Naming Raven

In the wake of Alana’s death I expected her owners, first-time horse people, would be out of horses forever. To my surprise, I got a call several weeks later asking if I was interested in coming out to look at a horse with them.

We found a nice 16-ish hand, 17-year-old, solid-black mare (official measurements still need to be made. We have been having too much fun doing other things). Her new owner fell in love with this rescue and we brought her the almost one-hundred miles home.

The first order of business was to name her. The old cowboy who sold her called her Black Betty. No one liked the name. While shopping the next day I started keeping a list of names on the lid of a takeout box from my lunch. We came up with Void, Regal, Raven, Onyx, Obsidian and a few other names. Later, when her owners came out to visit her we started talking about names. I ran inside to grab the list and had a moment of panic. Where had I put the list? After a bit of searching I found it in the refrigerator. The list was on a takeout box after all.

Like A Child

I think it’s very funny
The way a puppy grows–
A little on his wiggle-tail
A little on his nose,
A little on his tummy,
And a little on his ears;
I guess he’ll be a dog all right
In half a dozen years.
Leroy F. Jackson

That poem came to mind when I was watching my youngest student play with Little Bit. He is so natural with her he doesn’t realize he is learning a new language. He bounces from one thing to the next with the energy and attention span of a six-year-old, or a puppy. He is not thinking about applying the seven games or avoiding tangling himself up in the rope and carrot stick.

A day goes like this:
Feed horses – friendly; anything that causes the horse to want to be with you or continue doing what you asked them to do
Prevent LB from eating Mint’s food – driving; rhythmic motion to move the horse
Scratch and halter LB – friendly game
Once haltered LB follows him everywhere at a walk and trot
Remember carrot stick and go back to the tack room for it – friendly and porcupine; steady pressure to cause the horse to move
Pretend to mount LB bareback – friendly
Slide down the slide while LB watches from near the end of the 12′ line – friendly game
See if LB will back under the slide (her withers and back fit with less than two inches to spare) – driving, squeeze, and yo-yo; back and forth on a straight line
Ask LB to walk under the slide and branch supporting it (She fits, but only with her head down) – yo-yo and squeeze; going over, under, between, or through
Scratch and hug – friendly
Run to the bridge and back up – yo-yo
Circling game in the pasture; asking a horse to take responsibility for going in a circle
Get saddle out
Find and play with ball, put on LB and hit the ball off – friendly game
More circling game
Ask LB to sniff saddle – friendly, driving
Play soccer around yard with ball – friendly
Start rubbing legs to see if she is ok with her feet being handled – friendly
More soccer – friendly
Sat for a few moments on the ball to get his wind back – friendly
Show dad he can saddle by himself – friendly
Show LB she can now reach the mineral feeder (The footing was raised 8+ inches while they were playing) – porcupine, friendly
Bring back to the herd and take halter off – porcupine
Hang out with herd – friendly
During and between he leaned on her when he was tired, or trying to think of something, sang, ran around with his arms going crazy; all friendly things that will build a strong relationship between them.

He thinks he is playing, but he is really learning. This week the saddle went on on the second try. They got a full circle at a trot. She was more comfortable with him. She followed without dragging. He caused her to sniff something on the first try. He haltered her even if he did get the halter inside out. He used the rope and carrot stick like they were part of him. Every time they are together they improve. A wise man once said, you don’t get better by doing 1 thing 100% better, you get better by doing 100 things 1% better. They are more than 1% better this week.

Why Horses for Girls

I read and loved this. This father put words to what I have seen with my girls. Why horses? This is why:

A Father’s Explanation of Why He Had Horses for His Daughter

My daughter turned sixteen years old today; which is a milestone for most people. Besides looking at baby photos and childhood trinkets with her, I took time to reflect on the young woman my daughter had become and the choices she would face in the future. As I looked at her I could see the athlete she was, and determined woman she would soon be. I started thinking about some of the girls we knew in our town who were already pregnant, pierced in several places, hair every color under the sun, drop outs, drug addicts and on the fast track to no-where, seeking surface identities because they had no inner self esteem. The parents of these same girls have asked me why I “waste” the money on horses so my daughter can ride. I’m told she will grow out of it, lose interest, discover boys and all kinds of things that try to pin the current generation’s “slacker” label on my child. I don’t think it will happen, I think she will love and have horses all her life.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has compassion. She knows that we must take special care of the very young and the very old. We must make sure those without voices to speak of their pain are still cared for.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned responsibility for others than herself. She learned that regardless of the weather you must still care for those you have the stewardship of. There are no “days off” just because you don’t feel like being a horse owner that day. She learned that for every hour of fun you have there are days of hard slogging work you must do first.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned not to be afraid of getting dirty and that appearances don’t matter to most of the breathing things in the world we live in. Horses do not care about designer clothes, jewelry, pretty hairdos or anything else we put on our bodies to try to impress others. What a horse cares about are your abilities to work within his natural world, he doesn’t care if you’re wearing $80.00 jeans while you do it. –

Because my daughter grew up with horses she learned about sex and how it can both enrich and complicate lives. She learned that it only takes one time to produce a baby, and the only way to ensure babies aren’t produced is not to breed. She learned how babies are planned, made, born and, sadly, sometimes die before reaching their potential. She learned how sleepless nights and trying to out-smart a crafty old broodmare could result in getting to see, as non-horse owning people rarely do, the birth of a true miracle.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she understands the value of money. Every dollar can be translated into bales of hay, bags of feed or farrier visits. Purchasing non-necessities during lean times can mean the difference between feed and good care, or neglect and starvation. She has learned to judge the level of her care against the care she sees provided by others and to make sure her standards never lower, and only increase as her knowledge grows.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to learn on her own. She has had teachers that cannot speak, nor write, nor communicate beyond body language and reactions. She has had to learn to “read” her surroundings for both safe and unsafe objects, to look for hazards where others might only see a pretty meadow. She has learned to judge people as she judges horses. She looks beyond appearances and trappings to see what is within.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned sportsmanship to a high degree. Everyone that competes fairly is a winner. Trophies and ribbons may prove someone a winner, but they do not prove someone is a horseman. She has also learned that some people will do anything to win, regard- less of who it hurts. She knows that those who will cheat in the show ring will also cheat in every other aspect of their life and are not to be trusted.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has self-esteem and an engaging personality. She can talk to anyone she meets with confidence, because she has to express herself to her horse with more than words. She knows the satisfaction of controlling and teaching a 1000 pound animal that will yield willingly to her gentle touch and ignore the more forceful and inept handling of those stronger than she is. She holds herself with poise and professionalism in the company of those far older than herself.

Because my daughter grew up with horses she has learned to plan ahead. She knows that choices made today can effect what happens five years down the road. She knows that you cannot care for and protect your investments without savings to fall back on. She knows the value of land and buildings. And that caring for your vehicle can mean the difference between easy travel or being stranded on the side of the road with a four horse trailer on a hot day. When I look at what she has learned and what it will help her become, I can honestly say that I haven’t “wasted” a penny on providing her with horses. I only wish that all children had the same opportunities to learn these lessons from horses before setting out on the road to adulthood.

–Author unknown

Success is a Successful Student

Recently I was made very proud by one of my girls. She was selected to do the rider makeover at the Horse & Soul tour stop in Mesquite, Tx with Linda Parelli. Imagine driving 200 miles to a place you have never been with a horse you have only hauled around town and having a lesson with someone you REALLY respect in front of more than a thousand people.

The night before the lesson Gwen, her mare, decided she didn’t want to go into the arena. S spent the time it took to get her confident walking through the gate into the arena. Our prayer was that she would be able to ride into the arena when the stands were full of people. The next morning the arena was busy until time for their lesson. Gwen made it in and S was able to make some really nice changes. I know she will take what she learned home and use it to propel her riding to greater mastery.

Warm in Winter

I had a new student come for her first time on the coldest day of the year. The wind chill here was around 20. Depending on where you are from that may not sound too bad, but here it is bitterly cold. Very few of my girls have ever had to be outside for any length of time at those temperatures. This sweet girl was no different.

I tell all of my girls to dress warm, but many of them have no idea how to survive below freezing. I keep extra layers for those times when the weather overwhelms their winter wear so my little student didn’t freeze, but when that happens I like to make a few suggestions of what to do next time.

First I suggest a wind resistant outer shell with insulation, just make sure you can move around in it. Don’t forget to take advantage of what is already in your closet. Cotton isn’t good if you sweat, but an extra t-shirt under all your other layers can really make a difference. Layer a tank top, T-shirt, long-sleeve T-shirt, sweater, and/or light jacket before you put on your coat. Synthetic fleece is great for staying warm and dry, but you want to wear something wind resistant over it.

Vests keep your core warm while leaving your arms less restricted. I have noticed most people either love or hate vests, but anyone will add a vest to the rest of their insulation if it gets cold enough.

Despite not feeling cold as sharply as other parts, keeping your legs warm can be critical. A lot of blood flows through your legs. If you keep your legs warm the warm blood can be used to heat other areas. Thermal long underwear, or in a pinch, nightclothes can be worn under jeans or overalls and ski pants can be worn over to add an extra layer against the cold. Personally I prefer ski pants because they block the wind, but either solution helps.

Because we are working around horses I require my girls to tie their hair back so they can see everything going on around them, but that leaves exposed ears and necks. I recommend ear warmers or a hat. Hoods make it too hard to see and most people have a hard time keeping them in place. Scarves or even an extra ear warmer band worn around the neck can keep the cold wind out. Just make sure to tuck any ends into your coat to keep them from catching on things.

Socks and shoes do the obvious and keep your feet warm. They also seem to be the hardest to find the perfect solution. Wool and/or synthetic are much better than cotton socks at keeping you warm and dry. Insulated boots are nice, but seem to be the thing that no one has, so on days when it is so cold you can feel it coming through the soles of your shoes I wear ToastiToes. I don’t like the way they feel in my shoes, but it beats freezing feet.

Last, but certainly not least are gloves. Playing with horses we have to be able to feel what is going on, both through the gloves and by staying warm enough to feel our fingers. The perfect pair of gloves is elusive, but I wear the Hyperlite All Weather Glove by Seirus. They are a bit thin on the coldest days, but they are thin enough to feel through, insulate better than leather, and are wind and water proof. For those days that humans shouldn’t be out, I use HotSnapZ reusable hand warmers in my pockets. They can make a real difference between being a little cold and being miserable.

Armed with layers, a good coat, maybe a vest, ski pants, hats, scarves, thick socks, hand and foot warmers, and gloves most of us can survive a couple of hours in the cold for the sake of horses.

How do you stay warm in the winter?

Power Posing and Dominance Games

When I watch my horses play in the pasture, it is not the biggest or the strongest that wins the dominance games, although she is arguably the fastest. Cole’ wins dominance games because she is the most confident. She doesn’t believe in the equine who is more dominant than she is and thus they don’t exist.

Mint, who always winds up on the bottom of the pecking order is her exact opposite. He would really like to be dominate if someone would let him. Almost every move has a hesitance in it, even when he vies for dominance with a new horse. It looks something like this: I am big! I really am. Come on, I really am. I would like to be. I wish I was.

Some horses will engage him and prove dominance,  others, I had a mare who was so underfed she didn’t care what he did, just ignore his antics and he talks himself out of it without much help. He goes through the same steps with humans. One day he will come on strong, but if he is ignored or sent away he becomes submissive in less than a minute.

Many of my girls come out lacking confidence. Whether the lack of confidence comes from the fact that horses are big, or this is all new, or they are afraid of making a mistake, or training at home or at school, or a natural part of their personality, it really doesn’t matter. As long as they remain unconfident around horses they are a target for Mint and will be ignored by Countess and Cole’. The moment they find confidence Mint backs off and the girls start to listen.

I can only address so many underlying issues. Time will help them get used to the size and the newness will wear off. They will eventually learn to make mistakes and learn from them. I may be able to provide a safe enough place to build confidence, but all of that takes time. Time in which a girl gets frustrated and may talk herself completely out of horses, making her feel like a failure and reinforcing her lack of confidence.

I struggled with what to do before they became confident. I can be safe and positive, but it wasn’t until I watched this video I knew what else to do. I have tried it with every unconfident girl I have had since, and it works. Two minutes before or during a lesson and the horses respond entirely differently to the girl.

It is not magic, it is body chemistry.

Watch the video, tell me what you think.

Reflections Equestrian — The program sponsored by Galloping Glass

This program is designed to be an intensive, self-paced, Christian discipleship and horsemanship program.

What is Expected of Me?

Commitment, determination, initiative, a positive attitude, and to put your heart into learning everything

As a prospective horseman, you will need to commit to, and schedule, play times at least once a week with your assigned equine partner until you graduate from the second level of the Parelli Program. The program may take two years or more and will be a personally growing and stretching experience.

You will learn and use the Parelli method with your partner horse.

Because horses cost money, there is a $– charge per month or the equivalent in hours of work. This goes towards regularly scheduled farrier fees, supplements, feed, teeth floating, natural worming, etc. There is also a strongly suggested $9.95/month or $99/year fee to Parelli for access to their online tools at ParelliConnect.com. The membership also comes with automatic discounts on all Parelli merchandise.

Learning at home is important so quality time can be spent with your partner in the pasture. To facilitate this you need to watch at least one DVD at home and do projects, on self-improvement, scripture memory, study, creating analogies, etc and horse-manship each week. You will need to bring a notebook every week.

You will be expected to dress appropriately for the weather. It gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Also, keep in mind that horses are dirty, and like to share dirt if you wear anything nice.

If your hair is long enough to get into your face you will need to find some way to tie or clip it out of the way. Being able to see clearly is one of the easiest ways to stay safe around horses.

Your shoes need to protect your feet. This is a broad field. We have a lot of sand and burs, so I strongly recommend socks to prevent blisters. Make sure your shoelaces are corralled. Stepping on your own shoelace ruins a perfectly good demo in front of your mother.

Once you start riding, which will not be in the first few months, you will need a certified horse riding helmet and shoes or boots with a relatively flat sole and some kind of heel.

Because the proper tools are vital to a horseman’s success, you will also be expected to supply at least your own halter, lead rope, carrot stick, and savvy string, meeting Bethany’s approval, before being allowed to take the horse home. This will be at least a year or more.

You will receive a stack of paper which you will want to read so we can get started quickly.

 

What you will need:

  • 1” or larger 3 ring binder with clear pockets for decorating the outside
  • Tabs/dividers for binder
  • Pencil pocket for binder
  • Pencil & pen if you like pens
  • Calendar
  • Timer that is yours
  • Sheet protectors
  • Dry erase marker
  • Post-it Notes
  • Fun stickers for calendar
  • Hair ties and/or clips
  • Lined paper or computer & printer or email

Will need eventually:

  • Helmet
  • Boots, or riding shoes

Before horse:

  • Halter
  • 12’ line
  • Carrot stick
  • Savvy string
  • 22’ line

 

What Can I Expect?

You will experience an incomparable opportunity to learn about God, yourself, and horses.

You will be stretched by God in ways you don’t expect. You will laugh and want to cry. You will be hot and cold. Your partner won’t give you the time of day, and it will rain. You will have a sudden breakthrough after you have been playing with something for months. You and your partner will be on fire and all it takes is a thought to communicate that day. Things will go haywire and you will learn something anyway. God will point out something in your life using your horse and that is so convicting. You will learn about what you can control, what you can influence, and what you have to accept

You will be physically stretched as well. Despite popular myth playing with horses is work. Playing with a horse starts on the ground, gaining the horse’s trust and developing communication. When you start riding, you will discover that riding is just as active as walking or running with your partner, it just uses different muscles.

You will be assigned an equine partner to start your journey, either a mare or a gelding (we don’t handle stallions for safety reasons). Your partner will be a mirror for your growth, showing you areas of your life to work on. You will build a life changing relationship with him. Becoming a partner is not always easy, but it is rewarding.

Your partner may be changed as you both grow and Bethany gets a better idea of how you work together.

Your partner will be cared for naturally and its needs met, but you will be encouraged to learn and take over as much as possible because when you graduate from level 2 he will come home with you!

Horseman’s tools will be provided for use with your partner.

You can expect accountability and encouragement to grow as a horseman and a person. You will be encouraged to develop a positive attitude and overcome your fears one little step at a time.

You can also expect a good opportunity to practice your reading, writing, and/or typing skills as you do projects, although I am very open to other ways of demonstrating your knowledge.

This a self-paced program where safety is paramount. People get needlessly hurt doing things they are not physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to do. You will not be forced or coerced to do anything you or your horse aren’t comfortable with.

Graduation of level 2 will be determined by sending a video in to Parelli Natural Horsemanship and having one of their professionals review it.

You will have the opportunity to schedule meetings, call, or email to have Bethany answer your questions.

Pony Party

A while ago I had the house to my self and wanted something fun to do, so I threw together a pony party. I invited every girl I know who is or might have been horse crazy, so the experience level varied widely. I looked for ideas for a Parelli Pony Party, but I couldn’t find anything that didn’t start with the girls bringing their own horses.

We played some of the Parelli simulations, practiced popping balloons with Savvy strings, and fed and petted my horses. We wrapped it up for most of the girls by decorating the cupcakes you see in the pictures. (I think some of the cupcakes had left by the time I thought to start taking pictures.) We played on my mounting/vaulting barrel until only the level 1+ girls were left. We broke out the halters and leads and played with my horses until it was too dark. After dark we watched my favorite videos of spectacular horsemanship.

It was something fun to do that didn’t require a lot of set up.

Activities in no particular order:

  • Coke bottle game (2nd level 2 DVD set) I learned that the “horses” learn too quickly by watching. Make up different tasks for every horse.
  • Conga Horse Make task cards, or slips of paper to give ideas to girls who are new to this. Some of the more experienced girls have something they have been wanting to try out with a conga horse.
  • Pop balloons with carrot stick and savvy string. It is ok to have the girls blow up their own balloons as long as you don’t mind the occasional balloon zinging around the room untied. I think almost as many giggles went into those balloons as air. Also make sure you have something better than scotch or masking tape to hold them down if you live somewhere the wind blows. Use cheap balloons like water balloons because they pop easier.
  • Feed and Pet horses No pony party that occurs on a property with horses is complete without at least touching a horse.
  • Decorate horse head cupcakes Take cupcakes, pull down the wrapper on one side, place a large marshmallow for the muzzle and nose and ice the whole thing. The wrapper gives the whole thing a little bit of support. Decorate with anything you wish. We used cashews for ears and mini m&ms for eyes along with anything else I could find in the kitchen.
  • Vault on barrel Look up vaulting online or let the girls make up their own routines.
  • Watch youtube videos The larger the group the more carefully I would preselect the clips both for content and boredom factor.

Other ideas I thought of:

  • Practice saddling and mounting the mounting barrel
  • Have a model horse show
  • Stick horses
  • Roping
  • Decorate a live horse I did this at camp one year as a kid. We did it in teams and had to describe what we did. It took about 30 minuted to decorate him. I loved it and we talked about it for years.
  • Draw/describe your perfect horse.

What else would work?

 

My ornaments and the support for my horses are at GallopingGlass.com.

AQHA World and Pat

We got to go see Pat Parelli at the AQHA World show here in Oklahoma City a couple of weeks ago. I almost missed it. It wasn’t until someone mentioned they wanted to go watch horses some night and needed to know which night would be best for people who weren’t that horsey that I checked the schedule and found that Pat was doing a demo.

I am glad I got to take one of my students for her first time to see Pat live. We spent the afternoon walking around the vendor booths and barns. They have two buildings as big, if not bigger than your local Walmart full of horse related stuff. We watched the warm up arena and talked about leads, which she caught onto very quickly.

We met some of my other students and friends after supper  and watched Pat and Caton do an inspirational demo, riding, sliding, spinning, turning and burning in sync. My students loved it and got to meet pat afterwords, take pictures with him and have him sign Savvy Club magazines. The highlight of the night for one of my friends was when she won the drawing for the Colt Starting DVD set.

Proof some of us were there:

My ornaments and the support for my horses are at GallopingGlass.com.