Posted by: bizzylizzy262 | December 22, 2013

Lessons Learned

My riding lesson with Tracey last weekend was rescheduled for this weekend due to cold temps. I had to feed at Main Stay this morning, but I decided to reorganize my day so that I could get out to the barn early. I wanted to watch my friends’ lessons with Tracey, and be sure to walk Cloud for quite some time before my lesson since the horses have been kept in due to icy paddocks. My long day at the barn turned out to teach me more than just one lesson….

Today I had a big eye-opener/reminder that I need to get back to my groundwork, because it is so so so so valuable. The first thing I did when I got to the barn was groom Cloud so that I could go watch lessons, and be able to tack him quickly when I was ready to ride. It was a busy barn morning since the weather was pretty nice, and all the grooming stalls were filled in the West Barn. I volunteered to give up the crossties/groom stall and ground tied Cloud in the middle of the aisle. It has been a while since we’ve even practiced our ground tying. When Cloud hurt his foot, I started using cross ties to keep him from moving around when I was wrapping his foot. Since his injury, I just got back in the habit of using cross ties. Which is a nasty habit. I’m not a fan of cross ties. Despite being a while since we’ve ground tied, Cloud was a rockstar! He only tried to exit back to his stall once, but it’s always a good reinforcement/opportunity to correct, I used the porcupine game to put him back where we started. This was part 1 of the “Importance of Parelli” lesson today.

So then I went up to watch Nancy’s lesson with George. It was nice because I really took in a lot of good information. George and Cloud are pretty different horses, but it’s interesting to learn about Tracey’s ideas for a horse that does different things than Cloud. Exactly what I was looking for by showing up to observe the other lessons.

I my second reminder of the importance of natural horsemanship towards the end of Nancy’s lesson…..another girl was riding her horse getting him warmed up for her jumping lesson. She is a nice girl who trailers her horse in for her lessons and works at the farm as an intern. I had noticed before that she rode in Parelli reins like I have, and I’d seen her do some of Parelli’s games. And today, I am very glad that her horse has been trained in natural horsemanship! Her horse suddenly spooked or bolted and leapt sideways, which would have been alright, but her saddle slipped sideways and she had no choice but to bail. Things got pretty hairy as the horse took off at a gallop. Poor Nancy had to jump off George, who held it together as best he could. The horse galloped around, positively freaked by his saddle, which shifted to under his belly. The flaps were making a loud noise, and the stirrups were smacking his sides, until they released from the saddle. This poor horse was so terrified…but after a few laps, he came towards me and responded when I told him to whoa, but then realized I was not his mom and took off again, but found her and ran to her. He was shaking head to toe, but she was able to grab his reins and remove the saddle. I shudder to think of how the episode would have ended if she hadn’t clearly done her work with him in groundwork and established such a good relationship with her horse. It was very obvious once he was able to start using his left brain that he knew to go to her to save him. And then beyond that, once the saddle was off, she right away started playing the friendly game and even the touch it game to calm him down. And she was able to have a great lesson after the whole thing, mostly thanks to her being able to settle him back down. This was a big eye opener to me to not let my Parelli training with Cloud get rusty. It really is important! …And I was going to get ANOTHER reminder….

After Nancy’s lesson I went to get Cloud and walked him around for about 40 minutes before my lesson. He really needed to stretch his legs. When it was my turn for a lesson, we were able to get right into it. I was very excited to show Tracey how much we’ve been working on our tension problems! And it paid off! We started with trotting and cantering a warm up. The canter had him feeling very fresh, but Tracey was impressed by my ability to relax and ask him to slow. Once he was warmed up, we started doing three loop serpentines. Those were easy, so she made them harder by having my canter short bursts in the pattern. He got pretty jazzed over it, but every time he started to rush or anticipate and canter, I was able to settle him. Especially with a few pointers from Tracey. She reminded me that if he doesn’t slow himself that I need to be more specific and make it happen, but without getting tense!! At the end of our lesson Tracey told me that she had never seen Cloud so relaxed. Our hard work has paid off!

On our way out of the arena, I stopped to put on Cloud’s cooler. Cloud went to rub his face, which I always discourage when he has his bridle on because I’m afraid he will step on or step through his reins. I usually give him a soft “kick” (usually it’s more the action than physical contact, and I do not hurt my horse in doing this) to make him lift his head back up. Today I did that, and as he lifted his head back up, my foot tangled in the reins. There was a time in Cloud’s life that he really overreacted to things like stepping on his lead rope, he used to rear up and cause a big scene whenever he would feel the pressure pulling him down. But Parelli teaches horses to give in to pressure. If you push them, they move away, if you pull them they move towards you. So when Cloud felt my leg pulling him downwards, he stood still with his head down while I released my foot. If he reared and reacted the way he used to, it could have been a very scary situation! Tracey said if my horse didn’t love me so much I could have easily broken my leg, or worse. 

And so as 2013 winds down and I start thinking of my horsey resolutions, I already know that regular Parelli sessions is on the list! 


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