Lesson Plan

Walter Zettl writes in his book Dressage in Harmony that you should always start with a lesson plan of what you wish to work on. He argues that if you really want to study and focus on learning, you must plan for what it is you wish to teach.

For years I took the 'willy nilly' approach to riding, often working on too many things and accomplishing very little. But now I am realizing that there is a flaw in the 'get on and ride' premise.

Although I haven't been planned in minute increments I am working on 'one step at a time', basically getting Tesoro's movements moderated so he moves only one step at a time, unlike his pre-disposition to go twenty steps at a time.

It is going amazingly well, today we sidepassed over poles and a couple of times I got only one step. Trust me when I say, that is an accomplishment (the one step).



Since I have been so absent from blogging, I have been absent from one of my favorite activites surrounding blogging-other people's blogs! I like to start with a blog I like and read their recommendation list (today I started with Julie's list) and sometimes I will start with Horse Bloggers, but I always find something good to read.

Today, I discovered Equitales which (from what I can tell), is a fiction book she is posting 1 chapter at a time on her blog. I read the first post (Chapter 5) just a few paragraphs in and thought-I need to start at the beginning.

So, fellow readers, start here to read the Prologue and enjoy away. Sheesh, I love the web.


How to tie your own rope halter

I have always liked the selection at Natural Horse Supply, but didn't realize they actually had published instructions on how to Tie Your How Rope Halter (and not just putting it on either). If I can ever figure it out, I'll post a video. The instructions are well written, but I have a feeling it is like riding a bike, it will take some time, but once you have it-VIOLA! Rope halters!

Oh how greatful!!

Yesterday I saw two TV shows that gave me a good quick reality check to help me realize how grateful I should be. One was shown on PBS at it was about animal rescue after Katrina. Oh how I cried watching those dogs being saved.

Then I watched Extreme Home Makeover Home Edition (seriously, I love that show), it was about a family whose house had burned down then three months later their oldest son was killed in a car accident. So many tears.

I am so grateful for everything I have, the love and health of my family and my animals being the most important. Every day is a day to be grateful.


5 Reasons to Watch someone else ride your horse

I recently saw a video of myself riding one of my horses and then got to watch A. (initals to protect the innocent) ride Zapa and remembered HOW GOOD it is to watch someone else ride your horses.

1. You can look for signs of lameness. If you have a horse who has had any lameness problems, sometimes you can get lulled into a false sense of soundness when you ride him/her all the time. Watching your horse being riding can really help you identify when there might be a problem.

2. It can stretch the potential of your horse. As riders, we are all limited by our own flaws either being too strong/soft, to patient/impatient and the full potential of our horse is thereby limited by those flaws as well. By watching A. ride Zapa, I realized he can be asked to go a certain direction, he can relax and boy is he a dream to watch.

3. You can find flaws in your riding. Many times I have watched a trainer ride my horse and they ride the horse SO MUCH BETTER, than I do. So, I know it isn't the capibility of the horse that is in question, it is the capibility of the rider that is the issue. The skill to properly engage the hind end of a Paso Fino while still limiting the forward impulsion is a balaning act of brilliance often poorly executed by those still learning.

4. You can find the flaws in your training. I watched two of my horses go through an obsticle course once and saw that neither of them would back through the poles. That is not a horse issue my friends, that is a training issue.

5. It can bring a rider great joy to ride your horse. Enough said.

It is important to make sure that you pair the horse and rider properly to make the experience positive for everyone, but every once in a while, get off your horse and watch someone else ride!

How to Buy a Used Horse Trailer

Equispirit offers a great newsletter on horse trailers and this one came to me recently.

What should I look for in a used trailer?

A used horse trailer should have all the same criteria that we have
listed for a new trailer, but in this case, the condition is an
added consideration.

* Make sure the floor and undercarriage are in good condition. This
goes for both wood and aluminum floors, and structural beams under
the floor.
* Check the suspension and tires.
* Know if the brakes work, and find out how much it will cost to fix
them if they don't.
* Uneven tire wear can signify some problem in the axle alignment or
balance of the trailer.
* Horse trailer tires seldom wear out, but dry rot is a common
* Sometimes the coupler can be worn inside, causing the coupler to be
too large for the ball.
* Check for rust or cracks in places where there is stress. Stress
fractures are a special consideration for all aluminum trailers.
Make sure the frame and welds are structurally sound.
* Sometimes surface rust on steel may be unsightly, but if it is not
in a place where it is supporting the integrity of the trailer it
could be all right.
* If repairs need to be made, ask yourself if you will be putting
more money into it than the trailer is worth.

Spending too much money for restoration may make the trailer
suitable for your own use, but do not expect to add that much value
to the trailer when you sell it.

To learn more about horse trailer safety go to
http://www.equispirit.com. Also check out our latest horse trailer
models, equipped with the finest safety features


Learning Horses RIDES!

Here is a video of me riding Moonlight Tesoro at the Friday night Demo during the Lynn Gallup Clinic I hosted in July. He is awfully fun to ride. I was trying to neck rein, but he was going a little to fast, notice we broke into the canter a few times in the corners.

It is fun to watch this video with the music, but I am starting to get very concerned about Tesoro's hocks. His movement doesn't look perfect in this video and I have seen him being ridden a TON, so I really know how this horse should move. The vet told me I should have X-Rays before I have his hocks injected again. Yikes!

And yes, he is really that shiny naturally. It was all the audience could talk about (ok, other things, but there were comments from at least 50% of the people)!


Paso Fino Fun Day at Reed's Ranch

I had a great time at the Paso Fino Fun Day at the Reed's Ranch. I came up on Friday and stayed with Bruce and Betty. Santana's owner Bette and I went out for a twilight trail ride, her FIRST on Santana! Yeehaw!

Tesoro and Santana were not happy about being displaced so when it came my time to ride on Saturday, well, it was a bit of a disaster. I did get Tesoro to do the poles and barrels, only when no one was watching. I'm thinking I forgot to breathe when there was a stopwatch! Oh well, more work to keep me busy this winter. One of these days I will beat Mariann (oohh, Trote y Galope video coming soon).

I think everyone had a great time. I got some amazing pictures and I made this little video of everyone participating, I hope you enjoy!


Horses of Central Park

In May of this year, I had the opportunity to visit Central Park in New York for the first time. New York itself was as I expected. Loud, dirty, crowded and (the unexpected) foul smelling. When I actually left the office on time for my last evening in New York, I tried hard to make it to the various tourist spots, but the one I wanted to see the most was Central Park.

There were two reasons I was dying to see the green oasis in the center of madness. The first is obvious, being from Oregon, I needed some green. Concrete buildings, the flashing lights of times square are never as exciting as a beautiful tree, the smell of a rose or the squealing of small children as the frolic in nature. But the second reason is also obvious, I knew it was there that I could find horses.

I made my way through the subway (will only a small amount of confusion) and when I emerged from the humid dungeon NYC calls a subway, I immediately saw trees. It was the happiest I had been all week. It only took me moments to spot my first horse, a statue atop the entrance to the park. The live ones were not far away, all lined up on the street of Central Park West, the name I had previously only heard in Law and Order.

In my hour exploration of the park, I took a few pictures, watched the carriages and really understood the term ‘Beast of Burden’. These horses working day in and day out on concrete in the hot weather, eating hay thrown on scaling cement were not the same as the pampered, blanketed and slightly spoiled equines that live in my home.

I was reminded of the evil that is told in the story of Black Beauty that I remember to this day, even though I can recall the plot (or details) of very few books, I remember how Black Beauty was worked, almost to death on the streets of London. Was that indeed the story?

I didn’t want a carriage ride through Central Park. Instead I wanted a trailer so I could transport these horses to a place of rest. It was a beautiful spring day when I was there. Last week it was more than 90 degrees in New York. That is not a job I would wish for any horse.

As I progressed through the park I found Carousel horses, just not very big ones and I couldn’t tell if the Carousel was still in operation or not. Despite my concern for the horses, it was a beautiful green sea and there were moments when it was so quiet, I just heard the trees.

As I made it to the Met about halfway through the park and took a cab to my next tourist destination, the only thing I was missing was a mounted police officer.

I am back in New York this week and I will probably visit the park again, maybe this time with a few carrots.


Silly Girl!

This video was taken at the Evergreen Gaited Showcase of a friend's horse. After she was done with her classes for the day, her owner would tell her she was done. If you approached her and asked her if she wanted to go for a ride, this was her reaction.

Where in the world is Learning Horses

OK, so I get it, I have been absent from the blogging world. Summer is meant for riding, not blogging and I have been taking full advantage of that.

So, to bring you up to speed:

In early July I went to the Evergreen Gaited Horse Show. Tesoro and I only rode in two classes and I was really pleased with his performance (minus one particular behavior that we will work on), but I came down with a terrible cold, so that combined with very warm temperatures kept me out of classes for the rest of the weekend.

When I came back home from the show I was on VACATION! Shortly into my vacation Lynn Gallup came from North Carolina for the Paso Fino Horsemanship clinic I put on at 4CJ Stables (you could not ask for a better host!). A great time was had by all, including the 1 Rocky Mountain Horse owner. Lynn headed back to her farm in NC fairly unharmed, but already filled with ideas for next year. She is off to Alaska next!

Of course there were some trail rides and lessons thrown in here and there, by the time I went back to work, I was ready for a horse break!

August started off with a bang, I judged the Horse 'n Around Trail Competition and Fisher 4-F Ranch. Tesoro and I did novice, completing only 20 of the 31 obstacles, making me realize all the obstacle work I have done with my other horses, I have never done with him. Zapa completed 30 out of 31, in the in-hand competition, but he didn't place. We did finally get him to do the obstacle he refused, but I ran out of time. It was WATER for crying out loud (something that has not been a problem)! The whole weekend was a blast and Julie made AMAZING prizes. You can still play around on the course for the next month or so, its is only $10 per horse, but please call Julie first to arrange a time. Elisia and I went yesterday and GREAT NEWS-Soda went fairly easily into the water! Look at Soda and Elisia jump!

It was a blast and Craig and Julie are amazing hosts. DARLENE is awesome, she gets so much credit for making it all happen. Here is a video of Precious and I going through the trench. And yes, it is as steep as it looks.

On Saturday I am headed to Reed's Ranch for the Reed's annual Paso Fino Fun Day. After that I am taking Santana home after 1 year. It is hard to believe he has been with me for that long and I am excited for his owner to get to enjoy him. Luckily he will be living at Heavenly Ranch, so I can visit anytime!

Marshall has gotten very big and Jennifer of Spotlite Dals has taken him to show for the next couple of weeks. It is awfully quiet at home, but Steinbeck is getting some good family time.

And, of course, my company has been acquired by Yahoo! and I seem to get busier every day with new customers, but job security is good!

The horses are doing well and I am looking forward to working as much as possible with Zapa over the winter. I will be mostly be riding him and Tesoro and giving Precious the occasional tune up. She is pretty happy as a lesson horse, but did remember some of her teachings when we did a little schooling last week. I am looking forward to just having three!

I also got a new truck, so I am SAFE to trailer again. The gas mileage is terrible, but it is a F250 and I can now go faster than a crawl up a hill. Hooray!

On a final note, we have made an offer on property that includes a barn and an arena. My dream is coming true. We could possibly remodel the stall side of the barn to accommodate 13 stalls, but will most likely use several of those spaces for tack, wash rack, etc. There is still a lot pending, so I'll fill you all in (with pictures) when the deal is final. Uriah and I will still live in town, but it will be great to have our own place AND. . .we can trail ride (for miles) off of the property. You can count on me for more clinics and events.

So that is the Learning Horses Summer. Remember when I told you what I would be doing this summer? A few things have changed, but the theme remains the same. Ride, ride, ride.

I'll be back posting again soon.