Last weekend was a blast. I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at The Center playing with horses and hanging with the ladies. We experienced sun, wind, a bit of heat, dirt, bugs, laughs, and plenty of horse time. It was Women and Horses weekend at The Center.
Before the Women’s and Horses weekend kicked off, Brandon, Stephanie, and I finished the water obstacle in the new playground that Stephanie and Brandon created. We filled the obstacle with ice cold water and I quickly hopped in (feet only) to level out the gravel on the bottom of the pool. It was a pretty warm day so the cold water felt nice (my butt muscles would disagree). The playground has a few large logs, a tire jump, the water obstacle, a hill, trees, and a couple of barrels. Plenty of fun stuff to play on.
Women and horses arrived throughout the day on Friday. Stephanie brought Jen (The Center’s farrier) and her horses, Tonka and Bell. Apollo (Sue’s horse) was already spending quality time with Ringo in a pasture near the arena. Dierdre and her husband, Jim, arrived earlier that week with their horses, Noche and Kesa. Kim arrived with her horse, Timber. Janis’s horse, Logan, was already staying at The Center for training. And Jodie would ride Montego for the weekend. Tori and Eliza (Stephanie’s kids) had their horses out on Saturday and Sunday. I was fortunate enough to spend the entire weekend with Mas!
On Friday Jen and Brandon went for a trail ride while the rest of us played with our horses on the ground. The water obstacle was the main attraction for the entire weekend. The first time I presented Mas to the water obstacle I had to gently ask and he walked across the obstacle almost immediately. After the first send the following sends were not as easy. It was almost like he was thinking, I did this once already, when it was interesting, and now it’s boring so I’m going to stick my tongue out at you and I’m not going to willingly go through this thing. Makes me laugh thinking about it like that!
Saturday was even better than Friday. Most participants were settled in (some even slept overnight in their tents) and ready to play come 10 a.m. I played a few games with Mas, asking him to jump over logs, back up, move his front end and hindquarters using the Porcupine game, before trying the long range driving game with him. That was interesting. He continually moved into my personal space, causing me to stop and readjust my position. Finally, I asked Stephanie to help me. She said, simply, stay behind the drive line. The drive line begins near the bottom of Zone 2 (the red portion of the horse).
Parelli divides the horse into 5 Zones as shown on their image above. While learning natural horsemanship skills, it’s easier to know what Zone Stephanie is talking about. If she says stand in Zone 3, I would know what she meant. Getting behind Mas’s drive line really helped me to drive him forward rather than allowing him to turn into me, which lets him stop doing what he is doing and get into my personal space.
After playing on the ground for a couple of hours we went for a group trail ride. The Center has access to magnificent trails right off the property. It was nice to head into the woods and enjoy the cool shade. On Sunday, when I arrived, people were already starting to get saddled up for another trail ride. Tally ho, off we went. We rode through the woods and around a large field before coming out on the Johnson College campus and riding the gravel road home. Jen had neat little booties on her horse’s front feet to save him from the sharp rocks on the gravel road. Mas led the caravan all the way home from Johnson College campus.
When we got back from our last trail ride, we hosed off our horses and people put their horses away. Janis and I let Logan and Mas graze for a little while before putting them in their pastures.
While many of us sat in the shade, Stephanie and Kim tried to help Timber cross the water obstacle. It quickly became evident that Timber had a negative response to pressure; so rather than it being about the water obstacle, Stephanie worked on helping Timber yield to pressure. She spent over an hour with him until he was finally able to relax a little bit and accept her leadership.
Stephanie is so talented with horses using natural horsemanship. She has strength in her persistence and she is emotionally strong–she doesn’t get angry or upset. She stays calm and in the moment and has the ability to help the horse move past their fears and unwillingness to participate with their human. I hope to be like that one day.