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Thursday, December 9, 2010

The uncomfortable place of misunderstanding............

Earlier this week, I broke out my long lines to see if I could help Moses relax with lots of bending from the ground.  Much to my surprise, he seemed to have experience with this type of driving. So we moved to exploring; just what did he know?  I discovered right away that he was worried about the lines flipping over his back from behind, so I did this excessively in motion all the while letting him know not to worry, using my voice to make soft noises of approval when he relaxed. 

 I asked him to follow the feel on the halter. He had trouble following the feel when I was on the left wanting him to follow the feel to the right.  He wanted to look at me, but with a tap of the line on his cheek he quickly learned that was not the answer. I have finally learned, that it is better, just to go there! Make the correction quickly and clearly, just like the lead mare does. 

I had the perfect example shown to me by Valentine and Jessie when they first got to co-mingle with Moses (on purpose!) in the field.  We were all there, all the mares and Sterling too, I was cleaning as usual and playing with horses when I got bored with the cleaning. I let everyone in quietly, without a fuss.  I noticed earlier in the morning Mo and Valentine seemed to be interested in one another across the fence so I knew it would be a good time to bring everyone in.  Valentine is my lead mare and Jessie is the enforcer, but she honors  Valentine's lead and they are usually together.  

Without looking at or acknowledging Moses at all, Valentine went straight to grazing.  Jessie and Moses both turned butts to each other and tucked under and I  thought they were going to kick each other.  Then they didn't ~ Hmmm. Then with just a cock of her ear in his direction, Valentine double barreled him! I heard Whack.  She was back to grazing only one heart beat later. He was looking at her like a little puppy dog seemingly apologizing for being in the way, and only moments later, they were touching noses and that touch ran all the way to the flank.  Lovely example of Love language and leadership.  Firm fair and friendly. 

So that was my goal when Moses did not follow the feel on his halter, but wanted to turn and face me.  Touch quickly, firmly and go back to grazing, so to speak. Like Valentine, I was sure this was the best way to get through this uncomfortable place of misunderstanding.  Unlike Valentine, I needed to repeat this lesson a time or two during our session! Soon enough, he was asking me questions about the quality of his hind quarter yield :) So we quit for the day, friendly confident and happy.

It was two days later when we revisited this lesson and gratefully, the yields were soft and way better than how we left off! We have been making a habit out of approaching one another with our necks relaxed and body language soft.  I go out several times a day to give Moses a piece of carrot, just to reinforce the relaxation.  I go up to him and crouch down in front of him and encourage him to come get his carrot.  At first he would come right into my space, not asking permission to share the space, but taking it, so I needed to send him away.  But as the days went by and our lessons progressed he realized the price for the carrot was to come in relaxed, respecting my space and asking politely. 

I wasn't sure a couple of days ago if this horse was going to be a reliable riding horse for his owner, and I'm still not sure, but I was encouraged yesterday by the shift in him.  I think he is having congruent conversations on all fronts, even Mya, my little 30 inch tall mini mare, tells this dominant horse where to be, then she leaves him alone until he asks politely.  

Once again, it is my honor and privilege to live, play and work In the Company of Horses..........

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Claiming space and playing with food ~ Moses~

Moses came in yesterday for 30 days of training.  The owner says he's dominant and she is not always comfortable in his space.  He has kicked her and intimidates her.  So when he got here yesterday, I let him investigate the space at liberty for awhile.  He displayed his dominance to my herd from across the fence as I observed. That looked like posturing, tossing his head and rolling repeatedly.   After awhile I took him with halter and long line to the field where I hoped he would stay during his time here.  I showed him around and simply claimed the space around me and my projected path.  We stopped at every fleck of hay and I shared food with him.  Calmly with controlled energy and excitement, we explored the space.

While Mo's attention was on everything, he had an ear cocked on me the whole time.  When he got fixated on something in the distance, I thoroughly got invested in whatever it was as well, then decided, like a leader, that nothing was wrong and we should move on to the important work of investigating the new space.  When his head was below his withers, and he was blowing and looking for grass to chew on, we went into the round pen and I removed all strings.  He was very connected to me, following me wherever I went feeling like a herd of two.  So we picked up the pace trotting together.  Without looking at him I could feel his head come up above his withers, so I came down to the walk making my circle much smaller so as to keep the walk and continue to slow down.  As soon as he looked at me, I invited him in.  Rinsed and repeated until he was able to trot with me without his head coming up.  That happened through walk, trot, stop transitions.  It took about 20 minutes and I opened the gate and we went out.  I was hoping he wanted to go to the water trough to drink; instead he went to the water trough with me and got interested in where the girls are.  Then he went to the creek and was very interested in crossing.

Now if he had gone down the bank and crossed the creek, he would have been out in the general population with my herd and on the track of my paddock paradise.  I did not want this to happen.  So I observed for the better part of an hour and made the determination that he would cross the creek if caught up in enough excitement and given the dominant tendencies I have already witnessed, I was sure he wanted to go cavort with the big girls.  So I put up an electric barrier where I thought he would cross, thinking it was done.

He went back into the round pen and rolled repeatedly, violently, I suspected he had some discomfort and he began to paw at the ground.  I've seen this horse show signs of colic in a situation where he was worried.  So I put his rope on him and took him; keeping the belly of the rope on the ground, once again, to the water.  He checked it out but did not drink, so we went to see if he wanted to stand on the tires.  When he got focused on the task at hand he did lots of licking and chewing.  It was a nice connection, so while he was still on the tire, I took off all strings and left him alone. He showed no signs of discomfort.   I went to get him some hay.  When I arrived in the field with the hay, I was immediately accosted for the food, he ripped it right out of my hands.  Hmmmmmm another sign of dominant behavior, claiming the food.

With no fuss, just noticing, I walked away to get my stick.  Now prepared, I was very clear about claiming the hay.  I did not touch him, just claimed the hay, like I have seen other horses do countless times.  When he looked at me longingly, questioning, I picked up the fleck of hay walked it over to him and I walked away.  I did that a few more times, all the while being clear, fair, friendly and unwaivering in my intention to claim the food. He responded with more and more respect each time.

With only one more short session online for the day, just asking him to lower his head in motion and relax, I considered the day a success.  Then came the first night.

Earlier in the day I noticed that Mo and Summer seemed to like one another.  So as the light of the day waned, I had a thought that I did not listen to.  I should leave Summer in the field with Moses.  It may not be enough that the whole herd is just on the other side of the fence on the track, eating hay next to him.  So, at 2AM I am woke to the sound of rolling thunder.  It sounded like it was just rolling around the house.  I went out and found the whole herd in the front lawn including Moses! I have no idea how he got out of the field and onto the track with everyone. So by the time I got out back to see if anyone was left (only Sterling - Yelling for the herd) the thunder rolled right up to me!  Lots of energy and I'm pretty sure there was not a bit of moonlight.  I got a rope and went in and put it on Moses, then took him out to the space just behind the barn, Summer happily came with us.  There they were quietly together for the rest of the night.........

All in all a very interesting first 24 hours!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stronger than any halter and lead rope!

Whispering Jessie, really understands what stronger than any halter and lead rope means.  Thank goodness she's teaching me!  Jessie is my dominant mare, really the only one I would classify that way out of 7 mares and 1 stallion.  Today I had yet another example of how my dominant mare keeps the order in her herd.

So, it's pouring out, not cold but windy and sideways rain, lots of it.  All of the horses were tucked inside the outside shelter, mostly wet because the rain is coming from the South.  I think it would be a nice idea to go out and bring them all into their barn, cozy, dry, more room, hay, you know comfy.

 I go out, prepare the barn make my way through the driving rain to the gate, get Jacquie's attention, and run back to the barn expecting everyone to follow.  I'm in there waiting and waiting, I poke my head out and I see Hearty, Jessie and Jacquie half way to the gate looking at me dressed head to toe in rain gear, I'm sure they can't hear me calling them because the gale force wind is blowing my voice to the county north of me, but they see me for sure waving at them to come in.  Now these horses come into this barn once every day to eat.  They love it, look forward to it, I've watched them waiting to come in and eat day after day, year after year for 20 years; rain, snow, wind, thunder and lightning, sunshine, night, every type of weather condition, they come in.  But, they are looking at me then back at the shelter, I'm thinking they are coming, I run back in to get ready to receive them, and they don't come!  I look back out and they are now all back in the shelter! I'm wondering what's stopping them.

So I get a halter and lead rope and go back out into the torrential and driving rain, now soaked in spite of my rain gear, and Summer sees me because now they are all stirring.  Gratefully, she chooses to come in, then the migration begins, so I get back to the barn to get everyone where they need to be and just like every other day every horse is waiting outside the barn,  at the doorway, waiting for their herd leader Valentine to enter first.  The ducks, chickens and cats all make way and in perfect order everyone files in; calm and quietly going only where they are suppose to. First Valentine, then Jessie, Patches, Summer, Hearty, the little ones, and lastly Sterling. It occurs to me that all along they were waiting, waiting for valentine to make the move to the barn. More important than comfort or food; the safety of the herd leader saying lets go.

That Jessie, she is not only a beauty, but a gift!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sorrel Beauty -Born in the last century died August 22, 2010

The whole herd was sleeping under Sorrels' tree this morning.  (Sorrel is pictured here on the left with Jessie and Patches laying down 1996) They were sleeping in a circle; Valentine, Jessie, Summer on one side; Patches, Mya, Jacquie then Hearty at the top close to Valentine.  And close they were, lying down, everyone except Mya, who, when standing up is no taller than any of the other girls lying down, standing in the center of the circle standing as the Sentry, once again solidifying her value in the herd..  They are a close family band who has lost their herd leader to old age.   We found him this time just yesterday, sleeping in death there, under his tree.

As I listen this morning to all their familiar little noises, I wonder how they will sort themselves out.  For now they are mostly quiet, no major feates of athleticism created by huge black bombers, just a roll in place with a squish.  I understand this somber feeling.  We were suppose to go visit my son who just moved to Manhattan.   It sounded like so much fun, and I was looking forward to it.  But what we did was nap, watch a movie, eat and talk about our friend,  my first horse who I ever had;  lived here with me at my farm for the past 20 years.  It didn't occur to me that that alone was an overly special thing, but recently when a new vet came to see him, she commented on what a lucky boy he is that he was bought at an auction and has gotten to live his life all in this place.  

Sorrel was more of the honored and respected man and elder of the group, rather than the herd leader, the girls have that part covered.  He was loved by them all. I know this because time and time again they would do what was needed to get their grazing time right there next to him.  Of course, Patches was always on one side, but that left another whole space available and when it was available, another hopeful mare would do her best to win his favor.  Just last week, after a long nap off of his feet in the barn, when he came out, he called for his herd and one after the other came to him and every girl touched this boy, some on the nose, some with a hug or like Patches starting at the nose ending at the tail rubbing her body the whole length of his ending with some mutual fly swishing.  

Mya loved Sorrel immediately.  She doesn't seem to know that she is only 30 inches tall.  She literally could and would stand under him.  Like a puzzle, she would fit right under there with no worries.  She is older than most of the girls and savvy in her ways.  She knew what she was doing.  Most times while the rest of the herd was grazing in the pasture, she would need to stay off the grass with Sorrel.  Him, because of his issues with laminitis, her with her issues of size!  If she is 30" tall, she is 30" wide.

From the time Jessie was tall enough, she and Sorrel have been mutually grooming one another.  It's a special thing, I have come to realize.  This is not something all horses do, it seems only for a chosen few.  The itchy ones who like to be touched and are willing to show you the spot, they are the ones.  Happily, Hearty and Jessie share this passion now.  That makes me happy on many levels. Friends do this.  

When she first arrived, about two years ago, Hearty (Shawnee) knew, after dealing with Jessie, she wanted the favor of Sorrel and set out to work.  Romance in the horses world is an interesting thing.  Looks matter, but what you do is the thing.  She had the opportunity to show Sorrel, all those days with Mya while munching hay instead of grazing on the green grass.  She has found peace in our herd here, and Sorrel's quiet loving nature, was a lovely part of it all.  

Patches has been wherever Sorrel is since she was 4 months old.  She is 18 this year.  If she is not with me, she is usually touching him.  She used him to help with bugs and itching and to shield her from another mare  vying for her position.  She learned quickly that he was as steady as a rock, completely count-on-able, just like what he taught me, when I used him as a shield from Patches when she was a hyper growing yearling!  And now in his death, she seems completely ok, knowing it was all coming just like the rest of us, likely with way more insight into how much pain he was really in.  She stood by his side day and night.  When everyone came in to eat, she waited for him to make his way in too.  Many times coming in after him.  I believe she even felt his pain, showing many signs of lameness and a lack of interest in moving very much.  About a week ago, all that went away for her.  She blew a huge abscess out of her hind heel, moving lots more, lost a few pounds and is running around again.  Like any of us who have been through helping a loved one through a difficult time, sometimes our health seems to be put aside.   I am excited for her.  I am excited that she will now go to another place in her life, kind of like after the death of a long time spouse. 

Jacquie seemed mad at first, biting and kicking the herd.  I made up, that she wasn't able to save his life and she is not use to this.  She is an angel and a healer and that's the way it is. She is the youngest member of the herd and like many of us, I suppose has not experienced death yet.  Butch and I spent a bunch of time last night out with them, and Jacquie just wanted to sit on our laps and have us rub on her.  (She is a lap donkey!) 

Summer, Valentine and Hearty seem to want to care for me.  Valentine quietly hugging me, looking for something.  The responsibility of the herd is now hers.  I think she is looking for help, knowing she had guidance before yesterday.  It's a valiant thing to step up and say I'm the one.  I'll bet more than one herd leader has had doubts, but this girl has a ton of heart, together, we will do whatever it takes.  

Summer is one of the most loving beings I have met.  She is a caretaker in every way.  The biggest reason she and Butch get along so well is because of Sorrel.  Being Butch's first horse as well as mine, Sorrel taught Butch much about confidence over the past 4 years.  They were brave together and were happy to explore.  Butch had no agenda with Sorrel, just to be friends and to be together and he knew,  is was no small thing that this horse was willing to carry him.  In the woods, on the beach, in the mountains or at home on the trails, off they would go exploring, Sorrel choosing and Butch following or visa versa. One of my favorite memories is of this handsome red horse carrying my 3 young sons around the yard together.  And it was just this past winter when he insisted on coming with us to work at the DREAM Park.  He clearly had work to do and a lovely girl Amanda was the lucky one who got to learn from him.  She delighted in the way he would follow her around with no ropes, at the walk and trot, even jumping over things with her.  He knew what he was doing.  And I rejoiced in the way he was so happy to be with his friend Cesar again.  For the semester he came with us for therapeutic riding, if you had your lesson on Cesar, you had a 2 for 1 deal.  Sorrel followed his friend happily.  It was like they were old college buddies who were now older, wiser and working for a living.  

I knew there was another shift early last week.  He was trying to tell me something, insisting even.  Of course I did not know what he was telling me, but what I kept asking for was that he let me trim his feet and get his boots on, finally on Wednesday he stayed laying down long enough for me to get them all trimmed and his boots on.  I was grateful then, but looking back I wish I was able to know what he was telling me.  He has delivered many messages to lucky participants in our equine assisted psychotherapy sessions.  Even most recently when the new vet came her assistant was crying, having been touched by this lovely spirit of a horse and they way Patches stood with him in loving support.  I am the luck one.   

An 800 dollar horse from Harker's auction - Sorrel Beauty - Priceless.

Friday, July 2, 2010

3 After the storm

After everyone was accounted for and the ambulances, Ginger and Karen following Morning Star; Terry riding with Jen left, we all gathered together and sat in a circle.  Carrie arrived and brought out two precious oils and began anointing our heads and washing our feet with them.  The photo above is Char washing Butch's feet and to the right is Trinity and Tom's family with Carrie helping to wash their feet.  This family was able to weather the storm in their van there in the background.  

  Carrie and Donald have loved and hosted Morning Star many times and this time last year, Morning Star had been staying with Carrie for a couple of months.  We had lots of gatherings, made drums and flute bags together and ate many meals. It was at our Healing Retreat last year that Vince Chafin gifted Morning Star's Eagle flute to her and she treasured it and played quite well.....  I'll never forget how we traveled to New York City with our drums to drum in Central Park!  We had a Rockin' great time met some awesome people and got thrown out of the park!  It was great.  I think it was 12 of us who walked around and found a great restaurant for dinner and all enjoyed one another.......  my word I will miss our Morning Star.......

This is Carla with Gentle Bear (Donald), she is a healer who came to be with us from Baltimore.  An acupuncturist by trade who came to share Shiatsu with us.  When Donald crawled out from the branches of the tree he had quite a gash on his swollen arm and he was literally in shock, not quite aware of what was going on.  He was fine shortly later.
It is pertinent to note here that those of us who did not participate in this drum making workshop were out learning how to extract energy from nature, hold and manipulate it, then give it to someone else.  Terry who was one of the ladies holding Morning Star until the paramedics arrived said later, that this practice that Ginger calls Hands on Healing in Nature made a huge difference in her being able to stay focused and in every moment while there in the rain and the mud. We felt and saw the storm approaching and quickly returned to camp to help batten down the hatches. You never know with storms here, they could look really bad and just blow over or they could look not so bad and get bad quickly.  This one apparently had straight line winds of 75 miles per hour.  There was large hail hitting us and  then there was the complete white out.  We could only see white and I don't recall hearing anything.

I found Morning Star's shoes just where she left them, by the white deer heading toward her Medicine Wheel.

The camp was a mess, tents blown away, tent poles bent all up, tables and benches crushed under the fallen tree, my car with a tree on it!
In this photo to the left the camper you see at the back of the photo belongs to Chuck a friend of Morning Star.  He loaned it to her to keep her stuff in while camping out at our Retreats. This is where many of her things are currently being stored.  Obviously there are things all over the world that belong to our Morning Star which is why I keep calling her that "our" Morning Star, because it is like she belonged to all of us....

Happily, it missed my truck which was parked right behind my car! The forest service took names and numbers and reports in the rain.
     Right away we knew we needed to contact Morning Star's family because the reports from Ginger and Karen were that we are not family and they would only give us limited information. It was important that her family get in touch with the hospital.  We had no idea how we were going to reach her family in Australia.  We all began to search our memories for names and thought of Facebook!  I posted a message on Morning Stars page, then thought to look through her friends to find her family and about an hour or so later Jeff, Jody's (Morning Star's sister) husband called with Robyn (Mom) on the phone.  We called our people at the hospital and they were praying with the hospital chaplain.  At the moment we called with Mom on the phone, the Chaplain had just asked for a sign if God was with our Morning Star, that is when the phone rang saying Mom was with us.  We only know that Robyn was able to talk with someone on the phone from the hospital.  For us it was another opportunity to wait.
What we knew was that Morning Star's body was still breathing, a CAT scan had been done and she had been rushed into emergency surgery where we learned later she stopped breathing.  The Dr. said the cause of her death was traumatic brain injury.  He asked what hit her, Karen and Ginger told him of the tree and he said it is likely she didn't even feel it.  Which we also thought, since her arms were still at her side when she lay on the ground.  She never regained consciousness.  I believe she left with the white lite.

Some of us gathered together lots of wet pillows and blankets and took them to Char's house to dry them.  We uprighted and dumped the water out of our tents, made some food and had a drum circle with our friend Jan Jeffries who Morning Star would have loved.  (Probably did love if they know each other, I'm not sure!) She played the jumbay (sorry I don't know how to spell it!) I just know MS loved to play it.  We rocked the forest and I know Morning Star loved it. The sky was clear and tons of stars out.  I didn't even put my rain fly back on my tent.  The moon was very full and very bright.  When I awoke in the morning it all seemed surreal.  Hard to believe if what I thought happened actually happened.

On Friday AM the park sent out a representative to see if anyone needed to talk to a counselor and they began to cut up the trees that had fallen.  They had concern about other trees in the area and asked us to move to a location about 10 miles away.  We invited them into the camp and showed them Morning Star's medicine wheel that had been cared for by Carrie, Adrienne and Pam who also love Morning Star.  They brought baby's breath and beautiful purple heather and bundled together oak leaves to adorn the circle with.  They found this heart in a split log!

There are two halves of this heart, I will find them and show you them later.

Just yesterday morning (the 24th) Morning Star, for the first time put these wings on her 'rattle' snake.

These were some of the other things still in the Medicine Wheel.

One important thing to note about our Healing Retreat in the Pines is that we eat really well!  This is Donald preparing to rotisserie cook a turkey on the cooking fire!  

Below is the "kitchen fire" Stainless Steel and Cast Iron are the names of the game in this kitchen.  And it's always a "green" Retreat in that we bring yard sale glass dishes to eat on and everyone washes their own at our dish washing station.  

When the park rangers came to inspect the trees for our safety after the storm the only problem in our camp was this tree here where our fire was.  It had a twisted branch at the top.  Apparently that is what happened in this type of storm.. They likened it to if you were trying to break off a green branch and it doesn't break clean, it kind of hangs on by bits.  Apparently that is dangerous.  So they asked us to move our cooking fire and to rope off that area so no one was under it.  So we did and we were gratefully able to stay there in our site for the rest of the Retreat.  That tree now is one of the casualties I talked about earlier in blogspot 1 or 2.  
Friday for us was kind of a re-grouping day.  Jan gathered folks together for a percussion workshop which played in the background of our partners shiatsu.  It was all good as we cared for one another.  Miriam and David came for our Friday night campfire entertainment.  They played their guitars and sang their hearts out until the wee hours of the morning causing us all to sing along and laugh and have lots of fun.  We Needed That!
 Horses began to come on Friday!  It sure changes things when the horses come!  This is my pony Shawnee.  She came to provide equine Assistance for us at the Healing Retreat.  Debra ( who made the drum) is my co-facilitator and Licensed Professional Counselor, and I asked for volunteers to participate and Maja and her son Bodi put their hands up and shared with us all a lovely demonstration of how to have your child be interested in "how" Mom was able to invite the horses to be with her using her heart connection.  It was beautiful.  Ten people volunteered to participate in a session called a journey through this day and the grief we all felt.  This was one of the most profound sessions I have ever had the honor to facilitate.  Everyone in the session weathered the storm together and it was a powerful experience staying together and sharing things like this session to help us all to move forward in our process.  Thank you all from my heart to yours........

The next thing I did was to participate in a creative writing session with Pam Laurenzi.  This is the second year we have had Pam with us and I knew from last year that she has lovely ways of unlocking the mind and creative juices and allowing things to flow! As we listened in the background to Ron's Didgeridoo workshop,  The following is a story or poem that came through me.  And if it's ever happened to you, being a vessel, you will know how this came.  

Once Upon a Time in a land far far away
 lived a faerie full of fun full of ease glee and play.
 A forest and trees birds and bees playing and growing and learning  to and fro. 
 Dogs and didges and sticks and twigs growing and blowing calling and falling.  
WooHoo WooHoo out from the night is an owl of the light.  
Crying and calling trying and falling
 a baby is she watching it all,  learning by moon light or no light at all.  
Once in a while by the dawns early light
 comes a whispering turtle to the young owls delight. 
 It knows so much; down there on the ground, crawling and creeping around and around.
  It seems to be eating all of the time this new little turtle this new friend of mine. 
 when all of the sudden and out of the blue in comes the tide and swept away you.  
I miss you my friend as others do too.  My heart feels like crying as my eyes can do.  
Where have you gone so far from our view;  it feels like your here and I hear you too.  
Your signs all around us your possessions are too  
Your memory surrounds us and your teachings gave clue.  
The stars and the moon , the sun and the sky, the elk and the horse they stand up on high.  
When you brought them to us a drum was then made.  
Their heartbeat was next then you , our dear fairy laid down to rest. 
 In the rain and the wind your oak brother did fall your light it struck out surrounding us all,  
The goose bumps I feel and the tears that fall, 
Remind me each day of the folly of all
 the toil and the worry  the fear and the fall are only a path to enlighten us all.  
My heart it does sing with a Morning Star song 
the kind you would like us to all sing along.  
With no rhyme or reason you came and you left.  
You now dance with stars, grass trees and the rest. 

May Peace be with you all tonight, I'll write about our Sound Circle and Life Celebration tomorrow.  

For Morning Star's story, please read the post below 2 labeled 1

Hello dear readers,
Please scroll down to read post 1 then come back and read post 2 and check back for more of the story.
Thank you!  Peace to you and me....

2 Morning Star's Drum making workshop at the Healing Retreat in the Pines 2010

Note the tree ahead of Morning Star with the dream catcher and medicine bag ~ It is inside the medicine wheel

Morning Star had soaked the skins and then created a ceremony to honor the beings that would become drums.  The sage was lit and all the ladies and the elk hide were smudged.  .

This is Yvette.  She was obviously thrilled to be making her drum.  She was one of the three ladies who have waited a long time for this day and  couldn't have been happier for this opportunity. Yvette along with Terry held Morning Star during the storm after the tree fell until the ambulances came.  I don't have a picture, but Yvette's new drum was in her tent when the storm came and when she later retrieved it, her red buckwheat pillow had bled onto her new elk drum in the shapes of a  red feather and a  red heart.  
Below is Jen and her drum being smudged and that is Debra waiting excitedly for her turn.  When the storm came up, Jen was helping Morning Star catch her tent that was blowing away.  They had just made it back under the tarp that covered our tables when the white out came and the tree fell.  Jen had been hit in the face with the tree and ran to get Terry who was safe in her truck to help Morning Star who was unconscious.  Terry gave Jen a towel to stop the bleeding from her nose and ran to help Morning Star.  Jen went to a different hospital by ambulance and received 16 stitches in her nose and is in re-constructive surgery today Friday July 2 for the rest of her nose.  Jen felt good enough to participate in our Ceremony last Saturday for our Morning Star and was in good shape yesterday preparing for her surgery. 

These are Jen's pictures and she said that some of her favorite pictures were those of Morning Stars hands doing the work she so loved and was so good at.  Some of those are below;

There is the Medicine Wheel behind Morning Star that she had created for our Retreat.  If you look closely you can see some of the things inside.  And there is the oak on the left of the picture with the medicine bag and dream catcher on it.

I went back out to the forest at Goshen Pond around 5 PM yesterday to be with the sight having been a week since the storm.  When Ginger and I arrived, we were stunned at what we saw.  Right there in our campsite, over 40 trees had been cut down by a chainsaw.  The oak in this photo was one of the casualties.  There were limbs strewn everywhere, tire ruts and still some trees with red ribbons on them, surely marked for destruction.  It is hard to imagine why, I have tried all of the reasons I logically could think of, but my heart  hurts and I'm mad. I guess this is another opportunity for me to learn from Morning Star's teachings and choose love and as she says there will be more.

Morning Star and Debra ~  In the Medicine wheel stretching the new elk hide lace.  Note the sun and the beauty of the day.  Those are my tents in the background and the place where the horses were to be on Friday- Sunday.

Jen and Ranger Smith  happy about her new drum head!  
Debra and Morning Star laughing and happily making Debra's new elk drum.  Debra is part of our Retreat organizing Committee.  For months let me tell you , Debra has been talking about making her drum on Thursday morning with Morning Star.  She told me Saturday night, after playing her drum for the first time at our Celebration of Life, she made a great drum.  After Debra's drum was made, she said she felt like she needed to go home and be with her husband.  The storm came just a short while later.

Here is the white deer skin being lovingly and expertly cared for by our Morning Star after the drum making workshop.  
 To my knowledge, this is the last photo taken of our Morning Star.  It is profound that if you look closely, the tree that is directly behind her head is the one that fell and hit her.  It fell on that row of blue canopies that covered our tables.  It is not the three connected or the one to the left of those,   you can see the leaves of the tree that fell just above Morning Star. 

This was our camp before the storm.

This was our camp after the storm.  Notice the chuck wagon and the other canopy still standing.  The storm was straight line wind reported to be 75 mph.  It sheared off trees about 12 ft. from the ground.  The tall stump that was left is to the right of this photo.  Where you see Ron in the yellow t-shirt is approximately the place where Morning Star fell to the ground.  All damaged tolled were of course our Morning Star, Jen's broken nose and stitches, Donald had a nasty gash and swollen arm and I'm sure he was in shock, the tarps and tables, my car had a tree fall on it and then yesterday when I went back to check on the site and care for the medicine wheel, we found this shocking sight.

There were 40 trees cut down with a chain saw in our camping area.  This is a photo of the medicine wheel and that large stump on the left is the tree that held the dream catcher and medicine bag.

My next blog post will begin after the storm around 5 PM on Thursday.  For now I want to publish these two and get the story out in the world.  In Peace ~ Thank you for caring~ MaryAnn

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our Morning Star 1

 Around 4 PM June 24, 2010 a ferocious storm came up quickly.  There was a complete white out with sideways rain, hail and wind that blew over an oak tree.  It struck our Morning Star's head and she was knocked to the ground unconscious, her arms still at her side when the paramedics arrived.  We got word that her body stopped breathing at the Cooper Trauma Center in Camden, NJ around 8 PM that same night.

Our 3rd Annual Healing Retreat in the Pines was held at the Goshen Pond Campground in Shamong New Jersey June 24-27, 2010.  We began the morning with an invocation and welcome meditation led by Morning Star.  She had been at this location since last Friday when we set up camp for our Holistic Retreat in the Pines for families with Autism.  We camped for 3 days with horses and assisted one another in growing and learning.

This is Morning Star in the background working on cleaning a fawn's skin that was found just on the way to the Retreat.  In the Foreground is Pablo the Pony who is working miracles in the life of Thomas a newly adopted 11 year old boy!  And Goudie to Morning Stars left.  Goudie is a little 2 year old wire haired dachshund who LOVES Morning Star!  To the right is a photo of Summer and Below a photo of Pegasa and St. Gomer carrying Carrie and Morning Star.

The horses are wearing fly screens to keep the bugs; who were only present on the trail, out of their eyes.

Of course Morning Star shared with the families at the Retreat for Families with Autism, her new snake on a stick and her fox and other treasures.

  We happily shared meals together prepared by Butch and Donald on their camp fire and sang the "Bear" call and response song that Morning Star so loves.  We played in Atsion Lake, took out the canoes and kayaks.

Morning Star Playing her flute.

 In this photo of Butch (below) and his chuckwagon, the boys are packing up to move up the hill where Morning Star has been camped and preparing the space for our 3rd annual Healing Retreat in the Pines just after the solstice and to include the full moon on the 26th.

As we followed the signs to the Healing Retreat in the Pines,only now, newly named the Morning Star Retreat ~ Excitement built for all of the special things that were to happen at this years retreat......
          The White Deer on our banner is a doe that lives in a mixed herd just around the Super Military Bases of Ft. Dix - Maguire AFB and Lakehurst Naval Air Station.  If you know the symbolism of the white deer, you can imagine our gratitude when a newly hit white buck was found on the morning of the solstice and Donald (Gentle Bear) promptly carried it to Morning Star.  This ultimate symbol of Peace became the poster child for this years retreat a few months ago.

 For the Chicksaw people, the white deer is the favored material for a wedding dress. This deer is not albino but white.  I found other herds of white deer living on another military base in NY. Ted Andrews in "  Animal Speak"  notes deer as Gentleness and Innocence - Gently luring to New Adventure.  Deer are native to every country on Earth except Australia. If a deer has entered into your life look for new perceptions and degrees of new perceptions for as much as the next 5 years. This white buck was quite young with only small nubby antlers. There is reference as very significant to the fawn staying exclusively with its mother only and nursing often with no other visitors other than the father, linking the child more closely to her family, to protect the newborn to subtle outside influences of energy.  When deer show up in your life it is time to be gentle with yourself and others.  A new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born.  There is gong to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures.  ask yourself important questions.  Are you trying to force things?  Are others?  Are you being too critical and uncaring of yourself?  When deer show up there is an opportunity to express gentle love that will open new doors to adventure for you. 

All campers and visitors entered under the Welcome Banner.  Our first gathering was a welcome and invocation with everyone lead by Morning Star.  We all picked an animal druid card and shared the reading.  The way we did it is one person shuffles, the next picks for the next person.  As is turned out, Morning Star picked the Water Dragon for me and the Owl was picked for her.  There were 8 of us in the circle 10 total cards were drawn that morning.

Passion, Depth, Connection

(There are no direct or indirect correlations.)
Detachment, Wisdom, Change

The Mystery of Magic, Omens, Silent Wisdom, Vision in the Night
Then Morning Star prayed that we walk softly on the land and that the land care for us during our Healing Retreat.  She asked that we take only pictures and leave only footprints. She asked that the bugs conduct their lives happily outside of our camp and she thanked all the life around us for the deer and the experiences we are about to have.  There was likely more said, but this is as I remember it.  The she began to play the Shruti and sing, truly in an ethereal way, like an angel. In this next photo is Ron a loving friend and music man. and he's playing the Shruti that he left with Morning Star all week to play
and practice an accompaniment for our closing Ceremony on Sunday The Oneness Blessing.  And she was making great progress.  She loved this box and immediately as Ron entered camp, her first words to him were what do I need to trade you for this box!  If you don't know, it's a harmonium and originated in India as an instrument to chant with.  Oh, and that is Morning Star's tent in the background. She bought it last summer when she was with us and I know she loved it.  Just as the storm was coming up, she was trying to catch it from blowing away.

After we all shared our first meal of the retreat, our first two workshops commenced; Pinelands ecology with Ranger Smith ( left is a picture of Butch and I  walking with everyone) and Morning Star's drum making workshop.
And here is the rest of our group. That's Terry on the left next to her husband

Ranger Smith. Terry along with Yvette held Morning Star while it rained and we waited for the ambulances to arrive.   Karen and Ginger are next.  These two ladies followed the ambulance to Cooper Medical Center in Camden where Morning Star eventually passed.  They were the voices that connected us to what was happening.  Next is Belinda,Retreat organizer and master of all things money and Butch famous for creating amazing food over an open fire all  much loved friends of Morning Star.  It rained so much in such a short time,  after climbing out from under the fallen tree himself, Butch was digging trenches with baking pans to move the water away from the ladies holding our Morning Star.  
We found turtle eggs and carnivorous plants, played in the water and enjoyed the many berries, water flowers and birds that joined us. We learned about the pitch pine, the red oak, the white oak, the cedars, the need for forest fires for the pine barrens to survive.   When we returned to camp I took a few photos and found drum birthing in full swing. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

going into the dark and scary places

We all have them, things we would rather not talk about, think about.  We would rather pretend they weren't there.  But they are.  My horsemanship mentor once said, MaryAnn, the bags are packed, you are either going to unpack them and see what's inside or carry them around with you and deal with the contents forever!  

Some horses are afraid of plastic bags, water or needles, so are some humans.  Maybe it's being touched, maybe it's being alone.  The fact of the matter is that the dark and scary places are uncomfortable to talk about.  They are scary enough to look at alone and downright frightening to share with someone else!
But, any keen observer can see they are there.  It's like whistling in the dark, just to keep your feet on the ground. They are not bad, just deep seated fears, real or imagined that we hold onto, mostly because we are afraid to acknowledge them.  For humans it's usually fear of judgement from other humans, for horses, it's fear of not living through the day.

Once I started to be able to get some freedom from the grip of the deep dark secrets I held onto so dearly, I could then begin to help horses unpack their baggage.  Because what is on the other side is light and fun and free!  So much connection and intimacy is available, love is what's present.

This is a the story of my time with a little horse called Nikka.  I only had 4 days with her and I spent around16 hours over those days.  She is a large, lovely, athletic and very smart painted sport horse.  I was recommended to help by Nikka's farrier because she could not stay still long enough to get her feet trimmed.
So I thought I was going to help her with being friendly around her feet, but when I arrived I saw the issue was much larger.

Her owner could put Nikka's halter on well enough and move her around a bit, but the moment that big horse needed to leave, she would just take the rope and go.  She had already done this with nose chains and gum chains, so there had to be a way to cause her to want to stay, and it could not be based in fear or intimidation.    Nikka was too scared to keep her feet still.  Apparently she was a rescue with tales of being used for pulling a cart in Amish country and it did not go well.  As a 6 year old she was adopted from slaughter.  I never ask about the horses story, I don't want to make assumptions, I just begin to see where the horse is.

When I showed up the first day I saw we had a space about 100 feet wide and 200 feet long.  There was another horse and a goat in that space with Nikka.  All I wanted to do was to be her friend and rub her with the halter and lead rope.  I smiled and approached her with lots of consideration for her bubble.  I was honest with her and curious; telling her why I was here.  Using feel, timing approach and retreat, when she needed to go, I went with her. I kept my body parallel to hers, no matter where she went.  If she was looking at me or we were moving together, I left her alone, if she turned away from me, I tossed my 45 foot rope at her bubble, usually in front of it. I wanted her to believe I could keep up with her amazing athleticism  I have noticed, observing herds of horses, the ones with similar color or spirit level typically pair bond.  So I wanted her to think of me as someone like her.  Committed, athletic and not afraid to be friends.  The first day, it was all physical for her and I think it was August, so she was quite sweaty.  I was able to quit after I saw a change in her, she actually began to walk toward me, so I walked away and right out of the gate until the next morning.

Day 2,  She met me at the gate, but quickly got worried and moved away.  This day it was all emotional.  She was hiding behind her friend who lived with her, going to places in the arena that were clearly hiding places, looking around trees and the corner at me.  This was a very different horse. 
I continued to be friendly; smiling at her and moving with lots of rhythm around her.  She watched.  She hid in the shelter, with her nose in the corner, unable to watch.  I rubbed my rope all over the other horse, continuing to prove to her I was a friendly human.  Not sneaky, not quiet, but clear and committed.  She clearly was hiding in a dark and scary place inside of herself.  She realized that running away was not going to work with this human, she did not know what to do, so she hid inside of herself in plain sight. 

I was soft with her, just being close and hanging out quietly offering my friendship.  I still had not physically touched her in two days.  This day she was also very sweaty, but not from running away physically, but from running away emotionally.  I found a place where she was able to follow me, not closely, but follow me and be curious about what I wanted and I walked right out of the gate. 

On Day 3, I found both the horse who physically ran away and the horse who ran away emotionally.  It was a true combination for her of finding out how she could hide from her fear.  I didn't even want to imagine what must have happened to this horse, to have her be so extreme.  This day things moved along very quickly, first she ran away, I went with her,  then she hid, I went with her, then she began to follow me.  I was finally able to put out my hand and she touched it with her nose.  I walked away quickly, like a little kid with lots of fun and rhythm, skipping and joyous!  I skipped right back to her and she was now really curious about me.  I reached out with my coiled 45 foot rope and she sniffed it, then let me rub it all over her sweaty body, up and down her legs, under her belly all over her back.  She began to enjoy the scratching.  Sometimes she got worried and if she did, she would leave physically, but she came right back when I went with her.  She learned what that was going to lead to, and this was way better.  She allowed me to put some of my coils on her neck and wrap them around her body, to guide her with my rope, she was willing to follow the feel of my suggestion.  I threw out my coils and reeled them back in right next to her and she was not worried.  I began to throw my coils all over her body with feel and rhythm, she stayed.   I wrapped my rope around her legs and led her around.  When I left, she followed me to the gate and watched me leave. 

On Day 4, she met me at the gate, let me rub all over her with my hands, ropes and her halter and lead rope which I had not touched yet.  I suggested she lower her nose and put it in the halter down by my knees and she did, with no opposition.  She followed me around like a puppy dog.  I began to put some driving pressure on her to see if she could stay and go where I wanted her to go at the same time. She did, with no opposition.   We walked and trotted together, with no opposition attached by ropes.  She was able to give me all four feet and hold them there while I did all matter of silly things, like sit down, stand up, pull push, you name it, I did it with every foot.  Nikka watched and participated with no opposition..........

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Good Horsemanship is a series of good habits.

Good Horsemanship is a series of good habits.
Many old timers will tell you that you can assess a persons whole character by the way he catches and halters his horse. 
High on the list of what to do, is have your horse catch you!  Why?  Because if you cause your horse to want to catch you, you must be someone your horse wants to be with.  How? Bribery is a good start.  What if every time you went to visit your horse you did exactly what she wanted to do for the first 15 minutes?  Is it graze? Did you bring a gift?  Have you found a new itchy spot lately, before your horse showed it to you?

How about haltering your horse with her head below your belt.  What if your horse dipped his nose right into the halter for you.  This habit alone would cause partnership in a whole new way. 

Lets talk gate etiquette; If every time you and your horse passed through a gate, you asked your horse to go through, then turn, face the gate and wait for you to latch it, or maybe bring another horse or two along, no horses would be rushing the gate - ever.  This habit would cause your leadership to go way up. This habit, applied to riding or not will change your whole realtionship.
(photo) Ms. Patches working on her creek
crossing skills in her paddock paradise.

When cleaning your horses hooves, can you suggest with 4oz of pressure or less that they pick up and hold their foot in the air for you?  This habit takes time, but if you are not getting any younger, you will love the results of taking the time to create this partnership, so will your hoof care professional. 

Saddling - Can you saddle your horse with no strings attached? Completely at liberty?  How about with your leadrope draped in the crook of your arm with lots of slack in it.  If you have been polite about cinching, and tightening the girth in slow incriments, moving your horse between each step, this habit will pay off in a big way.  You'll never know the problems you didn't get!  Unless of course you have a cinchy horse already. 

Here is a habit that will earn you points - rub your horse and be grateful for every go and every whoa.  When in doubt, rub! Put a smile on your face and in your heart and know your horse is your mirror. This habit will never fail you.

Habit -  any regularly repeated behaviour that requires little or no thought and is learned rather than innate.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Leadership/Dominance and the Herd.

This is Valentine, named because her birthday is actually on Valentines Day and I must say, it wasn't love at first sight, but it was love when Valentine wanted it! 
She was a donation to In the Company of Horses, but when we got her, she really didn't want anything to do with humans or horses.  We turned her out in Jeanne's 29 acres with her herd and only fed and cared for her for one year.  She eventually found her place in the herd, but she never seemed comfortable or "at home". 
Then one day I was on my way back home from  my horsemanship mentor Aimee Brimhall and I stopped in at Jeanne's.  While I was at Aimee's we had spent several days learning to see and think in mental pictures and then be able to share those mental pictures with others, humans then horses.  So when I got to Jeanne's Valentine was running the fenceline and yelling at me.  Now I have been to Jeanne's countless times over her year with us, with and without horses.  She knew my herd, but my experience with Valentine was limited to the first day I met her and trailer loaded her and brought her to Jeanne's.  So of course I went over to see what she wanted.  I went ahead and offered to put my rope on her and invited her out. I was committed to using no body language, only mental pictures.  That is hard because communication is mostly body language and I have practiced using body language with horses for many years.  So I cleared my head and had a thought and picture that Valentine and I go somewhere together, and before I knew it, she had lept into the air and all I saw was sky around her, I was amazed!   All I did was have a thought! I realized I needed to be clear in my thoughts with her, like lets go over there, not just lets go somewhere.   I said to Jeanne, right there, I have to take this horse home with me!  So, I put her in the trailer, and she was mine! 

Now, when we got home it was interesting, my herd accepted her right away, no hooves flying, no biting, just pure acceptance of this mare right away.  And it was there that I really began to learn about leadership from Valentine.  I had been learning from Aimee about what herd leaders do. How they act, and now I had my own example right in my yard to show me, every day. 
 Aimee is truly a student of the horse.  She was a young home schooled girl in Montana who went to the Parelli University at 15 years of age.  When she got home her parents, wanted to see results from what she learned, so she began starting colts to earn $$ for her next semester the Parelli University.  When I began to study with her, she had 78 colt starts under her belt.  So, like Pat Parelli says, I can't experience, experience for you, but second hand gold is as good as new.  So for me, Aimee's vast experience with horses and her ability to communicate about that, has been a gift for me.  It was just what I had always been looking for since my handsome Sorrel gelding came into my life and managed things so well 15 years earlier!  And, now I had this lovely new horse, beautiful, smart, willing, and athletic who totally picked me! 

Valentine was six when she came to us and according to her papers, she was born in Canada, and lived in six different homes in her six different years, she had been through three professional trainers and given away to her last two homes.  So I think she was always looking for her home and she seemed to know immediately when she got here that this was it, and everyone here knew it.  She changed my whole herd.  She is strong and athletic and clearly is a benevolent leader, my herd loves her. 

Whispering Jessie
The first horse who really welcomed Valentine was Jessie.  She is the same age as Valentine.  Jessie is a dominant mare by nature, very handy with her hind legs and very willing to use them.  She firecely defends her herd and keeps incredible order, but would never lift a hoof to the man Sorrel, and immediately helped Valentine to learn the lay of our paddock paradise (I'll tell you about our paddock paradise some other time).  I have watched Jessie countless times cause, passively in the proper position, the herd or mostly her herd leader follow along.  She is not a leader, but she is the enforcer.  The lead mare Valentine, decides to go and everyone follows.  Valentine does not need to cause, she has a thought and everyone gets it and off they go.  But there is no doubt that Valentine needs the herd and she wants them.  Leaders need someone to lead and the herd needs a leader to care for and follow. 

I have watched Valentine be concerned after I moved the water trough after cleaning just a few inches, such that she could not get close enough to drink out of it, then without a word or a lead rope, she went to get Jessie who boldly walked right up and drank out of the trough, only a sip, backed away, invited Valentine to drink, then they drank together and walked away together. Although I didn't notice her, Jessie was keeping watch, waiting to be of help to Valentine.   Herd leaders know they need their herd. I have watched Jessie want to go to the front lawn and for over 1/2 hour, she watched and waited and caused her herd leader to want to go too.  Then when it came time to go down into the creek and up the bank to the front lawn, Jessie waited for Valentine to go, then the whole herd followed.

When Valentine communicates with the herd, it is clear, animated even, never mean, just, quick and light, she doesn't leave a mark, then it's over, no one is holding onto it.  It's like the communication is recieved with gratitude for it's clarity.  Just like when Sorrel use to boss Patches around when she was a baby, the more he told her what to do, the more she loved him.  Pat Parelli says "every horse is a natural born follower looking for a natural born leader".  Since learning more and more about leadership, I have found this to be true, every lead horse is looking for a leader, every dominant horse and every passive horse, they are all looking for a natural born leader.  But with that leadership there comes responsibility to be mentally and emotionally fit.  "Bitchy" horses are not leaders.  "Dominant" horses are not leaders.  "Passive" horses are not leaders. Leaders are not necessarily the most brave, but they do have courage and they know without a doubt that they are leaders.  Emotionally unfit humans need to gain emotional fitness to become leadership material for our horses.  Not dominant, not passive, but clear, fair, just, athletic, fun, friendly, flexible, willing to follow, willing to change, one who pays attention to everything and lets go of the past quickly!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy~ In the beginning~

Patches and I ontop of  8 Mile Mesa - Pagosa Springs Colorado April 2005

It was in 2005  when I found out there is an international program where people were using horses as feedback, professionally, to help other people grow and learn about themselves!  I love it!  All these years, as my horses were plainly telling me, very clearly, about who I was being, I was learning a craft, a new business! 
Now, for me, it wasn't always easy to know just what they wanted me to know, but it was easy for me to see what my friends horses wanted them to know, so I started asking Jeanne, what she saw my horse telling me!  It was great!  or not, but it was what was going on right then and there.  Honestly it wasn't until years later that I actually appreciated this feedback and started to be able to see what my own horses were telling me. 
Maybe I was helping a  horse with some worry load in a trailer or stop running over it's owner, I could have someone elses horse on the end of my rope and get the feedback easily, but my own horses were much harder for me.  I'm sure its because it was personal for me with my own horses.  Other horses didn't know me and I didn't know them. I was there to help and they seemed to know it.  They were easy, and the results I found were consistent, they taught me to be able to use my own mirrors at home. 

I have been a student of Parelli Natural Horsemanship since 1996.  I was in my first clinic with Pat Parelli himself, and I learned so much about horses in that weekend, that when Pat said, just follow my program through the foundation program, then go out and do what ever you want with horses, you will have a solid foundation built on principals to see you through all the rest of your horse days.  So I did.  And in 2005, I got to fulfill on the dream of going to Horsemans' Heaven the International Study Center of Parelli Natural Horsemanship in Pagosa Springs Colorado for the entire year!  Patches of course is the horse that took me to Parelli University and got me here today.  She is quite the girl.  Full of opinions, beautiful in every way.  2005 was the fulfillment of my Parelli Journey.  Pat said, now, after your level 3 you have a license to learn.  So, once again I listened and I went on to study with Aimee Brimhall McCord.

Aimee listened to the horses like no one I had ever imagined.  Aimee brought my awareness around horses to a new level, to the level of being, without thinking about it, just feeling.  And shortly after I found Aimee, I found play.  Play with horses!  Fun, artistry, dancing, connection all with a childlike wonder.  This is where things started to get really good!  The answer always became yes!  All I needed to do was figure out the question, that was the fun part!  Horses became a game of interaction for me, a source of lightness, light on my line, light on the earth and light in my life, and I found MOST horses have a wonderful sense of humor!  They offer all matter of antics.  This is when my herd evolved into a friendly, fun close knit herd, this is also when Valentine came into my life. ....

Friday, February 26, 2010


Welcome to my blog! This blog is being created as an outlet for me to share the things that my students/teachers are teaching me on this journey through equine assisted growth and learning. This journey truly began for me in the last century - the early 1990's. So, what happened is I finally bought a farm and my very own horse, exactly the kind everyone told me I should get an 8 year old gelding quarter horse. He was lovely and kind to my children, and everyone else, but right from the very beginning, he seemed on a mission to teach me something. I guess it all started with the fact that I bought him at a horse auction in downtown Tabernacle, destined for slaughter, but I didn't know anything about horse slaughter at the time, I only knew I didn't have the courage to live my lifelong dream of horseownership, so my husband (at the time) bought us a bottle of Jack Daniels and we got drunk and bought a horse, paid someone to trailer it home for us, and so it was done. I was surprised at how noisy he was, whinneying all the time. Of course now, I think he was likely calling for some friends. He's the epitomy of "herd". He's 28 now and lives with 7 mares including 1 miniature pony Mya (who LOVES him) and Jacquie our Angelic miniauture donkey. Who am I kidding, all the girls love him. He taught me about feeding horses, who knew they couldn't eat grass? Chronic colic taught me how to pay attention to EVERYTHING! Founder made me use all of the things I knew about creating health naturally in people, in my horses. I'm a Certified Natural Health Professional, and up until my handsome Sorrel horse forced me to listen to my instincts, I relied on the professionals who knew everything about horses including showing them who's boss (there was no doubt, he was! I couldn't even pretend, there was no point.)
So then, a couple of years later, I had another brilliant idea, I needed another horse! One without so much baggage. So, once again my husband (at the time) -no we didn't get drunk- thought we should buy a baby horse! and there we were visiting with the prettiest little tri-colored paint philly I had ever seen. While I was kafetching about how we should not buy a baby horse, (green on green makes black and blue!) he was paying the man. My little clean slate was named Patches of Winter because she was mostly brown with some white patches and a black mane, tail and 4 black legs. Any undesirable trait she has developed I know how it got there. In hind sight I realize I put it there, but at the time, I was just trying to live through the experience of daily life with this athletic full of life fast little horse!

The thing that I noticed right away was how no matter what, she was not jumping all over Sorrel, like she was jumping all over me!.. I needed some of what he has, horse sense, leadership, clarity, boundaries, she loved him completely and immediately. I thought he was being mean to her, but clearly he knew what he was doing, I was the one putting on my helmet, just to walk her from place to place. Then I started to put Sorrel between Miss Patches and I wherever we went, that was great! She would not jump on him and he would keep her perfectly in place. This is where I knew I needed to figure out what he had that I wanted.