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Some last minute chores and joys

Today I pushed my boyfriend to do that one chore that I wanted to see done for a long time; the new fencing in the pastures.

Finally my horses have 4 different patches of grass which are all separated by a wire fence. We used to have 3 patches and they were separated by plastic poles with electric wire in them and that was not enough to keep our Shetland Pony contained in 1 specific patch. So we basically couldn’t let the grass grow on the other patches because mister always found a way to get in them and eat until his belly was full.

I simply adore that little rascal, he is so inventive, so naughty and such a sweetie at the same time, our lives would be soooo boring without him. We wouldn’t have to chase ponies around in the field because of a “houdini” like escape, we wouldn’t have the excitement of him chewing on the vets scanning machine, we wouldn’t have the joy of seeing him run around and play with the big green ball that is bigger then him, and so much more.
I remember feeling frustrated with him when we first got him, but now I’m starting to see the fun in it and he has grown on me!

The horses needed to wait the entire day for the new fencing to be ready, but what an excitement when they finally could go and explore the new setting. They were in the paddock for a few days while we were hoping for rain to make the grass grow. In the meantime they were being fed hay (I know crazy right during summer?), so you can imagine their joy of being back on the green green grass!

The trimmer came today and he took his time, he was with us for more then 2 hours and he had so many interesting things to say, we talked about horses health in general, about how the body of a horse works, we also talked about how everything needs to be rushed in the competition world. It was an enriching conversation and the cherry on top was that he managed to trim Missy’s feet in complete relaxation!
For those of you that don’t know Missy’s history, she is an extreme RBE that hardly trusts anyone or anything except for the people that have earned her trust. Her history is blurry but I know she got hit on her head with a pole to load her in a trailer and before I got her, she always had to be sedated before the trimmer arrived, for his safety apparently.
The first time she got trimmed at my place, I thought I had prepared her well, but I really had no idea! She had a huge fit and almost killed the trimmer and then me, all for the sake of getting away from that man and his tools. She reared, kicked, pushed us over, pulled the rope and even jumped over the hedge (1.50m) from stand still at a certain point. We only could get her a little relaxed after we had semi-tied her to the stables (she wasn’t tied, the rope was around a bar and I held on to the end of the rope and let it slide when she pulled).  I knew she had a trauma when it came to trimming, but it was way deeper then I expected. She was all fine with me and the trimmer until he put on his equipment, that’s when the panic started.

Today is officially the 3rd time she gets trimmed here (needless to say without sedation) and I’m proud to say that this is the result:

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As you can see the lead line is on the floor!
Ah I love it when a plan comes together!

Fresco’s feet are all straight again, but according to the trimmer they weren’t as bad as I thought, they used to be even more crooked. He suspects the right lead problem to come from his tendons that are probably not stretched enough or too much due to his bad hoof situation. So the only thing we can do is keep on trimming the way he does and doing the shoulder in exercises and when he does give the right lead, let him do it long enough that he slowly gets used to the feeling again. It made me think about Stephanie Burns her book: Move closer, stay longer. 

Ah well, this weekend we are off to the Belgian coast for a weekend of medieval living in a tent with the clothes and everything.  So this lady will be unreachable for 2 days as she is going back in time when there were no cell phones, no computers or blogs, no facebook and even (I just found out) no potatoes nor pasta! This is the last weekend with my little family and I’m planning to enjoy it to the fullest!

Thank you for reading,

Wendy

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Stress is raising its ugly head

Thinking about all that still needs to be done and the fact that it really is all just one big week away has created some little stress sensations in my mind and body.
Really, right now, I should be making lists and putting stuff together rather than sitting here and writing a blog about my feelings!
But hey, I made a promise that I would keep you updated, so here I am (haha my way to procrastinate without repercussions).

Unfortunately I have not been able to do much with Fresco, except for some undemanding time. For one I am busy busy busy with chores that really need to be done before I leave. I also feel like a huge money spending machine because I really need to buy a lot of stuff that I need before leaving and that kind of makes me feel guilty, I’m usually not a big spender, but it’s really necessary!

As far as my emotions go, well I am trying not to think about it, but I feel worried that I will be one of the least advanced students over there and that I will not fit in. I’m only officially a level 2 student and I saw some others that are also going doing such cool things with their horses. This is when this creepy anxiety of feeling like a failure is coming up. I know that there is no reason to feel like that and I’m sure that nobody will ever make me feel like a failure at the Parelli center, at least I hope, but it’s so difficult to get rid of this bloody feeling!
This thought is one that I try to reduce and push away by imagining the opposite, you know the dream where you just start doing your thing and every single person around is impressed by how knowledgeable you are and how smooth and cool you are :-), hey I know it’s silly but it works for me! In my mind Fresco and I are superstars, we can do the fanciest stuff like piaffe, passage, I can even ride him standing, he can gallop away like a madman at liberty and when I whistle, he stops, turns and gallops towards me, ooh yeah baby, we are stars! (I wish)

Then there’s the “what can happen along the way” anxiety. The what if’s are piling up and I really hate what if’s, they always make me feel weak and insecure and I really want to feel strong and secure, like the leader my horse needs. So I won’t even list the things that sometimes go through my head because it will only intensify them for me, sorry for keeping you out on this one but I’m sure you won’t mind!

So for the positive note, I feel very satisfied about everything in and around my house, all that was planned to be done, actually happened, and even within the deadlines! I also started dreaming about how I would like my terrace to look like and I’m mentally creating a dream book with goals and dream objects that are part of the goal.
Fresco is enjoying his time off, he loves to see me come to the gate now, although I still don’t get a trot or canter but that’s his horsenality, it just wouldn’t be cool enough if he would run to me, that would totally blow his cover!

I’m a bit worried with his hooves as they are completely crooked especially his hind feet. It has always been like that but now it’s worse and his hooves are also not very strong, they show cracks all over. Now I am giving him a formula for feet that was advised to me by a very good friend and I’m curious to see if it will help. It’s supposed to make his hooves stronger and therefore reduce the crookedness that is mainly caused by friction when we go out riding on stones and roads. I certainly hope it helps because I feel so sorry for him as his weight is not being correctly distributed on his joints which then again can lead to higher back pains and even difficulties riding. I also have a sneaking suspicion that this is what is keeping him from offering a right lead. Tomorrow the trimmer is coming, so I’m very happy about that, finally his hooves will be straightened again and I’ll be able to check if the right lead is easier or not.

I will sure let you know what the results are!

Thank you for reading,

Wendy

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Importance of cool down time

Damn, what an ass am I?

I always made sure I warmed up softly with Fresco, him being a RBI/LBI and all.
So I always took the time to match his energy and just hang with him, not asking much the first minutes and sometimes just spending undemanding time as the start of a session.
What I didn’t even think about, was the end of a session.
Yes, I always made sure to end on a positive note and I did try not to go over the limit, but today I realized that I always rushed out when our play session was over.
And that is entirely my fault, I always play or ride until the last minute, and then I usually need to go pick up the kids, or go to an appointment or be somewhere else anyways.

Today however, I really listened to Fresco and at a certain point when he offered me impulsion and lightness at liberty, although I knew we could do more but it would be with a “I’m starting to get sick of you” expression, I stopped, sat down on a barrel and he followed me and stood next to me. He then put his head on my lap and we sat there for about 15 minutes. He yawned, his head was completely down and at a certain moment he started to paw in the sand and checking the ground out to roll right next to me!
Do you remember that feeling you got when you were a teenager and the person you were in love with, looked you right in the eyes? Well I’m not “in love” with my horse but that’s what I felt, those butterflies. They came up and at the same time I felt a great tenderness for my horse. I kept thinking, wow this would be the first time he did this and I had been longing for this moment for what feels like forever.
He pawed several times, but apparently the ground wasn’t soft or sandy enough for him so he did a few steps to a spot where the there was sand and there he rolled.

This was a huge eye opener for me. Stopping 15 minutes earlier and getting this, is worth so much more to me than any fancy move he could do!

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My mind drifted off thinking about what I had just learned. And then it dawned to me. It really is simple.
Imagine making love to your partner, the best you can imagine, the kind where you feel extremely connected and everything feels natural and good and you’re lying next to each other afterwards. Then all of a sudden after not even 1 minute, he would get up, get dressed and rush out of the bedroom door without you knowing where he is going or why?
I don’t know about you of course but I can tell you that I would feel hurt and left alone, not to mention that the good feeling I just had, would have completely disappeared.
You sure wouldn’t call what we have a good relationship now would you?
Well this might be an anthropomorphic comparison, but I’m quite sure that a little part of it is true, even for a horse, at least mine showed me today.

I still can’t believe I’m only realizing this now, I’m glad I did find out though and I am going to put a lot of effort into this area of our relationship.

This might not be related to the fast track but I just needed to write this down.

Truly yours,

Wendy

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Preparation for Fast Track

So what does one do to prepare for a 4 week intense learning experience?

That was a question I asked myself a few times in the past 8 months, yes it has been 8 months since I signed up for the course!

  1. First of all I needed to get the paperwork done, the Parelli paperwork was peanuts compared to what you need to do to take your horse from Belgium to the UK. Not only does your horse need to be checked by a veterinarian from the food inspection which is logical, but also your trailer and car need to be approved, including yourself. Yes you need to prove that you can actually drive a trailer! Oh oops sorry sir, I just assumed I could drive a trailer and now I notice I actually can’t? The only thing I can say is: I won’t do those except for the horse check, I might be stupid and silly but nobody can tell me if there actually is a law that says you need these papers. When asked this question one only can say that they “might” give you a fine in “some” countries. I hate bureaucracy!
  2. Then there is the mental part. Preparing the kids, myself and the family for one month without seeing each other. I try to talk to my kids about it as much as possible, but they don’t seem to really understand how long a month is. I will even miss their first school day, that’s a bummer! For my emotions it’s always last minute, I try not to worry or think about those kind of things until it’s there. That usually helps with the worst part, the goodbyes.
  3. The horses left behind: Educating my boyfriend and parents on how to take care of Missy and Meneertje (Mister) while Fresco and I are away. I particularly stress on the poop scooping part! Don’t want to be scooping poop of one entire month when I come back. Then there’s the food which is a bit more challenging to explain because I all do it on a feeling. They are in the pastures now but there isn’t always enough grass for them to eat, so when do you change pasture and still make sure there is enough grass until I come back? And when do you feed additional hay? That’s one I’ll have to write down I’m afraid.
  4. The physical part: I really wanted to get in shape for the fast Track. Why would I want to do that? Well, the fast track is not something I am doing just because it seems like fun, this is my heart and soul, my whole dedication, a pathway to a huge dream that I did not believe to be possible for many (20) years. The dream was: working with horses every day in a natural way. The only word I would change in this dream, now that I’m a Parelli student, is working into playing. So because I wanted to get 100% out of the course and not be held back by any physical challenges such as too much weight, back pain, headaches, or no stamina to do what I should do, I prepared very well. I followed the 6 week “Gain health, loose weight” program of Helen Hall (you might know her from Stephanie Burns) and must have lost about 7 kilos or more and lots of cm all over my body. I also gained incredible health which I notice by how much energy I have now and my muscles have been trained as well. I have been walking every morning for 40 minutes within a certain heart rate zone and this has made an incredible change in my body and shape. I now feel physically ready for the Fast track!
  5. The work part: I quit my job to be able to spend more times with my kids, but also to play with my horses more. I am now an independent Freelancer and as you can see on my website I give trainings in leadership and communication. I also do various freelance jobs for companies, such as giving operational advice, translating, administration and other. Basically anything that can get some money in because this decision has put a big hole in our finances but luckily my boyfriend was and is extremely supportive. I’m not sure yet how I would be able to pay for the professional course, but I’ll worry about that once we get there.
  6. The theoretical part: AAAAAAAARRRRGGGG, this is the part I fear most. I had no idea there would be a test at the beginning of the course until someone told me, that’s when I froze and suddenly woke up to see that my theory was as good as, well, peanuts. I couldn’t recite the principles, qualities, success keys and so on. I have heard them over and over and over again, but I guess they just didn’t stick as well as I thought. Or maybe it’s my brain that freezes up when I’m thinking about the possibility to fail. When I was a kid I always failed at theoretical tests about horses, I’m not sure why. Something tells me it’s because it was so important to me that I didn’t want to fail, which made me freeze and blackout.  So here I still have some work to do on the RBI side of my personality. My little quiz cards are all ready with the answer on the back, now I just need to get to it and start testing myself. I guess I already know where my Achilles heel is…

Well so far for preparation. I didn’t even start about the operational side, I’ll spare you the details! And I can’t really prepare my horsemanship as we are constantly evolving and there really is no point in rushing everything. I actually found a spot now with Fresco where we again have fun and enjoy each others company without any sign of stress. It has been a while since we were at that spot, guess it’s all part of a new level of incompetence!

Talk to you later maties!

Wendy

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Hello World,

I created this blog upon popular request of those interested in my adventures in Stoneleigh Park during the month of August.

Yes you have read it right, I am one of the lucky 25 (bastards) that will attend the very first Parelli Fast Track course in the UK!

To start with, I am a writing freak, my English might not be the best you’ve read so far, which might be explained by the fact that my first two languages are Dutch and French, but I still hope you enjoy my writing and I hope to at least entertain you a bit with a smile, a tear and a sigh during this upcoming exiting month.

For me this Blog writing has a bit of a therapeutic effect, it helps me sort out ideas, thoughts, confusion, emotions and feelings. So don’t worry about me when you see blogs appear at a very late hour while I should be getting up very early in the morning, I can handle it!

My biggest challenge during that month will definitely be to emotionally cope without my kids and my boyfriend for an entire month! I have never been away that long and luckily my boyfriend will be visiting, but the kids unfortunately not. I am brining my laptop with webcam so I will be able to see them and talk to them, but it’s not the same. Those kids are the biggest achievement in my life and I will definitely miss their crazy and silly ideas, their smiles, their hugs and kisses.
Ah there are the first tears already, just thinking about it. But good thing I still have 2 weeks of quality time to spend with them, so I’ll make sure to enjoy it to the fullest!

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My 8 year old Friesian gelding, Fresco is joining me on this exiting journey and although we already have a very strong bond,I feel that this experience will make us an inseparable duo. Here is a little picture of him in a photo shoot, isn’t he just adorable?  (p.s. that’s not me on his back-I wish!)

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  Ok so for a first message I think I can close off now and leave you longing for the next one. I probably will be back on this blog by the 9th or  10th of August, that’s when the fun starts!

Make sure to follow the blog in order to get alerted of my next story.

Thank you for reading!

Wendy