Had a great day with my horses today. I currently have 6 horses; 2 domestics geldings(neutered males) and 2 semi-tame mustang mares and 2 pretty wild mustang geldings. I had successfully introduced the 2 mustang geldings to my 2 domestic geldings and Dream Catcher; my mustang mare. Every thing was great.
So what do I do??
I introduce Asha the other mustang mare and put her in with the two mustang geldings on Thursday afternoon. This did not go so well and my sweet little paint mustang Chief got pretty beat up by Apache-my "still think I am a stallion" mustang. So poor Chief gets seperated on Friday and Apache spends two days with just Asha and things are good.
So what do I do??
I decide to turn Asha out with RC, Gino and Dream Catcher and everything is great. Chief gets turned out with Kat's(the other trainer) herd of 5 mixed mustangs and domestics who are friendly with everyone and Apache is in a pen by himself. Everyone is happy except for little macho Apache.
So what do I do??
I decide to turn Apache out with RC,Gino, Dream Catcher and Asha. He looks right pass Asha and goes trotting out towards Gino looking like he is ready to fight!!! Asha and I go trotting out after him as he comes up to Gino, they smell each other and then he sees RC and Dream Catcher across the pasture runs towards them with Gino, Asha and I trotting behind him( I am getting really good at trotting!) They greet each other and all go running off as a herd-WHEW!!!! Harmony restored in the he herd.
So what do I do??
I thanks GOD for the amazing journey I am on with domestic horses and wild mustangs and learning so much about how different the two are and how they are learning to become a communty.
I ponder while cleaning stalls and the herds are happy, how what I am seeing here reflects that of human relationships and introductions into new groups.
For example kids in school and how they have their friends and then they are put into classes and the whole ackwardness of being with stranges, even though you have seen them around. Now you are enclosed in a classroom forced to be in each other personal space-you know that area around each of us-that when some enter into it we feel good and when others do we are extremely uncomfortable.
The same thing happens in our work environment or our social arena. How do we adjust and explore and communicate our feelings? Watching the dynamics of these horses playing out is nothing short of amazing and then I add my energy into the mix. Each one has their owne unique relationship with me and I can see and feel a huge shift in the whole experience when I step into their gathering.
They all come to me and want my attention and in order for me to be viewed as the leader, I have to be aware at all times what each is doing and where they are in relation to me and each other and be prepared to respond appropriately when one decides to try and push the other out of the way.
I am learning so much about horses and humans just by spending the day with my little herd of mixed backgrounds and social experiences.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Today's Energy Topic: The Chakras system:
“Chakra” is a Sanskrit word meaning “wheels of light”. Chakras are centers of energy situated between the base of our spine and the crown of our head, each one has many different associations. Chakras are the wheels of vibrating light that bring inner wisdom and knowledge.
When your chakras are out of balance, becoming blocked it can affect a being emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually. When they are balanced we feel amazing we are confident, strong and navigating our way through day to day experiences flowing with ease and grace.
There are 7 major chakras in the body. There are two that I would like to talk about today. The first one is the Solar Plexus Chakra. It means Inner Sun. In humans, this chakra is located right at the base of our sternum. For horses, it is located right where we sit on their backs.
It supplies energy in the form of heat, power and enthusiasm. The Solar Plexus Chakra‘s qualities are: feeling and inner power.
The physical characteristics are the pancreas gland, all digestive organs; stomach small intestine, liver, gall bladder and spleen.
The expression that comes from this chakra when in balance is: being full of energy and vitality. When there is a disturbance in the energy of this chakra it can show up in the form of hypoactive/hyperactive.
Physical ailments that can occur due to an imbalance in the Solar Plexus Chakra are digestive problems, food allergies, diabetes, gallstones, ulcers, liver complaints and hepatitis.
Psychological characteristics, when expressed, from a human begin with “I feel.” In horses, it can be expressed in the same way, through the universal language of body language. When this chakra is balanced the following emotions are felt and expressed easily: joy, happiness, passion, rage, anger and sadness. However, when the Solar Plexus Chakra is unbalanced the individual will become controlled by emotions and will appear uncaring, quick tempered, flaring up, violent and in despair.
The second chakra I would like to talk about today is the Root Chakra. It means Root, support and foundation its quality is grounding. In the human it is located in the perineum area, the part of our body that sits in direct contact with the horses back where their Solar Plexus Chakra is located.
The physical characteristics are the adrenal glands, legs, bones, spine and colon. The expression that comes from the root chakra when in balance is healthy and happy in your physical body. However when there is a disturbance in the energy of this chakra it can show up as one being prone to illnesses and dislike for your own body.
Physical ailments that can occur due to an imbalance are lower back pain, hemorrhoids, constipation, sciatica, knee problems, obesity and weight problems, addictive behaviors (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.) and depression.
Psychological characteristics being expressed is a statement of “I have” (a physical body). When the root chakra is balanced the emotions expressed are courage, safe and secure, sensational, alive and moved. When there is an imbalance the emotions being expressed are fear, rigid, weighed down and unmoving.
When we make the decision to climb upon the back of a horse and we place our Root Chakra upon their Solar Plexus Chakra we owe it to them and ourselves to be mindfully aware of what is going on in our energy fields.
Horses care about 4 very specific things in their world and they must be fulfilled in order. The first and most important thing to a horse because their survival depends on it, is safety. So when we get on their backs and our Root Chakra is balanced what they feel in to the center of the Solar Plexus Chakra is the feelings of a leader that has courage, feeling safe and secure sitting on them. They can feel that this person on their back is filled with sensations of being alive and ready to move forward with confidence and certainty. This allows the horses Solar Plexus Chakra to respond in a way that expresses their emotions easily whatever that horse may be feeling at the moment.
Now imagine that the rider with a unbalanced root chakra climbs on top of a horse who has a balanced solar plexus chakra the horse may feel the energy of fear and rigidness. A rider that is weighed down and has no forward movement coming from them, this is going to directly affect the horses sense of safety and the second most important thing to them which is comfort.
Can you begin to see how the unbalanced energy of a rider can affect a horse? So many people engage with their horses being completely unaware of the energy they are subjecting their horses to day in and day out. Many horses do not have a choice as to whether or not they have a person on their back and what that person is going to make them do.
Is it merely coincidence that there are a large percentage of domesticated horses today that suffer from physical ailments such as: digestive problems-colic, allergies, equine metabolic syndrome (diabetes) and ulcers? I do not believe this is coincidental.
Many horses are labeled difficult or dangerous because they are controlled by emotions such as uncaring and not interested in life, quick tempered, prone to flare ups and violence. Many of these horses go from trainer to trainer, each addressing various behavior problems, while never taking into consideration the whole horse; their body, their mind, their spirit. If these trainers understood that any rider, whose chakras are energetically out of balance, especially their root chakra, they’d appreciate that riders can both create and aggravate a horse’s problems.
We can help to improve the quality of every horse in our lives if we are willing to see them as a whole living being and take responsibility for ourselves and the energy within us and work to keep it balanced as well as providing our horses with the same. This can be achieved by regular Reiki sessions for both horse and rider.
Reiki sessions can be given to horses by anyone who has been Reiki attuned. I am a Reiki Master Teacher and an animal communicator. I am available for Reiki sessions for both horse and rider. I also teach a two day equine wellness workshops, which includes Reiki attunements, animal communication and equine aromatherapy for those who have horses in their lives and are interested in keeping themselves and their horse partners healthy and balanced, creating a mind, body and spirit based partnership.
For more information please contact me at:
Monday, January 16, 2012
One round pen, a dream and Whiskey
It was a beautiful drive through the mountains as I made my way from Truckee into the Sierra Valley. From time to time I would get a glimpse of the glistening Truckee river water in the morning sun along the way. As I continued my 50 minute journey it seemed as if I was leaving one world and entering into another.
I was feeling mixed emotions about the next few days. I was excited to still be working outside on December 15th without having to deal with snow. I was sad knowing that this was one of my last days of the season and I would have to wait for winter to past before returning.
I started to reflect on the past 4 months and the experience I never imagined I would be living. I was grateful for what I had learned and even appreciated the times that were hard. Being pushed and tested to the point of discovering many things about myself. Some were good and others not so useful. I had been given many opportunities to stare my beliefs and behavior patterns right in the face and decide if I could let go of those that no longer served me.
Before I knew it I was beginning to make the steep climb up the narrow long driveway. I could feel the excitement beginning to build in my heart. I loved this moment of the day, climbing up slowly and at each switch back in the road the sound of my diesel truck engine revving up for the next part of the climb.
As I crested over the top the first thing I see is the green panels of the corrals. Inside are a few of the wild mustangs we will be working with for the day. I can see their ears turn in my direction yet their attention remains on the round pen.
As I get out of my truck my breath is taken away by the sheer bitter breeze that startles me to attention. I begin to apply layers of clothing, trying to cover up as much of my bare skin as possible.
My mind starts to wonder what will happen today. Who will I work with and will we be able to get a little bit closer to trusting each other? Will we get close enough to look deep into each other’s eyes? To exchange our breaths through our nostrils the way that horses will with each other in a moment of mutual acceptance? Some say that is the moment when they exchange their Spirit with each other. Will I get to touch these amazing wild horses? God I hope so!
“Mornin” I hear coming from behind the large propane tank and all I see is a large black cowboy hat as if it were being worn by the tank. “Morning, how are you, sure is a cold one today” I reply to my mentor as he comes in to full view. “Yep” as he takes another sip of hot coffee. “Great day to play with wild ponies”!
Why don’t you get in there and play with Ranger a bit? Ok sounds good to me as I set my things down. Ranger is a big stalky bay with a white star on his face. He has a very gentle look in his eyes and tries so hard to be our partner. He reminds me of my horse Rondo that has passed away and I am always happy to play with him.
I know I won’t get to see these horses for several months. I am sad and am trying very hard not to show it. Ranger is very attentive and responsive and extra gentle today. I look into his eyes and ask; “you know I am sad don’t you?” I hear him softly say “yes”.
At that moment I decide I am going to savor each horse I work with these last two days. Allowing whatever wants to happen while we are together, happen. As my time with Ranger comes to an end, he lets me stand closer than ever before and I whisper “thank you my friend I will see you when the snow melts”. We look into each other’s eyes and he quietly walks away.
Next up is Bear the oldest mustang in the herd of 18. All of these horses were wild until 3 years ago when they were captured during a round up. They had spent their 14-23 years as stallions roaming the free range and now are geldings, which are fortunate to still be roaming on a fairly large piece of land.
Bear is a wise and gentle horse, willing to explore what we have to offer. However, he’s not making it easy for us to win his trust over. Matt asked me if I would like to rope and halter Bear today. I replied: I’ll try I am not very good at it. I went into the round pen, made my loop started to swing tossed it and it slipped right over his head. I am not sure who was more surprised me or Bear! I successfully haltered him and spent some time in appreciation of him and said; “see you in the spring my dear friend” as we parted ways.
As the day progressed I took time to intuitively say goodbye to each horse we played with and explained we would be back in the spring. When the afternoon rolls around on top of that mountain and the sun drops off in the distance the chill in the air is almost unbearable. We had one more horse to play with for the day and he was one of our biggest challenges.
This horse would rather go over or through a fence panel then allow us to get a rope anywhere near him. We had spent several weeks trying to help him see that we meant him no harm. As Matt drives him into the round pen, he pauses to ask me. ”What can we do to help this horse?”
I think for a minute and say let me do a reflective round pen session with him. I have something that is really bothering me. So let’s see if he is willing to help me. The reflective round pen work is when a human and a horse with no halter or ropes spend time together allowing the horse to connect and mirror for the human what they cannot see themselves. They can display behaviors and actions that are reflective of what is going on for the person. They can do things that will provoke a behavior or feeling from the person that they may not be aware is there.
I had never done a session on myself before. This was going to be a first for both of us. The work I wanted to do with this horse; Whiskey was around my lifelong dream of working with horses for a living. I was feeling frustrated because I seemed to be able to get close to my dream but never fully living it. I longed to work with horses every day of my life. I was feeling sorry for myself.
Matt agreed to let me do this and he took his position outside the round pen and I briefly explained what I was doing and what he might watch for in the horse or me during the session.
I stood in the middle of the round pen and performed a quick body scan on myself to become aware of any sensations within my body. I focused on my breath and released any tension and grounded myself to Earth.
Once I felt centered and fully present with Whiskey I looked up at him and he was looking back at me. My heart suddenly filled with anxiety and constricted, my breath became short and difficult. I felt like I was having a panic attack. Caught off guard I thought oh my God I need to get out of here. Instead I kept looking at Whiskey and focused on my breathing, soon it became aware to me that this was Whiskey reacting to me.
As I focused on both of our breathing we both began to settle down and I explained to him I wanted to know why I couldn’t have my dream. He stood and stared at me, I took a step closer to him and he perked up. I walked closer and he’d take a few steps away. He was being very careful to keep about a 5’ distance between us.
This went on and he was calm, not afraid of me like he had been in the past. I’d move, he’d move, I’d stop and he’d stop, I’d relax and he would relax. We were doing this kind of a dance. I asked myself what’s Whiskey trying to tell me. If he is a mirror of me, what do I see?
I saw curiosity, fear and doubt. Ok I am experiencing all of that around my dream. So what if Whiskey is my dream? What can you show me about my dream? He turns and faces me-my dream is right in front of me, is the message I receive. Ok so if it is right in front of me can I walk up to it?
I took a step forward he took a step back-hmm-no! Can I get my dream to come with me or at least move with me? I start to play the driving game with rhythmic motion I get him to move with me. By using the balance points on his body I can influence whether he walks forward, stops, walks back or even turn and go the other way.
He begins to move with me at first he was bit anxious but then settled into rhythm with me. I moved forward so did he. We walked together stopped together even turned together. For the most part it looked like we were connected. He even stopped and turned into face me, this is great stuff. I then try to shorten my 5’ distance between us and he moved away.
I became filled with frustration tears begin to fill my eyes. I feel like he has just confirmed that my dream will always be just outside of my reach. Unwilling to believe that, I say softly to myself; I will find a way to touch you, to get even just a few steps closer to my dream.
Suddenly my attention goes to the pain coming from my frozen toes. The sun has dipped behind the mountains and it is getting very cold. I take a moment to thank Whiskey and let him out to join his herd. I turn to Matt and ask if we can call it a day.
My drive home was spent deep in thought about that session. The question replaying in my head, why can’t I have my dream? Why I am only allowed to get so close and then I watch it slip away.
I awake before the sun the next morning to the same question playing in my mind. Today is my last day of the season. I have grown very fond of this herd of mustangs and I will miss them so much.
I decide I want to do another session with Whiskey trying to pick up where we left off. Determined to get closer to him, maybe even touch him. If he is my dream damn it I am going to get it!
Matt agrees to let me do another session. As I take my place in the center of the pen, I am again filled with anxiety. This time it was mine. I wanted to turn and run out, run away from it all. Here I was staring my dream in the face so close yet so far away.
What if I tried to catch my dream and it ran away perhaps even over the fence. My heart would be broken. For a moment I was sure it would be better to walk away right then and not try, then to try and fail. Because then not only would I have failed at my dream but I would lose the dream as well.
I couldn’t breathe I was paralyzed for a moment face to face with my dream. I could see the morning air streaming from his nostrils waiting for me to do something. I knew if I moved so would he. I focused on my breath then my heart and then my dream.
I slowly moved towards Whiskey and he stood still watching me. He allowed me to get closer than before and then calmly took a few steps away. Wow that was new! I stepped back to the center and pondered what and why that had just happened.
We did this dance for a while mirroring each other’s moves like we did the day before yet something was different. He was calmer, more connected with me allowing me to get closer and to feel what that brought up for me.
As we stood about 3’ apart looking into each other’s eyes suddenly I heard him say: When are you going to stop chasing your dream? Startled by the question, I replied; what? He continued to say while you are chasing what you think you cannot have, you are missing what you have.
You have a mentor who believes in you and your vision who is teaching and helping you to achieve what you desire. You are standing face to face with your fantasy and still you are trying to catch your dream. Your dream is now your reality and has been for a quite some time now.
Every day you wake up to your horses in your backyard. While you are cleaning and caring for them you get lost in wishing for the day that you can live your dream. You are missing out on what you want most in your life. Stop chasing after what you think it should look like and allow yourself to enjoy what it is you have created. You are playing and working with horses every day and you are very good at it.
Here I was standing face to face with my dream realizing I was so focused on my destination. What I thought it should be I was totally missing the journey and the fact that I had already reached the goal.
I had just spent the past 7 months studying with an amazing horseman. For four months we had the privilege of working with a herd of mustangs. I had learned to rope and halter wild horses. I had learned to develop a new level of calmness and leadership. I had become more deliberate with every move I make.
While dancing in a round pen with Whiskey I came face to face with my dream and realized I had arrived and am living my dream.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
RC is now 36 1/2 months old and has just experienced some pretty amazing things this week. As of today he has completed his 27th ride. We started our week out at Heidi's ranch on Tuesday riding RC in the round pen working on transitions. We are really beginning to get a feel for each other and every time I get on him I feel more confident and comfortable. While I am not as savvy as Matt, his trainer, he is beginning to be more comfortable with me as well.
Wednesday we headed over to a cattle ranch that Matt works at to introduce RC to some new things. I got the opportunity to ride Rosie;one of Matt's horses while he rode RC. When we arrived there was lots of activity going on. Carpenters working on buildings, someone loading firewood into a truck, chickens and dogs every where. Ranch hands moving bulls from one area to the next and a herd of unknown horses. RC was on a bit of sensory overload when he got off the trailer. Matt took him while I got Rosie ready and off we went out into the pastures.
The first new and exciting thing for this young horse was sagebrush. Now it was a little surprising because his corral is surrounded by the same kind of sagebrush. He quickly got over that and out the gate we went and came to our first obstacle to go through. It was not a large creek nor was it deep and Rosie and I went into it and stopped in the middle. RC took a few moments of hesitation and with Matt's guidance walked through it and off we went.
Matt and RC went up and down some boggy embankments and flirted with more water. We picked a nice place to cross the creek again and RC went through it like he'd been doing it all his life. Once on the other side we went into a pasture with some cows so he could learn a bit about them. At first the calves were more interested in RC the he was of them and with the support of Rosie and I(well more Rosie, its been years since I have worked any cows)he quickly became interested and off he and Matt where to separate and move some cows. I enjoyed watching Matt introduce this young colt by encouraging him to move them and then giving some positive reinforcement each time just as much as I enjoyed watching my horse develop self-confidence in what he could do. The next thing I knew he was holding his head relaxed with soft eyes and a eager look of "lets do it again Matt!!!" He walked back to the barn with such pride. The other very interesting thing for me was to see the horse that was riding with us, start picking up her pace as we headed home and Matt mentioning that RC didn't know we were headed home and therefore didn't pick up his pace. I spent a lot of time thinking about that and how horses learn that with time and how I can prevent him from every starting that "gotta get home quick" attitude.
That night Matt loaded Rosie and RC up and headed off to another ranch a few hours away to begin work early the next morning gathering and sorting cattle. RC worked for 3 hours giving Matt everything he's got, earning himself a very nice afternoon standing tied and resting. Friday was another morning of working hard and this time even better and more eager to sort and move the cows Matt felt needed to be moved. At the end of the day Matt loaded up and came home.
Saturday afternoon when I arrived to pick him up he was a tired boy and seemed somewhat indifferent to seeing me. Looked a lot like a kid who just came home from summer camp and was exhausted. Matt was very pleased with the abilities of RC and has stated that he would take him again in the future. Of course I am the proud mom and will let him continue to learn and grow with Matt.
This afternoon RC and I joined my neighbor and her mare for our first ride into the forest. RC was still a bit tired but still ready to go and see what we had in mind. We went out the back of my property with RC confidently taking the lead and up the trail onto the golf course paved cart path and cut into the forest. Jeanie took the lead and we followed along the narrow path. It opened up onto a one lane dirt road surrounded with dense manzanita only to come upon a car working its way towards us scratching the sides of the vehicle making screeching scratching noises as it crept it's way closer to us. We stopped in surprise and RC was like: "Wow look at that"?!
They pulled off the road and we passed them and set off again, commenting in all the years we have been riding out there we had never come across that before. About 20 minutes later as we had just turned onto the main gravel road here came that same car again and as they approached us from behind, RC and I stopped and I turned his head to see them and he calmly watched them drive right by him looking in the window as they passed.
We trotted and strolled our way through the forest and then came across some mountain bikers with dogs and again, RC was curious about them and watched as we crossed each others paths.
Our ride today was about 90 minutes long and as we rode back into our yard I savored the experience I had just had with this awesome young horse. He is everything that I have wanted in a horse and so much more. I can't remember the last time that I rode out into the forest with a horse that was so calm and confident. I sit here writing this blog and find myself filled with so much joy and appreciation for this horse and his trainer, who has helped my horse grow into such a wonderful young man. I am so excited about our future and about learning all that I can about how I can become the rider he deserves to have on his back.
I have had a lot of people ask me lately what I wanted this horse to be or do. Each time that I am asked this question I pause and think about what do I want for him. I know that I want to have a horse who is excited to be with me, who has the confidence in me as his leader and in himself as a horse. I want a horse that can handle everything that life has to show him with curiosity and excitement. I want a horse who can head out on the trail just two of us or with a large group and be completely comfortable either way. I want a horse who is willing to try new things in life at least once with me and if we like it we will do them again. I want a horse that is going to hold me accountable for my part of the relationship and will let me know when it is time for me to step up and out to explore a new level of our abilities.
That best thing about knowing what I want for this horse is knowing that together with the guidance and training from his trainer, my mentor we will accomplish all of our dreams and so much more.
I truly hope that you too are following your dreams and doing what makes your heart sing!
Always remember yesterday is gone and tomorrow is yet to come, all we really have is today and why not spend it with the ones you love doing what you love?
Till next time, enjoy every moment as if it were the last and don't forget to dance!
Monday, June 27, 2011
It's hard to believe that I have not blogged since June 9th?!
Things have been going very well with RC's training. He is coming along so nicely and is really a very smart and willing horse.
One of the reasons I have not written anything since the 9th is because I have been absorbing so much information from Matt that I've been at a loss about what to write.
I have spent the last 10 days with house quest and have been busy enjoying family and friends while they were here. Thanks for the visit mom and dad and everyone else. Our annual Fathers day run was here in Truckee this year and we had 3 wonderful days of motorcycle riding in the beautiful Sierra mountains. Everyone has gone home now,the last to leave was my son Jack who came home for some R&R after just graduating from The Art Institute of San Francisco with a BA in Media Design. He is in the process of interviewing with a gaming company in North Carolina and I have mixed emotions about that. Of course I want him to get a job that he can enjoy and be fulfilled, I am not excited about him being so far away. We are very proud of him and he is a talented level designer and am sure he will be very successful.
My Daughter; Kaydie is busy looking for apartments in Santa Barbara and will be moving in August. So as of August we will have no children living with us for the first time in 24 years and it is really kind of weird to imagine.
Okay so back to RC, I have gotten to ride him 3 times so far and each time I feel a little more confident and comfortable on him. I watch he and Matt together and am in aah at how much this little guy can do with a skilled horseman on his back. He is getting stronger and more coordinated every ride, he is learning to carry himself correctly and really enjoys making the moves correctly when Matt ask him to do so. He is learning how to make his turns very smoothly and Matt is pretty excited about his ability to spin. Well I am not so sure Matt would call it a spin, however he is setting him up to do an amazing one someday! It is really fun to watch this little horse starting to ask Matt questions and looking for the right answers too.
Matt is teaching me as much as possible about what he is doing with RC. It is my goal to learn all that I can from this very talented horseman. I have found that all I think about day and night is what I am learning from him and about horses. I am beginning to look at everything I do, with or without horses from a whole new perspective. I pay attention to how I move my body and where my weight is distributed when doing so and thinking about how that effects my horse and what he needs to do in order to move better. I watch how I am using my hands and how fast and hard I grab things. Wondering if I can do it softer and slower, how soft can I tap something with the end of my rope and am I micro-managing as I work with others. How is my leadership? Am I someone I would want to follow? I wake up in the middle of the night running things I have seen with Matt through my head and wondering how can I apply it, I am addicted to learning this stuff!
I rode RC on Thursday while Matt was coaching me with my riding, at one point he asked me to come over to the fence where he was and side pass RC up to him. My first thought was;" oh no this is going to be hard"! So I aksed RC with my leg and weight and before I knew it he was gracefully side passing right up to Matt. I was amazed and so excited to be sitting a top a horse that was so well trained and then realizing he was mine, I could hardly contain my excitement! Matt began to tell me about what I needed to do differently and I had to stop him so I could just savor the moment I had just experienced!!
I hope that soon RC and I will be ready to do our Parelli level 2 freestyle riding and submit the video for assessment and then we will be on our way to level 3. I hope to start tagging along with Matt at least one day a week so that I can watch him with a variety of horses and learn all that I can learn.
Stay tuned for more of RC's adventures and I hope that you are all enjoying our wonderful summer season.
Thanks for reading our updates.
Cindy and RC
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Today was day 11 of RC's journey and instead of our usual beautiful morning drive to Loyalton, our lesson was at 3pm. I think my hubby appreciated me actually showing up for work this morning.
While I was eating lunch I looked out the back window and saw RC basking in the warm sun on dry dirt. Something that has not been available for about 7 months. I wondered if he was going to be willing to get in the trailer and take a warm afternoon drive?
When I went outside I yelled "hey RC its time to go to school, meet me at the gate"! I went in got his halter and came out to find him standing at the gate. I didn't have my muck boots on and was hoping I wouldn't have to get my shoes dirty. I opened the gate he leaned his head forward into the halter, held it there while I put it on and out he came and right up into the trailer to the front ready to be tied.
YES!!!!! I love this stuff, my horse actually wants to be with me and go with me!!!!
We got to the ranch and let RC have a roll and then I started walking over to brush him and Matt asked me to stop come back and get my horse's attention and ask him to join me-hmm that would be cool.
So I did and RC did and I felt my heart singing YES!!!! I love this stuff!!!!
After I groomed him, Matt went in and began saddling him while we continued to talk about the lesson from the previous day. When he was saddled Matt asked me if I noticed what had just happened? Pausing and thinking I said "no"?
He went on to point out that RC had stood quietly and calmly in a comfortable position while Matt saddled him at Liberty and now Matt was smiling and very pleased with RC. (I think he was saying "Yes I love this stuff"!) :-)
The entire lesson went like that, Matt riding RC and sharing principles,purpose, techniques and timing with me. Helping me to see the power of focus, feel and patterns. I watched my horse moving in sync with his rider today. I saw how Matt's patience and perfect practice with this youngster was developing him for so many opportunities in the future. I saw my horse begin to understand the power of body language from his rider.
I saw a shift in both RC and I today, something clicked for both of us today.
I learned about self-confidence and how I too can go into the round pen with my horse and spend a hour doing very simple yet powerful things with and for my horse. Things that will keep us both engaged with each other and keep it interesting and fun at the same time not just for me, for both of us. Whats amazing is I learned all of this while sitting atop the fence of the round pen.
Tomorrow is a very exciting day for me, it is the first day that I will get to climb up on top of this amazing young horse and feel him and with him. I am as excited as I was the night before the first time that I ever got to ride my very own horse when I was just a young girl. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our life together and I will savor and cherish every moment.
Today I felt the power of the passion and commitment that I have for this horse and our journey together. It has been a long time since I felt this so strongly and I know that we will continue to achieve our goals one day at a time.
Thank you everyone who is following us along this path and I hope that you are enjoying it as much as we are?!
Saturday, June 4, 2011
It has taken me a few days to write this blog about RC’s journey. I have found myself spending a lot of time licking and chewing on the lessons that I have learned in the past 3 days.
First I feel that I need to share a little bit about RC and myself before getting into the details of the last 3 days.
I am an Equine Experiential Coach and I work with individuals, couples, families and groups. My horses and I help people to explore their beliefs and behaviors through interactive activities. This gives our clients the opportunity to discover strengths and weaknesses in themselves and then together we create a game plan on how they want to move forward from that new understanding.
Horses have a very strong sensory awareness and are able to sense and mirror things for us that we are unable to see about ourselves. Horses have been some of the best teachers in my life and is the reason I have decided to do Equine Experiential Coaching (EEC). Sharing these powerful teachers with others is something I am very passionate about.
RC is a 3 year old American Paint horse I adopted 2 years ago from a PMU ranch in North Dakota. He came to me after the loss of Rondo; who was my 24 year old Parelli Natural Horsemanship partner. Rondo was given to me by a very dear friend when he was 9 months old. Needless to say RC has some pretty big horseshoes to fill! Since the first day I met RC our relationship has been very special. Becoming certified in EEC and continuing my education in Parelli Natural Horsemanship has made me much more aware of how I interact with my horses. I am learning everyday about the psychology of the horse as well as their behavior and how they interact with each other as a herd. My relationship with RC is stronger than any other I have ever had we are learning and teaching each other about things every time we engage with one another.
The journey we are on together is one of growth and exploration. It is my goal to become a Parelli instructor and RC is my partner in this dream. Together we will work our way through the Parelli levels and on to sharing it with others. We will help to teach people about horses, humans, relationships, life and how to live and love unconditionally, however first we must experience this with each other.
RC’s sixth day of training with Matt began with some play time in the round pen. He tends to need to do a little rolling and running before he is ready to focus. Once RC let Matt know he was ready to join him in the days lessons he was saddled and out into the big arena they went. They started with the circling game having RC circle in both directions and asking him to maintain a trot. This was pretty easy going to the right however not so easy when asked to go to the left. RC was pretty sure that his pen was the better place to be and decided it was time to let Matt know about his decision. Matt recognized very quickly that RC was bumping up against something that he was uncertain of and needed some guidance in order to help him find the right answer and a more comfortable way of moving around the circle.
Horses live in the present moment and every day is a new day bringing with it new experiences. Even though RC has done the circling game with Matt every day for the past 5 days, each day has brought something different to be learned. Every day he is asked to step out of his comfort zone and into his learning zone. It is Matt’s job to keep him from entering into the panic zone, as his trainer and leader discovering where these zones begin and end in a safe and effective way.
There are 3 zones in which we spend our time, imagine if you will a circle with another circle around it and then another around that, creating three circles. The inner circle is the comfort zone, where we spend most of our time because it’s comfortable. There is not a lot of change taking place for us when we are here. The next zone is the learning zone we must leave the comfort zone and be willing to be uncomfortable in order to learn new things. It is natural for us to experience a degree of discomfort when we are challenged with new experiences and if we are able to allow ourselves to be a little uncomfortable we learn how to achieve something new. As we learn new things our comfort zone actually expands automatically. The last zone is the panic zone this is the place where we are fearful of our safety and survival instincts kick in. We are in the reptilian part of our brain and thinking is not something we can do at the moment. If for some reason while we are in our learning zone we tip into the panic zone any ability to learn has disappeared. This is the place that memories of bad experiences are born and will be triggered anytime something similar is experienced. Sadly many of our horse companions are pushed into this zone unintentionally by inexperienced trainers setting them up for a lifetime of challenges.
While I watched Matt working with RC and saw his uncertainty developing and he was beginning to act like less of a partner and more like a prey animal, I was not really sure what was happening. Matt stayed fully present with RC and when this young horse began to get himself so worked up beginning to enter the panic zone, he took him back to a place that RC was familiar with. He allowed RC to accomplish what he was asking him to do in a way that he had done before, bringing him back into the left side of his brain and back into his learning zone. RC calmed down and was reconnected with Matt and then back out into the arena they went. He was able to accomplish the same task in the bigger space without the comfort of the round pen. From there they went out into the pasture and had a wonderful time trotting, cantering, circling and even some side passing. RC ended the day feeling very confident and happy.
I spent the day thinking about the lesson and realizing how important it is to have a professional starting my colt and helping him to learn safely and effectively. All day long I played the session through my mind, observing and learning more each time.
Instead of sleeping that night I found myself deep in contemplation about the three zones and how they apply to me and my life. I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety about pursuing my dream of becoming a Parelli trainer. I realized that thinking about the commitment and the unknown of how I would find the funding and the time to accomplish this dream would put me into my panic zone.
As I lay in bed with my heart racing, my palms sweating and fear surging through my body, I wanted to default to my normal response which is to shake it off and stop thinking about it. To get back into my comfort zone and postpone this dream even longer.
Instead I found myself thinking about Matt and RC and what had transpired when he was challenged with something he was not sure he could do. I imagined I was on the end of the rope and my heart filled with fear was the horse. I did not quit and hung in there allowing myself to be uncomfortable long enough to explore some options. When I felt panicked I would take my thoughts to something I knew I could do. Bringing me back into the learning zone and then I would begin to imagine about what I could do next. My heart rate slowed down, my palms were no longer sweating and the fear had dissipated.
I laid in bed in amazement at how RC’s experienced had helped me to successfully navigate myself through a very uncomfortable moment. It also confirmed for me that I am on the right track and pursuing my dream and sharing horses and their gifts is absolutely what I am meant to do.
I was unable to be present for RC’s seventh day of training. Matt introduced RC to a new level of the friendly game with swinging a rope from on top of him allowing him to feel and see it swinging all around him. Then they played with pulling a log around from the front and the back. RC thought that this was pretty fun and enjoyed pulling it from the front. It helped him to learn how to engage his hindquarters and he discovered just how powerful he is. He also got to feel the difference of having reins held in one hand versus two.
This may seem like no big deal to those who have older experienced horses or have not had a horse before. If you would like to have an experiential opportunity to gain an understanding, tomorrow morning when you get dressed pay attention to what leg you put into your pants first or what foot you put your first shoe on. Then stop and do the opposite and do so for the next four days and that is the awkwardness this youngster is learning to accept and explore.
Day eight brought with it a new level of communication, Matt began to ask RC to carry himself a little more collected and on the proper lead. RC complied after they spent some time with the questions and answers part of the process. My young horse is becoming more confident and capable every day. He looks to both Matt and I as we pull up and is excited to come out and play. He is beginning to develop a new understanding about the human/horse relationship and enjoys being with his people even more. Every time I walk out to the corral he turns and comes to me with the “oh boy here she comes” attitude instead of turning tail and going to the other side of the corral with the “oh no here she comes” attitude.
Thank you Matt for providing RC and I with the proper beginning to allow us to achieve all that I know we can be together.