Flowing with Flow

The fatmare has been lonely without me! I’ve been busy with several other projects so the new horse, Flow, has been a bit on the backburner. I’ve played around with her some but nothing more than hanging out, grooming her, playing at liberty or going for a walk. She seems to love the attention! Here’s a quick video of her meeting the 2 year old Flutter for the first time so check that out:

Cotton Balls as a Fix?

Say What?

This sign was on our road last week. I thought of it when I was working with the new horse (by the way she has a new name…Flourish or Flow for short).

Why oh why do people do this? We think our message has to be louder or more extreme than anybody elses and if you don’t like it well…just put cotton balls in your ears as long as you are where you ‘should be.’

Nothing like one way communication! Horses teach communication in everything they do and other horses understand it. I think people innately know how to communicate well but we choose not too, especially when we get dogmatic about things.

Here’s how my first lesson with Flow went:

We go in a paddock together. I ask her to move away from me and circle around me. At first she isn’t sure what I’m asking so I apply a bit of pressure by moving towards her with my arms moving. She gets it and moves away. She circles around in a lovely trot and keeps watching me to see where this ‘conversation’ is going to go. I mix it up and turn away from her…she stops and walks towards me. I send her off again..the dance continues. She pays very close attention to me and I do with her. I keep the communication positive, short, and sweet. No cotton balls in anyone’s ears!

Tada…She’s Here!

She’s Here!

The Lippy (Maggie for the time being) got here late Wednesday night. I was a bit worried about the big 18-wheeler horse hauler being able to turn around in our driveway. They ended up pulling along the shoulder of the road (yikes! I was thinking) to unload her.

So now we had a dark road plus a blown light fuse in the horse compartment with a dash of  a young horse that never been off-loaded before. It was not the best combination. A couple of minutes later, with flashlights lighting up the ramp, she came right down in a calm manner.

We said a quick hello then walked down the very dark driveway to the barn. She was great and the other horses welcomed her with lots of whinnying and running the fence line!  When we got in the barn, I put her in a stall and listened to Flutter (the yearling colt) run and neigh. His new love had arrived!

I put some hay out with my other mare (Aspen) and put Maggie in the field with her. After a few squeals and kicks they settled in.

Today I wanted to get some pictures of her but it wasn’t easy as she is a very friendly and curious lady! You’ll see that most are close-up as she wanted to be right with me. I can’t wait to start working with her. Tomorrow we begin…

Check Out That Mane!

Just Waiting…

English: Lipizzaner stallion, performance Schö...

Dancing White Horses

I’ve been waiting and waiting for the new girl to get here. She is coming from Wisconsin so that’s about 950 miles. I had a hard time finding a horse hauler so weeks have gone by but the good news is she is coming on Wednesday!!

I plan to throughly document working with her. The best part is she is almost four years old and has basically been out in a herd for  years. That means that she has had very little training. Some might see this as a negative but not me. I will start her using my own method, which I call Dancing with the Divine.

Since she is a Lipizzan horse, she will fit the bill for the divine. I can’t wait to dance with her!

Today Hickstead Goes to Horse Heaven

Showjumping: Individual, Gold Jump-Off

Hickstead, the incredible show jumping stallion, passed away today. Hickstead and Eric were at the top of the show jumping world for years and years. It was easy to think they would go on for much longer.

I remember seeing Hickstead years ago in Canada and being thrilled by his amazing jumping style. He had such energy, such life. The bond he had with Eric Lamaze was total partnership. I held my breath when I watched them go at the Olympics but in my heart I just knew they would win. There was something special about watching them together. I felt they had similar paths of hardship but then manifested true greatness as kindred souls.

Hickstead you gave all you had and showed us the beauty and inspiration that we can all bring to life. You will be missed.

Lesson Fourteen – The Beauty of ‘Feel’

The levade.

Dressage - the Classic 'Levade'

Riding well requires something that horsefolks refer to as ‘feel’. It’s when you know how to ask the horse to do something or react to what the horse is doing in an intuitive way. ‘Feel’ becomes a conversation between rider and horse. Often, it can turn into a beautiful dance.

There are many riding instructors that try to teach people how to develop feel. I’ve watched dvds that break training horses or how to ride into small chunks using a step-by-step program. It’s good to have the security of developing those practical skills in linear format but horses, like life, are not linear.

I got to see a good example of that over the weekend. I had two different riders on Nootka. The first was a professional dressage rider that has trained and ridden the higher levels of dressage. The other was an amateur, who has ridden off and on for many years.

The first rider got on Nootka and immediately started the conversation politely and then began asking Nootka for more to see where her training level was. When Nootka didn’t know what she was asking or couldn’t hold it for long physically, the rider backed off and tried something she could do. In a matter of fifteen minutes or so, Nootka was gaining more confidence and was engaged in the ‘conversation’.

The second rider was more tentative. She wasn’t sure what to ask Nootka to do so she walked around to gain her own confidence. When she decided to trot, Nootka said, “yes, ma’am” and threw the rider a bit off-balance. This conversation was more trial and error and required more regrouping. The first rider offered suggestions on what to do to the second rider and helped guide this conversation to several good moments of partnership.

In my ‘old’ career I felt like the years of gaining knowledge and good old-fashioned experiences helped me develop a great deal of ‘feel’. It was such a good feeling to know the answers and be super confident in the work. I liked it! Now, I feel like the second rider on Nootka. I feel like the start-up is much more trial and error and that I have to repeatedly regroup and think of things differently. It’s not a linear step-by-step process. It often doesn’t look pretty.

Could the lesson be….Trial and error along with creative thinking will lead to creation of beauty?

Lesson Twelve – Money vs Nootka

Who doesn't want a cute face like mine?

I’ve thought about selling Nootka. I did put one ad up online to see if there was any interest. Yes..it’s hard to do but it would be good to have the money.

I sold my BMW before moving down here (man was that hard to do). I’m now driving a truck my mom bought for me. It’s a 1994 Ford Ranger and let me say it is the opposite of the BMW ride! On the positive side it has been great to load compost into or take loads of brush or old barbed wire to the dump BUT quite honestly it needs a make-over. When you get to over 180,000 miles a make-over is in store. I’m being too PC now. Let me be honest…sorry Ranger but you need more than a make-over..you need surgery! Someone had to say it.

I did have a woman come out and try Nootka. She got on her and did the walk around pony ride then told me her trainer would have to come take a ride too. I rode Nootka for her to see what she could do and she was fabulous. This horse just gets better and better. Which ironically brings me to my problem. Do I sell her or keep her? I was on the sell her side before I rode her tonight. She was great! We almost have the Flutterbooks Ipad application done but I’m not sure anyone can predict the revenue.

Is the lesson…weight it out more money in the bank account or more riding? Which feels better?