of last week in Duluth at the Tall Ships festival. It was incredible and I managed to get some beautiful pictures.
The ships were mostly reproductions but still breathtaking and it was incredible to see them in the modern setting.
Monday, July 19, 2010
We had a wonderful time and Erika was impressed by how beautiful our town is, actually I still am too =) I rode Jackson, Lauren's horse, because Sora is still terrified of cars to the point of being dangerous and I just didn't want to undo all the hard work of the last couple of months. Jackson is a blast to ride though, very forward but smooth and beautiful under saddle so I wasn't too disappointed. Other than being attacked by mosquitoes we had a near perfect trail ride. Unfortunatly I think Java's Mom's bad camera luck is catching as I just lost my second camera in only a year and a half. Because of that and since my mom had her camera with her on a road trip I have no pictures of our beautiful day.
Something that surprised me was that Erika, against perhaps my better judgment, brought her two well behaved dogs and they came with us on the ride. I'm used to dogs jumping out of brush and scaring horses but Jackson never once acted nervous even with the dogs leaping out right in front of him. In fact he was calmer than normal and far less reactive than he's ever been. One dog would even see cars coming up fast and walk out happily onto the road to slow them down. We probably had some unhappy motorists but we certainly had safe and happy horses. Overall I was extremely impressed and it felt nice to have them along. They even diffused one nervous and growly dog by going up to it and getting it to play.
Now I just need two of my own lol
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Now I'm waiting to hear from Erika about a trail ride today. She hurt her finger yesterday and our ride will depend on what she hears from the doctor. I'm sending healing thoughts her way. Hopefully we'll be able to go especially since today is the first reasonably cool day we've had in a week.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Last night when I got home from at work at 9:30 I changed into riding clothes and when out to work with Sora. By the time I got out there it was dark but thankfully much cooler. Sora was happy to come up to the mounting block for treats but tried again to eat and run. This time I stopped her lightly with the Cordeo and then slid onto her back.
We had a wonderful time =) It was like magic riding in the dark with the other horses grazing and fireflies everywhere (and mosquitoes helping the fireflies out adding a certain ambiance). We had some major breakthroughs in forward movement and steering which is nice because it's been a while since much has improved in riding. It sounds like there are going to be storms tonight or I'd probably go out late again because it was so much fun.
Today we didn't do anything, I wanted to but it was just too hot and humid and I spent a large part of the day working on the fence so that we can dry lot our two fatties before they make themselves sick. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little cooler.
Friday, July 16, 2010
I was very impressed with how Sora had generalized the lesson that I don't really want her eating grass. Even though we were in a different place I could tell she was consciously not grazing even though she wanted to and that was a big deal. I could see that we didn't quite have the connection that we have and that she was a little more reluctant to follow me or offer me things but it wasn't a big difference and I know that our whole relationship will morph and change as I do different things so I'm not overly worried about it. Now I just need to especially work on relationship stuff next time.
I continued to work on leading her with only the neck rope and it went well but when I need to put pressure sideways she reads it as pressure back and stops. I don't want to change that because more than anything I need brakes but I think I need to work on the subtleties of the cues and help her understand sideways cues as well.
I tried to work on bow again and had the same problem of her jumping backwards. Hannah suggested trying it with her backed close to a fence so I'll try that tomorrow.
Sora's energy was so much calmer today. I don't know exactly why, either my energy was in a really good place or it was because of the heat but she was thinking and trying to work with me rather than just reacting. Something to think about =)
All in all a good, if short, day!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
After dinner when I got home fresh from my experience there I went out to work with Sora. I had a few goals and managed to achieve all of them though with varying levels of success.
First, I introduced Sora to endo tapping. This is something that's talked about on the AND forum but was something that I didn't understand and was confused enough not to look into it further. However, Hannah really cleared it up and so I decided to add the techniques to my time with Sora. Basically you tap softly on a major muscle until the horse drops it's head and licks or chews. Eventually you increase the time so that you continue even when they drop their head until they reach even deeper relaxation. I managed to get her to do it nicely two times but because of the grass she was looking for excuses to drop her head so it was hard to find an opportunity.
Second, I decided it's time to be able to drive her away from grass if I need to. This was harder to do without making her upset. Even though I stayed happy and patient we're both very stubborn so I'd chase her away and she'd trot a few steps before dropping her head and munching again. Finally I'd increase the pressure and she'd tear across the arena in mock terror to stand in the corner and danger snort at me once or twice and finally come galloping back across the arena to get her treat *roll eyes here* =) Actually though I was pleased with the improvement we made and happy that she would come back to me even after I was "scary".
Third, I wanted to be able to lead her with the cordeo even with the grass beckoning. This went really well and even when she shied once she lightly hit the end of the rope and stopped rather than pulling it out of my hands like she could have.
I'm hoping to work on these again tomorrow and continue working on Bow.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The AND philosophy in a nutshell.
First, there is no set right and wrong, no rigid rules on how you MUST work with your horses. The idea that is supported here is that the needs of the horse come first, and bitless is promoted, but again, it is not dictated. You are free to choose for your horses.
The main theme is that we are all on a learning journey. We must be open to learning from all sources, good or bad. And the primary teacher for all of us is the horse itself.
The idea is that you listen to the horse. You are observant, you watch for signs and signals from the horse that he/she is being stressed and you try to determine the source of the discomfort. You also watch for signs of composure and "happiness" from the horse and take clues from that.
When it comes to encouragement/motivation food is fine, or whatever your horse finds enjoyable. If food is not what you want to use, then experiment with other means...a good scratch, a kind word, whatever your horse finds motivating. Experiment and play.
You are always free to choose what is right for you, and what you feel is right for your horses.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I put the cordeo on her and my helmet on and walked over and climbed up on the mounting block. For some reason right at the moment I had an adrenalin rush/panic attack thing I still have no idea why, there is still no reason that I can think of.
Sora walked over and as usual stood happily next to the block and took treats from me while my heart raced. I decided to try to get on and just as I got ready to Sora turned slowly and asked me to scratch her butt. I was, at the moment, disappointed because she has never done that before but I scratched her and then asked her to line up again. My heart was still beating so hard that I was shaking and once again Sora calmly walked away from the block just as I got ready to mount. This time I realized what was going on, Sora didn't think I should get on, so I climbed off the mounting block and went and sat in the grass for a while trying to calm down and Sora came and grazed around me. I think she was protecting me
I decided to leave and get myself in a better place. I left the pen and headed into the house but I heard hoof beats behind me and turned around to see what was happening. Sora was racing back and forth along the fence line and when I turned Sora stopped and screamed at me. Sora's not vocal at all so this was really strange for her. At any rate I took her advice and headed back. This time I put her halter on and not the Cordeo. I decided that in case I HAD to stop her I could that way and yet I would very little control of turning etc. I went back the mounting block and climbed on with my back turned to her, leaving it completely up to her whether she wanted to continue with this. I was truly terrified by the time she got there and after feeding her some treats I climbed up quickly and sat there shaking.
Sora proceeded to desensitize me at the walk. She would walk forward a few steps and then as my heart rate mounted she'd stop and stand with her head low, licking and chewing and even resting a hoof sometimes. After a while I was doing better so she marched up to the fence. I got tense and scared when she started to nose the fly spray bottle, sure she'd knock it off and then shy. She nosed it a few times completely ignoring my request that we back up and then picked it up and threw it at the fence, she stood with happy ears clearly saying "see mom? Fly spray bottles aren't scary at all"
After that I relaxed and calmed down a lot. It's amazing what laughter can do. We worked on moving off my aids a little and she was still somewhat sluggish but far better than she has been. Mostly after that amazing demonstration of her trust I was unwilling to try to teach HER anything so she got lots of treats during and after and we cuddled a little after.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I decided that the most important thing right now is to start working with her more often so that I can be more consistent. I decided to try to do some sort of training her for three days in a row before taking a day off. Along with that basic goal I decided on a few easily reachable goals.
1. Spend a short amount of time during each session on Sora's back
2. While mounted try to figure out what I need to do to encourage forward and turning, especially forward
3. Practice getting Sora to target parts of her body other than her nose
4. Work on desensitizing Sora to a bicycles and cars
What we've already accomplished since starting AND around the end of March =)
-Bravery for both of us, I no longer "shy" when Sora does even for the big ones-Sora's learned how to target different things consistently including my fist, a cone and anything "scary" that I ask her to touch
-She's learned the behaviors Paw, front leg lifts, backing to me, Ramener, Cordeo cues, lowering her head, and lunging at liberty at a trot and canter
and most impressive to me, she'll step up to anything I'm standing on to use as a mounting block and stand perfectly still while I climb on without a single piece of equipment on =)
-Finally she's become incredibly brave about many things and will ignore even the tastiest grass just to be with me (and of course for treats)
-Last goal is to do more updating on this blog =)
The above is of course what we'll look like by the end of summer
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Sora was perfect, what else is new =) She shied as we stepped away from the mounting block but stopped instantly when I pulled on her neck rope lightly. She also turned as well without saddle or bridle or bit as she did when she had those things. She is still a little reluctant to move off nicely but I feel that a lot of that is because since I'm bareback she can feel more movement from me and it throws her off. This is the first time I've really asked for anything bareback so I'm happy with any small movement.
After that we did some other things again at liberty out of the pasture. I asked for some behaviors but mostly we just ran around and expended some energy. I also picked some more of the knots out of her mane.
We're supposed to get thunder storms again tomorrow but if not I'm hoping to do some more riding.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I'm also extremely pleased with how she's maturing. She still has some awkward baby look but she's really filling out and getting more muscular. Her head is also drying out and I can't believe how I ended up with such a beautiful horse.
Completely at liberty trotting with me. No small feat especially with the corn (or "bestest food ever" as the horses would call it) right next to us. For the entire photo shoot Sora had maybe one bite when I wasn't paying attention to her =)
If this post sounds a little subdued it's because I just got the kind of call that no horse owner ever wants. Suz, the woman who bought Loki left me a message that he was put down today after tearing all the ligaments in a leg.I don't quite know how to feel. I had him for longer than any other horse and I did so much with him but we never clicked. Because of that, although I'm extremely sad it's not the life altering experience that it could be. I am extremely sad for Suz who was crying on the voicemail and I'm so glad that he had someone who really loved him and who he really loved.
Bye baby boy, you will be missed by all who knew you.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
It started with me feeding hay. Sora as usual got to come into the barn for her grain and easily left when I asked. However as soon as she was out, instead of going to eat hay, she spun around and wanted to come back in so I opened the door and let her. I filled my pockets with treats (I always assure Sora that we've had a bountiful harvest so not to worry) and we did some simple behaviors like leg lifts, shoulder targets, backing and yielding, all of this halterless. She was good so I invited her to come out the other end of our barn. This leads right onto our lawn where we keep the VERY tasty grass. She followed me softly out and started grazing just as I hoped she would. However unlike normal she kept coming to me to get treats!
I spent a little time with her before leaving to get the cats some food. This gets kept in the garage or four LARGE raccoons fight over it which tears our barn apart. I was a few steps away from Sora when she started following me! I was so ecstatic and Sora got a jackpot but I didn't really think she would come any further. Happily Sora proved me wrong and came all the way to the door with me, waited for me to go and come out and then followed me, at the trot!, back to the barn. I had run out of treats at that point so I had to race in the barn to get her some and she trotted next to me all the way in. We went back out and spent some more time together and in the end I didn't even need a halter or rope to put her back in with her herd. She did really want to come back with me though =)
My sister, Hanna, has agreed to come out and get some more pictures of us as soon as her schedule is a little lighter. She just finished auditioning for several of the biggest music conservatories in the country and is now getting ready for two different concerts so she has a lot on her plate. Hopefully more of her wonderful pictures will grace this blog soon =)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Yesterday I went out to spend time with Sora. I brought two carrots but didn't really plan on doing any training. I used the carrots getting Sora more comfortable around the mounting block but then she wanted to leave me and go with her herd to graze so I let her. She ran out to them and I could tell she was interested in running around and playing so I went to play with her and we had fun =) She ran and bucked and reared. Finally she stopped so I just sat on the grass and we spent some time together. One of our horses chased her and I chased the horse and then she was stuck to me like glue.
Sora just stuck by my side and she kept wanting to just smell me. She'd press her nose up against my hand and just stay like that for several seconds. It was wonderful and when I left she wanted to come with me.
Today the weather is nuts and I don't know if I'll spend much time outside but I have tomorrow off so I'm hoping to start teaching her a new behavior. Now that we're getting better at communicating maybe it's time to start teaching her to rear, or maybe I'll chicken out and teach her how to bow =)
Finally one of my sources of inspiration
Saturday, April 3, 2010
A change has happened with Sora and my relationship. Starting earlier this week I finally became a treasured member of Sora's herd rather than simply Katlyn. With that said, I am a very treasured, respected and valued herd member that never gets kicked at, bitten or run over. However that really isn't that strange as horses generally don't do these things to each other anyway except in extremely rough play or when vying for dominance.
Currently not much training is going on but there is a lot of learning happening with both of us. I'm learning how to be and remain congruent with positive and appropriate energy. Sora is learning how to read my body language and how much more delicate I can be than a horse which means that it does hurt me when she snaps and that I react with fear if feet start flying too near me. The thing is that right now all she needs as a correction is the fear. She backs off just as I do when she gets fearful and nothing more needs to be done since we respect eachother.
The more specific work that has happened has been working with the Cordeo and teaching Sora that I would like her walking next to me when we are "working" but that she can be where ever when we play.
I have come to a few powerful realizations. First, that working with/playing with a horse either at liberty, doing groundwork or on their back is not dangerous (at least no more than walking to your car) as long as there is respect from and in both parties and as long as both parties are fairly alert. Basically the things I always saw as impossible, dangerous or stupid simply aren't with the type of relationship Sora and I are working on. I wasn't thinking about the fact that riding, for example without a bridle, isn't dangerous at all if you are able to listen to what the horse is telling you. If the horse tells you something is scary or dangerous you climb off and that a horse that respects you just won't buck to remove you, only to show exuberant mood (if at that point you can't stay on that's hardly the horse's fault lol).
These are simple things but I am discovering that I tend to be fearful of everything in my life (the fact that my first few experience with horses were with horses that did want to hurt me didn't help at all). Sora is the same way and we are teaching and learning from each other. A good example of this is when I climbed on Sora for the first time ever bareback yesterday. She wasn't sure she wanted me there and I could tell she thought that feeling me move that clearly was strange but she didn't want to hurt me! She values my friendship and respects me. Even though she knows that I wouldn't hurt a hair on her if she expressed herself that way (natural fear response), she also knew that I would climb off the minute she needed me to. Because of that even though I had a rush of adrenalin and was shaky she stood stock still until I gathered myself a little and when I lost my balance (I haven't had a chance to ride all winter and am disgustingly weak in my core) she stopped and waited for me to regain my balance. All of this in a halter, on a windy day with completely loose reins.
Sora has been learning a lot from our time together as well and has never been calmer. I've realized that if I were to tell someone that something was dangerous and they ignored me it would only heighten my fear whereas if they responded to it and then ignored it I would feel completely safe. I've started to acknowledge everything Sora tells me is scary. I look, smell (breath deeply) and sometimes “shy” while remaining calm with an in control, leader sort of attitude, and most of the time after acknowledging the scary I go back to what we were doing. Between that and the increase in time I spend with her she is now calmer than any other horse I've been around. This is all because of trust. As a member of the herd she knows I'm looking out for both of us and wouldn't lead us into danger. She also sees that I respect her decisions and pay attention to the things she thinks are scary. Yesterday I went to save a rubber ball from the wind and when I tossed it over the fence into Sora's pen, the wind took it and threw it against her legs. She just stood there looking at it. She was ready to run but since I didn't and just smiled and waited she came over to me relaxed not even really looking at the ball. Very impressive (at least to me) from a still three year old Arabian filly.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Things have been great with us! Starting Wednesday I had three really good days with Sora. I didn't write earlier because school is nuts right now. In the span of two weeks I have two accounting quizzes and a final and a public policy final. Today I finished one of the accounting tests and after Tuesday the public policy final will be done. Because of that its been tough to work with Sora.
Wednesday I took her out to our arena/pen to play a bit. I had forgotten that we have grass growing everywhere in that pen and Sora has never been able to ignore grass even for treats. I wanted so much to push her or chase her a bit but i didn't. I just walked around, not really ignoring her but not asking her to come either. I had almost given up when she came over to me for a treat. She stood nice and calm without mugging and got one but then walked off to graze again. Once again I let her go and after only a few more minutes she came to play! She was glued to me for the rest of the time I was in with her and we had FUN. She was rearing and spinning and "cutting" me as I played keep away but was extremely polite the entire time and only forgot herself and tried mugging once or twice
Then on Friday morning we tried Karen's idea of patrolling the fence line. It was windy and cool and although Sora was calm I decided I wanted to play a little. I found a tree to beat on (made Sora confused since that's not one of the "scary trees") but the best part was when I shied. We were waaaay up in the pasture away from her herd which makes her looky anyway and then I "shied" snorting away. She raced off but came right back to me! Trotting like she was floating over the ground and I could tell she was teasing me. Not scared at all just laughing that I'd shied. She always comes back but normally she stands and looks for a long time first. This time she just came straight back.
Then tonight I needed to work on her hooves. She's barefoot and with the guidance of an incredible barefoot trimmer I've been doing it myself now for about six months. The trimmer also happens to do Reiki(sp?) and is an animal communicator so I know who to go to if I ever have trouble
I normally cross tie her, which she's good for, and she gets tons of treats. This time though I'd read about someone on here who sits on a stool with the horse's foot in their lap and I realized that would really help me as I'm not that coordinated yet with the file so I decided to try it. I put down some hay to help her be calm this first time, didn't tie her or even have a lead rope on her halter, and then I carried a stool and tools over to her. As I was setting my stool down next to her she was already lifting her foot wonderful obliging girl that she is she held it up for me as I sat down. She was really good with every foot except the hind right which she is normally nervous about. She was actually better than normal with that one too.
I love doing anything with her feet because she was impossible with them at first. I had people suggest to tie them up but I could never do that. In the end I decided to just wait for her and one day she picked them up with just a touch Now she's so good that she actually waits to set the back ones down until I step away. Her own decision, not something I ever asked of her, so that she doesn't step on me i think
I'm trying to get some pictures but I don't have anyone here who's really willing to take them and when I try all I get is nose
So as you can see things are going GREAT! I also managed to sell both my saddles so as soon as my rebate check comes I'll be able to buy a saddle that will actually fit her!!! I'm SOOOOOO excited!
Now, back to stressful studying.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
It looks like tomorrow it's going to be a little colder and during the weekend we have snow and rain to look forward to but after this incredible week I almost don't care =)
I had a wonderful walk with Sora this morning. I'm working on trying to get her more confident out on the road and with cars because that's the ONLY place we have to ride. My dream is to be able to ride her down into our small town, down to the beach and on some of the beautiful little roads around here by myself this summer because I have NO one to ride with and no trailer so if I want to be out at all it's going to completely rely on getting her comfortable with cars.
I am hoping that some of my horsie friends will be willing to come and pick us up to go out on trails but I just can't rely on that and I don't want to have to wait for it.
Friday, March 12, 2010
She learned not to mug me for treats, the beginnings of the Spanish Walk, I started teaching her Ramener and we worked on backing towards me. All of this without a halter on and with hay present.
The best part was when she did this PERFECT Ramener (she still doesn't know what she was doing, she just thought she was getting treats for no reason lol) and I started jumping up and down and telling her how perfect she was. She looked SOOOO proud of herself.
oh my but this is fun =D =D
I'm really anxious to get my first pay check from my new job so that I can get her a side pull. I'm going to try to make my own Cordeo because I think I can make one of those pretty well and then all I'll need is my new saddle and we'll be all outfitted =)
Sorry for the lack of pictures but Sora looks, well, interesting, right now between the globs of mud and the extremely hairy coat. I feel she would be embarrassed if she knew that pictures of her like that were getting out so for now you will have to imagine her in all her perfect glory.
Here is a video of her from a week ago. That entire expanse is now thick mud =X
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Secondly I've been working on starting her with the Art of Natural Dressage stuff. It's amazing how all the trust I'd lost in her last fall has come back along with more. I'm remembering just what a great horse she really is and she's remembering that I'm fun sometimes. At this point we aren't doing anything really exciting. She's learned how to paw with each front leg on cue, how to back towards me, and most importantly that she can leave when she wants and the training gets to be too much for her. It was fun watching her the first couple of times with this because she expected me to chase after her. Last night we worked on reinforcing good treat taking/clicker skills and it went better than expected. Now I just have to remember the order of things and she'll remain polite =)
Finally, that saddle I bought last fall is going up for sale along with the Wintec dressage. I really don't know why I've held onto the Wintec so long as I know it will never fit her and I don't plan on getting a horse that it will fit. I like the Thornhill but while the Wintec fits her shoulders but is too narrow in the back the Thornhill is too wide wide in the shoulders but fits in the back. Sora is in that awkward back phase where almost nothing fits so I looked into options and as soon as my job picks up, and I get the other two saddles sold, I'm going to get one of these saddles on trial. I REALLY like the reviews and I think it looks cool too. Plus it's a price I can afford =)
Thursday, March 4, 2010
One thing I've been thinking about is about Dressage and Dressage competition. I've said on here before that I want to do a little of everything with Sora and also that I have no interest in getting to the upper levels of Dressage. Something I haven't mentioned here is the fact that while I've always wanted to be able to show Sora I have no interest in competing for ribbons, competition, or certainly money. The only reason I would like to be able to show her is so that I can be in that environment with other horse people. Which is the same reason I love going trail riding or simply riding with friends. To me its the people and the environment that I lack here where I wish so much to have others to ride with and simply to talk to about horses. I was pushed at a young age to compete with my instruments and it was a very serious, life altering thing whether I won or did well or not because it meant getting into a better school, getting scholarships etc. I NEVER want horses to be that for me.
The reason that I realized this is that I've been thinking long and hard about going bitless. Starting with when I first got Sora and wanted to do everything for her the best way I could. I had a reminder of that when I was so successfully riding her with only her halter and more recently as I was going through this Bitless horse blog. Last night while I was at school I was doing some more research and I stumbled on this website and felt like I'd come home and found a family I never knew I had. The people on the forum are open and offer warm encouragement to each other even if different views are expressed. This is what Dressage to me is truly about and should be about. This is the kind of relationship I have always wanted to have with Sora and always been too embarrassed, or pressured to express.
I've always felt that a Bit was a very useful tool and that people who never rode with one were extremists but the more I see and read and think about it the more a different kind of riding makes sense to me. Because of that, last night when I got home from school at 11:00 I went out to be with Sora and to think. I brought her into the barn and while she had a snack I groomed her and got some of the knots out of her mane. For about half an hour we just spent time together and I carefully mulled all of this over in my head. Finally I made a decision and went in to the tack room, took the bit off her bridle and hung it up. It felt very symbolic and I know it will completely change my future with not just Sora but with any horse I end up owning.
I feel like I've made the right decision for me and for Sora and for the first time I feel like a weight is off my shoulders and I know where I'm going with her. Ever since last fall when I posted on COTH I've realized that I really don't fit in with most of the Dressage crowd but now I've found my tribe =)
This picture is of Sora's first trail ride, almost her first time on the road, when she was still slightly scared of cars. It also turned out to be the first time we'd canter. I rode her in just her halter because I completely trusted her and she proved me right. Even slowing down next to another horse from a canter to a trot with just a tightening of my hands on the reins.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Part of the award is that I need to tell you seven things about myself that you don't know yet. So here goes:
1) I live in a club house/fort. Yes you read that right. Being 24 and living at home I had last choice of living space and this is what I ended up with lol.
When my parents built our house they made this little fort for us since we were good kids and watched our baby sister. It's actually really cozy with just enough space for my bed on the floor and only one place where I can stand upright=)
2) I was home schooled from when I was 5 to when I went to college at 18. I never even was in a class room until drivers ed. We, my brother and sisters and I, were home schooled so that we could spend tons of time practicing our instruments at 3-8 hours a day and other than math we didn't study anything else. Now, before you condemn our mother, we did TONS of reading, had interesting discussions on everything from religion to politics and I did well enough on the SATs and entrance paper that I got a full scholarship to every university that I applied to along with graduating Cum Laude.
3) I was in 4-H for many years and raised Dairy Goats, Rabbits, Sheep, cooked, sewed etc. etc.
4) I taught one of the above goats to pull a cart and gave rides at our county fair lol.
5) I interned for a year with American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio and my booth was right in the middle of all of the DJs. I got to watch Mary Lucia doing her thing in the booth all day while listening to the live streaming of The Current, on my headphones at my computer. Best job I've ever had!
6) My first pony was a little black and white paint named Prince. While his name did NOT describe him well, my second equine was named Bucky and that did suit him exceptionally well =X
7) I live in Minnesota about an hour and a half south of the Twin Cities in one of the most beautiful places in the world =) I live right between two tourist cities, Red Wing (home of those famous Red Wing Shoes) and Lake City which is like being transported to Greece or Italy =) All of the members of my family commute at least 3-5 days a week to the cities traveling untold miles on our cars (3-4 hour round trips) but non of us would trade living here for anything. Afterall, being able to ride from our house, through a small town and be here is just about the best thing in the world =)
So, now I need to list fifteen blogs! I believe that some of these have already won this award but these are the fifteen blogs I follow regularly.
Braymere Custom Saddlery
Horse Crazy American in Germany
Soltice Art Studio
I is Roxie
Eventing a Go-Go
Sofie Learns Dressage
The Eventing Percheron
Always There Are The Horses
Monday, February 22, 2010
The problem is that I was actually doing a great job with her in the summer and had figured out exactly how hard I could push and when. I started yesterday by pulling her into the barn and putting her saddle and boots on. She was a little jumpy but that was to be expected with the long break. Everything went well until she decided to freak out going to the left on the longe. This is normally her better side and I still can't figure out what was going on. She was scared enough that she basically jumped sideways all the way around the circle. Because of my plan I gently pushed her with vocal encouragement and by slapping the end of the longe against my leg. However she just got worse and worse. I couldn't tell whether she was being naughty at this point or scared so I kept trying different techniques but just kept pushing. By this point I was using everything I had to try to get her moving in the right direction. Finally I gave up my plan and let her stop because I could tell she was now getting scared. I made her stand at the end of the line quietly and calm down. I waited until she lowered her head and let out her breath. Then I took her back to the beginning as if I was teaching her to longe all over again and we ended with her walking around me quietly a few times.
Lets just say I learned my lesson all over again. I should have remembered that this horse tries her heart out for me and is very rarely actually naughty. Today I remembered and we had a great session. I took her out to a different pen which should have been scary. She was bouncy hyper, fast, and feeling playful but despite that she didn't put a foot wrong. She didn't buck on the longe (even though she wanted to). She didn't step into my space. She slowed back to a trot or walk when I asked. All of this brought out how well she was behaving especially because she did want to bounce around and go fast. She did well today because I waited for her in little ways. For example, when I first asked her to go to the left she just stood there and looked at me and I just waited for a minute. When I asked gently again she sighed and went perfectly as if saying "See, just be gentle and respect me and I'll do what ever you want and be happy to work for you". Needless to say she got tons of vocal praise, petting and some treats when we were done.
I LOVE this horse!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
In other news, I finally found a saddle I can afford.Too bad it's for a model horse cause it looks comfy =) This one's pretty nice too if hunt seat is more your thing =D
The above saddle pictures are from the very talented model saddle maker Jennifer Buxton.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I am so completely ready to move her that I can't even express it =) It's been WONDERFUL being able to keep her at my parents. It means that I have only to pay for hay and grain and I get to see her everyday and care for her myself. Those are things that I will really miss once I am eventually boarding her (whether or not it happens now). However, it also means that I'll actually be able to start working her again because I'll have access to an arena or round pen of some kind. It may seem silly that it's impossible to work her in our current set up but it truly is impossible.
If you were to cut out a sample of our snow you would find that it varies by where you get it from 1" to about 2.5'. There is glare ice underneath most of it and at least three different layers of hard, sharp crust at various depths. Add to that the fact that you can't even get into our arena and, even if you got in, can't close the gate because it's stuck. The only place that my family can even walk is on our driveway and road and guess what, that's slippery glare ice and it's also just rock hard. Not a good combination to work a hot, green, four year old on even for ground stuff.
The dry lots, winter pens, that the horses are in would be the best place but they are on a slant and fairly slippery which completely rules out lunging or anything faster than a walk/halt. I've done some work with her yielding etc but there's only so much we can do on that topic.
Because of the above I dream of an arena, or something, to work in. I really don't care much about the cold (although I wouldn't work Sora with the recent temps of 10) and would be happy even if it was outdoors as long as the footing was reasonable. So, although I've got the cost of keeping a horse at an amazing low, the absolute impossibility of being able to work with her is soooooooooo hard.
While I'm excited about a move for her I'm also nervous =3 In my 12 years of horse keeping I've never kept a horse at a boarding stable. Yeah, the math means that I've been keeping them since I was 12 years old and that includes fixing and setting up fences, first aid, training, and feeding each morning and night even when it's 40 below and in blizzards. Although it will be a nice break to leave some of this to someone else I'm really going to miss the control. I'm hoping to keep Sora somewhere with stall board, mostly because of dietary reasons, but where the horses are out all day. This makes me nervous because I've never kept horses in stalls, ever =S. Sora has however spent a fair amount of time in one when she was younger and I would suspect she will be a "stall baby" and love it just from what I know of her behavior around here.
There are certain things I just can't imagine, like having someone else worm her, or even lead her to and from her stall. I'm just sooo used to being the one who does everything with her and will really miss that. In my mind though the opportunity to work with her, spend time with other horse people, have access to trails and an arena outweigh the worries I do have.
These are some of the facilities I'd like to look into/visit.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I started this Winter putting Sora's hay in (what I will call) the "Hay Spot". As shown in the following carefully drawn diagram (where the yellow squiggles are sun and the Grey squiggles are wind), this is the best spot in her pen for hay when it's windy.
To put it lightly, this has caught on in a BIG way. When I feed I always go to the barn, prepare Sora's grain (tiny handful of sweet feed and some supplement) and then put it out the door at the end first thing. While she's eating that I toss out hay over the dividing fence for the two other horses since it's not fair for Sora to be eating and not them =)
At first while I was doing that Sora would eat hay out of the barn with her head through the door which distracted her. What's happening now though is that Sora has stopped trusting me to get her hay in the correct place. She eats quickly and by the time I get back to the barn to grab her portion of hay she's standing impatiently by the barn watching me. I go in the barn, under her disapproving stare and grab her hay.
It's at this point that I become a hostage. As soon as I leave the barn I have an escort who politely but firmly guides me to the proper place for the hay. She doesn't try to eat it, or pin her ears. She simply walks right next to me with her neck all arched watching me with a critical eye to ensure the proper delivery of her food. This is sort of the look
Once I've been properly escorted I'm expected to place her hay just so. It needs to be in the right place so that she can eat it either in the shed or out and it can't be too close to the line. If it is she exasperatedly moves it with her nose as if saying "here, you stupid person. Why do you never get this right?"
At this point I'm free to leave, although she does watch to make sure I haven't rethought that second helping of grain.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
This is in no particular order and is a non horsie list, otherwise I can assure you Sora would be on it <3
1. Battlestar Galactica
My favorite tv show of all time! The extremely human way that they portray people really amazes me. There isn't a single character on the show that you like all the time because they are always making decisions that you may or may not agree with. There isn't the "evil" character that so many shows have. Plus there is a healthy dose of hotness lol. My brother, who I've been watching the show with (for the second time) is a Sharon fan, I really like Lee and Kara <3 although Helo and Sharon are some of my favorite characters.
2. Diet Coke
My drink of choice. <3
3. DeviantArt - http://www.deviantart.com/
Incredible website with some incredible artists. One of my favorite places to get gifts from plus I just love browsing around drooling over the art.
4. Imogen Heap
My favorite musical artist would vary depending on when you asked but Imogen is always at or near the top. I've been using my 1 1/2 hours on the light rail to listen to her new album, Ellipse, over and over =D
5. My ipod touch
Which actually contains three of my other favorites on it, doesn't get much better than that! My favorite app is the kindle book reader. I read so many books on it it's not even funny =X
6. Jacqueline Carey
One of my many favorite authors. Her writing is like poetry and even the political parts of her book are written so beautifully they could be lyrics to a song.
7. The smell of Apoxie Sculpt
This is what I use to sculpt and when it heats up from my fingers or when I'm sanding it the smell is intoxicating. It's sort of earthy/musty and like nothing else.
8. My Netbook
I seriously don't know what I'd do in my classes without this little computer. I write extremely slow but I type very fast so this thing saves my life. Especially in accounting where I swear my teacher covers then entire white board in under a minute =X This picture isn't of mine but it's a good illustration of the size.
A surprising last minute purchase from Half Price Books this has turned into one of my favorite books. Very unique =D
10. My Cello
From 12 to 20 this thing and I had a love hate relationship but I spent thousands of hours of my life with it and much of who I was/am is tied up in it. I haven't played it since May 2008 because it's just too painful, and I don't have the time, but I hope to pick it up again in a few years when I do have more time.
Monday, January 25, 2010
"Breezy. Widespread snow. Blowing and drifting snow in the afternoon. Visibility one quarter mile or less at times in the afternoon. New snow accumulation around 1 inch. Highs around 25. Northwest winds 20 to 25 mph."
To me a Windchill of 10 °F is not "Breezy". That along with the fact that all the melting we were having turned back into ice and has been further polished smooth by snow blowing across it makes even walking difficult.
The horses are warm and cozy in their shelter. No one's hair was standing up and there was no shivering this morning so I didn't blanket but I will be tonight, if I can remain standing up long enough to do it =X
A few days ago we spread cat litter, the only thing that works that they won't try to eat, all around their pens to help with the slipperiness. It works well but with the melt it simply sank to the ground and now is caught within the ice. Verrrry Helpful *snorts*
Here is a short video clip that I caught while taking the pictures trying to show the desolation. It's hard to capture just how strong the winds are though.
Finally, an update on Model Khepri. Last night after I posted my previous entry the artist that was donating a paint job on my donation to Show for the Cure emailed me this picture.
This is, as far as I know, the first copy of Khepri to have been painted. Cassie Black, the artist, paints in oils and acrylics and her website can be found here.