Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sedona & Cash are ready for adoption

We've reached the end of our foster agreement. I'm pleased to say that looking at Sedona & Cash now, you'd never know a few months ago they were emaciated, starving horses. Sedona is looking very pregnant & would be a wonderful opportunity for someone who wants the wonder of having a foal without contributing to overbreeding. I can't imagine her foal won't be an absolute delight. She & Cash have fabulous, people loving temperaments. They've been gracious & gentle with all I've asked of them. Sedona now has the run of our "foaling paddock" as well as the front pasture/pond. She shares a fence line with the other horses where they hang out, visit & Cash still nurses about once a day there. Cash is the little man with my 3 mares. They had finished off a large bale of hay several days ago & had to get by with me putting out stacks in the evening, which of course run out. So they were all excited to have a new large round bale to munch on non-stop. As I was heading back to the barn after getting them set up...Cash looked up at me, left they hay bounty & started following me back. I stopped & waited for him to catch up. He came over, put his head in my hand & I swear said thanks....He knows someone is taking care of him & appreciates it. I imagine all rescues are special...but having know these two personally can say they ARE special. Follow the first link here to find out about adopting them & many other rescues available. The second link is to a slide-show of their progress since coming here. Will get some updated pics of them, this holiday weekend & post here soon.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ocala Parelli Center Pics

Pics here from my trip to the Ocala Parelli Center last month. They aren't the usual quality but even I got some decent shots due to the beautiful setting. Most of these were taken on a weekend as I was busy having the time of my life during the weeks. Since I took them, no shots of me....mainly my lovely lease mare, Faith. Faith, a black & white paint mare, was so very different from my horses at home. She taught me a great deal & my girls are quite probably thankful to her ;)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Good to be home!

Missing Alice from Randall Barr on Vimeo.

Having completed the two week Level Two Breakthrough course yesterday, I must say it's nice to be home. If only I could have brought the Florida weather with me & maybe moved the Parelli center just down the road too! Had a wonderful time, learned a lot & made some good friends. My favorite part? Well, let's just say there were several people it took the entire two weeks to learn much of anything about their life back home. Sound weird? This is because everyone I met was as happy as I was to discuss horses, horses & more horses. Love it!
So, I learned many small things...small details to improve my game play & my horse's opinion of me. Horses are so very sensitive to body language & the small things. I'm looking forward to applying these details to my time with my horses. In particular my LB Kisia who I've let the relationship slip with....not on purpose but really just through taking her for granted. Kindof like a couple who's been together so long, they don't worry about the importance of the small things. This has totally been on my part so we shall see what she thinks of her new more polite, more clear & relationship focused girl. The video above is my gang here while I was away doing what they do & some of them apparently getting quite plump! Wow, what a round bale of hay can do in two weeks is amazing. This video was a wonderful gift from my husband who never fails to set the best example of "putting the relationship first".

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review of The Game of Contact clinic

Today completed Linda Parelli's clinic The Game of Contact. The morning of the first day we had classroom style lecture where Linda (sporting a sleek new petite figure) explained her concepts behind the game of contact. She showed examples of progress made by several different horse & rider pairs. And she of course discussed how horsenality is interrelated to this game. It's a difficult concept to explain in any terms; classical, modern or natural. My understanding thus far is that The Game of Contact is a method of teaching the horse to understand what's going on & take as much responsibility in the contact as the rider should. Holding hands equally & comfortably. One interesting point for me personally was when she described reactions common to particular horsenalities. Kisia, a Left Brain Extrovert, did exactly as Linda described was typical for her horsenality type. Even more pleasing to me was when she described the best method of helping a LBE to begin to gain understanding, as it was just what my experienced & talented instructor had me do in a lesson with Kisia. How lucky am I to have the treasure of Evie Tumlin in our area to provide learning & enrichment to our horse community! Looking forward to next week & some Freestyle!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Learning to take home

Day five into Level 2 Breakthrough at the Parelli Center. This week our focus has been online play & getting ready to ride. My first day was pretty rough. Looking back, that day was a floodlight on "my problem". One of the hallmarks of this program is the Horsenality Model. Similar the the Meyers-Briggs formula, horsenality assigns horses to either Right Brained (RB) or Left Brained (LB) then Extrovert (Ext) or Introvert (Int). I always got on pretty well or at least better than anyone else to that point with a very RB Miles. Foxy, a mild but still innate RB mare & I seem to absolutely "get" each other. And well, everyone gets along with Kisia....right? My very sweet Right Brained Introvert lease mare, Faith, has helped me to see how rude, bossy & intolerant I am with my own easy going & very LB Kisia. Hoping this will be a breakthrough in my relationship with Kisia & looking forward to applying this huge lesson to our time together. Had some really nice demos yesterday with our main course instructor Kathy Baar in which I took some notes that will be worth reading over & over. Will share those notes later here. We also got news that our class will be allowed to audit Linda Parelli's course this weekend on The game of contact. Talk about a sweet perk to the timing of being here just now!

Monday, November 15, 2010

News from Florida!

So I'm writing this from Ocala, FL where I am taking a 2 week course at the Parelli Center. I'm thinking some short blogs on the goings on here are in order. My course started yesterday with a half day including orientation, a classroom lesson, then a game with my horse called me & my shadow. In between all that we did a simulation. Yes, the conga horse. The first time I saw this on video I was horrified of the idea of acting like a horse with 4 other people. Now it's my opinion that most people enjoy this type of learning. For me it's for sure out of my comfort zone & well into the learning zone. You basically take turns (4 people involved here) being the human, horse head, horse middle & horse hind end. I was of course a very good & obedient the human my horse was a nut who totally ran all over the hind end of an opinionated horse I got beat up with a mean noodle (1-2 foot foam tube/stick). Learned that if you pick on the hind end too much it avoids you like the plague, RBI's made really nice conga horse heads ;) & even with humans, one must adjust how you handle the "horse" depending on the individual & horsenality. Good stuff! More to come....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cash N Zorra video & update

Cash n Zorra from Randall Barr on Vimeo.

Video here is Cash & Zorra getting some hands-on time after breakfast. Zorra is totally weaned now. Cash is still able to nurse through the fence as his mom allows which is becoming less & less. Since I wasn't sure of his age, I wanted to make weaning very slow & easy on him. My big, sweet Zorra at 6 months was independent & ready! As seen here, Cash is a total love-bug. He seeks out attention & is very calm about new things. Sedona got her first natural trim last week. Her feet look pretty good but after who knows how long of inattention will take some time to get into their best shape. Nothing that can't grow or heal though. She is looking fabulous with no more visible bones protruding. With the added weight she doesn't look quite so far along in her pregnancy but still has a belly that indicates she must be pregnant. Sedona & Cash are very much beginner friendly types, small but quick & athletic. Sedona is about 14.1 hands & a nice build even while still too thin. They have nice confirmation & will be wonderful partners for someone. Kisia is enjoying her break to heal an "over-extended" tendon. No heat but slightly off when moving to the right or under-saddle so should be good-to-go when I'm back from my trip to FL at the end of November.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not so difficult decision

For the past year & a half I've been looking forward to taking a course at the Parelli Center in Ocala, FL this November. I'll be attending "Level 2 Breakthrough" & had planned to, of course, take Kisia. After being started, she & I have had almost a year to ride. We've ridden through the level 1 & 2 patterns (my personal favorite piece of Parelli educational materials) & just poked around the property "trail" riding. All went smoothly until we started having saddle fit issues. She started bucking during our online play & offered her 1st ever buck under-saddle during a ride. Not yet able to get a shim pattern going that would keep her saddle in place, I purchased a crupper to get us by. It keeps the saddle in place & is of no concern for Kisia. Great! Back on our way! Then she comes up lame with heat in a hind leg. It got better then after a cool morning with much bucking & running with her friend Foxy, she seemed to be off on that leg again. At this point the course is looming, I found myself becoming impatient & annoyed with her. We have a bit of a personality/horsenality mismatch. I'm pretty serious & like plans. Kisia is a total "Girls just wanna have fun" type. When it became obvious I was putting my goals ahead of her mental health & probably affecting her physical health, I knew the answer was to not take her to FL. No hand-ringing, stressful, this or that thinking needed. It was the only answer. My girl is young & needs a break. She's headed to a fabulous trainer in January with experience with Baroque horses for what should be imo an amazing opportunity for both of us. I'm headed to FL in a couple of weeks to work on myself for once. Not my complicated, difficult horse (sorry Miles!) or my young, green filly. Will be leasing a mare named Faith who I imagine will be an honor to share space with. Pic here is my Kisia getting a good start to her "break" in her most favorite place....a dried up creek.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Zorra's sire wins at Nationals

Video here is Zorra's sire Chulo, who won his 2nd National Championship class last week taking home the 2010 National Champion 3 & over Spanish/Portugeuse Stallion title. I hear he's heading home with his new & very lucky owners to MI. This video belongs to Heradurra Andalusians & much thanks to them for allowing us to breed to Chulo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Zorra's 1st 6 months

Slide show here are some favorite pics of Zorra's 1st 6 months. She was weaned last weekend. I can honestly say that she is the one thing I've wanted my entire life. My earliest prayers, wishes on 1st stars (you recall the poem) & falling stars were for a mare to ride & foal to play with. Not sure how I knew it then, but she's been every bit as fun & wonderful as the child me knew she would be!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Getting Healthy

Sedona & Cash have been with us two weeks now. It's amazing how quickly they are improving. They were wormed the week before coming to Oxford at their rescue. I wormed Sedona her 2nd day here. Then Cash got wormed the next week when Dr. Heaton came out. Both got immunizations & Sedona got her teeth rasped. I can't say enough about how easy Sedona is to work with. For a mare with hardly any handling to be easy to worm, get her first ever shots & we all know how awful it is to have anything dental done.....she's been all patience & grace. While Cash is still far from "tame" he started showing interest in me after a few days. The 1st day or two he wouldn't look at us (although he loves the other horses). He now approaches me in the pasture & allows me to pet his face a moment before he heads off. He decided to taste his grain about 4 days after his worming. Took a few bites & did that head nod horses do when something they eat is new or strange. Skipped the next meal, then dove in with gusto the next. This was my biggest concern after getting them wormed. After Cash's 2nd worming he passed a pretty heavy load of worms. For safety reasons he was only given a small dose for his 1st worming so was still carrying around what was obviously a heavy parasite burden. I believe that was part of his lack of interest in grain. He must have felt bad & who knows what his mouth or belly felt like. So to see an obvious sign of growth yesterday evening was wonderful. His hind end is about an inch higher than his wither area. It wasn't that high the day before! His coat & expression look better too. Watch for some pics of him soon here. He's another black beauty like our Zorra, just in a smaller package.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Story of Two Rescues

The picture above was taken shortly after a herd of 18 stallions, mares (most pregnant) & foals were rescued from a neglect situation. This particular rescue has captured the hearts of many in this area. They have a huge following on facebook as well as regular updates on their status at their website here It's admittedly a time of hardship for many these days. Even so, it's difficult to imagine allowing something like this to happen to a herd of what was surely once the pride of someone. It's my understanding that this herd contains Appaloosas, Paints & Quarter Horses. The herd was moved to Have-A-Heart rescue where they have been receiving care. A handful were recently deemed healthy enough to be sent to foster homes or adopted by someone willing to continue to rehab them back to good health. There are still many too sick or thin to leave the rescue yet, although they improve daily. When we went to pick up Sedona (yes that pitiful chestnut above is her) & her colt, Cash, I saw first-hand the poor, albeit improved, state of many of these guys. I've only ever seen horses with bones protruding in malnutrition in pictures. Sedona & Cash look much better now, although they still have a long way to go. I can say that they feel good. I observed Sedona (bony with her big pregnant belly) jump from a stand-still across a 4 foot across little creek in our front pasture. I'm betting she's gonna be a super athlete. Cash too, is cantering around to catch up with his mom & keeps sneaking over to visit with my herd at the fence they share, despite Sedona's protests. Donations to assist in the care of the Leake County herd can be made online at the above link. Follow Sedona & Cash's story here with us & follow the Leake County Herd's progress at the link above. They are sure to make you sad but will also hopefully inspire us to treasure what we have without ever forgetting the responsibility we all have as care-takers of horses or any other animal we breed or otherwise bring into our lives. Photo above taken by Taylor Kuykendal. Thanks to "mississippihorses" for allowing me to share it here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall update!

Lots going on here in recent weeks so an update is due. Sir Miles, while still on lease in TN, has moved to a new farm &, from what I hear, is in the lap of luxury. He has moved to a beautiful farm where he has 100 or so acres of softly rolling hills to enjoy. Pastured with a younger gelding buddy, he is now with a mother & daughter. Mother is a dressage trainer & instructor. Daughter is a teen & advanced eventing rider in need of a schoolmaster type to help her move forward in her dressage. Miles fit the bill & so far is charming them with his talent & fun personality. Looking forward to pics & updates on how they are all getting along!

You may have noticed from the pics here that Kisia is a bit of an easy keeper. She's been dieting for the past couple of months. Her quick weight gain this spring caused some saddle fit issues we've been working through. Will be trying a new shim pattern with her pad/saddle soon that should help to fit her rounder shoulders & short, broad back. Hoping it will keep her saddle from slipping forward.

Foxy & Zorra are still on "mom & baby duty." They both look great & hold every one's heart strings around here for sure. Herradura Andalusians (breeder of our Kisia & Zorra's sire Chulo) will be showing Zorra's sire Chulo at the up & coming IALHA show in the Spanish/Portuguese Senior Stallion class & will hopefully leave with his 2nd National Championship Title. He was recently sold & will be heading out to his new home soon. Can't say enough about how happy we've been with Zorra & just feel lucky all around to have had the opportunity to breed to that amazing stallion.

And probably our biggest news of the moment is the recent arrival of our newest residents. Two fosters from "Have a Heart" horse rescue arrived this weekend. A really sweet & friendly chestnut mare & her lovely black colt. These two were part of the much followed Leake county horse rescue. They will foster here with us a while to basically fatten up & be pampered a bit....ok probably more than a bit. We're thrilled to have them & are certainly blessed to be able to help out. I'm calling the mom Sedona after the stunning red rock formations we recently saw in Arizona & the colt Cash after "the man in black". Much more of their story to follow in coming posts. Picture here is Zorra's view of Sedona & little Cash settling in on their first day with us.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Phillip & Zorra photo.....AAAH how sweet!

This beautiful photo taken by my talented husband, Randall Barr, recently won 2nd place in the AAAH's & HAHA's photo contest. The contest wasn't anything huge or official but is always nice to have your photo's (& horses!) admired & appreciated by others. The contest was hosted by Parelli Saddles through their facebook page.There were many really nice pics of sweet & funny horses submitted. Randy has aspirations to one day spend much of his time creating beautiful videos & photos. Obviously biased, I think he creates works of art every time he picks up a camera. Much thanks to the folks as Parelli Saddles for validating my opinion & allowing a forum for us to share this wonderful moment with others! If you follow this blog, you already know that Zorra is our sweet & dreamy andalusian cross filly out of Randy's mare Foxy. Phillip is our nephew & really wanted a picture with Zorra with her head up. Our little darling is all horse & often finds grass the most interesting thing in the world! Thankfully Phillip asked in just the right way if she would mind being in a picture of him. Surely the magic of photography is that it allows to capture a moment. Lovely moment here that might simply say "Hi" or may say something much more complex about trust & youth.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kisia's first dressage lesson

Kisia & I got up bright & early & headed over to Cedar Winds Farm for her first dressage lesson. This was only her fourth trip on a trailer & first real riding lesson. My main purpose for a riding lesson at this point was to expose her to someplace new. Get on the trailer at home, which we do a lot, but then go for a ride & get off someplace different. I also have hoped to participate in a dressage schooling show this coming October. So....number one goal? a relaxed horse, whether that meant riding or not was a non-issue. You just never know how a new environment will effect your horse right?  Kisia blew me away with her calm & interested reaction to a new place & experience. She was utterly fabulous &, I believe, had a grand time. We learned some new things, she met some new people, saw some interesting horses (ponies!!) & acted as if she travels all the time.
OK, bragging aside...we did do some riding. We worked on getting more forward energy in her walk & trot. Appears I work very hard & she does very little. So evened things out a bit as far as putting a more equal effort into what we are doing. Evie instructed me to do less in body, following Kisia's motion rather than pushing it.Then asking for more energy with my calves or heels when she would slow rather than totally carrying her movement with mine. Evie also gave me some tips on being more consistent with my contact when Kisia is looking around. And a three & half year old girl likes to look around at a new place!
Had a nice quiet ride back home & the rest of the day to relax & think about things. So far with Kisia & surely with any horse...the key to success (& fun) is in the foundation. Really taking time to prepare your horse...she wasn't botherd by the trailer, by mounting, by her tack or new sites & sounds because she's had all that taken care of. So this new place & activity was something she was able to be calmer, smarter & braver about! October here we come!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Zorra's first trim

Zorra got her first hoof trim today. She's four months old now & getting ready to wean soon. She did really well! Her lessons on yielding to pressure & standing still helped a great deal. She's for sure benefited from "it's the release that teaches" theory. She only got a little mad on the last foot when standing so still just got impossible. Even showed interest when she could see her front hoof being rasped. Our farrier does a natural trim based on the "wild horse model". He is also exceptionally patient & kind with my horses which undoubtedly may have been the most important factor in this positive first experience for Zorra. Check out this link..... an article on our wonderful farrier where he explains a bit about what he does & why it works so well. Pic here is of Zorra's two hind feet at about a day old. They have now totally grown out practically black, not striped but a lighter black than her front feet. They sure were pretty & white for a while though.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Too hot to trot....walk...ride...anything!

They say the heat index this weekend is around 105 in our area. It's been hard to imagine that I used to guzzle gatoraid till I was about to pop, ice down my big, white, heat-tolerant thoroughbred & ride on days like this. For the last couple of months, after feeding everyone, I've been riding Kisia in the mornings. So the last two mornings I imagine she was anticipating a ride. Kisia really tries to be a good girl & learned early that making ugly faces didn't sit well with me. But, she can't totally control that fun & naughty nature. So as I've walked by her stall, just as I pass her, she's pinning her ears at me. Yeah, just like a kid sticking their tongue out behind your back. This morning I thought, I really should at least play with her online & deal with that attitude. Then thought...."Hell (pun intended as it is that hot), I feel the same way about riding in this heat!" So she got her mane braided....snoozed in the fan the whole time...we both felt better ;) Pic here of Sir Miles who may be bothered by a lot...but never the heat! He'll be returning home to Oxford in the coming weeks. Thanks for the fun hot rides big guy!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Often when viewing educational materials, there's so much information I just don't get it all. Then again, I believe some knowledge comes when your ready for it. I've found this to be the case with much of my Parelli materials. I may watch a video or read some material to find just the answer I've been needing even though I've seen/read the material previously. I refer to this as finding a nugget. Sounds silly but in my mind I see these bits of knowlede as Golden Nuggets of Knowledge. So will post these as discovered. Kisia & I are playing at level 3 online. Kisia is a medium spirited LBE (left brain extravert). She's usually pretty equal on go & whoa depending on the day. Cantering online she doesn't always pick up the correct lead & prefers to only go a few strides before breaking gait. While viewing the new level 3 online dvd, Pat described "leading" the front end when asking for the canter. I've been going through the phases of pointing, support with stick, kiss, hit ground with stick & string... So, rather than go through all that, I simply lead the front end & the most fabulous thing happened. My filly picked up the correct lead, did not swish her tail at me & offered the most quiet canter depart one would want. Obviously I deserved those tail swishes....she must have been wondering if I would ever get the fact that she doesn't need baby talk at level 3!! Thanks for another golden nugget Pat! More to come as discovered.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lessons & Plans

Everyone's lessons here are coming along nicely, although not too nicely. What's life without a challenge right?  This morning Zorra stood tied for the 1st time. I must say here that if I had had Zorra as my 1st young one,I would have thought I had some magic touch. So far all her lessons have gone super smooth. I'm calling her "Ms. Perfect Jr" as I've often referred to her dam as our "Ms. Perfect". Zorra pictured here leading the the herd on a trail ride. Kisia the lovely round grey & Foxy, the chestnut is Zorra's dam.

Kisia & I have had some challenges of late. She is now with Foxy & Zorra. While they all get along great, she's decided that she really doesn't want to leave them to hang with me! I've had her since she was 5 months old & leaving the herd has never been an issue. So what's the difference? Zorra. She & Kisia have bonded closely. Zorra hates to see her Auntie leave & lets us know by doing that cute little whinny. All of us want to come running right?? Well Kisia does too. After a really frustrating ride in which Kisia was jiggy & constantly wanting to head to the gate/barn causing me really lost patience (ie total loss of emotional fitness), I decided I needed a new plan. So the next day I groomed Kisia, tacked her up & went out with NO plan!!! I love plans & hate not sticking to them which was the problem the previous day. I just went with it....turned her loose & picked a spot to plant myself. Her options were...1. hang out quietly with me 2. stand quietly looking at me from a distance or 3. Move her feet at whatever gait she chose. She could not 1. Stand staring at the other horses. 2. Refuse to look at me when standing still or 3. Stop at the gate. It was a long session with some pretty impressive bronco moments but in the end it worked. She stood with me of her own choice as her herd headed to the back & out of site. Zorra eventually gave up when Kisia quit responding which was nice too. We had a nice short ride & another the next day. I don't think I've seen the end of this particular issue but am pleased to have discovered an arrow for my quiver to help deal with it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fun with the green ball!

Steamroller from Randall Barr on Vimeo.

Kisia here having a good time with the Parelli "Big Green Ball". When she was around 6 months old, I introduced her to a large white pilates ball. Would roll it around her, under her & all over her body. One day when we were doing this, her pasture mate (huge 16.3 hand pinto warmblood Holly) looked up & seeing the huge white monster on Kisia's back, spooked hard & took off. Kisia of course followed suit running with her head high looking from side to side as if to say "OMG!! What are we running from?!?!" She spent a lot of time playing with that ball in her stall & when we would hang out together. She eventually squashed it. Her first meeting with the green ball was like a happy reunion. She loves having something that she can really be aggressive with. When it comes to other horses & people...much as she wants to dominate...she's really just too sweet & gentle. So if looking for a laugh...check out "Steamroller". It's almost as much fun as Kisia in person.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Zorra's Optimization

In a recent Parelli Audio CD, Pat discusses "Optimization". Optimization is basically providing a foundation for the best future for a horse. Much thought & planning went into our little Zorra. The first & probably most important step in her optimization started years ago & took years to develop. A relationship of trust with her Dam. Foxy allowed me to do anything & everything to her throughout her pregnancy trusting me to be around & handle her foal immediately upon birth & in the weeks after when so many mares are guarding their foals violently. This relationship also set an early example for Zorra that people are trustworthy & interesting! Foxy rarely fails to nicker or whinny when I'm heading her way....Zorra started following suit at only a few weeks old. Of course, choice of parents is a huge contributing factor. Breeding a mare because she's too lame or difficult in temper to ride is done way too often. It's the mares that are a pleasure to ride & handle who should be allowed to pass along those qualities. Foxy is hands down the best riding horse to be found. Easy to train & she stays trained. One of those rare creatures who can stand in a pasture for months or more un-ridden only to behave the same undersaddle as the last time you rode her. Doesn't spook, argue, or over-react & takes care of her rider. Yeah, she's THAT nice. For years I've wanted her in an English sport horse package. Thus the choice of stallion had to be one that would contribute that to the package without possibly taking away from her better qualities. As a young stallion, Chulo was consistently passing on some particular characteristics to his foals. I had seen his foals inherit more bone, height & his really lovely & gentle temperament. He is a good mover &, unlike some Andalusians,his walk is very much a walk. While Foxy prefers to gait, she has a beautiful trot with an outrageous overstide so I knew the chances of non-gaiting foal were good if the stud had a nice & clear tendency to W/T/C. The icing on the cake was discovering that the combination of Foxy & Chulo's DNA for coat colar could only produce black. Next step in our foal optimization was to choose a Vet with years of experience in reproduction to provide the best health for Foxy & her growing foal. Our fabulous vet at Akin Equine was wonderful in getting Foxy bred & helping us to provide Foxy with everything she would need to stay healthy & foal successfully. Much sleep was lost in my attempt to be there for Zorra's birth. I missed the birth by not too much & was there to provide early imprinting within an hour or 2 of her birth. Since her birth she has been handled minimum twice daily, continuing her optimization as she learns her early lessons. She takes it all in stride & rarely puts up a fuss for anything. She did gait at her dam's side her first few days. Her legs were so long (Thanks Chulo!!) that it took her some time to figure them out. But when she started trotting, she stoped gaiting & hasn't gaited for over 2 months now. So looking like all the planning has worked. I have a lovely tempered, nice moving, tolerant, self-secure, friendly & sweet as real sugar black filly. Obviously the optimization will continue but so far so good!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zorra meets the big green ball.....

Pics here of Zorra at 2 months old getting her introduction to the Big Green Ball. So far looking like a female clone of her sire Chulo. She does share her mom's sweet & tolerant nature with the exception of being very people oriented & desiring physical contact with people & horses alike much like her aunt Kisia. That said, Zorra is more sweet & respectful preferring to stand next to you rather than crawl all over you like her more bold auntie. Zorra is very big for 2 months old & looks to finish well over 16 hands. She's bigger now than 15.3 hand Kisia was at 6 months old. I've told Randy I should find her a person who wants something really big. But she's so sweet & easy to work with....can't imagine I'd ever find another like her & have to admit that I can't wait to see how she finishes. Gorgeous faced, fabulous tempered, huge BLACK mare......that's just fantasy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Letting go is hard to do.....

Kisia & I have been hitting it hard with our freestyle riding. Not so much in intensity but in consistency! Being young & quite green, this has been great for her. I've learned much about both of us through this push to get her past green to true-blue. Not surprisingly more about myself than her.

The big lesson I've learned regarding Kisia's needs is to be very consistent in HOW I ask for things but not consistent in WHAT I ask for. Her pattern so far is to take some time getting things. She has opinions & prefers to make sure I understand them first before she "gives in". Then she "gets it", really perfect like getting it. If I ask for a repeat the next day, I get fussy, sour-puss attitude. She got that already, right? Jeesh, let's do something else Alice! So...if I step it up asking for same but in different gait or add obstacle, no problem...we're moving forward again.

Now, I've learned several lessons as far as my own issues. The main one being that change is hard. Relaxing in my seat & really letting go of the contact is HARD! My body keeps telling me this bouncy, slinky like creature surely is about to buck. She is so different from riding Miles who was more like a rocket just shooting around very straight & fast. Kisia is all flex & bounce. So first lesson, trust her. Drop the reins & be ready to pick them up IF I need to. She was constantly offended by my lack of trust & letting me know it. Second lesson, ride her forward (need to trust her for this too). No more "Gitty up...a little bit!" Third lesson, don't be too nice. Long phase 1 then quick phase 4 works best with my expressive one. Give her time to understand & choose to do what I ask, then follow through. If I don't give her long phase one she gets offended. If I don't follow through with phase 4 she decides she's boss. This came out with carrot stick riding. Asking her to turn with carrot stick was hilarious. Asking nice, then as the stick is almost to her face she would go for it, trying to eat it. Yeah, I laughed..several times. But was missing phase 4 here & allowing her to make a game of it that she could win. So got serious & allowed her to bonk herself in the teeth ONCE with that stick. That's all it took. So a lot learned & finding a little bit of fun in this freestyle riding that for so long just felt like ick to me. Letting go of the contact for me has thus far been all about trusting my horse to do what I've taught her to do & what I ask her to do. Not easy & has been a real obstacle for us in moving forward with freestyle. When I did it though, really dropped the reins & asked for real forward energy....well that's what it's all about. That's the un-named feeling all horse-nuts live for & why we keep going back for more, more, more!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Slideshow of Kisia riding & notes on Freestyle riding

Was a beautiful day to be outside doing just about anything. We got some nice video footage of Zorra at play. Watch for her "introduction" in video here soon. Kisia got played with a couple days prior to riding then a ride after about a 6 week break. I've removed the reins from her headstall to force myself to really give Freestlye riding a good shot. After years of dressage & riding a dressage trained horse (Miles), giving up my upright seat & contact with the bit has proved to be challenging. Doesn't help that Kisia rides beautifully with contact, but like Miles, seems to depend on that to do her thinking. SO, she's carrying the bit now & being ridden in rope halter & lead rope. My goal at this point is to get her to 1. go where I point her & 2. maintain the gait I've asked for. Goal for myself...not micromanage her every move.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Foals are fun!

An update on the gang here. I could use the weather the last couple of weekends as a perfectly good excuss to not ride & spend time with my Kisia but the truth is that I'm just constantly drawn into to hanging in the foal paddock with Zorra & Foxy. I go out to check on them with the intention of then heading over to get Kisia & an hour later I'm still there! So what does one do with a 3 week old filly? So far, lots of Parelli game #1, Friendly game, getting her comfortable being touched. We're also working on picking up her feet which is going really well...she's much like her mother...a real no fuss type. She doesn't over-react to new things & once she sees your purpose..well no problem! She tolerates having her ears, face & belly handled, is unphased by fly spray & is even yielding to pressure from her chest, face & shoulders. One of the reasons it's so hard to leave is that she loves to "hang out". She will follow me around & if I head to the gate, pretty soon she's trotting up behind me. Obviously this is irrestable. So yes it takes several tries on my part before I actually make it out of the pasture. Then if she winnies! really how can I not go back over for one more scratch? She's adorable, sweet & turning more beautiful every day. Video coming soon!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pics of Zorra & Foxy.

Pics here are of Zorra & Foxy spending some time in the big pasture. Zorra is just over a week old here & has really grown. She's getting some nice musculature & has discovered the joy of bucking & running! Her lessons include getting lots of scratches, have her legs & head rubbed & learning to lead with the butt rope. She fits all this in around several naps & meals throughout the day so is a busy princess at the moment!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Filly!!!

Foxy foaled a beautiful black filly around 2am Friday morning. They have both had their post foaling vet visit & are doing well. We've named her Zorra, which means Fox in Spanish. Foxy's registered name is Strait Gold so Zorra is named after her "barn name" but in Spanish to honor her fabulous sire, Chulo. Zorra is very sweet & seems to have inherited her dam's tolerant while remaining slightly skeptical character. That said, there is a curiosity to her nature that must come from Chulo's more outgoing & friendly temperament. She has the long legs & nice bone that Chulo throws. Two hind white socks & feet from her dam line & I believe she has inherited her dam's natural gait. As of today, she is running around playing, performing some really fancy roll-backs & bouncing around her momma. So far no bucking or kicking out although maybe a bit ticklish on her rump which can trigger what I call her buckaroo move. If you get it right, although, she'll stand still for a nice scratch back there which is great for all involved parties. Lots of sleeping, eating & getting used to life as a princess. Aunt Kisia (Kisia & Chulo are siblings both out of Gitano MOR) is keeping watch next door & looking forward to joining Foxy & Zorra soon. Lots of pics to come of this sweet black beauty & much fun for us around here this Spring & Summer with our first foal to enjoy!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Journals & Quotes

For years now I've "journaled". I have a personal journal (which doesn't get nearly enough attention), book journal, equine "studies" journal, favorite quotes journal, loads of now closed journals & a Kisia journal. I've attempted to document Kisia's & my progress over the years & actually do study that little book to see how we're coming along as well as pick up on patterns in her behaviour. On the back of her journal I've written quotes I've come across that struck me as something I may want to keep on the tip of my mind while working with her & thought to share them here. While most are from Pat or Linda Parelli, I've not kept a good record of who said what so please forgive that oversight & don't "quote" me on who they are from.

Think could rather than would or should.

Only sustain something your horse willingly offers. *Karen Rolf

It's not about the obstacle or the task, it's about the quality of your communication with your horse.

Am I willing to do what it takes to be good enough for this horse?

To whom much is given....much is required.

If you knew it was lack of confidence, would going up your phases be the right thing to do....or would you stop & pat your horse & let him know that he's okay?

Begin with the end in mind.

When you & your horse can get lost in a world of dance, this is the art of horsemanship. This is when it is totally humane to ask your horse to perform at the top of his ability because he is enjoying his performance. You have increased his life's experiences. *Carolyn Resnick

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pics from Lipizzaner show...

Not sure why my slideshows here are always off-center. Click the pics to be taken to the link for centered pics. :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sometimes making a plan works...

When I submitted my paperwork & DVD for my level 2 Online audition with Kisia we had one task yet to accomplish, jumping online. Every time I approached it, she just wasn't getting it & needed way more pushing at the time that she could tolerate. So, I listened to my horse & decided to hope everything else was good enough without that task. It's not like I'm interested in jumping anyway. Now that things are dry enough for some fun, we've really stepped up our online work progressing well into Level 3. She's had some tension with riding so my goal for that has been to be a quiet relaxing ride at the end of our more taxing online play. So after a few weeks of this, I placed a nice line of barrels in the round pen thinking we would just play around them. I set it up where she would have to see & think about them but didn't have to go over. The plan was working nicely..we made our way near them..she eyed them one good time & just popped over them!...couple trot strides she did a "bull fighting horse" turn on the hind end & popped over them the other direction...couple trot strides...& repeat! Now I did not ask for this. As a matter of fact I stood there stunned with images of trick riders standing on galloping horses, jumping through hoops of fire then jumping their bold mounts onto the backs of moving vehicles! Surely I'm not enough woman for this much horse!?! How could this happen? She not only took those barrels from near standing still like they were the smallest anthill but did it 3 times! of her own choice! OK, she didn't see my moment of fear...we continued our play...WELL away from the trouble causing barrels. Bareback pad & bridle on...move to the mounting block & it happened. My fire breathing stunt horse turned into a sweet quiet backyard filly. Our ride was relaxed but forward & she did everything I asked without the least bit of tension. Appears the famous Andalusian ON/OFF switch is thus far intact...whew.
*jumping pics coming soon*

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fluidity Dressage

For my Parelli friends out there...a few pics of my new saddle. The Fluidity Dressage Saddle. I was lucky to get a nice discount as this saddle was one of five already made & ready to ship. Thankfully one of the 5 was my size. These saddles are fundamentally different from others as they are designed to fit the horse's back in motion rather than standing still. As you can see here Kisia moves very freely & is quite comfortable in the fluidity. She also didn't fuss when girthed up, which was a welcome surprise. Was also pleased that the saddle didn't slip with her bucking or when mounting as she is of a round type & I don't girth tight! It's very posh & comfortable to sit. I was a little worried about the seat being slick. After years of riding a Wintec with equisuede which is pretty much like having velcro on your bum, I wondered if I would slip around on leather. So far I've felt very secure & really love this saddle.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I've posted previously about helping Kisia become more comfortable being handled & touched. Riding seems to come natural to her. She left her trainer having ridden seemlessly through training level test 4 after just under 6 weeks of training! She did seem to develop a few undesirable behaviours, primarily in the area of tacking up & being touched in certain areas. She became quite cinchy, tossing her head, reaching around as if to bite & backing up when cinched. She also tossed her head, clinched her jaw & evaded to avoid bridling. Rude behaviours on a good day. Dangerous on a bad. So over the last 3 months we've used the 1st of the 7 games, friendly game, to help her relax & become more accepting of being handled & tacked up. I used approach & retreat as well as well-timed rewards (rest or treat) to improve her tolerance of being touched on her head, face, sides & girth. She followed the same pattern she did as a foal with her feet & legs being touched. Turtle slow to no progress to the point that I'm thinking "She's never gonna get this". Then out of the blue, perfection! She's got it. She's actually now offering a "friendly" petting session. I normally let her out of her stall to roam while Foxy finishes eating. Rather than her normal explorations (going in every empty stall & knocking over anything I've not put up) she began to plant herself in front of where I sat, nearly putting her head in my lap & staring intently at me as if to say..."Pet me, I'm ready! & don't forget the treat!" She will now quietly ground tie for saddling & bridling. I should get this on video as bridling goes something like this; ask her to lower her head..reins over head..hold up the bridle & watch your fingers because....Chomp! she takes the bit totally of her own volition...slip the headstall over her ears...buckle up & Voila! she practically bridles her self now! It's really a shame some performer or trick trainer didn't get this mare. When she decides something is worth doing, she does it with such gusto! *pic is of our barn-cat Salsa*

Friday, January 29, 2010

January Notes

It's raining & cold as of this writing. Foxy & Kisia are in their stalls & knowing those two are ready to go out regardless of the weather. While winter is still most definitely upon us here, I'm feeling spring around the corner. Foxy is looking more glorious every day. She's a "mother earth" look about her as she nears the end of her pregnancy. I've noticed some behaviors that are typically uncharacteristic for her....pinning her ears at Kisia, nipping at Kisia, generally being annoyed with Kisia. Of course none of this phases Kisia in the least. She must be the most persistent horse I've ever encountered & certainly won't be thrown off her path by a little face making or a bite that doesn't even break the skin! Foxy & I are heading to Olive Branch next week for her last appointment with our wonderful vet there. We've put the finishing touches on the "foaling paddock" recently. I'll move Foxy there in a couple of weeks. While it's been too muddy to ride, Kisia & I have worked on the uh-uh spots she developed while in training. I've also put the halter on her several times & mounted up bareback to slosh a bit in the mud. Bareback with only a halter on a green broke 3 year old?!? What's life without a risk here & there? At least the mud makes for a soft, if messy, landing.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter Gifts

Cold; pretty much sums up the start of 2010 as well as the end of last year. I have no memory of snow that doesn't melt by lunch time. Not only did we have a bit of snow but it's still out there several days after it fell. The ground is frozen. Ice that's been dumped from water buckets retains its shape. I've even nearly tripped over a perfectly preserved pile of rock hard frozen horse apples! Needless to say, doing much of anything with the horses isn't possible. Kisia & Foxy aren't bothered by the cold. They do have a bit more pep in their step in the mornings but overall seem to like the cold. They are both plush & wearing a goatee. I on the other hand am transformed every time I step out the door into the stay-puff woman. I hate the cold! & prior to horses entering my life did anything to avoid it. Well, I have no choice now. As mentioned in a previous post, Foxy is pregnant. She entered her last trimester on Dec 1st & is due to foal the end of March. Foxy isn't one to be super interested in people. She prefers to stand back & let Kisia be the princess of every one's attention. Not that she is fearful. She will tolerate being touched, petted, vetted & just about anything you ask of her. She just doesn't offer up contact too often. So when she stopped across from me one morning & gave me the one-eyed come over here look, I was curious to say the least. Not sure what she wanted, I scratched her withers & shoulders only to run my hand down her side to feel what must have been her foal doing back-flips that morning! As I turned to look at her laughing, she put her head on my shoulder. She gifted me with a beautiful moment as well as the knowledge that she doesn't just feel safe sharing her experience with me but that I've been invited to share it. If all goes well, I imagine her foal just might be as special as it’s precious mother.