In Tasmania – Trail rides and the ocean

Well quite a lot has happened on my trip here in Tasmania, unfortunately the internet has been a bit of an issue, but I’ll try to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to…

Ty has been started under saddle and is developing very nicely. He already feels like a seasoned trailer horse! All of the stubbornness he has on the ground vanishes when I ride and Continue reading

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In Tasmania – Swimming and riding!

It is getting quite warm here in Tasmania! Perfect horse-lover weather.

About a week ago, we took the horses down to a large pond here on the property and had some fun with the horses. Some touched it with their muzzle and others launched themselves in (and back out) with enthusiasm. One of the mares even took up snorkeling by Continue reading

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In Tasmania – Trailer loading & Obstacles!

Wow, having great trailer loading sessions! Once I got all of the horses loading nicely (videos to come), I turned the trailer into their only resting place in the pasture. Which means that we trotted and cantered and kept busy and then I sent them into the trailer where they could rest for a long time. At some point, and it was fairly hot today and yesterday, they got really sweaty and so tired that they were trying so, so hard to just get in that trailer!

When I send them out in a circle and they make the bend so that the trailer is in sight, their ears go up and they put all of their focus on the trailer and trot right in. It’s never been easier! It’s all about causing the right thing to be easy…

Photo by Tiamat Warda Pearl in the trailer

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Pearl in the trailer

Gold did very well today and learned to look where she is going and use her brain. I went with her out into the bush and got creative with all of the natural obstacles. Out there we had plenty of (fallen trees) jumps and low hanging branches and vines to go under and back into (prepares for trailer loading amongst other things!) and plenty of brush to trot and canter through.

I gave Gold plenty of lead so, if she just hit the end of the rope and trotted around me, she would wrap herself around a tree. Pretty quickly she learned that just because there was a lot of slack in the rope, she didn’t have to take it up and use it and tactfully went around all of the obstacles in her way. She would go in between me and a tree instead of going behind it (and getting stuck). We even did some fairly advanced maneuvers, like backing up about 20 feet under some branches and then turning around and jumping over a tree about 40 feet away, all while I stood in one spot. Good job, Gold!! She did great today.

This is an important aspect of starting colts and working with horses in general… they need to learn what their responsibilities are (thinking about where they’re going, for one) and how to fulfill them. People micromanage their animals far too much. The goal should be to have them thinking like a partner (this doesn’t apply just to horses), willing and sensitive to our suggestions and calm and confident.

Sometimes people control the situation to much and only ride their horses in an arena or open space after clearing all obstacles, no matter what size, out of the way first. Then when the horse goes somewhere else with them, they trip over the tiniest branch. Try taking your horse out into the woods and see what you find…

Stay tuned for more…

Photo by Tiamat Warda Gold before heading out into the bush

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Gold before heading out into the bush

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In Tasmania – Wildlife Park & Kangaroo Snuggles

I haven’t been able to keep you that up to date with what I have been up to, but don’t worry, you will see all pictures and videos and hear all of the stories when I get home to Germany. Internet and time have been a bit limited.

Earlier this week, I went to a Wildlife Park here in Tasmania to see some of the native Tasmanian animals up close. Most of them were rescues or were bred and raised on the park’s premises, so were very calm. From holding a big heavy Wombat who moved as much as a sack of potatoes, to snuggling with baby Kangaroos, well, I was in heaven!

Here are some pictures… Longer descriptions and more photos/videos to come! Stay tuned.

Photo by Julia Schmidt Tiamat & the Kangaroo

Photo by Julia Schmidt
Tiamat & the Kangaroo

Photo by Tiamat Warda Mama & Baby Kangaroo

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Mama & Baby Kangaroo

Photo by Tiamat Warda Wombat

Photo by Tiamat Warda

Photo by Tiamat Warda Tasmanian Devil basking in the sun

Photo by Tiamat Warda
Tasmanian Devil basking in the sun

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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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