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This month marks one year since I started volunteering for The Center for America’s First Horse. It’s hard to believe that just one year ago I was trying to break into the Vermont horse world. My husband and I had lived in Vermont for a couple years at that point and in that time I had yet to find the horse farm that was the best fit for me. In February 2011 the Center became that place!
I remember calling Stephanie, the owner, and asking if she needed a volunteer to help out for half a day on Sundays. “Do I ever!” she said. Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. became my new ritual. I would drive to the Center and feed the horses, scoop poop, and learn a bit about natural horsemanship before heading home at noon.
I was hooked and half a day on Sundays didn’t seem like enough time so I rearranged my work schedule to 10 hour days so I could spend a full day on Friday and half a day on Sunday at The Center. Fridays were filled with hard work and horse fun. Tasks involved feeding, cleaning poop, getting hay, putting up fence, building, picking up, and all the chores that go along with caring for 17 horses. During this time I also participated in a couple of clinics and enjoyed a weekend of fun called Women’s Weekend where a handful of horse women spent the weekend doing horsey things.
Shortly after becoming a volunteer I was invited to join the Board of Directors and was given the title of Education Coordinator. This was my first “board” experience and it was interesting. The main task that I was given was to help plan the Equine Arts & Eats Festival.
During my service for the Center I met Mas, a Colonial Spanish horse with a lot of heart, spirit, and courage. He is a beautiful, flashy horse that was most likely used as the Chief’s horse back in the day because of his unique coloring and spiritual presence. Mas taught me about learning to be more assertive because of his dominance and pushiness. He made me cry on a couple of occasions because of my frustration in not knowing how to be a better leader for him, but Stephanie, the horse guru that she is, was there to help me through it and told me that he was a great teacher due to how difficult he was for me. I would learn faster with Mas as my guide.
Through the Center I also met Jennifer Swartz, the first woman farrier that I had ever met, and it was her example that sparked the idea of a new career path for me. I decided to pursue what it would take to become a full-time farrier. I drove to Cornell, to inquire about their farrier program, and contacted Mark Plumlee of Mission Farrier School, to learn more about their farrier program (which is the same program that Jen graduated from). In the end I decided to enroll at Mission Farrier Schooland join their two month program which would enable me to be a proficient farrier skilled in Natural Balance principles.
In just one year I was introduced to the Colonial Spanish horse breed, natural horsemanship, and my passion to pursue becoming a farrier. This year of discovery has led me to a new career path, to deciding to start my own business, and most importantly, has helped me find the right way to be with horses, to communicate with horses, and to become a better leader for my horse.
I am grateful to Stephanie Lockhart for showing me the path to natural horsemanship, to Mas for making me stronger and more assertive (and for melting my heart), and to Jen for welcoming me into her craft and encouraging me to become a farrier.
This has been a Magnificent Year of Discovery!
His name was Duke and he was my first horse, a big bay draft cross. I will never forget him. I will always be thankful for his patience, dedication, and kindness. I hope that he is still alive, happy, and has a family that is kind to him like he was to me.
We used to sing, “Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl, Duke Duke . . . .” Maybe one day I will see you again, Duke.
Do you remember my post about Bravo, the big thoroughbred? A friend of mine just contacted me and said that she saw Bravo in a field near where she was working. He is at a new barn with a new owner and a nice field to play in. He lives near an area that I visit a lot so I am going to stop by and say “Hi”, and say sorry for not standing up for him that day. Bravo for Bravo! I’m sure he is one happy horse.
Yesterday I spent a bit of quality time with Mas. I gave him lots of hugs and kisses, brushed him, picked his ice ball feet, did a bit of moving the hind end and front end, and played some circling and driving games. We also worked on him backing up while I was behind him, lifting up on his tail. He is getting softer with the yo-yo game (backing up from me while I’m standing in front of him) as well. I can wiggle my finger a bit or move my arms slightly and he backs up. If I could spend 30 minutes a day with him I think he would respond to queues easier and be lighter. He is a very smart boy! Spending time with horses, especially a horse that I love, makes me feel optimistic, light hearted, and hopeful. It makes me realize that all is well in my life. Mas is something like hope for me.
Here is a short video from yesterday that I made. Click HERE.
Recently, on a CD I was listening to I heard the speaker refer to a “focus wheel” and wondered what she was talking about. Today, on my lunch break, I decided that it was the perfect time for me to follow-up and to attempt a focus wheel of my own.
A focus wheel is a way to pay particular attention to a certain topic and to find ways to think about that topic that are beneficial to our well-being rather than destructive. The act of writing rather than simply focusing in our minds causes an even greater effect due to the extra concentration required in the act of writing thoughts down.
The best time to use focus wheels are during times when you feel like you are paying too much attention to unwanted things (lack of free time, lack of money, unwanted body weight, sickness, etc.); when something happens that causes you to be very upset and you can’t seem to get the problem off your mind; when you are having trouble finding the feeling of relief in your everyday life; or when you recognize a limiting factor in your life that you want to change.
The most important piece of the focus wheel is to make sure that all statements in the wheel are positive; however, depending on where you are at emotionally in the process, your focus wheel may be less positive at first, but the more wheels you do on the topic the better they will get.
For instance, if you are very sick and cannot get out of bed, you may want to create a focus wheel that asks for better health. You would start with the outer wings of the wheel and write a statement for each section. You could write things like, “I appreciate wellness”; “The doctor has treated me with respect”; “My physical body is amazing and filled with energy”; “I love that I can use my brain to be creative and thoughtful”, etc. Once you fill up the wings of the wheel you would then write the statement in the middle that is what you want, such as “All is well with my body”.
By focusing on the things that you want rather than the things that you don’t want you are stimulating that energy to bring those things forward in your experience. In only a couple of minutes you are creating changes in your experience.
You can get creative in your focus wheels as well, using different colors and even artwork. Some people draw a little shape on their wheel, and after they are finished they will write “purify” in the shape to allow the pure thoughts and the desires to line up; you could even write “allow”. It’s really up to you and your personal preference.
Below are two examples of focus wheels that other people have created.
Go ahead and try it, even if you think it’s hokey, just try one and see what you come up with. At the very least you will feel better than before you started.
Here is a video that I made of my friend, Nicole, riding her horse Aprillee. They are so cute together!
Click on this link to see the video:
And on the same day, Stephanie, Eliza, Mary Anne and Mas were have a grand old time Ski Joring at The Center.
Click on this link to see that video: