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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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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Preview of The Reflections Post

It is taking FOREVER to get it finished, so here is a short preview:

"The people I met along during these 6 days were amazing people. It was refreshing to meet people who were .... real. I don't know how to explain it. But its a lovely refreshing thing. To find people you can actually talk to and not have to formulate a conversation in your head word for word like a script. Some one said maybe it's just because you were in a new place. I think it's because Emily has a really amazing taste for friends."

:) Hope you enjoyed it :P

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 7 of My Internship with Emily Larramore

This morning was very bittersweet for me. My last day with Emily but we were sure to accomplish some excellent things together that morning.

There were a lot of jumps up from the day before when Katie had been jumping her pony Cisco. I was skeptical about playing with Vanna around all these obstacles as she always gravitates toward them and always assumes jumping is the answer to everything.
We played a bit with the games we already knew (Friendly, Porcupine, Driving, Circling) so we wouldn’t get stuck on Yoyo game but also staying away from Vanna’s “bad habit” games (Sideways & Squeeze- aka jumping!)
However instead of avoiding the jumps, Emily told me it was alright for Vanna to jump as long as we were playing ‘Stick To Me’.
Emily had brought her super duper fancy shmancy camera and was playing photographer today. So Vanna and I jumped over the jump as she snapped some photos.

After jumping together it was time to ride. (I’ve been doing alot of that lately! :P) Today we were going to try and canter as well as do some (more) bridless riding. Yay!
The first step to getting the canter was to have a relaxed trot so Vanna and I did a lot of trotting around the arena. Emily took down all the jumps but 1. (Thank goodness!)
It was the highest jump I’d done all week ( almost ever for that matter). Needless to say it was a major confidence threshold for me. Maybe Emily knew this which is why she encouraged me to do it. There was no doubt Vanna could easily jump it, it was just me who was scared. 
We trotted some more (this is the first time trotting is a comfortable safe thing for me) before I lined her up for the jump. Her ears pricked instantly and she soared over it! (Soared at least, from my point of view)
The Jump
Whoohoo! I did it!
After that came cantering. I thought we were going to start off on the line before cantering by myself. Well my dear Emily had other plans. “Why don’t you try and canter by yourself?” Yea...well...okay...
Once Vanna had her head low and relaxed at the trot I got a (really) good grip on her mane and the bareback pad and raised my energy, squeezed and smooched. (Not all at once!)
Vanna’s head went straight up in objection to being asked to go faster.  (Yea, just as we were about to forget she was a Left Brain Introvert!) but she did do a few grudging strides of canter before stopping. Just as well as I could feel myself becoming unbalanced!
After a few more tries (none really successful) both Vanna and I were getting very frustrated. (Mirrors, remember?) and I was becoming rather unconfident. 
Emily quickly stepped in and we traded placed. I watched as Emily asked Vanna to canter. No luck.
In fact Vanna was being so difficult that I offered Emily my helmet because I was afraid she would fall off.
Well because Vanna was not going to canter, Emily had to change plans. Instead she asked Vanna for some leg yields at the trot, and some beautiful ones she got too!
After that Emily asked me what I wanted to do next. I said that I would like to ride bridless. Emily was a bit worried after Vanna’s objections and dominance from earlier that she would be difficult bridless. So she rode her around a bit before it was okay for me to get on.
We started out simple with just following Emily around till eventually Vanna was listening to me and not following Emily. We went around to follow the rail. 
Then Emily suggested trotting. Bridless. Okay then! :D

Trotting bridless!
I raised my energy and squeezed and Vanna went into the smoothest, slowest and most relaxed trot...ever! It was only a few strides but still amazing! I had a big grin on my face.
We ended there.
I said “See you soon.” to Vanna as that is what I hope to do.
After getting home I had a quick lunch and finished my packing which I had started the night before. With that done all I had left to do was finish watching the movie Avatar. Very good movie. 
Amanda was running late so I began to watch Xmen 3 on TV. (I have some Marvel addict friends...)
We were due to leave at 2 (ending up at home at 6) but we ended up leaving at 4. Which means we were due to end up at home at 8pm (3 hour drive + 1 hour time change)
The first 2 hours went well. I took an nap during the first hour. 
All was well in fact. Until we began to enter Chattanooga. That’s when we hit traffic. It started just past Rising Fawn. (For those of you who are familiar with the surroundings of Chattanooga) We were at a crawl sometimes, but most of the time we were just sitting there. So we decided to get off at the exit for Lookout Mountain. We went one way, then had to turn around at a dead end and went back the other way. Finally we found ourself on Lookout Mountain. (Not the top, along the side) Stuck in traffic. Once again.
As we sat there we had some HILARIOUS incidents! 
There was one time where in the lane next to us there was a car full of African American teenagers blasting their rap or whatever. (Wasn’t my type of music) so what do Emily and Amanda do? They start to play Mozart and blast it even louder! I was hysterical with laughter in the back. Needless to say, Em and Amanda won that “Music Blasting” competition. 
Then there was the ‘Coon hunters. :D (Can’t explain it. Just funny.) Had a nice truck though.
Then the height of the evening was when a group of guys had unhooked a trailer from their van and turn it around by hand, then hooking up the trailer again. (because traffic wasn’t moving, they were turning around) Emily and Amanda found this very very clever and awesome. So when they passed us Emily yelled out “That was bad ass!” while giving them a thumbs up. They looked rather shocked and drove off quickly. Between my fits of laughter I told Emily “Emily I think they were a church group!” They had really up-tight clothes and one of them was wearing a shirt with a church name on it. They just radiated “church-groupy.”
We all laughed at that. We found it hilarious. :)
We finally got home at 10:30pm 
This is not goodbye. 
It took us 5 and a half hours to get me home. I felt rather bad because Emily and Amanda had to go straight home afterwards. No worries though,  they will be coming back up to give me a lesson after I get back from England. (Much needed too! :P)
"We Are Parelli Because..." Video Contest Entry  (You need a Facebook Account to vote!)
Please vote and keep voting! There are only 2 more days left of voting and every vote counts! :) 
Thank you all for reading!
Last post is “Reflections Post”
I’ve decided to delay the “Putting it into Action” post until I’ve properly played with Sharlie & Casper which will be after I get back from England and school starts. :)



Julia

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 6 of My Internship with Emily Larramore

This morning Emily and I headed out at 7:30 to go meet Amanda at the barn so we could go eat some breakfast at Cracker Barrel with their friends Sheila and (little) Amanda Bird before going to a horse auction. Sheila was looking for a new horse and this auction was supposed to have 8 horses. Their owners hadn't paid for board so they now belonged to the stables.

Well turns out that there were only 2. And one was a 25 year old gelding. Not what they were looking for. We met Amanda at Emily's barn and drove in Amanda's truck to Cracker Barrel. We went in and met the Birds and were quickly seated. We got our drinks and talked. And talked and talked and talked! In fact an hour shot by without us noticing except for one thing- we still hadn't eaten.

Why?

We hadn't been served our food yet.

But we had to go to this auction at 9 and so we had to go. Without eating. Luckily our waiter was very understanding and let us go- drinks on the house.

We went in Sheila's truck. The stables where we were going was where Amanda got her horse Indy- the horse that led Amanda to Parelli and is one of Emily's biggest teachers.

I will admit it was quite run down. The arena fence was so where a distressed horse could easily jump out.  (Which is almost what happened-but more on that later) Then again, a horse who just felt like leaving the arena could do it way to easily.

The horse we were going to look at was Sugar. (Though we didn't know her name at first) We didn't know anything about her... We had to go SEE her to know something about her. She turned out to be a 15 hand-ish mare, a dark brown/black. A sweet, shy soul. We led her up to the arena and got her to move out because we were unsure of her gaits. The barn manager said that maybe she was a Missouri Foxtrotter. But it was all very iffy because the owner had just dumped her off at the stable.

Leading her up to the arena I was observing her very closely. I have been trying to develop my eye at recognizing Horsenalities within a few minutes of being around them. I could see very quickly that she was Introverted. She wasn't trying to eat the grass, even when we were stopped. (Coming from being around 2 left brain introverted horses, and having to play with one during the week, it did strike me as very strange!) She was slightly tense. This led me to think that she was probably Right Brain Introvert.

Emily sent Sugar around the arena and she quickly went very Right Brain as well as extroverted. Okay...so maybe I was wrong...

It quickly became clear that she was figuring out to jump over the fence. If she did she could cause chaos with the herd of horses that was in the same area as the arena. Or she could run back down to the barn where she came from and getting hurt while trying to get back to them.

Emily saw it and called Amanda into the arena to lower her energy to try and calm the mare. When that didn't work Emily asked me to go and stand by the part of the fence where Sugar seemed to be thinking about jumping.

I thought I was supposed to keep her away from the fence. "No! Bring your energy down, calm her down!" Oops.

So what I did is I blew out and out and out. Drooped my shoulders, sagged in my back. Let all the life out of my body.

It worked somewhat. She was still rather high strung but she stayed rather close to me and even dropped her head to grab a few bites of grass. We had a couple scares that she would jump while Emily tried to halter her again, but she did it without Sugar jumping out.

After that incident, Sugar returned to her introverted self. Emily, Amanda and Sheila did a lot of stuff with Sugar to test her out and stuff. She was a great horse but there were 3 things that were real deal breakers.

- She had a very mild club foot, but a club foot none the less.
- An old injury on her right hind leg. The vet had said it didn't affect her gait but was still a worry none the less.
- Her age. She was 14 years old. Sheila was looking for a younger horse.

They discussed if she could be a project horse to resell, but her foot & old injury scratched out that idea.

It was with sadness that we had to put her back out into the field.

The barn manager then told us about another horse being for sale. We went to go look at her. (At this point I could really start to feel the missing breakfast) She was a very large paint mare. (Large as in..wide!)
She had Salita's face (who is Indy's foal! Well now she is a big girl but still) and Sheila's horse Sue's body.

Well then!

At this point I was sort of...zoning out. I was developping a head ache.

After a bit we decided to go because we were all getting a bit crabby from not eating. The barn manager gave Shiela the horse's owner's number and we left. Straight back to Cracker Barrel to eat some late lunch! It was already just past 2pm.

We had spent 5 hours looking at 2 horses. Wow.

On our way back home, my headache got really bad so we waited a bit before going out to the stables. But it passed after about an hour. But we didn't do much because I still wasn't feeling too hot. I watched Katie jump and stuff. It was fun because Emily's friends from "The Harry Potter Expedition" were there!!

There you go Emily, a lovely long post! :)

The other posts should be coming along soon enough! :)

~Julia

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Lesson with Amanda- Day 5 of My Internship with Emily Larramore

My Lesson with Amanda
Amanda came on Friday morning to come give Emily and I a lesson each. Emily wanted to learn how to teach her horses how to come sideways toward her. I just...wanted a lesson. I had so many different things I wanted help with- and there were probably many things I needed help with that I didn’t realize needed work.


Lightening bolts shooting out of your belly button. Simple enough, right?
Emily played with Vanna first, playing for quite a bit. I watched at first from outside the arena but got distracted after a bit...then Amanda called me into the arena to watch. Good timing!


I watched as Emily played with Vanna. There was a definite difference from when I first started playing with her...and not a good difference.  Her phases were much heavier than before.



Body position and language. Even I was intimidated by this.
After a bit, Emily took off the halter and let Vanna graze for a moment before I went to go get her to play. No, she didn't do sideways towards her yet. 


I played with some easy games. Friendly, driving, etc... It was when I had trouble with the Yoyo game that Amanda came to my aid.


My Phase 1 was wiggling the rope, lightly but still wiggling. Amanda explained that Vanna is so sensitive that Phase 1 is energy. Just shooting a lightening bolt from my belly button at Vanna should be my Phase 1. My phase 2 is wiggling a finger, not even the rope. 




Problem is: How do I get lightening bolts out of my belly button??




Frustration. It sucks.
On a side note, depending on who you have a lesson with (Emily or Amanda) they will describe this use of energy in two very different but very accurate and realistic ways (in my opinion). 


Emily describes it as a big purple wave. Amanda talks about lightening bolts shooting out of your belly button. 


And man can you feel her lightening bolts!

Emily is riding bridless! 

Back to the lesson.

So how do you shoot lightening bolts out of your belly button? You picture it. You bring up your energy and shoot that energy out at your horse.

 I was having a really hard time with the lightening bolts. I got frustrated! So Amanda tried another approach. "Get pissed." she told me. That was a little easier. I started getting my energy up more inside me. Body position and body language are also major factors in working with energy.

There were several occasions where I would get my energy up, I was ready to shoot lightening bolts to back Vanna up...and I would hesitate. It was just for a moment. But then I would lose it. I lost that energy.


I think that was the most discouraging of all because I could see it in my head so clearly but I wasn't able to do it. The most I got was Vanna take a small step back. It was small, but at the same time enormous. An enormous achievement.

Our draw on the other hand was much better. Well it was still rather tricky but not nearly as challenging as the driving. For the draw you have to push the energy out behind you. I found it easier to picture the purple wave for this scenario.

Amanda is riding bridless! :D

However, however. Something I think I was doing (though I'm not sure because no one commented on it) is that when I was pushing the energy out behind me, I think I also had quite a bit of energy still pushing on Vanna.

Maybe its a control thing. I just need to learn to control it.

Another thing I need to figure out is that hesitation thing. It bothers me. Maybe I just need to practice...

Indirect rein...without reins.


"Perfect practice makes perfect." -Parelli

I decided to end on a good note. To where I got a lovely draw, just using my energy. Amanda explained how it will be uneven for a while. My draw will be better than my drive, and then it will interchange before evening out. 

Sleepy horsey. :)
Then Emily put the bareback pad on Vanna (and got a bite on the butt in the process!) and we continued to do what we had before. Our trotting and using less and less of the reins. Its starts to feel like routine at this point.

Sadly, the grass was slippery and it was muddy from the rain. I had wanted to jump but Vanna was slipping around and finally told me "Enough is enough."

My turn!
So I hopped off, trusting her. Then Emily decided to try sideways toward her. And of course, being the amazingly smart horse Vanna is, she already knew it and did it easily for Emily. Whoo!

Then we had a bit of fun, Amanda, Emily and I. We took turns riding Vanna bridless. At a walk, but still! :D It was awesome. 

"Go around the cones Julia."
Don't you just love our photos? They are not corresponding to the text at all! :P

I would like to say I am being bribed to post these. I will try and finish up these posts within the next couple of days but once I'm in London, Internet will be iffy.

As I was saying, Emily is bribing me to post these. When I have written them all out then she will post her next post on her blog. How mean is that? Now I am the bad guy here! (lol) I am the one who is responsible for her blogging activity. 

"With great power comes great responsibility." -Spider man

Stop and backing up.


As you can probably (hopefully) tell I'm just playing around with you guys. Especially Emily. :) I can't wait to read her new post. But she sure does know how to motivate me! Smart girl. (Though I think this is considered Julia-torture! :P)

The posts I must complete in order for Emily to write and post hers:
- Day 6 of My Internship with Emily Larramore
- Day 7 of My Internship with Emily Larramore
- Reflections of My Internship with Emily Larramore
- Putting it into Action: Playing with Sharlie


Riding out by myself.


Goodnight.

Julia


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Please Go Vote!!

Hey Everyone,

As most of you know there is the "We Are Parelli Because..." video competition going on.

Well it is time to vote (well it has been since the 14th) and it is going on till the 24th!

I would love, love, love it if you guys would go and vote at least once.


I would love it even more if you could go back and vote once a day for our video. 
Yea, you can go back once every 24 hours and vote. So pretty, pretty please vote for our video!


We could use a day with Pat and Linda so much...it would simply be amazing. 


Here is the direct link to the video.


http://apps.facebook.com/contestshq/contests/129630/voteable_entries/24910438


If that doesn't work, go onto the Parelli Natural Horsemanship Facebook Page, (Like it, if you have to), go to the Contests tab (on the left, under the profile pic) and find our video and vote!! 


PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE WITH A CHERRY ON TOP! Please.


Thank you. 
Julia



Saturday, July 16, 2011

"The Harry Potter Expedition" -Part of Day 5 of My Internship with Emily Larramore

This is a small, fun adventure that I had last night with Emily.

We went to go see the Harry Potter movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2!!!

So we went in quite a big group. There were 7 of us.

-Josh
-Lindsay
-MaryKatherine
-Ian
-Rachel
-Emily
- Julia (DATS ME! :D )

Excluding Rachel and I, Emily was the youngest of the group (she is 23). Yea, you are probably thinking "Julia, you are 15! Hanging out with 20+ year olds!" (I could be really mean here and say that I'm hanging out with people almost twice my age :P)

See that doesn't bother me. In fact I feel more comfortable around people in that age group. I seriously forgot I was 15 (Psh, I'm almost as tall as them. That is a first!) and had an AMAZING time!

Mary Katherine is hilarious. I mean, I could not stop laughing. Ian (her husband) is a really nice guy, as well as Josh. Well everyone was nice! They were great!

They are such a variety of personalities. Ian is studying in med school, MaryKatherine is going to become a English teacher for high school after Ian gets out of med school, Lindsay is a dental hygenist...

And one thing they all have in common: They are all into horses!

Harry Potter was fricking AMAZING! EPIC!

[Spoiler Alert!]

Ignore all comments made by Emily that I was bawling! It was only one part. Before that it was because I was hyperventilating cause it was like a giant adrenaline rush (yea, I'm getting high off of Harry Potter!) and also I had to go pee REALLY REALLY BADLY! I ended up missing the part where Snape dies. DARN!

I gushed a tear or two when Fred, Lupin and Tonks die. But it wasn't as emotional of a scene as I thought it would be. The forest scene and Snape's memories are so much more emotional. You can't help but love Snape once you watch his memories.

Over all, Emily's friends are AWESOME! I am really glad that they let me come because I had a blast. Not many people that age would let a 15 year old come along with them, so I am truly grateful. (I don't think Emily would leave me behind anyway....or would she? *dramatic music*)

(Side Note: Here is MaryKatherine & Lindsay's band: Songbird)

Thank you guys for a great evening! ;)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 4 of My Internship with Emily Larramore

Day 4 of My Internship with Emily Larramore

This morning I was going to ride for the second time, but this time ride correctly. And...and hopefully trot.
I had been working on squats and other exercises that Amanda had told me to do to improve my balance and this was the test to see if my hard work was . 
I started out with playing on the ground, doing things I would get ‘yes’s to, which meant games we didn’t have trouble with. The good news was with a horse like Vanna, you really don’t need to play a lot before you can get on and ride.
Emily had me on the 22 ft feather line and I was riding on a bareback pad (Love those Parelli Bareback pads! <3)
We worked on walking, stopping and backing up with my body language and energy. We also worked on pedaling. Emily told me to really exaggerate the movement so I could get the hang of it easier.
I got the hang of it quickly, but my fluidity at the walk hasn’t really been a problem in a long while. (A year.)
When Emily suggested the trot, I tensed for a second. It passed as quickly as it came but I still said “Let’s wait a moment.”
Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t wait to trot. But I didn’t want to be nervous as I have always had problems with that.
The first time we trotted it took a while for me to get the hang of it, but it really helped that I didn’t have to worry where Vanna was going. But when I got it...I felt...flowey. I was flowing with her. After that  I got it quite easily.
I stayed on the line for about another 15 minutes before I felt ready to go out and ride by myself.
I walked around a bit, making sure she was still listening to me (of course she was!) and finally...this was it.
I was going to try and trot Vanna and stay balanced and fluid, to breathe and relax.
At first Vanna went Right Brain. But instead of stopping her, I had to ride it out. And that is what I did, and it worked! She slowed down and lowered her head.
We trotted and trotted and my confidence grew and grew! We even jumped a small jump a few times! Then towards the end of our riding session she began turning more and more to my body language and where my belly button was pointing instead of me having to go up in phases. 
I ended  on a good note- weaving at the trot with using barely any rein. 
After the barn we went down to Clanton to see Amanda and go to Tractor Supply to buy feed for Emily.
As it turned out we spent at least 45 minutes in the HUGE Bass Pro Shop and then we went on an adventure to explore, nearly getting caught in a bad storm. 
Amanda had never driven down a certain road so we went down that road. As we were driving through ‘the sticks’ as Emily called them, I looked out the window and couldn’t help but love this.
Loving just going off plans, taking an extra half an hour to explore. Not worrying about time, gas, money. Just taking the time it takes to live your life.
That evening there was Rachel and Katie out at the barn riding. I decided to ride again, despite it being terribly muddy. 
Vanna and I jumped some more (On a horse like her, how could you NOT love it?) and trotted alot more.
One time, coming up to the jump Vanna picked up the canter. I had a mini freakout before bending her to a stop. I wasn’t quite ready for it yet!
The evening was so much fun, it wasn’t too hot nor was it raining. This day made up for the other times we had missed. :)
Sorry it’s late guys. I had written this HUGE long beautiful post but it got deleted (ugh) so here is a shorter version. Sorry, but I’m feeling lazy.  I really am sorry!
video
The post about today (Friday) may take a while. I had a lesson with Amanda and I need to reflect before I write about it (Sorry Em)

Please remember to vote for my “We Are Parelli Because...” video on the Parelli Facebook page! <3 We would benefit so much from a day with Pat & Linda!
Gonna go see HP and the Deathly Hallows this evening with Emily’s friends. (Gonna be the little kid of the group. lol)
Cheers
Julia
video

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 3 of My Internship with Emily Larramore

 After last night my goals were simple. Or at least they seemed to be.

- Go slow like a slug
- Use my body energy much much more
- Do more 'Yes' stuff, things I know we can both do.

Emily was going to do some one-on-one coaching with me. After yesterday I was secretly glad because I knew that Vanna was getting heavier and heavier in her phases. A small voice told me last night "See, you ARE screwing up her horse! The horse she is taking to Parelli and you are screwing her up!"

Emily asked me to do the 7 games- without a stick, just as much as my energy as possible. She told me that Vanna could do stuff with just body language and energy and no need for a stick or string.

We ran through the games (except Sideways and Squeeze because  and found out that I had trouble with Porcupine and Yoyo Game.

To improve Porcupine we played a bit with lowering Vanna's head by the poll. We only did it a couple times before moving onto the Yoyo game.

THAT. THAT was ALOT harder! I kept trying to picture it in my mind and a few times, I'd manage to picture it correctly and picture that 'purple wave of energy' that she says she sometimes imagines. When I did it correctly (which only worked once) she would back up.

I got slightly unconfident and Right Brain because I felt like I was doing wrong whatever Emily was asking of me. It didn't help that Vanna was dominating me most of the time.

Emily showed me that she should move backwards just by me stepping forward toward her, pushing her with my energy. That only worked a little bit, but I would end up by her head.

I was trying to think it through but I felt myself becoming more and more right brain.

Then Emily showed me something Mirka Pitts had taught her. "The Soap Bubble" The soap bubble is touching Vanna's chest and is in front of me. By exerting energy on the soap bubble, I was exerting energy on Vanna as well. That was what did it for me. We got a good backwards and so we ended it at that.
Then I spent a couple minutes just standing with her before hosing her off and putting her back out in the field.

Day 2 of My Internship with Emily Larramore

Hey Guys!

This morning the weather predicted a heat index of 115 (I think) so needless to say the idea of going out was...not tempting! :P
However we did go out to the girls about 9 o'clock to feed the girls. At one point Emily jumped up and spontaneously did double liberty with Alli and Vanna. She got Stick To Me, circling, and two AWESOME draws. It was awesome. Amazing. Beautiful.

She will go so far with her girls. :)

This evening my goals were:

-Play on the 22ft line (I had played on the 12 ft yesterday)
- I did Level 1 stuff yesterday so today I wanted to do Level 2/3 stuff


Riding:
- Using less of the reins
- Trot?


When I began playing with Vanna it was really on the borderline. It was "Yes, No, Yes, No, Yes, No" It was equal amount of 'yes''s and 'no''s. When I finally got a few more yesses (I have no idea how you are supposed to make that work) I tried to play with Vanna at Liberty.

She played 'Stick To Me' really well, it was excellent. But because I wasn't used to playing with such an advanced horse I was still learning how to ask her to do different things and so I quickly confused her when I tried to ask her to circle. She went "Hmpf!" and trotted off. I laughed at myself. I was experimenting.

I went to draw her back and did some drawing. However when I asked her to stick to me, she was all over me, being dominant. Emily pointed it out. I already knew. I laughed at myself silently again. The difference between Vanna and Sharlie was astonishing. Sharlie at liberty will stay at least 6 inches away from me unless I invite her closer, yet we still have several problems at liberty. Vanna knows loads more than Sharlie, but she is testing me, trying to dominate me.

I find it amusing. I'm just weird like that.

But when I tried driving game, she left again with another  "Hmpf!" That was strike 2 and as Linda says, its time to go back Online.

I honestly don't remember what happened but as we were trying to play with the question box we both got frustrated and right brain. Emily quickly stepped in and helped Vanna start thinking again.

I didn't realize it at the time. I have never had anyone one there to stop me when I'm getting frustrated or Right Brain except myself- and I usually don't realize I'm going right brain. In fact I rarely do.

So to be able to stop and sit down and watch Emily....wow.
Emily played with Vanna and rode her a bit bareback & bridless. (Where is a camera when I need one??)

On the drive home I felt emotionally drained, as well as REALLY tired! :P Emily talked to me about Right Brain people. Example: Bearded Starbucks Lady said that Emily yelled at her. Emily DID NOT yell at her, but to a Right Brain person, accusing someone of that is just...yea. (Emily was mad! :P Sidenote: Emily is spoiling me. Yummy Starbucks Passion Tea)

She just told me different situations about Right Brain people and stuff.

So today was a super duper learning day. Lots to think about...

Looking forward to seeing Amanda tomorrow! <3

Julia

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What I want to achieve & accomplish
- Trot with relaxation and balance.
- Canter on Vanna
- Play at liberty in the arena

Goals:
-Ride Vanna bareback and bridless at the walk
- Do Driving from Zone 5



What I want to learn/experience: 
- What Level 3/4 feels like in all 3 savvies.
- Fluidity & Balance in the saddle (and bareback!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 1 of My Intenrship with Emily Larramore

I woke up this morning with the jitters. I quickly rushed to get all my bags together and before I knew it we were off!

I really had no idea what to expect at Emily's as I had never been there, never met her horses, never been to her barn. You get the point. 

I was excited and nervous. I wanted to learn as much as possibly could an\d I knew I would because Vanna (the horse I am playing with) is Level 3/4 which means everything is Phase 1/2 with her.

We had a rather lazy afternoon. It was all good. Picked up baby Jewel (Emily's kitten) from the vet then was off to the barn. At first it was so miserable we didn't do anything but sit in the shade and talk. 

Finally we went to go halter the horses. I was struck with a flash of extreme nervousness. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! What if Vanna doesn't like me? What if I offend her? What if she doesn't understand anything I ask?

Luckily it was only a moment of hesitation. It passed quickly and I began to play the 7 games with Vanna. 

Friendly Game ✔

Yoyo Game ✔ (Oh my gosh...I am in love with her Yoyo!)

Circling Game ✔ 

Squeeze Game ✔

Driving Game ✔

Porcupine Game ✔

Sideways Game ✔

And guess what? All of them amazing!

We had two moments where I got confused or didn't have a clear picture in my mind of what I wanted and so she got confused and frustrated and so we lost the connection. 



But ;;when we were connected  it was simply amazing. I got a small taste of what it was to dance with a horse. I hope by the end of the week we can dance together, Vanna and I.

I rode Vanna after  playing on the ground. Emily asked me to work on 4 things.

-Indirect Rein
-Direct Rein
- Lateral Flexion
- Not using the reins.

I found the experience very enlightening. It was similar to when I rode Blaze (Hannah Willis's horse) back last summer. Reins was the last thing on her mind. Your body language is all you really have to steer her. 

I tried to trot once. It started out slow and relaxed but Vanna sped up a bit and I tensed, causing her to become right brain. I had to lateral flex her to stop. Something we are definitely going to have to work on. 

Emily told me to find a good point to stop. A few minutes later she followed my focus- just my focus- to turn while her ears pricked....what better place to stop?

Its so enchanting here. I really like it. I know I will have an exciting and amazing time.

- Julia

PS- After watching some of Emily's friends ride, I REALLY want to trot & canter calmly on a horse- AND ride Casper.





Saturday, July 9, 2011

Belonging to the Herd

Parelli people now often refer to their group of horses as their herd. I say it to a few trusted ones because when I say, I mean it. I’m not saying that other people don’t mean it but I don’t take it for granted.
What very few people experience- though the numbers are growing thanks to Natural Horsemanship- is the genuine feeling of being part of a herd. To be accepted by the horses as one of them and to be shown some of their most guarded secrets. 
It has only happened to me twice.
Back near the beginning of last year.
And the other day.
The first time was when I first began playing with Casper, those two months where I was  familiarizing myself to him and allowing him to grow in confidence to the point of where he wanted to be caught. 
Casper belonged to a herd of about 8. 
- There was the wise old leader Doc who already considered me to be his friend and trusted me not to harm him. There was no horse that could win against him.

- Casper was second in command. 

- Then there was Chico, an overenthusiastic ambitious horse who was constantly trying to climb to the top of the dominance ladder.

- There was Comanche who is always at the very bottom of the herd, probably due to his cribbing. However he is a very sweet soul.

- There was Jasmine, one of only 2 mares in the field. She was a sweet girl and did as told, but was known to be mean to dear Comanche.

- Reo was rather the outcast but was very intelligent. That’s why he was so difficult to be caught, he knew better.

- Thunder was just under Casper when it came to dominance for the most part but there were a few moments where he was 2nd in command. But he was rather a tyrant and no one apart from Chico ever liked him. However with humans he had a rather docile nature.

    • And then towards the end of the 2 months Sharlie was moved into the field, making the 2nd mare and the 8th horse. 

This was the biggest herd Mercy had ever had before and it did indeed only last for a few months. However at the time it would be one of the most educational experiences I would have. 
As I have said before, I spent a lot of time in that field, usually away from the other horses waiting for Casper to come to me. Then as he grew more familiar he would begin to invite closer to the herd or invite another member over to be with me and him. It  was usually Sharlie, Doc and sometimes even Comanche if we were able to convince him to stop cribbing id only for a moment.
After about a month it got to the point of when I entered the field all of them would look up from whatever they were doing and greet me. Several began running or walking towards me. Often it was Sharlie, Casper, Comanche, Jasmine, Reo and Chico. Doc would wander over to me in his own time and welcome me back once again to the herd. These were horses that had never been exposed to Parelli nor had I ever worked with them (as in with a halter, lead rope, etc...) and they still were coming to me like Sharlie and Casper did.
Which brings me to a quick side note. I was once told, a while back before my journey with Casper had even begun, to not do any Parelli with Casper. Of course it was meant to mean don’t catch him, don’t train him like typical trainers do. But when it comes to Parelli, or maybe just Natural Horsemanship in general, you don’t need a stick and string to teach a horse something. You use your attitude, thoughts, energy, and body language. And they wondered why I could catch Casper when I didn’t even “train Parelli on him.”
On warm days when the horses grazed together I would lie down in the middle of them and close my eyes and soak up the sun, sometimes humming a slight tune. Casper and Sharlie would often stay close to me but no one ever stepped on me or came close to hurting me.
A couple of weeks before Casper was moved out of there (that is when it ended) it was to the point where the horses would follow me around the field. We went on long walks in a field they already knew top to bottom but we still discovered new things. That is when the herd counted 9.
It is rather sad that nobody at the stables ever noticed the things that happened during this wonderful time. Maybe if I told Susan about it now, she wouldn’t believe me. That doesn’t matter to me. Because the 9 of us know it happened. Though maybe if they had seen the magic that Natural Horsemanship can bring...they would think differently of it. No matter.
Of course things have changed since then. Doc has been moved to live happily in a lush field until his time to move on arrives, Reo has found a new home with his owners. Thunder has lost most of his docile nature due to inexperienced hands and lack of training, consistency and calm. (His rider is very nervous but he won’t face his fear because he rides with the big tough cowboys. And lets be honest here, they say they are afraid of nothing so they won’t ever face fears nor address their horse’s fears. )
Not to be side tracked here but a few months ago one of them (the ‘tough’ cowboys) fell of off his Tennessee Walker and wouldn’t ride for a bit afterwards (I don’t know if he is back in the saddle now or not) but his buddies kept bugging him and bugging him to go out riding with them. Gosh you guys! He isn’t that young anymore, he could have easily broken something and the TN Walker can be a handful! They don’t address fear. And it will cost them something serious one day.

Things have changed. Casper and Sharlie have changed. I have changed. All of the horses from that herd have changed. 
So I had always thought that none of them would ever remember.
Little did I know...
Comanche

Comanche has recently started sharing a field with Casper and Sharlie. Even if he is an extreme cribber (I hope to help him some with permission. If only for the sake of saving fences. He tears them apart!) he can be gentle. However I find that he is usually in the background, forgotten for the most part because of his cribbing. Both horses and humans push him away, leaving him alone. (I believe this is part of the reason he cribs. He is rejected by the herd for his cribbing thus the stress of it drives him to crib. Its a vicious circle. Of course this is only one of many causes.) Doc was the only leader that still accepted him as part of the herd.
Comanche also has a reputation of being stupid. Now of course that is not true at all. He hides his intelligence behind a veil of what seems to be ignorance and idiocy. I don’t know why he does it. Maybe some experience in his past has taught him having an opinion is bad. I don’t know...
Anyway. I started my walk towards the field and as usual I saw Comanche cribbing. I sighed, thinking I would have to try and move him away from it again (he is so numb...Porcupine Game with my fingers, elbows, whole arms doesn’t work) But then something surprised me. When he saw me, he pricked his ears and left the fence to come meet me by the gate. Sharlie and Casper were still way in the bottom so I spent a few minutes just standing with him by the gate, stroking his large face. He held his head right by my side and started to fall asleep.
I wanted the moment to go on forever but we were in somewhat of a rush. Mom and I had just come down to do Sharlie’s medicine before we left for vacation. I called Sharlie and Casper up and they came cantering up to me neighing at me. Comanche followed me until Casper chased him away (sad face) but he did not go back to cribbing.  Not until I exited the field. (And we are talking about an EXTREME cribber here. Almost 24/7, you have to DRAG him away from the fence. No joke.)
  Comanche showed me that he remembered me as part of the herd and even better in our little herd of 4 now- Sharlie, Casper, Comanche and I- I am the leader. 
Footnotes:
I realize there is a possibility that Tom, Susan, maybe even the ‘tough’ cowboys read this. They know about my blog. To some degree, I hope they do read this post. Maybe it will help Thunder’s rider or the Tennessee Walker’s rider to realize that it is okay to be scared and unconfident sometimes and that you don’t have to repress it. You cannot just ignore fear and expect it to go away on its own. If that worked, Sharlie and I would be cantering through the fields without a care in the world. No, instead it transmits to your horse who becomes nervous and afraid as well, making the situation worse. 
The first steps to moving on is to acknowledge it and find your thresholds and slowly work through them. I will be the first to admit I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to dealing with fear. But I do know first hand what it is like and so I can relate.
 Directly to the ones who it concerns: Do not be afraid of fear. Come find me if you wish to know more.  Also it is true, Comanche is smarter, much smarter than he lets you think. Ask me sometime and I will show you.