About Me

My photo
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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Seven Games Are Important!

Here is a great example of why playing the seven games (about million different ways) is important for your horse. (These are traveling via airplane.) Now, I've never flown a horse before and I'm told there are many different configurations for such a journey.  The image above it to press a point that the seven games and horsemanship is way more than riding. These are close and potentially frightening quarters, could your horse handle it?  Could you?

When we moved from Virginia to New York, my horses were shipped ahead of me.  The hauler was Parelli Level 1 at least but still, his goals were put in front of his principles and rather than allow me to take the time it takes with the last horse to load (we were sending three), he shoved me out of the way and made a good situation horrific.  I am only thankful that when I was able to take the situation back over, that my horse and I had the language foundation *the seven games) to work together and resolve the conflict. The trailer was nice but not exactly a pent house in size.  My horse knew how to load but did not trust the leadership of the hauler. Anyhow....

Remember, the seven games are not seven tasks or boring tortures, be provocative, creative, and explore the thousands of ways to play with your horse....change the order, experiment, the only limitation is you! :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter Storm Euclid -- WOW!

Winter Storm Euclid is here and we've got about two feet of snow already! The horses are seen here watching Morgan (my Great Dane) and I trudge our way to the barn (I used my snowshoes). We have not seen snow like this since living up here and wow!!! Looks like there will be a lot of shoveling, snow blowing, and plowing in the coming days.  I will certainly take advantage through and ski or snowshoe every day. Stay warm folks!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May your horses be fat and happy, your skills savvy, and your partnerships full of harmony! We have many projects and plans and look forward to sharing with you in 2013! Yours forever naturally, Michelle and Rick

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bucking - wahoo!

The image is the work of Jean Abernethy http://www.jeanabernethy.com/

Does your horse buck out of fear or defiance? What are a few things you could do if your horse starts to buck? I'm thinking emergency dismount or get in the passenger position! Check out what Pat Parelli has to say about it! Be safe, be savvy! http://www.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/video/horse-bucking/

Friday, December 21, 2012

And Then We Were One

Today, was the day, the first time since Rick installed the masonry sand in the indoor arena that I could actually use it.  We don't have the electricity installed yet which means no lights.  But, I didn't have to work today and was able to go out and play.  The arena was a bit dim because the sky lights were covered in snow and it was very gray out but, the sky-band allowed enough in to make it doable.

I went out with a plan which was to play with Lola in the arena.  Sure, in my dreams I would go out there, ride like the wind, and all would be glorious. In reality, I went out with no major expectations for a few reasons. The first, I have not been playing with her regularly, second, there was certain to be herd-bound issues taking her from the boys, third, I didn't want to set myself up (or Lola) for disappointment.

Getting into the arena was going to be a puzzle in itself.  Since I haven't finished the horse barn yet, we are using it to store those items that should be in the Quonset Hut where the horses are still residing (boat, kayaks, lawn tractor, etc., you get the idea). This made going through that area not an option.  I could take her through the huge sliding doors on the arena but, that is a bit of a hassle.  So, I opted to enter through the third stall, the one closest to the arena.  What this meant was squeezing past the four wheeler and other various items in the Quonset hut, walking across the slushy, icy driveway to the new barn/arena. entering through the stall from the dutch door, and then exiting out the stall door, past the rear of my pontoon boat, and into the arena.....all unfamiliar territory for Lola. (And, not to forget Whiskey and Fosse were certain to call out, run like maniacs, and cause a scene!) Can you already envision why the seven games, puzzles, and patterns are so important?! They were going to be used just to get to the arena let alone used when we got there!

Before taking Lola, I took a wheel barrow and wheeled some cones, a 22 ft line, and a few cookies over. I unlocked the dutch door and made sure everything looked passable and safe. Then I returned to the Quonset Hut.  At first, Fosse acted interested and I almost took him instead.  Whiskey was curious.  Lola came in from outside and pushed past the two boys, practically threw her head into the halter and was basically asking to go do something, anything....I am sure she has been bored silly!

So, off we went.  Just like I told you, we had a great deal of challenges just to get to our location.  I believe we were both a little tense, checking each other out, being cautious to get there in one piece, but made it, as a team. She walked like an angel and paid attention to me.  I was patient once we got to the barn and thought to myself, "nose, neck, maybe feet" when we got to the dutch door and stall.  Not until I had my horse with me did I realize how dark it looked from outside to inside but she took one look, looked at me questioning her next move, I asked her to come in and she did.  Then to the next challenge, out of the stall, past the rear of the boat, and into the arena.  She willing went although was a bit anxious once in the arena but, not too terribly much. (The boys were, as expected carrying on a bit.) I slide the large diving door that is between the arena and horse barn and there we were, horse and human in unfamiliar territory, together.

I decided that just getting there was really good. So, rather than just push her into a session, I took her halter off, asking for flexion of course, and let her do whatever she wanted to while I mosied around the arena setting up barrels and cones. I wanted to remain in neutral and observe her so that is precisely what I did.  I was thinking about how Pat Parelli gives the horses time to compose themselves while offering leadership when needed. She tore off like a lunatic after I signaled her that it was okay to leave.  She bucked, squealed, galloped, and really enjoyed herself.  She was playful and hilarious.  I tried to take a few photos but they were nothing but a blur. She exhibited a bit of herd-bound anxiety too as she kept looking at the walls, probably from hearing the other horses. She also called but, hey were calling far more than what she as. I ignored her but kept a watchful eye, and just went about my business.  She looked fabulous and the footing worked out great.  Not dusty, plenty of traction.

I know she liked it, her tail was held high (like the Arabian she isn't, lol) and her posture was far more beautiful than I had seen in months.  I am telling you, this Quarter Horse does have similarities to my Arabians, partially what made me fall in love with her. She was floating on air! Wow, what a gorgeous and amazing horse I have was what went through my mind. At this point, I felt good and like it was a good day with Lola.  I know, many of you reading this are probably thinking we hadn't done anything yet but to me we had. I decided that if this was all we did today, it was a good set-up for tomorrow.  Then, as I finished setting up the cones, she approached me. checking me out. This session so far was much like an undemanding time-type interaction and she needed that.  I pet her head and neck only after she touched me, then off I went.  She ran around a bit more and then with much more frequency kept checking in, kept asking to engage.  I eventually knew it was time for the next step because being with me was her idea. Much like a marriage, you want your horse, your partner, to want to be with you, you don't want to force the interaction.

I haltered Lola and used my 22 foot line.  She was ready to come together and play.  We did friendly game (of course), sideways on the rail, squeeze with the wall, barrels, and other obstacles.  She even offered to walk over smaller barrels and through off-set larger ones...a first for her as she tends to avoid having to pick up her feet! LOL She really was working through games and puzzles, asking questions.  We did the figure-8 pattern, circling, and even used the ride the rail pattern (but I was on the ground in zone three).  The more I listened and remembered principles before goals, the more I took the time to remember my horse's horsenality, the more I became particular but not critical, my horse responded.  Once I felt like we'd accomplished a great deal (and remember we were losing light every minute), I took her halter off again.  This time, she was not running around like a lunatic looking for the other horses, this time, she was totally into me.  I started to walk and she stuck to me.  I knew I could take advantage of this connection and have a liberty session.  The liberty session was much like the online session and she stayed with me.  I also worked on mirroring her foot falls, it was really neat, we were no longer a horse and a human in an arena, we were one. I have never seen her lick and chew as much as she did tonight.  It was incredible, she was really awesome and really being a partner. I think I was doing a great deal of it too, being very aware of everything Pat and Linda have taught me, being aware of everything I had been reviewing, particularly the psychology of it all.

She was never spooky, not when working through the obstacle to get there, not when we played together and worked right up in the corners and in and around obstacles, not when Rick showed up unexpectedly and slid the huge dividing door, not when the snow flying off the roof and making noise, and not even when she was acting a bit herd bound. she was not spooked! She is a real gem.

Almost out of light at this point, it was time to head back.  I haltered her, gave her a few cookies and off we went. Past the boat, through the stall, locking up, and then over to the Quonset Hut, past the 4-wheeler and back into the horse area.  The boys were just outside and once they knew we were inside, they ran in and right up to her.  I gave everyone a few peppermint candies, fed them some hay, and went back to the house.

I know, to many, this does not seem like a huge deal but to me, it was and to Lola too I believe.  One really great step in the right direction and back on track.  I am so grateful for the Parelli program and so happy to be restarting my journey with a vision, with a great facility, and with great horses...and my partner, Lola. I am off for several days due to the holiday which means I will have more horse time...I cannot wait until tomorrow!

About a week ago I printed off the level three audition checklists and an making a plan to tape.  Lola and I are finally going to start auditioning again.I am excited that I have been and am so pleased to be taking my horse time back!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Level Three Here I Come!

Level three Parelli audition checklists are now printed...I am off to make a plan, start playing, and get taping! I am excited and more than ready to get back at it...auditions here we come...everything else is just going to have to wait because I am taking my horsey time back in 2013!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The to-do list!

Things are moving right along here at Natural Horse Lover Farm.  We had a couple month hiatus on projects because of visitors, work, and weather but we are now getting back at it! The weather has been pretty mild here so Rick and I decided we could start getting things done on the farm that are not dictated by weather and temperatures (not too much anyway).

So, we are in the process of planning a big event with a Parelli Professional in the Fall of 2013 (more info on that as I know it). What this means for us is that we have some major projects to complete! Not everything on the list will have to be done by then but wouldn't that be nice?! 

On Friday, we had masonry sand delivered for the indoor riding arena.  Rick is working on leveling the current stone-dust foundation and will then put in the sand. We've found a contact for mineral oil to use in the arena and just need to have it shipped. Next up, if the weather holds out, will be installing gutters on the horse barn, getting the water and electric connections to the barn, and then over the spring, installing lighting, varnish the wood in the barn and arena, and level the stalls and install mats (or stall skins--not sure yet). 

We also need to build out the wash rack, classroom/lounge space, and tack area. The wash rack will be walled with white/bathroom board and I'd like to install some kind of storage system in this space. The classroom plans are technology, a floating wooden floor, comfort and practical working space. I have ideas but am not completely set on what to do in this space.  Without heat, amazing light comes but with heat, I'd have to put in a ceiling and that would block the gorgeous peaked roof and skylights so....I just don't know! The tack area will in all likelihood be in the first space when you enter the barn through the man-door. Another project will be installing some sort of pavers in the aisle (but the aisle is certainly usable the way it is right now (gravel). We opted to not install concrete floors in the building. Our Quonset Hut Barn has a concrete floor and drainage is an issue.

We also are in the process of creating and recreating outdoor spaces.  The fencing was removed to build the arena and horse barn so, that has to go back up, we have a fence to put in the front end of the property, and other areas. We will be re-purposing the front paddock for a precision-patterns pen, are interested in putting up a panel round corral instead of out temporary fenced round corral, and plan to install a small dressage arena up in the big field.  Jumps in the big field may be a nice addition and of course, we have to put the outdoor playground back together---which will mean clearing more areas as the new buildings consumed some of the playground!

A farm sign is another thing on my list.  I've looked at several different kinds and the pricing varies just as much as the types! I'll be sure to take a photo when we get the sign up.

(Oh, and then there is the to-do list of horse time, assessment, and progress! LOL)

What I didn't mention was all the other work on the other buildings on the property and house.  trust me, we will never run out of things to do! But, that is how we like it.  Never-ending self-improvement in so many aspects of our lives! :)

In any event, our to-do list is huge!  For more on us and what is going on, go to our website naturalhorseloverfarm.com 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Studying Like Crazy and Loving It!

I've been catching up and studying like crazy lately and it feels great.  On the way to and from work I am listening to the Parelli audio CDs.  If you haven't listened to yours lately, please do.  For me, they are inspirational and seem to speak to me at every turn.  It is like Pat, Linda, and their guests are all in my head sharing my journey and identifying with me all the way.  I've also been watching Savvy Club DVDs and as with the audio, I feel so very connected to the program and to my journey. In addition to these two key study habits, I am rereading the Savvy Times, Mastery Manuals, and other materials.  next up is to revisit the Horsenality/Humanality reports, redo my horses' horsenality charts, and look at the levels and pattern products again.  There are also several books I want to read again. I am reframing my journey, taking responsibility for it, and preparing for major progress ad movement forward! I feel like my plan to take my horse-life back in 2013 is well on its way! YEAH! I plan to get through level 4 this year....or bust! HAHA

So, what have you done lately in your study of natural horsemanship?  Anything I'm missing that I should be looking at?  Let me know! Want to study together? Let me know! What to hold a clinic at my farm--please, contact me!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Are you interested in learning and growing in your horsemanship? Do you want to partner with your horse and make your dreams come true? Then why not attend an event at Natural Horse Lover Farm?! - No Parelli experience necessary!

We are in the planning phases of bringing ★★★ Three-Star Parelli Professional Mollie Vacco ★★★ to Natural Horse Lover Farm in 2013!!! http://www.parelliinstructornewyork.com/ If you are interested or know someone that may be, please let me know! THIS IS A CALL FOR INTEREST! I need to know what you'd be looking for (2-Day Clinic, 3-Hour workshop, Private Lessons, Auditing), what topics of interest, and if you prefer spring, fall, or both! If you have any other ideas, please let me know! Thank you! EMAIL me at: michelle@naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Friday, November 30, 2012



We are trying to win technology resources to support our classroom/library teaching space at Natural Horse Lover Farm http://naturalhorseloverfarm.com

Our wish is to receive funding to purchase technology to enhance the teaching/lecture portion of our horse business. We are developing a classroom/library learning setting and need technological infrastructure for viewing of training materials, lectures, sound system, and more. Our farm is one that encourages natural horsemanship education and practices that can be applied to all disciplines. We pride ourselves on being able to offer a safe, learning/sharing environment.

Here is the link to vote http://on.fb.me/TuPCgA to vote for us. 

There are only two days left, you can vote everyday. They are granting 15 wishes. We have 35 votes right now but popular ones are up to 100+. I just learned about the contest so, am far behind. Thanks in advance for considering - tell your friends!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Savvy Challenge: It's not just about grooming...

I had a lovely grooming session on Thanksgiving with my horses.  Not only did I have a great time being with them, they seemed to love it and looked fantastic afterwards. I even was fortunate enough to have one of our guests join me - and she told me the activity just made her day! It was a nice way to spend a little time on the holiday knowing that I didn't have the entire day for horse time. I primarily groomed Fosse who was a bit aloof at first and she groomed Whiskey and Lola who couldn't get enough of the attention and were laying their heads on one another in pure bliss. I had to play a little approach and retreat with him among other things and I thought, what a great task challenge!  Yes, I could have just caught him, tied him, and got the job done but what fun would that have been?  None in my opinion.

When you groom your horse, what do you do, really, think about it. Do you ask permission first? Do you ask permission to enter the horse's space, to halter (if you do), and to touch them with all of those grooming tools? (I do and for this session in particular, it was just what Fosse needed.) Often times, people grab their grooming tools, halter the horse, and go get the job done - a very direct-line approach and not all too savvy.The job gets done but there is something missing when your partner may not have had a choice or may not be into it. Can you imagine someone trying to rub all over you when you weren't into it? ---yuck! I've seem Linda Parelli use scratches and savvy with Remmer when he wasn't into being with her and his mind was easily swayed with some passive politeness. Grooming could just be that, but, it is also friendly game and can lead into a great online session that can lead into a great riding session too....really, all of this stuff translates if you just think about it and take the time. You can even groom while playing online puzzles not to mention from horseback!  Be creative people!

This week's task is to groom the savvy way! The rules of the game are to ask your horse's permission to approach (whether in a stall or outside), halter politely and with savvy allowing the horse to halter himself by placing his nose in the halter (don't forget flexion), then, before grooming, show your horse each tool, let him sniff, bite, lick, or do whatever he wants to it, then use approach and retreat to groom. Remember to put your heart in your hand and then touch your horse. (Haltering is optional.  I don't typically halter for grooming but, haltering the savvy way is certainly another fantastic dimension to your relationship and there are many things you can do to play this game.) Pay particular attention to your horse's reaction, are there tricky areas? Are you able to touch all zones of the horse without opposition reflex? This awareness and polite behavior on your part will endear your horse to you. grooming should be about friendliness and love, not just a simple task (or job).

Parelli-related materials on this subject can be found everywhere but, it is a basic skill. Go back to Level 1/2 if you have to, it is okay to review basics no matter how far along you are, this is a foundation skill (in my opinion) and has true impact on the relationship.

One tip related to the actual grooming, I've never forgotten is to use your fingers in your horse's mane and should you desire them to be long. To this day, I do this and have three horses with beautiful, natural, long manes and tails.

Here are a few grooming links that may be helpful too:


Monday, November 19, 2012

RIP James Roberts, 3-Star Parelli Professional

Very sad news today...Please, go hug your horse, hug your loved ones, and live life to its fullest....you just never know how long you have. RIP James Roberts - A very talented 3-Star Parelli Professional. How I found out was reading Facebook this morning and read Pat Parelli's post, "When I woke up this morning Linda sent me a message from Italy, she informed me that on of our 3 star instructors James Roberts from the UK got killed in an auto accident last night. My condolences to his family and close friends. This should remind all of us to live our lives to the fullest and to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us every day." Here is a lovely article that our fallen Parelli Professional, James Roberts wrote a few weeks ago. Although I did not know him, there is a kind of kinship that comes with following the Parelli path and I somehow feel like each and every one of you are part of me and my life. My sadness runs deep today knowing that an individual such as James has been lost, such a shame and tragedy. "My Mentors and Influences" by James Roberts

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Active Engagement & Purposeful Play

Did you get any horse time in today? The weather here in Northern New York is unseasonably warm. Sunny and in the mid-forties - and should be all week. Here's a pic of the horses after a very interesting, revealing, and productive play session this afternoon.  I'd have pictures of that but I have no photographer! Each one has a different horsenality and teaches me something new every time we are together. And, oh boy, we've got a lot of catching up to do together! 2012 was not our year but 2013 look out!!!

My intention when going out was to engage with Lola on the ground first and then ride. I brought out the bareback pad, carrot stick, twenty-foot line with halter and the three horses met me in the barn.  I tacked her up and off we went, out to the big field for a change in venue. We first passed through where the chickens hang-out --chickens are a great way to desensitize your horse to birds. Anyhow, we mosied out into the field and I asked her for a sideways squeeze along the brush and fence, a challenge that she was up for.  Then, chaos started....its all good, lol. Fosse and Whiskey ran into the field full steam ahead towards us and they were full of themselves. You could hear the thunder of their hooves as they approached and Lola's demeanor immediately changed.  Needless to say, Lola was a handful now but, I used this as an opportunity to work on my leadership with her.  I used backing yo-yo and a lot of neutral to help calm her. I also used approach and retreat and she did well and although the boys were still feisty, they we less than when they first approached.  All horses had their fair share of blowing and snorting - Lola being no exception.

We moved along (boys in tow) and I asked for a circle.  My intention was only for her to walk but she felt different about it. She gets very defiant if she has other ideas and tests leadership to the extreme. She was running, rearing, bucking, squealing, pulling, and acting like a total psycho brat! Back when I first got her, I was afraid of this behavior but now, I've got her number.  I know she isn't right-brained and fearful, she is left-brained, defiant, and waivers between introvert/extrovert. This behavior of acting out happens particularly when I've not spent time really working with her (can you say most of the year---it has been tough this year, so sad). Anyhow, I know how to manage her when she is like this and she is not for a beginner for sure, not for the faint of heart, but is for me.  She's a tester and I don't mind - keeps things interesting.

I am happy to report that eventually, I was able to get a nice circling game at the walk both near and far, falling leaf pattern, and s-pattern from her, and she was calm and thinking and being a partner. She did a nice sideways, very nice yo-yo, and friendly and porcupine were also there. Slow and right beats fast and wrong and this was especially true today. The seven games were very useful but done with purpose.  We used the landscape, field, sand pit, fence line, and the other horses, taking advantage not only of the games theory but of patterns. I remembered how necessary being in the proper position was and that neutral is highly effective. I also found myself, as I always do, reciting Pat Parelli's saying in my head to keep focused.  I never once felt frustrated or angry, just fascinated, to me, a true judge of how I've grown over the years.

Lola and I even had some liberty time together and she was with me, trotting and walking, and having a good time.  She could have easily left for good and went to the barn but she didn't, not initially. She stayed while I played with the boys and left with them to the barn when we were done.  But, she came back, to me, without them. Then they came back. We played this back and forth for a bit too.....kind of a long distance version of undemanding time and engagement upon the horses' discretion. Our relationship stronger and our partnership stronger than when we started - not to mention the leadership role was 51% - me, 49% - her.

I didn't ride.  I could have but I decided that all the time and effort spent had come to its natural and good conclusion today.  To push the relationship further at that moment would have achieved nothing but allowing me to ride and there is far more to the bigger picture at stake.  Lola really worked through a lot of emotions and feelings and processed a great deal.  I have never seen her lick and chew as much as I did today, not ever, she got her self so worked up before she would engage that she was panting.  And, because I truly believe in principles before goals, I stopped, at the right moment, just shy of my riding goal but with the knowledge that we, as a team, had a very successful afternoon, something to build on the foundation of everything to come.

I had time enough to also play with Fosse and Whiskey.  Pretty much did the same as with her but with different challenges due to their horsenalities and I did not spend nearly the same amount of time. It is interesting but not surprising how they challenge my leadership since I've not engaged with them in more "proper" play. The light was disappearing quickly so I cut things short and headed back to the barn to put the equipment away and feed. I felt satisfied that they too were having fun and that is a great way to end it.  Not to mention, all the liberty  play they got when I had Lola online.  At one point, when Lola was circling nicely, Whiskey would pass through and walk over the line as she circled, that was interesting!  He also would try to get in our way and I'd just work around him giving Lola and I yet another puzzle to ponder. Fun times! I do realize that I need to have one-on-one horse time too and I often don't do that. I just love being with them all I guess!

We see each other all of the time and I use my PNH skills in every interaction but active engagement is different. It is purposeful play and that is what we all did today.Principles were in tact and the goal changed but, overall the sessions were very successful and that is all that counts.  Everyone (human and horses) left with a feeling of pride, satisfaction, joy, and love. Leadership was valued and not used as power, and our language and communication with one another, clear.

I have been watching Parelli DVDs every other day and have been really enjoying them very much.  I have a lot of planning and work to do in the coming year as I intend to continue an active pursuit of my horsemanship dreams. I realize that I am in it alone and that is okay, it has to be. Waiting for a Parelli friend to materialize up here to play with and learn with is unrealistic and that is okay, there must be a reason for this challenge, and I am up for it. (Unless Clare, my best friend, wants to leave Virginia for parts north! :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's all fun and games! - Free your mind!

Are you speaking the same language as your horse? I had a fun time this evening with my horse Lola. We played at liberty working on backing, straight, from all zones using several Parelli Games. For those of you that think Parelli is nothing but 7 games you are really missing out...there are thousands of ways to play with your horse on the ground and in the saddle! You must free your mind, be creative and let your horse reveal itself!

Search the blog to learn more and then get the heck off your computer and play with your horse - even if you only have a few minutes.  You'll walk away happy and so will your horse.

P.S. Raise your hand if you'd like me to start posting challenges like I used to! (Do you remember the weekly challenge?) If you don't know what to do, have little time, or are just feeling stuck, my task challenges may be a way to at least do something with your horse! (It just may motivate you to do more.) Anyhow, let me know!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Steps to make progress...in everything!

I am working very hard to incorporate everything I love in my life and achieve success, including work but not only my work.  It makes things busy but I like it.  I started thinking about my goal to learning the French language.  Every day I do some kind of exercise, game, quiz, or reading that focuses on my learning French and it is working. In my attempt to take some of my life back from everyone and everything in my life, I am making sure that I work on all of my goals, every day (particularly, Parelli and healthier living).  

So, for horsemanship tonight, I am watching another Parelli Savvy Club DVD, very motivational for sure. I cleaned the barn, groomed the horses, and fed everyone. Instead of TV reruns, it's Parelli or bust! I have been doing this every day and I am getting a great feeling of motivation back...almost like I have permission to invest time again in my horses and myself again, like I should be, like I used to (this year was really screwed up!).

I love Parelli Natural Horsemanship and practice it all of the time, at feeding time, play time, riding time, etc! No matter the length of time I am with my horses, I put principles before goals and incorporate love, language, and leadership. I use psychology to do things instead of mechanics and/or force. I try to always attain a mental connection with my horse --be provocative and interesting - I try to always have fun and accomplish my desires while maintaining my dignity and my horse's dignity. And now, I am making a conscious effort to get back at active learning! (again)

For my healthy living journey, I started working out again, walking the dog (Morgan my Great Dane), and doing my workout videos, something everyday!  And, if I plan for a higher calorie meal (like tonight--Rick's smoked-BBQ ribs), I eat  low calorie throughout that day to compensate for my dinner - calories in and out. 

And, I finally got back to the gym this morning. I killed it - 90 minutes and worked hard!!!! All before work. I feel so awesome and almost broke into tears when I was there...tears of joy and accomplishment. I walked Morgan in the woods when I got home....we had a blast! 

So all-in-all, I am trying to map our my goals but dedicating time, every day, for everything...steps to make progress.....just a quick check-in post tonight, more later!

Friday, November 09, 2012

You and Your Horse - FITNESS TIME!

I've been having a so-so week. But in the last few days, I've finally taken my control back and I really mean it, I am feeling much better. I cannot believe it but it is true. It has been months and months of struggle - probably longer than that! I am exhausted all of the time, always busy, and fell like I've lost a piece of myself. I have been soul-searching a lot lately about my life in general. And, of course, the weight-loss issue is a serious one and a thorn in my side. it not only affects my health, it impacts my horsemanship.

I have been back at WW meetings for two months and have still been having trouble getting my act together. One obvious question for me was whether WW was still for me - I fear I've become complacent and bored with it. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the program. I also believe that in theory, I typically live the program's good health guidelines, but have struggled recently with always making a wise decision and have been very challenged with getting back into my exercise regimen - primarily, in my opinion, because of my lack of proper sleep - I don't seem to sleep anymore.

Anyhow, I have been wearing my Body Media Fit (BMF) armband device but found that tracking WW points and tracking on their site a pain in the neck. Just tracking WW points defeats the purpose of using the BMF but using just their site was not exactly great either. (Can you see the complication already - I've in essence created an additional layer of work and stress! - go figure, lol.) Well, I found out, purely by accident, that the Body Media is now supporting 3rd party applications including My Fitness Pal (MFP). I connected a MFP account with the BMF account a few days ago and now I journal on MFP and my armband keeps track of activity. The programs sync and I can monitor progress from either website taking advantage of each site's benefits. The MFP site also has great message boards and other features that Body Media lacks. And, I can stop counting points.

If you were wondering, I have used WW Online (or e-Tools) several times and it is a nice site too but does not support my armband. I am a data junky (one of the hazards of being an academic library director) and the BMF and MFP really both give me far more, much needed, feedback - graphs, charts, etc.

In thinking a great deal about all of this, I have finally found something to keep my attention which is highly necessary for me. I am not certain that I will continue to attend WW meetings. I would like to continue to touch base on the WW Facebook group I manage but, I finally have found a way to re-frame my goals and focus attention on myself again using the technologies I wrote about.

I am trying to get my life back, I need to take time back, time for me, and time for my horses.  I work constantly, and am always on the run, and I need my sanity, need my health, and need my horses! Saturday meetings take up, at minimum, 2 hours of my day. I understand that is "me time" but I'd rather be in the barn frankly and with the schedule I am running right now, that isn't happening. This is not a decision that I have entered into lightly. I understand that I have to keep at it but I think I can using the tools I have, the new tools I now use, and with you all here.

My next post will be about how I am going to take my horse time back, how I am going to re-energize, my study and assessment plan, about what my horses' fitness plans will be, and so forth - stay tuned and stay savvy! Beware, I'll be posting more regularly again! LOL (If you have anything you'd like me to write about, please don't be shy, let me know!)

A Little Further Reading:

Fitness and Confidence: Is your horse fit enough - are you?

Exercise for the Rider

Exercise Keeps the Universe in Balance

Fitness For You and Your Horse: The Foundation For all Horse Activities

Have You Ever Asked Yourself...Does My Horse Make My Butt Look Big? Physical Fitness for True Partnership - Undeniable Truths

How Much Weight Can a Horse Carry?

An Easy Equine Fitness Plan

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

And then, I heard, SNAP!

My horses always leave my heart totally satisfied. It could be a minute or hours, they always make everything better. Life has been a bit rough lately. I am working constantly not only in the office but when I get home. I have had little time for anything else. I love my career but, I miss my horses. I have been neglecting my healthy living goals, not working out as much I should, some barn projects are on hold until spring, and frankly, I have been sad and very lonely for my Parelli friends....the ones I used to hang out with....Clare and Tenley to name two. It is hard to live in a non-Parelli region.

Tonight, I bundled up and went up to the barn to feed and do a little hoof trimming. I trimmed Lola's front hooves first and as usual, especially because I have spent little time with her lately, she tested my leadership skills with a variety of things. She gave me quite a time but, I just kept thinking, how interesting, Lola is giving me puzzles to work through so, I gave her a few too. The run-in area of the Quonset hut is just large enough to play on the ground and so, we did while also getting the task at hand done. I think she will test me forever which is fabulous.

Anyhow, after I did her fronts hooves, I felt that we both needed a break from one another. Plus, she always gets a little jealous if I divert my attention to another horse! Whiskey and Fosse were hanging around, of course. Whiskey's fronts were done the other day but, flies were biting us and therefore, I never finished. So, I trimmed his rear hooves tonight. As I was doing so, Lola was laying her head on him, staring at me, lol. She is quite a character and I love her - even if at times, she drives me a bit nuts (I.E. her hoof trimming antics tonight.) anyhow, when she tired of staring, she walked around behind me. There I was, bent over, trimming Whiskey who, I might add, was a complete angel (but in his younger years he had his moments too), and anyhow, I feel Lola rubbing my back with her lips. She has done this before so I was not surprised until I heard and felt, SNAP! She snapped my underwear elastic and not just once! I am surprised she didn't try to give me a wedgie! This horse is hilarious and so much fun. Anyhow, I laughed and gave her a big smile and a good scratch. After finishing Whiskey, I completed the job on Lola with few issues. Fosse will in all likelihood be done tomorrow night after work.

So, the next time you see your horse and things don't go exactly to plan, remember to never feel frustrated, just say to yourself, as Linda Parelli says, "how interesting" and find a way to turn the moment into a teaching moment, into a fun moment!

Feel, Think, Act, and Play Like A Horse! --PARELLI!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

So, who wants to come and play?

This is a photo of Fosse, the first horse in the new arena, is checking it out for the first time tonight! Lola and Whiskey were jealous; calling to him...he whinnied to them just once. Time to break out the obstacles, tack, etc. and enjoy it!

We have more to do and some things will wait for spring but, all in good time, right?

For more photos, please surf the blog archives.  You can also visit us on our website Natural Horse Lover Farm http://naturalhorseloverfarm.com/ or go to our Facebook Page:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Website and Facebook Page - Have you seen them yet?

I've launched a new farm website called Natural Horse Lover Farm at http://naturalhorseloverfarm.com/. Come check it out! 

I've also launched a new Facebook page.  So if you like social media, come like us at Natural Horse Lover Farm https://www.facebook.com/NaturalHorseLoverFarm

And, don't worry, the blog is not going away! If you have topic ideas, let me know! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Principles Before Goals for The Best Life Ever

I always remind people that one of the tenants of natural horsemanship is "principles before goals." I learned this from Pat Parelli long ago and truly believe it. All too often, I see horse people putting their goals before their principles and sacrifice their horse in some way to achieve them. It is a sad state of affairs and another example of human greed and ignorance. Repeat after me and 
believe it, live it, always, "principles before goals, no matter what, period, no buts about it!"

1. A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.
2. A rule or belief governing one's personal behavior.

This morning, a few Parelli friends posted this on their Facebook walls and I wanted to share with you all. Thanks everyone!

"Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it's who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment." ~Anthony Robbins

Monday, October 08, 2012

To blanket or not to blanket? Now that is the question!

One of the big debates is whether to blanket or not. I've seen different sides of this issue and have spoken to many people and their criteria varies widely. A dry horse is a healthy horse so adequate protection from the elements and a healthy coat should suffice.  Horse fed a good quality diet with appropriate protein tend to grow a thick, winter coat that with its natural body oils, can shed moisture. I have blanketed on and off for years with some years not using them at all.  I like to judge what kind of shelter my horses have the temperature, as well as the weather forecast.  In Virginia they had shelter but it was smaller and there was usually a horse kicked out (and that varied) so I blanketed more often. Here in Northern New York, our climate is far colder in the winter. If it is sunny but cold, I don't worry much as they always have access to shelter. If it is wet out but above zero, I don't blanket as they have a large area to access shelter and no one is typically kicked out. When the temperatures start heading below zero (and it can reach 40 below zero Fahrenheit), I blanket.  I also closely monitor body weight and if a horse is seemingly thinning, I am certain to blanket that horse and will also address the nutritional issue. I also tend to blanket old horses. For me, this is a case by case, season by season issue.  Last yer we had a mild winter, I never blanketed once. I truly prefer to allow a horse to develop a natural coat as I believe that Mother Nature usually knows best. :)

There are many types of blankets to consider so be aware of what its purpose is.  Is it a stable blanket, intended for in-barn use only, a light, medium, or heavy weight rug for outdoors, do you need to buy a full hood or neck cover? All good questions and things to consider.  What is your price range-=now there is huge variance in this.  Not all blankets are created equal but I don't believe you need to spend a million bucks either.  I prefer Weatherbeeta but have had great luck with Rider's International as well. but you decide for yourself what brand suits your horse best. 

Fitting the blanket is vitally important.  A blanket that is too large or small can cause terrible rubbing on our horse making the experience far worse than leaving ell enough alone and not blanketing at all.

From Dover Saddlery:

How to Measure Your Horse and Fit Your Blanket
The fit of your blanket is extremely important to the comfort of your horse. Improperly fitting blankets can cause rubbing and slippage. To find blanket size, measure distance from center of the chest, across the point of the shoulder, and to the center of the tail. Many blankets are sized in two or three inch
increments, so choose the closest size available.

Care of Your Blanket
Blankets should be cleaned annually. First, remove excess dirt with a brush or hose, then wash by hand or on a delicate cool water cycle. Use very mild soap. Allow to drip dry. Do not put blankets in the dryer as this will damage the waterproof coating and void any warranties.

So, to blanket or not that is the question to you all, what do you do?

Here are some articles on the subject:

To Blanket or Not to Blanket by Cherry Hill

Why Not All Equines Need a Horse Blanket

To Blanket or Not to Blanket? By Horse.com

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Vote for Fosse!

PLEASE, Vote for Fosse on Dover's photo contest! The photo is called, Super Stylish in the Summer and is in the best headshot category!


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fierce Horses?

I was reading a post on Facebook tonight about a herd of Arabian horses (not stallions) that attacked a deer that entered their pasture. Apparently they were stomping at it, picked it up by the tail and were swinging it, when it escaped they kept chasing it.  The owner of the horses had no ability to stop them, they kept trying to push past her when she interfered in an attempt to save the deer (probably an unsafe move on her part). She was uninjured. Fortunately for the deer, it lived and although probably sore and bruised, was okay the next morning and reportedly was grazing   This deer was from what read to be some kind of farm or private zoo and had jumped the fence.

I noticed that when my horse Lola first met Morgan (my Great Dane) she was a bit aggressive towards her and seemed to want to strike.  I immediately intervened using my leadership skills and utilizing the tasks and techniques I've learned over the years.  The situation immediately ended. My other horses, Fosse and Whiskey have never done this so it was a surprise.  Whiskey actually likes to lick Morgan and play with her ears!Fosse likes to sniff her. Lola has been good at other times I am not convinced that this is a long-term issue or even an issue today as this was back when she first arrived and at that time, was defensive about everything and towards everyone! But, just seeing the behavior initially has made me bit leery.

I did a little looking into my Parelli resources to look deeper into these issues and found that they are basically talking about aggression towards humans in terms of fear or dominance. On their website's page called "Aggressive Horse" they point you to tools like the Horsenality and Seven Games materials. But this does not quite address the issue in my opinion.  I just don't believe this was an act of fear as a deer is not a predator like a human. And dominance?  Maybe if the boss horse picked on the deer to establish a clear herd dynamic but for the group to come together in a pack-like manner, much like predators do, is fascinating (and scary). I have seen dogs do this to a goat and it is very frightening. Stallion behavior as addressed on the Parelli website reads like a horror movie...well not all of it but the example Pat gives is gruesome. I get it, I've worked with stallions, I've ridden stallions, you must be SAVVY!

In any event, the behavior that the horses attacking the deer really make me wonder about the psychology and herd dynamic.  And, why would my horse want to strike my dog who was just standing next to me? I feel like I need more information to make a better determination, in my mind, what and why it happened.  I just found the scenario intriguing. So, I've got some homework to do! I have to learn and understand more.... never ending self-improvement!

Have any of you ever heard of or experienced anything like the deer or dog examples?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Got Hay?

It is almost October, the end of a long, hot summer a distant memory and as the cool, damp fall has set in. This year, the hay season was shortened by extreme temperatures and a severe lack of rain.  First cutting hay was priced much like what one would expect of second cutting pricing and second cutting cost more to produce than what it was really worth. Third cutting you ask?  Not here, no third chance for hay. We really had a difficult year for all crops this year.

We've put up 650 bales this year, first cutting, and it is really nice hay considering this season's challenges (photo below). It should be enough but I'd have to say that hay bales are to nearly as large as they used to be in the past....remember those 80 pound wire-bound square bales?  Well I remember them but haven't seen them in years! Hopefully I won't need to get more but was told to call if I ran into a shortage. We did, have to have our hay delivered from 100 miles away! Why? Well, we could not get anyone local to commit to providing hay and thus, our purchase from out of town. Not to mention, the quality locally varied greatly and moldy or straw-like was not what I'd chose to feed.  So many people up here feed wet, moldy round bales...I just don't understand how their horses are surviving on it let alone not getting colic!

Now, I am not opposed to round bales just as long as they were rolled dry, stored in a barn, and then kept clean and dry for horse consumption.  In Virginia, we were able to get this kind of hay and it was excellent.  That said, I was one of very few customers for the farmer that sold it and was certain to constantly thank him and tell him what excellent hay it was to ensure he knew I appreciated it.  Funny thing to do but he was an old-time-type guy and this was a necessary step!

So anyway, the quality of the hay we purchased was better than the local available square bales and the farmer ensured that it always was put up dry and stayed that way including delivering it in a furniture truck.  We had to endure the additional cost for delivery along with an additional fuel surcharge but it was well worth it, this "gold green" hay!  I also, for the first time, hired some local boys to help with the job. Do you remember me writing about Irvin?  Well, it is his sons, very nice, well-mannered, hardworking young men (ages 16, 13, and 9 --or so). They made the job easier and we paid them well above standard wages for the job because they are good kids and really helped us out, so to me, a great investment and well worth it.

Have you put up any hay this year?  What kinds of challenges were you faced with?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Like Us!

Well, the work continues at the farm, slow but moving along.  With the weather changing and the semester in full swing, summer is clearly gone.  I feel sad because it was so busy and not with horse-related fun. Everything is find of course but, the horses won't make it in the new barn until spring. We still need to varnish the wood, get stall mats, level the ground, electric, water, etc. Being too cold to varnish, we've decided to do what we can but keep their existing housing in place for the winter and move them in afterwards.  The idea is to maintain the barn and do it right which means....patience. We will be able to use the indoor arena though so that is good. Although that wood won't be varnished yet, it is far less likely to become soiled unlike a stall's potential which is far greater.

I am now working on farm signage, a website, and other marketing pieces.  It is not easy for sure.  So many decisions and each is dependent on the other.Deciding what we will exactly offer is tricky.  We seek to limit ourselves to only people interested in natural horsemanship, period.  The idea for us is we'd rather have an exclusive clientele with the same principles or no clientele at all.  The farm is not our financial mainstay so, we have the luxury I guess. The new facility was built originally so that I could enjoy the horses more when the weather or my schedule interfered, not for a horse business per se.  But, now that we have it, it would be great to engage with like-minded horse people. I am thinking about hosting Parelli clinics and other educational venues, play dates, local horse transport, and having educational events. Anyhow, still working at it, no rush.

I've set up a Facebook page for Natural Horse Lover Farm. Please consider stopping over and liking us!


And, feel free to friend me on my personal page too if you wish


FYI--The new farm website URL is http://naturalhorseloverfarm.com/ it is not published yet but should be very soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Name Game is Over - Whew

Farm name....Done! LOL It is hilarious, the name was right there, in front of us all of the time! As you know, I have been writing this blog since 2006 and it is called Natural Horse Lover. Well, this morning we decided that it was also a perfect name for our farm and we already have an identity. So, we plan to call ourselves Natural Horse Lover Farm. Does that sound okay? The next step is creating our sign, logo, and other marketing materials. FUN!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It is like climbing a steep cliff, alone.

Took a spur of the moment ride on Fosse tonight, you know, the halter only kind, and we had fun chasing and being chased by Lola and Whiskey, some liberty play, and obstacles...yeah and cookies came out of my pockets for some very gleeful horses. I had forgotten how great being with them felt, all stress gone, nothing in my universe but the horses and some quiet country time..what a delight and it has been ages since we've done that.

I think that life has been really crazy (work, construction, and tons of visitors from all around the globe). Without getting into gruesome details, some things out of my control, and for months severely impacting my health, workouts, horse time, and much more. Whew.

Unfortunately, things spiral in life and I often start a behavior of denial and self-flagellation when I find myself out of control...I refuse to give myself permission to be happy, to do the things I love, to take care of myself. Hard to understand, I know, something I constantly battle.

I feel like I am slowly taking control again and the horse time tonight was the icing on the cake. It is like climbing a steep cliff, alone but i am doing it.

I am taking Zumba again and am really happy. I have been journaling everything no matter what. I have also been wearing my BodyMedia Fit which is a great feedback mechanism for me. Overall, not too bad, not perfect but working at it one step at a time with a great deal of room for improvement. I did notice this evening that I finally feel strong enough to make wiser choices again and am not using food to punish myself for getting out of control for so long. I know, it sounds crazy but the more off track I am, the more I consciously make poor decisions....very strange but true. I think the endorphins are finally taking over my brain again because it is getting easier. I do have to work on getting enough sleep and get to the gym in the morning...working at that. I know all in moderation but, bad habits and negative feeling for me beget even worse, detrimental decisions - almost as if I make unhealthy choices as a way to admonish myself. ---What a battle, what a journey!

Friday, August 03, 2012

What's in a name?

I was approached yesterday by a local business to change my farm name. Although we have called ourselves Hidden Meadows for a few years, we are only now an official farm via DBA. The other business (not a horse farm) is Hidden Meadow Inn. In any event, her thought was that people may confuse things (a long list of possibilities) since we are in the same region. I am very open to changing our name as I have not purchased my farm sign yet and Rick supports whatever I decide. We also had a different name when in Virginia (Fawn Hill Farm) so I am not overly worried about changing it but want to make it the last time. I have no intentions of ever moving again and want to establish myself with a name that I like and that will stick. That said, I'd want a cute, trendy horse farm name, something unique (remember this is a natural horsemanship focused facility). Anyone have any good ideas or methods to pick a good one? My logo is a very stylized horse if that helps (I know, you've not seen it yet). Let me know! Comment here or email me arabhorselover1@yahoo.com


    • Denise Schueckler mystical meadows? the double m makes easy to remember.still implies hidden and arab horses make me think of magic and aladdin! :)
      23 hours ago via mobile ·  · 1

    • Michelle L Young FYI--someone sent this. Just putting it on the list, not necessarily convinced yet. North Lawrence Natural Horsemanship or North Lawrence Natural Horse Lovers might be possible. North Lawrence Natural Living, or Natural Living Farm / Ranch / Stable / Acres
      23 hours ago ·  · 1

    • Michelle L Young Maybe something that is a combination of French and English since we are on the Canadian border? I though of Cheval Farm but there is one in Alabama.
      22 hours ago · 

    • Mitch Bresett you could go all french and call it Cache Cheval Valon or Hidden Horse Valley
      22 hours ago ·  · 3

    • Mike L. Scott How about "Not owned by Mitt Romney Meadows"?
      22 hours ago · 

    • Mary Sullivan Horsing Around :P
      22 hours ago · 

    • Mitch Bresett how about this.. Whinny Acres
      22 hours ago ·  · 2

    • Betty Horn I like the thought of Natural Horsemanship being in the title, though Whinny Acres is pretty cute.
      22 hours ago · 

    • Michelle L Young Whinny Acres may get confused with the north country's whinny.org
      21 hours ago · 

    • Michelle L Young Mitch--liking the french except the valley part---although I guess we are in the Adirondack valley aren't we? maybe?
      21 hours ago · 

    • Michelle L Young And, all French would really help me have an exclusive clientele.....no one will know what we are doing! :)
      21 hours ago · 

    • Michelle L Young Here is another...just playing around..."Heureux Cheval Ferme- talent de cavalier au naturel" (French speakers---is this written correctly? Happy Horse Farm – Natural Horsemanship) ---If I did this the people in the town would have their minds blown away...hehehe...they'd really be asking questions! (The busy-bodies already are.) --I really need to continue learning French, I love the language.
      21 hours ago ·  · 1

    • Michelle L Young Le Heureux Cheval Ferme - talent de cavalier naturel perhaps? (The Happy Horse Farm - natural horsemanship)
      20 hours ago · 

    • Cassie Laurence should be simple and describe your business. Cutsie and foreign names are always dangerous because if people can't guess what you do by the name they rarely get further than that. Same goes with using your name (ex Michelle's Farm) because it doesn't tell them anything. Simple like ... Natural Horses (just an example to make a point) .. what else do you do there?
      20 hours ago · 

    • Michelle L Young Mainly horses but will probably also sell chickens/eggs, produce, etc...small scale.
      19 hours ago via mobile · 

    • Cassie Laurence How about "Pick Up These Damn Free Roosters Farm" LOL ... Natural Living Stables - which I now see is similar to something above. But I like that concept.
      19 hours ago ·  · 1

    • Cassie Laurence If you are doing more than horses then putting horses in the name will limit the value of your name in the future. I would redo the name of my business in a heartbeat - it's a pain in the ass.
      19 hours ago · 

    • Byron Whitney Equestrian Acres? Hidden Meadows in french=prairies caches. Horseplay Farm?
      17 hours ago ·  · 1

    • Elizabeth Ferguson Horse Heaven ?
      17 hours ago via mobile ·  · 1

    • Jackie Dietrich whispering pines???
      15 hours ago ·  · 2

    • Christine Goellner Mia Natural-Bavarian-Cheval-Chilo-Ranch...Hehehehe :-))))))))
      9 hours ago ·  · 1