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.

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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