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Sep 252011


Psycho-Spiritual growth and learning through the Eyes of the Horse

Change is tough. It is something that happens every moment of the day without our even thinking about it. But when the big change comes, and you know what that can be, anything from a change in the weather to the death of a loved one, our whole world can fall apart. Or if we look closely and focus intently, perhaps our world can actually open up.

For me it seems that I seek change about once every generation.  I have to laugh at that because even though it’s always a tough choice, I seem to come out the better for it at the other side of the trauma that it might cause. So here at Silver Fiddle Ranch, we’re making changes and Windhorse is emerging from its chrysalis.

Silver Fiddle Ranch has been around for just about that generation of time where change is eminent. In 2002, I started simply to board some horses and have some fun with clinics and workshops on horsemanship, learn a bit about the horses, and then for me, about their feet and healthy living. This led to a rather successful hoof trimming business that helped me tremendously on my path to my current quest for change. Through all this work with the horses in my life, my horse clients, and my dear friends who love their horses, I’ve learned that truly getting into the horses spirit through this work  has been transformative for me in both mind and spirit. I wish to help others in their own transformative journeys through the power and spirit of the horse. And horses will be our teachers in this quest.


Our Teachers

Our Teachers

Aug 062010

I’m still plugging away – slowly – on teaching my sweet Isabella about carrying a rider.  Have you ever heard those voices in the head, they tell you all the time what you should and should not do, and for me they keep me procrastinating when I feel as if I would like to be riding Isabella; I gotta do the watering first, now I have to go to the bank, well it is kinda hot, and on and on. It’s sure hard to turn those off and go with my positive voice!

Back to Isabella – I had enough gumption to follow the voice that told me that “it might be nice to go out and groom Isabella and maybe play in the trailer (a stickiness that she is getting over) and let her eat some goodies for awhile in the trailer manger” Easy stuff, nothing scary. Pretty soon it was almost as if she were talking to me – “OK, we did that what’s next?” So I thought “a nice walk around the yard”. I took her for a little walk around, we walked by the chickens – BAM! that’s scary – silly gal. We walked in the yard where there is fresh grass growing and a swimming pool – yeow, that was weird! And, to my increasing delight, she comes around back to me so nice and soft like “everything’s OK now “- talking to me, trusting me, getting over those BAM, yeow moments.

Now my voice said “Maybe I’ll work her with the saddle”, so off we go. Again, trust, no issues putting the saddle on tied to to that trailer that was so scary a few weeks ago. My voices are getting even more positive now and I’m not even hearing the negative ones. “Maybe you should take her into the round pen and play a little bit.” That sounded good, so off we go – she’s right with me, I take off the halter she moves out when I ask, trots over the poles that I had forgotten to remove – no big deal.

Woops! A negative voice tried to gain some ground telling me that “that’s good, now put her away, you don’t want to do any more now, now do you!” (not a question, a demand!) I looked that little mare in the eye, and saw that she was asking for more so up in the saddle I climbed. As I’m doing this I have this back and forth dialog “Oh my, be careful!” “This is GREAT!” Oh no, don’t do anything rash!” “This is major GREAT!” and so on. Didn’t last long and off we went, walking around and me breathing and calming my nervous silliness. Now I can’t say I helped her learn much about feeling the rein and taking direction – but I held in there when there was some resistance and by the end of our short session, we both were relaxed and she started to get some feel of what I as asking. After a couple good directional changes, we stopped (learning that right away, good gal!) and then I thought about taking a step back. With the slightest of pressure from my right hand and my intent in my body and mind, that little mare took a really soft rock back and full 4 foot back as if she knew how to do that all along (well she does from the ground silly, says my positive voice)!

So that’s it for now – keep moving forward, keep thinking those thoughts that lead to movement forward and out of stagnation and inactivity. My little mare will help me with this. Can you tell the voice I’m hearing right now?

Jun 082010

This past weekend I participated in an equine facilitated workshop at Hippocrene Spring in Shingle Springs, CA. This was my first introductory workshop to a program based on the Epona approach to facilitate healing through horse-human relationships.  I am considering this course for my own enrichment and consciousness expansion, and to learn how I can help others do so as well.

Now, I have to say, some of what the Epona program is about is very “woo woo”, at least to me. If you’ve read “The Tao of Equus” by Linda Linda Kohanov, and if your belief system is based  on recognizing and acknowledging observable phenomena as reality, like I’ve been trained to do, then what Linda is proposing is, well, rather esoteric and beyond the physical realm.  Such as, in the Epona exercise called Reflective Listening, horses speak  to you from the subconscious and help to direct your life in more positive ways or they give you messages in which you can use to enhance your life. I just had to experience this myself and see if it really is something that has meaning to me and perhaps could have meaning to others as well. The Hippocrene Springs workshop facilitated by Cathryn Cleric and two newly graduating facilitators helped me realize that maybe the “woo woo” is not really as esoteric as I think.

I read recently on a One Bodhi Tree blog written by Heather Daniels, that equanimity is the ability to remain open minded, to be present in the moment and remaining non-judgmental even in circumstances where my own internal logic is being challenged. When I approached this workshop, I made the decision that if I were to learn from my experiences, then I must embrace equanimity. What a wonderful way to exercise my fledgling Buddhist practice!

The Reflective Listening exercise started with me picking a horse who I wanted to be my partner in reflection.  I struggled in my choice between 2 horses, but decided to pick a mare who was in my opinion too pushy and seemed to be just too much “in your face”. Her name is Harlequin, Harle for short. Once Harle was in the working pen, I was asked what question I had to ask of Harle. I decided to ask whether I could effectively be a helper for horses. This question was rephrased to an inquiry of “How can I be more effective to help horses.” The next step was a Body Scan which is used to bring awareness to your whole body – focus sense and feelings and get “out of your mind” so you can think with your heart. This is a practice not unfamiliar to me as I’ve experienced it in yoga and meditative practices.

When I entered the pen with Harle I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what I was going to do or what she should do. I felt very connected to my equanimity of being in the here and now, being non-judgmental and remaining open minded as I experienced this reflection with Harle. The body scan put me in a receptive frame of mind. I did not think about how Linda Linda Kohanov approaches or interprets her reflections with horses, I was just there with this lovely mare doing our reflective thing.

As I focused on my question, of “How can I be more effective to help horses” Harle started doing what Harle normally seems to do, at least with new people. She walked right up rather assertively and proceeded to push me aside with her head. She had no concerns about invading my most vulnerable boundary. I ignored my physically conditioned impulse to be assertive and push her away from me, and instead kept focused on my question to her and helping her to keep her head a little away from me by wiping her eyes which were covered with annoying flies. She would start to soften her head and I could feel her push release, and then I slowly stroked her neck and walked away. We did this for awhile, back and forth, her assertive approaches became softer as I, listening to her through her actions and some sense of energy emitting from her, became softer as well. It wasn’t long until Harle and I had made some very deep connection. I felt our energies kind of merge. I’m not sure how to explain the feeling, except that I felt that I belonged somewhere near this horse. I would walk around her, she would softly move off and then return, getting softer and more connected on each turn. And then at one point she turned her rear to me as if to say, “a nice stroke on the buttocks would feel good and you can stroke and pull my tail as well”. At this point, I had total trust what Harle was presenting and she ended up with a nice butt rub and tail pull.

At the beginning of this exercise, the words that were coming into my head were obviously coming from a high-level mental mind-speak. I was grasping for words to try to explain what I was feeling from Harle. After a short while as I became more focused on the moment, more aware of being non-judgmental and opening my mind to what was happening, I found that the feelings she presented started to put words into my mind that came from a deeper level – she was demand that I chill out, soften up, be less aggressive, be more accepting of her as she is.  As we communicated in this way for awhile, the words that appeared to me changed to those of acceptance and invitation, trust, relief, comfort and love and they were coming more and more from a deeper part of my consciousness.  It was no longer a struggle for me to think, because I was now feeling the experience as was Harle.

Putting this experience to words is so nearly impossible but the experience was profound and I truly believe that this demonstrated clearly to me that communicating with another creature is possible. The power of equanimity from the heart allowed this to happen – keeping our minds open to the moment, feeling no judgment and being completely in the moment to experience what is. Now how about doing this with all sentient beings?

Jan 052010

The  new year is here, 2010 already. On New Years Eve, I looked up at the raising blue moon and saw quite an exquisite pink edged halo surrounding a shinning orb raising through the trees in the darkening eastern skies. Wow! This has to be a good sign, right? Well, regardless of signs, it definitely means some thinking about the year to come is in order. So off I am to make some resolutions, keeping track to make sure at least some of them come to pass. Here’s my list, there are only 4 of them, so they should be easy to keep, right?

First – Get back to working with my horses! This is first and foremost because my beautiful horses have had way too much time on their hands. I actually started working on this resolution in December and the reward is that those horses who I’ve had time to work with so far are feeling tons better about themselves and what is expected of them. And I’m feeling better too because we are finally, once again, communicating! My mustangs Gracie and Isabella will become riding horses this year if I can keep this resolution – quite a motivator for sure!

Second – Keep myself strong and healthy. For 60 going on 61 in February, I’m pretty dang strong. Trimming horses as a profession, and keeping up the ranch assures me of this. I’m adding weight training to ensure equal muscle development and practicing yoga consistently for, well, all the good stuff that yoga does for you!  Health was a bit of an issue for me  in 2009 – I kind of reached bottom during the summer, found Dr. Dennis Godby my Naturopathic doctor, and made a turnaround to regain my physical and spiritual health. Finding that my diet was probably the most important aspect of why I was always feeling so poorly both physically and mentally has been a true revelation. I got a taste of the diet issue during the holidays with a revisiting of the IBS I’ve suffered from on and off for years,  and I have decided that I will no longer go back there – so diet, exercise and attention to my total well-being will definitely be a part of 2010.

Third – Attend to my spiritual growth and development. We all have a connection to the spiritual in some way or another. For me spirituality is very personal.  I see Spirit in everything that is in my world, very much so in all of my animals who are so close to nature but also in the ecological bounty of the land that embraces Silver Fiddle Ranch. I see it in, family, friends and the relationships I make in the day to day nature of my work. Meditation and contemplation on both my inner nature and the world around me is a daily part of my life today and something that I will continue to explore in 2010.

Fourth – Strengthening ties and building relationships that will foster all that I do. This may mean giving up some relationships or aspects of myself that are comfortable and embracing others that may not be as comfortable… at least at the onset.  Part of this is redefining my business goals, perhaps reaffirming why I’m doing what I do and how I do it or making changes that will help me reach my goals.  It means seeing things in a different perspective, taking the time to let it all happen and come together and not getting so hard on myself when my insecurities take hold. I think I’ve often taken on relationships that would not let me be true to myself – so in 2010, being true to myself and my beliefs,  while causing no harm to others and fostering relationships that can help me with this will be my quest.

So there, only 4 resolutions. I hope you all have made some for yourselves and have some good adventures to make them happen in 2010.

Nov 222009

With the change in the weather and a return to moisture and wet conditions I’ve been seeing lots of changes in the horses feet that I’m trimming. Some of these changes are fantastic for me as your horses trimmer. I can more easily get to flaking off retained or callused sole. And lowering those hoof walls that grew just a bit too long  since the previous trim is finally a snap! Frogs are peeling and it’s a great time to clean them up and address underlying infections that might be plaguing your horses feet. We should look to a slow down in growth over the winter months, but keep aware that hoof care is important all year long.

In the winter months, as I’ve said,  we will see a slow down of hoof growth but not to changes happening in their feet. I find this time of year a good time to help feet be more healthy and naturally shaped through keeping up on our trimming schedule.  With the coming of fall and after we can feel the moisture level rising in the environment, the feet start to absorb that moisture and become more pliable. This sudden change is common to our area since we go from extremely dry for months on end to a sudden return to moisture conditions. During the dryness, the hoof mechanism can become constricted, but a return to moisture allows the foot to expand, contract, and change in positive ways, if we continue to keep up with our hoof care maintenance.

Some things you’ll see happening with your horses feet during this transition from dry to moist:

Changes in the Frog: Your horses  frogs can literally “pop out” and peel away revealing new frog material ready to grow during the winter months. Many people find this alarming, but this is the natural process of growth, shedding and regrowth. As a trimmer, I normally do not trim much off of the frog during the dry months (except for infected frogs of course). But when they are naturally shedding off, I will clean up the area and make sure that the new frog growth is exposed and that there are no hidden holes or crevices where fungus and bacteria can form.  I might treat the frog with some antifungal/bacterial tincture or cream and the frog will be ready for its natural regrowth.

Shedding Sole: Over the dry months, horses in our area can accumulate quite a bit of callus on their sole. I see this on many of the horses I trim, and especially on those horses who don’t quite get enough riding or turnout time over varied terrain (especially rocks and gravel). The buildup of callus as natural protection for the sole when the hoof is dry and the horse is not moving the miles nature intended him to move. Therefore, I leave callus during the summer unless there is some pathological buildup of retained sole, which is another problem altogether. So as Fall approaches and we get our first wet storm, that callus starts to loosen. What I will do to help it wear off is to exfoliate material  that is “asking” to come off. Sometimes you’ll see the sole is very flaky and my knife just shaves off crumbly pieces of callus. Other times, it will take a few trims to completely exfoliate all of the material and I’ll simply help out by opening up crevices by pealing away that material which comes off easily with my knife. In any case, all this will come off as the fall progresses and winter arrives and the soles of your horses feet should look beautiful, thick, shiney and healthy. I love it during a good snow storm. I pop off the snow ball that might accumulate on the sole and what I see is a beautiful shiny healthy foot – love this time of year!

Hoof wall growth: Even though the hoof wall will grow more slowly, I have seen healthier growth, perhaps even some thickening of the hoof wall and underlying structures develop over the fall and winter months with ongoing winter hoof care. I’ll leave a small ridge of hoof wall well rounded along the circumference of the hoof (perhaps about 1/16″ less or more depending on the horses living environment) to ensure that the weight bearing is equally distributed and the sole can make passive contact. With this we might see thicker sole develop for the coming seasons and a healthier hoof all around.

I’ve seen many a problem foot grow more healthy over the winter months if trims are kept up on a regular basis, fungus and bacteria kept away (remember frequent cleaning) – and don’t forget, a properly balanced nutrition program, low NSC tested grass hay, and continued winter exercise is crucial to your horses overall health and the health of their feet.

Happy Fall!


Oct 262009
Buster: 12 yo Gelding. shoes pulled in March of 2009. Initial trim in May from Lola. Attended her clinic in June (5 wks later). Trimmed every 4 weeks for a while. Went to every 5 weeks. Made adjustment to environment as best I could….Spreading hay around pasture fence line farthest away from water as possible and got my exercise too. Went to nibblenets placed farthest away from water as possible. Supplimented with Hoof HQ ( will go to Cal Trace when I run out. ) beet pulp and salt. Road base and pea graveled the padocks at the barn. It has been just this last month that the changes have occured. I did size him for boot/pads. Treated a possible underlying fungal infection. Had a body worker out to evaluate. Hoping to get more of a heel first landing. I  carved once on his sole months back, and have never done it since. Whatever came out with a hoof pick was what I took. Walls tightened up and concavity appeared. We rode out at Red Hills (Satans rock pile) in Chiness Camp, did test rides in the Emigarant across rocky trails and granite slabs. My skills have improved dramaticlly and each hoof/horse teaches me something new. I look forward to finishing my mentorships and moving along in the next phase of certification. Thank you Lola and the PHCP group for all your help.
Click our picture to see Busters feet

Click our picture to see Buster's feet

Oct 182009

A great clinic with two highly skilled people Helen Harvey and Stacy Berger. Helen Harvey provided insights into Feldenkrais, how incorrect body movement and blockages affect our horses performance, and how to start to locate those blockages; and how we as trimmers can learn to educate our bodies to work more efficiently in our demanding jobs. Stacy Berger covered an amazing amount of valuable information on saddle fitting, English, Dressage, Endurance, Western and Treeless, pros and cons, what to look for, how saddles can influence your horses performance and contribute to those incorrect body movements that we strive to eliminate in our horses.

We’ll repeat this clinic next spring in a 2-day format. Stay tuned for updates on when this will happen.

Sep 272009

I was in Sonora trimming some very cool horses for some very cool ladies a few months ago. I thought I’d share some pictures. One of the women, Anita, was inspired and joined PHCP and is now in the program and learning lots. Great to have more people out there doing this!

Solar view first trim. Still too much false sole in the bar area. This should be exfoliated soon.

here is the whole gallary

First Trim

First Trim

first trim