Sharon and Sienna

Sharon and Sienna

Social Media Internship

I was fortunate enough to be offered a Social Media Internship with Parelli, which has now turned into a permanent position.
I am excited to be here in Pagosa Springs on this journey and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Love Pagosa Springs

Spring is here and I'm on a mission to find some great hikes and trail rides this year. I plan to try somewhere different each time we venture out, but one of my favorite places to take the dogs is Reservoir Hill.

You might remember seeing pictures of Sophie and Milo up there in the thick of winter and it was beautiful, but this place takes on a whole new beauty in the spring.

On this particular day the weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, with a gentle breeze and the sun was shining through the trees as we set off on our adventure. There is a whole trail system set out and this beautiful mountainous area is close to town and offers hiking and biking trails through natural forested areas.

When you reach the top of reservoir hill, there is a beautifully carved bench. I always think of my dad when I see it because he is a very talented woodworker and he would take pleasure in seeing the work that was put into it.

There is a gathering of fox, owl, deer and bear all looking in the same direction as if they have spotted something in the trees.

To one side of the bench there is a beautiful sculpture of a lion and her cubs playfully spiraling upwards on their own tower.

On the hike back down there is a beautiful owl perched up high, wings spread as she keeps a watchful eye on her travelers below.

I could not think of anything else that would add to the beauty that surrounded me other than Sophie and Milo, so I decided to create some sculptures of my own, with the help of a strategically placed tree stump that worked out perfectly for my plan.

First up, Milo. He was more than willing to show me how he could jump up on this big tree stump, and like the good boy that he is, posed perfectly for his shot...

Then comes Sophie, it was quite a squeeze getting her up there, but she too gave her best glamor pose just as the breeze picked up and added to the beauty of the picture!

From sculptures to paintings, the view from the top of Reservoir Hill is breathtaking. Through the break in the trees, the San Juan mountains are picture perfect.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Beau

Thinking about my boy Beau who would have turned 8 tears old today. I miss you handsome x

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Taking The Time it Takes.......

Sienna will be seven on April 27th and I have had her since she was four. Before I got her, she had been trailered quite a bit locally and had done one trip from Montana to Iowa and back. When I got her, we drove her from Montana to Las Vegas (I purchased the trailer that she had travelled in also, so she was very familiar with it). In the two years that she was in Las Vegas we did plenty of trailering locally to play days and trial rides, and last year we drove her from Las Vegas to Pagosa Springs, CO where we now live.

Not once in all those years has she ever had a problem trailering........until recently.

How Interesting!

About three weeks ago I was heading over to the ranch to ride with Molly and it took me a good hour to get Sienna comfortable in the trailer, which was not like her at all.

I have a three horse slant load trailer and it had become apparent to me that the front compartment was a bit of a tight squeeze for her. Sienna is a Quarter Horse/Percheron cross and she had obviously grown a little since I first got her, but I was able to close the divider and eventually head out.
Another thing I had noticed was that when ever we got to a destination, as soon as the divider was opened she would come out of there in a hurry, not so much in a right brained way, but she definitely wanted out of there.

The following week we were headed out to a play day and again it took me a good hour or more to get all four feet in there, but she would not let me close the divider. Any time I went to close it, she would start backing out, and when that Percheron butt is coming your way, you can't stop it!.
I decided to take out the first divider so she would have the front two compartments and much more room. I put her in the round pen while I was doing this, and she got so worked up running around in there she slipped over in the slick mud (left over from the snow).

Now if you read the previous post about Sienna's horsenality, you would see that she doesn't get worked up about much, and the only time i've seen her get upset is when her pasture mate is taken out of her sight........well it suddenly hit me, could this all be because she couldn't see Juno?

After I moved the divider we set about asking her to go back in and this time Mackenzie (Juno's human and the wonderful photographer and roomy who took these photos) was playing with Juno in plain sight of Sienna thinking it would help, but things actually got worse. It took me about another hour to get all four feet in the trailer and finally get the divider closed. I want to say that she was comfortable in there but she wasn't, she was pawing at the trailer floor and whinnying. I seriously considered taking her out and calling it a day, but I instead drove her to the play day. She neighed the whole way there and stomped her feet occasionally, and when we arrived I was a little concerned about asking her to come out and asked Petra to give me a hand.

Petra was brilliant and showed me how to ask her to come out calmly. We hooked her up to the 22ft line and threaded it through the front window and back in through the last window, this allowed me to have control of her front end as well as the back end. When she pushed against the divider, I could gently ask her to come forward using the 22ft rope while Petra used phases from zone 5 to drive her forward, every time she would stop pushing against the divider she would get a rub and the pressure would come off.

We were eventually able to open the divider, have her stand and wait and then ask her to come out. Once she was out, she was fine and we had a great play day. Also, when I got her home I used the technique that Petra showed me to ask her to come out and it worked brilliantly.

Having control of the front end and the back end

The following weekend we were headed out to another play day and this time Juno was going with us, and even though Juno was waiting her turn to get in the trailer, it still took me about hour to get Sienna comfortable in the trailer. When we got to the play day, every time Juno was out of Sienna's sight, she would start neighing and get worked up, so every time she did that I would ask her to move her feet..... a LOT. Eventually she settled into the calm horse she usually is and we had a great play day.

The weekend after that, Molly came round to watch and gave me some great techniques to play with. We asked Sienna to place certain zones next to the trailer to see if there were any sticky spots. I hadn't thought about asking her those kinds of questions because trailer loading had not been a problem in the past, she just did it. Well it turn's out that zone five up against the back doors was a little sticky. We then placed treats all around the trailer and asked her to find them, this helped a lot with placing different zones against the trailer.

Finding a treat

Sienna had also got into the habit of placing her front two feet in and then coming back out, so we asked he to only place one foot in, well this just blew her mind and when she was able to do this, we called it a day. There was lots of licking and chewing for both of us!

One foot only please

That night I decided to feed her in the trailer. Well she must have gone in and out about 20 times but all the while I figured it was good practice for her, and thank goodness I now have the savvy for a situation like this where I can smile and say: "you want to go out?, OK let me help you, but now come back in again".

For the next week I fed her in the trailer every night and very quickly it has become a place where she likes to go. First I will ask her to go in, which she practically offers, I can close the divider with no resistance....

Then ask her to come out while I place her grain and hay in there - all the while she is wanting to come in. Then I will back her up about 15 ft, throw the lead rope over her back, point to the trailer and in she goes.......

where she will happily stay while I sit at the back and read a book.

A few times she has come back out (back feet only) and taken herself back in to finish eating.

When she has finished eating she'll either come out by herself or I'll ask her to come out (by the tail)...and we walk at liberty back to her pasture.

Thanks to Molly and Petra for your wonderful advice and to Parelli for teaching me to Take the Time it Takes, so it Takes Less Time!

Horsenality - What a Concept!

We had a winter workshop here at Parelli Central a while ago, the theme was: Staying Progressive in Winter.

Molly Sanders and Petra Christensen made a good team as they took us through a variety of topics including horsenalities. I am always amazed at how many times I have covered this topic and yet I always learn something new. When I first got Sienna (2008) I had a hard time filling out her horsenality chart, this is how it looked..

When filling out this chart, I would read the descriptions in all four quadrants and consistently say to myself: "Nope" she's not that", and the 4 dots I was able to place were mostly mild qualities.

Three years ago I didn't know about the Positive Attributes chart. I looked at one about 8 months ago and saw that Sienna was all over it, but the workshop was the first time I had actually filled one out and this is what it looked like....

When people ask me to describe Sienna, i'll tell them is that she is very level headed, smart, a fast learner, very dependable and sweet. I think if i'd have filled out the positive chart when I first got her, it wouldn't look very much different than it does now. Does that mean that she's not improving? What it means is that she has a lot of reliable qualities (more dot's in the bottom two quadrants) and we could improve on our performance qualities (less dots in the top two quadrants), but she is on her way to being a more "All-Rounded" horse (more dots in more quadrants).

This stuff is always exciting to me and I can never get enough of it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Stuff is Great!!!

I had an amazing day with Sienna on Sunday, it just seems like everything we have been doing reached a whole new level, here are some of the things we played with:

Maintaining gait on the 45ft line at the walk trot and canter
With rhythm, relaxation and contact, Sienna will happily maintain gait for 6-10 laps. A different story about 5 months ago when she would come in after 2-3 laps

Weaving cones with the 45ft rope
it was the first time that we had done this on the 45ft rope and Sienna did great. Prior Preparation is the best!

Mounting from the fence
Sienna blew my mind yesterday when mounting her from the fence. She has no problem side passing over to me when I ask her, but yesterday she offered it. It was like she said: "Here you go mum, get on" – It was
AMAZING!! – I gasped so loud that Molly looked over to see what had happened, I must have had the biggest grin on my face :0)

Jumping with Savvy
I haven’t really jumped a horse since I was young and even though I have wanted to try it, now that I’m older it’s a little scary, but yesterday Molly really helped me with this. While riding Sienna bareback and playing the pushing passenger game, Molly led Sienna at the walk and trot over a pole so I could concentrate on what my body was doing and where to put my focus. It was an awesome session and a bit of an eye opener –
FOCUS IS VERY IMPORTANT! :0) – It was an awesome session and next time we are going to do the same thing only set up a small jump, I’m so excited about it. Watch out this time next year, I’ll be jumping barrels!!! :0)

Point to Point
Again Sienna blew my mind with this. She has a really hard time walking in a straight line (apparently get's it from her Dam), so we do a lot of Point-to-Point and Tit-for-Tat. Just going from one side of the arena to the other I would normally have to correct about 10 – 15 times. Yesterday it took about 6-7 to start with, but on the last pass there were NO
CORRECTIONS!!! Woo Hoo – at that point I called it a day, I LOVE my pony :0)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Art of Poi

Back in 2001 I worked as a wrangler at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big sky, Montana. The ranch had 89 horses, it was a summer job and one of the best experiences of my life. We had some great rides right from the ranch, but mostly I would trailer people and horses into nearby Yellowstone Park and do all day rides. The scenery and wildlife were just breath taking. You can see some pictures here.
It was such physical work and you were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was a good feeling and by the end of the season after lifting all those saddles, and riding, and cleaning I was as fit as a butchers dog!

Me on my favorite ranch horse Leland, on the Spanish Creek Trail

We had no television at the ranch so our evenings were filled with sitting outside on the deck of our cabin and talking about our day, watching the deer strolling by, or the fox cubs playing that lived under the tool shed next to our cabin. It's also when Margot, one of the other wranglers taught us the art of Poi.

Learning the art of Poi

I ordered myself a set and have been playing with them a little over the years, and when I packed some of my belongings and moved to CO, I found them and brought them with me, thinking it would be a fun thing to do with Sienna.

Sienna is pretty laid back and takes everything in her stride and when I first got the Poi out and started twirling them a little, it didn't phase her one bit. Since she was so good about it, I have been tying them to her bareback pad and we do most stuff with them trailing along her sides, then I'll get on here and twirl them next to her and over her problem. So this weekend I took it one step further. I think you can pretty much tell by these pictures and the expression on her face that she's OK with it all.

Now I just need to get better with my technique. :0)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sienna my Love

I Just wanted to share these random photos of Sienna. It was late in the day and we were loosing light, but it was the perfect time to capture these images.