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!
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!
Here’s the new girl!
The fatmare is gearing up!
Today I bought another fat mare! Apparently, I can’t be without one! This time she is a Lippizan horse.
I have always had an obsession with this breed. It must have to do with the fabulous White Lippizan Stallion tours I saw as a kid. I remember being so impressed with the symmetry and dance-like quality of their performances. Plus watching the Disney movie, The Miracle of the White Stallions, added a historical overview that hooked me to this rare breed. Can you believe that there are only 5,000 Lippizan horses in the world?
Last summer I rode my friend’s Lippizan mare appropriately named Lippy. She was like riding a fast-moving cloud. I loved her power, connection, and grace. She was very different from any other horse I had ridden before. She seemed almost like a unicorn.
The ‘new’ fatmare is only four and has lived with her sisters out on a large acreage. So I will be training her from square one myself. I figure that her lessons and my lessons will merge to create a fabulous co-creative dance. I can’t wait to share this new chapter with you. She will arrive on January 1, 2012…so stay tuned.
Aspen Back in Her Jumping Days
November has come and gone and the fatmare has just been sitting here alone since my short post about Hickstead.
My black mare, Aspen, colicked a few nights after Thanksgiving. It was a strange evening. I came back from dinner with the hubby and decided to give the horses hay before going in the house. I normally wait until 11pm or so but that night I went as soon as we got home.
As I approached the front field, I heard a nicker from Aspen that sounded different. I grabbed the hay and went to throw it over the fence. It was a moon lit night so I could see the outline of her body lying on the ground. It seemed odd that she was laying down. I gave her the hay and she got up but then laid down again. All I could think was colic!
I ran to inside the house in a panicked state and got my husband to call the vet. In the meantime, we gave her an injection and took her vitals. The vet was wonderful and ended up spending a few hours here. She recovered fine after days of monitoring and a special diet.
The biggest lesson for me was how we all worked together to help her. It was so seamless. I felt like Aspen knew she needed us and we showed up!
Care for a Dip?
Last winter I bought galvanized tubs for the horses to drink out of. The tubs worked fine but easily froze so I needed something bigger. I wasn’t keen on plastic as when it gets really hot it leaches into the water. In comes the bathtub idea!
I found two old crappy looking tubs that no one wanted. With help from the hubby, we scrubbed the rust off, prepped, and painted the tubs. They look great now and are nice water troughs for the horses.
While we worked on them, we noticed the year they were made…1920 was stamped on the bottom. These tubs have seen a few baths! It was easy to sand the rust off the claw-foot feet and see the beauty in the workmanship. Once the paint dried, I stepped back and really admired how wonderful they looked.
The whole process kept me thinking of re-purposing and how we can look through different lenses to see things being ‘useful’ or ‘beautiful’ in various ways. Why put the tubs outside when they could be ‘useful’ inside, someone might ask.
How many times do we try to think differently or just fall back on what is practical or easy? Lately, I have made an effort to think differently and see the unseen. I have found it interesting as our minds are so conditioned to only see what is.
How do you look beyond the usual, the concrete, and see something different?
Nootka ready for greener pastures
Nootka is off to new green pastures. She walked right on her new owner’s horse trailer and stood there looking back at us as we closed the door as if to say, “Hurry up! I’ve got places to go and horses to see!” I think it really shocked her new owner how easily she loaded on the trailer.
I’m usually terrible at good-byes but this time I felt good. I was surprised that Nootka and I seemed to be so clear and happy at her transitioning to a new home. I know I’ll see her again at a horse show or somewhere and it will be so good to say, “Hi friend! – How’s the teaching going?”
My other mare, Aspen, did whinny for her several times but then went back to grazing. By the next day she seemed different too. When Nootka was with her she bossed her around and her life was controlled. Nootka was like you stand there and if Aspen didn’t want to, Nootka would chase her or kick at her until she was where Nootka wanted her. It reminded me of a boss I once had 😉
Now, Aspen is very relaxed and seems more engaged. She has been a delight to ride and even decided to show me that she still has her fancy dressage self in there!
For me it was so wonderful to feel good about letting something go. Try it today…let go of a belief or object or a limiting thought…just let it go.
Good-bye dear friend and teacher
Nootka found a new home! She is leaving in a few days. Since the sale became final, I seem different and she does too. I think we both realize that our relationship is coming to an end. It made me think about closing chapters in life and reflecting on the lessons learned.
Noot can be a bully with my other horse, Aspen. Aspen is a lovely black warmblood with a heart of gold. When I’m with her I feel light and present. She has a very grounding effect on me. Noot, on the other hand, is more the ‘show me what you’ve got’ type of personality.
The biggest lesson for me was to stand up and be the leader, not by force but by intent. I remember the first time I worked with Noot and she was charging around me in a circle like a mad woman. Everytime she wanted to run too fast I stopped her and asked her to walk again. After several tries she did it and I stopped the session. That was good enough!
The next day she tried to kick out at me as she really likes to take charge and wanted to show me that she didn’t want to trot. I just ignored it and moved on. It was always a fine line with her between doing too much or doing too little. I learned that she did want to please me and with the right asking and inviting her to choose the ‘correct’ answer, she was learning. I knew that one day, I would ride her and she would be relaxed, happy and going nicely.
When her new owner came out to try her, she was so responsive and easy going. I felt so proud of her progress. She was like a different horse. I think she is comfortable in partnership with humans and more relaxed about it.
My lesson is: See beyond what is. See the potential and what can be.