Jun 29, 2012

Why I Do What I Do, and How I Get the Horses I get. Watch, Weep, Change It.


Interrupting the story to post this. THIS is why I titled my blog the way I did. THIS is what breaks my heart. These horses are crying, we just don't hear them. Why not? Why don't we hear them? These riders and trainers 'love' their horses. Why is this accepted practice? What can we do as an industry?

We can start by not supporting these trainers and riders financially. We can start by not supporting judges who reward this. We can start by supporting stewards who penalize this. We can start by showing horses that aren't ridden this way.

Jun 26, 2012

Pearls Before Swine

Barb finished working on the horse. Interestingly, he was very wound up and appeared tense and reactive. Looking back at the situation, things make sense to me now (more on that later). But at the time I was just mystified by the whole episode. The horse was *so* up that Barb was reluctant to turn him back out. The owner did so; the horse pranced and reared all the way to the paddock.

That horse had deep and troubling physical issues that the owners were not addressing. They wanted me to work with the horse anyway and attributed his behaviors to attitude. I could not do so in good conscience and we parted ways. The horse never did regain soundness. This was the only time Barb was able to work on the horse.

And so that was my initial exposure to Mary Debono’s work. I was intrigued, but did not see it as anything I particularly needed to pursue.

Since Fate/Kismet/God has a sense of humor, of course Mary was placed in my path again. And again. And again.

Jun 18, 2012

My Learning Curve Goes Vertical

‘That’s great! Hoorah! But we don’t care! We want to read about Bryan! And what happened to Dixie?’

I know, I know. And I want to write about them all. But there is a context that must be framed before I write about specific horses any more. And here is the last corner of the frame. I promise. It might take me a couple of posts to write about it but bear with me.

I wrote before how I look back at my life sometimes and think what the heck. It does seem a little strange that these ‘coincidences’ just seemed to follow, one after the other, through the years. But rather than pursue that perhaps interesting but ultimately irrelevant metaphysical road, suffice to say that there was one more gigantic confluence of fate that put me irretrievably on the horse path that I had been placed on.

In 1994 we moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina. We bought an old barn and started a nice little teaching/training business. In time I met Barbara Stender, a dressage rider, trainer, and judge and we became good friends. Barbara is a wonderful mix of credibility, with a lifetime of USDF involvement and judging and education, and woowoo, with the highest TTouch and Centered Riding ratings that you could achieve. She is smart and funny and a super solid horse girl.

In the course of our friendship she frequently talked about this Mary person. This Mary person had developed a type of equine body work based on Feldenkrais principles. Just like Linda. Every year, Barbara traveled to Calilfornia where Mary lived and practiced, to learn more about Mary’s approach. In fact, Barbara had been Mary’s very first instructor, all those years ago when Mary was a little girl. They went way back.

But I was working with Maryann Olsen, a massage therapist trained by Joanne Wilson herself.  My horses loved her and I could always measure their improvement after one of her visits. I was still doing the LTJ stuff but you know me, Miss It’s Best When It Can Be Measured, and having a Jack Meagher/Joanne Wilson trained protogee come to my house was great. I had my labyrinth and my Wand/Whip and incorporated lots of Tellington-Jones ground work in to my day to day. My various rejects and rehabs and clients were doing great. We were winning at the shows.  I was happy and satisfied with what I was doing and the results we were having were solid and cool and measurable. So I didn’t listen all that closely when Barbara talked about Mary’s work

Jun 15, 2012

Clarity from the Murk

So here I was, after my Centered Riding experiences and my LTJones experiences, having to totally rethink the way I had looked at riding in particular and horses in general. I wouldn’t say I had been particularly cocky in my riding but I’d had no fear; now I was fearful. I’d been sympathetic to horses, but now I was *really* intrigued by the relationship of the ‘physical’ to the ‘mental’ to the 'training'. I kept riding at the Smith campus and was lucky enough to audit lots of cool clinics (Todd Flettrich, Jane Savoie, Judy Richter, Ronnie Mutch, The George); schlepped the kids even as babies to Indoors and whatever events and horse shows we could get to. I was riding the Smith horses and Tucker; they were proving the efficacy of what I was learning, time and time again. It was pretty heady.

And in that same theme of kismet or serendipity or fate, I heard about Jack Meagher.

Jun 13, 2012

Further Study

Ill briefly relate the other two experiments I did with the LIJ work that made me comfortable that it worked, though I certainly did not really get how. I had a semi retired hunter, Max, who had been plagued with blocked tear ducts for the several years I had owned him. Treatment entailed a vet call and a flush. Max had been on the track and had suffered a mouth injury as a young horse. He was really phobic about his face and would fly backward if he felt threatened there in any way. The tear duct flush was always an ordeal that necessitated lots of ace or rompum, a twitch, a chain. I hated it for him. One of Linda’s touch things was supposed to clear blocked tear ducts. So I figure, what the heck. Max was drippy again and I knew I would have to have Doc out soon for the dreaded flush. I didn’t have anything to lose.

Jun 10, 2012

The Pudding is the Proof

There were three events that turned my interested skepticism about Linda TJ’s work into committed acceptance.

The first was with little Dix. Man, was she wild. March Hare wild. Frantic wild. Not disconnected, like Bryan, but wild. She was afraid of everything; noises, shadows, rocks. The first time I hand walked her she reared and spun at the dark blacktop patches on our old farm road. She jumped on me, over me, away from me. She didn’t cross tie well, and fidgeted and stomped and if corrected would bite or strike. I had a feeling that she was just totally green, but also smart, angry, and confused. And yes, I do think horses can have those emotions. I am the least anthropomorphic person I know, but horses feel these things, in a horsie version.

I had just ended one of my LTJ auditing episodes, and the work was fresh in my mind. Trying not to get too fixated on whether my touch was a 1 or a 3, and if I started at 12, or was it 3? I started trying to do the little circles on Dix. Granted, I didn’t really know what I was doing, and she did not have any kind of break through moment or anything. But she didn’t get *worse*, so I kept fiddling around.

Jun 9, 2012

In Which I Practice What Was Preached

Its funny sometimes, when you look back at your life, how there seems to be a confluence of events that just catches you up and carries you along in its wake, often without you even realizing it. That’s how I feel when I look back at those years in Western Mass. What a series of interesting coincidences occurred, time after time. If I were more of a WooWoo, I would call it Fate, or Kismet, or Serendipity, or God's Will. And maybe it was all those things. Regardless, events transpired in such a way as to set me on a path of discovery that I am still on. And for that I am grateful.

I wrote that I had met a family that knew Sally Swift. They were horse people, the best kind. They had a neighbor. This neighbor also had horses. They too were horse people, but the worst kind. They had a pony, a pretty grey Welsh mare,that their kids rode. She offended them in some way one day, so they put her on the hot walker. And left her. To go to a horse show. For the weekend. In August ‘To think about things’.