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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Trailering Savvy During Crisis

Trailer experience and savvy, on the side of the hauler, handler, and horse are very important and even with that, things can happen. Remaining calm and collected during crisis for the horse's sake is extremely important (remember, as a prey animal, if their predator is panicking, things must be really bad which makes it even more scary for them). Having techniques like deep breathing and relaxation (for you) will help you remain focused and calm, even in the worst situation. It is just like not panicking when the horse steps on the lead line or gets entangled in a fence. They need to be calm but equally important is how calm you act and what body language and message you convey for their own feeling of safety. (Be thinking about the horse's hierarchy of needs, and in this order, safety, comfort, play, food.)

(Photo from www.bisontrailer.com/)

Weekly Task Challenge: The Friendly Game

If you don't know what to do, have little time, or are just feeling stuck, try the weekly task challenge as a way to at least do something with your horse! (It just may motivate you to do more.)

This week's task focuses on Game #1, The Friendly Game. Remember, that there are thousands of ways to play all of the 7 games and that you need to be creative and provocative for your horse. Keep it fun and always use savvy.

*Weekly tasks are based on many different Parelli resources I have studied as well as my own ideas on how to proceed through my journey. Some of the content was copied to make it easier to put up in a timely manner. Please consult http://www.parelli.com for any official instructions or materials.

Try the Weekly Task Challenge!

If you don't know what to do, have little time, or are just feeling stuck, try the weekly task challenge as a way to at least do something with your horse! (It just may motivate you to do more.)

Please consider participating in the weelky task challenge! The goal is for you to read and understand the task, try it out with your horse during the week, and report to the blog using comments what you did, how you did it, successes, problems, etc! Have fun, be creative, and always use savvy.

Please be thinking about these Parelli-isms as you proceed…

  • There is only one rule - there are no rules.
  • Play with the horse that shows up.
  • Allow your horse time to digest your thoughts.
  • Cause your ideas to become your horse's ideas, but understand his ideas first.
  • Do it for the horse, not to him.
  • Cause is less than make, and allow is more than let.
  • Cause the undesirable things to be difficult and allow the desirable things to be easy.
  • Trust that they will respond, but be ready to correct. Not more one than the other.
  • Get firm without getting mean or mad.
  • Pressure motivates but it is the release that teaches.
  • Never ask a trying horse to try.
  • Expect a lot, accept a little, and reward the slightest try.
  • The horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care.
  • If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.
  • Take the time it takes so it takes less time.
  • Practice doesn't make perfect - only perfect practice makes perfect!

Questions? Concerns? Let me know!

*Weekly tasks are based on many different Parelli resources I have studied as well as my own ideas on how to proceed through my journey. Some of the content was copied to make it easier to put up in a timely manner. Please consult http://www.parelli.com for any official instructions or materials.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pony Club and Natural Horsemanship Clinic

This evening I gave an Introduction to Natural Horsemanship clinic to a group of Pony Club girls, ages 8-14 at the Plumbrook Pony Farm. I was able to share information that I have learned while studying PNH, promote our study group, and have a great deal of fun and interaction with fellow horse lovers. The kid's parents and other spectators were in attendance and the feedback was very positive. I look forward to future opportunities with the group.

(For the record, they do know I am not a Parelli-Pro and I took no money.) This was for free, for fun, for the experience, and to get the word out that PNH is fun and everyone can do it!

Next time, I have been asked to bring one of my horses as a demo horse. For this event, it was not possible becuase of the weather and the fact that my horse trailer is buried in the Quonset Hut amongst our other belongings from moving! (One step at a time.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Barn Plans & Quonset-Hut Renovation--The Horses Are Coming Home!

Barn plans (click the image to see it in a larger format).
Note: Windows will also be added (not listed in the plans diagram); black spacing shown on plans is a 6 inch gap from the wall.

I have some great news! Rick (hubby) and I have been talking and he has agreed to turn the Quonset-Hut over to me for a horse barn (it was his idea). We will build him a seperate workshop near the house (which makes him happier anyway).

I have posted the plans as this entry's image (click the image to see it in a larger format). I came up with them yesterday. Let me know what you think!

This is the hut from the outside view (photo from the real estate ad). Right now, we actually have several feet of snow on the ground.

This is the hut from the inside view (from the real estate ad--it is now full of our stuff from the floor to the ceiling).

To expedite bringing the horses home, we plan to buy a 70 foot, galvanized, round pen with a ride-through gate and some stall mats and put part of the pen in the hut and part out of the hut as a run-in situation while we build. This would be done on the back side. We will then proceed to our renovations and other fencing projects as we can. If all goes well, they should be home in the next month or so.

The big plan is to create a farm that is a huge play ground for horses and that other horse people could bring their horses to. We would all get together, have fun, learn, explore! More on that dream later.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Raise Your Hand if You Attended Horse Church Today!

Good Morning Everyone!

So, did you attend horse church this morning? Rick and I did! (We have made this our Sunday ritual. I am the one prompting it but he always seems to stick around. LOL) This morning, we watched 2 hours of Parelli this morning while relaxing on the couch and cuddling the dogs (it is great to have furniture again).

We viewed the July 2007 Savvy Club DVD segment with Linda Parelli in Detroit, Michigan at the tour stop. She played with a left-brain, introvert, warmbloodx, named Beau. It was an excellent session and great reminder about the need to know your horse's horsenality, put your principles before your goals, do the opposite of what you think you should do, being in the proper position at the proper time, and the usefulness of reverse psychology with your horse.

What a great start for the day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kentucky Derby and Natural Horsemanship Connection

Today, I was listening to the Rick Lamb Horse Radio Show and one of his guests was asked if Parelli Natural Horsemanship was applicable to all horsemanship including performance and especially riding skills.

So, what does this have to do with the up-coming Kentucky Derby? Everything as this is a major performance! To be a winner, the trainers, jockey, owners, and other interested parties have to take many factors into consideration. Physiology, hoof health, training, diet, the rider, and of course horse psychology (which has a direct coorelation with trainer, rider, and horse).

One of the most difficult shifts of thought is to make the transition from traditional horse person to natural horse person. The ridicule from those who choose not to or do not understand what natural horsemanship is, have a tendency to be a large crux of the problem for most horse people to make the shift because people fear intimidation, ridicule, and embarassment. Some natural horse people even hide behind the barn from fellow boarders and nay-sayers when practicing with their horses! Can you believe it? How sad.

However, there are high-performance trainers (racing industry, dressage, rolex, etc) making this paradigm shift into a new, unfamiliar world and doing it with the Parelli Natural Horsemanship. I read accounts on the Savvy Club message boards, hear Linda and Pat Parelli talking about it all of the time. This shift is encouraging, motivating, and amazing!

In looking at this year's Kentucky Derby, we obviously have people and horses with a great deal of experience, knowledge, and skill. Wouldn't it be nice not only to know some of them are using natural horsemanship techniques but for them to be brave enough to tell the world that it is part of the formula for success? Can you imaging how wonderful it would be for a horse to want to run the race and be one with their rider, their true partner, for them to have mutual trust, respect, and language? Ok, can you imagine seeing this bridless and without constant whipping? HMMM--how interesting LOL. Ok, maybe the bridless part is a bit too enthusiastic.

So, when you watch the Kentucky Derby, be thinking about what goes on at the farm, at the track, and whereever the horse has contact with the human. What is the mental health of the horse, how about doing a horsenality chart on that horse and comparing it to its performance.
We need to think outside the box, in all walks of horse-world life, and continually support those interested in change for the betterment of the horses' lives.

Keep it natural, be savvy, and maintain your horse's dignity!

Pony Pops a HUGE HIT

I orderd Pony Pops and they came in today. The horses loved them! I hung them up and they snacked while I groomed them, then I hung them in their stalls. They were a big hit. http://www.ponypops.com/

I purchased carrot, apple, and peppermint flavors. YUMMY.

PNH Puzzles/Obstacles Competition Play Date

Last night, the North Country Parelli Play Group http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/northcountryparelliplaygroup/ had a wonderful play date. I facilitated a Parelli Puzzles/Obstacles competition. There were 6 people (including me), my three horses, and two mules owned by another member. Everyone experimented and found their own successes and weaknesses. We discussed them and look forward to future learning endeavors together. I was able to demonstrate level 1 skills and competencies (when asked) and we were all learning, together, as a horsey group cohort. One member even rode his mule bareback for the first time! Everyone is having fun and enjoying doing it together. Another member remarked on how she liked the group because she felt comfortable with us and that no one member acted like they knew everything or were better than the other (most are new to PNH). We are a good group, a team, we have synergy, and it is amazing!

Here is a recap of the competition!

Marcia & Mini-Me 1st Place 70 points
Cindy & Whiskey 2nd Place 60 points

Monica & Susie 3rd place (tie)50 points
Bill & Honkey 3rd place (tie)50 points

Kim & Fosse 4th place 40 points

Obstacles/Puzzles list: (each worth 10 points with a 10 point bonus task, total points available 80 points)
  • Put the ball on your horse for 10 seconds. Your horse needs to now move around.
  • Put your horse on the tarp for 10 seconds (you cannot walk or stand on the tarp). For 10 extra points, put the tarp on your horse.
  • Send your horse over the jump.
  • Slalom your horse through the cones. You must be a minimum of six feet away from the cones. You cannot lead your horse through the course.
  • Sidepass your horse over the pole.
  • Ask your horse to go back through the barrels. You may not walk him through first.
  • Kneel on the barrel and send your horse in a circle around you without getting off the barrel or changing positions. Your horse must circle two times.

I also was able to take time to ride Fosse, bareback, one-reined with the PNH halter and carrot stick. The carrot stick was a first time thing and it went very well.

In addition to that, I saddled Whiskey taking a long time and having a friend play with him in between. Then, I practiced mounting from both sides (never put my leg over though) about 4 times on each side. I then got off the mounting block and ended it. I wanted to retreat and end with success. He did not show any emotional displacement behaviors this time. He started a little while my friend played with him but she knew to retreat and that worked well.

I did give all of the horses and mules treats throughout the evening. These were not bribes but just something nice here and there.

I look forward to future adventures with the group. And no, no pictures! We all forgot to bring a camera! So, I posted a fun photo instead. Until next time...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Horse Behavior & Liberty Course in a Box -- AWESOME

If you have not seen this series, you have to! The information is absolutely wonderful. It is especially giving me great ideas for Whiskey (experimenting---a technique).
I am watching disc #6 of the Horse Behavior & Liberty Course right now.

Linda said (paraphrased)... (the discussion was about an introverted horse in particular but this applies to all.)

Leadership for a horse means giving a lot of good firm direction at times and other times it means to not push when they are afraid. Think about what it would take for the horse to feel safe, use retreat, it gives them release, use the adrenalin, it will help with confidence and their feelings about their safety. You need to bring up your horse's confidence.
And always remember...It is NOT about the trailer, it is NOT about the obstacle, it is about confidence.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Finally Committing to a Date--L2 Assessment

I have been playing on the ground in L2 forever! It is time I continued and prepared for the riding components and did my level 2 assessment. It seems that I have a great deal of playtime and study to do! So, rather than keep saying this--until the end of time, I have set a ticker on the blog and a due date--Oct 15th. Wish me luck!
(By the way, the horses are not home yet so some of this may be delayed, that is why I chose a date so far in the future--hopefully I can get this accomplished much sooner.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Undemanding Time is Underrated

(Photo from Parelli's website--to me, this is a lovely image of undemanding time. http://www.parelli.com/content.faces?contentId=1)

Last night, when I went to the barn, all was quiet, no one was around, and the arena was not available. I could have said hello and just left. But, I started thinking about how I knew that I have not spent enough time with my horses during this relocation and surely not enough undemanding time--especially because I know that our relationship is good but something is missing. I have been immersed in the Behavior and Liberty Series lately, catching up on Savvy Club dvds, gearing up to review L1 with the new play group, and also, I am reviewing L2 for myself. My studies are really going well and I am often thinking about the horses and what I can/should/want to do...but more specifically, about Whiskey.

So, I decided that undemanding time was in order and I could not have asked for a more perfect setting, solitude in a barn where not a soul (that was not a horse or cat) could be found. This was a great opportunity where I could feel safe, confident, and relaxed.

I started with Whiskey (Right-brained introvert who does go left-brained). I sat in the stall doorway on a lawn chair and waited. Not a minute later, he was sniffing and checking me out. I waited patiently (as taught in L1) to not touch him until I was touched. The session would last for about 20 minutes. I was able to pet his face, ears, rub all over him, lift his feet, etc. I eventually would stand to continue with the massage but, I feel like more progress was made when I was sitting, how interesting I thought. I believe that it has to do with my mannerisms, my approach, and my forwardness. I will continue to do this exercise and reflect on what is truly going on, how I might change what I do, and also, note the changes in Whiskey. As a reminder of things that have been going on, he had been popping his head and making that weird gulping noise when I approach him, not always but is doing it, I wrote about this a long time ago on the blog--these behaviors are right-brained I think. Anyway, he did none of that last night. He was relaxed, confident, calm, curious, and seemed to be enjoying himself.

Next, I went to Mini-Me's stall. He has changed quite a bit since the move--I think being around so many people at the barn has helped. However, he still is skeptical about humans, he is primarily right-brained extrovert, but is slowly moving closer to the left-brained side of life. I did what I did with Whiskey, I waited. Mini-Me would eventually start licking my hand, sniffing my face, playing with my clothes. It is great to see his curiosity coming out. Our group had a play date the other day and he participated--and had fun I think. My relationship with Mini-Me is certainly changing and growing. Our undemanding time lasted about 15 minutes, at which point, I felt that to stay longer would have overstayed my welcome. This is his space you see, I need to respect that.

Lastly, I went to Fosse's stall. He is a left-brained extrovert. He was totally in my face checking me out and bathing me with kisses! This horse cracks me up, he is curious and funny, intelligent, and skilled but, has moments of right-brained bleeps. I ended up standing after a bit and using approach and retreat, was able to rub his pole, face, and ears better than ever before. He was not acting as snotty about those tasks as usual and I think we made some new progress. This was fun indeed. This activity was based on a session I saw Linda do with a horse on a Savvy Club dvd.

So, in conclusion, to me, undemanding time is totally underrated. To me, it is a true relationship builder and something that everyone should be doing with their horse. We need to stop trying to constantly make horses do things and truly, have the things horses do be their idea--all which in my humble opinion, stems from a strong relationship with a firm core. I used to sit in the woods, reading a book and the horses would come to me and hang out. I need to remember how important this time is and also, to not worry so much about what other people may think about me and what I am up to. LOL

By the way, if you search my blog, you will find other posts that are all about this idea of undemanding time.

Have you hugged your horse today? Remember to respect your horse, give him space, give him time, don't always demand him to perform. The reward is well worth the effort.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Savvy Club Rules!

I have been catching up on a few, unwatched, Savvy Club DVDs today. I really am amazed and thrilled to be part of the Savvy Club. The materials are just fantastic. If you are on the fence about joining, just do it! The magazine, dvds, discounts, website, etc., all totally worth their weight in gold (although I like the current pricing model--LOL).

I have been experiencing the emotional/trust issues with Whiskey again (and really don't have enough time to play with him because of this move, not to mention that he is not at home) and he is truly an introverted horse which makes life that much more "interesting." I am really able to read him so much better these days (I have also been watching the Behavior & Liberty Series).

Well, just today, some of the SC material I have viewed on DVD and on the SC website, has helped me regain focus, discover and plan new ideas, and feel motivated to keep on trying. I am so thankful to Pat and Linda Parelli.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Play Group Fun

Our play group is going very well. We have been able to have play dates and video meetings every week! Tonight was a play date.

The group took turns playing with Fosse, Whiskey, and Mini-Me on-line in the indoor arena working on the games with and without obstacles. I did some demos with my horses too (on-line and at liberty). Another member put her horse in a small pen in the arena to observe the goings-on and this was very successful. He was calm and seemed to like being an observer (less pressure).

We had a great time!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Play Time Tonight

First, I want to thank Kim (boarder at the barn) for the phone call inquiring as to if I was coming to the barn today. I planned on it but knowing that someone wanted to hang out with me and play with the horses made it all the more inviting and fun. I was glad to have a play buddy this evening.

I played with Mini-Me first. We played the 7 games online and used a jump obstacle and an exercise ball. He is doing great and even side-passed a few times very nicely (which is a first). Then I took his halter off and sent him away. I sat and talked with Kim and ignored him. He eventually would catch me and then I haltered him again, played some friendly game and yo-yo, and backed him through the gate, and put him in his stall. He did fabulous and Kim even took pictures. This little guy has really come a long way from the day he was rescued.

Kim played with Drifter and I enjoyed watching very much. These two are a nice pair and he is really looking to her for comfort and leadership. She is taking it all on a slow, steady pace, something that he needs. After play online, she took his halter off and let him run around. He mostly followed her around and they did stick-to-me at liberty and a few other games, very well done. Putting his halter back on was a bigger challenge but, she me that with a patience and persistence that was wonderful. She appropriately used approach and retreat until he was willing to be haltered--this took a great deal of patience. The entire session was very interesting.

Finally, I brought out Whiskey for playtime with the intention of riding him. We played on the ground and had some fun but he was fairly dull so, I saddled him with his bareback pad and as I was cinching him, I noticed that he was bloating his belly, not something he usually does. I did cinch with games and movement in between so, it was done in a savvy way. It was interesting that he was acting in this manner. Anyhow, when I mounted, he bit me in the leg/foot and was very upset and antsy. I had two choices, force the issue and move him forward (which I could have done) or, get off and more play time on the ground. I chose to do the latter and he was jumping barrels, changing directions, etc. and having fun. I then took him back to the mounting barrel (I originally used a mounting block that is not very safe and opted for the barrel instead this time). Anyhow, he was not paying much attention but seemed to be going inside himself (catatonic). This is something I have seen before. So, I decided to lay over him several times, allow for drift, friendly game, and flex practice. I basically took him back to the baby steps. Then, we walked to his stall and I put him away. (It was also dinner time.)

As far as Fosse, it was cold and we ran out of time. So he is first next time!

So, that is it! I had fun and am glad that I remembered my principles before goals. Although I'd be lying if I said I was not a bit disappointed as I really was in a riding mood. But, Whiskey's welfare and our relationship trumps all.

Keep it savvy all the time...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Fun Play Time Today

This afternoon I took Whiskey in the indoor arena for some one-on-one time. We really needed it. He and I had a ton of fun. We played on line and at liberty and worked on trust, communication, and tasks. We played "stick to me" and the seven games primarily and we were able to do maneuvers that were level 2/3 skill and quality. Whiskey was so in-tune with me it was simply wonderful, he truly is a pure joy. Today was quite different than his frame of mind at our first NCPPG play date. You truly never know what side of the corral the horse will wake up on! I love it. Two play group members were with us and got to see how talented Whiskey is. Rather than riding, I decided to end our session on a good note, without additional pressure on him. I am sure I could have ridden him but as you all know, I agree with Pat and Linda and it is "way more than riding." (Next time perhaps. )

After our play time, I played with the two member's horses, "Z" and "Drifter." Each presented a completely different set of skills and techniques needed. I am always interested in how each horse I play with is so very different. "Z" was nervous at first and reluctant, and a bit distracted. But after playing the games and challenging him to try different things, he was attentive, skilled, and quite fun--a different horse when we were finished. I think that his owner will find this horse to be fun with the levels and related tasks, the idea of refinement with him intrigues me. "Drifter" was fun too. I played with him at liberty. He definitely has trust issues and I found that approach and retreat was very successful for him and it boosted his confidence and diminished his fear reactions. This is a very intelligent horse with a checkered past. He has tons of potential and I look forward to watching his progress with his owner.

After all the play time, I trimmed Whiskey's hooves. He was perfect and it took 10 minutes. About a week ago, when I was trimming Fosse and Mini-Me, Whiskey was acting up and because I was tired, and trying to avoid frustration, I waited to trim him until another day (which was today). I am very pleased with this decision as the task went very well today, without incident, and without frustration. (By the way, the photo is Equine Innovations' Hoof Jack--I have the regular horse size and the mini size, both I could never do without.)

Oh, I also said hello and gave rubs and kisses to Fosse and Mini-Me of course. Everyone in the barn was getting treats too!

Well, that is it! I hope to be at the barn tomorrow to play with Mini-Me (primarily) and visit with the other guys. I cannot wait to get the farm set-up and ready to roll.

Keeping it natural and savvy!