Horsey Therapist

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update on Soli

He is well loved by his temporary family in Maine. Being ridden, driven, and appreciated for what he knows.

Here he is being ground driven as PG practices before getting in the cart:

And here are PG and DG going for their first drive together off their property:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jumping for joy

I had fun the other day. With Kacee. About as good as it gets.

I had planned to take Rusty to spend some time with Kathleen Lindley, however Rusty has injured his left hind and needs time off from riding. So Kacee it was to be.

Our day started off challenging right at home, and left me confident that taking Kacee was the best thing possible. I needed guidance figuring out how to help her better than I have helped her, especially when it comes time to catch her and trailer her.

That part wasn't fun, but I kept close to my breathing and did not sink into emotions while helping Kacee stay in the trailer. She loads fine, but is not calm about staying in the trailer. I need to have trailer loading for any of the horses be a time when the horse does not question me or hesitate. This would be important if there were an emergency -- hesitating could be life threatening.

Kathleen guided us step by step until we were happily trotting and cantering over jumps, breathing, together, me guiding Kacee with ease and great pleasure. Kathleen reminded us to think of it as a transition and forget about the jump. By the end, I felt like my body memories of jumping (45 years ago!) got reunited with this older body, augmented by consciously breathing around the ring and using my breath for the transitions. And Kacee blew my mind -- she was eager, responsive, and willing to go where I wanted her to go and transition when I asked.

It was me who needed Kathleen's gentle clarity, not Kacee. Kacee was just waiting for me to take more responsibility for the good times we can have. I have had a tendency to ask for something from Kacee then accept what she offers, whenever that might be. Instead of kindly asking again and helping her give me a more precise answer, like canter here, not half way around the ring.

From my presenting a global goal -- Kacee feels good about doing things with me -- to being helped to get specific -- Kacee canters at this ground pole -- it all added up to a big smile on my face and in my heart.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Call me the tortoise

I'm in New York today. Here for a couple of days to audit a clinic with Leslie Desmond, and connect with some horsey friends I've not seen in a while. It was a long drive over yesterday after a short night's sleep, but well worth it and I picked up a few things I hadn't noticed so clearly in my prior times with Leslie, and these things will be useful.

Useful at least to me and my horses at home. I still wonder how to bridge the gap between 'normal' pressure and release horsemanship and what Leslie is presenting, release without pressure. I wonder because it is relatively very easy to teach people to handle with more subtle, gentle use of aids, but still on the pressure and release continuum. Taking this next step of teaching people how to really think like horses in terms of space, that remains something I wonder about.

I suppose that the more I fully incorporate it into what I'm doing with my horses, the easier it will be to pass it along. It is something I will explore, but with full understanding and support from 'my boss' at the therapeutic riding program because... well because it means asking each of our volunteers to not just shift their thinking and behavior habits, it means asking them to relinquish something that is quite familiar in order to have an opening to learn something quite unfamiliar in the horse world.

But it never means letting go of all one has learned before. It means adding something.

It is something I will continue to wonder about regarding those work roles, but I have no doubt I'll be using it more than ever before with my horses. I wish I had a webcam behind my eyes so I could share some of what I saw yesterday, and last year, and 3 years ago, and 9 years ago... It's a little humbling to admit this is nothing new, and admit how long and slow it's been for me to integrate something I value so highly! But there it is. Call me the tortoise, not the hare, when it comes to shifting well established patterns.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Quiet on the outside, quiet on the inside. Busy on the outside, sometimes quiet on the inside. That is my goal, to remain quiet on the inside regardless of what stirs around me.

Fall is here. Last week I noticed Kacee's coat is dark chestnut. Overnight she added some winter coat and shed some summer coat and she has that lovely dark shine again. Her coat changes all of a sudden like no other.

Teaching comes in blocks of seven or eight weeks of a 2 month period. So we just started the fall session which covers weeks in September and October. I am teaching more this fall as well as busy with more projects around finishing our new home.

I like the cooler weather. It is usually my favorite riding time. In my latest attempt to let my shoulder (and now hip, too) heal up well, I am avoiding some activities I most love: riding, dancing, walking around close to the therapeutic riding students while they ride.

Doing less is helping my body feel better, and quite a challenge for my mind. I've long been a person whose mind settles when the body is active. Conversely, well, you can imagine.

I get regular reports on Soli who is living with friends in Maine. They love him! He is so deserving of their attention -- that quite overrides any 'missing him' feelings that pop up. I have some trail and clinic rides coming up, and I may show up and ride without much preparation if I don't resume my mounted activities before then. I suspect riding would be less painful than ground work, but am not willing to test that theory yet.

So many great things on the horizon, so many low key life chores near by. A strange year. Unsettling owning two homes. Unsettling when I look to the political climate. Unsettling when I acknowledge I have no idea if and when I'll ever feel as carelessly mobile as I used to.

Then there is now with another breath. I have been spending more time meditating than in a long time. What else can one do when one cannot do many things?

Inspiring website to connect with: