Friday, March 4, 2016

Stress and Communication

Stress is something that effects every thing in the world and beyond. It is impossible to avoid. Stress comes in many forms, physical pressure, assumed pressure, emotional tension, situations, expectations and many more. A psychologist will tell you there are 3 types or groups. Acute, Episodic Acute, and Chronic stress. And great detail can be put into each classification. But for the purpose of this Blog, I just want to talk about things to look for so we can better understand there effects on our Horsemanship.

We will more easily see stress in the horses we work with before we recognize it in ourselves. It goes unnoticed in ourselves all to often. Symptoms of stress can be things like, mood changes, sickness, elevated heart rate, muscle tension or stiffness, poor circulation, depression, and Anxiety to name a few. We often miss the signs because the cause of the stress has us otherwise engaged in the problem instead of its cure. Being aware of our thoughts and feelings can help us recognize it. We can't make a change if we don't see what is really happening.

I will start by talking about recognizing stress in our horses first. This will help us later to turn the attention back onto ourselves so we can understand it better. A horse shows signs of stress frequently. You will see it in their posture and attitude first, more than likely. Inhibition and Anxiety are caused by stress and this is very noticeable when it is present in a horse. Specially if it's severe. If it's mild you may notice some movement, maybe some muscle tension or stiffness, high headed and alert, tail up or swishing, or a change in breathing. The more severe it is the more movement you will see. They start to become fixated on an idea, most often that will be getting away or what the rest of the herd is up to, but if it is real severe they may challenge you or hurt themselves to get away.

If you have worked with horses enough, then you know that the more a horse is stressed, the less they understand. The same is true that the less a horse understands the more they are stressed.When they get like this, they are not even interested in trying. They become one track minded. We do the same thing when we are stressed as well. While working with a stressful horse we become their Psychologist. We have to go back to a place where the stress is manageable. Most times we can not remove it completely but we can help them work through it if we start in a place they can handle. We offer them options and when they find them, some of the stress gets relieved. It gets relieved through understanding. The pressures of stress cause them, (and us) to feel trapped or helpless, even hopeless at times. Learning there are options gives hope. figuring out these options gives understanding and power over the stresses.

Now for us the stresses in our lives are much more complicated. We carry stresses around for decades sometimes. These stresses effect all areas of our lives. Stresses from childhood can stay with us and effect us till retirement if we don't recognize it and get a handle on it. As I mentioned above, the stresses most often go unnoticed because it keeps us fixated on the cause and not the cure. Everybody has their own stresses in life and I could write a whole book on this topic. But I really just want to shine a light on it for those of us who may not have been lucky enough to see it for what it really is and are living with it un-managed.

I guess the best way to do this is to write about a personal experience. I really don't know where to start because I know my stress begins in my childhood. I always struggled to try and fit in. Never really feeling accepted. I had friends and was good at many things. That did get me some attention. But I was not very popular. I really had no desire to be popular either. I found the popular crowd for the most part, very childish. Saying things about others to knock them down and raise themselves up. Not for me. But it did leave me feeling like an outcast. Even though I knew I could do so much. School was easy for me, I always had good grades. Maybe because it wasn't a social event for me. I was really good at sports which you would think would make me popular. But for many I saw my talent in sports made them feel less about their own skills. Many of them feeling the need to try and discredit me as a person so they don't look bad as an athlete. I never really understood what was really going on as a child but I knew I didn't like it so I stopped playing sports even though I loved it and was good at it. In a way I'm glad I did, in other ways not so much. But because I stopped activities like that in 8th grade, I started studying up on things like Understanding human behavior and my interest in horses. I never knew the 2 would go so good together. I learned at a young age that all the stuff I was experiencing was typical and an understanding of what was really going on. It gave me some relief, but the stresses still follow me around even today. Even though I know all of that was not directly related to me. They were just dealing with and responding to their own stresses which did directly effect me. I have learned to forgive the people in my past and any here in the present because of my understanding. But seeing it all around me happening to so many people it is still stressful to me.Though now I am more equipped to deal with it.

Another example I can give that shows how stress can effect communication. More recent in my life, In August of 2014 I broke my ankle. Being self employed with an overhead that I needed to cover, being out of commission for even just a couple weeks is difficult never mind not being up to full capacity for 6 to 8 months. Between the financial stresses, the worry of how good and fast I would heal, not being able to do things for myself and relying on others, not being able to be a positive part of other peoples lives, and maybe more that I just haven't recognized. I was really slipping into a depression. A few people really stepped up and helped and for them I am truly great full. But being a person who would rather give than to receive, it was very stressful for me to know that my problem became their problem. I had no way to compensate them. All I could do was say thank you. Falling behind financially (to a point in which I still have not fully recovered) I attempted to do a demonstration 6 months after my ankle brake. There were many stresses involved with myself and the horse in this Demo. Even though I felt I was being scammed by the horses owner, which turned out later to be true, I felt a strong need to do this Demo for many reasons.  I felt like I needed to show people that I am healed and ready to work again so people would start coming for help again. My financial situation depended on it. I really needed to feel needed at that point after needing others so much for the last 6 months. Also the fact that I wasn't able to work the way I would've normally worked because it was winter, even though we had a heated arena, It was so cold out side that the ground froze and lifted at the front door to where it wouldn't open. Because of this and the fact that people had to come in through the barn, I set up a round pen in the arena so people could come and go through the arena. I would've normally worked this horse loose in the arena and not in such a confined area. There were a lot of stresses involved for the horse as well. She was 6 years old and not even weaned from her mom. Still nursing in fact. She had never been worked with and never had left the place where she was born. So you could imagine how stressful being in an indoor arena, fenced in a 45 foot round pen out of site of her mom, with people all around would be to her.  What that horse needed in that situation was to be worked in a typical round pen fashion. Being as I don't care to work like that and I would rather have had her loose in the arena, letting her get as far away from everyone as possible and work at building her confidence to come be with me. I didn't see what the horse really needed. I wanted so bad  to show my method of working and didn't pay enough attention to the stresses of the situation. Her stress on top of my stress made it so that there was pretty much no communication. I was never able to show what I intended to that day. The good thing is I learned a very valuable lesson in planning and compassion. I kept the horse for a week and worked with her the way she needed me to and made great progress before I brought her home. Unfortunately I didn't get to show it in the Demo. But this is a great example of how stress can effect communication and how easy it is to go unnoticed at the time. It really made a mess of things that day. A mistake I am sad to have made, but grateful for what it has taught me.

It really is important to manage our stress on a daily basis. It is difficult but truly necessary. Stress blocks out the truth sometimes.  It causes inhibition and anxiety. That worry doesn't allow us to see what is really there. Unfortunately life is becoming more and more stressful. More of the truth is being lost every day. Because of how each and every one of us deal with stress, we end up passing our stress on to someone else. When it changes hands like that it gets changed into something different. Blinding us all into our own little reality. Its no wonder everyone is arguing, taking sides and getting offended. And unfortunately again it creates more stress. Interfering with our communications. Through Faith, Hope and Understanding we can wash away our worries and fears. ISAIAH 35:5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.

Thanks for reading

Monday, February 29, 2016


Motivation is really just energy in the form of desire. If we can build energy and convert it to desire or even inspiration, We can create Motivation. Whether it be we are motivating ourselves, someone else or our horses. Many of us have no problem building energy. That's the easy part. Making sure it doesn't turn into anxiety or inhibition is where the difficulty is. Energy that is misunderstood causes worry or concern. This causes anxiety and inhibition. Even massive amounts of energy, as long as it is clear and understood, will guide and encourage and lead to desire. Inspiring desire with guidance is very strong motivation.

I chose this topic for my own personal reasons. I write this Blog to help others but for me its a way to dig into a subject to find facts and better understanding on things that have come up with me or someone I am working with at the time. Sometimes, I use it as a way to keep things fresh in my mind during times that are slow and I don't have as many customers coming for lessons and classes to keep things fresh. This time of year things slow way down, so I have to work hard at Motivating myself. Motivation is something we all need to help keep us going. It is an important factor in life. Without it we feel as though we really have no purpose. We become lazy. Its important for us to find motivation daily.

Everyone is slightly different when it comes to what motivates them. For me, my biggest motivator is knowing I am doing something worth while. If I get to feeling like its a useless cause, or nobody really cares, then I lose motivation. I am sure I'm not alone. Just by writing this I feel like I am doing something worthy for myself and anyone who may read it. therefore its motivating to me. I hope it is for you as well.

Other motivations can be from expectations of others, we may be financially motivated, we can be motivated by fear of something happening, we can be motivated through inspiration, wanting to finish something, or being a part or something may motivate us. I'm sure there are many more.

In Horsemanship, we not only need to be motivated, we need to find ways to motivate. For me to motivate is to inspire and encourage. To inspire creates desire and drive. To encourage builds confidence. If we are confident, we are more motivated to try. If we have desire, drive and confidence, there is nothing that can stop us from doing whatever we are trying to accomplish. I said above, doing something worth while is encouraging for me so this is how I like to motivate. By offering a task that has purpose to the horse, it will motivate them and encourage them. I feel it builds desire. This example may have a half a dozen or more stages to it before it gets to the end result. Mainly because they may not understand it all, they may not have confidence, or have a low self esteem in the beginning. But having a purpose and a reason for being is very motivating. So be sure to give purpose to your tasks, it will surely help with motivation.

There are many ways people try to motivate a horse. They fall into 2 simple groups. Positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Basically positive reinforcement lets them know when they did something right and negative reinforcement lets them know they did something wrong. There are many techniques out there. Some of them use both positive and negative at the same time. Some times, if your not aware of all the variables, Positive reinforcement can have a negative effect and negative reinforcement can have a positive effect. Having a better understanding of things will help you through this.

Positive reinforcement is the preferred method and by far the best use of motivation in Horsemanship. Done properly it is a great way to work. Its encouraging, its builds trust, confidence, and understanding for what we want. But I have to say, I see a lot of positive reinforcement that really makes a mess of things. What many people don't understand is, that we can positively reinforce the try right out of a horse. Or in some cases, positively reinforce bad behavior. I see it all the time. We need to be careful of this. If we reward a try, that's positive reinforcement. If we never advance, holding them to a higher standard as we progress, then they learn to just do the bare minimum.  Any time your horse gets nervous and you try to reassure them, you are reassuring their nervousness. Every time you use food as a positive reinforcement to trick your horse to be caught, you are reassuring that they really can't trust you. Treats as reward if done properly are fine, but as trickery you lose points. Even though it works.

Asking a horse to do a job is a form of Positive reinforcement and a great way to motivate. It gives them purpose and reason to respond once they know what its all about. Knowing they are doing something worth while puts their mind towards a worthy cause and away from fear and inhibitions. As I said above, they may not have the confidence at first. But with encouragement and guidance their confidence will come.

Negative reinforcement is commonly used as well. Even though it has some benefits, I think it should be a last resort use. Example. Some people will instantly whack a horse for trying to bite them. Understandably I guess. But there are ways to do this positively without whacking. Like, ask them to do something that gets them to move their mouth away from you, like side pass or turn on the haunches, then reward them for doing it. If you are clear about how close their mouth can come to you, they won't try to bite. You maintain leadership and gain respect. A real persistent horse may not get it and then, "Last resort" you whack them. But give them plenty of time to learn what you do want first. Negative reinforcement works but just like tricking with food, you lose trust. If you have to do it more than one time, you need to reevaluate your process.

Anytime I feel that I need to make a correction, I like to do what I call "Redirect and Reward" This is a form of using Positive and Negative reinforcement at the same time. By saying, "No, don't do that, do this instead" I find this to be a great way to motivate and redirect unwanted energy and behavior. If we have a bunch of things that our horse can do and do well, even when they are misbehaving. Then we always have something we can do to redirect their energy and focus. To me its the best way to turn a negative into a positive. It gives more to encouragement and less to discouragement. It definitely keeps you respected and trusted. Every now and then you will have to make a correction, that is fact. But if we just correct, they may learn, but its negative and discouraging. If we redirect, we create an opportunity to reward, which is positive and encouraging. We create more desire to comply and less desire to misbehave.

Its nice when we get to the point that we can motivate with a simple request. When we are with our horse, riding or what have you. If we have a desire in us and the horse to help each other, then we are both easily motivated. If this is the case then each step and every move is in perfect time with needs and wants from both of us. We are connected through thoughts, needs and desires. Everything feels seamless. Motivations just happens. No need to ever think about it.

Thanks again for reading along. I hope you enjoyed it and find it Motavating.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

All The Worlds Problems

I'd like to talk about all the problems of the world. Each and every problem. Politics, Religion, Race, Sex, and the all around Social Disorder. All of it is a product of You and Me. If you can't see your direct connection in it, then your responsibility is greater than the average. Let me explain.

The main problem with everything above is, Everyone is looking to tip the scales in their favor and not looking for balance. This is everywhere. I don't care if your Republican or Democrat, or if you are one of many religions, ethnic backgrounds, or sexual orientations. We see it in special interest groups, and even in sports and activities. Everyone, no matter what they stand for or believe in, has to be right or in control of the opposition.

This is why I strive to be as neutral as possible and have always been an Independent in Politics. You may hear me praise or criticize one or the other from time to time.  But I strive to be a truth seeker, looking for balance and an understanding for both sides.

I don't care what topic you want to discus. As many sides as there may be, they are all right and they are all wrong. We need to find the balance in all things. Opposition is important to help find the balance. The problem is, we as humans, want to tip the scales in our own favor. This causes more push back from the other side. Nobody wants to be held down, and you can't blame them.

Now I don't want this to be about Politics, Race and Religion. I want people to see that this applies in everything we do in life. I work with horses, as do many people. There are many people that will knock another for many reasons. Such as, they may not want a customer to go to the other person, they may feel that one way is better than the other, or that no one should use the other way, or everyone should use this one way. Whatever it is, its everywhere, no matter what you do, or where you go. And it all seems to be linked to Jealousy, Selfishness and Control.

For the Political point of view. As I said above, I am Independent and I am so glad I am. What is going on in Politics these days is pathetic. Over the years, I leaned one way or another at times. Right now being caught in the middle of all this ridiculousness is driving me crazy. The Republicans have been doing everything in their power to hold back progress that the President has been trying to make.  I'm not saying I agree with everything the President is trying to do and I am not saying the Republicans are wrong. What I am saying is, "It is very clear to me that no matter what the policy is that's up for debate, the Republicans shoot it down just to gain the upper hand." I see it here in my own state with our Republican Governor doing everything he can against anything Democrat just because its Democrat. It is not about policy at all. Many things that the Republicans have been pushing for themselves are being shot down just so the Democrats don't get credit for it. To me this is rotten. As far as what each side stands for right now, I would have to say I am leaning 55% Republican and 45% Democrat. But I am totally appalled by the people in the Republican Party and their behavior right now. The saying is true, United We Stand, Divided We Fall. If we can't come together, and work together, WE ARE DONE, as a Nation.

The Racial problems are ridiculous as well. It don't matter where your from, the color of your skin, or the language you speak. You are a human being, and we should all act as one. The problems in this is that most of us will identify ourselves as one thing or another. That makes us feel like we need to stand up for the cause. This goes into other areas as well. Like Gay, Lesbian, or Straight, Republican and Democrat, White, Black, Hispanic, or what have you. Even our Religions and life's works. Sports fans rioting in the streets after an event. Its great to believe in things and have an opinion, we need that in the world. But what we don't need is blind faith and standing up for something with out looking at all the facts. We get sucked in by momentum and think we are helping when in fact we are just destroying the world.

For the Religious people out there. I would like to suggest that you take a look at as many other Religions that you can. They are not all that much different when you take a real close look. Yes they say things very different on certain subjects. But at the heart of them all is a God, or in some cases many, and our need to love and worship all that they created. Why is it we are not all doing just that?

Many Religions believe in a Great Plague near the end times. I feel that this Plague is our own corrupt thoughts. Poisoning our thoughts and confusing what it is we see and understand. The only commandment given in the first days. GENESIS 2:16, 17 The Lord God commanded the man saying,"From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for the day that you eat from it you will surely die."
I believe this is the most important clue to life.  And the answer for what will come through repentance, and the search for righteousness, written into every book of the bible. Old Testament and New.  One in particular is ISAIAH 35;5  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

As it is now we see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. Or so it seams. We are Misguided and Misdirected by others thoughts and opinions. You are being controlled by the masses. Being tricked into thinking in certain ways that force you in a direction that someone in control wants you to go. We don't see it because they play on our own emotional weaknesses. Knowing our minds won't fight it. Putting us right in the middle of a battle that can't be won. This keeps escalating, Therefore WE, US, EVERYONE is to blame for all the problems in the world.

In closing I would truly like to wish you all the best in life.
Peace to all.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Qualify For The Position

Have you ever watched someone work and notice right away that they were not qualified to be doing that job. We see it all the time. Some employers know they are hiring someone who is in need of training. They are giving them a shot to become Qualified to do the job. If it doesn't work out they let them go and try another. Many people go to school or take classes to become Qualified for a position they want. But the lack of people willing to QUALIFY themselves for a position is making it harder to apply for a qualified position. There are cases when people apply for a position with a resume that looks impressive. They appear qualified. Once hired the employer wonders who this person is because they are not the qualified person they hired.

Now, there are plenty of people who are qualified to do their jobs. And if it appears that I am bashing the rest of the population, that is not my intention. My intention is to show that only the ones that are passionate about what they do, the ones that really love what they do, will ever really become qualified. The rest are just working because they have bills to pay. This is a problem with society not necessarily a personal problem with each individual. But that is not what I want to discuss. 

The real meaning behind this topic is Qualifying for the leadership roll in our Horsemanship. Our horses need us to be the qualified leader that they expect us to be. This is the reason they test us. They want to know, "Are You Qualified?" The only way you could be is if you are truly passionate about, and love your horse enough to make sure you will become the leader they need and deserve. This includes continued learning and growth along with them. If you just want to ride them or feel obligated to take care of them, THAT is NOT, ENOUGH. They need to know that you are Mentally, Physically  and Emotionally strong enough if their life should ever be in danger. And we all know, a horse  always thinks they're in danger. Unless we are the leader they need. Then they relax. But only if they "KNOW" you understand and they learn to trust you.

Take this example: Many people go out and buy a horse that is already trained and doing very well. This is a good thing to do. But you can't just buy a well trained horse and expect them to be good for you. They may be doing great for their current owner, but respect is not always transferable. If you do not develop a relationship with this horse, you will not get the same results. 

Now for another example: If you buy a horse that is really advanced in their training, and you are not. How is it possible for you to be Qualified to lead in this situation. If you have ever worked for someone who had less qualifications than you, then you can understand what I mean by this. It causes a lot of friction and problems. They are trying to lead you with less understanding than you. A very difficult relationship. In the human world, people get hired for many different reasons. They are good at interviewing, writing resumes, They're a friend or family member, and so on and so on. We are good at pretending and exaggerating our qualifications. This doesn't work with the horse. They won't let us in. They will make sure we are qualified before they let us take over. 

So how do we become qualified? 
Through knowledge, experience, and practice. Gaining understanding of all aspects of the position. We can do it on our own through trial and error, or we can take lessons and classes from someone who is more qualified. Which is a great option. Doing it alone we are sure to run into more problems. The good news is, we will learn from the problems as well. The bad news is, problems with horses can be painful or deadly. Even with a qualified trainer or instructor, there is still risk and danger.  

How do we find a qualified trainer or instructor? 
This is a great question. There are many trainers and instructors out there students can learn from. Some are more qualified than others. Sometimes it will depend on what it is you want to learn. You can learn from anyone. Even if they are less qualified than you are. But if your going to spend hard earned money, then you should do your homework. Find someone who has the skills you want to learn. Not just someone who says they have the skills, but someone who actually does. Like I mentioned above, people are good at faking their qualifications. Take a page out the horses book and get proof that they are what you need. You can ask around and get references. You may have to try them out for a little while. If it doesn't work out then try someone else. See if they will let you watch them give a lesson, a session with them working or riding a horse or any way you can see for yourself what they can offer you as a student before you actually get started. Some places will even do a free introductory lesson. 

Just don't let convenience be your only reason, make sure your getting what you need and want. 
Everyone is worth looking into. They all have something you can learn. You just need to figure out what it is you are looking for, and find that person or people who can help you get it. Often times it will be in many places, from many different people. If you are going to someone who discourages you from learning elsewhere, be weary. Often times its selfishness on their part and they will hold your progress back. It is impossible to get everything you need all in one place. Talk to anyone with skills and they will all tell you, they have many mentors. 

So I encourage you to find every opportunity to qualify yourself.  You owe it to yourself but most importantly, you owe it to your horse.

Remember this as well, there is always more to learn, and there is always room for improvement. 
No matter how qualified you are.
Thank you for reading. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


We all know the term, and many of us look for benefit packages before we even apply for a job. The dictionary explains Benefit as: An advantage or profit gained from something. The sad and simple truth is, nobody does anything without it benefiting them in some way shape or form.
Some of us are real selfish and there really needs to be something very worthy in order for us to even put effort into something. Others the benefit could be real simple, Like, it makes us happy to do something for someone else. Whatever the scenario, Benefits are Motivators.

I'm writing on this topic because if you understand what a benefit is, and you know how to use it in Horsemanship, (Or anything else) it can make a huge difference in the outcomes you are trying to attain.

The simple explanation is this. Make sure that what you want from them benefits them by doing it. Also that anything we do not want from them should not benefit them by doing it. That's the simple answer but some may see this as a riddle and get confused. So here's an example.

If we ask for something from our horse, we want him to get a benefit by doing it. In many cases this can be just a simple release of pressure. This example is what one may call, "A Perfect World Example" This sums up our end result for what it should be like pretty well. But many people have "Problem Horses" Not really but that is what they get Labeled as. The problems get created when the horse does something and our response makes it Beneficial for them to try it again. If they keep benefiting, they keep doing it and they get better at it with practice. We don't really want them to get better at "THIS". There are so many examples for "THIS" I couldn't possibly get to them all. I really mean it. Start putting this into practice and you will see it in every interaction at almost every moment you are with them. If you really understand this and know how to put it into use respectfully, it can change your world. Problems will go away because they will not benefit from the misbehavior. Only willing, relaxed, cooperative response will benefit them. So that is how they will behave, willing, relaxed and cooperative. That will bring you closer to the "Perfect World Example"

Implementing this might not be easy. Specially if you are not aware of what is really happening. But just by reading this your eyes will be opened to looking for it. Keep looking, there will be more to see. Once you are aware of it, it will start getting easier and you will keep finding more. The more you heighten your awareness, the better and easier it gets. Sometimes our lack of confidence allows them to intimidate us and our fear response gives them benefit to their actions. We want to be careful of this. Fear and lack of confidence is OK but we need to evaluate a way to stay safe and find a way to take their benefit away in times like this. If you find a way, then your confidence is boosted. You will have less fear because you will learn that you have some control of the situation. Sometimes they frustrate us into giving up. This they see as benefiting them as well. If they know you will quit, they will wait you out. Sometimes they try to change your mind. Like  if you want to go one way and they go the opposite direction.  Most people will give up on their way and turn the horse in the direction they want to go, circling back to where the person wanted to go in the first place. This seems like a win to most people but if you evaluate it closer you see the horse gets benefits by changing your mind. You not only lose control but your leadership is at risk and the horse will start to question everything you ask of them because they lose trust in your ability to lead. Most of the time they are doing things like this just to see your response to it. This is where you gain or lose points with a horse. They test your leadership by trying to change your mind or direction. They are not being defiant in most cases. Just trying to see if you are worth following.

As a great leader you will give benefits to receive benefits. The simple laws of karma. They apply directly here. No waiting for it to come back around. It's instant once it's established. If it benefits them to comply with our task they will. If we do not allow their misbehavior to benefit them, they will stop misbehaving. Both of these will lead to a willing, relaxed and cooperative relationship for both you and your horse. Both of you will Benefit and really enjoy your time together.

I hope you find some BENEFIT in this post. Pun intended. I wrote this to Benefit everyone who reads it.
Thanks for reading along.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Thoughts Create Feelings and Feelings Create Thoughts

It is true that what we are thinking, affects how we are feeling. You can prove this just by looking at someone who is quietly thinking and see the expression on their face. You may not be able to tell exactly what they are thinking, but you can tell what types of thoughts they are having I.E. Happy, Sad, Evaluating, Comparing, etc, etc, just by their expression.

It is also true that how we feel effects how we think. We have all experienced how what we feel emotionally affects our response in a certain situation. This is because our emotions are an instinct to help protect and guide us through life. Its the one thing in our life that we trust more than anything else in the rest of the world. We take value in our feelings, therefore it affects how we think. When we have a feeling or feel a certain way about something, we tend to see it as fact or absolute which creates thoughts in that direction. How we feel, is and should be, the most important thing to us.

Thoughts creating feeling and feeling creating thought is a very interesting thing. Understanding this its easy to see why humans are habit forming creatures. The cycle of thought and feeling can keep us in places we really don't want to be. This example here to me is the only negative aspect. You see our own conscious thought can break the cycle and redirect us where we do want to go. All we need to do is recognize it and do something about it.

When we go through our daily rituals like wake up, go to work, come home, do our chores, and go to bed. We end up following the flow, living life Unconsciously. Throughout each day our subconscious tries to interfere to help snap us out of the trance we are in. It does this by giving us a feeling or a thought  that we should respond to. Sometimes we ignore it, sometimes we respond to it.
By living our lives consciously, we can be in control of the flow. This is difficult for people who live very busy lives and for those who have little or nothing to do all day. The busy folks are to busy responding to stimulus and the ones who don't have much going on have little to no stimulus at all. But, if you make a conscious effort, it can be done by everyone. Our minds need to be active and engaged, not on auto pilot if we want to make the needed changes.

This cycle can start with a thought or it could start with a feeling. It all depends on what we have for response tendencies. Some people tend to feel more and allow it to control their thoughts. Some think more and allow it to control how they feel. Every one of us have different tendencies. One way is not necessarily better than the other. Each has its own benefits and flaws. So its good to experiment with both. Try to think of things to control your feelings, as well as practice being aware of how you feel in regards to what you're thinking. This way you heighten your self awareness and your ability to recognize, interrupt, and be in control of needed change.

This may sound like a contradiction but I  assure you it is not. Though we need to make a conscious effort, we can still let our emotions and feel take the lead. When I work with the horses, I do my best to allow feel and emotion guide my thoughts. BUT, before I go to the horse, and often while I am working with them, I use my thoughts to organize my emotions and feel responses. Being able to use both thought and feel together at the same time and letting one lead the other slightly, allows our mind to stay actively engaged. Thoughts can lead and we can use feeling to balance the thoughts or if feeling and emotions lead our mind can be used as a filter to balance feelings and emotions. We need to use them together and not leave one out completely. When I get busy or overwhelmed and forget to do this or end up just going with the flow, it affects the quality of my visit. The more I practice this, the more it becomes natural to me.

Some of the things I see to be very common. Is that most people go throughout their day and lives by responding to different stimulus. When they go spend time with their horse they do the same thing, respond to the horse. This often puts them in a follower position and the horse ends up in control. Others go in thinking they need to show them who's boss. This, if not careful, can create animosity in the horse towards them, which can get the horse challenging authority, or in many cases the horse becomes fearful and hesitant.  If we can lead with feel and emotion, we can better connect to their wants, needs, feelings and emotions. By doing this "THEIR" feelings and emotions guide "OUR" thought. When we can respond to their thoughts before they become an action,  they know, that we know, what they are thinking. This makes them trust us unconditionally. IF, IF, IF, I can't say it enough, if we respond appropriately. Knowing our end result ahead of time and not being in to much of a hurry to get there, will help us respond appropriately.  This makes us more effective as a leader because we become better informed. You can "Read Their Body Language" but then you have to translate it. That takes time, even if it is only a second or 2. By connecting with their feelings and emotions and allowing it guide our thoughts there is no translating. We also have better timing in our response because we are thinking the same thoughts at the same time as the horse. Therefore connected by thought and feel. A true partnership.

How a horse feels, controls what they will think. If they are comfortable, they have productive thoughts. If they are uncomfortable, they have unproductive thoughts. If we change how they feel about something, we can change the way they think about it. Therefore controlling the response. Learning to feel and find the line between comfortable and uncomfortable, in every situation, will help us find their best learning zone. Also, by planting a thought in their mind we can change the way they feel. Again gaining control of their response. As I mentioned above about us having our minds active and mentally engaged, the same applies to the horse. We need them mentally engaged. If they are disconnected mentally, they will be disconnected emotionally as well.  Its our ability to connect to how they feel that will get their interest in us. It starts with a little interest, and in a short time you can have full mental engagement.  In just an hour or two, you can be connected by thought and feel. Staying with it, it just keeps getting better over time. 

In conclusion I would like to see if I could get you to try the above exercises. Thinking to change how you feel and your emotional state, As well as emotional awareness in yourself, your horse or in others. This exercise will really help you. I know for me it brings clarity. It also allows me to lead with thought or to let feeling lead my thoughts and to be able to go from one to the other seamlessly at times. It will make a huge difference in your horses ability to understand you and for you to understand your horse. It will also help you in your everyday life like, goal setting, strategies to get there, and interactions with others. You won't be restricted to just one path.
Thank You for taking the time to read this.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

How Well Do You Know Your Horse

How well do you know your horse? This sounds like a simple question.  But in reality its not. When answering questions like this we want to stick to the facts and not go on assumptions. Some of us think we know our horses so well and yet they always amaze us when we learn something new about them. The truth is, there is always more to learn.

Many of us know our Horses pretty well. We know when we approach the gate whether they will meet us there, leave in a hurry, or not acknowledge us at all. Some of us know that they meet us at the gate expecting a treat or that they are truly happy to see us. Many do not know the difference. The same goes for the horse that runs off in a hurry. Are they playing games? Do they not like us or what we have in store for them? Do "They" even know why they are running?

Most of the time we miss out on the truth because we are focused on our own agenda and miss all the little nuances that tell the rest of the story. Or we guess at reasons and make up excuses 

Most of us don't even know its possible to know all the ins and outs of our Horse, so they don't even know to try. 

If we stick to facts it will help us learn the rest. For instance. 
How old are they?
What breed or breeds?
What color?
Do they have any special markings? 
What is their feeding schedule?
How much do they eat?
How much do they waste?
Do they have any tickle spots?
Do they have any favorite spots?
Do they have any "don't touch" spots?
Where is their favorite place to stand or lay down, (in the stall or their turnout)? 
Do they poop and pee in the same spot or area all the time?   
How well do they know your cues and signals?
What cues and signals do they know?
Do they have any habits, (good or bad)?
Can you tell what they're thinking without guessing?
Many many more questions can be asked.
The facts here are really whats important. The simple facts are your key to understanding. Its not important to know why in most cases. Just that it is or isn't is usually enough. In most cases, if we start looking for reasons, we often end up with excuses. A good example for this is, I was evaluating a horse at Pony Club for a girl. I noticed the horse was very stiff and not bending softly and commented on it. The girl pointed out a scare on the horses side do to either an injury or surgery, I don't remember exactly, but she said this was why he was stiff and can't bend well, I then moved to the horses hip and started to tickle the back edge of his ribs to test her theory. Wouldn't you know the horse came all the way around just as easy as could be just to see what I was up to. I did this on both sides with similar results. So her search for why became a reason and for her it was FACT that the horse was not capable of bending softly, when really the horse just learned to brace and resist. If we keep it simple, we can make better sense of it all. As time moves on, we can ask more complex questions and answer them as "Matters of Fact" as well.

Most of us are unaware of how well our horses know us. In most cases,  they know us better than we know ourselves. The reason for this is their ability to stick to the facts and not get caught up in any what ifs. They do things, then, they measure our response to it. That's all they need to know. Simple, but so effective as an instinct for survival. Just remember this. If we are responding to them, then they are in the leader role. So transition your response to them into you asking them to respond to you for a length of time that shows you they understand.  If they do that, you are going to do this until they understand. A slap or scolding that only lasts a few seconds is not very effective. But a polite ask for a turn on the haunches asking that same shoulder to move away from you after they walk into you with their shoulder, will make so much more sense to them. You may have to get assertive at times, but explaining what you want works better than a no or a punishment. 

For us. We tend to have self projected images of what we want things to be. This tends to effect our perception of reality. Its great to have a goal, but we need to realize what is needed to get there. Not just pretend we are there already. There is a big difference and many stages in between. We even tend to do it with our own self image, pretending to be who we want to be, not who we really are at the moment. We have all seen the children who are not very well behaved, but the parent only wants to believe the best in their child so they ignore the truth. WE ALL DO THIS. Whether with Ourselves, Friends, Spouses, Children, or Pets. Its not a bad thing to believe and expect the best, but it can be a problem if we are missing out on the truth. Sticking to the facts of what is or isn't can help us see the real picture.

So stick to the facts. Understanding simple facts will lead to understanding more complex facts. Done in a proper progression it can lead to an unimaginable understanding.
Thanks for reading along.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saying Hello

Hello. Glad you are taking the time to read this. Most often a greeting or conversation starts off by getting someones attention with a simple, Hello. A simple greeting which can be said in so many ways. Such as Hi, Hey, or even What's up. All around the world there are so many different ways to say Hello. In France = Salut, Germany and Netherlands = Hallo, Italy = Ciao, China = Ni hao, Israel = Shalom, Brazil =Ola.  This is just a few, there are literally  thousands of ways to say Hello or to get someones attention in a greeting.

You might be asking why I am writing about this. I have noticed how things are done or spoken about a little differently depending on where you are and who you're with. For some, this can be intimidating.

Just as every Culture, Country, and Location has their own way of saying Hello. And it can be different even just walking into a different neighborhood. Everything else in life is the same way. We all have our ways of doing things. Sometimes it is the same way as many others, but not everyone does things or says things the same way.

In many ways we learn how others do and say things on a daily basis. Sometimes we make fun of their ways. But even so, we learn from it even if we don't want to. What we learn from it depends on how we think of it, how well we can relate to them, and how well they can relate to us. Negative thoughts bring poor results, and trying to understand brings positive results.

In Horsemanship, it is the same way. I have studied so many great Horseman, Trainers and Instructors. Though they have different methods and techniques. They are all very much the same. They start with an introduction to the Horse, a simple Hello. Though there are many ways to do this. Some try to mimic another Horse, some rope them out of a herd for a face too face conversation, and some will just watch and wait till the Horse introduces them self. These are just a few of the more common ways I've seen, there are many more. Now. A true Horseman would never talk down about another Horseman's method or technique. Instead, if they notice a problem in the method or technique, they would look for insight on what to be aware of if they chose to use this method. In this way, their thoughts stay on building up and improvement, not on discrediting or destruction. There is always something useful there. Horsemanship is about improving ourselves and our horses understanding and capabilities. The better your ability to help, (you, your horse, or others) the more of a horseman you become.

Just like you would understand someone who speaks your language better than someone who doesn't. If you choose to learn from someone, it should be someone you can relate to. Or, someone who can at least relate to you. Some times we don't know what we want or need. Sometimes we think we need one thing but really we need something else. Finding someone who can help us figure this out is very helpful. The best example I can give to this is if you have a horse that won't go in a trailer, over a tarp or walk by something (you can fill in the blank). The trailer, the tarp or whatever, is not the real problem. Most of the time its things like, They don't trust your leadership, they need help with their leading skills, or they simply don't understand the task. It can be a bunch of different things. Knowing how to ask all the important questions and listening to the answers, as well as hearing and answering their questions, will help you get to the real issues and provide for them what they really need. This all has to start with getting their attention. A simple greeting like Hello. For the Horse and the Human.

Sometimes we need to go back to square one and start from the beginning again. Most problems are caused from holes in our foundations. Kinda like jumping in on the middle of a conversation and missing out on many things that can help us understand better. So many times the problem is just that they don't have their horses attention. Many people who have been doing things for a long time, forget to go back to basics. Just because we have been riding for 25 years doesn't mean we don't need beginner level refreshments. In fact, Every time I have a new Horse or Student, or I study a new Trainer or Horseman, I start with their entry level. The main reason is that I am starting a possible new language. Just like if I wanted to learn a new verbal language I would start with a simple greeting like, "Hello"

My reasons for studying any and all Trainers and Horseman that I can are many. I want to learn as much as I can, I am always looking for motivation, and I want to be able to get the attention of a horse or a human by knowing all the different ways to start a conversation in ways they understand. This will help me hold their attention. I work with so many different people and horses its very helpful being well versed in different methods, techniques and philosophies as well as being able to apply my own take on things. It allows me to relate to the people and their horses. I can tell what methods a horse was trained with almost as soon as I start working with them, Just as you can tell where someone is from just by the way they talk and act. It all begins with how they respond to "Hello"

So many people never get started into something because they don't know where to start. I have had so many people come to an event or clinic where they feel more confident to approach me to say Hi and tell me they have been meaning to call me. Most often I can feel their reason for hesitance. I promise I don't kick or bite, I've been trained well. So for anyone who reads this, just know that you have an open invitation to contact me any way you know how. Even if you just want to say Hello, or to tell me a little something about yourself and your horse. As always I welcome all of your questions and would be more than happy to answer them for you.

All it takes is to introduce yourself and say, "Hello"  Starting an attentive conversation. Ask questions and listen to the answers. This applies to EVERYTHING. People, Horses and Things. Projects and tasks of any kind as well.

Thanks for reading along. I hope you found it useful.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I write this post today, not so that we look at it as a must have before we go. But as a way to evaluate what needs improvement or what we may need to be aware of to stay safe. Also as a motivation for improvement.

There is always room for improvement. And something can always go sour. Many times you can tell if you are going to have problems right when you go get your horse to start your session. Sometimes a Pre-ride check will tell me not to ride, but to work on other things instead. This is usually on green horses or problem horses that have just come in for training. After the first 8 hrs or so, I use the Pre-ride to see what I should be focusing my attention on during our time together.

Many of us don't stay in a constant state of evaluation. I personally think it is very important. Being as changing behavior is relatively easy, (most of the time) why would you not evaluate what you have so you can make an improvement. Simple improvements in one area make huge differences in many other areas. To me, I feel I owe it to the horse. They are my responsibility. I need to be the leader they deserve.

For me, my evaluations start as soon as the horse comes into view or hearing distance. I am looking to know what their emotional state is. I am also looking to see if they are interested in me or trying to avoid me. Ideally I strive to have a horse calm but happy to see me. When they do see me I would like them to respectfully come to me and if I present a halter to them, they lower their head and put their nose into the nose band quietly for me. But I am happy to accept a horse that will patiently wait for me as long as they are paying attention to me as I approach and not looking for an escape root. I know what is possible to get without to much trouble so at every session I take mental notes of what can be improved on. Every session gets better and you would be amazed what 15 minutes a day will bring after a week.

Once I have my horse and we are going to get ready for our ride, I pay close attention to everything along the way.
Is he nervous or calm?
Is he lagging behind or hurrying ahead?
Is he crowding me or trying to stay or get away?
There are a few more examples I could give but the point I'm trying to make is, "If it isn't what you would like it to be, then make a change so that eventually it will be." It doesn't have to happen all at once, but you would be amazed at how just knowing what you want can make a difference without even doing anything else. Your thoughts alone bring mental energy. That all by itself can make changes in you, that will also make changes in the horse.

As I mentioned, I am always evaluating. So when I am grooming and tacking I am looking for improvement there as well. I expect a horse to stand quietly and patiently for the process. If they don't then I know I need to work on something. I know that without to much trouble at all, you can have a horse stand quietly for all this. I often bring my stuff into my herd and do it all with them loose right there. Having them coming to me, listening to my body language to position themselves where I want them, and they stand and wait for me to do what I need to do.

Again when its time to get on I evaluate how they feel about what we are about to do.
Will he swing over to pick me up or is he trying to get away or stall?
Does he stand still and wait once I am on or start to leave in a hurry?
How well is he listening to my seat aids?
How well is he listening to my leg aids?
How well is he listening to my rein aids?
All this is important because if we need 1 pound of pressure to get a response in a calm environment, we may need 3 pounds in a slightly stressful environment. Even more in an extremely stressful one. So if we can strive to get results with just ounces of pressure in a calm place, then you also have better results when they are stressed. I purposely put the seat, leg and rein aids in that order. I did so because if you can get results with your seat, then you may not have to use your leg or rein. If you do, it will be just to help them find your feel.

I often ride bareback and bridle less on Shea and Stoney. Most of the time I don't even need to use my legs. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I may need to touch or tap the side of their neck as well. If it happens that I do need more than my seat and energy, I know I need to work on that. Sometimes fixing this takes me back to when I go out and get them. That part and all other parts in between needs to be solid if bareback and bridle less is going to work at all. never mind on seat and energy alone.

So keep a check list even it is just mental notes. Try to have an end result you would like and wash the dirty stuff till it shines. You can't make improvements without trying. Wishing won't make it happen. You have to work at it. Even a little a day makes a big difference in week, a huge difference in a month, and an unimaginable difference in a year. If you strive to make each session better than the last and to try to end better than you started, then you will improve. It is as simple as that.

Thanks for reading along, and if you have any questions on any of this, feel free to contact us any way you would like. In the comments here or on the Blog sight, email, messaging, call or text. We would be glad to answer them for you.
Thanks Again.