Category Archives: Horses

In Tasmania – Success and Echidnas!

For the past four or five days, I’ve been sitting around with a cold and a painful sore throat. Last I played with the horses, Ty (2-yr-old) was putting up a huge fight towards any kind of pressure. So much so that I was getting slight rope burns, even through my thick leather gloves. Whenever I asked him to go faster, he reared and spun at the same time or galloped sideways and put up a huge struggle for two hours straight. Pearl was highly spooky about everything (… everything!!), especially when I tied a plastic bag to the end of the “whip”. Why would I do that?

Well, when I first learned to ride, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when I was 5,  Continue reading

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In Tasmania – Saddles and good rides!

Today the horses continued to improve and the weather was perfect. But you know what wasn’t so perfect?! Having a huge leech bite my face! Just as I was putting my helmet on, I felt something big and  Continue reading

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In Tasmania – Gold’s 1st ride

Today is the day Gold will remember as the first time a crazy human sat on her back! Mark your calendar!

I rode Gold for the first time today and she did very well. My goal is to preserve her natural intelligence and sensitivity, so I didn’t push it. She listened to aids and backed up nicely, but got a bit stuck when I asked her to go forward. Again, I didn’t put more pressure on her. Instead, I simply set up the situation and waited and immediately took pressure off when she took even one step forward.

After a few minutes, she walked a few feet with me (very wobbly, because she isn’t used to having weight on her back) and I immediately jumped off and took off the saddle right there on the spot. This is the ultimate release of pressure for her and the session ended with me leading her to the best (greenest, tallest) grass in the pasture to graze for a few minutes.
I’d say it was a good start and I set it up so that it could only get better tomorrow.

Photo by Tiamat Warda Gold's plastic bag

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Gold’s plastic bag

After putting Gold back (and giving her an extra carrot… of course!) Lace, the appaloosa, and I had a really great ride. Today was the first day where I had to put in less effort and got more from her, instead. She did a great job of reading and interpreting my energy and, by the end of our ride, trotted when I merely thought it and raised my energy the tiniest bit. Pretty good for a lazy horse! She also did a wonderful job of going straight without me having to constantly pick up a rein to put her back on track.

Pearl surprised me! She did a bit better with the plastic bag, but actually did quite a few circles of crow hops and mini bucks after I saddled her with the back cinch. There’s your extroverted horse for ya! Full of surprises and plentiful energy. Although she is more reactive and energetic, she learns best when under pressure and a bit overwhelmed. So I made it a longer session today, focusing on desensitizing her to the plastic bag. By the end of the session she was yawning, shaking her head, blinking hard and blowing/snorting – all signs of adrenaline release and relaxation. She learned a lot!

Photo by Tiamat Warda Pearl with the scary plastic bag

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Pearl with the scary plastic bag

Photo by Tiamat Warda Ty waking up this morning

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Ty waking up this morning

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In Tasmania – Day 2 Saddling

So today the sun came out, no clouds were to be seen and the breeze was gentle. Finally good weather! I leaped out of bed in the morning and immediately went outside to make the most of it. In Tasmania, I’ve learned, the weather switches dramatically at the drop of a hat.

I saddled Gold and Pearl for the second time and it was great to see their development. Gold was wonderful. She was calm while being saddled and went out in a nice circle (not a single buck!). I sent her over a jump, under some low hanging branches and circled her in all gaits… nothing! Boring!

Let’s make this more interesting, I thought, and tied a plastic bag to the horn of the western saddle.  Even that didn’t bother her too much. Of course, she kept an eye and an ear at it, but was much more calm than I expected. She is usually a very skeptical horse, but was really thinking and actling like a partner (instead of a prey animal) today.

Pearl was a bit of another story. Saddling her was much easier than it was yesterday, but as she went out on the circle to move her feet for the first time, she hunched her back as if she wanted to start bucking, but didn’t… Phew! After moving her around a bit on the ground with the saddle on and observing how she began to relax, I decided to introduce the plastic bag to her, too. Since Pearl is a reactive horse and spooks more than Gold, I didn’t put the bag directly on the saddle.

Instead, I tied it to the tip of my carrot stick (whip) and got her used to it. She was very reactive and was uncertain about what the moving bag meant. So I kept at it for a good hour and ended the session when she let me touch her legs with it (she almost fell over the first time I did that), keeping her legs still.

It was a big session for Pearl but I’m happy with how it developed and think I ended it on a good note.
When she went out in the pasture, she thought, “Aaaaah, finally a good roll!”
After thoroughly rolling around in the hay, she came over and greeted me over the fence. Well, that’s a good sign! Let’s hope it gets even better tomorrow.

Photo by Tiamat Warda Pearl rolling

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Pearl rolling

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In Tasmania – Day 1 Saddling

Photo by Tiamat Warda

Photo by Tiamat Warda

Up to this point, all of the horses here in Tasmania, Australia have worn the Parelli Bareback Pad. Now they are at the point where it doesn’t bother them anymore, so today I moved on and introduced them to a good ol’ western saddle (back-cinch and all). One mare has already been ridden in it multiple times, but today one of the owners of the horses came out and took pictures, so I thought I’d share their first experiences with you.

Every horse has their own way of processing their first saddling experience. When I saddle a horse for the first time, the session involves being saddled twice. This way, the horse smells the saddle and pad before getting it put on, experiences it on their back (bucks), comes back down off the adrenaline (then I take the saddle off), are given a chance to smell the saddle on the ground again, and are then given a “second chance” to process a full saddling from beginning to end.

The second time around, the horses either don’t buck at all or very little in comparison to their first round. This is why I saddle twice – it gives them the chance to experience everything with a different understanding. Then I let them think about it for a while.

So, Pearl gave us a great rodeo show the first time around and was very tense and reactive about being cinched. Here she is after her first saddling;

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt Pearl's day 1 of Saddling

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt
Pearl’s day 1 of Saddling

It generally takes Pearl a while to come off of adrenaline – instead of responding to a situation, she reacts. This is getting better every day. After a while of playing around, she was calm about wearing a back-cinch.

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt

Ty, the 2-year-old gelding, also gave us a good bucking show – often elevating completely off the ground with all four feet. No problemo. What I liked about him, was his genuine and thorough curiosity about the saddle. When he was given the chance to smell it (on all occasions) he thoroughly explored the entire saddle and pad, slowly and deliberately. I really liked seeing this, as the other horses simply gave it a quick sniff or tried to paw it.

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt Ty's first saddling experience

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt
Ty’s first saddling experience

After a few minutes, it was a different story.

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt Ty, thinking like a partner

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt
Ty, thinking like a partner

Gold, my next victim, is one of my favorite horses here. She is very smart, talented and athletic. Although she can be skeptical or unsure of what you are asking (she is becoming more confident every day), she will still do whatever you ask. This shows me what a strong heart she has and how trusting she can be. I don’t want to ruin that! My goal is to keep her sensitivity and trust intact.

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt Gold's first time saddled

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt
Gold’s first time saddled

Gold is new to the human world and fairly new to the “parelli/natural horsemanship world”, but even so… she can jump a single barrel. Even after being saddled for the first time! Go Gold!

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt Gold's single-barrel victory

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt
Gold’s single-barrel victory

 

Stay tuned for more of my Tasmanian adventures!

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If mom was watching

Think about this when you are working with animals —

If their mother, or your mother, was watching… would she have a smile on her face? Would she be happy with how you are working with her child (fair, deliberate and graceful?)? Would your mom be proud of you and think, “That’s my kid!”

I always like to keep this in mind, especially when starting horses. Would their be a smile on a mother’s face, somewhere out there, watching this progress?

I hope so.

 

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt Pearl getting used to the saddle pad - Day 1 saddling

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt
Pearl getting used to the saddle pad – Day 1 saddling

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Filed under Behavioral musings, Dog-Horse Similarities, Dogs, Handling Emotions, Horses, Human & Animal Interactions, Humans, Inspiration and Idols, Teaching Tricks

Just sing along

I always tell people, when a situation gets a bit tense with an animal, or feelings of frustration and impatience arise, to start humming. Or go all out and sing! Take a singing break. Do it. It’s fun.

Why? Humming, singing, whistling… all of these things cause us to breathe, relax and get a bit distracted. You will feel your muscles loosen and a general positive energy flow through you. When I was a working student at David Lichman‘s ranch, I was absolutely in love with his arena speakers! We could ride around and play with our horses while blasting music. It was like one big party and we always made so much progress at the same time.

Today while working with the horses (here in Australia), I got my little iPod nano out (it clips onto your clothing – I really recommend this kind of iPod to anyone working with animals!) and put an earphone in one ear. Working with horses is fun, but when you’re listening to your favorite tunes, you get into a kind of flow. It really is as if you are dancing with your horse and it can be so inspiring!

If a horse is hard “to catch”, you will just take all of those pauses as a chance to listen to some music. You won’t get frustrated and this carries over to the horse.

For all of my dog owners – music will help you, too. It generally puts you in a positive state and makes you a calm leader. Which is exactly what all animals need. Try putting some (fitting) music on the next time you are with your animal/s and see what happens! Just remember, if you’re using headphones, don’t turn the music up too loud, especially if you are working with horses or bigger, exotic animals. You want to be aware of your surroundings and of any (warning) sounds – for your safety! Best is if you use only one earphone.
Tell me all about the results or past experiences in the comments!

Photo by Tiamat Warda Patches, the Appaloosa mare

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Patches, the Appaloosa mare

 

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Filed under Behavioral musings, Dog-Horse Similarities, Dogs, Handling Emotions, Horses, Human & Animal Interactions, Humans, Inspiration and Idols, Tasmania

Humanima in Tasmania, Australia!

In a previous post I mentioned that I would be in Tasmania, Australia for 2 months starting some horses under saddle.

That time is now! I’ve already been here for about 10 days and rode one of the Appaloosas, Lace, for the first time yesterday! Time has been flying by and I wish I could’ve found the time to write more, but it’s never too late to start, right?

It’s an interesting mixture of horses – a “reactive” yet playful, curious and confident warmblood; A very smart and sensitive warmblood who was raised out in a pasture with no human contact. She is as light as a feather and very good natured, but still needs to learn a thing or two.; A 2 year old Appaloosa-Quarter cross who was raised with Parelli from day one; An Appaloosa mare who has developed a hatred for the cinch; A little pony named Clara; Last but no least, a very calm and confident Appaloosa mare.

As they develop, I will try my best to share their stories with you!

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt Me with Ty (2 yr old) putting on the bareback pad for the first time. Saddle prep.

 

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt Me playing with "Pearl", the reactive warmblood. Showing a nice, light circling game.

Photo by Rebecca Schmidt
Me playing with “Pearl”, the reactive warmblood. Showing a nice, light circling game.

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Don’t arrive empty-handed!

All over the world, it is common courtesy to bring a gift to someone’s home. It doesn’t matter if they are your best friends, relatives, or it is your first time visiting a business colleague. You make an effort to bring a bottle of wine, a salad, or maybe a desert.

When we step into our horse’s pasture or stall, we are stepping into their home. It is where they live and needs to be respected. When we visit someone we (usually) don’t just barge in without a knock or a “hello”, and we bring something with us.

Does this change how you view approaching your horse now? What do you bring with you? A carrot will do. Or maybe a bucket of water or a nice long scratch on a hard-to-reach spot. This causes our horse to really look forward to our visits.

It’s the same thing when grandma or auntie visits. You see their car or hear their voice and you get excited. Maybe they brought some baked goods or a little gift for you… or just a really good mood and a smile!

We expect our horses to do a lot for us for no reason. What do they get out of it? How does it benefit them? Well, I’m sure you could think of some reasons… but would your horse understand it and agree?

Bring something to the table to offer your horse – take the time to give them something they’ll really enjoy.

Unknown Photographer I own no rights to this photo

Unknown Photographer
I own no rights to this photo

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Filed under Behavioral musings, Horses, Human & Animal Interactions

Advancing Your Foundation

We all get caught up in the fancy moves – getting our horse to piaffe, our dog to do some insane trick, and continue on to more advanced levels. Admit it, you want it, too!

Here’s something to think about and it’s something most people ignore completely; how good are your basic moves and communication? Sometimes we focus so much on complicated tricks that we let our foundation training completely fall apart.

Some ideas and inspiration;

  • How subtly can you ask your horse/dog to do something? How light are they? Work on that.
  • So they can back up and go sideways… how fast? Can you canter sideways? (This is something I did with my horse on the ground as well as riding).
  • Could you improve a simple, everyday move like picking up hooves? Teach your horse to pick up their hooves on their own without you touching them.
  • How well does your dog heel? How often do you have to correct them? Can they heel without a leash or with a very loose, hanging one?
  • Can you ask them to sit, lay down, heel and stay without speaking? These are all basic commands and you can make them advanced and more challenging, simply by not talking.
  • There’s a reaction time between when you asked for something and when your animal does it. How fast can they react? How can you motivate them to go right when you tell them to?
  • Can you teach your horse to put the bit in their mouth or head through their halter without your help? If you just held it open in front of them today, what would they do?
  • Does your horse come to greet you at the gate or do you have to wade through the muddy puddles to “catch them”?

So these are just some ideas, I could go on and on. I would need a separate blog! But I hope it inspires you and gives you some ideas.

Let me know in the comments below what you are teaching your animal and how it’s going! Thanks for reading and make sure to subscribe for my email updates.

Unknown photographer I own no rights to this photo

Unknown photographer
I own no rights to this photo

 

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Filed under Dog-Horse Similarities, Horses, Human & Animal Interactions, Inspiration and Idols, Teaching Tricks