Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Hazel Tree by Julia Debski

The Hazel Tree

by Julia Debski

Giveaway ends May 01, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

7 Keys to Success - 4) Techniques

4) Techniques - The techniques that Parelli Natural Horsemanship teaches ensure that all communication with your horse is clear and understandable.
You have to understand natural techniques. For example, most people saddle a horse and get on, kick to go, and pull to stop. Instead of these normal ways to make horses go and stop, use natural techniques that produce snappy departures and graceful transitions." quote Natural Horsemanship by Pat Parelli

Question: Are you more forceful, more nanby-panby, or just the right amount of both?
Challenge: Plan out what you want to accomplish with your horse next time you go and see him. CAUTION: Don't become so goal-orriented you forget to pay attention to your horse and don't put the relationship first!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This Weekend Update

Hey guys!
Here is a run down of this weekend! Enjoy!


So on Saturday I played with Sharlie a little bit on the ground with the 12 foot line. Walk, trot and a tiny bit of canter. Its getting muddy and slippery so we will have to do more and more ground work, and go slower and slower. After a brief warm up, I took advantage of the nice (if slightly nippy) weather to go for a quick trail ride. We went out into the field and started trotting. Sharlie was being very quick and stubborn. I got quite frustrated and had to think of some distractions. So we trotted through a ditch, around a tree and over a puddle...
I did not canter with Sharlie this weekend because since she was so stubborn and I was getting so frustrated, I didn't want to lose it when she started bucking when I asked her to canter.
Sharlie is doing well with the tying post. She freaked out a couple of times, but she is starting to let me go out of sight now...:)

So with Casper I kept it simple. I felt that we were moving too fast for him so no riding. So I kept it simple. with being tied. And then bareback pad on...bareback pad off...on, off, on, off, on, off... Then with the cynch the same thing. Just as I did it up he was doing really well so I left it at that!


Today I was I kept easy and breezy (Cover girl! :D ) Emmy is gone (:D) which means I can play with Sharlie and Casper in their field. With Sharlie I started out with the halter on and did some stick to me and let her know that just because we were in her field did not mean that she can't respect me. When I thought she was ready, I took off the halter. It went great! We did stick to me. Walk, stop, back up by the tail, touch it with your nose, trot...and then the second time we trotted I gave her a piece of carrot...mistake. I asked her to walk over a branch but she kept looking for a carrot. When I wouldn't give her one she got frustrated and trotted off. But hey, 15 minutes of great liberty is better than 45 minutes of online!

I didn't do anything with Casper today because he was quite RBI and kept a fair distance from Sharlie and myself. I think he is feeling fine, but today just wasn't his day.

After Sharlie went trotting off, I walked around the field and what I found was astonishing! There were logs, planks of wood, metal pipes, rubber mats, and pieces of plastic folders littered everywhere! Some I used to make a few interesting object such as the rubber mats together, and a few of the planks put together on a hill made a step. Then I picked up a full Walmart bag full of trash. Eck.

Sharlie's eye isn't doing too good. Yesterday it was swollen so we gave her some bute. We will give her some bute for a few days to make sure her eye is better. Its the beginning of a long few months. Keep your fingers crossed!

Goodnight everyone. May the horse be with you and let it be dry!

~Sharlie's eye

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

7 Keys to Success - 3) Tools

"3) Tools - You have to have tools that work naturally. You should be able to tell a natural horseman by the tools he uses, and also by the tools he doesn't use or those he wouldn't use" quote Natural Horsemanship by Pat Parelli.
"Natural tools? rope halter or hackamore, 4 different lengths and types of ropes: 6 ft, 12 ft, 22 ft, and 45 ft. Stick or carrot stick, savvy string or bag.
Normal tools? Nylon web halter, 25 ft nylon web longe line, longe whip, longeing cavesson, stud chain, side reins, surcingle, twitches, breeding hobbles, regular hobbles and hot walkers." quote Natural Horsemanship by Pat Parelli
Why are these tools considered natural or un-natural? Pat explains the why and how in his book, "Natural Horsemanship".

Question: What do you use and why? Or rather what do you not use and why?

Challenge: Find a new use for your Carrot Stick. Not just as an extension of the arm, but maybe a toy for your LBE horse to put in his mouth, a magical wand that has treats on the end for your LBI. Find something that you usually wouldn't think of to use it for.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Well guys, thank you very much for your voting over in the column. Please vote if you haven't already.

The good news is that thanks to this progress and new confidence, I have decided to start planning to audition Level 2 Freestyle with Sharlie. Casper and I still have some work to do online but if I can get him to the point of a Level 1/2 pass GARANTEED then I am wiling to consider auditioning with him too.

But only Sharlie is a definite. Comment with ideas for the Freestyle Audition! :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Amazing progress tonight! Finally starting to live the dream...


SORRY I HAVEN'T WRITTEN ABOUT THE HORSES IN A WHILE. I HAVEN'T BEEN DOWN ALL WEEK! AS YOU HAVE PROBABLY NOTICED BY NOW, I AM SHOUTING (OR WRITING IN CAPS) BECAUSE I AM SO FRICKING EXCITED AND HAPPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUT JUST FOR YOU GUYS, I WILL GO BACK TO REGULAR TYPING! was AH-MAZING!!!!! I will do Casper first because even though I played with him second, his progress wasn't as awsome as Sharlie. He still was great...but in comparison...


I haltered Casper with savvy. He was slightly reserved at first, which I suppose was to be expected because last time I played with him, we trotted for the first time. So I decided to do something totally different!! We didn't go out the gate, we started walking down toward the back of the field where the new bridge is. We played with that a bit, and within a space of a few minutes the bridge went from being the evil horse-eating monster to "ok ill follow julia across it..." Then we were out in the fields with just the lead rope over his back and him following me around as if there was an invisible thread bonding us.
When we got back to the barn he was LBE!!! :D

Sharlie was...well.. amazing! On the ground we did some liberty prep work with trotting, stopping and backing up with me in zone 3 and it was great! She trotted slowly when I did, extended when I did, stopped when I did, and backed up when i did! We were in sync!!
Then I saddled Sharlie up (w/ the bareback pad) and we were off! Once hitting the trail again, I asked Sharlie to pick up a trot by urging her with my seat and squeezing slightly. No clicking, nothing. We trotted around the tree, then up onto the hill. THen we walked. But as we were trotting up toward the hill, I thought to myself "Look I am trotting (almost) bareback in a wide open space with a loose(r) rein!! Amazing!"
Then Sharlie and I did a lot of trotting. We also started working on the spinning thing....i dont know what its called
THen to finish our wonderful ride I decided to do the unthinkable...cantering bareback. So here I am about to ask Sharlie to go up the hill where I know I can easily get her to canter...Thing is, can I get her to stop? Will I fall off? I decided not to overthink and just do it. And what ended up happening is that Sharlie cantered a few steps before I asked her to stop.

It was a huge success. This bareback pad Im borrowing has a big part in it too. I am going to have to ask Kara if I can borrow it for a few months...

I am going to be writing an email to Parelli asking if there is some sort of volenteer work I can do, such as writing about something or another....yea...we will see where THAT goes!! :P

Stay Natural

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Introducing: Go Take a Look

How do people find inspiring horse blogs? By other people, other blogs telling them. I am sure that some of you found my blog by word of mouth, and so in a way, I am repaying the favor. Each and every one of my followers/readers is precious to me because it makes me feel like I am important. Somebody is listening! I am sure other 'natural' bloggers can feel the same way.

I may steal a suggested blog from the Parelli Central's blog when Petra does her pick of the week. Others I may have just stumbled across and found fascinating.

So for our first "Go Take a Look" pick, I introduce to you...*drumroll*... Kara and her horse Cherish.
Ok ok, its a little biased since Kara is my best friend, but I find her way of looking at the world fascinating and I want to share it with the rest of you.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

7 Keys to Success - 2) Knowledge

"2) Knowledge - It’s what you learn after you know it all that really counts.
You have to have the knowledge of HOW horses think. Most people think like people, and that's a whole different type of knowledge." quote Natural Horsemanship by Pat Parelli.
Do you have the knowledge? Let's think, did you know there are 103 Ingredients? 45 P's? 10 Qualities of a Horseman? 10 Levels? 6 and 1/2 Qualities for the human? 8 Principles of Natural Horsemanship? 7 games? 7 Keys to Success? 6 zones of the horse? 6 yeilds of the horse? 6 horse talents? 4 Responibilities for the horse and human each? 4 Savvies of Study? 4 Phases? 3 and 1/2 Qualities for the horse? 3 Systems in a horse? 2 ways a horse can play?...
Well, there is only ONE way you can find out! KNOWLEDGE... Go get it! It's out there calling for you, ready to play!

Lets think about that...
Question: What Savvies are you playing in?
Challenge: When was the last time you filled out a Horsenality Chart? Knowing that your horse's Horsenality has changed is very important.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Speeding up...

Yesterday afternoon we picked up the pace a bit...

Casper had a nice grooming session before we went out on a trail ride. He was calm and confident and a bit greedy for the grass. At last we were scaling the last hill to reach the barn and I gave a little squeeze and click. He picked up a trot. It wasn't exactly slow, but it wasn't exactly fast. It was bouncy. That was my first ever trot on Casper! I will find out next time I go to catch him whether he approved or not...

Sharlie decided to be very mischievous yesterday afternoon and when I took her out by the round pen on the 22-foot line, she bucked and galloped and had a blast. My arm? Not so much. I am pretty sure I pulled a muscle. But in my mind, it is worth it. If Sharlie had fun and got exercise, then I am ok with it. (I am surprised she didn't roll down the hill like the big ball she is!)
After Sharlie's fun little escapade, I groomed her too (both horses were quite dirty) then we went out for a trail ride. I used the bareback pad. As we set off onto the trail, I asked Sharlie to trot. We trotted smoothly till the end of the path. We walked down the slight hill and onto the hill where the corn field used to be (this description is for those who are familiar with Mercy Stable's lay out) then we turned back to walk back home along the fence of the pastures. I asked Sharlie to pick up a trot again. She picked up a smooth, slow trot all the way back up to the barn (100 yards, give or take)

A lot of trotting. More confidence, more progress...

Things are looking bright....

Friday, November 12, 2010

Casper looked to me...

Tonight I went down to the stables just to say hello to Sharlie and Casper because it was already getting dark. There was a huge party going on with loads of little kids running around screaming, jumping and worrying Sharlie and especially Casper. After they followed me over the hill after I went to go fetch them, Casper gently took the hood of my jacket and held on needing contact with me. I walked slowly and he didn't let go until I stopped. Then he started licking me nonestop. At first I was scared he was going to bite me, but then I noticed he was fighting against going catatonic. So I stayed next to him and stroked him, ignoring all the kids that came rushing up and tried to bother us. Soon Casper didn't need to keep licking me, he just had to have his nose touching me. He followed me around, and finally, with my guidance and reasurement, he was able to go up to the gate and let the little girls pet him. He did lose his confidence several times, but he fought against going catatonic to stay with me.

It was so amazing I felt so warm and amazed that this little horse trusted me to protect him against the kids. However, I have learned my lesson and will be putting up a sign on the gate tomorrow saying "Please do not pet/feed the ponies! Thank you" for the party tomorrow. I don't want to put him through it again.

Feeling all warm and fuzzy

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bareback Pad & Trailer Loading 2


Casper was harder to catch than usual, which tells me that I need to slow down with getting him used to the bareback pad. So we just went out onto a trailride.


We rode with the bareback pad and did a lot of trotting while I worked on fluidity. Then we went to the trailer. She walked straight in and we stayed in there for 20 minutes...just standing there... :)

Thats all for now. I didn't get much time down there so not much to write.

Stay warm!

7 Keys to Success: 1) Attitude

"1) Attitude - Keep it Positive, Progressive and Natural
You have to have a natural attitude. An attitude is a multitude of actions and interactions at any given time; therefore, every action and/or interaction represents an attitude. Natural horsemanship is an attitude for people who are positive and progressive, and who believe in the natural point of view of the horse." quote Natural Horsemanship by Pat Parelli.

Question: How do you react when your horse is being difficult? How do you react when he does something right? Is that what you should do, based on his Horsenality?
Challenge: if your horse defies you or gets the better of you, or you just get frustrated, stay positive and smile. Whistle. Its hard to frown when you are whistling!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bareback Pad & Trailer Loading

This is for yesterday afternoon when I played with the horses.


(This photo is from the summer)

We played the 7 games and spent alot of time on the Friendly Game. Then we moved onto Porcupine, Driving, Yoyo and Circling. We didn't get to the last 2 games. But I did tasks from Level 1 and 2 out of those 5 games so I am very happy with the results. Casper is still a little afraid and wary of the carrot stick, but I think that with time he will become more confident with it around. After playing with the 5 games, we walked over to the trailer. This is the first time I have ever tried to load Casper and I had no idea how he would do.
*Dramatic music
The first try he sniffed it cautiously and then hurriedly walked away. After walking around we came back and he walked straight in! He walked all the way in, stood there for a bit, then backed out. What a good boy! After this small victory, I decided to try on the bareback pad I am borrowing from my good friend Kara. I was suprised to discover that Casper had no real problem and did not object to having it put on his back. Maybe our previous work with the saddle pad has paid off for something. He did not appear cinchy and just stood there patiently. However, it was when I got on that the trouble began. When I first swung my leg slowly over his back, he shied away from the step stool. Luckily I was on before I had time to lose my balance and fall. Then he tried to bolt into fences until finally I managed to stop him for the split second I needed to hop off.
After calming him down, I decided not to get on all the way. Just to...hang. I kept my feet resting on the step stool because whenever I would lift them off, Casper started to move. Slowly but surely, with many strokes and sighs, finally Casper did the cock of confidence. I ended it there, wanting to leave it on a good note. I found this play session quite progressive, despite the bolting part.


(This photo was taken yesterday)
Sharlie was slower to get going, if that makes sense. It took longer to get her in a playful frame of mind. We played with the weave pattern and figure 8, which she seemed to recognize from liberty. After a few minutes of that we walked over to the trailer. One of my horses can load, could the other? First time we approached it, she got in with two feet and then backed out in a panic (a loud truck out on the main road) We walked away and when we came back, she needed no encouragement. She walked in, unfazed by the sound of the rattling trailer. In fact, I had to make her back out otherwise she probably wouldn't have gotten out. I didn't want to push it with her being in there too long because every time I push my luck a little too far, we take a step back. After rewarding her with a few minutes of grazing, I tried the bareback pad on her. It fit her nicely and I quickly hopped up and was out on the trails. I didn't try any trotting till she was accustomed to the strange feeling of the pad. Then finally after alot of walked here and there and back and forth, I asked her to do a slow trot. Slow she did. I didn't touch the reins, I just let her go where she wanted while I was concentrating on being fluid and staying on! We ended on a nice long trot.

So my question/challenge today is to play with a trailer, or a trailer simulation because you never know what will happen, like I had to learn the hard way.
So thats all for today!

Staying warm!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On The Ground- What is it?

What does on the ground mean? It means everything you do when you're not in the saddle. Your relationship with your horse is going on constantly whether you're riding him or not. Most people think they affect horses only when they are on their backs. Realistically, it's every moment of time you're with your horse, whether you have a halter and lead rope on him, or he's free and you're going to catch him or groom him, etc. Your horse is thinking of you whenever you're near him. He's trying to figure you out, trying to see where you're at, what kind of look you have on your face, what kind of mood you're in and so on. Even when you don't think you're affecting the horse, you probably are in some way or another.

In the Parelli Program Online and Liberty are done on the ground. Some are more confident on the ground (like me) while others are more confident riding.

Just thought I should write about this because it is a subject that affects me often.

Horse Behaviour

Hey Everyone!

Some of you may know that I am paying off Casper's lease by doing the chores at the barn. People laugh saying that after a year of doing the chores I won't enjoy doing them anymore. Well I have been doing them several times a month since August and I still find it fun and educational. I love doing the chores because it is a great time to watch and observe horses in their fields. I can probably name every horse's Horsenality without having to play with them. Of course some horses are different in and outside of the field. I could probably predict that too because of the way they act when I walk up to them. As a part of my quest to make my blog more interesting and to improve my writing abilities, I want to start posting about things other than just Sharlie and Casper. Maybe I can write a bit about what I think about each of the Parelli Principles, interesting people, etc...

I find watching natural horse behavious fascinating. After all, Natural Horsemanship is about being as similar to the horse as possible and learning more about their way of thinking.

So I am going to do something new, and ask you to spend some undemanding time with your horse in their natural environment- their field. Learn about how they act around other horses, where is their favorite grazing spots, how do they eat their grain, where is their itching spot...

Stay Savyy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2 horse liberty & To Do list

Yesterday I had both Sharlie and Casper in the round pen together. I had a plan: do what Pat did in the L&HB Dvd when he has his Casper and Allure in together. Allure and (my) Casper are similar, unconfident and RB. (Pat's) Casper and Sharlie are similar, more confident and advanced. I played with them together for a few minutes. I already expected Casper to lose confidence quickly, so I knew what to do. I concentrated all my focus on Sharlie and totally ignored Casper. I played with Sharlie at liberty. I had a large come in there (as bit as Casper!) 2 posts for a figure 8 and a plank to use as a pedestal. All 3 objects were new. While Sharlie and I played with the figure 8, Casper played around with the cone. Then Sharlie and I played with the pedestal. That is still a work in progress, but we are getting there. I am going to film Sharlie and me playing at liberty so a friend can look at it and see what we have to work on for an audition. Casper isn't ready for liberty yet, and he is scared of the Carrot Stick so we worked online with the cone and the figure 8.

I have decided that Sharlie and I will take a break from Freestyle and what little Finesse we were doing and then in early spring we will start over from scratch. Also Sharlie will definitely be needing hill therapy by the time spring comes, so that is already planned. If Casper is advanced enough online for hill therapy by then too, then he will do it too.

With Christmas coming soon, I am asking for money because among other things, I want to send in my liberty and online audition for Sharlie. I am undecided about Casper...

If you think (or don't think) I should film and send in my Level 1 Online Audition for Casper vote over to the right in the column.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Irony of Life

I am not the religious type. In fact living in the Bible Belt has caused me to become much more negative toward religion then I would probably be if I continued living in France. Yes, religion is everywhere but its only here where they wave the Bible in your face, saying they are right and I am wrong. Saying that I have to believe in Jesus or go to hell. Those things have happened to me. I don't mean to offend anyone, because I know so many of my friends go to church. When my friends ask me what religion I am, I tell them I am a person. Thats all.

So keeping in mind the paragraph above, I find it close to amazing what has happened over these last few days. Since I told everyone that I was taking a break from the blogging world to find my journey, many strange things have happened. Sharlie and Casper will soon be together in their own field, presenting us with many new and exciting opportunities for playing. (Despite the approaching dreadful and muddy weather...) Then Mom met some ladies that practice Natural Horsemanship (or as they call it the Dark Arts). They had been to some of Carol Coppinger's clinic and in a few weeks they are going trail riding at East Fork Stables.
This gave me the idea of perhaps going camping there with my friend Kara and the horses next summer. That is still unsure, but an idea. I thought about which horse I would bring and I decided perhaps Casper would be the better choice... Which has led to helping me decide what to focus Casper's training- cross country/trail horse. Casper is not made for the arena. From past experience he has grown to be terrified and tense in the arena so his heart and soul can never fully be there. If I can get his confidence much stronger and better, perhaps we can start some driving.

Right now with Sharlie we are going to be working on liberty and hill therapy...oh yes definitely hill therapy!!

Thank you everyone for your support.

Casper's Story

I realized looking back over my posts over the last year and a half or so that I have never mentioned Casper's story. Indeed he has been weaving in and out of posts for almost a year now. You all know Sharlie's background and history (They are the very first posts on the blog. Click here to go to the first post.) So it is only fair for me to tell you about Casper.

Casper is a 13 hand pony. His coat is seal brown. We thought he was 12 or 13 years old until this summer where by examining his teeth we discovered he is probably only 6 or 7! When he first arrived at Mercy Stables he was extremely green, unconfident and extremely right brain. (He belonged to the stable) We didn't have much chance to interact, especially after I got Sharlie. I tried to stop thinking about Casper but I always seemed to notice him. I watched him...I subconsciously discovered where his favorite tree was, where were his sensitive spots and how he kicked out at the other horses- Left hoof first, but it was the right hoof that usually made contact with the other horse. Soon I started trying to involve myself in his life because I did not agree with the way he was being trained and used.

When the cold came in December 2009 it gave me the chance to interact with Casper on a daily basis. When no one was around or watching, I would go and sit by the fence with a few treats, waiting patiently for him to walk up to the fence. I fed him through the little wires squares which began a game of him sticking his nose through holes and me tickling it. Soon he started meeting me there when he was near by. Then I started barely stepping into the field by the gate and feeding him there. By early February Casper was allowing me to start touching his face and neck.

Something I forgot to mention is that Casper hadn't been caught since July 2009 and was not planning on being caught anytime soon. So when I began to play with him in the field with ropes, I had to start out with hay strings. These are the steps I used to get him accustomed to strings & ropes.
1. string around my leg or waist.
2. he would let me hold it in my hand.
3. then touch him with the string in the other hand.
4. hay string on back, flank and legs.
5. string around neck.
6. move up to savvy string and repeat steps.

By the time I was to step 4 with the savvy string it was mid-march. When it came time to catch him (not through my choice) to move him to another field. Ever since then I have been slowing playing with him to teach him that he can trust me.
At the beginning of August we arranged to lease Casper for 1 year from Mercy Stables to prevent him being sold. I have always felt a connection with him and it broke my heart to maybe lose him to someone unknown and that didn't listen to him the way I do.

Casper is still green but with time and patience I know he will make a very good pony. I think he will be an excellent trail pony or cross country. He would be a great carriage horse if I could build up his confidence enough. Though my goal for this year is for him to become a reliable and trusting trail horse.

So that is his story. There was a bit of drama concerning him at the stables a few months ago but it has all cleared up. I am happy that the people at the stables have decided to give him a second chance. But more appropriately, all humans at the barn need to deserve a second chance from him.