Monday, June 22, 2015

Wow, its been a while!

I can't believe how long its been since I posted on my blog! So much has happened and looking back at the last few posts, I can see how far we've come.

This will be my summer project, to bring things up to date here. I have lots of things to share that I don't post on Facebook and so many learning experiences. 

I finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up, I just finished my first year as an Occupational Therapy Assistant student, and should graduate with the two girls. And I now have unlimited internet, so I can post lots of pictures again!

I will also be creating a new web page for my Red Light Therapy business as that has started to take off and the word is spreading! 

Here is a picture of the girls and I on prom night this year, they have grown so much and we have come so far.

Friday, July 16, 2010

More thoughts, Mark & Crissi's Clinic

In the afternoon of the second day, Mark and the rider took a break because of the grueling heat and humidity. It was decided that we would start 2 hours earlier the next day, at 6:00 instead of 8:00am to try and beat the heat some. The second day was the worst, as there was no breeze at all, and no cloud cover. Mark had to work hard with the little Icelandic to get him ground driving, then again with Apollo to soften his backing. After lunch he worked with a 4yo and ended up on a longe line in the parking lot, following him while he worked things out and then he had to work with another horse on softening, and he had a lot of resistance to meet, so that his hands were shaking. It seemed a difficult day for everybody.

The next day he told us that was the hardest clinic he'd EVER done. He was worn out and in bed by 6:00pm. We were very happy that he didn't have to work as hard the last day, in fact, he was provided a fan and a canopy to sit in front of/under! We have to take care of our teachers!

Some things I want to remember from the clinic was to make sure you get a change before stopping. A horse may struggle 9 minutes and have a breakthrough at 10, but if you intervene at 9 minutes and don't let the change happen, then next time the start where they ended last time, and you may be gettin a 19 minute struggle. Just wait them out, they will try all they know before trying something new.

You get what you settle for! This is a life lesson for me. We are having a difficult time with our 13 yo daughter and keep wondering why?! We raised four boys and never had this type of behavior or problems. The girls talk back, threaten us, call us names, tell us they hate us and basically blame everything on everyone else. The boys wouldn't have dared try any of that, and we've been trying to puzzle out why. But its simple, we would not allow it, we didn't settle for that behavior. With the girls, we have. We were very firm with the boys about what they could and couldn't do and they respected that. I guess maybe we wanted to be a little less firm with the girls, trying to be "better, more understanding" parents. I had to deal with issues I've never confronted before and was not sure how to handle. We seemed to be doing okay until this move. Now the wheels are coming off. Another parent said her previously sweet, perfect 16yo had started going out to party, drinking and smoking pot, devastating her. The councilers told her she had to accept that behavior because the daughter was going to do it anyway. That doesn't seem correct to me, is that what you settle for? I've been following a program to change behavior and they advocate not engaging in arguing, state expectations and walk away. Later you can discuss issues calmly and work out a solution/consequence. The child is not allowed to blame anyone for their bad behavior and must not only say they were sorry, but were WRONG to act they way they did. A lot of times they just don't have the correct tools to deal with the situation, so they act out and we have to be clear in what we want and show them what we expect. Sounds a little like horse training, right?!

When I was riding and as I watched others work with their horses, I notice Mark saying quite often, "Right now I'd be saying ---------- to the horse." I wasn't quite sure if he was talking about using a feel or cue to "say" it to the horse, or if he was actually "talking" to the horse in his head! So I asked him as I was riding, "Is that something you actually SAY to the horse" and he said "Yes, but in my head, not out loud." Big relief, I'm not the only one who holds conversations in my mind with my horse!

Whoever controls space, energy and time, controls the situation. In teaching Apollo to line up to the mounting block, I had to be aware of all of these things. My problem before was he was controlling the space, by circling all around, the energy by not settling down and the time by deciding when he was going to stop long enough for me to hop on! Once I got control of the space, having him walk straight to the block, the time in immediately getting him siding over to it and the energy, calm and settled, everything became easy. Someone had to be the adult Mark said, and Apollo couldn't do that, so I had to step up and did. This also goes back to the girls, if I walk away instead of engaging, keep calm and decide when to discuss the issues, I've gained control of the space, energy and time. When they keep an argument going and keep you there trying to defend yourself, the wrong person is in charge. I felt like I was defending myself against Apollo's pushing and circling, etc. so the same rules apply.

I so enjoyed my time with Crissi! Every day we took what we started with Mark and improved on it and advanced to a new place to start the next day. She really, really liked Apollo and she is able to rely information so it was easy for me to understand and implement while riding. At one point, she was working with me on leading again, and I was holding her horse. I saw her thought start to come forward and before she had fully lifted her foot, I shook the lead rope a bit and she stepped back. Crissi thanked me for doing that and said most people wouldn't have, but I have to make this an automatic part of my horsemanship and awareness if I'm to be consistant with all the horses I handle. Another time, we were working with Apollo on softening on stopping before moving forward again. We stopped, he softened, but he didn't feel settled or totally "stopped" to me, so even though Crissi said go, I waited a second more, and sure enough, he pushed right down on the reins. She told me she was glad I waited, and we ended up waiting out a bit of head gymnastics before proceeding. I've been unsure of how much "feel" I have when riding, etc. but by following my gut and being present, I discovered I do have a good amount of feel and if I trust it, good things happen! This has helped my confidence so much, and gives me hope that I may be a real horseperson someday!I have only had Apollo for seven weeks and feel so blessed to have been able to take him to Mark's clinic relatively early in our relationship and without much history between us. I'm so glad we've mostly been having fun, running around on the trails and fooling around in the arena, with just a few formal lessons at this point. I think it will make it easier for him to switch gears and figure out what his job is now. We all agree he was good at his job and knew it well, so now we're asking something totally different from him. Instead of hopping on and racing around, I need him to line up to the block, stand quietly and wait until I cue him to move. He catches on easily though, and I think utlimately this way of life will be more suited to his personality and physical strengths. I also need him to come off the bit for balance and to soften into it instead of pushing on it. This also seems easier for him. Its more the mental, emotional stuff that he's struggling with as far as I can tell, but being the sweet, willing guy he is, I hope we can make great progress together.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Last Day of the Clinic

The last day of the clinic started 2 hours early to try and beat the brutal heat. I realized late at night that I had left Apollo's halter on and had let him stay outside where he seemed much happier. Of course I was totally freaked, imagining every horrible story I've heard of, even though it was a breakaway and it was a pasture without trees, etc and the fence was well electrified and he knew it, so was staying clear. So I was up and out of the hotel at 4:45, and sitting in Dunkin Donuts parking lot at 4:57 waiting impatiently for them to open!

It was still cool and there was ground fog, making everything appear and disappear in the cool mist. Apollo was fine, but had rubbed the halter over one ear. I brought him in so others that had left their horses in could turn them out. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but half of the clinic participants were from Maine! Its so great to have a growing pool of people throughout the state with the same training philosophies. I also got to visit with Sue from Maine. Good stuff happening in New England! I also had several people come up and offer to buy Apollo if I was ever interested in selling him!

I had the opportunity of having Apollo's teeth floated by a visiting dentist that Tim H. has used for years and knows well, Spencer LaFlure. Mark & Crissi had watched him work and had him do their horses too. He does a performance float and has a DVD that explains all about how teeth alignment affect your horse's body and health. Spencer also floats Olympic rider's horses and the Parelli's. He travels world-wide and they are talking about coordinating his visits to NE with Mark's clinics again next year. Since Apollo was due this fall, I figured why not?!
When my turn came, I decided to ask Mark to help me see the problems in the hind end he observed in Apollo. He showed me how little movement his hips have and how he has little to no spring when pressing down on his hip bones. I asked if he was just stiff or in pain, and he said just stiff. I also had him check out saddle fit, which was fine. Pheww! So I mounted up from the block. Apollo lined right up for me and stood nicely til I was settled, mostly! I took so long getting my right stirrup,  he wandered off, but I immediately circled him and it was taken care of. So we walked out and he softened nicely. He was so willing to try, but was fussy with the bit. I did stay on and so did the saddle, so that was a nice change, LOL! We practised stopping straight, but Apollo's head kept bobbing around. After two tries, Mark finally uttered 10 magic words, "Your head and his head should face the same way". Or something to that effect. For some reason, that just clicked it for me and we nailed it from then on! When I was very clear about where his head should be, he put it there. I was really very pleased with how well we progressed as Mark coached us. My lessons with Tara and Charmaine were such a good foundation for riding with Mark and I've been trying to ride with the tools I've gathered from auditing Mark for years too. I believe it makes it so much easier because I'm not trying to replace another way of riding. We're kind of an empty slate with a basic outline sketched on it, and adding in the details is easier than having to pick and choose, or think about which way I'm supoosed to do something. So we were able to progress to trotting with softness.

When Mark and the others saw the movement Apollo has at the trot, they were very impressed! Mark said his stride increases by 8 inches and it is effortless for him. Crissi later told me that dressage people work for years to get the kind of movement that he offers naturally. He floats with a huge trot. When I got him gathered up, people were commenting on how beautiful he looked! I had to work out the rein length and the amount of contact needed to ask him for softness. Mark would tell me to shorten the reins and I would, then straighten my arms to make them longer, effectively keeping the same distance! I finally had an AHA moment when he talked about boundaries, how my hands had to set the boundary consistantly for Apollo to rely on and be able to find the soft spot. After that, it was much easier. BUT, even when we got those moments of connection and softness and Mark would say we had it, it still felt difficult. When he wasn't softening, it was downright ugly and I couldn't ride it. I was thrown all over and was so discouraged because I take bareback lessons and know I can have a better seat than that. I asked Mark what I could change in me that would sort it out, and he said not to worry about it. He needed me to get the soft feel to take home and the rest would come. If he told me all the things I could work on, I would get muddled and we would get bogged down. So it was a good lesson, he said I did good work and we did get a lot done.

After lunch, Crissi and I worked on my breathing and the trot some more. Again, even when it looked like we had it, there was a disconnection and I felt like I was riding all over the place. It was so hard, it wasn't coming easily and I felt like it shouldn't be that hard. So when we had 10 minutes left, I asked if we could try the Rocking S Ported Snaffle on him again, since Mark had said he didn't think I had the right bit and I wanted to see what size I should get if it made a difference. I got a new horse! Crissi said she wished she had a camera for a before and after picture, that he looked like a different horse. He sure felt like one! All that bad energy and worry just disappeared after a couple of minutes of his getting used to it again, and this time we really did float softly around in the trot. And it was easy peasy. Some people noticed and told me later the difference was so striking. I will be ordering the bit since Crissi didn't have one with her. I at first regretted not using the bit the whole time, I think we would've maybe gotten so much further, but now I know what riding that bad energy and worry feels like and can trust myself to recognize when something is off. Crissi told me I hit the jackpot when I found Apollo, she really liked him. Tim said he liked him so much because he reminded him of his mustang, Tico. I felt like crying hearing all of that, because its been such a long road! Of course, Apollo is not for sale, and I just love him because of his kind and willing nature. All the rest is icing on the cake. This clinic experience was so wonderful, and just as I imagined it to be. There's a lot more to write about, especially stories of the other riders and how well they all did. The funny thing was that I was one of two Pam's riding, I was Pam before lunch and the other was Pam after lunch. The first day she provided the entertainment when her horse was struggling and then my dismount was the entertainment the second day! Luckily, everything smoothed out and we all did well on the third, but geez, LOL! I am getting on the list to ride in a week-long next year, Rick and Lasell said it was phenominal! Next year, the 3 day clinics will be for people who haven't had a chance to ride with Mark yet, the waiting list is so long they are trying to be more fair.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Second day of the Clinic

Well, today went a little rougher than yesterday. I had a chance to provide entertainment to the people watching! I came in and we decided to build on the soft steps we were getting yesterday so I lead him to the mounting block where he circled around and just was unsettled. He stopped for a bit in the right spot, so I hopped on and he walked off very quickly, feeling like he was going to keep speeding up. So Mark told me to circle him, and as I did, my saddle slipped off to the side and I reached forward, grabbed Apollo around the neck and slid off the side, landing on my feet facing Apollo with my arms wrapped around his neck, LOL! I got many compliments afterward about how graceful it looked, but it sure didn't feel too good. Luckily he stopped as I came off.

So we tightened up the saddle and I asked for a lesson in getting him to line up and stand quietly at the mounting block. Mark had him doing well with it in 10 minutes and I was able to duplicate what he did. He told me that the trouble had started before we even got to the mounting block, that Apollo wasn't settled at all and was in charge. He said he was standing there watching me thinking "she's really going to get on that thing?" But I learned a good lesson, he told me someone has to be the adult. So after we got that working well, we started with the soft steps exercise but ended up concentrating on his backing again. Apollo really struggles with it, and I was struggling to keep him straight. We got some improvement and then it was time for lunch break.

It was brutally hot today, and we worked in the outside arena. I think that may have contributed to Apollo's unrest and his rushing off, as a barrel racer he was expected to go in the outside sand ring. I was pleased to see Rick W show up and got to talk to him some before riding, and Lasell also made an appearance after lunch. Great to catch up a bit with both of them!

After lunch, Crissi and I worked a bit more on the leading and having him stop when I do and not taking extra steps toward me. He also tends to look away to the sides, and it felt like he was still going, leaving me in his mind. At first Crissi didn't think that was a problem, but it was happening every time so we addressed that and it got better. I was happy to finally have enough feel to even be aware that that was happening. Maybe there's hope for me afterall! I learned that the clue he should respond to was my turning my head back toward him and by the time my body followed, he needs to be stopped. Also, I need to complete the turn an be ready to address anything coming up, not just turn around and plant my feet. After that, we continued with the backing, and then
concentrated on the softening going forward. He doesn't have any problem with that and we got some really nice, soft steps. He even continued to maintain it after I stopped asking for it toward the end. Before we stopped, we revisited the backing and he's still having some emotional struggle with it. Hopefully by tomorrow, he'll work through it and feel better about it. I'm having a hard time with drawing him back with me, I'm going to try counting backwards and see if that helps either of us.

All in all a good day, even though the heat was grueling. I really needed to learn the mounting block training and we have to get past the resistance to backing. Looking forward to tomorrow!

When riding, we control speed, direction and destination. When doing anything with the horse, we control energy, space and time. That's being a good leader.

Mark has thought a lot about it and now believes that distance is the key to horsemanship. The distance from our hands to the mouth, etc.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

First Day - Mark Rashid Clinic

I finished my first day riding in a clinic with Mark Rashid and Crissy McDonald, someone pinch me quick! I've been wanting to do this for so long and everything went just as I hoped it would!

Apollo is such a good boy. He trailered up without issue and settled right in. He's been eating, peeing and pooping normally, something that always puts a horseowner's mind at ease! Its been brutally hot, but he seems to be handling it well.

Looking this way......And that way.........

Figuring out he has an option to go backwards instead of forward all the time

Alan came up with me and stayed to watch me ride. He watched the riders before me come in with a plan and something to work on. He kept asking me what I was going to work on, I kept saying, I don't know! He'd follow me around, you don't know, aren't you supposed to know? Finally he said, I wish you'd find out how to stop him from running over me and pulling me around, so seeing as Apollo is supposed to be his horse (hahaha) that is what I asked Mark for help with. We've not been willing to just put up the boundary and let him run into it and work through it. It didn't take long before he realized he had the option to go backwards instead of always forward and I actually had time to get on and do some mounted work. Backing was one thing to clear up undersaddle too. I learned that I can pull on him, even with not much pressure because my hand was coming back to my body instead of setting a boundary and staying in one place, so always moving the boundary and confusing him. He learned to soften up and move back nicely. We tried the Rocking S snaffle bit on him as he is a little worried about the bit. He seemed to do better in it. When we went to work with Crissi, I used our bit and he was much quieter in it, so maybe he'll be okay in that one. We worked on getting Apollo stopped softly too. I alway count in my head the gait I want, 1,2,3,4 for walk, 1,2 for trot and 1,2,3 for canter. By the time we gallop, I'm just flying with him, LOL! Anyway, to get the stop, Mark had me just count the back footsteps, 1,2 - 1,2. You prepare to stop yourself, on 1 you breath out and stop and if the horse doesn't do it, on 2 you lift the rein. It took a bit for me to get this and I was still struggling a bit with the timing, etc. when we finished our session.

Not sure what I'm doing in this picture, but look how soft and rounded Apollo is!

At lunch break, I gave the big guy a bath and let him relax while I ate lunch. Tim H. said he loved my horse and if I ever wanted to sell him, let him know first! Lunch was great and then back to work with Crissi.

My time with Crissi was so fun. She lowered my stirrups quite a lot, no one else has said they were way too short! It was more comfortable for sure. Anyway, we started with the stopping softly and in a few short minutes, Apollo started stopping as soon as I started thinking 1,2! I waited for him to soften and he worked that out quite quickly, with some backing here and there when he got stuck, then we started softening to the bit, asking for just 3 soft steps at first. I learned I needed to use shorter reins than I'm used to to get and keep that connection right now. We ended with him able to take 5 soft steps and stopping softly. Crissi really liked him too, he's been a big hit here! He's such a nice, sweet horse, you just want to hug him! He's very smart too, and today some of the worry lines around his eyes disappeared. Crissi told me he had a whole different look on his face at the end than when we started. It was nice to see.  I learned to mentally soften my hands and offer him softness, it was pretty cool when I could do that and he went right with me! Another thing I realized was how important it is to stay focused and with him. I was trying to listen to a story that Mark was telling the next rider, people were laughing and it sounded like a great story, but as soon as I took my attention away from what I was doing, Apollo started offering different things like he was kind of lost and searching for me again. They were just little things, but I felt a definite difference and when I came back to him, he came right back to me! Can't wait for tomorrow to see what we learn together!

I wore this shirt the first day. My daughter got it after her drill team performed at the Rally. When Mark asked me with I wanted to do, I pointed to my shirt and said "Begin the Dance!"


Friday, June 11, 2010

Rhythm Riders

My youngest daughter, Macy, has joined the new drill team at Pony Club. They named themselves the Rhythm Riders and there are 4 teams of 2 or 8 riders all together. The first demo will be at the Dressage Rally this week-end, and if all goes well, they will do some exhibitions at a couple of fairs or other events this summer. The girls have worked really hard to learn this, and have done a great job. They will be riding to "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Now I'm a Believer", and "Rock Around the Clock". Its been fun watching them develop the routine and perfect their spacing and timing.

Thread the needle

Flank Turn

                                                                    Left to Left 
Paired Up



Saturday, May 8, 2010

Things to do on a Rainy Day

One thing I like to do on rainy days is visit some of my favorite blogs to see what new things have been posted. There are some fantastic writers, photographers, horse lovers and horse trainers out there that do a wonderful job of entertaining and educating through their blogs. Of course, I visit all of my friend's blogs, too, and they are listed on my page. There are bloggers on every subject you can imagine and are interested in, its fun to scout out new ones! The ones I've listed below are very active bloggers with something new to read almost every day, there are others I follow, but they tend to be more sporadically updated. Kind of like  mine, LOL!

Here are some that I love to read:

Mugwump Chronicles:
Author is Janet Huntington,  is also an equine artist:
She is a great story teller and keeps us on the edge of our seats. Her stories are written chapter by chapter and is hard to be patient waiting for the next part, especially since she has a couple of stories going at once and you never know which one will be next! Its worth going back and reading the completed stories of Sonita and Mort.

Life at Star's Rest:
Carmon is an artist who creates jewelry:,
She lives in a yurt in the mountains of New Mexico and owns mustangs and gray hounds! She takes wonderful photos, shares her life experiences and tells wonderful stories too. Very fun blog to follow!

The Pioneer Woman:
Ree is so talented in so many areas. The blog is full of beautiful photos, recipes, wicked funny stories, home schooling advise, its hard to know which section to visit first. I love her stories about the Bassett hound, Charlie! And the little punks, her kids! There are lots of tips on how to take/edit photos that are written so you can understand them, lots of recipes and beautiful photos you can spend hours looking at. And her sense of humor is wonderful. And we can't forget the Marlboro Man either!

The Daily Coyote:
Author of: "The Daily Coyote" and "Eating Gluten Free"
I listened to Shreve's book, "The Daily Coyote" on my MP3 player and never wanted it to end! Its a wonderful story, and it actually helped kick my butt into gear in deciding to sell the house and just go with what comes next! I love her philosophy on life and the love stories in the book.

Horse Training from the Ground Up:
I absolutely loved Carolyn's book, "Naked Liberty"! It was wonderful reading and gave me a better understanding of horse behavior. Her blog is very educational in the style of horsemanship she teaches and the videos of  her students with their horses trained with her methods are amazing.

 So what are some of YOUR favorite blogs? I'd love to check out the ones you all enjoy reading!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Funny Manifesting

In Law of Attraction or positive thinking circles, putting a desire out to the universe and getting a result is called manifesting. This happens to me all the time on big things and little. The girls are great at it! The more you notice how just thinking, "Gee, I'd like ______ and then later realizing that what you'd thought about or wished for has shown up, the more it happens.

I have a style of bra that I just love and fit great, so of course they've been discontinued. I bought quite a few, but they are starting to wear out, so I've been half-heartedly looking, but kind of dreading shopping for bras again. My mom works at a rummage sale shop for Miles Memorial hospital and we've gotten some great things from the sale and now the shop. Well, she's been picking up bras for the girls there when she finds them, and the other day she showed up with a bag of 5 or 6 new/like new bras. Looking at them, they were all in my size! Although they were all different, all but two fit great. That never happens! She only paid .50 cents a piece so gave them to me. Yippee, no bra shopping for me and a new selection of blues, pink and nude bras. I love manifesting! Thanks Universe for saving me from a dreaded experience, LOL!