November 30th, 2011 Wisdom comes in the Quiet

The past few days have been a whirlwind, as usual, but with more clarity. Night before last I laid to rest an old demon. The unfinishing of several training projects I had to abandon in response to my Mother’s passing.
I am a hypervigilant trainer, much like those horses I described in an earlier posting. Traumatized horses take a great deal of thought and action as well as non-action. Timing is everything and so is the way you bring information to the horse. There aren’t many trainers with this ability or intuition. It takes only a minute to reverse a breakthrough. Most trainers fall into action in this category.
Traumatized horses are my specialty and in my life of “full moon” clarity, I often “see” what others don’t. That’s torture because it isn’t until you get the result you know is coming that you have “proof” you know what you are doing. I live in that world everyday.
Everyday I get calls that say for example, “this horse is a handful.  It can’t be trimmed. It will need to be tranquilized.” Thirty minutes later I am trimming the horse with the rope slung over its back, the horse standing without being held or tied.
You see, I’ve proved it.  Sometimes it just takes longer, such as the case with these mares.
I like that. I like seeing and hearing people’s reactions.
That makes me happy. Makes me feel validated.  Fuels me to get to work in the morning.
I didn’t get that with these two. I got interrupted. I hate that. It’s torture.
When you are dealing with trauma the results can take a long time to draw out, but when they do and the horse makes the switch, there is nothing better or more rewarding.
That’s been my life. The pursuit of that accomplishment.
I see images, feel emotion and the horses I work pass that information to me in order that I might help them build a bridge between their happy horse world and our demanding human realm.
It isn’t easy teetering between these two worlds but I love it.
More than most I think.
Being interrupted sends a shock of pain through me that isnt’ earthly. It sticks.
I hate that.
With this training project, the emotions were stirred when these horses came home from a trip to a clinician who instructed their crestfallen owners that these horses may not be worth their time, effort or money.
Disappointing since this advice came from “the best mustang trainer” in the U.S.
Who gives people these titles anyway?
There is a big difference between mustangs, and traumatized mustangs.
It’s everything I can do to hold my temper when people try to box traumatized mustangs with wild mustangs or formerly wild, worked over, over trained, mustangs. There’s a BIG difference!
But my hands are tied on this one.
I didn’t get to finish, now the job has been passed to another trainer and I got billed as one of three trainers that “frustrated” the owner.
This one is out of my control…or is it?
The horses came home and one morning while completing the farm chores I felt like something or someone was watching me.  I turned around and the one mare stood with the others in the herd, her stare rivited in my direction.  She stared and stared, her one leg cocked, her body relaxed.  It was clear she was looking at me for a reason.  I could feel it. But this time it wasn’t with the usual combativeness she’s shown. I got the feeling she was telling me that this is about more than my training. Its a journey and she’s a guide, a participant. I am not the target.  The owners are.
I thought we were bridging a new horizon and I was excited.  Perhaps I would get to work with both of them as I had envisioned.  After all, the goal is to get these girls rideable and cooperative so they can be enjoyed and vice versa.  Its a tall order but I am used to making things happen in this realm.
Granted, their “fuck you” quotiant was on a new level. It isn’t that they have been mistreated, its that they have been over processed, over trained in things they already know. So much so they’ve chosen to do what any horse would do.  Stick with the herd at any cost.  AVOID HUMANS…unless confined without that option, then its still avoid, avoid, avoid, until there is no more avoiding.  Its that knowing that makes them do what they do! Their release is in accepting them for what they do, what they are and then, guiding them through it to a different answer. Tough to do when common man can’t get in the middle of them to ride them. That’s why the answer is UNCOMMON. OUTSIDE THE BOX.
I noted that their defensiveness was higher than it had been before I had to leave.
As they graduate between trainers they are learning new mechanics, but still terrified of the “ride”. The ride that is always going to happen and that they are always afraid of.
These horses have been “trained” to be afraid.
I genuinely believe they may have had some bucking horse training.
I know alot about bucking horses.
They don’t behave normally because they can’t.
They are run into chutes by humans on horses and cinched down, bucked out and spurred (a.k.a. hurt) by humans then run down again by humans on horses that run them into corrals.
The process of a bucking horse takes just a few cycles.
Mustangs make great bucking horses. They produce even better bucking horses.
Even though the owner believes this is not the case, I hold firm in my thoughts. Even if no formal training ever occurred, it doesn’t matter. They had enough history to KNOW that riding is to be avoided.  They belong to a select group of horses that no amount of ground work is going to cure.
You see, they have already seen the other side.
They know what being ridden is….or isn’t. It isn’t pleasant, its painful, its frightening and its right to defend oneself.
That’s the proper thought process on a bucking horse.
Horses like this have to be “triggered” in the right way.
I have put one ride, albeit a short one, on one of the mares. This happened after I had a laid her down.
Several times.
She finally gave me signs of cooperations and contrition.  Shes a tough little stinker.
Then my Mom died and I didn’t get to go there with the other one or bring the one that I did make progress with further in her belief system that humans can equal more than vending machines or pushy carnivores. She just went back to being vigilant because I never got to finish the process of her relearning. Going to a different trainer she went right back to groundwork, groundwork and more groundwork, along with ponying…which equals….more work.
When these horses came back, the owners deflated by the clinic, one of them hurt by a kick to his leg and face, I thought that perhaps the universe might be turning the tide in my favor. 
I asked permission to work the mares and it was granted.
Yeehaw!  I know I am sick so save the emails and phone calls please. 
Then yesterday, without warning the horses, and their babies were gone. Back to the other trainer. 
I met him. He is genuinely kind. But I don’t think qualified to deal with the problems these mares have.
I am told the owners aren’t putting any more money into these mares. He is working their babies for pay and these mares gratis. I get that. I am sure he wants to finish his job. Good trainers feel this way even when they are working with challenging horses.
I wish she would have sent them to Idaho like I asked her to when I found out I would be there for awhile.
I wish she would send them now. 
I know what to do with these mares.
You see, the day after my stare down with the one mare I had a very restless night. Then, as usual when these light bulb moments suface, I fell into a deep sleep.
I dreamed the solution. I KNEW WHAT TO DO WHEN I WOKE UP.
I was excited to approach it the next day.  But that didn’t happen. 
Horses are being moved and transported.
I will have to wait to see the resolution. Everyone has their journey.
The next day as I let go of this new disappointment, I realized something.
In the twenty plus years I have been doing this, I’ve learned a lot of things.  One of the most important being that:

Wisdom comes in the quiet.

As I pondered this I drove down my driveway and looked at my reduced herd.

My horse, Aemelie, always my guide looked up from her grazing and watched as I passed.

I parked the truck and Aemelie whinnied to me.

She hasn’t done with is quite some time so I knew something was up.

In her customary way, she trotted away from the herd and came over to the fence and watched as I started the nightly chores.

She whinnied again and I opened the gate for her.

She pushed her head into me and comforted me.  My beautiful, gentle. wise horse.

I needed that. 

Yes, wisdom definitely comes in the quiet. This time, I listened.  And tonight, the same thing.  Even Kirk remarked on her behavior. 

“She leaves the entire herd to come and spend time with you.  That’s absolutely amazing!”

Yes, it is.  My mare is telling me…let it go.  This isn’t your lesson.  Your lesson is to be still, quiet and at peace.

For once, I am.

November 20th, 2011 LIFE LESSONS

I have reached a milestone that I knew was coming. After my Mom died I suddenly became aware of what its like to be in charge of the younger generations. So much of life is spent learning and growing and much of my life has had this consistancy. But lately I am finding many opportunities to use those life lessons to influence the younger generation and its exhilarating! This past month my family has gathered behind Kirk and I to help us through what has become a very difficult time. There are many things that can be worse and we know that. We are thankful every day for many things.
In this time of gathering and support we are using our life’s dreams and missions to benefit others and its brought into focus the very reason why I do what I do every day.
It’s not everyone that likes to freeze their ass off sculpting hooves and bettering the lives of horses. It’s a tough friggin dangerous and often thankless job but like a dog to a bone I go back over and over and over.
One of my clients has stepped out on the limb herself and outfitted with borrowed equipment decided to trim her own horses in between our visits.
HOLY SHIT BATMAN she emailed, “how in the hell do you do this day in and day out?”
Thats a great question and I don’t have a friggin clue why except that my passion won’t leave me alone. It wakes me in the middle of the night at least 6 times a week with light bulb realizations that my creative side yearns to spin into understandable material.
Tonight, after a long and fruitful day servicing clients and mentoring and apprenticing my young cousin, I was rewarded by his compliment that he can’t wait to share this information with his Dad, who is someone I admire and respect.
Growing closer together as a family has been a powerful influence in my life lately and I am growing closer to understanding the life lesson that my MOm left me. LOVE EVERYONE.
It was a talent she had that I could never understand.
I am fiesty, sometimes hateful, strong willed and stubborn. All of the good things a Taurus should be.
Her love for others and obvious impact she had with simple actions and gentle words escaped me until her death left me humbled and searching for myself in ways that I have never explored.
Now I understand and never more so than when I still find her messages of love.
She leaves me coins. It’s a special thing.
My Mom was religious. I am not. She wished for me that I would be more open to it. I always swore I wouldn’t. Literally, like No fucking way am I going to church…stuff like that.
My MOm would smile and still love me even though I knew my actions weren’t always pleasing to her as she never doubted her faith or the existance of Jesus Christ.
Several years before my MOm died I had read a story about a girl who asked her dying father to prove that heaven existed. She told hiim to leave her pennies in odd places if in fact he died and went to heaven.
I told my Mom I wanted the same…with one condition. That she had better leave me a whole hell of a lot more than God Damned pennies. I wanted riches.
The day she died I had been sitting in the same spot near her bed crying, looking down and I studied the floor in my area intently. When she passed, I dropped my head, sobbing in grief, astonished to see a quarter laying next to my shoe.
She’s continued to leave me money. Everything but pennies.
As we worked on a family hay project that has turned lucrative I noticed three quarters sitting on the back of the restaurant booth. They had not been there when I slid into the booth or out of the booth to visit the restroom.
I doubted my recollection and just to prove me wrong my Mom left me a quarter, dime and nickel laying on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator!
Nobody was home….Kirk was in Texas. I was manning the fort. I know for a fact that I didn’t leave it there. I keep money in my wallet, not the refrigerator.
Another life lesson though I admit, I still am not going to fucking church.

November 18th, 2011 Beaten UP

This week I had the opportunity to work with a seventh horse trained by a trainer I cannot name that has aggressive, dangerous tendencies and once again I am painfully aware of what this “Natural Horsemanship” revolution has done to our horses.
Granted, I know that the training is only as good as the trailer but truthfully, so many horses with similar difficulties can’t be wrong, right?
I’ve blogged about this issue before but I feel a new urgency to pick the same bone.
I am mentoring and employing my second cousin to help in our horse training and farm activities and this was a golden opportunity to open his eyes to the workings of the horse.
He is young and has never seen a horse laid down. GASP! Yes, I did mean to reference laying a horse down. Sometimes, in order to preserve the horse it is necessary. This was no exception.
I had met with the owner the night before and three times had to fend off attacks from her horse. He seemingly attacked with no provocation. This horse she reported had never had vicious tendencies. But as we went through their information I learned that her horses had been to a trainer (I cannot name) I knew has a problem with awakening the angry defenses in horses. I’ve worked no less than 6 of those horses this year. I am working with the Universe to speak with this trainer to try and get him to STOP harming horses.
He professes to be a “Legendary Horse Whisperer and Gentler” proficient in you guessed it, Natural Horsemanship. GAG
OK, aside from my churning stomach, lets focus on the horse here…or horses as it be.
I began work with the gelding and amazingly he didn’t react at all like he had with his owner the night before. A sure sign the owner is a trigger for the horse.
A trigger is a person or event that raises emotions leading to a reaction. This horse pins his ears, and rushes in to bite you, rears, spins to kick or throttles over the top of you.
Can anyone guess why?
He is sick and tired of being made to run in meaningless circles, back up, getting his jaw popped with the clasp on his rope halter, etc. etc. etc. We’ve all seen the “game”, right? It doesn’t matter which one. They are all offensive to the horse and not at all…ahem…natural.
While I stood beside this horse his mouthy lips searched over me but never did he bite like he had the night before. He was polite, curious and seemed a “normal” horse. But I knew what lay beneath the surface so to illustrate I put my arms up and stepped toward him. His head came up and he immediately rushed me. I stepped back and allowed him to calm down and then picked up his hoof.
Natural horsemanship horses often do not like their hooves messed with.
He was no different. He tugged, pulled, and did everything but stand quietly. He lipped me, attempted to bite, pushed on my cousin who was handling him and I went into deprogramming mode.
Before I had begun the other horse in his pasture was let out so she could work with us in the environment. Doing this tells me a lot about what the herd thinks of humans. While the owner had reported that she had no difficulty from her mare I suspected otherwise. I suspected that her two horses had different ideas than she, unbeknownst to her.
I was right.
As I worked the gelding the mare became hyper vigilant and aggitated. She rushed in several times as if to gather him away from me and ran off one direction, then another, attempting to lure him away from me.
Horses that are afraid of what people are going to do react in this way.
This is not a relationship.
This demonstrates they have not been loved and that humans are incapable of speaking their language.
I am always amazed at the oxymoron’s I find in natural horses….or just rather that people are such morons to buy into the religion of “natural horsemanship”.
I continued to work with the gelding who by now was looking for his usual way of escape. Aggression. It had been a very effective coping tool until now and I laid him down to begin altering this learned coping skill. He laid down and then sighed, and began to huff and puff. I stepped in where he could see me and untied the slip knot holding his rope.  My laying a horse down always has a purpose and he knew I had done so in response to his biting, and simultaneous tugging of his hoof.  Horses that are aggressive are also very likely to protest control of their hooves.  He knew I was letting him up and I stepped back, out of his space.  Horses interpret this as a sign of respect.  I let him up and didn’t interfere with him getting up to run to check in with his herd. His pasture mate was super hyper vigilant now and the entire picture revealed itself.
These two horses were working together to thwart their owners practice of natural horsemanship.  They readily understood that humans are capable of harm and were working together to try and protect each other.  The mare was better at coping so she would take the owners affections while the gelding would become jealous but also aggitated at controlling the boundaries of her affections.  She could pet, not push.  I was also observant of the fact that these horses were extremely guarded about being worked with.  Their anxiety levels escalated when any sign or intent of working with them was presented.
I had noted the night before there seemed to be a “jealousy” issue between the mare, the gelding and the owner.
As I worked with the gelding it was more the mare knew how to cope differently than the gelding but was just as hateful about the work she and the gelding were asked for.   Her rushing in to try and block my work with the gelding was obvious proof.
Let’s get this straight. I am not anthropomorphizing. I am in observance of horses being truly “turned off” from their natural instinct to want to please.
This week my cousin has started 4 horses and not once has he moved the horse in a circle, ran them in the round pen or any of the other “usual” ground activities associated with starting a horse.
He’s like me.
Works with them a bit to get to know them and vice versa, hops on and goes on an easy ride we call an “adventure”. The horses love it. Along the way he sits easy and asks for a bend here and there. The horses are ridden in a halter. Nothing else. Before 15 minutes is out the horse is walking, trotting, cantering, turning and stopping. The horses are also working away from the herd and in and around the herd without difficulty. That is NATURAL.  When one has a bond with the horse and is open to working with them on their terms and asking when the time is appropriate, not demanding simply because A+B should equal C, horses response softly and willingly.
They leave eyes soft and come looking for more the next day because they have fun. It’s a break in their daily routine and all of our horses respond positively to the time they get to have with us.
The mare and gelding were different.
They were defensive, anxious and dangerous.
You couldn’t pay me enough money to call them “partners”. They definitely didn’t have a positive relationship with people.
Now, that being said, I blame the trainer but I also blame the method.
I’ve seen so many instances where horses are shut down and people rely on a method or training recipe to give them a sense of safety. The reality is that this belief is a false sense of security.
One of the horses we started this week has come fresh from 30 days of training with another natural horsemanship trainer who had enough difficulty with this mare that she sent the mare home stating she was “hopeless.”
I think its the other way around.
In addressing the gelding and his mare I have elected to visit with the owner to help her understand that what she is experiencing with her horses isn’t normal. Nor should she put them back into training with the intent they need to go back to basics. No, they need to be horses first. Horses that aren’t afraid to build a bond with a human or afraid to be themselves. Horses that are responsible for themselves and appreciated for their value, goodness and individuality. Horses that aren’t boxed into a regime of false promises that leave owners lost, bewildered and worse, injured.
It’s my mission. To help people understand that working horses isn’t complicated or a set of rules and exercises. It’s intent, intuition, and energy.
After the gelding ran back to his herd I gave him a few minutes and then went to catch him. He and his mare friend ran into a corner and put their head in it, refusing to look at me.
I stood and waited and soon, they bolted and ran past me. I let them go and remained calm.
I followed and after a few minutes the gelding let me approach him. So did the mare. They both wuffled and blew and I assured them with all my heart that I would do all that I could to help them.
The best part was that my cousin, a very talented and up and coming trainer learned a lot from our session. He had never thought about the relationships horses share with each other much he said. Or that those relationships can be turned against a person if they don’t know what they are doing. It was a sad day in some respects since I never like to see horses damaged by people but also exhilarating in that one more person has been made aware of the dangers of the false and flawed information of “natural horsemanship”.

November 12th, 2011 Family Values

What a whirlwind week! I am struggling with a whole new string of emergencies and the fact that my biorythm chart indicates that while I have super stamina I am not exercising my intellect or emotions much at this point. The two areas I thrive in the most. Huh. That’s the story from the last 10 years of my life! LOl

This week family values have been at the forefront. I have had much opportunity to connect with the beloved side of my family that is horsey. We have long traditions and a strong heritage rooted in horses. The kind of horsemanship that people only dream about. The true, real horsemanship that doesn’t offend horses but asks them to be one in a partnership that is true, defined and spiritual.

This week my cousin Jake came to work with us so we’ve had long nights of discussing horses, philosophies and memories. His Dad, is one of the most talented horseman I’ve ever seen. A true natural and the son of my Uncle and mentor.
Its been a wonderful season of reflection for me and for teaching as well as learning. I can feel the progress coming and it feels oh so good!
I’ve yearned for the opportunity to put into visual format the ideals I hold true and the beliefs I value. Beliefs that are eons away from most of what is being practiced and preached today. I know that I am on the right track because the Universe doesn’t bring you anything you the things you don’t need. My world has been filled with love, family, memories, healing and plans this week and I am loving every minute of it! It excites me because the value of my work is what I can do to help others and helping my family is foremost on that list!
I was visited yesterday by an old indian. It was an awkward introduction at first. He was introduced to me by one of my clients. He wounldn’t even acknowledge me. My intuition said that was because he had been told I knew something about horses and that because he knew A LOT about horses that we just wounldn’t see eye to eye. I ignored the cool introduction and went about my work.
He jumped in to teach me how to properly tie a knot, then how to properly pick up a hoof. I just listened and let him show me he knew something about horses.
He had an oxygen tube stuffed up his nose and it was clear with his age that he was feeling the rages of time. Something I know a little bit about having spent time with my 95 year old grandfather. It puts perspective in your day.
We continued and when I was done trimming he picked up the hoof I had been working on and exclaimed, “I have never seen anyone achieve balance on a hoof like you have!” He stood up, clearly shocked.
I get that a lot.
“Pretty good for a girl, eh?” I joked.
The door was wide open and wisely he said, “To agree with that would be to tell you that I am not comfortable with my masculinity when in fact, I am.” He beamed.
I love it. Horses bring out such philosophies to be chewed upon.
We visited some more and began to build a rapport. I found another horse shaman I can lean on and I told him so. That made him happy.
I can’t wait till next week!