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!