Friday, July 16, 2010

The Intensive

Today I finished a one week intensive in Horsemanship with a smart and talented 9 year old girl, named Polly.  We met daily at 10 am at our farm, and she worked primarily with Shaman, our Kiger Mustang. This was his first week long intensive, and Polly's as well.

Shaman is a smart and determined guy, who was a good match for a strong willed and smart young woman! Here they are the first day getting to know one another at liberty.

After learning how to 'catch' your horse, by having him come to you, Polly learned to put on a rope halter.

Learning how to use the tools is part of the learning curve, giving the horse room so he's not claustrophobic. Tighter does not mean more control!

Polly then had a lesson in round pening, beginning to learn how important her body language is!
 Shaman liked coming in to hang out with Polly for scratches and rubs.

Day three was with Rascal who gave Polly a chance to see how her new skills worked on a different horse.

Polly is bending over to look at Rascal's butt - this game is to 'disengage' the horse and bring him into you. She is very clear in what she wants!  Focus is so very important and you cannot lose it for one minute!

Here Polly is doing the "yo-yo" game with Shaman. She stands still and moves him with the wiggle of her finger or the rope!

Then she asks him to come in to her, and he gets praised and stroked.

At the end of that session they played a game of 'follow me'.. Shaman liked this a lot!

Being nine, Polly asked me if I ever played with my horses... Ummm, I thought, well I think of everything I do as play, but when I saw her braid Shaman's forelock, I suggested we paint him like a war pony the next day. She said she was so excited she could hardly sleep that night.
So, we braided ribbons and feathers in his mane, and used finger paints to paint him up like a real Indian Pony. I am not sure who had more fun!   Shaman thought this was the easiest day of all!
Naturally we needed a cowboy hat for the photo shoot!

Shaman was such a good horse during the entire week. He got calmer and more relaxed each day with Polly. She has helped him grow into a better partner, and she grew leaps and bounds in her horsemanship skills!  Thanks Polly for such a fun week! I miss you already!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Horse Kisses

I learn so much from the kids. Like how just being with the horse is so important, not 'making them do something' just being, hanging out, and in Niah's case kissing. Those boys of mine love this little girl!  When I am struggling with something I often ask Niah and Kiatan to help. They are naturals. That's why kids are so often better  with horses than adults - they are natural in their way of  relating to horses. These two remarkable children are never in a hurry. They are patient and kind. They have helped me teach and relax my horses on many occassions.

 Niah is working with Shaman to lower his head.

 While most horses might find this a bit too much, with Niah it's fine!

Niah putting on Shaman's halter. He's relaxed, attentive and respectful. Niah is intent!

She's got him haltered and saddled up. I am a firm believer that until you can handle the horse easily and with confidence on the ground and your communication skills are really good, you should not be in the saddle. With so many people they have no fear...until they get hurt.. then they want nothing else to do with horses. Yep, 80% of people who get into horses get out the first year. So sad. If only they learned how to be safe and knowledgeable on the ground first they might get to enjoy horses for a lifetime!  Oh, Niah is 5 years old.

Not Your Average Lesson Horses!

Teaching is now a daily part of my life. I have students coming and going most of the day, and spend a day or two in Whatcom County up by Deming and Glacier with three students there. It's challenging, fun and sometimes very tiring.

My lesson horses are my four mustangs adopted from the wild. They can be soft and gentle and they can be full of beans. In so many of my photos they are looking so relaxed and are so very gentle it's easy to forget how powerful they can be. The dun horse is Shaman, a 6 yr old Kiger. Gelded late, he's the pretty boy with perfect conformation.
They love it when all the gates are open and they can blast up and down the hills!
 Black Elk,  my 4 year old from Northern Nevada has the white socks.
I think I'd call this Horse Play!
 And then, because they are mustangs and they have a quick response, but also a quick let down to relaxation, they settle in and eat.