Autumn blues

As the weather gets worse and worse I have less creative ways to play with Juliano. Yesterday, for example, it was raining cats and dogs all day. We couldn't ride outside and the indoor arena is leaking and there are paddles there as well so there is not much room to do anything. To avoid, boredom which is destructive both for me and J, I've decided to focus on bareback freestyle. I tried not to use both the stick and the string and the result was pretty good. I've asked Juliano to maneuver around the paddles with just my feel and my seat and it worked. Then we advanced our trot sideways. Overall I think this session went very well even though we were both under the weather.

Juliano in his autumn outfit

By the way Juliano has a new friend, 3 year-old Hanoverian gelding. Juliano is teching him the basics of porcupine game and has a very positive attitude towards him. It is very pleasing for me because few years ago Juliano would beat up every new horse that showed up.

Juliano and his new friend


Expect the unexpected

Our recent learning experiences with Juliano convinced me that „never say never” is spot on right also with horses. Every day with Juliano brings us something new and even though sometimes I can't name the direction in which we took a step it is always a piece of a puzzle which will fall into place later in our journey. We learn a lot with our horses and even more from them but what goes on in our human mind when we come across an obstacle? Can we teach all horses the same things? Can my horse do that? These are the questions we face at some point of our journey, sooner or later, it doesn't matter. The important thing is how we handle new situations. Do we give up or go on?

I bet most of us have a savvy, game or a task which we stray from. In the beginning we say „Oh, I'm never going to ride with just a savvy string”, „My horse will never do lead-changes on-line” etc. but time goes by and we find ourselves riding our horse bareback and bridle-less. It is like a dream come true and we remember the times when we thought it's never going to happen for us. In our heads we know we have accomplished something amazing but we still limit our selves when next challenge comes. For us this limitation was sideways towards me. Juliano is master of sideways away from me, he can do walk, trot and canter sideways. This is now easy for him and I take that for granted.

Juliano going sideways away from me in canter

However, I couldn't picture him doing sideways towards me. I thought this is not going to happen and I even started giving myself absurd explanations for that. The truth is, every healthy horse can go sideways left, right, away and towards a human, but I still believed it is to difficult for us. I didn't even think of trying. Few days ago I finally gave it a shot. I was forced to do it really. It is raining a lot here and we only have a few dry, not slippery spots to play on, one is against a fence. So I found myself on that tiny spot of dry land with Juliano. I was thinking what to do there, jojo, tiny change of direction in walk... Juliano was bored to death, he knows it all. For Juliano boredom is worst enemy and his respect for me goes way down when I ask him for things he knows over and over. Then I thought „Oh, OK! I will try the sideways towards me. I will fail but I will try”. I asked Juliano once, twice and there it was, a step of sideways towards me! 5 minutes later Juliano was going sideways towards me in both directions with no support of carrot stick just my hand in the air. It was so easy and all this time I had it in my head marked as „impossible”. We have learned something new and Juliano was as proud as a peacock. How silly of me not to give it a shot before.

It is amazing how many things we are afraid of. We limit both ourselves and our horses with our own fear of failure. For example some horses are afraid when something touches their feet, a rope, branch etc. For a human this can mean a stop sign for sideways over a pole or a barrel. Then we say things like „My horse can't go sideways over a pole because he will get scared if he steps on the pole”. Well, why not work on the feet first, show the horse there is nothing to be afraid of. Get him comfortable with things touching his feet and then do sideways over the pole. The first step might take a while, some horses are very panicky about their feet but the next step, the actual sideways may be as easy as it was for Juliano. The point is - help your horse don't limit him. So next time you think „This is not for us” pause for a minute because your horse will most likely do it and it is only your judgment which is blocking the progress. Give it a shot, take it slow and be patient – it's all it takes.


Savvy Times article

I'm super excited! November Savvy Times is just out with my article about Juliano in it. It starts of with my favorite photo of me and J. I do hope you enjoy it.

More about Savvy Club and Savvy Times


Autumn hacking

Two quite interesting things happened today. First of we went for a hack with Magda. It has been a while since we both had time to go for a trail ride with the boys during the day. Now with the time change we will have to hack out in the darkness more often. Today however, we could finally take things slow and the weather was perfect. Both Juliano and Dum were very energetic. We could feel they would just love to gallop and buck but they were very obedient and respected our choices of pace. Juliano was leading and at first Dum was not happy with slow trot but soon he learned that J would not give up the lead and just went with the flow. After a long walk we went down our small cross country road where we allowed the boys to canter and blow off steam. Than trotted deeper into the forest to arrive at a field for a bit of grazing. Juliano spooked a few times but it looked more like he wanted to do something crazy then actual spooking out of fear. He would jump, buck, canter few strides and than stop and turn his head toward me with a face saying "Look how cool that was now give me a treat woman". We both agreed with Magda that with this amount of energy in our horses we would probably have ended in a dead gallop if we had less respect from our horses. So, well done to them for putting their relationship with us before their need to run.

After the hack I took Juliano to the paddock where Marta was playing with Drezyna. I turned J loose and helped Marta with the idea of sideways game. Drezyna was doing great. She was trying so hard and understood the game very quickly. At first we thought she will have problems with her blind side but even though she could not see us she felt our "go sideways" energy very well and when she got confused she would turn her other eye to us. In the meantime Juliano got bored with no one paying attention to him and started showing off. He started putting his feet on the palettes which were scattered around the paddock. He than stood on one and was looking at me if I was watching or not. He is a true rock star and constantly needs to shine. By the way, yesterday Juliano learned sideways towards me which I thought we would never do. So for Drezyna it was the first day of sideways and for Juliano sideways towards a person. One interesting note: even though you thing something is impossible to do, especially with a horse, if you give yourself time and take it slow at first it all falls into place pretty quickly. Just go out there and try it, you will be amazed.


On-line Sunday

A short clip from our on-line fun on Sunday. Quite a few "Oh-boys" on the way and tons of things to work on. Soon we are going to have our brand new round corral so now is it time to polish our on-line and be ready for liberty.


Freestyle - consistently amazing Juliano

We've been doing a lot of freestyle and had a good finesse session. In freestyle he is amazing. He is relaxed, balanced, doesn't speed up when confused and even when he does speed up he relaxes few seconds later. In fact he is so relaxed most of the time he looks like this:

It is great and when I ride him bareback I can feel he is using his back correctly and floats in the trot. The only problem is I can get his head up :) and 80% of our rides are in this "trailing hound" position. This worries me, maybe he is sad, maybe under the weather. To have a crazy ex-race horse change into a perfect partner is still surreal for me and that is why I'm obsessing a bit.

Yesterday, again Juliano was very obedient and again he was doing a slow, almost western pleasure like trot, balanced and collected canter. He did everything I asked him for and I started missing Juliano's own inventions and ideas. But than along came Marta (Drezyna's owner) and said "Be more provocative" and sat there throwing ideas at me. Do a serpentine, stop, canter, trot, change direction... she was spot on right. Juliano woke up and started having fun again. It is funny how sometimes you need someone else to remind you things you know so well.