Posts Tagged With: changes

Healthy “Neglect”

That was something my Mum used to talk about a lot… She watched people over water their house plants, over water gardens, over feed pets and buy everything their children wanted. She always let me know I would have everything that I needed. She would support my dreams. But, she would not submit to whining, begging or tantrums when I felt “deprived”.

Now, neglecting any being’s basic needs or health requirements is criminal. Caving in on whims or trying to win over someone else with bribery and indulgence is just poor judgement. These things end up biting us back in the bum because there will never be an end to the demands!

Our own minds and emotions can lead us astray… I’ve done it. When a starved horse arrives, the temptation is to just pour out delicious food and comfort them (and ourselves) with abundance. We all know that’s wrong. To swing the pendulum to the opposite side is equally detrimental to health, especially for horses. But, I have watched health and “flesh” return over the proper months’ time and just not quite backed off early enough… ending up with a chubby equine.


Now, that’s not dangerous in our barn because we feed only hays and pelleted hay. For a horse getting hard feeds, the consequences can be debilitating. The middle way best serves the equine metabolism!


Hooves of horses are another realm where “less is more” when it comes to manipulation. The unshod hoof has the best potential for long-term health while an injured or badly wearing hoof could best be served by applying boots or shoes. The problem for horses is when “how the hoof looks” becomes a priority over how the horse feels. If it takes 2 or 3 weeks for the horse to recover from a hoof trimming, something’s not right! If all hooves are shaped to a static and singular standard, something is very wrong. I have always found that leaving the hooves to find their own best shape over a 3 to 4 week period can often change much for the better.

All things with horses are best changed or rearranged over a gradual, calculated period of time. That “healthy neglect” factor can temper intentions and emotions with the common sense of  actual well-being. Horses like to get dirty. They like to interact with each other. They like to be horses.

hank and grits

I remember showing my Morgan and Arabian geldings Saddle Seat as a youngster. I knew a girl whose grooming of her mare was so important that she used “Nair” hair removal creme on her horse’s inner ears. She trimmed “split ends” on her main with a special razor… she shaved the mare’s muzzle and saved rain water to rinse away sweat (I’m not kidding!).

That mare lived in a box stall. She was beautiful, I’ll admit it. She was not happy, that was easy to perceive by all of us except for her owner/rider.

I want our horses to be happy as well as healthy and calm. I want the same things for them that I want for myself. We will never neglect a horse at Dharmahorse! We also will pause for thought in any situation where extremes are suggested, recommended or required. A little bit of restraint can be the difference between long-term damage and slowly correcting a situation. Patience is easy here.

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The In Between Places

I was watching the sun light fade and night fall around us in the stable yard tonight… thinking about those “in between” times and spaces and ideas. Instead of just being black or white, the gray areas of dusk and dawn; of the beach between the hills and the sea; of life and what we call death. All of these are not just transitions, but places in their own right with a reality to be experienced, certainly, if not savored.


I also see the value of the dynamic approaches of horsemanship styles. And the multiple ways in which good health is preserved by natural methods. Those in between places serve to blend ideas and make useful all manner of things we might miss with a rigid mind-set. I love using Australian saddles for my riding lessons and I tell students that they are like a combination between western and english styles.

My Mother used to say she put sugar in her tea to make it sweet and lemon to make it sour, but the combination was better than either. The in between places are of blending and easing from one thing to another. The in between places are where we can linger, experiencing that gentle shift.

From this life to the next life is an in between place where I think elderly beings visit and sometimes linger when deep in sleep or daydreaming. Spring eases us into summer; autumn eases us into winter.

If we are going to climb to 14,000 feet, we linger at 8,000, then 10,000 feet, making an in between place to adjust to the altitude.

So, I wonder why we would expect such immediate, total obedience from an animal, a person or ourselves when faced with a change or a task? Depending upon the degree of the shift and how much change is required, there needs to be an in between place where the transition can flow with grace. When that cannot happen and a sudden or violent shift occurs, it is shocking and that shock will need to be addressed one way or another later on.

Being decisive is powerful. Being decisive is clear and planned and directed. It can be immediate in its application from the space of transitioning, but cannot act like the cracking end of a whip that then ricochets aimlessly. The in between place holds the form of the concept, decision or path and allows its unfolding without interruption or distortion. It may only hold it for a moment or it may hold the form for years.

My Mother likes limes and mint in her tea now. I ride and school horses in bitless bridles. We leave giant Yuccas in our turn out (that also serves as an arena) because we like Yuccas (and riding a circle around a giant “cactus” will sure keep a rider from leaning inward!) and the area becomes a kind of transition place between the round pen and riding out on the trail. An in between place…

We kind of “ride between worlds” at Dharmahorse –  taking what we find the best from many styles and methodologies in horsemanship and in healing. And we help horses and people shift gently from place to place; idea to idea. The world is full of possibilities.


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