Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Sense of Humor!!

What a fun liberty session with Renegade tonight...he was being really LBE...he made me laugh! I think horses really do have a sense of humor, I know Renegade does!!

Liberty in the big pasture...Renegade kept offering me trot circles around me, sideways with and without a log, sideways from zone 1 and even zone 5...everything but what I was asking for which was put one front and one hind foot over a log. He's such a LB and he was extroverted tonight...really wanting to play. I persisted and didn't let him change my focus, and FINALLY, he started paying attention, became engaged with me and...ta da...put his right front and right hind over the log doing the horsey splits!! Then he nickered at me...just so pleased with himself lol!! Of course, he got atta boys, rubs, scratches, and the all coveted cookie!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Less IS More!!

 Less is more!! I've been spending so much time with America, developing her, that Renegade has been in semi-retirement and that must suit him just fine because he was so eager to play tonight he OFFERED three laps with me in neutral in the center at the trot AT LIBERTY out in the big pasture. I'm sure glad I happened to have a cookie to offer him for that gift!! Of course he got some rubs and scratches too.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Leadership In The Saddle Starts On The Ground!

I haven't been playing with Renegade much lately as I've been developing my Mustang mare, America, but when I went to the pasture this afternoon with the intention of getting America, Renegade came to me from way across the pasture at a trot and was nickering as he got closer to me. He WANTED to be picked so, after greeting him and giving him some rubs and scratches, I offered the halter and he practically stuck his nose in it. We walked together to another pasture and when we started playing, Renegade started changing the games. Being an LBE, he's sometimes extremely playful and that was the case this afternoon. He took off on me a couple of times by tipping his nose to the outside, throwing his shoulder into the rope and off he went. The thing was, he would come right back so I know it was just a game to him. I changed things up a bit, asking for some changes of direction by doing "falling leaf". This way I could reinforce controlling his nose and shoulder; it worked like a charm and we eventually had some really nice canter circles and figure 8's. This was important because I planned on riding Renegade after our online warm-up and working on those two things along with the weave.

I saddled up and headed to the round pen. After doing pre-flight checks, I mounted up and off we went at the walk. Renegade was a bit "sluggish" so I decided to play with our go button. Turns out our session was focused around this through walk, trot, and canter. I set a goal of transitions on phase 2 or less and using quicker phases to get snappier responses. Oh what fun we had!! At the end of the session, Renegade was offering walk, trot, and canter, and stop transitions on phase two or less. I was estatic and Renegade was doing lots of licking and chewing.

A couple of times, when asking for canter transitions, Renegade was headed towards running my knees into the panels (he's done it before and it's his way of changing the game and my focus). Since he would head nose first to the rail then run my knee into the panel, I decided to either turn him into or away from the fence and do a circle or change direction and hustle him back to the rail. It worked like a charm...three repetitions and he decided to follow my was easier!!

Interestingly, by upping my leadership in the saddle, once I dismounted and unsaddled Renegade, he really wanted to stick with me and tonight, while we were hanging out, he was nibbling grass near by but checking in with me frequently. He moved off about 6 feet and decided to lay down and roll. I moved over to him and while he was down, rubbed on him for a couple of minutes and gave him a cookie. He stayed down for a couple more minutes, then got up. Renegade generally doesn't stay down when I approach him but something was different tonight and I love it!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I've had very little time to play with Renegade for a number of reasons: I've been working lots of hours at work and I've been spending a lot of time playing with my mare, America.

Renegade "volunteered" to play this afternoon by meeting me at the gate and looking enthusiastic about wanting to play. We went to the round pen and did a short online and liberty warm-up and everything went well so I saddled up to ride. I wanted to work on cantering.

After saddling and our pre-flight checks, I got on and we did some walk and trot FTR to make sure everything was working well and then I asked for the canter. I think Renegade was playing with me, doing everything BUT cantering, until I got out my savvy string and started making a bit of "commotion" with the string. I didn't need to tag him with it, just the commotion was enough to convince him he needed to canter and he went in to a lovely little canter on the rail to the left for an entire lap. I had the reins draped over the horn of the saddle and only needed to make one correction to put him back on the rail when he tried to cut one side a bit short. After the complete lap, I asked for a stop by sitting down in the saddle and bringing my life down and he stopped on a dime!! He got a big rubbing and a little rest then we changed direction, going to the right. This time when I asked for a canter I didn't need to make the commotion...Renegade went right into it when I clucked and we did a lap to the right. The stop in this direction was good too...just sitting down in the saddle and bringing my life down.

Renegade got more rubbing and a cookie from the saddle while we sat there quietly for a couple of minutes. I then got off and unsaddled him then let him have a good roll in the sand. While he was down, I gave him another cookie then, at liberty, I backed him out of the round pen and turned him loose to go graze for a while.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I Think I've Figured Out The Want!!

Renegade was too much fun today! We actually played twice and he was actually being quite the pest when I was trying to play with the other horses. He REALLY wanted to be the center of attention today.

I'm thinking the time off he's had lately while I spend more time with America is doing him a world of good. He really WANTS to play now and is offering me all kinds of things we struggled with for so long. For instance, today he offered canter circles in the circling game. We were playing with the trot and I gently asked for the canter with a lift of the rope and off he went. He did 4 laps before I asked him in...probably would have done more but I didn't want to push my luck!! It was the same in both directions. He also cantered circles with an obstacle both maintaining direction and gait for two laps in each direction. Hard to believe a few months ago I couldn't get him to do 1/4 lap at a canter!!

We played with figure 8's online at the trot for a bit as a refresher as we hadn't played with this for a while. I had to slow it down so I could get particular as Renegade kept wanting to make the figure 8's too flat. I wanted to really get him going straight through the center. Once we got that sorted out, Renegade decided to get fancy and do a sideways around the cone. He did it really nicely...I burst out laughing at which point he started nickering!!

I decided to try a little liberty with Renegade and we started out with touch it. I had him put his feet on the mounting block and then on the frisbees. He's good at putting his feet on things and it helps us connect and I wanted that connection for the figure 8's that were next.

We did the figure 8's at liberty at the walk, being particular. Renegade did a good job staying connected to me, looking for me when he came around the ends. I was careful to make sure I had the draw before I sent him through the middle as when he comes around the end that's when he will typically leave if we don't have a good connection. I'm happy to say...he didn't leave today!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Set Backs!!

I haven't posted in a while but that doesn't mean we haven't been playing because we have; it's just been less play than I wanted. I've been working crazy hours at work, going to work in the dark and getting home in time to feed the ponies before it got dark. I tried to play a little while feeding; move the fq, move the hq, back up, wait politely to be invited to your food dish, etc. I was paying attention to how much or how little energy it took from me to get the desired response and trying to notice the slightest try. I also was paying attention to when my horses were "blowing me off" and not trying at all; noting when I had to be effective rather than being as light as possible and what effective means. There were some interesting revelations!

Just when my work schedule was letting up and I was working "normal" hours again, Renegade came up lame on his RF. I suspect he got kicked, probably when he was wacking America on the butt with the Jolly of his favorite games. He'll wack her then run to avoid being kicked and usually that works for him...he's pretty quick, but apparently not quick enough this time! He's getting better each day but is still a little off so I've not been pushing him in our play time...just easy stuff.

Add to that, on Christmas day, Renegade decided to colic. I noticed he wasn't feeling well, he was too obedient...not his usual feisty, naughty self, and he was laying down alot. I got him up and gave him some Banamine and within about 30-40 minutes he was feeling better, nibbling at grass and taking a few sips of molassas water. It didn't last long though; within another 1-1/2 hours he was laying down again with no interest in food or water. I gave him another round of Banamine and we took a long walk around the block. I felt like the worlds biggest meanie to keep him moving as it was clear he didn't really want to. He finally pooped a BIG poop and farted a couple of times...I've never been so happy for horse poop and pony farts!! Renegade's appetite began to return and he looked much better. I left him turned out in the yard so he could graze if he wanted to and left him some really sloppy, soaked T&A cubes with a little of his usual feed mixed in, a bucket of molassas water and a bucket of plain water, and a little bit of hay. I kept checking on him about every 1/2 hour for about 3 hours and he was nibbling grass but hadn't eaten his feed yet. Finally, about 10:00 p.m., when I checked on him, he greeted me with a nicker and had eaten his feed, the hay, and drank the bucket of molassas water and 1/2 of the plain water. I kept checking on him through the night and all was well; he was looking good and had pooped several times so I gave him some more hay and refilled the water buckets and finally got to sleep about 3:00 a.m. When I went out to feed at 6:30 a.m., he was nickering and trotting after me with the hay in the wheelbarrow, trying to snatch mouthfuls of hay. Obviously he was feeling MUCH better and ate his breakfast with gusto!!

Now, I just have to wait for him to be completely sound again so we can pick up where we left off. We have a lot to do and I want to start using all the info I learned in Kelly Sigler's clinic. In the meantime, I've been playing with my Mustang mare, America, and getting her ready for her first trip off the farm. If you're interested, check out America's blog to follow our progress:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Growth is Uncomfortable!!

Kelly Sigler L 3/4 Clinic, October 22 – 23, 2011


I knew this clinic was going to be fun and educational but I never imagined the powerful things that were going to happen for Renegade and I while we were there.

Since I was the clinic coordinator, we arrived on Friday, about 11:00 a.m so I could help the clinic host get set up for the arrival of participants. After running through a few things and getting the registration table set up, it was time for my scheduled private lesson with Kelly. Things went well and I learned a lot until Renegade decided he really didn’t want to do a few freestyle circles. He kept trying to change the game to anything but circles. I wasn’t being very effective in changing his mind so Kelly asked if I minded if she rode Renegade. I have never had anyone else ride Renegade but I jumped at the chance to have Kelly ride him so I could watch. Renegade has a lot of strategies he uses to avoid doing what’s asked of him, sometimes putting in two to three times the effort than it would take for him to just do the task. He threw a lot of his strategies at Kelly too including a couple of bucks and it was revealing how Kelly dealt with it. Renegade had a lot of opposition reflex and some dominance which he displayed by acting out/up with his penis hanging out. Kelly put him to work to get his mind busy and it was brilliant. Within about 15” Renegade was acting like a different horse, much more like a partner. I was supposed to get back on and ride him after she finished but we got interrupted by someone breaking down on the way to the clinic site and had to stop to find someone to go rescue her and her horse.

The next day, during the clinic, Renegade was participating as a partner until the latter half of the day. He started trying to change the game when we were practicing the steady rein while following the rail. I could tell he had his penis out again by the attitude he was displaying. For the safety of the other participants and so we didn’t disrupt the clinic, we ended up having to go to the round pen to sort it all out. Luckily Kelly drafted another Parelli Professional that stopped by the clinic, to coach me through the round pen session. The only thing I was to focus on was me asking Renegade to canter and continue to canter until I asked him to stop, just working on impulsion. In order to get Renegade to canter, I really had to step out of my comfort zone, up my leadership, and be ready for what ever the result was. Thank goodness he didn’t try to buck but he tried just about everything else, including running my kneecaps into the fence rail. With Pete’s help, I managed to stop that from happening. To get Renegade to canter, I really had to create a lot of commotion, really up my phases to something that was effective, and out-persist his resistance. We finally got a couple of canter strides then had to start all over again, and again, and again…etc. It took about an hour and we finally could canter long enough for me to actually ask for a stop before Renegade stopped on his own and he would canter when I asked with no more than a phase two. At that point we stopped to reward the behavior and Pete and I were talking while waiting for Renegade to lick and chew; it took him a good 15”!!

While Pete and I were talking and waiting on Renegade to lick and chew, my emotions caught up with me and I began to cry. I wasn’t really sure why until a day and a half later, after I’d had time to process everything. After thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion the crying was a result of my having to dig deep into myself to do that round pen session to help my horse.

I’m more of a carrot type person, so having to go to that place in myself where I could do what my horse needed me to do to reinforce a concept really brought out some emotions I’d stuffed down deep inside myself. During my childhood, my siblings and I were on the receiving end of abuse that was called “discipline”. I have always been afraid of not being able to control my emotions and I equated “discipline”, or in this case reinforcement, with abuse. I know I wasn’t abusing my horse during the round pen session but it sort of felt that way to me, hence the very emotional response I had.

There is a second reason my emotions took hold of me and that is because I finally came to the realization of just how ineffective I’ve been and that equates to unfairness to my horse. I’ve been lying to him all this time by not being fair and consistent. I’ve always felt I was lacking in this department but after the round pen sessions, I really know it in a gut wrenching, owning it type of way. It’s not pretty but it is what it is. Now that I know it, and I mean REALLY know it, I have to own it and do something about it. That something is to be fair and consistent for my horse. This brings to mind Pat’s saying, “the attitude of justice is effective” and I’ve been sorely lacking in this department.

I really felt sorry for Pete being subjected to my emotional outburst. The worst part about it was when it was happening, I couldn’t put what I was feeling into words; all I could do was cry but it was all part of the process for me and now that I understand what happened and how I felt about it, I’m o.k. with it and it was a very powerful experience.

I have to thank Pete for taking me outside my comfort zone, where I was all too happy to stay, and instead putting me in the learning zone, where something wonderful happened. No one said learning was easy or comfortable, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go through this process and come out being just a bit more mentally and emotionally fit because of it. The added bonus is my confidence has gone up a few notches as well!!

The next day, Renegade was a much different horse, content to be with me and following my leadership for much of the day, however; during the afternoon, he began testing me again by trying to change the game, developing an attitude, and he was dropping his penis again. This time, I decided to do less sooner and went straight to the round pen before things got really difficult. I repeated the strategy from the previous day and instead of taking an hour, it only took 10” to see a change. We left the round pen and rejoined the group to play a freestyle traveling circle game. It was lots of fun and Renegade gave me some really nice circles without opposition, argument, or attitude; he actually seemed engaged with what we were doing so it was a great time to quit and give him a big reward.

I was concerned about how the “round pen sessions” would affect our relationship but I didn’t need to be worried. I felt wonderful when I went out to see Renegade this morning and he stopped grazing and came to me with a positive expression. I spent a little time with him then went about my business. Later in the day, I went out to do a few more things and invited Renegade to walk with me by using my energy and a little body language to sort of “scoop him up” as I walked by. He readily came with me and had a positive expression.

Today was a day off, of rest, for both of us but tomorrow I’ll get out there and play with Renegade and see just where we are and what I need to do to be the leader he needs. I’ll be playing with a new awareness and a new set of eyes, trying to be in the moment and recognize the moment my horse needs my help so I can do less sooner.

I really would like to get some feedback from Pete now that I’ve had time to think about all this. When I was “in the moment” and having my emotional response, I couldn’t even ask for feedback let alone be ready to hear and accept it. It only took me nearly a week to be ready; now if I can only get in touch with Pete!!