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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Weekly Task Challenge: Pre-Flight Checks, Savvy Saddling, and Emergency Dismount

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

Your challenge this week is to incorporate pre-flight checks before saddling your horse, then saddle with savvy two times, trying it from each side, pre-flight-check again, and if your horse looks rideable, mount and dismount with savvy, from both sides, two times before actually staying on, and then ride with savvy exploring the pushing passenger position at all gaits. When riding, practice your emergency dismount at least three times from each side. *For those of you who are unable to ride you horse, try everything but the mounting and riding tasks--no excuses!!! Have fun and stay safe!

For more information of safety, view Parelli's Safe Ride from the Success Series.

Have a great week!

*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.

My Second SCG Phone Consultation...

The image is of Julia Ryman, Parelli Faculty Member, from her Facebook Profile.

I have to start by saying that I am very happy to be a Savvy Club Gold member. Although I cannot necessarily go to the ISC, I feel connected to it. I just received a call from Julia Ryman regarding the question about Whiskey's biting issue that I sent to them. Now, you know that I already talked to her about it but that was because I called them. This return call was based on my question submission. Anyhow, talking about the issue again helped bring more information to light (and I also asked a few other questions since I had her on the line). Julia is very polite, intelligent, and interesting to talk to. I made sure I told her what a wonderful job she was doing! I am really impressed about their follow-through contacting me and not forgetting about my question for their teleseminar.

Anyhow, a few more tips about the issue.
  • When he is biting, he has gone from RBI to LBI so giving the treat actually blows his mind and makes him question why he's doing it (and I've experienced this change).

  • She also reminded me of the Parelli Formula: Rapport, Respect, Impulsion, Flexion and that I needed to eventually achieve all of these.

  • I asked if riding even for 10 minutes but ending on a good note was okay and she said definitely. She also said play on the ground first.
  • She said something to the effect of play hard so that you can ride soft (but I cannot remember exactly what her terminology was). I think it means, get in the play time and get your horse ready so that the ride is free of tension.

  • Riding with better balance distribution, western saddle best, then English, then bareback or treeless saddle.

I also asked about the "stick to me game." It is a driving game and NOT the definition of liberty...very interesting and good to know.

Additionally, I asked how to do sideways towards me. She said to wait until I was well into Level 3 as it is a driving game but you are asking a horse to push into pressure actually and if the horse is not ready or is under too much pressure, can go sideways right over top of you--dangerous.

Finally, my last question was about sizing bits properly. She said not until the cradle bridle have they started to focus on measuring bits and that a typical, average horse wears a 5". I told her that I have the Parelli Bridle with the Jeremiah Watt bit and that it seemed okay with my two, that they did not seem to have any issues with it. She said it is a good bridle to ride in and offers control if needed (not sure exactly what she meant about this because to me, our tools are tools and I am not using it for better control per se (I usually ride with the Parelli Natural Hackamore). Anyhow, she also said that that I need to be sure the chin strap is in place because if I ask for flexion, I don't want the bit to slide through the horse's mouth and this will prevent that. (I'm going to check on all of this with the guys.)

Well, that is it! I am really happy she called, Julia rocks! :)

P.S. I added this list (to the right on the blog) but thought I'd share it here too...

You Know You're Doing Parelli When...

* You constantly seek never ending self-improvement.
* You study in all four savvys (online, liberty, freestyle, finesse).
* You put the relationship with your horse before anything else (principles before goals).
* You understand that Parelli is way more than riding.
* Your horse actually thinks you're brilliant and fun to be around.
*You understand that science is nature explained and you are working through the laws of nature.
* You communicate to your horse through understanding and psychology rather than force, fear, and intimidation.
* You considers the horse's point of view.
* You don't use artificial aids of restraint.
* You are natural with horses.
* You think like a horse before you think like a human.
* At the end of the day you can ask your horse “Was it as good for you as it was for me?”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Have You Ever Asked Yourself...Does My Horse Make My Butt Look Big? Physical Fitness for True Partnership - Undeniable Truths

Watch this video and you'll be amazed at the level of fitness these women have. The Ross Sisters were popular in 1944, triplets, musicians, dancers. The first minute is full of fun singing and then, the acrobatics begin--WOW. Can you do this? As a kid, I could do some of it but not like them. I was in gymnastics, would and could ride any horse, played sports in the neighborhood, etc. If only we were all this physically fit for our horses. These women are unlike most human beings, they are incredible! I can see them having fun with vaulting or trick riding for sure.

So if you were a horse, what type of partner would you prefer? One who could not move and was heavy, unbalanced, and nonathletic or someone with balance, athleticism, and who seemed to care about themselves and the horse? I want to be the latter, forever more.

My goal as I have said before (I linked to some of the previous posts throughout this segment) is to get back to being physically fit not only for myself but for my horse. If you've been reading this blog over the years, you know I've posted several things on living a healthier life and so, I thought I'd take a moment to update you on my progress. This is a long journey and a lifetime commitment for sure. Don't be fooled, it is not a simple process mentally, emotionally, or physically. And don't fool yourself, if you are in the same situation, admit it and move forward, do something about it---you can do it, contact me, I'll support you! By the way, I think that both fat and thin people can be considered not physically fit so please understand that everyone has a journey of some sort in this realm, be supportive of each other.

Today, as a thirty-something, I have struggled since college with weight - or too much of it. At the time, too much on the run (full-time job, full-time college, married, running a wildlife rescue, etc.), fast-food eating, sitting in front of a computer, and a lack of the level of exercise I'd done for all my previous years. As an adult, I've done Weight Watchers and have found success (when I followed the program).

This year, in January, I joined the gym and started working out again, a step in the right direction. My weight has been out of check and I want that fixed, for good. I am athletic with my horses (except for mounting from the ground--which I still wonder what the impact is on their backs even with a thin rider - read this, "September 2007 - A Mounting Problem Study shows: just getting on can hurt your horse's back").

I ride bareback mostly (too complacent most of the time to pull out the saddle and think it keeps me honest about my riding position and balance) and have even started my own horses (you know this already if you've been a regular reader). I do recognize that balance and weight distribution can be an issue and plan to be more equal with bareback and saddle riding from now on. I pretty much act like I am 12 years old most of the time, no fear, just fun. Being lighter will help even more with my fitness level and horsemanship skills.

Anyhow, since the beginning of the year, I was losing a little but not much. I know that my food choices were the issue. Although I'd been working out, my food choices were still unhealthy (old habits die hard). Once my gall bladder issues arose, I was forced to get back to healthier eating habits (or suffer greatly--maybe even die) and it is paying off! Not only am I enjoying wonderful, healthy foods but, I am getting back to my old, thinner, healthier self. (I did have surgery and still cannot eat foods with fat without getting quite ill - a blessing really, this helps my journey a great deal - Yup, I always try to find the positive in everything.)

Anyhow, I've been doing great! I've lost 47 pounds since January and feel fabulous. My clothes are all getting too big (breeches are looking much better and feel better), my shoe size went down, my hubby makes some wonderful sweet remarks (always has but now more than ever), and my horses for sure will appreciate it too (I have not started riding again yet, was told to wait until July 1st but have been running around playing on the ground with the horses and having a blast--they seem to be as well.) One thing to note, I am very strong, always have been, and can work side-by-side with my hubby on most things so, I am not lazy, I am not a wimp, I'm just a bit too fluffy! LOL

I have to confess that talking about this subject in such detail on the blog is quite difficult for me and it took a lot of courage to divulge "the numbers" but, I think that my journey should be accurate and I know other horse people (women especially) have similar issues. One benefit I have it that my numbers are higher than anyone would ever guess--my little secret I suppose--well not anymore. LOL Perhaps my sharing can help some of you. I do share with my Plus Sized Riders Yahoo Group which is precisely why I know I am not alone. If you are interested, please come join us.

In any event, I challenge you to think about a few questions (be honest with yourself):
  1. Are you athletic and balanced?

  2. Are you physically fit?

  3. Is your weight where you want it to be?

  4. Do you feel good about yourself?

  5. How does your horse feel about your fitness level?

  6. Is your horse physically fit, especially for what you are asking him to do?

  7. Are you making wise food choices?

  8. Do you get in regular exercise?

If you answered no to any of these questions, what are you going to do about it? Take action and do something about it!

Some of my strategies for physical fitness are:

  1. Exercise at the gym or at home 3 times a week minimum. (Try something new if you get bored.)

  2. Eat low-fat, lo-carb, healthy foods. (Lots of veggies, fruit, lean meats, water.)

  3. Have a plan.

  4. Stay positive to keep yourself motivated.

Here are a few resources to consider:

Saddle Up Training
Parelli Mastery Manual #1 Balance (Savvy Club Silver and Gold Members Exclusive)
Weight Watchers
Exercise for the Rider Blog Post on Natural Horse Lover
Walk at Home with Leslie Sansone
Athletic Works Circuit Trainer Mini Trampoline
Nintendo Wii Fit
Fitness Tips for a Better Ride

I plan to update this weight-loss ticker so come back to this post if you want to see my progress or check out my blog homepage, I am putting it out there for all to see! (I think I'm nuts but if I help motivate just one person it is worth it.) My ideal weight range is 132-154lbs. I am shooting for 145lbs. I may also even post before and after pics someday...not that brave yet! I hope to be, correct that, I will be at my goal by spring 2010. (Wish me luck!)

My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How do you deal with insects in the North Country?

This is how you deal with insects in the North Country...These are my horses, Fosse and Whiskey. They may look "interesting" but they are not being bitten or sunburned!

We have black flies and mosquitoes, deer flies, etc. etc. This year, I took the plunge and bought my guys insect outfits! I know, nuts, right? I don't think so because they've been standing in the barn instead of out eating the beautiful grass---and they have the option of free roaming so, they are making the choice. Plus, my husband actually said to me, "maybe you better get those fly things you were talking about."

Thank you to WeatherBeeta, Cashel, and Horse Sense - great products!

WeatherBeeta® Airflow Detach-A-Neck Fly Sheet

Weekly Task Challenge: Get Out The Video Camera!

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

Sometimes how we think we look and are communicating with our horse differs from reality. Sometimes we are better whereas other times, we have room for improvement. This week, get out the video camera and play with your horse (on the ground and riding of course). Then, watch how you did and write down your likes and dislikes, strategize how to improve, and practice, tape again, etc. You are your own best critic! If you are brave, ask your friends to also review and make comments, work together and share your journeys. Support each other in your development as a natural horse person.

Have fun and have a great week!

*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.

Friday, June 19, 2009

So how is your "Catching Game?"

Image From: http://www.trailofpaintedponiesblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/wild-horse-running.jpg

I wanted to take a moment to talk about the "Catching Game" this evening.

As a reminder, horses and humans differ in their psychology. The do not desire praise, recognition, or have material-type desires but rather, their hierarchy of needs, as taught by Pat and Linda Parelli is safety, comfort, play, and food (in that order). You cannot bribe a horse to be caught with grain unless the horse really is willing to come to you. This is a prey animal and is looking out for his survival - bribes don't work on horses, not really. If they did, horses that had confidence issues loading in trailers (remember this is often a confidence issue with your leadership) would always go in, even if fearful, as long as the groceries were in the trailer, ready for consumption.

Think about it. Pat uses reverse psychology for horses who don't want to be caught. He earns their trust by using non-threatening techniques. Here are some resources you may want to review:
  • Burke's Backyard Fact Sheets - Pat Parelli, Horses That Can't be Caught"
  • Natural Attraction in the Success Series, "The Secret of Catching Horses This is Disc Five of Ten in the Success Series DVD Set. Horses are designed by nature to not be caught! By understanding what attracts horses actually changes much more than a catching problem. This DVD also covers leading with savvy. Run time: 1 hour 4 minutes"
  • Discover the Catching Game DVD, "Discover the Catching Game with Pat Parelli. Learn how to put an end to the "you can't catch me" game horses play. With this DVD you can learn how to convince your horse that coming TO YOU is the best idea. It's all about reverse psychology - the secret is to have your horse catch you. There are 5 segments to this DVD. Catching concepts (10 min) Pat and a pasture full of horses explore the kind of relationship and confidence that makes a horse want to come to you. The Catching Game (24 min), Pat demonstrates his techniques with an experienced horse and then how the Catching Game works with a horse that is usually hard to catch. More Demonstrations (17 min), Watch two more horses respond to the same approach...quickly, easily, confidently. Question and Answer (21 min), Pat delves deeper into the psychology of catching, and answers questions from horses that are hoard to catch in a stall, to catching horses in a herd. Just for Fun (3 min), Pat plays the Catching Game with three new horses at once before a riveted crowd at the Success With Horses Tour Event in Daytona, Florida." *no longer available on Parelli, the link goes to eBay where you should be able to purchase it.

    Please note that there are many more resources that Parelli has put out on this subject that I did not list. Do some Google searching, check out the Parelli Savvy Club, find a play group, and seek out the information! Be proactive in your education and your journey!

    Before my life with PNH in it, I remember always walking out to get the horses (not the ones I have now, just others I've been around). They usually had halters on (the web or leather type) or were in stalls. I remember never thinking about what the horse thought, just that I was to go get them for some purpose - and usually it was to please myself, to go ride, or groom, etc., there was always a reason and now, I question is the reasons were ever just to hang out with the horse (maybe a little but, truly, I was more direct-line thinking at the time).

    This brings my thoughts to the present. Over the years as I've studied PNH, I have become more cognizant of my actions and my horses' actions (now we are talking about Fosse and Whiskey). I am sure that my relationship is different with these two than any other horses that have touched my life and I know it is because of my practicing PNH. At this point, if I whistle (I have a certain whistle for them), no matter what they are doing, including eating yummy grass in the field, even if they were just turned out and just starting the munch fest, they will come to me, not at a walk, but usually at a canter or gallop. Now this, I thought was the coolest. They are great about coming to me and are interested enough to find out what I want (which is not always to catch them, but sometimes to just check-in).

    Now, there have been times when they were not ready to say, come in for the night. I'd get out there, they'd come, look at me, and with a mischievous look, take off like the wind. I took this not as a, "don't catch me" but as a "let's play." So, I'd play for a bit, then start to leave, the horses, running behind me, catching me at the gate, ready to go. Now that is wonderful for all of us.

    In any event, the horses are now exploring a new field (the playground I'm building) and I thought for sure they'd be more resistant to come when whistled or called (I also just call their names) because the grass is tall and yummy--would I be interesting enough for them to leave their buffet? What reason would they have to want to? Well, they have been great and I am able to get them, just a whistle or a call of a name and they are there.

    However, something even better, or satisfying happened to me today. On Wednesday, I left for a few days on a business trip. Rick had been caring for all the critters as usual. When I got home, he had the horses out. How we have it set up is, they can leave the barn, cross the driveway, go down a 12 foot alleyway to the playground field. (I'll take photos and diagram sometime soon when I give a property development update.) Anyhow, this crossing along with other drive areas create a 4 way stop for farm traffic (as in, I needed Rick to drop the e-fence to let me pass. However, I decided to just park the car and get out, to talk to him, and look at the garden and horses (all near each other). I did not even barely get out of the car, walked to Rick, gave him a hello hug and kiss and the horses called to me and came galloping over! They both got some scratches and hugs from me, and then mosied back to their field. What a homecoming--wow. I felt great about it. It made me realize how strong our relationship is. Fosse has always "talked" to me with his voice and Whiskey would once in a great while--now even he is calling and "talking" to me on a regular basis--very gratifying.

    So how is your "Catching Game" in other words, "How is your relationship with your horse?"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Savvy Club Gold Members Hotline - My first call!

Yesterday I made my first call to the Savvy Club Gold Members Hotline. Initially I had to leave a message which seemed strange. In any event, I contacted Parelli and since they were in Colorado, the instructions that they gave me were not quite right (I think their instructions were for when they are in Florida). No biggie, it all worked out, and late yesterday I had an opportunity to talk with faculty member, Julia Ryman who was a very kind, pleasant, and knowledgeable instructor. I asked her about the s pattern, the falling leaf pattern, and Whiskey's biting issue.

S Pattern:
-Used to improve draw and confidence in your horse to come to you
-Walk straight backwards, 1/2 circle to the right, 1/2 circle to the left

Falling Leaf Pattern:
-Driving game to improve the drive
-Walk forward, disengage hindquarters, 1/2 circle to the right, disengage hindquarters, 1/2 circle to the left (it is not figure 8's she said)

Biting Issue:
-Whiskey is clearly giving me feedback that I have to undersand and address
-Evaluate any medical, emotional, or leadership problems
-Could be a saddle issue (best to use one that is wide with long bars--Wintec extrawide is a good choice if you cannot buy a Parelli saddle)
-Bareback riding is best for the rider but not necessarily for the horse because of a lack of even weight distribution
-Dominance or fear based
-Dominance (left-brained) - you need better leadership, get back on the ground to establish, playing the games is for establishing leadership or learning something new
Fear (right-brained) - Read and evaluate horse's body language right before the incident happened, look at the environment, use approach and retreat
I think that the hotline is a great membership perk and look forward to using it in the future. I also feel like I want to go play and ride my horse! I am starting to look at Whiskey in an entirely different light, how interesting...and the journey continues!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Biting While Mounted - My Question Was Answered - Backing Cures Biting (on the ground and in the saddle)!

As you all know, I sent in a question to Pat and Linda Parelli for their teleseminar that was held on May 27th. My question was unfortunately not chosen to be answered (the link takes you to the full question but in a nutshell I asked why horses bite while mounted and what to do about it). However, Karen Scholl announced her most recent teleseminar (this evening) and asked for question. I decided to send the same question to her to see if I'd get an answer--and I did. But, before I divulge the answer, let me just tell you who Karen is.

From her website, Karen Scholl Horsemanship for Women:

Horsemanship for Women may be just a little different than other approaches you’ve experienced with horses… that’s because it’s not just about the horse… it’s about you and your ability to demonstrate techniques from a position of ‘loving leadership’ with horses.

Karen's formal education began by earning degree in Equine Science. She attended extensive symposiums and seminars from equine professionals and clinicians, eventually landing at a seminar with Pat Parelli in 1989. Because his program was designed for self-study, Karen took off with it! Becoming an instructor in 1995, Karen taught Parelli Natural Horsemanship courses and clinics for over ten years. When Parelli moved his operation to southern Colorado, Karen became President of Parelli Natural Horsemanship, managing a Corporation that doubled in size every year, until resigning in 2001 to regain her focus of teaching horsemanship.

So, are you wondering what her answer was? It is quite simple really and I think I knew it when I asked the question...I knew it somewhere anyway! I knew about the leadership part but, totally forgot about backing--while mounted--I only thought of it on the ground--duh! How simple! This technique will actually help me get leadership while mounted! (The light bulb just went off. LOL)

Karen said the following (these are just my notes, hopefully understandable):

  • Disengage the hindquarters (breaking the hindquarters) to break a brace with a horse taking away the power they have, braciness (start on the ground), be sure to give release, horses are bracey—people usually asking too much too fast (rude or abrupt)
  • Backing cures biting—it starts on the ground, horses get into habits, try new things all of the time, sometimes a physical thing--problem usually mental, emotional, or physical
  • On the ground, backing cures biting for two reasons: 1. Horse backs out of your proximity 2. You back a horse psychologically, you are moving up in the leadership ladder (the pecking order of horses)
  • Horses check you every minute and try to challenge when they can, they try new things to see what your response is
  • Punishment does not work with horses because if you watch horses (geldings) two, one bites the other, the other bites back, they will do it all day just for fun, when people smack a horse for biting, you agree to participate in their game so this would not work
  • On the horses back, back him because they cannot bite you, if the horse wants to come around, (the horse can get lower jaw caught on the stirrup if you remove your foot from it--especially in an English saddle), get your horse busy and back the horse up, give them something else to do
  • You could also, move your food forward into the curl of their neck (say if you are bareback), they cannot curl their nose and neck around to get to you to bite (just make it difficult for them—they cannot reach)
  • Backing cures biting (ask yourself, how do I change their mind about this behavior and make it not fun anymore?)
  • If the horse views you as a leader, they would not do this.
  • Many considerations, not a simple question, really.
  • True leadership with the horse, the behaviors will go away.

I plan to participate in more of Karen Scholl's teleseminars. She was really easy to understand and listen to. Very nice job. - Thanks Karen!

Weekly Task Challenge: Time to Catch-up!

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

Is life hectic these days? Are you barely keeping up with your chores let alone your e-mail and weekly tasks? Well, this week's task is designed to help you with this burden! It's called, "Time to Catch Up!" So, if you are behind in reading your Savvy Times, behind in viewing your Parelli DVDs, your levels materials, your e-mail, the message boards, or anything else related to your study of Parelli Natural Horsemanship, this is the week to play catch up!

If you are all caught up, and concerned that you don't have a weekly task, think again! Here are some ideas for you because there is always something new to study!

1. Consider checking out the articles of interest posted in the vault on the Savvy Club Website.

2. If you are all caught up with your materials, then consider going to a fellow member's house to view or read something they have that you have not reviewed already!

3. Read or view again, something you've already gone over, as a form of review and renewal of knowledge. Repetition is a good thing. Pat Parelli often tells us things in many ways but is spreading the same message and he even tells you he's going to do it!

4. Go practice what you've been studying!

Finally, if you need some study tips, check out these links! It is okay if you cannot remember everything the first time, you'll get it and then put it into practice! "Practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect." - Pat Parelli

Study Tips List of Links:

Goal Achievement
Reading Comprehension Tips
Time Management Resources

Learning Styles Tips
Motivation and Goal Setting

Have fun and have a great week!

*Weekly tasks are based on many different Parelli resources I have studied. 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.