Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Friday, July 29, 2011

My First Alexander Technique

The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique

I just had my first Alexander Technique lesson this morning. WOW! As the day progresses, I have less and less tension in my shoulders and neck. By the end of today, I have no muscle tension or strain. Anywhere! I just hope I can remember part of what I have learned today.

Sally Swift, Centered Riding founder, followed Alexander and integrated Alexander Techniques into her program. She also wants all instructors to have a thorough understanding of both Basic Dressage, which is the foundation of CR, as well as Alexander Techniques, which is her foundation of proper body alignment.

All I can say is what a difference in how I felt after an hour of instruction in proper alignment of my body. First, Nada, the instructor, watched me walk. Then she had me sit down on a chair and stand up. After she analyzed how I did this, she had me sit on a stepstool to start my work. Nada helped me to realized how stiff I was through my sternum to clavicle and through my neck muscles.

First she showed me how to concentrate on my frontal lobe and to stand with my head first, without using neck muscles. She wanted me to release the muscles around my clavicle and stretch from my clavicle out towards my shoulders. She cradled each armpit and had me release my shoulder down into her hand. The results were huge, as I totally relaxed and my shoulders dropped. Then, Nada moved on to the elbows, moving them so my upper and lower arms relaxed. My arms continued to release until she could hold the very fingertips of my hands and move my arms.

Nada ran her hand up and down my spine, allowing it to relax the muscles and flattening my back. My pelvis tipped back.  She showed my that before, as I walked, my back was arched.  I was leaning backwards (which coincidently, as I loped, I lean slightly backwards too). Once I learned to stand with my head first, my neck and spine came into alignment, my pelvis was where it should be, I sat on my seat bones.  When I stood up, I didn’t lean back to walk.

This all felt strange, as what I had known before is what I thought was correct.  This new posture is correct, but felt strange to be sitting and standing the way I did.  But when I walked, I floated!

When I walked, I had a spring to my step, instantly, I felt like how a kid walks with a skip. Nada said I walked more evenly, as she said that before I collapsed the left side. I walked effortlessly, without a strain in my neck and without that tightness behind and between my shoulder blades.

She said that yes, kids walked like this, because they didn't carry any tension in their bodies. When I walk relax, I'll be able to translate this into my riding.

Next, Nada did some stretches with me laying down on a table, with my knees bent. She did some arm exercises so that my muscles would relax. She showed me how to breathe and think forward and out through my head, with my nose and jaw being a little heavier, allowing the muscles to quit holding my shoulders up.  She showed me how to lift my arms effortlessly, without any strain in the neck.

After I came up off the table, my walk was bouncy and even, with a lightness that I never had before. Now to translate that lightness to my riding.  I hope I can remember even part of this tomorrow.

What was interesting tonight, as I laid down on the carpet, with my knees bent, my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter laid down beside me, in the same position.  As I moved my arms, she moved hers.  How much fun is that to relax together.  Now, to just copy her an do my exercises with that same level of tension, which is none!

Read below to understand what Alexander is all about:

"The Alexander technique is a way of learning how you can get rid of harmful tension in your body. Although certainly not a full definition of the Alexander Technique, this is a good start.*

"The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is a simple and practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving you more energy for all your activities. It is not a series of treatments or exercises, but rather a reeducation of the mind and body. The Alexander Technique is a method which helps a person discover a new balance in the body by releasing unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and other daily activities..." (This more complete description is offered in "Changing The Way You Work: The Alexander Technique").

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Color will Fawn be?

Fawn is 1 1/2 months old. She may be changing color, and if so, the change may be drastic!

Her eyes and muzzle are turning dark.

 Her body color is still lighter than the red dun color of her dam, Goldie.

 Look carefully, and see the dark undercoat and hairs all over her body.

Her ears are dark tipped,

 and with the dorsal stripe, is she going to be grulla?

Dove is going to stay a bay,  a deep red bay, just as sorrel coated as her dam, Starlet.

I just love this pose. Fawn is watching something intensely, and Dove could care less.

Let me know what color you think Fawn is going to change in to!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We have pigs!

Horse related because now I have to desensitize my horses to these smelly, snorty, fast moving creatures. My babies are going to be wonderful trail horses!
Hubby and a friend decided to raise some feeder pigs.  They have been raised outside, so now they are occupying one of my smaller horse lots.  They are suppose to stay in with 1, yes only 1, low electric wire. I'm not trusting that, yet, since they just came on Friday, they are staying confined in a pen.

I just found out that Katie, my boarder has named them all. I told her they are going to market in November and not to get attached!

I'll get back to you with who belongs to the names of Lard, Bacon, Sausage, Porky, etc.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Caden in the Old Buggy

We were given this old buggy.  I really need to send it to someone to restore it. We moved it from one shed to another storage area. Caden happened to be here, and he got to ride in the buggy, while the guys pulled it to the other barn.  Caden really enjoyed his ride!

Uncle Micah is checking something out,

 and keeps checking things out, while Caden patiently waits for Pop!

I have no idea  what Uncle Micah is showing Caden!

Who turned is cap around backwards?

He was sittng on this paper, and decided to rearrange the pages.

Have you noticed Caden's white legs?  They aren't really that white, but stockings, mine!  The mosquitoes were so bad, and he had no pants, so did the next best thing so the bugs didn't bite him! Friends thought he was ready for soccer! LOL 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping Old Mares Young

Keeping old mares young, and I'm not talking about horses. I'm talking about their female human owners.

Why would I be thinking about this? Because I'm watching a show, an oldie but goodie, The Golden Girls. I just love those girls. They make me laugh!  And they are talking about jokes tonight.

Then I realize, this is a re-run, they must only be in their 60's. And then I realized, I sure don't want to look that old when I am 60!

Some of you might think, "I have a long time before I am 60. Well...let me just say that the 50's are here before you know it, and the 60's can just stay away.

If you are active, you stay young looking.  Lately, maybe the last 5 years, I started, finally, protecting my face from the sun. I love to tan, and I love a tan on my face, but the effects of sun are not a friend of youth.  I have learned to wear a cap ( I thought it was so hot to have a hat on my head). I don't "sun bathe" anymore.  Who would want to see this body in a bikini anyways? I do wear sunscreen when I have to, but  if you have a tan, do you still get negative effects from the sun?

All I can say is the typical cliche. You get better with age!


And I will NOT let the effects of age catch up with me for a long time.

The greatest compliment I have had is that I look longer than I am.

Than I wonder about my broodmares.  Do they look younger than they should?

I can say yes! My broodmares are 16. They look like they are less than 10.

Do I look less than the the horse equivalent of 16? You bet I do!

And I always will!

And so will my horses!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Buck, the Movie

The movie, Buck, came to the Ross Theater on Friday night, so I asked hubby, Tom, to go with me. Afterwards there was to be a question and answer session with Kip Fladland, who worked with Buck for 5 years. At the very least, I would see some extra insight into Buck. But at the very most, I would come away feeling something more inside me.

We had to go to town early, to be at a store before the 5pm closing time. After stopping at the bank, the main decision was where to eat. If we went to a sit down place, then we wouldn’t get out of there until 6 and driving and parking could put us at the theater past 6:30. If it was a busy night, with a lot of horse people in attendance, then where would we sit? So knowing that I didn’t want to be late in line, we ate in at Amigos, then headed downtown and parked less than a block away from the theater. We arrived and were inside a little after 6. Just a tad early, as we were the 2nd or 3rd set of movie goers. See, someone even went earlier. We sat and waited until about 6:30, when a lot of people started coming and forming a line. I thought I better get my popcorn and drink and Tom and I should get in line.

The moment the movie started, emotions came to the surface. Within minutes, Buck was seen riding a dark horse across a field, leg yielding beautifully. Gracefully. I could see Finny in that horse, and my eyes teared. Finny could move across the arena in a beautiful 2 tract at the walk and we were working on that gracefulness and finesse at the trot. Finny was beginning to learn how to do that at a lope. Thinking about this yesterday, while mowing the grass, I had a lump in my throat, barely being able to swallow. The what ifs and whys came back. We could have taught each other so much more.
Then as the story progresses, Buck talked about his childhood and the abuse he had to endure. Whip lashings on his back and backside, I’m sure a lot of verbal abuse, and inhumane treatment and indifference from a father who didn‘t show love.

Buck was asked how he became the man he is today, when he had to withstand that agony. I’ll never forget his quiet answer. Why hold on to the past and the anger? It’s time to move on.

Buck, the man, is pushed to do something, for some reason, with horses, and with people with their horses, leaving family behind. I see the desire to keep going. It saddens him to leave family behind, but he looks down the road and he is ready to keep moving. Keep moving. Get to the next place. For me, it meant that if I kept sitting where I’m at, literally almost doing nothing more, than I’ll never get to the next place in my horsemanship journey. It’s time to move on.

Buck was very fortunate to live with wonderful foster parents, that showed him how to love horses and gave him something to do.

One statement in the movie was from a friend, I believe, who said that maybe Buck has such a bond with horses because of his tortured soul, or something like that. That only someone like him can truly understand and get out of the horse what he does.

Maybe once there is hurt in the heart, maybe there is more empathy. That said, does it mean we can only get to a deeper level with horses only if our heart and soul have been beaten down and have felt the anguish of loss?

After healing. And time. And patience. And lots and lots of horses teaching you everything there is to know about horses.

I like Buck’s quiet ways. There is no harshness in him. Even when a horse is tough, there is no toughness from him. All there is, is a strong patience. He tells the horse he doesn’t want to hurt him. He draws the horse into his own shelter of safety. The horse can’t help himself. The horse will go to Buck.
There was a strong scene in the movie, about a wild, young stallion. Raised as an orphan, then left to run with other stallions when young. He was crazy! He attacked the handler, and the owner made the only safe decision. The horse needed to be put down.

Buck said that the human was the fault, and the human gave up on him before he got to this stage. But they said the mare died while foaling, and they pulled the foal, and actually had to breathe life back into the still body. They are thinking he was oxygen deprived. Wouldn’t that cause his crazy, unsafe manners more than being left with stallions and not handled for 2 years?

I don’t agree that it was totally because the human failed him. I had an unsafe gelding once. Raised him just like I raised the many foals before him. He snaked his head at me but never bit. I wasn’t sure if he would kick at me. But he did strike me, not once but 2 or 3 times. He went down the road. I should have put him down. Did I give up on him? Maybe. But how could a nice yearling who was handled throughout his 2nd and 3rd years, turn into a monster by the age of 4. Sometimes, I think a screw goes loose and they are not fit to be around people and to be safe. I did not give up on this horse. I gave him many chances. I continued to ride him and handle him. Only after he struck at me that last time was when I thought, this is it, you will never strike at another person again. Sad, but necessary.

That made me realize, as I listened to Buck and how he tried to help this horse, was that you have got to try. You have got to get their trust and their commitment to you, before they become this unteachable. That is it. That horse couldn’t be taught any longer, and neither could my gelding.

What I got most out of this movie was how thoughtful and understanding Buck is to all the people and horses and surroundings. He was calm, quiet, and so sure. He read each horse to perfection. He made them better. He made the rider a better person just by being there.

That is what I want to do. I want to make myself better so that I can make each horse better. And like Buck said, it comes from “feel”. The feel you know when someone enters the room and you know they are there because you have such a deep bond with them that you can “feel” them there.

Buck wants each of us to have that type of “feel” with our horse. To know them so well that you are one on one with him or her. That your arms and legs are part of their body too, and that you ride as one.

Friday, July 8, 2011

EHV-1 Final Situation Report as of June 22, 2011

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

I was gone when this last report came out:

There are no new cases and no new premises affected. Disease spread in connection with this incident has been contained and no further situation reports will be generated.

• Suspect and confirmed cases are reported to be under voluntary or state quarantine.

• Known exposed horses are reported to be under either voluntary or state quarantine.

• A total of 90 confirmed EHV-1 or EHM cases were reported in 10 states (AZ, CA, CO, ID, NM, NV, OK, OR, UT, WA)

• Of the 90 confirmed EHV/EHM cases, 54 cases were horses that were at the Ogden, Utah event.

• There are 13 horses associated with this incident that are dead or have been euthanized.

• There are 0 newly identified premises with suspect or confirmed cases identified this reporting period.

• With no new cases and no new affected premises, disease spread in connection with this incident has been contained. No further situation reports will be generated.

421 horses exposed at the show.

Primary Exposed Horses (at Ogden, UT event)
# EHV-1 Confirmed Cases 28 (40 # EHV-1 Suspect Cases)
# EHM Confirmed Cases 26 (6 # EHM Suspect Cases)
# Dead or Euthanized Suspect or Confirmed Cases 10

Secondary and Tertiary Exposed Horses
# EHV-1 Confirmed Cases 29 (22 # EHV-1 Suspect Cases)
# EHM Confirmed Cases 7 (4 # EHM Suspect Cases)
# Dead or Euthanized Suspect or Confirmed Cases 3

# EHV-1 Confirmed Cases 57
# EHM Confirmed Cases 33
# Dead or Euthanized Suspect or Confirmed Cases 13

# Exposed premises 242
# Exposed premises with suspect or confirmed EHV/EHM cases 62 (# New premises this reporting period 0)
# Exposed premises with no suspect or confirmed cases 180

I know I didn't haul much through the time period that this outbreak had been in the news. With hindsight, would I have done anything differently? NO! I just didn't want to take the chance that the deadly virus would have found it's way to Nebraska and 1 of my horses would have been one of the unlucky 3 that were later exposed, and died.

Maybe overkill (shouldn't have used that word) on my part, but I guess I was being more pessimistic than I want to be. I'm an optimist. Atleast, I want to be. I want to see the good in things. And in people. And in horses.

The fear of death got the better of me. But now, I can put that fear to rest and start hauling my horses more. The knowledge of this deadly virus will stay with me for a long time. And I will always dilgently vaccinate, OR not vaccinate for a specific problem after making a carefully, educational decision.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

DOT # and CDL Requirements

Due to our large horse trailer, and exceeding the 26,001# weight limit, Tom and I are in the process of getting our DOT # and ALL the additional info for CDL license requirements. Oh my goodness, I'm surprised they didn't ask for our first child (sorry, Sara!) lol

(and no, horse trailers with LQ are not a recreational vehichle and shouldn't be registered like hat, sorry, but that is for another discussion, not now, as my brain is going to be fried.)

First, about 3 week ago, we went out to Airpark, Lincoln, and visited with the NE Carrier Enforcement state patrol man.  We left with this packet of info, and many, many sheets to fill out.  We not only need to carry certain info with us, but now we get to expect a visit after 6 months from the Federal guys, so they can inspect our notebook and make sure we are safe and legit!

We have spent the morning, since about 9:30 until now, 4 1/2 hours later, and we have accomplished, on line, getting our DOT #.

We called and got our Driving Reports for each of us, to be sent.

We called the clinic to find out what we have to do for the drug testing, which is just walk in and give a urine sample.

We called Dr offices to schedule an exam as we need a medical card. 

We called to have our truck and trailer inspected, which will be Saturday morning. 

We have a call in to a person to give us a skills test.  Really! Me, who drove a dually with a 6 Horse trailer, really?

We need to go take the CDL test.  Oh no, after reading sample questions, and only getting 2 of the 5 right, I'll need to study.  Do you know what color your turn signal lights are?  Do you know what to inspect on the right front side of your trailer?  and 30 more of these questions.  I need an 80% or better.

We are in the process of printing off paperwork to fill out to send to the Lincoln office of the UCR, Unified Carrier Registration, to register our vehicle as such. They need to know that we exist!

We need to have flares, cones, PROPER fire extinguishers - do you know what class of fire extinguisher is needed? I do now, an ABC, I think, nowI'm confused as there are AB and BC and ABC's. I guess I better go back to school.

I have this check list. A few things are in the works, but only the DOT is checked, BUT I still need to get a sign to put on the truck!

more to come later....
wish me luck! I hope I survive the process. Ask to see the notebook sometime. You will faint. Logs for....driving miles.  Inspection of vehichle before hauling - each time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tyler is cooing and laughing

Tyler is almost 3 months old.

We were so amazed at how much he changed his looks when we were gone a week ago.

 Grandma likes holding him!

Oh, so tired, and he crashed for a little while.

 I caught Pop on his hands and knees, playing.

Tyler was starting to talk to Pop!

 I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dawn and Fawn

Dove at 5 weeks and Fawn at 2 weeks.

Already a trail horse!
Dove just puts her head down and walks on and off.
Fawn is turnig into a pretty foal.

I just love seeing the mares and babies grazing among the trees.


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