Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jan. 2011 Newsletter

As I write this newsletter with only two more days left in 2010 it is lightly snowing. The last three days it was in the 40’s and even up to 50 so I took full advantage of the beautiful weather by riding my horses. However, my office work has taken a back seat for way too long and I will discipline myself the following weeks to get caught up. As I look back over the past 12 months I am so thankful for all the wonderful people and their horses who shared their horsemanship journey with me. I think I learned as much as they did as I taught and helped both horse and rider develop their relationship and skills.

One of the things I hear people say when they talk about instructors they have had, they want a person who will listen to them, encourage them, and teach them from where they are not from where the clinician is. So this year I am working on my listening skills for both the horse and the rider so that I can break things down and teach them from exactly where they are, not where they think they should be, or where I want them to be. However, I do know that sometimes this may cause the person to be discouraged, especially if they are not where they think they should be. So I will hone in and work on my encouragement skills (or in horse language, reward the slightest try) in order to support the person to keep on moving forward one step at a time even if there are obstacles in our path. I will work with the person and horse to either work around these obstacles, learn to deal with them, or move these obstacles out of our way.

Each year Heart in Your Hand Horsemanship has grown and evolved in different ways. In the past couple of years some additions have been my book “Win Your Horse’s Heart” (Be a Better Horseman) was published and this year we added a new bunk house for you to stay in when you come to our place for lessons, clinics, trail rides, camps, internship, or to bring your horse for 30 days of training. We also have nice new individual pens for your horse, a round pen, and playground. In 2011 we will hold any camp with only 4 or 5 people in the new Bunkhouse. Camps with over 4 or 5 people will still be held at Calamus Outfitters. In fact the May 9-12 Camp is already full with 8 people. It will be exciting as it is a camp with both husbands and wives coming together. Another first, well we have had Dad’s come to the parent youth camps before.

2011 will be another year of firsts, growth and change as we evolve to meet the needs of horse lovers. This winter, I am working on another book, but this one is a spiral bound workbook, with step by step exercises to help you build an even better relationship with your horse. In addition to our monthly private lessons trip to Omaha and Lincoln, a yearly week in WY at the Carter Ranch, plus clinics anywhere upon request, we are also offering several new camps formats this year which include:
• Horsemanship & Trail Obstacles Camp: will include groundwork, de-spooking, horsemanship skills, and a variety of trail obstacles and fun trail rides. A friendly competition for extra motivation.
• Trail Ride Camp: is for people, who are not interested in lessons, they just want a really cool place to trail ride. We provide the lodging for both horses and humans, the land to ride on, lease horse if needed, and the wrangler to guide you. Bring the whole family or a group of your friends. Space limited to small groups of 6-8.
• Spirit Horse Retreat Camp: is for those who want to grow spiritually and they love horses. I have found that horses can teach us so much about ourselves and our relationships. They are like mirrors with hair on them. They can teach us many truths about life. Round pen, ground work exercises, riding tasks, mixed with free times of reflection, plus guided discussions & bible study will round out your day. Bring your own horse or lease one of ours if you don't have one.
• Yoga for Riders Camp: is for those who want to develop their physical abilities as a rider. We will be doing yoga class every morning for our own bodies. Then we will be doing stretching exercises for your horse to improve his suppleness, and then we will be transferring the yoga exercises to riding. You will go away more physically fit, a plan to continue it, and a more balanced rider.
• Body, Mind, and Spirit Camp: is a combination of the Spirit Horse Retreat and Yoga for Riders Camp with common sense horsemanship skills which will keep you progressing. We will start the day with Yoga exercises (Body), work the common sense horsemanship skills in the middle of the day (MIND), and end the day with Bible Study (Spirit).
Of course we will continue the camps we have had for the last 5 years as well. Which are:
• Youth Camps for those over 12 years of age, and the Youth/Parent Camps for those under 12.
• The Women's Confident Leadership camps are a real hit for those needing just that, more confidence with their horse.
• The Young Horse Handling Camps are for those who want to get their horse off to a good start with a solid foundation.
• Horsemanship Boot Camp for those really serious about taking their horsemanship to the next level (we worked real hard, not a lot of leisure time, and the camp is more days).
• Alumni Camp in Sept. This is for anyone who has ever attended a camp in the past 5 years. It will include the regular classroom sessions, free time with your horse, group and individual instruction, simulations, and leisure trail rides.
• Annual Alumni Camp in Oct. This camp is by invite only, we will be advancing each person from their level, doing drill team patterns, liberty and finesse skills, and yoga exercises
It is not too early to sign up for one of these camps. You can find dates for each one on our website Calendar . I know in this economy everyone wants to know the cost of the camps and I can guarantee you that our prices are more than competitive. In fact I have been looking for a clinic to attend for my own continuing education and everything is nearly 2-4 times what our camps cost. So if you are looking for a great value we will meet your need. You can sign up by Clicking Here.

We invite you to join us in our new horsemanship adventures in 2011 and go where you never dreamed possible.

Upcoming Events:

Jan. 7-9 Private Lessons in Omaha and Lincoln, unless the roads are bad, then the back up date is Jan. 14-16

Please reserve your private lesson time as soon as possible, as we only have a week to put together the schedule and we all know that can be challenging. If we have to postpone until Jan. 14-16 we will try to keep the schedule as close as possible to the Jan. 7-9 one, however, I know it will need a little adjusting.

Jan. 22: Equine Psychology Class in Bennington 10:00-4:00
This will be held in a private heated indoor arena. Bring your own lawn chair. We will have a variety of horses to observe as they are at liberty in a herd, and then while being handled by different people. We will discuss their horsenality, things going on with the horse and between them and the handler, plus strategies to deal with behaviors and situations that come up. You will not need to bring a horse. This is an interactive session in the arena with some classroom time as well. Bring a lunch, or be prepared to go somewhere.

I will also schedule some lessons this weekend on Fri. the 21st. However I do plan to go home Sat. night after the class unless some others want lessons on Sun.
I plan to come to the Omaha/Lincoln area each month throughout the winter just as I have done for the past three years. So if you can't make the trek out to Burwell for lessons or camps, remember I will continue to be the traveling trainer coming directly to you in order to meet your individual needs.

Feb. 11-13 Private Lessons in Omaha and Lincoln, unless the roads are bad, then the back up date is Feb. 18-20

Feb. 26 Yoga for Riders, place to be determined.

Against All Odds

Last month I continued the discussion about the acronym CAWA (Calmness, Attentiveness, Willingness and Adaptability). I talked about the willingness of the human and how the heart regulates the hands, if you missed it you can read it on my blog. I said that I would talk about the willingness of the horse this month, but every year my January newsletter usually includes something about goal setting, achievement and motivation. So I would like to continue that tradition this year.

The picture is of Bettina Eistel and her horse is Fabuleax 5. If you look closely, this is a 50 year old woman from Germany who does not have any arms. Bettina doesn’t let her disability stop her, in fact she didn’t just overcome her disability, and she walloped it! She wears riding boots with cut-outs in the toes so she can have ‘hands’ (imagine how cold her toes must get … and how often they clip a branch or a fence board – ouch!). She can saddle, bridle, hose down, wrap, blanket and do just about anything else that is needed for her horse. And, she rides by steering with her legs and holding the reins in her mouth. IN HER MOUTH. Try that…Kind of makes me feel ridiculous for complaining about anything I can't do with my horses.

Her accomplishments include: 2 silver and bronze medals at the European Championships in Portugal in 2002 and 3 silver at the World Championships in Belgium in 2001, 2 silver and one bronze at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, 3 German Championships. A bronze and silver medal in the team standings at the 2008 Paralympics in Hong Kong. She also wrote a book, and hosts a TV talk show, not bad for a girl with no arms. Now that is winning against all odds. You can read more about her by Clicking Here

I share this story not to make us feel like incapable failures with our horses but to motivate us to believe that we can do anything we set our minds to. It might help us to stop looking at what we can't do and start exploring and expanding what we can do! During Christmas Break I read three very powerful books about overcoming challenges, gaining confidence and never giving up. The combination of some R&R the last month, reading Bettina's story and these books I am re-inspired to do even better this year with my horses, students, business, family, and my personal life. When I look back over the last seven years since moving to NE I am empowered by all the changes that have occurred in my life. Now I admit that there were challenges and struggles along the way and that all of the positive changes I have experienced were not accomplished without some pain and effort. I am not yet perfect and still have areas in my horsemanship and personal life which need improvement. When I am not exactly where I want to be I remind myself that neither am I where I used to be. The fact that I have not yet arrived does not intimidate me or make feel less successful; it simply spurs me on with a deeper desire and more courage to reach my potential. And I am sure that it is much greater than I have even imagined. Now I don't say that to brag, but I say it to encourage each of you that I believe in you and the things I know that you will be able to do in 2011. A teacher cannot teach effectively what they do not practice or believe themselves. Integrity is living and practicing what you preach or teach.

So what do I practice and believe? I believe that we should never give up on ourselves. I refuse to live in fear. I didn't say I would never experience it, I said I would not let it rule my life. Because fear is the greatest obstacle many of us must overcome in order to develop our potential. I have met people who are afraid of their horse or being hurt by them. However in addition to that I find many horsemen afraid of failure, change, making the wrong decision, criticism and what other people will think. So I practice keeping a right perspective on fear, where I learn to discern when to heed it's warning, when to face or confront it, and ultimately how to conquer it.

I believe that it will take some sacrifice in order to reach my goals and I am willing to pay the price. Progress or success will cost something. I believe it takes consistency in order to make significant progress or succeed at anything, and this is something I practice in many areas of my life. I know that if I am not happy with where I am at or a situation I am in right now that I will have to make an effort to change myself first, even if it is just my attitude towards the situation. I know that if I don't want to be in the same place next year at this time I will have to pay the price on this end to have the desired results on the other end. I will have to spend some of this year moving towards my goals for next year. As I move forward I am sure I will have to make some tough choices and I will come to some painful crossroads. When I reach those places I have two choices I can either run back to where I came from or press through. No matter what I want to see change (in my abilities as a horseman, my business or my personal life) I will either press past the pain of change now, or I will be exactly where I am today this time next year. However, I believe I will have the strength and courage to be consistent, make wise decisions and keep putting one foot in front of the other, because I know that if I continue pressing through without giving up I will eventually have the victory I long for.

I fully believe reaching your potential is linked to the way you handle adversity. Winston Churchill said: "Difficulties mastered are opportunities won." When we allow difficulties and challenges to frustrate, intimidate or discourage us we will never win against all odds like Bettina has. We don't all have to be alike, we don't all have to face the same giants, but if you face your own giants head-on and press past them taking one little step at a time and then another one and another one and another one, you will develop the skills and determination needed to be everything you were created to be and experience your dreams to their fullest and beyond whatever they may be. They don't have to be riding in the Olympics, they may be very small, but we should never despise small beginnings. They are just that a start; and that is where it has to begin. So we all have a new start in a couple of days, I hope that each of you will take advantage of it and that at this time next year, we can say we conquered a few giants in our lives and we have moved closer to becoming all that we can be.

The Heart Regulates the Hands

Over the past few months I have been sharing an acronym CAWA in the feature articles of my newsletter.We have covered C-Calmness and A-Attentiveness of the horse and the human. Plus I have shared training diaries of the seven horses I worked with this fall.

This month I will focus on W-Willingness for the human and next month we will talk about the horse. As we have been discussing these qualities we realize that not only do we want and need them in our horse in order to have a safe and successful ride, but we need to display these characteristics as much as the horse does. Horsemanship is a partnership and when both parties do their best to uphold their responsibilities the outcome is a learning experience where growth and progress is a continuing journey.

Let’s start by defining willingness:

It is relating to the will or power to choose
Intentional or deliberate choice
Ready to act voluntarily, without being forced or because of external pressure
Accept what asked to do by choice with eagerness or without reluctance
It is an enthusiasm to cooperate or comply
Prompt to act or respond not dragging the feet
Something offered or given freely and cheerfully
Being agreeable or favorable disposed in mind
Being prepared to act on your own accord

This fall I had a little black Welsh pony here named Lightening Bug, she was one of the most willing horses I have ever trained and so it was really effortless for me to be willing. One willing horse and one willing human equals two very happy partners. I was eager to get out and ride her everyday. Each session was pleasant, trouble-free, simple and straightforward. When things are going well it is not difficult to be willing. However when a challenging horse appears in our lives suddenly it is not so easy to be willing to do what it takes with that horse. But this is the time when we need more than ever to be willing to change.

I had another horse this fall who was quite the opposite of little Bugs, this mare was complicated, demanding, and problematic. I exerted every ounce of my energy, strength, and concentrated thinking every moment I was with her in an attempt to help her become calm and willing. She was very complex with numerous issues to resolve. The more I worked with her the more I had to be willing to change my own strategies, to think outside of the box, and to look at my own shortcomings. This horse pushed me to the very limits of my patience and the trial with her often exposed my true colors. This pressure triggered something totally unexpected; I became more willing to take the pressure off her. I offered her more time than I could afford. I gave her everything I had. I tried to be spontaneous with her. I observed her carefully, sensibly and judiciously. As I watched her I became more sympathetic and compassionate towards her. This insight caused me to quit trying to order her around against her will and instead try to bring the best out of her.

Each day I worked with her I had a plan before we started but I remained willing to change that plan accordingly. The best thing that I did was I always finished what I started with her no matter how many hours it took. She taught me we have to be willing to do what it takes to finish. I learned that even though my commitment to finish with her was clear, I could only do what I could and not what I couldn’t. I tried many new ideas but one idea kept returning to me; the heart regulates the hands. And so I needed to be willing to control my thoughts and heart feelings about this horse so that the feel I presented in my hands to her were something that she could respond to with willingness.

Are you willing to go the extra mile with your horse? Are you willing to make the necessary changes in you in order to help your horse become a more willing partner? Are you willing to take the time it takes, putting aside your goals and entertainment so that your horse can develop into the trustworthy horse that you desire? Are you willing to learn from your horse? If you are, I am willing to bet that the more willing you are to be the kind of horseman your horse needs you to be the more willing your horse will become. If you find yourself being unwilling to do what it takes with your horse because you are at the end of your rope, or you have simply run out of ideas remember we are here to support and encourage you. We may not have all the answers but we have a pretty good reputation and likelihood of getting you on the right track again.

In the middle of this holiday season of love and giving I hope we find ourselves willing to give more than we receive and that this spirit will continue with us throughout the year in all of our relationships including the ones we have with our wonderful horses who give us so much. If you are a horse lover you know what I am taking about.