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

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Our Liberty

I managed to tape our liberty session tonight.  It wasn't as spectacular or energetic as it has been.  Cricket was fairly low key at the start.  I think I was a little preoccupied with the camera.

The clip is edited and annotated.  Of course some of the best stuff happened outside the field of view.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I wish I had Cricket's original horsenality charts.  Honestly, I don't even remember if I properly charted her.  I do remember thinking that everything about the left-brain introvert was patterned directly on my mare.

Following are the charts I did for her this weekend.  I've done both the horsenality and the positive attributes charts.

I find it fascinating how her chart has rotated about 45° clockwise.  Her original charts were very heavy LBI with a few dots in RBI and a few in LBE.  Now she's moving more into LBE and has a few dots in LBI and RBE.  Hmm, how interesting!

Looking at the positive attributes, she's all over the map.  Pretty cool!

The thing I need to remember is even though she's charting LBE, she's innately LBI.  It's not about making her into something she's not; it's not about staying where I'm comfortable.  It's about understanding that, although she's displaying more extroversion, she's still an introvert.  I need to be aware that I don't use and abuse the beautiful energy she's offering.  I need to keep my eyes open to those moments when she needs a little extra time to think or when her confidence waivers.


It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. ~C. S. Lewis

I think both Cricket and I are emerging from our shells.  And we are learning to fly.

The journey to my green string was huge for me.  Taking the time to build my confidence and chip away at my fear was a long process.  It's not finished.  There are still moments where I feel my anxiety rise.  That's okay.  I've come this far; I can keep going forward.

Cricket is becoming the horse I never imagined I could own.

Our session on Saturday was mind-blowing.  I love the development in Cricket's magnetism.  I've stopped screaming at her with exaggerated phases and I've started keeping an eye on her confidence.  I've started allowing her to initiate games and I've stopped feeling the need to manage every step.

She left once.  But that led to the coolest part of the day.  I brought her to me at the canter.  First. Time. Ever.

We had tons of fun.  Her circle game is back.  Including transitions and change of direction.  We had a little trouble with the FLC from right to left but she nailed it going right to left.  And she maintained the canter in the new direction.

We played with some sideways and she gave me a few hop-canter steps going down the arena wall.

Riding didn't start so well.  Not sure where we broke down but she seemed mad at me.  I think my energy was off before I even got on and we were just out of sync.  It took us awhile to find a rhythm but eventually things started to harmonize.

I played with her canter on the question box.  I learned, very quickly, that I'm not ready to ask her for flying lead changes under saddle.  I need to go back to lower gaits and work out the mechanics of my body and her body.  It doesn't matter that it didn't work out - we played with it and she was so patient and tolerant.

We did a little bit of jumping and my friend helped me find better position and the last time over the cross-rail felt so good and balanced.

When I got home, I charted Cricket's horsenality.  I converted the PDF horsenality charts into a JPG image so I can just chart her on my computer and then upload.  I'll save that for another post . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Sometimes the best sessions are the ones we don't plan.  Where we just play and we just BE.

With Cricket, those sessions are rare.  She is so full of her own ideas that without a plan, I usually don't stand a chance.  Monday was one of those precious moments.

Cricket came in from the field wet.  I had an idea to play with emergency dismount but sitting on a soggy pony wasn't my idea of fun.  I turned her into the arena while Bonnie cleaned stalls.  I thought maybe we could work a little on laying down.  Wet Pony + Sand = Roll.

Cricket had other ideas.

One of the best ways to get her feet moving without breaking the connection is Squeeze Game.  That mare will canter a squeeze and easily disengage when any other send will elicit a bolt.  I sent her over the small jump and she just sailed right over and looked at me as if to say, "what next?"  So I upped the ante by asking her to jump the cross-rail and then a single down barrel.  Piece of cake.

After a few repetitions, I decided to move on with some stick-to-me and maybe build a circle game.  As we left the jumps, the big 40" ball was right in her way.  She jumped it.

I stopped dead in my tracks.  She knows it moves.  But she jumped it without disturbing the ball at all.  Did I mention she's an introvert?  A left-brain introvert?

Since she was still cool with jumping, we played with a three jump combo - cross-rail, barrel and ball.  She never got all three in a row but she did get two out of the three most of the time.  Including several more jumps over the ball.

We finally moved on to F8 and I blew it.  She was cantering around the left cone and I wanted a FLC in the middle. She tried and tried and eventually bolted.  Damn it!

I got her back and we played very slowly with the F8.  I used a few bits and pieces from The Project and eventually we finished with a soft, connected F8.  Not a bad recovery.

With her energy down, I asked her to try to think about laying down.  We never accomplished the lay down but her connection and curiosity were worth every minute - including the ones where I went down and rolled in the sand!

I think we are making huge strides in our liberty connection.  I know I threw in a little circling and she never left me.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Riding in the New Year

Cricket, rigged up in surcingle, bridle and long lines.
There are numerous superstitions and traditions surrounding New Year's Day.  Some make sense.  Having money in your pocket or paying off debt before the stroke of midnight signal hope for financial prosperity.  Others not so much.  Seriously, what's up with wearing yellow underwear? (I'm not kidding, google it.)

My only New Year's tradition is to do on this day all the things with which I hope to fill the coming year.  I spent time with friends and family, puttered with some hobbies, worked a little around my house, got in a bit of exercise and, of course, played with my horse.

Becky and I make a point to meet on New Year's Day and do something with the horses.  The weather was supremely cooperative this year and we had a truly glorious day.

After hand-grazing and grooming, I played with Cricket just briefly.  I need to work more variety into our ground play and until I get my creative juices going, I just want to make sure she's free and forward.  She offered me some beautiful circles and I was pleased.  I sent her over a small cross-rail, part of a pattern that was set up in the arena, and she took it nicely in stride.

I saddled up with my ReactorPanel, my fantabulous English saddle.  One of my goals is to start jumping and to do so, I need to reacquaint myself with my English saddle.  I decided to shorten my stirrups as I have a feeling they are way too long.  It felt awkward at first but as soon as Cricket picked up a trot, I realized how much easier it was to rise to her trot with shorter stirrups.

After a nice warm-up, I took her through the jump pattern.  We trotted up the east wall and around the north side of the arena.  We turned in and took three trot poles back towards the east wall.  Following the east wall, we came around the open south end towards the small cross-rail.  And then we jumped.

Okay, not a real jump.  Cricket took the jump in a high trot stride.  But still . . . She was so soft and forward.  She felt so balanced and sane.  It was wonderful.  I wasn't afraid at all.  Well, maybe I was a little apprehensive but it felt so good.

So we did it again.  And then again.  The final time through, she jumped a little more and that was just fine.

I was thrilled!

We finished with some left lead canter circles.  I had asked Cricket for a right lead and she was very rushy and I didn't like it.  I put her on the left lead on a question box.  The first time, she popped two little bucks.  I think I was squeezing her with both legs.  The second time, she was relaxed and forward.

I decided to strip her saddle off and rig her up in long lines and her surcingle.  It's been ages since we've done anything with driving and I'd like to get back on track with it.  We did a simple follow the rail and we just worked on solving the puzzle of following a feel on the lines.  I asked her for some trot but was unable to be effective from Z5.  We need to play with that some more.  I quit when she offered a canter stride - not because I wanted the canter but because she tried really hard to do what she thought I was asking.

The day ended with more hand grazing in neighbor Dave's field.

If that day is a sign of things to come in the new year, I couldn't be happier.