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CEGA creates an atmosphere of openness and trust in which to explore your own special horse-human bond. We want to help you remove blocks, deepen your awareness of the power within, and help you achieve your goals.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I have been thinking about conversations and communication a lot in the past week.  What got me started down this path? A couple of things.

First,  I was in my local food co-op last week, and overheard a mother talking to her 13 or 14 year old son.  They were discussing tattoos, and the mother said that essentially it was a moot point, as her son would NEVER be getting a tattoo.  He teased her about it a little bit, saying, “What if I want you to come live with me and buy you a big fancy house?  Does that mean you wouldn’t come live with me?”  She said, that’s right—she would not live with him if got a tattoo—furthermore, if he ever wanted to come home to HER house, he wouldn’t get a tattoo either.  Hmmm.....

The second thing that got me going was that my riding instructor, Kate, had come home from a great week-long clinic, full of ideas and new ways of looking at the horse-rider partnership.  I worked on two of the horses at her farm right after they had had lessons, which is when I typically work on them.  I have NEVER seen them more relaxed and content.  Not physically or mentally really tired, just very peaceful and almost buzzing with happiness.  And I had a lesson with Kate right after this, and my own horse,Simon, was the most relaxed I have ever known him to be in a lesson.  

The really interesting part about that for me is that the changes that Kate made weren’t huge, by any means. In fact, I’m not even sure that I could clearly define for you what those changes were, but the word soft keeps coming to mind. I know that we spend a fair amount of time in my lesson working on getting me to ask ONCE, clearly, and get the result I had asked for, not nag, nag , nag with my hands and legs and whip, which is my tendency.  But we’ve worked on that before, without the same overwhelming relaxation on Simon’s part—not to be confused with laziness.  

So the conclusion I come to about both these interactions—the mother and teenage boy, and the horses and riders in lessons with Kate, is that it is all about the ASKING.  My thought after hearing the mom and son was, “Oh boy.  I’d love to check in with both of you in about five years, to see how that ultimatum-style of parenting is working out for you both.”  Imagine how things could have been different for both of them, if she had invited a discussion, a conversation, with her son, instead of laying down the law.  

It’s the same with our horses.  Discussions, conversations, asking nicely instead of demanding or nagging—this will get us further toward our goal of excellent horsemanship.  This is not to say that we don’t have to demand respect from our horses, or that we should allow them to be bulls with us, but think about what most makes you want to cooperate with a co-worker or your partner.  Demands, threats, bullying, may get you short-term results, but will certainly get you long-term resentment and unwillingness.  

Enjoy your conversations with everyone around you, two-legged and four-legged.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to school!

This week, like so many other folks out there, I went back to school. I started taking a very comprehensive equine anatomy and physiology course, which will expand my knowledge of how the horse works as a physical entity, and help me to provide better care for my clients.

I noticed several things early on in the process, among them, that it is harder for me to study now than it was a "few" years ago when I was in college; that my brain works on this stuff even when I am asleep; and that we all learn and process information in different ways.

Like our horses, I can get stuck when learning something new. Some of the terms that I am trying to memorize are definitely more challenging and less intuitive than others. Some of them take only one read-through and I have them down. Some of the ones that I thought were so challenging, I wake up in the middle of the night, reciting them in my head. If I am in just the right mind-set, learning is so easy! But if I am distracted, looking at the clock, not in my quiet place (whether mentally or physically), it is an absolutely uphill battle.

We are so much like our horses! Except for memorizing Latin medical terms, our horses have the same challenges when trying to learn. A gifted equine athlete may find flying changes easy, but another horse may really struggle with them. Some horses are easily distracted and easily bored, and need to mentally challenged more than others. Some horses benefit from a lot of repetition, others find this to be mind-numbing and frustrating.

And sometimes, we project our own learning styles on our horse. We might say "Oh, Poopsie just hates ring work! She gets so bored!" when the reality is that Poopsie is just fine in the ring, but WE are the ones bored with it.

It all comes down to the same thing. Whether we are the ones trying to learn something new, or we are working on something new with our horse, we have to get out of our own way, and really listen to what we or our horses need. Set yourself and your horse up for success. Create situations where learning can really happen. Remember to give yourself a pat on the back, and your horse a pat on the neck, when you've overcome a challenge, even if it felt small. We can all use more encouragement! Take breaks, and allow yourself and your horse to feel a sense of accomplishment. Don't be too hard on yourself or your horse if that lateral movement wasn't just picture-perfect, but don't settle for second-best and laziness in yourself or your horse, either. Ask for more, and then allow yourselves to enjoy having achieved it. And don't school yourself, or your horse, into the ground. Make learning fun for both of you! The rewards are infinite.

I wish you joy in your time spent with your horses, and in the time spent with yourself.