Canter is coming

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Proud of herself at the end

Had a nice session today working on more of the same: keeping the tempo steady by helping her stay relaxed in her neck and back.  She was very good in walk right away.  It took trot a little while to come through and for her to allow my to rest my leg on her, which she did eventually do.  Then on to some canter work in which we had longer periods of her staying soft and keeping the tempo (we’re talking about being steady for 4 strides instead of 2, but still it is very good improvement!)

Letting go in her back

 

Elsa was quite pleased with herself at the end of the day


I brought her in and groomed her and tacked her up and she was her usual lovely self. Under saddle at first she was tight in her neck and back and over reactive to the leg. We did a lot of flexion and finally got her to let go in walk and then worked our way up to a loose trot and canter. The very good news is that in the last half of the session she was allowing me to rest a calf on her without over-reacting. Really excellent.  

January 3 and 4, 2015 Clinic at Catalpa Corner

Format: Lessons Saturday with Camie, Saturday night dinner in the Homestead House followed by horse movies and popcorn and fun with like-minded people; Sunday lessons with Camie. This weekend is about learning and fun with new and old friends.

When: Saturday January 3 and Sunday January 4, 2015. Full refund given if weather cancels

Where: Catalpa Corner Horse Park and the Mcnutt Homestead.

Who: Riders of any discipline who want to start 2015 wIth riding, learning and like-minded people. Eventers, western people, dressage people – all are welcome.

Lodging: Lodging for 5 available in the Homestead House, first come, first served. Other nearby lodging. Daily trailer ins also welcome.

Stabling: in the A barn at the horse park.

Fee: $225 fee plus a separate refundable $25 stall strip/clean area deposit, includes stabling, Saturday and Sunday small group or private lessons, Saturday night dinner, horse movies and popcorn at the Homestead House, Saturday night lodging and Sunday breakfast. If not staying at the Homestead House the fee is $200 plus stall deposit. Trailer-ins also require a $25 “clean area” deposit. Riders who wish to only do the clinic sessions pay a fee of $125 plus the $25 stall strip/clean area deposit

To register simply fill out the below online form and pay with paypal to fielddayhorses@gmail.com or by check made out to Field Day, and mailed to Field Day, 57560 Highway 210, Cambridge, IA 50046-8583

Barn Etiquette

I run a training barn, so have had horses boarded at my place for a long while.  However, usually I am the one doing most of the riding.  The horses’ owners show up to visit, observe or take a lesson, but mostly, it is just me and the horses.  One of the horses I trained is recently being leased by a person who will be coming out and riding the horse at my place.  She asked me if I could provide a list of barn rules.

Barn rules?  Hmmmm…  Now that’s a good question.  I’ve always disliked barn rules that started with “No” and “Do not.”  They flash me back to the dour church of my youth that emphasized the “Thou shalt not” commandments and glossed blithely over the “You-shall-love-your-neighbor-as-yourself.-There-is-no-commandment-greater-than-this” passages.

I’m just sayin’ that there are two ways to look at communicating rules.  One is to tell the listener what not to do–a written game of “Hot and Cold” with an emphasis on the ‘Cold’– or the rule-giver can provide general guidelines to tell the audience how to decide what todo.  When the rules audience is allowed to take ownership in deciding what to do, it eliminates the need for the myriad “Do nots.”  It also encourages the audience to think about the positive results of their actions, rather than trying to avoid the negative result that is associated with breaking the rules.  Ahhhh.  The joy of clear direction and trust.

In the movie Seven Pounds, there is a scene where Will Smith’s character is watching a hockey practice where a fight breaks out.  The coach whistles loudly to get the players’ attention.  Then he asks the boys where they are.  “This is church sir!”  they yell in unison.  The fighting ceases and they are back to practice.  Where many coaches would have punished the two boys for fighting, thus showing them clearly what they ought not to do, this coach simply reminded them of how they should decide what to do–in this case to use the same set of behavioural rules that they would in church.  He reminded them of the general philosophy of how they should be, rather than punishing them for being what they shouldn’t.  Genius.

So I thought seriously about applying this philosophy to barn etiquette and came up with this to post on the barn door:

Field Day Barn Etiquette

You are entering a sanctuary.

Directive One: Treat all animals, people and equipment with love and respect at all times.

Treat the lawn as if it was the churchyard. If possible avoid taking horses across the lawn when it is wet. If you must cross it when it is wet, go along the west fenceline where the ground is a little higher and dries out more quickly.

Bring cookies.

If possible, leave things a little nicer than when you arrived.

Pitch in where you can.

Praise often.

Change the radio station if you like. Be comfortable.

You can ride on our land. Let us show you where our neighbors have said it is ok to ride on theirs.

Enjoy your horse fully and love on the other ones if you like.

If you borrow something, return it promptly in clean, working order.

If you borrow supplies, replace them promptly with somewhat more than you borrowed.

If you mess up, fess up, quickly and fully. It probably can be fixed if caught early.

If you need help, ask.

If you can give help when asked, do.

When alone and in doubt, ask your Higher Self.

If the gate was closed before you went through it, close it behind you

Communicate quietly and privately if you have a critique or request.

Communicate as enthusiastically and publicly as seems appropriate to you if you have praise.

Greet people.

Smile.

Exhale.

All rules are subservient to Directive One.
Camie

What would Biko do?

More than a decade ago my husband and I went to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event as spectators. We walked through the fabulous vendor fair, bought too much, enjoyed wildly overpriced food, greeted old friends and marveled at the cross country course.

On that beautiful spring morning in April we found ourselves in a crowd behind the spectator ropes right behind the entrance at A, watching Karen O’Connor enter at A on the unforgettable Biko. As we watched mesmerized, up drove a golf cart with a young driver and not-so-young passenger.  They pushed through the crowd with the cart until they were right up front. We could all see over the cart, so it was no problem to anyone.  It became apparent that the older woman was the owner as she commented on the test, “Oh dear, a little tight there, wasn’t our boy?” “Oooh, good man, Biko, cookies tonight.” “Wasn’t that lovely. Good man.”

It was charming and it reminded us that even Rolex horses are simply somebody’s love. Her endearing comments made all the fabulous horses we saw that weekend more real and accessible. And in some strange way, it raised my own horses to a more Rolex-like status. After all, the Rolex horses were just somebody’s horse. And my horse was somebody’s horse.

So I went home and unpacked and on that Monday I asked myself what Biko and Karen were doing that day. Obviously, good Biko had the day off after his work at Rolex, but imagining that there was someone who cleaned his stall that morning, and would walk him this afternoon for a stretch, reminded me that the daily work of riding, cleaning stalls and loving attention is what makes a horse and rider great. No rider is alone any day as long as she remembers that thousands of people are out riding, making small changes, doing the deal to make small improvements in themselves and their horses everyday. You need only to find one small thing to improve in your riding every day to make a huge cumulative improvement.

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” -Jim Rohn