Liberty flying lead changes

We are playing on-line and at liberty every day with Cash. Usually I go out with a plan, we play around a certain idea. Every time the plan is modified either by conditions or Cash. To be flexible - hmmm how interesting. So today we set out to do driving from zone 5. We ended up at a round corral.

We have tried stick to me at canter and finally got it :) Before, I would go up to canter, she would follow but after I went down to walk she would zoom past me in canter. Today I thought to myself, canter to walk can be quite hard to synchronize between human and horse so why not make a transition from canter to trot instead. It worked! We could go up to canter together and go back to trot also together. After that we were both in quite playful moods and Cash offered quite a few flying lead changes. It was a great morning.


Hello from Pagosa Springs

So here I'm in Colorado, Pagosa Springs doing a Fast Track. I got here over a week ago but with all the things going on I didn't have much time to write.

I'm riding and playing with a very nice AQH mare - Cash. She belongs to Petra Christensen - 2 Star Parelli instructor. She is very, very sensitive and trying her best to understand me and what I'm asking of her.

Me and Cash at Parelli Games on Saturday

We are starting to build a strong relationship and I think we are going to have a lot of fun together. By the way, we got a green ribbon for on-line and black ribbon for liberty on Saturday at the games :)

Parelli ranch at Pagosa is amazing - it is surrounded by mountains, amazing nature, animals like deer, chipmunks and beers passing by. I'm learning a new thing every minute that I'm here - thanks to our superb instructors and Cash. It is a place where a horse is never wrong and people are trying to understand horses every step of the way.

Juliano is back home and he is doing great. Magda is looking after him and playing with him. It seems he is having a great time with his best buddy Dum and all his mares. I miss him like crazy but there is a reason why I'm here - to become a better horseman especially for him.


Canter sideways!

We have done our first sideways in canter! I got on Juliano bareback and we have practised sideways in trot then circled a bit in canter. After Juliano's canter got slow and rhythmic I thought "Why don't we try sideways in canter" and guess what Juliano did - few steps to the side. We are taking baby steps, J only does 2-3 stides sideways and then I ask him to continue cantering straight on and we stop. After 3 successful tries I got off Juliano and allowed him to go back to eating grass. He came back in few minutes for some scratching and yawning :) One thing that hit me today is how sideways slows the horse down. Once we started doing sideways in trot Juliano's canter got slower. Today after sideways in canter Juliano didn't rush of he did the opposite - went back to a walk when asked.


Couldn't be more proud...

Today's freestyle ride was one of the calmest we've ever had. We started off really slow, doing full zone 1 turns with hindquarters not moving. Then, sideways in walk and trot. Once Juliano delivered a precise sideways in trot we could move on to canter. As we were both very calm and focused on one another we could do graceful walk to canter transitions and after that come back to a walk. After few circles of walk-canter-walk I asked Juliano to come back to a walk after 4 strides of canter and we made it! I was super excited and proud. For some horses it is easy to come back to a walk but for us it was always THE most difficult thing - to stop. We never made it in 10 strides let alone 4. It was always: canter, please come back to a walk, 30 strides later and we are still cantering or doing a choppy trot. It was an amazing feeling when Juliano just calmly glided back to a walk.



We are finally starting to progress at liberty. For Juliano round corral served only one purpose "Get in and run. Run like crazy". Every time we tried anything at liberty J would get on a circle and panic. Before I got him he used to be exercised in a round corral and a lot of pressure was put on him. This is why it took us ages to start doing correct changes of direction. Before, as Juliano was chased in the corral, he used to turn away from human to make a change. In order to correct that we wend back on-line in the round pen and took baby steps. Every time J would panic and turn away I waited and asked for hind-quarter disengagement. Today I took the halted of and everything came together. We did transitions from trot to walk, walk to halt, walk to canter. After that Juliano was hooked and we started playing with changes of direction. To my surprise Juliano did great. He didn't turn away, he was focused on me and didn't panic. It was amazing :)


Trailer lodaing

Juliano is an expert on trailer loading now! It took us 4 sessions and now he loads and unloads at liberty. Once he is inside it is quite hard to get him out, I guess he feels quite comfy there. This time he even wanted to get into the passenger seat :) At the end Tom tried a new loading technique with J called "Follow the hay". We all had great fun!


Trying to match up with Juliano

As Juliano is very ambitious lately I found myself a little bit behind him. He is very keen on learning new things and he is showing off things he already knows. We've come to a point where Juliano is acting like a perfect partner most of the times and I can ask him for things like jumping, sideways in trot and extended trot. We could do it before but with maneuvers like this J would easily get excited and break into fast and choppy canter. My main focus over the years with him was not to go to this place and we have worked very hard to maintain gait and keep the relaxation. Now as things have changed we can move on to more advanced riding. Juliano is ready for it, now I have to work on my seat and fluidity to match Juliano's big and exuberant moves.

Here are few photos from our last freestyle sessions:

Jumping J

Extended trot

Sideways in trot

Ohhh and one last thing - I have to let go of the string! I think I will write it on my arm next time we ride "Trust Juliano, don't hold on to the string so much" :)


Jumping Juliano

Juliano was never keen on jumping. He would refuse to jump and it was all a great fight when I tried to jump him few years back.

Yesterday we've had a great storm and a lot of trees fell, including one huge tree which landed in the pasture. Today our horses went to the same paddock where the tree was. I wanted to play catching game with J but he was in a very playful mood and wanted to show off. He ended up cantering in circles and jumping the tree every time he went round. It was hilarious to watch. After each lap with the jump Juliano would return to me for a treat. After he was done jumping at liberty I got on him. I wanted to see if he would be just as happy jumping with me. The jump was tiny but the attitude he gave me was amazing, I would set him up on a jump and he went for it with no hesitation. Here is a short clip:


Progressing towards L4 - Freestyle

An update on our progress in freestyle riding. Juliano is doing great, he is finding more balance and rhythm in canter and started doing steady walk to canter transitions. In next couple of days (weeks :) ) I will try focus on refining elements of freestyle so that we can submit our L4 audition.

Here is a short clip from our last ride:


Sometimes, just everything falls into place

Today, our ride with Juliano was prefect. The sun was shining, J was very willing and positive, I was calm and didn't expect much. Maybe that's why our sideways in trot started working out today. No pressure, everything on "Valium" and suddenly it all came together as a rhythmic side pass. We also managed to work on our canter departures. They used to be very sudden. Canter was hard to control and I wouldn't trust Juliano, I would hold on to the string just in case. Today even this changed :) Juliano was simply brilliant.


Breath of spring

Spring is almost here and although it is still quite cold I think the winter will not last too long now.

Juliano is very positive lately. I think he is a bit bored after winter and wants to play and learn. Yesterday I walked into the paddock with my bareback pad, carrot stick and string. Juliano knows exactly what that means - time to ride. I was sure he would start playing the catching game with me but to my surprise he walked straight to me. He stood besides me while I dusted him off and placed the pad on his back.

Our ride was very playful and I could feel Juliano was having fun. One thing I have noticed lately is that our downward transitions are much better than upward. Hmmm, how interesting. Juliano was a horse very hard to stop and now canter-walk no problem. Walk-canter however is now officially broken. Who would have thought that one day I will have to motivate Juliano to go. The good news is we are very close to having go and whoa equal. This was my dream, for Juliano to have impulsion but not to be impulsive and we are almost there. Another thing we are working on is sideways in trot which is coming together quite nicely.

Juliano is acting like a partner and I couldn't be more happy with him. I think this spring will bring us great things, a lot of fun and yet another breakthrough. I also know I will have to ask more of him in order to be provocative and interesting.


Slow winter

I must admit, we are having a very slow winter. We've had tons of snow during December, which was great. After Christmas thaw came. The snow melted during the day and froze at night leaving us with our yard, fields and paddocks covered in ice. This continued for 2 weeks and it was not even safe to turn our horses out. Snow finally melted and the weather started to resemble early spring. This drove our horses wild. They went out running and bucking - playing like crazy. Finally they could blow off some energy that was building up for the past few weeks.

We didn't ride much, in January we only went for two trail rides in walk mainly. Yesterday I rode Juliano bareback with a string. Our ride was amazing - calm and in harmony. One could say 'normal' but Juliano was full of energy after two weeks of doing nothing. I could feel that energy but he didn't use it against me. He had every right to buck me off but instead he was obedient and calm. We've done some patterns in all 3 gaits, transitions, sideways, circles and after 20 minutes of riding I took Juliano out to the paddock. He rolled, run and bucked. I than played with him at Liberty a bit and he ended up with his head under my arm yawning. Great way to end our day.

Later my friend told me he didn't go out in the morning. I'm sure he wanted to run and buck but he managed to control himself when I was riding him. He is truly a great partner.