Posts Tagged ‘fox trotter’

PostHeaderIcon Trail Rules – Everyone has rules!

Ken, Hope and I rode a small portion of Lake Perry. Kansas, trails today.  I gave Ken my rules about trail riding. 

  • It’s gotta be 2 hours,
  • It’s got to be in the high 40′s and
  • There’s gotta be flat land on which to go fast.

He had great success with rules one and two.  We didn’t have much flat land upon which to go fast.
Oh well.  Other than the last part where we couldn’t find a trail back to our trailers and we were lost for seemingly, hours – It was a great day.

We found the trail head and it had been exactly two hours! 

Riding at Lake Perry, November 2010

Ken’s rule is that you have to ride for at least as long as the pickup/trailer drive to and from the trail. We met his rule too!

Nova’s rule is that she gets to mess with the other horses on the ride.

Velvet’s rule is that she must eat and boss everyone around.  She was forced to bring up the rear on this trail ride and there wasn’t very much green stuff in the forest.

Hope has a wish-rule about flush toilets.  The park didn’t meet her rule and even lacked pit toilets at the trailhead. But Hope had a great time too.

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Gaiting Out on the Trail


Hope and I got to ride on the first crisp days of the Fall Weekend.  Hope’s husband wondered if 50 degrees was going to be too cold for us to ride. ha! We are cowgirl trail riders (for a while yet..until it gets too cold for us)

Here’s Hope on Chip, a beautiful silver chocolate Rocky Mountain horse. Today, even the green alge was beautiful on one of the many lakes and ponds we ride by at James A. Reed park.

We had a great time in the windy crispy weather. Sadly, I’m riding one of my older Circle Y Flex Lite saddles and the difference was enough to make my unmentionable parts a little sore.

(below, Nova wonders whether  blackened dead suflowers are good to eat!)

Then we rode again on Sunday.  My unmentionable parts were sorely distressed at this assult and protested.  Hope persuaded me to go on some longer parts of the trail which made the ride…longer and more painful.

Poor Hope.  I started whining and grouching.

The only time it didn’t hurt to ride is when Nova was doing her flat foot walk and fox trot. ah…sigh… I love it. Gaited horses are the best… those gaits melt saddle sores!

During the much anticipated stretch back to the trailer…the running stretch…  ha, Nova opened up her fox trot and gave me the fastest and smoothest fox trot ever.  GPS said our fastest speed was 12 mph.  WOWSA

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 JR’s Journal – Chris and JR in Parelli Spotlight

KC Parelli Pat & Chris

Chris has Down’s syndrome.  He also has a connection with animals. Chris and JR performed in Pat Parelli’s Kansas City Celebration Spotlight events. They did “online”.  JR was in tune with Chris.  JR was using everything he had to do what Chris wanted him to do.  Now and then Chris moved out of position which made it difficult for JR to do what Chris wanted.  He tried.  The audience held our breath…and then JR did it!  The audience erupted.

Chris and JR performed like clouds on a dreamy day. They drifted around the arena in harmony.

Everyone was very moved.  Pat was really moved and awarded Chris his level 2 string-on the spot…in the arena.

Chris became a Level 1 graduate and tears were in everyone’s eyes.

Note:  JR was sold to Lynne and Walan Burger in 2008. Chris is Lynne’s nephew.

PostHeaderIcon Velvet & Susan – Reserve Women and Horses Expo Versatility Winner

Velvet and Susan – Versatility Challenge!

View us on youtube!

“Women and Horses Expo” in Sedalia is what I heard from another horse person. I found the web side and Whoa…a three day Versatility Challenge event! Versatility is my middle name, so I clicked on the link. and it seemed to have Susan and Velvet written all over it. The third day event was particularly interesting…free style! We each had 4 minutes to do our own thing on Sunday. Entertainment, costumes, and your own music was highly encouraged. That is what Velvet and I do best – Entertain! Some people might call it showing off!

Velvet and I had three weeks to practice. I’ve rode her less than 5 times this past year. Velvet has most recently been in the Versatility Events at the World Celebration with Jennifer Vaught and Nichole Copple. When I started practicing on Velvet, she was a fine tuned versatility machine. We got our signals clear again. It took all of three minutes. We practiced riding bridleless, once, doing all our WoW stuff.

The event started. I met the “Paint Women” sisters and their horses. They were stalled next to me. We were chatting and one of them casually mentioned that they had won Paint World 1st thru 5th placings in dressage, jumping, rail work etc. with both their horses. I was bug-eyed at that. Then she went on to explain that they stopped showing and now are into the Extreme Challenge contests. Their horses will swim, jump up or down on anything, go anywhere and they had also done mounted shooting off them. GAD!

This conversation killed all the desire I had to brag about how good Velvet and I were. Right then and there, I gave up the idea that we might have a chance to win first or second. Hay! I’m older now and understand sometimes when to keep my mouth shut! I wondered what other talent would show up.

That surprise was soon to come. Velvet and I were practicing in the coliseum. It was dark inside but sunshine-bright outside. The gate opened and a backlit silhouetted horse and rider came in the gate. I recognized the silhouette and gasped.

Here is the famous multiple many year Versatility World Grand Champion, Hall of Famer, Sally Scott. She is a true goddess. Most of you know that, but I have seen her framed in the LIGHT! Later I met another cometitor…a dressage women riding a Friesian.

Good GAD! I am but a peon. From that moment on, I knew that I would just have great fun with this competition because I had no hope of winning.

The event had 21 participants…two on Friesians. We had the dressage woman; We had a Mustang trick rider; We had a rodeo eventer and more. We had 8 different breeds including Gypsy Vanner, Mustang, Friesian, Spotted Saddle Horse, Paint, QH, TWH, and Paso Fino! Most of the participants were from Missouri and Kansas. Our rodeo eventer came from Conway, Arkansas!

In the versatility world, we do patterns. We did patterns on Friday and Saturday. Compared to the Fox Trotter Celebration versatility patterns, they were simple.

Patterns might be simple, but they are never easy. When you are in the arena every step taken (or not taken) is under close scrutiny. When everyone had taken their turn, the day’s event was over. We didn’t get placings or judges’ score cards. No one had any idea of how they were doing. My new Paint Horse friend told me confidentially after we were done on the first day that Sally and I had “blew away the competition” and that she had never thought she would ever lose to a gaited horse! I was pretty stunned to hear her say that. I thought she did a fine job in her pattern on that day.

I lost 50 points the 2nd day partially because I didn’t understand that being on the left side of a barrel is different than picking something off the barrel with my left hand. However, the crowd was fooled. Velvet and I “were looking good”! Looking good is what really counts! It took me a long while to learn that fact about life too.

Sunday was freestyle day.

  • We had Marilyn Monroe ride her Friesian draped with diamonds riding to Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend.
  • We had a Friesian knight complete with warriors on the ground whom she slayed…and then she jousted an opposing horse with a lance. Our knight slew the opposition who fell off her horse and died on the arena floor. Good GAD!
  • We had a trick rider on a mustang stallion.
  • We had a rodeo competitor. She set up the barrels, poles, fake cow and staked a tame goat in the=2 0arena. She flew around the arena with the poles and barrels, roped the fake cow twice (two different ropes) and drug the cow. Her grand finale was to leap off her horse, topple the goat and tie up its feet.
  • We had a “Queen from Merry Old England” costumed rider on a big Spotted Saddle horse. She zipped around the arena in a reining pattern, occasionally doing flying lead changes.
  • Sally did a reining demonstration-bridleless on Thrill-A-Minute. They looked wonderful…a true team.
  • Velvet and I did our bridleless comedy WOW routine. I had the crowd laughing at my first joke. That’s when I know that “the crowd is with us” and Velvet and I always perform at a higher level. Velvet and I come in pulling a ball on the end of an elastic string. We flat foot walked, fox trotd and cantered. Then I ask people what I’m doing pulling that ball. My response, “I just want to show you that I have a BALL riding Velvet!” If there is laughter, the rest of the program goes great! Velvet and I sidepass over a barrel, we jump over a barrel (after I pray that I might not fall off.) Then we do a little reining demonstration. I have an umbrella. Velvet and I canter fast down the middle of the arena and I open the umbrella. It turns inside out. Now that’s a raining demonstration! Then we turn into a snooty “dressage queen”. I don my black cardboard top hat and exude an attitude of dressage queenliness. That got a lot of laughs. We flat foot walk and canter diagonally (leg yield). Shoot, the barrel got in the way and I decided we needed to jump over it again. I was about to do more of our wow stuff when I noticed that the music had stopped. I asked my “routine” coordinator, Hope, if I was done. She told me yes. Drat! Four minutes went by in seconds. I always use the wonderful opera songs that my son, tenor Nathan Granner, has recorded. His voice accompanied by a classical guitar soared through the arena. We got a huge ovation!

It took three people to help me on the third day. Patricia Berning, Susan Bean and Hope Robinson made it possible for Velvet and I to perform to music, get my props in order and boost my courage. All the rest of that last day, we heard great compliments on the Wow and humor of our performance. Later, I learned that I had scored 198 out of 200 points for the free style performance. You don’t get much better than that!

Sunday afternoon the participants lined up to get the final placings. We started with 7th place and went on up. One of the Paint sisters got third (the one who told me she never thought she would be beaten by a gaited horse) and the other got 5th.

My name and Velvet was called for second! Sally and Thrill-A-Minute’s name was called for Number One!

Missouri Fox Trotters won first and second in an all breed event with many talented participants. WOWEE!

Sally won a saddle! We expanded our FAME! Velvet and Thrill-A-Minute have put the WOW into Missouri Fox Trotters! We got many new friends over the three day event.

Sally got 636 points out of 700 and I got 630 points. It was CLOSE!

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 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 Velvet and Susan attain (original) Level 3 in Pat Parelli Program!


The Parelli program is modeled after Martial Arts program (Judo) with the different colored belts to signify the status. Velvet and Susan will be wearing a green 6’ rope, which is the mark of their status. Each level has from 20 up to 53 tasks that must be assessed by a certified Parelli instructor in person or via videotape. Velvet and Susan had to be assessed on 53 tasks in Level 3.

 Most of the tasks seem simple, but none of them are easy. For instance, Susan had to load Velvet into a trailer on the end a 45’ rope. Velvet had to trot or canter into the trailer. The farther away you get from your horse, the easier it is for the horse to do the opposite of what the human wants! Forty five feet is a long way. Velvet also had to side pass and back 45’ away from Susan.

For Susan, this was an eight year undertaking to pass all three levels. Velvet and Susan started on Level 3 tasks in 2000. It took three years to pass all the tasks. Each task was video taped at least once and sent away to a four or five star instructor in the program. Many tasks were taped more than once when the video was returned and the task not passed. It took a lot of focus and dedication to realize this goal.

The Parelli levels’ tasks take the horse and human through supreme versatility. Many of the tasks in Level 3 are dressage related. Velvet had to canter diagonally, change leads and then canter diagonally the other direction.

She had to counter canter once around the arena in a refined manner. (That was very difficult for her.) She also had to perform “haunches in” for a distance. Her head & forequarters traveled straight and her hindquarters traveled in a separate track to the inside of the arena.

Velvet had to show a collected walk, trot and canter with a kite string in her mouth. Susan also had to canter Velvet bareback and bridleless three times in a circle and, still at the canter, turn into the center, stop and perform a forequarter turn. It took Susan 2 years to be able to ride that well bareback!

 Velvet also had to drag a barrel both going forwards and then turning around backwards to face the barrel. She had to gallop a barrel pattern with four barrels. She had to canter around each barrel without breaking down to a trot and then gallop off to the next barrel.

At liberty in a round pen, she had to do  flying lead changes when she reversed direction. She had to canter around the round pen and come down to a trot, a walk and then stop at a signal from Susan who was standing in the middle. She then had to trot into the middle and join up with Susan…this was all at liberty. These are just a few of the tasks that Susan remembers best on this journey!

Pat Parelli honored Susan and presented her with the coveted green rope signifying the graduation as a Level 3 Student. This occurred at a Parelli event in Springfield in front of a large crowd. Many of Susan’s friends from Kansas City and southern Missouri were in attendance. They gave her a standing ovation!

Velvet has been a tremendous public relations versatility horse for the Missouri Fox Trotter Breed. There were nearly 2000 people in attendance who saw Jennifer Vaught, a certified Parelli instructor and Jennifer’s four year old daughter both ride Velvet during Parelli events at Springfield, Tulsa and Council Bluffs this year. These appearances plus Velvet’s past appearances at Kentucky Horse Park for the 2003 Missouri Fox Trotter breed weekend, Equitana, the MidAmerica horse show half time demonstration and Kansas City Fox Trotter club all breed half time horse show demonstration shows add up to about 18,000 people.

The videotape of Velvet’s and Susan’s halftime performance at the MidAmerica Missouri Fox Trotter breed show has been circulated all over the United States, Canada and Germany among hundreds of Parelli students!

What’s next for Velvet? Velvet is semi retired- NOT! She plans to have one foal and perhaps do some demonstrations. Susan plans to stay busy bringing up young horses and following the path that Velvet has set!

Velvet, a ten year old mare nicknamed “The Princess of the Pasture”, has carried Susan Engle through the three (original) Parelli Natural Horsemanship Levels Program: Novice (Level 1), Harmony (Level 2) and Refinement Level 3). Velvet is the first Missouri Fox Trotter in the Universe to pass Level 3. It is estimated that more than 2000 gaited horses are in the Parelli program, but Velvet is the third gaited horse to pass this level and the first fox trotter!

PostHeaderIcon JR’s Journal – Walk in the Park Horror

JR and I were practicing our gait last Sunday. I like to call it purity of gait practice. We rode by ourselves at James A Reed Park. The park has a lot of trails and they are flat and grassy. It’s just great for consistency.

We were zipping up the side of a paved road going to the trail head on the other side of the road.

Out in the parking lot FLASHES a 7-8 year old girl RUNNING with a KITE! The KITE is low to the ground and is dipping and flipping.

My heart commenced to dip and flip.

Just think how I felt being there alive and convinced that any second something unpleasant was going to occur…like sitting on a volcano about to erupt. Think how you would feel if the same thing happened. Yup, you would feel a certainty that you were going to die.

FORTUNATELY, we were still far enough away that the KITE wasn’t a scary object to JR. Guess how GRATEFUL I was for that!

The little girl kept running around in the parking lot with the flippin’ an dippin’kite. Instead of dying on the spot, I was now thinking that I was either going to have to stay in that spot for the rest of my life or turn around and go back the way I came when…

THE LITTLE GIRL FELL DOWN IN THE GRAVEL. She dropped the KITE! This made me VERY HAPPY. When she started screaming in pain, I tried to feel sorry for her, but couldn’t. After all, she tried to kill me.

JR and I went on up to the gravel parking lot. As we were passing by the parking lot, the brother asked the little girl what was wrong with the kite. The little girl (between screaming) told him it was broken. He started to dart after the kite and I YELLED, “PLEASE DON”T TOUCH THE KITE! The horse will be scared of it and KILL ME!”

The entire family looked at me with a stunned expression on their face… the little girl even quit crying. They must have thought I was insane, or from Mars, Or they were marveling at how JR and I looked pretty kewl, maybe they were admiring the fact that JR and my hair matches. Either way, I lived and I passed by them into SAFETY!

I felt bad about saying that about JR, but the potential for JR to face the fearful thing and run backwards from the kite over the dam dropoff or into the lake was a real possibility.

GASP, I might have had to make an emergency dismount and end up in the emergency room!

I’m thinking that all kites in WalMart should be destroyed and there should be a KITE search of every car that goes into James A Reed park!

PostHeaderIcon JR’s Journal – Clinic Journey

At official yearling status…exactly one year of age, JR attended his first clinic at Pine Dell. It was his first time to ride in a trailer by himself, to be in a barn, and to be in an indoor arena. He was just a LITTLE upset when we arrived at Pine Dell. I heard a lot of yearling whinny during the first part of the day…most of it right in my ear.

BUT, he did just great! He had the least problems of any horse in the clinic. Of course he hasn’t had the time to develop many opposition reflex habits. We played all the games. I discovered he knows how to follow the feel of the rope and he moves when he feels pressure. At the end of the day, we had many barrel and pole obstacles to walk, trot and canter across, over or go between. We finished all the tasks before anyone else and we were in our stall eating our late lunch. The bigger horses got to stay and be rode for another hour.

About a month later, we went to another beginning clinic. He did even better this time. He certainly didn’t whinny like he did the first clinic. He grew up a lot that first clinic and bonded with me. After the second clinic was over, I felt like JR and I shared the same skin. His general inclination is to stay close, no matter how many times I shoo him back.

So why am I paying to take JR to a clinic when he is too young to ride? Easy Answer! These two clinics got him in an arena with nine other horse…all running around with their humans. He certainly got used to being in a crowd. He hasn’t had a chance to develop opposition reflex yet, so I was easily able to do all the tasks assigned. He is easy to convince to do what I ask of him. I feel that I’m developing a much better horse by taking him to these clinics. At a delicate time in the building of his personality, I’m in an arena with an expert trainer…my safety net.

Besides, we had a good time!!!