Monday, June 13, 2011

Clinic with Sarah Martin

Kisia & I attended one day of a clinic with Sarah Martin. The clinic was held here in Oxford at Cedar Winds Farm. I had heard this clinician was nice so thought we'd give it a try. I'll stop here & say that at this point in my horsemanship journey I don't do mean people anymore. I've been there, done that & have no intention, regardless of what I might learn, in being told anything mean about myself or my horse. So there! If they aren't positive they aren't for me. I had hoped for some insight into helping Kisia understand contact. She has moments where she gets this but I've felt overall that she's not confident with the connection of mouth to hand. I discussed her early training with Sarah who suggested I try lunging her for a short time (10 minutes) in a surcingle, bridle & side-reins to help her learn to find where the contact is comfortable without the rider's issues or influence. She stressed that because Kisia was young, that we keep this lunging & riding her with contact very short. Just a few circles W/T/C & move on. The goal was for Kisia to understand & not to feel drilled. So she showed me the lunging technique asking for a couple of circles trot then canter both directions. Then mounted up & staying on a 20 meter circle instructed me to "be the surcingle & side-reins". We did this for few circles walking which Kisia was nice & quiet for without the usual "rooting" type behavior she normally does when the contact is first taken up. That was impressive to me for a start! Then did several transitions W/T with me maintaining the contact softly but staying consistent allowing her to again find that comfort zone. Then moved on to T/C transitions, the 1st of which blew my mind. So soft & quiet. She did go up & down a bit with her head but never once pulled me or did her dramatic leap into the air with the up transition which for me is just huge. We transitioned up 3 times both directions, then done. It was wonderful. My mare was relaxed & seemed happy! So this was new as I've never used the surcingle/side-reins & honestly never understood it seeing so many people use it as what looked like a torture device. We went on to discuss Kisia's fitness issues. Sarah suggested taking her out & just riding her for fun in the pasture, trails, etc. It all felt classical & natural which to me is pretty cool. Kisia was pretty awesome, so confident & brave. I've decided that if she maintains that state, what I've done is OK & good. Would certainly attend another clinic with Sarah. Links to her site here if anyone interested in learning more...... &

Friday, June 3, 2011

An update!

Spring has been way too busy leaving us as fast as it came. We're starting June feeling like mid-summer here which means HOT! That said, the equine gang are all doing well. Zorra is growing into an elegant & obedient young mare. She's outgrown Kisia in height & hard to believe but her forelock is longer than Kisia's as well so looking like she's gonna be the new "hair queen" around here soon. Foxy has been getting a bit more well-deserved (but still not enough) attention in the form of some trail rides. She & Randy have accompanied Kisia & myself on some rides out for fun & to help Kisia learn that riding isn't all work but can be interesting & fun too! Zorra tags along with us as well for our "trail-rides". Kisia & I have been continuing our progress with the Parelli program to get ready for a course in FL this fall. Since being home, I've focused on riding her "freestyle" which has been interesting as she's not been sure what to do with the "free" part of that meaning a casual (loose) rein. So she's expressing her self a bit more then relaxing which is nice! The ground has dried enough that we have started cantering on our rides. She still has her "WEEEEEE!" moments but has offered a few quiet, relaxed canters which just blow my mind as I wasn't sure they were possible. Her trainer said it would happen. Kisia's weight is a huge challenge this time of year. To put it nicely, she's ummm robust! So no grain & this year she's spending most of the daytime in the barn to limit her time on grass. And of course doing our best to get in several days of exercise playing online & riding. The biggest change around here is that Miles has returned home. Such a contrast from my issue with Kisia, Miles came home unfortunately looking like a rescue. He had been at what might be described as a horse heaven type eventing barn. So even the nicest, affluent type barn can neglect the nutritional needs of horses unfortunately. Thankfully, Sedona & Cash (along with Mississippi Horses) taught me how to help a horse needing refeeding. He's a hard keeper on his best day but has surprised me gaining weight quickly so far. Still too thin but not disturbing to see now so making progress. Miles is a ham for pictures so pics coming soon when he's looking better of our now 20 year old ex-racer, ex-jumper, retired dressage horse! Pic here of him shortly before he went out on lease about a year & half ago.