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, March 31, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Light as a Feather

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 task is from Wranger Jayne's Horsemanship with Heart Newsletter! (She has been influenced mainly by Pat Parelli and Philip Nye.)
"A horse that is soft and light is a pleasure to handle on the ground and a joy to ride! Give yourself the Feather Test: Can you use a feather to move your horse around?" So this week, try to move your horse with a feather...have fun and be creative!

*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.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My brain is going into overload...

So, I now have Lola, a wonderful 3-year old, Quarter Horse, mare, my new levels partner.  My brain is on overload thinking about Parelli assessments and my need to move on.  I am very eager to get to level three as soon as I can as I need to make progress, now, period. I need to pass my level 2 freestyle riding tasks (which I know I can do). I have not really ridden Lola yet but am confident she and I can get there together, we can do it, right? LOL  Discussions with her previous owner suggest Lola will be a willing partner as long as I take the time it takes to play with her on the ground first and as she's said, "get the buck out" first, then ride. By the way, Lola was started at Craig Johnson's barn over the summer and was well-liked. Anyhow, I always play with my horses before riding so this works well with my routine. I believe this is pretty normal for a youngster   to need, in particular, and the terminology is simply referring to letting her get her ya-ya's out, getting our communication connection in-tact, and then moving forward to the next challenge,our riding tasks (freestyle). However, what I also know is that I have to actually take the time it takes and get to work on it otherwise it will not happen. When I was in Virginia, I played with and rode all of my horses, daily (each at their respective levels). Just talking about it means nothing, action is required. I have to stop thinking about it, stop making excuses, stop making assumptions about what might happen, and just do it!  Truly, this should be something that I should have completed long ago but, circumstances just prohibited it I guess: an inappropriate horse (one was too old (Wilber), another not physically capable (Fosse), and another an emotionally unstable basket case--as in unreliable (Whiskey)), not enough time (did I not take it or did I not have it--hmmm) , moving to another state was a barrier, setting up a new house, new job, new facilities not built yet, etc., etc. etc., and the list goes on. DAMN, ARGH, MERDE! I am sick and tired of excuses, detours, and "issues." I just want this to happen and be done, I MUST MOVE FORWARD AND HAVE TO TAKE ACTION NOW.

Okay, so how do I accomplish this? I need to have a plan! I can easily preach to others about what steps they need to take to make progress and find success, it is time I take a bit of my own advice. Okay, I have to breathe, think, and be realistic. What do I need to do to get moving and find success? Here are some ideas - I am sure I've missed something, many things (please share some of your ideas with me if you have others). I need support please...remember I now live in Northern New York and am in the lonely barn club. Rick supports me 100% but, I do need some fellow PNH support too, if you don't mind!

Tentative Plan:

Tasks to do this weekend:
  1. Review current level 2 materials
  2. Review previous iterations of other related Parelli materials
  3. Review self-assessment criteria
  4. Play with Lola and make sure we are okay on all level 2 tasks that precede freestyle riding
Tasks to do next weekend:
  1. Review official auditions details 
  2. Start riding Lola practicing freestyle riding using video to assess progress (this will require travel 50 miles away to my friend's indoor arena because of the current footing at my place)
Task for the rest of April and May:
  1. Practice level two  freeestyle riding
Task for June:
  1. Send in a video assessment no later than June 30th to Parelli (no excuses for not liking to be on video) *send in sooner if ready
Tasks for July:
  1. After receiving a pass on level 2 freestyle and official word of being level 3, start studying level 3
  2. Send in horsenality report information for a report on Lola to be prepared by Parelli
Task for fall:
  1. Attend a level 3 clinic should there be an opportunity within 5 hours of my place
Okay, so that is it, wish me luck!

Image from: http://blog.teenmentalhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/brain.jpg

Monday, March 29, 2010

A brief thought about the present and the past...Catching and Moving Horses About

Yesterday afternoon, as Rick and I headed out to enjoy a day trip to the St. Lawrence River and the local, state parks, we stopped at the barn. I needed to close the gate that allows the horses out into the big field, securing them, for the day, in the front paddock. Basically, I walked up to the area where they were (outside the paddock in the alley that leads to the field), used a few cues based on the 7 games, and without the benefit of a lead line, halter, or anything else, my horses willingly complied with my directions, each moving to the paddock in the order I specified, calmly and peacefully. (Keep in mind, they could have bolted out to the field and told me to fly a kite!) Anyhow, I locked the gate and Rick and I were off. At that moment, for whatever reason, my mind started thinking about what a significant thing this was (even though at this point, it was quite a natural interaction for me and them). But it was significant should I choose to relate it to past experiences with horses, and more specifically, pre-Parelli experiences.

In the past, pre-Parelli, I'd have never thought of leading a horse (or asking a horse to go somewhere) without the benefit of a halter and lead line, and some of the horses, we even used to apply the chain over the nose--oh my--I am so beyond that now but at the time (in the distant past), it was how I was taught and what I was told to do--not having any knowledge at the time of another, better way, I just did what everyone else was doing. And, let's not even talk about catching a horse without a bribe of grain and treats (I definitely don't do that anymore either, nor do I ever feel I need to). In the past, not only would the request for me to move one horses require me to get a lead line, a request for me to move three horses that were together would have required me to complete the task, with the halter and lead line, and I'd have needed to close the gate between each horse to ensure the others didn't get away and, I might add, this may have even caused me to go find help. I can also imagine I'd have felt a bit of anxiety or perhaps a bit of an adrenaline rush having to interact with so many in the same space all at once (which is close quarters with an electric fence that is on by the way). But now, as I previously illustrated, not only am I moving three horses simultaneous at liberty, I am not worrying about running to get the gate shut or that they won't listen to me, or that one may run into the electric fence and I no longer use bribes. I mean, if they were in the field, all I'd have to do now is whistle and they come running to me, immediately, and always.  We have a strong relationship and communication is equally sound. This is not to say that Fosse does not on occassion take off playfully asking for a good chase but, my reaction is quite different than it might have been many years ago.  Now, I just go in the opposite direction, ignoring him, and viola, he shows up again (within seconds I might add).  I cannot say that about all of the horses I've interacted with pre-Parelli, definately not.

I cannot begin to tell you how lovely I think life is having this strong connection to my horses...a dream come true really. And, of course, this all translates to the other things we do with our horses, including but not limited to riding. So, If you start thinking about how you interact with your horses now (or how they interact with you) versus before you incorporated Parelli Natural Horsemanship in your life, what you might find is quite interesting. What I find now are willing partners, friends if you will, who desire to be with me and I truly love being with them, on a totally different level than my past interactions with horses (and I've been around them my entire life in one way or another). I believe that there are no good excuses for people who cannot catch their horses except to say that they have not put the time into the relationship, period. Remember the little rescue Mini-Me? I could catch him...actually he would catch me! Which is the way it should be whereas no one else could.

Well, that's it for today! Until next time, keep it natural, and be savvy...(oh, and come back soon...look for future posts and videos of Lola and my assessment journey--the weather is breaking and it is time to get to work!)

PS. If you are having trouble catching your horse and are on the Parelli path, you may want to get a copy of Parelli's Catching Game DVD (no longer sold but you can find it on e-Bay) or Parelli's Natural Attraction DVD in the Success Series. Best wishes to you all.

Image from: http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/horse.jpg

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My horses are going to be so happy: Celebrating My 10% Weight Loss!

Yippie! My horses are going to be so happy to have less of me to carry around and that I can keep up with them better on the ground too! I am feeling great and doing so well on my fitness journey! I believe this is an integral part of my Parelli journey. Remember, You Know You're Doing Parelli When...You constantly seek never ending self-improvement.

Today, I am celebrating my 10% weight loss (26 pounds was the target) ! I needed to lose one pound more to get there and lost 3.4 pounds instead! So, 28.4 pounds down, many more to go... I plan to focus on another 5% as my next goal (15% weight loss, 39 pounds). I feel that working on smaller goals will help me get to my lifetime weight goal without as much pressure and allowing me to feel good about my progress each step of the way.

According to an article on the Weight Watchers website, losing 10% can give you a healthier heart, lower your risk of type-2 diabetes, give you more energy, give you a mental edge, and allow you to have a reality check allowing you to be prepared and understand what steps you need to take to get the rest of the weight off. CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

I have to say that going to these weekly meetings, menu planning, and journaling are three of the major things I am doing that really is making this an easy lifestyle change. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the importance of the support I get from Rick, my husband. He is my rock.

Here is an updated record of how much I've lost each week.

Week 1: January 9, 2010 Started Weight Watchers, First Weigh-in, First Meeting

Week 2: January 16, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 6.2 pounds

Week 3: January 23, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 1.6 pounds, *Started Exercising Regularly

Week 4: January 30, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 3.8 pounds

Week 5: February 6, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 3 pounds *Reached 5% Weight-loss Target!

Week 6: February 13, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 2.4 pounds

Week 7: February 20, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Gained .2 pounds

Week 8: February 27, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 1.6 pounds

Week 9: March 6, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 5.6 pounds *Biggest Loser at the Meeting!

Week 10: March 13, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost .8 pounds

Week 11: March 20, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost .2 pounds *Reached 25# Milestone!

Week 12: March 27, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 3.4 pounds *Reached 10% Weight-loss Target!

Image from: http://media.photobucket.com/image/weight%20loss/flipper4777/weightLoss34.jpg

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Mounting Muscles

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.)

How are your mounting muscles? Since the beginning of the riding season is around the corner, this is a good time to exercise those all important muscles. This week's task is to address your mounting muscles and if you are not already, start exercising to improve them, this week, try to do something at least three times.

I personally try to workout at minimum, 5 days a week but most often workout 7 days a week, a minimum of 30 minutes each day. I alternate between cardio, toning, pilates, and more. I use a gym as well as several different videos. I use weights, stability balls, and cool machines! However, we are all individuals so find what works best for you and do consult your physician if you feel it is necessary for your particular situation.

I did some quick Google searching and found these exercises from an article listed at GaitedHorses.net (these are direct copies from their site):

To increase leg strength and general flexibility, consider the following:

Exercise 1 - Hamstring Stretch
Stand on a step, with the ball of your foot on the step and your heel extended over the edge. Hold onto a rail or wall for stability. Push your heels down slowly, below the level of the step. SLOWLY bring them up to level and continue until you are standing on your toes. Repeat for 5 repetitions as often as possible.

Exercise 2 - Hip Flex
Lie on the floor, belly up, with hands under your hips to support your lower back. Raise your legs a few inches off the floor, pause, lower to just above the floor without letting your heels touch, until you have completed at least 5 reps. Work your way up to 50 repetitions. Beginners may prefer to raise one leg at a time as this puts less stress on your lower back.

Exercise 3 - Extension Step-Ups
As simple as “Step up, step down”. All you need is a stair, step-stool or sturdy box and you are in business. For more effect, add ankle weights for gravity resistance. Start with 5 reps per leg and move up to 100 or more.

Exercise 4 - Squats
Stand with feet pointed out at about 45 degrees at shoulder width, squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the floor. Don't let your knees project beyond your toes - to avoid excessive force on your knees, which can lead to injury - they should be over your ankles. Keep your back vertical / your weight supported by your hips, not your back. Extend your arms, or lean back against a wall, as you slide up/and/down, to help maintain balance. As you straighten up (extend), push from the heels. Don't do squats with your heels raised, as that pretty much insures an improper knee position.

Exercise 5 - "Thigh Master" Ball
This one requires a piece of equipment / a beach ball. Put it between your knees, and try to pop it. You can do this while sitting, standing or laying down. Hold for the count of 10, repeating for 5 reps in the beginning, on up to 50 reps.

Exercise 6 -Astride jumps
Stand with feet together - knees slightly bent. Bounce on your toes to move your feet out to each side, to about shoulder width apart. Then, bounce on the toes and bring the feet together again, repeat 5 times, working up to 50 reps.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Breeches are Baggy, Having Fun with Horses, What a Great Life

After a very long day, I came home and realized I had about 1.5 hours left of daylight. So, being that is was in the fifties, I opted to pull on a pair of light, breeches I hadn't worn in a very long time, put on a zippered sweatshirt, and take Morgan to the barn to see the horses. My thoughts about when we got there were basically that I wanted to play with the horses and potentially ride (depending on the footing and what my horses revealed once we started to play). The geese were flying over in flocks migrating back to the north, the air was crisp, the wind was non-existent. A beautiful night.

So, let's start with the breeches. Much to my delight, they are loose! Looser than I can ever recall actually, noticeably baggy. YIPPIE!!! All of the work I've been doing on myself is paying off (and it gets better, keep reading).

Fosse and I have not had any real play time lately and I decided that if I only had so much time out there, he was first. He is my beloved gelding, my true horsey love (we are wuite the same in horsenality-type -LBEs!) and I truly enjoy all of the time we have together. His heart murmur causes limitations to what we can do but, that does not mean we don't have a great time! We started on the ground, as usual. He had a halter and the 12 foot line on. My 22 foot line is in the horse trailer and unfortunately I brought the wrong keys to the barn and I was too lazy to walk back to the house for the other keys. So, we played with the logs as obstacles and I asked for very particular things like one foot at a time (forwards and backwards), weaving in and out of logs and over them (a bit hard to explain but, one of the large trees has several large branches making for a fun puzzle). We also tried close-range sideways without a fence, not something I've done really with him (the without a fence part). Anyhow, once he understood not to go forward, he got it and did a fabulous job. I almost thought I'd try to get a piaffe but I thought better of it (for this session anyway-hehe). Fosse was so responsive and seemed to be having fun (I know I was). We eventually made our way to this massive log where we played circling a bit (even around Lola and Whiskey who were consistently in the way...or perhaps they were just playing their parts as obstacles). Everything jelled so well that I decided to ask permission to mount and mounted, bareback from the log. We rode around the muddy paddock, freestyle-one reined for quite awhile. I practiced flipping the rein from each side, ride the rail, riding through the tree obstacles, etc. One major thing I noted immediately is that I felt better and more in harmony with him than in the past summer. I truly believe that all of the work I've been doing on my own fitness has made a huge impact. Not only are my breeches baggier, but my connection with my horse more secure and much more in harmony. I felt better than I have in a long time on my horse, something that truly surprised and delighted me. YEAH!

I played with Lola for a little bit on the ground and then worked on laying on her rather than just mounting. She was a bit fidgety and I wanted to allow her time to process it all. At one point, I was working on having her move sideways towards me (I was on the big log) and she got a bit out of line (as in lining up, not that she was a bad girl or anything) and started trying to walk over the huge log...she was confused. I immediately asked her to back up, turn her body and try again. She did, and did well, lining up perfectly. She is very willing when she knows what you want. I laid over her several times but did get the sense that she was not quite confident enough for me to ride her today (which is fine). It was getting dark and Whiskey needed a turn to play as he kept checking in as if to ask when it was his time for play, so I decided to wait until another time to sit on her and ride.

Whiskey was fun on the ground (as usual). I took him to one of the logs and asked for him go sideways down the length of it with the log positioned under his belly, he did it gracefully and gorgeously (no surprise). We also played around the other logs and had a little fun. I laid over him a few times and mounted. He was a little tense and I decided that I'd just sit on him and massage him. Then I dismounted and gave him a leg massage too.

Unfortunately, this was about all we could do for the night as it was now dark. So, I walked back to the barn, horses all following me, fed them, cleaned the barn out, and took Morgan for a walk back to the house (she waited in her outdoor kennel, patiently while I played with the horses).

I hope that the ground dries up and I can continue to play, finally, with regularity again. I am going to ask Rick to get some lights mounted for me as soon as he can. :) I love my life, my horses, my husband, and am really looking forward to things yet to come.

So you might read this and think, what the heck, why didn't she just ride all of the horses, push them to do more, etc. Please, don't forget, you know you're doing Parelli when..."You put the relationship with your horse before anything else (principles before goals)." And this is a tenant that I always adhere to! So, our relationship is strong, we all had fun, and have a good foundation for our next play time! :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Liberty is the Truth...Lola is great fun and my partner!

Image from: http://horse.toon-ville.com/hca.jpg

It has been a very productive day here at Hidden Meadows. Rick and I got up early this morning, took care of the dogs, got dressed, had a light breakfast, and headed outside to the horses. We cleaned the barn, unloaded a truckload of shavings, fed and groomed the horses, and while he got a load of firewood to take to the house, I played with Lola! We also cleaned the dog pen after the big thaw (ewe)...I am so thankful we put up a huge, gravel pen for them to go potty outside in!

Access to the big field and play ground was open at the barn entrance allowing the horses to go wherever they'd like. I decided to walk around and pick up any bits of paper or other remnants from the winter and just enjoy being around the horses and the cool, fall-like weather (it is snowing now--better than the forecasted rain I think). Lola immediately joined me and quickly walked to catch up and to put me into her zone 3. Very interesting I thought as working in this zone was something we did a bit throughout the winter. Anyhow, I walked here and there, around the downed trees (these are the ones we need to remove from the play ground for firewood), picking up the barrels that had blown around, and there was Lola, hanging around with me and checking things out. Fosse and Whiskey were having more fun running around and they'd come see us and take off bucking and kicking. Since Lola seemed attached to me, if she looked towards them, I'd smooch, look at her hindquarters and ask for a turn and face, I easily go it and she stayed with me (very nice).

I headed back to the barn to put few bits of trash in the garbage can, Lola in tow. I retrieved my carrot stick with savvy string attached and thought I'd find out what the "truth" was with our current relationship and see how far I could go with a liberty session (especially with Fosse and Whiskey carrying on around us--by the way, when they'd show up. I'd play with them too so they didn't feel ignored but the majority of my attention was on her). At any time, she could have left me and ran out into the field, to the barn, or anywhere else but, she didn't and stayed with me.

We played the 7 games at liberty using the downed and standing trees, barrels, and tire obstacles as places to do things. She did everything I asked, driving, yo-yo, porcupine, etc. She was very engaged. I also massaged her all over, picked her feet up (from one side), led her by her leg with the savvy string (she initially seemed reluctant but did it and improved each time we tried), and played stick to me at the walk between trees, between the tire obstacles, and in the open areas. We wandered between the play ground and the barn paddock, over and through trees, here and there (I didn't go out to the big field, not for any particular reason, just didn't). Sure enough, despite the boys being around, Lola was my partner!

I finally headed back to the barn to put my stick and string away because I needed to get to the house for more chores. I walked with all of the horses by my side, it was cool although not unusual, we all have a great bond it seems. I saw Rick and joked with him that it was my little goat herd! Anyhow, one last really cool thing happened. Whiskey was in the barn getting a drink, Lola, Fosse and I were standing in the driveway (in the area where the horses cross from one area to the next). I wanted to give Lola a cue to back by me putting the slightest feel on her tail but she just stood there. I was not sure what to do, no halter or lead line, hmmm I thought, I then decided to get in her zone three, use my left hand and stick to drive her in front of her chest and I put the slightest feel on her tail with my right hand. She backed up immediately and many steps with energy and interest! This was the first time I ever tried this with any horse and Lola got it, instantly. Rick showed up and I wanted to show him . I figured it could have been a fluke anyway but yelled over for him to watch just in case we could do it again. Sure enough, she backed immediately!

I love this horse (I love them all)...she's is going to be great fun (she already is). I can only imagine what more time with her will lead to (I see successful assessments in our future). YEAH!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Celebrating My 25# Weight Loss Milestone!

As you all know if you've been regularly reading my blog, I am on a LONG journey to physical fitness (one of the three important fitnesses in partnership, the others being mental and emotional fitness).This is a lifestyle change mind you and has been fun but dedicated, hard work. I am working very diligently for this and it is positively impacting many aspects of my life. Well, today, I hit another milestone and wanted to share it! (the previous milestone was my 5% loss back in February.)

Anyhow, today, at Weight Watchers, I weighed in and have reached my 25# milestone marker! This is significant to me and I am extremely proud and happy about it. I feel even more motivated to continue towards my ultimate, lifetime, weight goal. My healthy weight range is 124lbs-155lbs. I'd like to be 130lbs I think but am not going to set this goal until much closer to that range. A few people say it may be too thin, I'm not so sure! Anyhow, a goal to be set on another day. For now, I am looking at 25# increments and 5% incremental losses as milestone markers.

My next significant milestone marker is to reach my 10% loss and I have only one pound to go! So, hopefully, next week (or soon thereafter), I'll be able to report back and tell you I've made it. Wish me luck! (Although, I don't think luck has anything to do with success, hard work does.)

Here is an updated record of how much I've lost each week.

Week 1: January 9, 2010 Started Weight Watchers, First Weigh-in

Week 2: January 16, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 6.2 pounds

Week 3: January 23, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 1.6 pounds, *Started Exercising Regularly

Week 4: January 30, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 3.8 pounds

Week 5: February 6, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 3 pounds *Reached 5% Weight-loss Target!

Week 6: February 13, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 2.4 pounds

Week 7: February 20, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Gained .2 pounds

Week 8: February 27, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 1.6 pounds

Week 9: March 6, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 5.6 pounds *Biggest Loser at the Meeting!

Week 10: March 13, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost .8 pounds

Week 11: March 20, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost .2 pounds *Reached 25# Milestone!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

Image from:http://www.carolmanasse.com/Page-02.htm

What a wonderful day it was here in the North Country today. Rick and I enjoyed spending time outside, he worked on cleaning up the property and I trimmed Whiskey's hooves. As usual, Fosse and Lola were right there checking things out. Lola is quite the character though, as she put her head over Whiskey's neck and just stood there staring at me! She is a goofy girl for sure. Whiskey was acting up a bit with the trim (even when Lola was gone) and wanted to yank his foot from me (this is not a new trick, something he's done on and off for years). Rather than letting it happen and just starting over (as I'd done in the past), I decided to try a new strategy. I decided that this was a power-play and nothing more, a chance to show my leadership and herd hierarchy to him. So, when he tried to pull it up and away, I flexed it towards his belly (in a comfortable, natural position) and held it there kind of like hand hobbling him---this is a position I've seen Pat do in a recent DVD (although I cannot recall exactly which one at the moment). When I felt he understood what I was asking for and that his reactions would only get him the use of three legs, I slowly put his leg down and massaged it (I literally only had to do this one time). Anyhow, Whiskey stopped his antics after this and thus, I believe my thoughts on this being a leadership issue seem true! Cool.

After the trim was done and the horses were groomed, Rick and I decided to get the big field's fence in order and set things up to allow the horses to run out there. Well, did they run! WOW. They ran and ran and ran, like race horses. Poor Lola could not keep up with the Arabs though, however she sure did try! It was a clear example of how Arabians can run 100 miles and Quarter Horses only a quarter of a mile! (She did a bit better than that.) Once they were done, they followed Rick and I around the field, took turns rolling, and tried to find some tidbits to graze on. They seemed very happy.

And so, spring has definitely sprung here (but I wouldn't be surprised if an April snow happened). :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trimming and Play Time Fun Last Night

This morning, as I left for work, I was able to see what I consider a wonderful, peaceful moment. My horses were all laying together, one right next to the other, next to the barn, in the sunshine, relaxed, at ease, and enjoying each other's company. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me (and no, I don't have a photo)! Lola is truly part of the herd now and the three of them get along so well, I could not ask for a better match. Anyhow, knowing that it has been a long time since I've written , I decided this morning, to share with you all, my experiences from last night.

I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and trim Fosse's hooves before dark. I like to trim on the concrete pad located just outside of the barn. It is level, dry, and the sunshine makes for excellent lighting. It was sunny and 65F last night. I haltered Fosse and draped his lead line over the fence (he was not actually tied to anything). I pulled out my hoof toolbox full of farrier tools and educational guides, a two-step, plastic stool I use for mounting and for sitting on when trimming, and my wonderful, Equine Innovations Hoof Jack. Needless to say, Fosse knew it was trim time and Lola and Whiskey decided it was play time!

As I proceeded, Lola and Whiskey decided that they needed to participate and inspect, everything! They were loose and in the area as I don't typically lock the horses away from the horse being trimmed because we have so little time together as it is! Plus, I think horses should be flexible no matter the situation. Anyhow, at one point I was on Fosse's right side trimming his front right hoof that was cradled in the jack. Lola was standing next to me and proceeded to lower her head and put her face way down near mine, looking at the procedure, looking at me, and then back at the hoof. At the same time, Whiskey wanted to check things out from the left-side of Fosse and was inspecting the action. To do so, he lowered his head and stretched it under Fosse's body and stretched over to the hoof on the Hoof Jack! I just had to laugh because Fosse, the alpha horse of the herd (when I am not around), was putting up with all of this. Hilarious. After shifting positions and stretching Fosse's hoof forward to finish up the trim on the hoof post, I found myself rasping while being licked on the back by Lola and stared at by Whiskey! These two are very curious critters! I looked into Fosse's face and checked in with him several times and he seemed okay with the course of events! To me, another example of a great relationship between me and my horses. Later during the trim when I moved to the rear feet, Lola and Whiskey switched positions, Whiskey now on his right and Lola on Fosse's left. Anyhow, Lola was checking out his mane and Whiskey decided to inspect under Fosse's tail! Fosse never offered to kick or get ugly, just let me trim and the other two jokers fuss with him. I love these horses, wow.

After the trim was complete, I played at liberty with the horses out in the muddy paddock (we had about 20 minutes of light left). Fosse was playing catch me while galloping away and wanting me to get him and I replied with a non-verbal no, come catch me by looking at his hindquarters, backing a few steps--and he did what I'd asked for, he would stop, turn and face, and then walk to me for a scratch (I think I smooched to him as well).

Lola also came and caught me without me engaging her (I cannot get her away from me actually--well I could if I really wanted to). With Lola, I primarily played with her driving in zone 3 with the carrot stick on her back as well as a little sideways, and a few tight spins in front of me--all done very well I might add. We went everywhere! As Lola and I played, Whiskey decided to join us. I find that leaving him alone works best and he engages when he is ready (it is good to take the pressure off the right-brained introvert). Anyhow, he and I also played driving in zone 3 as well as sideways (at liberty) with Lola in tow and Fosse galloping about acting like a snotty kid! All very nice indeed! The last game was driving Lola in zone 3 while the other two followed us to the barn. The goal was to keep Fosse and Whiskey behind us--no rushing ahead allowed (which is precisely what Fosse wanted to do of course). It all worked well. I used my left hand and carrot stick for Lola and my free, right hand and arm to direct the other two. The four of us walked calmly to the barn just the way I wanted it to happen, around the tight corner without incident (the electric fence was on by the way) and each horse going to their respective feeding spot inside. I dished out dinner and said good night and walked back to the house. A beautiful and productive evening I thought. One important thing that I came away with was that all was not lost over the winter (something I worried and had guilt about). In fact, all of our little 5-10 minute interactions actually added up! How cool is that? Very cool in my opinion.

If you were wondering, I got into trimming for two reasons (horse health and desperation). It all started when I was in Virginia. First, I had a very difficult time getting farriers to travel all the way out to our place. And, to find one that didn't want to hit your horse if he moved a muscle was the other trick! I'd also always question how my horses' hooves and frogs looked with this hoof care being provided to them. I just felt like they were not in the best possible condition. Now the horses were never lame or anything, I just felt like something was missing.

Finally, I found a trimmer that was doing the natural barefoot thing and had them out, once. I was informed that the man and his family were moving out of state and that they'd not be returning to care for my horses. I asked what should I do now (and felt very upset). They told me to learn to do it myself. This gave me a lot to think about. I was afraid to even try in the case that I'd mess up the horses but, I had no choice really.

All while this was going on, a fellow natural horsemanship friend, Dave, in the horse group I was running were doing Gene Ovnicek trimming methods with their horses and running clinics (that I could not afford to attend). Anyhow, I was stuck with a choice, learn it and make my horses' hooves healthy or, resort back to the traditional farriers with whom I was not overly pleased. I decided to bite the bullet and do research and self-study. I purchased Gene's materials, Pete Ramey's book, Jaime Jackson's book, and read a lot on the Internet. I purchased all of the tools and got to work.

Fortunately, I have been extremely successful. My horses, Fosse and Whiskey (now Lola too) have never been lame and seem very healthy and as for Fosse and Whiskey, they are much healthier than when the good 'ole boys trimmed them. Fosse has one club foot to contend with too! I've also trimmed several rescues including Fosse's half sister Stella who came to me previously foundered, Wilbur my TB who had really strange, flat feet, and Mini-me who came with dutch clog feet (My friend Dave helped with the initial trim on that one and I continued to rehabilitate his feet until they looked fabulous a year later--I had to trim every two weeks) and all of these cases ended with great success.

So, there you have it. I have to say that I don't claim to be perfect and don't trim anyone else's horses. I am probably quite conservative with my methods but what ever I am doing is working. I have have happy healthy horses. (And yes, it is a lot of work but it is worth it.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Go Somewhere!

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 was thinking about my friend Clare and her willingness to take her horses anywhere. You can read her adventures on her Happy Trails blog. She's actually remarked to me that she likes to be mobile with them and that it makes her do more. I feel totally the opposite and am really in my comfort zone at home getting a lot done there, usually, and this has nothing to do with a trailering phobia--I am fine with trailering--maybe I just don't know enough people around here that I trust to go elsewhere? So anyhow, this week's task it to plan and take your horse somewhere new! It could be to a friend's place, a trail, or perhaps just a new spot on your property. No agenda, no need to plan a big ride or anything, just take your horse somewhere and be with him (or her). Have fun and keep it simple!

*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.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: How are those feet looking?

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 winter (or summer depending on which hemisphere you are located in) is ending and your horse's feet may be in rough shape--or not! Depending on where you live, your horse may have experienced wet feet, frozen feet, or super dry feet! This week's task it to examine your horse's feet and determine what, if any, intervention you need to do to get them back in better shape. Discuss these issues with your veterinarian, farrier, barn manager, or other people involved with your horse's care.

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

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: You've Got 5 Minutes!

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 task is simple. Pretend you only have 5 minutes to spend with your horse. What might you do in that time to build on your relationship? Create a list (minimum or 20 items) of 5 minutes things you can do with your horse...then use the list in your everyday interactions! keep it creative, fun, and simple.

*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.