Wednesday, July 27, 2011

on hiatus until September

It's that time of year.

We have barn chores galore, many projects on the figurative and literal table, and my list of things that must get done has exceeded my ability to do them!

In August I have writing to do:

I need to finish book two (Fiona and the Water Horse) in the Magical Pony School series. I need to wrap up Partners in Zen and The Writing Life books. And there are two new adult novels that are still vying to be next in line.

I'm also scheduled as guest on two radio shows in August, one to discuss claire-obscure, and one to discuss Jane's Transformation. I'll probably pop back in here to post those details as the time nears.

There is diet change going on here:

I've been introduced to Weston A. Price and the wonderful book by Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions. Suddenly raw milk, making yogurt and cheese, and finding alternatives to processed sugar and white flour are in the forefront of my every meal. There is also gardening and we are enjoying tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, watermelons, and chard from our garden, as well as many more things from local farmers.

I also have riding to do:

Once the heat breaks I'm going to get Keil Bay back into work. Well, for us, it's not really work - it's the discovery of lightness and harmony. I'd like to get back into the habit of riding Cody.

And, in August I have four young beginner riders coming each week to learn about ponies and horses and donkeys and how to sit on them (Rafer and Redford say NOT US - we're for HUGGING!) with balance and kindness, how to listen to what they tell us in each moment, and how to find harmony in the human-equine relationship. When you can't change what's happening in Aachen, you focus on the young ones who still have open minds.

And projects to finish:

Some fencing repairs/upgrades. A gate to the farm. A long list of home/farm maintenance that needs some attention.

I hope everyone has an easy end of summer with a break in heat, rain as needed, and lots of time to do the things you love most.

See you in September!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

dressage in Aachen: Ravel and Totilas

Here is Steffan Peters on Ravel:

And Alexander Rath on Totilas:

According to Stacy at Behind The Bit, the audience booed the ride on Totilas - their own rider.

Are audiences now more knowledgeable about classical dressage than the judges are?

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Magical Pony School, Book One: Jane's Transformation - NOW ON SMASHWORDS!

Slowly I'm inching along with the process of getting all my books into all the distribution channels!

As of today, Jane is available on Amazon and now on Smashwords, which allows folks with Nooks, Kobos, Sony Readers, etc. to purchase and download the book.

Anyone with a computer can read the book too - you can go to Amazon and download free Kindle software, or you can go to Smashwords and download the book as a PDF file, plain text file, etc. Many options!

I have one more book to get up at Smashwords, and then I'll begin the POD print process with Amazon's Createspace so that those folks who want print copies can get them.

Each of these formats have slightly different formatting rules, so the original documents have to be tweaked for each one. I wish I were faster, but the only way I could be were if I lived alone, with no human or animal family at all. And what kind of life would that be?

So, be patient. I know there are folks who want the actual book in your hands. I'm working on it!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


We have a big fat heavy rain storm rolling through - it came out of nowhere and has been going for nearly a half an hour. It's cutting the heat a little and also giving everything a big drink. So grateful for it. I came in with a blinding headache that came on very suddenly while I was out at the barn - it almost seemed like something changed in the air and wham, my left eyeball was gripped in pain. When I came in there was a pink/red storm cell very close by. I wonder if the pressure shifted suddenly and it just hit me weird. ??

But in any case, daughter made me a super sprout sandwich and I am much better. The rain falling seemed to help too!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

too much to write about this week!

The chiropractic work was wonderful. Salina had one big adjustment and several small ones, but she pretty instantly felt relief after the big one. It was as usual quite impressive to see how big a difference our chiropractor can make in only a few minutes' time.

Cody had a few small things going on.

Keil Bay had a few things - notably his right pelvic joint. Notable because it's usually his left. Just like it's usually MY left. But when I went to the chiro myself in May she found that in fact my left was fine - it was my RIGHT that was rotated. Once again Keil Bay and I align in the same ways. :)

Keil as usual was in bliss within moments of the doctor's arrival. When he came into the barn aisle and she put her hand on his back, he lowered his head, closed his eyes, and started licking and chewing. BEFORE she even did anything. He knows what's coming and when she'd done about half of her work on him, he turned his head to her and licked her hand.

Yesterday was the biggest and best day of the week because we had a very special birthday here. Rafer Johnson turned FOUR years old! I'm sorry I don't have a birthday portrait to share. My camera is broken and it's just been crazy busy here this week so I haven't had a chance to get husband or daughter to take one. I have delayed the birthday treats - it is so hot and so miserable out I feel like we should wait until the heat breaks to celebrate properly. But Rafer got to bring Salina and Redford into the back yard to graze last night and tonight, and I noticed that Rafer helped himself to some cherry tomatoes from the veggie garden.

It's so hard for me to believe he is already 4 years old. He remains a soulful, intellegent, loving donkey who never fails to bring not just a smile but a deep sense of peace and contentment to my days. Happy birthday, Rafer!

Redford celebrated by making a very clear and intentional jaunt down the lane to the cul de sac. I ran for halter and feed bucket but by the time I got to the driveway with them he and husband were already back, with just a lead rope around his neck. He is an adventurer but a sensible one.

We had hoof trims today and it was brutal in the heat/humidity. All I want to do is get through these next few days and the weekend and get back to the low 90s again!!

There is absolutely no riding going on here in this heat. I wouldn't ask a horse to wear tack or bear weight in these conditions. We're hosing and keeping them as comfortable as possible. And hoping for a break.

Hope everyone is staying cool and taking care of your horses!

Monday, July 18, 2011

busy week in the heat

Of course the week we have the chiropractor coming out and then the trimmer the temps decide to skyrocket. My favorite way to spend the very hot days is with nothing at all on the agenda.  And now the weather forecast has these high temps stretching into NEXT week.

Hopefully as July rolls out, a more moderate weather mode will roll in. At least that's what I'm focusing on right now!

The reward at the end of this week is going to see the movie Buck in my favorite theater - it's an old one, in a very horsey little town, and assuming I make it through the heat wave all week, I'll be spending an afternoon browsing tack shops, consignment shops, getting chicken salad at the ice cream parlor, and seeing what sounds like a terrific movie.

I'm sure I'll be blogging about Keil Bay and his chiropractic appointment. Salina and Cody are on for one too, but it's Keil Bay who will swoon when he sees one of his favorite people coming to the barn. I've been telling him this was on for the past month. I'm not sure he believed me. So I can't wait to see his face. Keil Bay LOVES getting adjusted!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

more nonsense from the Parellis!

For less than $150. you can now get a detailed report on your "humanality," your horse's "horsenality," and how the two of you match together! These two words describing our humanness and our horse's horsiness are so unique they had to make them up and trademark them!

Best of all, you need not submit yourself or your horse to anything except a questionaire that you yourself complete! Isn't it incredible that a mere questionaire can reveal so much?

Never mind that if you as a rider are confused about your horse's behaviors the answers you give will be useless. Never mind that your own biases about yourself might tend to skew the results a bit.

It's all there in your customized match report.

Does anyone really believe Linda Parelli has the knowledge and skill to develop this "tool?"

If the video of Linda and the one-eyed horse was still available on the internet, I'd link you to it so you could see for yourself. What was that match? Terrified blind horse and clueless woman?

Please. If you want to learn more about yourself and your horse, spend time together. Try getting quiet and really observing what your horse does in response to each tiny thing YOU do. Offer kindness and respect. Get quiet instead of loud. Spend your $150. on a few sessions with a trainer who uses humane training methods and can stand in the arena with you to offer suggestions.

Don't pad the pockets of the Parellis.

Digital Horsenality/Humanality/Match Report

Shop > Horsenality/Humanality > Digital Report > Digital Horsenality/Humanality/Match Report
DIGITAL Horsenality™/Humanality™/Match Report
(Printed report version available. Click to view.)

If you’ve ever wished your horse came with an owner’s manual that took his quirks and unique personality into account, then prepare to be  thrilled! For the first time in history you can generate a detailed report that reveals your horse’s innate Horsenality™ and gives you specific recommendations for success! This 40+ page personalized report is totally focused on your horse and will detail clear and concise training strategies based on his unique Horsenality™.
Humanality™  is the sum of your human experience compiled in a custom personality  report which gives you action strategies that help you be the “best me  that I can be”. By better understanding your Humanality™ around people from the perspective of a psychologist you’ll learn how they reveal your  strengths, core motivations, and reactions to stress.
Developed personally by Linda  Parelli, the Match Report will teach you how to flex your natural  tendencies to become the leader your horse needs you to be!
Your custom Horsenality™ report will reveal:
  • why certain exercises and activities are more challenging than others for your horse
  • how to set training and play sessions up for  success
  • how  to understand your horse’s strengths
  • how to solve problems with clarity
Your custom Humanality™ report will reveal:
  • the uniquely identifying factors of the four main Humanality™ types
  • your specific Humanality™ profile
  • tips on understanding and maximizing your core nature
  • how different situations affect your Humanality™
  • how to build upon your strengths and how to flex or modify your style around others for the best possible outcome
Your custom Match report will reveal:
  • the similarities and differences between you and your horse
  • your relationship dynamics, challenges, partnership strategies on the ground and in the saddle
  • situational stress behaviors you may exhibit around your horse and what you can do about them
  • positive aspects of your match.
After placing your order for this report, you will receive an email notification that will allow you to complete and submit a questionnaire(s) about your horse and yourself. Once you submit the questionnaire, your report will be generated and available to view immediately.


In response to Sheaffer's comment, I did a little more looking on the Parelli website, specifically for information about what they "give back."

Oh my.

Here are a few choice snippets:

In helping the world become a better place for horses and humans, we are proud to officially announce the long-awaited launch of the Parelli Horsemanship Fund.
It is our vision that it will help to take the efforts of Parelli to the next level of influencing how horses are respected, trained and treated by donating significant funds into a vehicle by which we can “give back”.

Horse Rescues – to help give misunderstood or neglected horses a future. By providing training for rescue center personnel, donating take-home educational and equipment care kits to adopters and partnering with major rescue and animal welfare organizations, we will help create environments where rescue horses receive the best possible second chance.

The Parelli Horsemanship Fund will be supported in this way:
• A portion of proceeds from our new “Benefactor” Level of Membership.
• Donations from members, friends, organizations and philanthropists.
• Fundraisers. From bake sales to fun days, fundraisers bring the Parelli Community together for the benefit of horses and humans worldwide.
• Sales of Parelli Dream Horses. When the time comes to shop for your next horse, consider the Parelli Dream Horse Program as your first stop.

The reality of scale
Because of the impact Parelli has had on the relationships between horses and humans worldwide, many people reach the erroneous assumption that Parelli is a huge corporation with limitless pockets. In truth, we are a relatively small business with a very big dream to help create a better world for horses and humans!

Today, 1 in 200 horse owners use the Parelli Program worldwide. When we achieve our next milestone goal and 1 in 100 horse owners worldwide are members of the Parelli Program, we will automatically donate a percentage of all member revenue to the Parelli Horsemanship Fund (in addition to the percentage of Benefactor member revenue we are committing to TODAY).

Our ultimate goal, with your help is to reach 1 in 10 horse owners worldwide using the Parelli Program. When we reach this goal we will be able to not only educate but also donate significant funds to all of the causes we support. Can you imagine how that would transform the world?!

Like any small business, we have to carefully watch expenses and often have moments where we soldier on through in the face of doubt and economic downturn. Many might read the above aspirations and think we’ve gone a bit mad. Those individuals would make a critical misjudgment however by not realizing the transformative power love, language and leadership has with horses and humans alike and how that love can, and has, changed the world already.

So, are we crazy? Maybe. But who would have thought in 1991, when Pat and Linda coined the term natural horsemanship, that today it would be a household term in the equine industry? Who could have guessed that communication with horses could have changed the lives not only of a cowboy from California and a girl from Australia, but for a legion of horse owners worldwide who call themselves part of the Parelli Family? No one can guess, but we can get there, with your help, of that we are certain!

Interesting that the way they help rescues is by giving them "take-home education" about how to do things the Parelli way.  I am also intrigued with the list of ways the Parelli Fund is actually funded. And the statement that they are a "small business." ??  I don't know - haven't seen any reports of their actual earnings but my understanding is that the business is actually quite large.

Whatever your inclination with regards to the Parellis, do some homework before you sign on with them. Don't blindly assume they have a clue. A lot of horse people think they don't.

Friday, July 15, 2011

pony pony pony!

I had an entire blog post ready to write about how the pony, who is trying hard to step into the role of herd leader, and is a good example of everything we humans DON'T want to do when joining with our horses. He is bossy, pins his ears at the other horses, sneaks into their space and then tries to bully them out of it, has no qualms at all about nipping at them or shoving them with his nose or hind end, and basically, this summer, has been a huge pain in the you know what to his herd.

I've been watching him, curious about his methods, which in some ways remind me of humans engaging in bossy, demanding, I want to make you do this just because I CAN kind of behavior.

The real herd leaders here, Keil Bay and Salina, each have their own style of leadership. Salina tends to be a bit more punitive than Keil Bay, but all she really has to do to assert her role is to flag at the geldings and generally, they listen.

Keil Bay is incredibly benevolent. Although he will sometimes lunge toward one of the horses he usually behaves like a good friend. He will share his stall, his tub, his hay pile, and he is highly sought after by each of the other equines for company.

When I look at the herd it's Keil Bay I would most want to emulate. He has a presence that is based in respect and his good nature.

So of course today the pony shifted gears. It was his day to be on the near side of the barn. Instead of barreling in and stirring up Salina, he cheerfully went to the end stall and stayed put while I served breakfast tubs. He joined me as I carried out the empty tubs, doing his best to help clean them out.

He came up to help as I was cleaning water troughs, standing with me as I worked.

At one point when he decided to walk through the barn aisle, and was in fact halfway through the barn doors, I called out "No, Little Man, don't go through there. Stay over here!" He stopped, backed out, and walked a few feet away to graze.

Did he intuit my negative blog post and do a 180 just to throw me off track? Did he turn over a new leaf? I have no idea. I do know he was very happy to have his turn on the near side of the barn, and Keil Bay and Cody were so happy they stood together in Keil's stall on the other side and communed in the peace of three open stalls and no pony.

We were all very happy that the temperature was in the mid-80s yesterday and today. Next week when it hits the triple digits (why oh why did I look at the 10-day forecast?) we'll see how the Little Man's cheerful demeanor holds up. Today though, I enjoyed having a painted pony who seemed quite content with his role in the herd.

Monday, July 11, 2011

still looking for the lazy days of summer

I'm not sure what happened - I had an image of myself wafting gently through July, with nothing on the schedule, keeping horses and myself cool, reading books, writing books, and generally relaxing after a busy spring.

Instead the schedule is so full I've got it split off onto four different calendars so it doesn't completely overwhelm me.

Today I purposefully slowed down while doing morning chores at the barn. I mean literally slowed down. I walked more slowly, did things slowly, stood and gazed at the barn calendar (I only put horse things on it and all the horse things are good things - massage, trims, chiro) so it looked blissfully empty save these healthy, happy pamperings the horses actually look forward to doing.

Amidst what we always called "June bugs" - the green flying beetles - which now seem to appear in July - and donkeys doing dust baths, geldings getting hosed, and Salina gleaming in the sun, I went from one chore to the next without any hustle or bustle at all.

Cody joined me as I completed my final chore - rinsing breakfast tubs and scrubbing them with vinegar. He wanted a second hosing, so I stood and sprayed where he loves it best, right under his jaw bones. He held his head up and lifted his upper lip in the air. We both were soaked by the end of it, but we're having the three hottest days of the summer this week, so it felt good.

I didn't eat lunch until 4:15 p.m. and just about the time I finished I realized I needed to run to the feed store before they closed. One errand led to another and it was nearly 8 when I looked at the clock again.

This evening, I heard a ruckus in the front field. The horse across the lane was whinnying to the November Hill geldings, who were responding by running around in a big loop that included the front fence line. It was exciting to see such activity going on in such hot weather, so I walked down to enjoy the show. Of course as soon as they saw me they came galloping, and the show came to a stop.

Dickens joined us, lying like a tuxedoed lion king in the dusk. Salina and the donkeys were happy up at the barn, grazing in the near darkness.

Back in the house I was greeted by several loads of clean laundry that needed folding, a big feline hairball on the sofa cover that instantly put me a load of laundry behind, and an odd sensation that I needed to go open a bin I have in the dining room that has some horse items needing to be taken to the consignment shop. Where do these sensations from the blue really come from, and why do I listen to them?

Somehow, there was water in the bin. I have no idea how it got there, but the entire bin of items were moldy and needed immediate attention. So add about 5 more laundry loads to the list.

Except for crazy urges to look in bins and make work for myself, I did manage to have an almost lazy day. Tomorrow is going to be crazy busy, so I needed it.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

unrest on the hill

We made it through the July 4th craziness with not much fanfare (on the 5th I had to make a drive up the lane in my pjs to stop some very late night fireworks and was helped by a sudden thunderstorm that rolled in out of nowhere), but have had lots of little chores to do here this week that have taken up all my time.

Salina has been going crazy with a very badly placed tick bite (the bite itself happened over two weeks ago) and in the process scraped up the wrinkly flesh right between her hind legs. I'd been washing it and gently scratching it for her each morning, using a calendula tincture which had helped it to heal. I realized late one evening when she went out that she was backing herself into our reclining bonsai pine tree and using a section of dead branches to very indelicately take care of that itch! We spent that evening pruning the pine tree of all its dead branches, cleaned up a few other trees, and ended up with a fairly large pile that needs to be burned. Which we couldn't/wouldn't do yet because of the dry landscape.

I was afraid she would back into the pile itself and get tangled up, so we rotated the herd to the front field. She immediately went into the copse of trees up top and found a new place to rub on - I had visions of her impaling herself so she had to stay in with the donkeys that night as it was already dark and we couldn't see to prune!

That area got taken care of yesterday so she was able to turn out as usual last night.

We've had rain Tuesday night, rain yesterday during the day, more rain last night - it's finally starting to catch us up to where we need to be for grass to grow again. But between fireworks on Tuesday night, thunder and lightning several days in a row, us pruning at odd hours, and Bear Corgi going on a wild chase last night in the dark, the herd has been stirred up.

Our wildlife neighbors have been stirred up as well. Yesterday I heard a crow cawing while I was doing chores in the barn. Cody was standing in the end stall nearest the house looking out so I walked to where I could see what he was looking at. The crow - I actually think it was a raven because of its size and the shape of its beak - was perched on the fence post right by Cody's back door, looking and cawing. Cody seemed to be communing with him. If I'd had my camera, it would have been a fabulous photograph!

Later in the evening I saw a doe and tiny spotted fawn right by the fence line. They didn't run, but stood so I could see them. The doe seemed too small and young herself to have a fawn. Husband said maybe the deer herd who share the property around us are having a teenaged pregnancy issue!

It's been a bit of a hectic week here.

I'm declaring today the official end to unrest on the hill. It's time to get back to the lazy days and nights of summer!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

sad news: Fugly blog is for sale

I have not been a daily reader, but periodically loved getting a hit of someone so to the point and honest in her reporting about bad horsemanship and bad horsekeeping practices. Sometimes it feels good to hear someone say what really needs to be said in a situation.

Go read THIS POST for a wonderful list of things she hopes folks have learned from reading the Fugly blog over the years. It should be printed out and posted on every horseowner's wall.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

a message from the mystical-kit

Please reconsider using fireworks in your backyard. Fireworks can be terrifying for horses, dogs, cats, birds, and all manner of wildlife. And with all the wildfires burning across the country, why risk starting another one? If you enjoy fireworks, go to the nearest professionally done display and enjoy those. We don't have to break the sound barrier to celebrate independence.

(a note from billie: click on the photo to see it big so you can check out his gorgeous eyes!)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

more on Schmersal's reining footage

Three top veterinarians have responded with concern to footage of Craig Schmersal riding his horse in warm-up in the recent reining competition in Sweden, two of them former chairmen of the FEI Veterinary Committee.[backPid]=388&cHash=2a51608d5b245572a1624b925f10a0f2

The U.S. Humane Society's response: no comment.[backPid]=388&cHash=11e728977bb21d2d5b307e65a83241f5

Although HSUS took a strong stance against Patrik Kittel and the blue tongue video that horrified many people last year, I suppose it's harder to call a spade a spade when American so-called "cowboys" are doing the riding.

Shame on you, Humane Society.  And shame on the sponsors who are waiting on the FEI to crack down on Schmersal, which we all know is like waiting for molasses to slide down a brick wall.

Take a stand based on what your own gut tells you when you watch that video.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if two American riders took a stand in reining and decided to use their status in the sport to make a difference for horses? Stop the abusive methods, use real horsemanship, and treat the horses like the incredible partners they are. Then you'd not only win the trophies and the cash, you'd be heroes, too.