Frozen – Horse Whispering

By: Deb Kitchenmaster
UFFDA! Uffda is a Norwegian slang word expressing surprise. (Note: I did not learn this word from President Trump). What a surprise!–the drop in temperature, and having our fields covered in white–and it’s not cotton. I want to talk to you about the needs of your horse in these cold temps.

To ease the transition into winter, horses should be properly de-wormed (i.e. based on fecal analysis and in good body condition). Check out www.corralconnections.com, and you will see on the right hand side of the page, “Natural Solutions” for people, pets, and horses. When you click on it, it will take you to Dr. Dan Moore, DVM. Under “Horses” you will see WORM CHECK EXAM for $12.00. All the information is there explaining how much fecal matter to collect and the address of the lab to send it to. This clinic has been wonderful to work with. The results will be emailed to you. At this point you will know if your horse needs to be wormed or not. Dr. Dan has WORM CHECK, an all natural herbal paste formula that can be used on any horse, any age. I want to encourage you not to de-worm a horse if the horse doesn’t need it, but be sure to de-worm when necessary. When we get into the mind-set of worming every 3 to 4 months as a routine or habit, we could be missing one important factor — the individual horse itself.

Horses, given the opportunity to acclimate to cold temperatures, often prefer and are better off being outdoors. Winter feed (hay and grain) contain less that 15% moisture, compared to pasture grazing which is between 60% and 80% moisture; therefore, water consumption is vital. A thousand pound horse requires a minimum of 10 to 12 gallons of water each day. During winter months water should be kept between 45? to 65? F. Adult horses should consume one to two ounces of salt per day. Consider feeding loose salt instead of block salt, as horses may not want to lick cold salt blocks during winter months. A couple of complications from inadequate water consumption during cold weather are (a) decreased feed intake, and (b) impaction colic. Horses will consume less feed if not drinking enough water, and less energy creates challenges for horses in cold temperatures. Energy needs for a horse at maintenance increase about 1% for each degree below 18? F. If the temperature is 0? F, a 1000 pound idle, adult horse would need approximately 2 additional pounds of forage daily. It is in the horse’s best interest to provide extra forage rather than increase grain. More heat is produced from the microbial fermentation of forage. Fecal contents must maintain adequate moisture levels in order to be healthy. A horse will not develop impaction in one day, but will after several days or weeks of inadequate water consumption.

Your horse’s hooves generally grow more slowly in the winter. However, your horse should be trimmed every 6 to 12 weeks. Our farrier comes every 8 weeks for our horses, and was just here. Two horses needed all four hooves trimmed, one did not need any trimming at all, and the other two horses needed only their front hooves trimmed. The trimming or the shoeing depends on each horse and the amount of hoof they grow. You are blessed when you have a farrier that will serve each horse at their point of need, and I am so grateful our horses have the farrier we have to care for them. Just like a chiropractor can either help you or hurt you, so it is with the farrier you have for your horse.

Wrapping this up in a warm insulated blanket…during winter months…

  • De-worm your horse based on fecal analysis
  • Provide plenty of clean warmed water (45? to 65? F)
  • Feed additional hay during extreme cold
  • Feed loose salt every day
  • Hoof care every six to twelve weeks

May the crunching sound your horse makes as he enjoys the forage you have placed before him warm your heart, fingers and toes.

By: Deb Kitchenmaster
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and wondered what zone they live in? You know, it’s like what are we talking about here? They tend to speak a language that creates confusing pictures in your mind as you listen. There are also people whose language is more like an artist with a paintbrush in their hand as they stoke each sentence with heartfelt conversation. You sense something INSIDE — a ‘new,’ ‘fresh’ kind of language.

I’m laughing as I remember a conversation I had with my daughter back in the day. She looks at me and asks, “Mom, do we always have to have intense (deep) conversations? I mean, do you think maybe we could just talk about the weather sometime?” Seriously, that NEVER occurred to me. I did GET the message and I heard her loud and clear. The rest of the story is, I took her advice to heart. The next time we had a mother/daughter connection, I made a sincere effort and talked about the weather. Basically, she started laughing halfway through my sincere weather reporting, and told me how lousy I was on this level of communication. You know what? She’s absolutely right! We had a great laugh!
As you interact with your horse, you will engage with leadership, language, and love; hopefully in equal doses. Language is important on so many levels.

Let’s talk about our souls. Our soul is located midpoint between spirit and matter, somewhat like a rainbow bridging earth and sky. Soul is a different reality than body. It is eternal. It hears with eternal ears, sees with eternal eyes, and smells with eternal nose. Its presence resonates with that “other dimension.” It has NO language. Therefore, it speaks in imagery – the only way it can communicate eternal truths to beings that are both eternal and temporal. “Matter” is not seen merely with the natural eye, but is perceived with the inner eye. Voilà! When matter is perceived, the soul has created an image. Perception requires imagination, creativity, and reflection.

Now, let’s saddle up and go on a little trail ride with Aristotle. “And of course the brain is not responsible for any of the sensations at all. The correct view is that the seat and the source of sensation is the region of the heart.” The words “heart” and “soul” are interchangeable. There is a danger in becoming too brain-focused when looking at horse/human relationships. We need to be more aware of the heart’s intelligence. We more-than-likely will find ourselves “stuck” in going forward with our horse if we are singly analytical. We need to invite our soul to meet their spirit.



HORSE AND SOUL #1
– A twelve-year-old girl sends a card expressing her experience with the horses … “Keep listening with your heart/soul, not just your ears, because horses gave me that advice to pass on to others.”

HORSE AND SOUL #2
– A teenager who is in weekly professional counseling tells her friend (Lucy) who asked, “How’s it going?” that all is going well. “I just tell them what they want to hear, get up, and walk out the door after I have had the required time with my counselor.” Lucy, who has been spending time with horses, responds by saying, “Oh, my horse would never let me get by with that! My horse knows exactly where I am and she holds me accountable. My horse knows when I’m real and when I’m not. She doesn’t let me get away with anything!” Note to teens: You may be able to fool a human, but you will not fool a horse.

HORSE AND SOUL #3 – I asked, “Does this horse speak to you?” “Yes,” she responded. “How do you know this horse is speaking to you?” I asked. “HERE,” she answered, thumping her stomach area gently. “I feel it here.” Curious, I asked, “What is that place where you hear the horse speaking to you?” She tenderly said, “It’s my soul; my heart.”

And the HORSE AND SOUL stories continue.
Note to self: “The best way to relate to a horse is to have the courage to follow your heart.”
MERRY CHRISTMAS ya’ll!
Your “NEIGH”bor
By: Deb Kitchenmaster

By: Deb Kitchenmaster
“We cannot solve the problems that we have created with the same thinking that created them.” Albert Einstein

The year 2017 has been an unusual, out of the ordinary year for us here at Corral Connections. It’s not good or bad, simply different. People have cleared their calendars and made appointments to come from their home to ours, connect with a horse that brings them “home on the inside,” and return to their physical homes. What a blessed happening to eye witness!

One of my favorite photos is the picture of mare, Arianna, standing by a bridge with our home in the backdrop. The caption I created depicting this picture is, “A horse can be a bridge that leads us home.”

Horses can only teach those who acknowledge the fact that they have something worth teaching, and those who are willing to learn. Even taking a tiny step forward will bring a reward.

What supports the idea that a horse can bring us home on the inside? What does “home” refer too? I call this “wings” and “roots.” Horses carry us places (wings). This can be literally or spiritually. The literal is to a specific location/place/site.

Spiritually, the horse transports us to a place of sanctuary, an inner harmony for the soul (core/roots/home). The valuable lessons taught by horses help us discover the meaning of life and our place in the world.

Because horses are non-judgmental, this allows us to receive feedback from them about our shortcomings, or need to change an unhealthy mind-set willingly.

Taken from individuals who have given me permission to share, here are their “wings” and “roots” encounters:

  • “Wings” – My horse taught me to be patient and calm.
  • “Roots” – I discovered inner beauty, courage and strength. Most of all, not to lose sight of myself.
  • “Wings” – My horse taught me about freedom. I can’t explain it…it’s simply a well-being sensation of freedom. “Roots” – and freedom is about knowing who I am!
  • “Wings” – My horse mirrored my life of fear and how fear/intimidation was controlling my life.
  • “Roots” – Experiencing showing up without being harmed, caused me to return to being present, by connecting inside (core, soul, and home). OH! Such respect the horse gave me. Not chaos. Not confusion. Respect. I will NEVER be the same!
  • “Wings” – My horse taught me that ‘resistance’ is not always a negative thing in my life.
  • “Roots” – Since I have returned to my career, my moments with my horse keep on showing up for me at my workplace. ‘Not responding, but simply to stand, is a beautiful quality to have in my life at this time.’ This single lesson from my horse has caused me to enter into rest for my soul that usually held the pressure of ‘demands.’ From rest I respond, not demands.

These ‘corral connections’ (most of them) happened in a sixty-foot ‘round pen.’ Each handler had a halter and a lead rope on their horse. I was in the ‘round pen’ with them. I would point out their body language. I would shine a ‘spotlight’ on what their horse was mirroring. One of my most celebrated moments is when a handler does NOT blame or shame themselves by voicing the question, “What am I doing wrong? But rather, “Hum, isn’t this interesting? What am I to learn?”

Because when a moment with your horse is interesting to you, you enter resting! I’ve seen it again and again. Such JOY!

Horses teach us about their skill of ‘being in the moment’ and ‘having presence of mind.’ Engage. Engage. Engage. Show up. Show up. Show up. Stay focused and calm.

All cells “listen” to whispers in their environment, including heart vibrations. I am currently studying some research on this. I will share more about this later. Each of us has around two trillion cells in our bodies. Cells carry frequencies. These frequencies will affect others that we come into contact with, especially horses.

Let the horse be your wings to carry you into places where you become rooted in your soul and ENJOY the fruit that will grow on your branches.
Your “NEIGH-bor”

By: Deb Kitchenmaster
I chuckled as I read about a Harvard-trained brain surgeon and his relationship with horses. What a paradigm! Whereas, a brain surgeon operates on the brain, a connecting relationship with a horse has the potential of rewiring the brain.
How is that? When a master predator and an ultimate prey animal “scalpels” by cutting through judgments, traumas, and toxic mind-sets to the center of understanding the flow of vital energy, intention, and focus, the gate of an inside arena opens and welcomes you! Should you choose to step through the open gate, you simply say “YES” to a continuous lesson of awakening sensitivity and leadership.

Let me give you an example. When I approached one of our mares the other day, I literally ‘sank’ on the inside. I connected with low energy, sadness, and a sensation of being overwhelmed. Sensitivity led me to pause and observe. I noticed the other mare in her paddock was dominant in a subtle way. These two have shared a paddock area for weeks. However, this day, the white blazed Morgan mare needed a break! We spent the next hour together and what a connection we had. I continue to reflect upon that moment, and it was beautiful. This horse needed a “Debbie connection” and I equally needed one with her! I want to point out here, I had the time to give to her that day. If my schedule was penciled in with timelines and deadlines, I would have chosen another solution, such as put her with another horse or give her area to herself. The difference between being merely attached to your horse and being connected to your horse is your state of mind.

Here’s a fun eye-opener exercise in understanding the energy of your presence and focus. Go out with a halter and lead rope to a pasture with horses. Find a spot like a nice tree where you can safely sit down and relax. Curiosity will be the look on the horses’ faces as you sit down. This is “unusual” behavior in their minds. Most horses have never experienced a human coming into their pasture without wanting something from them. When the horses have returned to grazing, randomly pick out one horse from the herd. Get up and start walking toward him. Picture you catching, connecting, and haltering that one particular horse. Once you have made a decision on which horse it is, don’t change your mind. Stay focused on your horse. Keep walking straight toward him. Observe what happens! The horses you are not focused on will let you walk around them as they are grazing. However, the one you intend to halter may start to pick up his head and possibly move off. What did the selected horse sense that the others did not? This horse is aware of the intensity of energy toward him. Simply making a selection in your mind creates a change in your energy that is easily perceived by the horse, even across an entire pasture. What about miles?

When we moved to the South we lived in town and leased pasture several miles east of Huntsville. I had met a man from Canada who heard about my connection with horses, and he scheduled a session. When I drove out to the barn for that session, one of the six horses was standing at the gate waiting for me! She KNEW she was the ONE for this person. What got my attention big time was this particular mare loved pasture time. Here she was waiting! Harvey remembers this round pen session like it was yesterday. Abba Father and mare Annie tattooed Harvey’s heart with a NOW moment in permanent ink.

Whether you are reading this article because you are a horse lover, a horse owner or simply reading because you are holding Athens Now in your hands, I want to encourage y’all to go ahead and get the scalpel out. Be willing to cut between cognitive mindsets and the possibility of an intuitive lifestyle. We find comfort in holding a compass in our hands as we journey on. We want a map to reassure us where we are on our journey. Horses simply have faith. Whether walking in darkness, fog, storms, or carrying a confused human asking, “Where are we?” – to find the trail that leads us safely home. Horses have a way, as we connect with them, to return us home to our author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Himself.

By: Deb Kitchenmaster
Having ‘writers block’ is not fun when you have an article to write! Thankfully, I am surrounded by caring, understanding, encouraging people. Stillness became my friend as I opened to the block in my heart, tuning into the Discovery Channel inside.
On September 3, a vehicle driven by our Minnesota friends of thirty years, pulled onto our yard. The last time they had paid us a visit was in April of 2011, when the tornadoes were touching down all over Alabama. One of the conversations prior to their coming this year was about the horses. In fact, I was told that it will be nice simply to have a cup of coffee together; HOWEVER, there was something about the horses! I NEED to spend time with the horses.

Herein is my challenge. Will I have the courage to declare publicly in writing the powerful creatures horses are? These four-legged animals that are capable of teaching their human caretakers a thing or two. Horses help people. Horses teach life lessons. Will I be brave enough to be a voice that recognizes horses have the potential to reinvigorate the very heart and soul of humanity?

Every horse is a teacher and a healer, and when we are in the presence of a horse, what the horse offers is what we need at the time. My Minnesota friend’s work with her horse, Praise, was a unique and life-enhancing experience. Without the support of the horse, life can lose direction and be empty for a great many people. It was brought to my attention while I was in the round pen, with friend and horse, that there is no end to what the horse is capable of activating. Through horse care and understanding, we can learn self-care and people care. My friend has worked over twenty-five years in the activity department of a nursing home — loving on people, singing hymns and teaching grace-filled Bible studies to the elderly. Somehow Praise knew this. And in one of many spectacular moments, horse blessed friend with a highlight of her journey when the horse spoke to the human’s heart…..”Know who you are and be who you are.” What a gift!

C.S. Lewis’ book THE HORSE AND HIS BOY was a delightful read for me. Horses from Narnia talked to humans. Imagine that! I would like to say, horses from Corral Connections talk to humans, also. There was this moment when horse was teaching human at a core level. All the horses were at an absolute pause until human ‘got it.’ Being sensitive and quite conscious, my friend was aware of the other horses. She said, “Deb, all the other horses stood still, watching, looking, and waiting for me to receive from Praise what she was offering me. When I did, they went about their own business. Each horse knows they are a therapy horse.” This is not the first time I have heard this. I smiled and nodded. WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER! Truly we are.

There was no riding on a back of a horse. There was riding between understanding and consciousness. There was no kick to go and pull to whoa. There was come close and back away. There were three specific times the horse licked, chewed, rolled eyes, stuck out tongue when the human used her voice in stating a truth she has ownership of inside. There was a moment when horse had one big tear drop fall from her right eye. Two days before getting on the road to come to Alabama, my friend stood by a casket saying, “Good-bye,” to her sister. Praise was aware of that. Horses are all about energy. When we ignore energy, we miss 99 percent of reality.

I received the promised call when they returned to their home safely. In this conversation I was told that the t-shirt she was wearing with Miss Praise was not going to be washed in the laundry for awhile. She held it close and took a deep sniff. Praise! She smiled, she cried, she thanked, she honored, she was filled with gratitude for a beautiful life changing experience.

“Imagine what a wonderful world it would be if all humans listened to the guidance and wisdom on offer from the horse.”

By: Deb Kitcnenmaster
Preparation for a 9,000 mile tour was underway. Map, dates, specific connections were being made as a dear friend, Brian, who I met twenty-seven years ago and haven’t seen for 25 of those years, was getting ready to leave Canada and come to the United States. He was going to be involved in an event known as the Awaken Life Tour, 2017. Brian attended Christ for the Nations in Dallas, Texas, the same year my daughter was a student; that’s how we met. Interestingly enough, he is a rapper! Last year he was recording another album and one of the raps brought me to his heart. Silence was broken and a simple phone call reconnected us.

As perfect, unfailing love was tapping out unforced rhythms for each mile of this tour, our presence, our home, and our horses became part of the preparedness. What a joy and a delight to see Brain again, and meet his wife and two beautiful daughters! Their first visit was after they left Arkansas, and their second visit was when they returned from Florida. Each time we enjoyed horse activities.

The youngest daughter is a confident, enthusiastic horse lover with some understanding and limited experience with horses. Groundwork was a new experience and reading a horse’s body language was an entirely novel way of connecting with a horse for this young lover of horses. What was interesting to witness was the outgoing, almost demanding personality of this nine-year-old become respectful once she was in the round pen with her horse. She became attentive and willing to receive feedback from her horse. Confidence is being willing to try, becoming sure of what you’re doing, learning from mistakes, and functioning with an absence of fear. When confidence grows after showing up again and again, being with your horse, demanding is replaced with leading. It’s a process.

As you can imagine, the preparation that was required to tour 9,000 miles took time, focus, and communication. It’s very much like the preparation that takes place when you connect a human with a horse. When you’re traveling that distance, you want to set yourself up for success. Check tires, oil, fluids in your motor home; clothing; food; and water for the journey. When connecting with a horse, you want to set your horse and yourself up for success by doing the following three things:

  • Learn how to read your horse properly. It is here I will talk about the horse’s ears, swishing of the tail, the eyes, head set; things like that.
  • Know how to respond to your horse. Is my horse scared or defiant? Do I smack or do I rub? Am I to be firm or friendly?
  • Utilize equine psychology, as it is an important tool. Simply put, is my horse responding to me because I am making him or because the horse wants to?

What about you? Do you realize there is a preparation involved in learning? Ninety percent of people quit their goals before ever achieving them because of not liking what they “feel.” Many people “want it” but few people “get it.” It’s not about them or the program, it’s a lack of understanding how we learn. We ALL have a comfort zone. It’s a zone where we feel normal and neutral because there aren’t any challenges and we are comfortable. However, all learning occurs outside this zone. It’s my responsibility to step outside my comfort zone, and when I do, to pay attention to what I’m feeling.

Two magnificent opportunities open wide to me when I choose to do so. I become aware when I have a physical sensation of discomfort, which is accompanied by internal rumination. I have to ask myself, “What am I doing?” or, “Am I having a headache, a tummy ache, difficulty focusing; is my heart racing or my palms sweating?” And isn’t it amazing that out of all the names Abba Father could give for the Holy Spirit, it is The Comforter! Almighty God knew we would be uncomfortable in our lives and Comforter would simply make sense. What a great opportunity to build an enjoyable relationship with the Holy Spirit; the exact same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.

Go ahead, receive comfort from the Holy Spirit as you step out of your comfort zone onto the edge of learning. Once you get there, feel the sensation and stay long enough to give your brain and your body a chance to occupy this new position. Discomfort can change in one of three ways: 1. It can be neutralized, with the result being a sense of well-being. 2. It can be changed to a completely different emotion. Fear/anxiety can become confidence/courage. 3. It can stay, but not control us. An example would be public speaking, which brings discomfort right up to approaching the microphone. We learn to cope with it and do it anyway!

It all comes down to using a lot of Preparation “H,” and “H” stands for horses!

By: Deb Kitchenmaster
Have you heard of “BOB” who was inducted into the Iowa baseball hall of fame as a “player of baseball” on the thirteenth of May 2017? That would be my brother, Bob Williams, from Newton, Iowa. Have you heard of Bob the Builder – the animated show where Bob is a building contractor? Bob the Builder specializes in masonry, along with his colleague, Wendy, and various “NEIGH”bors, and friends.

Yes! I’m a sister AND I do hang out with our future generation from time to time. Baseball requires practice, more practice, keep practicing; show up, be on time, focus, rhythm, and teamwork. Building requires counting the cost, blueprint, materials, a plan, strategy, timing, vision, intention and connections. The foundation you lay is extremely important because this is the space on which you build and play!

“B” – Build. Please join me in the horse corral. Let’s start with “warm up.” This would be the space and time that you are engaging in groundwork activities with your horse. Warm up is a strong foundational block for setting your horse up for success. Warm ups could include playing games with your horse or starting with a simple pattern of a figure “8.” Your intention is to BUILD confidence in your horse so that it becomes a part of your horse’s character. For example, when a horse puts their ears back they are unsure. It’s in those times you don’t want to push him. Just back off a little bit and come back to it. You are more aware of the horse than the exercise. You want to be clear with your horse but HOW you ASK him is really important when your intention is to BUILD. Be very clear what warm up is and what advancement is. If I’m going to advance a horse’s riding, my warm up is just about warm up. I’m simply warming my horse up for when I saddle up and ride. If I’m wanting to do something more progressive on the ground, then my ride will be quite casual. Bottom line, if it’s intense on the ground, it’s going to be casual and relaxing on the horse’s back. If it’s casual and relaxing on the ground, then it’s going to be more intense on the horse’s back. You know your warm up is successful when you can say YES to these 3 questions. Is my horse calm? Is my horse connected? Is my horse responsive? Once I get all three, I’m done and it’s time to ride.

“U” – Unity; in order for us to have TRUE UNITY it is important we learn how to satisfy our horse’s needs. The TWO most sensitive places on a horse are their mouth and where the apples come out (their blind spot). Have you heard or even said, ‘This horse has a hard mouth.”? No such thing. There are horses with dull minds because the rider is continually in their mouth. The horse NEEDS to experience that when you pick up the reins, your hands will be light, polite and respectful. There are exercises you the rider can do to disconnect your hands from your body when you ride (Positional awareness of your elbows). There’s nothing you can’t do when you and your horse are one. It’s like ballroom dancing. You and your horse are a unit. The only letter missing from unit to make unity is the ‘y.’

“I” – In, it’s an inside thing. You can sit at a piano but the music comes from INSIDE. You can sit on the back of a horse but the riding comes from INSIDE. The eye of your understanding is INSIDE.

“L” – Linguistics is the origin of language. The difference between “soda,” “pop,” and “cola” is language. When I say “WHOA” to a horse it means ALL four feet stop and stand still even if it’s just for a moment. It does NOT mean slow down; it means STOP.
EVERYTME. Consistency of language between you (leader) and your horse (follower) is possibly the most efficient building tool.

“D” – Diversity is variety, range and mixture. Each breed of horse has its strengths and weaknesses. Some horses are introverts, extroverts, right brain, left brain. KNOW your horse and BUILD.

God describes YOU as His faithful or goodly horse in battle. A scripture to support this statement is found in the Old Testament in Zechariah 10:3-5.

I met a couple in Arizona who raise race horses. They do NOT bronc ride these horses in the way you see in rodeos. Their hands are the gentle tools that take the young horses (filly/female or colt/male) one step at a time — building confidence, not breaking their spirits. The halter training of young stock is interesting. They put a halter on the filly or colt and hook it to a mule. It’s not long until the filly or colt learns to submit to that mule. Please note: it requires both of them to submit to each other, since each has a mind of its own. In a short amount of time, however, the mule learns to take advantage of the young horse. He learns that if he will hold his head just right, the youngster cannot get up once it lies down. The mule seems to enjoy this superiority, and holds the youngster down at his will.

The time comes to move on from the mule connection. The initial halter training is over and it’s time to go further — to be the race horse it was bred to be. I must point out that when the mule and horse are unhooked, each is hurt. They have grown to like each other. For days they are sad, like they are grieving. There is then a transition that takes place.

God has called you to know Christ in you, the hope of glory. Do not hesitate when the Lord leads you to drop some mule doctrine in order to go to a higher level and fulfill your real calling in life. You are called to be a Son or a Daughter of Abba Father Himself. You are not called to be an orphan!

The horse is then trained to the harness, bridle, and saddle. Little by little, the training continues until the big day when the race horse steps out of its corral and goes down to the race track. There’s a new wind blowing in the air. With flared nostrils, the little race horse knows that he is about to move into a new dimension.

It is here the horse is introduced to a saddle pony that brings comfort. Days go by, and soon the race horse feels at ease in this new environment. He enjoys stretching his legs as he feels the wind blowing through his mane.

Another transition! The saddle pony is gone. It’s time to know that what is inside is greater than a form of something on the outside. He begins to trust the One who holds the reins.

So often a person identifies with what he has been all of his life rather than what he is called to be. Do not continue to identify with the mule or the saddle pony experience. They only represent levels one must go through.

Let us submit to the training in righteousness, become unhooked from mule doctrines, and no longer be held back by saddle ponies.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make a “bridle” from the “strands” comprised of you and God, while embracing the unique training in righteousness provided by a goodly horse that God prepares for you; now you must run the race that is before you. Identify with Jesus and His life.

You are a winner. You are a race horse.

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Have you heard the saying “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth?” What does that mean? It means if someone gives you something, don’t be rude by checking it out in order to decide if it’s good enough for you to accept.

There is a difference between you purchasing a horse and someone GIVING you a horse. When purchasing a horse, it’s wise to look into its mouth, as an indicator of the horse’s health and wellness. If someone GIVES you a horse and you open the horse’s mouth to check it out, it’s like you’re questioning the value of that gift. DON’T LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH is a saying to remind and encourage us to be courteous, thankful, and grateful in receiving and accepting gifts. So, if someone gives you a free horse (there’s honestly no such thing as a “free” horse, if you know what I mean…snicker-snicker) you don’t check its teeth.

Talking about teeth, have you heard about whole horse dentistry? I hadn’t. It’s amazing and wonderful to experience ordinary days that hold “gifts” for us. Now, if we’re “set” in our ways, narrow-minded, fearful, or stubborn, more than likely we will not be in a receiving and accepting position. Just sayin’.

After several attempts to connect with my previous equine dentist, I made a call to an equine vet and scheduled a time to have a couple of our horse’s mouths/teeth examined. A few days prior to the appointment, I had uneasiness inside me. This isn’t my first rodeo in experiencing ‘inside quickening’ (aka ‘attention-getter); so I knew something was calling for my attention, but at that point, I had no idea what that might be.

Having a moment with one of my NEIGHbors, I simply asked if they knew of someone who did equine dentistry. Yes! How interesting. Heard names, terms, concepts I had NEVER heard before. Please understand, I honor veterinarians and am grateful for all they do for our animals. This had absolutely nothing to do with what I had come to know and respect, but what I was about to learn in connecting with another mind-set or perception in regards to my horse’s health.

Trotting in the same attitude that leads me to train as an ANIMAL B.E.S.T. PRACTITIONER, I opened my eyes to discover a ‘gift’ in my horse’s mouth.

I heard a name I have never heard before, Spencer LaFlure. Raised on his family’s two dude ranches in New York State, he wondered why middle-aged horses started losing their top line (meaning they developed a sway back) later in life. From questions that increased curiosity and curiosity that brought more questions, he began an intense study of horse’s skulls that were available at the dentistry school he was attending in Idaho. His journey led him to his own research and development of the techniques that he uses today and the skills he teaches to his students from around the world.

One more time the equine world invites me to ‘think outside the box,’ open my heart to new possibilities of health, and connect me with new faces that flow from the unforced rhythms of God’s amazing grace.

I have come to understand when a horse’s mouth is not properly balanced, he will not move properly. Wow! That could be a word for us humans, right! Over time, improper balance shows up in muscular confirmation and movement of the horse. Horse’s teeth grow continuously until about the age of 20 years. Usually balancing horses over 20 years of age is not recommended because their teeth are no longer growing and they don’t need it. It can harm them more than help them.

Whole horse dentistry is looking at points on molars, hooks, ramps and protrusions in a different way. Understandably, TMJ (temporal mandibular joint) needs to be centered and stable. Muscles and teeth properly aligned keep the TMJ centered. The starting point is balancing the incisors first to the length and angle of a five year old horse; accepting each horse is different; awareness of precision on each tooth; not using power tools that do a great deal of damage to equine tooth composition and structure.

Hope you chew on this for awhile. If you have any questions, get in touch with me at the end of June. This will give me time to chew as I observe our horses.

Have you considered what it is like for your horse to have you on its back?

That may seem like a silly question to some, but really, a conscientious horseperson does consider their horse’s point of view. Not in a babysitting type of way or treating your horse like a big dog, but imagining being the horse. When I teach handlers how to pick out a hoof, for example, I will have them pretend to be the horse. I let them ‘feel’ in their hips and joints what it is like when I hold their bent leg from one position to the next. They are amazed to realize the pressure or ease in the body depending on the position of the leg. Especially when we are picking out hind legs, there may be a tendency to bring the horse’s hoof towards our body rather than simply up.

What does it mean to ride well? It means you are in harmony with your horse when you turn and when you make transitions in your walk, trot, canter and gallop. Walk is a four-beat. Trot is a two-beat. Canter is a three-beat and gallop is a four-beat.

We “foaled” a colt in the late 90s. This horse displayed hunter/English style characteristics that brought me to the intersection of decision making. Either I needed to learn English style riding or sell the horse. I met a gal who gave lessons and signed up.

What was fun and natural to me became awkward and unnatural. In fact, the night of my first riding lesson, I dreamt about “toes up; heels down.” One day, after having lessons for several weeks, I cried all the way from the barn to my home. In that forty minute drive, I had convinced myself I needed to get out of horses altogether. When I pulled up to my mailbox, there was a package from my Colorado girlfriend, Marsha, who had purchased me a beautiful horse bracelet with an encouraging note. I dried my tears, changed instructor, and returned to “fun,” “relaxation,” and “progressing.” I did learn a personal lesson here. I needed a “teacher” not a “mocker.”

My horse did not care if my toes were up and my heels down or what was “correct” from this instructor’s point of view, but what was connecting and naturally effective for him. Prior to lessons, I had a beautiful balanced “correct” seat and like Matt Damon in The Legend of Bagger Vance (who needed to get his swing back); I needed to get my “seat” back. So I did.

Horses mirror what you do in your body because what you do in your body, they do in their body – good or bad. Braiding these three “awarenesses” together will help you ride well: (1) improve your seat (2) balance (3) communication.

How you sit on your horse determines how well your horse can move. Your position on his back determines how he uses his back, how he uses freedom of movement in his shoulders, and how he uses his hindquarters.

Learn to find your balance point. My what? This place is found somewhere between your crotch and your tailbone. Practice this on a barrel or a log. Sit on your crotch; slowly roll back towards your tailbone until you find that spot you “naturally” relax in. This is the place where your back will be straight, yet supple. It is an unforced position, and you will feel balanced and secure in your seat.

Once you get the “feel” of this relaxed balance point, you are ready to offer this to your horse as you sit on its back. Once mounted you can test yourself to see if you are on your balance point. Rest the palm of your hand on your horse’s rump. If you can only touch with your fingers, you are too far forward and more than likely on your crotch. If you can touch your horse’s tail or put your elbow on his rump, you are too far back on your jean pockets. Your balanced point is relaxed, unforced, and you simply rest the palm of your hand on your horse’s rump. Palm of hand, not fingers or elbow, on the back of your horse.

Ride well and enjoy your ride. I know your horse will.