Flowing with the going.


I like this picture of myself and Aundy heading back to the  stables after a breed class. She placed very well if I recall correctly. What appeals to me is how in sync with each other we appear to be. Moving together in harmony if you will.

While this isn’t a picture of us at liberty, I feel as though it shows connectedness and I can vividly recall the sence of satisfaction of a job well done and a feeling of unity as we migrated back to our herd. Our footfalls and breathing aligned as we made our way in a very relaxed manner.

Aundy was one of my biggest challenges as a youngster, with deeply held opinions and firm convictions, she and I didn’t often have such moments. I like to think she is one of my biggest influences in looking for quieter, better ways to influence my horsemanship. Not every technique is a good fit for everybody, Aundy was very clear about that. I had to concede that certain natural horsemanship programs were just not a great fit for me with her, and others like her.  I like to think my horses all breathed a sigh of relief when the round pen and orange sticks faded away. Not that I don’t use those tools when I feel as though they would be helpful. I do think a solid foundation of communication and fairness towards the horse suits us all.  Good skills and timing can be learned, trust is earned.

How you get to your place of trusted leadership in your herd of 2 or 200 is really not for me to dictate. I’ll just leave you with this thought, when you go from point A to point B with your horse do you flow together as if you were herd mates on your way somewhere? Or is something else entirely…?

What’s yours is mine.

Ok, so this blog is a bit tardy, however in my defense…this is a blog following my horsemanship journey into a too deeper connection and understanding of horses. No small subject, and I am a bit of a percolator. Yup, like the coffee maker.. in go the ingredients and over time, dependent on a few factors I don’t feel the need to detail for you intelligent folks.. a fine brew is the result. Mostly. Sometimes I need to revisit the proportions and take time to sit and savor the results. Other times.. toss the bitter brew, or weak disappointment, read the instructions and try again. Each result gives me more insight into what I like in a particular roast, more grounds, less time, lower temp.. you get the idea, I’m also a ponderer.  Percolate, and ponder. That takes time folks. So if you’re still with me… congrats, and hang in there I like to think it may get more interesting. Back to playing with ponies.

I have the good fortune to be able to work with a few horses I haven’t introduced you to, and in the next few posts, I think I’ll do just that. Each brings something to the exercises I’m exploring. Hence the state of perpetual ponder as I assimilate the information. It is nice to have one horse you know well and trust (who also trusts you.) to work with, but much like learning a new skill in a controlled environment it’s another thing to take out in the real world. I find myself lately looking back through my notes from weeks ago and the more recent. I must confess, the notes from early on would read quite differently now after practice and study with multiple horses and revisiting the lesson material. I am happy to say I’m much less likely to have a bitter brew to swallow. Metaphorically speaking.

This weeks lesson~ Taking territory, or as I like to call it the real estate game.

We have been sharing territory, as well as practicing stillness for a while. What’s next? When do I get to tell my horse what to do? Good news, here’s a good exercise for you to establish a bit of leadership without making a big deal over being the boss-man-big. Taking or claiming territory is a great way to assert yourself and cultivate a willing attitude.  Start out in your paddock or pasture, just a hanging with the herd as you’ve perfected, perhaps there are a few hay piles scattered about if no grass available. Begin to advance from a comfortable distance well outside your horse’s bubble of personal space, within eyesight, have a firm intention set on moving horse away from that particular spot.  As you advance closer, increase or decrease energy as warranted. Moving the air with gesturing hands or a wand if justified. The idea being a higher ranking herd member can and will move another horse off resources they would like to claim for themselves. No need for drama, a timid horse will require a mere suggestion from a greater distance than a dominant horse. Use your best judgment and as always practice safety.  Once they have gone, leave them be to find another pile of hay or yummy spot for there own. I personally am enjoying alternating claiming and sharing territory while taking notes along the way, to go through over a  future fresh cup of morning coffee.

I think Redmann has claimed this big bale successfully  from his paddock mate. IMG_0462

Meet Rio. A local CEO.

IMG_1343Do you remember starting a new job and meeting the group of peers for the first time?  The very scenario happens to cross my mind quite a bit lately.

What did that feel like? Where you coming into the space as a peer or higher up the chain of command? What energy did you bring into the new dynamic? Did the dynamic change as time and experiences went along?

I’m pleased to introduce Rio. A well-trained, 13 yr old Paint, Andalusian cross gelding. He is bold and confident in both in the indoor, and out on the trails. Ridden dressage by a confident, competent owner. All of his training has been under her with excellent instructors over the years.  They have a good sound foundation in dressage and have explored Natural Horsemanship as well as clicker training and other positive methods of training together. He lives with his owner, along with the horses occupying the two stalls in his barn. He has been the constant over the past decade or so, having moved in as a 2.5 year old. The barn CEO.  Observing Rio in the herd leads me to believe him to be a dominant horse that asserts himself  sometimes forcefully around resources and will boldly come up to investigate any new comers, of any species. He has a delightfully high play drive enjoying all sorts of props, puzzles, and playing with herd mates out in the paddock.

Rio’s owner has generously allowed me to explore the exercises in the FDhorsemanship liberty module and post our journey here. Rio has very strong opinions, and while he can be considered safe to ride and work with he can be difficult to engage with at liberty  up close, becoming very pushy and mouthy. Occasionally he will simply balk, and not move forward, choosing to face and hold his ground. He is a quick learner, with he and his owner able to do quite a lot under saddle and in ground work. New persons, looking to connect, and request. Not so much.

I feel like a new manager walking into an office with established hierarchy and set routines, where my ideas are not always met with enthusiasm.

Where to start? At the beginning of course. We’ve done a bit of sharing territory and companionship during which I found he was either very pushy with me around me, my pockets, notebook, anything I had with me. When I set the code of conduct rules in place, he would not move off or away easily and carrying a dressage whip right now is necessary to avoid a bite or grab to my hands or jacket sleeves. He moved easily, with haste when a tool was present, however not without a negative energy feel to it. Afterwards leaving to stand away from me appearing disinterested, or rebuked.

If you feel the need to use a whip, carrot stick, or rope, please remember the following guidelines~ The tool is an extention of you, not for punishment. It should be used in a firm but none threat weilding way to assert your territory or boundries. Use in a thoughtful way starting low and rythmic, moving the air around you or between you and your horse. Sending away should feel a bit like sending ripples of water not big splashes but perhaps waves that increase in size or energy if needed and decreasing or ceasing as horse respondes correctly through movement or softening. Using your hands and tool in a raised “stop” or “halt” gesture if your beastie is coming in hot or lording over and above you can be helpful.  ONLY contacting when absolutly nessesary and with out malice. You may want to consider hiring a proffesional to work with you if it feels unsafe.

For now I will concentrate on keeping my energy un-demanding with kind firm conviction when reminding him the code of conduct. Keeping my sessions short in a “nothing personal just good manners” tone.

When opportunities arise to practice mutual approach,  I’ll do so, being mindful to observe his body language for any and all “no thank you” messages backing off before they become a “buzz off” command. Furthermore, I will endevor to convey to him that I am fair and consistent in  my expectations that he approach and engage with me in a more soft and gentle way. My hope is in the up coming opportunities he and I reach an understanding that he will be listened to long before a big NO is needed, and that his play drive can have an outlet with me that does not involve his teeth and any part of me.

A working partnership in process.

Video’s to follow.

Where can I find the IT dept?…





The Journey Begins

Hello there, thanks for joining me! The quote on this first post is the default example that came with the blog, I found it fitting so here it will stay.

I’d like to start with a brief introduction of myself.

My name Is Sam Stanley. I’m a woman just entering her 50’s, that has been involved with horses her entire life. So much so that it was my whole life.

Starting with growing up in a 4-H leader’s house with our own ponies and horses, I’ve never known anything different. When I grew up I found myself teaching others and their children the joys and rewards of a life with equines. This became my occupation and lifestyle. Building a small breeding farm with Fjords, miniature horses, a few boarders, chickens, and few companion goats, there was hardly a dull moment. Through the years I was teaching beginner and therapeutic riding lessons, along with natural horsemanship sprinkled in all the while broadening my own education.  I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have had many lovely horses in my care, and I feel I’ve learned much with and from each of them. Some were more challenging than others, each was a gift.

Reflecting on all that, I find myself searching for connections with horses that go deeper and are richer with a slower more gentle approach. I still teach, just at a very different pace with an emphasis on the connection and relationship aspect of horsemanship.

I’ll continue to explore the deep well that is all things Equine.

Please feel free to join me as I share my experiences along the way. Some of this will be tips and lessons, some will be my observations and musings.

Thanks for dropping by!




Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton