The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:53 am 
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hi. :D
i wanted to start a post for people to share experiences and photos and advice on ways to encourage children with horses and animals. i wanted this post to be about the natural abilities that children have that we can learn from, and what are ways that we can encourage the natural growth. i already have all of my favorite kids pics, but i will post them again, i hope that others would do the same.

i will start with my experieices. i have shared alot of them, with my son teaching his 36 year old pony to lift his leg,and how patient he was (in my diary). but the most wonderful lesson i learned with him, was that he was happy for the tiny offering that Apollo would give him. he did not expect much at all. just the littlest movement that slightly resembled the leg lift. his timing for praise was amazing, and the joy he had was just emense.

i also, recently took my boys to featherdale. it is a natural animal park of learning for peple to interact with australian native animals. i was amazed first at the fact that my 1 1/2 year old son went and got their feed containers and put chaff in it, (mixed with dirt and leaves) and then went around and put them in front of each animal, but i was most amazed at the instinct.

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Dylan would try to get the animal to come to him, not the other way round. he would look down but be looking at the animal, (soft submissive bodylanguage) he qsuatted and opened his hand softly and gestured to him. he also did not face the animal square, but left one shoulder back. i have always had my children in nature, but how is it that he understands this much???

here is a photo
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i also noted while watching them, that, they knew to just sit with animals, without doing anything.

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they were able to read subtle signs of "back off" and they listened.

and with horses, lachlan knew that he could steer a pony with a stick against the neck, or to press with his hand on either side of the neck HOW? i have never shown im this?
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how does a child know how to show the horse which leg to pick up?

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and why dont alot of children feel comefortable to just sit with a horse?

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jordan has been sitting down and on several occasions wild birds have flown down to sit with him. why do they do this?

a really anazing one is that while we were feeding up all the animals, dylan wanted very much to get in there and help. he loves to "post" the bread into the cows mouth. but when we got to the pigs, he would sit very very still. i would put him down in a place safe, and he would not move!!! how did he feel safe with some animals and not with others.

why is it that the feral cat that lives here, will attack and bite us all if we attempt to touch it, yet she will lay and gently play with dylan? what is it that animals naturally have with children that we seem to loose as we grow? most importantly, why do some children not have this, in fact, they inspire agression in animals? what can we do to build better relationships between animals and the youth of today, so that tomorro, we will not have the hatred to animals that we have today?

sorry, i have just posted a ton of photos. and yes i am a proud mummy, but i think all kids have this naturally. i just wanted to hear others and their stories and photos or videos. this is a topic that i hold very close to my heart. :love: :love:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:41 pm 

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I asked my daughter who is 11 :
She said that sometimes animals see kids as babies and treat them as babies., sometimes kids trust the animals more than their parents because they have not heard so many bad stories.
I want to add that what I think I'm missing is to live in the moment, even when I try. I might want to focus completely on an animal that I'm spending time with but have so many thoughts run through my head, ranging from family and job responsibilities to world problems. I use prayer and meditiation to help me clear my head of unnecessary mental burdens and am teaching my daughter to do this also, in fact I don't really have to teach her, children do this naturally and adults tell them to stop "daydreaming" or "staring into space" etc. They just have to be encouraged to take quiet time for themselves.
Wonderful topic, Jessy. :) :f: :f: :kiss:


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:58 pm 
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Oh - how wonderful pictures!!

I would just LOVE that park around here..... :love: :love: :love:


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:51 pm 

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Well, I geuss its because kids havent lost the childlike wonderment for life that us adults have. But as far as Dylan feeding the animals....he is just mimicking what he must see you guys do everyday when you feed the horses and dogs, goats etc. He is surrounded by it, and even if you think he is not, he is clearly learning heaps from you.
Also, your kids are so special with animals because you are. It is in their blood...when you were pregnant with Dyl, he must have known exactly what was going on, and when he was born, probably knew each horse,cos they'd been around him when he was being a foetus.
I'm not sure about you, or what everybody else believes in, but i think that we all choose our parents before we are born, for how they can help us with skills in this world and what we need to learn. You have so many natural horse skills, that your little people come to you, because they, also, are going to be great animal people, and youu were the perfect mother to help them with that.
Even if none of the above is true, your baby definitly infuses your feelings, emotions, what you eat etc...maybe think about the emotions you had each time you were pregnant, and see if you can identify any personality traits in the boys, that you were feeling at time of carrying them....
also, it's no accident that Amy was born a chocoholic! If I had offered her a chocolate bar instead of breastmilk, she would have sucked on it with glee i know! :friends:


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 11:36 pm 
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I am trying hard to see myself back when I was a child, and remember...what did I feel?

I think that children not only learn from the adults they watch every day...but if no one is there with the authority to say, "this is how you approach this animal", then does the child not seek the answer in the only way they can? Watch the animal, and emulate the animal itself. Mimic the animal. BE the animal (does that make sense?).

And I do also think that a sideways approach to an animal is a very natural pose to take...it allows you greater ability to flee if need be. If you stand square to something you are not sure of touching, your only avenue of escape may be to move backward, and that is not a very fast wat to move...so if you move in sideways, one arm outstretched, you can better flee to the side, away from whatever it is.

So in some respects, I think what you see could be in some sense innate, but it has been nurtured by you as well, even if that is NOT to interfere with the child's natural instincts. Think about how so many parent react...."NO! Don't touch that! Don't eat that! Don't put that in your mouth! Don't get your clothes dirty! Look at your hands! Filthy!. And then we get to see your feral boy covered gloriously head to toe in mud and I can see my own childhood, riding half naked (before anyone could tell I was a girl) on my pony an no one telling me to go put on my clothes. It the reason I am trying to think back...to remember...because I was allowed to run quite wild myself and I was good with animals...maybe because I WAS one! :rofl: :rofl:

You know...dirt is GOOD for you! People are too afraid of germs these days. They make you strong in the right doses. Eating a little dirt is good for you. Getting a little horse poop under your fingernails and then eating a cookie before you wash up, is good for you! Squishing it between your toes is kind of cool too :D

I just adore how naturally you raise your boys. I think you allow their instincts to flourish and obviously, they learn from you, but also teach themselves through personal experience. I think your family must have a beautiful balance between nature and nurture.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:04 am 
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Quote:
So in some respects, I think what you see could be in some sense innate, but it has been nurtured by you as well, even if that is NOT to interfere with the child's natural instincts. Think about how so many parent react...."NO! Don't touch that! Don't eat that! Don't put that in your mouth! Don't get your clothes dirty! Look at your hands! Filthy!. And then we get to see your feral boy covered gloriously head to toe in mud and I can see my own childhood, riding half naked (before anyone could tell I was a girl) on my pony an no one telling me to go put on my clothes. It the reason I am trying to think back...to remember...because I was allowed to run quite wild myself and I was good with animals...maybe because I WAS one!

You know...dirt is GOOD for you! People are too afraid of germs these days. They make you strong in the right doses. Eating a little dirt is good for you. Getting a little horse poop under your fingernails and then eating a cookie before you wash up, is good for you! Squishing it between your toes is kind of cool too

I just adore how naturally you raise your boys. I think you allow their instincts to flourish and obviously, they learn from you, but also teach themselves through personal experience. I think your family must have a beautiful balance between nature and nurture.


Oh, beautiful, Karen!

:yes: :yes: :yes: :yes: :yes: :yes: :yes:

The most vivid memories of my childhood are of times spent in the woods -- we had about 20 acres of field, stream, woodlands that we went to pretty much every weekend (officially named Narnia, as we were Lewis addicts)...hours and hours and hours spent...

...playing in the stream, catching crayfish, building dams and swimming holes and peering at caddis larva, discovering that the antidote to stinging nettle was jewelweed, discovering the green firecrackers of jewelweed as they sprung between our fingers, building a sod house, a tree fort, an Iroquois birch pole lodge, playing bamboo flutes to flying squirrels, discovering what lived underneath that rotting piece of bark, or who left that scat or footprint, naming wildflowers, trees, rocks, hunting for fossils, or simply spinning, my sisters and I, lazily in our canvas hammock, watching how the patterns of leaves changed above us...and on and on...

The world is alive with imagination.

We didn't have the host of critters that you do in your world, Jess (would have loved that! :)) but we had enormous support from my folks to do all of this, but very little interference. We were trusted to navigate our magical land in ways that made sense to us, and we did with no disasters for many years. (Though we did learn some important lessons about electricity, water, and conduction as we experimented touching an electric fence bounding the property while standing in the stream...) :ieks: :D We had the occasional scrape or scratch or bonk from our adventures, but we learned to navigate the landscape with it as teacher, rather than hovering adult warning us not to do or touch or worry... So, yes, rocks covered in algae ARE slippery...bees don't like to be petted...if you stand still and slow your breathing, the deer in the clearing won't take fright...

We also had the benefit of a wonderful program called Junior Museum, which offered all sorts of more structured natural and creative learning opportunities, that fueled our curiosity. And we were encouraged to draw what we saw, or write about it -- stories, poems, whatever. The natural world was a place to explore, to draw inspiration from, and to reflect on, even as really small kids.

And I know, Karen, that you are absolutely right about dirt. Studies suggest that kids who grow up with dirt and hay and dust have stronger immune systems than those who don't, are less likely to develop asthma, etc. And to this day, I can think of very few things that make me more happy than getting filthy from head to toe. There's something so gratifying about it! I think we literally get fed by getting ourselves covered in dirt...

Have any of you read Richard Louv's book, "Last Child in the Wilderness"? He's making the argument that most kids in the US today suffer from what he calls "nature deficit disorder" -- they don't get enough of it, they're too controlled when they're in it, and he thinks we're damaging our kids horribly by creating sterile worlds for them to live in...

Nice thread, Jess!

This is making me realize I need to do a lot more of this than I make time for these days!!!

:)
Leigh

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:37 am 

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Quote:
Have any of you read Richard Louv's book, "Last Child in the Wilderness"? He's making the argument that most kids in the US today suffer from what he calls "nature deficit disorder" -- they don't get enough of it, they're too controlled when they're in it, and he thinks we're damaging our kids horribly by creating sterile worlds for them to live in...

Leigh, that sounds exactly like what I believe. I'll have to get a copy of that book. We are very lucky to live in the country with a lot of green, open spaces. I always wonder what it must be like to raise kids in the city. It would be so much harder to give them a natural environment. Kids in big cities often don't even have a yard to play in. Lack of exercise could easily be the main cause for hyperactive and overweight kids in this country.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:28 am 
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Birgit, I highly recommend it!

He has some really interesting insights -- from about how we are raising a generation of kids who have essentially no connection to nature (who if they can't plug in, aren't interested!) , to how, when kids are given the choice, they'll leave the nicely groomed lawn and find the weed patch at the edge of the park -- that's where the wildness is.

I think he's got some really important things to say!

:applause: :applause:

:D
Leigh

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:26 am 
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oh thankyou everyone for your imput!!! i was a little nervouse about this thread because some could take it the wrong way, but you are all taking it the way i intended! thankyou.

i think that dirt is great too! (obviously) just ask sara, i dont think she remembers my kids with out a layer of dirt!!! my baby loves it, and thinks it tastes great. his amunity is already good. although we do have teething probs, but thats normal!!! :D

i just soaked in the stories you have told about your childhoods. this is wonderful. i have written this post so that i can investigate the childlike attitude to animals, the natural connection of trust and fun! also i want people to think about how we can positively harness this wonderful natural ability. this day and age frightens me as the playstation is rapidly taking over what used to be the imagination!!! :sad:

i delight in watching children play, but i also have to deal with other parents opinions on my relaxed parenting! other parents seem to think that clean pristeen children with many posessions are the best looked after children. but i am happy with my kids. they grow vegetables, they rear animals and they build cubbies!!! as far as i am concerned, these are great life skills.

i have been looking deep within my self lately and reflecting on the child i used to be. i have found that i speak alot to people about the things that we used to do with our horses, and the things we used to do with the animals, and i think that i have almost become a little too influenced by other peoples opinions. well NO MORE!! :cheers: i now am going to reconnect with the inner person and listen to my instincts more. i know how in tune i can be, and i want to be there again. i am now going to play with my horse without an agenda, just because it is fun. and i dont care if people try to convince me that i am not doing anything seriouse, like dressage and i am wasting my time.....because that is the point....i am NOT doing anything seriouse!!!! i am having fun!!! :applause:

i am loving the posts that are on here, please lets keep this going!!!! i want to discover what made me so close to nature as a child, and i would love other people to give me their experiences too. this is so much fun and i love sharing this with you all.

i also loved reading your replies to my childrens bodylanguage and the reasons for them. i totally agree, especially karen with your explination about the sideways approach. you are totally right. isnt it amazing that they do this without thought!!! just wild and natural instinct! :applause:

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:46 pm 
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other parents seem to think that clean pristeen children with many posessions are the best looked after children.



Oh, Jess, this just made me laugh!

I was looking at my absolutely filthy, bright-eyed horses yesterday and chuckling to myself about all of the fussy horse owners I've known who have blankets, hoods, hoof polish, mane spray, tail wraps, etc. etc. etc. and whose horses always look pristine -- I have friends who would be HORRIFIED to see the state mine are in, but they are happier than I've ever known them...

So I think the same is true for horse parents and pristine horses!

:D
Leigh

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:56 pm 

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That reminds me of something else to share about my daughter Rachel. She looooves to make her horse pretty and started brushing and grooming her the other day. She had spent quite a bit of time already and Blue Eagle was starting to look very beautiful when she decided she had had enough and walked off to take a good roll in the mud. I expected Rachel to be upset but I understimated her. Her comment was: "Well that's what horses like to do." and she had a grin on her face.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:14 pm 

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Thinking back, when I was little I didn't speak much at all, I felt the world around me. Because I didn't have words in the way, it was easier to just BE without analysing everything. I walked up to all animals without prior thought as to what they were or how they might hurt me, I just wandered into the chicken pen and walked up to dogs or ponies, but I didn't have any agenda except to say hello or pet them. I spent ages learning what the names of the flowers and birds were. I loved sitting by the river near us just watching the water. There is less "doing" when you are young. You do not have goals or lists, and you do not have your animals for any purpose other than you wanted one. When people ask why I have horses I still answer "because I love them and wanted one", it really confuses them as they then say "Well what do you want one for, what competition do you do?" I often answer "I don't compete because I don't need a reason to have my horses other than they make my life worthwhile by being there." I guess children see that way also.

I do find it sad that there are children that cannot recognise animal footprints in the snow, or don't know what a chaffinch is, or how to grow carrots, that think their milk comes from cartons. When we sold our house in Wales we sold it to some people that were bringing kids from the city into the country for holidays. The neighbours were worried about the kids stealing and vandalising, and the group leader laughed and said that city kids would not be going anywhere in the country after dark as they had never lived anywhere where there were no street lights and they would be too scared to go out in "proper" dark.

My mum told a dyson vaccum cleaner sales man once that she liked dirt and she liked her kids dirty as it was healthy for them. We didn't get anywhere near as many colds as other children and I used to think nothing of pulling a carrot from the garden, wiping the dirt off on my trousers and eating it unwashed. It tasted great!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:09 am 
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hi there.

hi Natalie. i know exactly what you are saying. i felt my way through too. i was so quiet that people actually thought that i was mentally delayed! my mumsaid that i spent so much time off day dreaming. i had a great imagination!! and i loved visiting it.

i get very frustrated about people saying to me, "why do you have so many horses" and "well, why dont you just sell some if they do not have a use" grrrrrr!! :evil: i HATE that. my children dont have a use at the moment. they are just children, but they are my family!!! i would not sell them!!!! i think you are right. adults dont just have animals because they are great to have around and they love them. they seem to have to have an excuse. it is sad sctually! :sad: i think there are alot of parentrs that caused this to children by saying, "why do we need a dog, it is just work!" so then the child grows up with the feeling that you need to have a valid reason for having a dog to justify the work!

Leigh, i totally agree!!!! i have had so many people look at my scruffy ponies and look right down their nose at them. some actually thought that their were healthier because of the buffed, rugged coat!!! while mine were dusty and filthy!!! hahahah!!! i know better! what one person thinks is healthy is often not natural. i think a sunburnt coat is beautiful! and i love the winter woolies.

my kids go in the odd comp here and their, but with the right view! we turned up with our wolly mammoths to the local showground. my kids like to go in fancy dress, that is their thing. i encourage this as it is a fun competition not a nasty one. so there they were in their capes and hats with feathers. (they were the three muskateers) our ponies were covered in mud and were wolly as you can imagine, standing next to clipped, immaculate ponies!!! they did quite well in fancy dress and decided that they would like to go in a handler class. so i let them!

they had no time to change into anything else, so in they went with their ponies all filthy and wolly, in cape boots and featherd hat. i could not have been prouder!!!! they walked quietly along with their ponies and did the workout....... walk out, circle left, trott, circle right. halt and present, and walk back...... you should have seen it. it was smooth and calm, and i could hear a little voice, "come on Twisty, do you want to trott now?"

i had tears streaming down my face when the judge called them out and stood them in front of the beautifully presented little girls with their jackets, perfect outfits and whips, with beautiful, but nervouse ponies!!! the judges were amazed at how a little boy, just turned five, could so smoothly and relaxed ask a little pony around a workout, without any force, and with a big smile from ear to ear!!!

my kids do not have a care winning or losing. they like to go to a little show here and there to show the thigs that they have been learning. i am glad that they are happy to just have fun. that is why we do the fancy dress class, or the quietest school pony class, (where you show tricks and things that makes your pony special) they mostly dont want to do anything else, unless i run a fun gymkhana at home for them. they are aware that they do not ride like other kids, but they are happy with what they do. and they are discusted by kids with their whips!!!

it is a shame to me that competition is about winning. i have used it as a reward to those who have worked hard to improve through the year. but unfortunately in most places they have not got the nice little shows like we do, where children all get a ribbon, and they pick their color! the best class i have ever seen was a class called "personality pony" and it was to tell all about the personality of your pony and some things that it like and dislikes. nearly every todler would say "my pony likes grass" but their were a few interesting things about their ponies, like "my pony likes mud!" or "my pony is a sleepy pony" it was a good class because it encouraged kids to think about the pony they were on. :D

here is a photo of our laid back little comp!

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please not the bare feet and the pyjamas. i took ten horses and fifteen kids there to this little show. i did not have a chance to get dressed!!! they al had a ball.......me,..... i went a little mad :twisted:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:02 am 
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Oh, Jess,

I've announced I want to come back as a horse at several AND'ers houses in my next life...now I think I wanna come back as a kid at yours!
:D

Your kids, their approach to shows (and yours) is just lovely. When I was a kid riding, I ended up stepping away from it, in part because I hated the competition aspect of showing -- I was a performer in several disciplines, and loved to perform/share, but I hated the idea that horses were about winning and losing.

Love the musketeers! And bravo to the judges, who saw the beauty in the relationship rather than being caught up in the perfection of the gear. That certainly doesn't always happen!

(And I do admit to a quiver over the traditions reflected in gleaming boots and tack and such -- but I don't have the energy for it! Or the money! And it is separate, I think, from good horsemanship.)

Birgit, I loved the story about your daughter. I totally get how delightful grooming a horse who likes to be groomed can be (it was one of my fantasies when I first came back to riding: long, soft, meditative grooming sessions...Stardust used to despise it but is beginning to tolerate it, but Circe is thinking that curry comb is pretty dandy...someday we'll actually all like baths! I have a dream!) and I do love it when my horses are all shiny and fluffy (which happens occasionally...very occasionally...). But I know that's about what I like, not necessarily what they like...bravo to your daughter for getting that they love to roll in the mud! :)

And I loved your thoughts, too, Natalie. Beautiful.

:)
Leigh

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:28 pm 

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I wonder if you have the same photo we do? Amy has it on her phone....of Lach and Jordy just covered in mud during a rainstorm!!! They look like just mud fairies with eyes! I will see if Amy can download it on here....everyone on the formum just HAS to see it! Its awesome!
Funny about you saying youare trying to come back to your childhood....i am trying to do the same thing! You know that i was never at all instinctive and had completely lost what it was to just feel stuff....so i know that is wht i have to do....I have just learnt how to do Reiki (healing),as i thought it would help me with the bowen...but what i never realised is....you just do that....sit there like a kid and just feel stuff, and let yur mind wander....i have no desire much to do reiki on anyone else as i know it is myself that needs healing first....and i am just loving doing it just for me! Feel really selfish, but i think there must be a revolution going on for people that have turned themselves inside out for others, to now look after themselves....
and back to dirty kids....Amy was the happiest she has been in her life being your equally grubby little neighbour....she even had her own special clothes for 'swimming the dam'....they were all mud coloured, shes not really much different now...just no dam to swim in!
And with this topic, you have strongly reminded me to actually not intefere with the way Amy does stuff with horses, cos she alwasy does it by instinct, and i get agitated by other poeples expectations....so no more! I am going to hold strong, and not care what people think of me! That is my new resolution, and thanks Jess and all for reminding me to do so! :applause: :cheers:


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