Saturday, November 28, 2015

A new riding lesson from Lucky - turning

Lucky enjoying some TTouch on his back before we ride.

You may remember that Lucky suggested that he should give me riding lessons.  Our first session set the groundrules (no tack at all) and also established that Lucky feels I have a lot to learn.  We covered staying balanced and centered while moving and stopping in our first lesson.

After that lesson, Lucky asked for several days of bodywork only and no riding.   He wanted some changes in his back and pelvis, and some adjustments to his hoof trims.   I got out my helmet each time, in the hope that he would choose to offer another riding lesson.

Ready to ride.  When he is ready for me, he stands calmly at the mounting block, with relaxed breathing and often licking and chewing.  I do not get on until I have clear permission.
And after several days he did!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Salt for horses

One of the key supplements for horses.
And so often misused, underused, overused, or used in ways the horses cannot utilize.
So, let's learn about salt.

First, when folks say salt, the mineral that is really being referred to is sodium.  Salt is sodium chloride NaCl. Sodium is very reactive, and never found in nature by itself as Na.  When salt is eaten, the body splits the sodium and chloride apart.  For you science-minded folks, here is a sodium link for more details.

Horse first aid kit

A first aid kit for horses can be a real lifesaver.  Generally, I divide first aid supplies into 2 categories - those that are for critical life-saving intervention where seconds count, and those that you have time to go to the store and purchase (although they should be kept on hand if possible)

Your horse can die within seconds or minutes from just a few things. Severe blood loss, shock, snake bite, allergic reaction, heart failure or poisoning.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Preride check, or what to do BEFORE you ride

Before I ever get on my horses, I go through this routine.  It is fast, sometimes as fast as 15 minutes.  It tells me how my horse is doing physically and emotionally and lays the foundation for a comfortable ride for both of us.

Step 1: Lay out equipment
Besides getting out my grooming tools, I get out a leather or nylon halter and leadrope, TTEAM wand, 2 different neck ropes or cordeos (one stiff and one soft braid), a hackamore bridle or rope halter with side rings, a bitted open-face bridle (french link or double-jointed snaffle only), a saddle with pad (if I might use one) and possibly TTEAM bodywraps (if bodywraps could be on the agenda for the day).  I lay these all out in the corner of the square pen, for later use (See Step 10)

Step 2: The Greeting
I greet my horse.  I move to the edge of my horse's personal space.  I wait politely to be recognized.  Then I offer the back of my hand.  If my horse does not come to me (usually, they do) I slowly walk to them, still offering my hand.  After the horse greets me with a hand sniff, I invite the horse out of the corral and into the square pen.  I do this at liberty.  My horse has the right to say "no" and choose to remain in the corral, skipping the day's session, or at least postponing it until later.

Step 3: Clear polarity

I clear my polarity and then my horse's.

Step 4: Bladder meridian
I sweep the bladder meridian on both sides 3 times.

Next Step:  Energy Blocks
This is not numbered or in bold.  I feel for energy blocks.  This is impossible to teach in videos or by verbal description.  Skip this step until you can have a lesson with me or attend a clinic with Kelley Mills or Regan Golob.

Step 5: Check K27 points
I check my own K27 points and then my horse's.  I make note of any soreness in either of us, and work the point if necessary to clear the pain.  I may use my favorite flower essence blend spray spray on the point.

Step 6: Check the bladder meridian tail points
I check the points on either side of the tail.  The tail should lift easily, and in alignment with the spine.  I may use my favorite flower essence blend spray here too.

Step 7: Back and neck check
I do the bum tuck/back up/belly lift/neck telescope exercise once.  If it's perfect, I stop at 1.  If there is a block or lack of movement, I do it at least 3 times, and may add my favorite flower essence blend spray topically at the blockage. I seek out and clear all energy and body blocks until I get a full released bascule (engagement or roundness) from tail to nose.  If I cannot get a bascule, I do not get on.

      For this bum tuck or butt tuck, you are looking for the hip angle to increase as the pelvis tucks under. Additionally, you are looking for spinal straightness as you sight from the base of the tail to the withers.  If the butt tucks off to one side, increase the pressure on the side the hips moved away from, to bring the hips back to center.

     For the back lift, you are looking for the back to lift.  Additionally, you are looking for spinal straightness as you sight from the base of the tail to the withers.  If the back lifts off to one side, increase the pressure on the side the back curved away from, to bring the back into alignment.  It is very important that you maintain the pelvic tuck during this move.  If the pelvis flattens back out or tips forward, go back to the bum tuck, and make sure you are using your thumbs to hold that tuck in place while lifting the back.  If the horse cocks a leg or ducks down, there are bigger issues going on and you should call your health practitioner before proceeding.

     For the belly lift, you are looking for the back and withers to lift.  If the horse fails to lift, there are bigger issues going on and you should call your health practitioner before proceeding.

     For the neck telescope, you are looking for the base of the neck to lift, the muscles at the top of the neck to engage, and then for the neck to telescope forward and down.  Additionally, you are looking for spinal straightness from the poll to the withers.  If the neck curves off to one side, increase the pressure on the side the neck curved away from, to bring the neck into alignment.  If the neck will not telescope, there are bigger issues going on and you should call your health practitioner before proceeding.

Step 8: Address any issues
If any issues showed up in the steps above, I work through the reflex points and bodywork until everything is cleared.  I skip asking to ride if anything remains an issue.

Step 9:  Equipment choices
By this step, I've gotten a pretty good feel for where my horse is that day.  I sense the mood.  My horse senses mine.  We often have had a bit of a conversation.  I have some sense what may be on the agenda. I offer the halter, bridles, and or saddle as appropriate and let my horse tell me the choice for the day.
I offer the mounting block to get a decision about riding.

Always, the horse has the choice.

And off we go!

Copyright (c) 2015 Carrie Eastman
Video copyright (c) 2015 C. Hair Animal Services

Credits:  The body exercises above were first shown to me by Regan Golob and Kelley Mills (Willow Creek Animal Rehab in Washington state, USA).  Please see Regan's DVD "Where Have All The Horsemen Gone" for the original version of these exercises and check out the classes that they both offer.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.

Friday, November 13, 2015

What's in a name?

Words have power.  Names have extra power.  The meaning of a name reflects on, and influences, the owner of that name.

In many cultures, children are given a temporary name at birth.  Later, an adult name is chosen, usually in combination with a sacred ceremony.  That adult name either reflects the qualities the young adult already shows, or sets the expectation of who the young adult will grow to become.

When it comes to the animals I share my life with, I do my best to listen for their true name.  Some will offer it up.  Some stay quiet and ask me to choose.

There are some names I avoid.  Buck or Slowpoke or Tripod for a horse would be good examples.
When you hear the name that fits with that soul, it just clicks into place.  There is a knowing.  Goose bumps.  Tears.  Joy.  Peace. 
And sometimes amusement or even doubt.
Really?  You want to be called what???

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The best riding instructor ever!!!

I'm taking riding lessons again.

With a new twist.

My instructor is a horse.

Lucky has decided to take me under his hoof and teach me the fine art of equitation from a horse's point of view.

And he had a condition on the agreement.  No tack.  Not even a cordeo.

Well, how can a lady refuse an offer like that??  I'm in!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

How to get started with liberty horse play

I've had some folks ask me how I learned to work with my horses at liberty.  Below are resources to check out and my own process of learning this new path.
Each person and horse will do this a bit differently.  The core principle is universal and simple - the horse is allowed to say no.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Updated - Goat nutrition at Oak Hill

My last post on the full Oak Hill program was a couple years back.  I've learned more since then about what works best for my herd on my land.  This feels like a good time to update my readers on the tweaks to the program here at Oak Hill.

First some background and basics.  The 6 basic building blocks of any goat’s diet are fats, carbohydrates, proteins, water, vitamins, minerals. There are many excellent books and online articles, including peer-reviewed studies, dealing with the basics of goat diet. So let’s focus on the less-basic, less-mainstream bits of information that will be useful for your goats. Please keep in mind I am feeding for a long, healthy life, healthy kids, minimal medical/chemical intervention and cost-effective feed use, not necessarily the fastest growth.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What herd do YOU run with?

written by Carrie Eastman, Tabby M., Bodhi (equine) and Salty (equine)

In the past, my blog posts have usually been written by me (though I suspect a guiding hand or hoof behind many of them).
Recently, I shared an experience with Jeep, a member of the herd here at Oak Hill.  Jeep took an active role in presenting the lesson and insisting that I share it with others.
Today's post is yet another new experience for me - a group writing effort between myself, a new friend, and 2 of our horses.  (I use the term "our" loosely, as really they are companions and teachers and friends not possessions.  Our and possessives are just a simpler way to express who belongs to which herd)