The Gentleman’s Club

Managing the herd dynamic is one of the top priorities at any barn. Horses, like people, are predisposed to like and dislike others according to their own personality and character.

While horses will identify their own pecking order, it is important for the barn owner to understand their horses well enough to know who should and shouldn’t be turned out together and encouraged to mix. Ensuring the horses are grazing among others of like mind and character is key to reducing the risk of injury and possible upset among the herd.

Bear, as we’ve discovered, is the horse-about-town type. He wants to, and does, get along with everyone. It makes him a natural leader. His experience with Zu Zu is a case in point. Now that she has left, however, we’ve had to find him other friends that share his particular easy-going life philosophy.

For the past three weeks or so he’s been enjoying the company of Wendy’s retired Prix St. George dressage horse, Konnor, and a young FEI dressage prospect, Dream. They’ve been getting along famously. In fact, Dream and Bear are often to be found playing and grazing together as if they’ve been friends for life, while Konnor hovers in the background ready to mediate if needed. He likes the ex officio role ~ doesn’t need to be in charge all the time, but will step in if required.

Bear and Dream share a tender morsel ...

Bear and Dream share a tender morsel …

 

They’re such a polite trio I’ve dubbed them “The Gentleman’s Club.”

Last week a new horse moved into the barn.  Midas, at age 19, is an older fellow and another retired dressage horse. The day after his arrival Wendy and J, the new owner, approached me about introducing Midas to our gentlemanly herd. We discussed the proposed change at some length. We knew the established herd was functioning well together, but wondered what would happen if we introduced someone new. Would it alter the dynamic? Would it be a good fit?

Every herd introduction is a social experiment. While J had her own concerns because of past injuries Midas had experienced, she assured us he was a peace-loving horse and, if anything, preferred to keep to himself. Her main concern was that he be in with a quiet group who wouldn’t bully or chase him around.

The facts were this: Konnor is 20 and the paddock peace keeper. Dream is eight and, having had two colic surgeries of his own, needs quiet companionship and civilized play as well as all-day turnout. Bear is 12 and just wants to be everyone’s friend. Taking all of this into consideration, a well as Midas’ disposition, we agreed there was little harm in seeing if they would get along. After all, you don’t know if something is going to work until you give it a go. So, Midas was introduced into The Gentleman’s Club.

As Bear was still enjoying his after-ride grooming session, Midas met the other two members first.

It is normal, when introducing horses to each other for the first time, to witness a cacophony of squeals and grunts and screams as necks arch and noses touch in greeting. It’s all part of the initial interview. There’s the occasional pawing at the ground and some ear pinning too but, if all goes well, this is the extent of the discussion.

By the time I lead Bear to the paddock it was apparent that Midas had passed muster. But Bear and Midas still had to meet.

While Wendy took Bear into the paddock I grabbed my camera and documented his interaction with the potential new club member.

Herewith my interpretation, in words and pictures, of Midas’ admission interview with Bear.

 ~*~

Hello, Midas. My name is Shakespeare, but you can call me Bear ...

“Hello, Midas. My name is Shakespeare, but you can call me Bear …”

~*~

Now, then ... let's get a closer look at you ...

“Now, then … let’s get a closer look at you …”

 ~*~

Now, the other side, if you please ...

“That’s good. Now, the other side, if you please …”

~*~

 

(I like him so far, mom ...)

(So far so good, mom …)

~*~

 

Here, let me show you the water barrel ...

“Now, if you’ll come this way, I’ll show you the club’s water barrel …”

~*~

Uh huh, you're good over here too ...

“Just so you know, it’s first come, first serve after me, buddy …”

~*~

Now, over here is club hay ...

“And over here we have some of the club’s select hay. Over here, I said …”

~*~

Good, good ... I like what I'm seeing. Your patience shall be rewarded ...

“Thanks for waiting. Your manners are excellent. I like that …”

~*~

Please ... help yourself ...

“Please, try some for yourself. Do note its superior quality …”

~*~

Here ... let me help you ...

“Here, let me help you with that …”

~*~

"Thank you," says Midas ...

“No need to thank me just yet … “

~*~

"I like him, boys, what do you think?"

“I like him, boys, what do you think?”

~*~

Admission granted ...

Admission granted …

~*~

The interview took all of 10 minutes and we watched in awe as it all unfolded. J said she’d never seen Midas relax so quickly into a group.

Well, it is The Gentleman’s Club after all. ;-)

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

Waking Up Is Hard To Do …

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

~Albert Einstein.

~*~

Just over three months ago Bear and I made a major change in our lives by moving to another barn.

The shift in awareness for us both has been dramatic. It’s almost as if we are awakening, finally getting to see our truth in the light of day. In fact, I even joked the other day that Bear is coming out of hibernation!

And I feel like Sleeping Beauty kissed awake into a new realm of magical possibility.

All the romance aside, waking up is hard to do. Life can be so overwhelming for many of us that we learn to numb ourselves to the day-to-day adopting, however unwittingly, a disassociated state just to get by. As a result we don’t feel present in our experiences and our lives,  and when we look back all we see is a blur. I know this to be true, for it is my experience.

To be awakened, no matter how gently, has the potential to wreak inner havoc. However, if are to be free of the over-shadowed life we must wake up and step into the light, even though it’s bound to be a bit disorienting for a while.

Wake up! Wake up!

The real life metaphor of this for me was watching a “broken” horse find his spirit again in the training theatre of Canadian natural horsemanship trainer, Chris Irwin.

The beautiful quarter horse palomino was docile and well-mannered. Ground tie him, i.e. attach a rope to his halter and just let it drop to the ground, and he’d stand there quietly, unmoving and disinterested in the world around him, just waiting for whatever was to happen next. He’d been so well “broken” that the light in his eyes had all but disappeared. The equine equivalent of a human zombie, I’d say. His owners, who’d recently purchased him and were concerned about his malaise, had brought him to the training session to see if the light could be restored to those big brown eyes. They wanted to give the poor animal a chance to feel like a horse again.

Cream-Coloured Pony

Be the free spirit you were born to be …

Witnessing the transformation in this horse over the three-day session was awe inspiring. Through measured and controlled groundwork and round-pen exercises Chris, and those of us who had an opportunity to work with the horse under his supervision, was able to help awaken the horse to a more authentic way of being. It was one of the most miraculous things I witnessed while training with this great horseman.

The journey to awareness for that horse was not easy, however. Even under these protective and nurturing circumstances the horse was confused and acted out. The notion of “awakening” was a scary prospect. However, by the end of the three-day experience obvious gains had been made. The horse was more animated and more engaged with the world around him.

The interesting thing for me was that as I observed the transformation in this beautiful golden horse I recognized the need for such a change in my own life. It’s when I began to realize the depth of my own broken spirit. It was another sign it was time for me to seek help and step into my own light.

Changing is never easy. It’s why most people choose to avoid it. But I believe that every time we resist the opportunity to heal and expand our lives in some way we entrap ourselves, and those with whom we interact on a daily basis, in an endless cycle of misery.

Waking up is hard to do, but it must be done if we are to realize, like the beautiful palomino, a chance to see ourselves, and the world, from the vantage point of our truth.

~*~

The Ultimate All-Terrain Vehicle

This week I unearthed an old project as I was cleaning out Bear’s file.

A few years ago I had a little fun with his official passport picture and created my take on the ultimate all-terrain vehicle. Sadly, the original image is not on this computer so I was reduced to photographing the printed copy with my iPhone and uploading it. The image is a bit fuzzy, but I hope you can get the gist of it. If you click on the image and enlarge it helps.

One Horsepower Has It All

One Horsepower Has It All

This leads me to share how Bear’s all-terrain capacity was put to the test earlier this week when we went hacking for the first time this year. After a grim winter riding in circles in the indoor arena it was, I hoped, to be a gentle awakening to a new experience.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve done plenty of hacking in my life but not much in recent years, and together Bear and I have certainly never done anything like this.

We accompanied a small group into the rolling back fields where a course of cross-country jumps resides. Before embarking on our new adventure, however, we worked in the arena for about 40 minutes to take the edge off.

It was the second or third time Wendy and her horse, Bravo, had ventured outdoors this year. She warned the ground was wet, but perfectly navigable. I felt confident enough and figured if not now, when? Sooner or later Bear and I were going to need to expand our comfort zone.

So, in single file with Bear the last in line, we headed downhill along a tree-lined lane way which passes by the old bank barn. In the summer months this is a really pretty spot of dappled sunlight. Right now, however, the lane is a mess of mud and melting snowy slush punctuated with tangled, fallen timber, remnants of December’s horrible ice storm.

Bear was a brave boy as he baby-stepped his way down the unfamiliar hill.  And, while he was attentive to me I hoped he would also feed off the confidence of the three horses ahead of us.

The lane to the pond lies to the left of the bank barn. A snow bank blocks the way. Jerome is in the paddock. This image taken in January.

The lane to the pond lies to the left of the bank barn. A snow bank blocks the way. Jerome is in the paddock. This image taken in January.

 

At the bottom of the hill and to the right of the path we passed a pond which is presently still frozen, and to the left an abandoned paddock awaiting its rebirth as a turnout space for retirees. The paddock fence ends at a river bank that cradles a small stream which, at present, is swollen with spring run-off.  This was all new to Bear. By his timid steps I could tell he was bravely facing his confusion. He wasn’t necessarily upset, but like anyone facing the unfamiliar, he was proceeding (as was I) with caution.

Then came a small wooden foot bridge that crosses the stream.

Bless him, Bear was not so sure about this. The other horses were already on the other side of it when we arrived. The combination of the snaking stream’s hissing, bubbling waters and the sound of hollow footfall over the wooden bridge was almost too much for my darling boy’s warmblood mind. He fretted, backing up and moving sideways, unable to compute the gentle aids I was using to ask him to keep moving forward. There was no point in getting angry or frustrated with him. I wanted this to be a good experience so he’d be happy to come here again. Wendy called instruction from across the bridge but recognizing our predicament was only getting more stressful, she rode to our rescue so we could follow her over. Almost immediately Bear began to relax and was happy to bump hips with Bravo across the bridge, snorting a sigh of relief when we reached the other side.

As we climbed the still snow-covered hill that led up from the stream, I was feeling somewhat intimidated by the soggy terrain. However, I reminded myself that Bear is designed to handle these conditions. All I really needed to do was put him in gear and stay out of his way so he could do what comes naturally … move.

We lagged behind our companions for most of the hack, but every so often Wendy would turn to see how we were doing and reassure with a smile.

Up and down small undulating hills we went and, at one point, into a little gully where water had pooled fetlock deep. Bear, whose all-season radials prefer drier conditions, put on a brave face and waded boldly through, even while his buddy, Dream, stopped in the middle and pawed and splashed like a happy child in a bath tub. Then, onward we went, past large, fixed obstacles, through the snow, slush, mud, and more big puddles. Bear was alert; curious, but he wasn’t afraid. He simply attuned to me and followed the others while quietly absorbing his surroundings.

Sure, he hesitated a few times while attempting to navigate around puddles and the the deeper snow, but I do believe that overall he rather enjoyed himself. He offered no indication that he was experiencing any undue stress. He was, it seemed to me, happy for the change of pace and scenery.

Soon it was time to turn around and head back to the barn. The hack was only meant to be a taste of what’s awaiting us as the season unfolds. Right now much of the property is still too snow- and ice-bound for exploration anyway.

As we approached the bridge from the opposite direction I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Bear, but being the bright boy he is he took it in stride and happily followed the other horses over the swollen stream and ice-covered pond, up the steep, slushy hill and back to the comfort of the barn.

It was a proud moment for me. Bear stepped up to this new experience beautifully.

Waking up, and expanding our comfort zone, is hard to do. Still, when we land in an environment that promotes growth and surround ourselves with people who care a whole new world can open up for us. An expansion of mind, body and spirit takes place that leaves us feeling stronger, more confident and prepared to take those next defining steps in our lives.

This experience was a lovely, gentle wake up call for both Bear and I.

I love those the best.

 

 ~*~

In the Saddle“Neigh!” Quoth He …

 No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.

~Winston Churchill

 

~*~

Thanks for stopping by.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Pony Potpourri Revisited … Time For Change

Bear Springs for Spa Time

Well, actually I sprang for some spa time for Bear this week.

As you know it’s been a long, cold winter. In addition to the new work ethic which is testing our physical resources differently, our winter-weary muscles have been expanding and contracting like cracks in the sidewalk to combat the bitter cold. Time for an early spring tune-up.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll recall that last year Bear was introduced to chiropractic care. This time I decided to try something different and enlisted the services of a highly recommended registered equine massage therapist (REMT).

There were no obvious physical maladies needing to be addressed, but why wait until there’s a problem? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

So, this week I arranged for a spa day for Bear.

Oh yeah, that feels good ...

Oh yeah, that feels good …

While he stood quietly, the REMT commented on how trusting and relaxed Bear is while being poked and prodded and nudged. What can I say? He’s always loved attention.

First, the REMT worked along the right side of Bear’s body and then the left. It was fun to observe my boy’s obvious pleasure at having his muscles gently massaged. For a full 45 minutes or so Bear languished in his very own la-la land.

You got that right ...

Right there. Right … there. Ya …

The bottom line is that Bear’s in pretty decent shape for a horse his age. He’s nice and free through the shoulders (blocked shoulders are a common problem) with only a little tightness through the sacrum. This, the REMT noted, was to be expected given the icy paddock conditions since the beginning of January.

When I returned Bear, all warm and snuggly in his cool-weather jammies, to his stall he was feeling no pain, which was just as well because a couple of hours later the vet arrived to administer Bear’s first intra-nasal Strangles vaccine. Naturally my happy boy took this in stride, not seeming to object too much to a straw-sized tube being ever-so-briefly wedged up his nose to deposit the vaccine. Perhaps not the most comfortable moment in a spa day, but there you go.

His discomfort, whatever it might have been, was soon forgotten and easily remedied with a generous helping of carrots and time in the paddock with his friend Konnor. Together they picked at hay and basked in the early spring sunshine for the rest of the afternoon.

And, glad to have given him this happy time, I left him in peace.

~*~

NEWS FLASH!

Zu Zu Says “Bye, Bye!”
Zu too

Bye, bye, Zu Zu …

Last week it was announced in the barn that Zu Zu, Bear’s girl friend since January 1, is leaving for other muddy pastures this weekend.

It was a short, but happy, courtship for Mr. Bear and little Miss Zu. The rising four-year-old Canadian mare (some said Mr. Bear, at age 12, had robbed the cradle) offered a ray of sunshine for the gentle Hanoverian gelding. Through the frigid and bleak mid-winter Miss Zu helped her handsome paddock mate feel welcome in his new digs. Together they trudged through mountains of snow and spent hours digging in three-feet drifts scavenging for patches of green.

Zu Zu called the shots. Bear followed her everywhere. Naturally, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with his alter ego, Shakespeare, a poet out standing in his field, penning his Sonnet XXV especially for her.

It’s a sad parting of the ways. Zu Zu, with her rambunctious nature and hearty appetite, will be missed.

Still, Bear’s response to the separation has been eased by the fact that he has made new friends of the male persuasion ~ Dream and Konnor ~ and together they hang out happily in what I like to refer to as the “Gentleman’s Club,” as they’re all so polite and well-mannered.

Bear and Zu Zu enjoyed a quality friendship for a couple of months. Some human relationships should last so long and be so happy. ;-)

We’ll miss you, Zu Zu.

~*~

“Neigh!” quoth he …

Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.

~Author Unknown

~*~

Defining Horsepower

Original horsepower

Original horsepower

Ever wondered about the origins of the term “horsepower?”

A search of the Internet brought this definition, which will appeal to all you beer drinkers and draft horse lovers out there. Maybe a few car enthusiasts too. ;-)

Horsepower is the unit of power in the English system of measurement. The term horsepower was coined by James Watt (1736-1819), the Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer renowned for his improvements of the steam engine.

 Definition

One horsepower (hp) is equivalent to 0.7457 kW in standard SI units. A healthy human can sustain about 0.1 horsepower, a car can generate several hundred horsepower, while a steam turbine in an electric power plant can produce more than 1.5 million horsepower.

Horsepower-hour is a unit of energy or work equal to the work done by the applied power of one horsepower over the period of one hour. The corresponding standard SI unit of energy is the joule. One joule = 3.73·10-7horsepower-hour.

 History

The term horsepower was coined by James Watt (1736-1819), the Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer renowned for his improvements of the steam engine. In the early 1780s, Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton set out to sell their steam engines to the breweries of London, calculating that they would be likely customers because brewing was such an energy-intensive process. In order to convince the breweries of the advantages of the steam engine, Watt needed a method to compare their capabilities relative to horses, the power source they were seeking to replace. The typical brewery horse, attached to a mill that ground the mash for making beer, walked in an endless circle with a 24-foot diameter, pulled with a force of 180 pounds, and traveled at a speed of 180.96 feet per minute. Watt multiplied the speed times the force and came up with 32,580 ft-lbs/minute. That was rounded off to 33,000 ft-lbs/minute, the figure used today.

A healthy human can sustain about 0.1 horsepower, a car can generate several hundred horsepower, while a steam turbine in an electric power plant can produce more than 1.5 million horsepower.

Source: Cutler J. Cleveland, The Encyclopedia of Earth … www.eoearth.org

~*~

Direct from Poet’s Paddock …

Spring

by Shakespeare “The Equine”

Spring is here;
Brings with it change.
My life and habits
Rearrange.

With paddocks closed
Alas, to dry,
Amuse myself in
Stall, must I

With dreams of fresh
Green grass to eat.
I count the days with
Stomping feet.

On warmer days
Bid rugs farewell
And feel sun on
My back a spell.

With joy I revel
In its beams,
As through the window
Pane it streams

Upon my shiny
New spring coat.
Handsome and dark,
But I won’t gloat.

And birds, they sing
Their song so sweet.
“Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! Chirp!
Tweet! Chirp! Tweet! Tweet!”

While buds appear
And set to bloom,
Adorning our great
Garden room.

Yes, I love spring
A time of joy.
Reminds me I’m
A lucky boy.

~*~

The change in the format of these posts is easily explained. It’s time to do things differently. Bear and I are experiencing such a profound shift on so many levels with our new coach in our new environs it’s a challenge to write about it at any depth. So, instead I’ve decided to have a little fun with the blog format, sharing snippets of our lives rather than delving too deeply into the inner journey. To everything there is a season and a time to change.

This seems to want to be a newsletter. This appeals to me well enough as writing and producing them my forté for a long time as a commercial writer. The format is looser and more dynamic. Should I change the theme to accommodate this style more readily? I don’t know yet. We’ll see where it leads.

I hope you enjoy it. Of course, your constructive feedback is more than welcome.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy :-)
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

A Happy St Patrick’s Day

A happy day indeed.

Here’s a trip down memory lane ~ my journal entry for the day a dream came true.

~*~

March 17, 2006

6:25 a.m.

It’s a beautiful day for bringing Shakespeare home. Not a cloud in the sky; not a hint of a breeze ~ just lovely …

Later the same day …

So, I have my horse!! My dream come true.

And he is the most beautiful boy both in looks and demeanour. I am greatly blessed.

He’s already endeared himself to a number of people, and his next door neighbour seems to like him too.

Shakespeare took everything in stride, even when he got tense in the trailer when he was first loaded. It wasn’t anything a little tranq couldn’t settle.

The traffic coming home was busy but not brutal. We took Hwy 4o1 and were fortunate to leave Hagarsville when we did ~ half an hour later and we would have been snarled in traffic due to a horrible accident that  occurred around 4 o’clock. We had just returned home about that time.

Yup, we had the luck of the Irish with us today.

When we got home Shakespeare stepped off the trailer a little groggy but none the worse for wear. Certainly, everyone who saw him was impressed by him. One thing that made a real impression was his pudginess. Yes, he is over weight but nothing that can’t be remedied. N says that when he loses the weight it’s going to be much easier for him to work ~ easier on his joints and legs.

After I walked him around the arena for a while I took him to his stall where he met his new barn mates, and then I spent a little time grooming him. He’s a sensitive guy. I had to nudge him firmly in the side when he got evasive to me holding up his left front foot. This really upset him ~ not in any angry way but more in a “why are you getting upset with me?” kind of way. He’s smart though. I had no trouble picking up his feet after that.

It was fun to spend time with him. He settled into his feed and hay without trouble and fluttered his nostrils at the shavings in his stall as he’d never seen such a thing before. (He’d been bedded on straw.)

He likes carrots, and he likes to be fussed over.

I think he’s going to fit in really well.

I had a rehearsal this evening so left the barn around 5:30 p.m. I’ll be back tomorrow to spend some time with him and will spend even more time with him on Sunday.

I am blessed.

Shakespeare comes homes ... March 17, 2006

Shakespeare, a strapping four-year-old, comes homes with me … March 17, 2006

~*~

As you might imagine, St. Patrick’s Day is a happy day for me.

Today Bear and I celebrate eight years together.

My plan was, of course, to spend time with him and spoil him rotten. Maybe even ride, if it wasn’t too cold.

However, the adrenal fatigue has caught up with me today and I’m confined to home.

I’m sad, but circumspect.

Life unfolds as it should.

We’ll both enjoy another day of rest and I can imagine him outside enjoying his new friendship with Dream.

How appropriate!

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy :-)

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Pony Potpourri

And now for something completely different …

~*~

“He’s of the colour of the nutmeg. And of the heat of the ginger…. he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him; he is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts.”

~William Shakespeare, Henry V

~*~

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Deborah, a budding equestrian photographer.

She asked if she could take some photos of Bear and, as you can imagine, I had no problem with that … and neither did he.

Deborah sent me a sample and I’m posting them here for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy!

~*~

Bear’s and my progress continues. A new level of self-awareness emerges. The act of processing ~ releasing the old and embracing the new, as well as creating new mental, physical and emotional muscle memory ~ can be tiring for both of us but we are growing together in a new way of being which is far more positive and forward focused than we’ve experienced.

Yesterday we went on our first hack in the snow. Yes, if you can believe it I’ve had Bear for almost eight years and finally we went for a ride (albeit a short one) out in the snow.

It’s a brave new world.

~*~

“A horse can lend its rider the speed and strength he or she lacks, but the rider who is wise remembers it is no more than a loan”.

Pam Brown

~*~

Bear and Zu Zu have separated.

Not as tragic as it sounds. Zu’s got girly things going on and Bear doesn’t need to be in the way of one of her mood swings. So, my beautiful boy is now paddock prowling with two new friends ~ Dream and Konnor. The transition has gone well. Everyone is getting along. However, I noticed yesterday that someone had taken a plum-sized chunk of hair and some flesh out of his hip with their teeth. His first battle scar.

I guess they’re still jockeying their hierarchy out there in the paddock, but my guess is he’s the low man on the totem pole. Poor Bear. I don’t really think he cares as long as he gets to eat.

~*~

Why is a horse’s frog called a frog?

A horse actually has four frogs ~ one located at the bottom of each foot on the underside. Its rubbery construct acts as a shock absorber when the horse strikes his foot to the ground. But where did the term frog come from?

Unknown

Source: Wikipedia

Some say it’s called this because of its triangular shape and how this resembles a frog. But I did a little research and found this at The Hoof Project .

“How the horse’s frog acquired its name is somewhat obscure. It seems doubtful that the term was derived from a resemblance to the back of the amphibian. Older English texts refer to the frog as the frush, which is confusing as it indicates that the word may be of German origin where the word for frog is frosch. Alternatively, earlier references indicate that the word for frog is derived from the French word forchetta and/or forchette which are best translated as a “little fork” which, in turn, is used to refer to a fork with only tines. This suggests that the two limbs, or crus, of the frog were thought to resemble the tines of a fork. Technically, the Latin cuneus ungulae describes the concept that the frog is a wedge (cuneus) in the hoof (unglue).”

~*~

“He flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”

Stephen Leacock

~*~

That was fun!

A bit of a horse hodgepodge, but a change is as good as a rest.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy :-)
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Bear’s Winter Blahs

Spring is just three weeks away but you wouldn’t know it to look out the window or gaze at the forecast. Winter still blows at full blast.

At the barn everyone ~ horse and human alike ~ is bored with it. And I know I’ve never had so much time out of the saddle during the winter months as I’ve had this season. It’s just been so cold.

And, too cold to get out the serious camera.

So, in the last few days I’ve attempted to capture, with my iPhone, some of Bear’s winter blahs.

Presented herewith.

Commentary in Shakespeare’s own words … of course. ;-)

~*~

Breath

The breath of winter hath the season chilled.

~*~

Chillin'

And yet, somehow, remaineth I so cool.

~*~

Alone Again

Zu Zu away, alone I am not thrilled.

~*~

Digging In

But bury nose in bucket ~ I’m no fool.

~*~

Carrots

For carrots glow there as a blazing sun,

~*~

View

And with a splendid view my heart might sing.

~*~

Bored

Yet bored, am I, when all is said and done.

~*~

Grass?

The grass is yet not green. When cometh Spring?

~*~

So dramatic. ;-)

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Where There’s A Will …

Connection

Change of any description, if it is to be undertaken with mindfulness, takes energy.

The move to a new barn at the beginning of the year has required a great (and positive) shift in the way I view the equestrian world and my place in it. It’s also invited me to step up to the challenge of beginning to live the dream I’ve had since childhood ~ of being a competent dressage rider.

It’s been a meandering road to get to this point, mostly due to my own lack of self-awareness and a life time spent in survival mode. And now that I am here, I’m learning to adapt to a new way of being while still negotiating the pitfalls of energy-depleting adrenal fatigue ~ one of the side effects of living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for so long.

Still, we’re on the right track now and it will take as long as it takes to evolve into the partnership I have dreamed of for Bear and I for so long.

Changes are already happening. I find it difficult to write about it while we’re in transition simply because there’s so much going on I don’t know where to start. And, I don’t want to exhaust myself in the attempt to do so.

Suffice to say that while I learn to ride Bear according to his training imprint he is gaining strength and stamina and is so much more relaxed. It’s almost as if he’s come “home” in himself somehow. No more arguments because my hands are so busy (because they aren’t anymore). No more miscommunication. As I begin to integrate the nuances of the new skills I’m learning Bear settles into a frame of mind that demonstrates to me I’m finally beginning to “get” it while he is more happily engaged in our work.

I cannot begin to tell you what a difference this has made to our relationship overall. Something has changed. A switch has gone on. Our bond is tighter. It’s as if as open as he was before he is even more so now simply because I’ve stepped deeper into his functionally imprinted world and left my own dysfunctionally imprinted one behind.

What a relief! What a gift! To see the world through his eyes and understand what it means to be “at home” at what you’re doing. The more at home he is, the more at home I am. It’s magic!

The elements of training that have brought us to this point involve a lot of technical explanation that I’m not going to get into, at least not at the moment. Suffice to say that working with a highly skilled dressage coach who has invested himself in Bear’s and my progress has made all the difference. In just five coaching sessions, and all the rides in between, Bear already feels like a completely different horse and I feel like a more competent rider. My default to hunter frame is a thing of the past.

Notwithstanding the obstacle of adrenal fatigue and the drain that is on my energy my dressage dreams live again.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

~*~

Speaking of wills …

Last year, as some of you know, I remarried. This has made it necessary to revisit and revise my Last Will and Testament to reflect my change of status. Of course, it’s important to adapt a Will according to any change in life circumstances. I’m no lawyer but I believe it’s safe to say that to file one once and never look at it again is probably not the smartest thing to do. Life circumstances change constantly and a Will, naturally, must reflect this.

As you can imagine, my horse figures into my Will, as he must. What is to happen to him (or any of my animal companions) should I make my grand exit from planet Earth before them?

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed …”
Antoine de Saint-Exupèry

My arrangements in the past have been pretty loose, as far as Bear is concerned. Now that I’m revising my Will, I’m going to tighten things up and attach to it a Limited Power of Attorney outlining what I want done for Bear in my absence.

This idea was suggested by the owner of the barn where we are now and I think it’s a great one. This way even when Lloyd and I are away on vacation there is a written document which stipulates the steps to be taken in case of emergency, and it’s all been established ahead of time while cooler heads prevail. Beats a desperate phone call in the middle of the night while we’re half way around the world and I’m having a panic attack. ;-)

When searching for a template online I came across this one from a fellow WordPress blogger at Capital Cowgirl. It’s most comprehensive and, as you can see, adaptable for equestrians and pet owners. I’m going to use this template for my other four-legged fuzzy companions as well.

If you are a horse owner and/or have pets as a part of your lifestyle, I suggest taking a few minutes to draw up a Limited Power of Attorney for each one and attaching them to your Will. As well, give copies to the caregivers in question so your instructions are readily available. This way you know you’ve done your due diligence with respect to the care of your animal companions while you are absent, for whatever reason, and the people to whom you have entrusted their care have a clear understanding of your wishes on the matter.

Bear is so important to me and, as you might imagine, I have given lots of thought as to what I’d like to happen should I pre-decease him. The option of the Limited Power of Attorney is sound and, attached to my Will, makes my wishes official.

And where there’s a Will … there’s peace of mind.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

When It Must Be Love …

Love bugs

~*~

When it must be love what does any equine with the name of Shakespeare do? Why, write a sonnet, of course …

Sonnet XXV

As in the dark of night a thief doth steal,

New love my heart hath seizéd in a trice.

And shouldst I share with you just how I feel:

Its thumpy-thumpy-thump is rather nice.

A feisty filly brightens this ol’ bay,

And so profoundly fills my soul with bliss

I scarce believe, this cold Feb’rary day,

A move from old to new hath brought me this.

*

I did not look for love; no, it found me.

And in my heart-home set most perfect peace.

Where once twas blind I now more clearly see

For ‘pon this life love’s joy hath wrought new lease.

And to my heart hath whispered pure and true

With lovely presence of my darling Zu.

~*~

If you’ve been following this blog for the past few weeks I suspect you knew this was bound to happen.

Believe me, my purpose with this blog is not to focus on Shakespeare’s (aka Bear’s) love life. Still, it’s part of his journey and I spend time with him every day, so how can it be ignored?

As I’ve noted before he is much happier in his work lately. There’s more spring in his step. Is it just the fresh guidance we’re receiving as we begin to learn the nuances of dressage, or does Bear’s (and my) happier heart also have something to do with it?

There’s more to life than work, of course. Love is what really makes the world go around, and love is what we celebrate on Valentine’s Day.

Frankly, I wish it was more than romantic love, and its lustful deviations, that were the focus of this day. This is a rather small and, on some levels, insignificant part of the story.

Hearts and flowers and dinners and whatever are all lovely, but the essence of love ~ the peace it brings to our hearts when it is true ~ is what I feel needs to be celebrated and promoted.

What does true love feel like?

A gift of roses from Shakespeare and I to you ... :-)

A gift of roses for you …

It can take years to understand that true love creates feelings of perfect peace. It allows us to always be ourselves. Doesn’t judge. Doesn’t ask us to modify our behaviour or body or destroy our spirit for any reason. Any changes that occur “in love” are a natural evolution of the expansion of our comfort zone while feeling loved and secure in the presence of another.

True love accepts about us even the things we find hard to accept about ourselves, because it sees beyond our weakness, insecurities and imperfections to our truth.

Being comfortable in our own skin, in love, is one of the surest signs I know that love is true.

Strange as it may be to say this about a horse, I believe this is true for Bear. Since basking in the winter sun with Zu he is the most relaxed I have ever seen him.

Am I a jealous mother?

No!

Zu Zu brings Bear a peaceful heart, and isn’t that what every mother wants for her child? ;-)

It must be love.

Nurture what you love this day … and forever …

Dorothy :-)
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Introducing Zu Zu …

Rather than bore you with yet another rant about how miffed I am about yet another dumping of snow interfering with my precious barn time, I thought I’d introduce you to Bear’s new girlfriend. Rather appropriate, don’t you think, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.

A couple of days ago, when it was finally warm enough to pull out the good camera, I captured a few images of the happy couple out in the rolling paddock behind the barn.

Bear and Zu Zu

They were hanging out by the far fence line, so I called to Bear. He turned his head to acknowledged me and, naturally, when he did, she did.

Zu leads

After a few moments hesitation, where it looked as if it they were discussing whether or not it was worth their while to interrupt their mutual meditation Zu Zu, it seems to me, decided it would be appropriate to make the trek across the snow for a visit. Or, possibly, Bear indicated to her he wanted to see his mom and nudged her along. At any rate, you can see that he’s quite the gentleman allowing Zu to take the lead. Or did she, the alpha mare that she is, just take the lead and he followed? Hmmmm … this is open to debate.

Bear follows

Either way, they trudged happily together through the snow to the gate and, as any gentleman would, Bear stood back to allow his beauty to star in her very own picture.

Zu Zu

Zu Zu is a rising four-year-old mare of the Canadian breed.  She is much smaller than Bear, but what she lacks in stature she more than makes up in attitude. She is the boss and has wrapped herself around Bear’s heart.

And mine. ;-)

Nurture what you love  …

Dorothy :-)
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, All Rights Reserved 2014

Nurture Your Dreams …

Another snow day. Another day at home for me. Another day of fence sitting for Bear.

"All this time off is boring," says Bear. I want my mom."

“All this time off is boring,” says Bear. “I want my mom.”

I don’t like driving in the snow and since we’re expecting up to 20 cms of the white demon today I’m inclined not to go anywhere. I can handle the conditions just fine (though I’d rather not get caught in a blizzard.) It’s the numb nuts out there defying the law and driving with a cellphone glued to their ear that trouble me.

So, it means a day away from Bear. Some separation anxiety, but I’ll be fine. He’s getting great care and will be happy to hang out in the paddock most of the day with his new girlfriend.

He and Zu Zu are really quite cute together. The other day I turned him out and Zu was waiting for him. Bear lingered by the gate with me for a few minutes and then wandered off along the perimeter of the fence toward the shelter near the corner. As he rounded the corner he caught sight of Zu, called to her and started trotting through the heavy snow to be with her.

I guess it’s love. ;-)

Our first month at the new barn has enlightened me in so many ways.

My new coach, so knowledgable about the mechanics and nuances of the dressage journey, has opened the way for me to see my potential, which means I’m no longer so focused on the dysfunction. I’ve had three coaching sessions so far. Happy with our progress? You bet!

It’s so refreshing to feel hope.

The remedial work at the old barn was fine. It prepared me for this amazing time of expansion and growth. I’m really grateful. Still, I’m just as happy not to be focusing backwards anymore. It’s “Forward ho!” all the way now.

And Bear is so much happier in his work because I’m finally starting to ride him the way he was designed to be ridden.

The key is to create more forward momentum.

“He is a lazy horse,” my new coach jokes kindly, knowing full well that there is something there to be tapped.

Thankfully, Bear is not condemned to laziness. With each session, and under my coach’s expert eye and instruction, Bear becomes sharper and more energized. Transitions become easier. My forty-plus years riding horses is finally manifesting confidence I haven’t felt before. I’m discovering I’m more than the sum of my parts.

Hands still. Legs still. Sit still. Create the energy, get out of Bear’s way and flow with it. This has been the most important lesson so far. Bear loves it. I can ride it.

We don’t argue about canter as much. Sure, there’s room for improvement, but now the door is open we can walk right in and do something about it. When I first arrived at the barn a month ago I thought I’d have to get my new coach to pop on Bear a couple of times to sharpen him up. We even talked about it. But it hasn’t happened yet because, with his guidance, I’ve discovered I’m able to do it myself!

Words cannot express how amazing this feels.

The difference in Bear in just a few riding sessions (most of January was a write-off due to the weather, remember) has been remarkable. I’m so happy for us both. And yesterday I believe coach witnessed Bear’s true potential for the first time. Wendy shared with me a comment he’d made to her that Bear is a “lovely horse.” When a coach of his training (of the German school) and experience makes an unsolicited comment like that it means a great deal. I’m so thrilled for Bear.

So, the first month of this new life chapter has been great. I am excited for our future, am relishing the present and have filed the past.

One brief comment about looking back.

I believe my horse had been telling me for a long while it was time for a change. It’s not that I wasn’t listening. Timing is everything. I’d investigated moving before, but nothing ever came of it. This time, however the change manifested in such a short period of time. From the barn search to the move, with lots of meditation and due diligence in-between, was just a month. It’s clear to me this was meant to be.

When we keep our dreams alive, one way or another, everything unfolds as it should.

Nurture your dreams. Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom :-)

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014