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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Weekend Coffee Share

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I can’t believe it’s already the weekend. This week have gone by faster than fast. How was yours? Please have some coffee with me, and tell me all about it!

I started out Monday being slightly tired, after a fun, action filled weekend at the rodeo. I took it a  little easy (for me,) on Monday (my friend E tells me that my life is always like boot camp, compared to hers.) I had to spend quiet some time to clean up space on my computer, to be able to download all the photos I took at the rodeo. I believe this is my favorite.

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I’m not done editing the photos from the rodeo yet. I’ll do a little at a time, and share them here as I go.

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My daughter was mesmerized by the events most of the time, but still, I think this jumping thing she did after everything was over, was her absolute favorite.

On Tuesday afternoon I went to see a friend of mine that lives a couple hours north of me, in Weed (CA.) I really enjoyed the drive. I drove over Shasta Lake, passed by Castle Crags, and Mt.Shasta to get to her. Seeing all that beauty up close makes me think of Tim McGrath’s song Humble and kind. Natures beauty does something to my soul, every time. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen a beautiful place, it’s almost likes it grows a little every time, even if it took my breath away the first time. There is still some snow on Mt.Shasta, but the surroundings are green. 

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We’ve been making our new place a little more ours this week, both on the inside and the outside. I pretty much been dividing my time this week between my daughter’s school work, the horses, and the new place. It’s been a great week, with pleasant weather in the 75-85’s, a little hotter a couple afternoons. We’re supposed to have rain for three days now, which I welcome with open arms. I bet my garden are going to LOVE that. 

This is the humble beginning of my annual garden.

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Squash

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Cherry Tomatoes

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Spinach

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Garlic

My daughter have shown an interest in growing corn, for a couple years. It’s something she mentions on, and off. When I planned my garden this year, I hadn’t heard it for a while, so I did not make any plans for it. This week she’s been talking about it every day. Maybe because we’ve been working in the garden more. So we decided upon a place where she could grow a couple rows of corn. I prepared the spot yesterday. It’s an extension of the garden we’ve already made. I watered the ground there to make it softer, dug it out, filled it with a layer of old horse manure, another layer of tree shavings mixed with goat/sheep manure, and a top layer with soil from my compost, before planting the corn. I hope it will do the trick. It’s the firs time I attempt to grown corn, so that’s a little exciting. I admit that I could of done more research. I am usually better at researching everything I plan to grow, before planting. I didn’t this time. I wanted to get it in the ground before the rain. Rain will be unusual for us from now on, and I wanted to take maximum advantage of it.

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Our tiny corn field. I also planted some cucumbers right next to the fence. 

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The tiny cornfield, in front of the fenced in garden area. In the back of the garden is my container garden, currently consisting of; 4 pomegranate trees, lavender, cilantro, oregano, and basil. I just planted the kitchen herbs from seeds. I’m planning on adding both more fruit trees, and more herbs, to my container garden throughout the season. My container gardens have a tendency to get HUGE. I sold my whole container garden by the end of last season. I’m a little bit wiser, and know a little more about what I want in my garden now. It’s exciting to build it up again. I believe that container gardening, is something that’s just going to get bigger and bigger, as more people see the advantage of growing their own food, and how simple it can be.

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FTB Fancy Tradition

Ghost and Fancy, are enjoying their days in the new pasture. They are both looking great right now, and are in good spirits, showing more energy and Joie De Vivre than before. I work with each of them a couple times a day, about 15-30 min at a time. Depending on what we do.

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Ghost is in a period of processing things, and have asked me to slow down a little with introducing new things. I try to listen. He needs more time to feel completely comfortable with ropes, that’s a thing we’ve been working on a lot, with good progress, but he still needs time. He have no problem having my hands (he loves being touched and often begs me to just stand with him,) or my weight anywhere on him, but man made materials are scary. He had a little episode yesterday morning. I had just finished grooming him, and was going to play with him at liberty (without any equipment on.) He loves playing at liberty, and is very tuned in to me. Sometimes I think he tells me that he would love to be a trick horse. Anyways, before taking the halter off, I purposely let the lead rope slide over his back. He knows that I’m about to take the halter off, and knows that he have the lead rope attached to him. No surprises. He is usually cool with the rope sliding over his body. I’ve done it a lot, to desensitize him to this most scary object, that certainly could eat him..but yesterday he completely fell apart, and jumped up in the air, crashed into the round-pen, and started to run around like crazy. He is a very sensitive horse, and have days like this. He had very minimum interaction with people for the first (almost) 4 years of his life. Until January this year, when I bought him. Even though I feel terrible when he have episodes like this, it clearly tells me that his mind is not ready to proceed our training. We need to stay in the stage we are longer. That is OK. I’m in no rush, as long as we move in the right direction. If I feel that I can’t connect with him, it would be different, I would look for someone who could, but I feel that we do connect.

He ran around with the rope hanging over his back, dragging on the ground. He is responsive to my directions, even though he was freaked out, he respectfully changes direction when asked. Taking control over a horse’s hooves, by frequently changing direction is the easiest way to gain control over a situation. When this happens, I start to exaggerate breathing deep and slow, until he follows my lead. After he calmed down yesterday, we took a break, doing nothing together. He responds very well to this form of reward. Initially when he starts to relax, after a scary episode, he isn’t ready to be touched yet. After doing nothing together for a few minutes, I left him alone in the round-pen. To give him an opportunity to digest things. I came back ten minutes later, took the halter of, and caressed his whole body, inside his mouth, in his ears, on his legs, everywhere. It’s to make him feel my love, and also to tell him that it is OK, that I will always take care of things in a safe way, and listen to him, but he has to trust me. After that I opened the gate to the round-pen, and took him for a walk on the property, without a halter. He follows me with his head on my shoulder. When I stop after a few minutes, and sit down on the ground, he licks my right cheek. That horse has the biggest heart. Just being with him teaches me a lot. 

Fancy on the other hand is getting really comfortable with her new life. She is thriving. I’ve cleaned her up, and given her a job. My daughter rides her 15 min every day. Fancy still need to gain more weight, and get stronger, but light exercise (that will increase with her getting stronger,) is helping her to get stronger faster. She is so proud to have a job, and she takes excellent care of my daughter. My daughter have never ridden a horse as big as Fancy, and is not 100% comfortable with her height yet. My daughter knows how to ride by herself, but for now, she wants to be lead around. That’s OK. She insists that Fancy is her horse, and that she is going to ride her every day. My daughter is proud of herself for riding a big horse, despite her fear of height. I love seeing her conquer her fears, and grow in the process. It is a win/win for everyone. Fancy feels important, and is gaining health by the day. Ghost watches us with huge eyes from the other side of the fence. It’s very obvious that Fancy enjoys having my daughter on her back (photo here,) and I believe he understands that. I feel at peace, and very grateful.

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Thank you for having coffee with me. I really enjoyed your company. How is spring in your area? Is everything green? Are you enjoying having coffee on the porch this weekend? Tell me about it in a comment!

Love,

Ms Zen

 

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