This post is a very open look at my life. I think transparency like this may help others. I hope so! A snapshot of my normal life - I am an academic library director and associate professor at Clarkson University. Additionally, I am a business owner of Natural Horse Lover Farm, LLC. I am a long time Parelli Savvy Club Gold member (and was part of the Savvy Club from the beginning) and am taking Linda Parelli's Pegasus Personal Growth Program for both professional development as well as personal development. I have Rick, my husband of 28 years, 2 dogs (Morgan the Great Dane and Annie (aka Fannie) the Min Pin), our house cat Madeline, 7 farm cats (who just showed up 2 weeks ago), three horses (Fosse & Whiskey, Arabians and Lola our Quarter Horse) and about 40 chickens.
For those of you who don't know, things on the farm have been very stressful for many months. My husband's father died and we allowed his mom to build a house on our property so that he could care for her as she cannot live by herself (but cannot live in our house). The Universe has been really testing us. Now, please keep in mind, I have been pretty quiet because I have been feeling super low. This is not the usual optimistic, happy Michelle. I have had feelings this week like my soul is slowing dying and that my happy life is dissolving. I know, my woes seem pretty serious (or maybe stupid to some) but, they resonate with my week. Yes, the MIL and the consequences of her being here is really taking a toll. I rarely smile anymore. I can’t.
I realized that when I am beyond my coping capability, I disconnect, I stop taking my vitamins, I stop thinking about WW and all related tasks, I don't enjoy my horses or take the time to do so, I don't workout, I fall apart but in a quiet, crawl in a hole and die kind of way so as to not interfere with the world. I stop smiling which for me is a natural facial expression. This is not my normal self but lately, it is. I feel lost. I just have extreme feelings of sadness and loss, like I am grieving. Grieving my happy life while knowing we did the right thing and trying to live a happy life during this storm is hard. I know there must be a lesson in this but damn, the Universe is brutal!
This morning, for the first time is so long I cannot remember, I woke up early (no alarm) and headed to the barn for a morning workout. I have a beautiful finished lounge/classroom/library/zen space to enjoy - the ultimate woman cave! Before working on myself, I took time to clean and reset stalls, love on the horses, and feed them. I fed our new farm kitties and chickens too. The dogs were back at the house sleeping with my husband. It felt so nice to be in the barn, alone, everyone else asleep and not bothering me. Afterwards, I headed to the lounge for a workout. In the past, I would have done a 30-60 minute cardio workout with weights ending the session. For the longest time, I felt like if I didn't do this recipe, I was a failure. The cardio component would be something like using the incline trainer, Zumba, or Leslie Sansone videos and the like. I used to also walk or run with the dogs. Today, I finally opened my Body Groove DVDs (a cardio workout set), something I bought a few months ago. I looked through the descriptions and picked a dance workout. I started it and after about 1 minute I realized, this was not what my mind and body needed. My mind has been so stressed out and the joy of dancing was not something I was ready for. However, on the DVD, there was also a self care segment. I decided to check it out.
Self care is not something I am good at. I am great at coaching others to do self care. I am good at caring for others whether it be the family, animals or clients. I give awesome Reiki and holistic healing sessions to everyone else! This morning, I pulled out my yoga mat, blankets, and bolsters. I did the self care segment of the video which prompted me to finish with a self Reiki session and quiet meditation. I have not taken time to do this in such a long time. I finally felt good, at ease, not stressed, not worried, not sad. I felt whole. I felt like me, if only for that moment. Taking the time to listen to my mind and body was so important today. I believe this will have long lasting implications. I believe this realization may be what saves me.
Later this evening, I am going to take more time for self care. This time, I plan to do a mediation session with the horses. That is an amazing experience that I miss very much. I also think that yoga, Reiki, and meditaiton will be my morning goal for awhile.
Take the time it takes to do self care - you are worthy and worth it! If you need help figuring this out, please let me know.
As many of you know, I am a long time Parelli Savvy Club Gold Member (and was part of the Savvy Club from the beginning). I am also an academic library director and associate professor at Clarkson University - have been in the field of librarianship for over 18 years. Additionally, I am a business owner of Natural Horse Lover Farm, LLC. I have a lot of things going on in my life and my personal and professional life intermingle and feed one another.
Having started my new position and current farm about a decade ago (I cannot believe it has been that long), my career has flourished. I am holding high level elected positions, participating in all kind of teams and boards, really making a name for myself and the University. It is awesome - but I know there must be more. I don't mean to infer that I plan to go elsewhere, but that there must be more I can do as a professional. I plan to retire here. I have an amazing staff, lots of great things are going on at the University - and I am part of it - my work matters to them and they to me.
The farm I have been building with my husband is amazing, state of the art in some respects, and definitely different for our region. I don't have local Parelli people here to connect with - I have tried time and time again. I have made a few horse friends though, and they are great, we just don't speak the same language or can study together.
With the time commitment to work, my horse time has seriously dimished, I have stopped blogging on a regular basis like I used to (my old blog space is http://naturalhorselover.blogspot.com/). My goal is to blog here and with regularity again. http://www.naturalhorseloverfarm.com/blog
I won't get into the crazy, really hard personal stuff going on at the moment but suffice it to say caring for family is not easy. In fact, it is really hard and a game changer.
One other personal note, I am working on getting back in shape and living healthy again. For those who know me, that means I rejoined Weight Watchers - because it works for me. (I have a page for that if you want to join as well - you can get a free month, why not?!) Anyhow, more on this in future posts.
With all of it, despite my many amazing successes, I have been feeling stuck, sad, bored, and worried. Therefore, I decided the next step in my life was to take action - and now - it was super important to not wait and get started.
I just started Linda Parelli's Pegasus Personal Growth Program, taking it for both professional development as well as personal development. I wanted to take it for a few years and recently, realized that it could help me in my professional life as well as personal life - then wondered why I waited so long! Although geared towards horse lovers, it is really a plan for everyone and for me, I was able to make the connection to how it would help me in my professional world while being accessible and connected to my interests. If it is not fun and interesting I check out. As I say at most of my professional presentations, I always work horses into everything I do! (This usually gets a nod and hearty laugh - they know me.) Once I had to explain the amount of materials we removed from our shelves (due to the procurement of e-access items) and said it was longer than the Kentucky Derby. People could relate and my message was heard - and thus, again, horses and my librarianship connected!
In the program, I am working on the following: Goals (understanding them, prioritizing, creating, and following through), Attitude, Confidence, Motivation, Taking Action, Problem Solving, Time Management, Creating Good Habits, Being Persistent, and so much more!
Despite just starting and having taken what seems to be hundreds of professional development courses, this one is hitting home. Linda is getting to me (in a good way - and she always has been able to reach me somehow). I already see ways to incorporate these strategies at work for sure but also at home too. It is a good fit - Mission Accomplished.
If any of you are doing the same, let's connect. If you are local - let's get together!
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Funny Hugh Laurie & Stephen Fry comedy sketch! 'Your name, sir?' - BBC comedy
Video downloaded from YouTube
So what did you think about the video? I think it is funny but then again, I've always enjoyed humor from across the pond. The point is, these two characters were talking in the same language but not really communicating, not well anyway.
Are you speaking the same language as your horse? Does he seem to understand you? Do you understand him? Are you in sync or just occupying each other's time with little communication? Are you hearing or actually listening to each other?
As Parelli students and practitioners (not we all know that our common language with our horse is the 7 games. If you've been studying, you know that the games are ways horses communicate with each other and that games 1-3 are principle games (a foundation of your language) whereas games 4-7 are purpose games (the language expanded for higher levels of communication). You also know that these games can be played using thousands of variations, while on the ground or mounted, and that your creativity is the only limitation (which is in-part why Pat released Parelli Patterns.)
To be certain I am communicating to you, and if you need a refresher, here are the seven games, listed and briefly explained:
Game #1 The Friendly Game
"This game proves to your horse you will not act like a predator, that you are friendly and can be trusted."
Game #2 The Porcupine Game
"This game is called "porcupine" as a reminder that the horse should not lean against a point of pressure but learn to move away from it."
Game #3 The Driving Game
"This game teaches the horse to respond to implied pressure, where you suggest to the horse to move and he moves without you touching him."
Game #4 The Yo-Yo Game
"The object is to get backward and forward movements equal and light."
Game #5 The Circling Game
"Do not confuse this with mindless lunging! The Circling Game develops a horse mentally, emotionally and physically. It teaches him to stay connected to you and get the tension out of the line between you while maintaining his gait and direction."
Game #6 The Sideways Game
"This is teaching the horse to go sideways equally as well to the right and left, with ease."
Game #7 The Squeeze Game
"Horses, by nature, are claustrophobic. They are afraid of any small or tight space. The Squeeze Game teaches your horse to become braver and calmer, to squeeze through narrow spots without concern."
To learn more, consider reading Pat Parelli's article, "Understanding the Language of Horses by Pat Parelli" (Courtesy of Natural Horse Magazine).
OK, so what language are you using? To know and understand the games and that they are your language does not mean you are "speaking" correctly and actually getting through. Technique is as important as knowledge. The tools are another issue--what are you using anyway? So, do you remember the 7 keys to success? Can you recite them? Here you go if you are having trouble:
Attitude, Knowledge, Tools, Technique, Time, Imagination, and Support
For an explanation of the 7 keys, consider reading this article, "The 7 keys explained," by Parelli Professional, Geneviève Benoit.
How is your technique? I cannot tell you how many times I've seen people doing things to their horses that drove me nuts! (Although to be fair, I've seen much more good than bad.) Anyhow, those doing bad, wrong, inaccurate, or otherwise incompetent things made me want to take their horses away from them and tell their horse that not all humans are this way. Now, I am far from perfect so please don't misunderstand me. I know I have plenty of room for improvement, tons to learn, don't we all? But, keep reading to learn why I have felt this way--I think you will agree.
Examples of human incompetence! (Why people should actually study and learn, then go practice instead of just using their horse as something for their own entertainment.) *Note some of this is Parelli people and other instances are that of others not on a natural path.
Case #1- Talking the Talk
Imagine this, you know that the person you are observing has been studying Parelli for at least a year (or claims they have) but still cannot recite the 7 games nor do they understand what the point of each one is. Are you kidding me? It is not rocket science folks! How can this be? I am baffled and speechless. (Well not speechless.)
Case #2- Walking the Walk
The definition of the Porcupine Game (game #2) is to use applied pressure, using the appropriate phases, to move your horse around, you are teaching them to move off of pressure rather than into pressure. I witnessed, on more than one occasion, a woman using her carrot stick like a stabbing implement in order to get her horse to move. The woman looked like a fool, the horse looked at her like she was nuts, and I was going out of my head about it! I even gave this person several lessons on proper technique (and was asked to do so). When I played with the horse, she moved around as asked, no trouble. This horse person has viewed this game being done on several videos by Pat, Linda, their students, etc., and still, stabbing at the horse! Good grief (to put it politely). I don't even want to discuss the other 6 games oye vey!
Case #3- Horses are Servants to Humans--What?
When I lived in Virginia, my husband and I were camp hosts on Flat-Top mountain for the National Forest. I cannot even count how many walking/gaited horses I saw with riders flopping around on their backs, huge bits for breaks, spurs, yelling and absolutely cruel and ridiculous behavior by their owners. Talk about needing the ASPCA! I mean what the heck is wrong with people, the horse is not a motor vehicle, it is a living creature and these poor horses, in my humble opinion (if it were ever really humble) is that they were being tortured for the enjoyment of their riders (knowingly or not). I have friends with walking/gaited horses and they are natural, one does PNH and the other Clinton Anderson, their horses are happy and willing partners.
Case #4-Fear, Fear, Fear = Failure
Fear is a genuine thing and I understand it. I had a terrible jumping accident prior to PNH and was told never ride again--and I gave up horses for several years (as per my Orthopedic Surgeon). Well, you can't take the horse out of a born horse nut! So, years later, I bought Fosse (a youngster--probably inappropriate at the time--all well). But, I sought out a better way to be with my horses looking for not only technique but a philosophy that adhered to my personal beliefs (thanks Pat Parelli) and worked through any fear issues (thanks Stephanie Burns and Linda Parelli). It took time and persistence, support, but I did it and so can you!
Please be brave, learn, get support, and enjoy your horses. You can do it and can be successful. You can play on the ground, ride, and even compete if you want to! You don't need to have a pasture ornament (unless that is what you want anyway). Contact me for help with fear!
For more on the comfort zone, see my blog post, "Move Your Comfort Zone Challenge," Monday, June 16, 2008.
Finally, tools--what the heck do you have on your horse and in your hand? Once again, my personal preference but, I prefer the genuine, Parelli items. That said, I wanted to make a natural halter into a costume class halter for a fun show and bought the supplies at a company (now seemingly closed), Natural Horse Supply to make my own fancy halter with beads, tassels, etc while still maintaining communication with my horse. It served the purpose very nicely (we won the blue). People have preferences but I've tried many knock-offs with friend's horses and did not like the stuff--it usually lacks true feel (if that makes sense). So, now, if I am playing with someone else's horse, I bring my genuine equipment, always.
I guess the post rambles quite a bit and I do apologize. My point is, if you are communicating with your horse, please be sure he understands you and that you have taken the time to improve your technique, are using the right tools, that you do your homework and know the language (terminology, purpose, psychology, etc). Be kind to yourself and your horse and you'll be happier for it (and so will they).
I was recently asked advice about feeding hay. There are so many choices and of course, it all also depends on your region. Here are some articles that may be helpful. We only use square bales and free feed feed timothy/orchard grass and use alfalfa as a treat.
The temperatures were in the high 40's Fahrenheit today and the sun was shining. I could not have asked for a nicer day. The snow is melting quickly and the robins were out.
I had a lovely consultation with new clients in the morning and met another new one later in the day. It is fun and rewarding meeting people and matching their needs with our services. With the variety we offer, sometimes an in-person initial consultation is the best path forward.
I then enjoyed undemanding time with all of the horses and worked with my Arabian Whiskey on being mentally aware, calm, and responsive (despite being away from the herd), trimmed his hooves, and groomed him while watching/listening to a Parelli DVD on safety. I really love Whiskey. As an extreme right-brained introvert, I have to use a lot of communication and regulated energy exchange to engage with him in a manner that he can be responsive to rather than catatonic or explosive. He is a very special and unique horse who takes patience and love.
I am now enjoying quiet time on the couch with the dogs. Later, a Beachbody workout and dinner. Rick is making a lovely quiche with our farm fresh eggs, with a side of roasted asparagus and salad.
Life on the farm is magical.
For those of you interested in checking out Beachbody, you can do so for FREE! You can sign up for a free account and I will be your assigned coach, no obligation to buy anything unless you choose to. This free sign-up option is a great way to just look around and assess the site and resources. There is a robust online community, goal tracker, online tips, recipes and more. CLICK HERE FOR A FREE ACCOUNT!
I have news! After years of thinking about it, I finally dove in two feet first and became a Beachbody Coach! My target audience is fellow horsewomen who have found themselves overweight and out of shape. However I am here to help everyone who may be interested! In the past and I have lost significant weight successfully. A few years ago I was at the top of my game but things happened and I fell apart I find myself needing to lose it all over again. It is a quite a frustrating situation but I am ready to take charge, again.I know that others have been in this situation. Therefore, I became a Beachbody Coach with the idea to help others. Weight loss and better health is a work and support is needed to be successful. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!
Whether it is a visit from the veterinarian, your farrier, a ride on the trailer, or any other important event in your horse's life, he or she needs to be physically, mentally, and emotionally ready. It is your job as your horse's person to help them prepare.
So what does this mean exactly? Believe it or not, every interaction you have with your horse will do one of two things. Teach them and help them be smarter, braver, and trust in your leadership or the opposite, they stop trusting you and become more fearful, have difficulty doing what is asked of them, and more. All of this is important because what happens on the ground translates to what happens at liberty which translates to the saddle, and eventually refinement in the saddle. Everything matters.
In order to teach your horse, you need to remember some key points:
Putting theory to practice. Is your horse ready for the farrier? What about being tangled in a fence? Here are some exercises to help with feet and legs--be creative:
More to come in future posts. Stay tuned -- and feel free to make requests.
Each FREE ticket is for one person and one dog to enter the obstacle and costume contests. Entrants also need a Winter Carnival button for entry (purchased separately). Buttons will be available on site for $2 each and at other carnival locations.
***PLEASE READ ALL FAQs AND LIABILITY RELEASE BELOW BEFORE ORDERING YOUR TICKET***
This event is a no experience required, fun event put together to celebrate the Tri-Town Winter Carnival. If you'd like to arrive early and warm up, you may do so. Please arrive no earlier than 12:30pm. After warm-up time, the event will begin promptly at 1:00pm. Each contestant will complete the course while being timed on how fast they can do the course with their canine companion. The fastest contestants in the small, medium, and large categories win a prize! The time limit for the course is 5 minutes. Be sure to bring treats for your dog as a reward for successful obstacles!
This contest will immediately follow the obstacle course competition. Contestants will have 15 minutes to get ready. Dress up your beloved canine in your favorite costume and parade around the arena. The judge's favorite will win a prize.
Are there minimum age requirements to enter the event?
Participants under the age of 18 shoud be accompanied by an adult.
How many dogs may I bring to the event?
One ticket is for one person with one dog. People should only bring one dog per person. There will not be additional volunteers to handle extra dogs.
Are there requirements for my dog?
All owners must bring a copy of their dog's written proof of vaccination from the veterinarian indicating that the dog has a current rabies, distemper, and kennel cough vaccination. This document will be kept and filed at NHLF.
Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?
Please bring your ticket and Winter Carnival button to the event. We will have buttons available for purchase ($2) if you do not have one.
Is there anything else I should bring to the event?
Bring dog treats and a chair.
How can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Michelle Young, Owner Natural Horse Lover Farm, LLC.
RELEASE OF LIABILITY -- BY REQUESTING A TICKET FOR THIS EVENT AND PARTICIPATING YOU AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING:
I understand that obstacle training (agility) is an activity that is held in the presence of other dogs and their owners/handlers. I also understand that the participation of my dog and myself in the event will require some physical activity on my part and on the part of my dog. I also understand that this activity will involve running among obstacles on my part, and running, jumping, and the use of obstacles such as tunnels, scaling planks and walls, teeter totters, jumps, tires, and other obstacles which could result in injury to me, to my dog, or to others. I agree, represent, and warrant:
1) That I am in good health and can perform the physical activities necessary.
2) That my dog is in good health and can perform the physical activities necessary.
3) That my dog and I are both in physical condition to participate in the sport of dog agility.
4) That I further represent that my dog is friendly and not a hazard to persons or other dogs. I agree to take any steps requested by my instructor, the class coordinator, or the training/event director if they feel that my dog is a hazard to persons or other dogs.
5) That I further agree to keep my dog under control at all times, to carefully watch him at all times when he is not confined to a crate or other similar device, and not to allow him to interfere with the participation of others in these activities.
6) That I understand that my dog and I are participating at my own risk, and that Natural Horse Lover Farm, LLC. cannot in any way assume any responsibility for the health or safety or myself or my dog(s).
7) That I will not hold Natural Horse Lover Farm, LLC, the Owner(s) of the training sites, the staff, or any other persons or entities associated with this event and business liable for any loss, injury, illness, expense or other incident or hardship that may arise in connection with my participation and/or my dog’s participation in the activity.
8) That I further agree to assume full responsibility and liability for any and all injury or damage caused in any way by my dog(s) or myself. That I further agree to reimburse any person for any damage that I or my dog does or cause to another person, dog, equipment, or personal or business property.
Okay, so not a beach on water but for us, our arena is like a beautiful beach. We enjoy this zen-filled space year round with our horses and dogs. It has lots of natural light and amazing, professional arena lighting for the evening hours. We maintain this chemical free, caustic free, dust free, masonry sand arena and just love it. So, our "beach" escape is here on the farm. We have all kinds of obstacles and puzzles too making it a creative space! Come visit Natural Horse Lover Farm and experience an entirely new kind of playtime on this beach fantasy. ❤️ We cater to the needs of horse lovers wanting to improve with their horses and horsemanship, people wanting horses to help them heal through horse therapy, and naturopathic healing methods for the mental, emotional , and physics healing of animals and people.
Farm Fresh, Live Mealworms - Grown on our farm in a small, closed environment, not from a large commercial producer. Great for feeding your chickens, wild birds, and even yourselves if you are brave enough (I'm not.) Size Medium/Large (0.75"-1.00"), 1 gram=8 mealworms.
250 (31.25 grams) $6.50
500 (64.5 grams) $12.00 (10% savings)
1000 (129 grams) $21.00 (20% savings)
Learn more on our website:
Here is a task challenge! If you don't know what to do, have little time, or are just feeling stuck, try a task challenge (we post them all of the time) as a way to at least do something with your horse! (It just may motivate you to do more.) Here are some fun ideas from the Parelli Level 3 Assessment (9/18/2007 version)
Send horse into a horse trailer at the trot or canter and bring back to you.
• Student at least 30 feet away.
• Little or no tension in the rope. The belly of the rope may be dragging.
• Horse enters trailer at the trot as minimum. If it breaks from canter to trot as it reaches the ramp or trailer door, this is acceptable.
• Horse stays in trailer until asked out.
Lead horse backwards by tail
• Tail only is used for this task (no additional ropes on hocks or halter).
• Horse shows no resistance, but it could be a little slow.
• Tapping horse or ground with Carrot Stick is acceptable.
Climb all over horse, rub his rump with your legs and feet, stand on his back.
• Student proves the horse is confident by not sneaking. Climbs around confidently.
• Horse stands still, relaxed.
• Student shows enough balance to be able to stand up.
Ride from a back up into a canter and back down to a back up three times: Canter Yo-Yo.
• Horse goes from back up directly into a canter, no walk or trot steps.
• Reins are in concentrated position throughout exercise.
• Transition to back up is smooth, one or two trot or walk steps permissible.
• Straight lines.
• Vertical flexion an advantage but not essential for a pass.
• Student focuses straight ahead.
*Tasks are based on many different Parelli resources I have studied as well as my own ideas on how to proceed through my journey. Some of the content was copied to make it easier to put up in a timely manner. Please consult http://www.parelli.com for any official instructions or materials.
Michelle Young is a horse lover, animal advocate, Reiki Master Teacher, holistic healer, Parelli Savvy Club Gold Member and Level 3 Student, academic library director, professor, and more. Contact Michelle.
This blog was created to share my life-long journey with horses and holistic health. I write about horsemanship, healthy, holistic living, and just about anything else that passes through my mind. Enjoy!
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