12.01.2010

We, Us, Together equals Partnership

"We" are napping together...

 I want to give you  an exercise that promotes a Partnership Mindset in you and your horse. It is quite simple. As consistent with most of my exercises, this one requires you only to change your thinking and approach to your regular work/play with your horse. 

The change is to mentally think "We" are going here or there. Or doing this obstacle or Lateral movement. Instead of "You" (the horse) are going to do this task. Or "I" (the rider) are making you do this task for me. Which often leads to this thought process "You" (the horse) are not doing as I asked and are being stubborn, uncooperative, or disrespectful. And now "We" are both frustrated, and anxious or both.

What this Thinking does is set intention for you and you horse and give you both the feeling of working as a team. We as humans, tend to have a more cooperative attitude when thinking of anyone or any animal as a team mate or a partner. We tend to "Ask" for cooperation rather then demand it. We also tend to be more patient with communication and expectations. The most important point for the horse and your horsemanship though is, you are mirroring a cooperative, co-creative attitude which your horse will feel and mirror back to you. Remember good leadership starts with "Being" what you want your horse to "Be" and then "Being Together"
FDT
http://fdhorsetraining.com/

11.23.2010

Feeding horses optimally and Supplementation

Healthy from the inside out!
I would like to offer some ideas about nutrition and supplementation as people seem to have a hard time navigating this subject with their horses. As someone who feeds myself well, it makes common sense to me to use similar guidelines in food choices for my horses. I eat as much unprocessed whole food as I can and that's how I feed my horses and dogs.

What is whole unprocessed food? It is food that has literally been unprocessed or minimally processed. An Apple or Carrot raw is an unprocessed food. So is a steam crimped, rolled or whole oat. A hay pellet or Alfalfa pellet has been processed into meal and pressed into pellets so there is some processing but you are getting a relatively pure product in Alfalfa pellets. With Hay pellets you need to be label savvy to make sure your not getting a lot of uneccesary ingredients especially if your feeding them to Cushings or Insulin Resistent horses as they can have high molasses content. Chopped Dengie and other brands of bagged hay often have molasses added as well and you need to be aware of that if your horse needs to avoid it. Molasses in itself is not the worst thing but it is not a necessary ingredient and is over used as sugar is in human food.

Diets should be clean and simple not too fancy. If supplementation is needed for balancing vitamin and minerals, a free choice set up is nice so horses can pick what they want and in what amounts as they would in nature. For specific supplementation issues, such as Joints, Real mineral deficiencies, Probiotics, and specified health issues (allergies, respiratory, immune weakness, hoof) you want to pick high quality hand crafted mixes that cater to your horses needs. Most big name supplements have a lot of leeway in how much they put of actual therapeutic amounts for their dosing. I will repeat be a SAVVY label reader. Do the math. How much per scoop not per bucket of the so called active ingredient is in the supplement. Also, what kind of other fillers and artificial flavors are in there. Make sure the dosing is to the weight of your horse not just a scoop AM and PM. You may have a Mini or a Draft and the amounts will vary a huge amount. I find that you get what you pay for a lot in supplements so you may say "wow that supplement is expensive!" And buy the cheaper one. I can almost guarantee the cheaper one is of lower active ingredients and quality. Again check labels against price. It goes up as active ingredient amounts go up which is what makes them effective. You could be wasting you money on the cheaper one.

To close I am going to give you some recommendations on some resources and feeds that are in my program. Also remember to consult with your vets before making changes in feeds and make any changes very gradually.

Typically I feed:

Free choice high quality hay is the main source in my horses diets and or grazing
Whole oats, crimped or rolled oats
Alfalfa Pellets (if my hay has no alfalfa mixed in it)
Hay Pellets
Ground Flax seed
Kelp or Seaweed powder or pellets
Free choice Minerals
Whole Apples, Carrots
Treats made from good ingredients

The Supplements or companies I swear by from experience are:

GlC: I give my young sport horses as a preventative and for maintenance in arthritic or "sticky" horses. It just plain works and it is very pure. Horses after 30 days are moving much more freely and with more elasticity. I also use higher doses for rehabing soft tissue injuries as it helps repair and regenerate.

Gem Country Equine: Owned by my friend Angela Morlan who is a supplement genius at making custom supplements for your horse and their needs. She goes by weight and uses organic and pure ingredients no fillers. Her prices are incredibly competitive for a superior product. You tell her the problem, she'll make it for you. Also if you want a blend for a couple of issues you can get that too. Totally custom! How cool is that. Her email is gemcountryequine@gmail.com

Advanced Biological Concepts: For free choice supplements and feeders. They also have and extensive line of quality products.
http://www.a-b-c-plus.com/index.html

Happy Natural Horse: Hyland's Big Sky free choice minerals http://www.happynaturalhorse.com/shop.html

Standlee Hay company: Huge selection of pure hay pellets of all varietys and mixes http://www.standleehay.com/ViewProduct.aspx?type=sh&id=ogp

11.15.2010

Keeping Training and Practice Fun and Joyful

Mercury learned to smile from me teaching him how to take oral medicine. How useful is that! And he thinks he's so cool he walks around smiling all the time. Especially for the camera! Big ham...
As a young riding student, I learned a fairly traditional approach to horses and riding. This was niether good nor bad. It was what it was. I was taught all the basic things you are taught as a young student and I soaked it up like a sponge never questioning any of my instructors. As I got older and morphed into a trainer and teacher myself, my thirst for knowledge never ceased and is still there. I was starting to expand out of the box of traditional Horsemanship and branch into some other ideas of approaching horses and training.

The real revolution occurred with the idea that Practice and training of horses could actually be more like playing or a game and it could be fun not only for ME, but also for my HORSE. What a concept! As youngsters most of us were taught that riding was a fun activity, We LOVED horses with a passion and wanted them to love us back. But how many of us really thought about if our horse was having fun with our goals we had. Hunters, Jumpers. Eventing, Dressage, Western Pleasure, Reining etc. I'll tell you right now as someone who is still actively competing and coaching, I look into the eyes of some horses and they do not look like they are having fun. They are being obedient and performing but why can't it be fun for them too?

The first step to making it fun for your horse is to start by building a connection using a method such as Carolyn Resnick's Waterhole Rituals or something similar. This helps foster a horse who likes to be with you and wants to participate in the activities you may set up. The next thing is pick horses who have at least a little aptitude for the work you'd like them to do. This has nothing to do with breed or size. It has to do with raw materials. They don't have to be the next Olympic Reiner or Jumper but they will enjoy the exercises more if it is EASY for them to do them once they understand the question. The next step is relaxing agendas and being creative with exercises. Present them in little pieces, step by step. Not all horses learn the same way. Just like us. If they don't seem to get it one way, try another approach. Reward the slightest try and act like your horse is the smartest, coolest horse ever.Use the 10 second exercise between tries to allow your horse to come up with something. Don't judge what ever he comes up with. Go with it. Give treats at the right time as motivators. Horses like to know there is a food reward involved especially with hard exercises. The timing and giving of the treat is important to the "games' and "puzzles" you create. Some of my happiest training accidents have been when my horse was trying to invent a "New" exercise to offer me. You'll note that I said my horses will "Offer" or invent things on their own. If you let your work/play be like this then it is likely that your horse will invent things on his own and if you are open and flexible you might be knocked over by what your horse can do!  I encourage this experimenting and interaction. That is when it is the most fun (even magical seeming) for me AND my horse! Happy Training!

11.05.2010

Winter Virtual Clinic Classes










I will be offering Online Integrative Horsemanship and Equine Wellness classes this winter and will be looking forward to getting input from my Blog readers for what you may be interested in learning more about. I have already had some requests for some introductions to Holistic remedies and Flower essences. Fearful riders also seems to be a popular topic. I would like to offer some virtual riding clinics as well so there should be something for everyone in every discipline. I will be using video and other media to support the classes so all you need is a computer, a phone, and the desire to learn to participate. Let me know your thoughts!

10.28.2010

Colt starting contests, Mustang Makeovers, and Clinics...

Colts from a contest
This subject has been on my mind a lot lately because it seems to be getting more popular.
People ask me from time to time why I don't enter a colt starting contest. There is now some for women exclusively. My response is "Why what's in it for the horse?"


And though I would love to get a Mustang at some point, He will be started with an attention to his pace and comfort level and no need to be put on display in 90 days to do some amazing feat. I am not against the principle of the Mustang contests. These horses need homes and that is the goal, but I question the entertainment concept and putting them on show. Could there be a less stressfull way to do this? Absolutely. Would it be less glamorous? Probably.

I have watched from the side lines as a horse lover and a professional these colt starting contests. I have not been excited by what I saw. I see horses being started in record times and doing very complex tasks in absurd amounts of time. What impresses me the most? It is not the skill of the Clinician in the arena. As usual it is the huge heart of the horse. Their willingness to let us subject them to whatever our whim is. It is the same thing that awes me everyday I am around them. With that said, it is my personal feeling that I, as a human should not take advantage of the horses generous and willing nature. It is my responsibilty to respect it and handle it with care. They show me again and again their huge heart and desire for connection if only given the time to let it unfold.

My final thought is how Clinicians and horses are increasingly being put in a very tough position when horses are brought to them to be "fixed" in a few hours or one, two or three days. The pressure to deliver results is very high and again falls squarely on the horses nature.

We are obsessed as a culture with speed and how fast we can get things done. Just because I possess the skill to do something very fast does not mean it is the best way for me or the horse. Last time I checked, Horsemanship was not a race it was a skill that took the time to consider the horses well being at all stages no matter what our goals are. Competitve or not.

Just my two cents...
FDT

10.20.2010

The 10 second exercise

Elsa taking a 10 second break in the hay pile...
I wanted to share an exercise I came up with which helps you learn to slow down your responses, be clearer in your communication and thinking, relax you and you horse and ride better.
All you have to do is do all the same things you usually practice with the simple addition of a 10 second moment between each request you make. It doesn't matter if you are doing Liberty, Ground Work or Riding. It will be hard for some but what it will do is help you stay focused, clear, and relaxed and in turn this will mirror to your horse.
So for example if you make a request for your horse to do something like move or walk, you count to 10 before you request anything else. Whatever it may be. If you canter, wait 10 seconds before you make a change. If you horse does something, I want you to wait 10 seconds before you do something with it UNLESS there is a safety issue. I'd like to hear what people find leave me a comment on your experiences when you try it out!
FDT

10.11.2010

Visualization and Intention Setting

Visualization and Intention Setting are two powerful and under utilized tools in our relationship and training of our horses. How many of you have uttered the phrase " I just thought it and he did it" while working with a horse? I bet some of you have.
It is in our mind but we cast it off as a unique incident or that the horse is really trained or super sensitive. Now those factors of course can be in play but what if we worked from this place all the time.
First let's break down Visualization and the different uses for it. I use Visualization in Riding, Training, and other times with my horses. The reason I put the two together is that when you Visualize you are starting to set your Intention. Visualization is when I clearly picture something in my head. It could be a particular movement as small as moving the horses body or leg a certain way, it could be a larger movement of leg yielding, it could be seeing the horse take the canter on the left lead etc. It could also be a calming visualization for me or the horse. I may see the horses posture in a more relaxed shape with the head lower and may mirror breathing calmly to the horse. I may see myself as softening and relaxing my body by visualizing something the triggers that in me. It is only your imagination that is the limit.
When it comes to Intention Setting. This can be a long and short term idea. I may say I want to do a Liberty Piaffe with my horse or I want jump four feet. So I have set my intention. By doing that, if we stay fluid and opened to the path to that goal it will most certainly happen. As soon as I set my intention, if I get out of the way, everything starts to move in that direction. Even training problems seem to fix themselves. Another good place for Intention setting is for a fearful rider. You may say "I want to walk out on the trails with my horse in 3 months and feel safe and calm" This helps you start on a positive path as opposed to this mind set of "I'm afraid to do this, I can't do this". Setting small achievable goals and knowing exactly when to push past yours or your horses comfort zone are keys to moving forward. Even so called backward steps are just reminders of readjusting your intentions or slowing down. If you listen to these little guides you will stay more fluid with yourself and your horse. Mistakes are only road signs to pay attention to. Read them and follow what they say and you'll get back on the path. The next time you go to your horse, try setting your Intention and then Visualizing what it is you want the horse to do. Let me know how it goes in the comments! Also write your Intentions down so you can start working toward them. Below you will see and example of my own Intention setting and Visualization. A long time ago, I never dreamed of riding without a bridle and doing dressage or jumping and then I saw people do it and I said "I can do that" and I saw myself doing it and I did it on a horse that was very difficult to ride it was a testament to what you can accomplish when you use these tools. See my first free ride in an open field I did last week and my first jumping video on only my second attempt at bridless riding in the videos below...
FDT

10.02.2010

Relationship problem vs. Training Problem

What Connection,Trust, and a strong bond can do...Mercury and I riding bareback, bridless, cantering and about to jump
In my travels as a trainer, I have obviously come across many horse-human problems. I have been called in to help the human with the horse. They say the horse does "x" and I don't like it or it scares me. As a career problem solver, I have learned to put things into categories so I can facilitate the problem solving process for both parties. The first step is asking is this a Relationship problem or a Training Problem? Also there is another category. Technical Training versus Behavioral training but that is for another blog.

What are some things that fall into Relationship problems? Hard to catch would be one, Head shyness could be another. Refusing to go certain places, or anxiousness and tension. Some people would say these are respect and obedience problems but I look at things from the horses point of view.
If a horse doesn't want to be caught, they may not be looking forward to some things that happen after they are. That list could be a long one starting with hard work programs to just plain bad chemistry with their person, Poor fitting equipment, leaving friends etc. This is a Relationship problem because if the horse was bonded, connected and trusting the person who comes out, they will most likely happily come to you or at least allow you to walk up and halter them.
Another symptom of a Relationship problem would be a horse exhibiting tension while being ridden and spooking. Another symptom of Lack of trust and not having confidence in the leadership of the person handling them.
As someone who has built connection with some horses who really didn't want to work for anyone, I have seen first hand that they will give so much when you take the time to build Relationship with them. Often a lot of misunderstood horses can be worked with to gain a great partnership if only you are willing to take the time. I find far too many people just can't be bothered to work with a horse that is not absolutely simply and calm. These horses often have a lot of untapped talent and heart. But the problem is often how people relate to them and their not so easy behavior. Calling them stupid or bad or disrespectful.
The word Respect is thrown around horse training far too casually and it becomes the label for every problem behavior. Some Disrespectful behavior has developed from the persons disrespectful behavior to the horse. Respect is a two way street. This is how I explain it to a horse. I'm going to respect you and your feelings and I expect the same in return. Once these things are in place Technical Training becomes a pleasure and much easier for both horse and human. Think about your horse and how good your relationship is and if it could use some building or he's your best four legged friend!

9.22.2010

Natural born eventer works for head rubs, treats...


James proved to be a lovable eventer

Natural Horsemanship veteran Farah DeJohnette’s methodology starts in the stall.
The “home visit” figures right up there among other important details of buying a horse, from physical conformation to a clean bill of health. This is tantamount to choosing any breed, Warmblood, Thoroughbred or something else.
Stating she has a “knack” for picking low-key Thoroughbreds in this way, DeJohnette says, “I go into the stall because that’s where the horse is who he is. This is where he lets down his track energy.”
And the results speak for themselves. In her 20 years training horses through a method that gains an equine’s trust and cooperative spirit, she has taught her Warmblood to jump with her, at a canter, and without a bridle! And Thoroughbreds and other breeds  have been taught to loosen, relax and work collaboratively in disciplines, which include trail riding, dressage, hunter/jumper and reining.
Race name: Homeland Security
New name: AKA James
Sire: Corporate Report
Dam: Sportin’ Woman
Foal date: April 2, 2001

In his stall at Penn National is where DeJohnette met her all-time favorite horse, an off-track Thoroughbred named Homeland Security, now known as James.
“When I met James in his stall, he was the most soft, friendly horse I’d met. He turned his head to me as if to say, ‘Don’t you just want to love on me?’ It was as though he was asking me to rub his face and hug him.”
Her years of experience had shown her that horses who are flighty, or flinch away from the touch in their stall may have personality issues to overcome. By contrast, she recognized James as an equine gem.

Farah DeJohnette takes a jump on another horse
Working through a service called Mix n’ Match, which helps connect buyers with off-track Thoroughbreds, DeJohnette found the 16-hand Chestnut with white blaze and socks roughly three years ago.
He was the type of horse that nobody could pass by without commenting. “Everybody would tell me James was such a nice horse and he really was,” she says. “His energy is so kind and sweet and gentle.”
She laughs now when she thinks about  how his personality first affected her. “I imagined he felt a little dejected because he wasn’t a good racehorse,” DeJohnette says. “I always talk to the horses and I told him I thought I had a job for him that he’d be really good at.”
She proved correct.
After four or five months of training, James was purchased by a young girl, and  ran “double-clean” is his first event years ago. He went on to finish in the top six at numerous horse trials. “He jumped cross country, did a dressage test, and did all the natural jumps, and he didn’t have any penalties.
“He started a totally new career, in a new environment, and he just went out and did it like he’d been doing it his entire life.”
James was rare, true, but his story of transitioning from the racetrack into a successful off-track life through Natural Horsemanship training, is not unusual one.
By working with a horse’s natural herd instinct, Natural Horsemanship techniques attempt to build order, trust, and establish bonds that closely resemble relationships that exist naturally between horses.
It has worked so well with Thoroughbreds she has trained that there have been times she has suggested an ex-racehorse might fit a client’s bill better than a Warmblood.
“I work in the show world surrounded by a lot of people who have this notion, ‘I want a warmblood.’ I tell them the Thoroughbred is often a better horse, purely from a technical standpoint. And they’ll tell me, ‘Well, it’s just a Thoroughbred.’
“But I’ve realized that I can train a Thoroughbred into being a highly competitive sport horse that won’t break the bank.”
A natural tendency to want to work combined with Natural Horsemanship is a combination that often brings out the best in Thoroughbreds, DeJohnette says.
“To me, Natural Horsemanship was invented for track horses, and horses who have lived in a high-alert state,” she says.

James, with new owner, and her sister

Through trust-building exercises and inducements to bring out the horse’s desire to want to do a task, she has been rewarded by the horse’s willingness to partner up.
After all, the horse is ultimately “choosing” whether to cooperate or not, she notes.
“I don’t care how much restraint you put on a 1,200 pound horse. If he’s frightened, he can snap a leather strap so easily. The point is to let him choose to work,” DeJohnette says. “I always tell people a horse is not under control to me unless he’s choosing to be under control. After all, I’ve been on many horses in my life who don’t care what’s in their mouth. When they decide they’re done, they’re done.”
But when they decide they’re part of your team, and they’re willing, there’s nothing like it. And factor in a Thoroughbred, and the combination can be very winning.
“I have Warmbloods, and they’re great. But I just have a soft spot for Thoroughbreds. And when they go to a show, if they want to work for me, it gives them a real competitive edge against horses who are coerced to work.”
(Please see DeJohnette jumping Mercury, her gelding, without a bridle).
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9.10.2010

Warming up and the importance of it

I would like to impress upon people the importance of simply Warming up your horse for any type of work. I don't care what discipline you ride you need to warm your horse up in what ever way seems appropriate to the individual.

I tend to address training often using simple logic and this is one of those areas. If you are working your horse at a certain level that requires any suppleness, strength, cardio, or athletic difficulty, you need to warm your horse up properly.
Some things that I will do is read my horses posture to know if my horse is ready to start more demanding work. The video shows what posture I like to have in my horse before I start to ask them to do more focused work.

Ask yourself if you went to work out or do a Yoga class, would you want to go right to a bunch of really difficult exercises cold or would you like to loosen up first and gradually get into more challenging things little by little.

Another thing to think about is how we often try to cram a horse into outlines or frames they would actually choose to take naturally if they were given a choice and a bit of time to relax into it. With no help from you. Yes, The horse would actually offer the very thing you were trying to make happen manually and too early in the ride. This could also cause undo strain and injury to a body that isn't ready to go there yet.

When it comes to arthritic and older horses it is even more important to take longer more gentle warm ups to make sure joints get plenty or blood flow to increase mobility and flexibility. These horses will stay sounder longer and work happier and more comfortably.
I have lots of things I do and they vary from horse to horse from hand walking for several minutes to mounted exercises. I have several video exercises some are more involved then others. Some are on the ground and others are mounted see below for examples.




8.26.2010

Bitless: Why I do it...

This horse is notoriously heavy on the fore...
now successfully doing Bitless and Bridless collection
In my journey through Horsemanship and Training, I have come to look for better ways to communicate with my horse with equipment and without. The more skilled I have become the less reliant on equipment I have become.
I always used what I'd call "cheap" western Side Pulls from time to time in my training in the past but wasn't into them enough to convert completely. I hadn't found one that compared with my fine english bridle quality. I also was able to ride in halters, leather and rope, but found them a bit sloppy and imprecise for more than a fun hack around some slightly higher level work. Mechanical Hackamores were to me as aggressive if not more then some bits with bicycle chain and wire wrapped with leather in some designs.
When I found the Buckaroo Leather Side Pull and then went on to design the Padded version with John Brand, I had no idea this bridle would become my go to training piece of equipment until I had it in my hand and kept going back to no matter what type of horse I was riding.
I use it on soft horses, heavy strong horses, young horses, jumpers, dressage horses, western horses and more. I don't care if the horse is green or advanced I still use it.
Of course I still use bits because unfortunately, some competitions wont allow you not too, but hopefully that will change soon. I don't feel I need a bit at all though. Give me enough time with a horse and I can get him to ride beautifully in a Side Pull. Let me reiterate "TIME". It took me time to get the heavy pullers riding nicely in the Side Pull but I took that time as opposed to taking the easy way out and going to bigger bits and gadgets. I took the Time to teach them to be more supple, more balanced and strong through proper work and fitness.
Which leads me to another very interesting point. In my conversion of many horses to Bitless for training, I made a discovery about a common problem. Horses opening their mouths during training with the bit. I discovered that mouth opening had more to do will lack of suppleness in the Poll and being on the forehand then it had to do with the bit! How did I find this out? Well while training some known mouth openers with bits, Once I switched them to bitless guess what? When they were struggling with suppleness, unbalanced or both, They opened their mouth with NO BIT. When they were stiff in their body and poll, They opened their mouth regardless of whether they had the bit or not.
What does this mean? To me it means that the Poll and jaw are connected (not a new discovery in training) but why are we working on the jaw when the problem is originating in the Poll and body?
Hence back to why I use a Side Pull bitless bridles and Neck straps (Corderos). They allow me to talk directly to the body parts I need to without interfering with other body parts and possibly even DISTRACTING the horse from the area that needs focus. I'm not saying there are not dental problems and bitting issues that can arise from the mouth, but I am saying you can find out if you try a bitless bridle and in fact it may be the answer to horses with dental and mouth issues. Just like when I want to see if the saddle is compromising the horses desire to perform. I ride him bareback or with a bareback pad. If he rides fine, then I know the saddle is a problem. More oats for thought from yours truly and my two cents. Also, Don't miss an opportunity to get one of these beautiful bitless bridles right now in my Bridle Shop!

8.18.2010

Product Review: Horsethink Bareback pad

I am always on the lookout for great products for my own training programs. When I find them, I want to share them with you so you can make informed purchases in a sea of products.
This review is on the Horsethink.com Bareback pad. I LOVE this pad! It has all the features I wanted in bareback pad but didn't know until I found it. This pad has a non-slip rubber waffle underside which fixes the problem a lot of cheaper pads have of sliding. It has a felt inner pad which cushions you and your horse and breathes and wicks moisture. It has a quality suede top which is grippy and secure. There is a hand hold for those "uh oh" moments. And last but not least it has english billets which you can select your own dressage short girth to use with. This is Huge! I have long been frustrated by these fluffy nylon bareback pads with poor cinch and girth adjustments. It seems they only fit a certain size horse and you can't quite get them tightened properly. A safety issue. It also makes less bulk under you leg. I give this pad a 10 out of 10 even though it is a bit more money then some pads at $160.00, You get what you pay for in quality, value, safety and fun!
FDT

Yours truly bridless and bareback with my pad on Mercury

8.10.2010

Communication

Clear Communication is a very important and often overlooked part of our relationship with our horses. When I am working with a horse young or old, I am always trying to build a conversation with him while I'm introducing a new task.
Communication to me is made up of several things. It starts with a clear idea in my head or setting my intention. Then I think carefully about my body language, verbal cues or tools I will use and the clear precise way I will use them. Another important piece is giving you and your horse time to read and respond to each other. And how much energy you are going to need. So if I make a request, I need to make sure I am clear and wait to see what my horses response will be. If he responds well, I can positively reinforce the response with praise, a release, or food, If I don't get any response, or the horse offers something other then what I requested, I can decide how I want to proceed after that. I may also make the task easier or simpler if I feel that is the problem.
A problem I often see is people moving too quickly with their cues and body language without thinking and bombarding their horse with too many signals. One of two things happens then, The horse is confused and doesn't know what to respond to first or they get desensitized to the language seeing it as "noise" or chatter.
It is important to break exercises into very small parts and build on and positively reinforce the smallest positive effort. You will engage your horse and create a willing participant who will seek out the next task with enthusiasm and interest.
Ask yourself if you have taken the time to be clear yourself before you make a request to your horse and get frustrated with his response. Also, take time before you ask for each thing and ask for them one at a time increasing the difficulty as your horse gains confidence and going back to an easier exercise if need be. Ignore any "wrong" answers as long as they are not dangerous, rude or disrespectful. Focus only on the positive reactions your horse gives. You will see you sessions together get better and better.
FDT

7.26.2010

A review from Horses All Magazine

I just thought I'd share with everyone this review of my FDT I Instructor videos from Horses All Magazine and Carol Upton.
 
"Farah DeJohnette Instructional Horse Training Videos
2009-2010, starting at $1.99 ea. to download Available at:
Reviewed by Carol M. Upton
“In the end, horses have been the greatest trainers I’ve ever had. In fact, most of the things I learned about life, I learned in the presence of a horse.”
— Farah DeJohnette
Farah DeJohnette has an approach, which she calls “integrative horsemanship,” a blend of natural horsemanship, dressage foundation training and balanced seat riding. DeJohnette’s methods encourage the horse to follow the trainer with mind and heart. She offers riding and training instruction in person and now through a new concept — downloadable, on-demand videos specific to the rider’s needs. Take these short lessons along to the barn on a phone or ipod and discover how everything you do with your horse can flow more easily.
The Yield of Forequarters video I chose to view first is an excellent one for use with all horses, but particularly in dressage and reining. DeJohnette teaches the execution of a relaxed pivot. Using basic, practical language, she discusses building competency with each exercise to progress to the desired result.
Steering Techniques to Harmonize with Your Horse provides a lesson on the use of your core and eyes to “steer from your body” and assist your horse in balanced turns. Exercises are kept simple, with clear instructions on when to use aids to augment the bodywork.
The third video I looked at was Neck Strap Exercise, more advanced for the rider who is teaching collection and preparing for bridleless riding. DeJohnette recommends having a good foundation in liberty work before proceeding to this training, which involves a series of walk-halts, so that the horse learns to follow the rider’s body.
These videos offer a unique, eco-friendly way for equestrians to choose particular topics from an extensive list that includes liberty, ground training and jumping. They are perfect tools for those who wish to extend their learning beyond lessons they are taking or who cannot readily access a trainer.
Farah DeJohnette’s talent in over 20 years of competitive horse training makes her a uniquely skilled trainer. She offers lessons,
training, virtual coaching, videos and bitless bridles at"

7.15.2010

Positive Reinforcement










As I have come to work with some challenging horses and with the wisdom of time and experience, I have come shape my training around Positive Reinforcement.

What is Positive Reinforcement? It can be Verbal, Physical, Food, or allowing the horse to do something he wants to do. If I have a horse that may have some undersireable behavior I basically ignore it and focus on the rewarding the behavior I do like and build up from there. We tend to fixate on the "Bad" behavior and correcting it instead of teaching the horse a new pattern.

For example, if a horse is rude around food I would not correct him or yell at him for being pushy and aggressive. I would think of what I might like the horse to do instead and set about showing him how to do that and then rewarding the positive change. So I might say to the horse with my body language or even a stick, "could you move back over there about 5-6 steps and "whoa"? The horse may need to be requested several times to stay back and wait, but I will just keep asking politely until he says "ok" by standing and giving me eye contact. At that point I will give him the precious food he so much wanted and we will have had a conversation about how I'd like him to conduct himself around me and food. Ultimately respect my leadership and safety and I will be more then happy to give him what he wants. Leadership is  balance thing.

If we are Ogres and control freaks all the time, the horse will run the other way when we come to the pasture. On the other hand if we are push overs, we can get hurt and frustrated because our horse out ranks us.
We need to focus on consistent positive, behavior patterns and keep working with them daily.

When I have worked with difficult horses, I find as long as I can get them to honor my personal space, we can start to have a conversation about what might be a better way to work together. I don't really care if a horse is a bucker, rearer,striker or kicker. None of these things can hurt me if the horse is not in my personal space. So if I have this horse and he is upset or even aggressive, we have to learn how to be in a space and respect each other. If I feel safe I can let the horse express his opinions freely until he feels heard and then he will probably listen to me. A lot of times a horse wants us to just listen. Like a person who's upset.This horse often stops protesting when he sees I am not going to make a request until he shows me his softer side. Also, by not trying to control the "bad" behavior it often diffuses itself and fizzles out. If you don't feed that energy, it goes hungry.  Same with fear and spookiness.

Some horses seek negative reinforcement just as much as positive because they are smart and it has gotten a rise out of the human. It can become a game that you don't even know you are playing. If I ignore this game and then see some behavior I like, I will go and Positively Reinforce it. The horse learns the "negative" behavior goes un-noticed and loses interest in doing it anymore. I have found this way of training has garnered me much more success then chasing horses around pens and "Dominating" them. This is not to say a horse doesn't need leadership and to respect you. It is to say that we can do it in a Positive way and keep a nice relaxed, harmonious connection even when there is a lot of energy to deal with.
FDT

7.07.2010

Focus

I am frequently asked to address Focus issues in horses my own included. The funny part is often the people state they too have trouble focusing...Interesting. I often am asked to deal with Fear issues in horses and surprise! The owners are fearful too!. So what's the point here? Well if our goal is to be a good leader to our horse and garner our horses respect and bond to us, The work starts with us. The reason the horses improve when I work with them is because I give them 100% focus and I am generally not afraid because I don't put myself in positions which scare me. People say to me "Farah you never seem afraid even working with so called "dangerous" horses" And that's because I know what steps or exercises I need to do for myself to feel safe, Then as a natural result I am not afraid. You notice how I said I do things with the horse to help me feel not afraid not the horse feel not afraid because as a result the horse gets more focused and less afraid.
Your horse requires 100% of your attention if you expect his. Some methods rely on the horse having to pay attention, regardless of if we are or not. This doesn't seem fair to me. If a student is in a class room and the teacher is off in La La land. That class is going to find other ways to entertain themselves good or bad. They are also going to resent and not respect that teacher too much.
If you and your horse are completely focused on each other as much of the time as possible, the communication should be more effortless and as a result you should pick up on subtle cues that your horse may be getting nervous about something. Then you can take measures to prevent a spook or redirect your horses energy somewhere else.
I feel that a lot of accidents are a result of lack of focus and awareness in the horse and rider.
So try this exercise if you feel you have an unfocused or spooky horse. Take measure to make yourself feel safe, and spend a whole session completely focused on what your are doing and who you are doing it with. Let me know how it goes in the comments section!

7.01.2010

Dressage as meditation

What if when we rode it was a meditation practice as well as a ride. Meditation by it's definition is the clear focus on one particular thing. It is the absence of cluttered thought and detachment from the moment. It is total present mindedness and total awareness and respect for the connection between you and the horse the entire time you are together. This is easier said then done for a lot of us so it should be part of a practice for us as much as we practice other things.
Ask yourself if you are with your horse when working together or in your head. Are you obsessing about meaningless perfection details or staying in a slow calm flow even when doing faster exercises. Slowing down is an excellent way to stay in an aware and present state with your horse. Doing relaxing interesting patterns with a focus on the exercises and it end results not the "issues" you feel as you do it. Focusing on your BREATH and keeping it regular and calm is an excellent way not only to meditate in an aware state with you horse but also to connect, relax and calm both of you. Any adjustments you want to make in the horse should be done peacefully, calmly and quietly with a feel for not disturbing the connection. This doesn't mean you can't be firm it just means it's slow, calm and patient with a pause for you both to contemplate afterward for a moment before moving on. When working with a particular Method or school of thought, do not get caught up in the technique above your meditation and connection with your horse. Staying in the moment and flow with your horse will allow you to have great moments together. As a competitive rider, it is important to keep this practice at the top of your priorities if you are going to keep yourself and your horse in a state of happiness in your work together. So take breath and relax the next time you ride and just "be" together whatever you do....Namaste

6.17.2010

Chiropractic work and hoof trimming

I am happy to report I am back online after my wireless modem died this week. So sorry for the lag in blog posts.
Anyway, I wanted to bring to light some interesting observations I experienced working closely with my farrier and Equine chiropractor on different issues that can come up.
First of all, I am an avid proponent of chiropractic work for any living thing from a qualified and preferably *Network style trained practitioner. I have witnessed nothing short of miracles in transformation in quite a few horses.
What appears to be a conformation fault or a weak limb is more often than not a fixable structural problem. In addition to these findings, I have seen that chiropractic combined with proper joint supplementing (I recommend GLC 5500) can stave off if not remove the need for joint injecting. Arthritic changes are often caused by misalignments left untreated. But yet we treat the the joint by injecting it instead of the cause.
Now let's talk about how your farrier's job is to balance your horses limbs. As your horse grows and wears his feet between trimming cycles, his mis-allignments in his limbs and joints can cause flairs and uneven balance in his feet. Let's say we adjust that horse and don't trim his feet at the same time. His hoof wear pattern is in line with his mis-alligned structure not his new alligned structure. So it makes sense to adjust around the same time you trim or shoe. You are helping the horse hold his new allignment better and the muscles to learn new movement patterns to additionally support the positive permanent changes. Food for thought.
FDT

6.03.2010

Vlog: Working with Liberty for Natural Jumpers

This video shows me introducing ground poles and obstacles to a 2yr warmblood old filly using Liberty exercises to foster trust, connection, free choice to jump willingly and confidence. It is an extension of the Liberty connection we already have. http://fdhorsetraining.com/

 

5.26.2010

Vlog series: How Liberty work helped me with riding part 9

In this installment of my Vlog, I am still working on the same concepts with the Waterhole Rituals as the previous videos. There is continual huge improvement. In this one I continue to build the Companion walk and have even touched on the trot which has been my goal all along. I am still using Eye Contact to work on focus and confidence and Draw to improve the Companion Movement. I use some Leading from Behind. To compare our mounted work from now and when we started is night and day. We have stops, transitions, relaxation, hugely improved rhythm, and focus. All from doing this work. It is a fun and interesting session each time we work together!

5.14.2010

Vlog series: How Liberty work helped me with riding part 8

This video shows so many good things that have developed which I talk about. The Companion walk is there with halts which has impacted our riding. The halts are coming softer and more responsive when riding. The relaxed soft Long and Low posture she is exhibiting is light years away from where we started. We are generally just more together. It is so much fun to see it all unfold! The Leading from behind is relaxing to her, and the send and draw are much improved.
Carolyn Resnick's Blog

5.05.2010

Vlog series: How Liberty work helped me with riding part 7

In this 7th installment of my Vlog series, There is a visible and dramatic change in Phoenix's demeanor and attitude.
First, we are achieving a relaxation and peace together that was elusive before. Second, because of this our mounted work has a much more relaxed, pleasant, and joyful quality to it. We are working more as a unit and it starts to become more apparent as the videos progress. I never know what will transpire when we start our sessions but I am always pleased to see a growth in our communication and connection. In this video there is a continuation of the previous exercises and body language, I'm using Sharing space, Leading from behind, eye contact, Draw and eventually companion moving.
As I stated before in my previous Vlogs, The Sharing Space helped with our bond and connection and gave a platform to depart from. Phoenix and I love Sharing Space, she hangs out with me and often rest together with her pasture mates in the field. This is mine and her favorite ritual. The Leading from behind helped me with her willingness. The Eye Contact helped me with her confidence and focus issues, the Send and Draw helped me with working with her energy and the Companion moving (the second most important ritual) is helping us with our Transitions and halts and speed control in a harmonious way. Here is the latest video.

5.01.2010

Being a good leader



What does it mean to be a good Leader to your horse? In a lot of training the focus is on "being the boss" being the dominant one or the alpha. I have heard this uttered by many trainers at many competitions and even Natural Horsemanship clinicians.
First, lets talk about Lead versus Dominant energy. In a herd there are Lead, Dominant, and submissive horses. In people there are the same. Lead horses can be in charge of the herd but so can dominant horses. A herd lead by a Lead horse tends to be more balanced and peaceful then a herd lead by a Dominant horse.
So what's the difference? Lead horses are looking out for the highest good of the herd and individual. Lead horses don't make demands they make reasonable requests which seem inviting to horses. They tend to not use aggressive body language in general because they don't have to. Dominant horses can be aggressive if not out right mean at times to take rank and ownership of territory. They are much more likely to use big gestures and body language and engage in "Dominance games" with other dominant horses. These are the horses you often see playing roughly and wrestling when paired up.They are also likely to get this way with a person that approaches them with this type of energy.
To me being a good Leader to my horses means behaving as much like a lead horse as possible. It means that if I want to be followed I should behave like someone who would be good to follow. Think about that. Are you someone you'd like to follow? Ask yourself this question. Would you happily follow your lead if you were a horse? It means thinking about what you are requesting of your horse and how they might feel about it. It means acknowledging their fears and helping them overcome them in a supportive way not a forceful one. It means thinking about the overall balance of the herd and all involved including yourself. Balance is so important. Yes we the people are included in that. Some people put so much focus on the horses well being that they fore go their own and that is not balanced Leadership either. A Leader is only as good as they are feeling in their core being. That means a happy balanced healthy Leader mirrors the same to their horses. Always think about that when you are getting ready to "Lead". We all have bad days and we are allowed to have them. In fact saying out loud "I'm having a bad day and it's ok" is a very freeing experience. Horses like emotional congruency much more then when we try to be perfect for them or cover our hidden fears, depression, anger or anxiety. We are only kidding ourselves if we think they can't read that in us. So next time you see your horse, think about preparing to be a good Leader and remember this is an ever changing role for us. Each day brings us different opportunities to Lead and Learn how to be better Leaders.

FDT

4.24.2010

Introduce yourselves!

First of all, I want to thank all of the people who subscribe to my blogs and follow me on twitter, FB and all the other online places I have made friend and followers.
For this weeks blog post I have a request. I would like you to introduce yourselves and tell me a little bit about you and your horses and or other animals companions. I know there are a lot people following the blogs so leave a comment so I can get to know you better. Even ask a question or offer a topic idea for a future blog. Even if I know you already, just say hi or give me an update on your equine activities. I can't wait to hear from you!

FDT

4.19.2010

Replay of the radio show on bitless

In case you missed it, here's the replay of the radio show on bitless bridles and riding also a link to my Bridle shop so you can take a look at the bridles mentioned.

4.18.2010

NHN Radio show tomorrow the 19th!

 Join me and DC tomorrow at 7pm EST for another fun informative show on Bitless bridles and options.

          

4.15.2010

Connection versus Collection versus Connection


I wanted to address the terms Connection (in the physical sense), Collection, and Connection (in the bonded sense).

A lot of people interpret a horse that is balanced, rhythmic, and in a frame to be Collected. This is actually Connection in the physical sense. It means the horses body is moving as a unit in harmony. The hind end is Connected to the front end through the soft relaxed back, The horses body is free from brace, left, right and over the topline. The horse is also balanced in his movement. This creates a picture that most people see as harmonious and flowing whether it is on a long rein, in a halter, bareback, dressage, jumping, reining, bridless, bitless or anything else.

Collection is a technical term. It is the last stage on the Training Scale. The Training scale follows this progression Rhythm, Relaxation/Suppleness, Contact, Impulsion, Straightness, Collection. The Training scale helps you with a guideline of what to train in what order. In other words, You wouldn't train Collection before your horse had consistent and reliable Rhythm. You wouldn't ask for Impulsion until your horse had found the Frame etc. So you try to get one area very good before you go to the next progression. Collection literally means to compress or shorten the frame of the horse while maintaining energy and power. It is not slowing down the rhythm, It is not taking the horses stride away. The horses frame and body get shorter because they go up in the poll and rounder in the back instead of longer and more extended in the stride and frame. They cover less ground because of this compression. It is challenging to the horse and requires careful preparation, fitness and foundation training to not have it be just a slower gait with a short stride. Collection is found in Western Pleasure, Reining, Dressage, Jumpers, Equitation, and any other discipline where there are changes of gait. Collection is also not just physical. It requires a horse to understand it in his mind before he can understand it in his body. Exercises that build Collection successfully teach the horse to Collect himself out of his choice.
Now Let's talk about Connection in the bonded sense. This to me is desire in the horse and rider. The horse likes and wants to be with the person working with him. The person likes and wants to work in partnership with his horse. They are both working together toward a common goal in balance and Harmony and they are enjoying it even when the work is challenging. They are enjoying it because you (the leader) are making it enjoyable and looking out for your partner's well being as you would any person you cared for.
If you combine this with your horsemanship, you will always enjoy your horse, and your horse will always enjoy you!


FDT

4.10.2010

Vlog series: How Liberty work helped me with riding part 6

In this 6th video, I am working with Phoenix's high energy on shaping it a little. I thought I would work on Companion Moving but, It seems that this was more appropriate today. This video shows how you let the horse shape your leadership and how you build connection that way.
I started working with Sending her at speed and drawing her back in to me in the last video. This exercise helps with bringing a horses energy up and back down again and all the variables in between. You can work with transitions and coming in at different speeds. Again, this is something we need in mounted work. And as I explained before, Phoenix is not always agreeable to speed control. It is the beginning of the stage of Dancing with your horse. It is also the stage where the Heart and Desire is built in the horse to partner with you. What does that mean to me? It means, That my horse wants to work with me and give their all. It means that my horse seeks and finds the work we do as fun and interesting as I do. Ask any competitive rider what sets one performance horse apart from the other? They could both have the same breeding, conformation, training and preparation. What would make one performance higher quality then the other? They would all say Heart and Desire in their horse. But this is not just about performance. It is about any horse and person and their work together. Whether it be Show Jumping and Dressage or Trail riding and Back yard arena work. What person wouldn't want there horse to bring their heart to every ride? Until the next one...

FDT

4.02.2010

Vlog series: How Liberty work helped me with riding part 5

In this 5th installment of my Vlog, You see how each day is different and by letting the horse shape you leadership, you allow the Liberty exercises to unfold while building the connection. There has been HUGE improvement in our ground and riding in a short time of doing this work.
In the past two weeks we have had tremendous breakthroughs in our dressage work and our connection has been building with each interaction. It makes our training work so much more fun and it feels like we are really starting to think together.
This video shows how spontaneous you learn to be and how I came in sort of knowing where we could build better connection and I found that a different exercise then I expected was what presented itself. I started working on the last exercise in the group which is Sending the horse at speed around the area and then drawing them back to you. This exercise I think will be beneficial to Phoenix and I in that it will help us practice speed control and her allowing me to influence it more. She's likes to go fast and not slow down or stop! When you and your horse get good at this particular stage, you can speed up and slow the horse down during the draw phase and continue to work on transitions.
I would say this exercise is also good for lower energy types who need to get comfortable with moving out at speed and coming back down.
There's more to come so stay tuned...

FDT

3.29.2010

The 3 stages of learning an exercise for a horse and rider












I wanted to talk about learning and how to help our horses understand our requests better by explaining how we can break down an exercise into 3 stages. When I say exercise, I want you to apply this to anything you do. It could be Ground, Liberty, Mounted, Dressage, Jumping, Reining or any task you have set up. It means that you evaluate where you and your horse are in these three stages by asking yourself these questions. 1. Is this exercise new to my horse and I?(first time you've ever showed it to him). 2. Are we familiar with the exercise but still have some physical difficulty with it (but intellectually you both understand what you are asking). 3. You understand and practice the exercises regularly and are good if not near perfect in execution reliably a high percentage of the time.
Now you've asked yourself these questions and answered them to the best of your ability. Think about anything you may be doing now with your horse where you are struggling a bit. Does it help to think of it that way? What stage are you at with your exercise together? Now let's look at this from the human perspective. It is the same isn't it? You learn something new, You understand it but need to practice it more to get it more correct, You have practiced a lot and have grasped an exercise pretty fully and can do it without having to think too much about it. It becomes natural. Think of Rising in the trot. Once it was a bit difficult to think of doing this motion while trotting and now it is as easy as breathing or blinking for you (or maybe you are still learning it in stage 2!) It helps to think this way so we forgive ourselves and our horses learning curve. Every horse and human learn at different paces and in different ways. It is best to work at a pace that is comfortable for both of you. Mistakes are o.k. and are really just guides to what you need to focus on. It doesn't matter how many times or repetitions it takes or how many days or weeks. It takes as long as it takes. If you think this way you will get where you want to go a lot faster. Trust me. Be happy with the smallest try in yourself and horse. Smalls slow steps lead to big improvement. Never be in a hurry.
FDT

3.23.2010

Desensitizing versus shutting a horse down

Many trainers talk about desensitizing horses. I think that there is a delicate balance between desensitizing and shutting a horse down. I have worked with horses that are so desensitized that they know longer respond to any signal that is not "Loud". I think that in some cases horses should be left in there natural state of responsiveness. As always, I like to take each horse in a case by case basis.
Let's take a horse that has a medium amount of energy and a basically balanced temperament. This horse may just need exposure to people, places and things. But not a lot of flapping of tarps and ropes etc. Another horse may be very sensitive and reactive. This horse I'd focus on calmer more relaxed slower responses, but not necessarily flapping ropes and tarps. I may do a little desensitizing with a very fearful horse. But only after I'd done a LOT of Liberty work at which time the horse probably would only need a little desensitizing after we had trust and connection. There is a question to of breaking trust which has been built by over desensitizing. So the question is do we need to do much desensitizing if we have a good relationship working and or playing with our horse? Mostly our horses need our leadership, patience, and calmness to get them through new experiences. They need to be allowed to explore an object at liberty or given the space on line to approach in their own time when curiosity replaces fear which it usually does in time. Time is another question. A lot of horses just need time to get comfortable with things in their environment. I want a horse to stay in their naturally balanced state of awareness unless they are what I deem to be in an unbalanced state. In some cases flower essences may be appropriate for these horses as opposed to desensitizing. Food for thought...

3.18.2010

Vlog series: How Liberty work helped me with riding part 4

In this 4th installment of my Vlog, Phoenix and I are really starting to connect and come together. We are starting to work in harmony and transitions are coming together along with the bond, focus and companion moving. She is becoming calmer and more relaxed and happy. This is particularly important because she is sometimes nervous as you can see in the previous videos in this indoor arena and this work helps her to become more confident with me when we move on to riding. I feel like if we can get here together before we ride, We will have a good ride whether we jump or practice dressage or move on to In-Hand or line work. My goal is to get her to move with me at the trot and canter as well. This is going to be the next challenge for us together and the topic of the next few videos.

3.11.2010

Vlog series: How Liberty work helped me with riding part 3

 In this 3rd video with Phoenix, You see things starting to calm down a bit. We are starting to get better connection through Eye contact, Draw, Companion moving and leading from behind. The stronger these movements are the better the connection you'll start to see unfold. You will also see several things start to take shape.Through the leading from behind comes comes a desire to move together. From Eye contact comes more focus and calmness from Phoenix, From the draw I am able to start communicating speed, direction control and Halts. All without tack, all through natural body language and all contributing to the basic foundation goals of riding. Harmony, relaxation, focus, communication, direction and speed control.

3.02.2010

Vlog series: How Liberty work helped me with riding Part 2

In this second video, Phoenix shows her energy levels in the full spectrum. You'll see me alternate between, Leading her from behind, Eye contact, Companion moving, and Sharing space with her. She is young and she likes to run! She also is nervous and anxious a lot of the time. I am using this Liberty work to address the riding issues of: Harmony, Trust, Willingness, Difficulty stopping, Standing still, speed control, Rhythm, Inattentiveness, Spookyness and relaxation. Each exercise I do relates to a certain issue. For example, Eye contact helps with getting her to focus on me instead of the noises and activity around the barn. Leading from Behind helps with her fear issues and with fostering more willingness to participate with me. Companion moving improves our harmony, connection, communication, speed control, halts, and rhythm. Sharing space helps improve our bond and connection and the Greetings (I walk in and she smells my hand and I walk away) you see me do periodically help build trust. This is very interesting and rewarding work because you are building a real tangible bond with the horse which is always getting better and stronger. It makes training, comunication and partnership more fun and fulfilling for both of us. It is the most important part of my program with my horses.

2.23.2010

New Series: How Liberty work helped me with riding

This is the first video in a series I wanted to do on the link between Liberty work, riding issues and how you can overcome them. I am sharing my journey with my mare Phoenix who has been a challenge from the get go. I feel like it is important to share the links I am finding with my horse to our riding issues. My hope is for people to understand the deep importance and role of Carolyn Resnick and the Waterhole Rituals to your mounted work.
If you are unfamiliar with the Waterhole Rituals, They are 7 exercises which progressively build Bond, Trust, Willingness, Focus, Respect, Connection, and Desire in the Horse and Person Simultaneously. And yes, I said it builds these qualities in the person as well.

Through the exercises, you learn how to emulate and step into the role of a "Lead" horse versus a Dominant horse and the difference. A lead horse makes requests of other horses. A Dominant horse seeks to Dominate other horses. You become a Leader you horse WANTS to follow because he chooses to.

The exercises teach you to slow down, and be present when working or riding your horse and eventually be more present in general. They are not meant to be something you do and then once you learn them you stop. They are meant to be a permanent addition to your practice and a continual method to build better and better communication, feel, and connection. The Connection will literally keep getting better and stronger. This work has brought an aspect to my Training that has increased my fun, joy and understanding of horses as well as creative problem solving to common "issues".

If you love your horse but you are not sure your horse feels the same towards you, Carolyn Resnick's Waterhole Rituals will help your horse feel toward you as he does toward his favorite pasture/herd mates (if he has them). If he doesn't have "horse" friends. He will learn to relate to you as a likeable "Lead" Horse.

The applications of The Waterhole Rituals are literally endless and are only limited by your imagination. You can "Technically" Train a horse all you want, but if he doesn't WANT to work for you, he's not going to. These exercises help your horse want to work with you because he chooses to. Not because his choices are do it or else. In the world of competition, I would feel much more trust in a team mate who wanted to give me everything he had then one who was afraid of the consequences of not doing so.
If you would like to know more about this Method and the extraordinary woman who founded it go to Carolyn Resnick's Blog to find out more.



2.19.2010

FDT and Buckaroo Leather Q&A

In case you haven't heard yet, I joined forces with Buckaroo leather after I was so pleased with the custom bitless Sidepulls they made me. If you also haven't heard about the free Tele-conference call sunday Feb 21st at 2 pm EST 11 am PST, please join us. We will be discussing bitless options and answering questions.To participate just call this Conference line # 712 432 3900 and then enter this pass code 379697 when prompted, Q&A starts at 11am PT 2pm EST Hope you can make it!

1.31.2010

FDT Equipment tip: Bitless Bridles-The Side Pull


Here’s a link to some other styles of Side Pulls from the company that made mine, Buckaroo Tack. They have excellent customer service (which is BIG with me), are friendly to deal with and most important, make a quality product.

1.03.2010

Vision for the New Year


Each New Year I look forward to two things. Reviewing the past year and visualizing the year ahead. I look at where I have travelled in the past 12 months and where I wish to go. This includes my life, my work, the people in my life and my animals.
In overview, the World has been and is still in a state of turmoil. In 2009, a lot of people and animals were lost to various causes. It was a turbulent year and yet one of the most amazing in other ways.
To me 2009 was symbolic of out of adversity comes triumph and in tough times it is the Entrepreneurial spirit that forges on undaunted and gets inspired to create new pathways. I love the saying "Create trends don't follow them". I also live by the creed of be true to yourself and your path and you can't go wrong.
2010 is a reaffirmation of this. Continue on this amazing path I'm on and forge bravely into uncharted territories with my Horses, my work, and my friends and family. We are in amazing times and we have access to the sky if we are willing to reach for it.
In the past few years, I have achieved things with my horses that I never even dreamed of as a child. Now I am excited to see what and where we go next. I am continuing working toward the holistic training facility I have been visualizing. I will continue bettering myself as a teacher, student of the horse, and person in general.

Affirmations for 2010

1. Work slowly and carefully
2. Never be in a hurry
3. Enjoy the journey
4. Keep things in balance
5. There are no mistakes
6. Keep Play and Work balanced
7. Keep your eye on the vision