Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Magic of Piaffe

I have learned so much from Alfredo Hernandez. He has certainly given me a precious gift as he has taught me and my Four Star Farm crew the understanding and patience necessary to teach the piaffe.
It takes a bit, but the beginnings can be taught when the horses are first started as a young four-year-old and then throughout their training developed in a very systematic way.

The rules and the process I have learned.

Initially done in a rope halter
Pressure is added slowly and patiently
Moving back, coming forward, and moving around their center of gravity
The horse must move away from pressure
Relaxation must be a priority
The horse must stay over his feet
Straightness is key
Reward must be instantaneous
Ask the horse to lift each leg…eventually holding it and then putting it down
Don't ask for too much (SOOOOO IMPORTANT!!!!!)
Keep every session short
Be aware and foster confidence and willingness
Often the best steps come after the horse has bucked and released the tension in the back
Respect and ground manners must be maintained (don't let the horse pass you)
Teach the horse to offer the steps of Piaffe
Reward! Reward! Reward!

Mounted with a Ground person
The horse must never pass the ground person
Prepare the horse
Keep the horse straight
The ground person must be acutely aware of when to ask, apply pressure and when to back off
The rider needs to allow the piaffe without interference
Again at the slightest understanding and effort the reward must come quickly from both the ground and the rider
("Walk and Reward" as Alfredo would say!)
Keep each "ask" brief and remember not to push
The horse will tell you how much pressure they can handle

Mounted on your own
Imagine your ground person
Let your body relax and prepare the horse
Straightness remains paramount
Relaxation, willingness and confidence are the framework for success
Ask and let the horse find it
The rider must not force the steps
At first keep some forward steps to keep the horse from feeling trapped

The  above videos in this blog are of Sunny Delight, an 11-year-old Trakehner that we have for sale. He is a successful event horse that could obviously have a career as a Dressage Horse! Taylor Lindsten, assistant trainer at Four Star Farm, and her horse have learned the techniques outlined here well.  He moved through this process in just a few short months. Well Done Sunny and Taylor!

The clip below is of Virginian Sky and I.  He brings me so much joy. He has been a pleasure to train and I know that with him I will soon realize my goal of the USDF Gold. His oldest offspring will be three this spring and I can't wait to start this journey with them!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Today's thought:

There is an energy that thinking an idea is solely yours that can be very destructive.......don't get sucked in. Collaboration should be encouraged; it is the best kind of energy and even the smallest contributions to a collaboration should be recognized and appreciated......when you do this everyone's creativity involved will be freely flowing and AMAZING things will happen!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Life is sooooo precious.

Within a 10 hour period I was reminded twice how fragile life is and how little I can really control.
Last night, I went to roll over in bed and because I hurt my knee at Rebecca Farm a little over a week ago, I wake up in pain every time I move to lie on my stomach.  Of course, my stomach is usually my go-to happy place but my knee has caused me to rethink comfortable sleeping positions. As I squirmed in pain and started to reach a different level of consciousness, I became aware of a strange noise outside.  I thought, "it's raining and the hay is not covered".  Frustrated with those consequences, I gingerly lowered myself out of bed to go to the bathroom. After hobbling to the bathroom like a stiff old woman, I opened the window to see how hard it was raining.  The wall of flames not 30 feet away was probably one of the most frightening things I have ever seen.  I immediately knew we had only a few precious minutes.  I moved fast and woke Sean, Sydney and Taylor up.  Sean later told me that he has never heard me use that tone and that alone scared him. Thankfully, there was very little wind and Sean had the sprinklers on and the hose running immediately.  I told Taylor and Sydney to get all the animals in the car.  I called 911 as I ran to get the barn foreman, Larry, from his house about 200 feet away. Once I had him rustled out of bed (it was 3am),  I ran back to my house to get the cars moved with the animals.   Sean was doing an amazing job keeping the flames off the house and putting that part of the fire out; Larry went to the other end of the fire which was threatening all the paddocks.  I found myself directing the fireman through the barn so that they could get to the different hot spots.
While it was happening I was too busy to think of taking pictures but here are the pictures from the morning after. That fence is less than 25 feet from our porch and you can see how close the fire got to the horse's shelters......inches.

Just a few hours later, as I drove up the driveway after going to morning Mass to express my gratitude to God for keeping my family, my animals, and the farm from harm, I looked out over the pastures and noticed one of my mares had a white sack hanging under her tail. Again I had a rush of adrenaline and knew I had to act quickly in case there was a problem.  Obviously, this maiden mare hadn't realized that she was suppose to foal at night in her comfy stall with all the straw!  La Coura was having some difficulties, but there were two black legs and an adorable little muzzle showing, so I told myself to be patient.  Larry, once again, came to the rescue, showing up just in time to help La Coura with the next set of contractions; once the head and shoulders were out, the rest slid out easily.  A Girl!  I love my mares and am very happy to have another blessed one by my stallion Virginian Sky (owned with the Fontana Syndicat)!

My adrenaline roller coaster certainly left me exhausted.

I am so thankful for this beautiful foal......and for the safety of my family. Hug your family, kiss your ponies, and say your prayers.  We really have no control over what life throws at us.