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

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! :)

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