reflections
March 27th, 2010 All that and a bag of chips

One of my dear friends introduced me to a phrase I’d never heard before.
“It’s all that and a bag of chips!”
Now I know how much a good bag of chips can compliment a meal because I like food. So the minute I heard this phrase I latched on to it.
Well, Crockett is ALL that and a bag of chips!
What a wonderful horse he is! He’s so friendly that people can’t help but notice him. He would rather be with people than horses, although he has a healthy attachment to them too. He circulates the barn bugging everyone for a good pet and because he’s so cute everyone obliges.
Yesterday I rode Crockett alone in the indoor and even with snow falling off the roof he stayed solid. He likes to learn and once he has it he contemplates the information and savors it….like a good bag of chips.
After our work I unsaddled him and took off his bosal and still he did not leave my side. He pestered me for his customary neck and face rub and then as is his custom, placed his head on my shoulder to take a nice long nap. He chewed in my ear for a minute and then took his head away to play and lay down and roll in the nice deep sand. When he did, he rolled over and then laid on the ground looking up at me. His eyes were so soft I couldn’t help but join him…so there we laid…together…on the soft sand.
Incredible!
When he was done he stood up and softly breathed on my neck. Something else he does frequently and I kicked myself in the butt for not bringing my camera to catch our special moment together.
I can’t explain what working with this horse means to me. It’s like I’ve stepped back in time to raising my first foal, a filly I named Tesoro. Crockett is so much like her.
I wrote about Tesoro in my book, The Mirror Effect, because she taught me so much at the tender age of 16.
Crockett takes me back to those days. His even temperment has allowed me to slow down and savor our time together.
Yep, you guessed it.
Like a good bag of chips.

March 25th, 2010 Thank you Michele Cole!!!

I am a person of ambition and I’ve found that not everyone can put up with me. I am very fortunate to have the services of Michele Cole and her husband, Shawn! Michele fixed my blog so I can not post photos and videos!!! Thank you Michele!!!!!

March 25th, 2010 Hoof Work

Crockett's heels measured 4.5 inches! YIKES!

March 25th, 2010 Crockett’s Progress…and Mine

Crockett continues to learn from his experiences every day. He has had the luxury of Dr. Dave’s chiropractic adjustments almost daily and his poll is finally releasing! Thank you Dr. Dave! Thank you Cory! He had some eye gunk as a result and that has almost cleared. His diet is free choice grass hay and whole oats, black sunflower seeds and 2-3 times a week he gets wheat bran and liquid 747. He is blowing his coat and the coat underneath is like shiney new copper. He is really a beautiful sorrel.
Yesterday Corrine Fierkins of She Touches Horses www.shetoucheshorses.com came and gave Crockett an Equine Touch treatment. She found the same things Dr. Dave found and worked on his poll, neck and whithers. Hey, this is a makeover, is it not? Nothing is too good from my Crockett. He really liked that and while he marinated in his utopia, I mucked, trimmed two horses and fed and visited with Dr. Dave and returned phone calls and….you get the picture.
Today he had his hooves done again. AGAIN? Yes, as natural hoof care practitioners, we practice moderation. When hooves are overgrown like Crockett’s were, minor adjustments work better. Crockett’s hooves were foundered so I am amazed at what Kirk has been able to accomplish! Having been in the holding pens for two years Crockett’s hooves became grossly overgrown. I can now post photos so as soon as I get the digital camera up there I will update but feel free to look at my facebook page. There are before and after photos. In just 3 weeks Crockett is growing a new frog! His were virtually gone from being in the holding pens. So while I fight the temptation to move forward at lightening speed with my fast thinking fun little horse, I wait, preferring instead to heal his body and have him whole before I start pushing him. The strategy is working. He’s absolutely in heaven, happy to see me, friendly, kind, gentle and sweet. He’s stolen my heart and knows it. He looks deep into my eyes….square on…and breathes softly on my nose, happy to be a horse…just as he should.

March 21st, 2010 Crockett the Rocket
What an amazing job everyone is doing on their horses!  I can’t wait to see everyone in action at the competition.  Good Job everyone!  It’s really impressive.  The blog links show some amazing progress!
Crockett and I are working pretty well together.  He’s mastering some collection and has some work to do on being independent when ridden in the indoor but overall he’s one nice ride.  Walk, trot and canter transitions are coming along nicely.  He’s going over and through obstacles without any issues.  He’s curious and loves to move, so that’s a plus. 
  One of his favorite activities is sprinting from one side of the arena to another.  It’s really amazing how fast this horse is!
  Today we worked in the indoor and then went out on the trail together for a short time.  He likes that a lot.  He is independent on the trail, interestingly enough.  But other horses in the indoor are a lot of temptation.  He wants to follow them around and has trouble tracking straight.  Honestly I think he’d like to start some mischief.  He’s ready to show all of the other horses that he’s the boss mustang.  I am sure they know that.  He gets ALL of the attention at the barn already.  LOL
  The chiropractor, Dr. Dave Barton adjusted him again today and will do so again tomorrow.  He has a minor poll issue. 
  We are also working on building his stamina.  Two years in the holding pen…….so we finished the day with a nice long walk absent me on his back and some hand grazing, and lots of eating snow.  He loves snow!
  Kirk has trimmed his hooves for a third time.  The rears will need to be done again soon.  His hooves were extremely long.
   We finished the day with a nice long scratch.  He gave me that contented sigh.  I can’t wait to ride him again tomorrow!
March 17th, 2010 Crockett’s Tale

If horses had the ability to write I am sure that Crockett would be writing home about all of his new adventures.

Yesterday we worked on collection and transitions.  He has a tendancy to “prop”.  Propping is when a horse will walk, trot or canter for a bit then quickly change directions or stop all together.  This comes from being in the holding pens.  They get used to going only so far before they have to turn around to go another way.

Crockett figured out that the round pen is round, not square.

We had a nice session working on transitions and collection.  Then we moved to the round pen to do cavaletti’s, low jumps and obstacles.  He loved that.  If he had opposable thumbs I’d hire him in a second.  He’s reliable, good natured, always on time and never complains.  He even did his best to try and help me move the cavaletti poles.  When I rolled out the barrel, he had a grand time kicking and chasing that around.  We worked on standing still and I worked on him bareback. 

He is gaining condition daily and today we started off with a bath, which he really liked.  The warm water is the key.  He genuinely likes me and it seems that if I think it he’s already on it.

He enjoyed his bath and was rewarded by a long relaxation period in the hot sun.  Kirk worked on his hooves some more.  It’s a miracle what Kirk has done with him.

I retired him to his stall and went back up this evening and we went for a 5 mile ride.  He is AWESOME!  He is already beginning to neck rein and we did several roll backs on the trail that tell me he has an athletic horse inside of him waiting to get out.  He’s very very light on his cues and seems to have pixie dust on his hooves.  He floats! when he moves.

We walked, trotted and cantered and did lots of up and down hills.  He was huffing and puffing but never gave up!  He likes to be on the move and so do I so we are great match.

March 14th, 2010 WeeeHAw Yo Momma Doo Wop Kippity Woo Wop

That’s the battle cry of the deleriously happy. 

When I was young my brothers and sister and I developed our own language.  I be darned if I can speak it now, but somehow, in those tender years, we spoke it frequently and understood one another.

Once, when a rattle snake invaded our play area, my brother yipped, “OOOOOOHHHHH CRAAAAAAP!”

We all understood him.

Seriously, though, today’s ride on Crockett was one of the most invigorating first rides I’ve had in a long time. 

He isn’t very big, but he rides wonderful.  His trot and canter are balanced and he’s forward moving.  Just enough pony in him to make him a lot of fun.

We rode out today with an entourage.  Four horses and riders to support  him.  They are his new family so he was very comfortable.

Dr. Dave rode his new horse, an 8 year old TB named Merlot.  Fred if you ask Dave.

Dr. Dave’s wife, Katie rode her mare Whoopie.

Our neighbor Sue rode her morgan mare and Jen, Dave and Katie’s trainer rode Dave’s favorite mare, Wilma.

Crockett behaved as if we was meant to be on the trail all along and even though these horses have a height advantage over him, he kept up and even led most of the way.

I like that.

He was very comfortable in the front of the pack. 

We had a few scary moments.  Like when I got so carried away telling a story that I inadvertantly moved too quickly.  He squirted forward which wouldn’t have been an issue except that there was a barb wire fence in front of us.  He doesn’t know what fence is, so that was scary.

He stopped though before going through it.

At another juncture we cantered and I think he just scared himself…or perhaps the saddle strings flying out behind him did.  He scooted forward and lost a bit of his confidence for a short minute or two.

Lena, Jen’s dog decided that Crockett was good for a game of tag, so she kept darting in and out enticing him to play.  Of course he wanted to! 

He wanted to visit every horse we passed along the way and pouted when I didn’t let him.  He’s very social.

He crossed mud, went up and down hills, went through traffic and even had a big semi truck pass him, stepped over mud, went past barking dogs, and remained calm when a herd of horses came over to welcome him to the neighborhood. 

We rode about six miles and he was one tired boy.  He’s been in the holding pens two years so he isn’t conditioned to riding much less all of the psychological excitement.

But he’s resiliant and he is very curious and very cooperative.  He does have a bit of a stubborn streak but he has just enough Omega personality that it’s almost not relevant.  He’s a partner and he’s really enjoying his freedom to learn.  I can’t fault him for having a mind of his own and he’s so in tune with his environment its like he already knows where he’s going in life.

He gave me his customary kiss before I left.

He did this from the first day.  He puts his head over my shoulder and presses down….hard.  I scratch his cheeks and he sighs with contentment.  He loves this.  It’s clear he finds this an affirmation of how wonderful he really is and regularly seeks me out to get this reassurance of our friendship.

He genuinely  loves to be groomed so we’ve developed a nice relationship where he gets a nice scratch as a reward and he gives me his full attention and heart.

WEEEEHAW Yo Momma DOO Wop Kippity WOOO WOP!

Translation:  I love my horse!

 

March 13th, 2010 What is this REALLY about?

The Extreme Mustang Makeover is a wonderful designer concept for wild mustangs.

Take a wild horse, place it with a competent trainer and in 90 days, put the trained horse in front of thousands of interested approved adopters.

Hats off and lots of hand clapping to Patti Colbert, founder of The Mustang Heritage Foundation.

What many of you don’t know is that Patti and her family are cattle ranchers with a heart.

At a time when so many people are bashing the cattle industry and blaming them for the huge round-ups of wild mustangs, the Colbert’s stand out.

This is a family that has put an out of the box idea and turned it into a program that is giving back, giving back and giving back.

Now it’s time for us to give back.

The Mustang Heritage Foundation is the single most non-profit organization that has impacted the plight of the wild mustang and their management.  Through their careful planning and management, The Mustang Heritage Foundation has single handedly put the wild mustang on the map.  They have brought national awareness to this matter and are working hand in hand with the BLM to continue their program.

That’s not an easy task.

The Extreme Mustang Makeover isn’t about egos.  It isn’t about personal accolades.  It isn’t about notariety.

Sure, all of these concepts apply to trainers who are out to make a name for themselves.  I admit.  I was tempted by the notariety that came from the novelty of being one of 100 trainers chosen from across the United States to participate.  That’s no small honor.

On this, my third participation in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, I am removing that from the equation right out of the gate.

This is about training a horse that anyone can take home and enjoy.  And showcasing it in such a way that the right adopter/owners are selected.  And making sure that The Mustang Heritage Foundation received more donations so they can continue to cover their overhead, costs, keep their employees and move forward with this innovative program. 

Let’s keep the good will going.  If you have a moment in the next week…DONATE to them.

You can do so by visiting their website at:

http://www.mustangheritagefoundation.org/join.php

Or attending one of their events.  Ticket sales help generate revenue and even better, adopting a horse does too.

Currently there are 30,000 wild horses in holding pens awaiting adoption.  Please be a part of what we can do here, outside of the government to help these horses find appropriate homes.

Let’s face it.

The reality is that they are not going to be turned back out to live free.

More wild mustangs are being added daily by the government as they cull herds and these horses are headed for holding pens of their own.

The best and most beneficial thing for these horses is for them to be placed in loving homes where they will receive food, water, care and love and live a life of a horse that is pampered. 

 

March 13th, 2010 The Creak of Saddle Leather

Few things are as invigorating as stepping onto a horse for the first time.  The feel of the mane intertwined in your fingers, the bend of your leg as you reach for the stirrup and the creak of the saddle leather as you settle into the seat.

Today Crockett and I crossed that threshold together.   He stood patiently as I stepped into the saddle. 

Young horses often have an initial startling moment as they learn to balance a human’s weight upon their back.  Crockett stood stock still.  He didn’t even waiver.

He’s a confident horse with a lot of personality.

He waited for me to settle and this time, I didn’t even have butterflies.  Somehow I knew he would just know what to do.  He did.

Crockett stepped out and without missing a beat took off at a walk.  He wasn’t even nervous.

He is collecting and bending laterally with each request.

He has a strong will.  An even blend of soft and senstive and strong and opinionated.  I really like it. 

He’s eager to learn and once again, doing one thing on one side, he absorbes, then automatically transfers the information to his opposite side.  Amazing.

He’s smart.  Very very smart.

 

 

March 11th, 2010 CAMP NO RETURN

This apparently has been posted on facebook in response to my blog regarding the Linda Parelli video. 

“Karina,  I’ve read your post on your blog and your comments on the petition site.  It seems to me you are using this video to gain fame and fortune for yourself because you are jealous of the success that has eluded you.  You stated that you had sick feeling in your throat when you watched the Parelli video.  I had that same sick feeling in Somersworth NH in 2008 when you were taking a dressage whip to a BLM mustang and driving that horse so hard it tried to go over the 6′ high round corral.  You may have moved to CO but your ME reputation follows you.

You said. “Horses don’t run each other around in circles.  They don’t push each other with sticks and they don’t pinch each other like a rope halter does when it is tugged to get another horse to do its bidding.”

Sure they do.  Have you ever seen a mustang “snake” another horse in circles?  Push each other with sticks? That’s kicking.  Pinching?  That’s biting.  That’s all natural horse behavior and they do it all the time to maintain herd dynamics.  It’s an integral part of the herd’s communication with one another.  We humans can treat a horse with respect but we can’t make them human.  Ultimately, they have to be horses after all.”

For all those interested, here is Linda’s response to the video:

http://www.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/A-statement-from-Linda-Parelli

And here is my response to Mr. Murray:

Communicating with fellow animal enthusiasts has one of the most predictable outcomes.  Each will stand alone to fight for their persevering views.  I like to call these exchanges, the odyssey at Camp No Return.

 

Camp No Return is that place you talk yourself into that becomes a big, deep, black pit of seething anger that has no positive outcome.

 

In posting regarding the Linda Parelli video, I knew it may stir up a storm.  It has.

My psychic abilities astound me.  And thus, I will answer….

 

To dear John, who posted about my blog:

 

Were you paying attention in class?

Your comparison of the Somersworth mustang to this horse is appalling, to say the least, and obviously short sighted and misguided, but I respect that you, like me, are passionately protective of the horses emotions.

 

The horse in Linda’s video is an ex-Fox Hunter whose eye was removed.  No longer usable as a fox hunting horse, he was sold to the man you see in the video.  I only can reference him as Paul H. as posted on the defense statement posted this morning by Linda Parelli.

 

Here is the link:

http://www.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com/A-statement-from-Linda-Parelli

 

This horse is a domestic horse.  He is also an aged, domestic horse with years of handling by humans.

 

The Somersworth adoption horse you mentioned was a wild mustang, prison program reject.  He was on his way to a permanent holding pen if he wasn’t adopted.

The BLM asked me what horse I would prefer to gentle.  I told them, “The one that is going to be the most problematic one to adopt”.

 

Enter the mustang you saw.

 

You elude you are familiar with mustang behavior so I am going to assume you understand what happens to a horse trained through a prison program.  If not, then you need to watch the program, “Wild Horse Redemption”. 

 

Here is the link:

 

http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/doczone/2009/wildhorseredemption/

 

Oh, and by the way….the inmate featured in the film is back in prison.  I just spoke with him at the Canon City facility March 5th.

 

Sampson broke his leg being worked in the round pen and had to be euthanized.

 

Since my blood pressure is now up after pointing out your ignorance, here is something for you to consider….

 

Mustangs are taught to move quickly around a round pen or through any alley, gate or enclosure.  That is conditioned into them.  They are trained to escape pressure.  At any cost.  It’s a by-product of the necessity of having to move and manage wild horses.

 

Wild horses don’t incessantly impress their point!  Hence my issue with the Linda Parelli video and the incessant conditioning that goes on in this method.  There is a difference between metered pressure/discipline and working with your horse NATURALLY!

 

But I don’t expect that you will understand that until we’ve had some time to work together, so I press on with this point.

 

One quick sidebar: horses that snake their neck do so, then let go and move off to do something else.  Linda was on top of that horse over and over and over…..and over.

 

The horse you saw at Somersworth that day did not need any pressure from me to run around the round pen.  He was going on his own.  And he was looking to go over the corral pen.  He didn’t need any help from me.  He had already made that decision.

 

Now, let’s take a little journey together on what happens when a horse escapes from an adoption.

 

The BLM will euthanize the horse to capture it.  It costs the American Taxpayer thousands of dollars to recover an escaped horse.

 

If an escaped wild horse injures someone, it is euthanized.

 

If an escaped wild horse injures itself, it is euthanized.

 

If an escaped wild horse somehow has the sense to return back to the holding pen area, by luck it can sometimes be recaptured.

 

A brilliant horse trainer knows these things.  They aren’t confident the horse will yield to pressure. 

 

Let’s make a little comparison here.

 

Linda was confident her horse in the video would yield to her pressure.  She applied a lot of it over and over and over.

 

The wild horse going over the pens was discouraged from going over the fence by pressure.  When he tried to go over, I blocked him with pressure from my lunge whip.  He tried that 2 or 3 times.  I applied, and then let go.  When he realized I offered LESS resistance inside the round pen, he stayed to try and communicate with me.

 

Did you miss that part?

 

I avoided his possible demise.  I achieved accolades from the BLM officials there that day. 

 

Did you know that Henri Bisson, the former Chief of the BLM and Don Glenn, the Department of the Interior Division Chief were there?

 

Of course not.  Because people like you run their mouths and never get intimately involved.

 

People like you follow a formula and stay safe and secure in your nice little emotional houses and leave it to people like me who have enough magic to take the risk.

 

Mr. Bisson and Mr. Glenn both told me that just 2 weeks before a trainer had caused a horse to break its leg by putting too much pressure on it.  That only 6 months before a horse had been pressured so hard it had jumped the fence and escaped.  The horse with the broken leg was euthanized right there in front of everyone.  The horse that escaped returned to the holding area, luckily, and was recaptured without incident.

 

The BLM is very shy about gentling demonstrations.  With reason.

 

Every Tom, Dick and Harry uses these opportunities to forward their own notoriety. 

 

You’ve accused me of this.

 

Well, let’s see how that adds up.

 

The wild horse you mention did not go over the fence.  I gentled this horse enough for me to ride him in the round pen, bareback and he was adopted that day.

 

I should mention that ALL of the horses were adopted that day.  ALL 70 of them. 

 

Let’s compare some statistics.

 

You first.

 

You have done what?  I don’t know you.  Share with me your accomplishments and all of your knowledge.  I’d like to know what you do full time for a living.  How you behave to benefit the lives of horses and animals.  Please, educate me.  What sacrifices do you make?

 

I can tell you that because of my efforts at the Somersworth adoption, all 70 horses were placed.  This is the first time in BLM history that has happened.

 

Should I mention that the return rate on horses offered for adoption is 85%?

 

Not one of the horses was returned.

 

Oh, and perhaps I should also mention that Kirk and I personally have placed 9 wild mustangs into homes after gentling them.  In four months.  None of these horses have been returned.

 

That’s because I am an approved trainer for the BLM and The Mustang Heritage Foundation.

 

This isn’t a quest for fame, bud.  It is a lifestyle and one that I am passionate about.  I am living my dream.  My dream is not of fame and fortune.  My reward comes in the form of seeing people happy and horses in good homes with happy owners.

 

Perhaps I should also mention that Kirk and I have been asked by the BLM to produce a proposal to help remedy the mustang management problem.

 

We’ve embraced that in addition to training horses, aiding rescues and charities, and trimming horses and operating our farm as a place for humans and animals to be welcome. 

 

That’s called being a leader buddy.  Not seeking accolades.  Stepping up to the plate and doing more than just talking about it.

 

It’s easy to poke an ego…if there is one.

 

But fame is not what I crave.  It will come though, because my gift is strong.  Add an investor like the Parelli’s have and a business management model…that’s all it would take.  It’s not elusive.

 

I know Pat and Linda on a personal level, though not well.  We’ve been guests in their home.

 

There is no way in hell you could pay me enough to monitor, manage and grind the gears of an organization with the headache and overhead they sponsor.

 

That is not my idea of a quality of life.

 

Sorry to disappoint you, but there is no jealousy here.  The reality of their lives is painful.  I’ve seen it first hand.

 

My fight will be to charge the paradigm shift that is needed to help encourage people’s intuition.  I do that one horse at a time.  It’s more personal, rewarding and effective.

 

The petition, if read by Linda, will strike a chord.

 

You do not know that I have had personal audience with Linda to help encourage her to exercise more intuition, less condition.  She’s interested, searching and this event will definitely make her want that more.

 

I would be foolish to think that this video is a platform I should like to use.

 

I am not like you.  Quick to lash out, eager to disembowel.

 

But I understand that.  It’s what keeps us animal activists charged.

 

Just be careful that you don’t charge so far, so fast that you end up in Camp No Return.