Thursday, June 19, 2008

Parelli Progress

I am officially on summer break! I got to go see My Boy today during normal hours. Meaning, I did not have to sit in commute traffic after work. That should help my gas bill. When I got out of the car at the Painted Creek and walked around to the back side of the house, I called and whistled for My Boy. Guess what he did? He came right down to the gate! Oh sure, maybe he thought it was feeding time. But he has been doing this more often the past few weeks. I rarely have to go get him now. I have heard many Parelli students say that as they begin using this approach of natural horsemanship with their horses, they start meeting them at the gate. Coincidence?

When we first got up to the arena, My Boy was a little concerned about this monster in the trees.
It was only the neighbor's sorrel gelding grazing in the backside of his pasture, which he rarely does.

If that wasn't enough of a distraction, Bambi had to wander by the arena for a little grass, as well. Goodness, it's like the enchanted forest around here.

I have been working with My Boy on the Parelli games since I attended the Parelli event last month. I have to tell you that I am very impressed with how my horse is picking up the games and skills. Hmmm....I am wondering if his little spotted hiney hasn't had some work with this before? I know that his past two owners probably wouldn't have touched Parelli games with a 100 ft. carrot stick, so it hasn't been recently. Or maybe my horse is just a smart boy and I know what I am doing. Hey, it could happen!

I can tell that he has had a lot of round pen work. I started with the circling game as a warm-up. He does a slow jog around me.
After he was warmed up, I took him off of the line and free lounged him. He used the whole arena a little bit at first, jumping and bucking and doing natural rollbacks. At one point he did a floaty little trot with his tail in the air.

It was muggy out. In no time he was puffing and pretty warm, and starting to settle down.
As I was cooling him out, we worked on sidepassing over the log, from the ground. It is a different experience when you aren't in the saddle using your leg and rein cues. It took several tries to get down the right body language and signals. But we were doing very well by the end.

I really enjoy the ground work aspect of the Parelli games. Frankly, there are a lot of days I do not feel like riding. My Boy is a 14 year old, professionally trained western pleasure and reining horse. Now you may not guess this by watching me ride him. He is partly rusty and I am partly unskilled in getting him to perform these maneuvers. But since he is no longer a show horse, these things are not important to me, at least not at his prior level of performance. Yes, I want him to respond to my legs, pressure on the reins, back up, sidepass, turn on the forehand, and whoa (he is best at whoa, oh Nelly!) Those are important to any riding horse, in the arena or on the trail.

Groundwork has become a new challenge because I am possibly teaching my horse some things he does not know. And if he learns it then guess what? Pony Girl has taught it to him! It is different than just implementing something he already knows. That is quite a sense of accomplishment for this back-in-the-saddle cowgirl.

The Parelli groundwork is also helping to get My Boy to look at and respond to me in ways he does not from the saddle. You have to use different tools and approaches to get the horse to move the way you want him to, whether it be sideways, backwards, or forwards. I believe if you can get your horse to respond and move on the ground in similar ways that you do from the saddle, that is when you have an overall well-trained horse. I have had to experiment with different forms of "pressure." I use the rope line, I use the carrot stick, and sometimes, I even just use my hands and walk towards him. I hold them up and flick my fingers and use my energy to just tell him to back up. It's like I am sending out a signal. I will have someone video tape it some time. It has been fascinating to see how My Boy responds. He is very respectful of my space. Somewhere along the line, that was communicated to him and I am thankful his trainer valued this. Whether you are interested specifically in Parelli techniques or not, I think a lot can be learned about just observing horse behavior and experimenting with different kinds of pressure. It is all about keeping those hooves moving and the mind thinking. And watch for your horse's smacking, licking lips. That is My Boy's signal that he "gets it" and is relaxed!

I am heading out of town tomorrow, to visit my parents. On Sunday, we have a wedding brunch for my cousin. And since my mom is working on Saturday, my dad suggested that he and I attend one of two different local horsey events. One is a trail riding challenge. The other is a Professional Rodeo Association benefit rodeo, complete with calf roping and bull-riding. I am torn between the two. Let's see....more cowboys at the Rodeo....should be an obvious choice. What do you think?


  1. I won't be any help here, but...
    If you choose to go to the Rodeo, then maybe this will be the beginning of the catching yourself a cowboy saga. If you go to the trail ride challenge I am sure you will be able to learn a thing or two.
    Whatever you choose.... have a very enjoyable weekend!!

  2. And btw....congrats on your My Boy meeting you at the gate. What a joy it must have brought to you to see him respond this way. Yeehaw!

  3. Hey PonyGirl! Just found your blog. I'm catching up on the reading but I like it so far. :) Mind if I add you to my list of recommended blogs on my blog?

    Wow...that's a lot of "blog" lol

  4. Wow! You didn't tell me about the deer you saw by the arena! They love it back there. Lots of privacy and grass.
    I am glad your boy is responding to the Parelli. It feels good knowing you are the one teaching them things.
    I also love it that your boy has become more personable. He even trots down to the gate to greet me now! I really think he thinks I am you at times! I will have to try to catch him again since he is coming to the gate and I wouldn't have to go way out to get him.

  5. Cdncowgirl: howdy, thanks for stopping by! I will gallop over your way soon, too. And of course you can add me to your blogroll. ;)

    PaintGirl: that is not the first time I have seen deer by the big branch pile. Often they are napping in the clearing there. Yes, next week we are doing a trial run with you catching My Boy. I think we will have better success now. I think he is finally getting to know you better! It takes him a while to warm up to people, that silly Appy of mine! ;)

  6. Well if you're Dad is taking you, you might not have much 'luck' finding a cowboy at the rodeo... you know first impressions "older man, younger lady' and all that. darn.

    The trail riding challenge might be better because it is something you truly love and are good at...and don't you remember that hot looking cowboy you saw on the trail recently??

    It's your call, but I'd pick the trail ridig challenge for you.

    And thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience on Parelli training. I think it's very impressive that you are teaching My Boy all these new skills AND building up a terrific relationship together, too.

    And I agree about the importance and challenge of groundwork. It's alot tougher than it looks, too.

    And I'm glad you shared how you sometimes prefer not to ride because I've often felt like an alien thinking that or telling anyone.
    Folks just assume that if you own a horse that you must ride it as often as you can.

    Some days I'm too sore too ride or don't have time for the hassle of grooming, saddling up, lunging beforehand, etc. And some days I just want to spend time with my horse eye-to-eye, not looking down at the back of her ears. Know what I mean?

    Thanks again for your honesty and experience.

  7. What great work you're doing with your gorgeous horse! If you get to video it that would be something to see. The sidepassing over an obstacle - I have a hard time with that. My horse want to face the log and go straight over it. We struggle with it.

  8. I'd pick the trail challenge for you too. Just the thought of going somewhere with my Dad (who IS totally cool,) and scoping out cowboys is just.... Yeah, have to do the trail

    Great job with that handsome Appy! Keep it up!

  9. where has your blog been all my life?! i too am 30 and have found myself without horses in my life....i sooooo wish i had them again! one of these days i will! in the meantime, i'll live vicariously through you!

    i'm going to add you to my blog list a/k/a my list of "who i stalk"

  10. Trail challenge definitely. Love that Appy, he is so beautiful. How nice to have your boy meet you at the gate too!

  11. Glad you are doing so well with the Parelli.
    I would have to agree TRC-since Daddy o is going along! My too weird trying to scope guys with him there!!?! That is just so cool he wants to support you and your horse thing! My Dad is scared to death that I ride and doesn't even come and watch me compete. Bummer!
    BTW-To answer your question about "Preacher." He has a bone spur on his back left and some arthriits on his back right, so that is why we have to have him injected. Only the vet can do this procedure. The main key our vet has told us is to keep him legged up and give him the injections when he starts getting stiff. Dr. Thoni did suggest the Hylagen 60 supplement yesterday. I am going to check in to getting some of it. He said the horses that are using it have had great success and actually have been able to cut back on there injections. I would talk to your vet about it and see what there recommendation would be. Good luck!

  12. I love the pictures,especially of the one of My Boy meeting you at the gate.
    The Rodeo sounds great.
    I hope your whole weekend is wonderful.

  13. Well darlin, that is a no-brainer. Cowboys for you! As always, loved your post. I was wondering when you would get out of school for the summer, being a teacher nall.

  14. Working Mom: I SO wish I was only 30! I am actually a "30-something", in other words- 37! Feel like 27 though. I don't think I ever really matured past 27, lol!
    Flying Lily: That was the biggest challenge we faced, My Boy would start to side step, then go just go forward and over the log. After all, that is what we usually do, go over the log! This is why it is so much fun to teach your horse something they don't normally do. It really forces you to work on your communication!

  15. Wow, there's a lot in this post. I don't have a horse of my own, so I'm not doing any training. I do get to interact with my surrogate horses every week though.

    I love that you have deer sightings on your property. I want to hang out there and have close encounters with bambi.

    My Boy is a very gorgeous fellow. His expressions are priceless and he's clever too.

    I think it's great that your Dad is into horsey things. I don't know if I'd want him hangin' around while was looking for cowboys though. Might cramp your style. Or the cowboys'. Either way, it's not a good situation.

  16. Pony Girl- this is totally off topic for this post, or even this

    I just read your comment over at BECG, about the fellow sleeping through his alarm on 9-11...

    And had to share this little bit with you.

    My little sister worked at the Towers. She had gone to spend the night at a friends on 9-10. She slept through her alarm on 9-11, and would have been well into the building when the first plane hit.

    We could not get through to her until after 10pm that night. My brother was able to patch through her call, in a three way call, to our Dad. He said it was the hardest call he has ever had to make.

    We come from a family of fire fighters and EMTs. Dad and my brother are life time members in their departments in Tundra Country. I at the time, was also a fire fighter and EMT in upstate NY.

    That day brings back nightmares for all of us.

    So that supposed Urban Ledgend? In this case of a 9-11 tale, its true....And I still have a sister.

  17. Have a great weekend...whatever you decide to do! Is there any way that you can attend a little bit of both? That would be perfect! I am glad that you are having fun with My Boy and Parelli's method of training. There is nothing better than having a true partnership with your horse, and My Boy looks like he has the perfect personality to be a great sidekick!
    PS-You do NOT look 37! I was thinking EARLY thirties, not pushing 40! You must have really good genes:)

  18. I love love love ground work. It make such a difference!! Keep up the good work!! I love the trail challenge! Looks like fun and i am sure your boy loves it too. I think they get bored with just the same old stuff everyday!! He also is too cute how he is meeting you at the gate!! Hope you found yourself a cowboy!!

  19. Hey everyone, maybe we need to turn this around and think that Dad can help properly screen cowboys for Pony Girl! Just read about arranged marriages in the paper today...women like them as they need help find a suitable mate! And if you look at the track record many of us have...well, you have to agree! An older guy might know what would work (for his daughter, if she would just listen!). Just a theory, just a theory.........

  20. Julie, funny you should mention this, I think my Aunt has said something about setting up a little family screening of the wranglers on our guest ranch trip this summer, for me! I think I need to lay out some ground rules first, lol! Like, the cowboys must have teeth!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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