About Me

My photo
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

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nice Evening with the Critters

I had a wonderful evening with the critters tonight. Here they are all eating after our playtime. Tonight I played with at liberty with everyone and we had a fun time. They got to run around the arena and I sent them through the obstacles, mostly the jumps---they were leaping, bucking, and Whiskey was especially animated!

I also played on the ground and saddled Fosse, approached and scratched Minime (without him trying to leave), and rode Whiskey. Whiskey did fantastic--the best in sometime. We are making progress, again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Deprivation Training


Today, I played with each horse on the ground and did a thorough grooming job. Whiskey was in the front turnout and the others all in the arena. I went to get Mini-Me and he started to head away from me. Rather than chase, I totally ignored him and there Fosse was, ready for what ever I had in store. I played with him on the ground, utilizing some new faux-cavaletti I created and he was quite intrigued. We also played with the other item in the arena (jumos, cowboy carwash, tarp, barrels, hoses, cones, etc. Then I groomed him (Mini was watching and ended up moving so close that his head was almost in Fosse's tail. I would touch him as I passed by to continue my groom job but, not give he too much attention at all.

After this, I grazed Fosse in the lawn for a few minutes. Whiskey called to me--we were not our of sight so it wasn't a herd bound thing, he actually was trying to get my attention. Whiskey was next. I ran through the same things as Fosse and there was Mini and the goats, tagging along through it all! The goats, throughout everything were always nearby (Mini too), they worked through the obstacles, and even got a little grooming when I was doing the horses.

Lastly, I played with Mini. Funny how now all of a sudden he was eager to be haltered! We ran through the ostacles and 7 games, he did very well. I am truly encouraged and know that with him, the more aloof I become, the more interested in me he becomes.

How interesting, depriving your horse of attention after he decides to run away from you. Rather than chase, just walk away--all of of sudden you become interesting!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nice Relaxing Evening

We had a nice time this evening, undemanding chill time. Rick and I sat in the lawn with Mini-Me grazing on the 12 foot lead (he even came over for scratches and sniffed me several times), the dogs and cats were running around playing in the yard, the goats were in the arena laying down sleeping, and Fosse and Whiskey grazing the lower hill by the road. It was a lovely time and a great de-stressor. We were able to chill out and talk (or not) and there were no phones, computers, or other noisy, 21st century interruptions.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Trimming Mini-Me Tonight and the PNH Connection

Mini-Me was in dire need of a trim (his toes were long--I trimmed him 2 weeks ago). I ended up taking quite a chuck off. I had been fairly conservative but this time, needed to do a good, shorter trim job. You'd be amazed at how normal they are starting to look--I am thrilled and glad I learned how to trim. He was also having lameness issues on the front right leg--I think he was kicked (gave him Banamine and rubbed with DMSO). So, this little guy had a lot going on tonight.

Anyhow, so why am I telling you this? Well, let's step back a bit and let me remind you who he is. Mini-Me is the mini-horse rescue from 6 months ago (he had woolly-mammoth hair and elf shoes with rockers). He is a head-stong, not overly trusting mini-horse who also has catching issues. For those of you who don't have minis (or those with docile ones), this horse can only be described as a head-strong, alpha gelding with an attitude and swift moving hind quarters. He is also very intelligent. He has learned the 7 games but is not great at all of them yet--and he is more than willing to challenge me as herd leader.

While trimming him tonight, I had issues with his rear feet. He even bit my head (hit my hair and scalp. He wanted to swing his hind quarters, offered to kick a few times, etc. This was something that occurred two weeks ago and it ended up being a knock down, drag out, war between us. He and I were both frustrated, I cried (twice), felt guilt about my anger, and he was pissed off too. (But he was trimmed.) I did not want tonight to be the same thing (or ever for that matter). (By the way, he was not this bad a few months ago but developed this rear feet phobia and attitude recently.)

I have been learning a lot from you all and a lot about myself, especially about dealing with stress, confrontation, and my own frustrations. PNH has also helped me through this process.

So, how I worked through this issue tonight was to tie him, then as he leaned and tried to manipulate his body to get out of the proper position, I leaned back into him. I used the nipper handles to porcupine him in the hindquarters area above the flank when he tried to push into me (my hands or fingers were ineffective), he knows this game and would eventually move off. I used tons of friendly game throughout the session. I kept rubbing his leg and hindquarters, would pinch his hock to pick up the leg (he knows this too). Then, if I could get it even a centimeter off the ground, I'd hold it and release when possible. Then friendly game. If he offered a kick, I tapped him on the hindquarters, then friendly again. Eventually, I was able to use the nippers to knock of the toe and rasp to finish (although not an excellent finishing job, good enough). The trimming took about 1 1/2 hours. But, in the end, we learned a bit about each other, I think we left on a respectful note, and no one got hurt. I even was able to easily catch him after he was released back into the arena to put him on the grass, and then again to put him away later.

So, I guess what I wanted to share was that Mini-Me and I each had an experience of new communication, learned how to not explode on each other, and got the job done.

Aren't horses interesting?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Whiskey and Wine

So, did that title get your attention? LOL.

Whiskey and I had a brief but fun time last night. I rode him bareback with the rope halter, walking passenger lesson. He did try to bite me a few times but I was able to deter that. My friend saw this and was shocked at this behavior although unable to offer any ideas about why he does it. It is good to note that he does not do it when we have gone on a trail ride (not that we have been on many--maybe like 3). Anyhow, we only played for about 5 minutes before riding (sidepassing over a one foot high log) and then riding for about 10 minutes. I did experience progress on his behalf but, we still have LONG way to go. Afterwards, he enjoyed a few sips of my wine--and loved it--weird horse.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A new strategy

After reading the recent Parelli E_news and in thinking about my recent riding issues with Whiskey, I wonder if some of it is strength too. Recently, he has some weight loss due to a lost battle with a bees' nest. Anyhow, he is looking much better now (in the last week) from that and in addition, I increased his caloric intake. So, I believe I will now incorporate "hill therapy" with our play time (and I will start my morning workouts for me again too). :) We certainly have hills at my house (and jump obstacles).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Whiskey Update -- Progress, I think.

I played with Whiskey again this evening. Last night I took everything back a notch tonight and started with some non-demanding time (I sat in the arena on the ground until he and the others came to see me. I then moved to the games, obstacles, and saddling. I also layed over him from both sides bareback. I believe he expected to have to "endure riding" and opposite of what he was expecting, I did not ride nor attempt to even mount. I noticed a bit of anticipation on his part and wanted him to understand that there is more to our relationship than riding. :) This seemed like a great idea and he seemed to really be happy tonight. He was walking when I walked, stopping when I stopped, etc. He was in-tune with me even though the other horses and goats were lingering around. A good evening all around.

Well tonight, I played with him on the ground first, remembering wisdom of my Parelli network of friends, and put my principles and relationship before my goals. I did not just hop on and try to ride him. Anyhow, on the ground, I asked him to move sideways along the fence, over a pole, over a log, over cones, around a tire, etc. You get the picture. He did very well and some of these obstacles were totally new with this movement. My position was on his side or facing him. I also incorporated the other games. I then mounted bareback with his rope halter (one reined). I leaned over him three times before swinging up (all from the mounting block). Once on, I checked his flex and used a lot of friendly game. I then asked for forward movement, passenger, only at the walk. He was a little resistant (biting at my foot at times) but did move forward without much effort on my part, he just had some small protests. I continued to work on his flexion. and more friendly. Itfelt like we are back to the beginning when I first started riding him. However, rather than totally push the issue, we accomplished mini-goals and I dismounted. I then took him to the turnout for his grain and asked for a side-pass through the gate (sometimes we walk forward and other times, back into the area too).

So, I believe we had a good evening. I would be lying if I said I did not feel some frustration about not being able to ride him like I could my old horse Wilbur--or even like I had in the past few months. I know that riding is not the "end all be all" but, it would be fun! However, in time, I think that will happen. I think that we need to come back together as solid partners and get back to making progress.

I plan to take him back to horse camp Sept 21-23 and Sept 27-30. I am taking him by himself and plan to play on the ground first and then assess if we can do anything else. I plan to be more patient and a true partner paying close attention to his needs. Thanks for listening! I truly appreciate your support, affirmations, and feedback.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Evaluation Task: Thoughts about Whiskey and Me


Each week, I post a weekly task on our Parelli Play Group. This week was to evaluate our relationship with one of our horses. Here is the entire post on that: [parelliplaygroup] This Week's Task: Evaluate your Relationship: This week's task is to look at your relationship with one horse and evaluate it.Think in terms of where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to be in the next year. Consider using examples to illustrate what is going on, explore your feelings and reactions, explore you horse's behavior and horsenality. Be as creative and thoughtful as you can with this evaluation, it should be a true and deep look at your relationship.Once you have done this, please post to the list about your experience. Be sure to talk about why you chose this horse and your relationship with him/her as the one to look at.
Here are my thoughts on the evaluation task...as posted on the PPG listserv.
Dear PPGG--
This task is a timely one for me. I am going to evaluate my relationship with Whiskey. I have chosen him because he is the horse that I am playing with most and probably the one who I will travel with and take places on a regular basis.
Our relationship has been interesting. He came to me as a pushy, introverted horse who had no manners and definitely emotional issues. We have only done PNH with each other although he had other handlers/ owners in the past who did who knows what. He was also taken (by me) to a "trainer" who said he should be euthanized because he would kill me or someone else. I totally disagreed (and still disagree). He was kicked out of her barn and nothing was done with him (nothing beneficial anyway). He was also beaten onto the a trailer and got hurt. He loads very well for me now--but I took the time to work with him on these issues.
I have had him for a few years and we have made huge progress. I started him myself (using a rope halter and bareback). It has taken a great deal of time for him to trust me (or anyone). I know that many of you have read my posts about him on my blog and on this (and perhaps other) listservs. We have been through a great deal.
I would like to talk about this past weekend at the horse camp. This event will help me illustrate where we are and hopefully through this reflection, shed some light on our true relationship. I am aware, concerned, but have a plan. One thing to note, he is very easy to read, I can tell when he is being uncooperative versus a total mental shut-down.
Rick and I took the three horses to the White Cedar Horse Camp from Friday-Sunday. They all loaded up great and off we went to camp. Once there, they were housed in an 18' x 20' corral. Fosse and Mini-Me were fairly pushy at times with Whiskey but, overall they were OK together in these close quarters. We had a regular schedule and everyone seemed happy. I know we were thrilled to have the dogs & horses with us.
On Saturday, I decided to take Whiskey out for a ride. I guess seeing everyone else riding made me want to get out there and do it. I had no intention of riding with anyone though, only wanted to be by myself. I have not really ridden or played with my horses too much in the last weeks because because the Arabs got into a bees nest and were stung very badly (except the mini--we have been playing together). I was giving Fosse and Whiskey time to heal.Anyhow, so here we are at camp and I wanted to ride. My initial thoughts/expectations were to just get the horses there but not necessarily ride. I guess that changed--why I am not certain--where did this new expectation/ pressure come from?
I tacked Whiskey up and barely played with him on the ground (this goes against all of my principles-- in hind sight I am thinking what the heck--I was not being a good partner-why did I do this--what is wrong with me? I think that I felt jealous that everyone else was riding and why shouldn't I be able to? I have no clue---I can be an idiot. ) I mounted and he stood still but, after a minute or so, he got very antsy--there were other horses and riders nearby. I decided to just move him out. We walked through this small piece of wooded area to the road (by the way, he also had hoof boots on for the first time). We walked a few steps and he stopped. I asked for forward movement and got it. Once at the trail head, I asked him to walk around the metal gate, he refused. So, I decided to walk the two loops in the camp. The first loop he did rather well and some people complimented us. I felt proud of our accomplishments and our partnership. He was nervous about thewater containers and the dumpsters but nothing too bad, he spooked a little sideways one time but once again, I was not nervous and he calmed right down. After the completion of the first loop, and what I consider total success, I decided to try the next loop and this is where everything fell apart.
To get to the second loop, you have to go near our camp (where Fosse and Mini are having a fit). I made it part of the way and I could tell Whiskey was starting to meltdown and shut-down. He ended up (in front of people) trying to buck or rear, tossing his head violently. I one-reined him, he tried to blow up, and subsequently he fell to his knees and then stood up, I was able to calm him for a minute and dismounted without incident. I was not scared at all but concerned because I could tell that the mental state of my partner, Whiskey's well-being had been compromised, he was a total basket-case.
While on the ground with him, I watched in horror as he kicked out, kicked his girth, rung his head, hollered, acted like he was out of his mind. I have seen this before in him but not for a very long time. I played the 7 games with him where we stood and then, as we headed back to camp, I felt sorry for him, I was humiliated (not sure why I care what other people think though). One lady said, "Oh yeah there is a typical Arab--see why I left mine home?" I realized at that moment that my horse scared people. I was devastated.
While sitting at camp, I felt terrible, depressed, and could not get this incident out of my mind. Was it me? Perhaps I am not a good partner for him, was it situational? Is he just not mentally capable of being a "normal" horse? Anyhow, you can only imagine the gamut of things running through my mind. Rick was clearly able to see my despair and later that day encouraged me to saddle him and just take him out on the 22 foot line, no riding (unless I really felt I should/ could). I did just that.
While saddling him, I was thinking that maybe he will break down right there because of what happened in the morning. Not at all, he was calm, quiet, and all went very well. I took him out on the 22 foot line and had my carrot stick. We worked on the trail head entrance and walked down the road leading to the trails that branched off the main drag. He started having another melt-down and was clearly unable to pay any attention to me, his "partner". I was so saddened by this. I kept thinking, why/how could this be happening? We have made so much progress over the last several months.
So, in addition to the 7 games, I started ground-driving him with the one line. This was something we hadn't tried and it worked quite well. (I remembered Linda Parelli using this technique with Allure-- who is somewhat like Whiskey in mindset and Cindy doing it wit Junior on the trail a few weeks ago). It gave him something to do and we were able to head towards "home" in a calm fashion. Once back at the metal gate, I used it as a place to do more side-passing. Then, I asked him to go back and forth through the gate. Finally, I asked him to back through via porcupine game, he did it with ease. Finally, another hint of success and left-brained behaviour.
I started to think I was getting him back (he had been bouncing between right and left brain so much that day, I was getting lost as to where he truly was--and getting exhausted) and so we walked to a grassy area near the camp site to graze. I thought it would be a welcomed, non-demanding time for him with the benefit of munching some grass.
He was okay for a minute or two and then exploded again. We worked on the games, etc. etc. While walking him back to the camp, he reminded me of the explosive, hyperactive, unreasonable, Thoroughbred race horses I used to deal with, not a pretty sight. Once back at camp, he proceeded to try to "cow kick" me, I kicked back with the end of my carrot stick--his mind came back. I felt terrible but, this horse tried to hurt me and as "boss mare" I had to do something about it. (I put DMSO on the area in case it swelled. It was just one "kick" but, it was a tad hard--a phase 4 for sure. At this point, I was beside myself. I tied him to the trailer and I groomed him and made up with him and he ate his grain. He seemed totally back to my sweet horse Whiskey. No harm, no foul, no hard feelings. HMMMM.
One thing to note, when I took Fosse for a walk by himself, or Mini- Me, they were totally fine. Whiskey by himself at home has been fine-- most of the time.
To me, it seems like I passed a critical threshold and was dealing with herd-bound issues I had no idea were there. I took my own agenda and ignored my horse telling me that he could not progress further. The entire thing just got out of hand. The guilt is too great to stand, I love him so much, I feel so bad that things went so wrong (after some true success).
So, in closing, this is what I believe about our relationship. I do not believe it is broken nor do I think it is perfect. I plan to spend an inordinate amount of time with this horse and go through level 2, now. I may tape me doing level 1 tasks with him (just for me) as a precursor to our level 2 work--I have not decided yet. Rick an I plan to take him, alone, to horse camp as much as we can before the place closes. I may ride, I may not, but what I am going to do it work on us (Whiskey and me), away from home, away from the other horses.
By the way, last night and this morning at home, when I called him to the arena (for food), he came willingly, galloping to me, was cuddly and wanted scratches. I think he still loves me. I know that I love him, more than I can express. This horse is with me for life, we just need to continue to work on our communication and partnership.
I don't know if this is a thorough account of what happened and what is going on, I am exhausted just by thinking about it. But, I think you get the gist of it. I get very emotional about my horses and also know that frustration can get in my way. Frustration with myself, my horse, and, and other situational (or people) interference. I need to work on this as well.
My plan for the rest of the week is to play with Whiskey but have the other horses locked out of the arena. I believe that we need one-on- one time right now. Rick is going to try to get my round-pen situation remedied as well. I want to start doing more liberty tasks in there soon.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Still Here...


I just wanted to say that I am still here. The horses were stung by bees and I have not done much with them for two weeks. I wanted to allow then time to heal. Anyhow, we are camping next weekend with them so I'll be sure to tell you how it goes!