Archive for the ‘Parelli’ Category

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 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 Cisco Journey Musing

I have written lately about Cisco and I because I’ve been pondering the meaning of life with a horse.  That sounds cool doesn’t it?  Believe it or not, the Level 4 Parelli journey with Cisco is not the same as the Level 3 journey with Velvet.  All I really remembered was the intense focus on flying lead changes.  Yes, I still have that fierce focus, but things are very different.

Things are very different as I don’t have job.  I have few time constraints.  When I play with Cisco it isn’t after an 8-10 hour day at work.  It isn’t at night in the dark.  Another huge difference is that I understand tons and tons more about the principles of love, language and leadership.  I can talk much better non-verbally to my horse now. I understand physical and non-physical feel of connection with my non-verbal partner.  Slowing down has never been easy for me, but Cisco is teaching me how much he appreciates my toning down my body language so I don’t scare him to death. Yes, I can scare him to death and cause him to go right brain with just a higher level of gestures or being in the wrong place and making an gesture with my arm. He is that sensitive.

So I’m thinking that only the deep kind of people that are involved with a deep level of horsemanship will understand the garble of the first two paragraphs. If you want to understand this kind of stuff, come to a clinic/lessons with Tony and Jenny Vaught or Nichole Copple!

Now I’ll talk in regular English. Maybe. Maybe I can make this clear and maybe not. What you will get out of this is the passion.

I having fun playing with Cisco where he and I are face-to-face. I ask him to do tasks and he tells me immediately that he doesn’t understand. It takes me a while to understand that. Then I ask him to do the task in a different way or I might break down the task into parts. I love to play with Cisco when he has no rope or no halter on his head. But now I can see when my asking isn’t working and I go to the rope. The rope gives me physical feel so I can tell him better what I want. When he is relaxed and doing what I want while using the rope, I can then switch to liberty.

People who don’t know how incredible is the horse in a face-to-face basis are missing an immense part of their horse. Many of the times I go to play with Cisco, I’m thinking about those flying lead changes or leg yield at the flat foot walk or canter. I say to Cisco, let’s just make certain your saddle is tight and then I will ride. After that, the magic happens and I get caught up in the deeply satisfying happiness of getting Cisco to understand my cues while we are playing online or at liberty. When Cisco understands what I want, he is thrilled to do it. Cisco wants very much to please his human. He overtries. He struggles to figure out what I want. If I want him to move a step, he thinks five steps will be better. Is that right! Is that right!

I’ve watched thousands of liberty acts. I grew up with Dr. Paul in Osceola who had a liberty act with six white horses. I’ve watched circus acts. I’ve watched it all. I could never figure out how Dr. Paul and all those other people could get horses to do all those things, much less six horses. I still can’t figure out how Dr. Paul and the circus people can do it. I can’t understand how David Lichman does it. I can’t understand how Double Dan James can do it! What I can do is figure out how to ask Cisco to do tasks, I can spend enough time with Cisco that eventually, we click and he discovers what I’m asking. Then I glow with happiness and my life is extended for five to ten minutes. Yep, this horse stuff will make you live forever!

PostHeaderIcon Cisco-that amazing little wretch

Yesterday – Cisco and I are now stuck together. I take off the halter and run around the arena and he stays with me. I turn. I stop. I back up. I turn and run the other way. His head stays right even with my body or he runs to catch up. That’s how good we are doing while we are playing in the arena. Alone in the arena.

So, there are other people in the arena yesterday. I decide it is time to do a little Susan and Cisco show off. Riding is done. I take off his saddle and his bridle. I do not put on his halter. This is it, “show off time!” He follows me. He is too close to me when we stop. I tell him to back up with my really cool hand signals. He ignores me. The carrot stick tells him to back up. He ignores it. Inside, I’m screaming at him. Cisco!
Then he looks at the two women in the arena over in the corner. He walks over to them. What! Cisco! I’m using my body signal, come join back up with me, Cisco. I am ignored. Cisco panders to the two women. Good Lordy. I have to go over and put a rope around his neck to lead him away. I’m been humiliated. Erin Patterson and Susan Breau….Cisco wants you to pet him. Sigh…

Today, our riding session is done. I leave him in arena and clean up his stall. He has been in there all last night and day. There is smell. I put new shavings in and dig out that smelly stuff. I clean his water bucket. I put up his hay bag. Then as I’m dragging 1000 pounds of manure thru the other barn aisle, the news of his treachery was shared. Cisco opened the sliding barn door, pushed the little table out of the way and gained entry to a barn aisle that has a tub of grain…tub has a cover. But Cisco also loosed the cover on th grain and started having his own grain festival. He was caught in the act. Good Lordy. I don’t think his grain festival was long enough to cause damage. Only humiliation of his owner. Good Lordy.

On the positive side… I played with Cisco at Liberty today. We were trotting along, side by side. I ran besides the barrels and Cisco jumped the barrels…at Liberty. I’m so proud of him. He jumped the barrels going both ways. Oh Yes!

I’ve been riding him pretend bridleless. I had the bridle on him and pretended it wasn’t there. But there is a big big difference when you really take off the bridle and really ride bridleless. We did that today! I rode bridleless. What do you get when you ride bridleless? You get the truth. Cisco isn’t perfectly tuned into my legs aid signals yet. The carrot stick did a lot of steering today.

Cisco and I have started playing the 4 corner game and the point to point game!

We are coming along, improvement and humiliation! It doesn’t get any better than this journey!

PostHeaderIcon First Day Live in the Barn

First day in the barn

Cisco's Winter Home

Cisco spent the night in his new stall. He screamed at me this morning when I came into the barn aisle.

This living in a stall thing is going to be really good for my life. I have to get up in the morning as I must clean his stall. Cisco gets out of his stall and spends some time in the arena while I pick up the little brown “apples” littering his stall. When done, Cisco and I played some games in the arena. I get to take my time and just spend time with him, working on our invisible “feel”. “Feel” is a word used by all kinds of horse people. It is the communication bond between a verbal and non-verbal species…preditor human and prey animal horse.

When we were done playing, I had got Cisco to trot four circles around me. He was at Liberty which means the only connection between us was invisible “feel”. I got him to trot around me four times without running off. He did this both directions.

I got a chair and took it out to the center of the arena. When Cisco did something marvelous, I told him to come to me and I sat in the chair and did nothing. If he came close enough, I petted him. What are you doing in the chair, Susan? Why are you doing nothing? The reply is, “I’m training Cisco.” Doing nothing is a big reward.

We also spent time walking together around the arena. Cisco’s head was to be next to my shoulder. Again, he wore nothing, he chose to walk with me instead of running off or finding more interesting things to do. I jogged around the arena and he stayed right by my shoulder. I stopped and backed up, so did Cisco. I turned and ran off and lost him a few times. It took so some doing to get him connected back with me. This is a great physical training program for me and I was wearing my sneakers for comfort.

In the afternoon after feeding the spouse at the local cafe, I returned and rode Cisco. I rode with the reins and without using the reins. It’s called “feel”.

I would go on for a while about getting the correct leads at the canter. Let’s just say, “It’s a journey.” Once, I got my body in the proper position to ask him for the canter. I ask with a slight squeeze of my calf muscles. But, Cisco cantered off before the squeeze. He cantered when I got into the position. It made me laugh out loud with surprise and delight.

Cisco makes me laugh and he brings me great joy!

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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