Those who exalt themselves will be humbled those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:12 - www.theessentialhorse.com

How many times have you went to your horse with the idea of “teaching” him something, only to have him turn around and “teach” you a thing or two? If we are in the right mind set, this will happen all the time. Even when we aren’t in the right mind set, this can happen, though in that case we may fight it. The session can lose all beauty if we are reluctant to opening our minds to learning from our horses.

This blog is full of lessons I’ve learned from my horses over the years. Time after time my horses have humbled me, all the while showing me how to be a better leader/partner for them.

Don’t just show up… show up with passion. Show up with intention. Show up and mean it! When you show up to your horse with honesty – tell them how you are feeling – then open up to them teaching you something – your world can change in the most amazing ways!

When you humble yourself to learn from your horse there are no boundaries to where your partnership can go.

The girls and I had a lovely walk today. It was a hot one and they both worked up a sweat, as did I! Sky was so funny because she kept trying to turn around and go home, but Bonnie was happy as a clam to be out walking. She had her ears up and trotted up the road without a hitch!

They both wanted to stop and take a break at the canal. They took a few minutes to talk to each other and look at the big horses that were following us up the road.

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Then we went on our way.

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We walked four miles today and did a little off roading as well! Both of their boots stayed on even though we were breaking through some very tough terrain. That sage brush is tall and really grabs you as you try to walk through it! We climbed a few big rocks and made our way through the field back to the road. There was no way I could handle both girls, watch where I was going and manage the camera so I’ll share this little video that I took when we were still on the two track road…

When we had a minute to stop and taste a bit of the grass growing I took a pretty picture of Bonnie.

Then a classic shot of Sky…

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She is always begging for cookies or kisses!

I’m so happy with how the girls did today. I haven’t taken them on a walk since we got back from Alaska on the 31st of August. They both listened well and didn’t miss a beat! It’s almost time for Sky to start pulling the travois… I can’t wait!!

As I watch Bonnie go from scared to confident I’ve been thinking about her feelings. Natural horsemanship programs talk a lot about how the horse feels about what we are doing. Are they engaged, connected and responsive or do they feel like we are doing things TO them? That is the question I ask myself every time I DO anything with Bonnie.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times I just have to do something to her so we can get something done. For instance if we are walking and she starts to have a little temper tantrum about the walking, then I will show her that her temper tantrum takes more energy than the walking. If you were watching this exchange I’m sure it would look like I’m doing something to her and not with her. And I know that she feels that way sometimes, but when she finds neutral again she immediately calms, finds relaxation, licks and chews and will even trot out and lead us down the road.

However there are many more times that I can help her through an issue by listening to how she is feeling and then waiting. Every single time I wait she will calm down and I can continue on. That did not happen at first! She gave me very few green lights. I started to get frustrated and knew that wasn’t going to help either one of us so I contacted my favorite Parelli Instructor and in so doing found out that we had actually moved forward by leaps and bounds! It’s funny how things can look so different when you are standing in the middle of it all. Obviously she had made changes and so had I… I just couldn’t see them until I made a video!

Today I gave the girls a bath. This was Bonnie’s second bath with me. Her first bath was all drama, running around in circles, snorting and striking at the water, spreading her legs wide and trying to leap away, sometimes leaping on ME! I would wait and give her time to think, but as soon as the water came near again she was on the move! That day I did not get frustrated and just took my time, but didn’t feel that we made any head way by the end. She did not get on board with my idea at all! Today everything was different! She stood quietly… not always calmly but she was actively searching for that calm feeling. She did not try to run away, she did not walk on me, she did not leap around. She. was. awesome. I swear I nearly burst with pride for her! She let me spray and spray her, I sprayed her legs, her belly, her girly area, her back, her butt, high up on her neck by her face and her chest. Everything. She took it all in stride.

As I was bathing her I was thinking about how I’m sure she has had other baths in her life, before me. But the difference between those baths and the two she has had with me is that I was thinking about her feelings the whole time. I was trying to help her find peace and calmness within the bath. I was rewarding every try and every time she was calm. When you go about these simple tasks with that in mind it’s amazing how the horse will change and how much faster you can get through these simple tasks!! It’s so much easier to help a horse find calmness than to argue with them every time you need to give them a bath. Or spray them with fly spray. By the way. She stands perfectly every time I spray her with fly spray. I can spray her legs, her belly, her back, her neck… every where!!

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I had to put this one in! I love Sky’s face!!! She is always putting her nose up by my cheek so I can kiss it. Adorable.

There are many ways to wean a baby. (Or a yearling!) When we had the farm we tried a few different ways. First we tried taking the baby away, cold turkey, and moving it across the farm as far away from the mama as we could. There would be a couple of days of crying and whinnying from both mama and baby, but then things would settle down. The best was when we had two or more babies to wean at the same time. We would put them all together so they weren’t alone. This was worked just fine, though there was a lot of stress put on both the mare and the foal which resulted in several ponies colicing. We always had Banamine on hand and gave it orally. We would watch both mama’s and babies closely so we knew when something wasn’t right. This way of weaning caused me to really dread the end of summer, that 6 month mark, when the babies were ready to leave mama. I would lose sleep at night. After all I am a mom and know how I would feel if someone just ripped my baby away! Sometimes the mares would have issues with their bags, swelling, lots of heat and mastitis.

This all caused me to sit down and so some research. There had to be a better way! I found “Progressive Weaning.” Progressive weaning is done in a more natural way. In the wild the mama would begin pushing her foal away around 8 or 9 months of age, as she gets ready to have her new foal. By the time the new foal is born her now yearling foal will have been weaned from nursing. Actually, some mares will begin weaning on their own. Others will allow that baby to nurse well into it’s 2nd and 3rd year. I’ve known of mares allowing their 10 or 12 year old “babies” to nurse all those years later! We had a mare that would allow all the foals to nurse off of her. We had to do the Progressive Weaning a bit differently with her, but it still worked!

Progressive Weaning is when you have a gentle older brother, a gelding or an older mare, that is the babysitter. A horse that is gentle and easy going, but that will teach the foal a few manners when necessary. The older brothers are great because they’ll usually play with the foal. You begin by putting the babysitter horse in with the mare and foal for a short time before the weaning process. That way the baby gets to know this new horse and they form a bond. Then you can start the slow process of separating the mare and foal.

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Captain Planet (the older brother) and Zorro (the yearling) grooming each other while Mama looks on.

I start by separating in the morning. They all get their morning feed which keeps them occupied. I put the mare in a smaller paddock, bordering the pen that the foal and babysitter are in, this  allows the foal the room to run and play. This also keeps the mare from moving out of the foals line of sight, but the foal can leave the mares. I’ve found most mares will respect fences a bit more than a frightened foal will. Also if the mare has had several foals and they have been weaned in this fashion they tend to be less worried. Sometimes the foal will entice the mare to come over to the fence and allow a little nursing session at first. Typically this only lasts the first week. Then the mare is happy to have her time away from the nagging foal and no matter how cute he is begging her to come over, she will ignore him and do her own thing.

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Zorro trying to get Mama to allow him to nurse. She would allow it at first but now, two weeks later, she just give him kisses through the fence and then walks away.

I slowly work up to having the mare and foal separated for the entire day. At night the mare is allowed back out into the larger paddock and mare and foal spend the night together. This way I get my beauty sleep knowing they are happy together and the mare gets relief from her milk bag slowly filling all day.

Typically what will happen is the mama will stop allowing the foal to nurse. This can take weeks, but I have found that foals weaned this way are not stressed and neither are the mares. The foals seem to mature a bit better, they handle stress and change better as adult horses. It’s amazing the difference Progressive Weaning makes on how the horse matures mentally.

I will keep the mare and foal being side-by-side on the fence line and work towards them not being in together at all anymore. When done in this fashion the foal being weaned barely notices what is happening!

I love the old saying, “When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

He opens a window.
When God closes a door.

Many years ago I had miniature horses. A lot of miniature horses. Usually we had around 30 running around our farm.

Oh yes. And I had a farm. The Ladybug Farm to be exact. My Mom, my grandma and I raised miniature horses. My Mom and I trained and showed them. I had the great pleasure of training horses to drive for many people. One time I counted up the minis and ponies and donkey’s that I had trained and it was 31.

In 2008 my Handsome Hubby  found himself without work. In 2006 he had gone out on his own, being a General Contractor. He started his own business and everything was going very well. Then the crash of 2008 happened. No work = no money. In order to feed our family I slowly sold everything. All my minis, all my harnesses, all my carts and my buggy and my hyperbike. With every sale my heart broke a little more. We didn’t know what was going to happen… Then hubby decided he would like to have a job with job security, so he looked into law enforcement.

In the time it took him to find a job I ended up selling most of our furniture, our TV, anything not nailed down in our house went. We were on the verge of the bank taking our farm when Handsome Hubby got a job! The job was 3 and a half hours from where we lived so we were going to have to move. I had one horse left, my Andalusian. He started out a stallion but I knew it would be very difficult to find a place to board him, I didn’t really know where we were going to be living, so I had him gelded before we moved. In the next year there were a lot of difficult decisions that had to be made and I found the Andalusian a WONDERFUL home not far from me. He is a happy dressage horse now.

After a little time went by I knew I had to have a horse and we were in a place that I could have a horse, enter Billy Blaze!

Years went by… I broke first, my left arm and then, my right arm and had my confidence seriously rattled in the last summer. If you have been following this blog you know that I have been wondering what I was going to do. I’ve been second guessing my passion and wondering about my future.

Enter Miniature Horses!

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Yes! I have decided that maybe I need to go back to what I was good at. And I was good at training miniature horses. When I had my ponies all those years ago I didn’t do Parelli. So I am excited to train my minis using the techniques I have learned through Billy! I can’t even imagine how far my little ponies will take me — I have high hopes that we will drive many miles in the cart and take many hiking trips into the mountains.

I’m still not sure what is going to happen with Billy. I go out and see him, pet him and scratch his itches, but when I am 100% honest with myself I know that I am not interested in riding anymore. (The door closing…) I’m too out of shape and all the exercising and eating right doesn’t seem to be changing that. All my hikes with my dogs do not make my waistline smaller. I am ungainly in the saddle and uncomfortable. Billy is too green for me to ride and I’ve come to the realization that I LOVE GROUNDWORK! (The window opening!!) I love playing with my horses on the ground and exploring liberty work. I love driving in the cart and ground driving. I love taking my horses hiking.

I love the size of the minis because they are easy to take places, easy to tie up, easy to handle. (Even when they are feeling unconfident!!) I am looking for fun and “easy” right now.

I can not wait to see how Captain Planet (photo above) blooms with Parelli and all I’ve learned. I can’t wait to really have a partnership with my minis. They have always had a special place in my heart. I have never quit missing them.

 

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Bariz, Katrina, Myself and Billy Blaze

Billy and I are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. My good friend, Katrina, won a week long course for herself and a friend at the Parelli Ranch in Pagosa Springs Colorado!!  I’m that ‘friend’!!! To say I’m excited would be a massive understatement.

Together Katrina and I filmed my Level 2 Freestyle Audition and I passed with a 2+! I was shocked and amazed at what Billy and I could accomplish in such a short time. (9 official rides under our belt!) I think this shows the power of the Parelli program put into action, in the way it was meant to be, one level and one savvy at a time. Billy and I are through our level 3 in Liberty and Online and are now official Level 2 graduates with our freestyle audition under our belt. I feel like we have a real shot in the Level 3 Freestyle to Bridleless course we are headed to.

Wish us luck with our long trailer ride and adjustment to the new neighbors and new altitude! It’s going to be quite the adventure. I’ll be sure to take lots of notes and share, share, share when I get home.

For now, we’re off!

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i love it when billy and chloe have a grooming session.  it fills my heart to see billy sharing this with another horse.

i love when it’s time for billy to come in and chloe to go out.  i open the gate to the dry lot and billy comes trotting in, while chloe goes trotting out!  no confusion, everyone knows where they are supposed to go and there is no anxiety about it.  same when it’s time for their supplements.  they know where they are to go and they stand there quietly.  simple. peaceful.

i love it when billy sees my truck coming down the road he will stop eating and RUN to the dry lot to greet me and see what i’ve been up to.

i love it when i call billy’s name and he throws his head up and comes cantering to me.

i love it when chloe lowers her head to the sweet spot and is content to just rest there while i stroke her cheeks.  this took a LONG time to accomplish.  it’s so rewarding.

i love that i am finally getting billy’s feet under control, he is landing heel first and is sound.

i love that chloe has nice healthy frogs on all four feet!

i love it when billy is so happy that he begs me to play with him by running around the playground, picking up cones, putting his feet on everything and jumping barrels, until i stop what i’m doing and join him.

i love it that my horses invite me to join them when they are sharing a grooming session. i brush billy, he grooms chloe.

i love it when my horses invite me to join in their resting time.  we all hang out quietly together.

i love it that my horses are my partners.

i love parelli.