Monday, June 29, 2009

Mongolian Horse Race

This article came across the wires tonight at work and just wondering what all my horse blogging friends think about it. There is a local Portland Company, Mercy Corp, known for aiding disaster victims that is getting a lot of criticism from "The Long Riders Guild" about its involvement in the 534 mile race across Mongolia. The Guild is billing the race as "the biggest, baddest equine affair on the planet." Horse and riders will be exposed to wolf attacks, bubonic plague, rabies, flash floods, foul water, poisoned food, theft, assault, and no vet care. Apparently there are 26 riders from all over the world taking part....and get this...800 horses if that is any indications of how many horses they plan on having to use to complete the race. The Long Riders Guild is rallying the equestrian world...they have already drafted letters to all those involved. They are concerned that riders will be too heavy for the Mongolian horses, that not enough water is available, and basically citing it as "an ill-advised equestrian misadventure." Here is a link to all the contact numbers of those involved if you care to pass on your two cents. I think for me, the idea of 800 horses to 25 riders just shows how dangerous this is for the horses....and the fact that they are non-native riders makes it even worse. It is now about competition and horses always finish last when there is money and prestige involved.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Canterbury Park

I was back in Minnesota a week ago and went to visit my father at Canterbury Park. For those who don't know, my dad trains and races horses at tracks across the Midwest. For me, visiting the track is always bitter sweet. I love the horses, the sounds, and the community that makes up the backside. On the other hand, I hate seeing horses bound to stalls unless they are working on the track or going in mindless circles on a hot walker. I hate the drugging, I hate the running of horses younger than 4, and I hate watching people handle horses that have never looked into horse psychology as a way to help train. Still, I go because I love my dad and I want to support him. I have learned to pick my battles. I cleaned his tack room out for Father's Day and left a quote tacked to the wall, "Horses jump higher and run faster out of heart and desire." I wonder if he has seen it yet:-)

Here is an updated picture of Bri. I posted about her back in 2007. She is 15 now, still working for my dad and still dreaming about training horses. She is sitting on "Jessie." There was another addition on the backside...little Cadence. The story is his mom drove up from Nebraska and dumped him at the track and took off. His father works for my dad as an exercise rider. Everyone has been helping to watch him while Eddie rides. It broke my heart to see this nice little boy just abandoned by his mom and left here. Granted people on the backside find ways to pull together and make things work, it is no place for a two year old. They are getting creative and taking turns with babysitting. Someone rigged up a harness to attach to the hot walker and he goes around and around like a swing. I have a picture of Cadence napping on a tack room couch and you get a sense of how little he is. Also, one pic of my dad holding "Ground Candy" before a race...ran 4th.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Walter Zettl

I feel so honored to have met WAZ, otherwise known as Walter Zettl, one of the world's most revered masters of classical dressage. He has joined with the Parellis to bridge the gap between natural horsemanship and dressage. For me going through the Parelli program, I went from a loose rein hackamore and then to bridle, but there wasn't a lot of teaching about contact and collection. I was studying Parelli and taking dressage and the two seemed a bit at odds sometimes. I was torn between my loose rein riding to getting her on the bit. So I am thrilled that they are addressing the hole and have added Walter to the staff. While working the event, we had to pass behind the main table where Linda, Walter, and the soundguy sat. On my way back in from a water break, I go to pass Walter, and he just put his arm around my shoulder and asked "Well how are you doing today?" I thought that was so sweet. He just smiled the whole weekend, chatting away, and talking to everyone who had questions. When I talked to him, I got a sense of his total understanding and compassion for the horse. So much so, sometimes his eyes teared up in the middle of a good story. Horses do that to me too. I am watching his DVD series, "A Matter of Trust." It is filling in a lot of holes for me about dressage. I am somewhat a "newbie." I have been taking lessons for a little over 2 years and have never competed. Maybe someday, but for now I am absorbing what I can and feel I have found a great resource in Walter. At the Parelli Celebration, he gave Linda a lesson. His timing is so impeccable, and he was so great at conveying what Linda needed to do to reach the limit, but not go over the limit. He grew younger as his voice carried commands to his student. I felt like I was watching a bit of history. After the lesson, everyone in the arena was on their feet, giving a standing ovation. One phrase he says that I like, "Now ride up in heaven," meaning look up and carry yourself like you are there. I can't express enough to everyone out there, if you ever get a chance to see him at a clinic, go do it. There are few like him in the horse world and I am sure he will leave the same impression that he left on me...."I am in the presence of greatness."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Parelli Celebration

On Wednesday, I flew to Minneapolis and then drove to Madison, WI for my four days of being a volunteer for the Parelli Celebration. On Thursday morning, I arrived at the Alliant Center to an arena filled with trucks and a lot of set up to do. We had 18 volunteers and we divided into groups and got to work. Lots of skirting of tables, setting up banners, hauling boxes, and setting up merchandise. We got things done fairly quick. We went back to our hotels a bit sore, but everyone was excited for the weekend to begin. (me...back row..second one in)Friday, we got there early and got ready for the doors to open. I was assigned to be on the retail floor, answering questions about Parelli equipment. I was outfitted in a Parelli Team vest and an "Ask Me" clipboard. I felt official:-). We had a big rush of people that morning and it was a good experience to meet like minds and talk horses and tack. Being a gear head...there is nothing more I like to do than talk equipment:-)Friday was a day for Parelli students to show their stuff in the four Savvys......On-line, Liberty, Finesse, and Freestyle. This is were the Celebration differs from a Tour stop. It was almost like a showcase. After the students were done with their first song, if they heard a "neigh" they could do another and another. When finished, Pat would offer tips and suggestions to further their training. I took a lot away from it, because I would see things Maddy and I struggle with. To be continued.......wait until you hear my story about Walter Zettl.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Figure 8

My boyfriend came out to the barn on Friday night and video taped me playing with Maddy. I wanted to do a run through of some stuff we have been working on so I could watch it and look for things I can improve upon. I am posting a little clip of Maddy doing some figure 8's with a little canter. In the video, she does a couple decent figure 8's, then I ask her to canter, she does so nicely, then she breaks gait and I ask her back to canter and she has a little tantrum. I am trying to figure out if I asked "too big" or if she was just showing her contempt at being asked to canter again. If it was contempt, do you get mad about it and match her energy or do ignore it and keep putting her to work? I ask because this is sort of becoming a pattern with her, she gets a little worked up in the canter and I am looking for some advice on how to interrupt this behavior.