Archive for the Natural Horsemanship Category

YOU Ride the WEG X-Country Course on Henny!

Posted in Events, Horse Park, Rolex, Supernatural Horsemanship, World Equestrian Games with tags , , , , , on October 19, 2010 by martimu

Peter Atkins sports a helmet-cam so you and I can see what it’s really like to take those god awful jumps on a four star eventing course. Some of the most amazing 12 minutes I have ever spent in my life!!!

Registered Name: Henry Jota Hampton
(HJ Carapalida—Napoi Honorable)
Chestnut. g., 16 hands, 9 years, Argentine Sport Horse
Rider: Peter Atkins (AUS)
Henry is a 9 year old Selle Francais from Argentina.

Here’s what his rider says:

My goal was to make life fun for him again and to get him to relax and enjoy his work. When I first got him it was an ordeal to trot the five minutes up the dirt road to the dressage ring. It would take me half an hour to get there because every change of color on the road, puddles, shadows from the power lines was cause for him to hit panic mode.

And this:

Although he is one of the bravest XC horses I have ever had he is still scared of his own shadow when he isn’t competing.

His website is:

His human, Peter Atkins set it up and creates these helmetcam views of the courses they ride to help fund their campaigning. They are a courageous pair that I think are realizing dreams because of Mr. Atkins positive outlook on this horse.

“Like” him on Facebook here.


Crass Meets Class

Posted in Inspiration + Enlightenment, Supernatural Horsemanship, World Equestrian Games with tags , , , on October 6, 2010 by martimu

I am a crass person. I admit that. I have no couth sometimes. I find it easy to access my inner 9 year old when it comes to humor is what I’m saying. So when I started to catch sight of some of the para-equestrians competing in the WEG this week what occurred to me was along the lines of “Oh goodie, a sport I’ll be able to compete in when my rather thick-skulled Paint finally finishes me off.”. Or maybe I’ll succumb to my mini’s whacking me in the knees sending me into a wheelchair that way. In any case I found the humor in my own pathetic riding inabilities, all the accidents my equestrian friends have endured over the years and connected the dots that way. Remember – I have no tact. And then I saw them:

And started hearing the stories of so many of these amazing riders. These are people who have found rejuvenated hope on the backs of some of the kindest most caring creatures humans have ever partnered with. These courageous souls and their unbelievably kindhearted and talented mounts redefine what inspiration can be. They’re being tested in ways I can only imagine and they are surpassing expectations on every level.

These riders are better than I will ever be despite their circumstances. Their grace, their technique, their acumen as equestrians — as human beings – as fellow horselovers — has redefined for me what horsemanship can be. I am moved. I am inspired. I am so very proud of each and every one of these beautiful and capable participants. I say Bravo! Come see them. Here’s how.

Spanish Heart + Soul at the WEG Freestyle

Posted in Inspiration + Enlightenment, Supernatural Horsemanship, World Equestrian Games with tags , , on October 4, 2010 by martimu

By now you’ve probably caught wind of Edward Gal’s amazing ride on Moorlands Totilas with their record breaking 91.082 score in Dressage Freestyle at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, but unless you were one of the lucky 30,000 dressage fans in the stadium that night you may not have witnessed one of the most animated and showstopping performances of the sport. Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz rode his Spanish horse named Fuego (meaning Fire – aptly named I must tell you) to the absolute delight of everyone present. Did I say rode? More like danced. Strutted. Showed off. Hotdogged if you will. You need to see this:

What’s so fun about this ride is how much it reminds me of an actual warrior riding his worthy mount at a celebration. The others are more like royal dandies gamboling about with no sense of having been to nor ever getting close to a battlefield. I’m not making a judgment here – but as dressage itself is based on warrior training I’m just sayin’ this pair seemed more authentic to me.  Munoz-Diaz rode it different. Wonderfully so!

When he one hands down the center you know for certain he would be able to wield a sword. When his horse goes a little kooky as the crowd erupts in appreciation at the end of their seven plus minutes of accomplishment you get to appreciate just how much horse that dude was riding one handedly.

Unfortunately for the pair they rode on a night when technical marvels entered the riding ring so they placed out of the medals but at the top of many people’s own collection of golden moments from these games. I, for one, will never forget their display. Here’s another video of their ride – nicely edited. Oh, and one last thing – before Fuego entered the dressage test ring – he leaned down and tried to take a nice bite out of the decorative greenery surrounding the area. A horse is a horse is a horse is a horse. A light moment that proved the relaxed nature of these two as they set about preparing for one of the biggest performances of their lives. Me? I couldn’t eat before my ACTs or any finals – lol.

Witnessing Grace

Posted in Inspiration + Enlightenment, Natural Horsemanship with tags , , on August 16, 2010 by martimu

Yesterday my goofy black and white paint and I attended a half day clinic together. It was after we got to play and go through our paces for several hours and things were winding down that my attention was called to a private continuation in the round pen between our instructor, Ms. Shelby Hume, and one of our fellow-partnerships from the clinic who had remained unmounted during the afternoon’s exercises.

The small, beautifully proportioned and unusually marked dun with stripes on his legs was standing quietly at the mounting block while Shelby and the horse’s partner went through the usual pre-flight checks. The gentle bending, a soft eye, a calm attitude, were obvious in both team members. She was invited to test the waters and swing a leg up. All good. And then her whole self. Viola! And they walked off. Absolutely nothing to it. Routine, right?

But the rider wasn’t happy. She was fighting back tears. No, wait, she was happy. She was beyond happy. This was her first time on this horse. Likely his first rider ever. He was rescued from the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. She couldn’t put the feeling into words at first. But I know this feeling.

first time rider

The author on her paint for his first ride ever

I experienced the exact same reaction the first time I got up on MuMu. I also couldn’t describe it at first.

But when I thought about I think what I was feeling, the mustang’s rider was feeling too, is a moment of ultimate and complete Grace. The coming together of hopes, dreams, plans, hard work, attention to detail and the natural willingness to cooperate of another species that could just as easily fly off and say “NO!”, but doesn’t. Doesn’t choose to. Chooses to stay with us and complete this journey. For me it is the moment of knowing that all things are connected, can cooperate, might even choose to do so that chokes me up, allows me to feel a healthy humility and experience grace firsthand.

Finding Unicorns

Posted in Inspiration + Enlightenment, Supernatural Horsemanship with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2010 by martimu

firld bookIn his book “A Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound“, writer and renowned unicorn researcher, Craig Conley describes places to search for these mythic creatures and ways to do so. This is a practical handbook that draws liberally from literature and other written sources to illustrate its points.

“If you listen to the unicorn and hear a unicorn, you’ve not really heard the unicorn. But, if you listen to a unicorn and hear a miracle, then you have heard the unicorn.”

–Zen parable

Yesterday I set out to collect an experience of listening for unicorns accompanied by a willing, limber horsewoman and opti-mystic (one who believes in miracles). Our path took to a limb and leaf strewn, moss frosted hill down to a lively flow of water that has painstakingly and persistently carved the layers upon layers of hardened Kentucky limestone into hundreds, even thousands, of the most beautifully sculpted fairy landscaping vignettes the eye and mind can ever hope to behold.

The photos above show a place located between the pasture I see every day when I look out the window over my kitchen sink and the rise just beyond. It may have been there since the day I moved here six years ago. Is it odd I just discovered it? Not really, I just started looking.

Unicorns live in places usually described as being so impossible to conceive of let alone view from one’s usual vantage they become not just invisible, but non-existent. In the field of equine advocacy right now there is a dichotomy of thought so rife with conflict, so infused with righteous and conflictual fervor it is hard to imagine any common ground.

That it does exist is without question to the Opti-Mystic. It is beautiful, stable and teaming with unicorns. Right now both sides claim that no such place does nor even can exist and for them in this moment this is quite true. But some of us are quite aware that just because they can’t see, feel, taste, hear or otherwise perceive this place conventionally right now doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and doesn’t likewise mean they are unable to do so ever. All it means is they haven’t ventured out beyond their typical boundaries to have a look or a listen.

Until recently. A brand new global online community built specifically for equine advocates in all their myriad forms has been created to assist in allowing easier dialogue. is a place where the two sides might find a purchase to begin building their base for a bridge that might connect there heretofore warring places. Because there all are welcome. Slowly passionate people from all sides of every controversy are identifying themselves and logging on to see what others have to say. With time heretofore invisible solutions will create themselves out of these people’s emerging intention to produce them.

As I search for unicorns I find I am surrounded by leagues of the creatures. Sparkly, ice-white, speckled starry night apaloosaed. Minuscule and humongous. Breezy and cheesy. They nicker and whicker at me using windchimed breezes, and baby step agreements from yin yang parties always encouraging me to live in the land of positive outcome. As though it exists. And dang if it does after all. Without exception.

Click here to purchase your OWN original unicorn pop art painting by the author of this post for as little as $10!
Click the here and you will find a version of the handbook mentioned above as well as links to audio practice mp3s in all-digital form – the book is free the practice audio recordings are just .99¢ each.

Join – it’s all free – and promises a Unicorn experience.

Natural Horsemanship – Parelli Style

Posted in Natural Horsemanship, Trainers/Clinicians, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2009 by martimu

As an inexperienced home hobbyist I have understood from the get-go that I would need to acquire a lot of practical knowledge to start my own riding horse. This is a commitment I spent a lifetime hoping to be lucky enough to make. On our ‘Horseman’s Journey’, Mu and I have spent time with the thoughts and practices of a variety of experts in equine training through books, disks and clinics.

The 4 "Horseanality" Archetypes - Original Painting avail. on Etsy

The 4 "Horseanality" Archetypes - Original Painting avail. on Etsy

Recently Mu and I attended a Level Two Clinic west of Lexington, featuring Parelli 3 Star Instructor Jesse R. Peters based out of Ohio. There are many nuanced pathways towards ‘natural horsemanship’, a phrase coined by Mr. Parelli sometime after his own  journeyman’s accomplishments impressed and initiated mentorship experiences with Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Ronnie Willis. Since the early 1980’s,  Mr Parelli has made a name for himself as a charismatic proponent for teaching people how to train horses safely and sanely with not a little bit of showmanship. Besides being personable, his methods work! An impressive rider and trainer himself the true gift of his talent lies in his ability to train others to apply the methods he’s embraced or invented. His wife, Linda Parelli, who has gone a long towards making Pat’s lessons accessible to distant learners through books, disks and online resources.

An Intention Extender

An Intention Extender (sold - but you can order your own!)

The icing on the cake for any Parelli enthusiast is to convene with the like-minded during a clinic usually conducted by a professionally certified Parelli Instructor. Though perhaps more of a freelance attendee, I enjoyed my experience being immersed in the Parelli Community for two days and learned to see through some of my own past mistakes, observe horse behavior from a new perspective (using the Parelli ‘horseanality’ chart) as well as observe and practice some of the gentle arts of the Seven Games a series of activities designed to lay a foundation for all subsequent interactions between horse and rider.

5 Interactive Zones (avail. on Etsy)

5 Interactive Zones (avail. on Etsy)

I appreciated Jesse’s talents as a communicator to both people and horses and celebrate the experience with a video I created using footage a clinic auditor and I snagged while participating. The mood of the piece is somewhat ethereal because it is with great reverence I hold such interactions between horses and humans. I find aspects of this hobby of mine to hold within them opportunities for great self-awareness and even inter-species  enlightenment.

The Goal: Partnership!

Besides Parelli, Mu and I have explored and embraced a variety of methods that help bridge gaps in our natural abilities to understand one another. I’ve observed and studied the horse training methods of John Lyons, Chris Irwin, Monty Roberts, Linda Tellington-Jones, Sally Swift, and Pat Parelli from the national level. From my local resources I’ve worked with Susanna Thomas (now Director at the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center), Todd Waronicki (Head of Riding Instruction at the KY Horse Park) and Rosemary Taylor who runs the Sunburst Horsemanship School a mile away. I’ve also made a layman’s study of applied animal behavior my entire life and am a happy practitioner of Karen Pryor’s clicker training methodology.

Balanced Partnership Click to enlarge

Balanced Partnership Click to enlarge

A wonderful resource for the collected consideration of natural horsemanship concepts and practitioners is: Miller, Robert M. and Rick Lamb. Revolution in Horsemanship Lyons Press, 2005.

Rosemary Evaluates Chance

Posted in Natural Horsemanship, Trainers/Clinicians, Videos on May 29, 2009 by martimu

Recently my good friend, Christine, brought her beautful black quarter horse gelding over to Rosemary Taylor of Sunburst Horsemanship School in Nicholasville, KY for an evluation. She had experienced some spookiness with Chance and was hoping Rosemary could take a look and give her some insights. I casually filmed their process with my tiny Flip Mino camera and present to you here an encapsulation of their hour and a half together.

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