Archive for September, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Powder’s Progress- Phases of Pressure

Fairy Tale Filly

Here’s my terrible confession.  I am writing this blog just to publish some recent pictures of Powder. Don’t worry, I have more from this great Sunday Fall afternoon.  You’ll get to see all of them, eventually.

Here’s our self protrait.

Self Portrait

It’s my blog.  I can do whatever I want!  See how my eyebrows match her hair.  If I want, I can have half my hair match Powder, but I would never admit that to anyone!  Let’s just leave it at my eyebrows for now.  I love it when my horse and I match!

Powder and I are heavy into training now.  It occured to me to think about the phases of pressure that I use to ask her to do things.  Occasionally, my pressure phase has to get a little high to convince her to do these things. The thinking is that you use enough pressure to get the slightest movement and “the release” from pressure is what teaches.  When the pressure gets too high, Powder thinks about kicking me.  She will go right up into a high pressure phase when it suites her.  Her first pressure is the movement of her head, the next is ears back and then immediately her highest pressure is a swift kick.  These phases happen in about 3 seconds.

My job is to try not to go there and if it does happen, not to be there!

PostHeaderIcon Powder’s Progress- Liberty Game

Powder Leading the Liberty Herd

It’s a game we love to play. We turn the horses loose in the arena and wait for them to want to come back to us. The rules for the horses are trot or canter, maintain the same direction and don’t cut thru the middle.That last rule is important because that’s where the humans stand.  Tony called her “sassy”!  Sassy she was indeedy.  In the above picture, her goal was to be the leading horse. She cut the corner to pass Spike and JR.

Not only did Powder cut thru the middle and change direction, but she bluffed me out as well.  My “suggestion” that she change direction was met with total ignore.  It was a game of chicken and I stepped out of her way.

We did three horses at a time in the liberty game and Powder was lucky to get two geldings.  She got JR, who has long learned the rules of the game and Spike who was new to the game, but decided to follow JR.

Powder in the Game!

Powder’s game was to become the leader of the herd!  She broke all the rules to do it too! In the above picture, she is breaking the “go the same direction” rule. She’s out to have a meaningful meeting with JR!

Herd Control!

Powder’s job is to control the herd.  Making them back off and even stop is her desire.  JR got a little to close to Powder and she’s in the process of letting him know!

Powder had a great time at this game and was revved up for quite a while after the game wanting to do it again!

Powder Leading the Herd!

We all suggested that this might be the opportunity to have Tony ride Powder, but he graciously declined.

At the end, JR came into Lynne.  I looked at Powder and gestured her to come to me…and she did. Spike ran around a bit longer and Powder stayed with me for quite a while. Finally, she couldn’t stand it anymore and went out to lead Spike around the arena a few more time.  When Spike decided the best place for him was with his human, Powder came right back to me.

What a glorius game it is when your horse comes to you at liberty.  Liberty is the Truth.

PostHeaderIcon Mom’s Life


My son is a singer and I’ve been gone three wonderful days to watch and hear him sing.

Nathan Granner is one of The American Tenors.  This is an awesome wonderful group.  Three of us went down to Hot Springs to hear two concerts at Hot Springs Village.  Ben Gulley and Marcus McConico are the other singers. We heard opera, show tunes, pop tunes and some great Mario Lanza tunes sang by classically trained tenors.  If that doesn’t beat all, nothing else will either! Frank McNamara is the best piano player on the planet. He makes the piano into a living creature with incredible sounds.

If I were going to retire, weren’t interested in horses and wanted a great retirment life, Hot Springs Village would be one of my first choices. What friendly people populate that fabulous place.  We had the best of time!

The American Tenors blew away the capacity crowd.  Here’s a great review of the first night.

Then being the relative of the singer, we got to sit around at their wonderful hotel after the performance and have the greatest of times.
It was a WOWSA Mom event.

Oh, I was introduced to the crowd.  I had the spotlights shined on me about 4 times in the two performances.  I live for that!

Check out Nathan’s web site

It was great to get back home.  I played with Powder tonight.


PostHeaderIcon Sage Fox Trots!

SAGE, the Fox Trotting Fool
Yes Virginia, there really is a Fox Trotting GOD


How did it happen? I have many theories and so do others. One day late last winter, Sage and I were out riding around the neighborhood. It was muddy and I had to go back to where I left something while I was riding her. I looked at her tracks and just stood frozen in awe. Her hoofs fell on top of each other. I could see the big word in my mind with little flags waving all over…CAPPING. She had capped her front feet tracks with her back feet tracks. I wrote all my friends and asked could this be fox trotting. Can a fox trotter cap her feet and do a running walk? The highest expert said “yes”. Another asked me how it felt…did I feel that gentle bob bob from the back that would mean a trot with the back feet. I was not certain. After 3 years of trying, one can’t just leap to immediate conclusions.

I worried my farrier to death. I was certain that her toes were too long, her toes were too sloped, instead of going straight down, and her angles were too low. I whined, I attacked, I was pitiful. I subscribed to a farrier magazine.

Sage has been rode and lounged over every piece of uneven ground and up every grassy hill that exists in my corner of Cass and Jackson County Missouri. She trots over poles in her sleep. I’d say her back muscles have been DEVELOPED!

Sage has not been rode much in a bridle. She has not been artifially “collected” or put “on the bit”. Her collection has developed very naturally. I “collect” or work on a soft feel…which is finger by finger tighten the reins so that her nose gives. It is the Parelli theory that a horse doesn’t need to have a bit jammed in their mouth with reins held hard to fox trot. Instead of being “on the bit”, a horse needs to be collected. These are two different concepts. It is Sage’s responsibility, with help from her rider, to learn how to hold herself in a “collected frame”.

Sage is ridden by Jenny Copple, certified Parelli Instructor & Trainer of all Breeds.

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Lesson time with Jenny

Pat Parelli has done various studies of their students and why they enter the program.  Some of them have specific problems and when these problems are overcome, the students move out of the program. Many stay a long long time. Others drop out for various reasons.

The category I’m in is “Want to Always Learn More – Can’t Ever Get Enough”

Lessons are my favorite horse back riding activity.  Lessons with the right people.  My right people are Jennifer and Tony Vaught.

Tonight was the first time I’ve rode Nova since the week long  Missouri Fox Trotter World Celebration ended.  Nova has had nearly a week off.  I started recoving from the week of the Celebration about two days ago. 

This year Nova and I are going to trot.  It will help build up her muscles for the fox trot.  We started tonight. I posted to the trot.  Jenny mentioned the word diagonals..bringing back the diagonals.  I thought she was talking about leg yeilding diagonally across the arena. whoops! No!  One has to rise when a specific front leg goes up at the trot.  I remember now. So, I had my body rise with the inside leg.  Every now and then Jenny would tell me to change my diagonal.  huh.  After that round of trotting was done and we were resting in the middle, Jenny asked me which leg I was supposed to rise with.  Me, “Inside!”  Jenny, “Rise with the leg on the Wall”  OH YES!  I haven’t posted seriously since I passed my original Level 3 Parelli test.  I must have thought I was cantering with the lead on the inside leg!

Another round and we posted correctly!

Then we fox trotted and seriously, Nova was awesome!

What fun it is to be back in lessonville with a great instructor and great friends at Pine Dell Farm.

Even Nova sez it's time to get back into lessons

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Show-Off Junkie

Thursday, 23 April 2009
Dearest friends,

It came over me again-the need to show off.

Larry Whitesell is doing a clinic at Pine Dell Farm this three day weekend. I came to Pine Dell to ride Nova tonight. I got to ride with good friends, Hope and Edna.

I had just finished all my ground games and got on. In walks Dana-a gaited horse trainer who specializes in Paso Finos, and Larry Whitesell. They sat down in the viewing area and watched us.

After I realized that Larry Whitesell was watching me, my show-off tendancies took off. I really can’t help myself. Thankfully, I didn’t ask him what he thought of me and Nova and he didn’t volunteer to tell me. whew! I still have my dreams intact of doing splendid.

Nova and I spun around that arena doing warm up techniques that Larry teaches. We proceeded to fox trot and flat foot walk around that arena looking really cool…most of the time. I thought we were “HOT”!

We did side passing to and from the wall. We cantered diagonally across the arena. We did drop to a trot lead changes. We did our reining horse spin in slow motion. We stopped on a dime and backed beautifully.

Then I got off and set up barrels to jump over. Oh wait, Nova had not jumped over the barrels during our ground games. I got off and had her jump on-line. Good thing I didn’t jump her over the barrels as she would have launched me into Larry Whitesell’s lap.

After her jumps got good enough that I thought I could ride the jump, I did! I sceamed just a little bit and Hope said she saw a little daylight between me and the saddle. We did another jumping pass over the barrels and this time it was much smoother.

I have now jumped the big barrels on Nova and lived to tell about it!
In between all this a couple of participants in this weekend’s clinic showed up. They have my name and number so I can refer them to wondrous fox trotters like Nova and wondrous trainers in natural horsemanship!

I chatted with Dana about the Paso Fino breed. She stated that there are still breeders out there that have kept the wonderful foundation bloodlines and are not breeding for those tight bunched up Paso Finos. She started with Pasos back in the day before the show horse people started breeding those little tight sewing machine horses.

We had a fabulous night of showing off. Nova was a tired little showing-off horse when we got done tonight! I feel great!

PostHeaderIcon 2010 World Celebration Highlight

PostHeaderIcon Versatility Vision – Ribbons and Patterns

September 10th, 2010 | Author: Susan

I’d just like to start out with how difficult do you think it is to pull a tire on the end of a long rope in a mixture of finly ground rock and sand after a Hurricane Hermoine dumped a million inches of rain in the area last night. I had no idea, either. Nova and I practiced pulling a barrel in an arena and a few lighter things on a gravel road. In no way were we prepared to drag a 400 lb tire! ha Firstly there is a savvy skill with rope handing that I didn’t have. After Nova got her hind leg wrapped in the long rope and another little spook, we dropped the rope. At least I was smart enough to let go!

And that was our adventure into today. I continued to mess up the pattern. Finally, I remembered what Sally Scott told me a long while ago, “Concentrate”. Think about what you are doing and what is next.” You can’t float away into space cadetville thinking how wonderfully Nova is cantering.

Before the reining class, Thea quizzed me on the reining pattern. There’s an example of how things are in the versatility arena. Competitors help each other! I got it! Nova and I did the pattern wonderfully. Nova messed up our first canter depart with some examples of how well she can canter and stop at the same time. But we went right on and did magnificently in her spins and circles. Thea won the class. I got World Reserve Reining horse champion. I wonder if some of those high dollar reining horse champions need my coaching!

PostHeaderIcon Celebration is Not For the Weak!

PostHeaderIcon Versatility Vision – What a Show Day

September 7th, 2010 | Author: Susan

Nova and I are one for three. She messed up one pattern and I messed up two. Already I forgot what happened in the fourth class. Read on…

Showmanship…We were doing an outstanding job looking sexy. We were to the back-thru-cones, a piece of cake for us in our real life, but this is showlife with a show halter. We did good till I misjudged the cone path and things went out of control. Nova even screamed and reared up, right in front of all the judges. Good Gad. I’ll do showmanship again and look good. I am even going to practice!

Western Pleasure is where Nova messed up. I tell you that we were looking good. We had great fox trot, great flat foot walk and our canter is supreme. The Kansas City crowd were there cheering and clapping for me and Paula Crump. We were sailing along with cheer and joy. Then we came to the middle of the arena (on the rail) and Nova stopped! Stock still stop and didn’t go forward for a few moments. The next time we came to that spot, she stopped again. This time she was even more reluctant to move on out. Good GAD!
Then I went down to the trailer and got my spurs for the remaining classes. I’ve not rode Nova with spurs since early this year.

We had Horsemanhip class. I remember now. We picked up a wrong lead for a few short strides. Other than that we did really good. It’s a short pattern and the judges really notice when you mess up.

I can go on and on about how well we did in Western Riding. That event has 9-10 lead changes. You weave thru cones, changing leads all down the side of the arena. Then you zip out and canter all over the arena doing lead changes here and there. Well, we were nailing it! Our lead change were fabulous! We looked SEXY! Right at the end of the pattern, I woke up and was out in the middle of the Sahara Desert. I got lost! All of a sudden I was circling around a cone when I should hae been cantering to the other side of the arena! I broke the pattern. That’s death in the Versatility Pattern world. I was really really proud of Nova!

Now the ugly parts that make knowing me fun. I forgot my bridle this morning. Nova a n I were done with our ground work and I was ready to ride!  Scream!  Nichole was kind enough to go fetch it for me. A good friend came up and whispered to me that I had my spurs on upside down and backwards. The buckle goes on the outside. I ran to the restroom to change them. I switched spurs around. Later my friend told me I still had them on backwards. Somehow, the buckle never made it to the inside.

I was sitting on Nova waiting to go into our first event and we started talking about my beautiful Don Covey stirrups. Turns out I had them on backwards. Luckily my saddle is really flexible and twists really nice and free of pain to my knees. When I leaped off my horse after the last class, someone pointed out my zipper wasn’t anywhere near the top of my jeans. It’s good I had a top that covered me!
I thought I lost my purse a while ago, but I discovered it hanging in my trailer.
Showing is tough.  It’s not for weaklings.

I’m showing tomorrow morning in the performance arena in the class for old people! Yee HAW!!!


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