A New Direction

NEWS III 1200 WM

Things are changing here on the farm. It’s time to shed the old to make room for the new.

Change invariably means discomfort ~ it’s why so many people are averse to engaging in it.  A proverbial “Do Not Disturb” sign hangs on the psyche of most because the need to hold on to the known, even if it feels debilitating, is the rut they know how to negotiate. It takes courage to forge a new path and stake claim on a new way of life. When thinking back to the city folk I used to be and the country folk I’ve become during the past three years, I know that the change, notwithstanding all the challenges and discomforts, is the best thing I could have done for myself. My health is better; my resilience strengthened.

And so, like the proverbial software upgrade, we’re updating to a newer version of our farm, complete with another learning curve.

Exciting and slightly unsettling all at once.

Sophia copy

 

In the meantime, Sophi and I deepen our bond as we continue our climb up the dressage training ladder. So much fun and so satisfying to grow in this way while the winds of change blow about us.

Change is inevitable. How we adjust to it depends entirely on our attitude and our willingness to accept an opportunity to grow. For me, this represents yet another chance to shed the negative old that no longer serves to make room for the positive new. I relish the opportunity.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019

 

 

Two Years

BFFs 1200

~ Bear and Abbey ~

It’s been two years since my beautiful horse, Bear, died so unexpectedly. Where does the time go? Memories like that depicted in this photo remind me of his gentleness. He and Abbey were such good friends. She really missed him for a while, but over time has transferred her affections to my mare, Sophia. Animals are so adaptable. We could learn a thing or two from them, I think.

 

It’s also been too long since my last post. Life unfolds, and unfolds, and unfolds and sometimes the unfolding is so involved it’s difficult for the Muse to get a word in edgewise. Still, I’m hoping things will settle down soon so I can get back to putting pen to paper, as it were.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this …

“Real transformation begins when you embrace your problems as agents of growth.”

Michael A. Singer
(from his book “The Untethered Soul”)

As always, nurture what you love,

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019

A passion for Standardbreds

pat LR

Marni with Santo Domingo, a 12-year-old retired Standardbred trotter she’s fostering and retraining as a pleasure riding horse for a future forever home.

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While I contemplate what’s involved in setting up a dedicated Unsung Heroines of the Horse Industry website this blog of horse mom musings is the temporary outlet for sharing this work. There’s still so much to learn about building an effective website. I don’t entirely understand “embedding” or the little extras like “slugs” or “excerpts.” I’m a writer and horse person, not a web expert.

Still, I better get on it.

In the meantime, please follow this link to Unsung Heroines of the Horse Industry: Marni Reimers Interview to find out about this remarkable woman’s passion for fostering, rehabilitating and retraining off-the-track Standardbreds, giving them a chance at a second career by turning them into amazing pleasure riding horses.

My thanks to Red Scarf Equestrian for providing a broader platform for this project.

Unsung Heroines Poster

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

Further reading:

Unsung Heroines of the Horse Industry: Eira Engzell Interview

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©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Let’s celebrate the barn dog …

Milo LR

Milo holds space

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A barn is incomplete without at least one barn dog.

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Barn dog Reilly LR

Reilly keeps watch

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These unsung canine heroes and heroines are tasked with all kinds of important responsibilities.

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Clean up crew LR

BoBo on clean up duty

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They’re wonderful companions and crew.

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Barn dogs LR

Abbey and Mikaila keep company

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They’re loyal to a fault.

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Bjorn LR

Bjorn accompanies Willow and Juliette to the arena

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They complete the picture.

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Reilly and Abbey LR

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

No “Snow Days”

life goes on

There are no “Snow Days” on a horse farm.

No cancellations due to icy road conditions or blowing snow
(with the exception of riding because, yes, there is wind chill in the arena not fit for human or horse)

On the coldest, snowiest, blowiest, most unpleasant days:

the stalls still need to be mucked;

the horses still need to be fed;

water buckets in the paddocks still need to be dumped and replenished;

hay still needs to be distributed several times a day;

the barn still needs to be swept and cleaned;

the horses still need to be groomed ;

an ailing horse still needs attention;

the manure still needs to be dumped …

and so it goes.

Just sayin’ …

Here’s to the unsung heroines of the horse industry enduring winter conditions at equestrian facilities everywhere!

Stay warm and nurture what you love…

Dorothy
Horse Mom

 

~*~

 

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

 

 

Trust Me

greetings

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Horses are social creatures. Curious and affectionate, especially among those they trust.

In that way they are like people. We all want relationships where we can be ourselves and feel comfortable socially. Where we can be curious and open to new ideas that help us to expand our experience of life and grow without threat of judgment or censure. So we can thrive, and not merely survive.

Still, trust is a fragile thing and easily abused. Horses are slow to trust. We must earn it every time we interact with them. To do this we must be authentic and consistent every moment we spend with them. To this end we must release the ego and its toxic agenda and surrender to the truth that lies within the heart.

Canadian horse trainer, Chris Irwin, describes horses as “victims waiting to happen.” To me this says that when we want a connection with a horse we must demonstrate that we are worthy of their trust. For, when we engage with them with the intention of creating connection we’re actually asking them to relinquish their natural instinct as prey and trust that we are not, in fact, a predator.

In my opinion, one of the most precious and satisfying feelings is to have earned the trust and made a connection with one these 1,200 lb (+/-) flight animals. From this perspective alone it is a privilege to pat a horse never mind sit on its back.

Too few people understand this.

Nurture what you love,

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2019 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Speechless

In the wake of receiving a WINNIE Award for Best Equestrian Photo Journal ~ English at the EQUUS Film Festival I have prepared a short speech.

Here goes …

1 - EQUUS FIlm Festival - WINNIE WINNER copy“I’m speechless. Really, I am. Lost for words. Hardly able to describe the extent to which horses have guided and transformed my life. My bastions of comfort; reflective mirrors of my inner world. When I consider my debt to these amazing creatures it goes beyond words. Particularly in the past few years when my level of self-awareness has been raised by my conscious interactions with them and people qualified to guide the process of healing.

Horses have taught me to stand my ground; set boundaries; be in the moment. They’ve helped me to learn how to regulate my anxiety. They’ve softened me. They’ve shown me a beautiful language that requires no words, only presence.

This past year has left me speechless. My recent success with Unsung Heroines of the Horse World in its very infancy as a project has, in some respects, been overwhelming and in others perfectly wonderful. I’m still trying to process this. To receive these Laurels is amazing and the fuel I need to keep moving forward. The challenge now, as I wait at this junction, is to continue to follow the path. To flow with a creative project that began just over a year ago with the submission of a few photographs to an art gallery in downtown Toronto.

IMG_1408The biggest challenge, as always, is to be in the moment with what is and listen; to feel; to be open to what’s next without an agenda, and I will do my best to meet it.

I’d like to thank Lisa Diersen and Diana DeRosa of the EQUUS Film Festival for a chance to share my message of women who work behind the scenes in the horse world through my photography, and for honoring my film with this prestigious award …

… my family and friends for tolerating my preoccupation with light and shadow whenever I have a camera in my hand, and then lending me their courage when it comes time to sharing my vision …

… my husband for believing in me every time, and through everything.

Finally, I’m grateful to my horses, Bear and Sophi ~ my heart and my wings, respectively. They raise me up, always.

To finish, let me just say that horses will show us the way, if only we will listen. So, please, take a moment to turn down the volume of our incessant hectic modern-day experience and tune in to the invaluable, healing frequency of Equus. It will leave you speechless.”

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

 

 

Blue Bear

Blue boy

It’s been almost a year since Bear’s sudden departure. Memories are flooding back, but they don’t make me sad anymore. They make me wistful, and grateful. He was the horse that healed my heart and now I can only think of him with the joy that was our life for all those amazing years.

As the cycle of the first year comes to a close, I’ll be sharing some of my favourite images of him in the next few posts. I’ve also put together a Celebration of Life video that will be uploaded to YouTube soon and tagged to this blog. It’s all part of the closure.

Connected through heart and spirit, Bear’s last message to me was to “Let go and let be.” Two days later he was gone and 50 weeks on I am finally preparing to release his ashes and fully pour my heart into life again.

He will be forever in my heart; the heart he healed with his deep wisdom and his own incredibly loving heart.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Creator … *Unsung Heroines of the Horse Industry*
An official film selection of EQUUS Film Festival 20182018 OFFICIAL FILM SELECTION LAUREL copy

 

The Sky’s the Limit

Nancy and Sophi

Attentive ears. Relaxed and swishy tail. Soft eye.

Sophi was in her element at the dressage clinic with Diane Creech on Saturday. Nancy, my coach, did an amazing job riding her and I could not have been happier for my girl.

Diane called her a “super mare” many times, and said that we’re really only tapping into 40 per cent of Sophi’s potential. So, I guess that means there’s lots of room for her to grow into fourth level/Prix St. George dressage, and as long as she stays healthy, enjoys the work and has fun, the sky’s the limit.

We will invite Sophi to take the next step and see how far she wants to go.

So excited for my sweet girl.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy E. Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Soar

In Flight

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When I was younger and bolder I used to enjoy the thrill of jumping a simple course of fences with a trusted, and trusting, equine partner.

It’s been about 15 years since a freak accident put an end to this pastime. Frankly, I don’t even care to work over ground poles anymore. Having said that, I can still remember and appreciate the precision, timing, coordination, balance, athleticism, and sheer joy of soaring over a jump. It is a unique and amazing feeling, indeed, to sit astride a horse who loves their work.

Horses, like people, are individuals with different characters, talents and enthusiasms. A skilled trainer can identify what makes a particular horse tick and create a training program that allows it to blossom in a discipline for which they demonstrate a clear talent and enjoyment. Training a horse to race when they clearly have no aptitude for it is like pressing a child to run a marathon when they’d rather throw javelin. They simply will not thrive in, or enjoy, the experience. So, like the attentive parent who thoughtfully nurtures a child’s obvious interest in, for instance, horses, a good trainer will notice when a horse demonstrates an obvious talent and enthusiasm for jumping or running and guide their development accordingly, being careful not to overwhelm mind, body and spirit in the process.

I once worked with a well-regarded trainer who, when asked a general question about horse training, always answered, “It depends on the horse.” What works for one horse, will not necessarily work for another. It depends on their history, temperament, talent. The ability to be sensitive to the needs of each individual horse is the mark of a good trainer. One-size-fits-all has no place in the training of  horses.

My three-year journey with Sophi in the discipline of dressage has been slow. At the beginning we worked with a trainer who appeared to show no interest in moving us beyond first level, even though Sophi’s previous experience and training had been more advanced. Did this coach demonstrate a lack of belief in my ability to ride my dressage horse at a higher level? Yes. So, I let this coach go and enlisted another who came highly recommended and  brought new eyes and understanding to our training. She immediately saw Sophi’s talent and acknowledged that with some polishing I had the skills to ride more advanced tests. Within six months Sophi and I were showing second level. This year we’ve nailed our third level movements and now we’re adding in more complex fourth level “tricks” that Sophi not only loves to do, but already does reasonably well. This is an exciting time for both us, and I’m so looking forward to watching her (and I) soar under the watchful eye of our amazing trainer.

We all need a chance to blossom and soar. Surrounding ourselves with appropriate, supportive people and being in an environment where we are encouraged to thrive and grow will give us, and our horses, the best chance to do this.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse mom

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks