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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Reflection Time

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!)

As we close out the year, it is time to reflect on how our year went. This week's task is to think about your horse journey. Did you accomplish everything you had hoped? If not, what obstacles did you face and hos might you meet these challenges in the new year? Make a list, check it twice, and plan for a successful and productive 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Years Resolutions - Should Be VERY Important to Make Them Actually Happen!

It is that time of year, the time we make resolutions to behave better, to save money, to spend more time with family, friends, and our horses. This year, I challenge you to make a resolution that will actually mean something to you, something you know why it should be done, and something that you will actually follow-through on.

Last year, my resolution was to become healthy again and I am well on the way! So this year, it is to get to my weight loss goal and complete my level Parelli 3 studies!

For those of you new to the blog, I decided to post my long story about my health, my horsemanship, and why I decided to do something. The big two whys are because it was necessary if I wanted to live and the second was if I wanted to live and enjoy my horses in such a way that I felt proud of my accomplishments and not guilty that I could be hurting or annoying them because I was too heavy (a constant thing that weighed heavily on my mind). My horsemanship goals are to get through all of the Parelli levels and someday, if I can find the funds, to become a Parelli Professional (in addition to my career as an Academic Director of Libraries--not giving up my career, no way).

I was never heavy, not as a kid, as a teen, or even in my early twenties. I was the intelligent, blond-haired, blue-eyed, girl with a 4.0 gpa, horses, her own car, boyfriends, etc. But, college, marriage, working, and eating on the run, living more sedentary than ever before, not realizing that I had to work at staying active, I just kept packing on the pounds but, was in total denial (and at the time, didn't realize it). It took several years to happen but, about 10 or 11 years ago, a colleague asked me to go to Weight Watchers (and wanted to pay my way) and I found myself insulted and then horrified that "my secret" was out, that my clothes were not hiding anything (crazy, I know). So, I did go to WW with her (and was thankful) and needed to lose at least 100 pounds to get to 150lbs (in my weight range at the higher end--I'm 5'6"--I was devastated but, motivated to do it--and at a loss for why I ever let it happen in the first place--the guilt haunts me to this day--when did I get fat--why did I let it happen?

So, I lost 50 pounds, looked good but plateaued at around 200 lbs and became frustrated and was not sure hot to handle it. I went to a work conference out of town and out to dinner with colleagues to a place where healthy anything was not on the menu. I ate, enjoyed, and started sliding off track ever since. My colleague stopped attending WW, then I did...long story short, fast forward to early 2009 and I was well over 250 reaching an all time high of 262.6lbs (ouch, that still hurts to admit but is important to acknowledge--the truth will set you free).

In 2009, I had two incidences that I attributed to major food poisoning but, they ended up being very serious gall bladder attacks (when they happened, I thought I was going to die, I could not breath and the later of the two, I thought I was having a heart attack--yet I never called 911--didn't want to bother anyone you know, lol). It took my husband's insistence to get me to the doctor's for a check-up (he saved my life). I'd find out later, these were indeed life threatening attacks due to a huge, 3.3cm stone rolling about inside me. In any event, that May, I had to have surgery to remove the stone and gall bladder. Prior to it, I was eating nothing but animal crackers out of fear of another attack that my doctor said, could kill me. (I did lose about 20 pounds through this.) I bargained, I was in denial, I felt guilt, and I was scared, no, terrified (thank goodness I have Rick in my life). At the hospital, I sobbed and was frightened to death, I wanted to run, flee, hide, anything...and when I went under anesthesia, I thought they (the health care professionals) were trying to kill me--I've never felt fear like this.

As I was waiting for the operation date to arrive, it occurred to me that I'd been showing symptoms for years but just attributed them to over indulgence, rich foods, and the like--and thought it was all normal. After the operation, I was unable to ride my horses or do much for months as I had to heal. I was devastated. Not only was I fat, my abdomen sagged from the operation and looked worse than ever. I missed my horse time, I wanted to play and ride! I also had to watch everything I ate to the extreme (post surgery), as just about anything, especially with a drop of fat, would set me off and make me very, very ill. Eating healthy was not difficult because not doing it made me want to die but again, it was scary. Everytime I put something in my mouth I worried about what would happen.

Fast forward to the fall holiday season 2009, and my family visiting. I fell back into many old habits, eating all kinds of junk, and was sick every day they were visiting (they didn't know-I suffered in silence) and gained the twenty pounds back quickly. Once they left and the holiday binges (typical of my family) were over, I told Rick (my husband) that I could not do it any more, that living as a glutton was not working for me, that I hated my appearance, hated feeling sick, and hated feeling embarrassed around horse people because of my physique and that I was going to seek out a Weight Watchers group (or do online) because I knew that my health and well being depended on it. (I also knew that restricting refind sugars, wheat, processed foods, and other triggers would be important.) I knew that I needed to take care of myself not only to live a long life but, if I wanted to enjoy the horses. Here I was, wonderful marriage, beautiful property, building a horse play ground and little farm, awesome career, and I could not enjoy them like I had in my younger years, not really, I had this looming fear of failure becuase of my health and it had to stop. The months of not being able to do much with the horses, and looking at photos of me with them, made me feel horrible. I used to be the girl who'd fling her leg over any horse and ride like the wind, mane in hand (tack, what tack), the photos showed something quite different and quite sad, I was lost in my own body and mind.

So, on January 9th, 2010, I joined Weight Watchers and by March 2010, joined the gym and started exercising regularly again. By May, I learned how to run (jog) on a treadmill and on the road, with my Great Dane, Morgan, I started doing my exercise videos and buying more to keep things interesting, and in September, learned about Zumba and became obsessed with it! And the rest, is history...one where my mind is clear and focused, where I am learning to love myself again, and one where I am feeling healthy again.

The photo above is the new me. A new look for a transforming girl!

I am still attending Weight Watchers and plan on doing so, for life, even when I am at my goal. I exercise about a million different ways, and love it. I eat healthy, cook all kinds of delicious, nutritious foods (with mostly homegrown ingredients), and am feeling like my old self again--perhaps even better really because I am becoming thin again but, a healthy, athletic person, not just a thin shell (there is a huge difference). I am strong and feel alive again! I've lost 67.4lbs to date and would like to lose a great deal more to get down to 130lbs (which is in my healthy weight range at the lower end - healthy range is 124-155lbs). I am in the 100's again, weighing in at 195.2lbs as of Saturday, December 18th, 2010.

My next Weight Watchers meeting isn't until January 8th, 2011. So, as you can imagine, getting through the holidays will take focus and planning, and so far, I am doing well. I am an online WW member do I can keep in touch with the materials that way as well. I also attended the last Thursday night meeting on December 23rd to get an extra boost of motivation and support. Although only a handful of people came, we all felt good for doing so.

In any event, if I can do it, anyone can. It is all about taking the time it takes to focus on "YOU" for a change, understanding that a healthy you means a great deal for those around you, including your horses, and that you are worth it.

A few key tips I think that have helped me thus far, besides knowing it was important to do is: menu planning, exercise every day, journaling everything (food, feelings, plans), support, eating whole-foods and steering clear of processed junk, keeping it fun & creative, and realistic goal setting, and remembering how you got heavy and why you want to be thin and healthy again (think horses--one of the best motivators). I am sure there is more but, at the moment, this is what I am thinking.

Best wishes to a healthier you in the new year my friends! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help! email: arabhorselover1@yahoo.com

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing You A Happy Holiday Season!

Happy Holidays from the Young Family
at Hidden Meadows Natural Horsemanship!
May your holidays be full of prosperity, love, joy, and above all, happiness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Healthy Holidays

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!)

With the holiday season upon us, this week's challenge is to have a healthy holiday! Make sure that what you are feeding your horse is the best you can do, watch those carbs, check the fat, supplement if you need to. And, for you, plan on eating healthy this year, there is no reason to over indulge. Try to work in some exercise for both of you, and above all, enjoy each other's company. Take the time you can and be with your horse, the stress relief of being with our equine partners alone is a huge health benefit! Be safe, be merry, be healthy, you can do it!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

25% Target Reached!

Just a very quick post to let you all know I met my 25% weight loss target today (I actually exceeded it)! I have plans for the next few weeks to stay on track through the holidays by planning, journaling, and exersising. My next WW meeting isn't until Jan 8th so, this will be interesting...Wish me luck!

Next goal: 30% target (78 pounds total loss--or close) by Jan 8th.

P.S. The horses are doing great! I've been super busy at work but, try to do quick, 10 minute exercises with them when I feed...I have time off starting Christmas Eve and hope to get in some sustained horse time...I cannot wait for Spring...it is COLD! :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Exercise Keeps the Universe in Balance

I'll tell ya, if you don't exercise please consider giving it a try. There are so many ways to become active! I find that exercise truly impacts my emotional and mental wellness not to mention my physical wellness. I woke up this morning kind of cranky, tired, and felt fairly out of sorts. Just 15 minutes into my 60 minute Zumba class this morning, I felt so much better, I felt wonderful, happy, and everything was just right in the Universe again. (Which could be why I put in 45 more minutes in on the elliptical and treadmill before leaving the gym). Tonight's exercise plan is to do a Leslie Sansone 5 mile workout and then try her Yoga DVD--I've never done yoga.

In any event, this feeling of exercise-induced euphoria (which I get every time I exercise) got me thinking about my horses and how they act and feel when they are regularly played with and exercised. Have you ever noticed how your horse is more able to focus on you and the tasks at hand when you're regularly playing with him? Perhaps it is because he is more mentally engaged because he is moving and exercising, and engaging his body and brain, getting the juices flowing! The body (horse or human) was meant to be in motion!

The issue becomes, especially now during the winter months, what to do when the weather and your facilities don't create the perfect place to have fun with your horse yet, you know you should be moving and shaking! Well, be creative. If you cannot ride your horse (let's say because of the footing), then hand walk with your horse (much like walking the dog), play the games with obstacles, and you can do more than just everything at a walk LOL. You both can get in a good workout with the benefit of a fabulous partner to do it with---now how cool is that?!

The point is, move yourself, move your horse, and just have fun! Before you know it, you'll be feeling great, gaining muscle, and if you are really good, losing those extra pounds. Just remember, to truly make activity in your life have an impact, you must go above and beyond the norm, the same applies to your horse. Simply "being" in not enough, make your time on Earth matter. What you do impacts everything, and to me, exercise keeps the Universe I live in, balanced. :) Be positive and progressive, take action find your creativity and share it with your horse!

♫♫♫ I Like To Move It Move It ♫♫♫
♫♫♫ I Like To Move It Move It ♫♫♫
♫♫♫ I Like To Move It Move It ♫♫♫
♫♫♫ Ya Like To (MOVE IT!) ♫♫♫

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Petra's Picks on Parelli Central

Image is Petra, acquired from:http://central.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/instructors/

Today, I am honored to report that Petra Christensen chose to highlight my blog on Petra's Picks at Parelli Central! Petra is a regular reader and of course, works for Parelli. She is a two-star Parelli Instructor following her dream to become a Parelli Professional (I am so jealous and proud of her!) Check out her site at http://www.petrachristensen.com/ To read her post click here. Petra writes great blog posts on Parelli Central and regularily makes insightful comments here at Natural Horse Lover. Thanks again, Petra--you make me blush!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: What if...

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!)

I've heard about so many horses injured lately that it occurred to me that planning in case of an emergency would be a good idea. So, this week's challenge is to plan for the "what ifs" in your horse's life.

What if your horses needed stall rest, could you provide it? What if your horse needed hydrotherapy, could you do it--would he let you? What if your horse needed emergency care, could you get a veterinarian out to your farm in time? What if you needed to provide first-aid, do you know what to do and do you have the tools to do it?

Think long and hard and write a list of what ifs with solutions! If you cannot figure out a solution to a "what if" or wnat to pose one to others, post here using the comments feature!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Celebrating Onderland--I made it!

Just a brief post to let you all know that I finally made it to ONDERLAND! Yes, onderland, another place in Wonderland I suspect.

As you can see, my journey to fitness is going very well, especially with the new WW program and I am feeling awesome. I can only imagine the wonderful pay-back with regards to my horsemanship. I cannot remember when I was here maybe 15 years ago? It's been a long time coming and I am not looking back!

My next mini goal is to hit my 25% weight loss target (which should be this coming week). Then, I'll strive for my 30% weight loss target by the end of January. I can actually see the end on the tunnel on this important but difficult, journey. I know the horses appreciate my efforts. I am more athletic all of the time, I'll live longer, and since physical fitness affects mental and emotional fitness as well, I am more and more in-tune with myself and the horses, and truly, my life in general. I am just SO HAPPY!

If you are struggling with your health, don't wait, please do something now, you and your horsemanship (and your horses) are worth the effort it takes, and you only live once, make it a good, long life! I'll even be your cheerleader, just let me know what I can do to support you!

Remember, as Pat Parelli teaches us: Fitness for Partnership--Both horse and human should have these to achieve true partnership: Mental Fitness, Emotional Fitness, and Physical Fitness.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Ice - What are you doing to cope?

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!)

Winter storms abound these days and ice is definitely an issue. This week's task is to share here, on the blog using the comments section of this post to share how you deal with ice and your horses! Tell us about what you do for your other pets too. We need to work as a group and solve this dangerous issue, ICE!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Life Is Simply Too Short...Find Joy

So, the day after Thanksgiving, I found myself responding to a family emergency that took me away from home, away from my husband, away from my horses, dogs, and kitty, away from my normal life, away from work, downstate, to support my family. I won't get into details to maintain privacy but suffice it to say, this was not something that was on my radar and truly made me think long and hard about my own mortality, how I wanted to spend the rest of my life, and so forth. My birthday was over the weekend too which added to these thoughts of life being far too short and making the most of it was truly important. It is all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of existing and forget about the big picture of truly living.

Today, I sit here typing this entry looking out in the woods from my window, enjoying the flurries of snow falling, Pat Parelli playing with a horse at liberty (level 3) on my big-screen TV, toasty fire in the wood stove, dogs and kitty laying about, and the horses, groomed, fed, blanketed and now leisurely munching hay in the barn (although they could venture outside if they wanted to). I decided after such a crazy week, I needed one day off, all to myself (Rick is off plowing snow).

My journey to better fitness is going well. I am still doing Zumba and was approached about going to instructor training by one of my instructor--quite flattering really (it is coming to my area). Unfortunately, It is too costly for me right now...bummer because I really wanted to do it! All well, someday.

Anyhow, I've mostly maintained my weight over the last several weeks but, and that is okay. However, I want to lose more and am getting antsy! Weight Watchers started a new program called, PointsPlus this week and that is working well for me. They are now taking into consideration many components that make up calories, not just calories. Anyhow, you can visit their website for information. In short, it seems like a more wholesome, holistic approach and I like it. It has forced me to get out of my recent stagnate complacency and back to focusing intently on the materials and the journey.

Consequently, I feel more able to begin focusing more intently on my Parelli journey too (despite any obstacles that I may face). I spent time early this morning (4:30am) out in the barn, grooming, blanketing, and playing with the horses, feeding them, and just being with them. It had been a week since we saw each other and Fosse and Lola wanted to test the herd hierarchy, Whiskey was just happy to be hanging out. I was just happy to be with them, breathing their hot breath, smelling their fur, stroking their manes...you get the idea, yes, a love affair with my horses. :)

A few tools I have on my Christmas wish list are a new saddle (Wintec X-wide for Lola), a proper round corral (metal paneled one that is movable), setting up a proper all-weather arena, developing the trail system at home, and there are a few items I'd love from the Parelli sales flyer too. I also need to get a wood shed built with the wood that is in my horse trailer! The wish list is great but, I'll have to save to get there, and none of it will come for Christmas...life seems to continually get in the way (my good friend says, not enough month for the money--sadly true). We've had a great deal of unexpected expenses lately...depressing but life. LOL

I am not truly certain of the purpose of this post but perhaps it is a mechanism to remind myself that I have important things going on in my life and I need to remember that even though I love to help others, even though I have tons of responsibilities, that I need to find time to pursue my goals and ambitions, that it is okay to save and spend on things I want, that I don't have to always feel guilty about spending time and money on myself--it is a constant issue for me. As a matter of reality, life is too short, in a blink of an eye, it will all be over, and frankly, there is more to do than time we have time to do it on this Earth.

Take care of yourselves, your loved ones, your horses and other critters. Focus on love, language, and leadership in all aspects of your life. Be savvy, be safe, and above all, find joy.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Blanketing with Savvy

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!)

With the winter months upon us, some horse owners like myself, use blankets to provide our horses with some extra protection. If you are a blanket user, one thing you should be certain of it that your horse accepts the process of being blanketed, and that you are putting the blanket on your horse with savvy, not just haltering and forcing your horse to stand still and take it. You should be able to blanket your horse without being haltered and, your horse should come running to you when he sees you, even with a blanket in hand!

The act of blanketing is a friendly game much like when you play with a tarp (putting it over your horse) in the arena or saddle your horse! However, sometimes, you'll find that even if you've blanketed your horse for years, the first time or two in the season, they can be leery.

This week's challenge is to properly prepare your horse for blanketing by playing the seven games, in all four savvys, with your horse and the blanket! Use the blanket as the target, have some treats in your pocket,be creative, and have fun with it! Success will mean you can blanket with savvy and your horse will appreciate and even ask to be covered! Have fun, be safe, and of course, as always, be savvy!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Riding Without Reins

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!)

This week, play a game with your horse, asking him to do all kinds of things without your reins. Try to ride the rail not using your reins, back without using your reins, even try riding sideways without reins! You can do it, really, as a PNHr, you are a real horseman (or striving to be), not just a horse lover! For reference, review the Parelli Level Three chapters (in the latest iteration) in your educational resources library...you do have the new levels, right? If not, check into your older Parelli materials, it will be in there. *Note, you should have your horse properly tacked up, this is not a bridle-less challenge.

So, why is this important? First, your horse will realize that you are a true partner, you won't be able to micromanage. hwy, what if you were in a situation where you didn't have reins or use of your hands? What if you got hurt on the trail but still had to communicate to your horse and get home? Hey, you never know so why not be prepared?! These skills transform your horsemanship to an entirely new level, you can put a purpose to the games by being able to play these rein-less games, using your independent seat, etc! Plus, you'll amaze your friends, especially those who have not yet made the transition to being PNHrs!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Patterns!

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 remember the Parelli Patterns? This week's task is to review the patterns map and evaluate you and your horse. Don't just read it through, take notes, write down your progress, and actually play with your horse! If you cannot ride because of the weather, do the online and liberty materials and get back to the riding portion when you can. Find out which level can you do each of the patterns and make a plan to get even better! Remember, the patters are the blueprint for you and your horse, they help to make you both resposible for your actions and partners, not just mindless, boring robots! Have fun, be safe, and of course, be SAVVY!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Don't let minor set-backs stop your drive!

Just a quick post today...So, I've been on a 13 week-long self-imposed weight loss plateau. What do I mean? Well, I've lost and gained the same 5+ pounds for 13 weeks, never passing 60 pounds down. I am sure you can imagine how difficult this has been. In the past, I'd have probably given up. However, that is not what I did, Each day, I'd try to make the best decisions possible and push forward on this journey. I kept going to meetings, kept talking with my WW buddies, and just kept pushing. The reason why I say self-imposed is the fact that I've not been totally on track, slipping up, and just not as focused as I'd been. I can certainly list a bunch of reasons but, they are not the point of the post. The point is that no matter how hard life gets, if you want something bad enough, just don't give up (and this means you and your horsemanship too, folks). Keep at it, keep trying, and you will get there! This morning, at my Weight Watchers meeting, I finally broke through and am down 61.2 pounds! I am feeling really great too. When I ride or play with the horses I am more agile, I feel more energized and athletic, and am certainly more limber and fit. If you are even pondering losing a few pounds, just do it, go for it, you and your horse are worth the effort!

“Live life fully while you're here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You're going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don't try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.” --Anthony Robbins

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Water and Winter!

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!)

For those of you in northern hemisphere and the colder climates, freezing water tanks and buckets is just par for the course during this time of year. However, our horses need access to fresh water, 24/7! This week's challenge is to make a plan on how to cope with this recurring issue. Some ideas include using a water tank heater, heated bucket, insulate your tanks, and buckets, build or buy something solar-powered, or even one of those fancy waterers! Comment here and share what you do to cope. I've listed a link to some solar power ideas--very cool ideas (thanks, Tenley). Heating Water for Animals (Solar)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bobbing for Apples and Other Horse-Related Fun

A friend on the Eastern Ontario Natural Horsemanship Meet-up Group responded to one of my discussion posts telling me about a Halloween Spooktacular event she had where her horses bobbed for apples! I thought that this sounded like great fun and so, this evening, I gave it a try with my horses. As anticipated, Whiskey was game for the task! To add a little challenge, the hose was running in the round container causing a current. He chased the apple around and around and caught it biting down, pushing it in the water, etc. What fun! Lola and Fosse were less impressed and decided it wasn't worth the hassle. LOL

Prior to this, despite still feeling not too well, I wanted to spend a little time with the horses. I packed my pockets with apple cookies, grabbed a halter and lead, and headed out to see them. I was immediately met by three horses running up to me to hang out! I played with them all by riding Lola around one-reined, bareback and the boys loose, she and I calling the shots (although she and I had a few moments where we had to negotiate who between the two of us was to lead the charge)! So it was girls against the boys and what fun we had indeed--I think the girls won. We traveled all around, over logs, around trees, between trees, on the rail, off the rail, and had a great deal of fun working with patterns and obstacles as the sun quickly disappeared.

Finally, it was time for grooming and apple-bobbing. I took each horse individually and gave them some one on one friendly game time, it was peaceful and nice. Each was brushed from head to hoof, hooves were cleaned and examined, and a few more goodies before I left. As I wrote earlier, Whiskey loved the apple-bobbing game. Lola loved being groomed and rested her head on my shoulder, and Fosse enjoyed the time as well, grooming me back, one-on-one, with his favorite partner, me. I'd like to think that they all enjoy my company and our relationship, I know I do.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Longing for my horse friends...

Image from:
http://www.worldphotographicarts.com/gallery/colorawards/2nd_annual/masterscup/fullsize.php?t=Nominee in Nature&id=7000

Well, it is Sunday, getting dark out, and here I sit in the house thinking about you all, my horses friends, and my horses. Since moving to NY, I truly feel like I am in the lonely barn (despite the Canadian group I am a member of) and it is a very difficult place to be because I am a social creature! I find my schedule to be extremely busy and I find it difficult to fit in everything, and most especially, fitting the horses in to the degree that I want (like the old days) has been very difficult. I often wonder if I found a horse buddy (like the one I had in VA--you know who you are, Clare--I miss you terribly) if I'd be doing more? It is hard to say, I would still be busy but, sometimes having a friend to share the fun with makes it easier to schedule. The few horse friends I've found are really busy and do their own thing--and I am truly looking for a PNHr because we can study and learn together. Rick tells me to be patient and to remember that moving and settling in takes time, and sometimes a long time (years), and that my new position (career) truly takes much more of my time, we started from scratch here on the property and it is coming along, etc. etc. You get the idea. The left-brained, logical side of my brain understands this, the right-side of my brain feels restless and frustrated. There is never enough time, money, and the like is there?
*sigh* C'est la vie!

In any event, I did check the Eastern Ontario group's message board and posted, I checked the calendar,and have offered to open my home and library to folks should they want to get together. There is truly nothing else I can do I guess. I hope to make a connection with horse friends, old and new, again soon...I am in need for a horse friend fix! (Clare, you just have to move up here with Guiness, ok?!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Reach Out and Touch Someone

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!)

Being connected to like-minded horse people is an important piece of the horsemanship journey. Whether it be a good friend, networking opportunity, outlet for feedback, or something else, human relationships are vital to our progress. This week's task is to connect with a new or reconnect with an old, like-minded horse person! Have fun, don't be shy, and just do it--reach out and touch someone! You won't be sorry,your connection will be mutually beneficial. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Butterfly Effect

"Today scientists talk about the so-called Butterfly Effect. The theory goes that the wings of a butterfly beating in one part of the world can actually lead to changes in conditions many hundreds of miles away, even on the other side of the world. Everything in nature is, in some way, connected; every cause has an effect. In the same way, individual choices made by individual people – even insignificant people – can change situations and events, sometimes on a huge scale, and sometimes many miles away or many years into the future."

So, I was really jonesing for exercise! I cannot stand just sitting around to get well. Like I said before, I don't have time to be sick and it has been over a week! Now I haven't stayed home for a week but, I also have not been leading my normally active life. On a good note, I have been able to continue working on CU stuff in between naps and am not getting behind on my work despite taking a couple of days off to get well. It seemed fairly nice out today so I bundled up and take Morgan for a walk. I think we both needed to get out of the house and get some fresh air.

Once outside, Morgan and I decided, for better or worse, to do a walk/run. When I write for better or worse, I am referring to me being sick and she and I not doing this activity in so long that I cannot remember when we did it last. I chose to do the day 2 of week 5, C25K workout (5min fast walk, 8 min run, 5 min fast walk, 8 min run, 5 min cool down walk). I did stop a few extra times (like 30 sec each) to catch my breath and blow my nose and them resumed running!

Then, while doing our last run interval, the last part of it, we were catching up to a lady walking in the same direction, Morgan and I each were distracted for a split second and boom! She tripped me (while the lady was watching), and I fell on the road, splat! How embarrassing, especially when you feel like you are looking like an athlete with your athletic dog! LOL--It would be akin to falling off your horse (or falling next to your horse if you were on the ground) in front of others when all seemed to be going well. Morgan stopped immediately after I fell and started licking my face, I was laughing. We are both okay, I have a little road rash on my knees--ouch.

So, we ended up walking the rest of the way with this woman, who lives down the street and discovered she and I both know some of the same people in our respective circles. She and I talked a bit about the horses (nope, she is not a horse person) but, she admired mine and our farm. Anyhow, it was a good ending to a good workout. I headed back to the house sweaty and needing to take a rest.

Walking up the driveway, I let Morgan loose to run around and visited with the horses who were happily enjoying the sunshine and munching on some beautiful, green, hay. I am hoping to get in some time with them this weekend including but not limited to play time, trim time, and ride time! The weather appears to be in our favor and hopefully the ground will have dried out so that we don't chew it all up.

I walk away with feeling good, coughing up junk out of my lungs (a good thing), and really remembering the euphoric feelings and success I had when Morgan and I regularly walked and/or ran together. Now to figure out how to get this back into the schedule despite the lack of light, impending hostile weather, and all the hustle and bustle that is my life. Just another reason why building an indoor arena is a good idea--in addition to using it for horse time which is also lacking because of the light, weather, and schedule, Morgan and I could use it to exercise too--which is good not only for my journey to thin and fit but, it benefits my horsemanship!

What we do, how we act, and how we respond all impact not only our lives but, the lives of others. So it stands to reason that how I spend my time, the fact that I exercise (or not), what I eat, decisions that I make in all aspects of my life, determine my own destiny and my destiny impacts those in my life (my family, friends, animals, etc). Take great care when you make decisions in all areas of your life, your choices have consequences and important, no matter how small they may seem at the time. Everything in my life is so interrelated that it could be described as part of the butterfly effect and it is the same for all of you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering Horses on Veteran's Day

The sculpture above is of the war-weary Civil War horse in the courtyard of the National Sporting Library http://www.nsl.org/warhorse.htm .

Today is Veteran's Day, a day to remeber our fallen military heros. Let's also take a moment to remember the many fallen horses who died in battle, side-by-side with their human partners.

Click here to read an article from Horse.com about our fallen equine heros. "Armistice Day, more commonly known as Veterans Day, provides us with an opportunity to commemorate the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at the end of World War I and marks the day when millions of people worldwide stop to remember those who have served and died for their countries in military conflicts throughout history. This Veterans Day, spare a few extra seconds to remember the countless number of horses that lost their lives in combat alongside the brave men and women who served their nations. "

Monday, November 08, 2010

Apple Bowling!

Image from:http://sascalia.blogspot.com/

So what do you do when it is cold, muddy, and gets dark early? When you are really busy working, have no indoor arena, or lights installed yet? How do you keep it fun and interesting and not get discouraged because you don't have the perfect equestrian facility and all the time at your disposal? (Yeah--it is called reality for many of us. Bummer, huh.)

Well, I am an optimist and a dreamer, and I never give up. I try to find the good in everything and everyone so, a little apple bowling with the horses is what I've been doing and it's been a hoot! Yeah, I've been busy, sick for a week, and still, finding a way to connect.

My horses are simply too funny! Picture this, Lola has to be fed first--pushy and in your space, does not understand why she should even play, just wants the apples darn it! (She is respectful when asked to be.) Fosse is running around whinnying like a lacrosse player yelling me, me, and I have to send him the apple so that he can make a goal, and Whiskey, I roll it, he runs for it, leaps in the air stopping the apple with his front foot, picks it up and eats it, every time, and trots off, floating in air (away from Lola why thinks he's a target)--he is truly athletic, gorgeous, and thinks he's a Lipizzaner!

Horses are truly fun to be around whether you are riding, playing on the ground, feeding, grooming , cleaning the barn, or anything else. Every time I am with my horses I feel extreme joy and happiness, I feel complete. They seem to enjoy me just the same, even if I've been too busy to spend long sessions with them. The one thing I always try to do is to make the time we have, fun. To me, there is no point to it unless we are all having a good time. So, don't let your circumstances get you down, find the positive, be creative, and have fun!

Next game...carrot catch!?

Another reason to be physically fit for your horse...

North Bay Farrier Service in California posted this amazing video on Facebook. I just found it and had to share! Even if you are not a Facebook member, you should be able to view it! Check out the video and then come back here and read my post! How Does Energy Effect Hoof Balance? (Also, check out Lola as a youngster above, floating on air.)

When I saw this video, my first thought was, "Amazing...horses are so powerful and beautiful." my second thought was, "Geeze, I'd better get out and trim my horses hooves, they are due!" and finally, my third thought and the reason for this post was, "Wow, yes, just another reason why being physically fit for my horse is so important!"

Okay, so let's review what we saw on the video. These horses are putting extreme strain and pressure on their bodies, look at how their legs and hooves are affected! They are agile, balanced, strong, athletic, and incredible. Now, imagine adding a rider to the equation and ask yourself some difficult questions:

What would my horse like?

1. A rider that was balanced or unbalanced (and what am I?).
2. A rider that was physically fit or one who was not (and what am I?).
3. A rider that was coordinated and had timing, a rider that was not coordinated and lacked timing (and what am I?)

These factors truly affect our own sense of self and our ability to be one with our horses. I don't know about you but for me, this is such a major truth and so important that I have been working hard, every day, to get back to being: balanced, fit, and coordinated. I didn't lose it all but, what I can say, a terrible truth to admit, is that gaining weight threw everything off kilter for sure. Losing the weight is reminding me of how much I used to do and how much better I was, in all aspects of life, fit. A realization that was vital for me to get my horsemanship on track and for me to make any kind of progress (let alone be safe). My horses are thankful and seem to be appreciating every step forward I take. I feel all the better for it on so many levels.

In any event, please take a moment to evaluate the video, your horse's feet and fitness, your own fitness, and take what steps you need to take to make your partnership that much better! Best wishes to you, the journey is well worth the trip!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Dance with your horse

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!)

When dancers unite, one leads and the other follows, in harmony they float, move, and enjoy a feeling on oneness. This same feeling applies when you are in harmony with your horse. This week's challenge is to dance with your horse. Whether you are on the ground or riding, find a way to clearly communicate, lead, and become one with your horse. If you are struggling with this idea, think about starting with the friendly game while on the ground or perhaps a passenger lesson? Be sure to crank up the tunes, be centered and relaxed, and have fun with it, the sky is the limit! Be certain to come back here and write a comment sharing your experience. (I'll be trying to figure out how to combine my love of horses and Zumba together! LOL)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Positive Thoughts Needed - Remmer, Linda Parelli's Horse Injured

For those of you not on Facebook or who have not heard the news, Remmer, Linda Parelli's beautiful horse partner has been seriously injured. The image above and the following text was posted by Linda on Facebook. Please send all of your prayers, healing thoughts, or whatever works for you to support him! My husband and I are very sad, we feel like Remmer is part of the family having watched him for so many years. We love you Remmer, get well soon!

"A quick note to let you all know that Remmer cut his left hind leg pretty badly this morning. He has severed one tendon and partially severed another and it will take some time to heal. We don't know yet if he will regain full athletic use, but he will be alright. He's in good spirits and will be in the vet hospital for a few days. Please send him your bright and positive healing energy." --Linda Parelli

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zumba...and horses???

Trying to figure out how to combine my two of my favorite things to do... Zumba and Horses! HMMMM--Can Lola, Fosse, or Whiskey do ZUMBA??? :) Well you know, Lola is a showgirl afterall :), Whiskey has the ability to move like he is floating on air, and Fosse, frankly is just a ton of fun and will try to do whatever you ask! :) I am GOING to figure this out.

So my brain is going a hundred miles an hour these days, I am not sleeping much, and I am not spending nearly enough time with my horses. What I have been doing is working like crazy and attending Zumba classes (in addition to my normal workout routine-gym, videos, walks, runs), working at home, and I think I've lost the balance in my life. It occurred to me that it would be fabulous to somehow combine my Zumba workouts and my horses but, I have not figured out how. I suppos I could just crank the tunes and workout in the barn or out in the field, but the horses would still be spectators. I need to find a way to do Zumba with my horse! This all brings me ot the fact that I am way behind in reviewing my Parelli materials and that my progress in my horsemanship is super slow right now because "normal" life is getting in the way---not to mention the weather.

So, over the next few weeks, I pledge to get caught up on Parelli stuff and find a way to combine Zumba and horses...I'll be sharing for sure! If you have any ideas, please share with me!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Horsenality Time

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!)

Understanding your horse's horsenality and your own personality truly can help bridge the gap between you and your equine partner. We are all different and often need to adapt in order to be a partner (sounds a lot like a marriage doesn't it). Well as a horse person with three distinctly different horses, a Director of Libraries managing people, and one whose been married to her soulmate for over 20 years (renewed our vows this year on our 20th anniversary), I can tell you that communication is the key to success in ANY relationship. Understanding the dynamic of those in the relationship fosters the ability to strategize the best ways to communicate and accomplish your goals with your horse (or people in your life) in a positive and proactive manner.

So, this week's task is to chart your horse's horsenality. You can find the chart on Parelli's Website, the Horsenality page. Just a little tip, this is a PDF file that you can save as a JPG, insert into Powerpoint, and you can edit it with images, insert dots and more and then post them on your own website like I have!

No matter if this is new to you or you've done it before, it is a great exercise that should be revisited often, not only in everyday life but, in situations where things can take a dramatic albeit temporary turn and you find yourself wondering why.

For additional information on Parelli's Horsenality Resources, go to their website horsenality page. There you will find more information, their DVD, the charts, and the option of an official assessment!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just smiling...

It has been difficult to get in any horse time these days. However, over the last couple of weeks, between the bad weather and super busy work schedule, I have had some time with Fosse, Whiskey, and Lola.

Primarily I've been focusing on not focusing and just having fun whenever we can. Lola and I've been playing and working on her trotting with me in zone 3 because she often lacks impulsion. It started online and she was quite squeally about it but was trying. (She gets squeally when she is feeling challenged.) Then, we tried it at liberty and she truly got it and did it and it was fun for both of us--she is like a friend that I am playing with (so are the boys). When she'd try to stray away, I spanked her in zone 5 to get her attention with the 12 foot rope, she squealed, bucked, played, and came running back to me---what a hoot!!! We were connecting (and she also got some treats in the process). We then played many other liberty games and she is truly a great partner.Fosse and I play quite differently and lately has just spent time together, nuzzling, eating treats, and just having friendly time. Whiskey and I also spent friendly time and I rode him...chasing off the other two as they try to mug us for treats (and at other times, the 4 of us just hung out (me on Whiskey) and munched on treats. This play helps Whiskey feel higher in the herd where he is usually on the bottom. I know this brief account of horse time probably does not sound like much of anything to most of you but for me, working so much and being away from home so much, it means all the world to me. Any horse time right now is good time and I believe the horses were pleased to hang out with me. We are all just smiling...
PS. Sorry for not posting too often lately...I'll get back at it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Rewarding the Slightest Try

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!)

If you were to think seriously and honestly about your horse time, have you ever caught yourself putting your principles before your goals and in doing so, micromanaged your horse (IE. asked them to keep trotting when they haven't broken gait yet), gotten frustrated becuase your horse didn't do a task to your exact expectations (IE. your horse not underatanding a cue you gave, immediately), or found yourself only being critical without any reward (IE. putting your horse through a work session, versus a play session and never actually giving him a nice pet, a treat, or a thank you)?

This week's task is to play with your horse (on the ground or riding, your choice), and rewarding the slightest try. You might find this difficult at first because we as humans can be very direct-line thinkers. For example, if you ask for your horse to move backwards, reward when his foot is moved, stop, smile, immediate recognition (and thanks), then begin again. This is going to blow your horse's mind! Remember that pressure motivates but it is the release that teaches, rewarding the slightest try is a release! :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Never Give 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!)

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed and tired that everything seems to be falling apart and you just want to give up? This can happen in many aspects of life and definitely in your horsemanship because many of us don't have enough time, money, fancy facilities, etc. Because of mitigating factors, especially frustration or beliefs of failure, people give up on their dream of having horses in their lives. (Very sad indeed.)

This week's task is to restablish a connection to your horse and your horsemanship that may have been lost. To do this, you may want to get back to basics be setting some realistic goals. Often, our goals are too lofty for our own reality and rather than readjusting them, we just give up. This week, jsut make an adjustment and move forward! Remember, we are human, we are busy, and perfection is simply unrealistic (coming from your friendly perfectionist blogger and fellow horse woman-lol).

“Never, never, never, never give up.” -- Winston Churchill

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Fear of Riding--Got one? Let's beat it!

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!)

The word fear in the world of horses is almost taboo. The funny thing is, many people who own horses are afraid to ride them. Now, I will be the first person to say that horses are way more than riding (you've heard Parelli say this time and time again) but, frankly, most people have horses in order to go ride off in the sunset! :)

Typically, fear is something that is very difficult to overcome usually stemming from a very traumatic experience like an accident, the fear of the unknown, or the inability to feel safe (for a variety of reasons). Fear is the body's natural reaction to protect oneself from death so, first off, it is a human response and normal (nothing to be embarassed about but something to be dealt with). You need to respect the fear and then work through it, safely.

This week's task is to do some self-reflection and determine if you have something holding you back with your horses that stems from fear. Evaluate it, accept it, and make a plan to work through it.

From the Parelli website: "
Parelli Horse Training takes a natural approach to shifting fear. This might involve strategies that you can do in simulation – without even going near your horse – to retrain your brain. It’s also critically important that you learn how to help your horse be safe to ride. In our Natural Rider DVD we discuss fear and how to overcome it. Even more detail can be found in our step-by-step home study programs."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Self Affirmation Statement

I've been struggling a bit with self-negative talk lately. It primarily has to do with my WW journey. However, I am actually doing fine, just causing myself a bit of aggravation! What else is new, I've done this with my horse journey too (as you all know). In any event, an assignment today was to write an affirmation statement. This needs to be a positive thinking piece. I decided to share mine here as a way to make myself that much more accountable to be progressive and positive in all aspects of my life! :)

I am in control of my destiny. I will chose my attitude, I will always play, I will always try to make another person's day, and I will always be there, be present, and be engaged. I am a beautiful and successful person surrounded by loving and caring people.I am fortunate to have a loving husband, wonderful home, and adorable animals in my life. I can lose weight, I can be fit, I can be healthy, for the rest of my life. I am unstoppable, I am never quitting, I am strong. I am letting go of all negative thoughts and energy, forever. I will love myself and others, no matter what the circumstance. I will allow myself to succeed, I will be a success in all aspects of my life, I will be happy, forever. --Michelle/arabhorselover1

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Read A Book

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!)

This week's challenge is to read a book, a horse book! So put aside work, TV, and other distractions and take the time to read a book about horses! If you don't know what to read, contact me and I'll come up with something!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


A friend of mine recently posted an email about realizing that she now has a fear of riding even her easiest horse. I am not going to say that that particular horse is easy, just that for her, this was a serious and saddening realization. I thought about it and responded to her divulging my own fear story, something at the time I felt ashamed of, but now realize it was just part of something I had to manage. Where I find myself now is being back to my old self, I often feel like a teenager with my horses, especially as the weight melts off and I become stronger and more agile. That said, every once in awhile, that little fear monster tries to creep in. I review the fear materials in the Level 2 pack (the blue one--I love this version) anytime I start to have doubts and think consciously about my comfort zone, my relationship with my horses, and my principles (always before my goals). In any event, I thought I'd share my response to her with you all. (She is not a PNHr but is a true horse lover.)

I am sorry to read about your troubles but can identify. I too was a been there, done that rider (started horses, rode endurance Arabs and TBs on the track, etc.) and through a series of a bad accident, weight gain, and no horses in my life for an extended period of time, at one point, I too lost my confidence. I think that there are many reasons why this happened, physical fitness it certainly a valid reason, but there are mental things like having to support your family and "what if you get hurt," etc. In any event, as my fitness gets better, so do my interactions with my horses and I no longer harbor those feelings. It was many years ago that this fear thing was in my life but, I remember the fear vividly and the shock and embarrassment I had realizing that it was there. I remember the first horse I sat on a few years post-accident, I was terrified and this was a older QH trail horse. I could barely breathe and wanted to flee! Amazing as I used to hop on anything with 4 hooves and ride like the wind...tack, what tack!? So, you are not alone.

I read a book years ago by Dr. Stephanie Burns called Move Closer, Stay Longer and it is about fear. I liked the book and suggest it as a read...here is a post where I put out a few books that I think people should consider (there are so many more to add--these are not all fear-based titles). http://naturalhorselover.blogspot.com/2009/11/must-read-book-list.html

Take care and be kind to yourself. If you have fear while mounted, get back on the ground with your horses and build your relationship there first. If you are riding and feel unsafe, get off! There is no shame in that. As you become more fit and take this time, the relationship growth and your confidence will translate back in the saddle, truly it will. Any horse time is good horse time and horsemanship is way more than riding. Even if you cannot do much because of your schedule, do what you can and keep going to the barn, keep at it.

I post weekly tasks on my blog, Natural Horse Lover http://naturalhorselover.blogspot.com (although at the moment, I owe two postings). Anyhow, here is the link to a post of 10 minute tasks by Parelli. Even if you are not "into PNH," I think these, or some of them, you'll find useful and fun. http://naturalhorselover.blogspot.com/2009/10/weekly-task-challenge-parelli-10-minute.html

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Winter...Are you ready?

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!)

Okay, I realize that it is only September but, winter is around the corner and it is time to get prepared! How does the barn look, what condition is your equipment in, do you have enough hay ordered? This week is a good opportunity to get started. Depending on how you run your barn and how you care for your horses will depend on your needs.

Here are some ideas:

  • Clean, repair, and put away your horse's fly sheets, masks, and leg protection.
  • Pull out the winter blankets, hoods, and other gear, examine them for rips and tears, clean and fix them or send them off to be taken care of!
  • Clean out the tack room and sell or discard those items you no longer need.
  • Create a winter budget for hay and grain needs.
  • Check and count the hay you have left, if you haven't done so already, contact your hay dealer and place an order to get you through the winter. make whatever arrangements you need to ensure easy access.
  • Examine your water tank heater and make sure it is okay to plug in, then test it!
  • Are your water tank and hay feeder in good repair and ready for winter--find out.
  • Do you have a snow shovel, pet-friendly deicer, and a plow ready to be put to work? If you wait until you need them it will be too late. Check your equipment, make a list, and be prepared.

There are many other things you may want to do and if you want to, please share them here in the comments section!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Frame a Portrait

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!)

When is the last time you took a photo off of your computer and actually put it in a frame? This week, find a horse photo that you love, print it on quality paper, buy a frame, and display it in your house!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Herd-bound...NOT! :)

I had and absolutely fabulous day and interesting encounter with Lola. One thing that I can say about her is that she is NOT herd-bound and that is a good thing.

After I got home from my WW meeting and a 60 minute walk/run with Morgan, I had a healthy lunch and then starting chores. I cleaned out the outdoor dog kennel, cleaned the barn, fed the horses (several times--lots of fresh garden goodies), picked apples (ate two fresh-picked off the tree). I also harvested okra, long beans, poblanos, cubanellas, giant marconi peppers, white fingerling potatoes, red pontiac potatoes, white and red swiss chard, pie pumpkins, shallots, egg plant (black beauty and japanese), and yellow summer squash. (There is much more out there to pick but not today).
When we planted the garden, we put a few seeds out in a hill in the big field and I hadn't checked on them since. I walked out there and did whistle to the horses to get their attention should they want to join me. Not unexpectedly, I heard the thundering hooves heading my way within a few seconds. There they were, acting goofy and spunky,herding one another, spinning, bucking. I checked to see that nothing grew (no wonder, this patch of veggies went ignored).

Anyhow, Fosse and Whiskey let out a whinny and took off at a gallop back to the barn. Lola stood, then squealed, took off a few steps and stopped, turned and looked at me, then in the direction of the boys. She spun around and ran back to me. There she stood checking things out, I played friendly with her. After a few minutes, Lola and I walked back towards the barn, she at my side, completely at liberty, watching my every step and keeping me in her zone 3. Once back, she saw the boys but kept with me until such time that I gave her a treat and told her good-bye as I had to get back to the house.
Then, a quick, 30 minute workout, a shower, then dinner (which was healthy leftovers so that was easy enough). After dinner, a little Rick and Michelle time (black and white movies-- 1951, The Alligator People was the top of the list!) I also received a few new books in the mail to look through.
I am feeling so happy, strong, motivated, and focused in every aspect of my life. Lola's determination and thought to stay with me was really rewarding. I loved that she went to take off with a defiant, playful squeal but then thought better of it, turning to be with me over Fosse and Whiskey---not something I expected. This horse surprises me a every turn.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Earning leadership currency with Lola

"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link." –Author Unknown

Not sure I like the title of this post (I had a really good one in the car when I was thinking about the post but it disappeared). Anyhow, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about what to me, was a huge step with my relationship with Lola and a few realizations about my horsemanship.

As you all are aware, I have a full-time career and don't always have enough time with the horses despite them living here. Additionally, I've been on the road to physical fitness losing quite a lot of weight since January (and working to lose much more) which certainly has been a positive aspect not only in my life but to my horsemanship. Losing the weight and being more fit due to extreme amounts of regular exercise has made me feel confident and athletic, like in the old days (sometimes I think I'm a kid again, fearless and ready to take on the world).

Anyhow, that all aside, here I have this lovely mare, Lola and I've not quite tackled leadership while mounted (making her believe it and feeling comfortable that I am safe without question). So why is this the case? I think it stems, of course, with me. Her previous owner said to me (and she is a Parelli person like myself) that with Lola, you, "need to get the buck out and then she is fine." Well, language means a lot to me and the term buck was not welcomed. It made me worry I think and this surely translated into my mounted interactions. On the ground, she can be quite a pistol and a defiant, fun critter! The problem is, I think it (the buck notion) has been stunting our progress (even though seeing her buck on the ground was laughable and certainly looks rideable). I was continually making sure I officially played with her before mounting and triple checking at the mounting block and this could mean no Lola horse time if I only had, for instance, 10 minutes available.

Well, the other day, after doing a major evaluation of my life as a whole and trying to get myself totally on track with all aspects (horses, career, exercise, Weight Watchers, etc.). I recently had a meltdown due to extreme stress, lol and wanted to run away! And, as part of this, I felt like my horses were falling by the wayside. I was probably just on overload but, it was hitting home, hard.

Back to the horses, frankly, I miss them! So, I decided that I needed to trust in our relationship [Lola's and mine] and forget about that "buck" comment and just go spend some time with her. Why was I letting someone else's terminology or ideas influence me and make me feel so worried when I am an excellent horsewoman (not a novice)? Was it an excuse or something real? Remember, only you can let people make you feel a certain way if you let them, you control how you feel, act, and think. (And, this is in all aspects of your life...never let the negativity in, it is poison.)

And, so, this week (and my week starts on a Saturday by nature of my Weight Watchers meeting), I planned everything out, on paper. My work obligations, horse time, meals, exercise, you name it, I planned it and wrote it down to ensure that it would happen. When horse time came, I changed tactics and treated her [Lola] just like the boys [Fosse and Whiskey]. If I had time to officially play first (on the ground) I would and if not, I would politely mount, bareback, just a halter and lead, and practice chilling out on her, sitting, waiting, letting her graze, petting the boys (because you know they were checking us out), then directing her to go around the arena area, over logs, around trees, disengagement of hindquarters, and flexion. Yesterday I decided that we were going to walk between these two huge trees that provide a wonderful squeeze opportunity. Fosse was standing in between them (oh, I guess I should mention, I am riding Lola and Fosse and Whiskey are loose in the area with us). Anyhow, several times, Lola and I went up to him but she was reluctant to move him back as we proceeded forward and he was not moving for her. To solve this puzzle and help Lola, as well as assert my leadership with both horses, I held part of the rope in my right hand (the Lola side) and used my left hand to take the bulk of the rope to drive Fosse backwards. (I love riding with a halter and leadline, one reined...it is fun! He immediately knew his game was up and that his position was about to change, and moved backwards, with impulsion, completely out of our way as requested, at liberty. Lola turned her head, looked at me as if to say wow, we can do that? Then walked forward through the trees (I swear she was smiling). Then, she initiated driving him around a bit more and I agreed, he was not pleased but complied, LOL. I believe that this exercise really bought me a lot of currency with her as the leader. I also believe me letting go and just trusting our relationship has bought me a lot of currency with myself and my confidence in our relationship.

Tonight, I mounted her having only a few minutes so again, no tack. At one point I dropped the rope and was for all intents and purposes, riding without benefit of anything and felt totally secure (I did retrieve the rope though). Anyhow, a few times she tried to test my leadership but, I persisted (I wanted disengagement of hindquarters and pivot turns). She did what I asked and I really felt that although I had to up the phases a little, it was all really good and I was really the leader in our herd of two. We ended on a good note (and everyone got watermelon and apples). (By the way, she offered to go between the trees several times tonight despite Fosse hanging around.)

So, maybe not Earth shattering but, a reminder that everything we do takes time, trust, and creativity. Once I decided to trust in myself and not listen to others, decided to trust my horse, and of course, set us up for success, it all worked. I see only huge success in the future, we truly broke through a barrier.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Get your homework out!

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!)

School is in session and it is time for you to do your homework! So, how far behind are you in reading your Savvy Times? Hve you viewed all of your Savvy Club DVD's or Mastery Student DVD's? When is the last time you checked out the Parelli Vault? This week's challenge is to do your homework and catch up on your studies. If you are caught up, consider going back and reviewing past material, test yourself, what do you remember, how do you understand that material now? Ofent, looking back, the material becomes more accessible as we've learned so much more! Have fun, share with friends, and then go play with your horse!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Get you tools together

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!)

School is just around the corner (we already started back at CU), and it is a great time to check your tools (equipment)! Do you have everything you need to communicate with your horse? How does your equipment look anyway? Are you truly using the right things to get the job done? I know that I could use some new leadlines (or at least clean them) and would love a Cradle Bridle some day.I've also identified that I need a new saddle for Lola (I don't have one that fits her) and should get something sooner rather than later (looking for a Wintec Wide English, still--think I'll be going new at this stage of the game and want some MDC stirrups too!). In any event, this week's challenge is to evalutate your tools, clean them, buy some, and sell the stuff you don't need. It is better to be prepared and have everything in good order! Remember tools are one of the Parelli, Seven Keys to Success (Attitude, Knowledge, Tools, Technique, Time, Imagination, Support). AS a bonus to this week's task, here is an article to read! The 7 keys explained by Parelli Professional, Geneviève Benoit

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: How well do you know your horse?

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!)

This week's challenge asks, "How well do you know your horse?" What I am referring to is your horse's anatomy! Do you know all the pieves parts of your equine friend? Here are a few resources, including an anatomy pop quiz! Have fun, learn a little. test your friends!

Horse Anatomy Pop Quiz from Natural Horse Lover

Equine Anatomy from Wikipedia

All About Horses

Anatomy in Motion, The Visible Horse

Celebrate Equus

Roundpen Magic Horse Anatomy Site

Ultimate Horse


Monday, August 23, 2010

Received my L2 String, Certificate, and Pin

I am happy to report that Parelli Central stepped up to the plate and resolved the issue of my level 2 award, string, and pin not arriving since my passing the audition back in May. I wanted to thank you all and let you know that I appreciate your continued follow-up, communication, and the final resolution! (I still wonder what happened between Pagosa Springs, Fed-Ex, and North Lawrence!) I am really looking forward to getting through level 3 (now to find the time to do it).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Riding, Kids, Umbrellas, and Treats! Just a little fun with horses.

This week my sister and her family came to visit. They live about 5 hours away and what I find so interesting is that my sister and I, now that we are adults, love to spend time together and miss each other. We are very different people but seem to have finally found out that we could be friends so unlike when we were kids and couldn't stand each other - maybe that is too strong, we just didn't see eye to eye I guess, I don't really know what was up with it - I do think we do much better with our parents out of the picture (they are not dead, just not wiht us during the visit).

Does this mean under different circumstances we communicate differently? Is it possible that when we are with our horses say at a show versus at home that we also change? It is an interesting thought and something to ponder, does our location dictate our communication style and thus our relationships are affected? Are you a different person when on vacation with your significant other than when you are at home? Just something to think about. In any event, we had a great deal of fun this week including but not limited to horse time! Yep, I finally got in some time with my equine partners.

One of my nephews (he is 6 or 7 years old) has been obsessed with the horses even since the time he needed to be pushed in a stroller (my other nephew is fearful of them). Fosse, my Arabian gelding has always loved visiting with him. (My dogs particularly love this kid too...he is an animal magnet!) This week, I decided that Fosse and my nephew may be ready to be together. I played on the ground first, testing Fosse's focus, seeing if he was ready to be a partner with me. He was rusty to say the least, totally my fault as we've not been playing much. However, he was okay and we were connecting on some level. I then tacked him up with the bareback pad and hackamore and started pushing his buttons while mounted. He really was still okay, he put up with everything I thre at him. He was a bit pushy, a bit overly alert, but not spooky per se (despite the wood splitter running, a dump trailer clanging, and all kinds of other distractions we had at the time). Fosse has really become a nice horse which is intersting because his left-brained extroverted personality makes many people fearful of him.

I decided that my nephew could ride. I put him up on Fosse and taught him how to sit in the passenger position. I showed him a one-rein stop, made sure he understood that he could get dumped (but that the sand was deep and soft) and that the helmet on his head (that he didn't like) was part of horsemanship and he had to wear it. He is not ready to learn much with the horses as far as handling them, he is never here and does not have the same opportunity at home, and so a "pony ride" of sorts was appropriate and the only thins I was willing to do (except to let him feed the horses under supervision). He's never been on any horse except those poor little ponies at the fair. So, I lead Fosse around the round pen from here to there, played the games, used a few cones as obstacles, and everything went well. I explained eath time what we were going to do and my nephew seemed to have fun. Fosse is not a lesson horse so, this was interesting but I was very keenly focused to keep things safe. At one point, Fosse was about done with us I think, he trotted a few steps (and was not asked to), and my nephew asked to get off. He was told in the beginning that at anytime he felt uncomfortable that all he had to say was "off please" and he could dismount. That it was okay to be safe, etc. Everything ended on a good note.

One day my sister expressed interest in hoof trimming and so, Whiskey, needing a trim, became the example. Well, oh my, his feet are rock hard right now! We've not had any sustained rain in weeks and I'd have liked to soak his feet for a few hours before trying to trim him! (I am happy to report that finally raining today, all day). Whiskey was a bit obnoxious about being trimmed and kept trying to remove his foot from the hoof jack so I took about one minute or less to reestablish (or reinforce) the leadership roles in our relationship by using some of the games. After that, he was a perfect gentleman. :)

Our last horse time fun this week happened this morning. My sister wanted to walk to the barn as our last sister time (with no kids our significant others around) for this trip. We walked there with a large umbrell and as we approached the horses, they decided to run off. I identified this as a great opportunity to play with the horses. So, having only a few minutes, we decided to retrieve some mints and hang out at the gate with the umbrella. Lola approached first, she checked things out, looked at me, and they decided to stick her head under the umbrella. She received a mint. Fosse and Whiskey watched and Whiskey eagerly jammed his head towards us receiving a mint. Fosse was next and did the same. We played with the position of the umbrella (up high, down low, approach, retreat, etc.) and each time, they became more and more brave. When we'd retreat, they'd try to catch up! The umbrella in a matter of minutes went from a threat to a toy! It was hilarious and very fun.

In closing, this trip and the horse time both make me ponder relationships, communication, and the roles they play with people and our horses. An encounter always presents itself, how we interact in that time is what counts. There is nothing that can truly be categorized as a "real" visit, "real horse time," etc. Each moment is special. Life is short, find time to have fun, be creative, and enjoy every moment as if it were your last.

Image from: http://carolinepratt.blogspot.com/