Monday, October 17, 2011
Florida was another wonderful experience at the Parelli campus. Kisia & I are both glad to be home enjoying getting back to our routine & a bit of rest to digest some of what we've brought back. My personal focus during the Flex Track was on Freestyle riding. It's been a challenge for me as I'm used to riding with contact as is my mare. What I realised during our course was just what I was missing. I was not being clear or consistent enough with my phases. I also was giving up way too soon when things weren't working & going back to what I knew worked.....riding with contact. After getting some clear instruction on just what my phases should be....not nagging with one too long before going to the next...& staying with it until Kisia was able to understand what I wanted....we put it to test. My big break through was while trying to walk around a tree in a circle. I kept having to go to phase 4 with the reins & put her back on the circle. I knew that all I had to do to ride a lovely circle around that tree was pick up the contact! But it was not about the circle, it was about allowing Kisia the time to understand what my intention & body were asking her to do. As these things go, she "all of the sudden" got it & turned at phase 3 with just my outside leg. That was it! We still had moments of needing to go to the reins for a correction but she knew what that leg meant from that moment on & even began to turn from my eyes/belly & focus later. This also translated to other areas for me as to the importance of being very deliberate & consistent with the four phases as well as staying with it as long as needed for the horse to understand what your trying to communicate. We stayed so busy that I didn't get many pictures but did have a photo session with Coco. Should get those photos in about a month & will share here.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Kisia & I enjoyed watching "Parelli Games" this morning & spending some undemanding time together today. After a very full week, it's nice to have a day to relax & think on some of what we've learned. One area where I got some great suggestions was on Kisia's desire to dive down to eat grass about anytime I'm not actively asking her to do something. One instructor suggested using a voice cue "head-up", then kiss, then a bump on her rope. This helped but wasn't effective enough as a bump on the rope doesn't bother her too much. I questioned another instructor who suggested to "try to beat her to the punch" giving her a tap on her hiney as soon as she would start to dive for a bite. We made a game of this, moving around to different grassy areas. It worked like a charm. Took about 3 times for her to get it so I then added the voice cue "head up" & the tap if needed. Again about 3 times & she was able to understand that "head up" meant a tap to the toosh would soon follow if she went for grass. Next step was to get some communication going as to a cue that meant...."yes this is a good place to eat grass, go ahead!". So I began asking her to lower her head....she was pretty skeptical that it was OK so I very quietly took a few steps away from her physically & directed any energy well away from her. Didn't take long for her to get this part either. This has been an annoyance for me for some time with Kisia with things like grooming, tacking up & bathing in grassy areas. For me this is a priceless bit of learning & goes back to the saying to make the wrong thing uncomfortable & the right thing easy. We're had some great break throughs with our freestyle ride as well that I'll share here later!
Friday, October 7, 2011
Kisia & I are nearing the end of week one here in Florida of the Flex Track course offered at the Parelli Center. The first two days were testing. A theory test, knot tying, online, freestyle & liberty skills. Since I'm here more to develop my horsemanship skills rather than progress through the instructor track, I feel comfortable saying I might prefer no testing in a future course. That said, testing skills in front of an instructor is a challenge for me so good to step up from time to time & give it a go! Day three consisted of a rope handling, knot tying, personal goal setting for the rest of the course & reviewing our test scores (if we wanted them). Disappointing online score as Kisia & I have passed our level 2 online but surprising scores on both liberty (which we've done next to nothing with) & Freestyle. Kisia, having endured a really long trip, got several days off before the course started as we arrived a week before. I'm glad we did that as I feel it helped her to have some time to recover a bit before asking her to start moving & thinking so soon after that stress. She is a young mare, just four & a half, so much is new to her about traveling. She of course draws admirers & charms people who pass her pen. Such is her charisma & beauty. She's proving herself to be true to her breed displaying spirit when she moves, super sensibility in the face of unending new stimuli & ease of training. The new obstacles like the car wash, a nice long isle of blue tarps hanging with cut outs blowing in the wind, tires, jumps & ponds are, for her, curiosities rather than something to fear. She does get quite exuberant at times when riding. But as long as she's connected & listening that's something I personally enjoy. Will get some pics this weekend of this magical campus to post here later & share more of what we're learned as we go along.