Archive for July, 2011
I found “the magic button” this past Saturday during a group lesson with Jenny Vaught. It’s just not every day that you find a magic button on a horse that you’ve been riding for four years!
Nova is a gaited horse. She’s a Missouri Fox Trotter. Finding the right speed in the right gear is like owning a corvette with 6 forward gear-shifting speeds. There is one place for the flat foot walk and one place for the fox trot where everything is perfect. It’s one of those 6 forward gears on a Corvette. We want to find that speed where her head nods in rhythm with her body…where her tail waves like a flag and where there is smoothness. We try to find that speed where I can drink some of that Ozark fabled moonshine while I’m speeding along the trail. It’s a very happy place to be.
Not that I would ever drink while I’m riding and Ozark moonshine has never been anything I’ve ever wanted to drink. I just mentioned it because these great fox trotting horses were first fully assembled in the Missouri Ozarks. Missouri is still producing these smooth riding, great minded horses. OK, this is just a commercial. Let’s get back to the magic button.
Nova and I are far enough along now that I can recognize the perfect spot in both gaited gears. Nova is a slow-down kind of horse. I get her going in a perfect speed (in the zone) and in the next 3-5 seconds, she slows down. She might slow down just a tiny fraction of a mile-per-hour, but then we drop out of the perfect rhythm. She’s still doing the required gait, but it’s not perfect. We have dropped “out of the zone”.This happens about a 50 times in one spin around the arena. We are constantly adjusting her speed. Not many can see the slightest bit of speeding up and slowing down. Not many can feel the difference in the slightest of gait speed change. It takes a good eye to spot this on the ground and an educated seat to feel it in the saddle.
Permit me to explain that I have short legs and horses wear a girth to keep the saddle on. It just so happens, Jenny has explained to me for years, that my communication heels press against the girth. My slightest bit of heel pressure goes into the girth and fails to fully come out the other side-to Nova’s body. My communication is muffled. Muffled!
Jenny experimented last Saturday. She told me to bend my legs just a bit and move my feet back when I wanted to tell Nova to speed up just the slightest amount.
I did so, and Nova immediately sped up and stayed in the perfect “zone”. Instead of a Chevy Corsair, I have my 6 gears of Corvette underneath me now. It worked! I yelled in exultation at Jenny, “Wow where did that come from?” Jenny responded, “It’s a magic button!”
With the magic button concept, my heels are now pressing on a spot about an inch from where they naturally hang. An inch makes a huge difference in communication! This is finesse!
Jenny Vaught is a great horse-master and a great teacher!
I’ve been dissatisfied with my glasses ever since they started slightly blurring my long distance vision. And although they did match the turquoise that I’m fond of wearing, my glasses didn’t match my horse.
Have I mentioned lately that I love my horse so much that I buy clothes to match, jewelery to match, most anything I wear matches my horse. Lately, my hair has been matching my horse too. Yes, it’s obsession and I’m just fine with it. It doesn’t affect anyone in a negative way and I can still hold down my job with this horse match obsession.
Nova has a way of getting things done. We went for a ride in a field. We have to walk next to a tree and shrubbery line with a dog pen where the dog used to bark at us. No matter how many times I rode Velvet or Sage next to this scary place, we all tense up a little bit. Now Nova has never experienced the barking dog, so she doesn’t know the exact spot to get nervous like Sage, Velvet and I do. But nature has it’s way and Nova will be scared of the exact same place for the rest of her life tool
There’s this turkey. On this particular day, the turkey was hiding in the shrubbery right where the dog pen is. We disturbed her mightily and she exploded out of the shrubbery.
Then she did the deed which got me new glasses. I might add that I now have glasses to match Nova.
What did she do. She leaped up and sideways. Fox Trotters are really nice about not having suspension. That’s what makes them smooth. Nova has spooked sideways once before with me on her. She’s eight years old and has spooked once. But she spooked sideways with no suspension. There’s a great deal of difference to the rider. Scooting sideways is what I call it. They scoot sideways and your body follows-automatic pilot.
Sadly, Nova did a suspension leap sideways and my body doesn’t follow.
I was in the middle of a word. I was talking to “she who wont be named”. Suddenly I was sitting in the air, just like Wile Coyote does. And a second later I was crashed on the ground. Usually I twist in mid air and land on my side. This was too sudden and I landed on my bumper tailbone body part.
She who won’t be named was right behind me. Her horse went sideways, but she stayed on and was able to dismount.
Nova stayed with her herd, just a couple of yards away eating grass. Turkeys abound in her pasture. When she figured out it was a turkey and not a small black leopard, she relaxed.
We were able to lead the horses to a nearby mounting block – bleachers and got on. It was then that she who won’t be named noticed that my glasses were missing. I didn’t even go back to look for them…tall grass-no way.
I now have gold filigree side pieces with black and tan coloring. We look totally matched now!
It was a Parelli tour event at the Louiseville Fair Grounds. Jenny and Tony had taken Velvet and Sasha to ride when the instructors got to put on their demonstration and were giving lessons from Pat.
We were there the day before getting ready. Getting ready is riding and practicing, as well as bathing. Being Velvet’s owner, I got to be there too and watch. It was quite an honor.
We were all gathered outdoors in a great big open space, suitable for horse back riding. Linda Parelli was sitting on the sidelines watching Pat and some of the other instructors ride. Linda knows me because I have taken a level 2 course with her many years ago in Colorado. I don’t know how she does it, but she always recognizes me and knows me by name.
I was sitting just a little behind her trying to be as quiet as a church mouse. We were watching Jenny and then little four year old Caitlyn ride Velvet.
Linda turned to me with this question: ?Is Velvet just extraordinarily beautiful for a Fox Trotter?” Then she laughed and said that she knew what my answer would be. Velvet’s mom would say, Yes, Velvet is extraordinaly beautiful for a fox trotter.
I laughed too and gave her question a serious think-thru in the small amount of time I had before a reply should be coming out of my mouth.
I thought about all the beautiful fox totters I have met and about Velvet.
I replied, “Velvet is beautiful. Her head is beautiful. She is a beautiful black fox totter. But there are other fox trotters out there that are just as beautiful as she is.”
I’ve mulled over just what causes Velvet to be so extraorindarly beautiful in the eyes of Linda Parelli. Linda has seen just about every kind of beautiful horse in the entire world. Linda thinks Velvet is beautiful.
I have a better answer now. Yes Velvet has a beautiful head and beautiful conformation. She is in great shape and well muscled. She has great tone because when Velvet goes on tour, she has been rode in preparation for the event. The biggest inner aspect that makes her beautiful is her mind. She has been given choices all her life. She has learned to think through requests from humans. I believe her life with the Parelli method has enhanced her great physical beauty. It sets her apart in the horse world!
During the winter, especially last winter, it was horrid cold. We suffered terribly. Everyone and I mean everyone in Missouri vowed never to complain about the Missouri heat. I vowed to never complain about the heat. You felt the cold horrid damp wet air go clear thru to your bones in winter Missouri. I was snowed in for a total of 2 days and then the next time three days. Snowed in and I live an inch from the city line. The snow plows finally made it to my property line, but that didn’t mean I could make it out of the long driveway to the plowed road. My truck was hitched up to the trailer and the tractor broke down. Nothing to make the snow get out of the way of the car.
Now it’s July in Missouri and it is horrid hot. I’m not complaining about the heat, because I took that vow. I’m complaining about the humidity! This humidity makes my body wilt and whine. There’s so much humidity in the air that it makes me feel about 50 lbs heavier. I hate this weather humidity!
We had a clinic last Saturday and there was no breeze, bright sunshine and humidity that was sweltering. I sweltered. My horse sweltered. I was so hot, I thought surely my body can’t take this. Well, surprisingly my body did take it, but it was mad!
We spent the morning from 9:00 to about noon outside in glaring sun. In the afternoon we were in an arena filled with fans. I thought just being out of the sun would help, but it didn’t. It was sweltering. Amazingly, I went outside and rode in the arena again. It was a different arena, close to the road. I thought maybe when the cars went by, they would send some breeze into the arena. There is one shade tree next to the arena. In the afternoon, that shade is exactly the size of two horses if they stood right!
Nova and I quit around 3:00. There were four riders still on their horse at 4:30. The clinic was over, horses were trailered home and recovery started. It’s Thursday now and I’m recovered!