Is Your Horse Your Friend or Your Slave?

On this beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, my daughter, myself and her friend did morning chores together. Of course, we were discussing horses and how sensitive they are. Enjoying our time together with the horses, we started discussing certain topics. As our conversations moved into several different directions, my daughters friend began to talk about the place she takes lessons at and how the horses seem unhappy. Telling us the instructor says while they are riding “kick them as hard as you can,” “rip their face off,” “they are big, they cant feel it!” She was explaining to us that the instructor kicks the horses on their sides from the ground if they misbehave. There was more said, but I think I have said enough.

What is wrong with this picture? This woman is teaching children through adults how to ride. She is their role model. It makes me cringe. How do you treat such a beautiful and sensitiv animal in such a barbaric way? Have we no Respect for the horses? When I was younger, I was taught this way too. I guess I was one of the lucky ones who had my own horses. This was no way to treat my friend. I started looking for a better way. It took many years, and thank goodness I found it.

Anyway, back to our barn conversation….. My daughter’s friend started asking questions about balance, showing me a video of a horse she was riding. Mentioning that the horse felt like it was about to fall over and she was just hanging on scared. the instructor was telling her “great, do it again.” I watched the video. The horse was so crooked to the left that it was about to buck her off as it was falling over the inside shoulder speeding around at the trot, almost cantering.

Diplomatically, I explained what I saw and where the horse was struggling and why. I provided a solution on how I would balance the horse out first on the lunge line before putting a rider on its back. When I brought up lunging, she said her instructor runs them around in a circle until they tire out and says “I did my job, my job is done.” This is her “role mode….” Until she expands her horizons, starts to feel the horse’s pain, gets hurt, or until she seeks further education, she will continue to think this treatment of horses and training modality is ok! Sadly, this woman has a thriving business. My heart and soul ache for these poor horses.

When I began my search for a better way, I was in my late teens. I started riding competitively at the age of 7. Following my “Role Model” instructors and trainers blindly. The one benefit I had was that my deep connection with my horses, I could see who was humane and who was not. There was no way someone was going to disrespect my horse and force it. We need to teach better morals, a deeper respect for the horses we are entrusted with, and if it seems wrong or abusive, it probably is.

I wish there was a way to infuse my knowledge into more people in the industry for the horses sake. Why are people so afraid of getting better and improving their knowledge. I am weary of the standards people uphold for their fellow equine friends (if they are friends at all). They want to be our friends. By nature they are curious, inquisitive, and very interested in exploring. Watch a foal that has been raised properly through kindness and setting healthy boundaries.

If you want the horse to be your friend, treat it like your friend. Would you be friends with someone who pulls your hair, kick them or tug them around like a puppet? Why is this ok? What in the human psyche says that this behavior is appropriate. Firstly, the trainer/instructor should train and educate the horses. The horses should be well balanced mentally, physically, and overall like humans. If they do not, then this horse is crying out it needs help/assistance. A riding instructor should know how to train a horse if they are teaching people how to ride.

The riding instructor should properly lunge and ride the horse regularly to keep it sound, balanced, and safe. If the riding instructor can not train horses, what business do they have teaching people how to ride?????? Please, enlighten me on this clear fact of the matter. This is the issue in the industry. There are no standards.

Fortunately and unfortunately for me, I studied under a trainer whose standards were light years ahead of the average horse person. I thank her greatly for educating me and learning this more subtle and artistic way of horsemanship. It is a blessing and a curse. Every day, I want to assist people to better connect with their horses and enjoy them on the ground and in the saddle. Build long term relationships with them. Respect them, yet learn how to teach healthy boundaries and understand body language..

When I was 20, I took a job teaching at a hunter jumper barn, teaching group lessons on school horses. These horses were miserable. Fortunately, I had some experience training and my students referred to me as “the miracle worker.” Whenever they rode in my lesson, the horses improved and we began having fun productive lessons. Instead of fighting with the horses when I first started teaching there. How do we fix the horse industry? I have bee teaching and training for almost 30 years and I have seen little improvement throughout the industry. Some areas have gotten worse.

Why aren’t we listening to the horses? Why aren’t we seeking a kinder, more productive and positive way? Why do people think you need to use brute force to reprimand or teach a horse?

Join Us @ Alivio – We have the solutions to many problems! We are here for you and your horse!

Why Choose Classical Dressage – Horsemanship?

Why Choose Classical Dressage – Horsemanship?

As we move through this new norm of virtual everything, the time we spend connecting with ourselves is dissipating more and more. Blindly falling into the trap of instant gratification and forgetting the deeper reasons we are here. This fast paced emptiness we are surrounded by has nothing to do with horses! Especially the classical approach! Nor is it even close to a classical approach to anything! Anything fast, forceful, rigid, tight, empty, or instant truly is not classical. The divide is becoming greater between what is true and what is not.

What we forget will be lost!!

The greatest arrogance of the present is to forget the intelligence of the past!

The definition of classical is 1. simple, pure, well proportioned, harmonious, balanced, symmetrical, elegant, esthetic 2. (typically a form of art) regarded as representing an exemplary standard, tradition and long established in form or style, i.e, “classical ballet”

Classical Dressage and Classical Ballet are extremely parallel to one another. The meaning of classical ballet is a system of dance based on formalized movements and positions designed to enable the dancer to move with the greatest possible agility, control, speed, lightness, and grace.

Classical Dressage in it’s truest form is Art

Riding as a sport has lost the essence of art. Nuno Oliveira had me immensely intrigued the day I found out he never competed a day in his life! I knew there was way more to riding than chasing after ribbons! I had been competing for almost 15 years of my life successfully in eventing (Training level), Jr Jumpers (5 1/2′ Courses), Second level Dressage, and all before the age of 18! I was fed up with unhappy horses! I wanted more! I wanted to understand the horses and train them better!

The Golden Grail of Horsemanship

One day, God threw me right into the path of the truest form of classical dressage, and that was the “Golden Grail” of horsemanship for me! From that day forward, I followed this path and never looked back since 1995. I was tired of seeing horses being forced into “frames” to win at competitions, along with the lack of physical development and impeding upon their movement to train them to do some form of “discipline.” As I studied more, I learned, when properly done, horses are capable of much more with much less effort (force) with much less resistance. There are many forms of riding and all of which can benefit from a true classical foundation.

You must start with balance.

You must begin teaching balance on a circle and you must always go back to the circle. “I have been attempting to ride a perfect circle for 40 years I hope I will soon succeed.” Nuno Oliveira quote in “The Wisdom of Nuno Oliveira” by Anthony de Coux

As we enter into the world of the horse and begin to understand the circle and the power it bestows upon us to create better balance in our horses, one must always remember that from the moment you step into your “horses circle”, you have to always focus on creating a better balanced one. Through leading, body language, haltering, training, lunging, riding, to name a few. While cultivating the perfect circle, regardless of the size, you also have to establish straight lines and this is where the art begins.

3 Decades of Training

Close to 3 decades of professionally starting and re-training horses incorporating the time honored principles of classical dressage and evolving, I can respectfully categorize myself as an expert. Still with so much to learn, my journey of seeking more knowledge and education will never be over. My mission to stay true to the purest form of classical horsemanship and educate those who are willing to take this journey. You must have the courage to be humbled daily, be inspired by the true gifts of the horse. If you are willing to live in the moment, look in the mirror and want to be the best horse person you can be in the eyes of the horse, you have come to the right place.

Circling back around to the meaning of Classical

Classical horsemanship is the slow and intricate development of balance teaching the horse from the ground. Cultivating a relationship between the horse and the handler to bring out the best possible fluid, symmetrical movement attainable before mounting. Ensuring a long, healthy life along with a well educated horse who enjoys the time spent with the human. While classical dressage is the art of riding in harmony with, rather than against, the horse.
Correct classical riding only occurs when the horse is in a well developed balance, maintaining self carriage while the rider maintains a graceful, academic position that accompanies the horse’s movement. Perfecting the aids, synchronized with proper timing and the balanced movement of the horse. This is why it is an art and is a journey to be enjoyed by both the horse and the rider. Hard work, lots of thoughtful reflection, guidance from a skilled mentor who not only knows the theory but has practiced it as well.

So, how is the quality of your circle?

Online Class “The True Purpose of Lungeing” Begins this month

https://fb.me/e/12HuyvSm8

Caveson Order

Caveson Order

If anyone needs a Caveson, we are placing an order this month! Get on the list to have this amazing piece of equipment! We can customize them to fit your horse. We also have amazing lungelines that work like perfection with our cavesons. They have the right weight and are soft and don’t burn your hand! email me @ aliviofarm@gmail.com

Throwback Thursday

As I was in the barn this morning cleaning stalls for the 40th plus year of my life, I started to reflect on the years that have passed, dedicating my life to the “Art of Horsemanship.” Honestly, I have to say, there is something very Zen-like when your cleaning stalls. It’s another form of “Art” to me as you sift through to save the clean bedding and get rid of the dirty bedding. Trying to save as much as you can while you sift the bedding in a circular artistic motion. All the years I have spent sifting, saving, and cleaning stalls. Thinking. Pondering. Meditating. Coming up with new ideas, life plans, training strategies, dreams, facing harsh realities at times, wishing times were better, then rising up and loving life again. How to raise my daughter and be a better mother. Where do I want to be in the years to come? How can life be so cruel? Who am I? Riding an entire roller coaster of mixed emotions, perceptions, self pep talks, and so much more, daily, monthly, yearly, while cleaning stalls.

Always allowing me time for reflection. Great ideas would come to me. Old memories that have given my life meaning. Life changing epiphanies. Dreams of saving the horse world and teaching people the purest form of horsemanship. Inspiring thoughts about of all the horses I can save, have saved and the people who can learn and reap the benefit of this timeless work.

As the years go by, the stalls I’ve cleaned, the horses I’ve trained, the people who have come and gone, the countless counseling and therapy sessions for clients in the barn and in the arena, the drive and will power to keep going, no matter how hard it seems, no matter what people said or did, pushing through the physical pain of hard work and age. The many years of teaching, training, caring for, riding, raising, breeding, foaling, managing a farm and the hard labor and long hours involved. There were days I did not have money to buy feed, to pay my rent, some days looked so bleak, there seemed to be no light ahead, but I keep sifting. The darkness that surrounded me, sometimes engulfing me, brought me to my knees. The roller coaster ride of life, much less with horses to carry along in it.

The time in the stalls, has been my therapy to navigate through life and taught me to be my own Life Coach. I would gain my ground again, gear up to take the bull by the horns, once again, on my way up. Always, re-finding my self, re-grounding, re-grouping, re-centering in my Zen-Box. The constant denominator, every day, is that I get to look into the eyes and souls of the horses in my barn. The pureness of their soul, to see their joy, their want to connect, their need for touch, their eagerness to see me, work with me and make physical contact. Our need to connect our souls together to have a lasting friendship of trust, along with physical and mental enhancement. The peace it brings to see them look right into my soul!

It is very obvious: What keeps me going is the horses. The will power and drive to continue to give back to them. The countless hours spent in the barn as a child leaning on my horse through troubled times. Hoping to save the horses one by one and to share and teach humans about the amazing Art that I have studied for 25 years. Connecting with the lost soul of a damaged horse, showing it the way out of its prison that humans created because they misunderstood what the horse was saying or did not have the education to claim themselves as a trainer. I see so much of this. This is my calling! I can not walk away from these lost souls that have been misunderstood, misaligned physically, or mistreated. They need time, patience, boundaries, reassurance, rebuilding and restoring their bodies, so they can see out of their eyes again. Instead of their eyes being stuck, retracted, looking the wrong way, being distracted, trying to avoid the human due to miscommunication because they were not educated properly on how to connect and follow a fair leader that understands healthy boundaries through balance.

How awesome it is to connect with our horses. Improving with them every day, every time we are with them. Practicing the Art, learning to be present and the greatest gift is when the horse is right there with you every step of the way.

The fact of the matter is, I can read a horse, inside and out, up and down. I see it’s pain, I see it’s physical difficulties, I see it’s past, I see it’s personality quirks, I see what it’s about to do. I know how to help it, I know how to teach it options to make better, safer choices if it feels the need to react, (i.e. if my horses spook while I am leading them, because I have established healthy boundaries, they spook by lifting their inside shoulder up away from me and go around me, avoiding me entirely). I can even hear in the foot falls while I’m leading them if there is an imbalance and immediately correct it for them before they fall into their natural born crookedness. Having an understanding and ability to set balanced boundaries, teaching them how to connect and look to the human for guidance. I can teach them to follow the human, enjoy its time with its person, build up its body in a fashion that makes it feel better every day. This then builds a desire inside the horse to want to work with its human and not against it.

Recapping my reflection moment in the stall today: What drives me to keep pushing forward, helping humans and horses build a better relationship and find Peace in their time together.

Building an Equine Masterpiece is not just about riding! It’s the small interaction and what we allow and don’t allow. When you spend literally 40 years with horses, pretty much every day of your life, you begin to know and understand them on a level that is very deep. Deeply spiritual. You just know things. I have seen a lot, experienced tragic events, watched the unthinkable, rode the un-rideable. From the ground into the saddle, from stalls to turnout, my experiences have turned into wisdom. I give thanks every day to my mentors who taught me how to read body language, who humiliated me in front of crowds of people, only to make me a better horsewoman.

I remember one day in Maryland, I met this cowboy at a client’s house. It was around 2005 and I was on cloud 9, on top of the world, studying under a world renowned riding master.

He says to me,

“What comes first? The training or the trust?”

At this time, I thought I knew everything, you know 30 years old, riding with one of the best riders in the world, (in my eyes). I responded quickly: I said, “Trust!” He smiled at me and said to me, “You’ll figure it out.”

I was so beside myself, I knew it was trust. I then let it go and years later I’m standing in my arena and it occurred to me: You have to Train the Horse to Trust YOU!!

Funny thing, I had been doing it all along, and just did not know it. I would first teach the horse balance and boundaries and it would respect me. It was always preached to me: “Get the body in balance and you’ll get the brain.” I did not put the two together, but there it was, one day in my arena, it came to me out of nowhere.

YOU HAVE TO TRAIN THE HORSE BY SETTING HEALTHY BOUNDARIES THROUGH TEACHING IT BALANCE AND YOU WILL GET THE BRAIN TO ENGAGE AND TRUST YOU!!!

I will never forget that day and I wish I remembered his name. I’d look him up to see how he is doing.

Now, 45, a lifetime learning from these amazing creatures. They help us become better humans and teach us so many life lessons, where does one even begin?? I am ever grateful to be enjoying the most amazingly, talented, happy, healthy horses I have around me. I am so blessed and they are so smart. We are one. Nothing can come in between us when we are together, whether its in the stall, the barn or in the arena. We are together every step of the way. I have taught them to be respectful, balanced and we keep building the foundational blocks developing their topline, their symmetry, their mind and I work on myself to stay out of their way to accompany their movement. While enhancing it to the best of our abilities.

Celebrating 40 Years of Horses in my life, in my back yard, every day! They have saved my soul and I am here to do the same! In this fast paced world, people need to come back down to earth to what matters most! A healthy, soulful connection. Whether it be a horse, a dog, a cat, bird, or human.

We need some SOUL in this world!! Now, more than ever!

So this is what stall cleaning does to me! LOL

Making Good Choices!

Spring is in the AIR! New Life Begins…..

As you hear the birds chirp, see the flowering trees swaying in the breeze and smell the freshness in the air, your soul comes alive!

The wonderful gifts of nature that surround us. The Spirit and Soul of the Earth are alive. Nature abounds in her beauty with the sound of spring peepers, toads chirping, birds singing, turkeys gobbling off in the distance. Its such a blessing to be so fortunate to live on a farm, surrounded by nature and horses. I give thanks every day for the opportunity to live this life. People have lost touch of the essence of breathing fresh air and the healing powers of nature in this fast paced world we live in. Movie theaters, restaurants, shopping and public gatherings have taken the place of nature and her remedies. Sometimes, I feel like an alien in this world because I do not engage in unnecessary material things. Give me my horses and an arena and I am at peace. It allows me to dig deeper into my soul and challenge my knowledge, transforming the body of the horse, like fine art, into a well balanced being. Bringing forth a Love that transcends all dimensions connecting with the soul of the horse.

Training horses is an Art. It is alive, breathing, thinking, moving, observing each other in a delicate dance of body language and intention. When our intentions are good, our creation blooms.

Although horsemanship is learned over a lifetime of study, once you learn the essence of the very basic principles, you can create a partnership that lasts a lifetime. You can even be separated from the horse, come back many years later and they will remember you. This is the most amazing feeling ever.

As a professional horse trainer, adhering to the art of horsemanship, not compromising to the chasing after names, ribbons, fame and glory, etc. I have spent many years teaching all types of horses and riders. Those who want to show, those who want to build confidence back, those starting over after many years, fresh newbies from the age of 4, and all other types. Each person has come to learn the art of riding. This style is not for all riders, but it is for all horses. I have not yet met a horse that I have not transformed their life for the better. Whether the owners admit it or not, I have made all of the horses that have come to me for training BETTER! Sounder, saner, happier, more connected, balanced and so much more. If more people would slow down and be more curious about how to better educate themselves and their horses, we would have a much happier horse on our hands. It starts with putting on the halter and from that point on, how we educate them to dance with us. There is a huge gap in horsemanship, just like the generation gap of quality trainers. The Greats, such as Nuno Oliveira, only had a few real true long term students to pass on his knowledge. Now we deal with fads, quick fixes, complicated bits, nosebands, gadgets, training contraptions that only make the horse worse. I come from a school of thought in which less is more. And by all means, IT IS!

Be aware who you allow to put their hands on your horse. It should be similar to who you would let educate your child. Once the damage is done, it is always going to be there. Sometimes, it never goes away. Start them the correct way and you have the most amazing partner for life.

That is our mission here. Educate, create, and connect for life.

Horses and Daily Life

As we move through our daily routines, its interesting to think that all of us domesticated creatures crave routine. The soul craves routine and loves to be good at it. My routine consists of waking up, making my tea or coffee, putting on my clothes to go out in the cold and begin the morning soulful journey of:

Being greeted by my barn cats, Jasper and Calcifer as I walk out the door. Then letting out the hens who provide the most delicious eggs for us to enjoy. Feeding and watering the hens. Then off to the barn. As all my horses wait patiently at the fence line and either nicker to me, paw at the ground or wait patiently for their expected morning breakfast and daily connection and attention. Those who will work, come in for their daily training, others need to be fed separately, to ensure they get what they need nutritionally.

As I enter the barn, I begin to set up their feed and get hay down, feed the cats and begin the process of feeding. Everyone happy and healthy to get their food and time with me and my students.

It’s interesting how each of the horses will beg to be a part of the training horses. If you mentally or telepathically tell a horse you will get to them that day, you had better follow through, as they will stare me down and let me know that I am letting them down if I do not stick with my commitment. It is amazing how they know. Unspoken words but intention are what they respond to.

This goes back to my point of the Soul and how it craves routine. These souls crave routine and connection. The gift of the horse is that it wants to connect with you as long as you make an effort to connect with it and give it proper guidance in your training approach. If you stimulate the right muscles and build the body into a balanced, resistant free, fluid moving entity, the being of the horse comes alive even more. As I honor their needs and listen to their struggles, working on solutions to give them the answers to work through their physical blockages and mental resistances, they come alive and the brilliance of their mind and body connect and they flourish. This gives them the ability to make better choices with their body and reactions and gives them the tools to work through difficult things. It is amazing to watch them come alive and see their soul shine with their understanding of our connection and desire to make things better for them.

As the human soul, there are many parallels, we crave routine! The soul needs to be nurtured! It needs nourishment, exercise and a safe place. I am so fortunate that I have become this safe place for these horses, whether I have raised them, saved them, trained them, rehabilitated them, they look to me daily as their lead herd mate with respect and honor. They know I honor them daily, even when I have to set boundaries, we still come to terms with one another and find a safe space for us to work together.

Well, if there is one thing I know the horses have taught me, it is:

Be in the moment. There is no time to text, or talk on the phone. They need our connection and presence. Just like our children do or our partners. Or our family members, siblings, friends……

Learn to “Be in the Moment!”

Honor your time with the ones you love!

Honor the time with your soul, the horses soul, your child’s soul, your partner’s soul…..

Do not miss the opportunity! Life is short and these are the moments that lift our soul to connect with spirit!