Hi all, I have returned from yet another week away. This time it was skiing in France (Val Thorens) for a week. It was so much fun to go with the family and I also met some of my best friends out there. We are all very active people. Brilliant time but as usual I am delighted to be back with my horses 🙂
The most exciting development so far of the year is the online, new and updated Parelli Savvy Club. It is so progressive and gives you a lot of incentive to keep pushing forward with your horsey dreams! I LOVE it! It has inspired me to push forward with my Parelli in particular with Dice. Little, lovely Dice (who escaped a total of 7 times when I was away on holiday – he figured out how to unlock the bolt and he wouldn’t stay in, LBE!!! – and had to swap stables with Storm whose stable has a difficult safety catch on it.) Underlining my dilemma with him. The pony is BORED. He clearly misses his jumping and I miss jumping him enourmously. But. He is aging, he will be 18 this year. I want him to have many many healthy years in front of him and this means he will need to cut back on his jumping a bit. However good this will be for his physical longevity, his brain is going stir crazy trying to find things to do. So – my new goals to keep his brain a little more occupied and keep him engaged whilst not causing too much strain on his body is to give him a fuller Parelli – based education.
Final Dice Goal: BRIDLESS RIDING
Now I am aware there are many steps to getting here, but that is the point. He will have to learn an awful lot to reach a point where I can take away his bridle and he will listen to me whilst staying connected and responsive. I have already begun teaching him, though he has done more or less all of level 1 Online tasks before. Even so, I have taken him right back to the beginning. I, myself have a reasonable knowledge and skill set up to level 3 of the program. I was due to pass my liberty audition with my previous pony (the last one to complete my overall level 3), when my pony began head shaking badly. Unfortunately he became significantly worse from that point and I never could complete the level. This was the least of it as my poor pony never could be ridden again, nor could he even tolerate ‘lunging’ exercise, groundwork or anything that involved him breathing heavier than his resting breaths. My poor little Smudge. He was so incredibly talented and I managed bareback and bridleless riding with him over jumps and everything. He is still on the farm living out 24/7 (better for his head shaking) with a thick, woolly coat and a long mane and tail. He is content.
Anyway, I have begun Dice’s early training and he has taken to it extremely well. He has completed the seven games at a level of 5/10 average. As I transition him to certain Level 2 elements – remember; a Left-Brain Extrovert needs to be challenged or they will think of new ways to play with you that aren’t going to be very constructive). All the while refining his level 1 skills so that I only need to use Phase 1 or 2 to get a good response. Paying particular attention to the porcupine game and the driving game. He tends to get a little rude in the driving game when driving his front end around (again, dominance LBE tendancies – to be expected). But in a couple of sessions I can already see a positive change. It will be a balance between improving his L1 skills without repeating them to where he becomes bored and introducing online L2 skills that he can cope with a complete effectively, with understanding and with a good response. I will spend a few weeks really trying to improve and solidify Online L1 and L2 before progressing to Freestyle L2 to begin the riding element of Parelli Natural Horsemanship Training.
Dice at the beginning of his 2nd Parelli Session – always happy and keen.
Storm is going to begin really building up to the start of the event season which for us begins in March. He has had some hill work hacking and some lunging with a new device recommended to me by our Equine Physio. She is brilliant. She takes a very natural approach and always takes into account the horse as a whole, personality and temperment included, rather than focusing on single specific areas. We have used her for years and she is brilliant. Now it is quite a gentle device and I have used it on Storm’s headcoller rather than his bridle to save his mouth. It is clearer in the picture but it encourages a soft outline rather than hauling them into position. It has been quite effective so far and Storm does not appear stressed with it as he can get upset very easily if he feels hemmed in. He is super sensitive. He is rather fit and has stayed so through the winter. He is nort difficult to keep fit but off course he will need more work in all areas in the run to the first competition. I don’t think either of us can wait!
Storm Goals: Perform well consistantly at BE90 – progress in SJ to 1.00m courses
Baby Jazzy has been wonderful. He has been hacking out up the lane and on shorter but different rides. So far, he has not had any spins. I have managed to calmly block them as they almost happen and because I stay in a passive, persistent position without jerking, kicking etc. He responds, and I think now he understands better not to turn and that tension on the reins and position I am in means no turning. I am really, really pleased with him on this matter as it is a bad habit that must not be allowed to escalate. He is still hacking out with ‘friends ‘ to build up confidence. My method is too allow him to follow then bring him to the side of his friends intermittently, that way he has an approach and retreat way of riding so as he becomes braver, he can ride alongside more and more, then once he is doing that better – begin taking him out alone.
Jazz Goals: Improve his all-round confidence. Begin taking him to jumping courses and dressage for experience not competition.
I mentioned to someone today he is a lot more ‘peopley’ than I originally thought he was. I try to make real efforts to spend extra undemanding time with him, more so than the ponies as they are more secure with me in their world. Today was that day, just got him onto the yard and stroked him and rubbed on him feeding him occasionally small treats. He has become much more responsive in these moments and today he showed a bit of boldness and ‘groomed’ me back, licking my hands and face. While you might think that is disgusting, I really don’t mind and it was a milestone in his confidence in me as a leader.
Jazzy after his 2nd successful Zero Spins ride. Happy horse, happy rider.
Storm going well in his new lunging aid for developing and stretching topline. To me he looks well ahead of building up to the first event of the year.
A special photo from my archives. My first 12.2hh loan pony and the first pony I taught Parelli to. I was about 12 here – 10 years ago. Thank goodness I learnt a lot since then but he was truly wonderful and remarkable. And still on the yard at the age of 18. He is called Spotty Bob. (Back then he had spots on his quarters, not seen in the picture as they were much fainter than Dices’. Now the have gone completely and he is all white.)