Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Moving to a Different Location

Hello horse lovers! I have created a brand new blog that I will now be updating with posts, pictures, and videos.

The link to this new blog is    edenshorsemanshipjourney.blogspot.com

I have kept a lot of the same elements as this blog but changed it up a bit and made is easier to navigate, more attractive, and more reflective of my horsemanship journey. I have already written a welcome and explanation for the change over there, and I have posted a link to this blog so people can go back and look at my old material if the mood strikes them.

I will also be redoing each of the horse's profiles and my personal page, but that is a big task and it will be a gradual change.

Edensparellijourney will not be deleted because I want the content to remain available for myself and my followers, so no worries. Head on over to the new one, check it out, and enjoy!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Video and A Quick Update

My family and I were out lounging on the beach this past week, therefore, I have not had many opportunities to play with the horses since my last update. However, before I left for my trip, I had good session with both Woody and Teddy. I took the video camera out there with me to practice taping myself (I tend to get nervous while on camera), and I ended up capturing a really fun time with both horses, and even a bridleless ride with Woody! It was very fun, and I have compiled all the highlights from the footage into this little video below. This video is also available for viewing on my "Videos" page. Enjoy!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Recent Happenings... Including a Trip to Cavalia!

It has been a couple weeks since I have last posted, and I wish there was good reason, but the truth is I have not been motivated to write much recently. However, I have decided, for your sake as the reader and follower of this blog, to write a quick update with how horsey life is going. I have had two play sessions with the horses, and have in total ridden Woody twice, ridden Charlotte once, and played with Teddy once. My rides have been lovely on my black and white steed. When I am working with him or riding him I keep a task or purpose in my mind at all times. He must know that what he is doing is worthwhile and important, and this comes from my focus and intent. We have played with some bareback jumping, trotting a figure 8 around two trees with a jump between them while riding, mounting and dismounting many times and many ways, and just in general keeping HIM with ME. I have been very proud of the work we have been doing.
I have ridden Charlotte once in the past week, and we had a pretty good time. I took her to the hay field and she proceeded to have a spaz attack. I am still not sure what was going on with her or what she was so concerned about, but after failing to get her back with me while on her back, I dismounted and worked a bit to get her with me and letting go of her concerns. She finally did and snorted and released a lot, which I took as a good sign and mounted back up. We then had a pretty uneventful ride, just trail riding around the property.
My session with Teddy was good, too. I haltered him easily after removing at least a pound of hair from him (he is still shedding out his coat), and I focused on getting him more comfortable jumping. He got a bit confused when I asked him to circle and jump the jump, so I had to retreat back to getting his circles good and focused on my body language. he did very well and was able to trot, walk, and stop and face me with no help from me with the stick or rope. He is SUCH a quick learner, and he is such a bright little man. He has been doing very well.

Now, onto Cavalia. For those of you who don't know what "Cavalia" is, you can find out more here, or just keep reading this post as I attempt to explain. Simply put, it is close to a Cirque de Soleil show, only it involves, and is centered around,  horses. Friends of mine went to see it and raved about it, and when Mom and I heard they were coming to Charlotte (3.5 hours away from Roanoke), we bought tickets right away.
We arrived in Charlotte around 12:45, and upon entering the "horse lover" entrance (general entrance) we were offered an upgrade. The upgrade included food and drink before the show and at intermission, a special autograph session with two "artists" from the show, and a tour of the stables afterwards. We jumped at the chance, and upgraded. The food was amazing, and the atmosphere was beautiful. Of course, Mom and I shopped and bought T Shirts, a book, and a poster for my room. We then made our way to the show and took our seat which were 5 rows from the stage.

The actual show was nothing short of beautiful and astounding. The artists/performers were incredibly athletic, graceful, and gifted; both with horses and gymnastically. The show consisted of many different "acts." There was one segment with a man playing with his horse at liberty, a couple with big draft horses on which they did incredible vaults, one with a woman playing with 8 gray horses at Liberty (Mom's favorite part), and some very nice dressage riding performances.The stage was gorgeous and the horses were lean. fit, and athletic as well.
My favorite part was when the performers rode in on quarter horses and paint horse and performed all kinds of amazing stunts. Several would bounce on the ground to the other side of the horse, back and forth, while the horses were galloping, and they would hang upside down, backwards, standing up, ANY kind of position you could think of on these galloping horses. It was very entertaining.
Another amazing part was when four roman riders entered the arena. Each man had their two feet on two separate horses' backs, and they were galloping around, changing directions and even JUMPING their horses.

Following the show, Mom and I got autographs from two of the performers, and were escorted through the barns. The horses' manes were all braided so they wouldn't get soiled (their manes were to their legs), and they were all happily munching on hay. We had the opportunity to take a picture and talk briefly with another one of the performers, and got to see all the horses used in the show.

All in all, the show was simply brilliant. It was obvious the horses enjoyed their jobs, and the horsemanship and athleticism of the performers was inspiring. I would STRONGLY encourage anyone who has the chance to go to this show to GO. Even if you aren't particularly a horse lover, you will thoroughly enjoy the athleticism, grace, and beauty in the horses and people that this show was created to emphasize.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Red Letter Day

This morning I had the opportunity to get up early and work with the horses. I went out around 8, fed the horses their grain, and threw them each one flake of hay. As they ate I groomed Charlotte and Woody very well, getting tons of hair off them as I worked. Once they were both clean and ready, I began tacking up Charlotte. I used my saddle on her (my Wintec Wide; so I wouldn't have to bother with changing stirrup length on Mom's saddle), and girthed her loosely, all at Liberty. I got her bridle and she accepted it willingly, this at Liberty, too. I grabbed my helmet, tightened the girth, and headed to the other side of the field. I hopped on via round pen fence, and took her down to the waterer before we started. We then went outside the fence for the rest of our ride.
I started the ride by having her get a nice working walk, and getting her soft and thinking through her turns. Once I got that going really nicely I played around with a lot of walk-trot-walk transitions to get her trot smoother and not so bracy and quick.
She felt really good to me, so I took her down the hill to the pond, and ended up riding all the way around the pond. The majority of our ride around the pond was at the trot, which went well and the consistency of the trotting allowed her to find a nice rhythmic, forward, soft trot.
The only area we had to work through a bit was in the swampy area. She got a little worried about going through all the wet grass and mud, but after I kept asking her, she finally went through it nicely.
We then returned up the hill, I parked her on the concrete pad by the barn, and I dismounted. She did REALLY nicely today and I was very pleased with her.

On to Woody. After I untacked, brushed, and treated Charlotte, I began tacking up Woody. He, too, was at Liberty, but didn't mind a bit as I saddled him up. I did, however, put a halter on him when I was bridling him, just so if I needed to work through the bridle with him, I could. I did have to patiently work through the bridling for about 5 minutes, but once he relaxed a bit, he was totally fine with it. Again, I grabbed my helmet and led my pony out the gate to the concrete pad.
He stood completely still as I mounted, however once I was on he began to have some ADD issues. He was all over the place, listening to and watching everything, but I immediately asked him to weave in between a line of pine trees and he settled right down.
I then went over to the round pen, opened the gate from his back, and went in. I worked on two things in here: getting him to let go of thinking about the gate and whats beyond it; and also getting his walk-trot transitions smoother and getting him in tune with me for the trot-walk transitions. I was persistent and firm when asking him to stay with me, and I did a LOT of troooot now walk! transitions to get the downward transition when I asked. Eventually, after about 15 minutes, he had let go of the gate thought and was really starting to listen to my seat when going from a trot to walk. I stopped by trotting toward the open gate, then stopping in my body and him coming gently to a stop. I let him sit for a bit, then went back out the gate, closing it behind me.
We then proceeded to go down to the pond playground, where I asked him to touch logs, put his two front feet on a clump of moss, dismount and lead him at a trot through a maze of trees, hook his reins on a hook and pick up all four feet, and remount. He was really in tune with me, and everytime I got off and got back on, he was completely ok with it.
I spent a bit of time asking him to go out of his comfort zone and get closer to the fishing boat he was afraid of, and we made some good progress there. I walked him on a loose rein down the dam, and then played with getting a soft feel and keeping it around some turns in a circle.
We played around with a couple of other things, then headed back to the pasture. I knew he would be thirsty because he hadn't had a drink that morning, so I rode him over to the waterer and to offer him a drink. However, he wouldn't drink, but rather flung his head around playing with his bit. I remembered he doesn't like drinking with the bit in his mouth, so I dismounted, took his bridle off, and remounted. I had to reins around his neck so that if I were to pull back pressure would be applied to his chest, but he did not have anything on his head. Once he was finished drinking I gathered the reins, rocked my body back and over to the left (asking for a forehand turn) and applied pressure to the right side of his neck via rein. He executed the turn perfectly, and headed up toward the barn. On the way up I asked him to stop by stopping my body and pulling gently on the reins, and he stopped and backed up. It was so cool to see how in tune we were and that he was doing all of this without a bridle on his head!
Woody and I had a fantastic day of riding out, having fun, and in the end riding without a bridle!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Visit to VT and Another Good Session

 Yesterday Mom and I headed up to the Virginia Tech campus for the day. This weekend was Hokie Focus, meaning the students who have already been accepted there for the fall were returning back for tours and presentations on the different branches of the curriculum. We got special permission to sit in on the Animal and Poultry Science presentation, and in it they addressed questions concerning the vet school and the animal science programs. I learned a lot about the different branches of the program, and we even got a virtual tour of the animal centers. They have separate buildings for sheep, poultry, pig, cattle, and a brand new equine facility as well. I was able to talk to the professors about the different classes offered, and I was glad to hear from many people that the approach to the equine training is not traditional. They are gentle with their horses, and even have a foal imprinting program.
Following the seminar we were directed over to the equine facility, in which they were holding a horse show in memory of Emily Hilscher. I was able to meet one of the Equine Science majors who was waiting for her class in the show, and she was really helpful in telling me about the classes and the riding team.
We then watched some of the horse show, and a lot of the horses looked very nice, calm, and obedient. It was a VERY nice facility, and all the people I met were really welcoming and helpful.
All in all I had a really great day at VT and I am definitely seriously considering the school for the fall of 2011.

On another note, a couple days ago I went out to play with the horses. I ended up putting Woody in the round pen to let him graze, as I played with Teddy both inside and outside the fence. Teddy did well, and I mainly worked on sending him over jumps, and getting him confident jumping small logs.
I then went to get Woody and I ended up playing lots of directing behind his withers. Mom and Charlotte were also in the pasture; they were riding around everywhere, and Woody was a little distracted. I insisted he stay focused on what we were doing and tried to really focus myself on specific tasks I wanted him to do. It took a long while for him to truly let go of Charlotte and Mom, but he eventually did, and because of that he was able to do a couple very nice turns both ways and stop really softly with me. I let him sit for a while and he had a big lick and chew and then yawned several times. I let him go and took the halter off and he followed me over to Mom and Charlotte. It was a fun day and all the horses made some good progress.