Horses and their quirky personalities

More than any other animal I’ve encountered, horses have the quirkiest personalities. They are each so unique in their own way. Sometimes entertaining, sometimes exasperating, often times sweet and oh so loveable.

Misty, my heart horse, is by far the quirkiest in the herd. She is an alpha mare (translation very bossy), yet there are times she comes to me asking for love and attention. She absolutely knows that she is my favorite and takes full advantage of that fact.

Misty: "I'm special and I know it."
Misty: "I'm special and I know it."

Because she is alpha I have to be careful to maintain my role as über alpha. When she pushes the limits I often give her the mare squeal, literally or figuratively, depending upon my mood. She gets the message either way and usually responds with submissive body language.

It wasn’t always that way, we traveled a bumpy road to get to this place, but now her challenges to my authority are infrequent. Which brings me to the reason for this post.

Each day when I go out to feed, I bring Rusty and Merlyn out of the pasture because they get a larger portion. Usually I can just motion for them to come through the gate and they oblige. Sometimes they need a little encouragement. Rusty is so easy going that I can just grab a handful of mane and guide him out. Merlyn sometimes takes more persuasion because Arlo, the mini, snarls at him and he’s afraid to pass by. He cracks me up. He’s the tallest and he’s intimidated by tiny Arlo!

After I get the remaining herd members settled with their feed I go out the pasture gate, leaving it open, so that I can drive the tractor through and fill the hay boxes. Most days I’m able to time it so that I can leave the gate open while I put out the hay and then close it after I drive the tractor back through. It’s a routine I’ve worked out that is quick and efficient.

Then there are days like yesterday where one or more of the herd starts eying the extra food outside the gate and moseys on out while I’m haying. On this day I saw Toro get the idea and start heading for the gate. I hollered over to him that he really should rethink that. He stopped, mulled it over, then turned and walked back to his own feed. Smart boy and such a sweetheart. It always surprises me when he acquiesces like that. He is, after all, the herd leader and takes his job seriously, bossing the others around, sometimes because he can.

Misty, on the other hand, has a very different attitude. After watching the Toro episode she decided that she would go through the gate and help herself to some extra food. I hollered over to her that she needed to get her butt back. She didn’t even pause, just kept moseying on out and helped herself. She knows it will take me a few minutes to drive back out and do anything about her flagrant defiance. She was also sending me the message that surely I didn’t mean the rules to apply to her: my black beauty, my special princess. Surely she was entitled to special privileges. Sigh.

With that I hustled on over and told her in no uncertain terms that she was not entitled to ignore my wishes and defy my authority. My little princess has to follow the rules just like everyone else. Off she went with no hard feelings. It’s just her nature. She has to test the waters every once in a while to see if I’m serious about remaining über alpha. I am.

I love that mare!

Doing energy work the hard way…remotely.

I’ve used energy work with my animals for many years. It’s a simple but powerful tool, one of many I have in my “toolbox.” I primarily rely on EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), but there’s often some variation using other modalities I’ve picked up along the way.

While sharing energy work, the animals provide feedback in a variety of ways: body language, expressions on their face, softening in the eyes, sometimes moving away when they’ve had enough.

I’ve also performed energy work with people both in person and remotely. Since people are able to give accurate and immediate feedback it works very well. But until recently I had not had occasion to use it remotely with animals.

That all changed quite suddenly when I encountered two separate pets in one week that needed remote energy healing. It was a bit of a challenge and was quite intense. But the end results were oh so satisfying.

One was a horse that had been traumatized by a barn fire next door. All the horses perished in the fire and, due to the weather, burial was delayed quite a few days. Generally animals deal with death very philosophically and rebound quickly. But in this case the humans involved were understandably in turmoil which increased the angst for this horse.

She was very receptive to my ministrations and reported feeling some relief at the conclusion. Her owner confirmed that there was improvement. Over the next few days she continued to improve.

The other recipient was a dog with a mystery malady. His behavior was off and he clearly did not feel well. He couldn’t tell me exactly what was wrong but together we worked through several issues using energy work extensively. By the end of our session there was only minor improvement. Usually energy work will have a residual affect so that one session is often sufficient. However, in this instance I felt more was needed. Each day I checked in with him to see how he was feeling. There was steady improvement and I continued to perform energy work for several days. The dog reported relief a full day before his owner did. That’s the residual affect in action.

I have to say it was an exhausting week focusing so much healing energy in such a short time but it was also exhilarating being a part of that process.

No doubt there are more than a few people who will regard this anecdote with skepticism. That’s ok. We each have to follow the path that feels true. For me I know that it works and am forever grateful to those who have gone before and shared these powerful modalities with us.

The long drought

I can’t believe it has been so long since my last post. I had such a nice flow going for a while but as often happens, life intervenes. I got busy and blog posts became a low priority.

It was a time of self improvement and very positive changes. I lost a lot of weight, finally. A battle that I have never before been able to win. I am now healthier and more vibrant. Definitely more flexible and I over came my nemesis: “fear of cantering” and actually had a lovely gallop on Toronado. It was glorious and I look forward to many more such joyful experiences.

Riding Rusty before 180
After with granddaughter Francesca
After with granddaughter Francesca

For the first time I joined a SWTRA trail ride at Promised Land state park. I’ve been a member of that club for years and never managed to attend a ride. It was about time!

My friend, Donna, rode Toro and I rode Rusty. I was pretty nervous as neither had been ridden much for over a year. Rusty has a turbo charged engine at times and others he’s calm. Thankfully on that day he was a perfect angel. With his long strides he quickly crept up on the horse in front of him, but he was so light and responsive I merely had to crook my finger on the reins and he collected beautifully and fell back to a comfortable distance.

I was able to get Merlyn back under saddle. A major feat as every time I tried to mount he bucked wildly. At my former size I didn’t have the athletic ability to stay with him. Finally as the weight came off I decided to just start him from scratch as if he’d never been ridden. Amazing how solutions come when obstacles are removed.

Using my new strategy I was able to sit on him within a few days. He was calm but my heart was pounding. Just days later I saddled him up and took a short ride around the barnyard. It was pure joy and he acted as if we’d been doing it everyday forever. Silly boy!

Riding Merlyn
Merlyn back under saddle

Now that winter has finally arrived in the Poconos things are slowing down a little and it seemed a good opportunity to update my readers. I hope that 2012 finds you well, thriving and thoroughly enjoying your animal friends.

Horses Train People

Have you ever noticed how our pets subtly train us? They are way more intelligent than we realize. When you step back and analyze, it becomes obvious they are using behavior modification techniques, and quite effectively. They are so good at it that often we just go with the flow with no awareness that our pet has just shaped our behavior.

I was pondering all of this after a recent incident with Jasmyn, our youngest filly. She is really enjoying the new run-in shelter I set up for the winter and spends more time there than the rest of the herd. They are not crazy about the acoustics and freak out every time the snow goes sliding off the roof. Jasmyn is the sensible one and does not let such trivialities bother her.

Being the brainy girl that she is, Jasmyn decided that it would be a great idea if I were to feed her in the run-in so she could eat undisturbed. She put her plan into action simply and effectively. When it came feeding time she left the herd and went into the run-in and waited. She knew I would  be coming there to put the buckets away and see her waiting. I did and was happy to feed her there. Step one of her plan was completed.

The next day as I was feeding I looked around and noticed Jasmyn was missing. I called out to her and heard her high-pitched whinney in return (she’s the vocal one in our herd). She was waiting in the run-in again. So of course I went in and fed her there marveling at her resourcefulness. She now has me trained to feed her in her own private dining room and I do it gladly. Step two completed, plan fully implemented, behavior modification complete.

What will she come up with next?

Does my horse have hoof pain?

Why don’t horses tell animal communicators their feet hurt?

Remember the Pet Psychic, Sonya Fitzpatrick, on Animal Planet? I used to enjoy that show, especially when she talked to horses which are my passion. One thing I never understood, though, is why the horses didn’t complain about their feet.

At the time I was studying natural hoof care so was really tuned into it. I could see that many of the horses she talked to had issues with their feet of the sort that would normally be painful. So why didn’t they tell her so she could alert the owners?

That mystery was finally solved when I became an animal communicator and started talking to horses. Talk about an enlightening experience! What I have come to understand has been positively mind boggling.

• Many horses are very stoic and not given to complaining. Their desire to please their owner supersedes pain.

• Lameness is very common in a large percentage of horses. Often they are given pain killers or nerve blocks so that they can continue performing. With these remedies the pain is masked although they are still lame.

• Many horses believe that painful feet are a normal condition so it wouldn’t occur to them to complain.

Toro, a very stoic horse
Toro, a very stoic horse

Little wonder that horses weren’t volunteering comments about their feet when they considered themselves normal.

Animal communication can be a valuable tool in finding and/or confirming pain in our horses, but we have to ask the right questions. Sometimes with very stoic horses we have to really probe as they are extremely reluctant to complain. I’ve communicated with horses who denied pain because they were afraid of what might happen to them. Others denied it because they didn’t wish to burden their caretaker. It’s amazing the justifications they can come up with, to their own detriment.

Some horses are so convinced that pain (or a physical condition) is normal that they are resistant to healing treatments. More than once during a communication consultation I have found myself explaining to the horse that it certainly is not normal and it is safe and desirable that they allow themselves to heal. Once they understand this concept, they very often begin showing improvement in short order.

Sometimes it can take more than one consultation to help the horse accept truth and consequently healing. This is when animal communicators need to be part therapist. Horses have complicated psyches!

It's a toxic world, especially for our pets.

Toxins surround us to the point that it is nearly impossible to avoid them. Even those fillings we got as kids are toxic, leaching into our systems causing who knows what damage. Our water is so toxic that we buy bottled water hoping it’s pure, but that’s not necessarily true either.

I try to avoid toxins as much as possible and that practice carries over to my pets. As is so often the case, this enlightened attitude came about as a result of life with my four-legged friends.

My beautiful mare, Misty, developed vaccinosis after just a few years at a boarding barn that required semi-annual 7-way vaccinations. It began as an elevated temperature accompanied by swelling at the injection site. Each successive round of vaccinations brought with it a worse reaction until she developed a full-blown case of laminitis.

During this time I was diligently researching options trying to find an acceptable alternative to meet with the barn owner’s approval. (Moving wasn’t an option at that point.) Finally I found my own vet who concurred with my assessment that it was vaccinosis and prescribed no more vaccinations ever for this mare.

With that battle behind us, I expanded my research into detoxing and better nutritional alternatives to the junk food typically served at barns. It took six months to bring Misty back to health from that last set of shots, but we got there. Thankfully it wasn’t long after that I was able to purchase my own place and bring her home, safe at last from the dangerous, out-dated, ideas of that barn, no matter how well meaning.

I was reminded of this episode recently when I read the account of a beautiful, standard poodle who died horribly, painfully, after being sprayed with weed spray. From what her owner was able to piece together, she approached the fence, probably barking, to protect her puppies who were all playing in their private yard. The person spraying turned the spray directly on her in an act of incredible cruelty and stupidity. Unfortunately this part of the story was only pieced together after the fact and after her suffering had ended. It’s unlikely she could have been saved, even with immediate treatment, as those powerful toxins were inhaled and absorbed through her skin to begin their destructive work on her entire system.

RIP beautiful girl
RIP beautiful girl

Would this person have sprayed the dog in the face had he known it would kill her? Perhaps, but I’d like to think he would have made a better choice had he been educated on the dangers of the toxins he held in his hands.

Shortly after hearing this story, I came across a post from Dr. Mercola’s site about summer time dangers to our pets. While a bit late in the season, the information is still valid and worth sharing. I hope you’ll take a moment to read and educate yourselves and please spread the word. You just might save a life.

Blessings to you dear pet lovers.

If you found this information useful, please click the Thumb This Up button on the right. Thank you!

Who says horses don't have a sense of humor?

For some time now I have been meaning to take a look at Rusty‘s lip tattoo. I wanted to get the number and look up his history from the Jockey Club. He came to me with a sketchy history and no idea of his original name. He is a real character with a quirky personality so naturally I was curious about his background.

Well yesterday was the day. I got him from the pasture and brought him to the grooming/tacking area. After liberally applying fly spray (the bugs are awful this year), he was able to stand still long enough for me to curl back his upper lip. While this doesn’t hurt the horse, Rusty definitely doesn’t like it. After several false starts I finally got the lip in a position where I could read his tattoo.

I barely got the whole number when Rusty let loose with a big sneeze and blew gunk all over my face and head. Ewwwww. That was no accident. Rusty was laughing so hard that I half expected him to fall to the ground. Of course horses are way too cool to actually do that but all you had to do was look in his eyes to see the mirth.

Rusty has a twisted sense of humor.

After that we had a lovely arena ride. He gave me a super smooth collected trot that more than made up for his earlier antics. All in all it was a very good day.

Clint Ritchie Horse Herd Dispersal

Photo courtesy of Clint Ritchie fan club.
Photo courtesy of Clint Ritchie fan club.

When Clint Ritchie died this past January he left behind a living, breathing, legacy, a herd of 30 horses. They are a combination of horses that he personally rescued and some that he bred on his ranch.

Clint, an actor, was well known and much loved for his role as Clint Buchanan on the ABC daytime drama, One Life to Live. From all accounts he was a committed horseman who took excellent care of his herd. However, he overlooked one very important aspect of their care: he failed to leave a will expressing his wishes for the horses upon his death. As a result, the county he resided in bears the responsibility of resolving his estate, which includes the horses. Clint’s rescued horses now need to be rescued. I can’t help thinking that this is not the outcome Clint Ritchie would have wanted and it could have easily been prevented. (See my June post: What Happens to My Pet(s) When I Die?)

Fortunately for the horses, the county asked Northern California Equine Rescue to handle the dispersal. They could just as easily have sold them off at auction and left them to whatever hand fate dealt. The county and rescue deserve huge kudos for stepping up in such an honorable way, particularly during a time when there are already huge numbers of horses needing homes and resources are stretched so thin.

Whether you’re a fan of Clint Richie or a horse lover you can help. Visit the rescue’s site for details on how you can help Clint’s horses find their happy ending.

Are animals sentient beings? What's wrong with anthropomorphizing?

Anthropomorphism… attribution of human qualities to nonhumans.

I find it disturbing when people espouse the opinion that animals do not have feelings. As an animal communicator I know for certain that they do, as they regularly share their feelings with me. Why is it that some people are so insistent that we not anthropomorphize animals? Could it be that ascribing emotions to animals means we would have to acknowledge they are sentient beings?

When my beautiful mare, Misty, lost her new filly she had tears running down her face. I had never before seen a horse cry, but that day Misty cried. She had so looked forward to being a mommy and she was devastated. She grieved her baby for months. Her usual spark was missing, so much so that she allowed two of the geldings to boss her around, effectively moving her down from second to fourth ranked in the herd. Her normal personality was very much an alpha mare so it was astonishing to see this change.

Later that year she started looking pregnant. The only stallion she had contact with was our mini, Arlo, who at 31 inches could not have done the deed… unless she laid down. Uh oh. Suddenly I started hearing stories about minis who had bred full-size horses.

That very cold and snowy December as her udder filled and began to wax I was checking her every two hours round the clock. This went on for two weeks with all the signs of impending birth. Then one day everything stopped. She had just gone through a false pregnancy!! She wanted that baby so badly that she imagined herself pregnant and manifested all the physical signs. If animals have no feelings then why did Misty grieve and experience a false pregnancy?

How many times have you heard about cats who suddenly stop using their litter box and soil the house? Often they are upset about something and are acting out those feelings desperately trying to communicate with their guardians.

I recently communicated with a cat who felt displaced by new family members and began to withdraw. As he withdrew further and further he left himself vulnerable and was eventually killed by predators. If he had no feelings he would likely still be alive.

Dogs are even more demonstrative, displaying a wide range of feelings. Is there any doubt about the joy they exhibit when their person comes home? My new puppy, a standard poodle, is one of the most demonstrative dogs I’ve ever met. She is filled with exuberance and loves to clown around for our amusement.

How many times have you seen a dog dreaming, talking in their sleep with their limbs jerking to and fro? Why would they dream if they have no feelings? What would be the purpose? And haven’t we all heard stories about dogs who gave their lives to save their person? Is that not love?

I haven’t even touched on their sense of humor. Some are sarcastic, others more thoughtful wisecracker types like a George Carlin, some are raucous, others have a dry wit. They run the gamut. One stallion I communicated with bragged about how “well endowed” he was. I think he got a kick out of the shock value. See, there’s another category: twisted humor.

This post could get very long with many anecdotes about all manner of animals who have expressed their feelings during communication sessions, but by now you probably get the idea.

So just why are some people convinced that animals lack emotions?

The only conclusion I can come to is that believing they are “dumb” animals allows for treating them like inanimate objects, just another piece of property.

What do you think readers? Is that a plausible explanation? If yes, what can we do to change this misperception?

If you found this information useful, please click the Thumb This Up button on the right. Thank you!

Autism unlocked: The Horse Boy

Take one autistic boy and a horse named Betsy. Put them together and what have you got?

A gateway to healing offering hope where previously there was none.

Rupert Isaacson was inspired. He knew that he had found a way to open the door that would allow his autistic son to communicate. His desire and determination sparked a quest that lead his family from Texas to Mongolia.

That’s how the adventure began and it still continues. Witness the miracle of young Rowan speaking for the first time from Betsy’s back. There’s already a book (The Horse Boy) with a movie on the way. Prepare to be inspired.

Horses have a mystical, magical quality that simply defies description. Locked in a silent world it is possible that autistics are able to telepathically communicate with horses (as well as other animals). Opening the door in this way just may lead to verbal communication. It certainly seems to have worked that way for Rowan.

Every day there are children and adults alike experiencing and benefiting from “communicating” with horses.  Just type: equine assisted therapy into your favorite search engine. Then go visit a center near you to see for yourself how it reaches far beyond simple physical therapy. You may just find yourself inspired. They always need volunteers and the experience just may change your life.