Monday, January 29, 2007

6 Months...

Ta da! Today it has been exactly 6 months since Mira arrived here! So much has happened, and not just with her, believe it or not! My whole life has shifted in the last 6 months.

Anyway, to celebrate today, I took Mira on a different route on our ride, (which she LOVED) and let her try a new flavor - BANANA!!! I'd heard that somebody did a lot of taste-testing and discovered that horses like bananas even more than apples and carrots, and sure enough she did seem to like it. :-D


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Humility - Being Willing to Look Silly

It sounds odd, but I'm actually really GLAD that I was never able to get a horse when I was a kid. My parents never could afford it, and though I did not resent them, I always used to wish for a windfall of some sort! But, the more I yearned for a horse of my own, the more I read books, and watched videos, and looked at pictures. I basically devoured everything I could get my hands on about horses. Because of that, I now have a good foundation of what the horse-human relationship should look like, IDEALLY, not just from casual encounters with other horse people. Not that talking to other riders is not also very helpful, but learning from the best of the best is a huge privilege that I might not have taken so much advantage of otherwise.

Now, you know a little bit of my background and how I think, so here goes! Something that comes up a lot whenever anyone else is around me & Mira is the thought, "Do I look silly?" It usually just sorta flits in one ear and out the other, but it is a consideration. To do a good job, though, I have to ignore that. I am learning how to give Mira MY full focus and concentration before asking for HER full focus and concentration. It is not fair to her for me to divide my attention when asking her to learn something - in fact, with horses, that is one of the best ways to upset them and sabotage yourself. I can chat with my friends or explain what I am doing later, at a more appropriate moment.

I also have to give up my pride, i.e. worrying about whether I look off-balance, silly, boring, clumsy, or whatever else I could think about. I have to ignore any embarrassment when she is not getting something or misbehaves. Who really cares how long it takes us to learn something? If it takes us twice as long, oh well! We will get there, eventually!

Basically, to be a good horse trainer, I have to be humble. If I'm not humble, I won't be any good. Period.

The um, "interesting" part about all this, is that most of the above applies to people-to-people interactions also, especially the part about doing what is right for someone no matter what it makes me look like right now. So far it has been quite easy for me to be humble in my "horse life," but it is so much harder in the other areas! Why is this so hard to learn? This can be sooo frustrating about me.

I guess that another thing I'm still learning is to really believe that "He Who began a good work in me will complete it..." (Phil. 1:6) It's not my responsibility to improve myself. Just as I decide every day what the training focus is for Mira, and what I want to improve in her today, so it is God Who decides what He wants to see me focus on learning each day, and God Who knows how much to assign me. And just like Mira, all I'm supposed to do is be at least kinda cooperative. God will do the rest! Phew! (I think...)


P.S. Two very good articles on this topic:

Friday, January 19, 2007

M in Black

I was playing around with my photo-editing program today, and here's what I came up with. I think this is a pretty good picture, so here she is!


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Purpose or Intent

For years now I have been developing my "cosmology" of horses/animals in general. I enjoy reading everything I possibly can about animals, and watching any videos or live demonstrations that I get a chance to see. Discovery is fun!

Today, I sat down and wrote out a pretty good list of exactly what the goal of horse training is, for me personally. (I will undoubtedly think of more later on!) These are not in any particular order, and most of them are synergistic - in other words, they work together, and build on each other.
  • I want the horse to like me and want to be around me.
  • For the horse to like having me touch it and direct it anywhere I want it to go.
  • To have the horse trust me implicitly, completely, joyfully.
  • For the horse to understand that my desire is to have FUN with the horse, and that I am constantly improving the horse's skills and personality as well as my own, because I want what is best for the horse.
  • To have the horse willing to do whatever I want.
  • For me to be consistent so that the horse expects to have to behave, but also expects its job to be fun and interesting, and safe (even if it looks scary at first).
  • For me to be able to pick up on the horse's slightest signals to know what it is thinking and to anticipate its needs/desires.
  • For the horse to do the same for me, so that it looks like we think the same thoughts.

Pretty big goals, you say? Um, yeah. You are correct! But, why shoot for less? To me, it is worth a lifetime of "work" to get as close as possible to those goals I just wrote down. The challenges are what make it interesting, and the successes, the moments where things just "flow" between you and a horse, are sooo.... incredible. Just awesome...

Now, look back over the list. God has been showing me the last few months that this is His attitude towards me! (With the exception of the improvements on the trainer's part - He already IS perfect!) Meditate on that thought. Chew it over. These are God's thoughts toward YOU. Talk about awesome!!!

He wants me to trust Him completely. He wants me to like being with Him. He wants me to know that He knows me better than I know myself. He wants me to learn to pick up His small signals to anticipate our next direction.

Having been slowly realizing all this over the last few months, I suddenly realized a while ago just WHY I was born with this love I have for horses. God knew I was going to be a stubborn, fearful person with control issues, born out of fear of the future. He knew I would have a hard time KNOWING and ACTING that He is good and only wants good for me, even if I have to go through hard stuff sometimes to get to where He is taking me. He knew I would be someone who likes directing my own life, and can't quite understand why I should let someone else control all the decisions. (I'm being totally honest here!) So, He gave me a fascination with and deep love for all animals, but horses in particular, and has allowed me to start having my horse dreams come true so that I can see, through the horses, just how much He loves me and what He wants for me. I am even starting to realize that just as I expect a lot from my horse, because that is what's BEST for her, God expects a lot from me because that is what is BEST for me - not because He has anything to prove - He just takes the same joy in crafting my personality/character as I find in copying Him and crafting my horse's personality!

God is so cool. I love this epiphany-in-progress! :-D


Thursday, January 11, 2007

A New Series

Starting today, I will be posting every few days on 2 new topics, (as well as other random subjects).

* Horse & Human Relationships Similarities: The ways that training a horse and developing a deeper and deeper bond actually parralels various human relationships, and how horses model the right ways to interact with others.

* Human to Animal & God to Us Relationship Similarities: The ways humans and animals, and animals and animals, relate, and what that shows about how God designed us and relates to us, and wants us to relate to Him.

These ponderings are a huge and seemingly endless "brain food" to me over the last few years - I constantly notice some little thing about Mira, or about dogs, or about any of the other animals I like to study, that gives me a new insight into God and His character. Way cool!

So enjoy, and let me know of insights that you get too!


Saturday, January 6, 2007

Fur that Glitters?!?

It is the dead of winter right now, and Mira looks like a miniature buffalo. At the same time, though, her hair is really shiny - not sure how come, but it sure looks cool! To me the middle picture below looks like the pelt of a seal, or maybe a marten...

We spent more time than usual on grooming her yesterday, and she acted like a cat, sunning herself with her eyes shut while I rubbed away. Methinks someone is getting a tad bit spoiled! :-)


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Celebrating my birthday!!!

Today has been a pretty quiet day, with plenty of reading, as I decided to treat myself to a lazy afternoon. The most recent GREAT book I finished was "A Countess Below Stairs," by Eva Ibbottson. Totally incredible. Really, it was. I already can't wait to read it again! The characters, (there are dozens), are SOO real, you can almost hear them talking in the next room. And the comedy is generous as well as well done, but this is not just a "funny" book - all through it are intensely poignant descriptions and scenes. This has become one of my all-time favorites already, which is not a small thing to say.

I did play with Mira today, just hanging out, as the weather was a bit iffy. Below is the view from her pasture of the sun setting on my birthday...


Monday, January 1, 2007

New Year, New Blog

New year, new blog. This is a first for me, and I look forward to adding one more drop to the ocean that is the blogosphere! I cannot really say what topics you will see here over the next year, as they are likely to be extremely varied, but the main purpose of this blog is to let my friends and family see pictures of my pretty little Arabian mare that I got only a few months ago. Her name is Mira, which means “look” in Spanish. She is gray but looks white, er, most of the time anyway! This is my first horse and I am having a truly fabulous time getting to know her, and finally getting to try out all the things I have been reading about for years while I looked forward to this day. So, expect a lot of posts about horse psychology and training!

This first picture is a glamour shot taken right after the one and only soap bath she has had so far. Ah, that slick and shiny haircoat – she’s still shiny, but NOT slick – more like a furball right now!

So, guess what the gorgeous Mira and I will be doing tomorrow?