About Me

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North Lawrence, New York, United States
I can be described as lover of life, an animal lover, and lover of education. I am constantly striving for knowledge and learning opportunities. I've been around horses my entire life. I enjoy working with horses and their human partners through natural horsemanship philosophies, natural balance bare foot hoof care, reiki, red-light therapy, essential oils, aromatherapy, crystal healing, chromotherapy, flower essences, and more. I am a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Teacher who offers treatments for people, horses, dogs, cats, and other creatures great and small. I also teach Reiki classes for those interested in learning how to treat themselves, their loved ones, and even their animals! Natural Horse Lover Farm is located in Northern New York between the St. Lawrence River and Adirondack Mountains. Heaven on Earth. naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ah, how sweet it is--to be riding that is!

Well, yesterday afternoon the doctor cleared me to ride (as long as I am careful)! He said that my knee is much better and that a full recovery will come anytime. So, I rode Wilbur last night. I am very happy to be riding again. There is much more to horses than riding but, that is a fun part of it. (I am contemplating riding in the Dublin Christmas parade on Dec 16th.) Last night, after playing on the ground with Wilbur, I was going to try to mount bareback. He is rather tall and it is difficult even when I am at 100%. I got nervous and he was antsy. So, I sat with him for awhile (me on the mounting block and he next to me). Then, I retrieved my saddle (English) and saddled him. He was really good about this as I did not have his halter on or anything. I did put on his halter after I saddled him (in preparation for riding of course). Then, I still felt nervous about mounting. I guess it goes back to getting hurt and the inability to recognize how well you are or something like that. So, I lowered both stirrups, went up and down on the mounting block on both sides several times, petting Wilbur. Well, he actually stood very still and was a complete gentleman. I eventually mounted from the off-side (thank goodness I taught him to do this). He never moved. So, overall, I think the exercise did two things. It gave us both time and confidence to do our part. It gave him time to understand that we can always hurry-up and do nothing and me the confidence that indeed I can get on and have fun after such an incident. We are both terribly out of shape too so, the pressure to perform was something we were thinking about. Anyhow, we worked on walk, trot and posting trot, backing, stopping. It was enjoyable (thank goodness Rick put up those arena lights). I was pleased with the ride and with Wilbur's ability to learn and relax during mounting. Overall, it was a happy day!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Healing...Body and Soul

Well, my knee is definately healing and I am getting along better everyday. My MRI was clean meaning, I basically wrenched my knee, good. I am not using my crutches much anymore and seem to be regaining mobility and strength (although I have a long way to go). My doctor has grounded me from riding for a couple more weeks because he does not want me doing any mounting/dismounting for now becuase the knee has to heal. I go back to work in a couple of weeks too.

Yesterday, I was able to go get Fosse from the paddock. This was the first time I have been able to do this task, myself, in weeks. I walked him to the hay shed (not too far from the paddock gate) and then mounted up on the 4-wheeler. I lead him down the mountain trail to the arena. My legs are just not able to be used for long periods of time (without crutches) yet so, this was my answer to the problem. I played with him in the arena at liberty a bit and was even able to trim his hooves. He stood very well and I was able to sit on my mounting block, use the Hoof Jack, and take care of him. What an angel he is!

For me, part of the healing process has not been just on my knee, but in my head. I have had time to reevaluate my life and what is important to me. I had been working 24/7 and barely finding time to enjoy the little things. The horses for me, are part of the healing process too. Rick takes me to visit them everyday (we drive the Blazer up the mountain to their barn) . It means a lot to me. The few times I have been able to actually spend quality time with them has also been very important to me.I hahve also been able to spend quality time with Rick and we have really enjoyed that.

Well, that is it for now! I hope to be riding again soon. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Passing the time...

Since I am unable to do too much outside with the horses, I have decided to take this time and catch up on my Savvy Club DVDs. I have been watching ones I haven't seen and ones I have. It seems that although much if it is a repeat of things I have seen before, I always pick up something new. My next step is to start reviewing the new level 2 pack. I have seen (and own) the old levels 1,2,3 and have been working in all of those levels and some level 4 stuff for sometime. However, as you may remember, I am finally officially assessing. I have passed level 1 and have received my awards, I feel great about it!

My healing is coming along fine and I am hopeful to be back in full swing in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Horses are for Healing


Well friends, I just could not stand it any longer, I had to play with the horses. So, since I can ride my 4-wheeler side-saddle, and I am a bit more mobile than several days ago (when I thought I'd never get to leave the bed again), I decided to try riding it that way to get to the horses, independently. I strapped the crutches to the back of the 4-wheeler, hoisted myself up (thank goodness for my upper body strength), and off I went. It felt great to not rely on the help of Rick (or anyone else). Rick put the horses in the arena for me, we grained them, and when they were done, it was time for play. I haltered and took one at a time to the round pen and played with them on-line and at liberty while perched on my beloved Kawasaki. We had a wonderful time! When I was finished with each horse, I lead them to the arena with the 4-wheeler and released them (horse -in-tow--I wonder what the neighbors were thinking this tim, I know they think I am nuts to begin with). Once we were all done playing, Rick got my grooming stuff and I drove my mounting block to where they were eating hay RIck put in the arena. They each came to me, I haltered them (one at a time), groomed and picked feet while perched on the mounting block. Whiskey tried to eat my crutches! Anyhow, all was tremendously fun but very tiring. It takes me 4 times as long to do anything (and with regards to grooming, I did the best I could but, they are still filthy.

Well, that's it! I just had to share.

Smiling from ear-to-ear,
Michelle/arabhorselover1

Monday, November 06, 2006

Good News and Bad News

Well, after many schedule issues, Clare and I ended going to Pandapas Pond after all yesterday with Smokey and Whiskey. We had a great time. Unfortunately, I spent part of last night in the hospital ER in shock and getting x-rays on my left knee. After finally getting comfortable in the hospital bed, I begged to let them leave me there to just die—yeah, I am a wimp. I am immobilized and on pain meds, ice, and on bed rest until at least Friday when I have to see an orthopedist. (I am about ready for more pain meds and thought this was a good time to write). I have crutches which makes is a little easier but mostly, I cannot move and am in some true agony.

If you were wondering, I did not get dumped off of Whiskey. Actually, he was fabulous, leading the ride most of the time and showing signs of a great endurance/competetive trail propect. What happened was, I took my little green horse Whiskey to Pandapas Pond with Clare and Smopkey for his first official ride off the property. After about an hour of groundwork and hand walking on the trail, we decided to mount. Well, we used a huge log for mounting—which seemed like a good idea at the time. I ride bareback (with the pad for this ride and used his rope hacakmore) and easily swung my right leg over the horse. However, when I pushed off the left leg on the log to get totally situated, my knee twisted and made a weird noise and feeling. In hind site, I think my sneaker tred got caught on something. I was paying closer attention to the horse, not my own position. This wonderful horse just stood there as I about passed out from that weird, definitely wrong, feeling. Then he got antsy (I suspect my body we sending weird signals to him). I did stay mounted and we rode (we did great, encountering rocks, dogs, and bikes). Anyhow, because I don’t typically use a saddle, my leg was free to hang which apparently, at the time was the best position. When we were done, I dismounted, landing on the right leg only. Then we walked back to the horse trailer, I stepped up into my tack room (in the trailer) and pushed off the left leg—big mistake, it buckled and really hurt. After getting the horses loaded (while gimping around), I even drove us all home (in a stick-shift truck).

However, by the time we got home, I had tremendous swelling. I elevated and iced the knee but it kept getting worse. I took Motrin and drank a beer with dinner to try to feel better---not a good combo. My wonderful friends (Clare, Paul, and Brett) actually stayed over as we planned, for dinner, but I was on the bed, they were in the camping chairs in the bedroom. We watched a movie and tried to forget how terrible this all felt. I thought it was sweet--it is hard to find friends like this and I cherish them. Clare helped Rick finalize the meal and was also my nurse! (The boys by the way rode 4-wheelers at the horse and had a great time.) Anyhow, I had Rick take me to the hospital soon after they left. I was very ill after they left and at this point I could not walk at all and had to hang from him trying to use the good leg—a sight for sure.

So, I will keep in touch and let you all know what is going on. I doubt I will be ready to ride for the rest of the month. Maybe December. ARGH--just when things were going so well!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Just Catching Up


Well, it sure is getting dark early these days. I am so happy that Rick installed arena lights last week. At least when I get home after work, I will be able to play with the horses by something other than my flashlight.

Today was the first day I had a chance to enjoy the horses since early last week. I was in Nashville for work (but really would have preferrred to be home). The week before I was in South Carolina, also for work. So, as you might imagine, getting in horse time has been challenging.

Anyhow, Wilbur's leg is healed and he is doing well. He had a wound and was stocked up. I treated him with penecillin, hydro-therapy, proudflesh ointment and DMSO before I left. Rick did hydro-therapy and medicated him while I was away and did a good job. I rode him today for a little while in the woods and then goofed off in the yard. We trotted and then sprinted off in a canter across the lawn, just for fun. Rick was sure to note that he made some nice skid marks in the lawn. LOL I let him graze for a bit after riding.

Whiskey was quite a hot one today. We played in the round pen for a little bit. I rode him in the bareback pad a hackamore as usual (Wilbur too by the way). He was just a pistol. We managed to ride in the woods today. He jumped the bridge (although I kind of expected it due to his energy level)--it was fun and I was prepared. (He walked over it on the way back.) Then we walked and trotted a bit up the mountain exploring new trails and blazing our own. When we headed back, there is a rather steep winding trail. Well, we galloped up it! It was great fun. It started out as a walk and then I pushed him to move out as he was struggling a little. Anyhow, we sped off and let me tell you, this horse has some power behind him. When I was ready to stop, he did it on a dime. What fun!!! Then we walked the rest of the way back. Whiskey got a nice walk as a cool down--he was frothy and sweaty--then I grazed him for awhile.

Fosse and I took a walk in the woods too. I hand walked him and played games with him. He and I had fun too. Rick was in the woods so we went to visit him for a bit (as I did with Wilbur and Whiskey). Then, I took him to the round pen and sat on him several times. We also practiced flexing, he was great. I may just start him this fall/winter instead of waiting--we will see.


Well, that is it for now! I will post again as soon as I can.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fun with Whiskey (the horse)


Hey Horsey Friends! I just wanted to share an experience I had yesterday with my Arabian Gelding, Whiskey. I LOVE THIS HORSE.

If you recall, he was the horse (rescue or sorts). When I got him, he had no manners and had been let in a field, ignored (unbenown to the owner) at a trainer's place (in Northern Virginia) where she was paying almost $500/mo. Being out of state, it caused her a problem. Then, her finances messed everything up for her and she wanted to place him with someone. She found me and gave him to me (papers and all) because I practiced Parelli Natural Horsemanship and she knew, he needed someone like that in his life. This is a very emotional horse who can be a challenge.

So, I had him well on his way on the ground until I made the stupid mistake of asking a trainer (a different one, more local) to help me get him started, I doubted my skills and made a grave error in judgement--I will NEVER do this again. I was eventuall told that was a danger to himself and others and that he should probably be put to pasture or put down. He was kicked out of the barn and I was told to take him home, she and another person beat him to get him on the trailer, totally ignoring me (it was not my trailer and for some reason, everyone was in a hurry. They all thought I knew nothing and that is was evident because my horse was acting up. Well, he was acting up because of them, not me. It was like they were yelling at him (whether in horse or human language) and he was shutting down. So now I have my own trailer and I will only load and transport my horses using the PNH methods, no so-called assistance from others---and funny thing, they load, great!I can even ask Whiskey to back to the back of the trailer and come forward without gettting off--we made a game of it!

Ok, so he is home at this point. I had to come to grips with the fact that due to my schedule, everything would simply take longer, and you know what, I decided, who cares! My husband was supportive and reminded me that there was no hurry. Anyhow, I took my horse and my skills with PNH and decided to fix what she screwed up and decided we'd move forward, at whatever pace we had to. So, when I got him back, after three weeks where she did nothing but ruin his mind and spirit, and refused to mount as she was terrified of him, and now, he was a basket case. He and I lost our communication and trust because I was an idiot. So, after many months of regaining our relationship, I started him, myself, in a Parelli rope halter, nothing else. I guess that was last summer. I hopped on him in the filed with a pair of shorts on (I had sat on him before a few times). We didn't do too much that summer. I sat on him, walked him a bit in the arena, and then he had some hoof isues so not too much had been accomplished after that--I also started trimming myself as his hoof issues were related to poor farrier work--his feet are looking really good now--not perfect but, on their way. It seems that he was at the local trainer's perhaps the fall before this, it is a blur at this point.

He and I are so good together, we communicate on a level that others only dream of. I should have never doubted myself or questioned him. This is not to say that he always agrees with me but, we work things out. This summer, I have been riding him mostly at a walk in the arena. We also do some work with the other horses in the arena. Remember I told you how I ride him, drive Wilbur at liberty, and Fosse follows? That is great fun. We finally have started consistent walk/trot transitions on our own and he does get a little ugly with the trotting (nips my foot on occassion), I think as a youngster, he gets worried or uncertain of himself, I also think he is a horse that easily gets bored. I am careful to follow the appropriate phases and give him time to respond (as an attempt to be certain I am not yelling in horse lingo). He is a L1 riding, L2/3 ground if I were to evaluate him using the PNH criteria.

Ok, so I have innundated you with this long story and here is why I am so pleased. I FINALLY rode him out of the arena for an extended period of time. I have sat on him before in the yard but not often. So, yesterday, after playing the 7 games on the ground, riding in the arena doing walk, trot, one-rein stops, and side passing, going through the obstacles on the ground and under saddle (bareback pad), we left the arena, explored the yard, he ate some grass, the dogs were pestering him and he could have cared less. Rick was riding the 4-wheeler around the property and near us and he was fine with it. So, I decided to ride him up the hill to our camp. We explored the camp and went just a little way down one trail. I am riding him in a Parelli bareback pad and natural hackamore by the way, not boots just barefoot--we have round rocks and dirt.. He did well with that. Fosse called once and Whiskey ignored him. We trotted up the hill by the way and he was not ugly at all--as Linda Parelli would say, "how interesting" . Ok, so now we are back in the yard, Rick pulls up with the 4-wheeler and asks me if I thought Whiskey would go to the back of the property on the trail (we have 26 acres to give you an idea of range). Rick wanted to show me a level area back there that may be nice for riding. (Remember, we live in the mountains, very steep terrain in places, flat is a miracle LOL.) I looked at Whiskey, looked back at Rick and said, I don't know but let's try! So, I asked Whiskey to stop eating grass (he is great with this, just a little shake of the rein and he knows it is time to go). So, off we went, Rick said he'd follow shortly after we left and wanted to give us time as he is riding a 4-wheeler and I am on a green horse.

Whiskey did GREAT! He was a total trooper. We walked and trotted up and down the mountain slopes (as asked) and made it back to the rear portion of the property without any problem--he was sweaty and tired though. We waited for Rick to approach (Whiskey ate leaves off of a tree, calm and relaxed, looked up when he heard the 4-wheeler approach but kept eating and standing calmly). Rick got off and walked in front of Whiskey and I as he showed us the area he spoke of--it was really nice and fairly clear. Then Whiskey and I headed back down one trail, Rick on the parallel trail. We were going to meet at the bridge (yes, we have a little bridge that we crossed too---when we came in, Whiskey was a little worried about it but leaving, he was fine--I was preparred if he decided to jump it both times though). I thought it was so cool, I was finally enjoying my horse out of the arena and he absolutely loved the woods. Rick told me that he believes Whiskey makes the trails for the other horses in their new turnout (which is in the woods) so for him, this was probably really fun. I thought it was neat that I could ride my horse and hubby could be on the 4-wheeler, together. Rick has also indicated wanting ride Wilbur with Whiskey and I-- I agreed and I think it would be great fun. I also love and am impressed that Whiskey does not care when Fosse is calling to him, he is focused on our journey, not what is back at the barn (so to speak).

So, this is my long-winded tale of the day. I am heading out to check on things and if the weather holds, riding in the woods again, with my beloved Whiskey. I look forward to more adventures with him in the near future. I think that this proves a few things to me. One, to never underestimate your skills and assume everyone else must know more than you do. If you have put in the time, why wouldn't you have knowledge and skills. Two, never underestimate the power of partnership, and three, (paraphrasing Pat Parelli) taking the time it takes, putting principles before goals, and patient persistence all pay off!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Benefit Ride

Today, I participated in a benefit ride for the Tekoa Experiential Learning Equine Program http://www.tekoa.org/Equinepage.html. For me, this was a great way to celebrate turning in my dossier for continued appointment at Virginia Tech!

I rode Wilbur. We performed tasks on the ride and even won a $25 gift certificate to Virginia Tack! I met a lot of interesting, like-minded people and really enjoyed myself. Wilbur was fantastic on the trail (so much better than earlier this summer). Our natural horsemanship group plans to attend this event every fall.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Passed My Parelli Level 1 Assessment Today!

Today I received a call from Carol Coppinger, the 4 Star Parelli Professional, the one who was reviewing my level 1 tasks for official assessment. (If you recall, I have been working on the ground doing L1,2, and 3 tasks and L1 riding but, was reluctant to officially assess--primarily because I did not want to be on video--a bit of self-loathing I guess.) I have been so anxious waiting to hear from her. Anyhow, I PASSED!!! YIPPIE! She said I will be receiving my red savvy string (like the one in the photo) and award cerfiticate in about a month. I plan to have Ginny Sue at Parelli do a custom frame job. I am so happy and excited. Wilbur got extra carrots tonight when I told him. So what is next? Why level 2 of course! I'll keep you all posted.

CLICK HERE to view my Level 1 Assessment Video.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Having fun with Clare

My wonderful, fun friend Clare came over today. We always have fun together. The photo was not taken today but, several months ago. It is just a great representation of fun things we do which is why I am using it (not to mention that I did not break out the camera). The horse is her mare Parlay, a rescue.

Today, I played with Wilbur and worked on walk and trot around the yard and up and down the hills. Then, I played in the arena starting with walk and trot. Then, we moved forward and worked on the canter.

Clare played with her horse Smokey and worked on walk and gaiting. They played on the hills too and just started bonding again (she has not been playing with him much over the last few months).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Finally Taped My Official PNH Level 1 Assessment


Well, after a great deal of soul searching, I finally videotaped my PNH Level 1 Assessment tasks (thanks to Rick for taping it) on Sunday, September 10th, 2006. I partnered with my Thoroughbred Wilbur. My big hangup has not been because I did not believe I could do it but rather, my unwillingness or desire to be on video. I finally decided that I needed to do this and get over my video fears (or self-image fears).

I have turned the raw video into a movie, formatted it into a DVD, and have sent it off. I will report back once I hear how I did. I am assessing with Carol Coppinger, 4 Star Parelli Professional located in Tennessee.

CLICK HERE to view the final video.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

So what has been going on...


Well, things have been pretty busy lately. I hosted a horse club camping trip at Shanklin's Ferry last week. I rented the pavilion and barn for the group (we all contributed to the fees). I arrived Friday night and left Sunday. Several members came at various times over the weekend, some with horses and some without. No photos were taken (the one above is another from the horse show).

I rode Wilbur about 7 miles on Saturday. We were unable to take a particular trail and ended up riding on a gravel road for most of the time. Although he had front Old Mac Boots (originals) on him, he really needed them on the back hooves too (I ordered him a pair yesterday). Midway we stopped at the New River, I took all of his tack off, and he was able to soak his feet and relax--me too. I was riding with my friend Clare and her horse Bandit decided to roll in the river--several times--I think he is part fish. We then met up with other riders from the club and headed down a nice trail in the woods, back down the road to the barn. THe weekend was great fun.

I am gearing up to tape my Parelli assessments. I have decided that I need to stop worrying about how I look on camera and just get it done--more to come.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Newport Fair Horse Show


I cannot remember if I shared with the you all, what was going on but here goes. Although I do things with horses all of the time, I had not shown since I was a kid (and was skinny). My comfort zone is my SWVA Natural Horsemanship Group as we are not all in perfect shape and vary in age and experience. I can say that with relation to that group, this is how I fit--I am one of the youngest (not including one child member) but there is only one member heavier than me. I am one of the most experienced in our discipline of natural horsemanship--specifically PNH.

OK, so the group decided to show at a fun show in the area and I agreed to do it. Then, I started having anxiety attacks about what I would look like, which horse to bring, about being in front of people and competing against younger, thinner people, and the list goes on and on.

Yesterday was the show. I had felt confident that I was ready. Then I hit the road (after having a heck of a time loading my youngster Whiskey (Arabian Gelding) on the trailer--imagine pouring rain, horse does not want to load, neighbor comes over and sneaks around the trailer holding am umbrella of all things! Anyhow, after an hour, I got my horse on the trailer and off we went. The closer I approached the show, the sicker I felt--I though I'd pass out or throw up I was so scared. I was afraid of failure. Failure at the show, failure to be able to park in front of everyone (which is silly because I can turn my trailer around at my place on the mountain with little room for error with no trouble at all).

I seemed to be overreacting, some stemming from bad childhood horse showing experiences. Anyhow, so what happened?

I got there, parked like a pro, and my horse acted great! We did three in-hand classes (Model-Halter Horse, Costume Class, and Obstacle Class). We took two 6th places (respectively) and did not place in the last class---he did well but not as well as some others--before crossing the hay bales, he picked one up and tried to eat it, he slipped on the bridge--it was slick--and then, he started sidepassing the rail but was a little freaked from the bridge incident and only did half of hte pole--I still think he did very well--all of the other obstacles were handled nicely. The judge said he'd have placed higher in the other two classes but his body is not mature enough yet to have competed better against the older horses--she thought he was a beautiful mover too and had great potential. Overall, this experience was good for both of us (our first together on this kind of adventure). When it was over, he loaded up in the trailer in less than a minute. The experience was great and I feel like I won't have the same mental issues next time (I think I am hooked actually.) Being that this was a fun show, the pressure was quite lower than I ever expected--definately a good place to start.

The experience ended up being empowering. I was able to handle my rig and load my horse without help. When I was in the ring, all I thought about was how beautiful my horse looked and how well he was doing. The crowd loved him. I felt thin, young, and beautiful and proud to be there with him---then I looked at the photos! LOL

I just had to share my experience in case there are others out there, like me. Life is simply too short to let it pass you by because of worries about what other people think!


More photos can be seen here:
https://filebox.vt.edu/users/myoung/Newport%20Horse%20Show%202006/Newport%20Fair%20Horse%20Show%202006%20004.jpg

https://filebox.vt.edu/users/myoung/Newport%20Horse%20Show%202006/Newport%20Fair%20Horse%20Show%202006%20031.jpg

https://filebox.vt.edu/users/myoung/Newport%20Horse%20Show%202006/Newport%20Fair%20Horse%20Show%202006%20043.jpg


https://filebox.vt.edu/users/myoung/Newport%20Horse%20Show%202006/Newport%20Fair%20Horse%20Show%202006%20009.jpg

https://filebox.vt.edu/users/myoung/Newport%20Horse%20Show%202006/Newport%20Fair%20Horse%20Show%202006%20063.jpg

https://filebox.vt.edu/users/myoung/Newport%20Horse%20Show%202006/Newport%20Fair%20Horse%20Show%202006%20062.jpg

https://filebox.vt.edu/users/myoung/Newport%20Horse%20Show%202006/Newport%20Fair%20Horse%20Show%202006%20061.jpg

https://filebox.vt.edu/users/myoung/Newport%20Horse%20Show%202006/Newport%20Fair%20Horse%20Show%202006%20059.jpg

Monday, August 07, 2006

Trail Riding Excursion at Pandapas Pond


Yesterday, I had the best time with our natural horsemanship group. We had a wonderful, 3 hour trail ride at Pandapas Pond, part of the Jefferson National Forest.

I rode Wilbur in his Parelli Natural Hackamore, Theraflex pad, and my English saddle. We successfully did walk, trot, canter, one rein stops, side passes, and even jumped over a ditch and up a ravene. It was great fun!

One main comment about the day, a point I want to emphasize, is that the people I was riding with were incredible. We were all respectful to one another (we asked before changing gaits, stopped when needed, did some training on the trail too). It was safe, fun, and definately something I want to to again very soon!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nothing like relaxing on your horse


Well, I had quite a stressful day at work and it just got more intense when I got home this evening. So, I decided to take Wilbur out. I hopped on him bareback with nothing but his rope halter. I rode him one-reined around the yard allowing him to graze. We also took a ride up the mountain to check out the progress of the run-in shed project. It is looking good. I mostly enjoyed sitting on him and gazing up in the sky and at the mountains as the sun was setting. There is just something magical about relaxing on and with your horse.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Horse Worship--Is Good For The Soul


Well, I am convinced, a little horse worship is good for the soul. I have been feeling cruddy lately and I am convinced that it is not just the weather. My in-laws have been here for over a week, my parents were here before that, and the in-laws were in before my parents too. I am pleased that we have been building a nice run-in shed but it has been very hard, manual labor. Needless to say, about all I have been able to do for weeks with my horses is spray them for flies and feed them. Well, this evening, I decided that I needed to just go have some quality time with them regardless of what else was going on here. Hubby was in a crabby mood anyway so leaving the crew at the house and walking down to the arena was a good idea. Anyhow, I had an amazing evening with the horses and just wanted to share with you all.

First, I walked the horses (Whiskey my Arabian, Fosse my Arabian, and Wilbur my Thoroughbred) from the paddock to the arena (all three at once). Then, I turned them loose and let them roll. I played at liberty for a bit and they had a blast running around together. The neighbors really enjoyed watching this (I don't think they knew I saw them) LOL.I decided to play on line with Whiskey next (this is the horse that was started last spring and then I could not ride him for months until this summer due to some feet issues--I have ridden him a few times this summer though) and we played the Parelli 7 games and had a good time. I saddled him with the Parelli Theraflex pad and bareback pad, natural hackamore. We sat there calmly for sometime. (This horse is emotional and I have had instances where he was popping his head and moving forward and acting snotty, even biting at my feet.) Well, not tonight. He stood there calmly and I was able to easily flex his head in both directions. I then started playing the games again and when I asked him to move forward, I slowed down the phases to give him a chance to react and for me to not push him too hard. It seems that with the horse, when I push him too quickly, he gets emotional and shuts down. This all worked great! Wilbur was lurking around and so I figured he wanted to play with us. So, I drove him forward using the carrot stick (he was at liberty) and put him in front of Whiskey and I. Wanting to work on the trot with Whiskey (who has been reluctant to do it--this is new to him), I asked Wilbur to trot forward and he did, following the rail and Whiskey and I trotted behind him. This was great fun. We did this, walk, trot, stop, etc. for about 40 minutes. I could not believe how great the two of them were--we had a blast! After awhile, Fosse was so interested in this, he followed Whiskey and I. So here I was, riding my green horse, driving my older (but needs work) older horse with my youngster following along. The neighbors had to be wondering what on Earth was going on! LOL I also rode Whiskey around without Wilbur and Fosse's participation and he was great. No nipping, just flexing and genuine curosity. We worked through obstacles and had so much fun. I then slid back on his rump, took his bareback and saddle pad off (without dismounting) and tossed them over the fence. I slid back up and rode him naked bareback for a bit, just at the walk to cool down. He did not flinch. Wilbur and Fosse joined us as we walked around the arena.

Wilbur was next. After playing with him on the ground, I tacked him up (just like Whiskey) and we worked on sitting trot, canter, stopping and flexing, obstacles, and a little jump. We walked too and did ride the rail. He and I are working on reschooling and emotional issues too. He is not a green horse but a very reactionary one who acts as if he was beaten. He has gotten to the point of being able to play the games while I am on him and swinging the carrot stick all over the place. In the beginning, this was impossible. Anyhow, we had a good time, worked on a lot of issues, and then untacked him as I did Whiskey and cooled him off the same way. Oh this was wonderful.Finally, I got to play with Fosse. He is not started under saddle yet but going great on the ground. Well today, I sat on him for the first time! I had been laying over him now and then and I decided that today would be the big day, I would try it out, and I did. I sat on him and flexed his head with ease, he was cool and calm, as was I. I did realize however that his fur was slick unlike the other horses. I decided to dismount. I will definately bathe him before doing this again. Anyhow, I plan to start him this summer, as soon as possible. I am very excited.

So, I was able to play with all three horses today, together, like a family. We had such a wonderful time. I ended the evening with yummy apples and their dinner (grain and hay, fresh water). I look forward to more horsey fun soon (I hope). Well that't all I can report at the farm.

By the way, I think we finally came up with an acceptable name. What do you all think about Fawn Hill Farm?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Building A Run-In Shed---Finally



Well, hubby and family are finally building a much needed run-in shed on the mountain. The photo is similiar to what we are building (ours is 30X15). The horses are just going to love it. It is going to be near our camp (this is on our property) and, we plan to also put on a little shed for the camping gear. I think that this is going to be very nice. We plan to build another one, maybe this year on the other end of the property too.

The chainsaw---it is fun! I have been cutting up the fallen trees and my mother-in-law has been helping clear while the men (hubby and his dad) dig the holes.

Well, back to work---anyone bored???

Monday, July 17, 2006

Whew it is hot


Not much going on here. Trimmed Fosse yesterday and about died from heat stroke! I am hopeful to get my lights up in the near future and plan to play with the horses at night. It is going up to the 90's today and tomorrow. So, I'll leave the horses alone--they'd much prefer hanging out in the woods in the shade. LOL

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Update on Whiskey


Well, I have been on vacation and have been unable to create any posts for sometime.

The horses are all doing very well. I wanted to particularly mention my progress with Whiskey. We are now riding at the walk with ease and have started trotting. We are working through some right-brained issues but overall, he is doing great. I am using the pushing passenger position and riding the rail (in the arena). I have even riddden him up the mountain and in the yard! We are riding with the Parelli natural hackamore or rope halter and leadline, and bareback (no pad), with the bareback pad, and sometimes with the English saddle. I have also been using the Theraflex or thick fleece pad at times. I am experimenting and each combination seems to work well. It has been a pleasure and experience starting him under saddle. I am so happy to have PNH as a foundation.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Camping Trip--We had a blast!

Rick, Wilbur, our 5 small dogs (Frasier, Daisy, Sahlen, Sid, and Annie--she is our new puppy, another Min-Pin) camped out at Shanklin's Ferry, WV. This was our first horse camping experience although we have camped out by ourselves and with our dogs many times. Well, we had a blast!!!

We set up camp on Friday night and got everyone settled. We tied the dogs to their own stakes (we have 5 small dogs--we also brought crates which came in handy later) and I put Wilbur on my 22 foot Parelli rope and let him graze and follow me around while I erected his Zareeba Portable Corral. We used his trailer (3H Slant load) as a potential run-in but, he did not bother to use it) .We were fortunate to be able to get in the far corner site. Wilbur's place was in the corner and he had a huge tree hanging over him--very nice. This worked very well and we will take this site again in the future--definately. I got in a short ride on the trail around dusk. Wilbur and I had a nice leisurely stroll in the woods. That night, grilled chicken and vegggies for a late night supper---yum!

Saturday morning, I ran home to check on the critters and when I got back to the site, Linda and Phil (friends in our horse club) had arrived with Millennium and Velvet, their walking horses. So, we took a nice ride up the mountain (even crossed the stateline). We also took an additional ride in the afternoon down the park road. It was great fun. Rick and Phil also went fishing and caught (and released) several fish--I cannot wait to go in the canoe and see the river from a different perspective.

I rode in the Parelli theraflex pad, bareback pad, and natural hackamore. I also used Old Mac boots on Wilbur (fronts). I think that we did quite well. I am reluctant to move too quickly on the trail with him right now as he gets a little squirrley and I want him to be more left-brained before moving out too much. We did do some posting trot on the afternoon ride but, he was not extending well, not rounding himself, and his head was up--thus back strain for the both of us.--He and I toasted our riding fun with bute (for him) and tylenol (for me) that evening! LOL I am going to work on this at home in the arena some more but, I suspect, this is really a trail riding training issue though. The walking horses were going clickety clack and he felt compelled to try to keep up. I don't mind trotting or cantering on a trail (even in the bbp) but, only when my horse is communicating with me. Anyhow....much to learn and do. I think this guy has some old bad experiences, is making assumptions, and has learned some bad habits--we will work on it. This is not to say that we did not ride with a casual rein mind you. The mountain ride in the morning was much better than the road ride. Ok, enough on that.

Sunday we packed up and met Clare and Robin (two other club friends) on our way out. It was pouring Saturday night (late) and we assumed no one would come out on Sunday -- it was raining when we packed up, sunny when we pulled out to leave--go figure.

We are definately going back on our own (others welcome, I will keep you posted) and, will host a play date camping trip in August--more to come on that soon.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Having fun in the wilderness!


My hubby and I found a West Virginia State Park (Shanklin's Ferry, part of the Bluestone Willdlife Management Area) right in our backyard --15 minutes ride to the middle of nowhere. It is absolutely beautiful, is on the New River, has great trails, camping, lots of parking, and has a barn and pavillion too!

On Sunday, we hauled Wilbur and my friend Clare's horse Bandit. Clare and I rode and the hubbys, her son, and my dog Frasier went canoeing. We all had a great time despite the rain.

I am trying to coordinate a three day campout fo this weekend, anyone from the club who is interested is invited (horses or not--but for primitive camping). I am also setting up a 3 day overnight event (wil rent the barn and pavilion) for sometime in August. This is all very exciting! This summer is going to be great.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Natural Balance Trimming...A new theory on an old practice.


Horse trimming and shoeing is a controversial topic with many horse owners, vets, and farriers. Sometime last year (after a great deal of research and talking to many others), I started investigating a more natural approach to my horse's feet. I am currently practicing natural balance and barefooting with my horses. elt me tell you, this is not an easy job--I am happy to be a librarian and not a farrier! Although I am stilll a novice, I see great differences in their overall hoof health and their physicall abilities. I am following the teachings of Gene Ovnicek, Jamie Jackson, and Pete Ramey (the photo is from Pete's website).

This evening, I was able to attend a lecture given by Gene Ovnicek! It was fabulous. I was abel to learn a great deal. Although I have his DVD and book, listening to him in person made such a difference to me. I am disappointed to say that I am unable to attend the hands-on portion of the clinic offered tomorrow and Sunday though--maybe next time.

I am thinking about setting up a hoof clinic with the Parelli's farrier, Jim Crew. I am hopeful for sometime next year. I believe that the attendees of this clinic will be interested.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Horsey Play Dates are So Much Fun!!!

Today I was attended a play date hosted by our horse group (The Southwest Virginia Natural Horsemanship Group). I had an absolute blast! Rick (hubby) came and we brought our Thoroughbred, Wilbur. There were about 20 horses and even more people (I think). We all played with our horses on the ground in the obstacle course, on the hills, crossing the creek, and much more (some, including me, even got to ride).

This adventure was a first for Wilbur and I. I can certainly say that I am glad that I am using the Parelli Natural Horsemanship with him. Wilbur was acting very right-brained and reactionary at first. But, using the seven games (the foundation for PNH), we were able to get through that and there was a noticeable change in him (he was now left-brained) and his logical, thinking side took over. This horse is a total joy. He is challenging and fun to be with. I truly love him.

Overall, the day was tiring but great fun. We even got to enjoy socializing with other club members as we had a potluck dinner (while the horses got to relax and eat grass. I look forward to more play dates this summer.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Oh the weather...Where is the sunshine?


The weather has been very unpredictable lately. It has been raining just enough to make it impossible to do anything here these days. I am hopeful for some sunny, dry days soon. I have so many plans to pursue with the horses this year--it already feels like the summer is half over and yet, it is still officially spring. Once again, the impatience in me rears its ugly head.

My action plan for this evening is to review the latest Parelli Savvy Club DVD and watch the level 1 assessment criteria on the new level 1 pack (in preparation for official assessment). Although I have seen it before (on both the new and old level 1 packs), reviewing it again cannot hurt.

So despite the weather, I do see a way to make progress with the horses. As Pat Parelli always reminds us, we must have patience and persistence (among other things).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The beginning of a journey...

My journey and love of Parelli Natural Horsemanship (PNH) started about four years ago when I saw Pat Parelli playing with a horse that was terrified about everything including a blue tarp. At the end of the program, he had the horse following the tarp with curiosity. When I saw this, I knew that this was the new way for me, the natural way--a communication and cooperation between the horse and human--how fascinating.

I have been involved with horses on and off for over twenty years and at that time, I was gearing up to acquire a horse (it had been a long time since I had been with horses due to a terrible jumping accident that left me fearful and lacking confidence). I knew that I needed PNH in my life if I was to continue my life-long horse obsession.

In April of 2003, I jumped two feet first and acquired Fosse. That November, I went to my first Parelli Seminar in North Carolina. I joined the Savvy Club and the journey began.

I now have about everything the Parelli's sell and have been to a few additional seminars. I have yet to attend a clinic, have not been a student at their center, nor have I attended a Savvy Conference (money and time are the big issues, not interest). Something I definately want to do in the future. I have not officially assessed either, it is something I plan to do, this year. Once again, time, circumstance, and money have stood in the way.

I practice PNH with all three of my horses. If I were to unofficially assess, Fosse is Level 2 (groundwork only, no riding--not started yet), Whiskey is Level 2 (ground) and Level 1 (riding), and Wilbur is L1 (ground and riding). I started Whiskey last summer, Fosse has not been started, and Wilbur has been ridden by traditional people for years. I acquired Whiskey in Jan 2004 and Wilbur in October of 2005.


In addition to my horses, I have a career as an academic librarian. In the future, I would love to take my skills as an academic (and instructor) and combine them with my love and passion of horses and PNH and become a certified Parelli instructor. I would love to work for the Parelli's using my unique skill set--we will see.

An Introduction...

My name is Michelle (aka arabhorselover1). I have been married (16 years) to Rick (aka Sahlen_TAW). We live in the beautiful mountains in Virginia.

We own three horses. Fosse, a bay, Arabian Gelding, Whiskey, a bay, Arabian gelding, and Wilbur, a black, Thoroughbred.

Our other family members are four dogs (Frasier & Daisy, Miniature Pinschers; Sahlen a Mini-Dachshund; and Sid, an Italian Greyhound). We also have a Mexican Red-Head parrot named Chi-Chi, a kitty called Madeline, six goats (Niles, Festus, Beau, Yacko, Wacko, and Dot), and a flock of chickens living at our home.