Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wednesday, October 24

Did not get the video done, but *Red continues to show improvement. We are now up to the full ration of Nutrient Buffer.

Thursday, October 25

Got the video completed and wait until folks see the difference! Because *Red was already showing improvement before the VitaRoyal supplements arrived I cannot credit them entirely. I will say that there is a change in him, as I see a softness in his eyes that was not there before and I think that is the raised Magnesium levels. However, I believe that the acupuncture treatment and just plain old time are what has allowed him to get better. There is no doubt that this Stringhalt was brought on due to injury, as if it was toxins I doubt we would have seen such a vast improvement this quickly. Anyway, I will continue with the VitaRoyal protocol as there is no reason to stop using it. The video is at:

Friday, October 26

Today was beautiful and *Red was feeling good. The Canola Meal arrived today and I mixed together the “Hi Pro” feed of: 25 lbs of Linseed Meal, 12.5 lbs of Canola and 6.25 lbs of stabilized Rice Bran. He gets 1-1/2 lbs of this along with his oats, his EPS and Nutrient Buffer.

Saturday, October 27

Everyone is unhappy. It is a nasty rainy day, but despite the weather, *Red is looking more and more like “his old self”

Sunday, October 28

*Red seems almost normal now. This morning over our coffee Chuck and I talked about the fact that the diagnosis “Stringhalt” is used to describe the behaviours seen rather than the cause. In our experience, *Red’s Stringhalt was NOT caused by ingesting toxins in certain plants but by injury. I’m guessing that for most horses who develop Stringhalt due to injury, the ability to over come the diagnosis is much greater than those who have developed it because of ingestion of toxins. One would think that there would be separate diagnoses for separate causes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wednesday, October 17

The temperature outside this morning was 32F and *Red’s was 97.2! *Red seem slightly more irritable this morning but I figured it was the change in outside temperature. I eliminated the BOSS from his feed, but made no other changes. He is still on Bute.

Thursday, October 18

The temperature outside this morning was 41F and *Red’s was 97.6; so indeed it seems that something has caused his basal metabolic rate to lower. The thing I find odd is that typically with a lower temp and therefore a lower metabolic rate, the weight of the being will increase. *Red; however, is still as slender as he always was and still as energetic. Today I eliminated the ABC+ but will hold the rest of *Red’s feed as is until one of the ordered items arrived. So for now he is getting at each feeding: ½ pound oats, ¾ cup linseed meal, ¼ cup rice bran, 1 oz of Equi-Shine, 2000 mg Vitamin E, ¼ cup freshly ground flax, and one scoop of Uckele’s Bio-quench for the B vitamins. He is still on Bute.

We filmed him again today and he has already improved!

Friday, October 19

Food the same. *Red does not seem as agitated as before. Still on Bute through today. The supplements have not arrived. I called the feed store and the Canola Meal is still not in.

Saturday, October 20

Morning food the same, but Linsey’s package containing the Hi-Pro EPS and the Nutrient Buffer arrived. I read the directions and was glad to see that I could mix just Linseed meal and Rice Bran without the Canola meal. So I will start him on that. For his supper this evening he got ½ lb of oats, 1 lb of Linseed meal, 1/3 lb of Rice Bran, 2 scoops of the Hi-Pro EPS, and 1/3 cup Nutrient Buffer. I mixed it all with about five cups of water. He HATED it! Although the Nutrient Buffer didn’t smell to me, when I spoke with my friend Michelle, she said that it was the NB that her horse had most objected to. So in the morning I’ll give him only the EPS and see how it goes.

Sunday, October 21

Both feedings had no Nutrient Buffer in it and he slurped it right up! One thing that caused me some chagrin was that I read on the NB label that there is “preservative” in it, although it doesn’t say what preservative it is. I will have to email Linsey to find out as I do not like the idea of him consuming preservative.

Monday, October 22

Added just a dollop of the Nutrient Buffer each feeding and he ate it up. He is doing well.

Tuesday, October 23

Added about two dollops of the Nutrient Buffer today and again, he ate it. So far so good. I was able to get the two videos we have done of *Red up onto YouTube. To see what he was like on 10/10/07 go to: and for his movements eight days, on 10/18/07 go to:

We will do another video tomorrow if it isn’t raining.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Friday, October 12

Randy, from Burlington Equine, came today. He agreed on the Stringhalt diagnosis, but felt that because the onset was so very sudden that it was injury related. He felt that this was positive; that it meant *Red could be rehabilitated. He felt his spine and hips and did some small chiropractic adjustments, but nothing huge. Then he did acupuncture on *Red’s left leg. The points he stimulated were: 1. Stomach 36; 2.Gall Bladder 34;
3. Bladder 40; 4. Gall Bladder 44; and 5. Stomach 45. *Red was fine during insertion and stood there quietly for a couple of minutes. Every so often Randy would reach to one of the needles and gently twist it. Suddenly, *Red exploded into activity. He began kicking that leg and trotting around and around me. He moved so fast that I got dizzy! I had to stop and just allow him to continue circling me but transfer the lead from hand-to-hand. Just as suddenly, he stopped, and stood still with his head down, as if he were sleeping. He stood like that for almost ten minutes. Randy said that often when doing points on the extremities that the horse will behave that way, so he was not alarmed. Again, *Red exploded and this time the kicking was with both legs, he bucked, he double-barreled, and he trotted like a wild horse. This time, because I was prepared, I was able to observe him and his trot was almost perfect. The left leg moved forward, with only a slight more upward motion than usual. Again, Randy felt this was a good sign.

Randy left me with a list of things to do, and alternative treatment options if they do not work. To do is: 1) increase his Vitamin E to 5,000-7,000 IU per day; 2) increase Selenium to 1 gram per day; 3) increase Magnesium to 5 grams per day; 4) topical anti-inflammatory rubbed into gasken twice a day (like Sore-No-More, or other arnica); and 5) continue Phenylbutazone, 1 scoop, twice a day for seven days.

Treatment options are: 1) Steroids for 10 days as an anti-inflammatory; 2) Phenytoin, an anti-spasmatic drug; and 3) Surgery.

He also recommended finding out about any herbals or homeopathics that might help with inflamed nerves.

I also spoke with Kelley this evening and she recommended a few herbs: St. John’s Wort, Passion flower; Valarian. She also recommended increasing his B vitamins. She will do more research.

Saturday, October, 13

I have increase *Red’s Vitamin E to 4,000 IU per day and am also giving him a scoop of Bio-Quench because it has extra B Vitamins. I am searching for a source of them on-line. He is back on the Bute. I did place an order with GP Direct where I get my Vitamin E, for a Vitamin E/Selenium and Magnesium.

Today I noticed that *Red took off in his pasture and behaved just like he did during the acupuncture treatment. He would race around at a trot and then stop and kick and kick with both legs, although most of the time it was his left hind.

Sunday, October 14

*Red is much the same although he seems somewhat more resigned and less irritable. Guin has been massaging in the Sore-No-More twice a day. Again, he took off a couple of different times, circling the pasture and then kicking.

Monday, October 15

He is the same as yesterday. Tonight I got a call from Linsey McNeal. She had *Red’s Profile in front of her. She would like to work with me and *Red and thinks her protocol can help him.

Here is what we are to do:
Change his feed to a mixture of Linseed Meal (25#), Rice Bran (6.25#), and Canola meal (12.5#) mixed with the EPS which is a combination of vitamins and minerals. He will get 1.5# of this mixture a.m. and p.m. and I am to top dress each feeding with 1/3 cup Nutrient Buffer. I can add as much oats as it takes to get him to eat it and mix it with water to make it a “mash” type texture.

No vaccines
No Deworming
All the grass hay he’d like
Stop feeding beet pulp, black oil sunflower seeds, Cocosoya oil, alfalfa and the other supplements I already give him as she says the EPM will contain all he needs.

She also wants me to track his morning temperature for 3 days, then just once a week after that.

And she recommends getting our water tested and then filtering it. I hope to test our water, but the filtering will have to wait.

She also wants to know if he’s ever been vaccinated with the Rhino (herpes) vaccine and if he presently has little red and/or white spots inside his lips.

While I intend to try my best for this, I have to admit that there is a large part of me that is a skeptic. What bothers me most is that Linsey referred to the vitamins and other supplements as well as some of the feed stuffs as “junk” and yet I know from my experience as well as from others’ that their horses do very well on them. I know how to read labels and try always to choose those that have little fillers like wheat middlings, soy hulls, and the like. For me, don’t label something “junk” and not prove to me why you say it is so. I know that there is a lot I can still learn, but give me the tools, don’t expect to have me follow you based on your professional certification.

I especially have a very high “bovine manure” detector and all my inner bells and whistles tend to go off when someone says “Oh, buy MY things to make it all better.” If I had not heard from several other people that following Linsey’s program worked for their horse/s then I would not agree to this.

Tuesday, October 16

Well, I guess I’m on my way to becoming a believer. I took *Red’s temperature this morning at 7:30 a.m. It was 42F outside and his temperature was 98.2. Just to be sure, I took *Suncatcher’s temperature as well. He is on virtually the same diet as *Red, about the same size, but is 5 years younger. His was 99.6.

I have stopped adding the Cocosoya oil for *Red and no one is getting Alfalfa pellets anymore. I had already decided to stop adding those to the feed and increasing the Linseed Meal I already feed to balance out the protein for them. I intend to eliminate the BOSS tomorrow, then the ABC Plus on Thursday. I’ll hold all the rest of his supplements the same until Linsey’s items, and the Canola Meal are in.

Today I noticed that *Red spent some time kicking but I didn’t notice him running around like the past 3 days.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

*Red Running Star’s bout with Stringhalt

What is Stringhalt? Many folks have heard the word, but exactly what does it entail? A horse with stringhalt, when walking, will hyper-lift one or both back legs (as if to kick their belly for flies). It is as if the message from their brain to their leg/s goes into overdrive. The nerve that controls the lateral digital extensor muscle misfires and causes the exaggerated lift.

Additionally, the lift causes a shift in the normal walking cadence and although the horse eventually adapts to this, at first it is as if they need to relearn walking.

Why does Stringhalt occur? The causes are considered “unknown” although in the United Kingdom and Australia it is known that eating some plants can allow Stringhalt to develop. Here in the United States, it is most often the result of injury. Because the muscle lies on the outside of the leg, a well placed kick can cause inflammation of the nerve resulting in Stringhalt.

*Red’s Stringhalt developed on Saturday, October 6, 2007. Chuck had fed lunch hay a bit after noon and all was well. When we arrived at about 5:30 p.m. to feed supper he had Stringhalt. It had rained that afternoon and so we assumed that he had slipped. Because he was otherwise fine (ate, drank, bright eyes) we left him with his pal *Beau to see what he was like in the morning. At this time we knew little about this disability.

The next morning he was the same, so we brought him up into a stall. Kelley Robie, of Horsetail Herbs, is trained in herbalogy, energy bodywork, and is also an Animal Communicator. She has worked on *Red before and was in the area so I asked her to stop in. Kelley got that he slipped in the mud. But why would he have gone onto developing Stringhalt when another horse would not have? This was our mystery.

Sunday evening Kelley called me after reading through her herbalogy books and said that the plants that had been indicated in the UK as causing Stringhalt actually prevented the absorption of magnesium (so causing a deficiency in magnesium). She recommended getting him on more magnesium and said she would continue to research.

Monday, October 8, 2007.

I called Burlington Equine to have Dr. Randy Frantz come out. He is a vet and also is a chiropractor and acupuncturist who has worked on *Red before. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it out this way until this coming Friday, so I set-up the appointment anyway.

Then I called our local vet, Dr. Tom Stuwe. His new partner, Alyson (omgoodness I’ve forgotten her last name!). She came out and confirmed the Stringhalt. She said the best case scenario was that he would get over it and the worst was that he would need to have the tendon cut in that leg. She promised she would do some more research and get back to me. In the meanwhile, she had me start him on Phenylbutazone for three days. I told her that we would try every other means at our disposal before having him operated on because once cut, it cannot be uncut. She understood.

I have also contacted Linsey McNeal from VitaRoyal and have filled out her Horse Profile form.

This evening, Alyson called to tell me the results of her research. She confirmed what she had already told me but said that some positive results had been found by 1) using a low carbohydrate diet; 2) increasing his Vitamin E and Selenium; and 3) acupuncture. She could not find anything relating increasing Magnesium.

Tuesday, October 9-Thursday, October 11

No real change in *Red except he seems more resigned with his predicament and less angry/frustrated. His appetite remains good. Guin has taken him for short walks. On Wednesday, the 10th we did a video of him to show his movement so that we can make comparisons better. We’ll get that loaded up onto YouTube as soon as we can.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How has the summer slipped by? Well, certainly not with a sigh, but more like a great whooshing sound that a freight train might make!!

This summer has been so full of work, work, and more work. The new arena is almost done, then we just need to put up the lights and stain the outside; put in the footing, and run power outlets. We have one more summer pasture to finish and then it will be time to created the winter paddocks and shelters for them.

Add to this that we are having a medium-sized wedding here in 2 weeks, well, it has been hectic and I hope that you can forgive me for not updating the blog more often.

Sylvie, our French student left a month ago for home. While here she experienced the day-to-day running of a horse ranch, as well as having a chance to visit other horse operations. We even went on a trail ride at the Vermont Iceland Horse Farm in North Fayston It was so much fun that we hope to do it again next year! We wish Sylvie the best of luck in all her future endeavors.

Silken and Suncatcher are settling in, and I must say that Suncatcher is quite the ticket. He has a fabulous attitude and is very playful. He is also what you would call a "pocket pony", except that he is rather too large to fit there.

We have continued driving *Beau and have finally ventured outside with him. He seems to enjoy it.

*Leo has grown and is even more of a whippersnapper than young *Bill was.

All in all, as we zoom into fall, we are enjoying life. We hope you do too.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

At the beginning of July two new curly horses came to live with us; Z Silken, a lovely 8 year old smooth coated mare and *Jondra DMC Suncatcher, a sweet 4 year old gelding. Both of them came from Jondra Curly Acres in Englehart, Ontario.

Both have training and will be added to our lesson program.

I got the chance to ride Silken on Friday and I am so happy to have her. She is exquisitely sensitive (not reactive) and tries very hard to understand, and get correct, what you have asked. She truly "listens" to your seat and balance changes and a whisper is as loud as a shout to her. I suspect she will be destined for returning adults and more accomplished youngsters (but I'm guessing that she has LOADS to teach me!) I love her sweet face and her desire to be with you.

I have not gotten the chance to ride Suncatcher yet, but have worked with him using Parelli's 7 Games. What a superstar! Our French student, who is an accomplished & able equestrian, has been riding him and she says that he is well balanced at the walk and trot and goes well.

We thank Andrea for having raised these two lovely horses and having them trained so well. Thank you Andrea!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

We're hosting a clinic!

We will be hosting Bob Jeffreys and Suzanne Sheppard for their Level One clinic "Teaching Two as One" on the 19th, 20th, and 21st of October!

Check our website soon for a webpage dedicated to the clinic.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Changes are coming!

Not just the changes of the seasons, or a new foal, but changes to the entire ranch. We have joined together with Dancing Pony Farm's teacher, Stephanie Ducharme, to add a lesson program to our ranch!

We will be building a new, larger arena 72 X 150 and once it is completed we will begin converting our present arena into a stall/hay barn.

Lessons will be based on Centered Riding techniques and I am apprenticing with Stephanie. She will be moving up a level soon and by next spring I should be starting the process of gaining my Level 1 certification for Centered Riding as well.

We now have 19 horses on the ranch; nine Curlies and 10 "regular" horses. By the end of this week (July 6th) we will have added three more horses (two Curlies and one regular). The Curlies will out number the regulars!!!

The changes already accomplished have been amazing. We've added fencing into the hay field so it is now pasture; the old barn foundation is gone and the ground will be graded for two winter paddocks; landscaping is being completed with some of the boulders from the foundation, the foundation for the arena is down and the building is delivered. Wow. A lot of work, but a lot more to be completed.

In May our lead mare had her colt, *GMC Envoy's Pride, whom we call *Leo and is he ever a whippersnapper!

In June we had our French Agricultural exchange student arrive and she is just wonderful to have around.

I'll try to update the blog more often as these changes occur.

Check back soon!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

*Sage is gone. Not gone from this world, but gone from our immediate lives.

Just like little birds are fledged from the nest; like humans leave their familial homes to take the world on; so do little foals grow into big horses and need to find families of their own.

That is where *Sage has gone; to a new place, to a family who loves him, and to a little girl who wants to grow with him and share all sorts of fantastic adventures.

To them I say "Godspeed" and "Fare thee well". This is the type of adventure story books will be written about.

A friend shared an anonymous poem with me that seems most appropriate for this time:

"It came to me that every time I lose a horse, they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new horse who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be horse, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."

*Sage, from you I learned so much. I'll miss you.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

As some of you may know from our website, our 3 year old gelding sold last year to a wonderful family in Maine. *Sage is still here with us through, until springtime allows us to easily transport him home.

In the meanwhile, I am continuing to work with him. On Wednesday I had the help of my friend and trainer, Stephanie, to teach *Sage to lunge.

We used the TTEAM technique called "Homing Pigeon" but modified it so that Stephanie had a the lunge lead and I a regular one. For those unfamiliar with Homing Pigeon, it is a process whereby two people lead a horse at once. The purposes behind this are many, but primarily it is very supportive of the horse.

*Sage began with going to the right. Stephanie in the inside, giving the directions to *Sage; me on the outside to lend support to Stephanie's directions. At first, *Sage was slightly mystified. But then he learned that the wand raised meant "Walk"; a "Walk on" from Stephanie meant "go faster"; and "Easy Walk" meant to slow down. He already knows "whoa", but his thought was to turn and face Stephanie when she asked for it. That is really where my presence was important; helping him to 'whoa' and stay on the circle.

Once he seemed to get the whole concept, it was time to change his direction. We allowed him some time between though, because "dwell time" is important in any education (horse OR human).

Wow! What a different horse! Going to the left was not easy for him at all. He was highly irritated that she would occasionally tap his left hip to ask him to walk. He flipped his head and swished his tail mightily. Stephanie toned down her ask when I also noted that his nose was wrinkled and his right eye held a baleful look, lol. This helped some, but it really was hard for him to get the whole concept on this side of his body.

What a demonstration in how separate a horse's brain is. Eventually, he did walk forward easily, the whoa was never as easy as it had been in the other direction, though. When he had gotten a decent 'whoa', we stopped (always end on a good note!) and stood there talking to allow him quiet dwell time. All in all, a really good session for *Sage.

Some of you may still ask, though, "Why teach a horse to lunge at all?" Lunging, when used correctly, is a good way to teach a horse to be responsible for carrying their own body. A young horse is still learning to balance on their four legs. Youthful play in large areas with like minded companions is the first step in helping them gain expertise over their rapidly growing bodies. Then, as it comes closer to the time to teach them their job, just like P.E. in elementary school, it is time to set them tasks to help them gain further expertise. Lungeing teaches them how to accelerate and decelerate smoothly; it helps them learn balance; and it also lets them learn how to connect to a human and their voice and body suggestions. It is also a first step for ground-driving, which will allow further enhancement of that body-expertise.

Check back for a blog on teaching *Sage to ground-drive!

p.s. I learned how to be lunged very well and will not need further lessons!!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

We have had some really wonderful weather in the past week, and today is also warm, but we've added more than another foot of snow in the past few days as well. This is the time of year that folks begin talking about "cabin fever".

If you've never heard of "cabin fever" it is simply the feeling of being stuck in the house while wanting to get out and enjoy the fresh air, work in the garden, or simply take a walk without wearing about a ton of clothing.

Talking with other horse owners, I find that we rarely suffer from "cabin fever" and I believe that this is because we must be outside several hours each day no matter the weather. In fact, if anything, we yearn for time to be inside to pursue other hobbies, or just kick back and watch a favorite video.

Speaking of videos, I must mention that I recently purchased a new video produced by Denise Conroy of It will be a wonderful addition to my booth at the Everything Equine in Essex Junction, VT the end of April. Denise collected high resolution pictures and videos of Curly Horses and put them together with some great music that was synced well with the pictures. Fantastic!! It is inexpensive, with Denise only asking enough to cover the cost of the materials and postage. Check it out!

Here's hoping that if you find yourself suffering from "cabin fever" you can get out and enjoy your favorite horse!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


February 14, 2007 has gone down in history as experiencing the second largest snow storm to hit Vermont. The snow moved in after midnight on Wednesday morning and kept up until the wee hours of Thursday morning.

The problems didn't stop there, though, as we needed to dig out afterwards. Luckily, it was so cold that the snow was light and fluffy although we ended up with about 2-1/2 feet of it. Chuck shoveled pathways out to two of the paddocks and then out to the driveway, which had been plowed once on Wednesday. That just meant that the snow was only up to my knee, not mid-way up my thigh! He also shoveled from the arena out to Sage & Dude's paddock.

After feeding all the horses (Babe stayed inside today as her paddock doesn't offer a shelter from the wind), we shoveled out both vehicles. Here's a picture of what they looked like before we cleared the snow from them.

The rest of the day we simply took care of the horses as the windchill was about 15 to 20 below zero! They got plenty of hay and stayed in their shelters.

I hear that the weather in Helena, Montana is in the upper 30's and lower 40's...maybe it's time to move???

Hope you're staying warm!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

So much has happened in the last 3 weeks. First, the family was ill, including me. We are rarely that sick, so when it happens it makes us happy that we typically have good health.

Then last weekend I traveled to Arizona to visit a childhood friend of mine and her family. I had never been to Arizona previously, so besides having a wonderful time visiting with them, I also got to see a bit of the area. We visited the Arizona-Sonoma Desert Museum ( and it was so beautiful. I was fascinated with the plethora of fauna; I had never realized there was so many varieties of cacti! I truly appreciated the little plaques naming the different types. Here I am standing next to a Saguaro. This Saguaro is well over 75 years old; perhaps upwards of 150! We also visited the town of Tombstone which is known for the Bird Cage Theater, a famous honky-tonk, as well as the "Shoot out at the OK Corral".

Arriving home this past Monday, I had one day to recover and then the new mare we had purchased arrived. *UB Raggae Babe is a lovely lady and we're glad to have her. I'm looking forward to establishing a long lasting and enjoyable partnership with her.
And lastly, we are happy to announce that we have no more horses for sale! *GMC Coyote Bill has had a deposit placed on him and will become the fun partner of a wonderful local woman, Cheryl. *Bill will continue to live here with us for the next couple of years so he can grow up within a herd and have plenty of room to stretch those growing limbs before he moves to join Cheryl's other horses.
Such an active three weeks!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Having horses is not all fun. Sometimes, (thankfully only sometimes), it is scary and worrisome. For as large as horses are, they can, at times, seem to be frightfully fragile creatures. One of the most worrisome of ailments is "colic". What is that? For you non-horsie folks, it can be as simple as an upset stomach or as disasterous as a twisted bowel (aka twisted gut).

Horses have a huge digestive system, and their intestines are quite long. They also have an organ called a Cecum. This organ helps them to digest, and because of it, they actually can get a lot of nutrition even from the roughest and meanest of forages. Consequently, they also can easily get toxins as well. That is the flip-side to being good "digest-ers".

This past Friday, our littlest guy, *Bill refused to eat his evening grain. Whenever a horse refuses to eat, that sends up alarms. I took a quick listen to his gut sounds on both sides, and heard very little. This increased our alarm. In addition, he kept reaching back to touch his left side, and he wanted to lay down. All of this pointed to possible colic.

Guin ran in to get his halter and lead rope. Once on we began walking him. We would walk him four to five loops around the pasture, then stop and listen. Each time I listened, it seemed that there were more gurgles, more pops. We kept walking. We'd stop, I'd listen. Then I would lightly massage his abdomin, working from front to back. Success!! He passed manure (you're laughing, I can hear you! But this is an important thing!)

We kept walking. After *Glory had finished her evening grain, she came down to the bottom of the pasture and starting eating hay. As we would pass, she would nicker encouragement. Sometimes we would stop by her and see if he was interested in milk. Nope, not yet. More walking, more listening, more massaging. GAS!! Yippee! (You're laughing again!)

More walking. Manure!! Yahoo! Then Chuck got home and came right down to help walk him. I ran up to get the thermometer, timer, and flashlight (why do horses wait for the dark to get sick?). Back down and I listen...yep, lots more gut sounds....take tempature (100.8~good that's normal)....check capillary action in his gum tissue (wow, fast refill and pink gums).

"What's that *Bill? You want milk?"

Wahoooooooo. All is now well.

Had *Bill not passed manure, had he not begun to perk up so fast, then we would have placed a call to the vet. Colic is a very serious ailment for a horse. All it takes is good observation and knowing your horses to spot when something isn't quite right with one of them. Thankfully, Guin was the quick observer this time, and we were able to set him right pretty quickly.

Thanks, Guin.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

This weekend I attended a Centered Riding clinic. For those unfamiliar with Centered Riding, this is a style that helps you gain a more balanced seat and reach a better partnership with your horse. It will help you with all disciplines. Below you will find reports from each day of the clinic.

Friday Night:

Tonight was mostly a get to know you session. We talked about our horse experience, our fears (if we have them), injuries, and our desires.

Then we did a breathing exercise.

Breathing properly is integral to Centered Riding (CR). So it was in through the nose and deep into our center (lower abdomen); out through the mouth but allowing the breath to go down our backs and into our seatbones and tail bone. Allowing that section to get more connected to the earth and more centered.


This morning we spent exploring the four aspects to Centered Riding.

Breathing, Soft eyes, Centering and the "building blocks" (ears, shoulders, hips, heels in a line). By teaching these things through exercises it is hoped it will allow us to translate them onto the horse.

I think a lot of this is rather self-evident, but it still gave time for self-reflection and getting more in-tune with my body. The one thing I noticed was that of the four, the one that allowed me the most relaxation was the soft eyes and not the breathing.

The afternoon was divided into 4 different riding groups and I got to be in the first one. During our hour to hour and a half time, we took those four components and practiced them on horse back, really feeling the movement of the horse and allowing our bodies to get into their rhythm. At that point the instructor began having us work to influence the horse, using tension, balance and movement of our centers. Because I am used to feeling my body, in many ways it came more easily than I thought it would. And of course, I have had wonderful instruction in this from Stephanie.

Again, I found that focusing on my breathing did not relax me the way I had assumed it might, BUT the soft eyes did! I was amazed at how soft I got, and therefore how soft Tapestry got, simply because I went all soft eyed. This cycle of soft eyes, relaxation of me, relaxation of Tapestry allowed me to be more in tune with her and it became a real cycle. Definitely a case of self-fulfilling prophecy!

The one thing I had more trouble with was the way they wanted me to whoa. The day before I had worked with Marcy with whoa-ing Beau and it is quite easy. Exhale, soft seat, bring shoulders slightly up and then back and down, which aligns my elbows with my hips. This causes a very slight tension in the reins, but not a pull. He stops and I release quickly. When I whoa-d that way today, I got strong correction! "No pulling" I was told. "Heavy elbows, light wrists, lift your hands UP!" I will say that Marcy cautioned me about letting my hands sag downward in a whoa, but they really wanted my hands to go UP. At one point my arms were almost straight up to get Tap to stop. This was confusing to her, and to me. Because I am not 100% sure that this was really what they wanted (it could have been an exaggeration to make me more aware of keeping my wrists from sagging), I will be interested to see what it is like tomorrow.

However, all in all, I feel that I came away with great inner leg connection to the horse and more relaxation.


As with yesterday, we began the day on the ground. After going over what we had learned and listening to questions/observations/thoughts etc. we did a couple of exercises to help us become more body aware and learn to connect to another being.

The first was called "dolls" and one of us stood, centered, closed our eyes and relaxed; they were the 'doll'. The other person was the positioner and, once they were centered, would begin to move the 'doll' while still maintain her center and balance. As with other exercises I found that our breathing synchronized. Being moved was interesting because you were giving control of your body up to, and trusting in, someone else. Being the mover was realizing how much the 'doll' needed to trust you. With both, it felt like a dance.

The next exercise I had done before and it was where one person was the "horse" and held the bit in their mouth (hands), while the other rode. Because of my previous experience it did not bring total revelations to me unlike it did for my partner. She hadn't experienced this exercise and was really amazed at how it felt. I feel it is a wonderful refresher anyway, and for those who have never done it, definitely worth a try. It simply makes you more conscious of how that bit feels in your horse's mouth and why balancing on your hands in NOT a good thing.

After lunch break we went to the arena and did one more exercise. Here we paired with the partner from one of yesterday's exercise. This time, one of us was behind the other's back and placed our hands under their elbows. For the first part we were simply to guide this "horse" centering allowed. Then we were to center ourselves and mindfully plan where we were going. Again, once synchronized, it felt like a dance. Definitely something to strive for with your horse partner.

Then we went onto riding. Today was not as easy for me as yesterday as I got to ride a different horse (who's name happens to be Beau, but not *my* Beau). This horse was not a subtle horse, and for the hour or so I was on his back, I was not going to be able to soften him or cause him to become subtle. Everything I did had to be done, not just decisively, but strongly and with HUGE energy (for me) behind it. This made it difficult because I have always striven for softness and "less is more" with my own horses.

Anyway, we practiced the exercises from yesterday and then we began to work more with speeding up the horse by knowing when he was stepping under himself with his inside leg and applying more of our own inside leg to get him to stretch his stride. Then we shortened the stride by stepping into our inside stirrup, which necessitates our inside seat bone to become heavier. This was *particularly* hard for me. I was pushing down with my seat bone so hard that I was in danger of off balancing myself. Finally he responded! Phew!

Next we worked with direct and indirect reins...steering our horses off the wall and back to it by using our seatbones, and the direct/indirect reins. This led up to our turning the horse completely around using an indirect rein and our focus (and therefore seatbone and leg).

So, I did learn some useful techniques that I can carry with me even if it was slightly frustrating to use a horse that was a bit deadened to all but the deepest of connection.