|Posted by Nancy L Kittleson on February 23, 2017 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
Well, it is past the planning stages and into the get it out there stages. Most of you herdmates have gotten the email and flier for this wonderful clinic but we want to get it onto the website too. Here is the information about the clinic. It will be held at FromtheMother Farm on July 21, 22, 23, 2017. It is the Rider's Seat Combo Clinic with Karen Irland and Tom Nagel. We have had Karen and Tom teach together several times in past years and they do a fabulous job together! Changed my riding so much! That alone would be enough but, wait there is more! Changed my body, changed my life which in turn changed my horse and his life. A little synopsis for you!
The Rider's Seat Combo Clinic teaches riders how to correctly use their bodies to obtain self-carriage (stability and lift), tone (strength with flexibility) and movement (vertically bilateral) on and off the horse. This clinic explains how to achieve an independant seat and how to move in harmony with your horse. This information applies to all riding disciplines.
Morning sessions consist of lecture, demonstrations and unmounted exercises. Information about using the psoas (core) muscles is presented. Clinic afternoons consist of small group riding sessions applying the techniques and methods learned in the mornings.
Karen Irland is a Level IV Centered Riding Instructor, the absolute best in helping ridersof all levels and disciplines become connected to their horses when riding. She uses what Tom teaches in conjuction with the sound princeples of Centered Riding to take each rider to the next level.
Tom Nagel has been teaching "Zen and the Horse" and "Rider's Seat" clinics since 2001. Tom is an advanced Zen Bodytherapy practitioner, Zen Teacher and former Aikido Instructor. He has taken his work into the horse field and has helped ridersof all types develop their seats through refining Posture, Breath and Awareness.
You can check out more about Karen and Tom by looking on Guest Guru's and also visiting their website links.
This clinic is limited to 12 riders max and 3 participating auditors so get in touch soon if you are interested. Filling fast!
If you would like more information about this upcoming clinic please send an email to Nancy at [email protected]
|Posted by Nancy L Kittleson on June 21, 2016 at 12:40 AM||comments (1)|
Dear Herdmates and Friends,
It has taken quite awhile for me to be able to write this blog entry for many reasons. First of all, grief and sadness at the loss of Lynn Elston. Many of you already know but for those of you who do not or are seeing the website for the first time, Lynn was diagnosed with lymphoma just about a year ago. At that time her prognosis was for a cure and recovery. However the reality of it is that the tumor was located in her upper chest and neck area and was not a surgical candidate and the chemotherapy was not able to reduce it enough for radiation to be successful. It became an aggressive B cell tumor. Although Lynn did everything the Doctors wanted her to do and faced this with grace, courage, bravery and humor to the end, she lost the battle on January 19, 2016. This has been a devastating loss for all of us connected to Lynn and the Farm.
We have had many things that needed taking care of before getting to the website but hopefully now that I have gotten into the site I will be able to figure things out and keep it updated. Please bear with me as I learn and know that I have big shoes to fill, for Lynn was a poet with her words and could make things come alive for you as you read them. My tech abilities are way less evolved than Lynn's and we called ourselves Frick and Frack whenever we tackled something beyond our percieved abilities. We got it done but it might have taken awhile!
I do though have good news to share about the Farm. It is now owned by Mary and Alan Shank, who are both members of our wonderful Liberty Herd. They want to keep Lynn's dreams alive and going forward, as well as ideas of their own, so stay tuned for information of upcoming events and clinics that will be held at the Farm. As you can imagine, they are still in the process of moving in and getting settled so it will be a bit in the future. They came with their two lovely horses, Dandy and Raj, and have also become the new people for Lynn's Moon. He will be staying at the Farm for them learn from, both on the ground and in the saddle, and Moon will also still be available for lessons. Dojo, the majestic black and white cat, is also now a member of the Shank familyand continues to be well loved.
Yogi will be become the teacher and student for a young student of mine, Amanda Bauman, who has been working with him in her lessons since Sept . We were working with the intent to have him ready for Lynn to ride when she was well. Amanda and Yogi have developed a wonderful relationship both on the ground and in the saddle and I look forward to all they will do together. I know Lynn approves, for this was very important to her.
For those of you who sent flowers and cards, or called to see how Lynn was doing, or even asked how we were doing, please know that those things meant the world to Lynn and to us. It was through this difficult time that Lynn realized she was loved and appreciated because of what all her friends and herdmebersdid for her. She was at peace with what was happening and left with us knowing that she was at peace. Today she is with her beloved first horse, Pilgrim, and with all her dogs and cats that went on before, especially Monte and Cookie.
Though we are sad beyond words, life and living continue on. I know that Lynn wants us to do just that, so together we will find peace and the strength for " Together is A Wonderful Place to Be" . Lynn Elston, you are in our hearts and souls always and your legacy lives on.
Thank you Lynn for your creation. We will cherish it and help it grow. Love you forever.
|Posted by Lynn Elston on April 26, 2015 at 3:05 AM||comments (0)|
One day this past week, I took a metal garbage can lid and a stick out into the boys' pasture, just to see what would happen. I left the pasture gate open, so they could go anywhere they wanted to, on the property. As with the "Stickie" playing, I had no intent to go after them or even to interest them, I was simply going to play with my garbage can lid.
I began by tossing it up into the air and allowing it to crash to the ground. Whooo-hooo!!! Scary and got those feet running! But, they each turned, eventually, and faced me with pricked ears and snorty faces. I put the lid on the ground (without making noise) and invited Moon into me. He came within 5 yards, but was clearly telling me he did not trust the shiny thing on the ground next to me. I touched the lid, toed it with my boot, as I invited him over. He came closer, I lifted the lid and let him small it. Then I put it back on the ground and he and I went for a nice walk together. Then I sent him off from me and returned to make noise with my lid.
This time, I used the stick to make a rhythm of bangs, and then a long pause, then the same rhtythm again. Everybody was flying around the pasture, tossing their heads, having a fast and furious run about! Yogi turned towards me and showed interest, so I invited him in in the same manner as Moon. He actually came and nosed the lid on the ground, but then had to leave, as it was just too scary, in memory.
So, I returned to my rhythmic banging. The boys flew out of the pasture, through the barn and all the way down to the compost bins. I followed, at a great distance, keeping my rhtyhm, and heading their way, but down through the woods...again, because I was not chasing them with this noise, I was simply making the noise...their reaction was entirely theirs. I did, however, entertain the thought, as I headed down the woods, and caught sight of them reversing course and running back up the way they'd come, of what a powerful being I must seem, to be moving their feet from such a distance away!! Hmmmmm!! Who moves whom, eh???
That was my big discovery for that day. I let the garbage can lid rest for the next five days.
Today, I went to call everybody in from their pasture graze and nobody was paying attention to me! So, I thought I'd bring out the garbage can lid again, with a bit more intent this time. I stood just inside the pature gate and banged on the lid intentionally rudely...kind of akin to snapping a whip to get their attention. OMG, everybody freaked and ran away. But, wonder of wonders, Yogi went only a short distance and then turned to face me...I asked him in and he cam right up, giving me a few yards margin at first, but coming in on a further invite, to touch and sniff the lid. His curiosity must have overcome his fear!! It was a very sweet moment. And he and I walked together into the barn and into his stall for his lunch. I got the others in, with less remarkable results.
About an hour later, I asked Yogi if he'd like to come for a liberty walk with me, intending to just meander and "go poking" into whatever was around the property. We walked by a row of empty metal garbage cans along the backside of the barn. We poked at them, me first, then he would "Touch" them with his nose. Then I asked him to "Push It" (which he knows from gate opening) and he gave the biggest can a nose shove...it clanged against the wall and Yogi reared back and took off running!!! I was in hysterics...he was SO surprised!!!
He hadn't gone too far away, just around the corner and out of sight of those nasty cans. As I came around the same corner, he lifted his head and came trotting over to me. Didn't I feel like a hero?!?! We continued our walk and ended up, a bit later, back at the garbage cans. This time, I asked him to Touch It and he pushed it very gently, so it only made a little clanking noise...he threw his head up, but stayed still. Then he pushed it again, bigger and it made a noise enough for him to startle back a few strides...but he stayed near. Then I pushed it and we both startled backwards, but stayed. It was as if we had both now discovered a fun thing to do together, make a noise, be pretend scared and then giggle about it!
It was really fun to watch his whole process from complete running from the undirected noise, to curiosity, to action, to reaction and then come closer to acceptance...all under my company and guidance. I can't help but feel that he believes a little more that I "have his back!" and he is safe to indulge his curiosity when I am around.
|Posted by Lynn Elston on April 16, 2015 at 2:50 PM||comments (2)|
Today, my second chance to go out and mess with the feelings and doings that I got from my weekend with Robin Gates, I took Moon down to the arena to try the "Head Down" Uberstriken exercise as well as the tap the withers and lower the head game.
These are both halter games, so I haven't done them much at all. And, with the head down game, the past attempts I had made were all very frustrating and unsuccessful.
This time, I think I GOT it. Just like my mantra with Yogi in the pasture, my intent for this exercise became "I just want your head and my hands to move together." At first he tossed his head, up or down, didn't matter, just trying to get my thumbs off of the noseband. I stayed with him, allowing the violence of those moves to rush through me and disturb the soft waves my mantra was inviting him into. But, I stayed in the softness, inviting him into the same deliciousness. By the end of maybe ten minutes (with little walk around breaks interspersed) we had "Dancing head/hands!" I would softly swing his head left, then down, then up, then right, then pause, then left, then down...all like in waves of movement. His eyes were half- closed, his neck relaxed...my eyes were wet with tears of sheer joy!!! Wow!!
For the wither "Bonk" head down game, I used a discarded Sobe bottle as a bonker. My mantra was "I just want you to put your head down when you feel me bonking your wither." I would tap his wither and he'd move a foot forward or back, or raise one foot...not sure what that signal meant, but trying what he knew. I gave his leadline a teeny tug and his head would go down...Good boy and he'd get a treat. After a while, I realized he was putting his head down to the cue of my pointed hand or the tug, not the bonking bottle. So, I figured I'd try putting a piece of carrot on the ground and tell him No when he tried to eat it. He knows this and stood still. I bonked for a few taps and then he dived down and got his treat, and stopped the bonking. This worked pretty well for a while. Then, I quit putting the treat down on the ground under his nose and just bonked, to see if he'd gotten it. Things receded a little bit, but eventually, he dropped his head and I gave him his treat from the bowl. The last four times I tried it this way, he seemed to be getting it! We'll try this a little more next time I am with him.
Then we mixed things up and I sent him away in a big way and we cantered around, charged each other, trotted together, opened the gate together and ended up at the arena's back gate, looking out at foot high luscious green grass. Figuring, what the H___, I let us both out the gate and lost him immediately to the grass orgy! "Head Up" or calling him had ZERO effect!
Quite aware of my head voices coming at me with "See, why did you do this, NOW you're not in control, everything's ruined, blah-blah-blah!" I tried some leading from behind, which kept him moveng, but didn't do much to change his respect factor. Jeez, then I remembered how he came to me on the green grass after the "Stick" run around at Robin's event!!! So I revved it up and chased him all over that pasture, got his tail up over his butt and, wonder of wonders...he turned towards me and came boldly in to me when I asked!!! Whooo-hoo! Stayed with me, so I let us graze for a bit, then asked for Head Up, got it, and back we went into the arena...no fuss, no muss!!!
Okay, Robin, I think I'm finally getting somewhere!!!! All the little pieces that you've given me, that I've copied and practiced, are now starting to come together into a beautiful poem about MY ability to have relationship with the horses!!! I am so pleased...thank you!
|Posted by Lynn Elston on April 16, 2015 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
We have just finished an experiment in Liberty Learning. This past weekend, Nancy, Brenda, I and two others spent 2.5 days with Robin and our horses. We thought we were going to a great party, and instead ended up feeling like we'd been to an intervention!!! We really got to see how liberty is the culmination of really becoming present to your horse...and that is NOT a matter of tools, timing or technique. It is a matter of awareness, of paying attention and of staying clear on what you want, what you expect and what you will not tolerate.
It was hard work, with many blurry times when each of us lost any recognition of what we were supposed to be doing. Confusion reigned. And, as we all know...painful as it is to admit, from confusion comes growth. By the last day, we could at least recognize each of our needs for breaking things down for ourselves,( let alone the horse) and we were eager to know when we might get together again. A few wanted to know what their next step should be, once they got home. The answer...anything you like, just play with it all!!
We saw lots of fun things to try with our horses...sandbox type stuff. Ask your horse to lower the head, without resistence, by just weighting the halter with your hands...can you give to my little bit of pressure? Ask your horse to lead line walk with you way out at the end of the lead rope..especially good if you have a horse who shoulders in on you at closer quarters. And, most important...mix things up, ramp up your energy and go in and do big, silly things around your horse, get them bucking and snorting and tails up over their butts...not by chasing them around, but by playing, yourself, with big or noisy or surprising things. Become interesting to them, and, amazingly, you show up, big time, in their world!!!
At the end of our get-together, I went out into the pasture with our four guys with a 12' long curved fir tree branch that I held like a big fishing pole, sticking it straight up into the sky and then dropping it to earth, then back up. It was just me and my stick, approaching the vicinity of the horses, but not intending to approach them. As I got closer and they caught sight of this wierd thing happening, the heads went up, and they took off, careening around the pasture, snorting and blowing and having a high old time. I kept doing wierd things with my stick, sometimes running parallel to them, sometime cutting across. All at once, I saw Moon turn and face me, about 100 feet away. I threw the stick down and gestured "Come on over here, big guy!"...OMG!! He came at a full collected gallop right straight to me, I threw a stop at him when he was about ten feet away. He careened to a dead stop and I then cued him to rear up...best one he's ever done...full of himself, his power, his having fun!!! Then I dropped my energy down low and gestured in a soft way "Come gimme some sugar" He came in soft and lovely and just stood with his head near my chest! Wow!!! The full gamut of emotion from highest, rip snorting fun to soft, intimate connection!!! It was astounding! And this from a horse who used to be SO checked out!
So, yesterday, I went out into our pasture. I brought the soft halter and lead rope and asked Yogi to play with me. I had seen Robin demonstrating how to ask a horse to lead with you by walking all the way at the end of the 12 foot line. But, I'd never tried it and thought it might be fun.
I asked Yogi to walk with me and then asked him to move out, away from me. This being new to him, he tried to interpret it in terms of what he already knew. Did I want him to lunge around me?...he asked, as he surged ahead and in front of me. No, my whip came up and said, you don't go there, I simply want you to walk with me, that far away. Should I turn in towards you, says he? No, says I, put your nose back out there and just walk with me, that far away. Should I go farther out, put some pressure on the line? No, come back in to where I had put you and simply walk with me, that far away. He asked his questions, my answer was always the same. It took very little time for him to lower his head and just walk with me, that far away!!! Now we have a new thing to do together, accomplished through a gentle and fair conversation between us.
It was a delight, both the discussion and the final product, because we stayed connected throughout. It was as if time slowed down, the world fell away and there was just him and me. Lovely!
I am discovering that when I am in that zone with the horse, I don't have to put a lot of effort into thinking up what to do, because just the simplest things become delightful in the doing them from that together place. It's as if "Together" comes first and then what we DO with together isn't so important...things just flow. Maybe we'll leave the pasture and walk down to the arena to get a carrot out of the treat box. Maybe we'll just sit and feel the sunshine. Maybe we'll play the Head Up game. Whatever...it isn't about what we are doing together, it's about that we ARE together!
It's all so very ZEN...deep, peaceful, enriching, releasing.
This fledgling Mentorship program we are experimenting with could be a serious life changer for those truly interested in getting to the very deepest levels of connection with their horses!! More on this as we continue to explore the possibilities, tweek and refine, until we have the best format to offer to those ready and willing to go the distance emotionally and spiritually and attitudinally! Probably be offering something, in depth, in 2016. Stay tuned.
|Posted by Lynn Elston on March 22, 2015 at 8:35 PM||comments (0)|
Yesterday afternoon's Sandbox Session was full of learning opportunities and smiles! We tried some new things and had great success! The pics from yesterday's event are posted in this website's Photo Gallery...put it on slide show or select individually, to read the story line-captions.
We started with Karen's cute pony, Hunter. He's 11 years old, roughly. Karen rescued him and has been trying the Liberty things she's learned from her Liberty lessons with Sylvia Zerbini and her one seminar with Robin. Karen's done some wonderful things with and for Hunter...the two of them had an obvious bond!! However, when karen left the arena, we began to see a different pony...
The pony we had, that day, was very intimidated by Nancy's proximity to the treats. He would approach very respectfully, cautiously, and, when Nancy held the bowl out he would try to grab a treat and then dash off. So, we had a lot of "Push" and very weak "Draw." The session was a lovely demonstration of Nancy allowing Hunter to work out his own trepidations and come, in his own time, to get the treats he wanted without resistence.
This was a very quiet session, during which the Auditors' stand was abuzz with questions about what and why things were as they were. In true Sandbox session style, we discussed and wondered, got off track, refocused and kept watching. It was a very rewarding session. The progress that Hunter made was not "dramatic" but it was entirely significant in his life make-up!!
It was raining when we started with Hunter, but the sun came out when we were finished. So we all moved up to the big grass pasture to see how and what Nancy, Brenda and I could do with our horses, pitted against their third time turned out on the luscious new grass!! Results were incredible, satisfying and such fun.
All of the boys did their "Head Up" when asked, were willing to companion walk with us and were happy to participate in some of the playful and treat rewarding activities we invited them into. The grass draw would sometimes divert them, so we'd just continue to be present to the situation and move towards being together. Some leading from behind was involved, at times...especially for me and my grass eating machine, Moon!!!
The pasture session ended with all four horses playing the Bowl Symphony, with Nancy and then with both Nancy and me. One bowl of LMF Senior Feed, four horses and Nancy or me in charge of who got to come in and eat and then stop eating and back off. I call it the Symphony game because, as lead mare, you are like a symphony conductor: asking one section to bring up their energy and signalling others to damp it down, concurrently! It's fascinating!
Our next adventure was to invite the horses to come with us back down to the arena. There had to be some visiting with Karen's pony and some grass sampling, but within a satisfyingly short time, we had three of our guys down in the arena.
I had asked Moon to come with me, but, as he got to the pasture gate he decided he just could NOT leave all that grass and left me. In going after him, Yogi came up to me and darn near volunteered himself!! I am not one to look a black and white gift horse in the mouth...so off we went. ( I went back and got Moon much later
Yogi was great! He was being so in with me that, before we entered the arena, he agreed to show everyone his new trick of getting all four big feet on the elephant stand. A few of the auditors and I got to watch as he stood still on the stand, and went away from himself, processing whatever. And, we could see when he came back and continued happily to come with me. Fascinating!
In the arena, the three of us demonstrated lots of things that a horse and human, in the Bond, can do together. The pics will show you Nancy and CJ's adventures through the tarp/gate...something that most folks can't get their horses to do with a rope and halter!!! We demonstrated some bowl games, behavior reward games (Touch it.) and gate opening and object relating games.
We played the "I'm on the mounting block what are you going to do about it?" game wherein Brenda, or Christian ( my new barn manage who is in LOVE with Yogi and with Liberty) or me, would step up onto the top step of the mounting black and wait. The horse would come around and place himself in the perfect position for mounting. Then we'd jack-knife over his back and have him carry us to the feed bowl!! A fun twist on "getting on and riding."
Towards the end of the session, my two boys, Yogi and Moon began to groom on each other big time. They are not particularly close, and I have only seen them do this one other time. I left them alone for quite a while, so they could enjoy what they were doing. But, then I decided to see if I could get them to leave their fun and do something with me...just like the green grass in the pasture. I was testing the bond. Sure enough, each one of them came away (albeit, in Moon's case, reluctantly) and gave me his attention. I did something very minor with each and then let them go back to their newfound fun!!
So, lots of things went on, lots of being inside the bond and lots of losing the bond and getting it back. Reports from the auditors were that watching this was very informative and helpful.
Thanks to all of you who attended. Your questions and comments were really great! It was a delight to share the afternoon with you. Nancy, Brenda and I hope you all learned as much and enjoyed yourselves as much as we did!!!
|Posted by Lynn Elston on January 25, 2015 at 10:45 PM||comments (0)|
Yesterday's sandbox session was a fascinating opportunity to experience the Liberty approach with two totally different horse personalities. I have posted a few pictures in the Photo Gallery, with my comments visible when you click on and enlarge the first photo...then just keep hitting "Next."
What I came away with, after watching the sweet horse and then the proud horse was how versatile our liberty approach can be and how absolutely essential it is to have as much flexibility as we watched Nancy demonstrate. The gentle approach that she could take with the Arab mare was because Zee was already "in," wanting to relate and find out what her situation was going to be about. Nancy was able to keep the mare's connection while leaving the treats, companion walking, and even worked a bit on asking for Whoa. Nancy's work with Cathy was to help Cathy clarify her own intentions and energy, to allow the horse to sync with her more smoothly.
The Walker, on the other hand, saw no reason to be "in" at all. When he did try for the food, Nancy had to get quite strong with him in order to make her point that the food was HERS! Rather than deterring him, this strong statement actually got through to him and he did not try to steal bites again. But, when Nancy began to ask for a little more from him than just standing and receiving the treats, he flounced off and ran around the arena and up and down the rail, in an impressive display of his own self! So, Nancy really lowered the bar for the remainder of his session...when Nancy could catch his attention and he'd approach, she asked for a Hello and then left him. Eventually, he didn't even want to relate to her in this simple way...so Nancy added the treat bowl to herself, making her "package" more interesting to him.
We could really see him wanting to stay connected, as Nancy would walk away and he'd go with her for a few steps, but then he'd take himself back over to run the rail. Very proud, lots of self-confidence...but we did get to see a few glimmers of his innate desire to be in connection. No doubts he will come into relationship...but not in one one-hour session.
Our thanks to Cathy and Bill for sharing their horses with us. And, thanks to everyone who came to audit...we were so pleased to have so many folks new to Liberty. It was such fun to watch your faces as the connections got made and the magic was afoot!!!!
I hope you will all join us for Robin Gates' Liberty Seminar on May 9-10, 2015. Robin is our mentor... a wonderful teacher and fantastic presenter. Her ability to connect with the demo horses always amazes, and her ability to describe what she's feeling inside as we watch what she's doing outside, is our best chance at learning this incredible liberty art form. Click on the "Details: Click here" in the announcement box in the photo on the Home Page for a look at the flier for this event. Then call or E-mail me and make your reservation soon.
We are figuring on having another Sandbox Session in March, but the date is yet to be assigned. In February, I am off to Arizona and my favorite Miraval Wellness Center and, Nancy, is off to Africa on a photo safari...Whooot! So, if the havelinas and the lions don't get us, we'll see you all in March!
|Posted by Lynn Elston on September 18, 2014 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
This past weekend's Liberty Training Seminar with Robin Gates surpassed any event that we have ever had here!!! Robin looks and is great, her energy is steady and it was just like old times to have her back in action again!!
The three horse/human demos we had, this time, were all already in a pretty good bond, so they presented an opportunity for Robin to take them, and all of us auditors, deeper into the subtleties of connection.
The two mares, while aware of their humans, were so-so in their connection, and needed more energy in their draw. The gelding was totally “in” with his human, but needed more energy in the push, to expand his range of emotional plasticity.
Robin gave each couple things to play with, some included treats, others did not...and the results were wondrous!! The two mares found “foal-face,” that ears pricked, eyes curious, nose quivering look that indicates total regard, respect and “in.” The gelding began to frisk and frolic, in reaction to his human's energy level, creating some resistance in the return draw, but offering opportunities for further bonding through re-instating that draw.
We learned more about when to use treats, when to use patience, when to use invitation and when to use pushing away. We learned much more about the pause and the stillness that it is...and how all of our actions should arise out of that stillness.
Everyone picked up on things to take home and try with their own horses, and their own psyches. It was a spectacular two days!!
Our Circles were wonderful. The second day's ran for three hours and no one even got fidgety...there was so much learning and sharing going on, it was amazing! Robin shared musical pieces that she felt gave the feeling of stillness, and action arising out of stillness. Check these out for yourselves: Elegy by Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy (Stillness); Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major by Yoyo-Ma (action out of stillness) and, our long time favorite: Into the Mystic by Van Morrison (spontaneous dancing happened throughout that fabulous number!!)
Brenda has taken some wonderful photos, which I shall attempt to caption to tell more of last weekend's story. I will let you all know when they are ready for sharing here on the webstie.
This is Robin's last visit for 2014. We are thrilled that she has been able to do as much as she has. We know, now, that she is well on her way to total health and we all look forward to having her back in 2015. We will be deciding on dates in the next couple of months and I will let you all know what they are, before the Holidays, so you can work your next year's plans around these magical, not-to-be missed events!!!
|Posted by Lynn Elston on August 20, 2014 at 2:45 PM||comments (2)|
This past weekend's 3 day Liberty Immersion Retreat was just plain wonderful, for everyone involved! There were four guests and their horses. Each horse-human couple already had a nice connection between them, so our weekend was spent tweaking behaviors to deepen what already existed, and also pointedly having fun within the bond by some imaginative playing!
Brenda has taken some perfect photos of the three days, so I will let the pics and their captions tell the story. And, Retreaters, please add your own comments, stories, experiences in the comments below...we would all love to hear from you directly!!
Nancy, Brenda and I really enjoyed having everyone here this past weekend, we learn SO much from these events, as well! And from what our guests said at wrap-up, we will be offering this opportunity to go deep and refresh your relationship and your imagination again in 2015.
Our next event is the Robin Gates 2-Day Liberty Seminar coming up on September 13-14, 2014. There is still room for two auditors ($275 each) and we are also looking for one more horse-human couple, preferably a horse that has not had a lot of Liberty Training before, so we can watch Robin establish the connection. If you are interested in attending, as auditor or with your horse, please contact me through this website or give a call: 360-668-0530. We would love to have you join us!
|Posted by Lynn Elston on July 29, 2014 at 9:45 PM||comments (3)|
This past weekend, Maggie Schuler and Gail Carlson brought their wonderful "Maggie-bred" horses for an overnight format that worked well for all of us. The format was to have a lesson for each of them on Friday afternoon, stay over in the Bunkhouse, and then another lesson each on Saturday morning. As we had hoped, that overnight break, between the lessons, was invaluable to the horses and our learning curves!
They arrived on Friday, just after Noon. We let the horses settle in for an hour or so while they got settled in the Bunkhouse and we grabbed some lunch. Then, we headed out for a lesson for each of them.
In Maggie's lessons, she put both her youngsters, Gowi and Omael, in the Dorm pasture. Then I coached her through a little of the approach that Robin had showed me, for improving the draw with Yogi. Both of Maggie's horses were "in" and knew that being with Maggie could be a good thing. But, their attendance to her was sporadic, and she often lost their focus to the grass or other goings on.
I have already described the "all good things, with a little "asking" snuck in" approach in an earlier blog post. Maggie did a very good job of providing Gowi (her main target) with scritches and scratches and intermittent trips to the carrot bucket, just beyond the gate, in combination with just sitting in the chair.
A fascinating thing happened during the beginnings of this. The horses had come over and hung out with Maggie at first and all was happiness and light. Eventually they wandered off the explore other parts of the paddock, and so Maggie just sat and enjoyed her sitting. Well, not exactly. How many of us sit there PRETENDING not to be wondering when they're going to come back over? There is still intent in that "waiting" as opposed to the neutrality of simply "being." But, it becomes a bit like trying not to think of pink elephants!
Interestingly, when Gail asked Maggie a question, from her chair outside the pasture, and Maggie became fully engaged in answering her...both horses lifted up their heads and began to head towards Maggie. She had dropped her waiting/intent and was congruent in what she was doing and they were compelled to come over and be with that energy.
Jeez, picky, picky!! Stick all of that in your Zen meditation pipe and breathe it!!! There is just no way to fool those horses.
As the horses began to hang around her while she sat, we upped the ante so that she asked Gowi to companion walk with her and to Whoa about 10 feet from the gate, while Maggie backed up and got a treat to bring to him.
Maggie would say "Whoa" with authority, then back a step or two, then repeat Whoa, then step back again and Whoa him again. This wasn't working. Gowi would hold still for a little while and then break and step towards her. Watching from my sideline, it was very evident that Mags didn't "trust" Gowi to stay in Whoa, so was staying too actively engaged with him. He was attentive to her, but couldn't figure out why she kept saying Whoa when he was already whoa-ed. So, he figured maybe he should step forward...maybe that's what she wanted.
It was NOT easy to just say Whoa and then trust the horse enough to back away and get the treat without any further communication. But, by the end of the next day's lesson, Maggie did a beautiful job of exactly that and Gowi stood like a handsome statue until Maggie brought him his treat...SUCCESS!!!
The other thread that Maggie worked with through her two lessons was trusting the horses to come with her when she walked off. Being of Parelli background, like me, Maggie would put her hand/finger out ahead of her horses' noses and click them up to come with. That is a great way to walk with them, BUT, it is actually telling them what to do, rather than trusting them to choose to come with.
This was another tough challenge for Maggie (and me and probably everyone else on the planet except Robin!!!) Because you have to give up any control over the outcome and be willing to accept that they may or may not come with when you walk off. We run into all of our trainer mode, efficiency mode, and just plain "I want it to happen" mode resistence when we curtail any invitation to the horse and just trust that "cord of connection" of which Robin speaks.
When Maggie had some success with this, we could all see and feel the difference in the horses when they had chosen to be with her...ears a little perkier, eyes a little more devoted looking. It was amazing!
So, Maggie will go home and work on trusting her horses to do what she knows they are capable of doing!
Gail and her lovely mare, Brooklyn, have a very special relationship between them...but Gail has just started doing the Liberty exercises with her. Gail audited our June Workshop and has been working, at home, on putting treats outside the gate and helping Brooklyn to understand that the way to get those treats was to leave them and go get Gail. She apparently had gotten pretty good at this and so Gail had begun playing with other things, carrying her treats with her.
Uh-oh... Gail's first request of me was for help with how pushy Brooklyn had become! Yep, that'll happen! Brooklyn was pushy for her own sweet self, but she was not dangerous or hard to manage...just a bit over eager to get all those treats that had so recently graced her life!
First thing we worked on was Gail's personal space, and the boundary that her horse needed to respect. Gail learned the efficacy of the butt end of the whip conking a horse nose. If Brooklyn barged right into Gail's space, she got conked. If she came in more respectfully, but still crossed the line, she got warned with a word and a look (Don't make me have to do the big thing!!) and, very quickly, subsided. The same kind of lesson went on about the treats on the cookie bar.
Once she had figured out that she could get treats by NOT just diving for them and NOT being on top of her Mom, we moved on to teaching her the "Don't Look at Me." game. Gail got a handful of treats and held them in her outside hand, while standing in the leading position...between Brooklyn's cheek and shoulder. She would then tell the horse "Don't look at me." in a sing-song, playing a game delivery. Brooklyn, who had no clue what those words meant, but knew Mom had treats, would move her head around, mostly towards Gail but...when the horse moved her head even a milimeter away from Gail, she cried out "Good Girl!" and gave her a treat. (Note...with the boundary issue in place, if Brooklyn swung her head too far into Gail's space, she got a chance to practice the "Don't make me have to bonk you" look...and it worked!")
It didn't take Brooklyn long to figure out this game and, soon, she was tipping her head away when Gail approached...saying, in effect "see, Mom, I get it, I know how to get a treat, I don't look at you!" Too comical and very touching to watch!
In the next morning's lesson, we gave Gail another thing to play with...asking Brooklyn to leave the cookie bar treats and walk with her. We began with the bar really low...if the horse would just take one step away, Gail came right back and treated her. Pretty soon, Gail could take Brooklyn around in a small circle and back to the treats.
This was looking real good and then Brooklyn decided to pretend to walk off with Gail and then dodged back and dived for the treats. Whoops!!! The mare's rudeness was matched by Gail's forceful sending her away from the treats and chasing her around the arena, tail over her butt! She had to stay out there until Gail decided she could come back. When she did ask the mare back, she came willingly and did the little walk away two more times, then dived for the treats again. Again, she got royally sent away...but, this time, after Gail quit running her, she continued to flounce around and buck and gallop and put on a show...having her little hissy fit!
WELL!!! Obviously, this that we were asking her was entirely too hard and unfair and NOBODY should have to go through something like that!!! So, we put all the treats away and left her in the arena, while we humans all went over to the Dorm pasture to do Maggie's lesson. This was not entirely what Brooklyn was hoping for! Especially when she saw that treats were being given out over in the pasture, to those other horses and not to her!
Half an hour or so later, when we'd finished with Maggie's lesson, we all went back over to the arena, set out the treats and Gail asked Brooklyn to companion walk with her...the very thing that had been so repellent to her earlier. Only, THIS time, things weren't so terrible and she stayed with Gail for a nice long time, getting her treats and happy to be with. Worked like a charm!!
So, Maggie will be working on trusting the PUSH and the DRAW that she has already instilled in her horses, and Gail will be working on maintaining awareness of boundaries and Don't look at Me (both pieces that help build the PUSH) and on building the DRAW by asking Brooklyn to leave the treats to get the treats!
This format, really one full day of lessons, but broken up by the overnight, was ideal!! Both Maggie and Gail loved it and I sure enjoyed having that time in between to review, soak and then see what the next morning brought us!
The cost for this format was $210/person, including horse and human overnight board. We potlucked our dinner, which was delightful.
Guess I will have to work up some copy and add this little gem into the Our Approach tab. Maggie or Gail, if you'd care to comment on what I've written or add your own two cents...I would welcome your thoughts!!!