IMG_2975

Tonight Bonnie and I had a lovely play session. It was short and sweet, just the way we like them!

I focused on staying very calm and centered in my body first and foremost. I’ve noticed that Bonnie really doesn’t like to be touched so I figured the Friendly Game was a good place to start. If my hand offends her, I thought I would start with the stick and give her a little more room. She responded beautifully to this! Her ears were forward most of the time and she was really thinking and responding. Most importantly she was not REACTING!! I was so thrilled.

We moved onto playing with the bridge. Bless her, she thought I wanted her to jump it, so I kept it positive and didn’t reward for the jump, but kept smiling and using my “bridge” word which is “Good.” I decided to get her to look at the bridge a bit and placed a bunch of carrots there. I also wanted to work on getting her to see me pointing and begin to understand that when I point something is going to happen and it’s always good. Finally with lots of encouragement she began to understand that there were carrots ON the bridge and all she had to do was eat them. It was fascinating how long it took her to understand this! Sky understood immediately and ate many of the carrots. So funny! Once Bonnie started to look for my pointing finger she started to crunch up the carrots quickly. When she had this we walked away from the bridge and went to jump a log a few times.

I started to introduce her to the driving game and with a bit of encouragement she was starting to understand my intention of moving away from the pressure versus when I was playing the friendly game and she could just hang out. This pony is SMART.

When we went back to the bridge, she tried to jump it once and then I saw the light bulb come on and she put a foot on it instead! Whoot Whoot!! I asked her to get off the bridge and then to come back up and in a short time she offered BOTH front feet all by herself. JACKPOT! She got a handful of cookies for that.

We walked away from the bridge and I took off her halter. She politely turned her head for a couple of carrots. I put the halter and stick on the ground and went to move the bridge as I noticed there was a lot of grass growing under it, Bonnie was standing with the halter and stick and string, just investigating them. She nibbled on the stick some and nudged the halter around. She walked on all of it with her front feet and then finally came to see what I was doing with the bridge. Talk about a happy ending!!! I love when my horse stays with my and the equipment instead of hurrying away at the end of a session.

Smart smart Bonnie!

What I’m about to share with you may turn some of you away from my blog, but it may help some others so I’m pressed to share.

I’m known as the “Hippie Horse Chick” up here where I live in southwestern Montana. I was born and raised in Montana and spent many years being a cowgirl, riding colts, rodeoing, barrel racing and roping. I’ve definitely done my share of cowgirl type of activities, but noticed as I got older that being a cowgirl didn’t define me. The old ranchers that live around me shake their heads at me when they spot me doing something “weird”. And I’m often spotted doing weird things! But I continue to march to the beat of my own drum and work at not letting what others think of me effect me. It’s an ongoing battle, but I would rather be my own weird self and be ME than try to be anyone else.

This post is about a “weird” thing I did that no one can see and I wouldn’t have to tell anyone except my Handsome Hubby (He saw the charge on my PayPal account when he was snooping! Otherwise I wouldn’t have told him!! LOL) and my mom, who also happens to be a bit of a “hippie” and believes in this stuff too. But I find this to be so HELPFUL that I figured I should share it and maybe someone that is struggling to help their horse can get some answers, without all the guessing that we have to do because horses can’t speak to us… or can they?

My little mare Sky has been behaving so strangely. We’ve had her since she was a yearling and she is now about 13, so I feel I have a good baseline for her behavior and can safely say she is behaving strangely. She is MAD. So mad that I can barely do anything with her. She likes to be brushed but not for long and she stomps off, she has been making trimming her feet difficult, something she has always been a very good girl about! She walks around with her ears pinned often. She stands and stares out into the distance and whinnies. When I catch her she STOMPS her feet as she walks. Sometimes she is easy to catch and other times she will just storm off before I can get the halter on her. Again, not behavior that is normal for her. She is always the Alpha mare in a herd, but has always been a very sweet and easy going mare for us. We showed her in as many classes as we could, drove her many miles and she was one of our main parade ponies. So this behavior had me puzzled.

I worried that she was missing her pasture mate Amber. I wondered if she would be happier going back to Mom’s and hanging out, just being a pasture pet again. I wondered if she wanted to be a mommy again… not that I need more foals, but if she wanted to I would consider it! But how could I ask her these things? I would sit and commune with her as well as I could, but she just seemed to be giving me the middle finger. If you own a mare, I’m sure you can relate!

SONY DSC
Grumpy mare!

I was thinking about ways I could help her and wanted to narrow a few things down so I called my mom to talk about contacting my favorite animal communicator, Bonnie Fogg. Mom was all for it and also felt a certain amount of relief to get some answers. I called and made my appointment, tickled because Bonnie remembered me even though it’s been about 9 years since I have called her! (And now I’m wondering why I never called her to get some help with Billy!!)

Here is how the session went… be prepared. Horses do NOT think like people!!

First, Bonnie does a body scan. She is checking for any aches and pains that may be causing discomfort. It’s not possible to help a horse emotionally if they are struggling physically.

Sky has

  • discomfort on her right top teeth, a small ridge that I need to get floated before we drive!
  • Sore back… from the middle of her back all the way back to her tail. This is VERY sore and has been for awhile. Because her back is sore and she has vertebrae out her—->
    • hips are sore
    • her right hind is sore AND her left hind
    • her left shoulder and right shoulder are sore
    • her neck is sore as well!

So… pretty much her WHOLE body is hurting! We know when one thing is out in the body it will really effect the rest of the body, but it’s always a surprise to remember just how true this is!

Because she is so sore she is angry. She is PISSED. She wants to kill all the animals and the humans that she sees. And honestly I understand. When I’m sore and hurting I too want to kill people.

Oh and she has PMS. So it’s multiplied but 1000!!

I asked if she missed her mare girlfriend at mom’s. She said she does miss her but not for the reason you may think! She misses bossing her around and fighting with her. She misses creating CHAOS in the herd. Captain Planet is too easy going and a push over and that makes her MAD. Oh my gosh!!! I laughed so hard at that!! Here I thought she was sad because Amber was her girlfriend and we just ripped them apart. But no. She’s mad because she can’t fight with someone! I told Bonnie that she could tell Sky she is creating a lot of chaos with ME so at least she is accomplishing that. And no wonder she’s been fighting with me!

I had noticed that for the first time since Sky came to my house she DIDN’T stare off into the distance and whinny yesterday. I wondered if it was because of the new mare? Bonnie said yes! Sky is hoping that the new mare will prove to be a good combatant. I said I didn’t know if I wanted to inflict that on the new mare! LOL! Of course they will work it all out and who am I to say the new mare doesn’t also thrive on fighting? Maybe it’s a mare thing!

I asked if Sky wants to drive or maybe have another baby. When Bonnie showed her a harness, Sky came back with a picture of herself IN the harness. She does want to drive, but not until we get her all put back together. I have a call into my favorite body worker Heidi Chretien so we can align Sky’s vertebrae. My aunt is coming on Tuesday and we will do a Raindrop Technique on her to help her body AND her hormones. And until then I will be doing a couple of Redneck Raindrops on her to help bring her some comfort right now. Last night I put some Ortho Sport on her front feet and her spine, hoping to give her some temporary relief right away. We’ve been getting some rain this morning, but I am heading out to work on her after I push publish on this!

I hope this blog can help some of you that are struggling with your horse. (We’ve also used Bonnie to help us with one of my mom’s dogs that was giving her trouble. The change in that dog was instantaneous. It was amazing!) If you feel like your horse is trying to tell you something and you can’t hear, please give Bonnie Fogg a call and set up a session! You won’t regret it and it’s totally affordable. Tell her “Hi” from me when you call!

Learning Confidence
Learning Confidence

Being able to stand next to my horse as he goes from unconfident and fearful to confident and brave is so supremely satisfying.  I’m not sure that words can even describe how it makes me feel.  And yet I feel compelled to try…

Last weekend I had the chance to take Billy to a Trail Challenge Play Day.  The obstacles were very challenging and so creative.  Many of the things there had never even crossed my mind as a horse related obstacle.

When we first entered the indoor arena Billy’s eyes nearly popped right out of his head.  He lowered his head and then seemed to shrink right before my eyes.  He lowered himself to the ground so that he seemed to be at least 2 feet smaller than when he unloaded from the trailer!  It was interesting to watch.  I had him on the 22 foot line to give him some room to move if things got to be too much, several times I was glad to have that drift.

People and horses were milling around, playing with the different obstacles.  I first just led Billy around and let him acclimate to the new environment.  He would stand up straighter as we walked and then sink and shrink again when he felt unconfident.  I thought it was so interesting to see him actually look small when he was feeling small.  Unfortunately I did not get any photos of him at the beginning because I felt it was going to be enough to juggle Billy and my stick and the new environment without wearing my camera too.

After making the rounds in the indoor a few times Billy started to really blink and breath again.  He began walking around at his normal height of 15 hands and seemed ready to interact with the different obstacles.

obstaclecollageThey had animal hides, umbrellas, a small mattress, a HUGE tarp, a jump, three different sizes of equine balls (two very very colorful), a big purple sheet hanging up like a wall, a bubble machine, a small pink swimming pool with a moving, laughing pink pig in it, talking animatronic animals set up all around the arena and a “pit” set up between 4 barrels and filled with plastic packing material and little plastic balls.  When the horses walked on this material it popped under the feet.  When the big warmblood walked on it it sounded like a gun shot!

purplesheetcollagebubblecollagetranquilI chose the pink pig and the swimming pool as our first obstacle and Billy’s eyes widened as he went back to the end of the 22 foot line.  Ooops!  With a little bit of approach and retreat he finally made it to the edge of the little pool and I called that a good try.

thescarypinkpig
The pink pool and laughing pig. This is a good friend of mine and her beautiful arab mare, Cinny.

We moved around the arena, playing approach and retreat with everything.  I would send him to an obstacle or pull the obstacle away from him and have him follow it.  I stuck with each thing until he could lower his head, lick and chew, softly blow out, was blinking and his ears were moving, then we would either take a break in the middle of the arena or we would move on to the next thing.

When an obstacle was especially stressful I would allow Billy a nice long roll in the sand after accomplishing it…SONY DSCWhat was so amazing to me was watching the transformation that occurred as Billy became more and more confident.  Obstacles that I would have thought we could never try were a breeze once he felt confident in this new environment.  With each break through it took less time at the next obstacle.  To actually be able to see how having a confident horse makes for a responsible partner was amazing and eye opening.

Watching some of the non Parelli people struggle with the different obstacles and end the day with a less confident horse that was feeling very stressed and fearful was also interesting.  Seeing how it affects the horse’s mind to just push obstacles at them and throw stuff on them without thinking about how they were handling it made me all the more grateful for Parelli.  Being able to effectively read my horse and know when he was shutting down or when he was engaging with the obstacle was so important to helping him become confident and able to tackle the next obstacle feeling good about himself.

playdaycollageWe were able to end our time on the ground with a lovely trail ride.  Billy was so forward and confident out on the trail, in a new place, being the leader for the other horse.  What a feeling of accomplishment we both had.  We left tired and happy.  Just the way you would want to feel after a day of learning and trying new things.

ridingbilly

sometimes horses are naughty.

imagine my surprise when i walked into the horse shed and saw THIS…

chewedbarn

SOMEONE did this in ONE NIGHT!  i couldn’t believe it!

why did they do this?  were they bored?  is there something missing in their diet?

i went to the horses to ask.

chloe said,

“do you have carrots?”

chloecarrotswhen i said i did not have carrots she did this…

SONY DSC

i followed and said again, “chloe, were you bored or do you need a supplement?”

this is all she had to say about that…

SONY DSC

so i turned to billy.  this is all he had to say…

SONY DSC

i decided to address this as boredom.  though they haven’t been locked up any more than normal, i do think the dry lot was getting to them.  so.

first, i decided to try “painting” the inside of the shed with stuff from my kitchen.  i mixed up cayenne pepper, hot sauce and more cayenne pepper in a big bowl of water.  i stirred and stirred.  then armed with a paint brush i headed out to the shed and proceeded to pain the entire inside!  i had more than enough spicy water to cover the whole interior.  billy of course was very curious and immediately bit the wood that i had just painted.

“eeeewwwww!” he said.

then, “hhhhoooooot!”

SONY DSC

i immediately ran and got him a handful of hay to help cool his mouth.

then i put a couple of wooden logs in their pen, a big tire, a jolly ball (the dog keeps stealing these, but i keep putting them back in!) an empty rubber feed pan, and sometimes there is a chicken or two for billy to chase around.

they no longer chew the shed, but they have made a mess of this log…

SONY DSC

because i keep finding wood shavings all over the ground i do not think they are ingesting the wood.  i’ve been checking their teeth and they kind of look like they’ve been brushing them… hmmm…  but they don’t have scratches or splinters in there.

this log looks great…

SONY DSCi notice that the rubber feed pan is always inside out and tossed around.  every day i have to get the jolly ball from the outside of the pen and i’ve seen billy pick up and carry the tire around, so i think the toys are helping.

i know my hubby (who put his sweat, blood and tears into that shed) thanks me.  i’m glad that i caught it BEFORE they chewed a hole through the wall.

this chicken proved her worth by following me all around while i gathered my photos to write this post…

helpfulchicken

 

SONY DSC

i had a friend ask me an interesting question the other day on facebook.  she was commenting on the photos of my “afternoon walks with the puppy” and wondered why i hadn’t noticed these things (a gnome home in an old tree, a barbed wire heart along side the trail) on my earlier walks… because, don’t i walk that same trail every single day?

i answered that i don’t in fact walk the same trail every day because there are literally 100’s of miles of trails so i don’t feel the need to continually walk the same trail.  (or ride them when the time comes!)

however we DO walk the same 3/4’s of a mile of road, to GET to the BLM for our hiking and exploration of new trails, rocks, trees and treasures.  watching the puppy on that same exact stretch of road i realized that HE finds new and different things to smell, pick up and carry and pay attention to, every time we walk that stretch of road.  as we go up it to the BLM crossing and then again as we come down it toward home.  angus too, is trotting along, looking all the world like he has done this a thousand times, only to sharply veer off the road and excitedly follow his nose to some “new” smell he has just now discovered.

watching this got me thinking about my friend’s question and how even if i DID walk the same trail every day i would hope that i could find something new and exciting to notice.

then that led to thinking about my playground and my sessions with billy.  if i don’t make it a point to make things new and interesting he gets bored.  so having the imagination and creativity to make up new games with the same old obstacles is vital to developing a well rounded and interested individual… (unless he is extremely right brained and needs me to be boring and do the same old things as yesterday.)  how interesting!

i also realized that billy notices EVERY SINGLE NEW THING when we walk that same, boring stretch of road.  every. single. thing.  so the moral of this lesson is:

don’t get complacent just because you’ve done this before.  look for new, exciting things to marvel at every day.  find the joy in all the little things.

just a simple lesson from the puppy and billy on a lovely, snowy spring day!