Saturday, December 30, 2006

With the rush of the holidays passed, I can once again keep my blog more active. I hope that all of you who read this had a joyous time with your family and friends, no matter which holiday in December that you celebrate.

This fall, and now, winter has been about change for me. It is time to put "Adria" first in many ways. Guin will be 17 in the spring and she no longer needs me as much, so I can begin to form my 'own' life after spending the past 26 years being a mom.

To that end I have begun taking lessons again. Not just riding lessons, which are wonderful, but also driving lessons. And I am having a blast!

Driving a horse might, at first blush, seem less intimate a relationship compared to riding one. After all, the only connection you have with the horse that you are driving is through the reins and bit. But let me assure you that this connection is an intense one, and the feedback...the communication...that occurs from horse to driver and back again, through those reins is deep, committed, and fabulous.

Marcy Baer, of Briar Hill Farms, is my instructor, and I could not possibly ask for one that is better, or more committed to having me get the most out of my lessons. She teaches more than skill, but enjoyment as well, which makes it all worth it to my way of thinking. You can read/learn more about her at her website: I will be forever indebted to her for sharing her love and skills with me. I also am thankful to Susan Cook, who's horse, Bryhyl Aryel, I get to drive. Aryel is also a wonderful teacher.

Yesterday, during my lesson, Marcy shared with me the three things one needs in working with a horse: relaxation, rhythm, and contact. Once all of these are achieved well, the lesson, for both horse and rider/driver goes well. It was interesting to note that as I worked on achieving these with Aryel, I also worked on achieving these within myself. The more relaxed I became, the more relaxed Ayrel became; the better my focus on her rhythm, the more I could set my body within Ayrel's rhythm; the more secure, yet soft, my connection through the reins, the better the communication became.

All of this led to a state that, for me, was akin to Nirvana. A oneness with Ayrel whereby the slightest move of my hand, contraction of my arm muscle, or even a turn of my torso caused a response in her direction. My breathing deepened, and I felt truly connected to her, as if we were one being traveling together through the sand of the arena, negotiating the cones.

At the end of the lesson, Marcy pointed out to me that Ayrel had created that foam around the bit, that indicated she too had received pleasure from our interaction. A horse who is relaxed and bent properly at the pole, will salivate and create foam around the bit. Only a horse who is in a "zen" state during that time will create the foam. It seems I am making progress in my driving, afterall.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

This time of year is so busy! Yet, because of the horses, one is forced to slow down and set priorties. These lovely beings that share their lives with us are dependent on us for food and water, and a clean place to live.

So, each day, one of us (usually me) must take the time to clean their paddocks, refill the water vats, and bring up the hay that is needed for the day. Since it has been so unusually warm the horses have not been eating the same amount of hay as they had last year at this time. But still, eat they must.

Then there is the twice a day graining. I pay especial attention to what my horses eat, and try to do what is best for them. Presently all the horses get a 2:1 oats to alfalfa pellet mix, BOSS, a vitamin/mineral mix based on our hay mix, flax seed, Apple Cider Vinegar, and 2 drops of Iodine. Vermont is known to be iodine poor in our soil, so I opted to give the horses just a little extra.

They get more grain in the winter time than in the summer when they are out on pasture. Truly forage is the basic component of all they need, and I like knowing that they are getting good forage from our land here.

After chores, I try to work with one horse each day, though I hope to increase that to two each day after the holidays. I have been exposing them all to the "thinking" exercises I've learned through the weekly TEAM workshop, and I will also soon begin teaching the youngest about climbing into the trailer.

If this isn't enough to keep me busy, add in housework, web site maitenance, and 2 lessons per week. I lead a busy life. It is hard to change routines and take the time to bake, cook, shop, and decorate.

Yet, I love this time of year. For me it is not only a time of reflection on what has been, and planning ahead to what is hoped to be, but a time to celebrate the return of the sun.

My wish for all of you is that the return of the sun brings great light into your lives!

Happy Winter Solistice!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

As the year draws to an end, it is a good time to think about what has been accomplished and what your goals for the future are. To that end I thought an update would be great and I hope it interests you. If not, feel free to delete!

This year we participated in the Everything Equine in April. Although we didn't take horses this time, the booth was a success with lots of visitors and so many asked "Do you have a Curly here?" To them I said, "Put a suggestion in!" That was the EE's third year and it has grown each year. I understand that there are plans for improvement for next April and we already have our booth there (more about this below)

We hosted a small, but successful, The Equine Touch workshop in May and it was wonderful to learn of yet another way to help our beloved 4 legged friends feel good in their bodies.

In July we welcomed *GMC Coyote Bill and he has been a great addition to the farm. He is highly personable and always comes up to meet new folks. Not shy, that one! Yep, he's for sale (shameless plug). (Here's a picture of him from our Christmas photo shoot...unretouched)

Since October I have stepped up my horse work. I am taking lessons twice a week (one riding, one driving); participate in a Friday evening workshop learning TEAM concepts which I am then using with each of our horses; I am swapping time with the leader of the workshop also in that she comes and helps me with my youngsters and I help her with hers. This is loads of fun for both of us!

*GMC Jimmy Dee (aka Sage) has sold to a wonderful new family and he will go to his new home in Maine next spring.

And last, but not least at all, *Beau is living at our trainer's farm, Briar Hill, just 10 minutes away, where he is receiving instruction in riding and driving. To that end Marcy has offered to ride him for me in the Everything Equine show, should we get a slot, and my other trainer, Stephanie has offered to show him for me next show season in Dressage and English Pleasure. I am excited by this prospect.

This jumps us into our plans for next year, which do center around *Beau a lot. We have the EE in April and shows from then through September. Additionally, I hope to get a space in the HUGE Champlain Valley Fair over the Labor Day period. I will continue working with each of our horses and we hope to be able to take *Glory to Marcy's next year to be re-started for driving. She is an awesome mare, but we have pretty much decided that her days of becoming a mom are done, it is time for her to begin another job and we feel driving a cart/sleigh is a great one for her. We'll see! Additionally, I have accepted the challenge from Denise Conroy (, to ride/drive *Beau for 100-150 miles per month, for a consecutive 3 months, barefoot...with before and after shots of his feet, to see if a Curly "can do" barefoot as it is touted they can do!

We, at Green Mountain Curlies, Inc, wish you all a safe and joyous Winter season and a fabulous New Year!