Archive for November, 2015

PostHeaderIcon What! A Self Assessment Task Checklist? NOoooooooo!

In a smug tone, I tell Jenny all I have to do to pass the Level 4 Free Style is bridleless flying lead changes which Cisco and I will be able to do because we can do them while jumping over a barrel. Jenny tells me that Cisco and I won’t need to use a barrel by the time we develop this skill. “You’ll not need to jump that high,” she sez.

Note: I was thinking that you, the reader, might believe barrel jumping means success at flying lead changes. Barrel jumping provides the horse with an opportunity to rearrange their leg footfall sequence. The rider’s focus, body position and knowledge are other requirements. I was obsessed with flying changes during the Parelli journey with Velvet and Sage. I bought one day old JR because he had the talent potential to do flying changes. Now I get to be obsessed all over again with the journey that Cisco and I are on.

Then she mentions the other tasks. There are no other tasks, I explain. I’ve been watching the level 4 auditions on You Tube. All we have to do is a pattern, flying changes and simple changes.

Jenny says, “There is a two page sheet where you have to check off tasks you’ve completed and you have to sign it.”

I’ve seen that sheet. It has the compulsory tasks. After watching the video submissions on You Tube, all I care about is the compulsory tasks. I examine the audition sheet that night. Hmmmm. It does say to do the self assessment chcklist. It does say to sign it. There is even a place for a signature. There are a bunch of tasks.

Oh cry! I check with my inner self. Inner self tells me that I cannot check the tasks as completed unless Cisco and I successfully perform the tasks. What if someone asks Cisco and I to do one of those tasks and we can’t do it? Also, my inner self tells me I can’t lie on the check list.

Well drat!

I’m now keeping a list of the tasks we successfully completed.

Jenny also stated that doing these tasks will help in our development towards flying lead changes.

Sigh… Oh the suffering on the best journey ever!

PostHeaderIcon The Cisco Journey 11-9-11

Cisco after our ride

Cisco's reward for a great Riding session. Turn out in the yard!

Cisco gets bestest treatment after our riding session. He followed my feel when trotting outside around a small round pen. I was bouncing at the hard trot and managed to get my heel on him so he could know I wanted him to follow the rail instead of spurt to the other end of the arena.

This is such a difficult concept for Cisco and tough physically for me. We are no where near show-off stage. We are more like horrorific stage.

In between successes, we walked around the arena and practiced various lateral movements, i.e…sidepass, haunches in, banana bend and leg yield. We are getting better. We used the reins only somemofmthe time on these yields.

I set up our pattern to learn flying lead changes. We get to do flying lead changes while jumping something. Flying lead changes at Liberty would be a three year learning process if I didn’t get to use a jumping obstacle.

We did jump barrels today, but not at a canter. Cisco refused to jump over one barrel. It was easy for him to avoid. We did really really good jumping over two barrels. Cisco is so good at jumping now, he just steps his back legs over. These are the smaller barrels

PostHeaderIcon Just Another Day on the Journey 11-6-15

Before I saddled up Cisco, an amazing event occurred. A butterfly happened along, or was meant to be a sign.

Lightness is Everything

Lightness is how you must be with Cisco

My thought is that the butterfly is meant to show how light I must be with Cisco. Lightness with Cisco is the key to a successful journey.

Cisco and I did our ground work, online and at liberty.  I’m pretty certain that we made little to no progress.  These things happen in the horse world with us learned amateurs!

I then rode Cisco and we practiced side passing, leg yields, hind quarter yields, bending the forequarters, hind quarter and forequarter turns, ya know…all the normal stuff.  We practiced flat foot walking and accelerating into a fox trot. We cantered around the arena.  We practiced maintaining gait.  We had success and failure.

Then I decided it was time to TAKE OFF THE BRIDLE!  Cisco had the string around his neck and I was carrying a carrot stick.  I decided to use the round pen again.  Our job was to circle around the outside of the round pen.  We did really really great at the walk.  It took us a while to get a flat foot walk.  It took us longer to get a fox trot.  One complete circle is what I asked.  When Cisco did one circle at the requested gait, we screech to a stop, rest and get a treat! The faster gaits weren’t a pretty sight to see, but it worked.  With great confidence, I asked Cisco to canter.  Getting a canter took about half a circle.  Keeping Cisco at a canter wasn’t successful right away.  Getting Cisco to make the turn instead of heading off to the other end of the arena got better and better.  Finally, we made one complete turn at a canter.  We rested a while, did some moving around the arena practicing our guidance system until Cisco was fully restored to normal breathing.

I asked Cisco to reverse direction.  I must not have been practicing this direction nearly as much.  We made a good circle at a walk.  Upon trying for a good circle at a fox trot, it got messy.  Cisco’s desire to follow the round pen was very low.  Instead, he wanted to go visit the exit at the other end of the arena.  We trotted and trotted around the circle, trying to make the turn without me using the string or carrot stick to make that turn.  Oh this was difficult.  We were also at a full hard trot most of the time.  Getting a smooth fox trot while following the rail was not happening.  Cisco’s trot is big.  I occasionally tried to post. Posting while using the string to direct him to the rail and  the carrot stick to keep his head following the rail ruined most of my balance.  I bounced.  Thank goodness no video record of this exists.

Finally, we got a good enough circle at a trot and I immediately called it Over!

We had our first riding experience without a bridle.  It went great!  Cisco was under control the entire ride.  He stopped, slowed and sped up upon command.  It was wonderful!

PostHeaderIcon The Journey 11-4-15

The goal is 1% improvement every time. Here is the outstanding improvement for today. I was riding Cisco at this time.
Me-hands on the short rope that is fastened around Cisco’s neck. ( we call it a string”); Round Pen inside the arena; Task – travel around the outside; Cisco- follow my focus and feel, do not run to the other end of the arena.

We succeeded! You cannot imagine my thrill when Cisco cantered around the outside of the round pen. I was darn happy that he traveled around first at a walk, then the “trot” and ending with a canter. There is a place coming around the panels where he will chose to stay on the path or try to escape. Cisco followed my focus. He did this at three different speeds. I did not touch the reins.


Cisco is so beautiful!


Oh yes, between each of the three trips around the round pen panels, he came to an instant stop upon feeling my body “stop” cue and my verbal cue.

I’m so happy!

PostHeaderIcon Horsemanship Clinic Reflections-Journey to Parelli Level 4

Three day Horsemanship clinic with Tony and Jennifer Vaught was amazing. I have some advice and training instructions upon which to reflect. I’ll be keeping this in my inner self.

Cisco and I are back being “together” when I ride. Our relationship is stronger. My ability to communicate with Cisco has improved. This is both on the ground and in the saddle.

The magic started this weekend. I rode a lot without using the reins. I didn’t ride without the bridle. The bridle was a safety net during some of the patterns we did Friday afternoon. One of these patterns was the barrel pattern

Remember my last blog when I wondered if someone was training Cisco at night because I couldn’t be “that good of a trainer”! I found out this weekend that Jenny had trained Cisco to do the things that had amazed me. He already knew this stuff! These horses keep secrets from their owners!

Cisco is sensitive and he worries about things. My body can get too loud or too big and this terminates my communication with him. He goes into right brain survival. keeping him confident and mentally strong is my goal. Neither Sage nor Velvet were as sensitive as Cisco. They just snorted on me when my body language was too strong.

Both Tony and Jenny are amazing instructors. The explanations, their exercises, their attention to all the riders is beyond my ability to explain. I’m so thankful to be their student! They teach humans and develop horses at Harmony Horsemanship Riding Center in Hiawatha, Kansas. I urge you to contact them and start taking lessons. Join us for clinics and lessons.

Cisco wanted to be a Halloween horse on Satuday afternoon. I asked him to wait until all the riders in the clinic were confidently riding their horses. He agreed. I got the mask and treats out. This is what people saw when they diverted their attention from the riding task.

Cisco the Halloween Horse

Cisco and the Halloween Monster



I vowed that Cisco and I would jump the bigger barrels this weekend. There they were this morning. Two blue barrels nestled together. The barrels spent all morning tempting me. Finally, the barrel call was too big to ignore. I asked Cisco to do a slow trot to the barrels. My body language urged him on when we arrived at the barrels. Cisco had a moment of indecision, but decided to go for it. Three legs sailed over the barrels! One back leg did not sail over the barrels. Instead, that back leg decided to step on a barrel. A loud crash reverberated throughout the arena as the two barrels knocked apart. Cisco recovered and we remained upright! Tony came over to the siren barrels and separated them. Their call was silenced, but my goal had been met. The Level 4 task is to jump a set of barrels and then another set of barrels while holding a carrot stick in each hand. No hands jumping! Piece of cake!

It was a great weekend. I would like winter to stay away for a couple more months! I wanna ride!


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