Friday, January 30, 2009

It snowed earlier this week, then remained quite cold most of the week.  I haven't worked with Brego all week.  I went out a few times just to visit with the kids, and they seemed to enjoy the break from the boredom of just standing there.  Often I would see all three of them laying down in the sunshine either in the snow, or after it has melted, in the dirt/mud.  A lazy week!

The injury on his nose is coming along fine, but it's too bad we spent the money to have the vet stitch it--they didn't "take".  He warned us that it wasn't likely it would work, because the cut was old when we got there.  We should've taken his first advice not to do the stitches, but then thought we'd give it a try.  Oh well...lesson learned.  One stitch fell out on its own, the other Tim snipped off.  Now it's healing up and I think it will hardly show once its fully healed.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today was cold & gloomy, but not windy, so Tim suggested we ride over to the Smith Lake, which I haven't been to before, now that we got our wildlife stamp to allow us to use that area. On the way, we rode past the horses in the pasture across the street.  Brego was curious & distracted by them and a bit animated, but I kept him going straight and paying attention to me more than them, and he soon calmed down.  Later there were cows ahead, and at one point Strider jumped into the street quickly.  Brego was fine, but it put me on edge a bit, remembering how he'd slipped on the slick street last Monday.  I didn't want him to spook then slip on the street and freak himself out.  When we got closer to one of the cows, Tim had Strider go up to the cow & run him off.  The cow didn't really bother Brego, even when it ran towards us.  As we turned down by the lake and started going downhill, Brego started going faster.  He really wasn't out of control, but I was edgy with him going faster.  I don't know why these little things bother me so much.  I picture myself being nice and relaxed while I ride my horse, but so often I'm not.  I just have to keep remembering to relax.

Tim suggested we gait from time to time, and it's fun, but hard to get Brego to gait consistently. He speeds up and slows down and goes from bouncy to smooth to bouncy.  We will need to keep working on that.  It was cold, so we didn't stay out too long.  When we got back, Tim worked with Brego a bit on speed control, to get him to keep his speed up when circling.  Tim is so good with the horses--he always seems to know just what to do.  I'm jealous. ;)  Then we worked on backing him up with the hand on his nose, and got him to touch his tail with his nose.

I've gotta laugh.  On an early draft of a post I said something about getting Brego to back up by putting my hand on MY nose.  We've been laughing about that ever since.  Sometimes I will put my finger to my nose and say, "Back up, Brego."  It doesn't work, but it's funny.  I guess you had to have been there.  One of these days I'll teach him to back up when I put my finger on my nose!

Friday, January 23, 2009

It was snowy and cold today, so I stayed in (after combing & conditioning Brego's mane :).  I watched some of the Parelli Level 1 DVD's.  Boy, they're sure boring in spots.  Those people are truly beginners and don't know what they're doing, and Linda spells things out in minute detail.  The students have these beautifully groomed horses, but don't know what to do with them.  It also seems that their horses are somewhat nutty and have problems.  I guess that's why they spent the money to take the course.  It's funny watching these...I keep seeing these people do the things I do or have done, and I can clearly see what they SHOULD do.  Even Linda Parelli didn't have the kind of presence or control with the horses that Tim does.  (I have a much better teacher.)  I wanted to yell at her "swat his butt" or "wave the carrot stick in front of his legs".  It was easy for me to analyze and see what should be done from this perspective, but when I'm standing there with the horse it's so easy to forget, or I just don't have the presence of mind to know what to do at the right time.  Now I have a better understanding and appreciation for Tim's comments to me while I'm working with Brego--things that seem so obvious from the outside looking in are hard for me to see and react to when I've got the horse and the stick in my own hands.  It's interesting watching these things, even though much of the time they are quite boring.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tim was at the office again, so I saddled Brego again, worked with him on the ground then got on.  He still keeps coming in to me way too much, with the Squeeze game and after backing him up with YoYo.  I guess I'll just have to keep working on it.  After getting on I began working with slowing and stopping with one rein.  I'm getting better at remembering to lower myself with a sigh and only use the one rein to stop, and it's working.  We worked on left turns in the cloverleaf.  Just as I started around the pattern, Tim brought Cody in to the pasture, and Strider ran around to the back throwing a hissy fit because he'd been left.  Distractions!!!  I was a little miffed because Brego was acting goofy trying to see what Cody & Strider were doing, but I knew that Tim would tell me it's a good experience and I need to be my horse's leader and he doesn't need to worry about all those other things.  So I worked on making Brego pay attention to me rather than the distractions.  It was a bit of a challenge, but he settled down.  Then Tim got on Strider and had me follow them through the pattern.  Brego did much better after that.  Tim let me know I really needed to change my "mantra" a bit.  It's lift & look (turning my torso), lay & leg, then lead, and I added "slouch" to remember to relax through the whole thing.  We need to use the leg sooner to get him to curl around the barrel more tightly.  When Brego speeds up unexpectedly, I tend to lean forward when really I should lean back and bee more relaxed.  I've gotta remember that!  Generally I'm sitting forward too much and need to sit back & relax more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today we worked on sidepassing from the saddle, still along the fence.  It took a few tries, but I finally got it.  I say "I" because it's mostly me who needs the training--Brego is catching on really quickly when Tim leads him.  :(   He doesn't do as well with me.  Tim has also been working on getting him to sidepass over to the mounting block, and Brego does pretty well with the carrot stick, but not with just the hand.  We'll get there.  Tim had been at the office, so I got out and saddled him up myself, worked on a few ground exercises and got on.  Tim came home just after I mounted.  Tim set up the barrels to begin working on the cloverleaf pattern to teach him to turn better.  Today we worked on right turns around the cloverleaf.  Lift & look, lay (over), lead & leg...over and over again.  (See tomorrow's post about this.)  Again, I need the exercise and repetition just as much as Brego does (maybe more).  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

With three nice days in the forecast, much warmer and less breezy, I look forward to working with Brego this week.  Today Tim had me work with sidepassing along the fence, along with a few other things, in preparation to get on him and sidepass from the saddle.  I struggled, as usual, to get the right cues and timing, but more practice will make perfect, right?

Monday, January 19, 2009

We went to Carolyn's to join her and Ed for a ride through the "secret gate" to Douglas Lake.  It was VERY windy, and we almost canceled.  We saddled the horses and rode around the arena for a bit to see how they were doing, then decided to go ahead and give it a try.  I was glad to have my new windproof polar fleece jacket!  Brego did fine in the arena after first doing some lateral flexion and backing up and standing still.  Stephanie was there with GB too, so Brego had other distractions, but I kept him focused on me as the leader pretty well, I think.  We took off down the street, into the wind, and I really wondered whether I wanted to go through with the ride, but knew it would be a good experience for both of us in a relatively safe environment.  We just had a lot of wind, an occasional car passing, a slick road, ditches with obstacles, cows, dogs & horses at neighboring homes,and flapping stop signs to deal with.  Did I say this was fun?  By the time we reached the dirt access road along the ditch, I was finally more relaxed.  Brego did very well under the circumstances, and took off just once--I think he tripped at the same time a gust of wind came up or something, which set him off.  At least he ran straight and not onto the slippery road, and I was able to stop him (not as quickly as I would have liked).  We survived, but I was sure glad when it was over!  I told everyone that the next time it's that windy and we wonder if we should go, my answer will be NO.  It just wasn't very fun.  At least I had the experience, and if I get caught in the wind another time, I'll be better prepared.

On Sunday I noticed a cut above Brego's lip, that was like a 3-corner tear.  I mentioned it to Tim, who didn't seem all that concerned.  Monday afternoon, we decided to call the vet, and we took him over.  We found out that to be stitched, the wound really needs to be under 12 hours old.  But, Dr. Lory went ahead and cleaned it up, then we decided to have him try stitching it because after scrubbing it raw he thought it just might take.  Hopefully it will heal well, certainly better after being cleaned out than it would have if we'd left it alone.  He got a tetanus and other meds to keep it from infection, so that should help, too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

1st Trail Ride

I got back last night after 5 days in California with the family. Today Tim had the day off, so we took Strider & Brego up to Eagle's Nest for a ride, the first one away from our home area. Brego hopped right into the trailer--no problem.  After we got him saddled and I got on, he was nutty and ready to go.  I tried a few lateral flexion exercises, backed up a few times, and practiced standing still to calm him down and we started off, but he was going fast and felt a bit out of control.  Tim had me work on stopping him with one rein, and we also had him walk back toward the trailer a couple of times to give him the idea that "go" doesn't mean GO FAST.  I need this repetitive training as much as Brego does--to get into the habit of one-rein slowing and stopping, and lifting the reins immediately to straighten him up and keep him from diving for grass.  At first I had to slow him down a few times as we were going downhill, but it didn't take too long until he was a nice, calm horse on the trail.  At one point he shied off to the right unexpectedly.  Tim noticed a log to my left which I hadn't even noticed, which probably caused some concern to Brego, so we walked over the the log to let him sniff it.  I have so much to learn about being aware of what's going on and knowing what to do!  It's good that I have my "coach" with me all the time. :)  On straight, flat parts of the trail we practiced one-rein stopping, and backing up.  I need to keep working on that.  At times Strider was in the lead, and at other times Brego, and he did just fine both ways.  On wider parts of the trail we were able to go side-by-side, and Brego kept up with Strider, which is nice.  We practiced gaiting on a couple of gradual uphill sections, and that's a lot of fun.  With practice, I'll get his gait nice and smooth and even--he's still a little uncoordinated.  As the trail turned I don't know if Brego was just following the trail or following my direction to turn, but I took advantage of reinforcing neck-reining and using my leg to turn him, so he gets the idea that they all mean "turn".  All in all we had a great day, and Brego will be an awesome trail horse for me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Tim woke up to frost on the ground and on the kids, so he took these photos of my boy to show me how the frost sat on Brego's furry coat.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tim's Entry

While Laurie is in CA I wanted to work a bit with Brego and advance his training a bit. It's a tough call for me to know how much to do or not do with him since Laurie wants to experience the training part. A person learns more from doing it themselves more than having someone else doing it for them. So, I'm trying to find that right balance of what I should do.

The general guideline I've come up with is something like this. Laurie needs to know everything I know so she has to go thru some of the "pain" of learning the right things to do. However, I can work with Brego on some of the things that Laurie is working on to advance his part of the training faster. So, Laurie still has to know how to do it, but once she has experienced learning the techniques I can help Brego learn his part faster. There are also some things that are just very difficult for Laurie to do due to her being short. An example of that is teaching Brego to sidestep over to you when you're standing on something and want to mount. In the beginning you use a carrot stick to reach over his back and tap him on his opposite side. My long arms make this doable but Laurie just doesn't have the reach. So, I worked on that with Brego until he started to get the idea. Now Laurie can work on it more without needing the long reach that's required in the beginning of this training. 

I spent only a few minutes doing the basic warmup, groundwork stuff. The I saddled him up and worked on sidepasssing along the fence, then out in the open and then over a log. He did pretty well at that. I also started getting him used to jumping over a log about 12" off the ground. I did this from the ground, not on his back. I'll do it from the saddle later. We also worked more on lateral flexion under saddle using the spiral pattern (Laurie hasn't seen this one yet). I worked on his gait a bit more. It was a great session and I think Brego enjoyed the new challenges.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tim and I took Brego and Strider out for a ride.  It's funny.  In my mind I picture myself confidently getting on the horse and riding into the sunset with poise and grace, but I get on the horse and feel like a clutz.  I guess I'm still a rookie.  Like Tim says, there's about 78 things to remember all at once, sometimes it seems to me more like 79.  When we started out, Tim said we would take "the loop" down to 64, up 11 and back 66.  I was a little surprised and quickly thought about what kind of obstacles we would find, but decided it wouldn't be that big of a deal.  We had a great time, and Brego did great.  It was nice to be able to keep up with Tim & Strider easily or walk side-by-side.  (On Cody I always had to trot in spurts to catch up to them.) We gaited here and there, and in the middle of the road on 11 we gaited quite fast right up the middle of the road.  Brego kept veering off to the right, into Strider, but other than that, it was quite fun.  When we got back I decided to try cantering Brego, which I haven't done before, and it was a challenge!!  I couldn't get him to canter, so Tim finally got on him and even he had difficulty getting him to canter, but he finally did.  We'll have to work on that!

My dad passed away (he's all better now!) so I'll be going to California for a few days.  Tim will be home alone and work on a few things with Brego, like cantering, and getting him to sidepass towards us so we can get on from a mounting block.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

This morning I did the Parelli's suggested exercise of sitting for 30 minutes in the pen with Brego, not doing anything.  The rule is to sit still and don't touch the horse until he touches you first.  As I suspected, Brego spent almost the entire time hovering over me, breathing hot air into my face, mouthing my head, arms & knees, took off my hat (which in no time I put under the chair), and tried to chew my watch off.  Shortly after I took him to the round pen and let him loose he went and rolled.  Cody came over to see what was happening, and they sniffed each other a bit through the fence, then Cody went off.  Strider came to visit, too, and started to take Brego's lead rope from under the fence, until I got it back from him.  Occasionally Brego would wander off for a minute or two, but always came right back to see what I was doing.  After the 30 minutes, I got up and opened the gate, then sat down again.  He continued to hover over me for five minutes or so, then left.  I stayed there reading a bit, and I thought Strider was going to come in to join me at one point, but he just hovered over me with his head over the fence.  Needless to say, I removed my hat again knowing Strider would take it. :))

Later on, I went back out again to do the games with Brego.  They were all out front as I walked to the barn, but as I started to walk out back, they all began coming my way.  I met up with all three over at the side of the house and let them follow me to the round pen, and when we got there and I kept the other two away from the gate, Brego walked right in.  Good boy!  I'm really trying to do all the phases and get everything down good.  Today for the Yo-Yo Game I worked on shaking my finger first, then wrist, elbow & arm to get him to move backwards.  I don't think he's getting the finger or wrist yet, but he does move as soon as I shake the rope.  He stops unless I shake it pretty vigorously, then he backs up some more.    For the Driving Game I whacked at that rope with the stick and he just would not move.  After tapping the rope, the buckle, then waving the stick in front of his front legs he finally moved, but he sure didn't get the tapping thing.  I worked on getting him to move backward by putting my hand on his nose.  I kept it there until he moved and quickly released and rubbed him, but he was very resistant.  He puts his head way down to sniff the ground (or my toes) and I keep my hand there until he finally takes one step, then let go.  He did really well at the Squeeze Game, with more energy and better stops without coming in to me.  He still doesn't keep his speed up with the Circling Game and I have to keep pointing and kissing again and again.  At the beginning, he wasn't speeding up, but after a few warnings and whacks on the ground with the stick, closer & closer, all it took usually was a point and sometimes a kiss.  I also got him to circle (walking speed) around four times without me turning (transferring the rope to the other hand behind me) both directions.  We worked on the Sideways Game, but that's tough.  Putting pressure on like the Porcupine Game didn't work well, but he did a lot better with more of a driving action, sometimes tapping him repetitively.  He did much better on his left side than his right.  We also did more leading, and I walked faster and faster and eventually jogged a bit.  When I jogged I had to keep prodding him to keep up, and I had to keep bumping him forward, but he stopped real well, right when I stopped, and backed up great, even after going forward faster.  Little by little I guess we're getting there.  It's fun to work with him and see little progress here and there.  Hopefully I'll get out tomorrow and the stuff he did today will sink in overnight!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I watched the rest of the first Parelli DVD this evening, and read more of the booklet, Lessons 1 & 2.  I'm looking forward to continuing through this series and working with Brego, but I'm bummed that it's been so cold and windy.  It may be warmer tomorrow, and maybe I'll spend my  30 minutes alone with Brego in the round pen, doing nothing, and not touching him unless he touches me first.  Knowing Brego, I suspect he'll be mouthing me a great deal of the time!  It was also good to see the video of the student doing the Level 1 test, so I can see what these games should look like when I'm done with Level 1.  I look forward to getting to that point, then moving on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

After Tim was done working, he planned to go out and ride Cody, but when he got out to the paddock, he discovered that the drinking post had been broken, presumably by Brego.  The last time Tim saw Brego drink, he was still pushing the paddle with his lower teeth, with his upper teeth over the top of the bowl.  He probably chews on it.  Tim had to replace the paddle last week, but this time the paddle was in pieces, the rod misplaced and the sound of water running below.  It must be Brego chewing on the thing--this never happened with Cody & Strider.  Dang!  Tim managed to turn off the flow of water, but it will take some work to fix the post.  In the meantime, we'll have to keep the stock bucket out for the kids, and hopefully the electric heater will continue to work ok.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It was colder the past couple of days, so Tim and I went to the Thomson's to get two loads of hay each day.  I'm becoming quite the ranch helper.  (Well, just barely--Tim did almost all the work.)

Friday, January 2, 2009

We delivered Apache to the Miller's, and it was very fun to see Lauren's delight with her new horse.  They took lots of pictures, and emailed later to tell us they had a great first day with Apache.

Later at home I worked with Brego some more doing the games and walking side by side while Tim worked on the roof.  It's good for me to do these things alone some of the time.  It makes me figure it out for myself and remember things on my own without Tim's guidance.  Later, I can go back and ask Tim questions about what happened and what I might do better next time.  I like it both ways--sometimes with Tim watching and sometimes when he isn't around.  I think both ways are helpful.  It's great that we can each work with Brego and develop individual relationships with him.  I did better with the seven games (well, six of them, I didn't do squeezing).  I was trying to drive him with my hands in the air, and that will definitely take some more work, but he catches on to things pretty quickly and likes to please.  I did get him to back up with my hand on his nose, and with some work got him to go sideways by moving the stick back and forth with just a light touch.  He's walking alongside much better, and staying with me, stopping & backing up.

I began watching the Parelli Level One DVD series--the newer version, which I haven't seen before.  I will enjoy going through these, even though some of the information is review or the same things restated.  The written explanations of how to do things are much better than before, and the videos explaining how we learn and apply learning to horsemanship may be helpful, too.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Day.  
We had planned a New Years Day Open House which kind of fizzled.  Of all the people we invited, the only ones who came were Carolyn & Ed and Lauren & Greg.  Carolyn & Ed came in the afternoon to ride, and Lauren & Greg just in time for dinner.  Carolyn brought Moon, and Ed rode Cody.  We saddled up and Tim gave Ed a little instruction to ride Cody, so we were milling around for awhile and Brego did quite well at standing still, a few lateral flexion exercises and backing up, etc.  But when we turned toward the gate to go, Brego reacted to Moon, and obviously did NOT like Moon.  He was quite agitated.  This was very interesting to me.  As long as we were in front and not near Moon he was okay, but not when Moon got close.  When we got below Carl's barn, Tim asked Carolyn & Moon to stand still while I rode around in circles, to acquaint Brego to Moon and let him know I am his leader, he doesn't have to worry about Moon as long as I am in charge.  As we rode around in circles, he got more relaxed, then we moved on.  As we went, each time we got closer to Moon he was more relaxed, until Carolyn and I were able to ride side-by-side with no agitation.  Sometimes on the hills if Moon was nearby and acting out Brego was nervous too, but other than that Brego and I did just fine.  It will be interesting, as time goes on, to see how Brego reacts to other horses, and I will need to always be on the lookout and be his leader so he can relax and let me take care of keeping him a safe distance from the other horses.  On the way back we went through the water around the rocks--my first time on Brego in water.  Brego stopped and pawed at the water quite a bit--I guess he liked it--then we moved through and onto the dirt with no problem.  We had a good time, and although Brego was at times nervous, I managed to keep him under control with an occasional one-rein slow down.  I suppose we're getting the hang of it, but it still seems sloppy to me.