A Blog About My Journey Riding and Training Sora, My Soulmate

Monday, August 16, 2010


What happens when I try to take a video.

Normally she's much better at this trick but she was distracted in a new pasture and by what I was doing with the camera.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Trust and Other Important Things

So, people reading this blog maybe think I'm being really irresponsible to ride a green/unbroke, young, Arabian without any tack other than a neck rope. I don't have any reason to think this other than the fact that I myself would have thought exactly the same thing if I had read this a year ago =)

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 bored....

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

Hot and Slow

Today for the fourth or fifth day in a row we're under a heat advisory =/ Once again between the heat and humidity the horses are blackened with sweat even standing still in the shade. The only thing I have been able to work on with Sora is getting her used to the hose but that's something that I really wanted to desensitize her to so I'm not complaining =)

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


I realized when reading Andrea's post on Eventing a Gogo about her four year anniversary with Gogo that my two year anniversary with Sora just passed and I completely forgot to mention it. Sora came home on August first in 2008 and my life has been irrevocably changed since then.

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

Humidity Blues

Recently I've been extremely unmotivated, mostly it's due to my work schedule and the incredible heat and humidity that we've been having. Also, probably because of the heat and bugs, Sora has been unmotivated as well and we end up butting heads when we spend time together. Two irritable mares annoying each other lol.

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.