So many things to do

Its amazing how time has flown by and how many things have been accomplished. The transformation of young easily scared horse to (mostly) confident beautiful, graceful gelding, is remarkable. Remember this was a BLM mustang adopted at 18 months old that was brought into this people atmosphere of barns, stalls and arena’s.

Osawin is now completely comfortable with all the tack that is required for riding. He loads in the horse trailer without any difficulties. He doesnt really like his bath and definately gives puupy dog eyes but he tolerates them without a fuss. He has been spunky as anticipated but willing to try and overcome many many new obsticles. He has become fairly proficient at loading up into the trailer and heading off to events. Hopefully this has prepared him for the long drive and competition that is just around the corner in October. Good Luck to all the competitors and their horses!

 

Leo update!

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This little horse is teaching me so much! One day a perfect partner, the next a bracey, resistant punk! At least that’s what he says about me…. We shall see which horse shows up when we get to Oklahoma!

My journey to AHC

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My name is Mirka Pitts and I am originally from the Czech Republic, where I started riding horses when I was 12 years old. In 1998 I met an extraordinary horseman, Honza Blaha, who introduced me to natural horsemanship, developing my love for liberty training in particular. I continued my studies of natural horsemanship in the US as I became immersed in the Parelli program, participating in clinics by Parelli Instructors David Lichman and Kelly Sigler, who helped me with my foundation. I have also audited Karen Rohlf’s Dressage Naturally clinics, where I learned more about the horse’s posture.

The discipline of reining has always been a passion of mine, and I have been very fortunate to study with some top trainers in the industry. In the spring of 2007 I was invited to ride with Clint Haverty, who has been inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame. Even though I was able to spend only a couple of weeks at his farm, it was a huge opportunity in my life and a great learning experience. During the same year, a buckskin gelding (Tom Cat) and I won the Buckskin World in Working Cowhorse and placed Reserve in Reining. In 2009 I received another invitation and another amazing opportunity to ride with Lisa and George Aldridge, reining trainers in Webster, Florida. Since that year, I have spent much of my spare time at their farm, learning more about the horse’s body control and biomechanics. I cherish everything that has been gifted to me by my mentors and I do my best to pass it onto my students. One of the highlights of my career so far happened in 2009, when my buckskin mare Magie and I were awarded a Level 6 ribbon by Pat Parelli at the Lakeland Celebration for our Freestyle performance.

In 2010 I established Equine Foundations, LLC. The primary principle of my teachings and training is that the foundation be built before specialization, in both the horse and the human. The main goal is a harmonious relationship between the equine partner and his human. I take the time to guide my students towards fluidity, so they can become one with their horse, both on the ground and while riding. I help them learning to use their intentions, inner energy and strength of their core, to understand the horse’s natural instincts and how horses communicate with one another inside the herd. When training a horse, I try to focus on his overall balance. While the horse’s mental connection and emotional stability are important, I have learned to pay close attention to his physical balance as well.

In 2012 and 2013 I adopted two wild mustangs, Chance and Legacy, and competed with them at the Mustang Makeovers, missing the finals at the Mustang Million with Legacy by only 8 points. Both of these mustangs have humbled me greatly and have taught me to respect their instinctual side even more so than with a domesticated horse. They invited me to enter their world, where self preservation is the highest priority. I had thought that being a student of a domesticated horse was something spectacular, but I had no idea that there was even more to learn from a wild horse. The wild horses have so much to offer. That’s one of the main reasons why I chose to adopt another wild mustang this year, as my partner for the American Horsewoman’s Challenge competition. Not only for myself, as the experience of being in the presence and learning from a wild horse is priceless, but also because they are in great need of homes, now more than ever, as the number of wild horses in the holding facilities in the US increase yearly.

I chose Gemma, a 5 year old pinto mustang mare from Nevada, out of 65 wild mustangs at a local adoption in Mobile, Alabama — or should I say that she picked me? She was looking at me with her sweet kind eyes, walking around gracefully with soft posture and openness in her body language. Her swift turns showed evidence of spectacular athleticism, like that seen in high-dollar bred cutting horses. How could I resist? Within the first few days of bringing her home with me, I knew that my intuition was absolutely correct: “She is such a gem!” I kept telling everyone, and so she became known as Gemma. I have enjoyed her presence daily, and her potential is just now being revealed as she becomes more confident, now entering the second half of the 6 months long competition period. As we prepare to compete at the American Horsewoman’s Challenge, I am focused on developing confidence in Gemma, especially when it comes to man-made obstacles. One third of the preliminary scores will be based on a pattern similar to the Extreme Cowboy Race; the second third will be our connection and communication at Liberty, and finally we will be judged riding a Cowboy Dressage pattern. My game plan is to prepare Gemma so well that she will be able to face any obstacles without hesitation. I hope to show off her gentle gracefulness highlighted by mustang power, and to display our partnership to the judges and the audience — to wow them with our connection!

To learn more about me, visit my website at www.equinefoundations.com, or friend me on Facebook under Equine Foundations byMirka. You can also Follow Gemma and support our journey, by subscribing to our weekly step-by-step videos of the whole 6 months of her training. To learn more about the AHC competition go to www.horsewomanschallenge.com or like their Facebook page.

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A little more time for trail obstacles

Buddy and the plank

Had a great time as one of the clinicians in our trail obstacle clinic. Buddy did great on all the obstacles as usual. This course was a lot of fun because we had no idea what obstacles we were going to be encountering until we arrived at the arena.  As usual I couldn’t be prouder of Buddy! Can’t wait for Oklahoma!

I also wanted to thank my sponsor Vickie and Doug Coulter of Cripple C Baby Ranch!

Buddy and the plankThe jump Buddy and the big bridge

Sitting Pretty

Mesabi and I warming up for our breed demo at the Festival Of Horse and Drum. Look at his great expression!
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Mesabi and I warming up for a breed demo at the festival of horse and drum. Look at that great expression.

Mesabi Warrior and I have been on the road and have had some amazing adventures. He is becoming a great traveller. In august we attended The Festival of Horse and Drum in chicago IL, where we did a few breed demos about Nokota Horses and then helped run the Nokota Horse Conservancy booth. This concrete jungle of a fairgrounds, along with the music and dancing of a pow wow was a great place to introduce Mesabi to road life. Aside from some close encounters with jingle dresses and some wary “really..you didn’t tell me about any of THIS stuff” looks from Mesabi he was relaxed and happy. We made lots of new friends and I was able to reunite with supporters who help us from afar such as Craig Hendee who is with the The International Heritage Conservancy. Craig is a master falconer and great ambassador for cultural preservation and education. Craig introduced Mesabi to Alvin the falcon and also got us a radio interview with Georgia Lee, of WIMH Radio “. My friend and sponsor Kelly Williams and i were able to share all about the amazing Nokota Horse and its history.

I was also invited to ride in a obstacle course demo by trainer Jodi Funk from Diamond Acres, in Woodstock IL. This was just the perfect place for us to be, playing with obstacles in front of a crowd and a microphone with speakers blaring in odd places. Mesabi got way more confident and more curious about our observers. Although he had never seen some of the obstacles before, they were easy for him and we were able to play imaginatively with each object in lots of ways without worrying too much about fear. We also got introduced to a cracking bull whip by Jodi’s daughter Bridget which was very challenging for him at first. One favorite thing about Mesabi is how sensitive he is, but yet how he can learn quickly to apply it in positive ways. He showed me over and over that if I can just present the new information to him in ways he can absorb it he comes back the next day, not only confident, “but ready to put on a clinic” about it. This horse wants to perform and its a beautiful thing.

During Jodi Funk's obstacle demo showed the crowd how to play with objects on the ground first.

During Jodi Funk’s obstacle demo we showed the crowd how to play with objects on the ground first.

We had so much fun in the demo we decided to unsaddle and cut loose a little bit.

We had so much fun in the demo we decided to unsaddle and cut loose a little bit.

The rest of august was filled with experimenting with amping up our skills. The riding has been coming along wonderfully, and although liberty is most enjoyable for me it seems the most challenging for Mesabi. We’ve had a few liberty sessions in the round pen discussing staying connected at faster gaits. Its definitely the hardest piece of the puzzle for him right now. Its interesting to do liberty with horses that just recently have been gentled, as the round pen usually brings back some old patterns and sensitivities. I am always reminding myself that its a process and the sensitivities are asset and it will just take time. Luckily using the obstacles in the liberty pen seem to ground him and give us a purpose that moves things along.

At the end of August we travelled almost to the Canadian boarder to ride on the Gunflint Trail in Jack Lieser’s Wilderness Challenge clinic. I assisted the students aboard Mesabi and helped guide them on the tasks we had set up for them along the trail. It was fun and challenging riding, the scenery was wild and beautiful. I got about 30 hours of saddle time in 5 days and felt more connected to Mesabi then ever before. I was able to notice how much self carriage and grace Mesabi has in varied terrain. I hardly ever had to pick up the reins to help him as we picked through rocks and boulders and navigated up and down the steep hills. He has so much natural rate and seemed to really have a smile on his face about this adventure. He was also stellar at staying calm and connected while we helped other students keep their horses calm. Often we had to move out way ahead of the group to set up for the next task, or stay way behind to help the stragglers. He seemed to really take his job seriously as guide and assistant and was always looking to me for what we should do next.

On the ROCK, hazzah!

On the ROCK, hazzah!

Playing 'joust' in the Working Equitation Games. We demoed the course for the students.

Playing ‘joust’ in the Working Equitation Games. We demoed the course for the students.

Another great bonus of this trip was noticing how rock solid and awesome Mesabi’s feet are. Although the Nokota Horse is known for their amazing feet, I also have to thank Kelly Williams of Bare and Balanced Trimming for the great work she has donated to Mesabi and I. Kelly has helped keep Mesabi barefoot and balanced since he arrived to me in april.

Kelly Williams, pictured on the right on her Nokota Horse. She trims all three of these horses. We all have happy healthy feet in the great rocky wilds.

Kelly Williams, pictured on the right on her Nokota Horse. She trims all three of these horses. We all have happy healthy feet in the great rocky wilds.

 

So heading into September I have to do the work that I enjoy the least. Practicing the particulars about the cowboy dressage pattern is always challenging for me I know Mesabi will be wonderful if I just put the time in. I also have lots of fun things in store for my freestyle ride if I am able to share it with everyone! Lots of costuming and prop work to do!