A spotlight has been on a particular word in my own personal life since the beginning of the New Year. The word is FOCUS.

While developing a schedule for a couple of horses and my own personal goals, I read this quote from natural horsemanship expert Pat Parelli, “Focus gives you feel. Focus and feel give you timing. Focus, feel and timing give you balance.”

As spring break is here and the official first day of spring on the 20th of March arrives, there are events to be scheduled on our calendars, tasks at hand, and goals to set. Getting the tack cleaned up, making certain the leathers are strong, replacing those that aren’t. You focus on building your own natural horsemanship and move forward to develop a plan that will take your horse’s confidence to another level.

FOCUS is defined as: center, heart, focal point, center of attention, (get this) spotlight, and meeting point.

So what is the center or the heart of focus? Where is the meeting point? The meeting point is awareness. It is awareness that brings a new focus to us in understanding our horse. Understanding creates and builds a partnership between you and your horse. This canter (3 beat rhythms) of awareness, focus and understanding initiates, strengthens, and builds amazing partnerships – whether it is with our horse or another person.

Have you been in a relationship with someone and no longer are? We all have. At one point a misunderstanding became the center, and we became disconnected to some degree. Misunderstanding simply means a mistake, an error, a mix-up, a misinterpretation, a quarrel, or a misapprehension. When we have a misunderstanding with our horse usually we will avoid, punish, ignore, or replace the horse. Sad to say, we do the same with people.

Natural horsemanship always begins by understanding any problem from the horse’s point of view. Dear God, wonder what our families and communities would be like if I/we chose natural horsemanship with people! I’m just thinking out loud, one of my many weaknesses.

You see, horses are naturally fearful, claustrophobic animals whose main defense is to run away. Understanding this, I can address a problem or an issue with my horse, refraining from punishing him for his natural reaction/behavior. Next, I can take steps to change my approach and my behavior in order to gain or regain my horse’s confidence in me.

Horses are wonderful partners, due to their intuitive nature and ability to evoke emotion in humans. Breakthrough after breakthrough is happening in people’s lives because of those who are devoted and committed to face mental health issues. EAP (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy) uses a horse as a form of therapy for an individual who is experiencing depression, anxiety, communication issues or suffering from low self-esteem. Horses accentuate our struggles while they accept us without judgment. Horses are amazingly adept at revealing pieces of trauma that our unconscious mind hides. The involvement with the horse in this setting is primarily ground-based, a non-riding experience.

So, here we have a fearful, claustrophobic horse. A human comes into the horse’s life with awareness, focus and understanding; building a partnership. From this partnership something unexplainable, marinated in wonder, begins to take place. Healing; like a salve, a gentle breeze, a sip of refreshing water silently shifts and anchors feelings of strength and confidence in place of suffered abuse, low self-esteem, communication issues, depression or anxiety.

As you move forward into spring and being with your horse, simply remember you are in the presence of an amazing teacher who teaches without judgment. We all tend to need refresher classes with leadership, love and language. Your horse is a ‘natural’ teacher of these three classes.

Have Fun
Be Objective (purpose)
Grow Confidence
Say Yes to Understanding
#1 Priority Safety

Out of my love and gratitude for horses, this month’s article names 13 different horses that have been a presence in the lives of nations, foundations, military, competition and media. Let’s play ‘Trivia’ ….JUST FOR FUN and FOR THE LOVE OF HORSES.

The names of the thirteen horses are: (1) Travelar (2) Burmese (3) Clever Hans (4) Muhamed (5) Figure (6) Big Brown (7) Champion (8) Gun Rock (9)Traveller (10) Jim (11) Buttermilk (12) King (13) Trigger
Any of these names bring a memory or a question to mind? Now the “fun” begins; after each statement see if you can identify the horse by placing the name of the horse. Giddy-up! Let’s go!

1. Horse of great stamina; British spelling of its name; grey American
Saddle bred; General Robert E. Lee’s most famous horse during the
American Civil war; notable for speed, strength, and courage
___________

2. Known as the “world’s wonder horse” partnered with Gene Autry in film,
radio, and television; sorrel-colored; had a blaze down his face and
white stockings on all his legs except the right front; his first
onscreen credit was for 1935’s Melody Trail ____________

3. Horse was used to produce serum containing diphtheria antitoxin
(antibodies against diphtheria toxin; produced over 30 quarts);
failures in oversight led to the passage of the Biologics Control Act of
1902, leading to the 1906 formation of the US Food and Drug
Administration, or FDA ___________

4. Cowboy Roy Rogers’ best friend; brought sunshine (encouragement
and hope) into the lives of people worldwide (particularly children);
golden palomino stallion; originally named “Golden Cloud” __________

5. Orlov Trotter horse; horse owner claimed his horse was able to
perform arithmetic and other intellectual tasks; the study of this
human/horse relationship was undertaken to show an advanced
level of number sense in an animal; formal investigation brought
about important knowledge in the observer-expectancy effect and
later studies in animal cognition ___________

6. An outstanding early Quarter Horse stallion who influenced the breed
throughout the early years of the American Quarter Horse
Association; originally named Buttons; sire of many famous Quarter
Horses _____________

7. American Thoroughbred racehorse, coming from 20th position;
known for winning the 2008 Kentucky Derby and 2008 Preakness
Stakes ____________

8. A small bay stallion; became the foundation sire of the Morgan horse
breed; known for passing on his distinctive looks, conformation,
temperament and athleticism; known for versatility ___________

9. Favorite mount of Queen Elizabeth II; a black mare; ridden by the
Queen for Trooping the Color for 18 consecutive years from 1969 –
1986 ____________

10. German horse reportedly able to mentally extract the cube roots of
numbers (which he would tap out with his hooves); tested by
psychologists and scientists (his left foot represented the tens, while
his right foot represented the ones); known for being able to read
and do simple math _____________

11. Was a day away from being slaughtered when rescued; had been
severely abused which resulted in a very unkind demeanor; new
owners’ dedication turned this horse around to become a friendly,
affectionate, and playful horse; a Quarter Horse (originally named
Soda); new owner renamed horse after seeing a cloud pattern in the
sky that reminded her of a song; became one of the most famous
horses in the world of films and television ____________

12. Mascot of the University of Southern California; appears at all USC
home football games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum;
(including numerous Rose Parades); gray in color (referred to as
“white” by many) ____________

13. Horse was brought by the U.S. Army Cavalry to the campus of
University of California (which was breeding horses for the Calvary at that time);
was adopted as the official mascot of the men’s basketball team and
accompanied the team to games and rallies _____________

Here’s to the fun of remembering, wondering and questioning. These three things we experience when we are in the presence of one of these amazing animals. Hope you had fun with the trivia.
By: Deb Kitchenmaster

What is a mission statement? Is there a difference between a mission statement and a vision statement? Let’s look at this together, NEIGHbor. Some time ago, I was “found” on Facebook by a couple whom I had met over a decade ago. In fact, their youngest daughter was a camper in my first horse camp! She is now married and has children. (Yes, I had a moment but I’m all better now!) Their stay with us was extended as we enjoyed “connecting.”

After they left, I remembered the mission statement I had written years ago when I developed Abba’s Lad Riding Camp for the community I lived in. What is a mission statement? It’s a statement of the purpose of a service, company, organization or individual. This statement answers the question, “Why do we(I) exist?” A mission statement focuses on the present state. My mission statement was and remains today “to provide a safe conscious environment where horse and handler can experience inspiration, education and fun; a setting where connection happens.” Was I conscious of this mission statement when I got the email? No, I wasn’t. Was it fulfilled? Yes.

What then, is a vision statement? A vision statement is sometimes called a picture of your service in the future for all your strategic planning. This statement reminds you of what you are trying to build, acting as a compass which gives direction. A vision statement is for me. A mission statement is for them. A vision statement asks the question, “Where do we(I) want to go?”

One of my grandchildren took a picture that defines the vision statement I have. “Horses are like bridges that can lead us home;” home to loving God with all your heart, soul and mind, and loving your NEIGHbor as yourself.

A bridge is a connection or a link. A wall is a barrier or a divider. When we are in relationship, whether it be with God, people, or animals, we are either building a bridge or a wall. Ask questions that will connect you with others and lead you into harmony with the relationship you desire to build. And if you find yourself building a wall, please don’t require your horse to pay for it. Just sayin’.

So, here we are on a “mission” with a “vision,” remembering that our mission statement is about the people we are serving and the service we are providing. The vision is the picture of your service, what it looks like. Vision is like a blueprint; your strategy.

I want to talk briefly about HOME. I’m not talking about the physical address but the place INSIDE, where YOU dwell and abide. This is the energy our horse connects with. Seriously. What happens when you are not at home (address) and someone knocks on your door? No one answers. Why? Because no one is home. Our horse knocks on our door (our inside abiding/dwelling place) and we need to be HOME/PRESENT.

Let me give you an example. A farrier was putting horseshoes on a stallion at a barn I worked at. The stallion wasn’t standing for him, and he asked me if I would help. When I took the lead rope, the stallion let out a sigh and stood like a gentleman. When I went to pay my bill for hoof care, I noticed a discount. On the bill he wrote “Your presence made the difference”

YES! It does! Please always remember this. In the flow of simplicity, “being home” simply means to know you in the truest form where you are at rest inside. From your relationship of knowing God (free from condemnation, shame, guilt, and accusations because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross), flows knowing you, and from knowing you flows your connection with your horse.

Knock, knock… Anyone home?

Perhaps you’ve heard the question, “What’s in your wallet?” Today, I want to ask, “What’s in your stocking?”

A fun, informational, and connecting moment you can be had at a get together with people you have just met, have known for quite some time, or even your entire life. Select a stocking and put five different items inside. When it’s your turn, you take an item and say something about what you are holding in your hand. You can tell a story, make up a story, or share its significance to you. Others will get to know your sentimental side, your hilarious side, or any other kind of side that you care to share.

This is one simple exercise that holds a space for a story keeper of the family to pass along to listening ears, or a little history that someone might find helpful, even encouraging; not to mention, interesting. It’s an exercise that helps people get to know each other better. You know, its one thing to know something; it’s entirely different, bordering on wonderful, to be known by others.

There is ONE rule! When the person with the stocking reaches in to bring out an item, EVERYONE (including the extroverts that have something to say about everything,) must do ONE thing: LISTEN. No interruptions, no, “Yeah, I have three of those at home,” remarks. LISTEN. No talking. Stay present. Stay in the moment. Bring your attention, and focus on the person with the Christmas stocking.

I’d like to mention here, the number of items in the stocking is totally up to you based on the size of your group, timeline of the event, or other factors. One item is significant; in fact, there might be more consideration of which ONE item to select.

I created different exercises such as this when I developed a horse program. The ratio was one instructor to four handlers, so we were in small groups. The beauty was learning how to honor each other, how to tune in, how to focus, how to respect, how to submit, and how to genuinely care. Each discovered meaningful connections to enhance relationships with one another, and even discovered some beauty about them.

Horses have stockings too! In zoology, a stocking is a differently colored part of the lower leg of an animal (horse). There are five patterns identified: coronet, half pastern, pastern, sock, and stocking. A stocking is a sock that wraps around the leg from the top of the coronet extending up almost to the knee or hock. These colorful legs carry you up and down hills, through rugged ravines, lakes and ponds, over jumps, on beautiful trails at different speeds. What a classroom! Such beautiful and challenging moments! Balance, focus, communication, leadership, presence, awareness, relaxation, trouble-shooting, mastery from level to level be the DNA material of horsemanship.

What an amazing ride. What an amazing journey. So, when the day comes and you look inside your Christmas stocking and you find a “horsey” gift card or item, it’s a Merry Christmas, indeed! Know that something came out of the wallet so something could come into the stocking. I hope you get the saddle you’ve been wanting for some time now, the horse trailer that went on sale or came up for sale just this Christmas, OR the horse/pony you have been dreaming of. I know, there are actually people who dream of a “White Christmas” and you’ve been dreaming of a white horse. I totally get you.

God’s smile upon you, and have yourself a very MERRY CHRISTMAS time….. away in the stall.

11-18-2016-3-15-25-pmWhat do earth, soil, land, and manure have in common? Let’s take a look. The earth is one big dirt ball known as the world or a globe. Soil is the upper layer of earth in which plants grow consisting of a mixture of organic remains such as clay, and rock particles. Land is any part of earth’s surface not covered by a body of water. And manure is animal dung released upon the earth from its life source to fertilize the land, increasing its ability to support plant growth.

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Prior to transporting our horses 1200 miles, I had an interview with a professional trainer at one of the stables here in the area. She told me because of the pH differences in the soil, the biggest adjustment our horses would have would be with their hooves. She was spot on. Acidic soils are soils that have a pH of less than 6.5. The most common cause of acidic soil is heavy rainfall and where there are evergreen trees (dead evergreen needles are acidic). The soil’s percentage of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate are what the horse’s hooves are required to adjust to.
Soil pH had an effect on each of our horses. I remember well the work, the attention, the treatments required to support each horse in their adjustment. At one point I became so weary. In route to the feed store, I picked up my cell phone (not having my glasses on) to call my son Michael (who brings such honor and practical advice into my world). I was surprised when I heard my friend Mary answer my call. Within minutes of praying with Mary, I met a couple of men at the feed store who were an answer to our prayer! Information was exchanged, appointments scheduled, and in a short time the horses were on the road to recovery.

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The soil on which our horses stood and ate from affected their walk. As humans the soil on which we stand and eat from affect our walk as well. Is the pH of your soil more grace than shame or more shame than grace? Grace brings liberty. Shame brings lameness. Grace brings a consciousness of being the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. Shame brings a consciousness of not being ‘good’ enough or that something is ‘wrong’ with you. Grace brings an awareness of being a son or daughter of God through the cross. Shame brings an awareness of being an orphan and not belonging. The good news – “Jesus took all our shame.” I pray that you be rooted and grounded in LOVE.

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In our stallion’s pasture are two watermelon patches. How funny! Did I plant them? No. EMR Big Sky (stallion) enjoys eating watermelon rind. From time to time we would take rind to his pasture. Life is in the seed. The seed is in an environment for roots to take place and grow. This environment happens to be manure piles. The fruit is the result of this process. Have I eaten any of these watermelons? No, not yet. I’ll decide that after I cut into one.

11-18-2016-3-16-29-pmWe all have had moments that we wish we could undo something we did, erase words that we spoke that brought harm to another, or reacted instead of responded to someone we sincerely love. (Your reaction nailed your coffin rather than growing a relationship). Yet, look at this visual right out in the pasture!

Scripture tells us, “You shall know them by their fruit.” Not once did I question what kind of fruit this was. I knew – watermelon. What amazed me was the environment where it had grown. In 2015, I wrote, ‘…but God is going to shift the environment to make it possible for you to thrive.’ This Thanksgiving watch and be aware of the shifting that is possible in and through the LORD for you to thrive; whether it is earth, soil, land or manure.
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10-21-2016-3-00-18-pm“I’d really like to have more confidence to canter. Can you help me?” After being on a horse’s back, enjoying the four-beat of a walk, and having experiencing the two-beat of a trot safely, your confidence builds. This is so much fun! The desire to canter comes alive, and for some (not all), there are some concerns or uncertainties that need to be addressed.

The canter is a three-beat dance, whereas the four-beat walk is where your body is relaxed, you’re receiving a chiropractic adjustment whether you are aware of that or not, and more than likely you’re enjoying your ride with a friend and nature. The two-beat trot is where two feet of your horse are up and two are down. Your body responds to this movement in your hips. ‘One-Two-One-Two’ is the rhythm in which you move. You have just moved from your spinal column (walk) to your hips (trot). If you tend to be stiff in your hips, get a hoola-hoop and play around with that. This will help you loosen up and more likely enjoy your horse’s trot, and your horse will enjoy partnering, with you in this two-beat dance.

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The canter is a three-beat movement/dance. Your pelvis is engaged in this movement. My Morgan mare, Annie, had the most delightful canter ever! I felt like I was sitting in a glider chair, simply gliding! As your pelvis moves in this three-beat rhythm, your body definitely does experience a gliding/sliding/forward/backward movement. This is where “collect” comes in. What does it mean to “collect” a horse? Collection and balance are closely related. An instructor may say to you, “Gather your horse” or “Put your horse together.” Commonly, what is being asked here is to set your horse up to be balanced under you. This allows energy to flow and moves your horse from the position where the hind leg is pushing off the ground, energizing the loins, flowing through the back, onto the whole front end of your horse. Yes! Horses are like Volkswagens. The engine is in the back.

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The angles in the joints of the hind legs, connected with the angle of the horse’s neck and head, provide better balance for your horse. In simplicity, this is what it means to collect your horse. When the hind legs are jointed under your horse (meaning the angle where the hind hooves are slightly tucked under the barrel [belly] of your horse) your horse’s neck and head are stretched forward. Your horse is in a ‘natural’ balance that works safely for your horse, without someone on its back wanting to increase movement. It is from this position that you move into another position to enhance a balanced level, one where your horse is not abused or injured when asked to push forward with you on its back.

More lowering of hind leg joints and setting the hind legs under your horse will change the angle of your horse’s neck and head. When the neck is high, the horse’s head then takes on a vertical position. This is collection. I do want to point out that higher neck is different than a stretched neck. Angle(s) is a key word in understanding collection. When the hind leg joint is lowered and angled under, and the neck is elevated with the head vertical, your horse is balanced and energized to carry you and it safely. At this point you “connect” (hook up), with your horse. You’re ready to canter. YOOOHOO! Without going into explanation, there is a right lead and a left lead in your canter. If you want left lead, that simply means you want to lead out with your horse’s left front leg in your three-beat rhythm. Using your right rein, tip your horse’s head gently to the right. In doing so, the left front leg will come forward. Apply your heel to the barrel of your horse as a cue to begin the canter. It’s a one-two set up. One: tip head. Two: cue horse. Relax. Enjoy. Have Fun.

I hope this helps.
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Horse Whispering – Bite Me

9-16-2016-11-04-13-amHave you asked, “What is this?” “How could this happen?” “What do you think happened?” “Isn’t this interesting?” “Who would have thought?”

As we journey in life and journey on our horse trails, these questions do arise from time to time.

Recently, we had a horse struggling to walk. Her front right leg was incredibly tender. There wasn’t any noticeable injury after examining her leg, hoof, frog, heel and shoulder. I gathered my sprays and oils to B.E.S.T. (Bio-Energetic-Synchronization-Technique) this crippled mare. She had a lump on her right side of her neck under her beautiful long mane and “lo and behold,” she had a huge lump on the left side of her neck. Were these hard lumps affecting her ability to walk? How could this be? It was at this time two things “kicked” in for me: #1 history, and #2, memories.
As a young curious filly, this horse stuck her head through two bars of a twelve foot metal gate that was at the east end of the barn. I had finished riding, brought my sweaty horse into the wash area of the barn to hose her down, and when I looked up and saw this cute little face at the other end of the barn. She had twisted her head to fit between the bars of the gate and now she wanted to back up, but she felt the weight on her poll (top of head behind the ears) and was stuck. The right side of the brain ignited, and she immediately was in “instinct” mode: FLIGHT!

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She didn’t have any information in the left side of her brain because she had never experienced this before, so there wasn’t any data to connect with. I stepped out of sight, said a prayer, and the rest is history. She pulled that gate off the side of the barn, ran through a single electric wire that was off at the time, and into the pasture with a twelve foot gate on her neck!

As she ran, desperately trying to free herself from this predator gate, one end of the gate was up in the air and the other end went “bong, bong, bong” on the ground she on which she traveled. I put my horse in her stall, collected a halter and lead rope, and calmly walked out to the pond she was standing by. With sides heaving, flared nostrils and a look of genuine panic in her eyes. my body language illuminated, “Help is here, my little darling dear.”

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In one strong, yet gentle lift of one end of this metal horror (by the favor of God Himself), the timing, position, and leverage freed my equine friend from her prison cell. With tail flagged, she took off with a freedom run that is forever stamped in my horse album. A vet check verified she was fine physically. The following thirty days I successfully spent time with her to remove the edge from this traumatic experience. So in figuring out what was going on with these lumps on this horse, her history came to my mind.

After a couple of days, I used B.E.S.T. for the second time, and the lumps were softer and less dense. She is moving with more fluidity, yet tenderly. This is when memory comes. “Annie” was a chestnut (reddish color), Morgan mare. I showed her in Western Pleasure classes at the KANDI MORGAN AND OPEN HORSE shows back in the day. In her 25th year, she had a knot appear on her neck. Annie died in 2008.

A call was made to our beloved farrier (someone who shoes horses) and his wife. What an amazing team they are! They were in the area, and came to check on our horse. For whatever reason, this year several horses have foundered on grasses. I wanted to make sure we were not dealing with founder or laminitis. After checking her over, it was neither.

“She’s been bitten.” Bitten! This NEVER entered my mind! In her defense, she had struck out with her right leg to defend or break the grip, and in doing so, her knee got bruised and it hurt to put weight on it.

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These horses are amazing! What life lessons they bless us with again and again as we investigate a situation they bring to us. My life lesson was “Deb, don’t allow history and memory get in the way of TRUTH/REALITY.”

This leads me to meditate on the Glory (God’s viewpoint and opinion, which is reality) of God.
Go ahead, bite me!
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8-19-2016 9-48-41 AMWhew, we’ve had some hot days, haven’t we?

As important as it is to stay hydrated, keeping water supply flowing for your horses (even hosing them down from time to time), watering your plants to keep producing the fruit and vegetables that you enjoy at your table; so it is to establish respect without fear with your horse. In other words, be a place of deep, calm waters for your horse while you instruct them how to function well in the relationship.

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The study of the human brain has advanced (SWITCH ON YOUR BRAIN by Dr. Caroline Leaf is an excellent book on this study), and so has study of the horse brain.

Knowing and understanding how horses learn helps humans become better at introducing new information to their horses.

So much is going on in your horse’s brain while you are teaching it something. At the get-go, all horses have a built-in opposition reflex that helps protect them from predators. As you teach/train, you are building new neural pathways that overcome this instinct, and work to make your horse smarter and safer.

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Note to self: All horses are NOT the same. Some horses have a stronger opposition reflex than others, therefore, some horses are going to require more time than others to overcome it. Release some patience so as not to get frustrated, or think your horse is being rude if it takes more time than you hoped for to get past this reflex. You’re building a brain that thinks rather than responds only to instinct.

Like humans, information is constantly coming from its sensory organs. Useful information is either sent to the right brain (where instinct lives) or to the left brain (where learning and information storage takes place). When I use the term right/left brain, I am not referring to specific halves of the brain but descriptively speaking.

In training, the horse notices your body language, energy level, focus and intention instinctually. Horses in the wild will be grazing peacefully and all of a sudden, heads are up, tails flagged, and they are running full speed ahead. Why? Instinctually, they are aware of a predator (mountain lion for example) who’s hungry and looking for food. Another scene would be a mountain lion resting on a cliff above a herd of horses grazing in a meadow. Instinctually, they are aware that the lion is not hungry looking for food, and they aren’t in any danger.

8-19-2016 9-49-10 AMHorses learn from discomfort. Repeatedly in training they are asking “What must I do to find comfort?” Let me explain. You’re doing some groundwork and you want to teach your horse to back up. You put pressure on your horse’s nose, which is uncomfortable to him. This information is sent to the processing center of the left brain. Your horse is looking for information that is stored in its brain (neural pathways) that will bring comfort. If this is the first time you are working with this horse about backing up, there’s no information on file. The brain searches for information it does have to relieve pressure. Your horse may toss its head (pressure continues) or move forward (pressure continues). When your horse takes a step backward, you RELEASE, and the horse finds comfort. A tiny bit of chemical passes from one cell to another and the beginning of a neural pathway is formed. As you repeat the process of releasing pressure each time your horse steps backward, a neural network is established. Each time you squeeze on its nose, the signal goes to the neural pathway, and your horse immediately responds by stepping back. One of your most effective training devises is consistency. When you begin to teach something new, it helps when you use the same pattern every time. Choosing consistency requires less sorting for your horse to respond to your request. When your horse is getting a mixed or unclear request and has to do much sorting inside, the brain slips over to the right side and instinct switches on (kick, bite, buck, rear).

A release means “YES! You got the right answer!”

Another note to self: It’s important to release at just the moment the response you are looking for happens. This ushers you into awareness. Oh, what would we be moved to create on this earth if we lived in awareness!
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7-16-2016 10-39-20 AMHave you experienced a moment in time where you knew you were “stuck”? You tried in sundry ways to resolve a conflict(s) in a meaningful relationship, but the more time you gave to bring solution rather than pollution, there wasn’t any “shift” but “stuck” was the painful reality? I’m quite sure we all can relate. At the base of the “stuck” is usually something that you didn’t see coming and it just quite frankly threw you off balance. As horse people, you know what that means! You end up off the back of a horse and on the ground. OUCH! Just came in contact with the reality of how hard the ground actually is!

One of the healing properties that horses bring into human lives is their genuine ability of being ‘forgiving’ and modeling this for us.

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The glue that keeps us stuck, more than likely, is unforgiveness. I read a quote from Kimberly Dawn which says, “It takes allot of energy to keep a grudge alive. The longer there is a lack of forgiveness, the more bitterness, anger and self-pity poisons the blood and eats at the heart. Hand it over to God and allow Him to show you the path to forgiveness.” This is where God and horse unite to bring to us pathways to do life with a different attitude. “True forgiveness is not an action after the fact; it is an attitude with which you enter each moment.” (David Ridge) God and horses are notoriously living in the NOW.

Here’s an example. I’m out riding at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. Hundreds of acres of trees, deer paths, brush and lakes are the environment which I am totally enjoying with my faithful horse friend. Suddenly I come upon a coven of quail. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh; three shoot out and up like missiles. My horse is frightened and darts at the surprise. However, instead of staying scared and running back home, out of control, she forgets about the quail and remembers our partnership, our connection. So, instead of being governed by her natural instincts, she comes into the NOW of our relationship.

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I’m reminded of the first part of some prose I wrote years ago. ‘I like to get upon a horses’ back, running free in an open field. I feel security that I’d lacked while riding upon my horses’ back; the wind blowing through my hair, my mind without a single care. Loving to live and living to love, searching for answers from God above.’ Upon my horse’s back I got understanding to what love is, what freedom looks like and the value of meaningful questions.

A horse is always going to be a horse. A horse will never be a dog, a human, or something else. We are love. We are made in the image and likeness of God. God is love. If we walk and ride ? in our true image and identity, we are free from offense and unforgiveness. Love has forgiven each of us. When I come into agreement with this amazing forgiveness, I live forgiven and am liberated to forgive. Because, after all, I can only give what I have, right?

Forgiveness doesn’t excuse behavior. Forgiveness prevents behavior from destroying your heart. (The Healing Center) You are not responsible for someone else’s choices and decisions. You are, however, responsible for your own. Forgive those who insult you, attack you, belittle you or take you for granted. And remember, you love your NEIGHbor as yourself; therefore, forgive yourself.
“Pain is the fist that knocks you down. Forgiveness is the hand that helps you back up again.” (Doe Zantamata)

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Precious moments are the cupped hand of forgiveness lifting you upon a horse’s back with the instruction to simply ride, smile, and enjoy.
Anyone interested in saddling up a horse and riding on paths of righteousness that illuminates your true (made in the image and likeness of God) self?
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6-18-2016 1-22-05 PMEvery relationship in your life can be healed. You can personally experience reconciliation in a relationship that seems impossible. It always begins with you. I know this is a bold statement, and you will need courage to choose to face truth, KNOW the truth, speak the truth to yourself, and to be completely honest with yourself. But you can.

As life comes from sperm fertilizing an egg, choosing how we live our lives comes when the Spirit of God and the soul of man connect. The home of forming life is the womb. The home of health (how we live) is our choice. God himself says He sets before us life and death and instructs us to choose life; however, it is our choice.

When I am connecting with a horse, I can either choose to be a predator or a partner. When I am connecting with a person, I choose to react or to respond. If my choice is to be a predator or reactor, my actions will be generated by fear. If my choice is to be a partner or responder, my actions will be generated by love. It takes a huge AWARENESS inside yourself, because it is easier to take things personally and react the way you always react. This only leads you to a lot of mistakes and more suffering and pain, because reactions only generate more emotional poison and increase the drama.

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Reaction comes from a belief that is deep inside, has been repeated thousands of times, and has become a routine. However, once we have AWARENESS, we connect with the “feet” of our soul (which is our will) and begin to walk out of fear and into love; out of reacting and being a predator into responding in love as a partner. This describes relationship versus programming. “We’ve always done it this way,” transforms into, “I have awakened to a new way of being.”

One of the sessions I had recently was about horse and human spending time together, “not doing.” Horses are particularly good at this. This type of session holds value to silencing the demands of “get this done, do this, fix that, or work on this” and connecting with “supply.” The source of supply could be anything from the awareness of a horse swishing its tail, the sounds of a grazing horse, the softness of a muzzle touching your arm, saying, “Hey, this is way cool, just hanging out,” to a gentle breeze sweeping across your face, sweat dripping from your forehead, a songbird singing a song that soothes your mind, the rhythm of your own breathing, or that of your horse.

This session is about “presence.” Yours. A PowerPoint comes across the screen of your mind and you understand the simplicity of standing still. This “not-so-comfortable” experience of standing still can lead us into a stillness that is inside us, a stillness where judgment cannot exist. When that voice of judgment gets silenced, a whole new arena opens to knowing goodness and well-being. This type of session is holistic in the way that less is more.

With clipboard in hand, and an assignment to “notice” or “to BE aware,” as you enjoy a session with a herd of horses, you begin to log what it is you are noticing. I refer to this type of session as an “awareness” or “wake-up” session. It’s fun and inspiring to be included in one’s discoveries that horses are willing to share. For example, observations written down on paper was the way the horses showed my client how to set boundaries with each other, while remaining intimately connected to each other.

These are five of the human nonsenses that horses dispel:

1. Fear is keeping me from enjoying and living my life.
Perfect, Unfailing Love casts out all fear. As long as there is breath in me, I get to choose. I choose love.
2. “I don’t know how.” “I can’t.” “It’s impossible.”
As part of my soul, I have a free-will. No one can take my power of choice from me, as no human gave it to me. I was created in the image and likeness of Perfect, Unfailing Love and Love always provides a space to choose. Always!
3. It’s my job to meet the demands of others out of obligation or fear of punishment.
I choose to live in the flow of supply. Freely I receive. Freely I give.
4. My life is about doing, productivity, proving, and performing.
Inside me is a place called stillness. I choose to say “yes” and enter this stillness. It is here all judgments must leave, and I rest in being the Beloved daughter/son of Perfect, Unfailing Love.
5. I need to protect myself. I choose to build walls.
I let my “yes” be yes, and my “no” be no. I choose to build healthy relationships because I enjoy the sense of well-being more than offense.

Let go of nonsense, and enjoy the vibrant sense of well-being.
Your “Neigh”bor,
By: Deb Kitchenmaster
Corral Connections