Friday, July 27, 2012

Kathy & Taurus "Getting to Know Each Other"

My newest partner, Taurus!!

I am excited to get to know my new horse partner Taurus! He is a 6 year old Fresian from Florida and found his way to me due to his size and a less then ideal first 60 days under saddle. I am really looking forward to developing a relationship with him and he may become my new demo horse that travels on the road to clinics, etc.
He is extremely people friendly, and curious about people and their 'toys'! He is eager to learn and loves it when I pick him to play with!
At the moment I am getting to know him on the ground only :-), and John has agreed to put the first 30 or so hours on him while I focus on keeping myself and our new (not yet arrived) baby cool and healthy during this very warm summer!! Here is a picture of Taurus with his first session under saddle on our farm. . .
To begin with he was a little concerned with the motion behind his drive line, but by the end of the ground and riding session, he was looking lovely and relaxed . . .

Thank you John for your help, and I can't wait to watch as he continues to progress!!

What I have been focusing on after our first sessions together:
*Improving Taurus' confidence with things 'switching eyes', particularly in zone 5
*Higher energy friendly games
*Approach and retreat with canter
So far Taurus has made great improvements and is now able to accept the stick and string over his back with relaxation (nice low head, and soft eyes). He has also started to learn to pick up the right lead in front and behind (to start with the right lead was often a counter canter), and he is starting to read my body language and energy so that he knows if we are playing friendly game or driving game.

I'll keep you updated with his progress and look forward to learning more about him!
-Kathy Baar

Monday, July 2, 2012

A really useful article that I copied from Daniel Stewart's Newsletter! If you don't already get it you can sign up here!
Donna asks "My instructor is encouraging me to set goals. I think it's a good idea but I just can't seem to get into the habit. I've spoken with a few other riding friends and they can't seem to get into it either. Is this normal"?
I commend you on your desire to include goal setting in your training program and encourage you to not get discouraged, it's actually quite common for many riders to struggle with it. Having said that, goal setting is one of the most beneficial tools any of us can develop, it helps us learn to use our training time more efficiently, stay focused on what's important, identify strategies that lead to success, provide us with feedback on our progress, gives us reasons to keep going and provides us with a clear vision of what we want to accomplish.
There are many reasons why riders might struggle with goal setting, knowing what they are may help you understand what's holding you back:
  • Fear of Failure - We might avoid setting goals so that we can avoid the possible disappointment of not being able to achieve them.
  • Fear of Success - We might worry that if we achieve a goal today we'll have to keep achieving them in the future or be labeled a slacker.
  • Impressions - We might believe that others will think badly about our weird way for training or of trying to exceed being average.
  • Wrong Tool For The Right Job - We may have been discouraged in the past because we set outcome goals (only focused on winning) instead of the long and short-term goals that create success.
A lack of willpower can also lead to goal setting difficulties. Willpower is defined as having the self-control to resist instant gratification so that we can achieve long-term success. Many riders believe that goals require too much time and doubt that the efforts they put in today will benefit them tomorrow. When done correctly however goal setting can actually be a time saver because it gives our training sessions greater structure and purpose and makes them more efficient by focusing more of our time on the skills that will benefit us the most.
Understanding why we don't set goals is only 1/2 the battle... the other 1/2 is learning how to set them. For more information on how to do this I suggest you read the following Tip of The Month and to remember that:
Any goal worth setting is a goal worth working for.
Thanks for the great question Donna! If you have a question you'd like me to answer in a future newsletter feel free to email it to me at:

Tip of the Month
Setting Goals For Success

Riding is a very goal-oriented sport, whether we're training a young horse, moving up through the levels, learning to jump or developing a conditioning program, goal setting is an integral part of what we do. Learning to set goals is important but it's just as important that we learn how to achieve them. Below are a few tips that can help you do this:
  • Correct tool for the correct job - Set short and long-term goals that focus on your skills and behaviors instead of those of others.
  • Worthwhile - Goal setting requires hard work and dedication so your goals should make the effort worthwhile.
  • Realistic - Set goals that are challenging but achievable, too easy and you'll loss motivation, too hard and you risk feeling disappointed.
  • Schooling and Showing - Since the vast majority of learning occurs in training you should set goals for your lessons as well as your shows.
  • Self-Determined - Goals should be all about you, meaningful to you and not someone else (avoid setting goals to make others happy).
  • One at a time - Goals work best when you set 1 long-term goal at a time and set no more than 3 per season - quality is better than quantity.
  • Measurable - The best goals let you know if you've achieved them or not. Non-measurable goals like "trying my best' are too ambiguous.
  • Time Bound - Create a target date for your goals, it makes them measurable and helps you avoid procrastination or complacency.
  • Believable - If the gap between your ability and your goal is too big your mind won't be able to accept the discrepancy.
  • Perpetual - A goal that requires a lifetime commitment is fine but goals tend to be more achievable when you work on them one day at a time.
  • Ethical - Setting goals that go against your morals (i.e. sacrificing your horse's safety for a ribbon) will leave you wondering if it was all worth it.
There are many other ways that goal-setting can set you up for success... watch for more goal setting tips in future newsletters!

A week with Kathy & Quick
“Teaching flying lead changes from zone 5”

As you can guess by the title this week I decided to try and teach Quick flying lead changes with long lines from zone 5! I chose to use the figure 8 pattern – something that he already knows, to help support the flying lead change pattern.

Some things I found useful to already have in place before starting this week’s project: In a nutshell, at least Level 3 ground skills with Quick. Plus, confidence in zone 5 with two rein driving at walk, trot and canter. Also, a positive pattern on my 45’ line doing the figure 8 with just one line. In addition, I have been practicing Walter Zettl type 2 rein sessions with Quick, getting him highly in tune with my energy up and energy down so that we can make precise transitions without heavy use of the line. Lastly, we have been playing more and more with zone 5 driving while I keep my feet still = lots of circles, figure 8’s, and weave (with very long lines and lots of ‘drift’).

Day 1: With all the preparation we have done I felt Quick and I were ready to dive right into the Figure 8 pattern. We started at walk then trot and built to canter with simple changes by the end of the session. Once we got to canter I focused on seeing if I could keep my feet as still as possible and would allow Quick to do several circles around me while I prepared to be in the right position and when we were both ready I asked Quick for the transition and new lead when he was in between the cones. Once on the new lead I allowed him to circle several times until we were both ready and then asked for the transition through the center and into the new lead.  Quick caught on quickly (no pun intended J), and we finished on a relaxed canter around a cone, a nice downward transition to walk and then back out around the other cone in the new lead about 3 times.

Day 2: We prepared with a VERY short session on the 45’ line to get his energy up (it was very HOT, so a short session was key!). Once he was connected we played with 2 22’ lines in zone 5 warming up with the same pattern as Day 1, all was coming smoothly. So, I chose to ask for the change. On the first attempt Quick did a slip change (not quite enough ‘Shwung’ for a flying change), but after a few repetitions and some “go button” practice he offered a flying change!! We stopped, rubbed, scratched and gave him a cookie. Then to the other side, and he immediately offered a flying change the other direction J Stop: Rub: Cookie and we cooled out for the day!

Day 3: Well, after ‘Day 2’ you may be thinking goal already accomplished, but . . . Today I warmed up, reviewed the pattern from Day 1 and decided to try 2 45’lines for the changes, my thought was that with the longer ropes I would able to be very savvy and keep my feet completely still while offering him drift. However, we only got slip changes. Still we finished on a relaxed, obedient figure 8 pattern with slip changes and off to eat grass and cool off. After dinner while reflecting on what happened I believe I was allowing so much drift that Quick was getting ‘flat’ and loosing elevation in his canter therefore making it harder for him to change (the same thing that happens to most students when they try to get ridden flying changes – that’s why they need a ground pole – to increase the moment of elevation). So, tomorrow back to the 22’ line!

Day 4: Back to the 22’ lines and a much better result! What I learned was that the shorter lines caused me to keep him more elevated because if I allowed enough drift for him to become ‘flat’ I was out of rope! So tomorrow I’ll be back to the 45’ lines to see if I can allow drift at the right time and ‘bring him back’/more collected when he needs to get ready for the change.

Day 5: We started with low energy today, perhaps due to the heat (only 90 at 9:00am!). So, I realized I needed to make a quick session of high energy and we spent time warming up Quick’s brain with some slow but particular tasks, like places one hind foot on the pedestal and playing ‘touch it’ with his tail! After he was in the mood, we moved onto the 45’ line. After 2 slip changes we added some energy and ‘Shazam’ we got 3 changes in a row! The 45’ lines worked great, I was able to allow drift to get the forwards then shorten about ½ circle before the change to help him set up for the change – and it was a success!