Friday, October 29, 2010

Variety is the Spice of Life!

You've heard the phrase, "A Change is as Good as a Holiday" ... (then I take a lot of 'holidays'!) ... it is healthy and natural to embrace change as part of life!

Horses of course, are creatures of habit, and get into their routines. Upsetting those routines too radically can result in them become a bit disorientated, or worried and confused. (Like us!)
However, if we always stay with the familiar, the comfortable and the 'safe', we will not take opportunities to grow and experience new things.

Another useful phrase to remember when considering change, is "if you keep on doing what you're doing, you'll keep on getting what you are getting!" - and "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!" (I love that one!)

Including some variety in your relationship with your horse is a positive thing. You could change the place where you usually go to play with your horse, you could change the activities or games you play with your horse, you could change the toys you use!

I often liken horses to 2 or 3 year old children - they can get bored easily, they always willingly do what feels good, they let you know when they are not happy with something, they like cuddles, like to be the centre of attention, and are capable of temper tantrums!

Zorro, my arabian gelding, is the epitomy of a 3 year old child. He has taught me so much - and is still teaching me today! (I'm not anthropomorphising, just drawing a light-hearted comparison!) A playful, spirited, intelligent and social horse like Zorro practically 'demands' to be stimulated, mentally, emotionally and physically. If you are lucky enough to have a horse like this, delight in the opportunity to learn and enhance your horsemanship skills!

Adding variety to your horse's life will keep them interested, keep you inspired and will create more joyful, heart-happy moments!

Above, you can see my brumby, Spirit, play the ball herding game! Yay, a win for the WJ Ranch Team!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Life of your Horse

One of the simple joys in my life is to sit on the terrace, with a morning coffee and gaze at my horses, who stand quietly enjoying the warm rays of sunshine after a cold night. Notice the word 'gaze', not 'look at' ... the word completely summing up the lovely fuzzy soft feeling that I have when engaging in this favorite pastime! How lucky and blessed I am to be able to do this - and it never ceases to bring a smile, and to lift my heart and spirits high.
Being a horse 'in captivity' requires a compromise on the horse's part. Deprived of her natural tendency to wander, browse, explore and other natural daily horsey activities, a horse could get pretty bored! I often think about this, and try to see life from my horse's point of view. What can I do to make life a little more interesting for my horses? They already live in a herd which is great for them with all the social interractions it provides. They have a good space in which to get up a gallop if they feel like it. They get to participate in play with me. They get special treats. They have toys in their paddock. They get to go on walks, and the best of all! - they get Honorary Trips onto the House Lawn with all the Roses!
For a happier, livelier, more interractive horse buddy, try to look at your horse's life in captivity and think about what you could do to make it more interesting and enjoyable. Today's Plan of Action for my herd of boys is to encourage some dam splashing and to let them up to the top paddock where they can perve on the mares across the road! (With a solid post and rail fence protecting them of course!!) Yeeha Boys!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


WII-FM: "What's in it for me?" is written in invisible ink on your horse's forehead! In my Natural Horsemanship with Heart training program, I encourage students to always consider their horse's point of view when teaching, riding, playing or just hanging out with their horse. And when you know what's important to a horse (through understanding of horse psychology), it's easier to know what things your horse might enjoy (apart from the obvious munch on a favorite treat or patch of succulent grass!)
This is why I love WERPs so much (Walk, Eat, Ride, Play). We take outings that involve some walking side by side, some eating (some trailside picnics for both parties), some riding, and some playing (ground games). We both have fun and your horse will be a much more willing participant in your activities when next you call them up from the paddock!
One of the best, simplest pieces of motivation for your horse is a good scratch! Sometimes in clinics when we play the Touching or Getting Friendly Game, I hear that 'my horse doesn't like to be touched or brushed', however after a few minutes of experimentation, we find that the horse does in fact love to be touched and groomed, just not in the way that their human was doing it! Horses, like people, are individuals, and have individual likes and preferences. What is a wonderful scratch for one might be irritating for another. But when you can read your horse, and importantly allow them to stand freely so they can 'talk' to you, you'll be amazed at how much they 'tell' you! One of the easiest words to teach your horse is 'Scratch'!
I stand next to my horses, my scratching hands at the ready, and say the Scratch word, and they will reach their head around and nip themselves where they would like it! You can be useful to your horse, and WII-for you? The joy of seeing those curled lips, the outstretched neck, the expression that says, 'oooooh yeahhhhhhh'. I've yet to see a horse lover who doesn't enjoy such a moment!!