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

Monday, July 18, 2011


I am currently blogging from the very ritzy St. Croix Falls McDonalds because I do not have air conditioning and I was feeling in danger of melting :)

Because of the heat, all I have done with Sora for the past four-five days is bathe her, scratch her (a lot), and share food with her like oranges, apples and granola bars. I feel like she has greatly deserved it!

On Thursday I went out to see her thinking I would do ONLY what she wanted. I brought a bag of carrots and an Orange and brought her in the arena to play and hang out. For awhile I scratched all her itchy places and encouraged her to roll and get nice and dirty and then I left to get her grooming stuff. Sora is far less confident when I leave her so she started running back and forth which quickly turned into a very energetic game. Two years ago she wouldn't have been able to calm herself down and I would have been too scared to go back in the pen with her but when I got back with the grooming tools I went right in and started brushing her. At this point I had an audience of several people and one of them is someone I have been spending more time with who we will call J.

Once again I am reminded not to judge a book by it's cover because she is not someone who I would seek out to ride or spend time with but she has turned out to be incredibly supportive and open minded, and fun! She wanted to ride her young horse and said she would feel better if someone was around so since the other group was leaving I said I would hang around with Sora thinking that I would just play with her on the ground a bit. J started to roundpen her gelding and he started to race around and Sora charged him from outside the fence!!! I think that my normally submissive little horse was getting something from him she didn't like. I smooched to her a little to drive her away and then kept her further from him with my body language.

Eventually J brought her horse into the arena to ride and after some more groudwork mounted. Up until this point I had no plans to ride but everything with Sora was going so well that I led her over to the mounting block by the lunge line, tied it up at the end and stepped up on the mounting block. I left it up to her whether I would mount or not and it took her a couple of tense minutes to relax and finally she sighed and stepped up so perfectly lined up that I knew she was willing and hopped on :D I was holding the lunge line attached to her halter but didn't have anyway to steer her other than my seat. Of course she was incredible!!! I was talking to J about the type of training I do and although she probably thought I was crazy to climb on like that, she quickly saw that Sora was happy and relaxed and started drilling me with questions :) It was wonderful and she was so encouraging.

What is funny is that the thing that made me the proudest is that I listened to Sora and when she stopped in the corner and pawed when I asked her to turn I climbed off!!! Funny when you are pleased with yourself for doing something that most people would warn you away from lol.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lazy Summer

This week I have really settled into AND/NHE again with Sora. It had been awhile since I spent much real time with her that didn't involve more pressure so it took her a little while to relax and try to listen again. As soon as she did, however, things went swimmingly.

I started out by wanting to take her on a trail walk but she didn't want to even allow me to catch her so I put her stuff away and got out the fly gunk, all three different bottles of it. I went to put it on her ears and she pulled her head away (like normal) so I moved a couple of steps back, crouched down, closed my eyes and explained to her in my head what I was trying to do. When I opened my eyes she was standing closer and I stood up and slowly reached out my hand towards her ear. She held perfectly still and let me rub it in which is normally impossible. I was so happy that that had worked that we played around a little in the pasture. At one point she froze and wanted to share breath with me. I blew slowly into her nose, breathing in incredible horse breath with my eyes closed while her chin rested on my shoulder. We stood like that for almost five minutes. It is amazing the images that came into my head as we stood like that in calm, quiet communication.

After that I was kept away by two days of storm but I was out again yesterday. We were in the arena together right next to the road when a huge, noisy tractor came by. All the horses along the road were galloping and screaming and Sora screamed back but I just ignored her and ran up to the fence to watch the tractor pass. As it was right next to us Sora trotted up to the fence next to me (towards the tractor) and watched it and the truck behind it pass like she was watching a parade, all calm happiness. It was only then that I realized that the man in the truck behind the tractor was one of our biggest doubters who can not get it into his head that she is no longer afraid of vehicles. He ignored me for the rest of the night which is perfectly fine with me.

After the tractor was gone I worked on our two newest behaviors, passing to me and passing away from me. I worked on lining her up to the fence and getting her to do shoulder and haunches in. It wasn't pretty but we did do a couple of nice steps and at one point she offered it so beautifully with a hint of collection that I was jumping up and down and squealing and we both capered around a bit :)^Not us, yet ;)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Sometimes it seems as if Sora and I have made no progress or even have gone backwards. For me this blog is more to remind myself of where we were and the progress that has been made than anything else.

For the last few months I have been in continuous flux about how to train Sora, trying to figure out the "right" way. This has unfortunately been not because I have/had doubts but because others have had doubts in me. Honestly I am a big chicken and my safety has always been my highest priority. Riding is the only risk I take and although it is a big one I have ALWAYS taken every precaution available to reduce that risk including not riding anything scary. This means that when I had two "knowledgeable" horse people at the barn telling me that I was going to get hurt I listened.

At least for a short time :)

The conclusion I came to is that they can't even begin to imagine the type of relationship I have with Sora. Relationship maybe isn't even the word to use. The words I think of are trust, confidence, time, experience, feel, belief, caution, respect, sensitivity, years, training, familiarity, and I just can't think of a word that encompasses them all. They are all trail riders (slow with a drink in one hand type trail riders), they train their horses not to spook and to carry them slowly down trails. While I respect their ability to do this I have absolutely no interest in that type of horse sport and neither does Sora.

They seem to see her running wildly around her pasture and not see her standing still under me without tack after I mount because I am shaking (Thanks to the fact two of them are watching me just about ready to dial 911) or taking a couple of steps at a time while waiting for me to calm down. Walking with her head on the ground to calm me. Licking me like a foal when I've had a bad day and come to her crying. Allowing, no Asking me to mount and go for a ride. Galloping to me to do things because they are fun and she likes me and believes in me.

Now I'm not saying every horse/human relationship should be like this. In fact for many it would be dangerous and not recommended. However for me Sora has been more therapy than anything else could be. She has changed the very way I look at the world and they way I react to everything. I live in the moment now more than I ever did before, I am calmer and far more positive and the controlling and unhealthy part of me is just about gone. I can now climb on a horse without a huge rush of adrenaline which is unheard of for me and if that can only happen on a young, hot, tackless Arabian than I am proud of both of us!

Today I took the time to read back through my posts to the point where I started AND. I am amazed at the progress that has been made. Much of it hasn't even been noted on here but when I read about something that I was having trouble with in these posts and compare it to where we are now it makes me happy. Seeing the progress in both of us makes me even more certain that I am on the right path for me and the right path for Sora.

I hope to track more of our progress, and current issues, as soon as I get back home from this weekend but for now,

Happy 4-TH of July Weekend!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Life Changes

Life is good! I'm finally living on my own, in a gorgeous little farm house, and I am so happy! Sora is being boarded at a really nice little boarding stable and I have access to two outdoor arenas and a nice sized indoor which is just as wonderful as I always thought it would be. There are a couple of people at the stable that seem intent on making my life (because of my style of training) miserable but that is for a different post. What is important is that Sora is happy and I see eye to eye with the stable owner on horse husbandry so that is wonderful as well.

The only other bad thing is that the only access I have to the internet is on my phone so lengthy posts are not possible. I have been following all my favorite blogs but because of a glitch I can't seem to comment on them. Now that I am more settled in I am going to try to do more short posts to record our progress so hopefully there will be more content on here soon.

Training is mostly going well. Due to one of the people who is making my life miserable I was contemplating selling Sora for a whole weekend but now I am so glad that I came to my senses. The good is that we have progressed to where I am very comfortable riding her either with a bitless bridle or just a cordeo in the arena and we are working on leg yields in the cordeo. The bad news is that we are still struggling with the trot and she remains very spooky outside of the arena. I am working slowly on the trot but the spookiness has me sort of stumped. I am not at all reactive when she spooks (and I am very proud of myself that I have come that far) and I am working to desensitize her to things almost daily. She is more confident with me around then when she is on her own so I don't see that I'm doing anything wrong. I am beginning to think that she is just a very spooky horse but that is just not a comforting thought. Because of that I have decided to take a step back and do more of what I really love with her just in the arena where she is confident. Her side passing is getting polished and we are just starting to work on some of the other behaviors/movements such as bow and rear. The best thing for me is feeling soooooo comfortable on her back especially since most of the people here seem to think I am going to die :D