Pat Parelli says "Zero brace means simply that there is no tension or stiffness in his body from worry or resistance when he responds. This means your horse is not braced mentally, emotionally, or physically. "
I have heard this over and over during my learning but I never really realized what it really meant til just now and I can see the brace my horses have. I see the "I don't want to's in my everyday communication with them. I need to work on this more and eliminate as much brace as I can to achieve better harmony with the girls and Tucker. Tucker showed me his brace starting with his unwillingness to come in from the field with me. Now he shows me how he does not want me to touch his mouth or ask him to put the bit in. All these little things that he tells me we need to work on so we can be in better harmony and work toward zero brace.
So this week has been incredibly icy . Not nice underfoot at all. Last weekend the great snow cover we had started to melt and with the rain much if it became ice again. Poor barn owners were fighting a losing battle to get rid of the ice and make things safe for all. My two stayed out and as they are only steps from the door could come in and use the arena to move around more. Tucker was stuck in his field for the week. I brought him in Sunday but the footing was terrible in the common areas. So not wanting to risk an accident we continued to work on our come to me with food rewards each day. Now I can call him and he eagerly comes to the gate. He also will come for his owners as well so I feel he is gaining more confidence from this. Hopefully today we can work on some things that we have been working on. Updates later.
So planting our feet and taking forever to get to the gate was happening in the fall. He would come relatively quickly though after I made him move about a bit. Over the mud and frozen ground came things got much worse. One day it took me an hour and a half to get him to consent to come in with me. I didn't give up though and I think not giving up made him realize that I was persistent for a human. Most humans tend to give up after awhile so the horse just needs to wait them out in order to win. After that day things were a little better but still not great. It was cold and muddy and frozen. I needed him to want to come with me. So I decided to try food. Well the first time I appeared with a bucket he cantered to me. Obviously he was familiar with the bucket. He ran over and had his treats then walked into the barn with me. Next time we took the bucket out he again came with me. I don't want to have to take a bucket out every time though so I decided to bring him out food as often as I could and just spend time with him . So I have been doing this for awhile and he is coming to the gate or to me. He knows his name and looks for me to come out. I let him eat and hang out for a bit then leave him. Sometimes I bring him in to play. Depends the weather. Today was just to icy to ask him to come to the barn with me so he ate and I left. I keep the other horses away from him. They know me too and back off when I ask. It is all about being a good leader and protecting our herd of 2.
So horses can be frustrating at times. They are not always on the same page as we are. They don't have the same desires and tend to feel threatened when predators approach. Yes we humans are predators. So I have been playing with a new horse. He is not mine but we are building a relationship. So I go out into the field to bring him in and he is good and comes to me. Great! Get the halter on and give him a carrot which he enjoys but then somehow his legs have attached themselves to the ground and won't move. Hmm so I ask him again over and over to move his feet but he seems to be stuck. I get him to move around the round feeder and drive his friends around ahead of him but when we go towards the barn he is again stuck in place.
So.....we wait and do some backing on the spot and asking him to move his hind end then his front end then again the hind. Finally the glue allows his feet to move towards the barn. We get 20 feet or so and again the earth grabs his feet and keeps them stuck in place. Okay so I ask his feet to move again in the smaller space and get some action. We wait some more until all of a sudden he choses to walk toward the barn. Success finally. We need to work on this....So the start of our making it worth while for him to come with me.....to continue...
and why you need great relationships with your veterinarian and farrier
I guess lameness is part of horse life. We expect our horses to stay sound and carting us around on their backs all the time. But, that is not always the case as horses get injured and horses get sick and they can't tell us what Is wrong. This is very frustrating when you have great plans in mind for your summer or just a pleasure ride.
So Arwen hurt herself last year. We never really figured out what she did but it must have been a soft tissue injury. She stayed in her stall for 3 months as she was very lame. Riva stayed in with her for a couple of weeks but when it turned out to be a long term issue she went back out. Arwen had to deal with her anxieties on her own with some help from good drugs. Tranquilizers can be very useful with a horse who spend her time spinning in her stall and won't settle down if she is alone and when the others leave for the day. So she did have some companionship with a few other who had injuries but spent time alone. Not something she enjoys.
Summer was spent in a smaller paddock with Riva who has become insulin resistant so can no longer go out on the grass. Hopefully with medication and limited grazing in the summer we can keep Riva from getting laminitis down the road. Did I say horses were expensive? Yes they can be so working is a good thing to keep at for those unexpected vet bills. Input from my veterinarian and farrier has been invaluable. I hope at this point Arwen is fixed. My farrier changed her shoeing and this has helped tremendously. So maybe we will make it to a few shows this year. Will have to see.
Well it sure has been awhile since I wrote on this blog. Time has gone by so fast and so many things have happened. Where do I start.
The big thing was that I retired from the City at the end of 2016. Left to plan out the next stage in my life. In May 2017 my Mother passed on at 103, just after her birthday. She did get to celebrate it at the Mandarin till the end. Not sure if I want to live to 103. Things seems to go downhill after 100 but I guess I will find out in the future.
So I have updated the website and renamed it Equestrian Coaching. I have been organizing some clinics and take the occasional student. I don't really teach riding but I want to help people get a better relationship with their horses. I enjoy playing with different horses and helping them get more confident in themselves and in humans.
I started working again as a school bus driver in September 2017. I drive special needs kids in a wheelchair bus. It is so different from driving public transit. I enjoy it and like the kids. It is nice to have some extra money as horses are expensive. Arwen injured herself in February and has been off for the last year. I am hoping she will be okay for the summer of 2018 but will have to see about that.
Since Arwen was off I leased another horse in October so I could ride. We are building our relationship but he does have some trust issues and just needs more playtime. So we are working on things. He is getting better and he now will come when I call most days Hopefully it will be every day soon :)
So now I have played catch up we will continue...........
We didn't make our 30 rides for the Northwood Farms Horsemanship Challenge this year.. We did get lots of good results though and I am happy with the finish. We passed the 40 horsemanship hours and Arwen now will come up to me at the mounting block and stand quietly for me to mount. This is a huge success and I am happy that I spent the time getting this better.
I think that accomplishing what you have set out to do is really important but sometimes even though you may not accomplish exactly what you set out to do you have made other important changes. The Challenge has inspired me to be more progressive with Arwen. So even though we didn't actually finish the correct amount of rides we were winners anyway. One of our last rides we played with dragging a tarp. Something new and we can work on this again until I can drag it from her back. :)
The last few weeks I have been playing with saddling with Arwen. . We have done this now for several weeks and I have started asking her to come over to me without me holding the reins or a line. Yesterday she came towards me and got into position at liberty . I asked her several times to move a little closer and she obliged. I think we are on the right track. Not saying that she is going to be perfect always but she has really improved during our practice with the mounting. Arwen is actually becoming more like a partner than a prey animal. :)
Big changes have come with the stable that I keep my horses at. Laughton Training Services has leased a wonderful new facility not far from the existing one. We were offered a choice, to move with them or move elsewhere. This was something of a shock for those of us who had been with Tessa awhile and offered some worry and sleeplessness. I have enjoyed my time with Tessa and her group but decided that it would be best for me financially if I looked elsewhere. 2 horses are expensive. :( Tessa does mostly lessons and horse shows where as I am interested in other things. So an opportunity has arrived for change. Is change good?