About Me

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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Horses and the Heat

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.)

It seems that this year is going to be a hot one! Horses are still trying to shed their winter coats while coping with mid-summer temperatures and sweating while standing still! This week's task is to study and prepare for this hot weather. Do you know how to take care of yourself and your horses should you face a heat-related crisis? Does your horse have enough water? What about shade? Have you decreased their workouts? What about feeding your horse? How might you need to alter their diet because of the weather?

Here are a few things for you to read and contemplate. Go sit in the shade with your horses and a tall glass of lemonade and study! This is quality, non-demanding time with your horse.

Be prepared, be safe, and be savvy!

Selected Reading List:

American Red Cross, "Heat Wave Safety Checklist," 2009.

Blocksdorn, Katherine, "Keep Your Horse Cool in Hot Weather," About.com Guide.

Davison, Karen, "Beating the Heat—Caring for Performance Horses In Hot Weather," Purina Mills Nutrition & Management, 2006.

Hilton, Bonnie J., "Horse Care: Horses in Heat and Humidity," Saddle & Bridle Online Magazine.

Jahiel, Jessica, "Drinking Water," TodaysHorse.com Ask the Expert, 2000.

Lamm, Wills, "Heat Emergencies in Humans; Heat Emergencies in Horses," Trail Blazer Magazine Reprint, 1994.

Marteniuk, Judy, "Hot Weather Care of Horses," Michigan State University Equine Extension, 2004.

Mazan, Melissa R, "Dehydration and Electrolyte Losses in the Sport Horse," Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Ask the Doctor, 2005-2006.

Staff Writer, "Hot Weather Temperatures and Keeping Your Horse Cool," American Horse Rider & Horse and Horses Information, 2001.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hot Horses...Having a Heatwave in the North Country!


There is a heatwave up here in the north country and the horses are dripping with sweat! We've gone from snow in April to 95-100F degree days and the horses are less than thrilled. They have been standing in the barn (by choice) and looking hot, sweaty, and miserable. Fosse isn't even talking to me at this point. Not only are we not playing, he is too hot, and thinks it is my fault! Lola and Whiskey are more forgiving. The hope is that we will have a cool-down in the next day or so and then, horse time can resume. I have been keeping the horses sprayed for bugs and am thrilled to report that they all stand still, at liberty for me to spray them. This is truly amazing for Fosse in particular because in the old days, he was terrified of fly spray! I guess our partnership is solid regardless of his opinion right now. LOL

Prior to the heatwave, I have been working on liberty sessions and riding with Lola and things are going quite well. We've primarily been using the weave and figure eight patterns with obstacles in the round pen. She is very responsive and we are having fun. I taped one session but don't plan to send it to Parelli. I think we can (and have been) doing better. I find that each time I play with her, we are more and more connected.
Well, that is it! Keep cool folks, I'll post again soon!

Image from: http://www.art-and-home.net/media/10/a2079291247b8cc5e8badd_m.jpg

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Exercise Evaluation and Planning 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.)

Most of us worry about our horses' physical condition and have no problem getting them to exercise. However, our fitness is critical to our horsemanship but often overlooked. This week's challenge is to evaluate your fitness level and create a weekly plan that you can live with! Challenge yourself, vary what you do, have fun, and be safe! You will be pleasantly surprised how your talents will blossom and most importantly, your horse with thank you!

Here is my typical fitness schedule (remember, I didn't start here, this is the result of months of work):

*Videos are Leslie Sansone, Gin Miller, Janice Dulak, and Lynne Undraitis (and I am always looking for new ones).

*C25K Workouts I use the podcasts and plans but Robert Ullrey.

*At the gym I typically use the elliptical machine, Nautilus machines, and treadmill.

Feel free to e-mail me for further details!

Saturday
AM-5K Walk with WW friend / PM-C25K Run with Morgan (Great Dane)

Sunday
AM-Walk with dog (one of the little ones) or video / PM-Walk with dog (one of the little ones) or video

Monday
AM-Gym / PM-C25K Run with Morgan (Great Dane)

Tuesday
AM-Gym / PM Walk with dog (one of the little ones) or video

Wednesday
AM-Gym / PM-C25K Run with Morgan (Great Dane)

Thursday
AM-Gym / PM-Walk with dog (one of the little ones) or video

Friday
AM-Gym / PM-C25K Run with Morgan (Great Dane)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Doing the Happy Dance...Celebrating My 15% Weight Loss Target!


Image from:


Today, I am very excited to share that I am celebrating meeting my 15% weight loss target! I have lost a total of 39.4 pounds since January 9th, 2010. Can you imagine how great of an impact this has had on my life overall and most importantly, my horsemanship? Can you imagine riding your horse with 15% less weight to manage? Or running around at liberty or online with your horse feeling more fit and lighter? WOW! This is incredible and although I know I have a long haul ahead of me, (both on this fitness journey as well as in my horsemanship) I feel fabulous and empowered!

Assessment and evaluation is something we do all of the time with our horsemanship. Well, assessment should also play part in other parts of life as well. I am always looking at each component of my life (horses, career, health, etc.) and trying to find ways to improve. Besides assessing my fitness, I am now faced with assessing my wardrobe! I have a real problem, nothing fits but thankfully, this time, I can say nothing fits because everything is too big! What a problem, huh? My next target is 20% loss by June 24th, 2010. Wish me luck!

If you are a plus sized rider or a healthy rider who could use some toning, no matter your level or your desire for improvement, if you are yearning to get back to your old, smaller, more athletic self (or whatever you desire), I say go for it! Just do it! If I can do it, so can you and frankly, we only live once and are well worth it. If not for you, then do it for your horse! He or she will thank you.

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

Week 1: 1/9/10, Started Weight Watchers
Week 2: 1/16/10, Lost 6.2 lbs, Total Lost 6.2 lbs
Week 3: 1/23/10, Lost 1.6 lbs, *Started Exercising Regularly, Total Lost 7.8 lbs
Week 4: 1/30/10, Lost 3.8 lbs, Total Lost 11.6 lbs
Week 5: 2/6/20, Lost 3 lbs *Celebrating 5% Weight-loss Target!, Total Lost 14.6 lbs
Week 6: 2/13/10, Lost 2.4 lbs, Total Lost 17 lbs
Week 7: 2/20/10, Gained .2 lbs, Total Lost 16.8 lbs
Week 8: 2/27/10, Lost 1.6 lbs, Total Lost 18.4 lbs
Week 9: 3/6/10, Lost 5.6 lbs, *Biggest Loser at the Meeting!, Total Lost 24 lbs
Week 10: 3/13/10, Lost .8 lbs, Total Lost 24.8 lbs
Week 11: 3/20/10, Lost .2 lbs *Celebrating 25 lbs Lost Milestone!, Total Lost 25 lbs
Week 12: 3/27/10, Lost 3.4 lbs *Celebrating 10% Weight-loss Target!, Total Lost 28.4 lbs
Week 13: 4/3/10, Lost 2.6 lbs, Total Lost 31 lbs
Week 14: 4/10/10, Lost .8 lbs, Total Lost 31.8 lbs
Week 15: 4/17/10, Gained 1.0 lb, Total Lost 30.8 lbs
Week 16: 4/24/10, Lost 1.6 lbs, *Celebrating 16 Weeks on Program!, Total Lost 32.4 lbs
Week 17: 5/1/10, Lost 5.8 lbs, *Biggest Loser at Meeting, Total Lost 38.2 lbs
Week 18: 5/8/10, Gained 1.6 lbs, Total Lost 36.6 lbs
Week 19: 5/15/10, Lost 2.8 lbs, *Celebrating 15% Weight-loss Target!, Total Lost 39.4 lbs

PS. Morgan and I had our second run tonight. Surprisingly, it was a bit easier this time. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

First Day of C25K - I am going somewhere I never imagined!

I am writing tonight to tell you all that I have decided to run a 5K! Yes, I really used the word run (much to my surprise too). LOL I spoke to a personal trainer at the gym yesterday about what I've been doing regarding Weight Watchers, how much and what I do regarding exercise (7 days a week, gym workouts using various machines, home workouts using videos (walk/jog aerobics, pilates, yoga), walks outside and at the mall, we talked about how much weight I've lost, my menu planning strategy, where I plan to end up, my horsemanship goals, etc. etc. etc. I also got some tips on exercises to add to my routine to help with some "trouble-spots" too. Anyhow, the other big thing I talked about was the desire to run a 5k in the future. I feel like I need something really important to mark my progres and success in my fitness. I was thinking a few years out, he thinks I can do it by fall, easily, or sooner. So, my newest goal is to run a 5k by Fall 2010! The plan it to continue what I am doing and add in jogging (on the road).

A woman at work today (in another department) told me she is interested and asked to join me as she has done it in the past and is in need of getting back in shape. I think it is a great idea to have support so I agreed. We are going to use the C25K program (Couch to 5-K). I am not sure we will workout all that often together because of our schedules but, we plan to support each other and check-in to keep us going, give us accountability, and, we plan to run an official 5K together (she is thinking this summer, even if we do a walk/run). I downloaded all of the podcasts from the C25K website and put them on my Blackberry too. They help you do the program, keep you focused, and have music. WOW, this is not anything I'd ever imagined to be possible (or desirable for that matter). I am walking a 5K in June but now, I am talking about actually running! Once I get this under my belt, my next goal wouldprobably be to do a Ride and Tie event (probably next spring/summer? maybe get Clare involved? there are none in New York but I could go to Virginia...two people, one horse, combines trail running, endurance riding, and most of all, strategy).

Okay, so you may be thinking, all talk but how about some real action?! Well, tonight, I am very proud to say that I did my very first C25K workout (even though I was tired from a very long day)! I drove Morgan, my Great Dane to quiet, country road nearby, Rick joined us on his bike, I connected ear buds to my Blackberry, and off we went (Morgan was on a leash)! We survived, feel great, and were definitely challenged. YEAH! I am excited to do this workout again. I'll keep you posted on my progress over the next several weeks. C25K is supposed to be 9 weeks of training but, it will probably take me longer (which is fine).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Freestyle Tasks!

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 playing freestyle! Freestyle, of course, allows the rider to challenge themselves and practice focus, balance, and get an independent seat, it helps the horse find impulsion, allows the horse freedom of expression without interference, helps the rider learn how to stay out of their horse's way and keep them from micromanagement, offers the opportunity for the human to be creative and fun for their horse and allows the horse to have fun with the human, your horse learns to maintain gait, direction, speed, and so much more! You need to learn and be successful in freestyle before you achieve finesse as it helps you work on all of the important parts of the dance! Please, have fun with this, be safe and be savvy! If you have any of the Parelli Levels packs (any of the iterations), Success Series DVDs, Savvy Club DVDs, Parelli Patterns, Mastery Lessons, or other materials, you may want to refer to them as an addition to your studies. And of course, don't forget to go to the Savvy Club Vault or contact a Parelli Professional for assistance!

Here are a few freestyle challenges that you can do with your horse from Parelli's old Achiever's Program located in the old, greenish-colored Parelli Passport. (This is not an exhaustive list, just a few good ones.) They are fun, challenging, and give you something to focus on for the week. And, don't forget last week's task and consider putting yourself on video for self or official assessment (for official assessment, be sure to check the assessment audition criteria prior to submission).

Freestyle Level 1
~Mount your horse from the off-side three times.
~Back your horse 7 steps using one rein.
~Ride a figure-8 pattern with one rein keeping the rein on one side of your horse.
~Trot for 60 seconds with one rein and flip the rein over 4 times.
~Canter your horse a few steps and bend to a stop.

Freestyle Level 2
~Bridle your horse while sitting in a chair.
~Side-pass your horse towards you and mount your horse from a fence.
~Trotting Game: Horse trots, human has arms folded, follow the rail around cones 12 feet from the corner.
~Post-trot a figure-8 pattern using correct diagonals.
~Play the corner to corner game.
~Canter, trot, walk, stop, and back-up on the rail without touching the reins, using the carrot stick, in both directions.


Freestyle Level 3
~Climb all over your horse, rubbing his with your feet, stand on his back, without saddle, bridle, or halter.
~Do simple lead changes with two carrot sticks.
~Jump two, 2-foot jumps with two carrot sticks.
~Circling Game: Four laps in each direction with your arms folded.


*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.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

If you FOLLOW the program, it works.

So, if you follow the program it works. This is true for so many things. If you are practicing Parelli Natural Horsemanship, you know how important following the program is (it is called consistency). Well, this also applies to Weight Watchers...and I know it! This week I worked out like a maniac (45 activity points for you WW people). Unfortunately, I binged, knowingly, on junk. OYE! What is wrong with me?! I know better (and knew better during that time). I was only .8 lbs away from my 15% target and totally blew it. I am so much more fit and having a blast with the horses, why would I set myself back? What an idiot. All well, today marks the start of a new week, and I am moving forward, I am not quitting, and I am not going backwards again. I plan to reach my 15% target (39 lbs lost) by the next meeting, Saturday, May 15, 2010. This means I need to lose 2.4 lbs this week...this is doable, I know I can do it. Whew (I need to remember to breathe), this can be difficult...my new lifestyle is not without its challenges! LOL

After my WW meeting and the 5k practice walk this morning, I went to Hannaford's (our best grocery store) and purchased all kinds of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, and a few new, unique salsas. I have a menu plan in place and feel ready to get back to business and stay completely on program! I am going to workout tonight too!

This week, I pledge to eat right, no binging, and lots of activity this week. I will journal everything, write one victory per day of something I did well, and limit my carb intake (particularly junk carbs). I must remember this is a lifestyle not only for me and my vanity, but for my horsemanship! *SMILES*

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

Week 17: May 1, 2010, Lost 5.8 lbs, *Biggest Loser at Meeting, Total Lost 38.2 lbs

Week 18: May 8, 2010, Gained 1.6 lbs, Total Lost 36.6 lbs

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Parelli and the Derby Winner, Super Saver!

I just learned via Facebook, that this year's Kentucky Derby Winner, Super Saver, is owned by Win Star Farms who happen to be fellow Savvy Club Members! It seems to me that this is a wonderful step in the right direction to show the world that horses exposed to Parelli are not just horses owned by middle-aged women who have them in their backyards (you know you've all heard that one) but so-called "Parelli" horses are also horses who can compete in all kinds of equestrian sports and win! The paradigm shift in the competition world, embracing PNH, is happening , one horse at a time, and not a minute too soon. This race was a win for Super Saver and a win for Parelli Natural Horsemanship...how interesting and exciting! (Some people believe this horse should be renamed, "Super Savvy Saver" and I agree!) So, no matter what you do with your horses, whether you are a backyard horse owner or a Rolex competetor, keep it natural, be savvy, have dignity and integrity, maintain your horse's dignity, be creative, and make sure it is fun for both of you!

Don't forget... this year's Kentucky Derby was the, "most watched in 21 years" according to TVB with NBC logging an estimated 16.5 million viewers..."Jockey Calvin Borel brought three-year-old Super Saver through a rain-soaked sloppy track to win the 136th Kentucky Derby by two-and-a-half lengths"...amazing.

If you are interested in watching the race, CLICK HERE.

If you are interested in Pat Parelli's message about Super Saver, CLICK HERE.

Image from:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/photo/2010-05/53578012.jpg

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

And they're off...The Preakness is May 15th!

The middle jewel of the triple crown is just around the corner--Preakness horse racing! (Can you believe it is already May?) If you've been reading my blog over the years, you know that I used to work at several racetracks and have had many experiences in a variety of roles there (some better than others). I used to even be able to understand the racing form and choose the winning horses, although now, I am not so sure, it's been years since I've bet money on a race (not for any particular reason). Do you have your Preakness picks yet? Are you planning to attend and bet on the race or just hope for a particular horse from the comfort of home? Do you have what it takes for horse race betting or do you just a spectator?

This year's Kentucky Derby was the, "most watched in 21 years" according to TVB with NBC logging an estimated 16.5 million viewers..."Jockey Calvin Borel brought three-year-old Super Saver through a rain-soaked sloppy track to win the 136th Kentucky Derby by two-and-a-half lengths"...amazing. I wonder how many will tune into this race?

The Preakness Stakes is set to run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and is scheduled for the 15th of May with coverage again, by NBC. One noteworthy tradition of this race is to drape the winner with a blanket of black-eyed susans!

So what happens behind the scenes? It really differs from barn to barn for sure. One thing I'd like to encourage is that all of you race horse owners, jockeys, and even just fans, consider a few factors when being involved in this high-level sport such as:

-physical health (is your horse's weight and coat in good condition, is he mature enough to compete?)
-proper nutrition (you are what you eat and so is your horse--pay more and feed better)
-emotional health (what is your horse's horsenality--are you addressing it?)
-clean environment (keep their environment clean at all times, stall, paddock, trailer, etc.)
-appropriate tack (no need for harsh implements with your horse)
-appropriate development and preparation (take the time it takes)
-and so much more!

Let's all hope for a safe course and fun race, the race of the black-eyed susans!

Image from: http://www.preakness.com/

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Weekly Task Challenge: Practice on Video

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 self-assessment! A self-assessment is like a mirror, it is an opportunity to look within youself and be honest about what is going on whether it is at your job, with your horses, in your education...you get the point.

I challenge you to get yourself on video while playing and riding your horse and self-assess! Parelli has self-assessment checklists on the Savvy Club Website that you may consider using. What you see may surprise you. You may find that you are way better than you thought (or much worse). The only way to know is to be brave and video tape yourself! Have fun and don't worry, you don't have to share this video with anyone but yourself (unless you decide to let Parelli assess you and get your levels assessments done). ---another challenge!

*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, May 02, 2010

YIPPIE -- I AM OFFICIALLY A PARELLI LEVEL 3 STUDENT!!


Well, I just heard the word, I've passed Level 2 Freestyle and so, with my previous Level 2 Online pass, I am officially a Parelli Level 3 Student!!! I am very excited and celebrating!

The feedback was totally on track and totally expected. At the time, she was reveling herself as a left-brained introvert but now, she really is a left-brained extrovert primarily (in the lower quadrant) and Parelli's Horsenality Report agrees. (I still have to write about the report but, I've not gotten through it all yet.)

Now, the big secret is, this was my first ride on Lola and my second (or so) in many, many, months. I had just started back to playing with the horses more regularily (after the long winter) and felt a bit out of sorts in general. I was nervous, felt discomblbulated, but, I did have it on tape, and being a Savvy Club Gold member, thought I could just get feedback at no cost should I fail. The funny thing is, I can see many areas that needed improvement but, at the time, I thought it was much, much worse than what it was (it is funny how perception and reality differ). Once I viewed the video, I decided to just send it in. It was not perfect, we could not trot because it was very muddy (but, I did assess Level 1 in the old system and certainly proved my trotting abilities in that--maybe that made a difference? --maybe it is because assessment is not about perfecton?--personally, I don't care. LOL), I could have been more coordinated and athletic, and my heart was pounding while I was on her, about a hundred miles per hour, because we were still getting to know one another which I am sure impacted everything. (I am not feeling like that anymore, not at all, and we've made a great deal of progress since this was taken and are having FUN!---look out, I am going to cruise through level 3--I hope.)
Comments from the Audition Team: "Very nice Michelle! I loved the rapport you have with Lola and she had good expression. As you progress, think... eyes, belly button, leg, then stick instead of reins to correct direction. Give Lola puzzles to solve to create more curiosity."
I agree that we have good rapport and as far as puzzles...yes! My playground is complete!

CLICK HERE to see the Level 2 Freestyle Video (Passed with Lola).

CLICK HERE to see my Level 2 Online Video (Passed with Whiskey).

ClICK HERE to see my Level 1 Video (Passed with Wilbur).