The Master

Bear and I are really fortunate to be working with a coach of the German school.

I call him the Master because he is just that ~  a Master horseman.

As the Master, he is most invested in the development of both horse and rider and is, as a result, thoroughly engaged in the process of training.

This is great for us, his students, because it spurs us on to engage our best energy as well.

It also makes for great photos ops …

~*~

Scheduling

The Master has claimed the blackboard outside the arena door and this is where we congregate for lesson scheduling.

~*~

Entering

Arrival of the Master.

I featured this image on my photography blog Eyes to Heart recently. If you’re interested, link through to this post to read more about my experience with this incredible teacher.

~*~

Investing

On the ground the Master demonstrates, in his own special way, the nuances of the perfected ride.

~*~

Observing

The Master is always on the move ~ whether he’s running beside a student as they execute a particular movement, standing in the middle of a 10m circle shouting encouragement or leaning on a shovel between shifts of scraping footing back into the track, he’s a going concern.

And yet he misses nothing.

Did I say he’s “invested?”

~*~

Connecting

Being able to teach the student effectively means having a thorough understanding of the horse. Occasionally the Master will ride his student’s horses, including Bear, to get a clearer understanding of how the horse is working so he knows what the student is up against.

Since the dressage boot incident the Master has ridden Bear several times and taken the opportunity to sharpen him up for me. The difference is amazing!

What I’ve I learned from this is that it’s not necessary to carry the burden of training my horse all on my own. The Master knows a lot more than me and I’m happy for him to share his wealth of knowledge and skill to help bring out the best in Bear … and me.

Bear is working more correctly and is happier too.

~*~

Trotting

When all is said and done it’s about developing a healthy relationship with the horse by employing key principles of horsemanship and adopting correct techniques.

I have learned so much in the past several weeks simply through observing the Master. Whenever I ride I do my best to emulate his very correct position and use of the aids.

And now, with my back fully healed and Bear with valuable training under his girth, we’re on the right track and things are going really well. (Photos at a future date.)

And we have the Master to thank for that.

The journey continues …

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

PS More on my experiences with the FEEL certification program coming up!

Do Nothing? Are You Kidding Me?

 

My Classroom

Welcome to my classroom …

~*~

 

When I first heard about Wu Wei* (the Taoist practice of “non-doing”) my immediate reaction was “Do nothing? Are you kidding me?”

It came up as an exercise we FEEL (Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning) program participants are to incorporate into our regular routine with the horses. Let me explain.

Being more in tune with the needs of my horse and understanding the context of choice in his life requires mindfulness on my part. People say that animals are dumb, but based on my experience I don’t believe this for a second. Horses know the difference between a hand that hurts and a hand that heals. They know from the moment someone appears on the horizon if their intentions are fair or foul. They read our body language all the time and respond accordingly. So, it’s up to us to be mindful of how we interact with these beautiful beings. It can literally make, or break, the relationship.

If we want to know what kind of an impact the environment is having on a horse’s frame of mind it’s really simple ~ read the horse’s body language. For instance, if you look at the image above, Bear’s relaxed stance, floppy ears, semi-closed eyes and level head tell us that in that moment he’s happy just chillin’. 😉

There’s more to it than that, naturally, and perhaps I’ll write more of it at another time, but the bottom line is horses respond to whatever energy is present in the moment.

Part of the curriculum of the FEEL program is learning to understand energy ~ how it works; how it connects us; how it heals; how it can hurt. One way or the other it’s all a matter of intention. Intuitive impulses, when we are in touch with them, can alert us to trouble and allow us to make the choice to move away or put up a fight. As prey animals horses are imbued with this instinct. They sense danger even when they can’t see or hear it, and will respond appropriately to survive.

This is what makes them such valuable teachers in the human pursuit of self-discovery. Since horses can only ever reflect the truth around them they are the perfect mirrors for helping us to see who we are.

For some people, naturally, this is an uncomfortable prospect. For others it offers a marvellous healing and personal growth opportunity.

For instance, how a horse reacts to two different people depends entirely on the energy each person brings to the relationship. As an equestrian coach it always botheedr me when one student would say to another: “You won’t like Mouse, she’s mean/won’t canter/ is really hard to ride,” etc. Or, conversely, “You’ll love Mouse, she’s so sweet/has a brilliant canter/is lovely to ride.”

The fact is, Mouse will respond to each rider differently based on whatever energy they carry around with them. For instance, Mouse may perform well under the gentle and confident leadership of a rider with a quiet hand and light, effective leg aid, but become resistant and anxious with another, more fearful, less educated rider who kicks mercilessly and pulls on the rein at the same time, sending the poor horse mixed messages. The riders’ experiences with the horse will be much different based on what they bring to the equation. The horse can only respond according to the information she’s receiving. Perhaps the most that can be said about Mouse is that her response to each rider is totally honest.

Still, I’m getting a little side tracked here. I’m merely attempting to show that the energy we emit is inevitably what comes back to us.

Understanding this and other truths of emotional energy is teaching me to honour the privilege of having the trust of a 1,200 lb prey animal like Bear.

So, what about Wu Wei?

Loosely translated Wu Wei is the art of “non-doing” or “non-action.”

“In our culture,” as author and horse trainer, Linda Kohanov, writes in her book The Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery, ” … those who work more, buy more, try harder, and seem busier are the ones we’re taught to admire and emulate. The art of not striving has been lost, and we’re suffering from a host of stress-related illnesses as a result.”

Of course, I live in “this culture” and what has been my stress-related illness in recent years? Adrenal fatigue.

So, the challenge of Wu Wei is to do nothing constructively and see what happens. It’s not about being a couch potato on a Sunday afternoon watching reruns of your favourite TV show.

No, it’s about being in the moment and allowing all distractions to subside; to engage with nature and feel it’s impact upon us. To do nothing.

A foreign concept for most people.

With the FEEL program our task is to practice Wu Wei in the presence of our horses and, in the process, create a deeper connection with them and, potentially, our inner selves.

My first attempt a couple of weeks ago was nothing if not magical …

Before bringing Bear in from the paddock I allowed myself a few extra minutes to practice just “being” in his presence.

I entered through the paddock gate without calling to him, which is my usual practice, and parked myself in the middle of the paddock from where I could see him just over the rise of a rolling hillock. Standing there quietly and not drawing attention to myself, I focused on my breathing and and simply observed my beautiful boy as he grazed. Within a few seconds he raised his head and turned to look at me, as if acknowledging my presence. I stayed where I was; didn’t speak. He then turned his whole body toward me and started walking over ~ a slow, sauntering kind of walk which told me he was relaxed and happy to see me. I held my ground waiting to see what he would do next. I kept focused on my breathing. When Bear was about eight feet away he stopped for a moment, respecting an unseen but important personal boundary. I waited. About a minute later he walked right up to me. Sniffed at my hand, my back (found the carrot in my back pocket and helped himself), sniffed up my arm, down the outside of my leg. I didn’t move. Didn’t touch him. After a minute or two he drifted away a few feet and began to graze again, happy just to be near me. I smiled and waited, curious to see what he would do next.

Outside the paddock a slight commotion occurred as two horses being led in opposite directions were brought to a halt and their handlers had a brief and quiet chat. Being the curious boy he is, Bear left me and wandered over to the gate to check things out. I didn’t move; didn’t follow; didn’t say anything, and watched with interest as he indulged his curiosity. I will admit that for a moment … and just a moment … I was disappointed that he’d left. I felt abandoned. Our lovely moment, it appeared, had ended all too soon. Still, I tried not to judge and waited to see what would happen next.

As the two horses were eventually lead their separate ways Bear followed one up the fence line. Then he broke away and, much to my pleasure, wandered back to me. He put his muzzle right into my hand as if to plug into my energy once again. It was such a profound experience I almost wept with the joy of it. More than anything else he wanted to be in my company … in that moment. He didn’t want to eat (which is what horses do all the time except when they’re sleeping or working). He didn’t want to engage with other horses. He wanted only to be with me. 🙂 And I didn’t have to do anything but be.

Of course, the purpose of the FEEL program is to demonstrate how these concepts we learn with the horses can be applied to every day life …

As I observe it, we have become human “doings” and forgotten to be human “beings.” We’ve forgotten that periods of limbo are a natural part of the living and creative process. Part of my quest over the next several months as I complete the FEEL program and gain an even deeper level of self-awareness, is to learn to be comfortable in limbo ~ to honour the constructive and regenerative aspects of “non-doing” so my life takes on a more balanced way of being. This may be a tall order, but the more I practice the easier it it will get. As Linda Kohanov writes: ” … lack of control is infuriating and frightening for the intellect. For this reason, it’s beneficial to practice “not doing” voluntarily rather than wait until circumstances force you into those inescapable limbo periods. Training the mind with a regular dose of Wu Wei quite simply strengthens courage and creativity on all levels.”

I have Bear to help me with this, but practicing the art of “non-doing” can be as easy as standing in your back yard or other safe, peaceful area and observing as nature unfolds around you.

I’d like to challenge you to take 20 minutes to try this out. Put away your technical gadgets, clear your mind, focus on and slow your breathing. Be still. Spend time with nature by simply being and observing. What are the birds doing? How many butterflies do you see? How do you feel watching the squirrels chase each other through the trees? What sounds do you hear that you would normally miss? Should you choose to do this, I’d be curious to know what this experience was like for you. I find there is usually a natural conclusion to each session. That is, I don’t have to do anything … the end just is. 😉

I try to spend 20 minutes or so two or three times a week just hanging out with Bear ~ either in the paddock or sitting in a chair outside his stall. It’s a pleasant exercise for him too because it releases him from the expectation of having to do something every time I show up at the barn.

This week I will get to spend more time in Wu Wei than I had planned as I am forced into limbo due to back spasms. But that’s a story, perhaps, for next time. 😉

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

* What Is Wu Wei? One of Taoism’s most important concepts is wu wei, which is sometimes translated as “non-doing” or “non-action.” A better way to think of it, however, is as a paradoxical “Action of non-action.” Wu Wei refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world. It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by great ease and awake-ness, in which – without even trying – we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise. (Source: About.com)

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014 

Disclaimer: The events described herein are taken from my own experience, knowledge, and understanding and are shared for entertainment and information purposes only. Should you wish to try any of the techniques or exercises shared within the framework of this blog, please ensure that both you and your horse(s) are adequately prepared. And remember: while I have enjoyed some success using these techniques, you try them solely at your own risk.

 

 

 

The Gentleman’s Club

Managing the herd dynamic is one of the top priorities at any barn. Horses, like people, are predisposed to like and dislike others according to their own personality and character.

While horses will identify their own pecking order, it is important for the barn owner to understand their horses well enough to know who should and shouldn’t be turned out together and encouraged to mix. Ensuring the horses are grazing among others of like mind and character is key to reducing the risk of injury and possible upset among the herd.

Bear, as we’ve discovered, is the horse-about-town type. He wants to, and does, get along with everyone. It makes him a natural leader. His experience with Zu Zu is a case in point. Now that she has left, however, we’ve had to find him other friends that share his particular easy-going life philosophy.

For the past three weeks or so he’s been enjoying the company of old campaigner Konnor, and a young FEI dressage prospect, Dream. They’ve been getting along famously. In fact, Dream and Bear are often to be found playing and grazing together as if they’ve been friends for life, while Konnor hovers in the background ready to mediate if needed. He likes the ex officio role ~ doesn’t need to be in charge all the time, but will step in if required.

Bear and Dream share a tender morsel ...

Bear and Dream share a tender morsel …

 

They’re such a polite trio I’ve dubbed them “The Gentleman’s Club.”

Last week a new horse moved into the barn.  Midas, at age 19, is an older fellow and another retired dressage horse. The day after his arrival I was approached  about introducing Midas to our gentlemanly herd. We discussed the proposed change at some length. We knew the established herd was functioning well together, but wondered what would happen if we introduced someone new. Would it alter the dynamic? Would it be a good fit?

Every herd introduction is a social experiment. While J had her own concerns because of past injuries Midas had experienced, she assured us he was a peace-loving horse and, if anything, preferred to keep to himself. Her main concern was that he be in with a quiet group who wouldn’t bully or chase him around.

The facts were this: Konnor is 20 and the paddock peace keeper. Dream is eight and, having had two colic surgeries of his own, needs quiet companionship and civilized play as well as all-day turnout. Bear is 12 and just wants to be everyone’s friend. Taking all of this into consideration, a well as Midas’ disposition, we agreed there was little harm in seeing if they would get along. After all, you don’t know if something is going to work until you give it a go. So, Midas was introduced into The Gentleman’s Club.

As Bear was still enjoying his after-ride grooming session, Midas met the other two members first.

It is normal, when introducing horses to each other for the first time, to witness a cacophony of squeals and grunts and screams as necks arch and noses touch in greeting. It’s all part of the initial interview. There’s the occasional pawing at the ground and some ear pinning too but, if all goes well, this is the extent of the discussion.

By the time I lead Bear to the paddock it was apparent that Midas had passed muster. But Bear and Midas still had to meet.

While Bear was  lead into the paddock I grabbed my camera and documented his interaction with the potential new club member.

Herewith my interpretation, in words and pictures, of Midas’ admission interview with Bear.

 ~*~

Hello, Midas. My name is Shakespeare, but you can call me Bear ...

“Hello, Midas. My name is Shakespeare, but you can call me Bear …”

~*~

Now, then ... let's get a closer look at you ...

“Now, then … let’s get a closer look at you …”

 ~*~

Now, the other side, if you please ...

“That’s good. Now, the other side, if you please …”

~*~

 

(I like him so far, mom ...)

(So far so good, mom …)

~*~

 

Here, let me show you the water barrel ...

“Now, if you’ll come this way, I’ll show you the club’s water barrel …”

~*~

Uh huh, you're good over here too ...

“Just so you know, it’s first come, first serve after me, buddy …”

~*~

Now, over here is club hay ...

“And over here we have some of the club’s select hay. Over here, I said …”

~*~

Good, good ... I like what I'm seeing. Your patience shall be rewarded ...

“Thanks for waiting. Your manners are excellent. I like that …”

~*~

Please ... help yourself ...

“Please, try some for yourself. Do note its superior quality …”

~*~

Here ... let me help you ...

“Here, let me help you with that …”

~*~

"Thank you," says Midas ...

“No need to thank me just yet … “

~*~

"I like him, boys, what do you think?"

“I like him, boys, what do you think?”

~*~

Admission granted ...

Admission granted …

~*~

The interview took all of 10 minutes and we watched in awe as it all unfolded. J said she’d never seen Midas relax so quickly into a group.

Well, it is The Gentleman’s Club after all. 😉

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

 

 

Pony Potpourri Revisited … Time For Change

Bear Springs for Spa Time

Well, actually I sprang for some spa time for Bear this week.

As you know it’s been a long, cold winter. In addition to the new work ethic which is testing our physical resources differently, our winter-weary muscles have been expanding and contracting like cracks in the sidewalk to combat the bitter cold. Time for an early spring tune-up.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll recall that last year Bear was introduced to chiropractic care. This time I decided to try something different and enlisted the services of a highly recommended registered equine massage therapist (REMT).

There were no obvious physical maladies needing to be addressed, but why wait until there’s a problem? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

So, this week I arranged for a spa day for Bear.

Oh yeah, that feels good ...

Oh yeah, that feels good …

While he stood quietly, the REMT commented on how trusting and relaxed Bear is while being poked and prodded and nudged. What can I say? He’s always loved attention.

First, the REMT worked along the right side of Bear’s body and then the left. It was fun to observe my boy’s obvious pleasure at having his muscles gently massaged. For a full 45 minutes or so Bear languished in his very own la-la land.

You got that right ...

Right there. Right … there. Ya …

The bottom line is that Bear’s in pretty decent shape for a horse his age. He’s nice and free through the shoulders (blocked shoulders are a common problem) with only a little tightness through the sacrum. This, the REMT noted, was to be expected given the icy paddock conditions since the beginning of January.

When I returned Bear, all warm and snuggly in his cool-weather jammies, to his stall he was feeling no pain, which was just as well because a couple of hours later the vet arrived to administer Bear’s first intra-nasal Strangles vaccine. Naturally my happy boy took this in stride, not seeming to object too much to a straw-sized tube being ever-so-briefly wedged up his nose to deposit the vaccine. Perhaps not the most comfortable moment in a spa day, but there you go.

His discomfort, whatever it might have been, was soon forgotten and easily remedied with a generous helping of carrots and time in the paddock with his friend Konnor. Together they picked at hay and basked in the early spring sunshine for the rest of the afternoon.

And, glad to have given him this happy time, I left him in peace.

~*~

NEWS FLASH!

Zu Zu Says “Bye, Bye!”
Zu too

Bye, bye, Zu Zu …

Last week it was announced in the barn that Zu Zu, Bear’s girl friend since January 1, is leaving for other muddy pastures this weekend.

It was a short, but happy, courtship for Mr. Bear and little Miss Zu. The rising four-year-old Canadian mare (some said Mr. Bear, at age 12, had robbed the cradle) offered a ray of sunshine for the gentle Hanoverian gelding. Through the frigid and bleak mid-winter Miss Zu helped her handsome paddock mate feel welcome in his new digs. Together they trudged through mountains of snow and spent hours digging in three-feet drifts scavenging for patches of green.

Zu Zu called the shots. Bear followed her everywhere. Naturally, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with his alter ego, Shakespeare, a poet out standing in his field, penning his Sonnet XXV especially for her.

It’s a sad parting of the ways. Zu Zu, with her rambunctious nature and hearty appetite, will be missed.

Still, Bear’s response to the separation has been eased by the fact that he has made new friends of the male persuasion ~ Dream and Konnor ~ and together they hang out happily in what I like to refer to as the “Gentleman’s Club,” as they’re all so polite and well-mannered.

Bear and Zu Zu enjoyed a quality friendship for a couple of months. Some human relationships should last so long and be so happy. 😉

We’ll miss you, Zu Zu.

~*~

“Neigh!” quoth he …

Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.

~Author Unknown

~*~

Defining Horsepower

Original horsepower

Original horsepower

Ever wondered about the origins of the term “horsepower?”

A search of the Internet brought this definition, which will appeal to all you beer drinkers and draft horse lovers out there. Maybe a few car enthusiasts too. 😉

Horsepower is the unit of power in the English system of measurement. The term horsepower was coined by James Watt (1736-1819), the Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer renowned for his improvements of the steam engine.

 Definition

One horsepower (hp) is equivalent to 0.7457 kW in standard SI units. A healthy human can sustain about 0.1 horsepower, a car can generate several hundred horsepower, while a steam turbine in an electric power plant can produce more than 1.5 million horsepower.

Horsepower-hour is a unit of energy or work equal to the work done by the applied power of one horsepower over the period of one hour. The corresponding standard SI unit of energy is the joule. One joule = 3.73·10-7horsepower-hour.

 History

The term horsepower was coined by James Watt (1736-1819), the Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer renowned for his improvements of the steam engine. In the early 1780s, Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton set out to sell their steam engines to the breweries of London, calculating that they would be likely customers because brewing was such an energy-intensive process. In order to convince the breweries of the advantages of the steam engine, Watt needed a method to compare their capabilities relative to horses, the power source they were seeking to replace. The typical brewery horse, attached to a mill that ground the mash for making beer, walked in an endless circle with a 24-foot diameter, pulled with a force of 180 pounds, and traveled at a speed of 180.96 feet per minute. Watt multiplied the speed times the force and came up with 32,580 ft-lbs/minute. That was rounded off to 33,000 ft-lbs/minute, the figure used today.

A healthy human can sustain about 0.1 horsepower, a car can generate several hundred horsepower, while a steam turbine in an electric power plant can produce more than 1.5 million horsepower.

Source: Cutler J. Cleveland, The Encyclopedia of Earth … www.eoearth.org

~*~

Direct from Poet’s Paddock …

Spring

by Shakespeare “The Equine”

Spring is here;
Brings with it change.
My life and habits
Rearrange.

With paddocks closed
Alas, to dry,
Amuse myself in
Stall, must I

With dreams of fresh
Green grass to eat.
I count the days with
Stomping feet.

On warmer days
Bid rugs farewell
And feel sun on
My back a spell.

With joy I revel
In its beams,
As through the window
Pane it streams

Upon my shiny
New spring coat.
Handsome and dark,
But I won’t gloat.

And birds, they sing
Their song so sweet.
“Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! Chirp!
Tweet! Chirp! Tweet! Tweet!”

While buds appear
And set to bloom,
Adorning our great
Garden room.

Yes, I love spring
A time of joy.
Reminds me I’m
A lucky boy.

~*~

The change in the format of these posts is easily explained. It’s time to do things differently. Bear and I are experiencing such a profound shift on so many levels with our new coach in our new environs it’s a challenge to write about it at any depth. So, instead I’ve decided to have a little fun with the blog format, sharing snippets of our lives rather than delving too deeply into the inner journey. To everything there is a season and a time to change.

This seems to want to be a newsletter. This appeals to me well enough as writing and producing them my forté for a long time as a commercial writer. The format is looser and more dynamic. Should I change the theme to accommodate this style more readily? I don’t know yet. We’ll see where it leads.

I hope you enjoy it. Of course, your constructive feedback is more than welcome.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Pony Potpourri

And now for something completely different …

~*~

“He’s of the colour of the nutmeg. And of the heat of the ginger…. he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him; he is indeed a horse, and all other jades you may call beasts.”

~William Shakespeare, Henry V

~*~

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Deborah, a budding equestrian photographer.

She asked if she could take some photos of Bear and, as you can imagine, I had no problem with that … and neither did he.

Deborah sent me a sample and I’m posting them here for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy!

~*~

Bear’s and my progress continues. A new level of self-awareness emerges. The act of processing ~ releasing the old and embracing the new, as well as creating new mental, physical and emotional muscle memory ~ can be tiring for both of us but we are growing together in a new way of being which is far more positive and forward focused than we’ve experienced.

Yesterday we went on our first hack in the snow. Yes, if you can believe it I’ve had Bear for almost eight years and finally we went for a ride (albeit a short one) out in the snow.

It’s a brave new world.

~*~

“A horse can lend its rider the speed and strength he or she lacks, but the rider who is wise remembers it is no more than a loan”.

Pam Brown

~*~

Bear and Zu Zu have separated.

Not as tragic as it sounds. Zu’s got girly things going on and Bear doesn’t need to be in the way of one of her mood swings. So, my beautiful boy is now paddock prowling with two new friends ~ Dream and Konnor. The transition has gone well. Everyone is getting along. However, I noticed yesterday that someone had taken a plum-sized chunk of hair and some flesh out of his hip with their teeth. His first battle scar.

I guess they’re still jockeying their hierarchy out there in the paddock, but my guess is he’s the low man on the totem pole. Poor Bear. I don’t really think he cares as long as he gets to eat.

~*~

Why is a horse’s frog called a frog?

A horse actually has four frogs ~ one located at the bottom of each foot on the underside. Its rubbery construct acts as a shock absorber when the horse strikes his foot to the ground. But where did the term frog come from?

Unknown

Source: Wikipedia

Some say it’s called this because of its triangular shape and how this resembles a frog. But I did a little research and found this at The Hoof Project .

“How the horse’s frog acquired its name is somewhat obscure. It seems doubtful that the term was derived from a resemblance to the back of the amphibian. Older English texts refer to the frog as the frush, which is confusing as it indicates that the word may be of German origin where the word for frog is frosch. Alternatively, earlier references indicate that the word for frog is derived from the French word forchetta and/or forchette which are best translated as a “little fork” which, in turn, is used to refer to a fork with only tines. This suggests that the two limbs, or crus, of the frog were thought to resemble the tines of a fork. Technically, the Latin cuneus ungulae describes the concept that the frog is a wedge (cuneus) in the hoof (unglue).”

~*~

“He flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”

Stephen Leacock

~*~

That was fun!

A bit of a horse hodgepodge, but a change is as good as a rest.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

When It Must Be Love …

Love bugs

~*~

When it must be love what does any equine with the name of Shakespeare do? Why, write a sonnet, of course …

Sonnet XXV

As in the dark of night a thief doth steal,

New love my heart hath seizéd in a trice.

And shouldst I share with you just how I feel:

Its thumpy-thumpy-thump is rather nice.

A feisty filly brightens this ol’ bay,

And so profoundly fills my soul with bliss

I scarce believe, this cold Feb’rary day,

A move from old to new hath brought me this.

*

I did not look for love; no, it found me.

And in my heart-home set most perfect peace.

Where once twas blind I now more clearly see

For ‘pon this life love’s joy hath wrought new lease.

And to my heart hath whispered pure and true

With lovely presence of my darling Zu.

~*~

If you’ve been following this blog for the past few weeks I suspect you knew this was bound to happen.

Believe me, my purpose with this blog is not to focus on Shakespeare’s (aka Bear’s) love life. Still, it’s part of his journey and I spend time with him every day, so how can it be ignored?

As I’ve noted before he is much happier in his work lately. There’s more spring in his step. Is it just the fresh guidance we’re receiving as we begin to learn the nuances of dressage, or does Bear’s (and my) happier heart also have something to do with it?

There’s more to life than work, of course. Love is what really makes the world go around, and love is what we celebrate on Valentine’s Day.

Frankly, I wish it was more than romantic love, and its lustful deviations, that were the focus of this day. This is a rather small and, on some levels, insignificant part of the story.

Hearts and flowers and dinners and whatever are all lovely, but the essence of love ~ the peace it brings to our hearts when it is true ~ is what I feel needs to be celebrated and promoted.

What does true love feel like?

A gift of roses from Shakespeare and I to you ... :-)

A gift of roses for you …

It can take years to understand that true love creates feelings of perfect peace. It allows us to always be ourselves. Doesn’t judge. Doesn’t ask us to modify our behaviour or body or destroy our spirit for any reason. Any changes that occur “in love” are a natural evolution of the expansion of our comfort zone while feeling loved and secure in the presence of another.

True love accepts about us even the things we find hard to accept about ourselves, because it sees beyond our weakness, insecurities and imperfections to our truth.

Being comfortable in our own skin, in love, is one of the surest signs I know that love is true.

Strange as it may be to say this about a horse, I believe this is true for Bear. Since basking in the winter sun with Zu he is the most relaxed I have ever seen him.

Am I a jealous mother?

No!

Zu Zu brings Bear a peaceful heart, and isn’t that what every mother wants for her child? 😉

It must be love.

Nurture what you love this day … and forever …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Introducing Zu Zu …

Rather than bore you with yet another rant about how miffed I am about yet another dumping of snow interfering with my precious barn time, I thought I’d introduce you to Bear’s new girlfriend. Rather appropriate, don’t you think, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.

A couple of days ago, when it was finally warm enough to pull out the good camera, I captured a few images of the happy couple out in the rolling paddock behind the barn.

Bear and Zu Zu

They were hanging out by the far fence line, so I called to Bear. He turned his head to acknowledged me and, naturally, when he did, she did.

Zu leads

After a few moments hesitation, where it looked as if it they were discussing whether or not it was worth their while to interrupt their mutual meditation Zu Zu, it seems to me, decided it would be appropriate to make the trek across the snow for a visit. Or, possibly, Bear indicated to her he wanted to see his mom and nudged her along. At any rate, you can see that he’s quite the gentleman allowing Zu to take the lead. Or did she, the alpha mare that she is, just take the lead and he followed? Hmmmm … this is open to debate.

Bear follows

Either way, they trudged happily together through the snow to the gate and, as any gentleman would, Bear stood back to allow his beauty to star in her very own picture.

Zu Zu

Zu Zu is a rising four-year-old mare of the Canadian breed.  She is much smaller than Bear, but what she lacks in stature she more than makes up in attitude. She is the boss and has wrapped herself around Bear’s heart.

And mine. 😉

Nurture what you love  …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, All Rights Reserved 2014

#FWF … The Heart is More Than Words

#FWF … The Heart is More Than Words.

via #FWF … The Heart is More Than Words.

Some thoughts on the horse I’ve shared on my blog “In So Many Words.” Seems appropriate to share these musings here also.

Please check it out …

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

 

When Things Are Meant To Be … Or Not To Be

... A poet out standing in this new field ...

… Shakespeare ~ a poet out standing in his new field …

~*~

It’s been nearly two weeks since Bear and I started a new chapter in our life together. I’m pleased to say the first few paragraphs have been incredibly fun. 🙂

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve known for some time that we needed a change. What I’ve learned from this experience, however, is that when change (or opportunity if you prefer to look at it that way) is ready for you, it comes knocking. The important thing is to be aware and listen for that first gentle rap at the door so we can usher change in quietly and methodically. It’s when we haven’t been paying attention and change starts banging the door down that problems arise. From past experience I know this to be true.

If I thought about it too much I might kick myself for not having made this move sooner. The fact is, though, the timing was not right until now. Opportunity was biding its time waiting for Bear and me (mostly me, sadly) to be ready. I’d looked at potential new homes for Bear before, but not found the right fit. And then, one day last November during an online search I found this barn which, as it happened, had only one stall open. I paid the barn a visit and, after due consideration, made the decision to let change, and opportunity lead us through the door.

The rest you know.

So, I don’t beat myself up over something I wish I’d done years ago. It’s a moot point. Everything unfolds as it should, and when you follow your heart things do, inevitably, fall into place at exactly the right time. No regrets. No mourning for the past. Just a much clearer vision of the future and a toe-hold closer to a dream.

The recent hard blast of winter has been both a curse and a blessing. A curse, of course, in that conditions have been unbearably cold and not suited to riding. A blessing because the extra down time has given Bear and I a chance to acclimate to our new surroundings. He hangs out with his new friends and I hang out with mine. And when it comes to his exercise, because it’s been so quiet at the barn we’ve had free access to the arena. This means we’ve been able to play at will, which is great because it gets him used to the quirks and creaks of his new working space without me on his back.

It’s been a rather smooth transition, all in all. This tells me it was meant to be. 😉

Forsooth, a few words from the poet equine …

~*~

Sonnet XXIV

No way there is to know what life shall bring;

What storms shall pass or sunny days shall hold.

The best advantage is a heart that sings

So through the best and worst one might be bold.

As winter hath its fury bourn this way

And havoc wreaked for all within its path

The choice, per chance, to mope or, rather, play;

Be beaten not by Mother Nature’s wrath.

*

What change the winds hath wrought, what change indeed

As to a new life I am surely born.

And yet, all things that matter, all I need,

Hath followed me; for nothing do I mourn.

Thus, change hath done me good, I’m bound to say,

For happy heart of yore’s more glad today.

~*~

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

Settling In …

A quick update …

In spite of -20C temperatures Bear is settling in nicely at his new, cosy digs.

Perhaps the most astonishing development is how quickly he’s managed to make new friends.

Bear has a sociable nature, but never could I have imagined just how easy going he was going to be with this major transition in his life.

When introducing horses to each other for the first time it’s important to be mindful. Like people, horses either get along, or they don’t. When horses don’t get along it can be pretty distressing. So, that first morning, while figuring out what would work best for all concerned, the barn manager held Bear back in the barn. Her first inclination, as is common practice, was to put him out in a small paddock by himself so he could get a sense of his surroundings. He would go out on second rotation keep a sick and unhappy horse on stall rest with a sore leg some company.

But Bear wasn’t having it. He wanted to go out.

So, he was turned out with two horses who just happen to be two of his closest neighbours in the barn so he would have had all that first night to start getting acquainted. Out in the paddock and after some initial squealing, which is typical of newly introduced horses, they were right as rain.

I could hardly believe it when she told me. Bear’s not even in the barn 24 hours and he’s already made friends.

His new paddock pals are lovely.

The first is ZuZu who, you may recall, was mentioned in my previous post. She’s a young mare of the Canadian breed. (Has Bear ever been turned out with a mare before? Certainly not while I’ve had him. Of course, there was his mother … ;-)) She’s a feisty, self-assured young lady quite able, it appears, to hold her own among the boys. Bear is mighty fond of her already, and looks for her when she isn’t nearby. I’ve also caught them making eyes at each other across the aisle.

Oh, my! My boy has a girlfriend!!!

He also has a new buddy.

Jerome is an international show jumper in early retirement due to injury, and has been ZuZu’s paddock pal for a while already. He’s a real sweetheart and it’s clear he simply wants to be Bear’s buddy. I spied them grooming each other as I drove by their paddock and into the farm that first day. A good sign.

Needless to say I am thrilled at how quickly Bear has settled in.

So, proud of my boy. 🙂

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014