30 day challenge in ONE day!

So here I sit, impatiently waiting for February 5th to arrive.  The days normally fly by and before I know it weeks have turned to months and the next thing I know it's my birthday again!  But, now that I am waiting for my new pony I can feel each second ticking by......slowly!  Browsing around on the SC forum today I found a 30 day challenge to make an entry in your blog once a day answering each of the following questions.  Well, I am simply too excited about my horsemanship to wait 30 days to share all the memories and ideas it brought to mind!  And at least it will occupy me for a little while today as I count the time until Aspen arrives.  So here it goes!


Day 1-How did you find PNH 
I was first introduced to PNH by a woman who was new to the barn I was boarding at.  My Thoroughbred gelding was dragging me around from grass patch to grass patch in his leather halter and short cotton lead rope while I was trying to introduce myself to her.  Finally she asked me why I was letting him jerk me all over the place and I thought for a second and the only thing I could come up with was "because he's hungry..."  I know, don't shake your head at me too much.  She didn't really say anything and later that day I sat and watched her play with her L3 horse Tom.  He was so polite and engaged and they weren't arguing about anything!  It was one of the most harmonious things I'd seen between horse and human.  I was hooked right then to know what secrets she had that I didn't.  My TB gelding turned out to be the picture perfect example of a Left Brain Extrovert and from that day forward we stopped arguing and started dancing together.

Day 2-What is your favorite savvy and why 

This is a tough one!! I'd have to say liberty because I feel that really is the truest test of how your horse is feeling about you right in the moment.  And it showcases "the dream" to a lot of people.  Having your horse want to be with you, to participate in the activity.  It's where he chooses that he'd rather be with you than anywhere else.

Day 3-What is your partners favorite game 

Well, my new partner Aspen isn't here yet so I don't really know!  I'll revise after I get to know her better.  But my prior levels horse really excelled at all kinds of Friendly and had a knack for the most beautiful Sideways in any gait.  

Day 4-One BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) moment you've had 

That I can SCREAM at certain horses just by looking at them.  No wonder those horses always found a way to stop behind my back.

Day 5-What is your favorite DVD, Celebration, Tour Stop etc..etc…moment 

One of my favorite DVDs is one with Stephanie Burns in the Red Level One.  It's not the most invigorating DVD but it's where she talks about Comfort Zones and where you need to be for the most optimal learning state of mind.  I think it's really important and it touched me because I have dealt with some fear issues after an accident and identifying where my CZ was and when I was out of it and when I was in it and needed to get out of it a little was really a breakthrough for me.  It also helped me realize where my horse's mind was when he was a little tense or afraid and that he wasn't in the learning zone.

Day 6- What is your dream with your horse 

 My dream for Aspen and I is to complete L4 and maybe attend a Fast Track.  I want to ride to high levels of dressage (non-competitively) and ride bareback and bridle-less down the beach.  I want her and I to be an example to others of what harmony with a horse looks like and use her as a vessel for helping others learn about Natural Horsemanship.  Most of all I want Aspen to be impressed with my skills and look forward to seeing me each day.

Day 7-A time you turned a moment of frustration into a moment of "Hmm How Interesting?" 

I was playing with a filly I owned last year and kept getting frustrated when during our play sessions she'd blow up over a very small stimulus, especially when it didn't bother her before.  It became more intense, more frequent, and more often over the course of the week.  I couldn't see where the problem was or what I was doing to cause it.  I did lots of Friendly, lots of Approach and Retreat, lots of undemanding time.... Finally one day I decided to just make the goal to not do anything, anything at all, that looked like it might make her think an uncomfortable thought.  Well, the second I went into her pen with the halter is when I noticed her first uncomfortable thought.  I stopped, waited, and finally (here's another BFO) I realized that she wasn't comfortable with being caught.  She's not hard to catch and when I bought her just a few weeks prior she hadn't had any experience being haltered or lead, so I figured her not knowing how to put her head in the halter was simply a lack of education on her part.  It never crossed my mind that by now she knew what haltering was about and it wasn't a lack of education it was a lack of desire/comfort to offer herself up to be caught.  To make a long story short it took me THREE HOURS to halter her!  I approached and retreated more times than I can count, played Friendly with the halter all over her, and finally she sighed, licked her lips, and put her head down and into the halter on her own.  I called it quits for that day at that point.  The following day it only took a couple minutes for her to come around to the idea and when we played together didn't have one single explosion!  How interesting..... What does Pat say about taking the time it takes so it takes less time?????

Day 8-What is your horsenality, what is your partners horsenality and how do you make them work together 

 Boy, I've been doing a lot of thinking about this lately actually!  I think I tend to be RBI, but when really comfortable with my environment and those around me become more of a mild LBE.  I love to get busy with horses, create puzzles, change things up, and go somewhere... But if things don't feel right in the least I tend to get more and more introverted.  I am very sensitive to pressure from people, horses, and my environment in general.  Sometimes it takes a bit for me to warm up and gain confidence in trying new things and trusting others/my horse.  Again, I don't know Aspen that well yet but she's definitely more introverted and my guess is she's probably a mild LBI.  I'm not sure how we'll mesh yet or what it will take for us to find a perfect balance.  My old levels horse was LBE as I mentioned earlier.  I always felt very safe with him and so in turn he brought out my LBE side as well and we complimented each other really well.  We went out and did a lot of things and had SO much fun together.

Day 9-A moment you have had with your partner that would not have been possible without PNH 

Hm, again I'll have to refer to my old levels horse.  I'd say we've had so many moments that wouldn't have been possible.  Every moment we were in harmony was thanks to PNH.  He was deemed untrainable and a handful when I bought him and it was only a matter of weeks before I met the woman who got me into PNH.  It was that way for us from the beginning and I know that's why we had so much success together.  I know without PNH I would have NEVER been able to make him standstill.  There was no 'making' this horse do anything.  I needed the psychology of Parelli to teach him how to stand politely for things and to graze in one spot without taking me skiing. 

Day 10-Post your favorite picture of you and your partner and write about it 

The horse I used for the NH program at the University of Montana-Western.  I really like this picture because we were having a lot of fun, he was being a partner (not ninja-pony for once!) and it just turned out to be a great shot.  I chose this one since Aspen isn't here yet! :)

Day 11-Pat and Linda don't where a helmet….do you? Why or Why Not? 

Yes!!! I know they say they don't ride horses when they're RB, and only when they're in a safe frame of mind but we all know how FAST a horse can change from LB to RB.  I had a pretty bad accident without a helmet on and I was lucky I was not disabled from the wreck.  Wearing a helmet is uncomfortable and it looks dorky but it's a small piece of insurance in case the unthinkable happens...which when you're playing with a 1000+ pounds of an instinctive prey animal can happen.  Case in point, when Remmer fell on Linda a little while back.  He was LB and simply tripped and she's lucky she didn't hit her head off a rock or get kicked in the head in the fall.  You just never know...

Day 12-Your favorite horsanility to play with and why? 

Left Brain Extroverts!!! So much fun!  They're entertaining, exuberant, enthusiastic, and engaged!  Look at all those 'e' words - I didn't even plan that! :)  I love that they're confident and ready to go get something done.

Day 13-Post a video (could be an audition) of you playing with your horse 

Will have to make one and post here soon! 

Day 14-What PNH tools, clothing, tack etc. do you own? 

Halter, 12' line, 22' line, hackamore, snaffle bridle, 3 carrot sticks, english theraflex pad, 2 shims, a handful of savvy strings, red level one, blue level two, all the new levels, the patterns, liberty and horse behavior, success series, SC DVDs.  

On my wish list is a bareback pad, a western theraflex pad, more shims, a 45' line, mastery DVDs, a cradle bridle, a green ball - oh the list could go on and on!

Day 15-How is PNH perceived where you live, board or ride at? 

I live in Dillon, Montana which is where La Cense Montana is....if you know anything about the relationship between Parelli and La Cense you know it's non-existent and the topic is uncomfortable to say the least.  Parelli is frowned upon here for the most part.  Other places I've been to it's really bothered people when I have my horse at liberty, or bridle-less, or do that "whip work" aka Friendly Game since it seems unsafe and scars their horses.  It's too bad people are close minded to Parelli before they really know what it's about.  Sure, Pat's corny sometimes, he talks a lot, and the business has grown to be just that - a business.  BUT you have to look at all the success people are having with their horses and the excellence that Pat and Linda have achieved with the horses they play with.  No one can deny that they have something going for them in the horse developing/training department.

Day 16-What is the most challenging horsenality for you to work with? 

RBE to ride and RBI on the ground.  I'm still developing my confidence in the saddle after my wreck so when a horse goes really RBE under saddle I lack in my leadership sometimes.  On the ground a difficult to read RBI is really challenging to determine if it's a sweet, compliant pony or a shrinking violet soon to be ninja pony (as was the case with my paint gelding pictured above sometimes).

Day 17-What is your favorite game 

I love coming up with new Friendly Game ideas and I also love Driving from different zones.

Day 18-A time you have seen Pat & Linda live. If you have not seem them live would you like to, what do you think it would be like? 

I've seen them 3 times and really feel inspired each time.  Nothing really stands out to me in particular.  All the shows were amazing!!  Well, actually, when Pat came to Billings, MT his son Caton got bucked off Smart Seven and hit the panels pretty hard.  Another case in point, even though they try to set it all up for success accidents happen.  Wear a helmet!!!!

Day 19-A time you were able to help a "normal" horse or horseman using PNH 

Happens with trailer loading all the time :)

Day 20-A PNH clinic or lesson that was inspirational. If you have not been to a clinic or had a lesson what educational material has been particularly inspiring 

I took a clinic with Terry Wilson (who is amazing by the way!) and he himself is just inspiring!! He really left me feeling good about what I'd accomplished with my horse thus far and how close I was to assessing for my L3 (which at the time I had no idea I was even near it yet!).  

Day 21-Criticism you have about the PNH program 

Now and then it feels like it's becoming a cult.  Members only.  And you have to pay a lot for added benefits.  I liked when we were all equal as SC members and had access to all the tools to help our horsemanship.  Some of us can't afford top dollar for what they're offering and if they truly want to make the world a better place for horses and humans they need to remember that.  I'm not suggesting they give away their time, tools, and knowledge for free...but we have to remember why we're all in this.  For the horse!  

Day 22-How do you explain PNH when people ask what you are doing with your horse 

I just explain it as a systematic way to problem solving and achieving success all while putting the horses' needs first.  Parelli is about the whole package not just the task or goal of the human.

Day 23-SADDLING: do you use the PNH saddle and/or theraflex pad if not what do you ride in and what does your horse think of it 

How I wish I could afford a parelli saddle!!! I have a theraflex pad (LOVE IT!) and no saddle right now... Contemplating a Wintec Wide???  Going to measure Aspen's back when she gets here and see what I think then.

Day 24-A time PNH made things harder for you and your horse 

Only on a social level :)  People are really close minded to what it can offer and don't take you seriously if you're into that "Parelli stuff".  

Day 25-What is the most challenging aspect of your relationship with your horse 

Not sure yet!

Day 26-What is your favorite obstacle to play with 

Oh I love jumps and the pedestal!  

Day 27-A time you have impressed someone with your PNH skills 

My mom every time I play with a horse!! ;)  Actually it happens more often when people don't know it's Parelli, and then it's anytime I do Liberty or Freestyle.  Or point at the trailer and my horse loads :)

Day 28-Love, Language, Leadership: what is the easiest for you and what is the most challenging 

Love - easiest! I love horses, I love all horses.  There is no such thing as a bad horse, just a not-so-great human.  Leadership can be my challenging point when I am riding a RBE horse or on the trail with a horse that's not totally LB.  I have good leadership skills on the ground however, and that's where I jump off too if I feel the need!

Day 29-If you could ride one of Pat or Linda's horses which one would it be and why? 

 Remmer!  To feel that big, lofty movement!!!

Day 30-What have you learned about yourself since you have started doing PNH 

This is quite possibly where PNH has impacted me the most!  It's forced me to become fitter in every aspect of my life, especially emotionally.  I can better diagnose problems with horses and people now and have strategies to solve them.  I realize that it's not always personal and sometimes its very personal and that's when I need to adjust my approach to a situation.  PNH has made me a better, more calm, well rounded person in every area of my life.  I have grown tremendously and learned a lot about myself, how people learn, about fear and dealing with it, and of course horses, because of Parelli.