The Art of Natural Dressage

intro from SF Bay Area
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Author:  artemischa [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:01 am ]
Post subject:  intro from SF Bay Area

Hi all,

An hour ago I was excited and inspired, and almost in tears of joy for finding this website. Now I'm tired and almost asleep- couldn't stop reading! My BLM mustang mare, Bella, has been with me since she was 3 (I was her 3rd owner at 3, after being rounded up with helicopters, after her herd ran for their live from forest fires...) and is now 11. We've had a wild and bumpy ride, and I'm lucky to say she doesn't hate me...even, I'd say, she likes me a lot. Respect is another matter, as I've not quite been myself and she doesn't trust me. Anyhoo... have started our journey, the detoxing, just being together part. I'm delighted with the simple, clear, and straight forward instruction on this site, and looking forward to putting it into practice.

Particular interests- predator/ prey energies and how they show up in our equine relationships. How to acknowledge the predator w/in w/o giving over to the beast.

Here's a question: we used to trail ride (averaged 30 miles a week, but only after I "won' the upper hand with her with a knock down drag out fight in which we both drew blood. Fortunately for me, I got weaker and she got stronger and she put an end to that nonsense, and we've found our way to a way more in alignment with who I am (and hopefully more in alignment with her). She's in pasture all day, so can (and does) run, buck and fart when she feels like it, but I do miss the benefit of the trail miles to her feet and overall fitness. Thoughts on this?

Looking forward to hearing more from you all. Wish us luck on our journey.


Author:  Morgan [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

Hi Michelle
Wecolme here. It can be overwhelming, there is sooo much information here but just take your time and read what inetersts you.
There are lots of games and exercises you can play that are detailed here as well as threads on connections and leadership roles but often the best snippets come from the diary's (but that will need some serious time for reading...he he he :funny: )

As for fighting and dominance. In my experience this happens when we overule what we know the horse is feeling and it seems to be a shortcut to getting to where we want to be. Outside influence from others is usually the cause when one gets remarks like "why aren't you riding?". "just ride them throught it", "don't let them do that" etc. Once you take your own path and really start to listen to your horse, it's a gentle process of explaining to the horse what you would like and being patient enough to figure out a way to motivate that horse to get what you would eventually like.
There is nothing stopping you riding your horse, it just may be in a different way to how you did it in the past! :D

As for feet...if you want to leave the riding alone for a while, you could take your horse by bike or running or set up some kind of abrasive surface in the paddock (ala paddock paradise style!). I currenty have our groom herding all 9 horses up the mountain daily for foraging grasses as well as making sure those feet get appropriate surface time.......maybe there is a way around the surface issue if you think out the box a little? :idea:

It's great that Bella is at pasture all day and much of the liberty games can be played right there in the paddock. You may want to try out some of the waterhole rituals form Carolyn Resnick whilst you reassess where you two are headed. It's a good start to finding a balance with leadership in a horse friendly way that they already understand. Doing nothing and sharing space gives you both time to start a new realtionship and the rest......well it generally just falls into place all by itself. :D

Glad you found us and looking forward to reading about your journey.

Author:  Romy [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

Welcome, Michelle and Bella! :)

Great that you are enjoying the forum and I am looking forward to reading more about Bella and you!

Not so sure if I understand you correctly in the predator acknowledging point, but we have some topics that might interest you. I have put links to them here: Links to threads about different topics. Just look for 'Control' or 'Leadership' or whatever might sound relevant to you. :smile:

Warm Regards,

Author:  artemischa [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 9:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

Thanks Annette and Romy. I will give some thought to adding texture to the surfaces she has access to- ideas welcome. At the risk of sounding a little goofy, is "paddock paradise" just a phrase you used, or does it refer to something specific?

My eyes are worn out tonight, but I appreciate and will check out the links tomorrow! In the meantime- a piece I forgot is that Hempfling's and Resnick's work have been my biggest inspiration thus far.

Also, I just set up Flickr, so here's Bella (if I finally understood how to do this...)

No, I guess I'm missing something. I previewed my message and the photos came up as question marks. I looked in FAQ's and the photo board, and thought I did everything correctly. Any other tips for photo posting?


Author:  Romy [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

artemischa wrote:
is "paddock paradise" just a phrase you used, or does it refer to something specific?

Here is a link to the Paddock Paradise website.

No, I guess I'm missing something. I previewed my message and the photos came up as question marks. I looked in FAQ's and the photo board, and thought I did everything correctly. Any other tips for photo posting?

I don't know what's wrong, but if I remember correctly, people have always had problems posting pictures from Flickr. Maybe open a photobucket account or simply post the url and we can open the picture manually?

Author:  Colinde~ [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

Welcome :)
I was so glad to find this place too! I had grown so weary of fighting with my horse.... trying to get him to do what I wanted all the time. We're just starting a new way... it's hard sometimes but very exciting. TONs of rescources and wisdom here to learn from. :thumleft:

Author:  artemischa [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

Ok, I give up on embedding for's Bella at photobucket:



I agree, the fighting gets old (and heartbreaking, and dangerous).

Author:  Romy [ Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

I fixed the links so that your photos show up in your post. Just copy the IMG Code of the picture next time. :smile:

She is very cute and beautiful, looks like quite a personality!

Author:  artemischa [ Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

Romy, thx for the thread links. I just got started reading the discussions under control, and I'm thrilled to find people having heartfelt (and intelligent!) wonderings and conversations about this. :cheers: :applause: Thank you everyone! I'm also excited to hear about the Paddock Paradise book- I will be ordering it. I read Natural Hoofcare a decade ago, and found his discussion of natural horsekeeping (and in particular the one ranch in Colorado) inspiring then.

Yes, Bella is a character and a half. I don't know if anyone else sees it, but to me in those pictures there's (as well as her natural curiosity and intelligence) a tightness about her. She's 7 in those, and 11 now. I'll take more pics soon, and I hope she looks different. Yesterday I hung out with her doing not much for a while- the only thing I "did" was the slow arm windmill thing- which she seemed to appreciate, and helped me be aware of how often I make unintentionally and unnecessarily aggressive movements. I also did some energy work and light massage on places that presented. At one point she bent down and gently, and very specifically, licked my earlobe. It was like the most tender kiss. I just about cried. Then later we played with the ball a little for the first time. She ignored it mostly, but did toss it back and forth with me a couple of times, and then made a face like she thought I might be mildly retarded. :D We also did a little walking together- I did have a halter on her b/c it felt right at the time, but I focused on always keeping the rope loose, and using my body language for direction. She was happy to follow me for a while, then I think I bored her after awhile (I'm learning!) and her focus shifted to what she really wants to do, which is go for a walk down the road (off the property), which I don't feel safe doing right now. So we ended that, but on the way in I mimicked her steps a little, and found that she was really insecure w/ that. She intimidates the heck out of a lot of people, but I think it's bravado, or aggression out of desperation- insecurity and lack of a good leader. Anyway, overall a good first session I think! We had some fun, and some connection, and I learned a couple of things.

Author:  Morgan [ Sat Aug 28, 2010 11:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

I'm also excited to hear about the Paddock Paradise book

A good resource and some sensible ideas for recreating what we have taken away! I did read an article lately (wish I knew where and could link it!) that studied distance horses travelled in a lane type paddock, (like paddock paradise) as oppsed to a traditonal paddock that is square and open. The horses in the traditional paddock actually moved the same or more! I do think though that spreading out resources/ adding free choice minerals/ different surfaces etc are all great ideas. :applause:

It sounds like you two had a good time. When I started this type of thing with Morgan it was hard for me to let him take the lead. This did eventually get us taking liberty walks together. When horses take a stroll together they often switch leader roles when it comes to direction. Allowing Morgan to lead (obviously in safe places!) he grew more confident and when he came across something that worried him he would stop and wait for me to go ahead and then he would lead again. Nowadays he walks besides me but it was an important step in establishing our bond. :D

Author:  Leigh [ Sat Sep 25, 2010 9:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: intro from SF Bay Area

Hi Michelle, and a very belated but heartfelt welcome to you!

Bella is, well, just that -- bella! Mustangs are magical -- even better equipped than most horses, I think, to bring humility to over confident humans. (And have the accompanying brilliance and capacity to love, too, I think.)

I'm looking forward to hearing more about you both.

I'm a sorta-kinda-neighbor of yours (at least on a forum that includes people from all over the world), and live in Ojai -- but am moving back to NY state in November.

Anyway, welcome!


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