Natural Dressage for Fun!

I think it is important these days to speak out on behalf of Dressage as it is under fire right now. I want to draw positive attention to the fact that there are some very progressive people out there (Yours Truly included) who are successfully integrating Natural Horsemanship with Classical Dressage principals. At it's most progressive this movement is bringing bridless collection to the realm of possibility.
I want people to understand the Dressage can be fun for the horse and rider and still is in my opinion one of the corner stones of all horsemanship. All training starts with a good connection between the horse and the human. The next part is endless patience and a "takes as long as it takes" attitude. 3rd is the moment of possiblity. This is the moment right after you do something with your horse and you allow a moment for processing, spontanaeity. Which in turn often allows you to make the most "right" decision next. Most so called "mistakes" are made out of reactionary haste and general rushing and impatience. This causes people to make possibly too harsh or inappropiate responses to their horses behavior. If we can learn to slow down our whole interaction with our horses, It becomes WAY more fun and relaxing for both of you. Learning is actually accelerated because of the space allowed for it. This applies to whatever your doing or not doing with your horse.
So back to the Dressage. Dressage by definition is designed to optimize the horses athleticism and suppleness. It is designed to help the horse carry us more efficiently and balanced which in turn is better for joints, muscles and soft tissue. It helps a horse be more symetrical in the use of his body (provided you are symetrical as well). It is by my own definition Yoga and Pilates for horses WHEN applied with the philosophies outlined above. The horse should receive a mental and physical benefit from it. Obviously, forcing them into unnatural positions for any length of time is about as beneficial to the horses wellness as it would be for us if it was done to us. I always look at training that way. How would this feel to me if it was being done to me. Food for thought.



Some things never change...

Elsa napping on her hay pillow then and now some things never change...in a good way. Oh and I added my mop for good measure...


October 26th Radio show on NHN

Join DC and I for another fun informative show October 26th at 7pm eastern standard time. We will be discussing Liberty work and how important it is and my experience with Carolyn Resnick's Waterhole Rituals.

Listen to Nhn on Blog Talk Radio


Mercury and me ride bridless for the second time and...

This is my second attempt at bridless riding on Mercury. We did Awesome! I achieved my goal of Bridless jumping! I just can't believe we did it on our second try! This is only the beginning...


October 30-1st follow up Waterhole Clinic Info

Hi all,

Here is a summary of the clinic schedule and outline. There's also links to accomodations and a list of things to bring if you are attending with or leasing a horse. We are offering 3-4 lease horses to work with on site for a fee of 50.00 in addition to the 250.00 clinic fee if you can't bring a horse but would like to work with one hands on. It will be completely beneficial to learn this method on any horse even if it is not your own. You will learn to apply it to any horse you may work with in the future. PLEASE let us know if you plan to lease or bring a horse as soon as possible so we know how many spots are filled and lease horses available.


Please arrive in time for the start of the Lecture and demo at noon and to settle your horse If you are bringing one before that, It is important to get the horses as settled as possible before we start working directly with them on saturday. If you are leasing a horse from us, you will be paired with your appropriate horse for your skill level. You will work directly with your own or "leased" horse on the second day. Friday we will observe herd dynamics, watch demos and discuss theory and practice of the Waterhole Rituals.


We will work in our designated pens with our horses on the first and most important ritual Sharing Territory, Liberty grooming, and Reciprocol Movement. Some may proceed on further to Saying Hello and beyond. some may spend more time on this stage.


Continued work from the previous day, each day starts with "Sharing Territory" to renew connection. Then saying Hello, Taking Territory, Eye Contact, Leading from behind, Companion walking, and Liberty Dance, Go Trot

What you should bring:
Whatever feeds you normally give,
Any foul weather gear, Warm clothes, gloves ( there is a lot of slow work so dress warm! you can always take off layers) a Horse blanket or warm blanket
Some type of extra special treat like carrots or apples chopped at least 5lbs (if you horse has special dietary needs please bring something else) something they can eat a lot of safely
Some type of light folding chair
A book or note or drawing pad
A dressage whip, driving whip, long twig, or reed, Bamboo
Some type of good curry grooming tool
Hay for your own horse

Here is links to accomodations in the area:



put in Plainfield, MA in the search at Hotels.com

Here is the Barn info:

Back Acres Farm

27 Broom Street
Plainfield, MA 01070
Phone: 413-634-5686

for more info or questions contact:




Upcoming Clinic! October 30th-1st Waterhole Ritual based Liberty work

Hey all! I am pleased to be putting on the first in an on going progressive series in the spirit of Carolyn Resnick's Waterhole Rituals. Christian Gundermann will be co-hosting with me at Back Acres farm in beautiful Nothern MA. Christian works with Parelli Natural Horsemanship and is also a graduate of the Waterhole Rituals Insider circle. Back Acres farm offers a number of very progressive clinics including James Shaw on October 17th and 18th. Check out their site for events. They also offer boarding, an indoor and plenty of turnout. On October 26th at 7pm eastern, I will be doing a radio show on my experience with the Waterhole Rituals with DC from the Natural Horse Network on her Horse Talk Radio show if you'd like to hear how this method can improve your connection and horsemanship on every level. Your horse will want to be with you and work with you in a way you never thought possible! This method is the foundation to all other methods and training and should be done as a prerequisite for any discipline you pursue. Watch the videos that I post here to see what can be achieved when you learn to Dance with your horse! I was able to not only dance with my horse, but also ride bridless for the first time! Clinic space is limited to 6 horses and owner combos and unlimited auditors. Participating with your horse will be just $250.00! plus $25.00 day boarding for the 3 days and $25.00 a day for auditing or $60.00 for the 3 days. You can chose to ship in if you are local. If you are interested please contact me to reserve your space and get the questionaire to fill out. Please no stallions and it is strongly suggested that you bring a horse you are comfortable with and you find easy to work with. More info to come...stay tuned...



The Training Scale series 2: Relaxation

I know I started this series a while back but I wanted to get back to it. I talked about Rhythm previously and posted a video example.
Often with rhythm steadiness and consistency, Your horse will naturally start to relax. He will lower his/her head set a little or a lot depending on how soft they are naturally. I work on Rhythm with a completely loose rein first (if you don't trust your horse yet here, don't do this) You can work on a medium loose rein if you are more comfortable.
When I feel relaxation and consistency melting together and my horse starts to relax his neck position down, I know not only are muscles more warmed up but, the mind and body is relaxed too. A horse cannot lower his head naturally until he his in a calm relaxed state. This can be done with a bit, without one, in a sidepull or rope halter. I can do it in any of those. If you have a hot horse (quick rhythmed horse), or an unbalanced horse (this can manifest as quickness to) you can use serpentines and spiraling circles to relax the rhythm down and or help him balance himself up. Bends and circles naturally cause a horse to balance without you doing much. If you have a more sluggish horse, stick to straighter lines and larger figures. Relaxation may not be as much of a problem in this type but consistent rhythm might. He may not want to keep the trot or canter or walk for that matter. This can cause the back to be tight and body to lose relaxation due to lack of impulsion and connection. I usually work with all these things at Liberty and on line first to introduce the concept before riding.
Once I feel that my horse is warmed up and relaxed, I may go to a shorter but still slightly slack rein. I will then repeat the Rhythm and relaxtion work to get the same feel on the working contact. Every horse is different so listen to him when he is communicating things and ride with a feel for the individual not the exercise.


Aggression and herd dynamics...

I have a couple thoughts on aggression and herd dynamics having had experience with different herds as a barn manager and owner/trainer. I work with a mare now who I USED to call the "Battle axe" for obvious reasons. I've known her for years and I learned from her and my other mare who used to be more submissive, that the chemistry is based on who they are with. So as I moved them to different barns and herds, they changed in dynamic. The "Battle axe" when mixed with a herd she approved of was actually more or a "Lead" type horse. When mixed with a herd she didn't approve of, back to "Battle axe". My other mare had lived in several locations throughout her life. Generally being the bottom to middle rank in the herd. She was moved to a barn not so long ago that had a large mixed sex herd (of about 14). For the 1st few weeks she took a BEATING. I was concerned, then all of the sudden she switched to taking top rank and became a "Battle axe" for the first time ever in her life. She was the one to be reckoned with. So I had the chance to watch the horses interact in different herds and see how they faired in different situations. I do step into my herds and shape overly aggressive behavior when I am around. And have seen that it helps most when you are the primary care giver of the horses ie. they live at your place or in my case I manage the facility and therefore set the "tone" of the energy at the farm. I have seen this in action at many farms. Whoever the primary caregiver is dictates the energy and flow around the barn for good or BAD. If the person is timid and lacking leadership skills, the horses run the show. And that is where problems occur often.

I also have owned and worked with stallions. I take special care to keep them socialized and when matched with the right energy level geldings or other young colts, they actually do very well and get to play and rough house as boys can and should be allowed to do.

Horses in the wild select their herds and mates. I have seen over and over again, my show clear preference for one horse over another. Especially, my mares. They live with one gelding and are basically companions, then they live with another gelding and are madly in love with him. A Clear preference. I think when horses are under socialized or live a life where they don't have any interaction with other horses, their social skills are stunted. I have seen this with horse that previously lived alone and I had to integrate to a well socialized herd. They have a bit of a time at first learning the "rules" of that particular herd. I have also relied on Benevolent herd "Leaders" who are balanced and even handed to help me straighten out my little "Hoodlums" or young colts and teach them manners and rules.

I feel like if we have a good understanding of herds and the horses you are putting together AND a good amount of space for them to work it out in, It should be a relatively smooth transition with proper preparation, introductions,and leadership.



Saddle Balance

Saddle balance is as important as saddle fit to your riding position and communication with the horse. Do not assume because you saddle tree fits it is also balanced.
I recently went through a tough time fitting my horse, Mercury because he is what's called "uphill" in his conformation. Meaning his withers and back slope uphill from his hind end. He is very nicely built for natural collection, balance and dressage. This is one of the reasons I bought him. It has proved to be a fitting challenge though as my saddles fit in the tree size but all sit "down hill" on him. Meaning the back or cantle of my saddles sit low compared to the front making me feel as though I am sliding backwards. Now I am fighting for my balance against my equipment. To any rider this feels horrible! So imagine how much uneccessary muscle strain you are using consciously or unconsciously because of this. Now if you are straining, you are communicating tension to the horse as well as concentrating on balancing instead of riding and communicating with your horse. You are also possibly unbalancing your horse as well unintentionally. This can feel like the horses gaits are choppy and fast when he is out of balance. Also, our imbalance can cause a horse to be tight in the back and hold his head up in tension to compensate.

I find that western saddles often sit "down hill" on horses. Meaning the front of the saddle is low compared to the back. One reason is a lot of Quarter Horses are built and bred that way. The other is poor fitting saddles. Now you may say " my saddle looks fine it's higher in the front, but your not looking in the right place. You need to look at the spot where you sit. See if it looks level from the ground and more importantly "feels" level when you ride. Sometimes you have to sit in a few different saddles on a few different horses to note the differences in balance good or bad.
So now your thinking how can I fix it if it's off? Well IF your saddle is sitting high in front or back you have to check on a couple things first. If it is low in front it can be too wide of a tree for you horse which can be remedied by using a pad that is designed thicker toward the front then the back. These are easily purchased in western and english styles.
If you saddle is sitting high in front, you probably have too narrow of a tree which is not good. This can pinch and restrict movement, bending, willingness to go forward, cause soreness and muscle atrophy in the area. DO NOT ADD PADS the small trees! You are taking more space away and can create even more pressure points. You need to get a tree that fits.
If your tree fits and is sitting low in back (like mine), you can get a pad that is built up in the back and not in the front. My saddle I had specially made with the back built thicker in the panel so I didn't have to use a pad. I don't like using extra pads. Unfortunately, western saddles don't have any padding you can add into the saddle so you are at the mercy of just plain good fit, custom fit, or specially designed pads. If you are unsure of your eye and feel ask a qualified fitter in your area for help.



New Video: Crest Releases part 1

Check my new video on Crest Releases part 1 on my Virtual Clinic Blog

Food medicine...Alfalfa

I love finding out something I have been doing already for years, is now recognized by the medical community as fact.
Alfalfa has been villified by many a horse expert throughout my experience in the industry. It supposedly makes horses crazy, causes mineral imbalances and is far too nutritious for most horses.
I have been feeding alfalfa for years in the proper amounts to everything from minis to warmbloods. The reasons I feed it are this, It possesses nearly every vitamin and mineral we and our horses need, It provides cloryphyll (if your horse isn't on grass he needs this) it is a good supplement for our ever depleting hay nutrition (due to poor seasons and soil quality), Even if your horse is on grass, most grass pastures (unless strictly cultivated) are depleted of any real nutrition.
Now let's talk about the medicinal qualities of Alfalfa. It can reduce arthritic inflammation, It has been shown to be a healer and preventative for digestive issues and Ulcers. This is one of the main reasons I feed it. It can help balance hormones (any moody mares out there?), It is a detoxifier, It improves milk production. It is good for low carb low sugar diet needs. The list goes on...
I feed it with Oats and sometimes Kelp to keep minerals balanced but it really depends on accurate testing to find out if the Calcium/Phosporus ratios are way out of balance. With the right mix you should need little or no supplementation for any horse, Mare, Foal, Stallion, or Performance horse. And as we know in our own diets, whole foods are better then processes foods. Remember to make feed changes gradually and consult with your vet to see if it is appropriate for your horse. Avoid the cubed form if at all possible, they can cause choke.



It's a never ending journey...kick back

Training can be be a joy at it's greatest moments and a patience and frustration test the next. It takes a deep passion and love for horses, a desire for partnership and a firm dedication to a well-being first( theirs and yours), agendas second philosophy.
I have had the "good" fortune to have several challenging individuals in the last couple of years. They have asked of me "Farah, do you possess the patience, creativity, courage and skill to train us without force, or taking away our individual strong personalities and spirits?" I have seemingly drawn these horse to me that others would have given up on or tried to submit to their will in their pursuit of competitive success. They find me because they know I will see them for who they are and recognize their strengths and weaknesses as I recognize my own. Most of all these horse have shown me how to find other ways to create a partnership with a not so easy partner for a much more rewarding and educational journey. I never liked "easy" horses. I always had a draw to opinionated larger then life horsenalities for good or bad. They keep me on my toes and learning, creative and growing as a trainer and a person. I never forget that they don't have to participate in anything I ask. If they choose to willingly, I am filled with gratitude and wonder still to this day as I ask them to jump and perform intricate dressage maneuvers. It amazes me...



Me and Mercury Ride Bridless for the first time

Me and Mercury try out Bridless riding for the first time ever. Mercury is a 5 year old Dutch Warmblood I have had since he was a yearling. Bridleless Jumping has been our goal and we are working towards this. To appreciate the magnitude of this trust it must be known that this colt was one of the biggest buckers I have ever started and he is thin skinned, sensitive, Playful and can be spooky and hot! He is also one of the smartest and hardest try-ers I've ever had.


FDT is pleased to bring you...Chiropractic care for you and your horse!

I am pleased to be introducing and be collaborating with Dr. Heather M. Brown,,Wellness Educator & Network Spinal Analysis Chiropractor. We will be offering a once a month Equine adjustment clinic and upcoming Human and Equine adjusting workshops to be announced. Ship ins will be encouraged to the decided upon locations and she can see up to 15-20 horses. Prices will start at 75.00 and go down with quantity. 3 or more will be 65.00. I have seen nothing short of miracles in some of my experiences with Network Chiropractic on myself and my personal horses in as little as 6- 8 adjustments.

Issues that can be helped are:

Freedom in movement
Short stridedness
Lead changes and lead issues
Conformation faults
and more

Contact me for more information and stay tuned for updates on locations and dates.


A Clinic with Mark Rashid

I recently had the Pleasure of attending a Mark Rashid Clinic. It was a great experience. I took lots of affirmation of my own work as well as some new tool nuggets for some problem solving I had been doing. My good friend and her Cowboy Mounted Shooting Mare (seen in the photo with Mark) rode in the clinic while I audited and videoed. I have been working with her and her mare for a couple of years and she had a basically no right lead canter. I felt that this was a chiropractic issue and lo and behold Mark was working side by side with an Equine chiropractor at this particular clinic. So horse after horse came in with what looked like soundness issues and after an adjustment on site, went a whole bunch better. It was awesome to see the before and after from just one adjustment. There was also a lecture from the chiropractor about the structural issues in horses that was very enlightening. My eye got even sharper then it already was before by talking to him and getting his feedback on what I was seeing in the "off" horses.

Mark and his wife Chrissi worked with a variety of horses and disciplines and levels which is always good to see. Him and his wife were very soft spoken and kind but firm when they needed to be. I liked that. We came away with an exercise for my friends mare that would help strengthen her push off leg into the canter after she got adjusted. He agreed with my evaluation of her being physically unable and too weak in her muscles to take the lead with a rider. In other words super one sided.

The key points I took away from the clinic were: Breath!!!!, Ride from your core always. Think in terms of you and your horse as a "We" not a "I" tell "you" what to do and you do it. "We do it together" Use visualization first always. Never release on an un quiet mind. Those are just some of the broad strokes.

I highly recommend attending one of his clinics if you can make it to one. It was one of the best I have ever been to. Also, check out his books and DVD's and website.



New Series: The Training Pyramid

I have wanted to talk about the Training Pyramid (or Scale) for some time as I believe if you understand it and use it, it will help you with even the most basic training of the pleasure horse. Whatever discipline you ride or train, it is a simple comprehensive guideline to successfully moving up the more advanced manuevers. What is the Training Pyramid you ask? Well it may be associated with Dressage mainly, but as a student of Horsemanship and Trainer of all disciplines, I use this system to start, train, and problem solve issues as I go. The image you see at the top is meant to be read from BOTTOM to TOP. It is a system that basically if followed carefully and understood clearly will provide you with a simple formula for training. So Rhythm is the first focus of the system. Look at Rhythm as the first grade or entry level of the scale. You start here and you get it as close to perfect as you can before you go to the next stage, which is Suppleness, and so on. I will get into what they are one at a time in each part. When you combine this with a Natural Horsemanship philosophy, it is win win. Stay tuned for the next section in the series.


Working the Waterhole Rituals...

I wanted to relay my experience with using the Waterhole Ritual exercises from Carolyn Resnick's training program. I know everyone I work with is on some level looking for what Carolyn's program and work is about. Unfortunately, I see some people going about it in the completely opposite way they should.
I train a lot of people's horses for them and I like to try to have a good relationship with them in spite of not owning them. I also deal with a lot of behavioral issues and have to be able to effectively help people deal with them. I found Carolyn's program irreplaceable in my program to achieve these things. It not only improved the relationship I have with my clients horses, it improved my relationship with my new surprise foal from spring last year. She was only the second one I had had from birth in a long string of young horses I have owned and worked with. She was also quite dominant and disrespectful from birth. In all the babies I had seen and worked with, she was the most dominant I'd ever had. The Rituals proved to be the perfect work for her. I especially like them for babies as they are all liberty and I prefer not to put too much "Technical" training on my babies. I found You don't need much "technical" training with this program. I believe that is Carolyn's point. When you have a bond of trust and communication with your horse, The communication is quite easy. It is as if they know what you want and they are quite willing to follow you as you have proven yourself to be worthy of taking direction from. Or just a plain good Leader. I have proved this to myself by applying these exercises to several different horses in pasture/herd situations that I work with. I have been able to get all the horses to willing follow me away from food, their herd and friends with no halter or lead to the barns to get ready for riding or ground work. Even the most dominant and antisocial ones!To understand the true impact you must know that I have been able to achieve this in minutes (not because I was in a rush but because they work that fast, done correctly and with all the horses I worked with) with horses I have never done it with and with my clients and there horses. The most important part of this to me is I like that the horses are choosing to go with me to train, not me going and getting them to train. I feel like the quality of our relationship is much better and our time together is fun and interesting for both of us. You should only do these exercises if you feel reasonably safe with your horse unless you are a seasoned professional. Otherwise I would seek someone to assist you who knows the system. Here is a link to Carolyn's site to find out more and Purchase her DVD's or books. I highly recommend them.


Weaning done right?...

Those of you who know of Little Miss Elsa, my surprise foal also know she is coming 1 already! I had blogged previously about concerns over weaning in a less traumatic fashion then was standard. The standard being anywhere from 3-6 months and sudden separation to 2 completely different locations. This was supposed to be the best way. Then why was there fear of injury and horses jumping and breaking through fences etc. This didn't seem right to me. I had not planned on having a foal, but since my luck saw fit to give her to me, I took the responsibilty on and decided to do a lot of things different then I had with other babies in the past. I had limited options but figured out a very gentle and non traumatic way to do it. First, We were able to have a nice herd of two mares and one pony mare plus the baby. They got along well and Elsa learned herd social order from them all. At 6 months, I decided it would be good to separate them but put Elsa and her pony auntie in with her and Mom and her friend stayed together in the adjacent paddock. They could still touch and see each other but Elsa could no longer nurse. They seemed ok with this arrangement and all was calm. No drama so far. Come April it was time to move Phoenix, Elsa's mom to a new place in preparation for the upcoming show season. At this point they were well used to being in the adjacent paddocks for months now. The day before I took Phoenix, I asked her to load up in the trailer just to get her comfortable with the idea and she did and we stood there and hung out for awhile. I didn't want to just load her up the next day suddenly and leave. As a result, The next day Phoenix went to her new place and not one of them made a peep or a call or a run around. It was calm, gentle, trauma free, and peaceful. I felt like everybody was ok with it. Most of all, them. Elsa was moved back in with with her Big and little Aunties who look after her well. For the next few days, I checked on Elsa's mood and attitude and she seemed happy and well adjusted which made me happy. Phoenix also settled in well to her new arrangement. I wish this for every Mare and foal...



Natural First aid kit item list

Here is a list of the items I mentioned:

Organic Apple cider vinegar-Bragg is a good brand
Goldenseal powder-Styptic blood clotting
Rescue Remedy
Surgical tube
Calendula Tincture and or Gel/ointment
Liquid Savvy-Simply NHN Iodine herbal mix for wounds and thrush
Devil's Claw-Bute Substitute
Traumeel-Homeopathic Brand gel or oinment
Tea Tree oil-skin issues fungus, thrush dilute with oil like vitamin E
Vitamin E oil-great for skin and cuts mix w/ tea tree to make anti infective

Arnica Montana-Trauma, fall, injury, accident also good for over exertion
Symphytum(Comfrey)-Bone bruises injuries fractures
Ruta Grave-Soft tissue, tendon, sprain, strain, ligament injury
Rhus Tox-Poison Ivy and Arthritis issues
Apis-for stings and bites

Colic Homeopathy
Colocynthis-General unknown cause
Nux Vomica-Spasm, impaction
Colchicum-Not Cold Chicken! Over eating, grass, grain
Chamomilla-Gas colic
Arsenicum Album-Restless pawing kicking up and down

Basic Items:
Thermometer-Normal temp 99-101.5
Stethoscope-heart and colic gut noise
Leatherman tool

GV26-resusitation point directly under nose
Ear point massage-for colic calming general health

Resting pulse-38-40 bpm-check side of foot, under jaw, under chest left

A couple more things, DUCT TAPE 101 uses around the barn! Mainly wrapping hooves for punctures or abcesses with a gauze or baby diapers. great for putting in Hoof Savvy or similar to sooth and draw. And Aloe Vera is another all purpose remedy for wounds, rashes, sunburn, sunscreen, etc.

Regarding the Pressure bandage and tourniquet application. You only want to use a Tourniquet if pressure is not enough to slow and or stop blood flow. You are trying to give the body time to stop the bleeding and naturally clot and coagulate. You pressure at aprox 5 minute intervals and check to see if it has slowed. Same with Tourniquet, if bleeding has not stopped with pressure add Tourniquet and check at few minute intervals to see if bleeding has stopped.

And yes a lot of these items are in my Shop if you need them!


Don't miss tonight's NHN Radio show!

Join DC and I tonight at NHN Radio for Natural First Aid and Medicine kits...click the player to listen or sign in to chat live and ask questions during the broadcast.


Natural First Aid

Did you know there are several widely used commercial wound dressings that are actually toxic to animals and humans? Did you know there is an acupuncture point that can help revive a distressed person or animal? Did you know there are homeopathic remedies fo colic? Did you know apple cider vinegar has many therapeutic uses? Did you know there is a natural anti iflammatory that is as effective as Bute but doesn't carry the same side effects? Join me and DC to find out the answers to these questions and more on tomorrows show.
Link to NHN Radio


Thanks to my horses...

Every time I have a terrible day, I am so thankful that I can go to my horses and they instantly make me forget my troubles. I sometimes think, maybe I shouldn't go to them when I am having a bad day for fear that I will be short on patience or my attitude will rub off on them since they are mirrors. But alas, this never seems to be the case. I take one out and start to groom and focus on all their good spots. If I take an extra long time, I am already feeling better before I tack up. Or maybe I'm just going to hang out with them while they graze or do liberty work. My colt is an expert at making me laugh. Whatever it is, when I leave the barn, that horse magic or healing has done it's job on me and I have forgotten my troubles, at least for a time...


Exercise for people...good for you and your horse

I wanted to post an exercise for people that will improve your life and your horsemanship. It's very simple and will make a huge difference in you world if you can make it permanent. Here it is. SLOW DOWN. That's it...SLOW DOWN everything. Your daily habits, your driving, your thoughts, your eating, your energy. SLOW DOWN. I am throwing down a challenge for everyone who reads this to slow down their life for one week and hopefully forever. Slow down your kids, your schedule, your relationships. Then take it to your horses and animals. Work more slowly more deliberately at everything and see how you feel after a time of practicing this. Even if you can do it for only a day. I'd like to get feedback from people on this to see how it affected their world.


Bonnita Roy Clinic (The Horses at Alderlore) part 2

This weekend was the second clinic with Bonnita Roy. We had a larger group and some new horses. There was some good x factors this time. ICE SLIDING on the roof of the indoor made for some pretty interesting and hard work because the horses startled easily and that made them jumpy at first. But that being said we all did our parts to work through it (those of us who didn't have horses that were a bit too intimidating to the owners to work with). Bonnie took over with the horses the owners were a bit afraid of to show them that they were only reflecting the peoples fears back to them and if they could reflect back to horse calm soft energy, (easier said then done for some) The horse would soon follow. She worked with some particulary challenging horses and they transformed to calm and soft by the end of her time with them. Key points she made was it is important to see the horse in the moment just as he is. Not come into any interactions with projections like that horse is dominant or spooky or shy. I particularly resonated with this because as professional trainers, we learn to make quick evaluations of horse and humans and in that aspect can (even when we try to be neutral) project and actually create and attract the very behavior we are trying to change. I see it all the time with horses. The horse changes based on who is handling them for better or worse.

Some of us were in the second group having completed our first Dance class. The next phase was liberty. Last time we worked with the Cordero. It was interesting after reflection that the energy of the people was so mixed and there was a 50/50 split between people who were scared and people who were able to maintain calmness. My personal horse Mercury was in rare form and came in with huge energy. Now normally he is a goof and very playful but this day he was off the charts! What a display (I wish I had video of that)! It took a while to get him to focus but we were able to get a little progress eventually. I felt that being the sensitive horse he is, He was picking up on all the mixed up energy, I was too.
I got to work with one of her personal horses after him who was a little calmer and I could practice my dancing position a bit better. That was good because after a few days of feeling like I had 2 left feet, It soaked it in and on tuesday, when we were all by our lonesome in the arena, Mercury and I had our first "Dance"...with ice crashing and all....


Don't forget tonight NHN Radio show on Flower Essences!

Go and register to login now so you can call in or chat live with me about Flower Essences for horses,people and other pets! See you there!


Don't Miss Upcoming Radio Shows on Natural Horse Network on Flower Essences

Don't forget February 16th to tune in for a another great Natural Horse Network show with DC on Flower Essences! Also tonight don't miss Carolyn Resnick and Liz Mitten Ryan Wow!


Clinic with Bonnita Roy Part 1

In my never ending quest to explore horses, Today was our first workshop with Bonnie Roy of the Horses at Alderlore. Her workshops consists of Klaus Hempfling, Linda Kohanov and others in that vein inspired work. Working on true connection and spiritual growth through and with horses. She uses her own herd including her stallion Khemancho at her place to do workshops for horseman and non horseman alike. Her work encompasses all different areas and I encourage people to go to her site to see the scope.
Our particular workshop involved working with our own horses and observing non-judgementally, our relationship with them. We did this by doing a series of exercises at liberty one at a time while we watched each other.
We had an extremely interesting mix of horses and people ranging from a Morgan, Belgium, Quarter Horse, Freisian and Dutch warmblood! Also, with very different circumstances.
I was particularly intrigued by her work with the barn manager and her belgium mare that had agression and abuse issues. This mare was a force to be reconed with and intimidated us all. I knew somehow this work would be helpful to her but I didn't know how. She just let the mare tell her how much she could handle and Bonnie listened. Bonnie worked with her owner as a team and the mare became soft and happy before our eyes. It was great to watch. It gave her owner new tools to work with to build there relationship beyond one based on fear of this formidable mare.
As for myself, I worked with my Warmblood. He is an extremely sensitive extremely smart horse. I raised him from a yearling and as you can imagine we have a great rapport with each other. But here is what I learned. My horse is so smart he is an overachiever. I also had found that lately, He would so over anticipate tasks, that I could not get him to stand still and wait for me. I saw that this was out of balance and was in the process of working on this area of our relationship. Bonnie helped me see this more clearly. Slow down she said, be more aware of my body language. I was sending unintentional cues to him I didn't even notice. And because he is THAT sensitive I need to be more aware. That's why we all need eyes on us.
Upon further reflection later in the day, I realized I had created this learning monster because I kept saying to myself "he is so smart I have to keep giving him tasks to keep him challenged" we forgot how to do nothing. I also saw in myself that I am quick minded and fast learning and I need to SLOW DOWN. And even though I thought I had mentally slowed down, It wasn't enough. I have been working on this for some time now and Mercury mirrored to me exactly that. And that no matter how aware I THOUGHT I was, he was telling me I was not paying attention to my own energy. Which is the caveat of being a trainer. We ofter pay more attention to the horse then ourselves. And that's why I knew this workshop was perfect for me! I highly recommend her and look forward to the next one on the 22nd of february.


Observing the inventors of Natural Horsemanship in action today...

Today, I had the privelege of watching the inventors of NH in action, The horses themselves. I was at my barn and I was observing a paddock which had just had a new horse added to two others.
I also was reflecting on Linda Kohanov's teleseminar and what she had said about Dominant horses vs. Lead horses.
In the adjacent paddock was my friends horse, displaying very anti-social and dominant behavior. Aggressively lunging at the fence, pinning his ears and acting very agitated. I had no doubt that he would hurt the other horses in the paddock if he was in with them. In the other paddock was a true Lead horse showing me how "real" round penning is done. He was moving the new horse around in an assertive but not dominant way. The second horse mimicked him and followed and was showing that he was already established with the Lead horse. I saw the dance between them. The new horse stopped, turned and faced, looked in several times, dropped his head and walked. He wanted to talk it over. Come and Join up. The lead horse looked away and showed no interest. I watched this for some time. It was so interesting to watch them do it. Not a human! I felt like I had a refresher lesson from the masters themselves.


Visualization...This stuff really works...

I wanted to share the successes I have been having recently using visualization. One was with the Freisian and his owner in their lesson and the other was with my mare Phoenix in her training.
In the lesson with the Freisian we are working on getting him to reach further underneath himself with more flexibility and power with the hind legs. He is weak in his hind end and tends to want to be short strided. To "visualize" this yourself, If you imagine as your horse is walking, trotting or cantering (easiest while walking at first)the back feet are coming all the way up to you cinch or girth. If you watch horses move at liberty, some do this naturally and some do not. Or another way to look at it is to watch a horse lunging and watch to see if the back hoof print is in, over, or not up to the front hoof print(you have to watch for a bit to see this). Anyway I had his owner visualize the hind feet coming forward further under his body and he did it. Just like that! I then got on him and showed her how it looked when I did it. Very cool.
The next case is a lot more difficult. I have a Right brain extrovert(in Parelli speak) My mare Phoenix. In lay terms she is more go then whoa and quite ADD or even ADHD at times. Anyway, standing still is like torture to her. She hates it. She will throw tantrums at times if she has to stand still longer than she feels like. So picture cross tying. Total ants in the pants! wiggling side to side, back and forth, pawing. So for the past fews sessions I have been working on sending her pictures of her standing relaxed with a leg cocked and feeling ok about it. In the visualization, I tell her that this is a relaxing place to be and I see her with her head down and calm. So guess what happened. She started standing still! Quietly and calmly. Today she stood for a very long time without getting into the wiggles. I was very proud of her. And she seemed to "get it" and be ok with it. I will tell you that this worked better then weeks of trying to back her up to the same spot and "stand" her there using all the NH techniques I know. Very cool. Try it out.