Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Everything is Energy!

Whether you like it or not, a lot of what happens between you and your horse is based on something simple and undeniable: Energy.

Above, that's my Sharif, he of 'exuberant' energy!

As Oprah so passionately said it, in her final show: " ALL LIFE IS ENERGY, and we are transmitting it every moment. We are beaming it...little tiny signals, like radio frequencies, and the world is responding in kind."

During a lesson yesterday with a long-time student of Horsemanship with Heart, I made the comment that every time you go into the paddock to greet your horse, you need to ask yourself about the energy that surrounds you, because as we all know! - horses will pick up on that energy and respond in HONEST terms to that which we put out.

With my background in human personal development and motivation, the energy stuff is not new to me ... and it has helped enormously in my teachings with humans and their horses!

Oprah said: “You are responsible for your life. And what is your life? What is all life? What is every flower, every rock, every tree, every human being? Energy! What kind of energy do you have?"

If you were your horse, watching you walk into their environment, what sort of aura would surround you?

An interesting case
I have a student whose horse was quite happy to be with her, be petted and brushed when standing free in her paddock, and the human was in her regular, non-riding clothes. Think about the energy that human might be putting out on a sunny day with the horse in the paddock, with no ropes or bridles or saddles or anything to say that she wanted something from the horse. All she hoped for was some acceptance of her love and affection. And the horse was calm and responsive.
Then, when she put on her riding outfit, and went to 'catch' her horse, it all changed. The horse did not want to be with her (ran away) and when she finally was able to bring her horse into the mounting area, she had all sorts of problems, having to tie the horse short to be able to brush, saddle and bridle. The horse would try to bite her if she didn't tie him up.

The student called her horse a Jeckel and Hyde.

What seems apparent to me is that the human had two sides to her, as well. And the energy she emitted was completely different in both cases. Which energy worked for her horse?

The energy we put out is directly related to our relationship with our horse. It is this energy that we need to learn to control, through consciousness of that energy. What an exciting thing this is! (Thanks Oprah, for the inspiration!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nature's Paintbrush

I sat on the patio near my horses this morning, as it was quite balmy out there (for late autumn, anyway) and watched their antics as they vied for the best place nearest me (just in case, I guess, I produced a tasty something).
They look quite feral at the moment - all windswept and muddy and fluffy. Grey Corbello looks like he's had an eyebrow transplant from Karl Marx and Esteban who is also a grey, has artistic chunks of mud scattered over his whole body along with a particularly artful dab on the top of his generous rump.
The brumby looks like happy and tough and protected from the cold and wind, accessorised with his mud locks, the arabs are dancing about with dreadlocks and twigs in their manes, and the rescue standard bred, Bonanza, has leaves and hay growing out of his tail!
Poncho's cute face has all but disappeared under his generous forelock, and his chunky little body is as a shetland's should be: covered with a thick coat of insulating hair, protecting him from cold, wind and rain (like on the Shetland islands, from where the pony breed originated). Being on the hill as exposed to the elements as we are, I've worried about the horses coping with the rain, wind and cold, as the stable hasn't been ready for them to shelter in. (I know, risk of anthropomorphising here!) There were a few pretty miserable nights where I rugged nearly the whole herd, aided by loyal friend and student, Vicki, who is a bit of an expert when it comes to rug fashions!
I still feel that a run-in shelter still is the best solution for me, as this rugging business is a full-time job! - not to mention the storage space needed, the drying space required and the cleaning time!
There are some issues with the whole group sharing the shelter. Having a dominant stallion in the herd, he tends to take over the stable with the greys, as their own private palace and everyone else has to stand out in the rain! So my solution is to split the herd up when the weather is very rainy and windy. The first group is The Dominant Ones, and the second group are The Easygoing Ones. They'll take turns being in the paddock with the stable. The ones that don't have access to the stable will use the trees and I will rug them, while the ones that have access to the stable won't be rugged. They can all easily see each other from their respective paddocks, and everyone gets a turn to be inside if they want to. Little Poncho is welcomed wherever, so he gets the best of both worlds, if he chooses!
Which brought me to do a little research about the Shetland Islands where Poncho came from originally: it rains there more than 250 days a year, the temperature ranges from 5-14 celsius (over 21 is rare), it's windy and rugged and the flora is dominated by Arctic-alpine plants, wild flowers, moss and lichen. The harsh climate and scarce food developed the ponies into extremely hardy animals. Shetlands have long thick manes and tails and a dense double winter coat to withstand harsh weather. When I read all this on Wikipedia, I felt comfortable leaving Poncho naked (though would definitely help him out if he was ill or cold).
The tourist information says, "The Shetland Isles, a unique place of peace, pure air and wide open spaces". Sounds good!
There's something about the image of a horse on an open range hill, the wind in his mane and tail, that seems somehow natural, wild and worthy of a picture!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mutual Trust

Standing behind your horse, in their blind spot, requires that there is some mutual Trust, Confidence and Respect in place!

We've always been told not to 'go behind' the horse and for many people, it is an instant heart-racer when they go 'back there'! Years of conditioning have caused people to feel fear, which of course the horse can sense. And when a horse senses fear from his human, he doesn't necessarily think the human is scared of him (he doesn't think he's scary!), he could be wondering what is back there in his blind spot that has his human so terrified!
Fear will cause him to potentially move his feet, which means he will shift his hindquarters to see what's going on back there, and sometimes this movement can be sudden, which of course scares the human even more!

I spend lots of time at the rear end of horses. It's a demonstration of 2-way trust, confidence and respect. To prepare yourself and your horse for this (please do not do this without preparation and understanding) may take a little time, and your safety is always my #1 concern.

While to many of my readers, this may not be a big deal, as their horses are relaxed and comfortable and love bum scratches! But some horses (and you never know when you are going to meet one of those ones!) may associate you being at their bottom with veterinary examinations etc., not altogether pleasant!
Above, I am with Squeeky, who has been experiencing separation anxiety for many years (she still lives with her mum) - getting very animated when they are apart, even with a fence between them. In this session we are building mutual trust and I am establishing my leadership to where she looks to me, not her mum, for guidance and direction. Things are coming along really well after a couple of sessions, with her human now able to take her for a walk without mum, and all is confident and relaxed.

Trust is earned, for both members of the horse/human partnership. Taking the time it takes (to borrow from PP) will pay off Big Time - and remember, a prepared horse is a Safe Horse!