Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Sunday, 16 November 2014

"work with the horse you have now" or the situation

Maybe a bit of a ramble again but I think it might be interesting;

I was working with one of my young clients the other day, one of the issues as a child in a home with foster and adoptive members, are struggles with acceptance of change and the dynamic in the home. Add to that the client  was not feeling great, and it was cold I wasn't sure how much we would accomplish , so instead of a specific "plan " we just went for a walk. I had  just moved the horses around, making room in a small herd for my new mare "Lacy".
In one pen we had Cat, Andee,Johnny, and added Jewel ,Ici and Richie. Johnny thought he was the mega boss and was about to take on Richie's little band with guns ablaze!
Those of you who have read the blog for some time, know Richie is the ultimate boss mare I write about  that here , and well essentially she handed Johnny his own ass! LOL
Johnny is not stupid, so he took his smack down then began to work for  his position as second in command. Respectful of Rich but maintaining his authority with the others, if he went too far, Richie took him down a peg and so it went, the whole integration took less than 10 min. Now that is some leadership Richie!
the two groups , together but separate 

still some division but the are all eating together and doing well 

By the time my client arrived, that was settled, but a couple things had changed. New horses in and Annie was no longer in with that group. Cat (Whoa Dammit) was struggling with that change, missing her friend and simply not a girl who accepts change well. She was leaning over the gate, calling her friend and very agitated, I was talking with my client and gently stroking Cats face, when I did that she settled  with the sense of the familiar ,but as soon as I stopped she became a  bit more anxious. Compared that situation  to my clients home and asked if she understood how Cat might be feeling? A huge YES in response , so we talked a little about how we might help Cat settle herself, and that little gal got right into it talking with Cat about change, stroking her face and just gently being with her . Then the light dawned for the client and the words continued to pour out.
We then moved over to Stryker and Harley ,while walking we talked about a younger sibling, new to the home  and how irritating he was to her. So I asked what irritates you ? she replied , he copies me, and follows me around , and tries to be with me and , and ,and ...
Fair enough, so as we walked over to the other pen we saw Stryker (boss of that group) moving the new mares Annie was new to that pen around , and Harley standing near but behind  and watching . Annie was letting the new girl close ,but not too close , and of course the new girl was on her own. Stood and watched a while as each horse took a time to check the other out. Harley was not aggressive but mirroring Stryker, The new mare Lacy was approaching ,in a submissive manner and also mirroring Annie, maintaining some distance but staying in the vicinity. We talked about the mirroring behaviour,I asked her if that looked familiar? she agreed yes, then I asked why she thought the mare was doing that? her answer  "to try to fit in?" and before I could lead her to it, she said "Oh I get it ! that's what X is trying to do at home ! " Sometimes the moment happens all on its own.
Moving forward on that  path we then talked about some of the behaviours we saw in this nice quiet group, that might translate for her and her family interactions. Will be seeing her again next week, hoping she was able to try putting some of that into practice.

I wanted to share this, just because as much as we plan sometimes I think the moment creates itself , and you need to go with it !

Monday, 10 November 2014

Welcome to my snow globe

We knew it was coming, but somehow the longer it took the more we were able to dream that it might not.
But in the end , Old man winter never lets us down ! Arrived with a vengeance on Saturday . 
But for once I was ready, I had the horse all set up in winter quarters, and the pend ready for the cows. 
 I went out on the gator , to call them in, I should have had video , the cows were more than ready to coma but Bully! well he rivaled California Chrome the speed he came in! He is not even seen in the abocve pic, but shortly after I took it he came out of the bush on the run, passed the cows and me and pretty much met us in the yard! 
 The new girl (who as I type this it occurs to me I haven't yet told you about ) was not too sure about the cows but she and the group she is with settled quickly.
The new mare is named Bright Eyed Beauty, Lacy is her barn name .She is a 9 yr old registered Appaloosa mare who came to me via a friend and fellow appaloosa breeder ,Linda of Starmyri Appaloosas   Lacy belonged to her sister. Linda contacted me in the spring about this mare and initially my response was to decline, but then I saw her, and her pedigree, and well, you don't often get offered horses of that caliber and with the background she has (Linda is a very reputable gal) so I agreed. Her pedigree, suits my program as thought she was bred to be here! 
The pictures I have are not great as she was fairly excited as she met the new herd and then once settled I just could not get far enough away from her to get a photo! Another pocket pony offering free horse hugs!

The other group getting warmed up to face the storm ! 
 All were pretty revved up 

 but it makes some pretty pictures 
 After all the moving and sorting things out it was time to go in and warm up. Hot chocolate with caramel espresso, and Baileys! That will fix you right up! 
 I stayed home Saturday night and for the first time in forever it seemed I was not going to go to the Canadian Finals Rodeo! I have attended since I was a kid. Dad and I were planning to go , but the roads were poor and we decided against it,m sent the tickets along to an honorary niece, Cara,and her boyfriend. I hope they enjoyed it .
But as luck would have it I got a text the next morning from a friend who had a spare ticket to the Final ! I didn't even have to drive far, met her halfway and her hubby drove! Yay for second chances!
Pictures are difficult at best and on a cell phone more so, but this snappy chestnut caught my eye 

Put me in mind of this guy. Though Badger was a bigger horse and had one less stocking.

Anyhow that is the goings one currently her at Fern Valley. So again welcome to my snow globe! and the Winter of 2014/15 ! Lets hope its a short one! 
As always , stay safe my friends, and now I will add, stay warm! 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Photo Shoot

A while back I mentioned I had agreed to do something a little out of my comfort zone, no not the presentation , which was also out of character for me , but by the way went very well! 
Not quite ready to join Toastmasters, but I got the job done and had great reviews .
No this was something a bit different.  
  I got a message some time ago , that there was a photographer looking to take some photos of Appaloosas and their person. 
Well I am not a huge fan of having my picture taken but you all know how proud I am of my beauties!
 So I signed up.Small world , I actually know this gal, I gave her riding lessons when she was a child. So what a great time I had visiting and catching up, didn't feel like a photo shoot at all!
She emailed me the link to the photos yesterday, and I am very pleased! The horses look great, and actually I think so do I! 
Not really the cover girl type, but I think Megan captured me and who I am quite well 
 My boy Johnny! 
 My beautiful girls 
 Annie with a guest appearance by Johnny
 Oh my! Andee looks like a big girl here! 

this is a sampling the link to the rest is Here

ANd I Am not avoiding telling you about the new horse  I mentioned in the last post, I just need time to take a few pictures of her so stay tuned! 
and as always stay safe !

Monday, 3 November 2014

Welcome to November!

How in the heck did that happen??
Time seems to be flying by all of a sudden, I keep thinking ,Oh I have lots of time to do  this and that, but nope I don't!
I see my last post was over a week ago, so what was I doing all these days? Well I would love to say I was diligent and working hard on projects the entire time, but truth be told , I was drifting along in a bit of my own world, until suddenly last Saturday/Sunday I realized ! Holy crap! 1 week of October left!
I had no Christmas pictures chosen, nor calenders pics, I had a presentation to write and, and, and ...
But first I did some fussing and cleaning in the house and barn, then decided to totally rearrange my bedroom and hang new curtains!
Very please with the result ! It makes my room look so much larger! 
I took a few photos here and there,again took a few shots of the Northern Lights Still only on a fence post with the little camera, but I like the result , also this kind of different effect of the old log house and the "mini"

Also we had a skiff of snow which seemed to prompt the start of this years version of the Phoenix/Skeeter,"Dog and Pony show "

Then I went online and looked at Shutterfly, I realized they had the same deal as last year, 40% off orders before Oct 28! Well great! It makes the calenders and Christmas cards so much more affordable if I can get the discount so I set to work! 

There it is ! 
Then the calender, not so quick and not so easy, but I got it done in time  and sent out my order.Whew! Anyone interested , they are still $25 this year, (the discount makes it possible with the shipping to hold the price ) 

So on to the presentation, way back in July I was asked to speak at the Rural Women's  conference in Sangudo. I had hoped to be able to present about the Equine assisted learning program, however the format was set in advance ,so I was instead asked to have a table with my books and photos and also to do a presentation on Farm First aid, "What's in your Kit" 
I am not a great public speaker, but somehow I agreed. That is happening Tuesday this week, so while I should have been working on it for some time already , I wasn't , so I worked into the wee hours  on Wednesday night putting it together . Not to say I had nothing done prior to that , as I did write an article some years back about this very subject , but it was certainly not presentation ready and I also did a power point to go along with it. Reminded me of my High School years lol way back when I learned I am really good under pressure ! Oops !
That all done I  got to spend a little time just hanging out this weekend , caught up Johnny and gave him a good brushing, and also Cat and Andee while I was at it . 

 Winston also had a spa day this week, first ever professional bath and groom

Attended a baby shower today and got to spend some quality time with this handsome young man
So that about wraps up what I was doing while I was supposed to be doing ...
Ah whatever I got it done, I hope . Wish me luck on Tuesday please and I hope to be back online soon, I need to tell you all about my new horse! 
Meanwhile ,stay safe! 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

"Picture the feeling" ( the ramble as promised )

So I will throw a few pics in here for entertainment but mostly it is a classic Fern Valley  ramble.
As I said in the last post the key words in my head about this particular wander through the cobwebs of my mind are;
Energy, resistance, biofeedback, working with young horses, working with young people, relationships, life.

So Energy and resistance , we something I talked about a while back in this post Resistance is Futile but it fits here too. 
What I said ,in short was the greater the energy can equal greater resistance, where patience,and gentle pressure together create softness and success.

So Picture the feeling? While working with a couple of the young people I see as an EAPD coach , we talk about how things feel when they are going well, and also when they are going badly.Put into context with the horses, especially Tango lately we see the successes when the kids are calm ,using low peaceful energy and creating a flow.  Pictured below at liberty and on a lead, this young horse is moving with them softly and willingly. So in carrying that lesson forward we talk about the "feeling " that creates, and what it would look like in a picture. 

 An example of what I am trying to say for me, when things are going well with a horse I am working , the "picture I feel" is a gentle stream, rolling over rocks and sparking in the sun.Peaceful, pretty and refreshing, I can almost taste the sweetness of the cool water.
When things are going badly, I would say the feeling looks more like dry jagged gravel , hard ,harsh and unforgiving . 
So what feeling do I want to picture when I head out to work with the horses? or with people for that matter?  
Both of the youngsters I see  struggle with sibling conflicts and anger management some of the work I have done has been geared towards that . Finding a balance of energy and resistance , and teaching them that it is not necessary to engage in every battle that is presented. Just like in working horses, it is not always necessary to "win the battle " but to teach a better way or disengage from the behavior. IE when a horse pulls back, pulling harder on the rope is not likely to help, nor is chasing them yelling and flailing . Sometimes you have to disengage them from the fight and sometimes you .Bringing up and old blog post from long ago, sometimes its OK to let go of the rope.

An adult I recently  did a demo with had a very interesting response to resistance. Stated she was fearful of horses,so  initially when I handed her a lead rope it was not attached to a horse, simply I held one end and she the other, I calmly said, I am going to pull the rope and lead you , before I knew it she had essentially set back and begun to pull for all she was worth (which I kinda expected) I held firm and calm and said nothing for a moment or two then said"how is your arm?" She laughed and said pretty tired,  I asked her who was working harder at that point? and the penny dropped, she loosened her grip and we continued talking , all the while with Tango standing nearby, calm soft pressure on the rope no longer disturbed her and suddenly she found (because I am sneaky ) that she was now holding a horse!  How excited was she to be leading a horse that day? well I think you can imagine .

This conditioned response to pull and not let anyone take us anywhere we don't want to go , even if we don't know where we are going is extremely common, our environment makes us often distrustful and anxious and  we instinctive demands control, and we , say it with me here ... RESIST
Our instincts are to run away right away.
Same for horses, so while we are so busy teaching our horses to be calm and (I hate this word ) desensitize them , we become more hyper vigilant, anxious and more sensitive ourselves .Which in turn we telegraph to our highly intuitive critters and we  are sending some very mixed messages.
So on to the Bio feedback . I have recently through work been training on a program called Heart Math   a program using the heart rate variability to help people learn to regulate themselves, their heart rate and breathing and ultimately their stress levels . I am really enjoying the training, and find there are some very useful tools to help me as well and for me to help others. Another program I have done some recent work practising with, is called , Wild Divine , a series of games of a sort and it uses the same type of biofeedback sensor  which reads, heart rate ,temp ,breathing etc and as you go through the lessons you are taught to visualize certain feelings of calm, or happy, etc to achieve the goal in each screen.One was a Zen garden, if you are relaxed and  centred  the stones that float across the screen stack on on top of the other, if you become anxious or "try to hard" they float around and will not come to rest. That one I rock at !LOL  though as a general rule I am a pretty calm gal, any calmer I might slip into a coma! lol. The running joke at work though is when I do get anxious or irritated,is "I need to find my Zen, or start stacking stones"
I am not marketing these systems I am just trying to show that even without the actual sensors, visualizing the feeling we want , and maintaining our calm, is a great way to help us in our horse work, or our people work, or just in life. 
Instead of picturing the rodeo , when something or someone might spook our horse, picture the stream, or the clouds or stones, and see the feeling you want , after all if you "see the wreck " you might just "be the wreck" 

So there you go. Another of my tangled rambles that seem to got here there and everywhere, but they are my thoughts. Hope it makes sense to you .
Stay safe my friends. 
Oh and by the way ,I did go swimming . 250 meters and 10 mins of treading water. No records broken for speed, or distance, but its a start! 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Let's get ready to ramble

So I have a ramble brewing in my head , and below  are my cue words I wrote down to  put it all together. 
 Energy, resistance, biofeedback, working with young horses, working with young people, relationships, life.
Now all I have to do is take time one day and put it all together .I just posted this teaser to let you all know I am still here, and thinking (yikes that can get scary!) 
Posted a few pics and fun animations to fill the space till I can get that ramble all typed out.

Stay safe may my friends