Wednesday, April 29, 2009


The photo on the cover of the book is of a Morgan stallion owned and ridden by Eitan Beth-Halachmy, the founder of "Cowboy Dressage".

The book of the week is "Natural Horsemanship Explained" by Dr. Robert M. Miller.

This is an excellent book. There are lots of great photos and Dr. Miller writes in a very engaging way. He talks about Pat Parelli, Monty Roberts, Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance, to name a few.

I enjoyed reading this book and finished it in two sittings =) It's well worth the money!

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
- Albert Einstein

Sunday, April 26, 2009

To Dominate...

Oh this dominance issue! It's totally exhausting. Destino is constantly challenging me. If I am standing by his fence, he is trying to bite me. If I am leading him down the trail, he is trying to boss me. (By the way,we had a wonderful time hiking up at Blue Mountain last week! It was so pretty up there. I look forward to many more hikes and many, many rides up there in the years to come. Hopefully minus the whole "Who is the Boss" issue.) He bosses the chickens, he bosses his balls, he bosses the fences. Really it's getting ridiculous!

It is nearly impossible for me to stand and talk with someone, while holding him. He is HORRIBLE! I really need help with this issue and hope there is someone out there who will help us! The problem is, we would really benefit from a Parelli clinic, but can not afford that. The Play Days are all I can afford and only one a month. At the last one Ethan noticed our Domination problem... well EVERYONE noticed our problem =) Ethan helped me with him. I'm supposed to work on him backing up and moving his forehand. He does both of these things well. He is light and easy to move, but he figets CONSTANTLY and is always pushing into my space. I stand with my back to him and use my stick to keep him back but I am nearly always tapping him, whacking him or popping him with it. I swing the end of my rope, if he happens to stick his nose in my space, it will get popped by the end of the rope.


There is NOTHING fun about working with Destino anymore. The fun has drained out these last 3 or 4 days. I don't think he has fun and I KNOW that I don't. There is no play and certainly nothing beautiful or graceful in what we are doing. I know it's not working, but just don't know what else to do with him!


He must be too. Sigh... Hopefully the next post will be wonderful! Full of good things, moving forward things and happy, happy thoughts!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Training a horse is hard.

Sometimes I come into the house after playing with Destino and I'm on Cloud 9. We played so well together, working in sync with each other, practically dancing with each other. Moving with grace and beauty.

Then some days I come in the house and feel terrible! I feel like we took three HUGE steps backwards. I feel like he pushed me all over the place and didn't work in partnership with me at all. I feel like we worked and didn't play.

Today is one of the work days. Sigh...

Tomorrow I think I'm going to take Destino to Blue Mountain and go hiking. I think we both need a change of scenery. I know I'm bored! I'm pretty sure he's acting out because he's bored too.

He was just so grumpy today. I'm feeling so grumpy tonight. I must snap out of it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who's Teaching Who?

I recently took Destino to a "Play Day" in Victor MT. These are hosted by Ethan Zimmerman and Lori Roy, Level 3 Parelli Students. They have these play days 4 times a month, usually on a Saturday and Sunday, twice a month. They are directed at the Parelli way of playing with your horse. I enjoy the Parelli way for two reasons, one, I love how he breaks down the games into easy to understand training sessions, and two, these Play Days are VERY affordable and a whole day of Fun with fellow horse people.

I do have a problem with one thing in particular. Last weekend, I was told that horses don't speak English and don't understand what we are saying when we use verbal language. They ONLY understand body language. I understand this way of thinking, but just happen to be a person that believes that horses, animals as a whole, understand English way more than we give them credit for. Maybe they don't know that the sparkly things in our ears are "earings" or those red, flannel, pants, with the sheep on them, that I wear in the morning to feed, are called "Pajamas". I do believe that they are actually quite capable of understanding us with or without our body language.

Tonight I was working with Destino, who had taken it in his mind that he was going to run wildly around me, ignoring me and digging into the gravel deeper and deeper, going faster and faster. Very annoying to me, little old Two Legs here, who is absolutely NOT capable of running at those speeds even on a good day! Talk about jealous, I'm postively GREEN with it =)

So I brought him in to do some up close and personal work. There is a Parelli "game" called ThePorcupine Game. The object of the game is to ask the horse to move it's feet with the smallest amount of pressure that you can use. First you start by putting your fingers on the horse's side, touching only the air, if the horse doesn't move, then touch the hair, if the horse doesn't move, then touch the skin, if the horse doesn't move, then touch the muscle, if the horse doesn't move then touch the bone. Well... Destino normally will move away from pressure if I just point at his side. Tonight I had to practically PICK him up and MOVE him over! He just stood there, happily leaning into the pressure. The more I pushed the more he pushed. I was so intent looking at my fingers digging into his side, waiting for him to give the slightest movement sideways, he was happy to go on leaning on me...... Finally, a slight movement of his hind foot, sideways, phew!

Move forward in time to 30 minutes later, I decide to try the Porcupine game again. I move to his side, put my fingers up to touch the air, nothing, I look up over his back, in the direction that I want him to move, and touch the hair, he moved his hind feet perfectly, one crossing the other gracefully and smoothly. The main thing I want you to notice about this paragraph is that I LOOKED UP OVER HIS BACK, IN THE DIRECTION THAT I WANTED HIS FEET TO MOVE. In the paragraph before this one, I was intently LOOKING AT MY FINGERS PRESSING INTO HIS SIDE. Geesh! I wonder who was training who tonight!

Sometimes I wonder if I'm smart enough to train this horse, or if he will be training me the entire time.... LOL

"The fate of animals is in our hands.
God grant that we are equal to the task."
Professor Tom Regan

The book of the week is
"What Horses Say, How to Hear, Help and Heal Them"
by, Anna Clemence Mews
Julie Dicker

Three words.... Totally Awe Inspiring!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Classical Dressage

I aspire to be a Classical Dressage rider. I particularly love the way that horses trained with this thought in mind tend to be more proud in their carriage and light on the bit. I've seen many dressage horses that tend to be "held" in their head carriage. They are driven into the bit from behind. So they are both urged forward and held back. I have found that this tends to keep the horse from moving forward in a fluid way. They are moving forward, but their strides are not as flowing and beautiful to watch.

Any horse can be trained in the Classical way. "A horse which does not become more beautiful in its physical form, prouder in its carriage, more alert in its behavior as a result of training, a horse in which one does not see the pleasure in its own ability reflected in its pricked ears and the expression of its eyes, has been conditioned rather than trained in the classical sense." This is a quote from Colonel Handler. I truly believe this quote. I want my horse to be respectful and responsive, but at the same time I want him to have a joy about him that shows that he loves his work/play. This is very important to me.

I'm not sure how to get there, but every day I chip away at the block of knowledge hoping that the end product, Destino and I as partners, makes a fluid and beautiful portrait. We'll see!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I have been reading a lot of books lately. I am trying to absorb all I can before I actually GET ON Destino =)

The first one that I'll talk about is "Dancing With Horses" by, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling.

I really admire this man and what he is able to do with horses. It's amazing to me what he can accomplish! I wish I had the touch that he does. I have set up a Picadero and have worked Destino in it and I do like it. I especially like the fact that you don't have to have a fancy set up to work your horse. He really breaks it down and simplifies life with horses. NICE! It seems like everything costs so much money when it has the word "Horse" on it.

I have tried his leading techniques and they work REALLY well with Destino. He was always trying to be the boss in our relationship, but since I changed the way I lead him and work him in a circle, he doesn't pick on me anymore!

Anyway, back to the book... I love what this man can do, I love how he writes, and I love his techniques. Unfortunately I don't think his way of working with horses is something that everyone can relate to, or even accomplish. I have had to change his techniques quite a bit to work for ME. I have no doubt that Destino would prefer me to work more like Klaus... sigh... but unfortunately poor Destino is stuck with me!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My First Post!

Here it is! My first post on my Horsey Blog. I've waited because I wanted to start out with a BANG, but then realized that I should just plain START. =)

So here we go! I am planning on writing out my training techniques, difficulties and wonders that can happen when starting a young horse. Sometimes you just don't know what's going to happen!
My young Andalusian is going to be the main character in this Blog, with quips here and there about other horses I may be working with along the way. I never really know what to expect from day to day.

Hopefully you will enjoy my journey as much as I expect to =)
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