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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A little fun before the snow storm hits!

Well, I checked the weather channel and we have a storm coming! I decided if I were to get any fun time in, I'd better get out there and play with the horses now! ( I did play a little on the ground with them this morning too by the way.)

Anyhow, when I went to mount Fosse (bareback), he came right to the mounting block and lined up like ok, get on--well I lacked the umph and did not mount properly the first time. He backed up, gave me "the look" and then lined back up, closer even (as if to say, "ok do it now--will this help") and I did, I mounted up. We stood for a minute or so, and then I asked him to move forward. I rode Fosse around the big field practiving ride the rail and pushing passenger bareback with his halter (I know, lazy of me not to get the saddle or bareback pad out). It is wonderful how good he is. (I think we could potentuially hit the trail--although I've not hade the opportunity with him yet.) I mean let's think about it...I have not ridden him in a long time and we are both out of shape. Even with these factors and Whiskey galloping up to us, he just walked around nicely through the snow and we really enjoyed each other's company. I also hand-walked him around the field (to be sure I got in some exercise--this is the same path I've been taking Morgan my Great Dane puppy on--daily). We really had fun walking around and Whiskey was acting like a lunatic in the turnout! Herd-bound galore (apparently we have work to do because he could see Fosse all the time we were out). I took Fosse to the barn to feed him and then went back for Whiskey. This was the first time Fosse did not act herd bound when he was turned out without Whiskey. Could this be because I have been playing with him, only a little, but consistently for several days? Hmmm, how interesting.

Whiskey and I played on the ground but not for too long. Once at the barn, I asked him to back through the gate because he was acting right-brained. I then asked for him to halt, stand, I latched the gate, and then asked for him to back into the barn and to his feed dish, pause, turn, lower his head, I took off his halter, and then allowed him to move forward to the dish. He did very well. I am convinced that backing not only cures biting but helps a horse get back into left-brain mode.

My plan is to get back to it, get out there with the horses, daily, and make progress again, no more excuses (my weird intrusive neighbor or the weather). And, I plan to purchase the Parelli Patterns in the next few weeks which will not only add to my Parelli Library but give me more ideas.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Turkey Day--Anyone do anything horsey?

Good Evening...I hope that you all had a nice turkey day! I had a wonderful one full of great food and family...our first in our new home.

Not too much horsey going on here still but tonight, I did take the initiative and went our before the dark set it and played with the horses. Mostly Fosse really as Whiskey wanted to follow us around but was not interested in me "catching him" and I did not pursue it.

Anyhow, Fosse and I just did ground games and used natural things as obstacles like two pine trees as a squeeze, sideways around another clump of trees, fallen logs to walk over, side-pass by, put one foot at a time, etc., and a couple of barrels for figure eights. Lots of friendly game and lots of mouth rubs as he was feeling extraordinarily alpha, frisky, and mouthy! We have a really fun time. I also did a little liberty circles and then backing by the mane at liberty (supported by a light porcupine).

I was planning on riding but it is really slippery out and since the horses and I are all out of shape, I thought better do that some other day. (Yes, still dreaming of an indoor arena.) If anyone has brilliant ideas for an outdoor arena that would be usable in the winter too, let me know--I am up for all kinds of ideas! My concern if the footing more than the cold. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

OT: WANTED: Parrot for Loving Home

Well, since it is my blog, I am opting to post an off-topic post. I hope you [my readers] don't mind...thanks!

WANTED: Parrot for Loving Home

I am looking to adopt a parrot. My wonderful Mexican Red-headed parrot named Chi-Chi died a few weeks ago at the age of 30. (I had him 15 years.) The house, although full of life with my dogs and cat (and two horses outside—and a hubby-inside LOL), it seems somehow empty. I miss talking and singing to my sweet bird. Chi-Chi even vacationed with the family!

I have had the pleasure of living with a variety of exotic birds over the years (Amazons, hand-fed African Grays, Cockatiels, Parakeets) and have experience with all of them. I also worked at two veterinary hospitals through college and ran a wildlife rehabilitation center for domestic and federally protected animals and birds for eight years.

I have embedded a photo of Chi-Chi for you to look at. As you can see, he was a happy and healthy companion. My hope is to find an unwanted bird in my area (Northern New York) or maybe a hand-fed baby. I am not entirely clear on what will end up working out right now! I am not looking to spend a great deal of money but, you never know--so many factors to consider!

In any event, please be thinking of me if you see something that may be of interest. Thank you.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Being Thankful, Planning, and Creativity

Image from the Red Earth Horse Series

It is rainy, wet, muddy, cold, and down-right uncooperative if you have horses and no indoor arena up here in New York at Hidden Meadows. Okay, yes, I am impatient and feeling a bit whiney these days! I know that I only moved into the new house 9 months ago but, I am human, and I love my horses. I am thankful to have moved here, thankful to have my horses, and thankful for what I do have for the horses--40 acres and a 24.5W x 42L x 13.5 H Quonset hut (I really am thankful). I love my log home, the property, and the possibilities and I know the sky is the limit but, I want to play now! LOL

I have not had much what I'd normally call, "quality" horse time lately though. Ground play and riding has all but been out between the inclement weather patterns and my work schedule. I yearn for the times I enjoyed in my outdoor arena back in Virginia (and I remember complaining then too, LOL). I had lights and as long as it was not raining, I was good to go. I would play with my horses pretty much, everyday. I could come home from work and go play, no problem! Up here, in NY, this is not the case. My place is a muddy mess due to the weather and I have been feeling very sad about it.


I have been planning the prospects of an indoor arena and there are so many choices, to many routes to go, and so much money to spend! So far, I've looked at FarmTek, Coverall, Pole Barn (build your own and Morton), Metal structures (all of those steel companies). I can say that FarmTek has been the most cooperative, informative, helpful, and I am not the only one saying it! They have fabulous customer service. I have looked at covered round pens (FarmTek's High Crown is of interest), and typical arena configurations--I am thinking a 60'W x 120'L x 16'H would be ideal for me. But, I have also looked at narrower buildings that since it is just me. No lessons and no boarders -- I am busy enough trying to have time for my two horses let alone my full-time career, hubby, and other critters. Anyhow, there is a structure that is one of the Pony Wall Buildings from FarmTek model that is 42'W x 96'L x 21'3" H. I have even looked into kits.

To be honest, my head is spinning! If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment!


So, I was out in the barn this weekend and guess what, it was raining and it was super muddy outside--puddles everywhere! So, I cleaned the barn (this is their dry place), groomed and fed the horses. I wondered what I could do to have a little fun and to also keep the relationship with my horses intact--especially the herd hierarchy with my alpha gelding, Fosse.

Anyhow, I taught them both to back by the mane (very light phase 1). It was pretty cool. I supported them at first with a light phase one porcupine to the chest, I stood in zone 3. They figured it out very quickly--and funny thing, Fosse was way more respectful to me afterwards too. We did this all at liberty. So, I taught both horses, at liberty, to follow-the feel in their manes and to back up--in minutes! Very cool, very fun, and put a smile on my face (think the horses were also amused, being challenged). And, can you imagine how nicely this will translate in the saddle (in theory anyway).

Well, that is is. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am thankful for what I do have, looking forward to and am planning for the future, and know that I still can have fun, even if it is just a small thing...another thing to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Transporting Your Horse Safely

When I had to move from Virginia to New York, one major consideration was horse transportation. Yes, I own a nice horse trailer (Moritz 3 horse slant bumper-pull with a dressing room) but, to me, it was not appropriate for such a long trip--actually my truck was the bigger concern (1985 4x4 Chevy K-10). Plus, the horses had to be sent ahead so that Rick and I could finish packing up the house and farm, getting it ready for the real estate market and for our absence, and coordinating getting the rest of our stuff to New York (a commercial moving van could not get to our place--we were on our own).

Therefore, I decided I needed to find professional horse transportation. I had no idea where to start. I did some Google searching and I found it very time consuming and frustrating. At the time, I was unaware that services like u-Ship were out there. This site lets you list the item you want shipped (IE. your horse) and then service providers bid for the job. It seems to me that this would be a great way to find a host of companies. Then you could investigate further, inquire to friends, and then make your choice. I'd presume that due to the bidding process, you may even get a better rate.

By the way, u-Ship has an interesting program called, "Highway to Help" it is their charitable program where you can get donation items shipped for free. With regards to horses, this program can be used for rescue horses! From u-Ship's website:

"In times of need, many individuals and organizations around the world are quick to donate goods and supplies needed to help others. Many Transportation Service Providers are also willing and able to donate their services to deliver these goods to people and communities in need. Unfortunately, there is no central place for these giving people to connect in their efforts to help others. That's where uShip comes in – helping people help others. Through our Charitable Shipping Program, we offer our marketplace services for free to help people and organizations in need of donated or low cost transportation services find Transportation Service Providers who are willing to donate all or part of their services."

Another problem of course was, once finding a hauler, how would I know if they were reliable and trustworthy? Would they be willing and able to deal with my horses in a manner to which they have become accoustomed and that I expected? Would they feed and care for them properly? Would the horses remain on the trailer or be unloaded? And, what was acceptable.

I started make a list of all the things I required and I can say that I was terrified at the prospect of putting my horses in the hands of a stranger. I knew that if not handled properly my horses might cause a problem--not loading. I knew I'd use Ulcer-Guard as a preventative, I knew I did not want them unloaded (I thought that added more risk), and I then decided to seek out anyone who was not only a professional hauler but, someone with Parelli (or other natural horsemanship experience). I was certain that even if they were novices in the natural horsemanship realm, something was better than nothing. Price, although somewhat of a consideration was not the final deciding factor--surprisingly enough to some.

In between packing, planning, and finding a horse hauler, we had to practice our loading skills. I also reviewed (for the millionth time---LOL) Pat Parelli's Trouble Free Trailer Loading DVD for guidance (no longer available from parelli.com but you can get it on eBay).

"Trouble Free Trailer Loading" this isn't just about teaching horses to load themselves into trailers. It's about horse behavior at its most profound level. If you can convince a horse to feel safe, comfortable and enthusiastic about getting into a trailer, you'll learn more about getting into the horse's mind than most people think possible."

I wanted the horses to be very confident because this was going to be a long trip in a strange trailer. I knew that they had to be ready for anything including loading as promptly as possible (it was unlikely that anyone would be as patient as me--although another Parelli person was more likely to be).

To read more about the trials and tribulations of trailer loading fun (not necessarily directly related to this particular experience) check out some of my previous blog posts (use the search box or just browse). You may also want to read this one from an NCPPG play date: April 23, 2008 Trailer Loading, Prepare for Success

I did find a hauler with a Parelli background (level 1) who was willing to haul my horses, Praire Creek Performance Horses and Transport. However, my so-called "safety net" or using a natural horse person was not fool proof. People are predators and horses are prey animals--things can go wrong--nothing is ever perfect. (This is a photo of their new truck and trailer--not what picked my three up but, what was used was very nice nonetheless.)
Two of the the horses loaded with no problem (Whiskey and Mini-Me) but Fosse, my left-brained extrovert, dominant alpha gelding who seems to only connect with me, who appeared ready to load, who needed a little space and respect, some patience, did not load immediately. The hauler was tired from a long and difficult trip to get to us, became seemingly frustrated and I perceive him as thinking I was not moving things along quickly enough or that I did not have the skills to get the horse loaded fast enough or that the horse was not cooperating well enough. (I loaded the other two by the way within 5 minutes.)

Anyhow, he took over trying to load Fosse -- not a good idea really. Which if he had listened to me, and if he used his PNH background, stepped back and took a breath, things would have gone well and the horse probably would have loaded within a few minutes. However, he felt that showing the horse "who was boss" was a better plan put him into a battle with my horse for 6 1/2 hours (and Fosse got away from him several times)! Needless to say, I was not pleased, it was dark and extremely cold, a bad situation that was not getting better. Finally, against my better judgment,Fosse was butt-roped into the trailer and they were off for a two day trip on the road (stranded at one point because of a ice on the highway). Upon arrival at the boarding facility in NY, greeted by the stable owner as I was still in VA (where they stayed for several months), Fosse came off the trailer wobbly and looking a bit rough whereas the other two were fine.

I believe that the hauler did hos best at the time. For the record, he was upset about all of this too and talked to fellow PNHrs later on to get guidance for the future. I appreciate this very much. I also believe that what was missing was the principles "love, language, and leadership in equal doses." You cannot simply perform maneauvers (for lack of a better word) and not have all three pieces in place. I know that I could have gotten him to load but, I needed the time to do it and the confidence from the hauler to allow me to. (By the way, when I needed to haul the horses from the boarding barn to the house, they all loaded for me (the Parelli way of course) within 10 minutes and we were near the road and had construction trucks coming in between the trailer and barn.--HMMMM How interesting!)

In hindsight, I know I did the best job I could finding a hauler but, wish I'd have had more choices. I would have perhaps found someone with more concrete skills in PNH. That said, I would hire Praire Creek again should the need arise but, would try to impress on the hauler to remember the fundamentals of PNH: Love, Language, and Leadership. To understand each horse and their horsenality, and to have patience, to use persistence in the proper position, and to relax.

By the way, I did haul my horse trailer with my truck with contents like the atv, riding mower, tack, barrels, arena obstacles, and anything that could not fit elsewhere and we made it! (We also hauled 2 huge U-hauls, towed our car and blazer not before using the blazer to tow the boat---YES the move was VERY complicated.

So, if you are planning to relocate, be thinking about yout transportation needs, your horses' needs, plan, practice, and know that nothing is perfect. As Pat says, "Nose, neck, maybe feet and Take the Time it Takes and it Takes Less Time!"