About Me

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

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Weekly Task Challenge: Playing Catch-up!

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.)

Since it is a holiday week, your challenge is simple. Play catch-up! In between visiting with family, making dinner, and opening gifts, try to carve out a little time to watch a DVD, read a Mastery Manual, or listen to an audio CD. Happy Holidays everyone!

*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://parelli.com/ for any official instructions or materials.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weekly Task Challenge: Know Your Knots

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.)

Do you know how to tie your knots and what application to use them for? This week, list all of the knots you know, why you'd use them, and then practice tying them! If you need some resources on knots, contact me, I have diagrams and explanations for you or go to the Savvy Club Website Vault for more information.

*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 parelli.com for any official instructions or materials.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Just Laying Around

I had such a fabulous time with the horses this afternoon that I wanted to share. It was 24 degrees Fahrenheit here today (feels like 14 degrees according to the Weather Channel).

I walked to the barn (long driveway, two tenths of a mile) but the barn is a bit closer than that. This was a great way to warm up a little and determine if it was too cold to stay out (meaning feed and get back inside) or stay out and play with the horses. I have to admit that I did go out with a plan but was willing to be flexible. I wanted to ride Lola.

When I got to the barn, the horses were eager to see me. I said hello and gave them treats. I also filled my pockets. Why not. I retrieved Lola's halter and took off her blanket. I put on my helmet and went out in the yard (Fosse and Whiskey followed us). We played the 7 games (using many variations of it) and Parelli patterns (figure eight, falling leaf, s-pattern) using obstacles (trees, logs of all shapes and sizes, barrels, and the fence) and I found one sticky spot, a log. This is a log that is 15 feet long, 10 inch diameter, laying on the ground. She's been resistant to walk over and so, I decided to play with this log and help her build confidence walking over it. There is another huge log (2 feet in diameter) with two 8 inch diameter branches coming off of it. And so, I used both logs for her to walk over, the first one and the smaller parts of the second. I used treats as reinforcement and it seemed to help because by the end of our session (which was about 1.5 hours long), she walked over all of them with no opposition reflex (unlike in the beginning where she was trying to back, avoid,or even rear). While we were playing, Fosse and Whiskey were watching and Whiskey was really butting into the play space and so I incorporated liberty play with him. Fosse seemed to be staying away and I suspect that is because I've often chased him off when I'm playing with her. I felt a bit guilty about this and so, I invited him into the play space, he seemed pleased and played with us, at liberty as well. The three of us played all over the yard and made our way to the largest log, 3 feet in diameter, 10 feet long. I use this log and the other large log as a place to mount or play games from in a higher position. I played the games with Lola while on the log and then asked her to line up for mounting (keep in mind, she has nothing on except her halter and lead). She is fairly good at lining up but, I think that I may not know the proper cues to ask for it (I've got some homework to do). I found that many times, she would back up. Therefore, we worked on stand still for mounting until she could. Then, I laid over her several times and she walked off. So, we worked on stand still to be mounted and stand still when mounted (although I was just laying over her my feet on one side and head on the other (get the picture?). Once she'd stand still, I laid my leg across her back. In essence,I ended up laying on her lengthwise and the boys were next to her and so, while laying down, I fed the three of them treats. We were relaxed, having fun, and enjoying our day. I have to note that this is all about her being comfortable with me and them around all at the same time. In the past, she's been a bit nervous with them near her when I am playing these games but today, she was much better. She has been accepting my leadership more and more these days. In the barn, I now just give her a look and she will back (at liberty) away from her grain if I want to pass through (much better than when she arrived). So once I felt she did well, I let her loose and the horses were running around, circling and following me everywhere. The final task of the day was for each to walk over the log at liberty. If they did it, they got a peppermint but not before and no leading/bribing. If they walked over the log, I would ask for a turn of the hind quarters, wait, then come forward. not until then would the treat be revealed. Much to my surprise, Lola did it first, then I asked Fosse--success, finally Whiskey (who was day-dreaming) came over and walked over the log. Yeah!

OK, so did I ride? Nope. I decided to just end on a good note and get back in the house. It was really cold out and the horses were ready to eat. I am working on the parts of our relationship and tasks and not just jumping to the end result. It reminds me of when my grandmother was teaching me to play the piano. I had to break the piece of music apart by measures and play each 12 times, adding measures, until I eventually could play the piece. Not exactly what most people would do with their horses but, I am not most people I guess. I am looking forward to more play time tomorrow as the weather is supposed to be much of the same (except for snow showers in the afternoon).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Effective Leadership with Our Horses

***Please be sure to turn off the playlist radio (scroll towards the bottom of the blog) before viewing the video! ***

My friend Clare passed this video around and I just had to share it! It is hilarious but, we've all seen this scenario (or parts of it) in real life and it is an issue with effective leadership with our horses.

What does effective leadership mean? What are the best practices? Does this all have to do with the human-horse relationship or is this all relationships? I believe that leadership starts with the individual and that the development of yourself is the beginning of becoming a great leader. Leadership involves one leading the the others following and thus, is the simple definition of a relationship.

"Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen." - Alan Keith, Lucas Digital

When I think about the relationship I have with my horses, I definitely like the idea of something extraordinary happening. Every interaction with them is exciting in my mind and each time I am with them, I find something new to ponder. This is the case no matter what I am doing...feeding, grooming, playing with, riding, or hauling them somewhere. Our interactions are dynamic and each offers more clues about our relationship and the path we are on. I choose to also lead by example and spread the word through my actions, not through constant badgering to those uninterested in the message.

"Don't walk the extra mile for someone walking in the opposite direction." - Pat Parelli

If you've ever read, The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, you know that a highlighted theory is the "Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership." They pose that when ever extraordinary leadership happens, that leaders engage in these five principles: (with my interpretations)

1. Model the Way (lead by example, respect is determined by your behavior towards others and your horse)

"A horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care." Pat Parelli

2. Inspire a Shared Vision (have a plan, mental rehearsing, envision the future)

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." -Gloria Steinem

3. Challenge the Process (be risk tolerant, take chances, explore, just do it, it takes work not luck)

"Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it's not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. It's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere." - Barack Obama

4. Enable Others to Act (Horse-human relationship it is a team sport, give your partners the right tools, knowledge)

"If your horse says "no", you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong." --Pat Parelli

5. Encourage the Heart (Positive actions, make it the horse's idea)

"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you." -William Arthur Ward

It is my thought that our relationship with our horses, our goals, our successes all stem around our leadership. Philosophically, let's talk a little about what leadership is and what it is not? Pat Parelli has said many times that, "Your horse is a reflection of you as a leader--what kind of leader you are is truly reflected in how your horse is."

To me, leadership is and is not... (from my post, January 21, 2009: Leadership While Mounted...Do you have it? Do you need it? Do you want it?)

Leadership IS NOT:

1. Power. The idea of power is offensive, rude, and simply out of line. Keep power trips out of the picture and you will create a safe environment for your relationship to grow.
2. Waiting for something to happen and hoping the other party will make the first move to allow you to lead. Leaders get the ball rolling, allowing the relationship to build and happen.
3. Being closed minded and thinking that you are always right. Leaders also make mistakes and you must own up to them for the relationship to work.

Leadership IS:

1. Knowing that change starts with you! If there is a problem, it stems with you, not your horse---kind of like your computer. Computers are not intelligent, they can only think in terms of one and zero. It is humans (the operators/manipulators) that actually make them work to create the wonderful things we do with them. If they are not working right, it is usually our fault. Do you remember seeing Pat Parelli on more than one occasion take a "bad" horse and make him a "good" horse? The horse did not change, his leadership changed making him react differently to the situation. (This is not magic, this is leadership.)
2. Being able to always find the positive in any situation. Dwelling on the negative does nothing but sabotage you and your horse.
3. Not having power-trips. POWER is a dirty word!
4. Understanding that you are a role model, you are infectious--do your horsey friends want what you've got--you'd better hope so because if they do, chances are you are doing something wonderful with and for your horse.
5. Knowing that your horse is evaluating you on a daily basis (perhaps every minute, every second). Does he believe in you and your leadership? Are you trustworthy? Does he want to be with you? Remember you are a predator asking a prey animal to follow your lead---to some horses this could mean something akin to trusting a lion to take them home to meet the pride for dinner. (Do they think they that they are a guest or the main course--hmmm?) Does your horse see you as a scary dominating predator or a partner?
6. Acknowledging a job well done at the very moment it happens. Remember this quote, "Pressure motivates but it is the release the teaches"--Pat Parelli? The release is the acknowledgement or reward (a cookie never hurts either).
7. Someone who leads by example, listens, compassionate, self-aware, tough and courageous, optimistic, intelligent, fun, motivational, creative, accurate, concise, dedicated, punctual, sensitive, enthusiastic, accountable, troubleshoots, understands verbal and non-verbal cues, is able to trust, is trustworthy, plans, and prepares.

As you can see, leaders have a great responsibility. Sure, you can get a horse to do what you want through fear and intimidation but what fun it that? I personally prefer a horse who wants to be with me and who is having fun.

"Ask your horse... 'Are you ready to do this? Are you ready to do that?' It's a different mindset than 'Do this! Do that!" -Linda Parelli

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Weekly Task Challenge Reminder

I just wanted to remind you all, my blog readers, that I post a weekly task challenge. If you ever have ideas that you;d like me to post, just let me know!

Here is this week's 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.)

Weekly Task Challenge: Old Level 3 Tasks (from 2007)

Here are some fun ideas from the Parelli Level 3 Assessment (2007)

Send horse into a horse trailer at the trot or canter and bring back to you.
• Student at least 30 feet away.
• Little or no tension in the rope. The belly of the rope may be dragging.
• Horse enters trailer at the trot as minimum. If it breaks from canter to trot as it reaches the ramp or trailer door, this is acceptable.
• Horse stays in trailer until asked out.

Lead horse backwards by tail
• Tail only is used for this task (no additional ropes on hocks or halter).
• Horse shows no resistance, but it could be a little slow.
• Tapping horse or ground with Carrot Stick is acceptable.

Climb all over horse, rub his rump with your legs and feet, stand on his back.
• Student proves the horse is confident by not sneaking. Climbs around confidently.
• Horse stands still, relaxed.
• Student shows enough balance to be able to stand up.

Ride from a back up into a canter and back down to a back up three times: Canter Yo-Yo.
• Horse goes from back up directly into a canter, no walk or trot steps.
• Reins are in concentrated position throughout exercise.
• Transition to back up is smooth, one or two trot or walk steps permissible.
• Straight lines.
• Vertical flexion an advantage but not essential for a pass.
• Student focuses straight ahead.

*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.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Liberty with Lola

lib·er·ty ˈlɪbə(r)ti n. pl. lib·er·ties
1. The condition of being free from restriction or control.
2. The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing.
3. The condition of being physically and legally free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.
4. A right or immunity to engage in certain actions without control or interference
5. Liberty - Your horse is free of any restraint, where the truth is evident

Good morning, it is cold and snowy here today. I've been trying to get in horse time but it has been limited. However, I've been falling into love with Lola more and more each time we interact. Over the weekend, I bought her a red, satin, Christmas stocking with glitter and designs all over it. I then sewed some dangly beads and wrote her name on it with red glitter glue. This stocking and all the others are hanging in the house, off of the loft, and look great.

After cleaning the barn yesterday, I decided to get in some horse time and went out in the paddock with Fosse, Whiskey, and Lola. Whiskey was quite interesting, acted a bit shy, and so I played undemanding time with him. Fosse was playing hard to get and I believe wanted me to chase him around the field. I was not about to, it was cold, and so he played with me a bit, to and fro, it was goofy and fun. We were not totally connected and I think some of it had to do with Lola, who would not leave my side.

Lola was so much fun yesterday. We truly played at liberty and were connecting on a new level. We played stick-to-me, the figure eight pattern, walk over the log, squeeze between the trees, and close-range circling. I had a great deal of fun with her and really felt like progress in our relationship had been made. She was looking to me for guidance and was willing to partake. There were a few times she thought about leaving but changed her mind. The most difficult task was walking over the log for some unknown reason. She did it a few times at liberty, avoided it several times, and did it when I put the savvy string around her neck. The fact that she was doing figure eight (drag and draw) so well was really fantastic. We used barrels fro this activity. Finally, circling was interesting. She'd do it close range but not long range, not yet anyway. I supposed I also should mention that we played the basic 7 games too throughout hte session (which makes total sense if you are studying Parelli). I've found that when she is unsure, she crowds me, something I'd not experienced before, not like this as she reminds me of when my Great Dane gets worried, she crawls on my lap. So, I use friendly game, then porcupine and driving to ask her to respect my space. She is quite the love-bug of a horse!

Anyhow, just a quick post this morning. They all seemed to enjoy out time together and the peppermints in my pocket became quite a hit!

I am really looking forward to purchasing the new levels information (I am also getting the new Getting Started DVD and the NEC Celebration DVD). It should be fun and interesting educational information to watch, learn, and apply!