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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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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Letter to Linda

Hey Linda,
I really doubt you will remember me but I thought I should let you know in some way. Back in January 2008 (was it that long ago already?) I came up to talk to you at the Franklin Celebration in TN. I had just bought my very first horse ever and only had her for a week. Charlotte's Firefly after my friend who lived in Australia. I still have the photo of Sharlie that you signed.
Well a few weeks after the Celebration Sharlie got really sick. Her left eye was swollen, runny and pussy. She could barely open it. The horse that I had assessed as a LBE during the Celebration was gone and replaced with a RBE. The vet came out and said that Sharlie was blind in her left eye due to moonblindness. 
To summarize, from February to May of 2008 my mom and I focused all our attention on Sharlie's physical and medical care. I stopped riding because I was terrified of riding Sharlie and I would always need my mom to help me lead Sharlie. I basically got stuck in the same cycle you did with Regalo in a way. I excersiced her in the round pen, running running trying to wear her out when she only grew stronger physically.
In May, some how I realized that I was NOT doing Parelli. I was not doing what Parelli was all about.
That is the day everything changed. Sure, Sharlie and I still have bad moments but we get less and less every time we play together. Over the summer Sharlie and I went to a Parelli friend's house for 2 weeks to focus on our natural horsemanship. Then I spent a week interning with Emily Larramore who will be coming to Ocala in November for her Fast Track.
The results of this summer have truly come through. On Saturday I went down to go play with Sharlie on the 45 foot line for what was the 2nd time. Here is an example of how it went.
"I wonder if she would pick up a canter 30 feet away because I raise my energy?" Sharlie picked up a canter.
"I wonder if she will change direction if I take only two steps back?" Sharlie changed direction.
We did some amazing things that afternoon. Even though we still can't canter in the saddle (due to confidence issues) and we may be facing the gigantic problem of Sharlie never wanting to load in a trailer again, we still have those beautiful moments.
And I just wanted to say thank you.
Happy Birthday Linda.
~Julia, Sharlie and Casper.

I wrote this on Linda's Parelli Connect page yesterday evening. I didn't even realize it was her birthday till I was about to post it and saw everyone's birthday messages. :P

Maybe we will get a reply, maybe we won't. I don't really care. But it was something that was on my mind for a while now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Am I A Bad Blogger?

Am I?

I have barely posted anything these last few weeks. That is partly cause I have done barely anything with the horses. (Yes, I know. I fail.)

Well in an effort to make it up to you let me share with you this blog. Its my writing blog.

Also let me share a story I wrote. Its short.

The Big Top

I stood fiddling with the leather popper on the end of the lead rope, shifting from one foot to another and trying not to listen to just how loud the applause was from the crowd inside the Big Top. Someone came up and tapped me on the shoulder and said that I was up next. They said “Don’t be nervous, just let the Big Top work its magic.”
I took a deep breath and looked up toward the horizon. There lay the bold and beautiful Colorado Mountains. I was here, finally.
I heard Neil Pye introduce me to the crowd and I clucked to my partner at the end of the lead rope. We took the few steps into the arena and all my worries washed away. I took in the crowd with a smile as I took off the black rope halter after giving my Haflinger a big hug.  River stood by me, waiting patiently for my signal. 
We started out simple with some Stick To Me at the walk, trot and canter that transformed  gracefully into circles that began close and slowly spiraled outward till River was cantering along the rail. I showed him with my body language to weave through the comes that had been placed along the long end of the fence. With only a couple steps back and forward, River followed my body and weaved the cones to perfection. The applause resonated off of the ceiling 
and the walls.
Then I raised my energy and clicked a bit and River sprinted at a full gallop along the outskirts of the arena. After one lap I lifted my stick ever so slightly in front of him and he came to a sliding stop, causing the curling and twisting dust to envelope him and the audience near him  in a large cloud. The applause seemed to echo.
I waited for a few moments and then as if in slow motion I saw River’s proud face emerge from the dust, his ears pricked asking me what was next. I welcomed him back close to me and gave him a small kiss on the nose before swinging up onto his back. He turned his head to look at me through his thick forelock. I gave him a small smile before asking him forward. He took off at a graceful trot. He arched his neck and picked up his feet like he was a large fancy dressage champion, descended from generations of careful Warmblood breeding rather than a Haflinger pony abandoned at birth by his mother and by many people after that. 
We performed a number of figures, including the Clover Leaf pattern, the piaffe and a sliding stop. I noticed a group of 4 girls who looked about 13, 14 years old sitting by the fence watching us with big eyes. 
We ended the performance with spinning around both ways. As River laid down after bowing, the applause was almost deafening. I looked all around me, soaking it in. 
We were here.
The magic of the Big Top did work. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011


This is from July. I forgot to post it when I returned home. Better late than never.

As some of you know I was on vacation, camping in Cherokee, NC. It is a beautiful place to camp with streams, forests, waterfalls..gorgeous.
And in every touristy place there is of course the horse rides. I decided to opt into this one because I was hoping for some wild reason that it would include something to do with Native Americans- don’t ask me why but it seemed like a reasonable hope. We were in Cherokee, NC right next to if not already in the reserve, it was a trail ride...I don’t know. I am just so fascinated with the Native Americans I was hoping for anything. At least it would be a pretty stable right? I had seen some beautiful valley pastures around and I thought “Hey it would be great to see a beautiful barn.”
If you didn’t already know this about me, then let me share. I do not like going on the tourist horse rides. Why? Because I seem to have a knack for going to the worst possible ones. Where the horses go on the same trail over and over and over, never having their saddles or bridles taken off, only having a five minute break to bring water and grab a snack. 
But surely in the beautiful land of the Cherokee it will be different, right? Oh so so wrong. It was the worst I’d seen in quite some time. 
The trails were gorgeous but not ideal for horses to walk on, large slippery pebbles, muddy tiny trails on the edge of a sharp drop, sharp rocky paths. The horses had about 5 minutes to drink and grab some hay- still completely tacked- before being assigned a new passenger. I don’t know what disgusted me more: When one of the guides (not much older than me) told me to pull to stop, kick REALLY HARD to go, jerk left to go left and jerk right to go right. (Okay, I’ll admit he said “pull left” and “pull right” but the way he showed me to do it was basically jerking.) He still told me this even though he knew I was an experienced rider. Or (what was more disgusting) the fact that most of these horses are were ‘old hags’ with thin weak necks and a rather bony body. Most of these horses had to be in the 20’s at least and should be retired.
My horse was Gus. A dapple grey gelding who was crossed with draft. (When I asked what breed he was I got this for an answer: “Dunno...something fat.” Oh the joy of rednecks) He was thick (of course) but seemed to have the features of a more delicate horse. Not Arab, but maybe Andalusian(?) I wouldn’t know. He looked younger than most of the other horses and more muscular. Reaching almost 16 hands, Gus was for the more ‘experienced’ riders.
I didn’t know what to expect, to be quite honest. Gus had been on this trail already once this morning- would this mean he would be bored out of his mind or had already seen the spooky sights of the day and was much calmer now? What horsenality was he? Most of the horses seemed to be left brain introvert but I wasn’t going to assume anything till I could judge for myself.
Either way I was determined to make this trail for Gus much more interesting than he ever would have expected.
We started out on a narrow path that curved to the side of the mountain with a rocky face on one side and a steep drop on the other. My first goal was to figure out what Horsenality he was. 
Almost immediately I was able to tell he was introverted. Not only would he rather not move his feet, but I could tell his brain was moving quickly. What was he thinking about? I wasn’t quite sure. The path perhaps, or how to throw me off the path. Maybe the horse behind him or the horse in front of him. He was thinking about something.
I’ve had my experiences with trail horses. Those who test you, those who try to do anything and everything to annoy you (and usually succeed), those who couldn’t care, who don’t want to be there anymore. A trail horse I have yet to see is a horse who even after years of walking the same trail, is still enthusiastic about it. Has anyone ever seen a horse like that?
So what was Gus? Well for some reason I felt that he was somewhat new at this. Not brand new, but had been only on this trail for several months. Maybe only a year. Somewhere around there. 
Now was he Right Brain or Left Brain? Left Brain obviously. 
Now time to give Gus something REALLY interesting to think about.
We had to stay at least 10 feet away from the horse in front of us. So why not play the Yoyo Game? Slowing down and speeding up while still staying at a walk. I would start with Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3..Phase 4, 5, 6... Phase 6 was flicking the reins back and forth and FINALLY he sped up. Then slowing down was also a challenge. I had to use the reins a lot more than I would have liked. But after about 20 minutes his ears were locked onto me and was listening to my Phases 1 & 2. Now we were coming up to a series of hairpin turns. Hmmm...what would happen if I turned my body instead of turning him with my reins? The first hairpin it didn’t work but the next 3 he bent to the curve wonderfully.
Needless to say, I had never seen a horse lick their lips that much. 
But remember how I said he was for ‘experienced’ riders? Well so far he had all the qualities of a beginner’s horse: being as numb and slow as possible.  
Well on the way back I discovered why he was for experienced riders. Or maybe it was just for me. But he began to test me. Could he snatch at this grass? Could he get too close to the horse in front of him or too far behind? What if he put his ears back and threw his head?

I made the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy (kind of). When he threw his head, I encouraged it. When he got to close to the horse in front of him, I urged him forward even more.  When he tried to slow down so much the horse behind him would run into him, I would slow him down even more. 

Do you see what I mean?

This took the whole hour and a half ride back. But when we got back, he was close to the perfect horse. I wanted to take him home but I couldn't.
It hurt to think he would just have another rider and go back to the way he was before. But I could find some relief in the fact I just made his day very interesting. Maybe even his week, month or year.

I love you Gus, and still think of you.