Archive for November, 2001

PostHeaderIcon JR’s Journal – First Experience with THE GAIT

Jenny and JR have spent time just passenger riding which JR choose to do at a walk.  The emergency stop or bend to a stop was instituted before JR moved.  Then they added direction with reins, stopping, backing, fore and hindquarter turns.  I know that Jenny has asked for the soft feel and probably have done a little sidepassing.

Our philosophy is to FIRST get JR to be a versatility horse and learn the athletic moves plus flying lead changes.  After this is accomplished, we were going to help JR with the gaits.  Jenny’s famous words when we finished our philosophy conversation were, “I bet he will gait up a storm”.

JR has already done flying lead changes on the 22’rope.  I am ecstatic at this news.  Actually, I felt weak in the knees with no air to breathe!

Well, Jenny has just now progressed to a speed faster-than-a-walk when riding JR.  Her first experience was on a horse with a big head nod and a flat foot walk!  The first time she asked for a faster-than-a-walk speed, she had a difficult time keeping him going faster than a walk.  He did well going from the back of the arena to the front, but dropped to a walk often going anywhere else.

Tonight, Jenny yelled at me because I didn’t get there sooner.  She had JR going at a flat foot walk and a Fox Trot!  She was almost certain it was a fox trot.  She asked her husband, the lover of quarter horses, if he saw JR trot.  Tony said that he never saw him trot, but he had no idea what it was.  We are frustrated with non-Gaited husbands!  On this night, she had a much easier time keeping JR going for a short but significant time.  Jenny doesn’t think that JR will trot with a person riding him, even though he trots in the pasture.

WOWEE!  A hard-wired fox trotting horse and he belongs to me…plus he can do flying lead changes (on the ground). I couldn’t ask for a better Christmas Present!

PostHeaderIcon JR’s Journal – Jenny’s Opinion

JR’s proud Daddy came over to see him and Jenny wanted to show us how she first gets on a colt. She gets on the colt bareback. In case she has to suddenly bail off, there’s no stirrups, horn, etc preventing immediate ejection!

Jenny got a small stool and stood by JR’s side. He moved and she went through about 3 minutes of moving him around until he was very grateful to stand still. She jumped up on his back and just hung there, rubbing him all over with her feet and her hands. She did that about three separate times. Then she did it on the other side. Finally, when she jumped up on him, she swung her leg over and sat up. JR just stood there. He was very very calm. He thinks that’s all he has to do. Jenny was giving several people lessons during this and finally she got to sit up and resume giving directions to the students in the arena. After about 4 minutes, Jenny got off and then got on the other side. She got right on this time, and again, JR just stood there as calm and relaxed as can be.

Watching him, I did think that he looked just a little bit like a horse rather than my baby!

Later that weekend, we had a going away party. Terry asked Jenny, “What do you think of JR by now?” I shuddered. I had wanted to ask that very same question, but was fearful that she might tell me that “it takes him a long time to figure things out…or something else horrible.” So, I have been afraid to ask. Jenny replied, “I like him! He’s smart and catches on very fast.” I about fainted with relief and pride. Then the daring Terry asked, “What will he be like compared to Velvet?” I thought, what a stupid question. No one can top the esteemed Velvet! Jenny replied to Terry, “I think he’ll be better than Velvet. He’s very laid back and picks things up quickly.” I lost control of my body parts and slid under the table in pure shock!

PostHeaderIcon JR’s Journal – First Day of School


JR is a coming 3 years old. It is time for him to go off to kindergarten. I waited till late Sunday afternoon and bundled him up in the trailer for the trip to Pine Dell farm…7 miles away. Velvet was told that she would have to give up her stall for the time being and become a pasture horse. Velvet thought that was great, until she realized that her personal food service delivery had ended!


I put JR in his stall and gave him hay. I petted him and rubbed him all over. I was finally forced to leave by a husband impatient for his supper at a local restaurant. After we ate, I asked if we could just run by Pine Dell and see how JR was doing. I was told “NO”! sigh

The next afternoon I eagerly went to Pine Dell to see JR. He looked fine. His attitude was fine. I got him out and groomed him until he gleamed with good health.

Jenny came by and told me that she had sat on JR this day! WOW! This is not a normal occurrence. Usually, the ground games have to be done and the emergency bend has to be installed in the horse before Jenny will actually get on and sit up there! But, all the ground games were already done by me, and I was thrilled to know that JR and I had passed!

JR got an A+ for his first day!


JR's Journal

PostHeaderIcon JR’s Journal – Who Gets to Start JR?!

“Since you’re an advanced student now, I bet you are starting your own horses.”

“Why aren’t you starting your own horse? You’ve done all the ground work, haven’t you?”

“Why are you paying someone else to start JR? He seems really tame?”

Here’s my reply:

I have access to “natural” professionals who start colts. These professionals give the colt the best start on the road to becoming a saddle horse. If you had choices for your children as to where they would start their schooling, wouldn’t you give them the very best education in hopes that it would make a difference in their academic life. Plus there is the minor fact that the horse will be MUCH SAFER for me to ride. Having a professional natural trainer take on JR’s first experience with people riding him might just keep me alive. That’s how I feel about colt starting.

NOTE: Natural means training a horse using his own language and motivation. It does not mean train by pain or by the “bigger bit” theory.


Pat Parelli feels that colt starting is so very important to a young horse that he has structured a two week Colt Starting class. He has told all his instructors that they are not allowed to start colts until they have taken and passed this course. The Colt Starting course is only open to those people who have passed Level 3 and it’s by invitation only. “One must have the “RIGHT STUFF” before they are allowed to pay their money to take this class! We are talking stringent admission policy.

When Jenny and Tony came back from taking this course the first year and told all of us what they had to go through during the two weeks, we all shuddered. The course is neither for the physically unfit nor the emotionally challenged. They both went back to the 2nd year and did it again. That year, Pat added difficult horses to the title. Difficult horses that couldn’t be handled by anyone, including stallions.

Pat feels that starting colts is so important that there should be specialized training for people who start colts.

Jenny and Tony start riding colts bareback. This gives them a chance to bail off fast when things start to go wrong. When a colt falls, Jenny and Tony have a better chance not to get their leg or foot caught under the horse if they are not trapped by a saddle and stirrup. I’ve known several colts to fall the first time(s) they are ridden.

So as not to scare the colt and wait until it feel comfortable, Jenny and Tony just sit on the colt waiting for it to make the first move. It’s a pretty scary first step for the young horse. After the first step is taken, Jenny and Tony take a lot of passenger rides. The horse just wanders around where ever it wants to go. Jenny and Tony are sitting on the back or in the saddle (later) just as relaxed as can be. (We call this passenger riding.) This reassures the young horse that things are OK with the human up there and he starts being relaxed while he’s learning to get his balance.

After the young horse is comfortable moving around, Jenny and Tony start playing the 7 Games while mounted. Of course the emergency rein position (bend to a stop) has been practiced before they will ever get on a colt. But they will start bending the young horse to a halt. They will practice the direct and indirect rein turns, backing, and sidepassing. They will also start lateral and vertical bending…vertical as in collection down the road. (When you take delivery of your young horse, you get the full deluxe package with little or no BRACE!)

They will do passenger riding again at the trot until that works out well and then again at the canter. The canter is another place where the colt starter has to be ready for anything. When the young horse first canters with that big hulking object up there, the hulking object drastically changes the young horse’s normal balance at the canter. The young horse can get scared and bolt. Jenny has described many fun first canters, which ended up with bolting involved. . . .shudder.

Are you starting to see why I don’t start my own horse?

JR gets the best start he can have with people who are as light as a feather, think like a horse and who can release faster than I can blink. You know it’s the release that teaches!

It’s been decided between Jenny and Tony…Jenny gets the gaited horse!  He is now her coming three-year-old!

PostHeaderIcon Velvet – flying lead changes

I’ve been coached while doing flying lead attempts for 4 years. I’ve reached
almost Master’s Degree in flying lead changes.
Jenny, the coach, always sez, “Squeeze with your right/left LEG” at the magic
moment when changing directions.

And that’s exactly what I have done all these years. I have squeezed with my
entire leg. Actually, I’ve pressed my entire leg on the side of the horse.
What good do you think that has done? This is like the difference between
the web halter and the rope halter.

This is flying lead change month again at Pine Dell. We just started the
theme again. Jenny does all the themes in accordance to my needs. I still
haven’t fully accomplished flying lead changes with Velvet yet.

So, I’m thinking…I’m just going to press my heel into Velvet’s side…not
my entire leg.  So, we were going a surpisingly fast speed and at the magic moment, I placed my heel in Velvet’s side and she moved her hindquarters over so quickly and so far, that she almost moved the saddle completely out from underneath


Now I have to practice on putting my heel into her at the right time (along
with all the other things that have to be done exactly right) and I bet I’ve
got the flying lead changes nailed.



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