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, June 10, 2010

Look Out...Thresholds Can Sneak Up On You!

My best friend and fellow horse enthusiast/PNHr, Clare (Naturally Gaited) is visiting for the week. We've had a great deal of fun eating healthy, exercising, playing with the horses, watching movies, talking, and spending time on the St. Lawrence River on our pontoon boat! I miss her more than words can express and am sad that she will have to go home, 13+ hours away. This post however, is all about horse time, thresholds, and support.

As you all know, I am a recent Level 2 graduate and thus, a Level 3 PNH student. You would think (as did I) that this would be an open door to progress and fun. Well, for me, it seems to have opened a door to a threshold I didn't know was there (not only for me but, for Lola). I've been playing/riding the horses very little lately in part because of my busy work schedule, in part because of the weather, and in part, because I've been avoiding them. I didn't know what was causing this avoidance behavior until now. When I have spent time with the horses, I would play on the ground, play with patterns, obstacles, treats, etc. Then, I'd typically ride bareback with or without the bareback pad, hacking around the playground, paddock, round pen, or just around the property. I've been extremely concerned about my saddles and not having the right one for any of the horses and thus, have not been using them (nor have I taken the time to truly assess them). Clare was kind enough to bring her Abetta Saddle for me to test ride on Lola during this vacation as she really loves it and thinking it may be a good one for me to consider. (I still really want to purchase a Wintec Extra-Wide with CAIR Panels--well actually, I'd prefer a Parelli saddle but there is just no way I can afford one.)

Anyhow, Clare and I played with Lola. We had a great time on the ground playing in the play ground, taking photos of me with her and on her (bareback) and, on the ground in the round pen. Then, Clare brought out her saddle and Lola and I both got emotional. It snuck up on us I think as this was not an expected feeling during what had been a fun time. She was obsessed with eating grass (she was earlier too as she hadn't been turned out on the grass since the night before). Lola did give the saddle and pad a good sniff and looked it over but, would also walk away while being saddled. Clare's Abetta saddle, overall, was a good fit for Lola although we recognized that we could make some adjustments. It may be another good saddle to purchase in addition to the Wintec XW.

When we were satisfied with the saddle for what we had planned (not too much, just a little point to point, maybe a little walk/trot), I took her to the mounting block. Once there, I stepped up and started feeling overwhelmingly uptight and nervous and Clare could see the change. Lola didn't want to sidle up to me at the mounting block (which is unusual). We both just were not ourselves, not relaxed, and had apparently reached an unknown threshold. We were feeding off each other's energy and this was not good because we were both not emotionally fit, not really. Eventually, I mounted with savvy (and didn't kick her in the butt or anything...lol) and sat there, I gave her a treat. I felt out of sorts and I didn't like being in the saddle, I felt trapped and unsafe. Lola was also worried. Thankfully, Clare was there to help us through whatever had bubbled to the surface. She kindly walked over, talked to both of us in a kind,sweet voice, smiled a lot, tied a savvy string to the halter, reminded me of the passenger position, reminded me of my foot position, reminded me not to tightly gather my reins and to not micromanage (something left over from my English equitation days) and to just relax and enjoy my horse. She lead Lola and I around the round pen offering me words of comfort and Lola carrot cookies (I just had the halter and leadline on her, the lead tied into reins). It didn't take too long and we felt better with each other and I tried so hard to not be direct-line and micromanage Lola but needed Clare's reassurance and coaching to get through it. We ended on a very good note and took Lola to the grass for grazing afterwards.

Isn't it interesting that I feel safer on my horse without a saddle? That I had such strong emotions and a threshold about the saddle? And, that Lola did too? I walked away from this experience, rather than being happy that we made progress and lived through it, but I left feeling very confused, embarrassed, upset, disgusted with myself, and humiliated. I am very hard on myself and Clare asked me a great question, (paraphrasing), "Would I feel towards or treat/talk to anyone like I do to myself?" Of course the answer was of course not. I'd be compassionate, caring, and supportive. But, to myself, I find this to be a challenge, I find it hard to give myself any latitude in any aspect of my life. I feel as if I should be perfect, should not have any thresholds, and constantly challenge myself and hold myself up to the highest standard (at home, work, with the horses, etc.). Anyhow, wow, this is a major emotional fitness issue I really had not considered!

So, where was this all coming from? You are reading the writings of a horse girl from way back, one that can walk, trot, canter, gallop, and jump in a bareback pad (remember my huge TB Wilbur, I used to WTC him, jumped at lessons on another, and WTCG Whiskey of all horses in the mountains in Virginia--and have done the same with other people's horses...a friend's Arab,Charlie in particular--we rode a trail race once at a play date!) I am a balanced and good rider, I've ridden all kinds of horses, trail horses, hunter/jumper, endurance, race horses, etc...now, here I sit, afraid of my saddle and thus my horse's reaction to it? What the heck is that all about? In all fairness, I don't think any of my saddles are the perfect fit but I would have to say none of them should or would cause any of my horses to have a horrible reaction. Clare thinks that perhaps I have some emotional baggage from the St. Jude's Ride when Whiskey went bonkers and, my jumping accident so many years ago when I almost left the world of horses all together. She was thinking in terms of the saddle making riding an official sport whereas the bareback riding is more casual and less particular. Perhaps my mind is playing games with me. Whatever it is, it has to be dealt with, not avoided, and I must and desire to move forward--I will not give up.

OK, so where do we go from here? I am planning on doing some saddle fitting with Clare before she leaves to see how I can make what saddles I do have work (if I can), and we have written a plan for me to follow to start using my saddle and getting back at it once she leaves. I can say that after our exercises, I do feel more confident that the saddle is not an issue and think I can progress now, breaking through that comfort zone threshold that I truly didn't know was there. Let's hope! I also plan to take some private lessons with Kelly Sigler later this summer should the planets correctly align and let it happen! LOL

I guess the moral of this story is, thresholds can sneak up on you and pop up in the strangest places. Avoiding them get you stuck, dealing with them allows you to make progress. Let your ego go, get some help and support, and move forward, it will help you and your horse.


Lisa said...

I stalled *big time* when I passed my L2. For me, it was the mental remnants of what the "old L3" meant. It was tough, it was insane and it was (at least for me) a bit of a pipe dream. And trying and failing would mean *I* had failed. At the one thing I loved more than anything.

If we don't give ourself permission to have thresholds, how can we *truely* understand the thresholds in our horses? If we don't acknowledge and honor our fear and lack of confidence, how can we *truely* do the same for our horses?

If it helps, consider the latitude you offer yourself is developing empathy and feel for any sentient creature subject to the same emotions and challenges. It's learning to feel the fear and make steps towards overcoming it. It's about accepting the lack of confidence and making the effort to grow.

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Thanks,Lisa, as always, a great comment and wonderful support.

I am heading out now to do some saddle fitting assessments with Clare. Hopefully we will have photos and a good story to post!


Natural Manners Horsmanship said...

I know what you mean...you know my story......my threshold came up, and it is like the great wall of CHINA. I am having so much difficulty getting over it. Around it seems impossible, there are no cracks left unguarded....so over is the only way. Since I am not an action movie hero....it is hard! Lisa put it into perspective what I think....THINK....is going on with me........afraid to try......because I am afraid to fail. I cannot bear the thought of failing at the thing I love and want the most. though because of my denial.....it seems to be all I do. What an oxy moron! I don't think I love myself enough to acknowlege my merits.

BTW.......think of Billy Crystal's voice and hear this.........

You Look FABULOUS! I love your new pics! You must feel terrific. the only image I have of you, is of your online audition. Your freestyle was so far away from the camera. And though we have never met, and likely never will. YOU LOOK FABULOUS.......congrats on your weight loss!

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Michelle (Natural Manners),

Thank you for your kind words. I am feeling great too. I love what Lisa is saying, " And trying and failing would mean *I* had failed. At the one thing I loved more than anything." That is something I can identify with. Whew, horses really do make you think, hard!

Parelli Central said...

Sounds like your figuring it all out, never ending self improvement right? Keep it up and hopefully we'll see you in a fast track course soon.

Parelli Mastery Program

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Hi Hillary--I am trying! I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to come to a fast track course...was actually looking that information up the other day. I would bring Lola and probably not want to leave! It is simply, financially, out of reach. :(


inchwormwv said...

Michelle, thanks for being emotionally fit enough to share this part of your horsemanship. I feel as if you and Lisa could be talking about me! I took a clinic with Kelly Sigler, and felt close to tears the whole weekend. It really helped to have her support and knowledge, as I was really stuck with Augie and reluctant to spend time with him as I had no plan. Since getting her help I have retreated to fixing some holes in our L1 and I am much calmer, and spending more time with him and feel as though I have a plan. Even though I passed L2 with Thunder, Augie and I have only had 10 rides together and are basically starting L2 freestyle. So thanks for making me feel not so alone. I highly recommend the private lessons - a semi-private or clinic will not give you the hands-on one on one that you will greatly benefit from! Can't wait to read your next post!

Michelle AKA arabhorselover1 said...

Thank you, Tenley, you sharing wiht me is also helpful. I truly hope to make it to the private lessons with Kelly in August. It will be a long trip to get there but, should prove to be very useful.


Parelli Central said...

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