Horsey Therapist

Monday, December 22, 2008

Abstainin' from complainin'

Even the littlest complaints bring me down. Mine as well as those of others.

But gosh it's hard to refrain from complaining at times. I've been monitoring that, watching some bubbles of discontent rise to the surface and burst, splashing all around me.

I feel better when I manage what I can manage better than I have been. What can I manage? My eating, my sleeping, my exercising... my attitude.

I specifically committed to abstain from complaining a few days ago. A good idea. It set the tone to bring mindfulness back into my day-to-day activities. Especially those activities shared with my beloved and challenging RNB. It really is about me and what I do with stress. It really is not about any person or circumstance. I am the one who can change my attitude. My attitude is not dependent on what others are doing.

Is it easy? Not for me much of the time.

Is it worth the effort? As my mother used to say, "You betcha!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Once a tank, always a tank?

Someone asked a question about a Halfinger after hearing that they are 'tanks' and because of their breeding, do not need to be sensitive.

We personally own a Haflinger, who came with some words from his former owner like "he's just like that, won't change, blah blah." Because RNB liked his "in your face" friendliness, I left him (the horse) alone and did chores around him. He was never scary to me, just a "tank" - a bulky, extremely confident presence.

The timing coincided when RNB got very busy with other things and stopped doing things with the Halfinger, and when I got more intent on having different boundaries with the herd of six here at home.

The Haflinger is very capable of responding softly, quickly, athletically. Nobody had probably ever asked him before to do more than pull in harness or carry under saddle.

That said, I do believe that -- to quote Harry Whitney -- so they are started, so they go. Which to me is the same for people as horses -- our first lessons about how things are become our foundation. Yes, we can alter things later, but under stress, we tend to resort to our foundations.

With a few horses I have met who had reputations of dragging people around in halter and lead, I try to address what I want from two places. One is to help the horse understand that I know we can do everything together without my taking the slack out of the lead or reins. That seems to establish a new pathway for understanding between us, and eliminates the push-into-pressure response.

When that is pretty reliable, I start to reintroduce pressure in order to help the horse learn new ways to reduce the pressure, instead of pushing into it, or in some cases, yanking the tools of pressure out of the human hands (picture that pony who knows exactly when and at what angle to bolt in order to get free from the lead line contact). Basically, helping the horse know how to rearrange his body so the pressure is gone.

Because it's very, very, very likely someone is someday going to carelessly apply pressure instead of connecting and guiding the horse, I hope that my efforts result in a horse who can think of a few more options beyond pulling away or pushing through.

There are so many parallels in helping a horse like this and helping a human who has learned to push and pull his/her way through life. What a delight to discover that within that "tank" lives a bright, sensitive, alert being who indeed will respond to different expectations.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm falling for her

That has several meanings.

Today it means this: in order for her to feel better in her skin, I will fall, fall, fall again.

I was walking across the paddock behind the barn this morning and slipped and fell. My sudden change of position triggered a buck and a run from Riza, the 4 yo, and a little shuffling from the two horses closest to her.

This is good to know. I sure want to help her feel better about people falling to the ground before I ever get on her!

So I practiced falling.

She got used to it pretty quickly.

I was padded by my many winter layers (just getting to about 20° at the time, was below 0° again last night) so nothing hurt.

Maybe some day I'll be practicing Aikido falls and rolls again. My body is feeling better enough that I can consider the possibility. I did practice some sword moves the other day -- breaking up kindling with an overhead swing.

I may look like an old lady, but I ain't. Only on the outside.

Monday, December 08, 2008



Coldest morning this season.

I told someone it was in the single digits.

Then I realized it was in the single digits below 0°F.

Some things are worth repeating.


Moment of gratitude for layers of cotton, silk, wool, fleece, sheepskin, down, you name it. Layers rock!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

6th Picture Challenge

Below is the 6th picture in the 6th folder in the pictures section of my hard drive. I am basing this on an idea from Behind the Bit...

Here's the picture.

Taken a few years back in the barn aisle of a farm with an indoor attached to this area of stalls. I was researching indoor arenas. I'll go another step and show pictures of the arena that is attached to this barn -- inside and outside views.

My favorite arena from those research days is one in central Maine, open on three sides. If I find pictures of that one, I'll post them. Special place!