Mary & Redge
Greetings! mary and redgeThank you for joining me in my communications
with horse people from all over the world! We all love horses,
we have that beautiful passion together and we also have in common
that we are human beings. My Women & Horses newsletter covers
topics related to horses, all things equine and the people that
surround them. There's so much that horses can teach us, so much
horses have to say, so much horses provide in our lives; a journey
with horses is truly unlimited.
From newsletter to newsletter I provide insights, observations,
questions and solutions to numerous inquiries around horses and
the world they live in. I also provide useful resources, web links,
experts, books and articles that I feel might be helpful to all
The Women & Horses newsletter stands for all horse and pony
breeds as well as donkeys and mules, all disciplines and uses
of the horse and wild horses. Past newsletters have been archived
on the website for you to check out anytime and I'm always open
to receiving your inquiries via email.
Check out my website calendar often to find out if I will be
speaking or conducting clinics in your area. I look forward to
meeting you and your horse(s) and find out what you are up to.
Balancing the World of the Confined Horse: Part One "Shifting
the Emotions by Accessing the Nervous System"
"Balancing the World of the Confined Horse" is a timely and vast
subject and it is one I face every day as a professional and as
a horse owner myself. Convenience, space and budget are the concerns
of today's horse person and I believe these issues will continue
to grow and put constraints on how we "keep" horses in the future.
In other words these issues are not going away so it is our charge
that we learn how to balance these horses.
As I mentioned in my last newsletter it helps horses a great
deal if you can start them out with a balanced, holistic approach.
But most horses destined to be top performers are thrown together
quickly for the racetrack or the show circuit; for example, million
dollar two-year-old races and world champion futurities for two-year-old
cutting and reining horses. Taking it easy and training for the
individual horse is unlikely to be a part of their young development.
Some horses cannot handle the physical, mental or emotional pressure
this early in their lives. As a result they deteriorate quickly
and by the time they are 4 or 5 behave like an old sour horse.
By adding performance pressure to 24/7 stall confinement you
have the formula for vices, mental and physical breakdown, ulcers
and digestive inefficiencies, even environmental dysfunction.
As Dr. Nancy Loving states in her recent "the Horse" magazine
article (Consequences of Stall Confinement, April 2010), "While
viruses and bacteria post risks to airway health, environmental
exposure to particulates dispersed from feed, bedding, footing
materials, and other sources (i.e. gasoline or diesel exhaust)
can lead to inflammatory airway disease (IAD). Horses living in
a dusty environment have increased mucus in the airways: even
a moderate amount of mucus impairs performance. A critical player
in generating respiratory inflammation is endotoxin, a component
of the bacterial cell walls of Gram-negative bacteria that is
liberated as these bacteria die. Endotoxin is found in large quantities
in fecal matter, hay and straw."
She recommends dampening hay before you feed it, keeping the
stalls clean and making sure your barn and stalls are well ventilated.
Please read the entire article to get more beneficial information
When I am called to work with a horse it is usually because they
are injured, mis-behaving, demonstrate dysfunction in their movement,
acting out or completely depressed, or the owner/trainer has tried
everything and nothing has worked. I always begin by discussing
the horse's issues, habits, feed and exercise program, saddle
fit and mental health. I get a general picture of the horse's
environment, the people around him or her, and begin to see how
I can benefit the horse inside these parameters. My intention
is not to make anyone wrong as that would only create negative
energy. My intention is to balance a horse even in the face of
I treat each horse as an individual asking myself, who are they?
who do they want to be? what are they saying? Then I start an
evaluation. Look over the horse and consider what kind of picture
is being presented? Where is the muscling? Is it evenly balanced?
What is the horse's demeanor and overall posture? I smell their
breath detecting anything toxic or septic.
And I look from the horse's point of view, how are people being
when they step in the stall? In order to be healing, therapeutic,
safe and comfortable in the horse's eyes you must have self-confidence,
physical and spiritual core strength, clarity in your mind and
empty of any chatter in your head, love in your heart, the ability
to let go and give, gratefulness and an expression of thanks if
you receive a gift from the horse, a softness in your body and
posture while also being aligned and straight through your spine.
If you meet the criteria, the horse will allow you into their
world; he knows the human in his space is no threat and he can
fully relax to the best of his ability. It may have been a long
time since this horse really relaxed and it may take time for
them to realize what is possible, even in confinement.
Begin by wiping out the nostrils, around the mouth and eyes with
a damp cloth. Some horses are very sensitive about their nostrils
and may fight you, but you have to go in anyway. This is where
many horses hold their negative emotions. Just like humans, horses
use their jaws (TMJ) as a storehouse for stress and trauma. This
tension is felt throughout the face, nose and mouth, around the
ears and can travel throughout the body over time. Tension turns
to pain resulting in grinding teeth, headaches, muscle soreness,
bracing patterns and limited range of motion.
Place a quarter-sized amount of The InBalance Horse essential
oil blend in the palm of your hand and rub your hands together.
Hold the head steady with one hand and rub inside the nostrils
with your free hand making sure the oils get up into the nostril.
(If you have to keep your long nails, please wear latex gloves)
Go around the lips, around the corners of the mouth with the heel
of your hand and massage the muzzle. Do this technique on both
sides. Always let the horse process what you have done for about
30 seconds to one minute before you move on to the next release
technique. Signs of release and relaxation are licking and chewing,
yawning, blinking, flicking the ears, shaking the head, neck and
body, stretching, urinating and defecating, and passing gas. He
or she may need to walk around for a moment and maybe even take
a few bites of hay, that's okay too. Next is work inside the mouth.
Make sure you do everything on both sides of the horse. You may
use latex gloves or not for this work. With closed straight fingers,
place your hand under the upper lip and on top of the upper gum
and rub back and forth, back and forth for about 20 seconds and
let the horse process again. If the horse's gums are dry this
can be an indication of dehydration. To help this process, you
may need to wet your hand to make the rubbing go smoothly. Dehydration
can result from stress, pressure, mineral and salt deficiency,
insufficient sweating and heat dissipation and imbalanced nutrition.
If you feel comfortable you may add stroking the upper soft palate
with your thumb (no long fingernails please) and playing the piano
on his tongue with two or three fingers. Enter your hand through
the area of the mouth where there are no teeth. This area is called
the bars of the mouth. These massage techniques get him to release
the jaw muscles, open the TMJ and release tension in the jaw joint.
(Use acupressure and massage around the TMJ joint above the eye.)
This is just the beginning. If this is all you have time for,
fine, at least it will start the process of relaxation and endorphin
release to give the horse a sense of calm, peace and security.
Always talk to the horse you are working with. They soooooo need
a friend, TLC and touching. For many of these horses the only
time they are handled is when they are under performance pressure,
being examined and treated by a veterinarian, trimmed and shod
by a farrier or given a bath. Massage and tickle the wither area
and if they want to have a mutual grooming time with you, allow
it. Explain who you are, why you are there, what's coming up for
them that is exciting and inspiring. Many horses love to show
off and need to know they are admired and appreciated.
Your words, your intention and your touch communicate. You may
be undoing and undoing layers of hiding out for protection. The
horse will look forward to your visits and his or her entire attitude
toward the daily routine will alter. What a beautiful thing it
is to behold!
More next month in Part Two!
BEWARE: GOOSE ATTACK!
My relationship with my horse Redge was truly tested a few weeks
ago when we were attacked by a fiercly protective father Canadian
Redge and I were out on a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon trotting
and walking up and down the rolling bluegrass hills of the farm
where I board. We followed a fence line up a hill and as we crested
I saw a female Canadian goose sitting on a nest about 30-40 yards
I stayed near the fenceline thinking I could go around her when
out of nowhere her mate came toward us snaking his neck along
the ground with widespread wings flapping. I heeded his warnings
and kept going forward hoping to sweep out and past their "comfort
zone" of protection.
I guess it wasn't room enough for this determined father-to-be!
The male goose flew up in the air at us and and began to flap
and peck my horse's head and neck. Redge spun left and right and
left and right shaking his head and neck trying to avoid the big
bird's bites. I was talking to the goose telling him "we're trying
to leave, we won't hurt her, I promise we're leaving!" He left
us alone for a few seconds then flew up and started at us again.
I have no concept of how long this went on but it seemed like
How I stayed on I have no idea. I was trying to stear, swat the
goose away and grab mane all at the same time. There were many
times I thought I'd surely come off. Somehow Redge kept it together
and so did I and we eventually got far enough away that he left
I rewarded Redge greatly and thanked him over and over for being
brave, not bolting and running away and taking care of me.
This is what creating partnerships with your horse is all about.
You never know when your commitment to the relationship - all
the extra care, nutritional considerations, detoxing, balancing
of mind, body and soul - will show up! Horses do acknowledge the
commitment and I am always deeply touched, moved and inspired
by how deeply trusting they can be.
I believe horses are worth our commitment. They give back in
sooo many wonderful ways!