PostHeaderIcon An Amazing September 2016 Weekend!

I spent three days at the World Show watching Velvet and Powder perform magnificently in their classes. Way to go Nichole Hack and Caitlyn Vaught! You both are amazing and bring the best to these lucky horses you ride! They are truly blessed to have you.

That was three exciting days. I arrived in Ava, Mo and discovered, I left both my iPad and my iPhone at home. That was not acceptable since I was going on to Colorado,for more marvelous picture moments. I drove back home…200 miles… on Monday to get them. Back again 200 miles to Ava on Tuesday to root for Powder and Velvet… And maybe everyone else in the versatility arena. On Wednesday afternoon after the versatility speed events, I met up with my great friends, Apryl and Hope, and off we went to the Parelli Summit in Pagosa Springs, Colorda. We took two days to get there.

Upon our arrival the next morning at the Parelli ranch, I discovered someone had taken all the oxygen out of the air. We watched the amazing horses and horsemanship and then we struggled up and down slight slopes to get to the porta potties and vendor tents. Occasionally, my heart felt like it would explode out of my chest and at my age, it could really happen. The Summit was Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Off we went late Sunday afternoon headed home. We made it to Garden City, Ks and then home on Monday. Then it was a 2 hour drive for me to get to Kansas City. I had that deep tiredness inside me.

Last month I gave my beloved Circle Y Flex Tree saddle to Yellow Boot Saddlery to clean and restore. On the drive to Pagosa Springs, Donna called me with heart-breaking news. My tree was broken on both sides. What! My beloved saddle that I worship and used for an unknown number of years is broken beyond repair! My beloved saddle is dead. I fussed at Donna. She was the bearer of horrid news. Poor Donna. My response was, well, gruff!

Donna told me that they had found a lot of saddles with broken trees. A lot of us are wandering around with broken trees. Tony Vaught had been telling me for years, there was something wrong with flex saddles. Apparently he was right about this particular saddle. Luckily, I had been using the CSI saddle pad for a long time. That might have helped the horses I had ridden with that saddle.

Tuesday was a Susan Universe shut down and I emerged slightly tired tarnished on Wednesday. We had a clinic with Tony and Jenny Vaught on Friday, two hours away at Harmony Horseman in Hiawatha, Ks. Off I went on Friday late morning. I knew I would be late, but I had a great excuse! I pulled in around 2:00 pm and was sad when entering the arena as there were only a few people there. Oh No! Hardly anyone came to the clinic! What’s up with that? I got unpacked, got Cisco saddled, warmed up and rode him. Around 4:00 or so, I found out the clinic was Saturday and Sunday, not Friday and Saturday. My brain failed me!

The good part of this is that I got to ride Cisco and I was on-time for the clinic starting on Saturday. I got to take part in the introduction and tell people my name and what I wanted to work on. I was first to talk. I decided to demonstrate what I wanted to work on rather than the express it verbally. I got up and skipped across the space and changed my lead foot to skip on the other foot. There were a few people in attendance that had never met me. Oh boy, I bet they thought I was a deranged old adult. I was non verbally telling Jnny I wanted to work on flying lead changes. She got it right away!

Playing with Cisco on the ground and riding him is always an incredible experience. We communicated. He tried to understand my fumbling cues. He gives me two or three times what I ask for. He tries his heart out. That is his personality.

Saturday afternoon about 3:00, my brain got hot. It didn’t hurt, it just got hot. I didn’t feel bad, dizzy or sick. My brain just got hot. I gave up about 4:30, got Cisco bathed, fed and settled and went to my room, took a shower and crawled into the bed. I was in the dark and finally, the brain cooled down around 8:30. What the heck was that! I didn’t get to go out and eat dinner with the crowd. I hate missing the social part of the clinics!

I did suffer from saddle grief throughout the clinic. I have two more Circle Y flex Lite saddles. I rode one of them on Friday and my body cursed it. It doesn’t have the padding that my beloved saddle has or something. It causes parts of my unmentionable parts to experience pain. I changed saddles on Saturday. This saddle has always been challenging for me to keep my right foot in the stirrup. About two hours into the clinic on Saturday, both my feet started hurting. It is the darn stirrups causing the problem. I have Don Orel stirrups on my beloved saddle. I need those stirrups on this saddle!

I also had given my favorite bridles to Yellow Boots Saddlery to clean last month. I was riding Cisco in the Myler snaffle bit. He was resisting my directions. Finally, I got off and went to get a one-ear bridle that I never use. It does have a bit that Cisco likes and responds well too. It was near the end of the day and the heat in my brain mentioned above got to me soon after.

I started out using the one-earred bridle on Sunday. I discovered that Cisco’s head action during his fox trot immediately upon cantering throws the headstall off his hear backwards on his neck. So I was wearing a bridle with nothing to make it stay in place. That was irritating! I had to get off and take the time to change the good bit to a bridle with a browband! The entire weekend I was mad at my broken saddle for dying on me. I was occasionally mad at my bridles! These things cause grumpiness, especially when riding in temperatures in the upper 80′s temperature. GRUMPY!

Sunday when we started doing leg yields and flying change exercises, my mood went up into exceeding happiness. Again I repeat, Cisco gave me his heart and try! I love that horse!

PostHeaderIcon Cisco 2016 Post Parelli Summit

I went to the 2016 Parelli Summit for one and maybe two reasons. I went to learn more horsemanship so I could be a better human for Cisco and because it was the 20 Year Anniversary!

I attended all three days Of David Lichman’s breakout sessions on advanced liberty training. His mentors have been Pat Parelli, a circus Liberty horse act performer and the woman who invented the clicker training with dolphins. You can’t get much better mentors than that!

I learned more advanced techniques in how those experts communicate with their animals.

We start out the advanced at-Liberty act by having the horse come to our body and laying his head on our chest. Cisco is dead set in his way of invisible worry. When he puts his head down, he can’t see the predators that might be stalking him. I knew about his problem with lowering his head and we have made great strides. He is doing really well at lowering his head when I am on his back and we are standing still. We have a long way to go to lowering his head when I ask him from the ground. Now he has to lower his head and rest it on my chest. Oh my! We did it, but not without issues, trust issues! At the end of our session today, I asked him to put his head on my chest while I was seated on a chair. Oh my, this took quite a while. We will be practicing this forever. When he lowers his head, he is relaxed and trusts me to be the protecting leader.

Then there is the boomerang move. I point, give the verbal cue. Cisco runs to and around an obstacle. He then runs to me and puts his head on my chest. That might be the description of what it might look like someday. We did a very inexperienced version of this today. There was absolutely no running and much directing on my part, but we did it at liberty!

Playing with a horse on the ground is a very special communication experience. I cherish this time with Cisco.

Usually after I have spent days watching what Pat and Linda Parelli can do with horses, I have 43 things to try and on my first ride with my horse, I try all 43 things during a hour ride. Poor horses in my past. I managed not to do this with Cisco. I do have some maturity now. Ha! But I had to end our riding session today riding bridleless. I love doing this as I have only the truth to deal with…no reins!

I have so much fun with Cisco! The days will fly by this fall, winter and spring. I’ll try to keep ou updated verbally and with a view movie clips!

PostHeaderIcon Lucky Star’s AKA Name is Always Adventure

I let a beginning rider have a beginning rider lesson on Lucky Star.  We went through the required seven games and some required rules before mounting.  That went well.  Our rider mounted.  I did neglect to give the rider the mandatory mounting rule, but it went well.  Now the signal to walk forward was given and Lucky’s response was ears back in protest.  We tried the turning on the hindquarters and then walking forward.  That is when Lucky decided to move and place his front feet in front of the barrel and his back feet in back of the barrel.  He did not jump, he just sidled his feet to both sides of the barrel.  Can you imagine being a beginning rider and your horse straddles a barrel?  No, I can’t either.

I took over Lucky Star.  I put a halter on his neck and led him around.  We did some slow circles at a very slow walk while our rider was learning about reins, where his shoulders and belly button go.  I turned Lucky lose and he managed to move somewhat.  About this time, Cisco volunteered to come into the arena.  Cisco became the lead horse and Lucky was supposed to follow.  Whoops.  Lucky doesn’t like being the following horse.  So we had a duo horse team walking around the arena.  The big achievement was that Lucky moved as his rider was getting used to being on a such a horse.  I had given our rider a crop with the instructions to tap Lucky’s forequarter three times when he fails to move.  Lucky laughed and ignored taps that were more like the strength of a fly.  I coached on the art of tapping Lucky until the tapping actually irritated him enough to have him move.

Cisco ended his voluteer duty and Lucky Star went off on his own.  He tried to rub his beginning rider against the corral panel.  I pulled him off the fence and he and his beginning rider wandered around just a bit more, working on the tapping technique and steering.

I called the lesson to an end.  I got on Lucky Star and demonstrated how Lucky can move.  I demonstrated the tapping.  Lucky and I did a flat foot walk around the small arena with some dropping out of gait.  We ended the session.  Whew!  Next is what will happen when I ride Cisco while our beginning rider is on Lucky.  I think Lucky will do this well outside the arena.

PostHeaderIcon City Dog Adventures

City Dog is a Puggle. He is a very loyal dog and protects his humans. Last night, he protected me against thunder. If he is outside, he runs towards the thunder, barking. During our Fourth of July party, he protected the entire party attendees against all their firecrackers. That was the day that drove him crazy. He had no idea that we were causing the evil dangerous something.

But, I digress. City Dog is a loyal protector. We mowed the pasture today. The pasture has long grass with weeds. If I let the weeds grow free, the weeds cover the grass which is the source of most favorite horse food. Horses love to eat grass. When weeds come, the weeds also bring thistle. Thistle gets into the horse’s fore locks which cause horse owners to go crazy.

So you can see how important it is for City Dog to help mow the pasture. He tried to protect me from the evil wasps who thought they owned the horse pasture gate. He failed at that task. I”m not blaming him.
City Dog always stays near me, even with the big mowing machine that emits shredded grass through two powerful blades mounted underneath the mower. I love mowing. It makes me feel very very tough! I am out taking care of the land and the horses and making the land look really cool and the machine roars with power.

City Dog was with me as I was mowing somewhat close to the fence. Sadly, City Dog did not realize in time that his presence was in the path of the thrown shredded cut long grass and the fence would not let him escape.

Yep, the mower covered City Dog with grass. City Dog became a brown smudge covered with piles of newly cut pasture grass and weeds. I bet some of it went up his sensitive nose. But City Dog is a survivor, he shook it off and continued his protection.

We got done, put the beast away and slimed our way back to the house. I was covered with sweat and grass. He was covered with sweat no grass. By the time we had made it to the house, the grass had slicked off and he was back being pug/beagle brown again. When we entered the house, he ran to the water bowl. I ran for the water bottles and the shower.

This evening, we went out to fiddle with the horses. I was fiddling and hear a howl. Hmmmm, I’ve never heard City Dog howl. Can a dog with a pug throat howl? Maybe it’s a coyote eating City Dog, but there would have been snarls and yelling. Hmmmm. City Dog had disappeared. I went outside again and heard the howl much closer. Oh heck, it is an OWL hooting from a tree directly behind the house. For a moment I thought about the own swooping down to pick up City Dog….nay! I can barely pick up that dog. He is all muscle and probably weighs 40 lbs. He Is too big for an owl to pick up. I was in the house a few moments when City Dog demanded to come inside.

He has retired to his doggie bed and snoring softly. He provided a lot of energy today during his protection. He won’t be waking up very early in the morning tomorrow!

PostHeaderIcon Earn Cisco’s Heart

If you are a Parelli person, many unParelli people think you are certifiable. If you follow the quest, you are still OK to be with other people. We are not dangerous. The Levels program in Parelli is like the black belt kind of thing in Judo. You don’t get the black belt unless you live the black belt. It becomes your life.

I need Cisco to worship me and want to do what I ask of him. I want his heart. If I have his heart, I will have everything he has to offer.

I was going to explain what I did “right” the last time I interacted with and rode him. I was going to explain what I did wrong. But it really isn’t wrong, it just a detour in earning his heart.

As you know, I have this one obsession. Cisco and I worked on my obsession. Worked is an illegal word. I did not play. I did not reward. We worked. We practiced. That is not going to win me his heart. I finally understand what linear (straight line) thinking is. Finally!

I made the goal an athletic task instead of thanking Cisco every time he figured out just what my confusing signals are. For every try, there should be a thank you, not a constant repetition demand.

If anyone can actually figure out what I said, welcome to the journey!

Author page for Cisco’s pathetic human

PostHeaderIcon First Cisco Trail Ride

Cisco had thirty days with Nichole Hack to prepare him for me.  I took my first ride and it was a good one.  Cisco came home and I took him to my favorite summer arena to get better acquainted.  I rode him in a clinic with Jenny Vaught.  We were doing great.  I started trusting him to take care of me.

Friend Chas called and wanted me to go on a trail ride with her.  Gulp!  My first trail ride with Cisco.  I said yes and the deal was made.  We agreed to ride at Holden Lake.  It is a city lake with a trail that goes around the lake.  The trail include riding through woods, behind people’s houses and across a long damn.  Louie and Chas; Cisco and I.

Cisco was excited when I unloaded him.  Chas and Louie showed up not long after we got there.  Louie was excited too.  Chas and I did the ground work with our horses.  Chas got on Louie and came over close to where I was going to mount Cisco.  I got up on the trailer fender, holding on to one of Cisco’s reins.   Cisco was still a wee bit excited at the new place, but he appeared to me that he was going to let me mount. He stood sideways at the trailer so I could get my leg over the saddle.  I had to turn around on the fender to get my body in proper position.I turned around and let loose of the rein for a millisecond.  In that millisecond, Cisco took off.  He left Louie, Chas and me behind.  He galloped out of the parking lot neighing and screaming.  There were two horses in a pasture across the road.  Where was Cisco going?  How far would he go? Was there a fence around the Lake Holden Park?  If there was, it was too far off for us humans to be able to see it.  Cisco continued his gallop.

The thing not to do is take a horse and run after the fleeing horse.  This makes the fleeing horse think that the chasing horse is joining him and will gallop for freedom.  Chas turned Louie around and started after Cisco at a calm and slow gait.  She knew that Louie had to become Cisco’s anchor when Cisco’s right brain behavior was replaced by a thinking brain.  She kept on trying to shorten the ever expanding gap between Louie and the galloping Cisco.

Heaven was my reward.  Lake Holden was fenced off.  I headed for the open gate so I could block Cisco if he ever found the way out of the park.  Louie and Chas were still heading for Cisco.  When Cisco came up short at the fence, he ran back and forth a bit trying to find a way out.  He gave up and noticed Louie. His thinking brain came back. Cisco came over to Louie and Chas was able to grab a rein.  Cisco was caught.  He would not be running out wild on the gravel roads of Cass County.

Cisco and I reunited and did more ground games while Louie and Chas watched.  Louie was impatient.  I led Cisco up to the trailer fender again and did not let go of the reins.  I was able to get into the saddle.  Cisco and i moved out with some fretting going on with both Cisco and Louie.  We started across the big meadow with an ugly black stump near a dried up ditch crossing.  Louie was in the lead, but was uncertain of that stump and the narrow crossing.  Cisco was fine.  I let Cisco take the lead and away we went.  We made it to the forest pathway where Cisco relaxed.  Louie had taken the lead again and we were going on like you read in the perfect trail ride book.  We did a water crossing.  I think he jumped the water, but that was just fine with me.  it brought back memories of riding Velvet on the trail.

Cisco and Louie went the entire distance around the lake or did we turn back and take the forest trail again.  Maybe Chas will remember.  It was a successful trail ride and one for the memory book.  My horse got loose and galloped away on our first ever trail ride.  scream

PostHeaderIcon Fix the Cisco Love

it happens. You go to get your horse. Your horse turns away and leaves you. I want my horse to come to me and anticipate our time together. My last post was news that Cisco turned his back to me. I was spurned.

Yesterday, I went out to feed the hungry horses. I offered to let Cisco out of the horse pasture. I opened the stall door. He looked at me, turned his tail and left me hanging.
Sadly, we had a major lesson coming up. Practice on the gaits and then my heaven on earth, lead changes. It was not deathly hot, but sweat snuck into every wrinkle I own. Cisco was wet. He had to expend a ton of effort. I tried to thank him and rub him when he did good. I get carried away during the lead change exercises and forget to rub him as often as I should.

Hello! I have so much sweat on my head and you usually lick my head. I need that today

We were done. His head itched with sweat. I took off the bridle and he rubbed his head against me. Then he put his head around my neck and kept it there. He was hugging me. I had no food to give him on his trailer ride home. He did get treats.

Today I went out to the stalls to see what would happen in our relationship. After the hardest of day of riding, Cisco did not turn away from me. He allowed himself to be haltered. I led him out of the stall to the trailer. I set a bucket of food down next to the trailer entrance and let him eat. When he was done, he went back into the horse pasture. I am back in his good graces. Whew!

PostHeaderIcon Cisco the Teacher

I learned a lot from Cisco today.  The big lesson is how to get really high stacked hay bales down on the ground.  I’ve got hay stacked in my barn.  Stalls are on one side and hay is on about half of the other side.  The hay is stacked about four bales over my head.  So it takes about four bales to equal my height and then add four bales on top of that and you picture the hay tower.  I’ve misplaced my gadget to drag a bale off the stack.  Cisco taught me today that he can unstack a tower of hay and not die in the process.  Sadly, I wasn’t in the barn to see this.  Of course if I had of been in the barn, I could have crushed by either a hay bale or Cisco getting out of the way of the falling bales.  whew.

Here’s the story. Time to ride.  It’s been too hot for me to ride all this week.  Today is cool enough to ride.   I went to the barn to get Cisco.  The horses stay in the barn during the day.  There are fans to blow the worst of the flies off them.  It is a comfortable shady place.  Back to the story.  I picked up the halter and turned toward Cisco.  Cisco turned around and left the stall.  Cisco said to me in non verbal language.  I don’t want to be with you mom.  I don’t want to go and run and sweat while you ride me.  It’s just not fun for me mom.  Take Lucky.

ahhhhh!  I hate those non verbal words from Cisco.  He is supposed to want to be with me, even though I ask him to run around in this humid hot weather.  I went into the horse part of the barn and pasture and stalked Cisco until he purposely got himself back in a stall and then I had him trapped.  At least he turned to face me and I put on the halter.

Mom, you left your hat and favorite sunglasses here last week!

We did ride.  We practiced our flying lead change preparation and attempts.  We quit before he got horribly sweaty and returned home.  Now the plan.  I’m going to let him out in the yard where he can eat the yummy grass.  Plus I’m going to wash his trail.  His tail has itchy dandruff.  He will so appreciate getting rid of the itchy tail.

Cisco didn’t appear to be thrilled with his bath.  His non verbal language was not positive.  He spoke to me in these words, “Stop getting water in my face!  I’ve never heard the water stream hit the barn before.  What is that scary noise and you have me tied up!  I can’t run to get away in case the noise wants to eat me.  You want to put my tail into a big bucket of water?  What the heck?”  Thank goodness you are done and I can eat grass in peace now. Thanks for turning me loose.”

You can see how great of a horsemanship person I am to be able to translate Cisco’s feelings.

Now I’m going to get some horse feed for him to make him feel extra special.  I’m going to put it in the trailer so he will have great love for the trailer.

Cisco, “Bucket rattle!  Food Food!  Mom has food for me!  oh wait.  She’s putting it in the trailer.  That means she is going to put me in the trailer and take me somewhere to run and sweat.  Snort! I’m not going near that bucket of food.”

I decided to leave Cisco at peace with all that yard grass.  He will eventually go and eat the feed in the bucket.  I drive to the gate and shut it.  Cisco has fooled me before and left the property even though he was the only horse loose and his herd was in the pasture.  Yes, he has broken the horse law of leaving the herd.

I drove back and didn’t see Cisco outside.  I went to check on him and discovered him eating hay in the barn.  Four bales had fallen off a stacked hay tower.  Cisco, Lucky Star and Delta were munching hay.  I didn’t see any blood on Cisco.  He took those hay bales crashing down without getting hurt.  I gave Sweetie some hay as none of the flying hay bales landed near her stall.  Cisco turned around and came toward me.

Cisco, “I would like to get into the stall mom.  The fans are all blowing air into the stalls and I’m on the other side. I don’t want to eat grass.  I want to be inside the barn eating hay with the fan blowing on me.”  (Cisco”s mom opened the stall door to where Sweetie {Cisco’s girlfriend} was standing.)  ”Get out of the way Sweetie, I’m coming in.  Move!”

I left the happy horses chomping on hay.  I drove back and opened the gate.  I’ll have to spend undemanding time with Cisco to get his love of me back to 110%.

PostHeaderIcon Saddling Rules

In the Parelli world, a people training program, we learn many rules that keep us safe with horses; rules that might save our lives or from injury. There are many safety basic rules for saddling a horse and mounting a horse.. In the original Level 1 test, saddling and mounting were tasks included in the test. In my first book, Susan FoxTrotter, I told the story about my sad, unsuccessful mounting task. There I lie in the dirt looking up at a very concerned David Lichman. I said, “Did I pass?” I had followed all the rules except that Sage was not accustomed to the huge effort I made, and fell down when I tried the leap from the ground into the saddle.

I ran across a web site that tells the story and rules and give pictures of the proper way to saddle a horse. Reading the rules felt like I had come home. No wonder, the author is a former Parelli student and has become a master of horsemanship. His name is Glen Stewart. I remember that he competed against Pat Parelli in the 2012 Road to the Horse.

Here are the rules of saddling. If you saddle your horse and you are near me where you I can see you, please do it like this. I have to restrain my instructor personality if you don’t and that causes me an iota of stress.

Please read this article and learn the saddling rules. There are a more safety rules to follow before it is safe to mount and how to mount. I won’t harass you in this blog about them.

Here are some free articles, many help articles to read from the Parelli world. They address a wide range of issues. Sadly, the mounting rules are not included, only mounting problems. You do not have to be a Parelli member to access all these wonderful articles and problem solving solutions.

PostHeaderIcon Fox Trotter Rough Fox Trot-Smooth it Out

A Missosuri Fox Trotter has a lot of options on where to place his feet while moving forward. There might be as many as 12-15 different names for the two forward gaits that are unique to “gaited”horses.

Cisco was born with a bouncy 2nd gait. He was born with a tendency to hard trot. This is the normal trot that non-gaited horses have. We gaited people don’t like that suspension bouncy gait. We gaited people want smooth, non-bouncy.
Bouncy fox trot vs hard trot Discription: If you bounce out of the saddle, you are hard trotting. If you are not thrown up out of the saddle, it is a rough fox trot and might be very close to that suspension out of the saddle. There is a difference between the two but both are uncomfortable.

Fix the hard/rough trot:
1. Slow transition from the first gait into the 2nd gait. Really really slow. In the fox trotter world, we go from flat foot walk to fox trot. Or we might go from regular quarter horse type walk into a fox trot. Or we might go from a dog walk into a fox trot. These are transitions. Cisco is a “what do you want me to do,” horse personality. If I ask for a slow transition upwards, he gives me at least a medium to fast speed. We usually need several upward transitions until my “ask” is light enough for Cisco to be confident to give me slow. Cisco is generous with his giving back to me. Two years practicing along with Healthy Stride farrier work with Tony Vaught has just resulted in a balanced horse with an upcoming slow fox trot. Cisco and I were in a lesson with Erin Patterson yesterday and Cisco fox trotted smooth enough that I was not praying for the command to transition down. This was a miracle day.

2. Practice transitioning to the fox trot. Practice slow transitions upwards and down. We transition from quarter horse walk to dog walk (extended walk in non-gaited horse), to flat foot walk to fox trot, down to flat foot walk, up to canter, down to fox trot (Mucho Difficult). Cisco and I have been doing this for two years and he has taught me a lot about my non verbal signals. Cisco told me just this past winter that he wish my signals would be consistent. He told me a year ago that my non verbal signals were much too “loud”. He throws his head up when my signals displease him. (This gets me yelled at during horsemanship lessons!)

Once you get a smooth fox trot, let your horse keep at it. The more your horse does a smooth fox trot, the more muscle memory builds up in the horse. When the horse gets a little tired, he will find a way to make less effort (smoother) as he tires. There are two theories here. Above is the the let them do it for a while. The other is to reward them when they are doing it right. When you transition down to a stop, rub your horse. Rub a lot so there is no question in your horse’s mind that he did something right!

3. Head position. Every fox trotter who does a fox trot, has the perfect head position in which the perfect fox trot comes forward.

Ava 2014 5 years and over mares. Watch Jody Lynn Jokisch 374 for perfect head position and smooth fox trot. This is a treat