Discover your ideal relationship with your horse

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, December 28, 2011

The holiday season

Hi, all.

Here we are in the thick of the holiday season.  How are you doing? Are you remembering to breathe, and take some time for yourself?  I know, these can sound like platitudes, but it is vitally important that you take time to nurture yourself.  At this time of year, it is so easy to get caught up in giving everything we’ve got to others, leaving us exhausted, drained, and with little time to enjoy what really matters—our family and friends.

It is easier to be generous to others when we are not running on empty. Allow yourself the time to do what feeds your soul—make a cup of tea, sit with a favorite book, spend time with a friend, two-legged or four-legged. Give yourself a few extra minutes at feeding time to bask in the company of your horses.  I find that there is nothing that grounds me more than sitting in my barn, listening to my horses munching on their hay.  Their contentment washes over me, and I am at peace.

Here’s wishing you all a truly joyous holiday season, and the best to you in 2012!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend plans!

Heading to a two-day Equine Biomechanics clinic tomorrow, taught by Dr. Deb Bennet, a noted expert in the field, with Dawn Jones-Low of Faerie Court Farm.  Positively can’t wait!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend that complements the ideas of courage and fear. So.. I wanted to share some more thoughts and see what other people have to say on the subject.

I have been working on becoming clearer about choosing what I want and how to move forward to make it happen. This has been challenging for me. Because, I have spent a large portion of my life trying to make other people happy in order for me to be "safe". I am the master of figuring out what everyone else wants so that I can fit in, they will like me, and then I will be safe. (This is childhood stuff that I learned at a very young age in order to survive. Now that I know where it came from I am consciously choosing to change it.)

Part of the process of getting clear about what I want has been about listening to my heart and not justifying everything with my head. This takes courage to overcome my old survival fears. I don't always have the courage to follow what I know is right for me in my heart. I often begin the process of justifying or recycling some reason why I can't do or have what I want and before I know it I have immobilized myself from being able to take any action. I make a decision that feels right for me and then I begin to second guess myself into stagnation as I sort through what the outcome might look like and all the details in between. (not to mention the onslaught of opinions from everyone else) It becomes a mess of made up assumptions about how it won't work; As I slip further and further into the fear (false evidence appearing real) of what might happen if I make the "wrong" decision. The truth is there are no right or wrong decisions. If I don't like it or it doesn't work I need to make another decision and keep moving sooner or later I will create more of what I want if I keep choosing what works for me. It is just like using a half halt, re-balance and take another step. You don't know how long it will last or how soon before you need the next half halt you just keep being in the moment with your horse in as balanced a way as you can.

Yesterday, while I was riding I had a choice to think my aid had not been clear and I was doing it wrong or to say excuse me my aid was clear and you need to listen. The clearer I am and the more I pay attention the more aware I become of the choices I have. My default reaction of "I have done it wrong" is changing into choice. The more aware I become, the clearer I become, the more my horse responds with ease and grace. The more joy I have.

I couldn't see it and I never would have believed it a year ago.

Where can you change a default reaction into a conscious choice?

Choose to create your life the way you want it to be.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Courage and confidence

Let’s talk some more about courage and confidence, especially as it applies to your horse. (Check out cegavt.blogspot.com/2011/07/courage.html)  If courage is about overcoming fear, and confidence is not having the  fear to begin with, what does this mean to your horse?  

Courage in your horse is asking your horse to give a little more, push himself a little harder, try something he hasn’t done before, trust you.  Confidence is all about that “look of eagles” that some horses have—they don’t know the meaning of can’t!

What happens when your horse is not feeling courageous, even fearful, about the task confronting him?  He becomes tense, rigid, tight.  His back may hollow, his jaw may lock up and clamp down, his neck becomes rigid, his gaits lose their fluidity.  His muscles will tighten as he prepares to “fight or flee”. What does this mean for his performance?

A horse who is rigid and tight is only going through the motions.  He may be technically doing what you ask, but something will be missing.  

What is your job in this?  What can you do to help?

The first thing, of course, is to know your horse, his personality and how his mind works.  Does he  thrive on challenges and learning new things?  Does he need plenty of time to absorb the new task?  Does he get tense, wound up, and have to be pushed/helped through his tension? Or does pushing him make him even more tense?

Some horses are naturally courageous, some are not.  You can help your timid horse to be more courageous by first helping yourself to be more relaxed, of course-if you are anxious, you can bet your horse will pick up on it!  Remember to center and ground yourself by using three deep breaths to release your own tensions.  Ask your timid horse to expand his comfort zone incrementally, whether it’s leaving his herdmates a little farther behind, or tackling a slightly more challenging series of jumps.  Praise is always a good thing, as long as you are praising for actual good behavior. And if you feel yourself becoming frustrated, take a break—don’t add to the stress level.  

And remember that our horses are so often mirrors of ourselves.  Take the time to really examine what’s going on, and ask for help if you need it.  

What techniques do YOU use to help yourself and your horse relax and gain courage?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


What is courage and what is confidence?

Confidence is knowing you are able to do something, or to figure it out safely and fairly accurately and perform with a reasonable expectation of success.
Courage on the other hand is doing a thing even if you lack the confidence you wish you had.
For some folks, just putting that foot in the stirrup requires great courage, and the send of accomplishment when settled into the saddle is no less exhilarating than for someone clearing a 3' wall in the hunt field.

When we take a next step in our riding--first canter, first crossrail, first horse show--we often find that through the doing we lose a lot of the trepidation and grow in confidence. It takes courage to take the new step, every time.

Look for areas in your life and your riding where you have confidence, look for areas where you need courage, and look for areas yet to be conquered. With knowledgeable supportive help and conscious practice, you can gain confidence where you had none, and courage to tackle areas where once there was only fear.

What is courage? What do you think?
We'd love to hear your stories about you own adventures!

Friday, May 27, 2011

What does control mean to you and your horse?

I am reading a book that is talking about the difference between influence and control. Some of us have the desire to control things, situations, and animals in hopes that we will somehow get a desired effect.

So, I have begun to look at what control means to me. Let me know what it means to you.

There are the ways I work to control my emotions. I prefer to use the term monitor however at times it feels as though they are out of control and I have to reign them in and keep them under "control". I find that when I become uncomfortable my desire to control things increases because I believe that if I can control the things around me I will be o.k., really it is about gaining control over myself. My first desire is to tell others how they "should" be; so that I don't have to deal with some old wound from my life experiences. As I become more aware of the places where I have what I refer to as a default reaction. (my horse spooked here last time so I better be ready for it every time I go by here) A place where I have made an assumption that something that happened in the past will continue to happen again and again. I begin to make different choices, letting go of my assumptions and creating room for a different outcome.

In the past it seemed like a good idea to have some type of control over my horse. (We all know that leaving a horse to it's own choices while we are riding, can often lead to places the rider may prefer not to go.) If I can just keep my horse under control I will feel safer, have a better ride or.......(fill in the blank) this often translates into holding and becoming tight in my body. As I become more tense my horse begins to feel confused and I have begun to deliver aids to my horse with out awareness of what I am doing. The more I tighten and search for control the more my horse becomes upset. I do not get what I am looking for until I let go and begin to ask in a clear manner. It is in the release that I allow my horse to answer my request.
I have found that as I let go of the idea of control and begin to play with the idea of influence and using my energy to create a flow or an intention I find that my horse becomes amazingly responsive to these concepts. My horse begins to take part in a conversation and I begin to listen to where my horse lets me know something is hard or he is not sure how to do a movement. When I recognize that my horse is telling me what is going on for him through his movements and responses. I begin to find ways to influence rather then control; a clearer aid or a half halt instead of holding on and creating tension. My horse and I begin to have an ongoing conversation where we are aware of the influences and challenges that are coming in each moment of a ride.
Where can you let go of something that no longer serves you and create a new way of communicating? I would love to here what other people think about this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What makes you tick? How about your horse?

As we move through life, striving to improve and grow, a key portion of this is finding out what motivates us to achieve our best.  In our relationship with our horses, we also need to find out what motivates them.  How do they learn best?  Are they sensitive, “thinking” types, easily bored? Do they question everything we ask them to do?  Are they good-natured, willing to comply with anything within reason that we ask of them?  Do they need to think about a request, take time to absorb it, before they can comply?  And there are many more ways to learn, especially when you put different riders and trainers into the equation.   

In my barn, I have four horses, each with one of the learning styles I mentioned above.  I have to approach work time with each of them differently.  The sensitive thinker is happiest with doing something different all the time, keeping him happy and engaged.  My just-for-fun horse will do anything, really, and will babysit anyone on his back, including my three-year-old grandson.  Another is sensitive in his own way, needing time to  process information before I ask again, and gets confused if asked again too quickly.  And the mare questions everything!  She should really have one of those question mark cartoon bubbles over her head, permanently.  

None of these styles is necessarily any easier than the others—it all depends on us, our personalities, and how we approach our ride time.  I’ve found that I need to be completely relaxed, have all the time in the world, for Mr. Sensitive Thinker.  If I’m in a hurry, he gets stressed out.  If I’m tense, he is exponentially tense. Of course, tension in us affects them all, but some of them hide it better than others. Mr. Easy-Going is my relaxation ride, but he doesn’t like to be taken for granted just because he is easy-going.  Mr. Processor shuts down if nagged at.  He will just give the minimum effort to get by.  And Ms. Questioner needs to be asked, not told, to do anything.   Try to force a situation with her and she will never forget it.  

Essentially, I have to be four different riders with these four different horses, although the base line is the same: relaxed, focused, listening.  These are my basic tools in my tool kit.  Then I pull out others as I need them, depending on which horse I am working with.  It’s made me a better, more well-rounded horse person.  

What does your horse want YOU to know about how he learns? And what does he want you to know about how YOU learn, to be the best partner you can be for him?

Thursday, May 12, 2011


So many times we fail to hear the kind things people say to us on a day to day basis. Words we often most want and need to hear, but are so often convinced of their untruth, we cannot accept them into our selves.
We often will rehash the unrelated negative comments of complete strangers who may be having a bad day, and we bump into them on the street. Or someone's opinions may be so colored by their personal events that even simple conversations feel like disagreements when the topic is beyond the understanding of the other person involved.

For myself, I often feel as if I should be more competent and need less help, or be farther along in my life. If I stop to think, I am often told I am very competent and successful. And if I look farther, I realize this is true. I may not be living up to my own expectations of self, but indeed that is an artificial standard. It may be unreachable and is created by imagining the realities of others and making false comparisons.

Where in your own life--riding, work, relationships, housekeeping--do you feel as though you are falling short? Can you take a moment right now to assess things a little more objectively? Make lists--what have you accomplished? What is life bringing you? Though it may not be what you imagined, you will be surprsied to find that an "objective" comparison will tell you that you have done well.

Are there areas where you would still like to achieve more? Great! That is what goal setting is all about. Pick an area that means a lot to you and your own quality of life--not for others but for yourself. Now choose a modest goal for improvement in that area. Create a plan for achieving it. If any one part of the plan seems undo-able (time-wise, financially), stop and do a little brainstorming to see how you can work with or around that problem.

Are your standards set so that even Clark Kent couldn't achieve them? You don't need that kind of pressure, and you don't need to be perfect. You deserve to take credit for what you do well, and to work consciously toward your goals and desires. And if you slide away from your plan... No Worries! You can make a new one!

Enjoy the day and the season, and lighten up and see the good in you :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Looking for inspiration in your life?  Here are three things that come to mind for me, right off the top of my head.

First, watch the movie “Temple Grandin”.  It is the story of a truly amazing woman, who has autism, but that assumed “disability” enables her to think in pictures (her words), the way animals do.  I’m not doing her story justice, I know—so watch the movie, or read one of her books.  

Also, because I am fresh back from the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, I am still thinking about that a lot.  It was won by Mary King of Great Britain, riding the lovely King’s Temptress, a mare that Mary bred, raised and trained herself.  Mary also took second place, on the gorgeous gray Fernhill Urco.  First and Second place both?  Unheard of!  Unprecedented!  Mary is no spring chicken, either—she is 49 years old. Oh wait, that’s how old I am!

 Third place went to Sinead Halpin, who has NEVER competed at Rolex before, and her horse Manoir de Carneville.  Sinead is only 29, and to watch her ride, and the love and credit she gave to her horse after her gorgeous show-jumping round, brought tears to many eyes.  

We’re never too old, or too young, or too “handicapped”, to let that stand in our way.  It’s no good sitting on our butts, wishing and dreaming, waiting for things to be different.  Get up and make your dreams happen!  Ask for help if you need it, but do it!  What are you waiting for?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Great weekend at Everything Equine! Met lots of super horse folks, and talked about goals, relationship, fear and moving forward--both horses and their riders!
Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and we will be drawing the winner of the free CEGA workshop later this week--stay tuned!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Spring Energy

As the spring comes, it brings a magic of warmth and new beginnings. The flowers are making their way out of the ground into vibrant colors. I find myself wanting to be outside and there are always more things to be done as I move from inside to outside. I often get distracted by what ever project or task happens to present its self in the moment. As I make changes in my life and begin to create more of what I want. I look for ways to keep myself more focused, instead of allowing myself to be distracted by ............ whatever.......... comes along.
So... If I want to be more deliberate in how I create my life I need to find a way to keep track of and prioritize the things that will move me closer to what I want, not just the things that need to be done. There are the usual things like: cleaning, cooking, shopping and then there are the things that move me closer to my dreams. Having more: clients, time to ride, order, money etc.
Last night I began the process of creating a list of all the things that I want and need to do. The list became very long as more and more things popped into my head that needed to be done. I quickly became overwhelmed by the numbers of things to be done. Until I realized that my mind was actually getting quieter as I began to see how I could prioritize and make choices much more clearly by having everything out in front of me. I began to divide things into categories of importance to me. Many things that I often spend my time doing were not as important as I thought. I began to look for the things that would move me closer to my dreams.

What dreams have you put aside or given up on that you could be resurrecting? What one thing could you do today that would move you closer to what you want? Listen for the voices that have an opinion around your dreams. The chatter of doubts or excitement. Who do they belong to? Are they true? Are you willing to do what it takes to get there?

Remember it is not about beating yourself up for not doing something, it is about making choices and finding what works for you.

How many shoulds are you beating yourself up over?????? Shoulds are the things you think you ought to do and don't really want to do. I should clean house instead of ride my horse. Which one would bring me more joy? For me it is about being more aware and making a conscious choice. From a riding point of view it might be school your horse or go for a trail ride. What is right for you today? Lounge your horse or just get on and go. Trust your inner voice of knowing what is right for you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Choices in action

With construction projects ramping up around the farm, I've had opportunities to watch people's reactions to change.
While everyone is excited about the work and what it will bring, the changes it causes in routine show how inconvenience can equal opportunity--if you want them to.

The indoor has been temporarily shut down in order to resolve a pipe leak issue. Now, most folks didn't notice any problems caused by the pipe. They sure would have if it had been allowed to go on long enough to blow the water pump (no pump, no water), or to flood the barn.
Now they need to deal with the closed space, and that directly affects them.

The simple answer? Ride outside, of course! But, this is spring, or rather mud season. I watch their decision-making with interest, empathy, and a bit of incredulity. Some just keep riding. Wind, a bit of rain, cool temperatures, puddles in the outdoor--it's all fine, and they just get on with it. Some hedge their bets, trying to work in the half of the indoor that doesn't have an excavator in it. And some just stay home.

I think about the year I spent at my old farm with no indoor. Each weather challenge created a new situation for me to work my horses in. Sure there were days when--for me--riding was out of ths question. But for the most part we kept going. When deep winter snows and ice meant riding int he field was pretty impossible, we stuck to the plowed and sanded dirt roads. Hacking, logging miles at the trot, or schooling voltes, leg yields and half-pass. Some days we even put a jump in the road!
Muddy spring roads meant riding in areas where the sand was showing in the outdoor, or taking to the woods.
A little drizzle meant business as usual. Ever ride in a show outside in rain and puddles with a horse that has been cloistered in an indoor all year?
Stormy days meant tack cleaning, clipping, planning the year's events, de-cobwebbing--all the things you don't want to be stuck inside doing on the nice days.

So when you come across an obstacle that feels like is is going to stop you, think again. Someone else has a different perspective. Where you see "can't do" they may see opportunity :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Breathing the fresh air

With the return of milder weather, I have noticed more smiles on people's faces, and everyone--indeed everything: us, the horses, the earth--seems to be taking deep breaths.
And at the same time, there is a rush, a release of energy to start now, get up and going, moving toward whatever goals we have at hand.
In northern Vermont, this spirit and rush of the season continues all through the summer, perhaps with a small break when we slow down a bit for our local county fair. We feel the time we have to get things done in the good weather is brief--and it is, since frequently our season gets abridged even further than normal with occasional snowstorms in May or even June, that can return as early as late September.
Remember these times. Take a break to just look around as each day passes. Getting caught up in the rush is fun, but all too often we hear "Where did the summer go?"
Our joy should remain deeply rooted in being with our horses and realizing how privileged we are to have them as partners, not in how many shows and scores we get in a season.
Backyard barbecues with friends for no reason, days spent sitting in the yard listening to birds and watching the horses graze and swish their tails are so very important, as is the mindfulness to appreciate where we are and what we have in those moments.

My favorite summer time activity is sitting on my glider, watching the sunset over the Adirondacks while the dogs play in the yard and my horses graze in the pasture in front of me, and the sounds I hear are finches arguing over trees and the frogs and peepers in joyful chorus in the streambed at the end of the pasture.
Sometimes it is hard to quell the feelings of guilt that I am not riding, or cleaning, or fixing. But I also remain aware that these moments are exactly WHY I spend the rest of my time doing those activities. It is hard to relax, and to make myself stop and enjoy.

You know what? At the end of the season, and all winter long, what I remember best are not the horse shows, and how much I fixed or painted or the number of horses schooled each day. What I remember are those summer evenings when I was sitting in the yard, surrounded by the true fruits of my labors glowing in the light of sunset :)

The peepers are back--time to get to work and start enjoying what we have!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fun Day!

Just had a most fun ride on Burnished Monarch!  Now I’m off to UVM’s Healthy Horse Day, where yours truly will be giving a talk on the Center for Equestrian Growth and Awareness’ programs.  Check it out!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The hawk outside my window

The other day while I was putting in some time on my treadmill, in hopes of getting in better shape, shaking off the winter sedentary-ness that sometimes settles in this time of year. (Being from California, I sometimes decide that I don’t want to play outside in the winter) Any way the point I was going to make before I got distracted by the weather was that I was watching a hawk outside the window. The Hawk outside my window would wait in quiet readiness for the precise moment when its next meal might be appear. The athletic ability to go from stillness to top speed in the wink of an eye; The ease with which it moved. There were no thoughts getting in his way. (I can’t do this or what would happen if.) He or she was content with being present in each moment, happy to be exactly where and how it was. It could choose at any moment to move or stay. I was reminded how often we humans try to be things we are not. We try to be how we think other people want us to be. We hang on to things from our day and let them affect what we are about to do next. I thought about those lucky people who are truly able to be who they are without the worries of fitting into someone else’s idea of how they should be: The ones who seem to move through life with ease. I decided I wanted more ease and grace in my life. I want the ability to soar through my life creating more fun. Don't let "those thoughts" get in the way of enjoying your time with your horse. Choose to pay more attention to your self and your horse. Just because life circumstances may have been challenging, does not mean we don’t get to choose how we want to live our lives. It just means we have to be aware enough to make more choices and be willing enough to say and see what works for us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The wonders of life-coaching

I was recently asked to give a talk at the University of Vermont on Equine Massage, to a group of pre-vet students. I was flattered, but one of my first thoughts was, “Oh no!  How am I going to get through this?  I hate public speaking!”

See how we can sabotage ourselves?  This was a golden opportunity, gift-wrapped and handed to me on a silver platter, and all I could see were the possible pitfalls.  How did I get through it, and even more, turn it around to be a really positive experience? CEGA, of course!

There are lots of different coping skills we can use in such a situation.  Here’s what I did.  I made a list of all the positive things that could result from this clinic, such as increased business, greater recognition, the chance to share something I really love, and working on an area in which I’d like to improve—public speaking.  Some of these benefits I came up with on my own, some of them were pointed out to me by friends with whom I shared my anxieties, but really, what helped me most was “channeling” Barb Torian, professional life coach and one of the founders of CEGA.  I could hear her, helping me to turn my thoughts around and take control of the situation before it was able to take control of me.  Allowing myself to step back and look at it from a different perspective enabled me to focus on the positive aspects of the UVM talk.  I’m not saying that my days of feeling anxious about public speaking are over, but what if they ARE?  What if I just allow myself to imagine that I really like public speaking, having the chance to talk to a roomful of people about work that I truly love?  Suddenly, that adrenaline rush I’m feeling is excitement, not nerves. Wow!  Thanks, Barb!

Haven’t had a chance to work with Barb yet?  Do yourself a HUGE favor and give her a call, send her an email, and get started!  Your possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Heading to UVM

I’ve been invited to teach a class at UVM today, on Equine Massage.  So excited!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring "house cleaning"

As we enter spring, with hope and excitement for the upcoming riding season, it's important to remember that we need to get back into shape gently. As the weather gets better, it's easy to get carried away and start in too vigorously, when both our horses and ourselves need time to get back into shape. Even if we ride all winter, the level of intensity is not the same, and it can be easy to overdo it. Take schooling sessions easy at first, gradually building back strength and stamina.

So how can we channel our energy so that we don't over do it on our horses? Spring cleaning!

Pour some of that energy into emptying out your tack trunk, and reorganizing it for the new season. Replenish supplies, clean stored items so they are fresh, and make sure it is packed neatly so that everything is in easy reach as the season gets busier.
Go through your medicine cabinet--make a shopping list. Throw away outdated meds, including wound dressings. Get a full complement of bandages and other items like vetrap, gauzes, duct tape. Make sure your thermometer has survived.
Get your clippers cleaned and sharpened, pull your horse's mane, and clip his goat whiskers, if not all of him.
Clean the barn and tack room--move things and sweep from underneath and behind; get the cobwebs and wash the windows and mirrors.
As the temps go up, get those winter blankets washed, repaired and stored, and make sure your coolers and sheets are ready to go and in good repair.
Check all your tack--daily used items and stored tack. Make sure everything is clean and well-oiled. Make a pile to sell at your local tack store or eBay, and create a list of things that need replacing and repair.
Look ahead in your calendar. What events do you want to attend? What do you need and level of fitness is required to get there? Then organize your training time backwards to set a systematic approach to get ready. Do you still need to get shots, teeth floated, tests done? Now is the time to get all your ducks in a row.
Include making sure your truck and trailer are ready--make appointments for them, too, to get brakes, wheels, floors, and engines checked and running well.

Focusing on being prepared will help us spread our energy around, and prevent us from jumping into riding too hard too soon.
Once the season gets into full swing, there will never be time to do these things--and any time spent on "house keeping" then is taking away from riding!

Happy Riding!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sometimes I don’t take care of myself, I am always willing to help someone else and in that process somehow, I put myself low on the totem pole. How many times do you try to fit in with how you think others want you to be? I have spent most of my life wanting to be liked by everyone. I compromise and side step my desires in order to “MAKE” everyone else happy. I am here to tell you it does not work. I can not make anyone else happy or can I make someone else like me. Imagine how you would feel if you knew someone liked you because you made them do it.

When we actually allow ourselves to be who we truly are inside, people actually like us more. They know where we stand and they don’t wonder who we are from day today.

It seems so clear when I start to look at it from this point of view. Yet when I function from my standard operating procedure; that I learned when I was about 5 and didn’t know any better, I can’t see how true it is. I didn’t know I had a choice.

So…. now that I know I made decisions when I was little in order to survive, I can begin to change how I operate and understand that we all just want to be accepted, understood and loved. I am beginning to stand up for myself and figure out what I want. The really cool part is I was the one stopping myself and now I get to decide how to move forward.
Childhood dreams that I decided couldn’t happen are beginning to show up as possibilities.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Great clinic!

Yes, that’s right—another great CEGA clinic today!  This one was at Dalneich Stables at Hibernia Farm in Cornwall, VT.  Our intrepid participants braved a truly “interesting” day of Vermont weather, for a fun, enlightening afternoon full of learning and connecting with their horses.  Watch our website (CEGAVT.com) for details on upcoming clinics, and reserve your place!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Of dogs and ponies

Those of you who know me, know that my favorite breed of dog is the Border Collie.  I love everything about them—their intelligence, their work ethic, the way they look and move, the close bond they form with their person, and their unbelievable energy. I have a lot in common with Border Collies.  I love to be busy, don’t do well with idle time, and my mind is always going.  This is great for me, and my interactions with my two Border Collies, but can be more challenging for those around me who don’t operate on the same high frequency.  

Take my three horses, for instance.  Sid, my Standardbred, is happiest when he gets worked no more than 3 or 4 days a week.  If I try to work him more than that, he responds by simply walking away from me in the pasture.  Monarch, my Thoroughbred, would love to be worked every day.  He is a lot like a Border Collie—intelligent, sensitive, great work ethic.  And he acts out when he doesn’t get enough work.  

And then there’s Simon.  As we have been struggling with some soundness issues with him, (strained check ligament, abscess, some arthritis issues), I have been struggling with not super-imposing my needs and work ethic on him.  Simon is 22 now, and has had a very active career, mostly with other people.  I asked him yesterday what he wants—does he want to be retired?  He let me know that he isn’t ready to retire yet, but that winters are hard for him in this climate, so her would really like to have winters off.  This will be a hard one for me—I am a firm believer in keeping older horses moving as much as possible, to keep them limber.  Also, riding is something that I really need to help me get through the winter, and I find the prospect of trying to get an older horse back into condition in the spring after a winter off to be daunting.  

But we’ll try it.  Simon will have the rest of this winter off (yes it’s still winter here—below zero this morning), and we’ll see how he does over the summer.  And if he decides that it’s time to retire, that’s what we’ll do.  This old dog is trying to learn a new trick.

CEGA clinic

Only 3 days left until our next clinic, at beautiful Hibernia Farm in Cornwall, VT.  Still a space or two left! Sign up and see why everyone is talking about CEGA!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What do you really want?

When we work with people in our clinics, one theme that recurs is expectations and goals. So often we are not even sure of our own desires and motivations, and how our choices affect our paths. It is helpful to share with an outside observer to see the picture more clearly.
How well do you know what your own goals are? How often do you make choices in your life that will help you further on your path toward those goals versus making choices that interfere or side track those goals? And do you know the difference between dreams and goals?
Recently I have read several good pieces on realizing goals from all sorts of people, riders, actors, politicians, writers. One common thread is to be clear in what you awnt, and what it will take to achieve it. Can you make the choices and perhaps some sacrifices to ensure you achieve YOUR goals? If not, does that mean that perhaps what you thought you wanted and what you really want are not in line? Or do you sabotage your own success, thereby avoiding finding out if you might not be as good as you wish you could be?
This year, when setting goals for you and your horse, play out the whole picture. Want to get certain scores or jump certain heights? Want to enter your first rated show? Or trail ride for a weekend someplace new? make a list of the steps you will have to take, and the time and effort need to accomplish them. be as precise as you can. Now, read the list over. Still want to do it? Great! Get started--do step one today--right now.
Feels like too much? Okay, take a step back. Should you rethink this goals, or are you just a bit nervous?
Answering questions like these, and taking things a step at a time will help you clarify your real desires, and when your actions and desires are in line, you will succeed--at whatever it is you put your energy toward.
Happy riding!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


UVM workshop is now Sat. Feb 12 1-5 at Spear St barn
Hibernia Farm is now Sun. March 6 1-5 in Shoreham.
See you there!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Do a 180! Or even a 360!

With cold weather here to stay, at least for a couple more months, not only is this a good time to get educated by watching videos, auditing clinics, and reading, it is also a good time to think about our relationship with our horses.  A couple of weeks ago, I suggested that you turn off your brain—now I’m suggesting that you turn it back on!

What I’m thinking of is taking a look at things from a completely different perspective.  For instance, if you have the mind-set that your horse hates arena work, you already have certain expectations of how your time in the arena is going to go.  We all know how our mood and attitude affect our spouse or children, and of course it affects our horses too.  You head to the arena, after grooming and tacking up your horse, somewhat less cheerfully than if you were heading out for a nice hack or to jump cross-country.  You may be a little resentful at having to ride inside, or that winter is dragging on, or that you can’t find your favorite winter riding gloves.  Make no mistake, your horse has picked up on your mood.  This may be manifested, for instance,  as your horse being sluggish and unwilling to work, or being squirrelly in an attempt to get your attention, or being cranky and resentful that you aren’t thoroughly grateful to be spending some time together.  

Our relationship with our horses is just that:  a relationship.  It needs to be fed and nurtured and not taken for granted, like all relationships.  Can you envision how different it would feel, if instead of saying to yourself, “Poopsie doesn’t like arena work”, you were to say, “Poopsie and I  have an opportunity to work on our serpentines” or lateral work, or drill team maneuvers with a buddy, or simply spend some time together.

I encourage you to sit with both these scenarios.  Try them on for size, and allow yourself to feel how your energy changes as the scenario changes.  Then think about how your relationship with your horse is affected by your energy.  And that’s just the beginning!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Discover deeper beauty

Beauty is only skin deep--unless it's deeper.

What do I mean? Well, it is still -20 F outside, and the dogs go out for a moment and come back with icicles on their eyelashes. The sun is shining and the trees all around are sparkling. And yet it is truly dangerous to be outside.

Take some time over the winter to educate your equestrian's eye. Watch videos--sale videos on YouTube, training videos, competitions. Look for the flashiest, most striking horses you can find. Then slow things down and take a good look again. How is that horse moving? Is he relaxed and carrying himself and his rider with ease? Is he working hard, but correctly through?
Or is he hollow, doing his best but restricted or stiff in his movement?
How is the rider sitting, and how quiet are the aids (how big are those spurs?).

Is what is happening pretty on the surface, but dangerous when you look deeper? Sometimes the plain looking pair are really the most correct--don't overlook them because they aren't famous or have no chrome.

Look for the best of what is there. Don't criticize, learn. Educate yourself, and at the very least give those who put themselves out there some credit.

My Mother always said, "You can always learn something from every situation, even if it's what you DON'T want to do."

So curl up, stay warm, and get an eyeful!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter contemplation

What happens in winter? I really hate the cold and the snow, and yet here I sit--having lived in Northern Vermont for over 25 years.
Getting out there and riding is truly hard. Especially my own horse. I will ALWAYS make sure the clients' horses are worked. Then I just want to curl up in by the stove, and hope my horse knows I love him, but I just can't face another nose/toes/fingers-numbing 30 minutes.
And yet...
When I DO ride him, wonderful things seem to happen in winter. He goes well, and I am very clear and simple in my requests and requirements. Our half-steps are really coming, and his canter--though it still is his area of greatest tension, eventually starts to jump softly under me.

So many things go so well, even when I can only muster 2-3 days a week. It remains a mystery why I don't carry the same spirit and ability when it is lovely and green and the sand footing is perfect....

I'm sure the answer is right there. Whatever it is, I'll take it :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Workshop for Middlebury College Equestrians--Wonderful!

Amazing! Every clinic we teach, every workshop we do I learn something new. And I am amazed and honored by our participants who are open, honest and really in tune with their horsiness.

Thank you to the participants in the Middlebury College CEGA workshop on Monday. You were so impressive in your capacity to understand the connections between mind body and horse, and so willing to expand your awareness to feel the changes in your selves and the horses.

I always feel honored by the folks that attend our workshops. Thank you all, and we look forward to working with you again!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sometimes we get it right

Lately my focus and energy have given me some sort of extra inner confidence that comes out as I ride. It's an ease of doing that comes from knowing.
I've felt this before--and I realize that I have too often assumed that since a thing is easy--flowing--I must in some way not be doing enough or trying HARD enough.
But you know what? Sometimes we just get it right!

I can totally accept this knowing in some areas of my life. Riding my own horse is the hardest place for me to feel it. Indeed, sometimes we just aren't trying enough or asking enough and we settle, and it feels comfortable, easy, and, well--average. This is a hard place to push ourselves out of. It's why so many of my students tell me they ride better and try harder during a lesson than when riding on their own. But for now, I've found that place for myself and my horse, when I can ask for and expect really great things, and we get them and we're together and nothing could feel better--transitions, lateral movements you name it. It's truly a mind-body-spirit connection.

So for now, I've got it right, and I'll hang onto to it for as long as I can!