Ride Without Fear

Handy Hints for Horse Lovers


I love using EFT (tapping) with horses. Here's an example of how it can work for you:

I’ve had great success with connecting with horses and calming them with EFT. A recent session went above and beyond just a one-on-one connection.

I was in a pasture trying to catch a horse I’ll call “Slick” who has anxiety issues, and with whom I’ve been working with tapping. He had a pasture buddy horse, “Mr. Gray,” who kept herding him away from me. Horses often pair up together according to herd status, and the higher status horse will use his head and body to make the other horse move, herding him where he wants him to go. Mr. Gray did not want me near Slick with the halter, and it didn’t’ take too many minutes of trudging around after them to realize this wasn’t going to work.

I decided to change my goal of taking Slick out of the pasture, and simply tap on him there in the field and possibly put a halter on him. When both horses were finally standing still, with Mr. Gray on the other side of Slick, I quietly approached Slick and began to tap gently on his chest. Slick didn’t react much but I saw Mr. Gray’s head drop. He began licking and chewing with his mouth, which is the horse equivalent of yawning, a sign of relaxation.

I reached under Slick’s head and tapped on Mr. Gray’s chest too. Everyone was still standing calmly, so I slipped the halter on Slick and started off toward the gate, a football field away. Not only did Slick follow willingly, but Mr. Gray came right along.

Since I didn’t have time to take Slick out of the field and over to the pen where I normally do tapping. I decided to just walk him up to the gate and there, remove the halter. This would at least reinforce him for willingly coming with me in the future. I wasn’t too sure how Mr. Gray would respond as we neared the gate, though.

At one point, Slick stopped. Some horses will respond to a tug on the lead rope, but this triggers Slick’s anxiety and mistrust of humans. Mr. Gray, who was a bit ahead of us, circled back and started to make the “herding” move. Concerned that he’d overdo it and Slick would pull the rope out of my hand and run off, I intervened and tapped again on both Slick and Mr. Gray. We continued.

As we neared the gate, Slick planted his feet and refused to go closer. Normally if I change directions, circle him, and get his feet moving again, we can then walk the rest of the way to the gate. Not today, Slick was stuck in place.

I tapped on him, then turned to Mr. Gray and said out loud, “Look, I just want to get Slick to the gate and then we’re done.” Without hesitation he lowered his head and bumped Slick gently in the shoulder to move him on. We walked to the gate, I removed the halter, and thanked both horses politely for their cooperation.

This serves as a good reminder of how energy work radiates out to others and can align us in purpose.

 Enjoy riding your horse on the beach

Larry M. De Young of Coastal Horseback Adventures teaches us how to overcome fear of riding on the beach!

We started Coastal Horseback Adventures, LLC (www.coastalhorseback.com) after we conducted a series of wildly successful beach “clinics” on the California coast.   In this clinic a group of experienced guides on very savvy trail horses helped riders attain their lifelong goal of riding on the beach. The beach we use is in Half Moon Bay California and features a moderately steep decline onto a beach with pounding surf.  The surf is first heard rather than seen, as the horses traverse the bluff toward the beach entrance.

The naïve horse finds itself between a vertical bluff to the East and large waves to the West.  Many riders find that when they attempt the beach entrance alone their horses have little if any interest in making the descent.  We overcome the horse’s fear by introducing the guest rider and horse to their new “herd” during a trail ride above the beach.  The herd instinct of the guest’s horse quickly kicks in and they want to go where their herd goes. This is the easy part.

More challenging is overcoming the rider’s fear. This fear has two major causes: Fear of physical harm and fear of failure.  Often riders exhibit both (Who amongst us hasn’t?).  There are many verbal and nonverbal tip-offs to this fear.  We will leave the nonverbal tip-offs to the experts.  Here is a list of verbal tip-offs we often hear:

  1. My horse was abused by its last owner.
  2.   My horse is a rescue horse.
  3.  Today, I think I will just hand walk him through the clinic.
  4. He hasn’t been out for the last 3 months.
  5.  I know he seems calm, but he can blow up at any moment.
  6. She doesn’t like water.
  7. She isn’t good around other horses.
  8. I can feel that he wants to buck. 

We often hear several of these from a single rider. We give these riders a lot of credit for coming to the beach in the first place.  More importantly, every one of us has been in their shoes at one time or another  We have learned that these are the riders who are going to be over the moon at the day’s end; the greater their fear, the happier they are after what we refer to as a successful “beaching”.  

Of course the largest contribution to alleviating fear in the rider comes from the experienced horses calming the guest’s horses.  A calm horse calms the rider.  On the other hand, a fearful rider can unsettle a horse so we need to deal with both issues.  One of our riders told us that he was 60 years old and had no interest in falling.  He said he would not “cowboy up.”  We told him that this was just the attitude we wanted, and in fact tell all our guests at the beginning that they can stop at any time, and if we think the situation is unsafe we will be the ones to ask them to stop.  To date neither a guest nor a guide has requested a stop. 

We also explain that the ride has a number of stages, and we do not proceed to the next stage until we and the guests think they are ready.  During the occasional sticking point we reinforce general principles of horsemanship.  Often, all we need to do is to remind the rider to look where they want to go.  Some riders need to be reminded to breath.  One of our fearful guests already knew this and was singing a Broadway song at the top of her lungs as we went down the ramp.  We thought that was great and it worked!  

A technique that seems to be underutilized by many of our guests is the one rein turn.  This can be especially challenging for a rider who is most comfortable neck reining.  When their horse is turning its head to escape, we instruct the rider to reach down and pull on the opposite rein to get the horse facing in the direction wanted.  Occasionally we need to instruct riders to release pressure because the horse is seriously considering doing what is asked of it.  All this is important, but our greatest tool is simply telling the rider that they and their horse can and will get past a balk.  So far they all have.  What about our guest who did not want to cowboy up?  He proclaimed as he rode down the ramp that “the man from Snowy River has nothing on me”. 

The neat thing is that it rarely takes more than 30 minutes to beach.  After that time the riders gets to bask in their achievement and ride down the beautiful beach.  To reinforce their success we often ask riders to ride up the ramp alone, turn their horse around and come down by themselves.  We want the rider to know that they can indeed “beach” by themselves and to gain the confidence to keep expanding their enjoyment of trail riding. 

Coastal Horseback Adventures was formed to more widely offer the opportunity for riders to push the envelope of their trail riding in a safe and supportive environment.  We have added a day of riding in the Redwoods to our package.  During this excursion, riders will get to do water crossings and wooden bridge crossing in a pristine Redwood Forest.

Life coach and rider Anke Johnson shares her approach to creating and managing change in your life

Building a Solid Foundation for Change
In following the teachings of Walter Zettl, Pat Parelli or Mark Rashid, you'll find they all have different techniques for working with horses, but they all agree on one thing: Without a proper foundation, your horse won't progress to his true potential and be able to maintain performance-whether it's on the trail or in the arena.

If you've been away from horses for a few years, don't spend as much time as you'd like with your horses, or find that the time you do spend with them is full of thoughts involving everything except them, you'll find that, just like building a foundation in your horse's training is vital, building a foundation for your relationship with these amazing animals is equally as important.

Your foundation is really about getting to know more about who you are and working with your strengths and your values. In this article, I'll cover the basics of a foundation and how to get started in making a permanent change toward making your horse a priority in your life.

Your Driver
To begin building your foundation, you need to recognize what's important to you, to figure out your "why" or what drives you. Do a self-assessment to determine how you see horses fitting in your life. Determining your driver will help you set priorities and help you to refocus if you veer off your path.

Your Destination
The second step toward building a solid foundation is to determine your main goal. Where do you want to eventually end up? Imagine what you'd like to be doing with horses, say, one year from now, and paint a picture for yourself. Now you have something to reach for.

Your Road Map
To get to your end goal, you'll have many smaller goals along the way, sort of like the grains of sand in concrete mix. You can't pour the concrete for a solid foundation without every grain of sand! So focusing one small goal for this week, you can lay out your road map.

A lot of people lose focus here and return to the "old" way of doing things; they quickly take action with little preparation, inviting frustration, anxiety and failure. Completing each step along your road map, however, will ensure a solid foundation for change.

Creating a roadmap is a unique process for each individual.

First, determine your end goal, what do you want to ultimately wish to achieve? Then look at the tools, budget and timeline that you have. Be realistic here as many a great plan has been foiled by being unrealistic about one or all of these factors. Finally fill in the small steps that it will take to get you to your ultimate goal.

If you find you're frustrated because you're not progressing along your road map, ask yourself what part of your foundation may be missing. It's possible you've missed a step. Signs that your foundation may have holes in it include procrastination, frustration and excuses, relapse, losing focus, and attaining your goals but not maintaining them to make a permanent change or new habit.
Once you can relate to the importance of a solid foundation, you can begin to build your own foundation for a positive future with horses.

This is a condensed version of Anke's three-part series on creating change in your life. For the full Part I article, as well as Parts II and III, click here.

Anke Johnson began coaching others more than 20 years ago. She's a certified Professional Health Coach, certified fitness trainer, certified Nutritional Consultant and Reiki Master Practitioner. As a lifelong rider, Anke understands how the challenges of horsemanship and the challenges of life interweave. With Anke's help, equestrians and busy career people gain the self-knowledge, confidence and body awareness they need to get them closer to that perfect ride, in and out of the saddle. Learn more about her business, Natural Solutions by Anke, at www.naturalsolutionsbyanke.com or 608-467-0008.

9 Quick Tips to Catch A Horse
Nanette Levin, horsewoman and creator of the Horse Sense and Cents SeriesTM, has much wisdom to share about horsekeeping and riding. I found her recent blog post on 9 tips to catch your horse, and on training your horse to be caught, very useful. Nanette has a lot of experience working with and starting youngster, and can give you great advice on how to start them out right so you don't have to fix problems later. She's given me permission to re-print her horse-catching tips here, in an abbreviated form. Here's the full blog post with her additional great advice and explanation of each tip.

1. Keep to a routine with training, feeding, turn-out and handling.
2. Have a young horse that's started asserting himself with a refusal to come in at night (or in the morning during bug season)? Call his bluff and leave him out - alone (with plenty of food and water, of course.)
3. Are you dealing with a horse that's aggressive with the herd and now tries to control you by refusing to be caught? Send her away (this works particularly well when you've given hay to the herd) and don't let her near the other horses. Soon she's begging to come to you.
4. Call horses by name. This works well too if you're trying to cull a particular horse out of the pasture and seek to avoid a group charge to the gate.
5. Use the lead mare to help direct the herd.
6. Loose horse? Grab another to lead them home.
7. Call on the herd to correct bad behavior. Often, it's easier to let horses school or guide a bad actor.
8. Reward your horse for coming to you. (Note, Nanette suggests several ways to do this other than with grain or treats.)
9. Make training fun for the horse so he wants to be engaged.

Thanks, Nanette, for sharing your experience!

 Recycle Show Ribbons
Those bright shiny show ribbons-so earnestly coveted when we're in the ring, so admired when we bring them home...and so useless after enough time has passed.

What do we do with them? Sure, there are talented sewers who can turn them into quilts, pillows and wall-hangings for you. But many of us don't have room for those items, or have lots more ribbons than we need for a keepsake project.

Here are three ideas for recycling/reusing ribbons. If you have ideas to add, please send them along!

1) Find creative ways to reuse ribbons. Here's my story. My daughter amassed scores of ribbons during her riding days, of all colors of the rainbow. We still have two walls' full hanging in her former bedroom, and many more stored in boxes and bags. I was telling a friend who's not a rider about this "storage problem" and she had a brainstorm.

My friend taught musical theater to kids in the Middle and Far East through an international arts outreach program called American Voices' YES Academy (Youth Excellence on Stage). She immediately said, I'll take them to Thailand! When I looked at her funny, she explained that they always take a craft project for the kids to do in addition to learning to sing, dance and put on a show. Her next stop was Thailand, to do the YES Academy program with Thai kids in partnership with Rangsit University.

Carole's idea was to give the Thai children the ribbons to decorate, to be worn with their name tags. I privately wondered if these kids would really want to decorate ribbons covered with foreign writing and graphics of horses, but I immediately gave her a bag full--she's pretty savvy when it comes to keeping kids involved and entertained, and besides, my goal was to get these ribbons out of my house! She assured me the kids could cover up the horse logos, show names and placings printed on the streamers with the craft items she would bring, and she was sure they'd love it.

This week I got pictures of the results. Carole's email said, "The ribbons were a BIG hit!!! and the kids loved all the gold printing on them, so as you'll see in the pix, most of them didn't cover any of it up." Check out the pictures below to see the YES Academy kids with their re-purposed decorated ribbons. And I got a kick out of thinking of those prizes won through one child's hard work so many years ago, now becoming prized souvenirs of a very different sort of show experience for children on the other side of the world.

2) Donate them to a therapeutic riding center. NARHA is the national association of programs offering equine assisted equine assisted activity and therapy. Their website lists therapeutic riding centers that would appreciate donations of ribbons in good condition, to be used in their programs. These programs can use all the support they can get, and you'll know your ribbons are helping people experience therapy through horses. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the list: http://www.narha.org/donation/Support%20NARHA.asp

3) Recycle them at the show. If you're on a show committee or belong to a club or committee of your breed or discipline association, consider making ribbons re-usable for future shows by not printing dates on them. At one of the shows I went to this spring, the organizers announced that anyone who didn't want their ribbons could leave them at the show office to be used next year. It is a terrific idea, especially when many local shows are struggling to survive economically.

Do you have creative ways to re-use or recycle show ribbons? Please send them to me at info@ridewithoutfear.com, and I'll post them here as well as circulate ideas in a newsletter.

Give yourself the tools you need to shine when you go through the gate.  Learn EFT and be ready for the judges!

Houston, TX
Phone/Fax: 1-877-650-6679

Disclaimer: All information on this website is offered as educational, and is not, nor intended as, diagnosis or treatment.  EFT, MTT, and other techniques are self-help modalities and are offered as such.   Although there is data on the effectiveness of some of these modalities, they are still considered experimental.  If you use these techniques, you agree to take full responsibility for their use and for your own health, exercising common sense in practicing self-help techniques.  This information is not intended in place of regular medical care.  Please consult a doctor or mental health care professional as needed.

(c) 2010 Ange Dickson Finn, All Rights Reserved.

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