Archive for May, 2006

PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do You Do in a Horse Development Clinic?

We had the Whole Enchillada Memorial Day Weekend in Bentonville.
We had the Friday evening free demonstration where the entire Vaught family (except 3 year old Justin) rode their horses and knocked the socks off the crowd. Five year old Caitlyn rode Velvet. At the end, Caitly asked Velvet to lie down and she wowed the crowd.
Saturday, we had the Difficult and Challenging Horse Demonstration. That was very cool. Tony had to take a long time with Scout to get him relaxed and unafraid so that he could ride him. We saw Scout make many changes. The press came during this portion of the demonstration and we had articles in two Bentonville newspapers!
We got to see Bourbon, a tall American Saddlebred, load himself in a small trailer. It took Bourbon 2 hours to deal with his fear with Tony patiently coaching him and persisting that he load into the trailer. When it was all done, Bourbon had loaded himself in and out of that little trailer about 15 times. His owner got to load him several times also. When it was done, Bourbon should be able to get into any trailer.
We had Sunny, the untouched horse. She was nearing three and had not been trained to lead. She also was entered in the next day’s Horse Development clinic and by the time it was over, not only did she know how to lead, but she had her first ride! What that horse learned in two days is phenominal!
On Sunday, we had the Horse Development Clinic. I asked the participants to bring things that scare horses. We had tarps, spray bottles, yellow slickers, trash can filled with empty pop cans, the pedestal and lots of different sized balls.
This is the clinic that I wanted Sue to be in. She got to ride in Tony and Jenny’s trailer with the other 4 horses.
Everyone in the clinic had a carrot stick and used it. Remember how scared Sue was of other people’s carrot sticks while I was riding her? Well, this was the great opportunity for her to have carrot sticks moving everywhere as well as being surrounded by other horses. And, with me being on the ground, I didn’t have to worry.
We started out learning how to back up, turn on the forequarters and hindquarters. Since Sue was more advanced, Jenny gave us a few special assignments.
Next we moved the balls. We formed two circles with horses behind the humans and we kicked a ball back and forth the the humans.
My circle was going slowly and Sue was tolerating the balls just fine. We snuck down and joined Tony’s group. He always gets the action moving faster. We played with the ball on the ground. Then we bounced the ball…and lastly we had balls flying all over the place. Sue did just fine in all of this. She backed up a bit, but she didn’t turn and run.
We had a lunch break and then it was time for scary things. We played with a tarp, spray water bottles, yellow slicker, red slicker, umbrella, and hoola hoops. She’s still leary of hoola hoops going over her head, so we worked a lot on desensitizing with that. We didn’t have time to get the umbrella over her head. She tolerated it being over my head and being on the ground.
Near the end of the day, we walked over and climbed right up on the pedestal. I put the hoola hoop over her head while she was on the pedestal. Everyone was impressed and so was I!
Lastly we played skipping around the horse on one end and the other end had that game where you go under an ever-lowering stick. What is the name of that game! On the skipping end of the arena, Tony also rode three horses. He put the first ride on the untouched horse, Sunny. He passenger rode her around the arena while all of us were playing with the scary objects. Is that not amazing! He rode another palomino horse that was very reactive. He got that horse calmed right down by playing the skipping and drunken cowboy game. He had to take over that horse during the ball game in the morning. That horse started to kick out when he became overloaded. His threshhold was crossed and Tony took him over and demonstrated how to calm him down to get back into his left brain.
Tony also rode Sundancer. ..another palomino. Sundancer was ready for his ride. Tony skipped around him a bit and then jumped on him. His “human mother” walked in front of him and he followed with Tony on his back. This was also during the time when the rest of us were playing with horse scary things. Another amazing thing. I guess it was a palomino kind of a colt start day for those three palominos!
The stick was suspended from the gate on one end and rested on two barrels on the other end. The opening was just a bit wider that the width of a horse! People were leaning on the gate. A 10 year old boy was sitting on top of a corral panel very close. All those things would cause clastrophobia to a horse. Sue and I waltzed under the stick. We then all got in a circle and took turns going under the stick. Sue handled it fine whether I led her through or sent her through. She was fabulous.
Near the end of the clinic, a yellow slicker was drapped over the pole. The yellow slicker hung down about as far as Sue’s mouth. She couldn’t see the other side. We stuck there for a while. I had her put her head down several times and then made the suggestion that she could now walk through. Several times, she didn’t believe me. Eventually, she decided that she could walk through the yellow slicker if she ducked her head. We DID IT!
The clinic was over. Sue handled everything. She handled all the horses. She handled 14 other carrot sticks. I don’t remember her even flinching! That was fantastic.
When we went around one by one and told what we had learned, I was last. I told the audience that 3-4 months ago, Sue was pronounced a fruit-loop horse and after Tony and Jenny retraining I was able to take over. Then I passed my emotional threshhold and burst out in tears “I’m So PROUD of HER,” I loudly sobbed!
It was a great way to end the clinic!
But, just to show me that my relationship with Sue is not yet 100%, she played hard to catch the next morning.  After lunch! I had to walk her down about 10 minutes until she turned, faced me and then allowed me to walk up to her. She was in a pasture with her trailer buddies and would rather remain with them!

PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do You Do with Friends?

I set aside my fears tonight and it felt good. We got to ride outside in the big arena with dear good friends. That felt really good.

We warmed up really good. We are trying to do the hill climbing that Linda Parelli recommends so that Sue will be better balanced. Sue gets to trot up and down a small hill.  She also got to jump over some logs. What a fine time she had.

Our friends were in the arena. Our good friend Jane opened the gate for us. We don’t like to get really close to things yet.

We went in and just rode around. We tried to end up standing with the group. It made us nervous to be very close to the group of horses, but we survived.

Sue loves to get on the outside track of an arena and just go. I think that she finds comfort in that as it was how she was rode for quite a bit of time by a past owner who was good to her. Most of my horses like to cut the corner before we get to the fence, but not Sue. She goes straight to the fence. She doesn’t want to cut through the arena. she wants to follow the rail. So, I let her do that some of the time.

We didn’t ride much, but we rode without my fear getting in the way.

That was a big successful ride!

PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do You Deal with Susan’s Fear?

It’s become apparent. It’s out there for the world to notice. Jenny noticed today and that’s a sad thing.

Yes, no longer can we talk about Sue’s fear. Her fear has abated to flinching and perhaps a few quick steps…or a head up.

Yes, we have to talk about Susan’s fear. It’s now greater than Sue’s fear. My latest fear came from being bucked off last year and breaking my collar bone. Boy Howdy did that hurt!

My brain flashes back to a horse bunching up and then bucking. My left brain knows that Sue is not going to swell up and buck. My right brain is not at all convinced.

Sue had a pretty good time in the arena today. She was so relaxed that she took a snooze while Jenny was talking to us. Of course I was on high alert for horses that might be coming to close to us and scaring Sue (and me!).

In the Level 1 Advancing Clinic, Sue and I got bunched in the middle of 2 or 3 horses. We try not to let that happen, but in an Advancing clinic, horses go everywhere.

Sue’s head came up and she started backing. Jenny told me that I pulled back on her too…a big no no. All I’m supposed to do is to get her head pointed at the source of her fear. Jenny told me to pretend to relax…fake it until I make it.

I also did a big No No again today. I told someone in the clinic not to get to close behind me. I’m supposed to be able to adjust to that myself…not tell another clinic person with a three year old mustang, not to get close to me.

So, I’ve had a big talk with myself tonight. Sue is fun to ride. She speeds up when startled, but calms right down. In fact today, I was pretty relaxed at one point when riding her. Something from behind made her nervous and she sped up for about 5 steps and then calmed right down again. My spook mechinism didn’t even have time to react and it was all over! KEWL!

That’s another thing that I like about Parelli Natural Horsemanship and me. I like fighting with my fear and winning. There’s nothing better than to conquor pure fear. It’s a rush!

My next rides on Sue are just going to be joyous events. I have given myself a directive to “Let the FEAR GO!”

PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do you Do in a Level 2 / Level 3 CLINIC?

The morning was spent online doing the change direction at a trot without breaking gait. Sue did fairly well at this considering she had not done it before and is nervous at turning and facing me and then going the other direction! Anyway, we had a lot of fun at this and made some improvements in maintaining gait.

Sue felt claustrophobic when everyone started riding. I was instructed to do the hindquarter/forequarters turning task and then move on. Everyone else was doing it at a stand still. But Sue felt better getting to move, and move we did.

Then we all walked along the wall and did 360 degree turns. We turned 180 with the hindquarters and came back around with the forequarter turn. After we had done that for some time, Sue actually got pretty good at it. We got some nice compliments from Jenny.

Then we started trotting and did our turns in the corner. There were more horses than corners so we bunched up a bit in the corners. I was instructed just to ride on the inside of the arena. Jenny thought that Sue might feel terribly claustrophobic if someone passed her between her and the wall. So we did our turns and whipping around the arena without getting too close to riders and horses.

Every now and then a corner would get empty and we would zip to the corner and do what everyone else was doing. Some horses made me and Sue a little nervous, so we tried to stay away from them. Well, it was the people using their carrot sticks with quite a bit of movment. You see, Sue and I don’t really like those carrot sticks when they move!

We did this a long time. We actually got relaxed enough that we made it out to riding on the wall. We kept an eye on all the horses that scared us and tried to stay away from them.

Occasionally, during the riding portion a horse with a carrot stick rider would come right to Sue’s head. That scared her a lot. The horse coming at her scared her and the carrot stick scared her. Sue picked her head way up and tensed up. I kept her head facing the scary horse and rider and we backed up fast!

I got to make that very low key quiet scream a couple of times. You don’t want to scream bloody murder when riding a horse that feels like it’s going to jump out from under you. I’ve developed this nice quiet scream for instances like this.

During the last portion of this clinic, someone actually tossed a carrot stick to another rider. It was about 10′ away from me and I got to make that low quiet scream sound again as we backed up really fast!

BUT, that was it! No boot-scooting spooks occurred during the entire day! My entire rear end stayed completely in the saddle. I was very pleased at this.

At the end, we did drop-to-a-trot teardrop canters. Sue and I did drop-to-a- walk teardrops. She actually trotted a bit going counter clockwise on the wall. Sue leans a bit towards pacy, so to have her trot is a thrill indeed. If she can trot, she can canter! Our drop-to-a-walk (and then trot off) was very speedy and very smooth. I felt like I could have carried a glass of water and not spilled a drop!

As soon as we were done, I hopped off. There were horses cantering near us. I knew that this made Sue just a bit nervous and I wanted to get off and find a safe place for her to stand in the arena.

When everyone did this cantering task, we adjourned to our horse shoe circle and everyone got to tell what they had learned that day.

When it was my turn, I said that I had been nervous about having Sue do any turns as she always felt like she was ready to explode. But today, having to do so many of them-helped her relax.

Jenny complimented Sue on how fast she relaxed and how good she did.

When Jenny was done saying wonderful things about Sue, Sue came up behind me (I was sitting on a barrel) and nudged my back twice.
I think she was thanking me for a day well done!

PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do You Do on a Nice Walk – Meet Sue’s Daughter!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sue – How Do You Go On A WALK

I got home too late to ride Sue…darn it..outside at my home.

So, Sue and I took a walk. What nice manners she has. Not once did she dive for the wondrous green grass. We walked out the gate and headed for an old stump. I sat on the stump and let her grazz. She was very comfortable and able to eat between checking things out.

We walked on some more…around a lake and went back home.

We had Diva waiting for us. I let Diva out and she followed Sue and I to the gate between pastures. We went thru and took Diva to the other side of the lake. Diva was looking cool…prancing around.

I let Sue loose and she took off running back to Isabel still penned up. Diva and I looked at one another and then she took off too. She did discover the open gate and things were cool.

I let Isabel out and things went well.
Diva is Sue’s yearling daughter. This was her 2nd day at her new home.

PostHeaderIcon Sue How Do You You Ride in a Lesson

I had fun tonight on Sue. I was able to relax. I had someone telling me what to do. I didn’t have to rely on myself to figure out what to do. I had a task. I had people to chat with as I zipped around. All those are good things.

In the warm up tonight I think we have the rope throwing done..except she still flinched when I threw it over her while clamoring in the trailer. I used lots of treats tonight when she accepted the rope touching her ears.

We have the hula hoop singing as it goes over her head. She got lots of treats when she accepted the hula hoop touching her ears. She even wore the hula hoop over her head – on her chest and walked. It clanked. She was calm. wowsa

We played find the treat. I’m trying to reach her curious and fun self. I put a peppermint treat on a barrel and then direct her to the barrel with my “send arm” and the carrot stick. At the end we were circling besides the barrel. We stopped at the barrel and found the treat. She liked this game. I did too. It’s like having a child in the house for their first Christmas.

We got the bridle on. It didn’t take near as long. She got treats when she got the bit into her mouth. Surprising, she doesn’t think much of people putting a bit in her mouth.

I got on. Again the rope flopping against her neck made her flinch. We were zipping along and I decided to circle a barrel. We did that and the saddle slipped a bit, so I performed the rear end shuffle and scared Sue into the scoot move. We went around the barrel again and she expected me to move the saddle again at the same place. I fooled her. I was a semi-relaxed rag doll.

We did our 4 corner game. We didn’t spend as much time walking and stopping. When we stopped, we practiced the bend to a stop game. We went up into a faster comfortable gait. I managed to make it 3/4 of the way around the arena before having to stop and relax.

Then Jenny came into the arena. I was still playing my 4 corner (sometimes) game. But I started to do a turn on the hind quarter and then forequarter. She told me to be more particular with Sue’s forequarter turns. She was walking out if it. I thought, “I’m into surviving up here, not thinking about my forequarter turn.” But, then I thought about the forequarter turn and we did a darn credible job. I got into my one step backwards and one turn step movement. I can turn a circle backwards doing that maneuver. It’s slick and Sue can do it.

Then was started going on the wall without stopping. I survived that. As we rested, Jenny told me that we would do the clover leaf pattern at a dog walk. Sue and I did a credible job at that. I started to relax. We did it for a long time. Then we switched up to the first comfortable gait. I think we were doing a flat foot walk. Our task was to make all the turns and stay at the same speed. We didn’t do all that bad.

There was another horse in the arena and when we got close to that horse, Sue shied away. Sue also shied away from Jenny’s horse. Sue is scared of other horses! I guess she is unaware that I can protect her against other horses!

OK, we were zipping along. I was able to let the reins go slack for brief moments of time. I was able to ride one handed for brief moments of time. I was into the Rhythm! Jenny was sitting in the middle resting her horse. She had her carrot stick on her shoulder. We went past her and Jenny MOVED the CARROT STICK! SCREAM! We spun out at 100mph scoot. Some of my cheek left the saddle. It was a cheek and 3/4 spook! We turned and faced the awful carrot stick. Then we got on with our clover leaf task.

As an aside: While Sue was in full time training the 2nd time, Tony rode Sue with a carrot stick. He held the carrot stick against the corrugated metal wall as he rode Sue. That produces a noise like a sick airplane trying to take off right next to you. Sue handled that fine.

After a few more times on the pattern, we were told to stop in the middle. Sue slid to a stop with just my body pressure. She backed a few steps with just my body language. whew! yee haw

I knew that being in a lesson would get me to relax and have fun!

We then watched Jenny and the formerly scary horse AND carrot stick do some fancy reining and dressage movements.

We were done! Sue got some more treats after the bridle came off.

We took Isabel home with us. We now have Sue’s yearling daughter living with us at home. She got to run in the pasture tonight with the Bay Girls!


PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Do You Do with Having a Bad Day?

Sue had a hard day today. Well, let me tell you about it.

We went to Pine Dell and Isabel was boiling in her stall. It’s her turn to stay with Velvet in the dry lot at night. I got the saddle on Sue and then got Isabel. I let Isabel loose in the big arena and she ran back and forth from the gate where Sue was tied and the front of the arena. Finally, I got Sue ready and in we went.

I let Sue loose and we played the circle game at liberty with two horses. We all had quite a time. Isabel, still feeling fresh, exploded now and then in a kick at Sue. Sue dodged.

Tony came by and we chatted about Isabel. I turned around and had Isabel come into me. I petted her and let her return to play with Sue. Tony and I chatted for a while and that’s when I noticed that Sue and Isabel were still running around the arena. They would trot half the arena and then stop and rest for a moment.

This is when Sue’s mind turned from horse accepting of humans into a “Can’t Catch Me Horse”. Isabel was having such a great time at this, she just followed Sue.

We started playing the Catch Me game in earnest. They had to keep moving and I didn’t. If either horse looked in to me, I would back up and allow the horse to catch me. That didn’t happen.

They were having a great time running around the arena. Sue was the lead horse and Isabel was right on her hip.

That’s when I noticed the catastrophe starting to happen. Was that saddle slipping. hmmm. Yes, I believe the saddle is starting to slip. Oh Wow! It’s half way to her belly right now. I headed them off and got both horses to stop. I approached Isabel and then Sue. Right as I was starting to get my rope over Sue’s neck, Isabel took off and Sue flew away too. It wasn’t but a half a lap and Sue was wearing the saddle underneath her tummy.

She went galloping around a corner, slipped and fell. Then she couldn’t get up. It was hard to determine if she had a foot caught in something or what. Isabel came over and pretended to kick at her. I thought that was pretty nasty of her.

Sue stopped thrashing and I has able to get to her head. Tony got there and took over Sue. I got to Isabel and started leading her to the gate. Barb came in with the halter and took Isabel away.

Tony had kept Sue from struggling. He held her neck down and just rubbed and rubbed her. When I got back, he was ready to get the saddle off. Luck was with us as the place where the girth was cinched up was right on the top of Sue’s belly. Tony was able to reach it and then we all stepped back. Now Sue was too frightened to get up. Tony had to slap her on her rear to get her to try again. We finally determined that she had her feet in the belly of the saddle and couldn’t get the foot to stay in place. Finally, the saddle was thrown aside and Sue was able to rise. She was unhurt.

Tony haltered her and handed me the lead rope. We all rubbed on her for a moment. Then I took her over to the mounting block and I just sat there with her. She had steam coming up from her back.

After the steam settled, I need to play with her some more to get her mind back in the game and also to tighten her saddle girth.

I decided to play with the Hula Hoop. Sue is still very nervous about the Hula Hoop going over her head. This time we started with the hoop going over her head instead of finishing with it. We also got a lot of ear touching done with the hoop.

Then I used the hoop instead of the carrot stick to ask Sue to do the circle game, turn on the hind quarters and forequarters. We played with it again and again over the head.

I also “accidentally” dropped the hoop on the saddle. That makes Sue nervous. She flinches with things hit the saddle and make a noise.

Finally, it’s time to ride. Sue is so nervous after I got on that when I let the rope rein go slack, she flinched when it touched her neck. Now that is nervous.

So, all we did for a long while is the 4 corner game. We walked to a corner, stopped and backed. We sat there for a least a minute and I rubbed her neck. Sometimes I rubbed her rear end too. Then we walked the other direction. After a while of this, she would let out a huge sigh at every stop. She also started to shake her head. She was letting the stress go.

After a long time at the walk, we did a faster walk to the corners. After we did this and she was relaxed at the stops, we went on up to a gait. We did that and then started to pass a corner. Instead of stopping at every corner, we skipped 2-3 corners.
When she got so that she could go down the long end of the arena at a nice relaxed gait, we stopped for the day.

She took me up to the fence and I dismounted. She wasn’t nearly as surprised this time when I suddenly disappeared from her back.

We had a good ride.

PostHeaderIcon Sue – How Well Do You Remember Me?

I haven’t played with Sue for almost a week. My life with humans got in the way.

Sue thought about not coming up to me. She stayed outside the round pen instead of coming inside.

Finally, she decided that she could be caught and came on in her stall.

We went to Pine Dell and went through our long warm-up “friendly” games. We chatted with other people and just had a nice time. Then it came time for the bridle…Sue is hard to bridle. She doesn’t open her mouth. I just wait.
Well, it takes quite a while.

By the time I got her bridle on her, it was time to go back home.

There’s nothing like confusing the heck out of the horse!


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