Friday, December 7, 2012

Update....I's been a long time.

I'm sorry to say that my horses took a back seat the last few months due to my very nasty divorce that I am going thru.  Rose is such a sensative horse, that if I am "troubled" internally, she picks up on it.  So it's best to just leave things alone with her until I get my head and heart straight.  Not there yet....and I wanted to thank all of you for your concern.  I'm hanging in there.

however....there is a bit of a tid bit of an update on the Piaffe experiment.  I went for a ride with a friend a couple weeks ago.  Mind you I have only ridden rose once or twice in the last 6-7-8 months.  God, I had no idea that much time had passed.  Anyways, while I waited for my friend to pick me up....I played with Rose.  I lead her up the "piaffe spot" with nothing but a halter and lead rope.  I clucked a couple of times.....

And she did the leg lifts.....CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?  I was shocked.  She did them several times too.  It was a beautiful sight to behold and reminded me just exactly what I love about this horse.
1.  She is smart as a whip and remembers everything she is taught.
2.  That means when she doesn't do something I've taught's most likely because she doesn't WANT to do it.  For what ever her reason of the day is.....usually more about holding me to a high standard of not being a dictator bitch to her.  She keeps ME honest, and makes sure I do it right.

On another update but having to do with my horses.  I'm slowly getting back into my horses and found me a cowboy to date.  Fun times ahead.....

Savvy On and Merry Christmas to all

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Unique Opportunity…deadline July 29th 2012

Long time no see.  Sorry for my long absence….I’m getting divorced and it’s consumed my life for the past few months.  But I will be back in the saddle in a couple of weeks.  As many of you know, I write reviews of educational horse dvd’s on my blog (also on hiatus) and I am a grand horse film enthusiast.  Recently the opportunity was presented to me, to review a horse movie prior to final editing and offer my input.  I was contacted by a young girl in college who is making an indie horse film about a troubled teen who loses her horse, the boy she must trust to help her in the search, and ……ha ha ha…..can’t share the rest of the movie with you….it’s a secret. But the name of the movie is “The last Wild”

Anyways, she is in a pickle and doing fund raising for the final editing so she can finish the movie.  She is in the editing phase working on color correction, sound mixing, and music.  I agreed to share the link to the fund raising campaign with my followers and friends.  She only has 9 days left to raise the funds for film completion.  She is a master of fine arts candidate at UCLA in Film production and Directing.

Now the cool part is…..contributors of any size get a special mention on the films face book page with a blurb, bio, pic, link ….anything you feel represents YOU…..and Larger donations will get actual film credit for you/your company….there are all kinds of perks for donations of all sizes, including a special invitation to the premier screening and reception in Los Angeles.

She also would like to become partnered with Equine Therapy groups and Wild Mustang  activist groups, so if you are connected to any of these great organizations, please get in touch with her.

Everything you need to know is at her site including a small snippit from the film
Click here

I will be writing a "pre" review of the movie as soon as I am done watching it, and another when the movie is completed.

Savvy On

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Piaffe day 7 ~ Video ~ 2/28

Took me a while to upload this sorry this was a few days ago, but then it rained....ugh, but it's sunny today.

So I decided to try adding the "cluck" back and see what happens.  See if we could get a lift from just a cluck alone....And we did!!!!  Sorry the video is so dark.....but at the moment till the time changes, that is my life during the week.....trying to beat the darkness.  Just one more week till the time'haw!

I also experimented with the concept of pressure, tried the long soft request and then the big strong motivating tap to back it up, not only did not really work, i didn't like it and wont do it again.  i marked that part of the video so y'all know what it was.  at the end is a pic of Rose getting her treat grazing on the road. 

I discovered something about her this last week.  about the kind of 'worker' she is, what her work ethic is. I realized i cannot pay her like piece work, ie.....reward for each little tiny thing she does when she does it.  But at the same time, paying her at the end of session is not good either.  Piece meal pay makes her lazy, and a big pay off at the end pisses her off.  But she likes to be paid first, a sample of what is to come for a job well done, then she needs to be paid after making a big effort, maybe once or twice during a session.  "paying" her this way keeps her heart in it, and thinking about working for her reward.  Cha'cote is easy, pay him piece meal after each attempt and he is happy to continue, in fact eager to put forth effort.  If I don't pay him quickly enough....he shuts down and wonders if it is all worth it.   But Rose quickly thinks she put less effort in and get a quicker pay off.  She does like that i make a big fuss over her though, each time she does well, like she is the super star that she is.

And after the last grazing, near dark, we headed in the gate to go to bed, and on her own, she headed back to the piaffe spot.  I just followed along behind to see where she was gonna go...and I was shocked she went right to it and lined up ready to go.  I just pet her for generous offer and took her to bed.  the next two days, wed and thurs she was waiting by the gate for me, i almost felt bad it was raining.  I think she is realizing that she is special and is the only one chosen to go play and graze.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What is a ‘principle’ and how does it affect our outcome and ultimate success?

1-A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system or belief or behavior or a chain of reasoning used as a rule to govern one’s behavior.

Many like to think that a technique is what guides us on this journey, or makes what we do ‘natural’ but it is not.  Techniques are just a facilitator of our principles to help us achieve our goals.  In the parelli system, those techniques and principles were chosen for us, but they are not unique to parelli.  Having principles, adhered to and revered as absolute truths, is what lets us know if you are on the right track.  Too often, students (of any method) get far to hung up on ‘perfection’ of a task or technique and the principles get lost in the fog.  And I often wonder why.  This is as common place at the highest of levels as it is at the lowest of levels.  The FEI is one of the most notable to let the mebers of their group completely ignore the ‘principles’ and now Dressage is so far away from where it started…yet their own rules never changed……and to make up for it, our perception and definition of the ‘principles’ has become so distorted, we cannot even recognize them when we see them….Such as the principle of having  ‘the poll as the highest point’… is a rare few individuals who can even recognize what it looks like.  Most people ‘think’ they have it, and they could not be farther than the truth. 
I have been studying French Classical Dressage lately, and the more I get into it, the clearer the connection between Dressage and NH becomes, most specifically Baucherism….though one does NOT automatically equal the other.    (Baucherism is a method discovered and developed by Francois Baucher in the mid 1800’s after he studied François Robichon de La Guérinière’s work from the early 1700’s) In all systems, we usually have a relatively lengthy list of ‘principles’….but when you get to the heart of the matter there are usually only a select few that are highly regarded…and usually only one, maybe two, that are thought of as the “holy grail”…..that usually, if adhered to at all times, it will keep you out of trouble and make your road to success a short one.  And usually you can say this about them,
“It matters not what technique you use, what style you ride, so long as you do nothing to lose (principle) and do everything to gain (principle)….you will always be on the road to success”
So I thought I would make a list of principles for myself, since I have been reminded by a book I am reading, just what MY holy grail is, and my lack of adherence has caused me great struggles in my pursuit of my own perfection.  Obviously the ‘goal’ is improvement in tangible skills, but really those skills are a facilitator to a higher level of conceptuality and philosophical understanding of the principles….which then garner even greater skills…and so on and so on, repeating the cycle in a never ending circle of self improvement.  There is a rule that states, if something applies in every situation than it is a RULE, if it does not, then it is a TOOL.
So here is my list of principles that state I can do anything I want so long as I have, create or do not destroy the following….
1.       Relaxation (both physical AND mental/emotional) Front to Back
2.       The relationship comes first
3.       Never use force, be it physical or mental~ includes: Don’t act like a predator, don’t be direct line, Patience BEFORE justice(long phase one)
4.       Lightness and Feel~ includes: Release of the aids, no micro management, Timing the aids at the moment when the horse can optimally comply
5.       Hands w/out legs, Legs w/out hands
6.       Poll the highest point (except when stretching down) & Nose in-front of the vertical, Back not Hollow
7.       Keep the rhythm pure
8.       Straightness
Principles I used to use that I no longer use, use sparingly, or only use in a safety situation, and why.
1.       “The attitude of justice is effective.”  It may be effective but it can be harmful physically if misunderstood and also because it can destroy relaxation, relationship, and rhythm and often eventually involves force.
2.       “Immobile Neutral on a circle.”  Too much mayhem goes on that is not seen by way of not watching the horse, and it pulls me away from many of the above principles that are FAR more important to me.
For now I think that is about it.  Should I come across any more I will update this.
I think if more people put relaxation at the top of their list, they would avert many problems.  It needs to be the first thing you get, such as when you first approach your horse, do not do things in that approach that cause him to become tense, as you begin your session, again, do not CAUSE tension…..then your first goal is to reduce and remove what ever tension he had there to begin with.  Then you can move on to the days lesson, again not CAUSING tension with any of your requests.  Should your request be met with tension….stop…find out what caused it and fix it before moving on.  Was he not prepared for your request, was it too demanding due to his level of skill and understanding, did you ask too abruptly or strongly, did you ask at a moment he could not possibly respond correctly, was he distracted….etc….
Relaxation does not mean dead btw.  It doesn’t mean create a mindless plug.  He should still be alert, sensitive and responsive…..but FREE from tension, both physical and mental.
So these are my thoughts on this rainy day
Savvy On

Monday, February 27, 2012

Piaffe day 6---breakthrough....woo hoo! know I just realized just how many posts I start with "Well".....

oh was a good day.  We started off with her waiting for me at the gate, just to leave me once i got inside.  No matter, again Cha'cote got some well appreciated scratches and lovin....and he returned the favor nuzzling my arm and shoulder....and shedding all over me.  Rose didn't go far and stared with jealosy...and finally came over.  I waited though until it was her idea to be haltered and then we headed for the front yard.

We started with the leg lifts and I thought I would give it one go without a cluck and she picked each leg up with just a couple light taps.  Then I added clucks, and after several attempts.....she actually picked up her left hind leg with just a cluck, one tap, and then clucks to get it up and a hold!!!!!!......which is where I should have stopped.  I hate missed opportunities to get it 100% right.  Shucks!  But no, no no NO....I tried to see if I could get a cluck with the right hind too......then a bunch of fidgeting started and I knew I blew it.  So I got a good lift n hold with the left again, and we went to graze.

When we started up again, again I got a good lift n hold with just a cluck, feather light tap and clucking to get the hold and this time I just quit right then and there.  I wish it had been light enough to film it, but it was too dark already.  We grazed some more and then played with the new ball i got for her.  Which is usually her favorite thing to play with....but for some reason she doesn't like it. I don't know if it is too small or what....but not a big concern.  I thanked her for her generosity and I think it was a good session.
Savvy On

Update, 3 days off....poderings of a new dvd review.

Well we took a teeny break.....friday she just needed it, sat despite my best laid plans to play with her.....I avoided going outside lest I be kidnapped and forced to do manual domestic labor in the form of boy scout camping dishes.....I chose to read a book by Francois Baucher and hide like a gopher in a hole.....
THEN i spent the rest of the day out of town at a baby shower for my first friend to become a grandma.....

Sunday, I wasted the morning waiting on a friend for a trail ride.....I waited long enough...and it got to the point that there just wasn't enough time to ride and still make it to a lesson, so instead Rose went to the lesson with me, and we played a bit and did 2 leg lifts on each leg and went home.  I was a bit disapointed as I wanted to ride....but.....there's always next weekend.  I plan on playing with Piaffe tonight.

But I did get to watch a few dvds.....
One was about myofascial release for both horse and rider and it was interesting, the other was a HUGE disappointment.  It was a piaffe dvd, and I got it because Riz credits this person as being one of his mentors.  And while I am fully aware that a person can be a great instructor in person and not be able to produce a good dvd.  So I do not disrespect a persons method solely based on their dvd, unless the dvd is soooo bad by way of horsemanship that I have no other choice.  This was unfortunately the case and I can assure you, if this person was one of his mentors, again based on the dvd, the student FAR surpassed the teacher in ways of being a horseman.  Yet again, I am back to…..Riz’s dvd is not only a one of a kind, but also the most detailed, thorough, thoughtful, effective, sensible and gentle Piaffe dvd in production.  Click here for the dvd review
I have seen several methods for starting the Piaffe, though that was not the intended subject matter of the dvd.  So now my brain is swirling with ideas of how I would like to proceed this evening.  There is also several methods for teaching a horse…well….anything.  I was reading an article the other day, can’t remember now where I read it though, regarding ‘breakthru’ training.  It was talking about how when you are teaching something, that while it is a well respected and followed method to quit while you are WAY ahead, when the horse has maybe….maybe….an inkling of what you might be teaching him…..that you should instead stick with it during the lesson until the horse has REALLY got it….ie…made a significant breakthrough.  Of course, I think this can be tricky because I think you really need to know what you are looking for, know that you “know” how to teach it so that you “know” if a lack of a break thru is YOU or the HORSE not getting it….other wise you will seriously risk taking something TOO far, and ruining the horse, both is spirit and his trust in you.
So on that subject, last week, I stuck with it (prior to reading this article) in the beginning, I suppose innately knowing we needed to get to a certain level of understanding before quiting, but I don’t think I over did anything in any way….but as the week went on….upon recollection….I think I was accepting maybe a bit too little from her….thus causing her to put LESS effort into it by weeks end.  Maybe  I am just conjuring things up in my head as well considering yesterday she quickly gave me a good leg lift when asked.  So maybe I am just loosing confidence in myself and my ability to do this.  Who knows…..sometimes you can really over think and analyze something to the point that you cause yourself brain paralysis.  But I think tonight I am going to stick with it a bit longer, and see what happens.
Savvy On

Friday, February 24, 2012

Piaffe Day 5

Well I guess the reverse psychology did some good wednesday.  She came right up to me last night and begged to be chosen to play with.  Her reward… grass….no leg lifts!......well…ok I must confess…. we did one leg lift on each leg in the middle of grazing, and i will probably regret it tonight!   I decided I want to review the dvd again to see if I missed anything (I’m sure I did)  As the questions rolling thru my mind right now are…..well really just one question….”how do I know when it is time to move on to the next step?”  I don’t want to over-do something and not keep it progressive if she is ready for the next step….which I know we are not there yet….but I don’t want to miss it because I didn’t get clarification…..that would be dumb.
Another thing I was wondering, and have been for some time, is the difference between negative reinforcement (pleasure and release) and positive reinforcement (reward based training) and wondering if using a clicker might be useful in this situation.  I definitely am going to use the clicker for Cha’cote because he loves clicker training….but I am not so sure it would be as useful with Rose.  I’m sure clicker trainers would tell me it is better for all horses….but….Rose gets kind of……..snobbish when treats are used….she gets less motivated and feels if treats are being handed out….well then just hand them out….no need for her to work for them….Cha’cote on the other hand, just might figure out how to stand on his head for a carrot!!!  However, in my long term, life long equestrian education, I have gone from applying pressure and not understanding how release teaches, to understanding bridging and reward based training, to having it all turned upside down by the notion that a third type exists…..FEEL….I have somewhat stumbled across it previously, but could not find supporting documentation that would explain it to me, and how it differs from pressure/release….all I know is that it exists and that I need to learn more about it….and I think I finally found a resource….I’ll get back to y’all about when I have some sort of answer…..and the reason I must find it, is because I think it will the ultimate way to train rose….everything else seems to always come up a bit short for this highly sensitive, smart as whip horse….who coincidentally gets offended easily as I am too stupid for HER! LOL
I am also going to review Allen Pogue’s dvd regarding the Jambette because we need ‘other’ things to do as well so she doesn’t get bored.  I should be receiving Sylvia Burrage’s dvd on Piaffe any day now, and I also will be beginning Baucher’s jaw flexions, as explained by Jean Claude Racinet…..presented by Lisa Maxwell…..OH CRUD….I have some dvd review’s to do……I guess I know what I am doing this weekend…..TYPING!!! Along w a baby shower, giving a lesson and a trail ride……oh geesh.
Savvy On

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reverse psychology or Direct line thinking?

Well, last night was interesting.  I got a good whinny upon my approach to the gate, but then she bailed.  I loved on Cha’cote for a while with her staring at me in a posture of pouting, but I did not see on the horizon her joining me.  So…I decided to halter up Cha’cote and see if her jealousy kicked in.  It did, but not enough for her to want to come close enough to get haltered.  So, I left with Cha’cote.  Oh boy, she did not like that.  She ran around screaming, but we just ignored her antics.  She may well have been upset that HE left, or she may have been jealous that I was playing with someone other than her, which is more her personality as she really couldn’t care much about him.  I have tested in the past by having someone else take a horse out instead of me….no reaction from her….but when I do……all hell breaks loose.  When I was done with Cha’cote and took him back, she was there in what appeared to be an apologetic “sorry I didn’t come fast enough’….so I haltered her and took her out.  But, now she was all amped up and really not in the mood to be a partner.  So we played a few games until she settled.
When I started the leg lifts, I noticed something that I thought might be happening the night before, and it was confirmed in this session.  For some reason (timing of my release) she got the idea that with her right hind leg, the right answer was to kick at her belly…..and this session… spread to the left hind leg.  So after some ‘explaining’ and properly timed release, she offered a good lift with a bit of hold on both legs.  As soon as she did them we went grazing down the street.  I only did 3 small sessions with her last night because of her reluctance to be with me when I entered the pasture.  So tonight I think we will not do any leg lefts and just go for a walk down the road and graze.  I don’t want to get direct line here, she has done so well with this, I just don’t want to blow it and make her hate doing it….which is pretty easy with this horse, to get greedy when she does so well, wanting more and more….and over doing it and making her sour to something.  Besides, I have a few reality tv shows to catch up on…..
Savvy On

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Piaffe Day 3…

Too cool, I love my super smart horse….xoxoxox…..I got home, chatted with my husband, referee’d an argument between him and my son about home work and puppy poo, and then jetted outside for a quick few minutes with Rose.  She nickered at me at me in the low guttural ‘mommy’ kind of way, came to the gate, saw the halter and left.  So, reverse psychology….I stood there and gave Cha’cote some much appreciated attention.  Rose watched from a distance, and then the jealousy kicked in and she meandered over for her fair share.  I thanked her for her gracing me with her presence and we headed out to the front to play with leg lifts again.
I have been following the advice of Riz, and doing the leg lifts in the same geographical place in the yard.  I set her up, and then asked and on her second attempt, she gave me a great leg lift with in seconds, and held it for a bit too… I asked the other leg…..same results……The whole thing was no more than 1-2 minutes in total.  I wanted to reward her effort straight away, but I am out of cookies at the moment, so we headed straight out to the street to graze on fresh green grass on the side of the road.  We stood there for a minute and repeated this 3 more times.  Each of the subsequent times I asked for 2 lifts w each leg, and then retreated to the grass.  The final time we walked down the road a bit to find some good grass, but it was short lived as the sun was setting at a lighting fast pace. I think the whole session was no more than 10 minutes, 15 tops.
I thought some more this morning on my commute to work, at the level of understanding, strength, balance, and coordination….a horse needs to have in order to do this.  Even in the first leg lift, it requires great thought and effort on the part of the horse.  I just thought I would mention that because we tend to see them as so big and strong.  But they don’t do this kind of work on their own, so to make sure I am clear here, while my journey through this, I may have been able to skip the time frame of the pre-requisites, it is because they were already established via my parelli schooling, prior to this experiment.  So I assume I have the luxury of knocking off a week to a month off the average time frame, simply because something was already learned.  Also, my horse and I already have a pretty extensive vocabulary, and this type of work, the leg lifts anyways, are the type of tasks we did in parelli too….I just never did them on her leg like this, in this way……but the concept is nothing new to either of us.  Plus, Rose is a very fast learner, she has very few if any confidence issues, and as long as I don’t offend her, she is quite agreeable to learn new and interesting things….even if they are challenging. 
I just don’t want anyone to get the impression that because 3 days into this experiment I am already getting some good leg lifts, that it will go as quickly for you too.  For all I know, I am some how screwing it up. I don’t think so…but…having never done it before, I don’t know.  Anyways, just keep in mind that despite a horses willingness and aptitude…..that does not mean we should take advantage and keep asking for more….just because they can and will.  They need time to slowly build the strength to do more repetitions or a higher degree of difficulty.  If we push them too hard too fast, we will surely destroy their mind and body and good nature because we are selfish, greedy or ignorant.  For this reason, tonight I will only ask for one great lift on each leg and call it a night.  Even if it means the whole session is only 1-2 minutes long.  If I don’t retreat and reward, what motivation will she have to put more effort into it?  What will there be in it for her?

Savvy ON

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reflections on day 1 and 2

So here are some observations, be they significant or trivial…..I don’t know….but I found them interesting.  During session 1, I let Rose walk forward during the leg lift, as all I wanted was for her to understand that a tap on the leg meant to pick it up, but I really didn’t want it going back wards.  Most of the time, before she picked up the back leg in question, she would take a step forward with one of her front legs, but I kept tapping until the hind leg in question was picked up.  When training a horse, no matter what you use for a cue, no matter what you use as motivation for them to listen to the cue….it is the RELEASE that teaches…..ALWAYS.  So, be it intentional or unintentional, what ever the horse is doing when you release….that action is what you just taught them, whether it is the desired response or not.  So if I release when the leg is going back ward, or if I release when the front leg moves…..that is what she will think I asked for.  So I tried to be impeccable in my timing of the release.  I noticed I was not that quick in my strength or coordination to rub with the stick as she quickly placed it back on the ground.
Another consideration of mine was the tapping and not wanting to do ANY harm to her.  In many natural horsemanship schools, the pressure is gradually increased until you finally get the desired response.  You always start as softly as possible, but if the horse has NO reaction to your request, at some point it could become stronger than you desire, simply because if you stop when the horse has done nothing, well then you just taught her to ignore the pressure and next time will be even harder to get a response.  But as I started to tap her legs, I was looking at it, thinking of all the delicate structure between the skin and bone and I really didn’t want to cause any bruising, so as Riz suggests, I kept relatively the same amount of pressure and just tapped in different spots, looking for one that evoked the desired response….for her to pick up her leg.  This is how I found the spot high on the inside of the near leg and the stifle on the outside leg.
During session 2, since she remembered the lesson the day before and we were able to pick up right where we left off, and because she is the type of horse that gets bored quickly and loves to learn stuff, we moved on.  I decided that maybe I could ask her to hold the leg up a little.  But, again, my coordination with the stick was a bit slow and I couldn’t rub quickly enough, and that is her cue that she has nailed something on the head.  I also noticed she started to take a step back, when I tried to not let her creep forward.  Also that she would often pick up the opposite back leg first, then pick up the leg I was asking her to lift.  I had to stop and scratch my head and think it through.  I decided to tie her and use my hands on her legs, something I feel for the two of us is safe.  During this part of the session I was able to help her quickly understand that I was requesting her to HOLD the leg in the air.  That is when I noticed, or rather it became clear to me, that when she was moving those feet, she was searching for balance so she COULD hold the leg up for me.  Had I done things to make her feel wrong for doing that, she might have given up all together.  I also ran out of cookies too, this may or may not have helped her focus more, I don’t know yet.
I am sitting her pondering, could a more novice person recognize things like this?  Is it even relevant that *I* recognized these things?  Good questions for sure.
Savvy On