Goal setting for the new year...

I'd like to address goal setting. This time each year I like to review what I've accomplished with my own horses and others I work with. I also like to think about any of my own personal training or riding goals that I have achieved. I think if you reflect on your past year, you can often see a huge improvement from where you were 12 months before (think about that for a minute). I then like to think about what I'd like to work on in the upcoming year. Things I'd like to improve in my own riding, in my horses training, or anything at all that may need work. Winter is a great time to fine tune things and also "ground play" with your horse for fun or respect or both. I take this time to play a lot with my horses because our show season is suspended for a while and it's FUN!. I work minimally on show stuff and shift the emphasis to playing, learning new things and possibly studying different methods. That is why I am really looking forward to our workshop with our own Bonnita Roy to learn some new ways to interact our horses. I will blog about that after we do it in february. If you find that you have somehow "gone backwards" or your horse has. Then try to make a plan to get back on track. Maybe find a trainer to work with or a DVD or book that focuses on your type of goal or issue. Good luck in the new year!


My reading with Pamela Au

I just came back from Maui, Hawaii and I had the pleasure to meet (over the phone) and have a reading with Pamela Au. She is an Author, Horse Trainer, Spiritual reader, Artist and Photographer.
I had always had her book but connected with her on the Natural Horse Network by coincidence. We had much in common and seemed to be of like minds. I didn't know Pam was living in Hawaii until communicating with her. I knew I was planning to visit there and thought it would be fun to hook up there.
I decided to get a reading to help me with some questions I'd had on my mind lately. I got much more then I bargained for! She works with you or your animals but my life is intertwined with my animals so they overlapped.
I have had many readings before with different people and this one was the best one I think I've ever had.
She was very precise about things my horse would communicate and helped me understand the intense connection I have with him. She helped me get clear on some career directions I was unsure of. She let me know of some pets that had crossed over, that were still with me. She let me know a lot of interesting details that helped me understand why things are the way they are in my world. I was able to ask very specific questions which I got clear answers too. Even the most sure of us need that help sometimes.
I highly recommend an animal reading or a personal one for anyone or as a xmas gift. You or the recipient will not be disappointed! Click here to go to Pamela's Site.


To blanket or not to blanket...

I am always a fan of not blanketing if at all possible as I believe if they are able to grow their own protection, and have access to a shed/shelter, they should be fine and it is better for them. It actually inhibits there coats function to cover it and flatten it out. As we have all seen when it gets cold the hair shafts act as a sort of down/solar panel that stands up and draws the sun. That's why they get that "fluffy" appearance As they get warm they flatten the hair down as in after a workout.
If horses are confined, I tend to blanket based on temperature and individual need. Let's say an older horse, a thin skinned horse, a sick horse or a horse that has come from a warmer climate recently may need some additional help. I also look at breeds. Some are tougher then others. Have they lived outside and been allowed to develop their natural protection. Some are clipped for competitive/training/cooling reasons. I believe also, that if they like us, cannot move around naturally and keep their circulation going (as in turnout) they could get cold.
If you must blanket, I am a loyal Rambo/Rhino/Amigo (their least expensive one) fan. They are durable, fit beautifully, never shift, never cause shoulder rubs (I don't know what the secret is), Have minimal straps to deal with (NO leg straps which saves time and I think the horses like more) They even make a QH specific cut line. But I never found it necessary.
Of Course I now own Mercury who has made it VERY clear that he wants to be NAKED! He refuses to wear anything and lets me know by destroying it within minutes and turning it into his personal toy running around gleefully with it like a puppy playing with a chew toy. Yes, I have learned the hard way as I watched him destroy brand new blankets in minutes. Now he only get's blanketed if absolutely necessary.


Product Review: Ansur Excel Treeless saddle

This is the second installment of my new Product review series. In my relentless pursuit to know about all that is available to us as horse owners I will share my experiences and opinions with you to help you make informed decisions.
I just test rode the newest addition to the Ansur Saddlery line. The Ansur excel is a very positive step in the evolution of treeless saddles (also see their new western saddle). This saddle not only looks like a traditional "treed" saddle but it is the most correctly balanced and position supporting treeless saddle I have ridden in.

As always, I like to really test a saddle. I rode several horses in it with several conformations. Here's my report.

First Impression: Beautiful appearance. The saddle exceeded my expectations and was very "traditional looking" for those of you who are afraid of the funky look of some of the others. I actually found the photos on the website did not do it justice and I told them so. It is still treeless and only slightly thicker than their other models.

Quality and Craftsmanship: Beautiful durable Leather and craftmanship I have come to expect from Ansur. Very well made.

Comfort and Fit: This saddle does the best job of marrying comfort without sacrificing performance, correct balance and looks of all that I have seen so far. I rode in a 17.5 and it fit me well. The petite is the most common size as Ansur has there own system of sizing(see site for chart).

Horse Fit: I rode this on several different conformations and found it easily adjustable because it has no tree. It has removable velcro blocks that are easily customizable if need be. I put it to the ultimate test of my super uphill, long withered warmblood gelding ( my saddles slid back on him)and my level narrow shouldered, long withered mare( my saddles slid forward on her neck). It stayed put on both. Amazing! They both performed well in it. It was balanced easily with proper padding on any horse which allowed me to sit in a perfect relaxed dressage position. Since it has panels and a gullet, It does not "roll" from side to side or slip as much as their other designs (it did shift a little though), a common problem with treeless saddles (it may on flat backed horses but you can order a special design for them).

Price: The one I tried is about $3500.00 but different models are available for less money. This one falls in the high range of the price spectrum but it is competitive with the higher end treed dressage saddles.

Overall review:
This is a beautiful saddle. I give it a 9 out of 10. Ansur always seems to make the saddle I want right when I'm looking for it. I have been watching their evolution and I like how they are always improving their products. I chose to purchase this saddle out of the ones I tried and showed Mercury in it two days after I got it and won! Mecury has very strong opinions about things and he will let me know when he is not happy. He should be the tester for all saddles.


Mercury's first Blue

It is always a sense of huge accomplishment to win your first blue with a horse you have raised from a baby, and done all the training on. I have started many babies but Mercury is special. He had an added level of difficulty from day one. I have seen wild mustangs that were easier to start than him. I could go on about my training adventures with him but suffice to say he is as challenging as he is talented ("rodeo", is his nickname). His saving grace is, he is my huge momma's boy and he is full of antics (which always make me laugh out loud, comedian that he is). No horse has more try or willingness. It has allowed us to form a partnership that I have not had with any other horse. So I have an even greater sense of achievement with Mercury because of his challenging personality. Not only did we win but, we received the highest scores I have ever gotten in dressage on any horse! I look forward to more adventures with my friend Mercury and many more Blues!



Interesting Horse Behavior

Today I witnessed a very interesting an sweet interaction between my mare Phoenix and her foal Elsa. I was in the pasture working on teaching Elsa to lead with her rope halter. They were standing side by side and Elsa had decided she didn't want to move anymore. I was observing her and being patient when she began licking and nibbling her mom's lips and muzzle. At first I thought "oh she's just showing affection or she's checking in with mom" But then after she stopped, Phoenix went to Elsa's rope halter to the exact area it was tied and proceeded to spend several minutes trying to untie it. I watched and thought about it and it was as if Elsa had actually communicated with this little nibbly language, "Mom I am bored with this human game, can you remove this thing so I can be done with it?" I was so entertained by this and the precise way Phoenix stepped in and "tried" to free her but in the most relaxed peaceful way until she realised she couldn't do it. When this interaction played out fully, I coaxed Elsa forward once again. Telling her if she could do one more step, I would relieve the gentle pressure she was trying to escape. She finally complied and I removed the offending rope halter immediately to reward her and gave her a good scratch which she loves and will gladly stand for. I just love being able to see something like that, and it makes me wonder what I may miss when I'm not there...


Check out my Ebay auctions...

Here's some stuff I have for sale. It's a great opportunity to get some expensive items at a great price! I have a 7 1/4 New in the Box Charles Owen GR8 helmet black. And an Excellent condition Ansur Carlton II black treeless dressage saddle with accessories. Check it out Ebay Auctions


Product Review: Fhoenix Treeless Dressage saddle

Hi all,
In my relentless pursuit to know about all the products available to us, I just started demoing saddles again because Mercury and Phoenix are hard to fit and I have been battling personal "soreness" issues due to time in the saddle and unfortunate shaped seats. I thought it would be helpful to pass on my experience with different products so when I can, I will "review" things I try. I'll write about supplements, equipment, whatever I come across. So here's my thoughts on the Fhoenix Saddle(I had to try it, I have a horse named after it). First here is a link to the inventor so you can get some background Fhoenix Saddle.

Anyhoo, I like to really test a saddle. I rode several horses in it with several conformations. Here's my report.

First Impression: Funky shape as with all treeless saddles but with an attempt to look like a "conventional" dressage saddle which is why I gravitated toward it. For showing, I need something that wont draw more looks then me and my horse. And you know how show people are about anything "different".

Quality and Craftsmanship: Beautiful Soft Italian Leather. Very well made.

Comfort and Fit: UNEQUALED!!! This is hands down the most plush and comfortable saddle I have ridden in so far. I could trail ride for months in it. I rode in a 17.5 and it fit me well.

Horse Fit: I rode this on several different conformations and found it easily adjustable because it has no tree. It has removable panels that are soft and different thicknesses so you can lift the back if need be. I put it to the ultimate test of my super uphill, long withered warmblood gelding ( my saddles slid back on him)and my level narrow shouldered, long withered mare( my saddles slid forward on her neck). It stayed put on both. Amazing! They both performed well in it. It was balanced easily with proper padding on any horse which allowed me to sit in a perfect relaxed dressage position. Since it has panels, It does not "roll" from side to side or slip, a common problem with treeless saddles ( it may on flat backed horses but you can order a special design for them).

Price: The one I tried is about $2500.00 but different models are available as well as an older version for less money. However, 2500.00 is quite reasonable compared to some and high compared to others. I say it falls in the medium range.

Overall review:
This is a very nice saddle. I give it a 8 out of 10. It lost 2 points for being actually bouncy to sit in? ( maybe the foam material?) If it compresses with time, that would be good. I actually had to work to sit and I can sit a trot very well. The other downside was, I could tell that because it was so plush, The horse actually couldn't feel my cues as well. That was a surprise as treeless saddles are supposed have a close feel to the horse. So there are my thoughts. I wont decide whether I buy this one until I try a couple more. But it is a possibility.


WOW!bands are now for sale!

WOW!bands are officially for sale on my site click WOW!bands To check them out. Custom colors and designs are available as well as color options in the offered designs (prices will vary with different stone choices)
Here's what's currently available:


Elsa learns to free jump

Elsa is 3 months now (can you believe it?!) So this is a good time to start fooling with them a bit and evaluating there abilities. I wanted to see if she was going to be a good jumper and check out her instincts and style over a fence. She said " hey I'm a natural! Check me out!"

Find more videos like this on Natural Horse Network's Community

Find more videos like this on Natural Horse Network's Community


Case Study: Mercury getting gelded and recovery of soft tissue injury

Two weeks ago Mercury came in from the pasture lame with swelling in rear left fetlock area. He jogged virtually 3 legged and I was bummed. I went to work right away with Traumeel (See my health and supplement shop)topically on the fetlock and oral Homeopathy. Actually my Homeopathic Sports injury mix. He got a small dosage of bute but not enough to not feel it. I didn't want him not to feel the pain and be fresh and boisterous as he can be. Next day the vet comes and says why'd you call he's easily 50% better. I stall rest him for a week and hand walk and omit bute and continue Sports Injury mix and topical Traumeel ointment. one week out he Jogs 90 percent sound but not perfect and I am hoping to geld the following week but he has to be 100% sound for turnout to be gelded as they want him moving and keeping his circulation going to keep swelling down.
Week 2 we get an ultra sound to confirm complete healing. He has been in and hand walked and I have used the LIFE system 2 times to balance the injury. Ultrasound shows complete healing and the vet goes ahead and gelds him.
Usual expected recovery time from gelding with turnout is 2 weeks or so. Leading up to gelding, Mercury is given amongst other healing remedies, Arnica Montana 200c which in addition to assisting with healing his leg will lessen the trauma and shock to his body of the surgery. The vet tells me to expect lots of swelling and it should increase for 2-3 days after the procedure.
Monday He gets gelded, Monday night I do a LIFE session for surgery, electro acupuncture, pain, inflammation and infection plus male genitals balancing. He also is started on mega doses (1m) of arnica montana for the trauma and surgery and healing.
Tuesday he has some swelling but not nearly what I expected and is stiff behind but works out of it on the lunge as per vets instruction(poor M&M having to jiggle around).
Day 2 still more Arnica and one night of turnout and I can see almost NO swelling! It is completely normal looking! (less the testicles. The vet said it should get bigger and bigger as time went on. He also lunged very comfortably and not stiff looking at ALL. DAY TWO! All I have to say is this stuff works!


Horse Dosages of Flower Essences

This weeks topic of discussion has been flower essences and there application on horses for a variety of behavior issues. I wanted to bring up dosage amounts as I don't believe I spoke about the actual amounts on the radio show or last blog. As a general rule I give 10 drops of each essence in water or directly on some food or sugar cubes. I may mix 10 drops of each remedy in one bottle to create a custom mix or behavior specific one like Spook mix. I then add water and a tablespoon of alcohol(vodka, brandy or vinegar if you like to preserve) to top it off for use. This also makes a tincture bottle last longer. Do not assume more is better with these essences. 20 drops will not have a more strong effect. Nor will a whole bottle though it would not harm the animal. The best is to give at short intervals, or in their drinking water, or during a training or stressful situation. Rescue Remedy is a good general calming and soothing mix which consists of Impatients (mental agitation,frustration,impatience), Clematis (loss of consciousness, dreamy, unfocused), Cherry Plum (hysteria, fear of losing control, lack of emotional control), Rock Rose (terror, deep anticipatory fear, panic), Star of Bethlehem (Trauma, Shock). Every animal and human first aid kit should have it.


NHN Flower Essence Radio Show

Here is a recording of the flower essence show from today's radio interview.

That was a fun show. Hopefully everyone could hear with the sound issues. Here's the link to my Behavior Mixes feel free to contact me with questions. Here is the link to the Perelandra site Machaelle Small Wright's first book Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered tells her very unique and cool story and talks about Findhorn. For all you gardeners she is a must read as she talks about a completely different way of working with plant and animal energies and the earths rhythms. See the link for Garden/Soil Balancing essences Thanks until next time!


WOW!bands I am on a roll...

Wow!band with genuine Sterling Silver studs and Peridot stones made for Mercury my original supermodel!

Yes, I am up to still more (Ad)ventures. I am working on WOW!bands. Some of you may or may not have known I went to school for and was in fact a jeweler in my past incarnations. I had been wanting to bring that to browbands and horses forever. So I am starting a new line of WOW!bands. They are for all disciplines and I use Genuine Sterling silver (gold if you want to spring for it) and Genuine Garnets, Amethysts, rose quartz, Peridot, Citrine, etc. Real stuff not fake or crystal. I can use faux if requested and I can customize color and design. I used to study and make jewelry that effected energy and can use stones to balance and enhance an energy field of a horse as well. Not just for a fancy accent! Stay tuned for more pics! I am creating samples as we speak. Contact me for more info.

Elsa at her new digs


Elsa, the bearer of joy and happiness...

I just moved Elsa and Mom to pasture for the summer yesterday. It was fairly uneventful due to Phoenix being trailer trained prior. We used a butt rope to encourage Elsa and in a few tries, She hopped up in the slant with momma. She traveled like a champ and it was a short trip so a good first experience. What moved me though was how she made everyone so happy in the barn where I board. I was struck by how her birth was an event for everybody and felt that it was a great experience to share with the others who board, work and own the facility. The owners have several children who had never seen a newborn and they were so enthralled with her. The boarders adored her. She was the barn "pet" I guess It just made me smile to see the joy and happiness she made the kids feel when I spied them visiting with her. We all sat around and watched them play (I call it horse TV). Each person enjoying them individually. Now They have gone to stay at a clients barn where there is 24/7 turnout and grass which I (and horses) prefer. Now she is on to spread joy in another barn where she will undoubtedly become the barn pet. I'm glad I can share my bundle of joy when I see how happy she makes eveyone who meets her. With all the negative incidents that have been going on lately in our horse world and world in general. Elsa in a little innocent light bearer who reminds us all to smile and laugh with her exuberance and energy and affection! Thanks Elsa!


Announcing FDT Virtual Clinic Blogazine!

I am now using a blog format specifically for Virtual Clinic. The URL is http://fdtvirtualclinic.blogspot.com so check it out!

Elsa's first lesson's

Little Miss Elsa...She is full of life and spirit. Also some fresh habits! I started her first ground lessons due to the fact that in her youthful exuberance and horseplay, she had a not so fun habit of what I call "drive by" kicking. She would start with coming over and being all "aren't I cute" then push into you wheel and try, with her feet, to "tag your it"! I decided her first lesson was turn and face me and she also found out humans have knees and feet too. A tap on the hiny sent her into fits of indignation and head shaking and crow hops. She said "noo you're it"! I tagged her back a few times and said no, you're it! And she learned in days.She got lots of love when her head was forward and had to move her feet when her tushy was showing. Amazing that even at a month old, they can learn in a few days of short gentle sessions. I also had to get her to lead a bit as they are moving to a pasture for the summer and have to go on the trailer. I gently asked her to yield to pressure on her halter and after some protesting she figures it out quite quickly. Then there was lots of scratching and rubbing which she loves. Now she knows what a curry is and that is worth standing for. So nice to have them this young to work with...


A Name for a little Miss Thang...

Yes, I know she looks so innocent and cute in that picture, but after getting to know my little miss thang (and yes she is a little miss thang not a misspelling), I see her horsenality loud and clear! I observed that I now own a FIRECRACKER! When she is not running, she is crow hopping, when she is not crow hopping she is rearing or bucking or some combination there of. I have yet to see her just walk or trot. She does show a beautiful athletic balanced canter though. She appears to have 2 speeds only. Sleeping and running/bucking/rearing/hopping! She is also a ferocious nurser. Poor Phoenix is visibly wincing as she attacks (she doesn't nurse she attacks)her udders but being the devoted mom puts up with it. So as I saw this behavior, The name Elsa came to me and I realized it was the name of the Lioness in the famous story "Born Free". And I thought yeah, she's a little lioness all right (also the color). Elsa also means "Abundance from god" and she is a surprise gift from the universe. So since I can't stand show names and believe in giving my horses simple meaningful names that are all purpose, That's it. Of course she will have 20 pet nicknames...I think the first one's are Miss Thang, Attitude, firecracker, sass, wild thing, superball, you little chestnut mare!


Babies first binky

Little baby girl needed her first binky today because it was so cold and damp today, she was shivering. Someone was kind enough to loan me some Mini size blankets and I still had to pin them smaller!


Baby's first day out

Phoenix and baby's first time out in the paddock for a little fresh air.

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It's a girl!!!

Phoenix delivered a healthy chestnut filly between 3 and 4 am. this morning all by herself. Jen (the manager at my barn) was awakened by little baby winnies of the newborn. We were on the scene minutes later. Good job Phoenix!


We have Waxing!!!...

Well Phoenix is finally waxing and dribbling milk and acting restless and funny! All signs! For those of you who don't know, when a mare gets a waxy tip on her udders, It usually means they are 24-48 hours away from delivering. So today I though I'd free lunge her gently for a little exercise and I figured she wouldn't be able to get out of her own way with her huge belly and do you know that little girl was bucking and rolling back around the arena and having a good ol' time. I was like Phoenix! settle down! your gonna make that baby fall out! Of course it didn't and she was fine but, I bet that little foal was in there like "what the heck is going on in here" "is it time?" Anyhoo, I'll keep everyone posted...


Emily K asked about Navicular Disease or Syndrome

Navicular Disease or Syndrome affects the Navicular Bone and or the soft tissue around it. It degenerates faster than the body can repair and can become rough and painful as the tissue and bone make contact. Some people think it is an affliction of older horses but it is quite common in younger ones. Most common possible causes are Hoof angle and shape, Breed predisposition and genetics, Over exertion over poor or hard footing, Large bodied horse with disproportionately small hooves. A combination of these factors can be contribute to the same result. Proper shoeing or barefoot trimming by a good farrier can make these horses comfortable and sound enough for long term riding. There are also medicines which can help with circulation and inflammation to improve their comfort. They can easily continue being ridden if they are thoughtfully handled and managed and are not so severe in the diagnosis. I have seen some horses have to be retired completely. Things to look for are odd lameness that comes and goes, a "parked out" stance when resting (this is due to them trying to get pressure off their heels which may become sore and contracted). This is when a horse stands with all four feet way spread out in front and behind. Extending a front foot out at rest is another sign. I have seen severe cases where it looks to me like what can only be described as the horse appearing to be walking on broken glass. They just look so painful with each step. They will also appear to not move their shoulder which can make you think they are sore up higher. They will sometimes snap their knees up more when moving. If you watch closely you will notice the toe striking the ground first instead of the heel which can also lead to stumbling and tripping. I have noticed this most commonly in TB's because of horrendous race track shoeing practices of keeping long toes and no heel on the horse and then running them this way(which contributes to all the tendon bows and bucked shins and ankles etc...but that's a whole other can of worms). Quarter horses are also common sufferers because of there consistently small, upright feet and large bodies. In reference to Shyne the free horse in the previous blog, the only thing I could think of with him was, I had also thought of him as having a bit of a "race horse shaped foot". Meaning he grew a lot of toe and very little heel. This is one of the types of hoof conformation which contribute to Navicular Disease. And I did have him xrayed, but it can develop over time and I bought him young. It DOES not mean that every horse who has this shape of hoof is going to get Navicular. The same goes for tiny upright feet. It does mean that they could though and you may want to xray the feet of a horse like this if you are purchasing it. Just for peace of mind and a baseline. If you have a horse like this, you should make sure you're working with a good farrier to keep them sound and comfortable.


Wonderful Horse FREE To an excellent home

I just wanted to put this out. Shyne is being given away to a permanent good home for FREE. He has been diagnosed with navicular and is currently sound with bar shoes. He is a beautiful mover and is suitable for dressage and pleasure and trail. He is a 16.2+ Irish sport horse gelding. I believe he is 9 and I imported him as a four year old. If you are in the New england area or are willing to make the trip, he needs to be placed ASAP! Contact me for more info


De Ja Vue???

I purchased a 2 old trekehner filly prospect about 15? years ago (the time isn't important). I was going to train her and maybe even breed her. I went about my normal tasks of starting a young horse and all was going fine until about 10 months in, she started getting real fat in her belly. I had the vet out and he said "oh she just has a hay belly" ummm...she was pregnant. Vets don't know everything. Anyway, to make a long story short, she was sold to me bred by mistake??? No one knew. Certainly not the breeder. Fortunately, she had a healthy filly, despite my worry about not caring for her right all that time and training her. This story has so many details that make you know that everything happens for a reason and horses have other plans for you when you innocently buy them. But it would take me pages to tell the story in the detail it deserves. Maybe another blog.
Fast forward to now. 7 months ago, I innocently bought another warmblood cross filly prospect. I have mentioned her before. Phoenix is 3 and I started training her just as I have trained many young horses before her. Everything was going great...Except come about 2 months ago, she started getting really fat in the belly. Everyone was saying" I think your horse is pregnant" and I of course said no "she's just one of those mare's who's built that way" you know big in the belly. I rationalized an explained it away until I couldn't anymore. I contacted the breeder and sent him photos of her, and he confirmed that although this had never happened before, He had another filly with one on the way as well. Accidentally. I know this is not uncommon. I, in fact, know others who have gotten mares with surprises inside. But I ask you and myself "what are the odds of this happening twice???" Will I win the lottery next? I better with another mouth to feed. Now this is not officially confirmed but look at the pics.


Answer to a question of leg protection...

I use leg protection on a case by case basis. If you have concerns about splint bone injury or just don't want to run the risk of cosmetic lumps and bumps on you horses legs than I recommend splint boots. If you have a horse that needs tendon support, I use polo wraps. They do not protect well for hard knocks and concussion though. You may want to go to a sports medicine type boot if you need combined support/concussion protection. I use bell boots in competition with shod horses or horses that bruise their heels. I also use them on horses that pull their front shoes off a lot. I will use a brushing boot on a horse that nicks himself interfering in front or behind but Splints will work just the same. Splint boots are suitable for most protection front and back and don't cost a fortune. I like Eskadron boots for competition but they are expensive. I use a basic fleece lined boot for every day protection when I need it.

A question of leg protection for jumping...

A question for you if you don't mind? Since you're a fellow jumper too. Do you use any kind of leg protection when training for jumping? Boots, wraps, bell boots? It's been at least 12 years since I did much jumping, and I think I just used polo wraps back then. LOL. Was just curious if you use anything? And if so, what? And what brands do you prefer? Thanks so much!

Free Jumping Videos

Free Jumping is fun and great exercise for your horse even if you don't jump. It builds hind end strength and teaches balance and coordination. It can add variety to your training program. Always start with a pole on the ground and work your way up to higher obstacles to build confidence.

Watch out Mercury...Phoenix Free jumping...Grrrl power

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Find more videos like this on Natural Horse Network's Community

Free Jumping Videos

Find more videos like this on Natural Horse Network's Community

Find more videos like this on Natural Horse Network's Community


Equipment choices...Mercury has more to teach...

Today I worked with Mercury in a Hackamore for the first time. I did this because the dentist came last week and told me that although he would be fine, he was had a lot of teething going on (being 3 1/2 this made sense). He said for about the next 2 months or so, he would have a lot of changes in his mouth.
Mercury is well started in his training, Walk, Trot, Canter, Poles, lateral work etc. He had been doing great until about 2 weeks ago. I noticed increased tension (see previous blog about his girth issue) around saddling, bucking and (this is a new one) excessive yawning and I mean excessive (repeatedly like 10 times throughout the ride). I found out that the yawning is a way horses will release tension sometimes. He also started flipping his nose when he felt contact with the bit.
Anyway, I dealt with the girth thing and he was better but still yawning, flipping his head, and not quite relaxed. The dentist came and talked to me about his teeth. I thought hmmm...teething, that must be uncomfortable. I went out and got a hackamore this morning and tried it out. What did I learn?
I had the best ride on him I've ever had! He was relaxed (once he got used to it) and he was softer in his body then I had ever been able to get him. He didn't buck at all,there was no head flipping and he did not yawn once! So we'll see about transitioning back to a bit in a few months. In the mean time, He gets a hackamore and we get to enjoy our time together again.
FDT and Mercury

FYI: I have just found a dentist who does not used drugs, power tools, or a speculum. He called himself a natural soft touch dentis. I highly recommend this if you can find one in you area.


Check out my Ebay auctions...

Here's some stuff I have for sale on Ebay if anyone's interested. One Item is a very fancy New Prestige Eventing/Jumper bridle.
Go to my EBAY auctions


Balance in the horse

I find it helpful when teaching this to get people to focus their eyes' on the geometry they are riding. Front to back balance is something you have to to learn to feel for. I tell my students if your horse has a nice cadence on contact with the reins and then you let the reins go loose, If he speeds up, he is probably out of balance and dependent on your reins for it. Many people think their horse is "quick" or fast and it's just out of balance.
Lateral or left to right balance can be felt really well by practicing a simple exercise. Ride a straight line toward something. In an arena, It could be down center line (dressage letter c or a). In a field or non letter ring, It could be a cone, a fence post, a tree, your dog, husband/wife. Focus your eyes on your target. The first ride don't do anything just feel what you horse is doing. Is he going dead straight or sort of meandering or drifting to one side? Don't do anything yet! Just gather information and say to yourself for example" hmmm precious seems to wobble left and right a lot" or "sugar seems to veer left all the time". Do this a few times until you really feel a pattern. Then start fixing with you legs (reins if necessary). Your horse will now probably over correct or not correct depending on how responsive he is (he should know how to move of your leg sideways for this). Keep your eyes up so you can see if you corrections are on your target line. Or they went passed. Keep making corrections until your horse track dead straight down the line with NO corrections from you. This may take time if you have ridden for a while with out awareness of this. You may find your horse it quite crooked and reluctant to track straight. Eventually you can take this to circular pattern using visualization to see your circle on the ground.

Lots of talk of stallions but what about Phoenix?

Phoenix, Phoenix, Phoenix....The half sister to my stallion that I did not need, I bought for no good reason except I wanted her. Didn't stop to think about doubling my board/vet/farrier SHOWING etc expenses! Not to mention the TIME to enjoy/work with another unbroke 3 year old ( yes, Not even haltered) amongst my numerous other horses in training. And did I mention that her conformation, movement, size... I could go on, went against EVERYTHING I look for in a horse. And I know warmbloods are not alway conventionally pretty horses, I like the look of them but some people don't appreciate their stately heads. Let's just say she has a real stately head. But I saw beauty in her.
Anyway, She knocked down and proceeded to run over the poor girl showing her to me. Always a good sales point. Would not stand for her vet check. And somehow some part of me saw through that ( did I mention she had some bloodlines I like and free jumped phenomenally despite her odd conformation. I believe the breeder referred to her as a freak?). I remember the guy I was with saying "You want to buy this horse?" like I should have my head checked.
Anyway, I bought her in september and here is what I discovered:
-Phoenix is the one of the kindest, sweetest animals I have ever had the pleasure/honor of working with.
-She is hands down the easiest horse I have ever trained. I show her once and she's got it. Whether I showed her 3 weeks ago or yesterday. Anyone whose trained horses can appreciate this. I've also had the Marmadukes who are like "wait show me again...you want me to do what now...I don't get it"
-She ALWAYS greets me at the fence from no matter where she is and is genuinely pleased to see me. (so is Mercury but I raised him from a yearling and I've had her for 6 months)
_She is sensible and brave with just enough spark to know she's a competitor(I call her my sleeper They wont see us coming)
_I noticed when I'm around I just feel good. I just liked being around her.
-She has this great spirit.

So what have I learned. Phoenix is my Yin. Mercury is my Yang. I have a perfectly balanced pair. Anyone who doesn't like mares should meet some of the difficult geldings I've worked with. I've had 3 mares and they were/are all saints. Or as I call them "Geldings trapped in a mares body"
Also sometimes, when your every part of your brain is telling you this is not a good thing but your heart says it is, your heart knows something your brain doesn't. It sees Spirit...It recognizes heart...I love you Phoenix
(Phoenix has a poor quality picture on my page. Phoenix I owe you a picture that captures your true spirit)


Equipment choices

I am frequently confronted with behavioral issues that are directly related to equipment. Ear pinning, nipping/biting, kicking, bucking, bolting, snatching reins, reluctance to move, move forward, rearing, loss of athleticism or quality of movement are all potential issues which can be caused by dislike of equipment, pinching, ill fitting, too big/wide, too small/narrow. Some horse are more opinionated/sensitive than others. TB's and Arab or blood type breeds can be more disturbed by poor equipment. Other types may tolerate it but perform poorly pinning ears and not wanting to go forward.
Most commonly, I see poor saddle fit and sore backs. It is seldom even thought of, in some cases that a saddle would even need to be fitted to a horse. You just go and buy a saddle you like and put it on and ride. Just imagine wearing shoes that caused blisters and made you feel crippled but you had to wear them day after day and worse run and jump in them!
I'd like to highlight an example of my own horse Mercury. He has a problem with if the girth does not have enough stretch/elastic in it. I found that he doesn't breath well and then doesn't move well and then has the urge to buck.
How did I figure this out? Well I like watch horses go with and without tack a lot. I free lunge regularly. I will sometimes have them saddled while they are lunging and will look for marked differences in there way of going. In his case, he bucks and kicks at the girth initially and I noticed a drop in his quality of movement versus when he was un-tacked and free. Also, I knew early on, that he didn't care for the saddle much as he accepted me bareback more easily in the backing process. When I saddled him for the first time, he bucked with a ferocity I had not seen in any other young horse I had started. This continued for an above average length of time and still does initially hence his nickname "Rodeo". I have learned to listen to his likes and dislikes (as he's quite dramatic sometimes), so now we have an understanding and have moved through these obstacles. Always remember they have no other way of telling us they are bothered by something. So always start your bad behavior evaluation with a physical exam followed by and equipment check. If you don't know how to do these things, consult an professional.


What I'm working on...

Some of you may ask why did I want a stallion and the answer is I didn't, It just happened. As a trainer and student of Natural Horsemanship, I wanted to put my skills to the test with a young colt. I have handled stallions and seen stallions handled and it seemed to me that they lived a pretty feeble existence. They seemed to be punished for simply being a stallion. I'm not talking about genuinely bad behavior. I'm talking about normal stud behavior. Let's face it bad behavior is bad behavior gelding, mare or otherwise. I've seen it across the board regardless of gender and status.

So what I thought was, can I keep this horse in tact and merely provide him with the boundaries and structure he needed from an early age (one). I also picked a colt whose sire and dam were calm and gentle. I don't think it would have been as easy without good genes.

Mercury has been kept with other horses his whole life and has been allowed to socialize like a normal horse. He has never been denied turnout or company (although, he is hasn't always been welcome by the other horses being the pest that he is) and that is so important to any horses' socialization. Never underestimate the value of other horses ability to teach a horse rules and boundaries. Also "Horseplay" is so important for their stress management as well. It is truly ashame that we segregate many horses from each other (though some horses are truly aggressive and can need be put with an appropriate match if you have one). They are herd animals and thrive on the social structure.

Now "M" is under saddle and although he wasn't the easiest colt to start, I don't attribute it to studdiness. Knowing him the way I do, I attribute it to his nature and his horsenality and about 10% being a stud. Since I fostered his "try" from a young age and he was born with a lot of desire to please I can see him learning as he matures to handle himself (and his hormones) with my careful guidance. With each new day we welcome new situations which challenge him to stay composed around girls, his buddies and when distracting things are going on. He passes with flying colors after he is made aware of the "rules" of conduct. Because, I made sure he new the rules when worked together alone, reaffirming those rules in more challenging situations is only a reminder of stuff he already knows how to do. Not hard for him to grab on to. We look forward to each situation as an opportunity to "learn how to act". Stay tuned...
Go to FDhorsetraining.com


Welcome to my FDT Blog!

Hey all,
It's 2008 and I'm looking forward to a great year with Mercury and Phoenix coming 4 and nearing competition ready (see photos bigger one is M and smaller one is Feenz).

In other news, I have added Natural Dogmanship to my list of services this year. So any of you needing Dog whispering help, contact me if you are in my traveling area of New England!

So with this blog, I hope to post more tips, articles, and updates on the goings on with FDT. Follow the two siblings (yes, those two are brother and sister) first show experiences.

And as always Mercury has been an adventure being my first STUD colt. He is such a Momma's boy though. He is better than a lot of geldings I deal with. Thank you natural horsemanship.

Anyway, check back for new posts and such and see what unfolds in my adventures in horse training...
Go to FDhorsetraining.com