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Women & Horses by Mary D. Midkiff - horseback riding fitness techniques for women

Women & Horses, knowledge for the female equestrian; female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

The Women & Horses Newsletter - November 2001
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         Women and Horses Newsletter, November 2001
                http://www.womenandhorses.com


              ~~~~~~~From Mary D. Midkiff~~~~~~~

Dear Horse Friends:

I thought you might enjoy some news about my horses. Yes, there
is more than one now.

Over this past year, Theo's ability to stay sound and in work 
have diminished. She is strong, healthy and looks great but her
joints, her sacro-iliac and pelvic articulations were not stabi-
lizing after chiropractic and rolfing treatments. She would be
fine for about a week and then become uncomfortable again. Her
body just was not able to hold alignment for very long, subse-
quently, her attitude toward exercise began to change. She was
telling me it was time to re-evaluate her life.

Theo's body issues were also adversely affecting my body. Her
stiffness and tightness were jarring to my right hip joint,
keeping me uncomfortable and sore.

As we reached this crossroads, I could hear her telling me it
was time to let her go to pasture and enjoy the life of leisure.
She will be 20 in January and has had a productive long life of
performance.

I began my search for a retirement farm nearby so that I could
visit her regularly and be available if she needed me. I found a
small horse farm with an owner who loves to take in retirees.
She is a trainer and rider herself and has a few horses in work,
but generally she enjoys her "old guys."

Theo is now on several acres of beautiful grass hay and goes
into a stall with a run at night. She is fed grain twice daily
and blanketed as needed. I spent time with her every day the
first week and now go two times per week. I groom her, give her
apples and carrots, check her over for cuts and scrapes and just
hang out with her for about 45 minutes. She seems glad to see me
and relieved at my presence. After my visit she goes back out
into her pasture to join her new horse friends. It is still hard
at times to just let her be and not ask anything of her. I miss
our training and trail riding partnership. Maybe someday I will
saddle her up and take her for a long walk; but only if she is
happy about it. She will always have my heart and soul.

A new horse entered my life at the same time Theo was giving me
signals toward a change.

I began putting feelers out to my network of holistic horse
people that I was looking for a new project horse if one came
along. I was considering one horse in Wisconsin and one in
Washington state when a fellow boarder at my barn contacted me.
I was exercising a horse for a friend when Jill walked out into
the arena and sat down and watched me. When I was finished she
said she wanted me to rethink my horse search and focus in on a
horse right under my nose. She offered me her Tbred/Hanoverian
9 year old mare. She said "Anna" is not for sale to anyone but
you and I want you to have her if you like her. I was stunned
and honored at the offer. I said "Sure, I'd love to try her and
we'll see how it goes."

Over the next week I got to know Anna better. She is a
beautiful, refined dark bay mare standing at 16 hands. She had
been on the hunter show circuit but didn't like to jump much
over 3 feet. Jill bought her to jump every now and then but
mainly just as a pleasure horse. Anna had a year to relax and
regroup with Jill. When I first rode Anna I could tell she knew
a great deal about aids and contact, but little about dressage
and carrying herself and a rider in balance. However, I thought
with her breeding and athletic ability why not give it a try.

I couldn't believe how comfortable she was. I was able to sit
her trot even when she was just warming up. She wanted to be
round and lifted her back easily. Her trot and canter had loads
of suspension and I got excited.

I took her out on a trail ride and she was an angel. Even when
other horses spooked nothing seemed to bother her.

Jill and I struck a deal and now Anna is mine. I gave her a show
name of "Sweet Anna" but call her Anna.

She is very different than Theo and it's taking some time for me
to adjust. Anna is an easy keeper whereas Theo needs a great 
deal of food to hold her weight. Anna can get nippy with treats 
so she gets her apples and carrots only in her feed tub, never 
from my hand.

Anna is flexible so we are working on straightness and
throughness whereas Theo was stiff and I was always working
toward flexibility with her. Anna is so easy about working
around her ears and face, Theo is still somewhat suspicious
about what might be coming.

Theo was very needy and cautious when I met her, and it took
almost a year for her to start warming up to me and bonding. (As
an example, it took 3 years for Theo to accept and allow me to
kiss her on the muzzle.) Anna is very open, trusting and
personable, and loves kisses on her face.

This is a new and exciting adventure for me. It seems as though
I have found a horse to fit my stage in life very well. As I've
reiterated in my lectures and books, she fits my job and part-
nership description for where I am now.

A picture of me with Anna the first week that I owned her is on
my website.

Stay tuned.

Mary D. Midkiff
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           Women have a special magic with horses...
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