Defining Moments

8-23-2015 1-00-19 PMCan you recall a moment in your life that brought a significant awareness, an inside shift, or a sense of direction? Or maybe a moment when you experienced confidence, peace of mind, or a sense of well being that was empowering rather than performing? Those are defining moments.

Within the past thirty days, I have had re-connections with four different individuals that have had a session with me and one of our horses here at CORRAL CONNECTIONS. Of the four, I had asked one of them if they would be willing to share their experience. As a pleasant surprise, the others came to me without my having to request. Each of these re-connects was a defining moment for me and I am grateful. These re-connects have refreshed my memory of what and why I do what I do.

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First of all, it’s not about riding; yet we ride. It’s not about session upon session, and you need to keep coming. One of my top priorities for someone who has scheduled a session at CORRAL CONNECTIONS is to experience a defining moment and go live your life. Out of the four people that I referred to earlier, three of them had only ONE session. Please allow me to share some of their defining moments.

I received a message on my Facebook account from a CORRAL CONNECTIONS person who had recently graduated from University in Canada, and was coming to Huntsville. Could we connect and could she see the horses was the request. I had met this young gal when she was eleven/twelve years old, living in Huntsville, and enjoyed time with her and our horses. When we got together, she shared with me these defining moments: (+) though I was young and you were an adult, you didn’t talk down to me or make me feel insignificant (+) I remember you telling me that when I was with horse Annie, my leadership needed to exceed her own or there was a possibility she would not listen to me; that I needed to “up” my leadership (I “remembered” this in college and applied this defining moment more than once as a student) (+) I remember coming out to the barn and reading on the white board “a new barn rule:” NOT ALLOWED IN DEB’S BARN (the spoken phrase) “I KNOW THAT” by the end of that session we were laughing so hard because I had caught myself several times. I had no idea how frequently I said those words. It was a defense for me that was rooted in a belief system held in place by shame. My identity was “in knowing” not “being”.

8-23-2015 1-00-49 PMTwo brothers from Ohio came to Alabama to spend some time with their grandfather and grandmother. The two boys came out for a session. A few weeks ago, they were watching a horse event on television that triggered a memory of the session here. I received a phone call. (+) though it’s been three years I “remember” that “enriching” moment with the horses (+) enjoyed connecting with the horses (+)became aware of how comfortable I was with horses (+) how the horse looked to me for leadership and trusted me was amazing (+) grooming the horse was one of my favorites (+)when we return to Alabama can we come again?

It had been four years since I have been in the presence of this businesswoman from St. Louis, MO. She remembered her one session and shared in an email ‘my defining moment with Deb Kitchenmaster and (horse) Ruhammah was leadership training, grief counseling, spiritual guidance and balance training cleverly disguised as a horse session! (+) I was surprised when Deb escorted me into the barn and expected me to choose my horse partner for the session (+) I was instructed to take on the energy of a leader and believe, when I did the horse let out a big sigh “he can relax now because a leader has arrived” (+) breathing exercise was a great exercise all by itself (my focus changed) (+) Deb was called to bring forth another level of leadership in me. Years later I am still amazed by all that was accomplished in the Round Pen (+) I sobbed, letting go of grief and limitations (+) I was humbled by the patience and honor of my horse partner (+) I saw the mutual respect between Deb and her horses (+) four days after my horse session I had the opportunity to jump out of an airplane and I DID!

Thank you Thea, Miles, Markus and Carrie for re-connecting! It blesses me to know that your moment was noteworthy, significant and essential to your journey.
Your “Neigh”bor,
Deb Kitchenmaster

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7-17-2015 1-34-41 PMJourney: an act of traveling from one place to another; a long and often difficult process of personal change and development.

Yes, a journey is a process. If we go on a journey and do not change, we become a nomad or a wanderer. If we change without going on a journey, we become an actor or an actress, that has been handed a script on the stage of life. We simply resemble a chameleon. However, if we choose the journey, and we experience change, our reality is transformation, or a shift. We get our wings!
When the journey is about you and your horse, wing #1 is to get a connection with your horse, and wing #2 is to ask the question “What does my horse need?”

I just returned from a twenty-four-hundred mile trip, which had a focus, a purpose, and resulted in several meaningful connections. However, along the way I had to deal with some detours, adverse weather conditions, and road construction. Many choices were made during my travels, and timing was a major part of the experience. It was worthwhile to be adaptable and flexible, and remain “in the moment.”

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As we journey with our horse, we come to realize that pressure motivates the horse, but it is the release of pressure that teaches the horse. You become aware of your horse’s mental and emotional state as you journey “in the moment.” You focus on getting the mental connection with your horse, because this connection gets him in a learning frame of mind. It also helps him to avoid becoming emotional. It is in this learning frame of mind that confidence is built in your horse.

7-17-2015 1-35-00 PMHave you considered your emotional fitness and the emotional fitness of your horse? When I took my training as an Animal B.E.S.T. practitioner, I came to know that a high percentage of horses “integrate” at Level One. “Integration” is the place where all the energy of the horse synchronizes into a healthy, focused place, and can be easily experienced by the rider. The healthy rider, in turn, is able to readily “become one” with the horse. However, there are horses that need Level Two, which is dealing with an emotional dynamic, in order to integrate well. An example of an emotional dynamic for a horse could be associated with the herd, environment, feed, pasture, water, human(s), training or tack, etc. Our horses actually are interested in increasing their emotional fitness and they invite us to journey in becoming more emotionally fit ourselves.

Having relationships with other “horse people” is important. It is with these “NEIGHbors” you can ask questions, as well as share your thoughts and feelings. In these human connections, because of your horse connection, you get involved in the process as much as you choose.

7-17-2015 1-35-10 PMWe all get stuck from time to time. Interestingly, when we do get stuck, we seem to go backwards rather than forward. Each of us was designed to move (to journey), and change (transform).
Don’t be afraid to admit that there may be a place or two where you are not moving forward in your connection with your horse. Go to work on the places in your life where you are stuck, so you can get unstuck and move forward. Enjoy the shift(s).

In March of 2015, I wrote an article entitled, “H.E.L.P.” This is the key that changes the chain that has us stuck to the chain that pulls us out of our rut. We ALL need help from time to time! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek out someone that knows something you don’t, otherwise, you’ll remain stuck, and may even become more discouraged or frustrated. Receiving meaningful help will allow you to make progress with your horse until you get stuck again, and you find yourself asking for help again.

Being conscious and being present in the moment provide such fuel for you and your horse as you journey. For it is in the “being” that you become aware. In awareness, a space to take the time to consider opens up. It is in the “considering” that the Scripture says “the eyes of your understanding are opened.” Once you “understand”, you will be compelled to do something. And when “doing” happens as a result of “being”, rather than “being” happening out of “doing”, you are on an amazing journey!
All of creation invites you to:
THE JOURNEY!
Your “NEIGHbor”
Deb Kitchenmaster

6-18-2015 4-24-10 PMNew faces, new names, new friendships, and new connections are happening at Corral Connections.

In each session, I purpose to create a pathway for each individual that will be exciting to follow in the arena of connecting with horses and humans. An elder can teach ‘proper’ manners, such as saying ‘thank you’, but gratitude comes from within the heart of the person. Someone can provide a piano for a student and teach timing and notes and keys, however, the music comes from within. An individual can mount a horse and be instructed on certain techniques, but the riding comes from within. Within each person is a leader, and through the horsepower of ‘common sense’, I desire to excavate, awaken (that can be alarming), and improve leadership, with the hopes that ‘corral connectors’ will think beyond themselves. Why? Because when you think beyond yourself, you enter into the zone of “considering.” That, dear reader, is a mega amount of horsepower! When we consider someone or something, we ‘soften’ inside, and connect with the power to understand the person or the situation.

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What a learning process! It’s like a spiral. You go over the same steps again and again, each time at a different level, with new perspectives and insights. This type of spiraling is not regression. Each spiral represents growth.

Common sense is about being consistent, sound, reasonable, valid and rational. Being consistent in training, whether horses or humans, is one of the most effective tools used. We have to be effective to be understood. We have to be understood to be effective. If you were drawing a symbol of these past two statements, it could easily be one of a horse and rider.
Common sense reveals the difference between aggressive and assertive. Common sense encourages you to be as gentle as you can and to be as firm as you need to be with your horse or a human. How to be gentle without being timid is another spiral in the learning process. Common sense shows you what it looks like to be firm without being mean or mad.

Isn’t the learning process amazing! Even though our classroom is held outside in an arena of different sizes and shapes, and our teachers have four legs instead of two, we are learning! A precious equine student blessed me with a mug that reads, “In teaching others we teach ourselves.”

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Two sisters from Arizona came to visit their Grandparents in Tennessee. They chose to come to Corral Connections, and I am so glad they did! I received emails regarding what their first time experience was like for them. I would like to share some of their comments with you.

“My experience was ‘sooooooo’ amazing! I NEVER thought I could trust a horse as much as that. The horses were very well trained and so beautiful If you are scared of horses, then Mrs. Deb is the “Horse Whisperer” that you can trust to get out of that fear.”

6-18-2015 4-24-43 PM“My experience at your farm and horse ranch was so amazing. I actually got to connect with my favorite animal…….horses. I got to walk and trot on bareback. It was the most awesome experience I have ever had with horses. Horses are like humans, they need water and food. They also need respect and honor too. They need to be treated fairly too. Just like people do. Horses are beautiful on the outside and on the inside. I learned you can’t expect the horses to do everything so fast. We learned how to get them to trust us and how to get their permission to ride. We learned how to groom and brush them properly I will never forget how amazing this day was.”

What common denominator word shows up in these two quotes? The word “trust.” Whew! You see, “trust” is a major building block for a healthy identity. Learning to trust begins in infancy, and is the foundation for the toddler to learn about autonomy (independence) versus shame (inadequacy).
Thank you, Michaela and Chelsea!
Your “NEIGH”bor,
Deb Kitchenmaster

5-15-2015 3-25-51 PM“Grandma, I’m on student council at my school, (age 7; first grade,) and we are planning a dance for our grandparents. Will you come and dance with me?” How precious! With the kindness of amazing people in my life and the effortless re-scheduling that took place, Southwest wings flew me from Nashville, TN, to Denver, CO, simply to dance.
And dance we did- one solid hour of dancing! We danced the chicken dance, YMCA, slow dance (Grandson Aren made it easy to follow), Hokey Pokey, even the Macarena. What fun we had!
I want to thank Madison Elementary School, of Colorado Springs, CO, for the dance of knowledge and relationship. What a joy to see the elders and the youngsters being with each other, laughing, dancing and sweating.

5-15-2015 3-26-09 PMThe horses in our lives ask us the same question: “Want to come and dance?” The four beat of the walk or gallop. The two beat of a trot. The three beat of the canter. Let’s dance!
Aren enjoys being Spiderman. He enjoys dressing up by wearing a suit. Whether he’s Spiderman or in a suit, he remains ‘Aren.’ Whether you ride English, Western, or bareback, your horse remains an energy field of rhythm. To connect with this rhythm in an unforced way, it takes knowledge, experience, showing up, sensitivity, timing, balance, and focus to enjoy a beautiful dance. The satisfaction of unity, oneness and harmony is rewarding to us as we interact with the horses and human beings in our lives. There will remain place and space for trouble-shooting, for re-considering, for understanding, but this is worth the effort and priority, because life is so much more enjoyable when we partner! When we connect, whether in a corral, a classroom, or in a community, we build, make progress, and go forward.

In the environment of clipping, washing, sanding, polishing, grooming, and blanketing horses for the Morgan/Open Horse Show, I heard nine words inside me that have changed me from the inside out. “I need you to help me build My Kingdom.” I was aware of the words from the Bible, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….” However, my non-verbal response simply was “I don’t have a clue what that means.”

5-15-2015 3-26-20 PMIn that moment, I became aware that I was understood even in my clueless state, and that instruction was coming. That’s exactly what happened. Shortly afterward, I received an invitation to attend a conference in Missouri. “Building the Kingdom of God,” was the theme. The eyes of my understanding were opened to see that this building of the Kingdom of God comes through HEALTHY relationships.
Now we have a little problem. It’s solvable, but requires change. It’s rewarding, but requires honoring, considering and listening. Our mindset of horses as animals that need to know who the boss is reflects a different relational possibility than a mindset that sees a horse as an animal that needs to know who the leader of the herd is. See the difference? The human arena involves mindsets in relation to marriage, family, education, medicine and the spiritual, to mention a few.

The key word is HEALTHY. Speaking from my own arena of life, I have eye-witnessed how hurting people hurt people. Hurts can come inside a family unit, in the streets, in schools, in churches, in small interest groups, and in your own neighborhoods. Do you dance when you’re hurt? No, you sit this one out, because you’re bruised, sore, lame, broken, or limping. These are not dancing feet.
How many horses have suffered because they didn’t perform like we needed them to? Didn’t run fast enough? Didn’t run the barrels with record-breaking time? Didn’t cross the water out on the trails and caused us to be embarrassed? Wouldn’t load in the horse trailer, and our leadership was questioned by those watching?

This month of May, I am hoping that as you go forth in community and in corral settings, that a question will unfold in your own heart: “Will you come and dance with me?”
I hope you have fun. And I hope you will dance!
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4-17-2015 10-03-43 AMRemember the times when you have a song in your head that just keeps playing over and over? I am having one of those moments as I sit here at my computer. The song was written by Geoff Moore and Steven Curtis Chapman and is called “The Great Adventure.” Like many songs, I remember certain lines or the chorus but not necessarily the entire song.

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The first four words are ‘Saddle up your horses’. Nice. Sounds like a plan (a more likely plan when the spring showers let up). The song continues with:

“Started out this morning in the usual way. Chasing thoughts inside my head of all I had to do today. Another time around the circle, try to make it better than the last. I opened up the Bible and I read about me. Said, I’d been a prisoner and God’s grace had set me free. And somewhere between the pages, it hit me like a lightning bolt. I saw a big frontier in front of me and I heard somebody say, ‘Let’s go!’ Saddle up your horses; we’ve got a trail to blaze. Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace. Let’s follow the leader into the glorious unknown. This is a life like no other. This is the great adventure. Come on; get ready for the ride of your life. Gonna leave long faced religion in a cloud of dust behind. And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored. This is what we were created for. Saddle up your horses; we’ve got a trail to blaze. Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace. We’ll travel over, over mountains so high. We’ll go through valleys below. Still, through it all, we’ll find that this is the greatest journey that the human heart will ever see. The love of God will take us far; beyond my wildest dreams. Saddle up your horses. Come on, get ready to ride. Let’s follow our Leader into the glorious unknown. This is a life like no other. This is the great adventure.”

As people were setting up their chairs outside the round pen to experience a group session at Abba’s Lad Riding Camp, “The Great Adventure” song would be playing until it was time to begin. Today, Corral Connections exists to provide a ninety-minute one-on-one session or a 2-hour group round pen session, where the horse is the visual aid and teacher. I am the communicator between horse and humans. One of my intentions is to build confidence in others while they are learning.

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Growth occurs outside our comfort zone, and it is rarely comfortable or convenient. Inside, tender spots can become quite an adventure for us in this growth, exposing a mountain or a valley that is defined by our “reactive” self. The glorious unknown is to move beyond reactive to “responsive.” Reactive hinders relationship(s) while responsive builds. Another glorious unknown is when we simply “show up” and observe/listen for in the showing up, being present, and listening, we simply learn without trying to learn!

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When learning happens in this way, it is you who are aware of your results. You step out of fear and shame into the blazing trail of taking responsibility for your choices. Graciously, beyond your wildest dreams, you seek ways to improve your strategies in an unforced rhythm. It is you who sees the purpose of the lesson and feel responsible for your own contribution. Wouldn’t it be beyond amazing to “discover” a whole new horizon on what it means to be responsible? That word can be saddled to “blame.” What if that word responsible was instead saddled to liberty, joy, grace and confidence? Now that could be the ride of your life!

I want to thank Christine and her Beloved Willie for sharing some photos with me on their adventures. For fun, can you identify Colorado, Wyoming, Illinois (One Horse Gap Lake) and North Carolina (Triple Falls)?
Your NEIGHbor,
Deb Kitchenmaster

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3-20-2015 10-56-11 AMYippee-Yi-Aye! Spring is here! I don’t know about you, but for some reason this winter has seemed like a long one to me. The unearthing of a yellow lily and purple hyacinth has brought me amazing encouragement.

The word “HELP” keeps coming to mind, along with the question, “How do horses help humans?” Horses evoke processes within humans. Leadership processes to be exact, since they are true followers. The word “evoke” means “to call to mind, suggest, remind or to stir up.” Thus, Horses Evoke Leadership Processes.

How many times have you heard or said, “I’m processing that?” Simply, you have come up with a procedure, course, and some method, course of action or development. Each of us desires to achieve a positive outcome in the process (like a flower after winter). The beauty of increased hope, confidence, and a calm/focused relationship between horse and human are a few reflections of this process.

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I remember coming up with a plan of action to help a young grandson learn his alphabet. There was quite a lot of resistance on his part due to an attitude of “It’s just so hard!” Out in the barn, I hid index cards that had one letter written on each one. “A-Z” and “a-z” cards were placed throughout six box stalls, a grain room, a tack room, a wash rack, alleyway and two tie-stalls. Each time Evan identified the requested letter, I clipped a clothespin to his tee. The fun outweighed the hindering mind-set. The clothespins were counted, and a trip to Toys-r-Us scheduled. Evan, now almost fourteen years old, remembers that moment. He said, “Mamaw makes learning fun!” And this, dear NEIGHbor, is what we want to have with our horses; a relationship that makes it fun for the horse AND you to learn.

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Questions are asked during the learning stage, and horses are constantly asking questions, too! How they react tells us what answers they are getting. We call this “mirroring.”
There is no such thing as a “hard mouth” horse. There are horses with dull minds, however, who are shut down to survive. If horses are handled “unconsciously” for a period of time, they become dull. We want to keep our horses asking questions, not becoming less and less sensitive. We keep our horses sensitive when we practice relational leadership skills such as focus, feel and timing.
Horses benefit when time and space are provided to relax, play, and chill with their friends. So it is with humans! In fact, horses prefer fun above food!
When a leader chooses to be particular and progressive without being critical with their horse, something organic occurs. It begins with a bond that transcends into being focused, and then is expressed through playfulness. It develops into a calm confidence. Be interesting to be around. Be fun to be with.

Horses help people in so many ways. Self-discovery, honesty, truth-telling, confidence, focus, communication, and being a leader worth following are a few priceless life skills that these wonderful, effective, followers offer us if we choose to show up.

Horses are helping countless people who have physical challenges. One chiropractor stated that his goal was to be as effective in his practice as an equine. Horses are helping people with post-traumatic stress come into calm and out of anxiety. Horses are helping people behind bars understand the difference between being assertive vs. being aggressive, and being responsive vs. being reactive. Horses help people in managerial positions to trust vs. micromanage. Horses help people of all ages learn how to be responsible, vs. blaming everything and anyone for the quality of their lives. And so important, horses help people understand that life flows when we live connected vs. living disconnected! Truly, horses help people practice life skills.
Psalm 46:1 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help.” Thank you God for help!

Your NEIGHbor,
Deb Kitchenmaster

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2-20-2015 1-29-57 PMWhat “bundle up” days we are having here in the Valley! Layers are welcomed. Having lived in Minnesota for twenty years I understand cold, layers, and fields of white. Here in the South, we experience a season where the white fields are white with cotton. In the North we experience a season (sometimes longer than not) where the white fields are white with snow. Isn’t it interesting that the field of cotton can be woven into something that protects you from the field of snow?

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So, what is a conspiracy? Simply, it’s a plot, scheme or plan. Last month I wrote about the importance of having a plan for your horse, yourself, and your connections as we enter into a new year. The dimensional quality of the root word, “conspire” is like a 2-edged sword, meaning, yours can be an experience of “working together” OR “working against.” What you are experiencing is mirroring your relationship, whether it is with a horse or a human. The hope is to bring a unity. To join, fuse, and bond together. Connect.

Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Nature’s Conspiracy” is a connection with your true self to liberate you, to set you free, to release you, to free you, to untie you, to unshackle you, to unfetter you, and to let you go from what has you on a leash.

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In the book of Job, (35:11) we see that God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom, using birds and beasts to teach wisdom. What about the invitation to look at an ant? Being instructed to watch the ant closely, letting it teach you a thing or two. (Proverbs 6:6)

One of the beasts is the horse. Horses are wonderful teachers in the classroom of life, self-discovery and how much you are loved perfectly and unfailingly by your Heavenly Father. What makes them such great teachers and revealers? Their intuitive nature and their ability to evoke emotion in humans are their credentials. Horses mirror an illumination without glare our struggles without judgment. Horses are skilled at revealing “pieces of trauma that our unconscious mind hides.”

A woman called and scheduled some sessions at CORRAL CONNECTIONS. On our third session, I noticed the mare she was leading was walking as if her left hip was out. Being an Animal B.E.S.T. practitioner, I knew the horse was not “off.” After a few moments and “the look” from the mare, I realized I was present in an illuminating, revealing moment for the handler. The horse having done its part, illuminating /revealing, it was time for me to do my part, ask questions. I simply asked her to talk to me about her left side. A memory of a car accident surfaced from her unconscious mind. Though surgery had been successful and there was no visible evidence, her body was carrying some related trauma. The horse revealed this trauma and she was set free! That’s one snapshot of what it looks like to work together! Nature’s Conspiracy!

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One more snapshot from Nature’s Conspiracy album. On an ordinary day, a woman was coming out to talk about insurance. Her teenage daughter had driven her to the house with an understanding of a designated time to come back. Having completed the task, three of us were visiting on the porch when her teenager turned onto our lengthy driveway. We witnessed five of our horses who were grazing in the southeast corner of our pasture in front of our house raise their heads and come running to the northwest corner where pasture and yard connects single file. As they approached the corner, their gallop slowed to a trot, and they remained in their single file positions and formed a perfect figure-eight pattern. The insurance rep asked me, “What are they doing?” My response, “I don’t have a clue.” In that moment I realized I was present in an illuminating, without glare revelation. I said, “Someone in that car must need this.” This statement evoked questions and revealed a story. I discovered that two abandoned children had been rescued by law enforcement in the Huntsville area (we were not living in the area when it came out in the news). Long story short, she had adopted those two children. They were in the car!

The figure-eight pattern is the pattern used in Animal B.E.S.T. protocol. It is to re-establish a normal neurological configuration for cross crawl, resetting internal thermostat. The horses were revealing “pieces of trauma” one more time and bringing healing.

It has been said the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person. I agree!
Enjoying God’s Science Classroom,
Your “NEIGHbor,”
Deb Kitchenmaster

1-16-2015 11-25-20 AMHappy New Year AthensNow “Neigh”bors!

January is a great time to do inventory while assessing the horses that are under your stewardship: observing their health, their feed (no dusty or moldy hay) and their water supply. This is also a great time to consider a plan for a particular horse. What is it that you would like to enhance with your horse (see sidebar for a few possible goals)?

1-16-2015 11-25-14 AM• More trusting relationship
• More confident trail-riding
• Stand still while mounting
• Go around the barrels faster
• Jump a little higher
• Enter and exit horse trailer more relaxed
• Harness to a buggy, wagon, or cart
• Place in the first 3 or 5 positions at a horse show
• Competition in an endurance event
• Healer/teacher for someone, even yourself
• More clarity on your personality and the horse’s “horsenality”
• Deeper level of connection with the horse

You may choose to write your plan down, or simply meditate and hold that plan inside. To bring about advancement we need a plan. Or a song! Let me explain. If the horse you are riding is moving at an undesirable pace, select a song. Set the tempo and silently sing your song inside!

I was told this once by a teenager while I was riding in an outdoor arena the evening before a horse show. The mare I was riding had a bloodline of athletic performers. She had forward motion and energetic tempo. This precious teen came up to me on her horse and asked me if I knew I could increase or slow the speed of a horse by singing a song inside.

I had NEVER heard this before but I was awed at what she was telling me. I thanked her and gave it a whirl. It worked! The song tempo inside was much slower than the leg movements of the horse at first but I continued and the mare slowed down. I am so grateful this teen used her voice and had the confidence to share this with me.

Recently, I was asked how long I have been doing this and why horses. I was a licensed foster parent and our home offered a place for respite on weekends for a child or siblings. I had two horses. I began to teach the children about horses: safety, grooming, feeding, mucking, and with permission, riding in the round pen wearing a helmet. I knew horses had brought healing to me in varied ways and now I was seeing it happen right before my eyes with the children!

I had favor with social workers, teachers, school counselors, in-home caregivers and a handful of organizations in my community. We all worked together for the wellbeing of children in need. From this, I developed Abba’s Lad Riding Camp where I would have one-day camps (usually family units or a specific group), two-day camps and three-day camps. I worked with four young people (either all girls or all boys) during the 2- or 3-day camps and our home became their bunkhouse. I extended the camps to home-schooled children, community Christian school students and, having laid a foundation, opened to community.

On one of my birthdays, my life took on a new form. I held a baby in my arms in Huntsville, AL. I was a grandmother! In time, we moved from the North to the South. A desire to be a part of this little one’s life compelled me to pack up. It is here that CORRAL CONNECTIONS was developed. I changed from doing camps to offering one-on-one sessions and group sessions. The horse/human connection here is more about grooming, hands on, and ground work. These three tend to bring definition to leadership skills, self-discovery, belief systems, and confidence, along with communication, awareness and observation.

Horses are some of the best counselors our young people will ever encounter. Teens can learn how to say all the right things during a counseling session. They’re smart. Like some horses, they want you off of their back! What I have eye-witnessed is teens come to know their horse will not let them “get by” with anything! Life changing potential!
2015 – Rearin’ to go into the lives of teens and young people with horses.

2015 – Being an eye-witness of Abba Father’s tender mercies and perfect, unfailing love to our future generation.
Your NEIGHbor, Deb Kitchenmaster

12-19-2014 11-16-49 AMWe have a new addition to our herd, a sorrel mare by the name of Speck. She’s a beauty, an introvert, and “right brain” in the horse psychology of “Horsenality.” What that simply means is an introvert is looking for leadership while an extrovert challenges leadership. A right brained horse tends to be fearful/nervous, defensive, reactive, emotional, unconfident and spooky whereas a left brained horse tends to be dominant, pushy, tolerant, unconcerned, confident, and curious. An introvert has low energy, more “whoa,” is slower and has a tendency to stop. In comparison, an extrovert has high energy, more “go,” quick and tendency to run.

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I have come to understand that a “right-brain introvert” horse benefits from a handler who is patient, making choices again and again to slow down, waiting, and allowing the horse to come out of his shell at his own pace.

My new student/teacher combo is my first horse with these tendencies. It was interesting being in her presence because she didn’t seem to look at me through her eyes. It was as if she was within herself. I knew she was ‘internal’ and she felt ‘frozen’. I had hopes that by me being a leader worth following, she would thaw, and we would begin to connect in a meaningful relationship. Little did I know that her tail would be the very part of her body that would offer a significant connection between us.

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About her tail; it was more like a board than a tail. There were a few strands that weren’t stuck together, but overall, her tail was one cluster of entangled, compacted, solid hardness!

12-19-2014 11-17-15 AMPreparation to untangle tail was complete. I had tail and mane conditioner, an equine gel for grooming called “Micro-Tek,” infamous baby oil, warm water, and towels. In addition, I had the tools of brushes, curry comb, fingers, a mane comb with a hook on one end, a pocket knife (every horse person needs a reliable knife), and a pair of scissors.

Plan of action to untangle tail was on the agenda for the day. Where do you start? At the end of the tail! What a mess! She was anxious, and I felt overwhelmed. After 3 huge fistfuls of massaging conditioner into her tail, it was no longer about her tail. It was about us. In the alleyway of the barn, we walked together, stopped, backed, turned, and did it over and over again. She was dull, disconnected, and borderline unconscious due to her running away inside herself. Through consistency, patience, and waiting, I offered leadership to her.

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Then the “wow” moment happened! She began to release huge amounts of adrenaline through blowing, rolling her eyes where only white was visible. A shift began to take place, and she knew I was partnering rather than being a predator. These animals are amazing!

For the next two and a-half hours, we would work on the tail until a free-flowing tail was excavated from all the entanglements.

Have you ever been stuck? How about a sticky situation? These moments are somewhat uncomfortable and awkward, right? At times you simply are overwhelmed!

12-19-2014 11-17-31 AM

I would like to take a minute and untangle a Christmas tale. It’s Christmas time in the city and the country. We are aware of a baby being born in a barn years ago and then placed in a manager. His earthly parents were instructed to name him Jesus. He was born with a purpose, like we are. His purpose was to give his life and shed his blood for the forgiveness of sin. His sacrifice satisfied the wrath of God, and reconciled us with Abba Father (perfect, unfailing LOVE), making us children of the Most High God, and part of a family. Up till the time when the Word of God became flesh, and dwelt among us, we knew God as Jehovah, Yahweh, I AM, LORD. However, we never knew HIM as Abba Father! Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man, brought to this earth a new name: ABBA, FATHER!

Yes, it’s Christmas! CHRIST Mirrors Abba’s Smile. Christ’s finished work on the cross has untangled you from sin, shame, and strife. His resurrected life has conditioned you to flow with righteousness, peace and joy. Swish, swish, swish! Use the Christmas “tail” to keep the flies of doubt, unbelief, and fear far away from you.
MERRY CHRISTMAS BELOVED NEIGH’bors, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”
Your NEIGHbor,
Deb Kitchenmaster

11-21-2014 6-30-09 PMThank You! Sometimes these two words may seem insufficient in expressing or showing someone gratitude and appreciation. Needless to say, I want to thank each of you for reading the HORSE WHISPERING column. Thank you for the emails you have sent to me, your statements, questions and requests. I enjoy hearing from each of you.

A BIG ‘thank you’ to our wonderful horses that have been bridges connecting me with friends, new faces, teachers, students and horse lovers!
In the summer of 2013, I made a decision to take applications for a mentoring program where I would select one person with the objective of laying a foundation of basic horsemanship that included grooming, ground work, and riding. In the spring of 2014, this individual was selected to represent Alabama in Washington, D.C., through 4-H. Working with horses is a great venue to empower young people to be the best they can be while developing leadership skills. Being with horses is a great arena to build confidence and compassion. With the completion of the ‘mentoring program,’ my focus has been redirected to horses.

11-21-2014 6-31-19 PM

Three new horses and three new friendships have trotted into my life! We are scheduled to attend a horse conference to further our education and understanding and plan on working together in getting these horses ‘safe’ for young people. We will be preparing these horses mentally and physically before connecting them with our hands-on program. One of the beauties of this goal is we humans will be entering a classroom of awareness to our emotional fitness!
Being in the presence of horses to train mentally and physically requires emotional fitness on the human’s behalf. Each of us will notice how easily or how often we may get angry, afraid, or frustrated. Then, we each decide if we want to change. I am grateful to have these new connections. This is a beautiful opportunity to increase emotional fitness during this training time.

As 2014 is nearing the end, I am remembering what I am grateful for and expressing my thankfulness! Thank you to each of you within the state and out of state that stopped in and spent some time with the horses and with me. Self-awareness was awakened in some, and they left the horse arena to be an excellent leader in the corporate arena. Thank you to the person who was challenged by their horse to stop being so rigid and be willing to be flexible. Thank you to the youths where ‘trust’ was the classroom with the horse as their teacher.

Thank you for the tears you let flow when the horse was touching every raw emotion you didn’t know you had. How you got a taste of what it was like, not to necessarily be in control of your emotions, but to make a decision that you simply don’t let your emotions be in control of you. Thank you to each of you that a horse mirrored the importance of setting boundaries, and to some of you, not only setting the boundaries, but enforcing them!

Thank you that some of you realized it was time to take your life force up a notch and make a decision to take steps away from apathy and passivity to engaging and asking questions. Some of this came from “UFFDA! What’s wrong with this horse?” The answer: “OH! I need to be present and engaging!” MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL; AM I CONNECTING AT ALL?

Thank you to each of you who experienced a ‘pause’ moment while in the presence of a horse. During the pause, you made a decision on how best to respond to the situation rather than react. Awesome life lesson!

Thank you to each of you when the horse invited you to speak and think positive about yourself rather than blaming yourself or asking, “What am I doing wrong?,” or getting frustrated with yourself because of a communication gap. How you chose to reposition yourself inside and be creative instead of blaming; connecting instead of condemning!

Thank you for each card, call, note, hug, mug, and gift; expressing meaningful time spent.
“Happy Thanksgiving”! And remember the thanks are in the giving.
Your NEGHbor,
Deb Kitchenmaster
Corral Connections
www.corralconnections.com
‘A church of great heart’
256-426-7947
Animal B.E.S.T. practitioner
dkitchenmaster@mchsi.com

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