Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Stop Harassing the Poor Animal!

RE: Horses that grind their teeth: "I don't have tons of ranch experience, but I have some. And I never heard a ranch horse grind their teeth. Maybe someone who's got a few decades of ranch experience can chime in. But all the horses I have known to grind are 'sport' or 'ring' horses.
In short, they grind because we drive them nuts. Without the constant harassment and nitpicking from people/riders/drivers, they don't do it. Even if it's nice nitpicking, just the constant focus on correcting, adjusting, half halting, driving, etc, etc seems to be too much for some horses to handle.
 Reducing stress can help (feed me mints and make me happier:D) Or ulcer meds. But really the main treatment is stop harassing the poor animal and try to find a way to get it worked and trained that is cooperative, instead of dictatorial.
Work obstacles so the horse learns to maneuver the obstacles. Traverse rough terrain. Get a book on western horsemanship and learn all the cool things you can teach a horse in a way that focuses on the horse helping you with a task. Instead of the horse just having to be an atomoton."  Izabeau Z Solace
I googled "horse grinds teeth" today, and found that answer in a forum.  I had to laugh.  Kind of hits it on the head.  Others commented similarly, saying their horses did it when anxious or concentrating hard on a task. Leah has been a teeth grinder since before I bought her at age two.  If I fed another horse before her, she'd grind her disapproval.  I stopped stalling her and it largely stopped. When she and I hit that impasse a few months ago, it started in saddle.  Yesterday, she did it when I first began to cue her to do what she was already doing.

So, the cue itself caused anxiety or stress in her, and there was a knee-jerk reaction to tell me to fluff off.

Some would say get bigger, work harder--which is what I originally did--two months ago.  However, in this case, that was the wrong answer that exacerbated the issue.  I have a perfectly agreeable horse on the ground who feels trapped in saddle--except when she has some autonomy--some larger part in the decision making.

The Lightning Horse Card is fun to look at--all the lighting up in the face and brain.  I wouldn't hang it on my wall, but I sure like to look at it on the card.  It excites me about the possibilities for connection and about the future. 

Today was a beautiful day, and I so wanted to ride, but I had to work.  I only had time to go out and clean stalls and massage and stretch Leah from the ground.  Here are some pictures of their tranquility before I left.

The Old Red man and his girl herd.  He's usually standing by Cowgirl, but he makes his rounds with all the ladies--standing over them, checking in, protecting them.  Since Shadow passed, the herd became one.  Leah joined up with Cowgirl and Red and now they all seem in harmony.


Now for  more cards!  Teresa from Journey with a Dancing Horse --Here are 5 randomly chosen cards for you to consider!  From the book and card collection: Way of the Horse: Equine Archetypes for Self-Discovery — A Book of Exploration and 40 Cards .  There is a lot written in each of the five chapters, but I'll try to give you snippets from each.

Your 1st card or central issue:

Eye of the Storm: Emotional Collection, Finding Your Center, Developing the Witness

Gift: "When you learn to use emotion as information, you no longer panic in response to strong feelings."

Challenge: "The tendency to suppress uncomfortable emotions leads to whirlwinds of uncontrollable expression later.  Rather than float above the storm, or ignore it altogether, leap into the center and discover its origins."

Feelings are the bodies way of communicating with the mind--like an oil light on your car telling you it's time to change the oil.  When we don't validate our emotions, we make the situation worse with fear, anger, frustration, or embarrassment--"creating confusing conflicting emotional storms are that truly difficult to decipher."

"Emotion connects body, mind, and spirit. Refusing the information that emotion provides is like discounting sight or smell. When tempestuous emotions churn inside like whirlwinds, imagine stepping into the eye of the hurricane. There you can address these powerful energies without getting caught in the spin. [Emotions] hang around and intensify if we persist in ignoring the wisdom they represent."

Your second card or what may be most obvious:

Authentic Power: Physical Collection, Balance and Agility, Strength and Vitality in Service to Higher Goals

The Gift: "Body, mind and spirit join forces to channel tremendous power."

The Challenge: "True power encompasses more than physical fitness.  Whether you're riding a horse, developing a new idea, or guiding a company, you must learn to tap potential without taxing it."

"Physical collection requires discipline and flexibility, strength and sensitivity, intuition and focus, motivation and relaxation, endurance and careful conditioning.  While this combination sounds hopelessly paradoxical to the human mind, horses take it all in stride, teaching us to become masters of our own bodies, minds and spirits as we aspire to ride theirs."

True power... is the product, and the gift, of seasoned self-awareness. To be collected as a human is to feel centered and balanced, prepared to make decisions and movements in any direction, completely immersed in the moment while embracing possibility."
Your 3rd Card or what's on the horizon of consciousness:

The Twins: Union of Opposites, Fluidity of Consciousness, Mythic Reality

The Gift: "Embracing the mythic dimension of life is like meeting a wiser, more adventurous twin."...

The Challenge: "...Learning to move fluidly between multiple states of being is difficult for the modern mind."

This chapter talks about twins and the dual nature of human beings--the earthly and the other.  The author's horse, Rasa, delivered twin horses--one was stillborn and the other was very small and had to be nursed to health.  When the artist took a picture for this card, you could see the image of another horse on the colt's shoulder, symbolic of the connection between our own two selves or sides.

Your 4th card is:

Moonlight's Embrace: Keeping the Heart Open, The Courage to be Vulnerable, Holding the Sacred Space of Possibility.

The Gift: "Opening the heart to life's mysteries allows us to experience the beauty behind the pain."

The Challenge: "Vulnerability is one of the most difficult feelings for the human ego to handle.  Letting go of our defenses takes humility, awareness, and tremendous courage."

This is another big chapter, but it's about death and the feelings afterward. The author tells a story about nursing a baby woodpecker back to health and then finding it dead--or so she thought, at the time (it was actually the wrong bird). She was very upset by the supposed death and she started to question whether she ever wanted to open herself up again to that.  Two days later, her mare gave birth to a colt, Mystique, but it died two days later. She weaves all that back around to the colt (above) who lost his twin--and all the lessons and gifts that each experience gave her and many other people who were involved.

The chapter ends: "By holding the sacred space of possibility for ourselves and others, those moments of imperfection, uncertainty, and even tragedy can actually strengthen and open our hearts.  Resisting the urge to defend ourselves with a rigid mask of perfection, we embrace the beauty behind the pain and, in so doing, inspire others to do the same."
I thought that was an interesting card--knowing what you've lost, but I assure you, I had no idea when I drew it what it meant until I read the associated chapter.

And last--the deeper level of consciousness card

Back to Grazing: Emotional Agility, Trust in the Universe, Letting the Story Go

The Gift: "When you move through emotions like horses do, when you get the message behind a troubling feeling and change something in response, you experience greater periods of authentic peace and fulfillment."

The Challenge:  "To truly enjoy life, to see yourself and others in fresh ways, you must be willing to let go of the stories that keep you tied to the past."

Horses spend most of their time at peace--grazing or sleeping--yet, documentaries always show them in the fight or flight modes--a very small part of their lives in reality.  Humans like drama, but we could learn a lot from horses--

"When you learn to use emotion as information and have the courage to act on that information you too can develop the emotional agility to move through troubling feelings, accessing a deeper sense of trust and tranquility underneath."


  1. Wow. That is incredible- and freaky how accurate this is. I need to do some reflecting on thiis.

    Thank you

    1. Teresa, I had never read your particular cards before, but I was surprised that they all had interwoven themes.

  2. Your post title reminds me of last night's ride at the arena...there was this horse being ridden by a youngish gal and her poor horse haunted my dreams. She rode the poor mare so hard she was breathing so hard, and kept asking to be rested, maybe walk instead of the incessant galloping around the arena. God, it made me sick and was all I could do to keep my mouth shut, when I felt like crying and calling out on behalf of her poor animal. Really made me sick. She was wearing spurs and a long shank bit of some sort, and kept asking for more and more speed, but with too much collection. When the poor mare would get exasperated and try to raise her head for some relief, the gal would hold her arms straight out to her sides (like airplane wings) and jerk back hard and fast with both reins until the little mare acquiesced. Made me sick, truly. So...our ride wasn't a good one. I was totally distracted and felt completely out of sync with Eagle. Eagle was bothered too, didn't want to load, but eventually did and was a bit jumpy upon arrival in the arena. I took my time with him and then got on and all we did was walk around, and did a fair amount of just sitting there. I had no desire to try anything as long as that girl was riding her horse. So, after a fairly short while, we loaded up (more trouble) and went home. I was very timid on Eagle last night and he felt it. Not sure if it's partly because it's been a month or a little more since we've ridden, or the combination of that and the mean girl. Was an off night for sure, but looking forward to giving it another go next week. I sure wish people were more considerate of their poor horses and of their feelings. *sigh*

    1. That's awful. I think it was smart to not push it with Eags--there will be other weeks. Just the trailering and untrailering to a new place is good practice. I was going to go to the arena tonight with Leah, but it was just too wet and gloomy after work. I didn't have it in me. I'm off tomorrow, so I hope to get over there with her.

  3. They all look so happy and peaceful just hanging out together. Sometimes I think they're happy for a day off from us.

    1. Absolutely. They'd much prefer their herd.


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