reflections
November 25th, 2010 HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!!!!

November 24th, 2010 Enlightenment and Controversy

OK, how can those two words co-exist in the same sentence?
Several weeks ago I was going about my daily business when I was approached by another person who works in the equine industry. We had not yet met but apparently this person was anxious to meet me.
We visited for a moment and I must admit that my first impression of this person was not favorable.
Apparently, Aemelie, my horse didn’t find this person palatable either.
As this person touted that they were an “Animal Communicator” and expounded on their many accomplishments and continued to verbally barf, Aemelie walked up behind and shaking her head, snorted and huffily walked away.
Now I know my mare.
I chuckled to myself because just a moment before she had done the same thing as this person bragged about a horse they had worked.
This horse is one I am also intimate with so I took note that not once, but twice Aemelie huffed her opinion about this person.
I chuckled because I know that horse is wrecked (that’s why its here in my barn) and I thought to myself…If I were you, I wouldn’t let anyone know you claimed credit for that horse! Then chuckled even more because they totally missed Aemelie’s scoff, executed at the precise time they were spouting to be a communicator!
“O really?”….I wanted to exclaim…pointing at my beloved girl Aemelie, “then what do you think SHE has to say?”
Of course, I back my opinion knowing that just before this person had expounded on how one of their clients had a reaction so “powerful” in their clinic that they had spent the entire morning trying to reverse an obvious demonic possession of this person.
“O really?” I thought. And what kind of a teacher REALLY wants to involve themselves in that kind of drama?
I think of teaching as a passion to empower others.
Good thing I am 40. I’ve lived long enough now to know when to keep my mouth shut in reverence to the fact we are all on our learning journey and when to spout….or snort…like Aemelie.
Last week I wrote about meeting the Parelli’s and my views on “Natural Horsemanship” (gag)
My expereince has allowed me to meet many famous people and also many not so famous people.
I have my opinions…boy….do I have my opinions….on quite a number of things, so when I was asked recently, “So who do you look up to if you don’t look up to Clinton Anderson, Parelli’s or say…..Monty Roberts?”
Let me preface this by saying….I AM AN INDEPENDENT! I have ALWAYS been an independent….influenced by some of the most genuine and gifted individuals in the world….and none of them are famous. But ALL of them live life genuinely and authentically.
I make no apologies for this. I like this example.
I’ve spent my entire life immersed in working with some of the most difficult horses and people imaginable.
I’ve volunteered for this hellacious undertaking….willingly. Because that is who I am.  I look up to my Aunt and Uncle. True artists with the earth and the animal kingdom. I definitely look up to my Mom and Dad who instilled in me the fine character trait of honesty and hard work.
I don’t place myself ahead of recognizing true passion and gifts in others.
I don’t place my learning and subsequent opinions ahead of anyone else unless I KNOW for a fact I can out train, out do, out work or out wit the people in question….when it comes to the genre of training/farrier/farming….the specific areas of my specialty, passion and gifts.
I am not arrogant.
I am experienced.

I am not sorry for these opinions.
I am confident.
I am a Master….so says my psychic, (whose worked my butt off to gain the knowledge I have so that I can share and edify others…selflessly if possible) albeit a frustrated one. For the record, he recognized that too and we had a nice chat about it.
But my time is coming to teach and before you can really be a teacher you have to learn. That is what I am doing now a nd for the rest of my life.
While getting my sandwich at Subway the other day the man behind the counter asked me, “So, how goes the riding?”
He unmistakably noticed the hay in my hair, dischelved appearance (for the day was windy and cold) and full seat thermal Equissential riding breeches.
“GREAT!” I replied. Because it had already been a wonderful day.
“Are you a student or a teacher?” he asked.
“BOTH!” I replied.
He smiled, puzzled by my answer.
So many people in the horse industry are just the only person with all the answers…aren’t they? He knew this.  That’s why he was puzzled by my answer.

“Huh.” he said. “Usually people tell me they are only the teacher.”

“Huh.” I said.  “Usually people in the horse industry are arrogant asses too.”

He chuckled and said, “You know, that’s true!”

What a shame.

I’m not…unless I think I can back my play.
For instance. I don’t profess to be a dressage instructor. I’m not.
I don’t profess to be able to ride hunter jumpers. I don’t.
But I am a hell of a trainer.
I am a hell of a communicator.
I am a hell of a natural farrier.
That’s a pretty mean combination…given that I am also a woman…who is proud to be just that….a woman.
You see…feminity isn’t always equated in the equine world.
Most female clinicians carry an aire of edge about them as a result.
The afore mentioned person who made it a point to come and meet me and then insult me (that’s a different story) also had that edge.
But I’ve come to a clearer realization lately. After some meditation and another experience this week where I had opportunity to exchange a few emails regarding my desire to protect some original ideas I have….
OK….rabbit trail…..
I have met many of these famous clinicians and in one or two of these cases stupidly and honeslty and niaevely shared with them some of these orginal ideas I have….like letting horses communicate during the training process and honoring that…and have felt the sting of finding out later that these same people are now selling these ideas as their own!

  I think this is artificial.  How can you one day spout a recipe and then the next spout intuition and inspiration?

Arrogance radar up….and ready, aim…FIRE!
Again, for the record…I have proof….so in the case of these emails, I simply stated that when reiterating these ideas as their own that it would be nice if the idea were actually credited to the rightful person…that being ME!
In this case I was forwarded a blog post posted by another trainer.
I happen to know that this blog post is actually written by a ghost writer.
I know the ghost writer.
I respect the friendship that they have.

I don’t respect that the ghost writer writes her observations as the trainers own ideas.   Shouldn’t that homework be done by the trainer?

 OK…so remember that bit about my parents instilling honesty as a trait of mine?

K.

My psychic says that this is the one t hing that continually kicks my butt.

Yep.  He’s right.

I honestly let the ghost writer know that while I was glad she was inspired by the events of our visit that I didn’t appreciate those ideas being put up on another trainers blog as the trainers ideas.  I also honestly shared that admittedly I have a problem with an equine professional that thinks it is OK to have a ghost writer.
I personally like to write my own material. My own material is written and comes from my own experience.  Experiences that I value.
I don’t own and operate a full time farrier business, a full time training business or a full time diversified farm without having some opportunity to glean knowledge through the many daily experiences that I both endure and enjoy.  I am serious about my craft and I don’t appreciate leeches taking my hard earned experience and touting it as their own.
I have a hard time respecting “professionals” when I know they are mostly one hour wonders traveling from one venue to another (to market their name) without ever really getting any real time experience of their own.
The person in the beginning of this rant travels frequently, yet doesn’t interat intimately with clients or the horses they bring. Yet touts themself a “professional”. A “communicator”.
I have trouble respecting other professionals who are simply entrenched with business partners and enacting a model that is more geared toward the almighty dollar than realy honest to goodness relationships.  It’s easy to follow a recipe.  And people buy that!  It’s much harder to live experience. That’s work.  And people don’t buy that.
I get frustrated because many don’t act like anyone I would want to learn from and many have such an ego that it’s hard to honor them in their arrogance.
This isn’t what our experience learning from horses is supposed to be.
So yes, I am now getting protective of my intellectual property.  Even if it is a simple idea.   So when my idea ended up in the blog of this clinician, written by her ghost writer (remember what the ghost writer writes becomes the ideas of this trainer!) who had worked with me just a couple of days before who innocently wrote the text as an inspriation to all of the followers of this clinician…I had to say something.

I got a curt message letting me know that the idea was”basic” and therefore could not be owned by one person.

WHAT?

So was the idea of the wheel….and look where that’s taken us! 

OK..another example…the intermittant wiper…you get the idea.
What kind of a professional let’s someone else write their material for them and then allows the other persons ideas and inspirations to become their own?
Like Aemelie, my beloved equine partner and spiritual guide….I shake my head and yes, snort.
Perhaps I am being opinionated but I don’t think so.
My psychic guide tells me I am ahead of my time but that the world is changing and that soon I will have the outlet to share my own words of enlightenment…and ahem….controversy.
Can’t wait…

November 19th, 2010 Mannerisms of No Manners

It’s been a theme lately. We work with a lot of horses so I guess we are bound to see trends. But since I’ve been in this business so long and have a particular passion for observing all things related to horses, I think this trend is worth mentioning.
Twenty years ago the type of work that I do was scoffed at. I one had a client swab the inside of his horses mouth so that he could take the sample to the state veterinarian for drug testing. I had gentled one of his unruly mustangs too quickly and he was convinced that I had drugged the horse to get the results I had achieved. No matter. I’ve always been bull headed. I’m a Taurus, after all. It’s as easy for me to see red as it is for me to remain confident. I chose to remain confident and told the man, “Bring me another horse. I’ll tame that one too.”
I did and he watched and then became one of my best clients. At 72, he thought that he had seen it all with horses. Turns out this little girl from Montana was able to teach him and his horses a thing or two.
Well, now that I’ve pegged this trend I’ve got my horns poised for battle again.
I’ve seen red.
Now I’ve come back to remaining confident. This is going to be a long battle.
“Natural” horsemanship is everywhere.
And so are unhappy horses.
Every day Kirk and I have to work around this so called “miracle” training method for horses and the people who own them.
For anyone who knows me you will know that what I am about to type isn’t typed without a solid defense of knowing the facts.
Many of you know that Kirk and I personally met with Pat and Linda Parelli in July of 2005.
I don’t have anything against them. I think they have good intent and I think they have a marketing program that works. But I will tell you what I told them during our meeting.
They have a lot to learn about horses and the people that own them.
WHOA!
That’s kinda like refusing to bow to the Queen, I know.
But facts are facts.
I know that horses regard many things as disciplinary. This includes moving them in circles. Backing them up by jiggling the lead rope attached to a heavy snap. Yielding them with a stick.
All horses are born with the character to want to please. But increasingly I am seeing that these training programs teach people that they are first to fear their horse and its reactions and that this is why they must apply the guru’s methods so that they will have the perfect horse.
People aren’t getting perfect horses.
They aren’t getting perfect horses even when they spend the moochooo-denero to attend lenghty clinics with these gurus.
They are just getting poorer, frustrated, lost and confused .
One of our clients told us that when she attended her guru of choice clinic that she had to hand haul water 200 yards down to her horse and that the activity was sold as a “bonding” exercise. She had paid more than 10K to attend this week long exercise and she and her horse both came home exhausted, demoralized and deflated.
That’s marekting for you.
When did we lose the ability to just BE with a horse.
Now days if you aren’t making your horse do ground work you aren’t measuring up to the expectations of the media entrenched trainers.
If you aren’t adorning your horse with the latest rope halter and lead rope gimmick complete with the stick that comes by itself (you have to buy the rope extra) and the CD, saddles, cinches etc, well then, you are just an outsider. Not part of the chosen guru’s camp.
I am tired for the horses.
They are here to teach us. They are not here for us to teach them.
Countless times during my week I am witnessing horses that scoot sideways rapidly with almost no provocation from me because they’ve been conditioned to yield this way and yield that way.
I have horses weekly that are so oversensitized that they pin their ears slick to their heads then head straight for me, intent to at least try to teach this human they aren’t about to be bullied.
I see horses that are defensive, not responsive.
I see horses that are hard to catch and surely and grouchy when they’ve been caught.
I see horses that have given up on the getting to enjoy their “space” and instead choose other ways to try and express themselves.
I have always said that the window to the horse’s soul is through their sole.
When I pick up a horses hoof to trim I ALWAYS get resistance from horses trained in Natural horsemanship. They might pick up the hoof, but 9 times out of 10 they will rock the hoof back and forth in a game of tug a war. They never are still. They never relax.
Why?
BECAUSE HAVING YOUR HOOF OFF THE GROUND PREVENTS YOU FROM LEAVING!
These horses rock back and forth waiting for me to give them some cue that they can respond to. They’be been so pre-programmed they have forgotten to just love a human because a human has loved them. They don’t know what it is to have a free thought, emotion or action that isn’t dictated to them. They definitely don’t know how to be responsible for their part of the relationship. They tug back and forth, back and forth 9which by the way is murder on your ack, neck and shoulders). It’s like they are setting up their own little battle field where at least they can win this war.
Most “natural” horsemanship followers circle their horses when it doesn’t want to do something. stomp down the leg and WHAM!…circle time! Don’t stand still? WHAM!…circle time!
This is disciplinary to the horse.
It isn’t a rewarding experience.
It teaches them that OK…I can’t tell human my stifle hurts. I can’t express that my buddies are eating and I don’t get to. I can’t change positions or feel my friggin hoof to see what the hell the farrier is doing to me down there!
I have some horses that are so volatile they will leap, spin and get out of my space at the mere idea of my picking up their hoof. Yet when I touch them with a gentle touch. A touch that brings intent to heal, then stand and wait for them to breath, then step back, they all diffuse after a moment…usually. Sometimes I have to do this several times to reinforce that this human at least knows how to be RESPECTFUL! And most often they begin licking and chewing, happy that I am not kicking their butt by making them do countless circles and yields. I have to work extra hard with some of these “Natural” horses just to do the most menial chore, trimming a hoof that I’ve considered adding a charge for horses trained in “natural” horsemanship.
I dread working on these horses yet I know exactly what I need to do.
Educate the owners that they’ve bought into a mythe. A lie.
They aren’t teaching their horses manners.
They are teaching them that WE don’t have manners.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR HORSE THINKS YOU HAVE NO MANNERS:
1. HORSE IS HARD TO CATCH
2. HORSE IS DIFFICULT TO TIE
3. HORSE IS NOT RELAXED AROUND YOU
4. HORSE PAWS
5. HORSE REARS
6. HORSE PUSHES THROUGH OR OVER YOU
7. HORSE WILL NOT STAND STILL
8. HORSE IS NERVOUS
9. HORSE STANDS WITH HEAD HELD HIGH MUCH OF THE TIME
10. HORSE BREATHES SHALLOW WHEN YOU ARE WORKING WITH IT
11. HORSE IS ULTRA-SENSITIVE TO BODY LANGUAGE
12. HORSE GIVES THE FARRIER A HARD TIME
13. HORSE BITES
14. HORSE FIGETS
15. HORSE KICKS
There are many manifestations that your horse doens’t think you have manners but these are some of the most obvious.
Horses that are happy and well adjusted stand to have their hooves picked up. It is the highest compliment to me when a horse stands quietly to let me trim. They are saying they appreciate my presence and my skill. They are subserviant and submissive to this activity because they are comfortable with me.
Time and again I work with horses that suffer from owner anxiety. Meaning, they just know that any minute their owner is going to point a finger, stoop over and send them off in a different direction. That their owner is going to “protect their bubble.”
PEOPLE! HORSES ARE SENSITIVE, INNOCENT CREATURES WITH A WILL TO PLEASE US. THEY ARE EMOTIONAL CREATURES WITH A TREMENDOUS UNDERSTANDING OF HUMANS. AFTER ALL THEY HAVE BEEN HERE ON THIS EARTH 300 MILLION YEARS LONGER THEN WE HAVE!!! THE PROCESS OF EVOLUTION HAS DICTATED THEY ARE CAPABLE OF READING OUR ENERGY WITHOUT A MANUAL OR CONDITION OF DRILLS AND EXERCISES. DON’T YOU THINK ITS ABOUT TIME YOU LEARNED SOME HORSE MANNERS AND FIGURED OUT HOW TO DO THE SAME?????
If you agree, let me know. I’ll figure out some way to help you understand your horse so that it doesn’t have to be poked, prodded or pushed with that stupid stick, magic halter or taught the latest game.
For the record….It’s not a GAME! to the horse. It’s a conversation and one that should involve respect. Respect shown to the horse and taught in such a way that the horse percieves respect.
Go ahead.
I challenge you.
Learn intuition. Not recipes, methods or programs.
The next time you see your horse stand still for at least five minutes and do nothing but stand quietly next to it. Observe.
Does your horse think YOU have manners?