Sometimes I think I am a little slow which means that Aspen probably thinks I've only got half my wits about me sometimes.  I've had TWO blinding flashes of the obvious this week that I think will really change how I play with her and therefore enhance our relationship.

My first one was with the barrels.  Aspen has always had a lack of confidence jumping my two barrels laying side by side but never a problem jumping my slightly taller jump constructed with rails.  Because the jumps were approximately the same height I couldn't figure out what the problem was with the barrels...then it FINALLY ding-dong dawned on me (HELLO!) - it's because the shorter length of the jump was also creating an additional squeeze on her.  Doi, doi, doi *head slap* - how long have I been in this program for?!  Perfect timing too because a friend of mine just gave me two new barrels to add to my collection for a total of four.  Now that it's four long she has no problem going for it and in fact has built a lot of confidence in just a few days that she's not just willing to jump it, she's AIMING for it! :)

Second BFO of the week was in regards to my Follow The Rail and Cloverleaf pattern.  When I first began Parelli I thought you had to play the games in order every time, understanding that first game builds to the next and so on.  Then as I progressed I realized sometimes there's a time and a place to get a horse out of your space quickly using the driving game or maybe you need to get a horse moving his feet a bit before he can even think about standing still so you can play the Friendly game.  So it goes with the patterns then too.  Follow The Rail was first in the line up so I was going to make darned sure we had it down before moving onto the next thing.  But she had all this energy and impulsiveness and wanted to DO something so I decided I'd try the Clover Leaf, which we could still technically play FTR for portions of it.  Well, wouldn't you know, it settled her and we could get right down to business.  She started looking for where we were going to stop and acting like a partner.  It was the equivalent of the figure-8 pattern over the circle, especially for an RBE type horse.  So, note to self, don't ALWAYS stick to the order of things.  I have instincts and the ability to feel of and for my horse so I should USE them.  Our FTR is also much better now!

Entry from yesterday on Parelli Connect:
Played with a few things I took notes on for Level 3 on-line, such as sideways to slow down on a circle, more straightness in the yo-yo and incorporating the stick to drive back and less wiggle on the rope in yo-yo, upping the yo-yo game by having her jump the barrels toward me and backing up to put Z5 on the barrels, better quality (less quantity) in the figure-8 pattern, transitions on a circle, changes of direction, me staying in neutral and with independent feet, sideways with more impulsion (using the fence), and sideways over the barrels. Had a great time freestyle today! Aspen has gotten into a habit of tossing her head upon moving from a walk to a trot and then every so often in the trot. Today I decided to use a pattern interrupt method that whenever she tossed her head she had to go in one tiny, speedy circle (with a direct rein) and then back on the rail. It didn't take her long before she realized that every time she tossed her head she had to work harder and eventually quit the head tossing for the most part! About half way through our ride all of a sudden she rounded her back, put her head down, and started blowing out while executing this powerful trot. I immediately quit riding and stopped, letting her rest and licking and chewing myself on how and why this just happened. I asked her to trot again and fidgeted around with my position until I caused her to do it again so I quit riding. In about 10 minutes she found out that the right answer was (and if I was in the proper position to allow this) all she had to do was round her back a little, lower her head and neck, relax and then we could rest. She started to do the peanut roller thing so I helped adjust her head a little higher when she dropped it too low and when she hit a reasonably low/relaxed head set and was moving nicely through her body we stopped. Our ride went beautifully! We also jumped the barrels (with the turn/face/wait) a handful of times and she really felt like she understood the pattern. This was probably one of our best rides! :) :) I also wanted to mention that at the end of our play session I opened the gate from the arena into the big pasture and she waited for me to go through (at liberty) and then played stick-to-me at the trot/walk/back up all the way through the big pasture into the back pasture and was still stuck to me when I had to encourage her off to go see her herd mates in the far corner. TOO COOL! And - she came to greet me with a very positive expression when I first got there today!

From today:
Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (On Line, 60 mins) Played with the same concepts as yesterday on-line. Had marked improvement in our circles today and with trot/canter transitions! :)
Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (Freestyle, 60 mins) Had a great ride again today - she really has the head down concept while moving. Incredible she picked it up so fast and that I got out of her way to learn it. :) Getting softer and softer and more confident each day. 

Z5 on the barrels yesterday

Touch it on the spouty thing on the pivot today

Cow moving down the road today