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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Preparation For a Group Session ~ Their Way

The following series of photographs depicts a typical day in the life of the herd here at Thirteen Moons Farm. A group is gathering to discover their connection to the healing of horses through astrology and especially their connection through Chiron (Kyron) and where it sits in their birth charts. Renowned astrologer Melanie Lichtinger is spending her second day in a row here at the farm, June 17 2015.
One of our local eagles has landed in the tree. He flew in singing. This is like a call to the horses who begin their walk up from the lower paddock to the area we've come to know as 'The Church'
Wit, Trinity Red Star and Venus DreamWalker have taken up position in the church and are waiting for Jet and Sirius Eclipse to arrive.

Jet makes her way.

Jet's arrival is a signal to Venus to move to 'her spot'.

A Killdeer has joined in.

Sirius Eclipse makes her way up from the bottom of the hill.

She moves to her sister Venus and lies next to her.

Jet and Sirius lie down simultaneously.

Eagle is watching over.

Wit has changed direction, faces the sun and is standing over Trinity Red Star.

They are joined by a very young rabbit.

The sun is full on Wit and he basks in its warmth.

Both eagles are here.

The herd is down, the eagles are in the tree to the west watching over. The herd remains in this meditative state for slightly more than an hour. They will rise and return to their 'normal' routine of having their morning feed and at noon will be brought in to the barn out of the heat to await their visitors.
The group gathers to discover their Chiron Connections. During this time spent a distance apart from the horses a process of entrainment occurs. The balanced herd will feel the newcomers' energy patterns and will begin the process to shift energy into balance and harmony.

The up close and personal 'tweaks' take place. When the group enters into the immediate realm of the horses energy field one or more of the horses will 'present' themselves by coming in to their stall from their walkout. The stall door is opened, the group forms a semi-circle and the horse moves to where it feels guided and begins to open any restrictions in flow.

Left arm is specific to opening heart.

Jet is working on healing patterns regarding separation from the mother, something she is quite famous for.

Venus DreamWalker brings reminders of home.

Heart energy, more openings happening here along with some work with solar plexus.

Three year old Venus is one of the few that responds well to hands on interactions with clients. Not all horses are able to handle being 'moved in on' during their processing of energy.

Trinity Red Star moving energy up the system, bringing balance along with grounding as she works.

Power house Wit bringing balance between both hemispheres of the brain. He moves from one side to the other and finishes in the center of the brow. This is referred to here as a 'triactivation'. The group process is complete. The horses will rest for a time and then are once again turned out to resume their balanced natural lifestyle. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Discernment In The 'Industry'

In the past few weeks several things have come my way which have spurred on this posting. Although they might seem separate and distinct, they have an accumulative effect in my mind.

The first was an application from a young woman  who wanted to study with me as an apprentice "in order to have a spiritual sideline for her horse business".

Next came a request from a woman who wanted desperately to "hug a horse" in order to be healed from a serious illness.

Most recently a link was sent my way for an online course showcasing several presenters, all dealing with healing with horses.

I'll begin with the young woman wanting a spiritual sideline for her business.
I would think this is fairly obvious as to why this piqued my interest, but in case you are wondering I will give my point of view.

There is nothing about the horse that is not spiritual.
He is spirit.
When you come to the horse with a deep understanding of his psyche, his physical, emotional and social needs you are still only part way in knowing him.
The spiritual side of horse is all encompassing..... and unless you understand this at a very deeply ingrained level you will have nothing to offer the public except a heart string pulling dog and pony show.

Lesson One in discernment...... can you tell when the spiritual needs of a 'healing horse' are being met by simply looking at a website? 

On to the need to hug a horse.
I understand this need.
I too have had this need in the past.
I have been broken and knew the mending would come through the heart of a horse and ONLY from the horse....but a lifetime of working with hundreds of horses has taught me is a very rare horse indeed who can accept the energy of an imbalanced individual (illness, disease) without first having an opportunity to entrain to the energy of that being and make a CHOICE if they would like to be approached and physically engaged with.

Lesson Two in discernment......if you are a caregiver or facilitator and you promote physical contact without first allowing the horse to entrain and make a choice then you are failing both your horse and your client.

If you are a client then take a close look at the horses at the establishment....a REALLY close look, not the romantic heart string pulling gloss over.....but rather look deep into the eyes of the horse and ask if there is happiness there.....

Now, on to the link for the online course.
Healing with quickly becoming an industry.
History shows us that anytime an industry involves animals, they, the animals, will suffer.

Lesson Three in discernment......client or caregiver it matters not......LOOK at the horses on the websites. REALLY LOOK at them. Look at their overall body position. Pay attention to their eyes!! Their ears speak volumes if you will look at them and know what they are saying!!

If the horses are contained in an area where they have no option to move away from clients or are hand fed treats to bring them closer to clients, chances are high that horses are not being honored in a balanced way and that 'industry' has more meaning to those offering the services than the welfare of the horses in their care. 

Many horses who appear to be engaged in a healing....are the ones begging for healing.....

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Thinking In Pictures and The Films We Run In Our Mind

There has been much written and recently taught regarding natural horsemanship techniques involving body language. It seems to be all the rage these days. Horses respond to body language, but did you know they respond even quicker to the film you are running in your mind?
Most people are not even aware that they ARE running films in their minds.....but they are. All the time. Practicing scenarios. Predicting outcomes and often imagining the worst.

Some years ago I was called out to a new client. I had been recommended by the farrier due to an 'ill mannered' horse who would not pick up its hind feet to be shod and had kicked the farrier soundly.

I stood and spoke with the owner for a time to get a sense of the property, surroundings, and especially the area which had been chosen for the shoeing to take place. I was able to discern that the owner expected her horses to be 'little buggers' as she put it. I noted in my mind that the outdoor area where we were to work was surrounded by forest. The 'shed' was placed at the edge of the forest....a place where horses would be hyper sensitive to the possibility of predators. Horses would choose a place more visually open, a place that would allow them to see into the distance.

All the while I am also sensing apprehension in the horse in question. He is an Appaloosa. One of my all time favorite breeds. Many horse owners and trainers have little use for Appaloosas, calling them stubborn and often stupid.
In my opinion they are strong minded and intelligent.....something I can work with. Appaloosas along with Arabians and Thoroughbreds seem to connect mentally and more importantly to me they connect rapidly to emotional intelligence level....which is why many people have difficulty with them. Humans have all but forgotten their own emotional intelligence.

As I stood with the horse and its owner I was 'redirecting energy' from my base or root chakra to the earth....not willing it to go to ground, but rather allowing it to go to ground....and as 'my' energy moved to ground the horse began to relax. He dropped a hip and began to lick and chew.
His owner yawned a time or two and apologized for it. Yawning in my world is a good thing. It shows me energy is moving. It shows me that the being is reaching for a higher state of consciousness.

With both owner and horse in a more relaxed state I moved closer to the horse. As I approached I started 'the film in my mind'. I showed him where I was going to start touching him, on his left shoulder, with the BACK of my hand palm facing me. I use the back of my hand on first touch simply because I've learned over the decades that my energy flow is strong and can startle horses so I've learned to pull in my energy (without changing my posture ~ body language) and I've learned to direct the flow of energy back toward myself. I stroke the horse once in a firm decisive manner. I am not 'careful' nor 'cautious'. I am firm and confident and carefree.
Anything other than that instills fear in the horse.
Next, I began the film of my picking up his near front foot, and beginning at the shoulder I ran my hand down to his pastern....using the back of my hand. He shifted his weight as he thought about picking up his foot and shifted back again with I started the film again....and he shifted and picked up his foot in one motion.

I flooded him with energy from my heart chakra.
I didn't pat him.
I didn't give him ten good boys.
I didn't click a clicker and hand feed him a treat.
I flooded him with love and appreciation.

He dropped his head lower and closed his eyes.

I ran the film of me going toward his hind leg....and he slowly and calmly shifted his weight preparing for me to do so.

As I moved along his side I 'saw' his owner running the film in her mind of him he had done in the I made 'my film' more clear and he calmly gave me his foot. I held it up. I wiggled it around. I picked up a nearby rock and used it 'like a hammer' tapping soundly to imitate a shoe being nailed on.....and the horse remained relaxed.

...and the owner asked me why he wasn't kicking me or attempting to take his foot away..... and I told her about the films we run in our minds.

In extreme cases I put up a blank screen to assist horses who have been traumatized. This way we have an opportunity to rewrite the film.

I know that what I am saying will seem very foreign to most people....but to me it is natural.
Natural Horse-Man-Ship. One Mind Horse-Man-Ship. One Heart. One Soul. One Love.

As a child I was labelled emotionally disturbed. These days the label would read 'high functioning autistic' or perhaps 'Asperger's, but like the horse...labels don't stick well on me.

Recently I gave an impromptu demonstration of free lunging  a young horse in the round pen....without a whip or a 'carrot stick' or a flag.....just the middle, standing still with my eyes closed....running the film....and the horse walked, trotted, cantered, stopped dead in her tracks, changed directions and loved every minute of it because she is natural. She hasn't had to learn 'body language' cues or listen for a click....she simply watched a movie with me.

Try it. You might just amaze yourself. I know your horse will be amazed.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Farriers and other caregivers

I feel compelled to write about the people you hire to give additional care to your horses.
Allow me to begin by saying first and foremost it is the horse owner's responsibility to ensure that their horses have been taught to pick up their feet for the farrier, the hoof trimmer in our case since our horses won't be shod.
Many trainers teach the horse to pick up their feet by taking the foot either by surprise or by force and not giving it back until the horse stops struggling.
My way has always been to a) make the process part of the bigger process of the daily grooming so that it is 'no big deal' and simply what we do as a natural progression and b) take the foot and give it back immediately.....this reinforces in the horse's mind that this is not forever....but rather very temporary and c) to make certain that whoever I hire to perform the service is considerate of my ways and my horses. Period.

At no time can this event become a battle or a venue for punishment.

Some years ago I had a middle aged boarder who had a farrier  visit the barn to shoe her mare.
He was likable and seemed skilled at his craft.

The horse owner held her mare for the farrier and I noticed she held her with a strong grip directly on her halter which was irritating the horse. The mare began to wriggle around and shake her head in response to the unusual contact.

The farrier without a word or hesitation wheeled around with his metal rasp in hand and whacked the mare hard and fast along her rib cage.

To say I was shocked is an understatement.....but what was more shocking was the mare owner's lack of concern or response. It was as though this was expected. Common. It's what farriers do to get the horse to stand still.

I offered to hold the mare and took the lead rope from her owner.
I gave the mare some slack in the lead and helped her to relax as I picked up a conversation with the farrier during which time I accomplished several things...1) I redirected energy through my body to send it to ground in order to assist calming the overall feeling that had come up among the group. 2) I learned that the farrier had just returned to work from a 'bad back' injury that he attributed to a run in with a horse 3) I showed the owner through action or rather 'no-action' that the mare did not need to be restrained in order to be shod.

The shoeing was a non-event from that point onward.

The farrier left and I asked the mare owner about her lack of care or concern regarding the farrier beating her horse....and she looked surprised that I found it odd.
She told me that she thought all farriers hit horses with their rasp to teach them to stand still.....and that she thought it was okay as long as it worked.

What I failed to mention early in this post is that this particular woman truly loved her horses and provided over the top excellent care in all other aspects...which is what made this event all the more perplexing to me.

....and that was my introduction to  what we as horse owners consider normal.

For many years I was married to my late husband George who along with being a horse trainer, breeder and shower was also a farrier. Together we traveled on his shoeing routes and it became my job to hold the horses while he trimmed or shod them.
It made his work easier.
We both 'had a way with horses'.....and he was often called by other farriers to shoe horses that they couldn't.
We had a reputation for being able to get along with difficult horses whether it be for shoeing, training or trailering.

It was through this partnership that I received an invaluable education regarding handling skittish, frightened or angry horses. It was through his patience and his love for all horses that I learned the concept of 'take the foot briefly and be the one to give it back'. He showed me time and time again that anger develops over time among 'the smart' horses regarding the backwards method of taking the foot until the horse horses survival instincts are strong and compliance is not among their vocabulary. Smart horses will retaliate at some point and will often wear a label or vicious, stupid, dangerous....

The fillies currently at the farm here will all pick their feet up willingly.
When they arrived as weanlings this became part of their daily grooming routine.
This also became an important part of our trust relationship.
If the horse can trust you with its feet you will have gained trust in its heart and mind.
I teach the babies to lift their feet for me by first 'running the film in my mind' of them picking up a particular foot. If it is a front foot I support 'the film' with an action of lightly running my hand down from the shoulder to hoof and if by then the foot isn't rising I'll support further with an action of putting pressure on the front of the hoof wall with my cupped hand.

I do not   squeeze tendons or push the horse off balance to pick up a foot.
When you squeeze tendons you are saying to the horse that you are a predator. Although horses will learn to pick up their feet in this way (and most if not all farriers are taught that this is an effective and correct way) it inevitably reinforces in the prey animal horse's mind that you are indeed the enemy he must get along with in order to survive.

Smart horses will rebel at some point.

I have gone through a few farriers since moving to Vancouver Island.
The first one did an amazing job, however no matter how many times I told her not to squeeze the tendons, the habit had become so ingrained that she couldn't not to do it. I gave her plenty of tries....and had to let her go.

The next one was a fellow who is also a well know 'natural' horse trainer...who seemed to want to train my horses without having been asked to do so.....he would hold the foot after being trimmed 'until the horse would struggle....wait for the horse to give in (comply) and then he would put it down. I thought that perhaps if I talked to him, gave him some information that he could change his mind about the need to control in such a way and I was making progress until.....

He had one of the fillies in the barn aisle with one of her hind legs raised ready to trim. I noticed her other hind foot was too far under her and was about to ask him to pit the foot down so she could rebalance when....he hiked the foot up higher....and she lost her foot on the other side completely and in order 'to save herself' she pulled the foot he was holding away. He immediately swung around with his rasp held high in the air threatening her....and kicked her in the belly as hard as he could with his steel toed boot....out of anger.
He was angry.
He had no concern for the scenario that led up to her feeling she needed 'to save herself'.

In my mind I had to make a split second decision.
She was the last of five horses to trim.
He was working on her 'last' foot.
I kept quiet.
He finished the trim.
And I fired him.
I sent him an email later that evening with a full explanation as to why so there would be no mistake about it.

We've since been blessed with an amazing young farrier who is a very well balanced and grounded energy herself !!!.... so that when she arrives in our facility the horses don't feel a need to work on her energy system the whole time she is here !!! they have done with the others.

You have choices.
Don't be afraid to speak up for your horses.
You are the only voice they have.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Apprentice ....

Apprentice Taylor Dutton and 2 year old Venus DreamWalker.
Venus' first ever saddling.
Taylor has watched two sessions wherein Venus' full sister Sirius and her half sister Trinity
were saddled for their first time.
We don't 'round pen' the horses as in chase them around to tire them out and / or 
develop compliance.
Rather we build on trust already established through good day to day treatment and handling and the natural curiosity of the young horses.
At no time are they restrained.
They can move their feet whenever they choose which helps alleviate any apprehension.
Should the horse show anxiety in any degree we stop the process immediately and work through the anxiety using MareSpeak.

 The flag is not used to discipline or desensitize the horse. 
It is used to teach 'impermanence' is the beginning of teaching that none of what we are about to do is forever. The flag goes away...the saddle goes away...we go away...and so on.
This helps the horse relax knowing his world returns to normal and that we don't intend to live on his back 'forever'.

Venus' ears move back and forth.
When they are back she is both paying attention and showing a degree
of uncertainty. Taylor will move on to the next step when Venus' ears go forward and remain there.
Meanwhile note that in spite of Venus' uncertainty she is remaining relatively calm and in place. She has freedom to move should she need to.

Venus steps forward....moves around a bit and stops when she feels ready to progress.

 Saddle pad and saddle will be put on and taken off with short walks around the pen to firmly establish the fact that wearing the saddle is an impermanent thing.

 Venus is held loose enough to be able to check things out for herself.

 Saddle on.
Girth cinched up snugly but not so tight that it 'cuts the horse in two' as we say.

Venus' final walk around the ring. Day one complete.
Well done Taylor!