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The Hazel Tree by Julia Debski

The Hazel Tree

by Julia Debski

Giveaway ends May 01, 2014.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Break

Casper: Casper was nervous and unconfident on Monday because he was used for the pony rides for a party on Saturday while I was gone to the clinic. I already knew what to do when he was in this situation. Undemanding time! I decided to think a little differently and instead of haltering him and taking him out to graze, instead I would just mirror him in the field. It took me half an hour before he would let me touch him. When he finally accepted my touch, all I did was give him a few strokes before moving my hand away and begin to mirror his breathing. It was quick and shallow. After several breaths of copying him, I began to take deeper breaths. I wanted to see if he mirror me and start to relax. Amazingly....he did! It took him a few minutes but eventually he lowered his head and blew out, then he started breathing deeper. Hmmm....
Once he relaxed, he began to herd Sharlie away from the gate and down the hill to the stream and onward. As he did this, I noticed something very interesting. People talk about how their horses will flee from the dominant horse with only a small sign. I assumed that it was the same for Sharlie and Casper. Well actually...Sharlie ignored Casper till he pinned back his ears, made a squealing noise and had to make a lunge at her hindquarters. This happened several times. Hmmm... Maybe this is why Sharlie is so resistant at the Porcupine, Driving and Yoyo game. What makes me wonder is WHY is she this way? Why does she ignore Casper till Phase 3 or 4?
Well anyway, I continued to walk beside Casper behind Sharlie until we reached the top of the hill. Sharlie continued down the hill toward the stream but Casper stopped. I was struck for a moment at how he stood on the top of the hill. He really did look like a stallion, standing tall and proud, surveying the area and making sure Sharlie was safe. My little baby boy ;)
The tree that Casper has been munching on
A branch of the tree. Anyone know what it is?
After Sharlie was past the stream and grazing on the new spring grass, Casper started making his way down the hill, stopping now and then to grab a bite of grass. He stopped at a young tree and pulled some of the bark off of it and ate it. Uh....? I’ve read about natural elements such has herbs, leaves & bark of certain trees providing a healing component. Just like lavender or peppermint calms. I will post photos to see if anyone knows what it is, so I can figure out what he is getting from the bark so I know if he is missing something from his diet or if he is in pain. After that, we continued our walk down to the stream. I was still mirroring every step he took, every breath he drew, everywhere he looked. When we reached the stream, Casper was much more confident and playful and decided to mess with me. From a stand still, he jumped across the stream to the other side- with ease. I gave him a bit of a sarcastic  look before walking over to the stepping stones to cross. He watched me with an extremely amused expression and his eyes were laughing. I couldn’t jump the stream. (It was almost a yard wide!) He still had a smile on his face by the time I came back to join him. He led me over to the back fence and told me he wanted to go to the other side, where the grass was tall and a luscious green. (The back fence is made up of corral panels and I had taken him back through that way before) I just shook my head sadly. He didn’t want to be haltered so we couldn’t go out and explore. Maybe one day we will be able to go out there and explore at Liberty. We hung out by the fence for a while, Casper kept asking me to go out. I did offer him the halter but then he shied away, which gave me my answer. He eventually walked off and I followed him. We hung out the rest of the time grazing.

Sharlie: In the morning after setting up some obstacles, I went to halter Sharlie and groom her out. Then I led her over to the obstacles to try and play....but neither of us was feeling it so we just went back to the field.
In the afternoon we tried doing some traveling circles and I noticed Sharlie kept pushing into my space with her should. But when I tried driving her away, my rope got all tangled. I got frustrated! I needed a rope like Parelli’s 22foot that wouldn’t get tangled up! We continued traveling circles at the walk & trot all over the stables, with me doing my best not to get tangled!
Casper: On Tuesday I played the first 3 games with Casper. However, I took a very different approach than most people- including me- would usually do.
I sat down in his the poopy part. :) I had no choice! The wind was blowing and that was the only place we were sheltered!! Anyways...the smell of manure doesn’t really bother me. In fact, I kind of enjoy it. (Yea, I’m just that weird! Hahaha!)
Anyway. I sat there on the ground and did alot of Friendly Game with  Casper first. I had to make sure he was completely confident before I moved on. He started making this expressions and blinking realllllllllyyyyy slowllllllyyyy. I thought it was just him relaxing so I continued for a few minutes more. Then I drove his hindquarter over a bit from the left side. Then the right. It was pretty easy, I only had to go to Phase 2 on both sides which is a great improvement seeing as he is usually more resistant on his right side. I then drove his front end over a bit, and then back the other way. He became a bit unconfident so I reverted back to Friendly game. When I saw him cock his leg again and relax I tried to back him up by his nose. WHOA! Boy did he resist that! It was a Left Brain type of resistance, like “Nope, you are not moving me any more cause you can’t!” I had to stand up so I wouldn’t let go of the pressure. After playing a bit more porcupine with Zone 1, Zone 4, his legs  and nose again, I noticed that slow blinking thing again. I snapped a few photos, curious, and sent them to Kara & Emily, hoping they could explain a bit more about it. As it turned out, my little Casper was BORED!!! Wow, never would have guessed. Hmm...Food for thought.
I left it at the first 3 games as I didn’t want to push my luck. Casper was outstanding!
Sharlie: I rode Sharlie with the bareback pad that evening because I wanted to try some of the things I saw at the clinic and I wanted to try some patterns. Wow...big mistake. I asked Sharlie to trot and she shot forward in a choppy trot, nearly unseating me. My predatory instincts kicked in and I tensed up then bent Sharlie into lateral flexion. I took a deep breath and made sure that lateral flexion was still soft, then continued on at a walk. I tried the figure 8 at a walk, and Sharlie seemed to get it, so I asked for a trot again. She jumped forward, nearly causing me to fall off again, and went straight for the opening to leave the arena. My predator instincts kicked in again, this time with anger. I pulled her to a stop again, doing lateral flexion. We repeated this several times, trying in vain to do the Figure 8 pattern. I grew more and more frustrated. And when I get frustrated, I just don’t seem to be able to think “I should stop and get off” instead I think “Must keep going till I get it right” I took sharlie out of the arena and out into the big field (Yea, totally, cause if Sharlie doesn’t trot slowly and calmly arena, of course she is gonna do it in a 50 acre open area! Yea right!) 
.......Not to go into detail, I pretty much put all my hopes on Kara coming over that week during Spring Break. I was hoping she could ride Sharlie and tell me if it was just me that was causing this or whether something was making Sharlie uncomfortable or tense. To my dissapointment, she was unable to make it. That was the first time I cried over Kara not coming over. Needless to say, it was a very emotional day!
Sharlie: So Sharlie and I had taken a break from each other on Wednesday (it had been raining) and so on Thursday I decided to do some cantering on the ground with Sharlie. It hadn’t rained that much so it wasn’t muddy or slippery thank goodness. 
We started out with cantering in the arena a bit but I got bored there and so we went out into the big field. I would ask Sharlie to canter and then I would go into neutral. Once she found an even pace, I would begin to walk forward, turning the circles into traveling circles. Between all the changes of direction I noticed something... When Sharlie was circling on her right side in toward me, she curved nicely on the circle. However on her left side she didn’t curve her body outward to fit the circle and instead she sort of made a disfigured box. She didn’t really ‘circle’ when doing a circle to the left. She went in a series of straight lines. Hmmm...

Casper: On Thursday I added in the other 4 games- Yoyo, Circling, Sideways and Squeeze.
Yoyo is in good condition: It could use a little work but not top priority.
Circling...uh wow...we will have to avoid that for a bit. He would panic and just turned completely away from me, showing me his hindquarters. I had to very slowly guide him back. We spent about 45 minutes gently and slowly playing with that till he was able to do a circle at a rushed walk. Its not as good as a relaxed walk but I was just happy to get a circle.
 Sideways Game: Opposing what I said before, I actually did do this a bit with him. I moved his Zone 1 over a bit. Then his Zone 4. Then Zone 1. Etc... We only did it a bit, but he was pretty calm which was impressive.
Squeeze: He was okay with Squeeze. I wouldn't say it was great, but it wasn't bad. There is a problem though of the "stop and wait" ` He just sorta...keeps going. I had to get pretty high in my Phases (Phase 3) to tell him there is a WALL behind me that you CANNOT go through- because it is brick! 
We also did a review of the first 3 games, which all 3 were still okay. We ended with grooming and a bit of grazing & UDT beforing wrapping it up.


Casper: Casper was nervous on Friday, probably from the activities of the day before. So what we did was simple. I took him for a small walk, letting him graze. While he grazed I did short spurts of Friendly Game. We ended up with me grooming him again before putting him back out in the field.

Sharlie: Sharlie and I did quite a bit more. Mom had just made me a 20ft rope out of the same rope as Parelli. EEEK! I was excited to try it! And well...the feel was AH-MAZING! Sharlie didn't ever hit the end of the rope violently like she did with the other, she backed up with Phase 1/2 instead of 3/4, I didn't get all tangled up and I didn't need to do a huge thing just to get her up off the grass! YAY! We did some cantering on her left side. I wondered whether that was maybe why she could be so unbalanced, or part of the cause. I tried to get her to bend on her left side, but sadly to no avail.

It rained and it poured and it thundered! horses.


Sharlie: I just groomed her out. That was ALOT of fur!! :)

Casper: Okay, it was a full day with Casper so bear with me! We started out with the 7 games again. I wanted to make sure they were all in good shape before I introduced Casper the the Figure 8 pattern. Friendly Game and Driving game were good and getting better. Porcupine game is still a little sticky but like I said, I'm not too worried about it. Yoyo was definitely getting better, but I did notice Casper trying to push into my space a time or two with 'driving' ears. Tsk tsk! He is getting more confident at the Squeeze too. Once I had reviewed the games and fixed any major problems that appeared, I took him over to be groomed because he was nervous. He calmed down and relaxed when I was grooming him. And I think I may have found an itchy spot for the first time! Yay!!!
    After that, we hung out grazing for 5 minutes, giving Casper a bit of a break. Then we walked over to the 2 cones I had set up for the Figure 8. I let him sniff each cone and rub his face up against it. Once he went back to grazing I asked for his attention. I gently sent him around the first cone then had him stop and rest with me. Once he returned to a relaxed state I sent him around the other cone slowly, then asked him to stop and relax again. We did this about 4 times (2 times around each cone) before he took over and did the entire pattern by himself! I was surprised, but asked him to do the pattern again a few more times till he released some of his tension. 
    After he did eventually release some of the tension while doing the Figure 8, we walked away to go graze a bit more. Then we went over to go say hi to some horses...which eventually turned into the Touch It pattern! There was one particully scary log which was conquered by me sitting on it! Bahaha! I asked him to lower his head to touch my lap. It took a few minutes of steady pressure but eventually he did. He ended up rubbing his face in my lap. Awwww! 

So! I need you guys to help me out with several options! 
1) I would really appreciate your input in the comment section about any things I should work on with either Sharlie or Casper (or both!) to make sure we run into no bumps for camp! Things I should check, etc...etc... I find that sometimes I don't think of the simplest of "preflight" tests before someone tells me about them (example: Squeeze Game before riding)
2) Take a look at the photos of the tree Casper has been munching on. I broke off a branch and took a photo so you could see the leaves. Tell me what you think it is! 
Rafik (1)
3) There is an Arabian colt called Rafik at the stables. I have been admiring him from a distance and both Kara and I have been longing to play with him. Sadly, the owners didn't know what they were doing and lost interest so now he is for sale. 
Rafik is a 2 year old registered Arabian colt. He is very extroverted but he seems to enjoy the moments where he can stop. He is almost a blank slate...almost. He has some training with being lead, but thats pretty much it. He has develloped a few bad habits from lack of handling and human interaction. 

If you are interested or know anyone who is interested, please let me know. It would comfort me so much to know he is going to a home where he can live a long and happy life!

Rafik (2) (Pardon Commanche's butt!)
4) OKAYYYYY So it has been determined that Casper definitely has some Hackney Pony in him. When I was googling to look at some images I found these: They look pretty darn close to Casper, thats for sure!!

Now here is the problem. What is so different about gaited horses? I need to know because I don't have a clue. What is interesting is that Casper's trot isn't like the photos I saw of Hackney ponies strutting their stuff, his is just REALLY short strided and bouncy (Can I not get a nice smooth horse for once?! -_-)

THATS IT! :D Was it well worth the wait?
I expect a bunch of comments below!!! DONT DISSAPOINT! :P



  1. Oh, psst! Guess what! I just hit over 3160 views! Thank you you guys! :D Makes me feel loved!

  2. Julia,
    I don't know about the tree, but a suggestion for your play session:

    Using the Principle Games (Friendly, Porcupine, Driving) as your diagnostic tool. If something is not working... go back to the game that's broken and fix that first.

    Hope that helps!

    Petra Christensen
    Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
    Parelli Central