The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, February 28, 2011


That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty."  Shakespeare, THE WINTER'S TALE - THE TEMPEST

When was the first time you read Shakespeare...really read it? For me it was in the ninth grade. I played a donkey, or rather a man who is changed into a donkey. Appropriate, don't you think? I loved it. It was a comedy about love between the fairies and these hapless people lost in the woods (A MID SUMMER'S NIGHT DREAM).

I made a mask for when I turned into the donkey. It wasn't required. I love masks and still make them. And I love theater too, and comedy. I love to make people laugh. And I did that day all those long years ago too. I hadn't even told the teacher. When I stepped out into the hallway to reenter as the donkey, I took the mask out of a friend's locker right next to the door and put it on. All of the hours of extra work were worth the reception too. I made everyone including the other actors laugh so hard, it stopped the play. After that I was hooked. I'm still a story teller and I love having an audience to play to.

"When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies."    SHAKESPEARE, SONNET 138, LINE 1

It's magic, that kind of poetry. It picks me up and carries me through the day when I read it. What I wouldn't give for the right accent to read it aloud! But somehow, even with my Midwestern voice, it still reads beautifully. All of the consonants and vowels flow together with such grace and elegance. It always makes me think in a different rhythm when I read it. And there's a line for every thing that happens, too, if you're willing to look for it. 

"How like a Winter has my absence been. "  SHAKESPEARE, SONNET 97, LINE 1

Spring is almost here. I have no doubt there will still be days cold enough for long underwear and snow, but not as many now. There's a haze of green on the hills and I've been hearing birds in the woods. I saw my first flock of geese flying north this morning. That's always my signal to set my gardens in order, to check the fences and to drag the arena and get it ready. It's time to step it up and get this show going again.

" Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow."   SHAKESPEARE, SONNET 60, LINE 9

Today I played Stick to Me with all three in my herd. I love that game! The more delicate I am...the more I learn about their body language, the more exciting the results are. Course it's a bit of a cheat now since they love to play and nearly always come to me. But then there's the refining of the technique...learning how to "talk" with them so I can say "Now you." and then release. And then I let the other know "And now you!"

Tonight I changed it up a bit and made it a game of One Foot at a Time. "Lucky, please step forward with your left front." and then "Now, Apache, please step back with your left front." They love it as much as I do, although usually Lucky looses interest sooner than Apache unless...UNLESS...there's a reason. If we're going towards the barn for grain, he loves it! That was his incentive tonight. Apache just plain flat out loves the game in any form. He was all ears forward and poised for whatever I was going to ask. With Apache I need to keep it interesting or he makes it interesting for me.

So we played Dodge Ball. I'm the "cow" and he's the horse. Lucky was content to just keep walking in at his usual orderly pace, but Apache and I had to chase each other around the trees next to the gate, dodging back and forth. I think he's what the cowboys would call a "horse with cow in him". He loves that game and if we don't play it enough to suit him, he takes off after Willow, moving her all over the pasture and then herding her into the paddock for me. And he's doing all of this on his own too!

We were playing at Liberty, so I didn't work more than fifteen minutes with either of them. I'm slowly, slowly getting them ready for the more formal games we'll be starting back up in the arena and round corral (both have been full of snow or gooshy after the most recent snow or ice storm for more than two months now).

" Full many a glorious morning have I seen. "   SHAKESPEARE,  SONNET 33, LINE 1

I am so ready for this year, so excited! The further I go into this phase of my life, the more I find myself being immersed in my art of living. The colors are brighter, the sounds finer and the smells richer. My herd has taken me down paths that were dreams when I was younger.

All I have is right now. Lucky, with his quiet authority, has taken me to the place I need to be when it's time to lead. Apache, with his need to engage, has shown me how to be more athletic and focused. Willow, with her wiry grey hair and big soft ears, has shown me how to be dignified no matter how human I am.

Tomorrow is March first and I am ready for Spring! Let the games begin...again.

"And art made tongue-tied by authority."  SHAKESPEARE,  SONNET 66, LINE 9

"Principals, purpose and time are the tools of teaching."  , PAT PARELLI, EIGHT PRINCIPALS OF HORSEMANSHIP, # 8

I am, ever yours, Nancy, tripping sweetly to my own music and smiling 

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Sometimes there's an intersection in your life where the place you live at inside your head, the place you're really living in the outside world and the place you want to be all come together. There isn't any way to predict when that's going to happen or even any way to see it until it's past. Today was one of those days.

I have this imagination that has no boundaries on it. It never occurs to me that I can't do something. I don't think about physical limitations or fiscal limitations or any other kind of limits that might be in my way. Instead I get intrigued and excited about some goal and then I go towards it, one step at a time. And now I'm old enough to understand that, for me, it's always been the process of reaching FOR my goals and not the end game itself that makes me happy, helps me to grow and change, makes me stronger and braver.

Today the air was a weird, bright, flat mist from horizon to horizon. Until the sun went down, it didn't change. The temperature was within a few degrees of what it was early this morning and stayed that way all day. It was all very "Twilight Zone-ish". It's not that any one thing stood out. But it had a weird cast to it.

John was home unexpectedly. He was supposed to work but they told him at the last minute he wasn't needed. And it couldn't have been a better day for it either. We did our chores together...always wonderful when we get to do that. The horses, dogs, everyone loves having him here, maybe because I love having him here?

The horses were excited and very funny, knocking things over and stealing tools when the opportunity presented itself. The dogs were needy and so was I. We all just sort of hung out together watching the strange, flat February light while I made up stories about what was happening outside the edges of our little world.

But the best part was watching our first streaming paid for program on the Internet...THE ROAD TO THE HORSE. It had all kinds of spectacular horse men and women in it doing clinics and demonstrations. And then the pee-ace de resistance... Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson and Chris Cox starting colts in a timed event.

Fascinating! They all worked in ways that matched their various philosophies and personalities, doing pretty much what I expected them to. What a wonderful way to learn! John and I sat here staring at our little computer monitor, hoping the connection would hold so we could finish it. (The second half is tomorrow. I can hardly wait!)

Pat Parelli was bucked off of his horse within five minutes of the end of the time allowed to work with the horses. Talk about a collective gasp! The crowd was riveted, watching it as the clock wound down. All three clinicians were very good at what they did...very instructive. But watching Pat Parelli was like watching a Master Violinist play a Mozart Concerto. Clinton Anderson was a locomotive plowing through his time with his colt and Chris Cox was very serious, even and steady, somewhere between the two.

Pat Parelli did things like getting the horses to line up and follow him as he walked out into the arena to choose his colt. Amazing! He had first choice after a draw from a hat. He spent the rest of his time forming this lovely connection with his chosen colt. Whenever he left his round corral to give his colt a rest (and himself too), the horse would follow him and stand next to him. Within the first few minutes the horse he was working with saw him as the person in charge, the place to be for safety.

I'm not far enough along on my journey to fully understand why Pat Parelli came off of his horse. I'm guessing he may have pushed just that tiny bit too far. But for me it made him an even better teacher. He never missed a back on after playing STick To Me and getting his colt to come to him again so he could remove the saddle and remount bareback. He managed to end his time in the corral on a good note.

It also made him more human. I think I've been putting him up on a pedestal and that's not a good thing to do with anyone. His mastery with the horse is way past anything I'll probably ever achieve in my lifetime, but he's still human and fallible. He got caught up in the competition enough that he show boated. When he did that, the horse brought him back to Earth, literally. Nothing like a horse to make you honest. It's made him a much more interesting teacher for me. I'm even more in awe of his timing, focus and ability to put the horse first and to do it with style, wit and grace. And it gave me great respect for the horse too...any horse.

And there's the intersection. I was sitting here, watching the two hours count down and dreaming about what it would be like to start a colt of my own. I would love to do that at least once in my it one of my Bucket List things that I want to experience. And the reality? It was a combination event for me...watching Pat Parelli fall and recover and knowing that I have two horses and a donkey of my own, standing right outside my house waiting for me to come out to them. I've become their safety and that's happened because the Parelli's and their staff have put together a comprehensive educational system that works.

Things haven't changed that much. It's still weird and misty. The temperature is within a few degrees of what it was at six this morning...very typical of this time of year. And I'm not any younger or prettier or more important either. But I am smarter because I learned that I still like my teacher. And, even better, he showed all of us watching that his program works...that his lists are valid.

Tomorrow should be fun!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, waiting in anticipation and smiling at the possibilities

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Sometimes you have to go away to be here. That's where I was today...away. I don't mean I left here physically. I left here in my head. I decided to live in my imagination. It was a no-talk day.

After John left early this morning for work, the words stopped. Everything I did outside with my herd was done in silence...all of the chores, the feeding and grooming, the interactions were without words. I have to do that ever so often because I love to talk! But that interferes with my concentration, with my "being" with the herd. I wanted to find my way to that Zen place that they go, without thinking about it.

At the core of this journey with Apache, Lucky and Willow is a need to find a spiritual connection back to the Earth. It isn't something I talk to other people about much. And that isn't because I'm worried about their reactions either. It has more to do with it being very personal to me. I belong to no organized religion. I'm not interested in teaching or saving anyone. I figure people will find their own way, according to their own path, to whatever place they need to be spiritually or religiously. I guess you could say I'm as much of a lone wolf in my beliefs as I am in most everything else I do in this world. I just plain, flat out like my own company.

The complication for me is that I love people too! And all their billion forms and shapes...I love them too. In fact, I love being here. So, for today, I had to leave to BE more here. I let myself drift through the day, getting things done as they came to me but in no particular rhythm or on anyone else's schedule. If it needed to be done, I did it. But the idea was to do it without thinking about it.

I'd wonder outside and sit on the top of their hill, watching the strange flat light that happens in February reflect off the top of the pond. It's melted now for the first time in two months and there's the tiniest haze of green trying to reappear. I heard the birds. They're beginning to come back. I listened to a cowbird make it's funny gulping kind of a sound in the top of the locust tree, next to the pond. And the wind moved in the branches, making them click together like thousands of little old ladies knitting. I could almost hear the tiny twigs talking to each other, but there were so many conversations all at once it was too confusing to understand.

Then I'd go inside and sweep the kitchen floor, but slow and easy. There was no rush. And the sound of the broom on the floor was like a whisper, but too soft to hear what was being said. "Shoosh...shoosh...shoosh." And then out I'd go to sit on the salt block under the eaves, next to the barn where the sun was hitting the wall. It has a dip in it where the horses have licked that fits me just right. I sat there with my knees up and my chin resting there, with Apache standing over me half asleep, resting his chin on the top of my head. He'd sigh, then I'd sigh. We were there, breathing together and going no where.

The world didn't exist except right where we were, in the moment, breathing together. I didn't cry or laugh. I didn't sing or dance, paint or draw. I was. And they were too.

We wondered in and out of the gate, laid down in the grass, wondered around the edge of the pond together. I went in to eat or to sit, quietly, on the worn out sofa...right in the dippy part where the springs are broken, the part the fits me like a salt block. And the cat went to sleep in my lap and Joe curled up next to me with his head on my knee. He'd breath and I'd breath, in and out together. We were.

I didn't watch a clock. I didn't need to. I knew what time it was by the way the light moved up the wall, making patterns with the blinds. I knew what time it was when I was laying on the top of the hill too. I'd wondered to the south side where the sun was warm, where I'd watched Lucky take his naps. He's one of those horses that loves to eat, loves to sleep, loves to be. He came over and laid down with me. We both stayed there for as long as we wanted to, while the sun was warm, and watched the sky change color.

There were no clocks ticking, no phones ringing, no schedules to be met. He'd sigh and stretch. I'd sigh and roll over close to him, not touching but close enough to feel his warmth against my back. When he stretched out I felt his head rest along my back. He'd breath. I'd breath. We both closed our eyes. My ancient dog, Gypsy, curled up between my arms resting her head on my shoulder like she used to when she was young enough to jump onto the bed at night. It was our secret pleasure together. And, for a while this afternoon, we found it again. We all were.

When Lucky got up, I knew it was time for grain. He "told" me. We walked in together, in sync, legs moving in our own rhythm. Gypsy walked with us. Lucky kept it slow enough for her to keep up. For this afternoon she was one of the herd and Lucky always takes good care of his herd mates.

I fixed grain for everyone, even Gypsy. She loves having one of the Winnie's Cookies that I put on top of the bowls as a treat. I stood there and listened to that lovely sound of horses munching and crunching, sighing and breathing. I wasn't thinking. I was. It was complete.

I am so at Peace.

I am, ever yours, quietly...Nancy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


It was just a few months ago when I got the idea to start letting my herd OUTSIDE...outside the fences at Liberty. It was a major uber scary decision for me to make too. Liberty is the real test of your relationship with your horse(s). I'd worked hard at learning how to move in harmony with my herd, to understand their needs and to learn their language. Treating them with respect and, at the same time, retaining their respect for me was a bit like learning how to walk on the edge of a knife without cutting myself. It was immensely more complicated than just overwhelming them into submission. And it was so much more rewarding too!

When I let them OUTSIDE, I use good climbing ropes that I buy, by the foot, to create temporary perimeter fences to keep them away from the road.  They're bright, rugged, easy to tie off and easy to roll up and store. I've been doing this on various parts of the property we live on, allowing them more freedom and opportunity to explore their environment on their own. They love it. And I love the anticipation it builds for them. They never know which direction we're going in or what gate I'm going to open. The unanticipated side effect from this "outside the box" approach of mine has been the excitement they meet me with at the gate every single morning. 

This morning was the REAL test. As I was getting ready to go out for morning chores, I looked out the kitchen window to see where they were in their pasture...AND THEY WEREN'T! As I turned to look out the back doors onto the deck I saw them go thundering past ... OUTSIDE. They were out, really out, and with no guide. I've always been the anchor for them when I open the gates, so it's been an easy exploration for them. As long as they could see me, it was "no worries" and the world was theirs to run, play in and explore. 

Panicking, on my part, in a situation like this serves no purpose. It just frightens them more. From their point of view, monsters must be everywhere if the herd leader comes bursting out of the barn. Besides that, a person on foot cannot outrun a horse. Might as well save my energy and take the time to calm myself before going out. Took about 5 seconds for me to get through that phase. ( * big grin here* )

I stuffed my pockets with cookies, took a deep breath and walked out the door just as they went zooming past. Ho hum. Just another morning. "Hi guys. Nice morning for a run!" and I strolled on down to the barn, not stopping to see if they were following. SCORE! There's twenty foot long groves in my yard where they came to a slamming halt and then turned to follow. I could hear them in back of me, curious about where I was going.

When I turned to see where they were, there was Lucky peering around the edge of the shed at me. Apache was right beside him. I smiled, cocked over onto one leg and waited with my hands in my pockets just like I do every morning when they're OUTSIDE and it's time to come in for grain. SEMI SCORE. They came to me, Lucky first and then Apache. Willow was so cool, she didn't need to. She'd been in the shed stall all the time they were OUT, eating the hay they'd left behind. 

They touched my hand in our ritual horseman's handshake and then the game began.  It was obvious they'd gone out through our little donkey gate. It was hanging open. When I checked later, John had latched it but through the wrong hole. When I wasn't out there exactly on time, one of them tested it and VOILA!, it opened. I did a little tracking after everyone was home and all chores, inside and outside, were done. The ground's so squishy here today from snow melt that it made it easy for me to see where they'd been. 

They'd gone into the barn to flip some bales over, walked over to the middle bay in the shed to drink from the bucket I keep there for the cats and dogs, walked through the gardens in the front yard to the front door (where or where is Nancy?), gone on around the house to the raised vegetable beds to check them out, to the  arena to rattle the gate (gates are to be opened no matter which side you are on!), over to the pedestal to stand on it (wish I had a picture of that!) and over to the neighbor's yard and under her carport. Aren't horse's minds fascinating? 

Course there were divots all over the place from the running. I don't know what set them off. It was probably realizing they were really, REALLY outside in the big world without the herd leader. Turns out it can be pretty scary out there! But once I was there, it was time for the ten steps away game.

While I was throwing on my boots and coat, stuffing pockets with cookies and trying not to think about the open road where truck driving kids sometimes drive much too fast, just at the end of our drive, I was also forming a plan. I'd decided that this couldn't have come at a better time. I needed to be pushed out of my little hibernating comfort zone that happens in the Winter. This morning would tell me where we really were in the relationship and language parts of our journey. 

I wanted to see if we could play the inevitable "But I don't want to go in!" game that happens when safety is no longer the issue. And here it was. For me the challenge was to play "Stick to me" with no ropes, halters or carrot stick. Were we strong enough as a team to go home and enjoy it?

 I stood with them for a bit, but they were thrumming with excitement and energy. " WE'RE OUTSIDE! WOO HOO!" Standing still was just not going to last. That energy had to go somewhere and so did they.

Lucky danced away sideways, prancing. My Left Brain Introvert was prancing! (I'll have to think about that. How will I get that kind of excitement later when we're in a work/training environment?) It was an obvious invitation. " Wanna play? Wanna run?" So I decided to try matching his energy. Obviously I wasn't going to be able to keep up with him if he took off running again. But what if I took off in the opposite direction, even if that was away from the paddock?

So I did. I took off, looking over my shoulder at him with a big grin, down the path into the East pasture where they go when OUTSIDE, jumping into the air and trying to imagine myself bucking. I'm not very good at "bucking"...certainly not as pretty as they are when they do it. But I'm not afraid to play the part, so buck I did! "Yee Haw! WAA HOO!" I ran out into the pasture in a big circle and here they came, running with me! It was working! They were playing with me.

It was going great until I ran through a particularly soggy boggy part in the field and sucked one of my boots off. Swift Nancy! Now what do I do? I've got one boot on, one boot off, a muddy, soggy foot and two horses chasing me. I tell you, it's never boring! All I could do was stop, put my hands on my knees, lean over and laugh. Apache, never one to pass up an opportunity like that, came over and put his head under me and FLIP! up and out I went. Too bad I hadn't been practicing fancy mounts with him. If I were more prepared I could have turned it into a mount over his neck. The strangest things go through my head when I'm flying through the air!

I landed right on top of one of the muck piles. Oh, this morning was getting better and better! Now I was bootless, covered in muck, my horses were loose and the morning had only just begun. Not a bad place to land though. Nice and soft as landings go.

And they still hadn't left me either! SCORE! They were having fun. It was a game. 

"You OK Ma?" I did what any logical, clear thinking girl scout would do. I got up, laughing again, brushed myself off and walked over to pick up my boot. I emptied the snow and mud out of it, put it on with as much dignity as I could muster and walked to the barn to get the halter and lead. It was time to come in. And then SCORE!...they came in with me. Just like that THEY CAME IN WITH ME. All I had to do was give them each a scritch and cookie as they walked past me, through the stall door and into their paddock. JUST LIKE THAT!


 The morning finished up the way it does every day. I fixed grain, cleaned out stalls and the paddocks, brushed them (this time checking carefully for any swelling or warm places from all the running. They were both covered in mud and snow, so I wasn't sure if they'd been rolling to blow off the adrenalin or if they might have fallen.), gave them each an extra cookie and went inside, squooshing all the way in my gooshy boot.

Today I was pushed outside my comfort zone and tested. It was unexpected and, after the fact, most welcome! No one was hurt. And it's obvious that, although we have miles and miles and miles to go on this journey, I'm further along and so are they than I thought! 

I was going to list all of the things I thought might pertain to this from the 7 Keys, Qualities, Principals and Responsibilities. But I think this morning pretty much hit all of them across the board! It just doesn't get any better than that!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, laughing and shaking my head in wonder!

Monday, February 14, 2011


‎"The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along." ~ Rumi

Friday, February 11, 2011


Ten years ago, when my first horse came into my life, I decided that the best way to learn about this new world would be osmosis. In other words, I needed to put myself INTO the world of the horse as much as possible. At the time, the only way for me to do that was to find a barn with horses. I did too. I've been, over the years, associated with eleven barns and visited countless others. I wish now that I'd kept a journal of them. I've lost track of all the places I've been. 

For less than half that time I've been involved with the Parelli Program. One of the first things I was taught (and that not one other person or trainer...NOT ONE!...suggested to me) was to observe horses. Watch my horses, other horses and herds, other people with their horses, stake myself out somewhere with field glasses and JUST WATCH. Don't If I was to become a skilled practitioner of Natural Horse-Ma-Ship, I needed to 'become' horse. And the best way to begin that process was to observe...horses.

So I did. And I still do every single day. It's fascinating, this time I spend as a voyeur of  horses. I've hung out with them, watched them, napped with them, sunbathed, ate, swam, and moved as a member of the herd. It's never dull. I've seen and heard things I have no explanation for...cried with them, laughed and spaced out, going to that Zen place that only a horse can do so well. If you put yourself REALLY into their skin, my guess is that the 'Zen place' is just a way for them to conserve energy until they have to move to find water, grass, shelter or being at the top of the list. That they allow me, the ultimate predator, to be in their presence so completely verges on a miracle. I say "Thank you!" every day for that gift. 

I've been taught that the horse sees, very nearly, in a perfect circle around them. Their eyes are widely spaced and on either side of their head, giving them two sides...two brains...that need to be communicated with (trained). They are blind directly in front of them. If you hold your fist up to your forehead, you'll get an idea of where that blind spot is. It's big enough for a horse that, when you are approaching an obstacle that needs to be jumped, the horse relies on you to see it for him! Now that's trust. You and your horse will have to work in perfect partnership to be able to gage where the object is, how high it is and when to leap. And I haven't even begun to discuss how much balance it takes, physically, on both yours and your equine partner's part to do this safely and effectively.

I've also been taught that the horse sees in silhouettes. I know how important that is to them because, if I change my hat or coat, they will be more cautious of me until they can verify who I am through smell. But my question to myself is how much detail can they see? 

The further I go into my relationship with my herd, the more it seems that the way we communicate with each other verges on being psychic. So what is it they see when they "hear" my request? Are they seeing tiny muscles move in my posture or face? Are they 'seeing' energy fields that my inadequate human eyes can't see? If they see in shapes and silhouettes, how do they know what's going to happen before what happens happens? 

What is it that they see in me?

I am, ever yours, Nancy...puzzled and amazed at these everyday miracles

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I'm suffering from brain freeze again! Aside from last night's temperatures sinking to a record breaking low of minus fifteen (pretty good excuse for "brain freeze", don't you think?) and my extreme need to drink too much hot chocolate, I'm stuck! It's a mental "stuck" rather than a physical "stuck". 

I've been playing "small games" with Lucky and Apache. It's my version of what to do to keep the ball rolling when it's so cold all any of us can think of is eating and hibernating. I've been playing lots of Stick to Me with Lucky. He's been particularly needy lately, so it's more a matter of using the direction he's already going in rather than being original and edgy. He WANTS to stick to me. At one point this morning, when I was dragging yet another muck bucket full to the compost, I turned to look behind me and saw Joe (my cocker, dressed in his little blue jacket), Gypsy (my ancient lab mix dressed in her green jacket), Buddy (one of my barn cats, no coat thank you very much!) and Lucky, all lined up in a row. 

Now horses and ancient dogs being who they are (me included!), it isn't hard to keep everyone on the path. No one of us really wants to have to break a new trail through the snow. It's hard underneath where it's melted and refrozen just a bit, then soft and slippery on top with the new five inches of super dry snow. So I can't really say I was the only reason they were lined up behind me. I wish I could take all the credit, but I'm cursed with  honesty . Too bad too. It really did look cool!

I took a step...they all took a step. I took three steps, they took three steps. I backed up and they backed up! It looked like were dancing the Cha-Cha out there, in the snow.  It was so cold I don't think any of the camera's would have worked anyway, but I would have loved to get that one on film! I completely forgot about the cold. I was fascinated. Back and forth we went for nearly four minutes before I realized I was letting my "monkey brain" take over again, turning fun into work. I was laughing so hard that I slipped and fell in the snow. Nearly landed with my head in the bucket too! Now wouldn't THAT have made for a funny FAIL video on Youtube?

We've been playing one step versions of all the Games, when I'm cleaning and putting out hay. I've been trying to set it up so there's a reason to move. It's my way of being more particular. "Lucky, please move your left front foot back one step." and then I wait. The object of the game is to, literally, not pick up the Carrot Stick. I carry it with me everywhere, so it's usually leaning against a fence or wall or even my leg. I'm trying to learn how to "think it" without using noticeable signals. I'm successful more often than not now...maybe 50% of the time. 

Yoyo is a one step back, one step forward game. Sideways is one or two steps over, sometimes only hind quarters or front. Lucky can be pretty ho hum about it, but Apache will leave his hay or grain to come play. He loves "small games". The rise in his energy is palpable! The more we play, the more engaged he is. He'll stand there, poised and ready for the next step. He licks and chews the whole time too. I would love to get inside his head, really inside, to find out just what he's thinking. And he plays the games back , coming straight to me with no pause and trying to walk right through my space. What a Wiley Coyote he is! 

We're still playing within and through the gates too. My goal is to take the level of excitement and anxiety down to "null zone" so that when the weather is more conductive to longer sessions in the arena and round corral, it's no big deal when we're coming or going. 

I guess, looking back on this post, that I'm not as "stuck" as I think I am. There's my "silver lining" for today then. I'm still moving forward, even if sideways is the best way to get there. 

#2 in the Eight Principals of Horse-Man-Ship :  Don't make or teach assumptions.

I am, always yours even when my teeth are chattering...Nancy, smiling at the way things go

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I hope I've done this right. This is the first time I've tried to load a video to my BLOG. It's one of the best examples of "mirroring" that I've seen. If you watch, you'll see the woman matching her energy to the lion seal's perfectly. She's quiet, polite, inviting, kind and never moves from the place that she's in. Her behavior is perfect in this situation. She suppresses her need to hold onto the seal, even putting off the opportunity to pet it. The quieter she is, the more intrigued the seal is!

By over riding her predator tendencies, she "becomes" seal, leaving the field open for exploration from the lion seal. She gains it's confidence with her quiet. Fascinating! If I were an instructor, trying to explain to my students about how to become "horse", I would show this video to them. It's exactly what I try to do when I'm with my just BE with them, no itinerary, no goal...just BE. I think that's why this worked for her and the seal...she just sat there and WAS.

How interesting!

Short post tonight...and way off the subject...and smack dab on target at the same time. Kind of Zen, don't you think?

Enjoy...and learn. I know I did when I watched it.

Nancy, smiling at the way things go...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Magic...magic...magic...magic! The world has changed and everything is new. It's sparkling everywhere with a sugar coating on top of perfect white icing. Princess Willowmena came to me again. The fairy dust was all over, even in her usually impeccable hair and down the collar of her brand new Winter Coat.

"Oh, those pesky fairies! They haven't a lick of sense, not a single one of them. They've all gone quite mad and filled the world with an over abundance of sugar coating and fairy dust. How shall we get anything practical done today?" She was peeved, to say the least. It was everywhere you know. Ever so often the Fairy King sends his magic into the world of Mundanes, trying to get them to pay attention. But none of them  ever do, well...except for the littlest ones. They always seem to know just exactly what he's talking about. But the big ones, the people with wrinkles and worries (everyone knows that one causes the other and vice versa!), never seem to be willing to slow down enough to understand. Kings can be quite insulted when it comes to being ignored!

Everyone and everything is covered in fairy dust that's inches and inches thick! Things change when the Fairy King gets in this kind of mood. The light is different and the air is crystal clear, much as it is in the Land of Faery where the clocks never work and time just is...Everyone who is anyone, well at least the most important 'anyone's' ,are all aware of how things stand. It's time, as time is seen on the other side, to just stop and BELIEVE!

I heard the KING. He came to me in a dream and said " If you stop to breath the RIGHT way, to see CLEARLY, to feel GREATLY, then you will know me. I can only give to you what you need WHEN you are willing to take it. But it will take great effort from you to overcome the shortcomings of your Mundaneness. You must slow down to the pace of the Land of Faery. Follow the Big Red One. He will teach you. Ride the wind with the Little Kahuna. He will carry you. Allow the Princess to show you your manners. Then you will be welcome back to the Land of Faery, a place you left your heart in when you had not grown heavy with wrinkles and their attendant worries...or vice versa."

And so the day began again. And everything was deep in sugar, sweet and more than any one Mundane could ever use! And the light changed, brushing the world with gold and silver blue...

So we crossed the Great Sugar Glaciers and went into the...

the Forests of Faery, where the sky is always ten hundred shades of blue and what seems small is always taller than you think.

And then we climbed to the top of Mount Va-Poopius where anything can grow, even your imagination. And we found our way...

HOME, where anything is possible.

I am...always...yours, Nancy who still believes in half full glasses and fairy dust

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


You never see paths that are straight. Sidewalks and streets, buildings and, usually, houses are built on a grid, but the paths we make on our own are organic, curved and unpredictable. We can't help that. When we walk up or down a hill, through a forest or across a meadow it's always in curves even when we THINK we're walking in a straight line from point A to point B. Funny thing is that we have a tendency to go back to that same path when we walk through that area again, even years later after the weather has erased our previous passage. Ever wonder why we do that?

Today we had a blizzard...the real deal. There were times this afternoon when the sky was as white as the ground and I couldn't see more than fifty feet from the house. It was a white out. Haven't been in one of those since my boys were babies, more than thirty years ago. Nature isn't something to be taken lightly, especially if she's decided to have her way. Today was one of those days.

It gave all of us pause. This image looks like I've photo shopped it. I didn't. That's how it was today...white out. There was a path running from the shed to the barn, along the fence line but still in a curve. I don't know how they knew where to walk, but it made sense to the herd so I used it too. I trust them to show me the way sometimes as much as they trust me in most other circumstances. It's a partnership.

John had the day off, but he wouldn't have gone in to work even if he hadn't. We're, temporarily, cut off. The electricity has been flickering on and off all day long. Happens a lot out here when there's ice on the lines or the wind is blowing hard. A tree comes down somewhere and falls across the lines or the wind blows them into each other and it shorts out. Call me crazy, but I like it when it's like this. This kind of weather reminds me to show respect, to remember that I'm pretty insignificant in the big picture. Living in the moment is all there is, so the tiny bits of time that are elemental like it was today make me appreciate the need to be prepared for whatever comes around the next bend in the path. Guess I've become somewhat of an adrenalin junky.

We were all wired with it today. The air was almost electric with the energy that a storm like this generates! I loved standing out in it, being pushed around by the wind and bitten by the cold. It snapped at me, leaving trails of melting snow on my face that froze about as quickly as they formed. I know I'm supposed to be careful when it's like this, but there's a part of me that wanted to take Lucky out and just let him go...ride him where ever HE wanted to go. (More than likely he would have walked around the edge of the barn , through the doors to the hay stack. He's smarter than I am.) I didn't. I've gotten wiser with the passing years, but that doesn't mean that part of me isn't still there, taking me down a path that curves when I least expect it to.

It's still snowing as I write this...hard. The forecast says that it will continue to snow with high winds all night long and into tomorrow. I think I'm half hypnotized with the Zen of it, the perfect take no prisoners force of it. I'm outside every single day of the year, doing the chores that always need to be done. Thing is, it isn't really a "chore" for me. It's my religion, dealing with this kind of weather. I love the focus that can't be avoided, the connection it gives me back to the earth.

The Buddhists say that it's a privilege to do menial sweep and clean and work hard. I agree. If someone asked me what I think Heaven is like, I would tell them I hope it's like this. I love the problems I have to solve, the focus that it takes for me to go down my switch back path and around the blind curves. I am so empowered by days like today!

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings!

I am, ever yours, off around the bend (in more ways than one!)...Nancy, head back and laughing!