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!
8-19-2016 9-51-02 AM

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?
7-16-2016 10-40-03 AM

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

5-20-2016 2-57-25 PMI’m not “horsing around.” The month of May can be a month packed with many things to prepare for. Are you preparing for a graduation party? How about a memorial service? Perhaps you are preparing for a horse show or a trail ride with friends this summer.

Preparation is a management principle where we get ready for a “final accomplishment or a successful experience.” In the midst of our preparation zone, we have many choices, decisions, and options. There aren’t “rights” and “wrongs,” but rather “yeses” and “nos”.

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I have several graduations to attend this year, celebrating the accomplishment of beloved friends and family. However, I would not be attending the ceremonies or the open houses if there had not been people involved in the preparation of these festive events.

A girlfriend of forty years called and asked if she could come for a visit. I excitedly responded with a “Yes!” She’s from Iowa, but please don’t hold that against her. (I’m only kidding; I was born and raised in Iowa.) This gal was born in Germany. She was given up for adoption when she was six months old. A couple from Iowa, working through a Catholic organization, chose this little two and a half year old girl, and made her their daughter.

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In the ‘50s, four little orphans were placed on a plane in Germany, and landed in Davenport, Iowa. In the ‘80s, Chris (whose birth name is Vera), through the translation assistance of her family doctor, (who was from Germany and spoke fluent German,) completed a phone call to Germany. The search to “connect” and “discover” was on, and this delightful woman was blessed to eventually meet her grandmother, her biological dad, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her birth mother was deceased.

In April of this year, Chris was contacted by a cousin who had helped with translation during the first trip to Germany where Chris re-united with her birth family. The cousin is now living in the United States, and used social media to search for Chris. She found Chris, and guess where the cousin is living? Huntsville, Alabama! Miracles happen daily. Whether we believe those three words or not has no effect on how God continues to move and work. Seeing the miraculous is like seeing true beauty. Chris and her cousin Doris had a beautiful reunion! A horse session was cancelled due to weather, but it’s on the books for when she returns.

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When we engage in preparation, included is purpose, priority, “the plan,” and sometimes weather. Corral Connections has made preparation each and every time an event is scheduled. That event may be a one-on-one session, or a group. Another word for preparation is training. Horses are in training through our communications with them, and the leadership skills we bring as we connect. Humans are in training in righteousness. When a human experiences an inner shift from “being right” to “being righteous,” the entire earth is blessed because this shift affects relationships.

With horses, the handler is instructed in groundwork. Groundwork is another word for preparation. The horse is moving its feet. The human is being still, but moving into leadership. How amazing is that! One final word to define preparation is homework. More times than not, a home work assignment is given. Its purpose is to encourage an individual to remember, “walk it out”, or to build the confidence that comes from dignity, value, and worth as was revealed through the finished word of Jesus Christ on the cross.

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Horses hooves are shod with metal plates we call shoes. According to the Word of God, our feet are to be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Gospel simply means “good news,” the good news of starting a relationship that develops into a partnership. Yes, our relationship with Abba Father runs parallel with our relationship with our horse.

I close with this quote: “At its finest, rider and horse are joined not by tack, but by trust. Each is totally reliant upon the other. Each is the selfless guardian of the other’s very well-being.” Author Unknown

Enjoy your preparation time as you eye-witness your relationship develop into a partnership.
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4-15-2016 5-21-32 PMDo you refer to a horse’s coat covering as fur or hair? If you said hair you are spot on. In our observation of animals, we have noticed that some coat coverings are denser than others. A denser coat on an animal is called fur. Fur is a coat covering used in wearing apparel. The horse’s coat covering is NOT used in wearing apparel, and therefore is called hair.

How does a horse know when to grow hair and when to let go of its hair covering? When the days become shorter with light, this triggers the horse to grow hair. In the same way, when the days become longer with light, another trigger is pulled to release the coat covering on the horse’s body. Light is important in a horse’s life, as well as it is in our own lives.

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Horses have three different hair coats. We humans consist of three parts: spirit, soul and body. Our Creator is ONE Triune God: Abba Father, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

One of the coats of a horse is referred to as its summer hair coat. This spring coat is a lighter coat; a hair covering that easily supports the horse drying out should the horse become over heated and sweaty. Then, there are two winter coat growths. One is short and thick hairs, and one is long hairs that will stick up and provide air spaces that serves as an insulating-layer against cold winter temps. These hairs lift up to release heat and conceal keeping heat in. How amazing!

It is this time of the year that the winter coat hairs are coming off, detaching and being released for a new coat. This is where the shedding blades come out, and are used again and again in our grooming of our horses. Piles of horse hair will be in your alley way, or the wind will swoop it away. The birds will collect horse hair and line their nests with it. The horses are releasing, and the birds are collecting.

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What is a shedding blade? It’s a bent metal piece in a “U” shape, held together by a handle. One side of the shedding blade has small, jagged teeth that remove loose hair from the horse’s coat. The other side is smooth and works well to remove sweat after a ride or to remove excess water after hosing your horse down from accumulated sweat from the saddle and saddle blanket.

In using the shedding blade on your horse, if you press too hard, your horse will usually give a swish of the tail or look at you like “Hey! Knock it off!” No worries, your horse will give you accurate feedback on how you’re doing. Our horses enjoy strong rhythmic strokes on the necks and rumps.

The condition of your horse’s hair coat can be a “tell-tell” on the overall health of your horse. A dull course hair coat can be related to parasitic ailments, Cushing’s Disease, a thyroid imbalance, or other health concerns. Sometimes it can simply be the outcome of the weather patterns and nature bringing about an “abnormal” coat covering that raises some concern. In those times that it’s “unusual” but no known health issue, the “wait and see” may be beneficial. Usually, if the horse is on a balanced diet and you spend more time grooming your horse and even giving your horse a body massage from time to time, the mystery of the questionable coat covering will be resolved.

So with shedding blade in hand, relaxing as you stand next to your horse, begin a rhythmic stroke, and watch all the hairs that have detached, being released because you showed up with a shedding blade in your hand.

And remember if there is something in your life that is no longer serving you well, let it go and enjoy the release, receiving your new coat that will serve you well.
Your NEIGHbor,
Deb Kitchenmaser

3-18-2016 11-10-57 AMDo you remember the songwriter Cole Porter? Or perhaps, the song, Don’t Fence Me In, sung by artists such as Frankie Laine, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Willie Nelson, and Leon?Russell? The lyrics in each recording pretty much remained the same, even though there was some occasional artistic tweaking, depending on the vocalist or group. What was consistent in each version were the words, “Don’t fence me in.”

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The song expresses an interest in land; lots of land, under the starry skies above. A longing to ride through the greatly loved, wide open country, as well, and all of it is heralded by the rhythm of music. The songwriter?is comfortable with “being by myself” in the evening breeze, listening to the murmur of the cottonwood trees. Plus, this rider’s “saddle that is straddled” makes for a moment that is refreshing and invigorating in this completely open space. “Don’t fence me in” is what is consistent.

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Consistency is on the “top ten” list of developing a safe, fun, and growing partnership with your horse. Each of these singers had their own voice and personal style. That is how it is with horse people. This is one of the many beauties of being with horses: an awakening to “one’s true self.”?My grandson, Evan, made a comment that I will never forget. He had awakened before his mom on a particular day, and he came into his mom’s bedroom and said, “Mom. It’s a beautiful day to wake up!” When you combine the beauty of spring with the freedom of riding in spaces without fences, truly every day is a beautiful day to wake up.

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I had the blessing of being an eye-witness of two teenage friends as they found the beauty, courage, and awareness “to?wake up” while being on the back of their horses. These teens had progressed from riding in a round pen, to a corral, to the moment of a true trail ride. We had our lunches packed in our saddle bags, and off we went into 200 acres of trails that were perfect for the girls’ first trail ride. We came into the coolness provided by a knoll of trees, listening as the wind blew through the leaves. As we sat on our horses facing each other, we became engulfed in a cloud of butterflies! They swarmed around our faces and encircled the three of us and our horses. It was as though God Himself brought to each of us the beauty of transformation in that “wake up” moment” while we were outside the fence. I must say, for these young gals, that day, and the unforgettable experience with the butterflies has not left their memory, nor mine. Just as important for them and for me was the sense of direction it brought into our lives.

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As spring opens gates from the round pen and corrals to wide open land beyond the fences, relax, enjoy, listen, and breathe deeply as your horse carries you to both discovery and awe. “Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle underneath the southern skies.”?
Your “NEIGH”bor,
By: Deb Kitchenmaster
Corral Connections
‘A church of great heart’
Animal B.E.S.T. practitioner

2-19-2016 12-06-47 PM“Fear less, hope more
Eat less, chew more
Whine less, breathe more
Talk less, say more
Love more, and all good things will be yours.”
-Swedish Proverb

Horses communicate to us through their body language. This is where the “more” or “less” becomes our focus. Studying the horse and understanding what a head held high means, versus a head held low or level. Is the horse’s body standing still and resting a hoof, or can’t the horse stand still? What about the ears? Are the ears pinned back, actively moving forward and backward, or are they relaxed and attentive to me? What about the horse’s tail? Is it tucked and tight, or loose?

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Being observant, aware, and noticing will help you understand the four primary needs or “motivations” of a horse. They are safety first, comfort, play, and then food. If a horse does not have confidence in loading onto a horse trailer, more than likely, he’s just not that interested in food. From “safety” comes confidence, from confidence comes curiosity, from curiosity comes sensitivity, and from sensitivity comes dignity.

Anybody can make a horse do something. However, if your goal is for your horse to experience dignity under your leadership, you will do the less and the more in a specific moment and watch your horse WANT to do what you are asking.

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Now that is awesome stuff! Why? Because you have the mind, spirit, body, and emotions of the horse who now “is” a “YES!” When we connect with our YES, we move forward together in unity, harmony, AND with an unforced rhythm.

In the archives of Albert Einstein, he stated,
“Three rules that work:
#1 – out of clutter, find simplicity
#2 – from discord; find harmony
#3 – in the middle of difficulty lays opportunity.”

What does this MORE or LESS look like? When you are with a horse that is right brain (meaning they are submissive, fearful, not confident, nervous and reactive), you would MORE quickly interrupt their phrases. Working with a left brain horse (dominant, brave, confident, calm, and tolerant), you would do less by slowly interrupting their phrase and quickly completing. A phrase would be the communication between you and your horse to accomplish the goal that you have and how the horse is responding or reacting to you.

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The MORE or LESS will come as you work with an introverted horse (low energy, more “whoa” than go, slow reactions, and stops often) versus and extroverted horse (high energy, more “go” than whoa, quick reactions, and runs often). Understanding and identifying your horse is the key to knowing MORE or LESS.

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Your belly button is like a bright beacon light to some of these horses. Simply turning and walking away from your right brain horse can be a foundational block in your relationship with your horse. You’ve just removed MORE pressure by this simple act and given the horse breathing space to consider you a worthwhile leader.

Remember, horsemanship starts when your horse “sees” you. Also, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
Have MORE fun and LESS cares as you enjoy horsing around.
Be safe.
Your “NEIGH”bor,
Deb Kitchenmaster

1-22-2016 11-12-49 AMHave you ever been under the impression that you had the best interest of someone or something in mind only to discover that it wasn’t? Really, who hasn’t? That’s part of our journey of discovery and awakening.

While in Colorado Springs, CO I noticed a clever bumper sticker “SHIFT HAPPENS.” I liked it!

I thought of Edward Lorenz, who presented a hypothesis to the New York Academy of Science in 1963. He simply stated his theory that a butterfly could flap its wings and set molecules of air in motion, which would move other molecules of air, in turn moving more molecules of air that eventually was capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet. Of course, he was considered crazy, he was mocked, and the conference thought his proposal was ridiculous. However, more than thirty years later, physics professors working from colleges and universities worldwide concluded that the butterfly effect was authentic, accurate, and viable. How interesting! Now known as The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions, this principal has proven to be a force enveloping more than butterfly wings. Shift Happens.

1-22-2016 11-13-17 AM

I would like to share two shifts I have had in my thinking with our horses here at Corral Connections.

1-22-2016 11-13-06 AMThe first one has to do with minerals and salt; the second with worming. I came across a quote from a man known as Dr. Dan the Natural Vet. He says, “Did you know that most commercial salt and minerals are either ‘man made’ or some other industry’s waste product? Did you know that blocks for horses, and others for that matter, are almost useless and potentially dangerous! They just can’t get what they need, when they need it, fast enough, by trying to lick or chew from a block! When the weather changes, sudden imbalances in the grass can occur. Horses must be able to get what they need when they need it! Period!”

The “shift” I made was to remove all salt and mineral blocks from our ranch. I am using Red Cal, a brand that has a prized ingredient, montmorillonite clay – a rich source of trace and other minerals. It is referred to as “living clay” because it consists of minerals that enhance the production of enzymes in all living organisms. Perhaps this “shift” (a decision to feed loose salt/minerals) could be the “single-most healthy thing you can do for your horse.”

Let’s talk about worming. All horses don’t have worms no matter what type of fear tactics you might be presented with. Now, bear with me, please.

1-22-2016 11-12-59 AMIs it possible we are over worming our horses? How do I know when to worm and what wormer to use? What if I, as a steward over horses, considered each individual horse and wormed as needed, rather than worm as programmed or scheduled? Would this “shift” benefit my horse? Is it possible to save some money and have a ‘safe’ worming awareness? Yes! It is. The “shift” is to simply check a fecal sample before you deworm. Your vet can do this. I work with a vet that is ‘natural solutions’ minded. For twelve dollars, I send fecal matter to be checked for worm count. Depending on these results/facts I decide whether to deworm or not. If there is a need to deworm, I will re-check that horse two to three weeks after deworming for e effectiveness. For more information on either Red Cal or naturally timed deworming, contact me at www.corralconnections.com.

I realize that mindsets and traditions die hard. I simply hope that I have made you thirsty enough to drink from the fountain of meaning and purpose, knowing your actions have value far greater than “we’ve always done it that way.”

Pass the salt, please.
Your NEIGHbor,
Deb Kitchenmaster
Corral Connections: Connecting with LIFE through a horse
Animal B.E.S.T practitioner

“It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” ~Abraham Lincoln ~

12-18-2015 3-03-30 PMMy Mother hasn’t made the SMUCKERS’ celebration announcement of 100 years old; however, she has reached the delightful age of 85. December 3rd, I traveled to Albia, Iowa to celebrate her birthday. We sang, we danced, we laughed, and we ate cake. What a fun time! My sister, two brothers, and I worked together to host Mother’s party at the Methodist church where she is a member.

I was reminded of my Shetland pony days! Actually, I was on the back of a horse before I could walk. Grandpa Kaster, who lived across from my birthplace, had Shetland ponies. There were Giggles, Twinkle Toes, and Patches. My Mother’s youngest brother was a cowboy, who eventually became a jockey, riding race horses on the east coast for a season in his life. It was this Uncle that got me involved in barrel racing, pole bending and cowboy rescue, all through our local county fairs.

During the years we lived in Melrose, Iowa, there was a moment we didn’t have horses. We lived on a dairy farm, milking Holstein cows twice a day, slopping hogs, gathering eggs from the hen house, and playing with the kittens in the hay loft. One hot Sunday afternoon when the folks were taking a nap, my sister and I decided we would go out and ride the hogs! We got a whipping for that one. For some odd reason, Dad was concerned we were going to kill those sows, riding them like we were on such a hot day. Imagine that.

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Dad became aware of a farmer in our area who had gotten a couple of horses for his sons. In time, the horses outwitted the lads. Having some unpleasant encounters with the horses, they refused to get back up on a horse. Dad invited this man to bring out one of the horses and let his girls get the horse back into being ridden. Because horses are herd animals, we asked Grandpa if he would bring one of the Shetland ponies out so we could each have a horse to ride, and Gramps did. I will forever remember the day the “new” pony came. His name was Spotty. Our daily ritual was to ride, ride, ride; day after day; Spotty and Patches. When the farmer returned to pick up Spotty, he came with another pony, Buddy. Buddy was more spirited than Spotty, but that didn’t hinder sister and me from completing our daily ritual. All too soon, it was time for Buddy to go home. Early one September morning, the horse trailer pulled into the farm. To our GREAT surprise, Spotty was in the trailer! We were given our very first own pony! However, this particular Sunday was the annual Williams Reunion. Mother had fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad and cake for our gathering. Darn it! I wanted to stay home! I remember looking out the back window of the car as we pulled out of the drive. Spotty stood at the gate. I think he was as sad as I was. We liked being together.

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Then a horse that was being retired from working in the coal mines came to our farm. Ole Bill. Bill was too big for me to jump on his back, so we had an agreement. He would put his head down so I could put the bridle on him. Then he would nibble on a few blades of grass while I straddled his head. He would lift his head and put me on his back. I turned around, took hold of the reins, and off we would go.

In my Junior High years, my Dad took my sister and me to an auction at the sales barn in Albia, Iowa. He bought two yearlings that day; a filly and a colt. My sister claimed the bay mare, and named her Baby Doll. I claimed the ugly, all legs, Appaloosa colt who I named Watoosee. You’ve heard of the ugly duckling story? That would describe my beloved Watoosee.

In Albia, Huber Saddle Shop, (owned by Bill & Opal Huber), made the best saddles around. Mother bought my sister and me each a saddle. I still have that saddle. When I celebrated Mother’s 85th, a girlfriend (Vera) and I drove out to the saddle shop. Their son, Billy Huber, won the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo Championship on March 16th, 2015, after tying his calf in a record breaking 7.4 seconds. Way to go, Billy!

Celebrating Mother’s birthday this December has brought me into an awareness of celebrating my life, which is filled with horses and horse people. May we be truly “CELEBRATING LIFE” as we remember the birth of Christ in a manger. He is the source of life and more abundant life! Merry Christmas, Athens Now “Neigh”bor, Merry Christmas.
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Horse Whispering – Ponytail

11-20-2015 3-49-22 PMWhen someone takes three strands of hair and braid it together, “Voila?,” we have a ponytail! A three stranded cord is not easily broken.

This Thanksgiving month, I want to talk to you about what is possible when we braid a dream, desire and destiny together! This comes to you through a story of a sixty-two year old woman who simply had a dream and a desire to ride a horse. Destiny happened.

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First of all, let’s define the three “D’s.” A dream is a vision, an internal picture; a hope. Desire is an internal longing, a want, a yearning, an aspiration or a need. Destiny is “future,” providence; a divine intervention.

What would you do if you had a desire to ride, yet, the next seven years held some misfortune between you and your horse? You found yourself undergoing two surgeries due to a horse/human accident. At age 69, your desire to ride remains, braided with your dream, and you are now in a horse barn safely expressing your longings and concerns.

Let’s face it; at this age, we don’t have the “bounce” we once had! What’s the first thing that happens before you hit the ground? You lose your balance. Having an “independent seat” is important. Many times when you don’t feel confident, it’s because your balance is not sure enough. The more balanced you are, the more confident you can become.

11-20-2015 3-49-32 PMIf you put your balance and effort in your upper body (your shoulders, arms, and chest), it actually makes you top heavy. It creates an imbalance. It’s when you connect with your core, a triangle shape (which is the strongest shape in the world) that puts you in the safest position on the back of a horse. Those three points are (1) right butt bone (2) left butt bone (3) belly button.
Find yourself a barrel or a good size tree log that you can straddle. Sit on object, right leg on one side; left leg on the other. Outstretch your arms shoulder height. Lift one leg just a little bit off the ground. Now lift the other one. Sit upon your crotch. Your back is hollow. Roll back on your seat bones, all the way to the spot where it dips. Don’t lean backwards; you pull your hips backwards. Suck your belly button back toward your spine and pull your ribs together. Keep breathing. Relax.

11-20-2015 3-50-07 PMYou are actually strengthening your spine. Your spine gets stronger when your abs gets stronger. Now put your arms out and anchor your weight down in your tailbone. Lift your leg just a little bit. When you are on your balance point, it should be easy for you to lift your legs or even lift your knees easily. Now sit on your crotch and see how difficult it is to lift your legs and knees! Now back to your core. Lift both legs up and down, (bounce, bounce, bounce) and place them on the object you’re sitting on, heels touching. You have discovered your core and your balance point.
Those times you are not feeling so safe on the back of your horse, here’s a thought: put your hands in front of your knees (do this on an object before doing this on your horse). You are leaning on your hands. Now push. When you push, your back is going to round. You should feel your ribs knit together and your stomach pulling. When you get this “pushing position” your legs should be light and you’re nothing but a “butt.” It’s the safest thing you can do. It’s way safer than pulling on the reigns; it anchors you to your horse. Push down on your seat bones, but don’t tighten your muscles. When you tighten your muscles, it actually lifts you up from the horse. Have one seat bone come down, have the other come down. It’s simply a release. No visible physical movement should be seen. It’s not tightening muscles, it’s releasing them. You learn the feeling by doing this exercise. It’s from your core, your balance point, that independent seat, independent hands, and independent legs are established.

You can have friends test you and you can test your friends to see if y’all have the “feel” of your core and balance point. If you choose to do this, remember to push don’t shove. Big difference! Push in on your friend’s shoulder and then forward, backward, right, and left. How did they do? Anchored? Flopping?

Hold fast to your dream, braided with God honoring desire, and sing, “I’m somewhere in the future and I look much better than I look right now!”
Your “Neigh”bor,
By: Deb Kitchenmaster