Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I'm near the end of the cold that wiped out all my energy last week.  That's a big relief!  One of the nice outcomes is that I rested a lot and that has helped my shoulder/neck strain quite a bit.  I quit taking the naproxen and am a little sore just from gardening again this weekend, but still feel like I'm on the mend. Working on my posture has really helped a lot, way more than I realized it would.  I find myself at all sorts of points through the day realizing I'm slumping in that awful way I do and remembering to pull my shoulder blades down and back and it's amazing the pressure that is taken off my scm and scalenes. Plus, when I catch myself in my reflection slumping like that it's kind of horrifying so I'm using vanity to remember to work on my posture too.  Plus, I don't want my daughter to have the awful posture that I've had for so long.

I just read an article in Scientific American about how there is conclusive research to show that facial expressions and body postures really *do* subtly affect our moods and dispositions toward things. And standing up straighter does make me feel a little more clear-headed, in control and confident.  Or maybe just not having neck pain makes me feel that way ... I guess there's that.  In all it is a good thing on many levels.

Although, I was feeling awfully sluggish this morning and as though it was difficult to get off the couch and be proacive toward ... something.  So, I rallied and got my lazy butt up and went out to check on Sinatra.  He seemed to be doing very well.  I took him out for a walk and Madios (Trainer K.'s horse) was turned out in the front pasture.  Madios is all about playing and so is Sinatra so the two of them could get really wild and have a lot of fun together - if Sinatra weren't back on total stall rest with just brief walks.  So, I tried to walk Sinatra past Madios's pasture and he wanted to stop and go see him, which I didn't allow. So, he did that little kid thing and lowered his butt, put his nose straight up in the air and started to back up.  I immediately said, "Whoooa, calm down. Knock it off," firmly, but my reaction was to hold on tight to the lead rope to stop him.  Trainer K. just happened to be at her car and said, "Let go of the lead rope some. Follow him as he moves back," so I let the lead rope go slack and walked toward him and he stopped backing up, brought his hind quarters back up and relaxed his body. Phwew! So glad Trainer K. is around in the mornings and Trainer V. is around in the afternoons to pop up at times like that! 

Then what impressed me was that Sinatra relaxed his whole body, sighed and followed me calmly all the way along the fence past Madios and didn't try anything again - while meanwhile Madios is jumping and galloping around and calling to Sinatra to play.  He's such a good kid!  Being a white horse he was covered in dirt and it really showed so I took him in the grooming area to work on grooming him.  I also worked on picking up his feet which is a bit of an issue right now.  He tries to move all over the place to keep you from getting up to his feet to pick them up to begin with.  Then at first he'll push his foot down like he doesn't want you to pick it up until he knows you mean business, then he'll let you pick up his foot but immediately start trying to yank it away from you. Previously, he was better with his back feet but today he was being a real butt about me picking them up.  I don't envy the farrier - who needs to come out pretty soon actually.  At least he's better than last month when he tried a few times to bite me in the back or the butt.  Finally I got so mad when he got a good hold of my shirt that I just stayed where I was holding his foot and pushed my elbow backward and bonked him on the nose.  He hasn't tried to bite me again when I pick up his feet though so that's good.

I stayed a little bit and had a talk with Penny's owner and Trainer K. about how we react to our horses and their weird eccentricities.  I've almost forgotten that Girlfriend was considered a hard horse to ride for the first three years I've had her because of all the young horses with strong personalities at this stable.  And after Sinatra and his four year old antics, Girlfriend is so calm and easy in everything we do. And after Rolls and his spooks riding her seems so calm and easy.  But we were talking about how both me and Penny's owners had initially been very "oh poor baby" about spooks with our horses because that is our natural instinct.  But how luckily my old instructor at the other stable broke me of that habit quickly because she said it reinforces the spooking behavior.   But then it came up how to go the other direction and beat the horse into submission and terrify them was a bad idea too.  I said that I'd met some people who claimed to do Natural Horsemanship but they did a lot of chasing their horses and whipping them and beating them and terrifying them.  Trainer K. said she just hates Natural Horsemanship and I was surprised to hear that because I thought both Trainer K. and Trainer V. both practiced what I *thought* was Natural Horsemanship.  I thought that NH was where you understood the horse and its behavior and learned a way to communicate with the horse so that he respects you as the leader and behaves out of a wish to please you, the leader.  That is how they train their horses - repetition, consistent and firm boundaries and lots of patience. 

But Trainer K. said, "That's what it was twenty years ago but now with the likes of Parelli is just a circus show all about becoming the horse, and chasing the horse and scaring it into submission."  She and Penny's owner told me about a few things they'd seen at Parelli instruction clinics - like how if a horse doesn't come to you in the pasture you chase them to show them who's boss (WTF???)  I said as a prey animal doesn't chasing them in an aggressive manner show them who's predator? And Trainer K. said, "Exactly."  I can't say from experience myself because I started to read some Parelli stuff and within a few paragraphs was thinking, "What are you talking about? Is my horse left brained or right brained and we have to make these diagrams and decide what box my horse fits into - what the hell is that?"  It makes so much more sense to me to learn how horses think and experience the world and then tailor my communication to each individual horse, instead of wasting time with these dumb diagrams and labels.

It just makes me think of how Natural Horsemanship has become a brand name to put on snake oil.  Just like how being a "naturopathic doctor" used to mean looking at the whole person and all the systems and really being wholistic with each individual and tailoring their health treatment to their individual needs.  Nowdays all being a "naturopathic doctor" entails seems to be telling everyone they're allergic to wheat, to take way too much Vitamin D without checking the blood levels and telling them to only take herbal supplements instead of Western medicine (while claiming you can't overdose on them and herbal supplements have no side effects).  A bitter little part of me, I must say, is not surprised that naturopathic medicine, Natural Horsemanship and many once legitimate practices have gone the way of just being a trade name or brand name to sell a cheap, shoddy, imitation product. Our country does seem to love it's shallow, cheap expendable commodities.

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