D'Artagnan having a ball

Just Having A Ball!

I can’t tell you how surprised and appreciative I was with the outpouring of emotional support that I received from so many of you, my readers and virtual friends. It was very hard for me to put that last email out and I was a bit afraid of how it would be received.

I didn’t want to get too personal and share my heart for fear of rejection at an already emotionally low time in my life, due to the loss of my heart horse. But instead, you all were very supportive, gave me great ideas on how to get through each day, and trusted me with your stories and your hearts. It was truly a blessing and has helped me get from one day to another and to see the rest of the blessings in my life.

It has also reaffirmed my belief that “horse people” are also “heart people”, those that listen to their hearts and genuinely care about people and animals.

Sometimes there is just that one thing that knocks you off your feet so hard and is so devastating that you just can’t get back up without help. This was that moment for me. So those kind words that all of you sent in meant more than you know.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me get back up and dust myself off. I really needed it and you were there for me. And as always, I am still here for you and your horses. If there is anything I can do for you or help you with, please don’t hesitate to reach out and I will do my best to help.

If you missed last week’s email, you can catch up and comment here:

Why I strive to help give horses a forever loving home

As I was searching round trying to find meaning out of what happened last week I came across a book titled “A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook”.

Here’s an excerpt from it:

“Intention shapes our thoughts and words.

Thoughts and words mold our actions.

Thoughts, words, and actions shape our behaviors.

Behaviors sculpt our bodily expressions.

Bodily expressions fashion our character.

Our character hardens into what we look like.”

It resonated with me so much because my approach with horses begins with intention too, if you are familiar with my 5 Stepping Stones PDF and program.

It has been said that by the time a person is 50, he or she gets the face they deserve, because of the way the mind directly affects the body.

So I realized that I couldn’t and shouldn’t let the grimness of the situation get to me, otherwise I would end up with more lines on my face than I have already!

One of the ways to break out of a fixed mindset is to play and have fun.

While we know play is crucial for a child’s development, it is also beneficial for people of all ages.

Play can help relieve stress, improve brain function, stimulate the mind and boost creativity, keep you feeling young and energetic, and improve relationships and your connection to others.

Did you catch that last section there?

“… improve relationships and your connection to others.”

Play is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting.

Children playingPlaying together brings joy, vitality, and resilience to relationships. Play can also heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts.

Through regular play, we learn to trust one another and feel safe. Trust enables us to work together, open ourselves to intimacy, and try new things.

Play helps develop and improve social skills. Social skills are learned as part of the give and take of play. During childhood play, kids learn about verbal communication, body language, boundaries, cooperation, and teamwork.

So what does all this sociological discussion have to do with you and your horse?

Everything!

As we’ve discussed many times, horses are social creatures too so if you only work with your horse and don’t spend time hanging out AND other times playing with him you can’t connect deeply and bond with your horse. They need work, play, and time to relax just like humans do.

Have you seen horses go off and run in the wind, shake their heads, buck and kick, and then others join in? That’s them playing with each other.

So when a human owns only one horse, their horse looks to them to play games with. Playing ball with them is a safe game that is fun for both horse and human.

The ball can be a bit scary for a horse so start this off gently and softly and give your horse the space to run away safely if he decides to. Just as in the beginning of your relationship, you need to take this slowly. Pay attention to what your horse is telling you and give him all the reassurance he needs. This is a game and should be fun for both of you.

You will see in this video the first thing I did was put the ball into the pasture with all the horses and kept it at a distance so they could watch it move and still have enough space to feel safe. They could watch the ball, interact or not, and just see what it was. They could also watch how I interacted with the ball to feel reassured that it wasn’t going to hurt me and I wasn’t afraid of it.

We did just that, observe the ball, for one session. D’Artagnan got a bit brave and got closer and then decided, no I’ll give it some space. That was all I wanted, an introduction to the ball. So we just did that the first session with the ball.

The next day I brought the ball in to a smaller area, that was still open to the large pasture just in case D’Artagnan wanted to still get away, and introduced the ball again.

This time D’Artagnan was less afraid and more curious and he wanted to sniff it and touch it. That was great. I put some carrots underneath of the ball so he would be able to move the ball with his nose and get treats. Now the ball was a whole lot less scary and it even brought him treats. He had a new idea of what the ball was and he was beginning to like it.

Now that he was feeling safer, and playful, and he was touching and pushing the ball, I wanted to just give him time to process this new lesson. So I gave him some food and let the ball just sit there close to him for a while and we called it a day.

To illustrate the kind of progress and fun you can have, the 3rd section of the film was actually shot a couple of years ago and shows D’Artagnan chasing and having a ball (excuse the pun!). Unfortunately, I had forgotten to add the ball cover on that day and he got so carried away that he grabbed it with his mouth and popped it! It deflated quickly but he loved it.

Hope you and your horse have just as much fun as D’Artagnan did that day but remember to leave the cover on 🙂

 

 

Have You Taken The Equine Stress Test?

In my experience many horses suffer from Equine Stress, the consequences of which can be very detrimental to their well-being. The sad thing is many loving owners are often completely unaware of this.
Click the button to take the Equine Stress Test to discover if your horse might be suffering too and what you can do about it:

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