Archive for January, 2005


Ten miracles happened today at Pine Dell farm in freezing weather. Why did
10 people venture out of their warm houses to attend a 3 hour clinic with the
temperature around 15 degrees?

 Because most of us are just nuts!

Our 3 hour Savvy Day lesson was about saddle positioning with shims. First
we rode our horses and evaluated how they were going. Then we trooped inside to the warm lounge.

We looked at a couple of saddles inside the heated lounge sitting on a
barrel. Jenny told us how to evaluate the saddle. Where to look at the two
places that will tell you whether or not the saddle is level and to look at the
seat to find the lowest point. We talked about the human balance point and
how it worked with saddles. We talked about the shoulder blade of the horse
and how it needs clearance when it moves back and forth.

We trooped outside and every horse had their saddle removed. We magic
markered where their shoulder was at rest. Then we picked up their leg and
held it in front and magic markered where the shoulder blade moved. Velvet was the first horse.

We put the saddle on without the pad and evaluated the lowest point in the
seat and the level of the saddle. My saddles lowest point was in the middle
of the seat :( and my saddle tipped down in front. Velvet was proclaimed a
downhill horse. That was a shock to Jenny , Tony and myself.

We took the saddle off and put the pad on and then the saddle. We shimmed
the saddle up with two nearly inch wide shim pieces. Jenny made shims out of a cheap pad used to put underneath your sleeping bag when camping. Jenny bought a pad and cut shims out of it the night before. The shims are placed under the front weight bearing area…the little screw in thr front holding the saddle together is very near the weight bearing area. I have shimed a saddle before and put the shim more up front where reason tells you to put it…but no!
We stood back to look at the saddle. It was level. We felt under the
saddle to see if our hands had passage way. It did.

I moved Velvet around and tightened the saddle. I got on and was amazed at
the difference that I felt.
Before…the cantle always interferred with the small of my back. I could
not round my back very easily in the saddle. I had to pay a lot of attention
to sitting on my balance point.

After..I could round my back. The cantle did not hit the small of my back.
I was seated in my balance point. I felt great, but felt my body wanting

We checked Velvet and discovered that the saddle tightening had made the
passage way to tight for the hand to travel underneath the saddle where the
shoulder blade moves.

I got off and we put another shim on…this now is about 3″ high. I need a
back cinch to keep the saddle more in place on Velvet.

I got on and pretty soon Velvet and I were whipping around the arena. We
were going to the right and I made the merest suggestion for a left lead canter and there it was. We did easy drop to trot lead changes around the arena. We then did a fox trot. Her front legs extended in a really nice fox trot. We zipped around. Velvet was eager to go. She wasn’t nearly as eager before we put the shims on. We had an amazing time.

One of my close friends and observers of my riding came in while Velvet and
I were cantering. She told me that she has never seen me so connected to
Velvet. It’s true!

There was not one single horse in the clinic that did not benefit from the

My fox trotter, Sage, was also in the clinic. After the shims had been put
on and approved by Jenny and Tony, her rider started riding around the arena.

I have never seen Sage look so good. She was doing a running walk and
doing it very fast. She looked sensational. I was stunned at how well she
looked. Her rider said that she was a lot more eager to go.

There was not one single horse and/or rider in the clinic that did not
benefit from the shims.

This stuff is a MIRACLE. You ride better. The horse feels better.

I would HIGHLY recommend that you make an appointment with a Parelli
professional, Tony or Jennifer Vaught for saddle positioning when you can!

PostHeaderIcon Sage Brings Happiness

 In a soap opera story, Sage is now leased to a very nice woman at Pine Dell.  Sage’s new mom has two twin 16 year old daughters with horses at Pine Dell.  They work very hard for their horse’s cost.  They clean stalls, feed, water and now they have been promoted to riding instructors under supervision.  They take Monday night group lessons from Jenny and I ride in that lesson too. They are the best!  Mom has faithfully come to all their lessons.  She works at Pine Dell in the summer to help pay for her daughter’s horses.  She is a school teacher.  She talks about her dream for her to have a horse someday, but the money isn’t there for her.

I was at Pine Dell one day and there was mom watching her daughters’ ride.  I said to her…Sage, zero dollar lease, pay to have her boarded here…your horse.  Her mouth gaped open.  I said, “Think about it, and went on my way.”
Her daughters talked to me about this at the Monday night group lesson.  I said essentially that Sage could be their mom’s horse if she paid for her pasture boarding cost at Pine Dell.
Sage needs a job.  If I keep her at home, I’ll breed her and add another expenditure to the herd!
Daughters talked to Mom.  She was thrilled.  I took Sage to Pine Dell last Sunday and rode her.  Mom came.  I rode Sage for her.  We went to the round pen and Mom rode.  Mom is a true beginner.  She’s been watching the lessons, but her body hasn’t been trained.  Sage and her matched!  Sage would hardly go faster than a walk and Mom was really happy with that.
She rode up to the barn where her daughters were feeding and they were stunned!  Their mom was on Sage wearing a huge grin on her face.
When she got off, she was estatic.  She cried with happiness.  I cried with happiness.  She told me that she has wanted a horse since she was old enough to think.  It just never worked out.  Thank you Thank You  Thank You!  Sage will be loved and ridden by mom.  Sage will be loved and ridden by the girls.  Sage will be the center of attention in her new family, but I will always own her.
The daughters are going to give their mom lessons.  The daughters have been charged with getting Sage into shape emotionally and physically for their mom.  They are stunned that they are being forced to ride another horse.  They will be able to use Sage when they give lessons.  Mom and daughters will get to ride together.


PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Wretched Baby Horse!

 I guess it had to happen.  I’ve been very careful.  When amoung horses that are eating, I watch out.  When taking horses into or out of the pasture with lots of other horses, I’ve been very careful.  I’ve been careful riding with other riders too.  I’ve seen some people get kicked by other rider’s horses.  I try and not get my leg in that position.

 Careful, though I was, I got kicked today.
I was among my own herd.  They were all eating hay peacefully.  Everyone had their own pile or were sharing with a friend.
I walked by baby Nova and her mother.  I noticed she had laid down and had a big icy wet spot on her back leg.  I rubbed the icy wet spot with my arm and WHACK!  She got me with a rear sidekick.  It stung.  Now I know why the big horses sort of ignore her when she kicks them.  It must be like a fly sting to them.
Nova had to move her feet around the corral some so she would realize that she just whacked a lead mare….a very upset human lead mare.
Later in the day, I came out to the barn to feed them again.  I started to rub baby Isabell on her nose and she tried to bite me.
I must smell and look like McDonalds today.

PostHeaderIcon JR’s Journal – 2005 Update of the Past and Present


JR is out of Jack’s Sensation and Bob Blackwoods demonstration mare…Yankee bloodlines.  I bought him when he was three days old.  I saw him fox trot. The Yankee side of him is very athletic and can do flying lead changes.  I needed a very athletic horse.  I doubted Velvet would make it through the lead change tasks of level 3 and JR was to be the backup L3 horse.
JR was supposed to be about a 15H horse, but he turned into a 15.3 hand horse.  Jenny started him and he fox trotted / flat foot walked right from the time when she first started.  He is breathtaking.
Eight rides after I started riding him, he could do nothing but pace.  After some time asking the big horse god in the sky, “WHY ME!”, I decided to take the blame.  I decided my body must have been stiff with fear, off balance and this put JR into a position to stiffen up his whole body and VIOLA…pace.
Right before I started riding JR, Velvet and I had a crash.  Velvet did a hard fall coming down from a canter…her shoulders were locked up and she couldn’t stop.  She fell.  My Australian Saddle didn’t allow me to fly over her head.  It held me right in place and I crashed right beside her.  She rolled on me and broke my leg.
After I recovered, I had these fears about cantering.  I was only about halfway recovered when I started riding JR.  JR’s gait is BIG.  When that long legged thing canters, there’s a lot of sky.  I couldn’t stay in the saddle as my body went rigid with fear.  He started cross firing and I had to give him back to Tony and Jenny to learn how to canter again.
So, JR and I have had to make a lot of adjustments.  I had to teach him not to pace while he was wearing a rope halter.  I had to learn to relax when he cantered.
Just this year, I am able to canter him without thinking about fear. I no longer make embarrassing seat-flopping noises when we canter around the arena. We are having a good time trying to get flying lead changes on the straight.  Just this year, we tried to get the fox trot on a consistent basis. He no longer paces, he hard trots instead.  He prefers the running walk and I’ve decided to let him.  He does a beautiful fox trot going down hill
JR’s personality is People-Loving.  If you hurt his feelings, he hangs his head and looks like a whipped Australian Shepherd.
He’s six years old this summer.  He might actually stop growing this year.  Riding him and developing him is exciting and challenging.



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