Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Taking Pen to Paper

When you put pen to paper you turn your thoughts into something tangible. You can actually see it, touch it, and even smell it if you want to. Your goal is no longer just a thought! It becomes something, what motivates us and creates a gut feeling inside. - Goal Setting Course, Step 5

I should have blogged about this yesterday.  But yesterday was my birthday and it was a whirlwind day.  More on that later . . .

I have a very pretty notebook I bought for some reason or another.  I have a bit of a fetish about office supplies.  I love pens, notebooks, binders and I have a special weakness for post-it notes.  So I'm going to dig out that notebook and use it for writing down my goals.

A couple people have questioned my initial goal of "excellence."  I appreciate the thoughts, I really do.  I'm not sure how this is going to play out and I'm sure there will be tons of adjustments along the way.  But what I want, more than anything, is to be excellent with my horses.  What excellence means for me, I'm not wholly sure.  I have no professional or competitive aspirations.  I just want to be the best I can, under my circumstances, for Cricket and Bleu.

I don't think this is so much a journey of horsemanship as it is one of self-discovery.  I want to see where the path will take me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Set a realistic date when you plan to accomplish your goal. Don’t commit to “as soon as possible”! If you don’t have a specific deadline for your goal, you won’t have a sense of urgency and you’ll start to put things off. What’s the hurry, if you don’t have a deadline? ~ Goal Setting, Step 4

Uh-oh!  How do you even begin to set a deadline for excellence?  I reviewed Step 1 to make sure I didn't misinterpret the intial goal-setting.  Nope.  Don't think so.  So how do I go about putting this goal on a time table?

I cannot reconcile attaching my goal of excellence in horsemanship with any tangible thing.  I've long held that attaining "level 3 in Parelli" doesn't mean a damn thing, in and of itself.  When you boil it down, a colored string isn't much different than a satin ribbon.  It means that at one time, by some means, someone thought you could do a certain task or exhibit a determined skill set to a particular criteria.

So how to proceed?  I need a deadline.  May 22, 2011.  I believe, if I go look at his papers, this is Moose's birthday.  It's also the one year anniversary of Bleu coming into my life.  It seems like a long way off but on that day I'll evaluate my progress towards my goal of excellence.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


An open and positive mind is not only open to ideas on how to improve his or her life, he or she is actually using the mind to control his or her decision so that he or she can achieve better results in life. A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and success. When the mind anticipates these things, that person will make decisions based on these expectations. ~ Goal Setting Guide, Step 3

It's more than just a little bit of "I think I can, I think I can."  It's throwing self - heart, mind, soul and body - into the fray.

I took a few lessons from a natural classical dressage instructor.  He would explain what he wanted to do and I would often reply, "I'll try."  His response, "Don't try, just do it."

Of course, with the horse, we reward the slightest try. But horses are more honest than people.  Often, when we use the word "try," it's with a hint of premeditated failure.   What do I mean?  Think about it.  When you try to do something, you've set up an "out" if it doesn't work.  "I tried to ride three hours a week but life got in the way."  "I tried to learn to trim my horse's feet but I just don't have the knack."

In some ways it stops us from being honest and up-front with the excuses, exceptions and little things we allow to creep between us and the achievement of a goal.

Yesterday I threw try out the window.  I didn't try to rasp my horse's feet, I just picked up the foot and took a few swipes.  It's not perfect but I actually did it.  I didn't just try to ride Bleu bareback, I put the pad on her, tested out a few things on the ground and jumped on.

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Creating Desire

Take a moment to think about the goal you’ve set for yourself.

How committed are you to achieving this goal?

Under what conditions would you give up?

What if you wanted them so badly that you knew with absolute certainty that you would absolutely, positively never ever give up?

~ Goal Setting Course, Step 2
So is this why I never seem to achieve the success I want?

In one of her posts about a Kelly Sigler clinic, my friend Tenley talked about a book called Play to Win.  In it, the author speaks about the difference between playing to win and playing NOT TO LOSE.

From the author's website:
Our lives are adventures. At work, at home, and in our communities, we undertake often-difficult endeavors in which the outcomes are unknown, where success and fulfillment are possible - not guaranteed - but only at the cost of working hard, taking risks, and sometimes even facing danger.

On any adventure we have a choice. We can try to simply survive it - clinging to the hope we will get to the end unscathed - or we can try to thrive, allowing the adventure to grow us in ways we could not have imagined when we began. Clearly, the objective of the adventure of our lives is not simply to survive ("Whew, I got to my death safely!!") but to thrive in it and grow.
For too long, I've been playing not to lose.  It's time for a change.

If you greatly desire something, have the guts to stake everything on obtaining it. ~ Brendan Francis

Monday, July 26, 2010

Setting the Goal

The very first step of goal setting is to, first, determine what you want at the end of the journey. That is your ultimate destination. Ask yourself…in this lifetime, what do you want to achieve? Really want to achieve? - Goal Setting Course, Step 1
Since I've decided to set some goals for myself, I may as well do it with as much chance of success as I can.  I started reading the Goal Setting Course.  I won't really have a chance to get started with the horses until next week.  So step-by-step, I'm going through the course.

Lesson 1: Setting the Goal

The goal is simple ~ To become excellent with my horses.

It's what I want more than anything else.  I've been too focused on little things, but this is the big picture.  It's not about what I can do, or what anyone else can see or what color string I have.  It's about being, in each moment, the best I can be and constantly pushing the boundaries of best.


Ugh!  I have completely lost my focus.  I've looked under the dirty laundry but have not searched the couch cushions.  Surely it's there somewhere.  Or maybe it's off gallivanting with my motivation.  That sounds likely.

I'm going to have to write this week off as a bit of a wash.  My birthday is on Friday and my brother and his family are in town for a week.

I have set my goals and re-written them a little.  Maybe they are a little lofty for a start, maybe not.  I don't feel as if they are.  So I'm going to take a little time this week to get myself organized to start.

I've spent little time with the horses besides feeding and turning out.  I spent a little time scratching Cricket yesterday.  And that's about the extent of my horse time.  Oh well, sometimes that's just the way it goes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Goal Setting

It's time to set some goals for my horsemanship journey.  Lately my time is being consumed by a whole lot of nothing and I find everything getting just a little stagnant.  Time to throw open the windows and get some fresh air in here!

In googling "goal setting", I came across the following site: Goal Setting Guide.  The site offers some wonderful stuff from motivation all the way to a multi-step "goal setting course."  I think I'm going to have to spend some time wandering around.

Back to the point.  Goals.  My goal is to set some goals.  Sounds like something a good procrastinator would do!

Since Blogger now has this neat feature to add pages, I'm going to add a GOALS page.  I want to work out monthly goals for both horses and at the end of each month, relfect on my progress and set goals for the coming month.

Some ideas . . .
  • teach something brand new using only clicker training
  • gain confidence rasping her feet
  • improve freestyle riding
  • work with shimming my saddle for improved fit
That sounds like a good start - something in my horsemanship and something in my horse husbandry.  Cool!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Grazing Game

On her blog, Sharon Foley has a post entitled, Grass - the Carpet of Motivation.  I loved this post!

Essentially this is a point to point pattern, using the grass as both point and motivation.  I've done this for years with Cricket.  The game is a wonderful mix of love, language and leadership.  It can turn an ordinary undemanding time session into a great leadership lesson.  It also helps convince your horse that you can have some kick-butt ideas.

There are no rules and no right way to do it.  Sharon uses clicker training, I used my PNH games.  I'll probably try this with the clicker to see if we can make better progress with it for under saddle work.

I've built this game into a great stick-to-me, causing Cricket to canter with me to get to the next grazing spot.  I've used it to motivate her open area liberty, even to the point of canter circles with change of direction.

It's a perfect rapport builder - love, language and leadership in equal doses.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cookies, Cricket and Connection

I haven't actually taken much time to do anything with either horse.  I wish I could blame the weather but we've had some pop-up thunderstorms that have made it almost down-right pleasant in the evenings.

After my less than stellar ride on Sunday, I've been focused mainly on connection with Cricket.  For whatever reason, she sees no point in making any effort whatsoever to come to me.  For any reason.

I'm just a smidge jealous of anyone who's horse comes to them with enthusiasm.  Any romantic visions of my horse galloping from lush fields just to be near me has been summarily shattered and I believe Cricket is rolling in the ashes of that pipe dream.  Oh well, not taking it personally.  That is going to change.

Yesterday, Allison and I were out amongst the horses checking on Dillon's leg.  With the exception of one, all the horses were milling at the entrance to the runs.  Three guesses who wasn't there.

I called to her once or twice but apparently it is true that grass makes a horse deaf.  No worries, I gave cookies to Bleu and loved on her a little.  It must have finally dawned on Cricket that free access to grass does not trump fleeting access to cookies.  She came right to me, was very respectful of Bleu and I proceeded to give both horses cookies.

With my last cookie, I asked Cricket for a circle (no halter, no stick - not a thing with which to back up my request.  She complied and when I asked for the trot, she was pretty responsive and gave me a soft trot.  I disengaged her, gave her the cookie and a scratch and walked off.  She followed me all the way back to the barn.

Hmm, how interesting.  What part of that caused her to want to follow me?

Oh, a note about Bleu . . . Monday Dillon got momentarily hung in the fence (that's what happens when a stoopid gelding rolls right next to the fence line).  He panicked, the fence snapped and all the horses went a little squirrely.  In the midst of Dillon running/limping around with an "I meant to do that" head twirl, my sweet Bleu ran right up to me.  Oh that was precious.

Gearing Up

Being the consumate LBI, I cannot start any new adventure without reading and thinking and planning and plotting.  I have decided to revisit clicker training with Cricket. A recent post on Emma Kline's blog and some encouragement from my friend Clare have sort of kicked me into gear.

I have dabbled with clicker training, never ready to fully commit.  I started reading Karen Pryor's, Don't Shoot the Dog and I bought and perused Alexandra Kurland's books on equine clicker training.  I played around with it and had some fun and some success.  But I just wasn't ready.

Last night I started re-reading (for the umpteenth time!) Sharon Foley's book, Getting to Yes.  I first heard of Sharon from a good friend and fellow PNH student who was combining CT and PNH.  I "met" Sharon through an interent clicker group and actually had some lovely conversations with her.  Sharon's approach combines classical dressage, natural horsemanship and clicker training.  Three of my favorite subjects all rolled into one.  How cool is that!

I came across Sharon's blog and started looking through some of the archives.  In her post, The Paradigm Shift, she writes:
The rule, that applies no matter what you are training, is behavior that is rewarded will tend to occur more often. All trainers depend on the horse finding doing what you want more desirable than not doing it. Some people may use the method of forcing the horse to “want” to cooperate by making not-cooperating more unpleasant. This puts the emphasis on the “wrong” thing. Clicker training turns the equation around and looks instead only at the goal, the right thing. By giving the right thing the most attention and reinforcement you simply get more of the right thing.

Sounds like a damn fine idea to me.  In the above post and in her book, Sharon uses a quote from Bill Dorrance.  I've heard part of it from Pat but Bill's twist just seems to be more about where I'm at right now.

Some fellas will say, make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult, and that may work for them. But, I say, why not just make the right thing obvious? - Bill Dorrance

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Directions

Harmony is bringing together two or more different elements to create something pleasing and balanced. It creates something more than simply the sum of the individual parts.

Out of a harmonious life flows balanced horsemanship. Balanced horsemanship creates harmony between horse and human. In this there is synergy and synchronicity.

Welcome to the new vision and direction of my horsemanship journey. After much deliberation, I have decided it is time for a change. Not simply in the title of my blog but in my horsemanship.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein.

I have come to the realization my current journey has been one riddled with insanity. I have been trying to create partnership with Cricket using the same approach, the same techniques and the end result is the same - discord, cacophony, and imbalance.

I plan to continue my Parelli journey with Bleu. I still have my goal of achieving my Level 3. I want to rediscover the joy in playing with Cricket. Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost the spark with my sweet mare and it hurts my heart to see her disinterest.

I am excited about the possibilities. A little afraid, but that’s what happens when you step outside your comfort zone.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Balancing Act

I have learned that when I am out of integrity with my soul then I am out of balance with my potential. ~ Malathy Drew
Wow!  I discovered this quote on Lauren Lee's Women's U blog.  I've been talking to Lauren about horse stuff and I just realized she's the same Lauren Michelle blogged about in a recent post.  It's such a small world.

So I popped over to Lauren's site and was hit, not literally but quite figuratively, over the head with the above quote.

I feel my life is out of balance.  I am unmotivated and uninspired.  And I don't like it.  But I'm not sure what to do about it.  Though my remarkably clean kitchen was a tonic to my troubled soul, the chaos that rules the rest of my life significantly weakens the effect.

I need to find balance.  I need to find the peace that gives me space to be who and where I want to be.

I am confused about the direction of my horsemanship.  Clare has posted her thoughts (here's the first, here's the second) on horse/human relationship and it's got me thinking.  Just what is it that I want from my relationship with Cricket and Bleu?  And how do I best achieve that over-arching goal?

I think it's time for some honest soul searching.

Teeter Totters and Tug of War

Yesterday I played with both horses.  I felt like I was back on my grade school playground.  Playing with Bleu is a teeter totter - balancing respect and rapport; love, language and leadership.  Anything with Cricket is a death match tug-of-war.

Bleu's circle game continues to improve.  At the trot, it's more and more a circle than an egg or amoeba.  Her upward transitions to the canter are getting less emotional and slightly more balanced.

We've been playing with one of my bridges to simulate trailer loading and she seems to be getting more confident each time.  We also started some traveling circle game and while she was confused at first, she quickly figured out her responsibility to keep the circle going.

I had the opportunity to work with a real trailer so I decided to see how she would handle it.  Being the super obedient RBI that she is, she jumped right in and just trembled.  I played with yo-yo game, me in the trailer and her stepping in (2 feet, then 4 feet) and backing out.  We played yo-yo out of the trailer, approach and retreat.  She was able to relax with her head mostly in the trailer and I called that a win.

Later in the day, I went back out to ride with my friend Allison.  I decided to ride Cricket.  The ride wasn't that bad considering I hadn't been on her (except goofing around bareback & bridless) in over2 months.

We opened the gate from inside the arena, exited, held the gate while Allison and Dillon came out and then closed the gate.  I would say it's her BEST gate session ever.

Out in the paddock area, she was okay.  Leaving the barn, not so much.  It wasn't that she was afraid or wanting to go back to the barn.  If I wanted left, she wanted right.  It felt like argument for the sake of argument.  We meandered our way out on to the neighbor's property.

The ride was very low key and I spent my focus on "permission to graze."  I tried to see things from Cricket's perspective - she's been cooped up on her dry lot all day and I hadn't done much with her in 2 months.  So I kept my expectations reasonable.

Cricket did well.  All things considered.  But everything was a discussion, everything a negotiation.  That mare sees little to no point in anything I ask from her.

After feeding everyone, Allison and I turned them out and I stood in the pasture and had an absolute love fest with Cricket.  I found an itchy spot on her shoulder that caused her to stretch her neck, twitch her nose and roll her tongue.

I think it's time to reevaluate my approach with Cricket and get back to a stronger focus on developing Bleu.  I have camp in a few months and I would like to have Bleu going a little better than we are now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's Too Darn Hot

Excuse me, but holy crap it's hot!  I know this should come as no surprise.  After all it's mid-July and I live in the South.

I swear this is the only place on the planet where you can actually have 100% humidity.  Every where else they call that rain.  Not here.

It hits you like a brick wall the moment you step out the front door.  It's almost suffocating.  And it totally negates any chance for outdoor activity.

The poor ponies are miserable, especially Cricket.  Bleu seems to be tolerating it better as I don't see her puddled in sweat.  The parts of Cricket not covered in fresh sweat are sticky and slightly matted from dried sweat.  My poor baby.

So it sort of goes without saying that we aren't doing much.

I had the farrier (Natural Balance) out on Wednesday and talked to him about keeping both horses barefoot.  I'm not sure how Cricket will tolerate this.  It will be our third (or fourth or whatever) attempt at barefoot.  Bleu will go in shoes the next go 'round in preparation for my fall camp at Carol Coppinger's place in Mt. Juliet.

Until we get a cool spell (i.e. under 95 degrees, less than 95% humidity), I'm reduced to treating Cricket's itchies and spraying the tiny separation in Bleu's feet.  Wow, we're rockin' and rollin' now!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Acceptance

Harmony is a term arising from music and it describes the process of playing or singing two or more different notes at the same time to form chords.

Usually this produces sounds which are pleasing to hear and so the term is also used in a non-musical sense to describe people or a system working together in a pleasing way.

Two different notes coming together to form something pleasing.  Cricket and Bleu.

I appreciate all the alliterative suggestions for renaming my blog.  Honestly, I'm not a terribly alliterative person.  And I often wonder how successful this program would have been if Mr. Parelli had been born into this world as Wayne or Dwight.  But I digress . . .

What I want is harmony - difference coming together in a pleasing way.  Whether that means progressing with my two very different horses to create something beautiful in our relationship or if it means exploring beyond Parelli and finding congruence with other approaches.

So here we go, finding harmony . . .

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's In A Name?

What's in a name?  A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.

But it's time for a change.  A name change, that is.

With the addition of Bleu to my little family, the blog title Violating Principle #7 no longer fits.  I have a lot to offer Bleu and she, in turn, has a lot to offer me.  And all of that will give me more to offer Cricket.

So it's time for a change.  Obviously I want to keep "Principle 7" in the title but I need a new adjective.

Any ideas?  Surely there are some good wordsmiths out there.

Day Whatever . . .

I feel... thin. Sort of stretched, like... butter scraped over too much bread. - Bilbo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings

abandon, abdicate, back out, bail out, bow out, chicken out, cop out, cut loose, desert, discard, discontinue, ditch, drop, drop out, duck, dump*, dust*, flake out, fly the coop, give up the ship, kiss goodbye, leave, leg it, let go, opt out, pull out, quit, run out on, screw, ship out, stop, storm out, surrender, take a powder, take a walk, throw over, vacate, walk out on, wash hands of, withdraw, yield.

In other words, I give.  I simply cannot commit to my 30 day program.

I had a fairly major meltdown this weekend.  I came to the conclusion that I am simply exhausted.  There are too many pulls on my time and resources and I simply cannot handle it.

So I'm cutting back, scaling back and in other words just learning to say, "No."

After pulling myself out of the ashes of my crash, I spent good time with both horses on Sunday.  I gave Cricket a medicated shampoo bath in the hopes of alleviating whatever is causing her to rub raw spots on her neck.  She stood like a champ for her bath, even when the hose was on her face and between her ears.

Later the same day, when it was cooler and the humidity slightly less oppressive, I returned to the barn to play with Bleu.

We did a little Touch It on the 12' and she is quite eager to find her cookies on the different obstacles in the arena.  I had Ed move one of my bridges into the arena so we played with that in simulation for trailer loading.  I need to be diligent about this as my plan is to take Bleu to fall camp and I want the trip to be as uneventful as possible.

I switched to the 22' and we played with some Figure 8 and circles.  For the F8, I just want her to find the draw as she comes around the cone - she tends to zone out a little when in motion.  On the circle game, she offered more relaxation and less anxiety.  I asked for a little bit of canter with some "mirror me" and her transitions were racing and somewhat unbalanced but relatively unemotional.  I think she's starting to figure out I want an upward transition and not just more speed.

I saddled her and rode her.  There were other horses in the arena and though none were her pasture-mates, I think she felt a little more secure.  We played with gait and direction, whoa and go.  She gave me some good, sustained trotting and I jumped off and called it a win.

Yesterday I mustered enough energy to go feed.  When turning them out, Bleu paused in her gateway and I came in to scratch her.  For the very first time since she came into my life, she let down her reserve and thoroughly enjoyed the scratches and attention.  That just made my day.

I'm still committed to playing with them both - on some level, even if that's only friendly game.  I just need the breathing room to just be.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 11-17: Trying to Catch Up

I promise I've been doing more than I've been writing about. Honest.

The only two days, not counting my official week off, in which I did nothing with the horses was Day 14 and Day 16. Sunday I just didn't fee like it. Tuesday I was at work until after 11pm.

The time is all mashing together and I've slept since all this happened and each day I get older and it feels as if my memory gets squishier.

I've been trying to focus on short, provocative sessions with Cricket. We've been playing with the F8 pattern since my return from the Columbus Parelli Across America event. I cannot say the success has been phenomenal. In fact, session three seemed to take a few steps backwards. Not too worried, however. It's light years better than it has been. Maybe after this seven day program I'll learn another key and the next time we pick it up, it will be even better.

On the days I didn't play with her, I've tried to spend some rapport time with Cricket. Her new ritual is to find me after I've opened all the gates to turn out all the horses and hang back for some scratchy time. I love this part of my day. I love seeing that she needs me for something.

I've been playing more with Bleu, working to build our relationship and partnership. Overall, I believe she's beginning to see me as more of a leader. She seems less reluctant to exit her stall and enter the arena. She seems less concerned about leaving the herd.

I took her on a trail walk with the barn owner. She did great until she realized just how far away we were. I'm sure we inadvertently crashed through a threshold or two. But I'm not wholly convinced Bleu knows how to honor her own thresholds so that's now on our "to do" list. I played with her until her focus came back to me and we headed back tot he barn with enthusiasm but relative calm.

A day or two later, I took her out again. With strange horses and closer to dusk. She hit a major threshold not too far from the barn. We worked it out, taking the time it took, and when she was calm and interested in grazing, I turned her around and took her right back to the barn.

We've been playing some in the arena - balance on the circle, sideways and feet on obstacles. She's become a champ with the tarp and we're working out the pedestal. I think I need to figure out how to get my bridges moved into the arena so we can start with something a little easier.

The other day she offered a jump and then I sent her over a single down barrel in the arena and she sailed right over. She's such a good and obedient girl!

Yesterday it was just too damn hot to do anything. It's been dry (as in no rain) but wickedly humid here. Today our temps, with the heat index, should top out around 105. So when I went out yesterday, I just walked both horses down to the other barn to hose them off and cool them down. I let them both graze while I just watched. They are so different. Bleu grazed the same 20' area while Cricket blazed a trail for the back of the paddock.

As I prepped feed, Bleu heeded the "call of the feed cans" and brought herself back to the barn. I had to fetch Ms. Independent - she knows she's going to get fed so why bother coming in when she knows I'll go get her. The nice thing, despite being on lush grass, when I called to her, she picked up her head and came to me. At a walk, but at least an enthusiastic walk.

Don't know how much I'll do this weekend. With the predicted highs, it's just not safe to over-exert the horses or myself. Who's stupid idea was it to do a 30 day program in the middle of summer?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 10: Got a Good Thing Going

Yesterday was my first actual play session with Cricket and Bleu in over a week. It was worth the wait!

I started with Cricket and the dreaded Figure 8. Our perpetual Achilles heel. In a very direct line and predatory manner, I decided Cricket would do the Figure 8. In a very oppositional and prey animal manner, Cricket decided I was not to be trusted.

She was super-laggy on the feel of the halter coming forward. Not normal for her. My first thought was "we're gonna' fix this right now." By whacking at her to come forward. Hmm, not the best strategy for my LBI.

I decided, instead, to adopt the "take two days" pose and just held the lightest feel on the rope. She wasn't pulling, she just wasn't following the feel. I waited. She waited. Finally, she just stepped into me. I turned away and allowed her lots of time to lick and chew.

At the Columbus event, Linda talked about the focus of tag the middle should be on the ground not on the horse. Hmm, how interesting. I was tagging the ground with the focus being on missing the horse when in fact it should have been on hitting a particular spot behind her. At first I didn't think this subtle shift in focus would matter. But I was game to try - nothing else has worked.

So we start the pattern. Slowly. Because she's LBI and that's how we start everything. Just when Cricket got this "oh boy, another figure 8" attitude, I picked a specific hoof print in the sand and just as her butt cleared that spot, I tagged the ground with intention and focus.

YOWZER! My little mare zipped out around the cone. The best part - she tried to be offended but because my energy and focus had absolutely nothing to do with her, she just couldn't be upset. As Cricket would come around, I'd get a strong focus on a specific point in the middle of the pattern and I'd build the intensity to strike just as she passed that point. It wasn't too long until she was offering a canter to get out of the way. No pinned ears, no swishing tail, no crabby mare attitude.

We stopped when I felt her to be really motivated and I just turned her out to graze in the paddock.

Next was Bleu. Right off the bat, I was very pleased with how confidently she left her stall and walked toward the arena gate. Usually she freezes when I take her away from her herd. Not this time. She walked easily into the arena but when I went to close the gate, she wanted to come out. No worries. Approach and retreat. Squeeze game in and out until she could stand confidently in the arena.

We continued with Touch It on the 12' line, using cookies on barrels and the pedestal to help her follow my focus. We're working with the feet on the pedestal but she's still a little hesitant. At least twice, during the entire session, she offered to place a foot (or two) with confidence and we walked away on those super tries.

I introduced the Figure 8, using the 22' to give her drift and room to balance herself. She sort of zones out when in motion and I want her to check back in more often. I used a Z1 interrupt to help her think back to me. I'm not sure we made big strides (well, she did, with those long legs) but I feel we ended with more connection than we started.

Circling on the 22' was interesting. I want to get the rhythm, relaxation and connection. She's pretty rhythmic and she doesn't entirely loose connection but there is little or no relaxation in her movement. At one point she blasted into a canter and was entirely too emotional about the whole thing. I was pleased, however, because we have been working on canter and I feel she was offering it, albeit in a RB way, trying to find the right answer. I tried to be polite and passive yet not push her off the cliff.

Interesting thing, she seems to prefer to dwell in front of me, rather than behind. How interesting! Cricket likes my back - taking all the pressure off. Bleu will maneuver herself to be more in front of me before she releases her adrenaline.

I was very pleased with both horses. Tonight will be low-key as I probably won't have much time. I'm hoping to get a good mix of play and undemanding time this holiday weekend