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, April 28, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Horse's Posture Check!

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 and difficult all at the same time! Take a look at your horse and objectively evaluate his/her posture, muscles, and movement! (Yes, I know, our horse is the prettiest in the pasture but, let's be realistic and objective here.)

Is you horse looking good or do they need help? If the latter is the case, Linda Parelli highly recommends hill therapy to work on fitness and posture. Go to the Savvy Club Website and or to Parelli Saddles website and read her article on Hill Therapy! There she has information on what your horse should and should not look like and how to fix it! Your horse is worth this bit of research. :) Have fun, gain knowledge, and help your horse (it will actually help you too)!

*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.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Slow and Right Does Beat Fast and Wrong Everytime

I feel like more now than ever, I can finally get in horse time that is of better quality, like my facilities are coming together, and like I have a game plan. It has been two years since we moved here and wow what a lot of work we've done and a lot of horse time that has been lost. There have been several time where I felt hopeless, like I was never going to move forward, and like I was a failure or should just give up figuring I could never get back what I had let alone move on. Fortunately, Rick and Clare are in my life and between them, I've been able to hold on, have more patience, and keep persisting despite the obstacles. (Thanks you two!)

I've been playing with all of the horses and riding. There has been progress with each one of them and with myself. It is so nice to be back outside with the horses. And, the feeling I have is refreshing. I have been taking things slowly and am making progress. This time has allowed the horsese to gain confidence and for me to as well. Slow and right always beats fast and wrong.

As you know, Lola and I are working on primarily who is the leader and then, using patterns to support the leadership while giving her a task to complete. It has worked wonders and each time, we make more and more progress. I've stopped making assumptions about what she should know and acting like we are learning everything new, together (it is working much better). On Friday night, we played for over an hour, on the ground. It all started with saddling her (she was quite emotional). I took the time needed to get her more comfortable with the saddle and then, played on the ground in the round pen area (still no fence up), then to "horse henge" using the rocks to facilitate weave pattern, get her to think before moving her feet (there was a lot of maintain gait and direction going on...she had to watch where she was going or hit the boulders). It worked wonders for her confidence and brain as she was acting like a freak! I asked her to go sideways all around our huge garden, played with the huge tires, used falling leaf, s-pattern, circles, etc. and worked on no eating of grass unless I say it was okay. In the end, rather than being defiant and strong-headed, she was light and responsive. By the end of the evening, I took her to eat grass and mosey around, she was almost too tired to do so! There we times where she was running around like a lunatic and tired herself out. Tonight, I saddled her with the bareback pad and put on the natural hackamore. We played for a few minutes on the ground working on transitions using circling game (she was awesome), played with the obstacles, and I let her graze a bit. Then, I asked her to come to me while I stood on this huge stump that Rick cut for me to use as a mounting block. She stood very still and I swung my leg over and mounted. She walked ahead a few steps and I asked her to stop, flex, and we just stood there, I gave her a treat and pet her. We moved forward and for a few minutes, we had an argument about her wanting to go eat grass and me wanting her to move forward. She was ringing her neck, backing up, acting like a total snot, and offering a suggestion of maybe wanting to buck me off. Fortunately, I kept at it with her and she finally realized that her antics were not going to get me to go away. She finally moved forward, I then asked for a flex and stop, another treat. Then, I asked her to walk between the tires and over to the other tires and between them. What we worked out was figure eight pattern with squeeze, using obstacles, lots of friendly, etc. She finally stopped trying to fight for the grass and did exactly what I asked. I was very pleased. Once I believed that she had it down and that she respected me as the leader, we discontinued the exercise, I dismounted, gave her another treat and walked her to the grass patch she was so desperate to eat. It is not that I would mind that she eat grass while I am mounted but, when I let her at this time, she takes over the leadership role and gets disrespectful, thus, the reason I am using treats as a little reward/incentive once in awhile and not allowing the grass eating as some kind of reward during the session. Anyhow, we mosied all around the property finding all kinds of yummy grass to munch on, she was delighted. I played a lot of friendly game with her and then took her back to the barn and paddock where the boys were.

Whiskey as you know has been difficult since we moved. In Virginia, we did all kinds of riding and ground games and had a blast, here in NY, we lost something and it has taken this long to just start getting it back. I simply had much more time there thus far and it makes a difference to him. I want to talk most about this evening but know that I did play with him on Friday too. I saddled him just like Lola and took him to the playground. I let him graze for a bit, played some ground games, and then, walked over to the mounting block. He was not quite over close enough for me to just place my leg over him. So, I decided I'd mount where you put your belly on the back and then swing over. However, unlike this summer, I was able to do this so athletically I surprised myself. I actually was able to put my hands on his withers, hold myself up (my belly never touched him), swing my leg over and mount, gracefully and politely. WOW!!! I know all of the exercise and weight loss really made this happen. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited and happy I feel about it and when I did it how happy Whiskey must have felt. Anyhow, I waited for a few moments and then asked him to move forward. He immediately wanted to go to the same grass that Lola was obsessed with and I didn't want him to. Well, he pitched a left-brained temper tantrum, hopping (mini bucking) with his rear legs, twisting and turning, being very snotty and cranky, but, I just kept at it. I breathed, and politely asked him to move forward, eventually he stopped being a spaz and moved forward like a champ. We did the same pattern that I wrote about Lola and even expanded it by going around some other obstacles in the playground. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had my responsive, fun, horse Whiskey that was in Virginia, the horse that I rode solo with in the mountains with Rick on the 4-wheeler! (We really had good times). YEAH!

Fosse was great fun Friday night. I barely played with him on the ground but, I did ride him bareback (no pad) with his halter all around the driveway and playground. We also worked on the no eating grass, okay to eat grass thing, played with the obstacles, figure eights, etc. He was awesome and we had a blast. I didn't play with him today though as I had to get back to the house.
So, I guess in closing, I just want to say how thankful I am to Rick for getting these facilities going for me and the horses, that I am thankful to have Parelli in my life, and happy that I've taken charge of my life and health (thanks to Weight Watchers) which is directly making a new, positive impact on my horsemanship. And, of course, thank you to Clare for being my rock and support through everything.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Celebrating 16 Weeks On Program!

Well, it has been 16 total weeks on the Weight Watchers program and16 weeks since I took the hardest step in the journey, admitting I had an issue and walking through the door to deal with it. Once in the door, I signed up, paid my registration and meeting dues, got on the scale, was weighed by a complete stranger, and got started on this journey. Whew! And so, here I am, 16 weeks later, feeling great and 32.4 pounds lighter. I feel so much more fit and athletic in all aspects of my life but most especially with the horses. I believe that my weight may have been wreaking havoc with my confidence as well (although I didn't realize it until now). I understand that I have a long way to go but, I think that I am off to a great start. This is a life-long commitment and I accept that.

For the most part, it has been painless and not overly difficult. I have had my share of times where I felt emotional, wanted to lose more weight faster, felt discouraged, but, I've taken hold of this and use my husband and WW group for support when I need to be carried through a "crisis." One of our members created a Facebook Page and Website. I help her with them and I recently created a brochure to support the North Country Weight Watchers group as well. This additional outlet is wonderful. It has added cohesion to the group so that we not only support each other once a week but now, on a daily basis. It is awesome.

Several of us are planning to walk a 5-K as part of the Weight Watchers Momentum 5-K Walk-It Challenge on June 5th. I don't see this as a problem for me as I am doing 5 mile aerobic workouts these days using weights, stretchie bands, and much more! I have scheduled five practice sessions for the group and then, the sixth week is our event. Many of us are already getting 5-7 days of exercise so the short time-frame should be just fine!

Some of the keys to my success are those shared at the meeting. These are the Weight Watchers Ten Topics of 2010!
  1. Keep a Journal (Write down everything you eat, how you are feeling, if you’ve exercised, etc.)
  2. Use Filling Foods Technique (Eat nutrient rich, filling foods that satisfy you.)
  3. Start Moving! (Exercise if key!)
  4. Understand Emotional Hunger vs. Actual Hunger
  5. Motivation (Explore what motivates you and surround yourself with people who are encouraging and supportive.)
  6. Make Healthier Living a Priority
  7. Enjoy Dining Out (While staying on plan.)
  8. Make Your Kitchen WW Friendly
  9. Avoid Boredom (Be creative and try new things.)
  10. Acknowledge Your Strengths (No negative self-talk allowed.)

Here is an updated record of how much I've lost (or gained) each week:

Week 1: January 9, 2010, Started Weight Watchers

Week 2: January 16, 2010, Lost 6.2 lbs, Total Lost 6.2 lbs

Week 3: January 23, 2010, Lost 1.6 lbs, *Started Exercising Regularly, Total Lost 7.8 lbs

Week 4: January 30, 2010, Lost 3.8 lbs, Total Lost 11.6 lbs

Week 5: February 6, 2010, Lost 3 lbs *Reached 5% Weight-loss Target!, Total Lost 14.6 lbs

Week 6: February 13, 2010, Lost 2.4 lbs, Total Lost 17 lbs

Week 7: February 20, 2010, Gained .2 lbs, Total Lost 16.8 lbs

Week 8: February 27, 2010, Lost 1.6 lbs, Total Lost 18.4 lbs

Week 9: March 6, 2010, Lost 5.6 lbs, *Biggest Loser at the Meeting!, Total Lost 24 lbs

Week 10: March 13, 2010, Lost .8 lbs, Total Lost 24.8 lbs

Week 11: March 20, 2010, Lost .2 lbs *Reached 25 lbs Lost Milestone!, Total Lost 25 lbs

Week 12: March 27, 2010, Lost 3.4 lbs *Reached 10% Weight-loss Target!, Total Lost 28.4 lbs

Week 13: April 3, 2010, Lost 2.6 lbs, Total Lost 31 lbs

Week 14:
April 10, 2010, Lost .8 lbs, Total Lost 31.8 lbs

Week 15: April 17, 2010, Gained 1.0 lb, Total Lost 30.8 lbs

Week 16: April 24, 2010, Lost 1.6 lbs, *Celebrating 16 Weeks on Program!, Total Lost 32.4 lbs

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Weave Pattern

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 all about the weave pattern. Where can you do it? How far away from your horse can you be? How subtle are your cues? What about liberty? Try it riding at all gates and even backwards! Have fun...this is a great pattern! You may even consider videotaping yourself and critique your progress!

*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, April 20, 2010

Horse Hair Everywhere!

Image from:http://danasdoodles.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/671.png?w=300&h=293

After work last night, and since it wasn't raining anymore, I decided to spend some time with the horses. I thought about practicing emergency dismounts as something good to spend time on. However, when I got to the barn, oh my goodness, my horses needed my attention, in the grooming area! They are shedding terribly now and I needed to do something about it. it seems that their coats changed over night!

So, I proceeded to groom Lola first. She truly enjoyed all of the scratches I think. She really loves her ears to be rubbed too. I found that her areas of concern are her udders and between her legs in the back. I can lift her tail and she is relaxed in that way but, I think she is sensitive because she leaks when in heat and is considered, according to my veterinarian, a "dirty mare" 9I don't like that description at all--poor girl). I do use baby oil gel on these sensitive areas and she seems happy with that, the dirty stuff slides off on its own and I don't cause irritations. I started doing this when I first got her. Initially she was defensive but now, not so much but, I'd like to see her less concerned though as I am always on my guard when touching these regions. Anyhow, I continued to brush her, thoroughly clean her feet, and even found a couple of ticks under her chin! EWWW, I hate ticks. I sprayed her with fly spray (that I believe also does ticks and other critters), and she was fine with it (our first time with this). I will be getting Equispot for everyone though! And, Lola needs her own fly sheet with neck attachment, fly mask, and leg protectors...we are in black fly country and they are here (amongst other insects)! I plan to place my order this weekend--I love horse shopping.

After Lola was finished, I groomed Fosse and Whiskey. Fosse was really next but, Whiskey wouldn't stay away and for good reason, he was a mess! However, Fosse was first so I concentrated primarily on him but brushed Whiskey a little so that he felt welcomed. Fosse was not too bad, just tons and tons of shedding hair. I brushed him all over several times with several brushes, cleaned out his feet, and sprayed him with the fly spray. I'd like to note that I did this at liberty. In the past, Fosse was a total freak about spray but now, no worries, and an easy application process (thanks to PNH).

Fosse hung out while I started on Whiskey. He had what my friend calls, "fairy knots" in part of his mane as well as shedding. These mysterious, terrible, knots show up over night, usually when it is wet out, and they are a pain to remove---especially on an Arabian with a long mane---no one else gets them by the way, just Whiskey. I braided that part of his mane, loosely, it should help keep the knots away and straighten his hair back out. I groomed and groomed him but was careful to be kind to his mane--it is gorgeous actually. Whiskey also was sprayed, he has no problems with that at all (smart horse).

Lola came back to us while I was busy with the boys. So, I ended up in major close quarters with the three horses, grooming all of them some more, scratching this and that, and we had a simply wonderful time (about two hours worth of friendly game).

As the sun disappeared, I packed up my grooming tools and fed the horses. I headed back to the house thinking that horses are truly way more than riding. Remember, each time you are with your horse, you make an impact. Make it a fun and wonderful one!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Women and the Kentucky Derby!

Women have played a significant role in the Kentucky Derby. They have been jockeys, owners, trainers, grooms, and more! Many women spectators and even celebrities take part in this national event. Two particularly remarkable women enjoying 'firsts' in this race were Laska Durnell and Diane Crump.

Laska Durnell; 1904 Elwood: The first woman to start a horse in, and win the Kentucky Derby, she did not tell her trainer/husband, Charles, that she had nominated Elwood to the Derby.

Diane Crump (1970 Fathom, 15th): First woman to ride in the Derby and ride in a pari-mutuel race in North America - Hialeah Park, February 1969 at 19. She has entered training, and rides for her own stable.

Online, there is a group called "The Female on the Horse" that celebrates female jockeys, past and present. They are also on My Space and Facebook. From their "about us" page:

We decided to make a website dedicated to female jockeys because we both feel that female jockeys are under appreciated in the sport of horse racing. In our opinion, we both feel, they do not get the credit they deserve. We have both searched the Internet and we have found that most sites that involve horse racing and/or jockeys contain little or no information on female jockeys. Well with the creation of our website, that is about to change.

On our site you will find interview with retired girl jockeys, girls just starting out and girls that have been riding for years. We have interviews with riders from all over the world. From the east coast to the west coast and even some from overseas! You will read about them growing up and how they became jockeys. You will read about their triumphs and tragedies and everything else in between.

So, if you plan to bet on the Kentucky Derby, you can bet that women have had a significant impact on this year's race!

Friday, April 16, 2010

136th Kentucky Derby is Around the Corner

Image from: http://cdn1.ioffer.com/img/item/141/128/895/rD5p.jpg

This time of year reminds me of my teen years working at the racetrack in Fort Erie, Canada and with horses owned by folks racing at The Finger Lakes Racetrack. On the first Saturday in May, race enthusiasts converge in Lexington, Kentucky at Churchill Downs, for the Kentucky Derby. Also known as, "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports," it is the first of three legs in the Triple Crown races. The Derby for which it is also commonly called, is a stakes race run by three-year old thoroughbreds.

This race started back in 1789 in Lexington but, Churchill Downs did not open until 1875 where it remains today. The first telecast of the Derby occurred in 1952 (thanks to CBS). Today, 221 years after racing started in Lexington, and as we head to the 136th annual, official Kentucky Derby, you can watch the race in person, on your television, and on the Internet (not to mention online Kentucky Derby betting is now at your fingertips--so much for having to go to the OTB).

For those of you interested in the rich history of this race, consider a vacation to visit the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs. According to their Director,Lynn Ashton, "When you visit the Kentucky Derby Museum you will find yourself immersed in the next best thing to actually being at the Derby! Our exhibits will take you through the journey from the birth of the foal to the winner's circle. Find yourself in the middle of Kentucky Derby week activities and Derby traditions. Or you can take in the view of the track on Derby Day from the middle of the Infield. We can’t wait to say "Welcome!" Come join in the FUN!"
One day, I hope to be able to attend the race in person, party on the infield, and sip mint juleps with Rick! Here's to hoping the race goes smoothly and safe for all of the horses and riders. Cheers!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

From Oh So Light to That's Gonna Hurt :)

Image from: http://www.ian-darragh.com/images/ian-darragh-gallery/horse-with-groom/3_1991_Spooked_Acrylic_on_C.jpg

I love my horses and I love my husband but sometimes, they can all be flakes! Last night, when I came home from a long day at work, I was delighted to see that the nice weather was still here and decided, of course, to get in some horse time. I went to the house, changed into my riding clothes, retrieved Morgan (my Dane) and walked to the barn.

Once I got there, I put Morgan in her outdoor kennel and headed into the paddock to see the horses. Tonight was Whiskey's night to be first and he caught me immediately. We played for a few minutes on the ground and then we practiced riding, one-reined, bareback. He was a bit argumentative about riding on the rail but, we worked through it and ended on a really good note. I've figured out something with him. He has his "I'm right-brained and cannot think" and his, "I'm feeling left-brained, defiant, and you cannot make me" moments. The big issue is, the behaviors are the same but the right-brain left-brain parts is what differ. It has taken me a long time to understand and be willing to trust what I think is happening actually is, and trust that I can work with the horse that showed up. Anyhow, I am finally there and he's quite a bugger at times. It takes a heck of a lot of leadership and patience to play with him hoping he does not go right-brained and snap. I have to be leader while maintaining the appropriate phase for this horse who is innately a right-brain introvert which requires a lot of waiting and patience.

Next, I decided to ride Lola. We played with several obstacles and then I mounted (bareback with the rope halter and lead). I rode Lola one-reined all over and she was so light and wonderful. This was probably one of our best rides. I would barely lift the rein, subtly point, and she'd go in the direction I asked her to go. If I used any leg at all, the phase was barely phase 1, lightly touching the hair. I was amazed and thrilled with our progress. At one point, she and I were just standing hanging out and then it happened. Rick started the truck and moved this huge dump trailer (that bangs and makes tons of noise) and although the horses had seen it all day going up and down the driveway, Fosse and Whiskey decided it was scary this time and bolted from the barn, down the paddock past Lola and I at a full, thundering, right-brained gallop. This took Lola and I both by surprise as we were just relaxing and enjoying each other and the weather and I'm sure you know what I'll write next, she also spooked!

If memory serves me correctly (it all happened so fast), I used one rein (on her right) to keep her from totally taking off and grabbed onto her mane, she spun around, I got a little off balance and while trying to keep her from taking off and trying to stay on, I think I may have kicked her in the side and thus, she moved farther from me to the left and in a motion that felt like slow motion, I fell to the ground (and was able to think suring that moment, oh boy, I am going off, that's gonna hurt) and Lola took off to the other horses. My two biggest concerns were not letting her take off with me on her and not being trampled. (I had a helmet.) I was not hurt, not really (although I will be sore--I hit primarily on the left side of my butt), however I was angry, at Rick, because I told him not five minutes before that there was a chance they'd spook and that he should wait. He said he would but then, apparently he thought that since he was not driving past us that it was okay (not aware of the amount of commotion he was making, period). Now my horses are fairly spook free but, they are horses and they all were a bit edgy today (perhaps the weather front coming in, they are in need of exercise, who knows, they are prey animals when you come right down to it).

After the fall, I stayed on the ground, steaming about Rick's actions, and also wondering if the horses would come over and get me. Fosse came over first and decided to stare at me and chew on my knee. Lola came up but only to the nearby tree and watched me from behind it (almost like she felt like she was in trouble). I got up, approached her, and gave her some scratches to assure her, she immediately loved up to me. I took her over to the big log where I usually mount, got back on her and we just sat there for a few minutes scratching her withers, petting her head, practicing lateral flexion. I was going to continue our ride (I had no feeling of fear or anxiety at all) but remembered Rick and the truck and dump trailer would be coming back our way and I had no idea when (and he had no idea what had happened) and I did not want a repeat of our earlier event. So, I ended our night with a few more scratches and dismounted. I took off the halter and chased the horses off in a playful gesture. I walked back to the barn and the three of them ran and bucked happily behind and beside me all the way. They were groomed and fed. I fetched Morgan and we took a nice walk (she ran here and there) back to the house. (Rick has apologized by the way, several times.)

I cannot help but think that I need to consider the emergency dismount more. I can do it in practice but putting it to work, it is not as perfect as it should be. I suppose it is because the moment is so fast. I do have to say had I not been losing weight and getting in shape, this could have ended in a much worse manner. Lola didn't run off with me aboard but, I'd have liked to complete the dismount more gracefully than falling to the side and hitting the dirt! Riding bareback has a great deal to do with it too--they are slippery (I didn't use the bareback pad). All well, I walk away with sore muscles and a little rope burn, I've been worse for wear!

One final thought is about something I read from a friend who posted a listserv message from someone she knows who is studying at the Parelli ISC in the Confidence Transformation Course. It was about what to do with your horse and how to proceed and be successful. These few lines really stood out to me and I plan to incorporate them into my horsemanship.

"Do MORE online than you would riding. If you are going to canter and jump when mounted, than gallop and jump BIGGER jumps online first."

"Anything you want to push with your horse, do online first instead of while riding. "

"You always want to jump your horse online first before riding because bucking is like jumping invisible jumps! So work that out online first."

Woods, Ramps, and Lola

I took Lola for a hand walk in the woods last night, off-roading here and there, over huge downed trees, through the brush, crunchy leaves, etc. (no real trails) - she is like a bulldozer and ripped out several saplings! She was incredible and not nervous at all. To give you an idea of our location, we had to walk down the long gravel driveway (2 tenths of a mile long) through the woods past a small pond to the house, go behind the house which meant her ducking under some pine trees and squeezing through a small space, and then off into the woods behind the house. She never once acted concerned and never called to the other horses who were left behind at the front of the property. We were following Rick who was headed for the ramp patch while Lola found every grass patch to munch on! (Ramps are also know as wild leeks. And they are delicious! The word ramp is derived from "rams or ramson", an Elizabethan dialect referring to wild garlic. They grow from South Carolina to Canada.) Image from: http://www.psycomp.com/images/ramps.jpg

When we returned back to the house from the woods, I decided that she could eat a bit more in the small lawn by the house which she was delighted about. Then, I put on my helmet, climbed on the back of the 4-wheeler (with trailer attached), asked Lola to line up for mounting, and boarded bareback with the 12 foot lead (attached to her rope halter of course) in hand. I asked her to just sit still for a minute or two and flex which she did. Then, I asked her to move forward (riding one-reined) with the idea that I'd ride back down the driveway to the barn. Well, she had other ideas...eating the grass. I felt like she was not listening to me very well, not respecting me as leader, and I felt a bit unsafe so, after a few minutes of arguing with her, I dismounted. Then, I felt terrible, sad, like a failure, like I wanted to cry. My husband asked me what was wrong and I told him I was upset to have dismounted. He remarked that I was doing exactly what I should as she was acting unsafe (he saw everything) and that I needed to reassert my leadership on the ground (oh duh, I know this). Anyhow, I composed myself (never did cry thank goodness) and thanked him for the reality check. I walked her back to the barn playing along the way (but no grass munching allowed).

Once we were near the barn, I allowed a little munching of the grass but, worked on telling her when it was okay and when it was not (working on leadership). Then, I took her in the large from paddock, played more on the ground, mounted again and we rode bareback, one-reined all around. She did extremely well listening to my cues and we ended on a very good note. I groomed everyone, checked and cleaned hooves, fed them, and went back to the house feeling very satisfied. I realized that Lola and I accomplished a great deal (she had never even been back to the house before, only down the driveway once and definitely not in the woods--especially woods lacking trails).

We were successful...I need to give myself a break sometimes...geeze! When I was at the barn with her, she layed her head on the back of my neck and just hung out, I love her so much, she is adorable!

Tonight's forecast is rain, I hope I get home in soon enough for horsey playtime tonight! :) Keep it natural folks and have fun with your horses!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Get Your Groove On!

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 all about having fun and getting your groove on! What you do is get your iPod, put your favorite tunes on it, and go dance, play, and ride your horse! Music can help you focus, have fun, and get in the groove of horse play. Just think about how you feel when you see the Parelli's play to music...it is awesome! So, go out, have some fun, and keep it natural! (FYI--This is an idea that I got from a listserv I belong to.)

*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, April 13, 2010


It has been a long, tiring day day. Work was busy and stressful, I didn't get enough sleep, and found it a struggle to get to the gym...but I did. When I got home, the weather was cool and gorgeous and of course, I needed to spend time with the horses!

It occurred to me today that I have never ridden Fosse outside of an enclosed space. I know that sounds strange but, with his heart condition., I've always taken it fairly easy with him and in Virginia, the mountains were quite steep so we stayed in the arena, and here in New York, we've just never ventured beyond the fence.

Well today was the big day and a new adventure. I took Fosse out of the paddock and to the horse trailer first. (Whiskey didn't mind, Lola was calling to him, Fosse ignored her.) He loaded himself with a simple send several times, we played a few games and patterns on the ground, I let him graze on some grass, we walked down the driveway in the woods to the house and back, and then, at our "horse henge" I stood on a huge rock, rubbed him a bit, he rubbed back and almost knocked me off the rock but, I laughed and he lined up ready for me to mount. I rode him all around the front of the property along the driveway, past the garden in and out of the playground, etc. We worked on steering, disengagement of the hingquarters, 9-step back-up and more. He ate grass and didn't when asked to as well. We had a great time! ( I rode him bareback with the rope halter and 12 foot line.)

After this, the sun was going down and so I groomed him and worked on his hooves. I then groomed and worked on Lola and Whiskey's hooves too. They were fed dinner and I headed to the house (2.5 hours of horse time tonight...yeah).

I was feeling so good when I went back to the house for the evening (more energy), I decided to workout again, and did the new Leslie Sansone 3-Mile Bootcamp DVD. Both workouts were great but I am convinced Leslie was trying to kill me tonight...wow, that was a challenge! LOL I feel wonderful and better than I have in days.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Three horses, a little communication, and a lot of fun!

Image from: http://www.mchumor.com/00images/8139_horse_cartoon.gif

Tonight I had a blast with the horses! Coming home from a long, busy day, and the sun going quickly down, I was very tired but, I didn't want to miss out on playing with the horses. Therefore, I decided a little liberty fun was in order! I stuffed my pockets with a few goodies and headed out to see them. As each horse came to me, I'd ask them to perform a task, once they succeeded (or tried really hard), I'd give them a little treat. We played all around using the patterns and obstacles, creating puzzles along the way. You could see that each horse was thinking and thinking hard to figure it out. Sometimes they would even line up side-by-side waiting their turn! Lola got to the point where she figured if she circled me at close range, she'd be rewarded and the others perhaps would have to stay away! What a character. The horses moved sideways, forwards and backwards, over logs, figure eights, circles, etc. It was great fun playing with my three all together tonight. I find that the more experiences we have together, the more fun everything becomes. This all makes me think hard about our relationship and how far we've come over time, how we all depend on each other, and how important clearly communicating is!

Communication...the seven games are our alphabet, our creativity and execution make the dialogue!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Loving horse time these days...

I just wanted to post a quick message while I take a break today (I needed to to take the dogs out and get lunch and decided to write a bit.)

I planned to haul Lola to my friend's this morning and play in her wonderful indoor arena however, my trailer brakes are having a strange issue. (They work only if the lights on the truck are off--makes no sense.) Argh! Needless to say, we are not going anywhere now! Today's new agenda ... remove the downed trees in the horse playground and stack it for firewood,fill holes, burn tree tops, get out the obstacles, work on the fence, and play horsey!

I've been playing with the horses and riding now, more regularly, and I am very pleased with our progress. Earlier in the season, I found myself feeling very nervous, something I plan to blog about soon, I just need more time to digest it all and reflect a bit more. Anyhow, now, I feel back to my old crazy self, totally ready to take on the world, with no nerves, and having a much better time with the horses! Ah, the good ole' days. :)

I am now finding that any emotional "stuff" with Lola (her emotions that is) are more easily and quickly disappearing. Last night when she started getting emotional, I just stopped what we were doing, took a breath rather than let it frustrate me, I was on the ground playing with her and the trailer (which by the way she had been in and out of several times already), starred at her thinking "what is the problem" and I swear she looked back at me thinking, "I don't know" and then her emotional outburst stopped and we progressed again, she got in the trailer by a simple send, turned around, and just hung out (I gave her a cookie). Just something to note, this play session did not involve a carrot stick which is something I typically used with her...hmmm...we must be getting more refined. Anyhow, she is loading herself in the trailer, playing all kinds of patterns with the obstacles, and I've been sitting on her and riding her around the paddock and over the logs, around the trees, etc. Fosse and I are doing well and starting to do more particular patterns and maneuvers these days, he is such a joy to be around. Whiskey, well you know, my special needs horse! LOL Anyhow, I rode him today too and he started with some of his antics. I basically ignored him, relaxed, gave him time to get his brain collected, and we'd move on...it worked very well and we had a great time.

I guess that is it! I just am feeling great, the horses are doing great, and for the first time in a long while, I feel successful, feel like all of my horses are usable (for lack of a better term), and like there is a fun future ahead! :) Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Image from: http://www.paddypowerpoker.com/upload/images/funny%20horse.jpg

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Submitted My Online Horsenality Report Questionnaire

As part of my Savvy Glub Gold membership, I am entitled to Horsenality/Personality Reports. "The Horsenality / Personality Match Report is a revealing customized report that highlights the similarities or differences and mismatches between the horse owner and his or her horse. This report is for one human and one horse." Well,today, I submitted my online horsenality report questionnaire on Lola.(I have yet to hear about the personality report--although I've done several of these in other venues.) I found it very difficult to not over think the questions but, I do look forward to their feedback. It will be interesting to see what they are thinking in terms of her and what strategies will help us grow as partners. I hope to do the same reports on Whiskey and Fosse in the future when the opportunity arises. According to my friend Marion who writes the blog, My Parelli Natural Horsemanship Journey, the report contains the following elements:

Part 1: The Parelli Horsenality Profile
Part 2: The Four Horsenality Types
Part 3: Horse's Horsenality Type
Part 4: Strategies for Success with Your Horse
Part 5: Do´s and Don´ts for Your Horse
Part 6: Powerful Communication Keys
Part 7: Constructive Exercises for Success and Advancement
Part 8: The Right Balance between Variety and Consistency
Part 9: Design your Session for Your Horse
Part 10: Situation Specific Behaviors
Part 11: Adjust to fit the Changing Situation
Part 12: Strengths, Positive Characteristics and Aptitudes
Part 13: Resources and More

I'll be posting a synopsis when I get the report back (approximately 3 weeks).

Weekly Task Challenge: Farm Safety

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 all about safety on your farm. I challenge you to walk around your property, go in the barn, inspect everything. Make a list of everything you need to change, repair, move, or deal with and then prioritize that list. Finally, get working on the list and get things in order. This is very important not only for your own safety but the safety of your horses, your family, and other critters! I've heard many horror stories over the years that were caused by simple, fixable things. Be safe, be savvy, and get moving! Have a great week folks.

*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, April 06, 2010

Like Night and Day

I just have a brief post for this evening but I could not wait to share. As you know if you read my previous post about the two-hour session with Lola, yesterday, she was quite the challenge and not my partner, not really (except at the very end). Well, I am pleased to report that tonight's session was much different.

When I got home this evening, under the threat of rain, I decided to see how she'd do should I ask her to perform the two primary tasks from yesterday. The first, circling game at the walk on a 22 foot line with the line dragging as if it was not there and the second, loading in the trailer when sent.

When I retrieved Lola this evening, she seemed eager to be with me. I took her to the trailer first and asked for her to load. She only hesitated for one second and then right in she went. She hung out, turned around, just stood there, and came out when asked, very calm and collected (unlike the scattered horse she was yesterday). We did this several times and I was very pleased (I suspect she was too). Next, we went to the round pen area (still no fence there), and I started by walking in her zone three and taking a lap, she was fine. We then quickly played the 7 games, just at the level 1 version and all was good. I then asked for the circle and all I had to do was point and she went, willingly, in the right direction, at a calm walk which was precisely what I wanted (not the galloping freak she was yesterday). We did this both ways and went back to the trailer and viola, she loaded again with ease. I decided this horse looked rideable. So, as the clouds kept forming overhead, I went to the barn with her and exchanged the 22 foot line for my 12 foot line, put on my riding helmet, and off to the paddock with her (where Fosse and Whiskey were hanging out). I stood on this huge log and played friendly with her for a few minutes. Then, I put my leg over her back and hurried up to do nothing. In my pocket were some corn pops and so, I asked for lateral flexion from both sides and basically wanted her to have a good experience with me just sitting there. I did this primarily because the last time I rode her, she was very emotional, would not flex, and was not being my partner (I don't think that at that session, I took the time to partner with her). We did this exercise in relaxation for about 10 minutes. I allowed her to put her head to the ground to retrieve the treats that dropped, fed Fosse, Whiskey, and her treats, flex right, flex left, all was very good, trust from me to her and her to me. Then, it started to rain. I decided that the session was excellent and we were at a good point to stop. What a nice follow-up session to a tremendously emotional and challenging session. I cannot wait to see what happens tomorrow (should the weather cooperate).

Image from: http://www.joartcologne.com/cbay/chorse-portrait-m/70bwduet2-0.jpg

Play with the horse that shows up!

It was a beautiful evening last night so I got in two hours of playtime with Lola. My thoughts were to play on the ground a bit and ride. Well, she had a different idea. We played on the ground and boy was she a defiant pistol (and definitely not in a riding frame of mind unfortunately ... distracted ... buck, rear, kick, run, run, run, snort,etc)! We worked through it all playing all kinds of variations of the 7 games and she did well when she decided to just do what was asked of her (halter and 22' line, carrot stick and string, and I did saddle her with the bareback pad) playing in the paddock, round pen (with no fence), walked down the long driveway to the house, obstacles in the playground, trailer, etc. (you know she is testing my leadership--bigtime). We ended by hanging out in the horse trailer together for awhile munching on corn pops. Anyhow...this is a challenging and fun horse with spunk... wow! :)

PS. I have been riding the horses and last week, taped an initial ride on Lola that I submitted to Parelli! Probably not a pass but, I felt compelled to send it anyway...very impulsive of me for sure but, when you are in the lonely barn, any feedback is appreciated! I'll keep you posted and and put up the link when I hear back. I have a lot to talk about regarding that ride...until next time!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Still Losing and Feeling Great--Yeah!

Just a quick update on my physical fitness journey. As of this morning, I have lost 31 pounds and am feeling awesome! I am on a non-stop train to a healthier me and the horses are very happy about it too! Tonight, after a day-long trip on the St. Lawrence River, I went out to visit the horses and just hopped on Fosse bareback (with halter and lead) and took him for a spin! We rode freestyle all over and had a blast. He did great and so did I. I am feeling so much more in harmony and balance these days...nothing tastes better than this feeling feels...I am truly getting there and can see a positive, happy me again.

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 lbs, Total Lost 6.2 lbs

Week 3: January 23, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 1.6 lbs, *Started Exercising Regularly, Total Lost 7.8 lbs

Week 4: January 30, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 3.8 lbs, Total Lost 11.6 lbs

Week 5: February 6, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 3 lbs *Reached 5% Weight-loss Target!, Total Lost 14.6 lbs

Week 6: February 13, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 2.4 lbs, Total Lost 17 lbs

Week 7: February 20, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Gained .2 lbs, Total Lost 16.8 lbs

Week 8: February 27, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 1.6 lbs, Total Lost 18.4 lbs

Week 9: March 6, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 5.6 lbs *Biggest Loser at the Meeting!, Total Lost 24 lbs

Week 10: March 13, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost .8 lbs, Total Lost 24.8 lbs

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

Week 12: March 27, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 3.4 lbs *Reached 10% Weight-loss Target!, Total Lost 28.4 lbs

Week 13: April 3, 2010 Weigh-in Day, Lost 2.6 lbs, Total Lost 31 lbs