Ghost

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my horse Ghost. The four-year old, half Arabian gelding, that I purchased in January. He lived the first years of his life in a big pasture, with limited contact with people. Of all the horses I’ve met throughout my life (hundreds,) he is the biggest challenge, including the wild mustangs I’ve gentled. Ghost is a gentle, very kind soul, with a high level of flight instinct in him. If he get scared, he will be out of sight in a blink of an eye. (Motion footage of him. To give you an idea of how fast he is.) Then you have nothing to work with, which makes things a little complicated. No method, or technique in the world can be successful if there’s no horse in sight (partly why I named him Ghost.) It’s all feel with him. It is both extremely frustrating, and rewarding, at the same time. I need to be 100% grounded, otherwise I have no horse to work with, period. 

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Ghost is very sensitive to pressure, and I’m not talking about physical contact, I mean the pressure of your eyes on his body, or your intention of doing something. That said, if he’s relaxed, he is very social. Loves to hang out, and he often showers me with kisses. As a bonding exercise with him I spend time every day hanging out in his pasture, doing nothing, or doing something, that isn’t work. I often bring a chair, and a book. One of his favorite things is to stand behind me, while I’m reading, with his muzzle gently resting on my cheek, or shoulder. He can fall asleep standing there. If I’m in the pasture doing something (cleaning up, fixing fences, cleaning water troughs etc.) he always grazes nearby. If I’m in my garden, next to the pasture, I can feel his eyes on me, at all times. If I’m in my bedroom, in the house, I often see him standing in the pasture looking at me. He is a very special horse. Some days he is scared of everything, and certainly don’t want to have his halter on. Especially those days, he looks for reassurance, a lot. He is a very verbal horse, he calls me out to the pasture, just to have me sit with him for a while, stroke his neck, and speak softly. After a few minutes, he draws a deep breath, sighs, and all is well in his world. Some days he need reassurance many times. I’ve noticed that if I don’t pay attention to this, he takes it out on my mare Fancy. That is when we get these problems of him biting her, that I’ve mentioned my concerns about a few times.

 

His beautiful summer coat have revealed some unique, twisted, spiderweb like, markings on his legs.

Ghost had lots of changes in his life this year, and I’ve realized that he wants me to slow down on my expectations. We may, or may not go riding this summer. I’ve told him over and over that it is not that important to me how fast things go. As long as he can be reasonably happy, and not hurt Fancy. For a while I felt that he distanced himself from me. I took it as a sign that he was jealous of my time with Fancy. That might be the case. I don’t know. Or maybe he felt too much pressure. I’ve limited our sessions in the round-pen, and increased time we play together at liberty, and just spend time grooming, hanging out. We spend a lot of time together every day, and I can see that he gets more comfortable by the day. That makes me incredibly happy.

Yesterday I had a barefoot trimmer out to work on Fancy’s hooves. Ghost have never had his hooves done in his whole life, since he haven’t been handled enough to be comfortable with that. He pretty much grew up like a wild horse. However his hooves are of excellent quality, some of the strongest I’ve ever seen. His Dam (mother) is an Arabian, and his Sire (father) a Mustang. Both breeds known for good hooves, endurance, and a wild spirit. Ghost is usually very reserved around people he never met, even people he met several times can usually not get close enough to touch him. That’s how flighty he is. Yesterday he approached Donna, the barefoot trimmer several times. He closely watched her work on Fancy, checked out her tools, smelled Donna’s hair, and even let her pet him. It was wonderful to see. Donna is a very soft, kind, and knowledgeable horse person. My smart boy surely realized that. It’s great news, because it’s going to make his first trim so much easier. His hooves are getting a little (not terribly) long, and he is going to have them trimmed, as soon as we can do it without him getting to upset about it.

Earlier this week I found Heather Binns amazing blog, Horse Magic. I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon it, but I am so glad I did. It was soon obvious that I’ve started to read in the middle of a long, interesting story, about Heather’s experience with a horse trainer, that I’ve admired for many years. I even went to a demonstration he had in Europe. I’ve read all his books. This was interesting! I quickly found my way to the first post of this story, and I read post after post, I just couldn’t stop. I made a few comments here and there. I really appreciated the honest story. Heather is an animal communicator, and I asked her if she wanted to see if she could pick something up about my horse Ghost, if I sent her a photo of him (the first photo in this post.) She was willing to try. With her permission I’m sharing what she picked up from him. Thank you Heather for allowing me to share this.

The first thing I pick up about this horse is there was something amiss in early developmental stages –  something he missed out on – or some trauma that happened. He can become confused and get frightened if something isn’t quite right.  He likes a good routine.  If things go smoothly all is okay.  If something upsets him it can take a long time for him to feel right again.  I think lots of understanding and going very slowly is the way to go!!!  He knows you understand! 

– Heather Binns, Animal Communicator 

This made a lot of sense to me. He did have a trauma as a very young colt, being part of a bad hoarding case. I do feel that he isn’t as mature as your average four year old horse, he often acts more like a yearling. He does thrives on routine. It makes him feel safe. If he feels like I break his trust, it takes forever before I can touch him again. It makes me feel good to know that he knows that I understand him. I do love this horse so much.

Right now we’re being together in the moment. No pressure at all. Just being. Enjoying. Breathing together. Feeling good together. 

 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

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Photos my 5year old took today

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Today we had photography on the schedule. If you’ve been following this blog for a while you probably know that I was a teacher, before I was blessed with a daughter, and now I’m her teacher. We let school evolve around her interest, and work in projects, having all the subjects within the frame of the current project. Some projects covers a week, while others can be a month, and sometimes they are even longer. It’s about learning useful skills for life. Making learning fun, and interesting for my daughter is a high priority in my life. We have photography a couple times a week, since she is very interested in photography. (I wonder where she got that from..)

Since we just moved, and also moved our two horses, to live with us, the current project evolves around horsemanship. It’s very easy to involve; history, math, language (we have English, Swedish, and Spanish on our schedule,) art, reading, writing, science, and nature around this subject. We’re having lots of fun!

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I usually give a couple basic instructions in the beginning of every photography class, trying to add some new knowledge (it can be about lighting, framing a picture, or camera techniques.) My daughter is only 5 years old, and a lot of  instructions makes it boring for her, and she looses interest.  Sometimes I decide what we’re going to photograph, sometimes I let her decide. Today she decided. She wanted to photograph Ghost, my young half Arabian. He’s one of my favorite models, so I can definitely understand her desire to photograph him. I agreed to clean him up for her. Naturally he had rolled in mud just minutes before..

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To make it interesting, I asked her to document the process of making a young horse comfortable with a training session. To use a few photos to show different steps, that shows that the horse is OK with what’s going on. We have been talking about different ways of documenting events lately, so this was in line what we had discussed earlier. Even at this young age, having been around horses since before she was born, she knows what to look for! I think the photos in this post, are the five best photos of Ghost, that she took today.

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I hope you enjoyed the photos, I enjoyed them very much when I saw them. It’s a wonderful thing seeing the world through the eyes of your child. Every photography lesson leads to interesting conversations with my daughter, and I learn a little more about what’s truly in her heart, and how she views the world. It’s usually easy to speak your mind about a photo you took. I can highly recommend encouraging your children to document their world with a camera. Thank you for sharing our experience!

How was your day? We had a very comfortable 65 degrees today. I managed to finish fencing in the garden area. Tomorrow we’re planting our seedlings. I can’t wait!

I’ve spent lots of time with my new horse Fancy since I brought her home two days ago. She is a total sweetheart. I knew she was, but she is just wonderful. The more time I spend with her the more I understand about her past, and it have made me cry a couplet times so far. She has scars on her body, and other signs of abuse, that no-one should have to experience. Despite her rough background, she is so eager to become friends. If I open the round pen she comes trotting up, trying to get in. It took her no time at all to understand that the round pen is a pleasurable place, where she gets undivided attention. I like that she figured that out by herself. I LOVE having two horses that competes about being the first one to get a halter on.

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OK, I’m giving you a 6th photo that my daughter took, Fancy watching Ghost and me play in the round pen. You can see her watching through the fence in some of the other photos as well.

I hope you had a wonderful day. My heart is filled with gratitude as this day goes towards its end.

 

Love,

Ms Zen

 

Weekend Coffee Share 

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Have a seat. Can I get a cup of delicious, hot coffee for you? Or would you rather prefer the ice version? What’s the weather like at home?

We’ve had a cooler week, with some light rain. Not like the floods we had earlier. It’s actually been perfect weather for preparing my new garden, with temperatures in the 60’s. It could of been in the upper 90’s, I believe it was this time last year. Then the ground would of been so much harder. I’ve been planning out my garden, and carried out the work by hand. Digging, measuring, and digging some more. (Maybe you’ve been following the progress on Instagram?) I’ve worked hard this week. I feel it in my body. I like the feeling. I feel strong. 

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I’ve been moving some of my things to our new house, and will (hopefully) move the rest this weekend. The plan is to move at least all the heavy stuff today, and sleep in the new house tonight for the first time. I was hoping to have both my horses at the new place by now, but because of circumstances out of my control, Ghost is the only one there. I moved him yesterday afternoon. They were both supposed to come together earlier in the week, but sometimes things doesn’t go as planned. I’m bringing Fancy tomorrow morning, so it’s only two days/nights Ghost is there by himself. Our new neighbor have horses, that he can see, and talk to, so I think it’s going to be OK for a couple days. It is however the first time in his whole life that he is without other horses.  He enjoys company, very much. Horses are herd animals, so that’s to be expected. He is pretty independent, especially for his young age, and doesn’t go crazy without other horses. I take him out alone on walks every day. I started doing that three days after bringing him home in January. As soon as I felt that he would listen to me. (He wasn’t halter  broke when I got him.) I believe our walks, and everything we had to overcome to feel comfortable around humans and our crazy things, (he spent his first almost 4 years in a pasture with very limited human contact,) have helped him to become braver and less herd bound. 

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The story of trailering him to our new house is a story in itself. When the original plan of trailering Fancy (the new, older, already trained horse,) and Ghost together in a big trailer didn’t work out, I asked a good friend if he could help me. He was very willing to help me, but his trailer is a very small trailer. Horses are claustrophobic by nature, and it takes time to teach a horse to be comfortable in a horse trailer. Something I haven’t had the opportunity to really work on, since I don’t own one. I have however, walked by a big stock trailer every day, encouraging him to smell all sides, even banged on the door (to make scary noises,) and we’ve been standing next to it for a few minutes every morning, just relaxing. I usually give him a carrot, or an apple as soon as he relaxes. I tell him “good boy”, and pet him for a while. Doing this before letting him out to the pasture in the morning have been a part of our routine. That’s the closest to trailer training that I’ve been able to do with him. This we’ve done very successfully though. I thought to myself that I’m going to make this tiny trailer a similar learning experience. I would love for it to result in Ghost coming home, but not if the cost is to high. I’m against using force in training. Getting a little out of your comfort zone is necessary sometimes, but I want the end to be on a positive note. 

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For a couple hours I worked with Ghost being comfortable with this little trailer. It didn’t take to long until a couple hooves were in the trailer, I gave him the rope, and let him step up and down as he pleased, but never walk away from the ramp (I do not like ramps on horse trailers, but this one had one.) After a while we had three hooves, then four. He walked in and out a few time, with all four hooves. He had an apple in the trailer. He wasn’t comfortable. He still walked in and out a few times. I was contemplating closing the door, and taking him home. When I asked the owner to the stake to come and close the door, since I was going to be in the trailer with Ghost, while leading him in (there was a small door in the front, where I was going to leave later.) When she came to help us, he said NO, and started to get really nervous. After a few minutes I decided to call it a day, after all he had been so brave and done everything I’ve asked, despite it being very scary. No reason to end on a bad note. I could rent a bigger trailer another day. I told the owner of the boarding facility my thoughts. She offered to drive him in her big stock trailer, if I loaded him. The very same trailer we’ve been walking by every day. I was thrilled. Ghost walked right in the first time I asked, and we were on our way home. I was happy with my decision, and very proud of Ghost. He has a huge heart. He was very happy while exploring his new home, and tasting the delicious green grass. We spent a few hours exploring the pasture together. 

For the past four months while I have been boarding Ghost at Norcal Trailrides, in Anderson (CA,) I’ve been going there twice a day every day. I’m very happy to have Ghost where I live now, but I need to say that Alicia Ryan, the owner of the training facility, have been more than awesome during these four months. The facility itself is more than just kept up with maintenance, there’s constantly improvements being made. The atmosphere is friendly. It’s the first boarding facility I’ve used, and I’ve been to many, in different countries, with zero drama. She offers; scenic trail rides along the Sacramento River, boarding, riding lessons, birthday parties for kids, and colt starting – I’ve only seen happy customers ! I’ve seen clients come and go every day, and never a disappointed face. She makes everyone coming to her facility feeling on top of their world. She’s a really cool, hard working lady. I would highly recommend Norcal Trailrides to anyone in need of training, lessons, or boarding. It’s been awesome  to have access to their indoor, and outdoor arenas while doing the initial work with Ghost. The atmosphere in the stable among the horses is very calm, they all seem to like it there. It’s a great place.

It’s been a rewarding, good week. I see things coming together. That is a feeling I like very much. Spring, I’m ready! Bring it on! How was your week? 

Love,

Ms Zen