A Year to Remember
This past year was a wonderful one, full of familiar faces, new friends, and a lot of fun. We had a full summer of amazing workshops and saw many of our 4-legged family find their forever homes. Here are just a few of the many fabulous experiences our visitors enjoyed this past year . . .
Dear Mandy, Robyn, Phil, Christine, Tilda, and Brittany,
What a wonderful program! Hard to come back to the "real world", but I have plenty to work on with my beauties, and myself. I feel like I made lots of progress, and was certainly inspired by the results, and have my books to study. Mandy, you are a wonderful teacher!
I enjoyed being with all the participants, so helpful and encouraging, and just a nice size group. All such great teachers. And, of course, the horses were wonderful teachers too. I loved meeting and riding Susan's horse, and would like her e-mail address. I remembered the fudge treat recipe, but not her address! And I have the e-bar on my saddle, so just need to get the right leathers.
The food and accommodations were fabulous, and everything so comfortable. I don't remember who told me to "just bite the bullet" and get out there (sounds like Robyn), but I'm sure glad I did. Now I just have to put my next trip on the old bucket list.
Thanks again to all!!
It is hard to believe more than a week has gone by as I am still steeped in thoughts about the time in Vernon. It was so so fulfilling, I left with my heart, my mind, and my soul full of goodness... and my stomach! There is so much to soak up and assimilate.
One of the pieces that I so appreciated was your use of analogies and metaphors. Early in the week you talked about walking dogs through the labyrinth. You talked about 'reactive' (I don't remember if that was the description you used) dogs holding tension in their torsos and that we should be aware of taking a wide 'U' with them in the labyrinth so that they are encouraged to turn in their torso rather than pivot. This concept makes so much sense in terms of encouraging our good dogs to move their bodies in ways they might not move otherwise especially if they are tense. You went on to talk about homing pigeon and how to turn an animal when they are attached in this configuration. It was in explaining this that you talked about a bend in a river, I think you said that the outside of the bend holds the shape of the bend while the inside of the curve moves the water through. I don't remember your exact language but what you said made so much sense when thinking about different ways we turn with our animals and how tight turns will solicit a different sensation than a wider turn. It also helped me to think about where I was positioned in relation to the dog and the other person, and how our movement would determine if the dog would get a clear message on which way to move or not! Your observations and insights were so helpful.
At one point you said that when we attach our good dogs to a leash we then become responsible for that animal. Your comment got me thinking about the different ways I respond when walking dogs. Somehow using the balanced leash makes that attachment so much more relational than walking them on a flat collar. When I walk dogs with two points of contact I find that I am much more aware of how I am moving, and how routine my pattern is when walking my own dog, Ponder.
The demonstration you using your body to solicit movement was incredible. There were two as I recall. One was encouraging an animal to move forward and you did this with no attachment and the other one was encouraging an animals that might get stuck to move. The one you did without an attachment was such a testament to 'flow' and 'guidance'. You knew exactly where to place your body in relation to the other animal and then you melted into their 'space' and then you flowed out! How could the animal not want to follow! The other exercise you did was moving in an arc a few feet in front of an animal who didn't want to move. It seemed like you were getting the animal to first follow you with their eyes which initiated some tiny movement and then it was as if you were gently rocking their space and by doing it in an arc you were giving the animal some choice about where they might want to step into the movement. One of the things that struck me about your technique was that you never looked directly at the animal and yet your were fully aware of where they stood in space.
Hi Robyn, Mandy and all,
Just wanted to say a BIG thank you for a wonder clinic. I am still smiling ear to ear. Mandy, you have such a good eye, a wealth of knowledge and an easy way of teaching that made us all at ease. On the drive home, when usually I would be nervous with the busy highway, I found myself pleasantly relaxed. Who would of thought that all the t touch and wraps would make you feel relaxed and comfortable for days after:)) It was great to feel what our animals experience with the wraps. I will use the wraps in the future before traveling.
The horses I rode where great. Is the bay mare for sale now? Please keep me posted on her progress.
Again, Thank-you for the wonderful experience and for GETTING me back in the saddle.
(The “Bay mare” now lives with Kathleen and they are a match made in heaven!)
During the first week in August, I attended another TTEAM training at the Icelandic Horse Farm. Robyn Hood and her capable assistants taught us about the different TTouches and the TTEAM ground exercises -- including the different leading positions, neckline driving, and ground driving. We also explored the way that the connected groundwork exercises like the caterpillar and the shoulder press complement the TTEAM work, helping both horses and their riders. [Note! Click on image to see larger view.]
But what stood out for me was the broad range of experiences that the participants brought to this clinic. We had participants who were new to TTEAM, participants who hadn't ridden since they were kids, and participants who are quite experienced in the work. Everyone was able to learn and grow together:
This was my third clinic - I had had one previous horse clinic, and one companion animal clinic. Each time, I have more confidence in applying the techniques. This time, I was able to work on a friend's injured dog. He had a massive leg cut, and I was able to provide comfort and enhance healing. Not exactly a horse, but I also used some of the new TTEAM approaches we used on my young horse, Vinur. He tends to rush on the trail. After 20 minutes of TTEAM work, he went out on the trail, and was totally calm. The great thing is that the techniques work even in relatively inexperienced hands. ~ Vera Alexander
Five of the clinic participants were from Central Alberta Special Equestrians (CASE), a therapeutic riding group from Red Deer, Alberta. Rhianne, an instructor with CASE, explains how the integration of TTEAM and Connected Riding/Groundwork is already making a difference for her, and for the horses in the program:
I'd love to share my experience since taking part in my second TTEAM clinic! I had even more fun this time than I did the first time I went, and will continue with TTEAM and TTouch at Robyn & Phil's because of the incredibly positive ambiance and environment.
Since returning home I find that I am much more relaxed in all aspects and while being with horses: from catching, to riding, to dealing with spooky horses and spooky people. Now that I am more familiar with 'neutral pelvis' I feel myself becoming more confident in all of my actions and I've found that I'm breathing more consciously, more fully and more naturally. Because of this I react less and have started to think more - just like the horses! It's wild how I've been around horses for the better part of 20 years and now am feeling the most comfortable with them, almost connected by some means.
Of course it's not all about me. We [the group at CASE} have made a decision to always lead with either the snap of the lead line clipped to the side ring of the halter or with a soft lead, which has made a HUGE difference with just us leading horses. Imagine what it will do for our clients in our program!? Also, the combing of the lead and the reins will be something easy to integrate into our volunteer programming with huge results.
I could go on and on about what a difference I've noticed, but I'm afraid they'd have to rename the newsletter 'Rhianne's Blathering'. ~ Rhianne J. Weghnnar
CASE actually brought horses with them to the clinic, and this gave us all an opportunity to learn more about this challenging equine job. These horses have to be able to stay in emotional and physical balance even when their riders and handlers are not that experienced or balanced themselves.
One of the CASE horses, Hannah, had a few challenges in this area. When the clinic started, there was some concern over her tendency to get uptight and reactive when other horses were in close proximity. To help her move beyond this concern, we did not push Hannah too quickly. For the first couple of days, we simply allowed Hannah to have the space she needed, bringing her into the arena alone to experience the leading exercises, TTouches and Connected body work.
As her comfort level grew, we introduced new stimulus. On the third day of the clinic, we chose to neckline drive her. We introduced her to the body wrap and necklines in the smallish indoor arena, and we had one other horse (a horse she knows and likes from Red Deer ) inside with her. She was fairly calm, and so we started to drive her, inside the arena, and outside, as well. When it was clear she was comfortable with this, we had another group of handlers ground drive their horse past Hannah, starting by giving her lots of space, and building to have the other horse passing closer and closer. Hannah was able to stay focused on her handlers, and amazed us all with her confidence: she didn't get upset with the other horses once, which was, apparently, quite a step for her!
Another horse from Red Deer is the Rocky Mountain mare Cuddles. Her Mom, Karen gets around for the most part in a scooter. Cuddles is perfectly comfortable being led from the scooter, but ground line driving was not a simple matter for Karen! To help Karen drive her horse, we all needed to change our way of thinking about holding the driving lines, so that Karen could drive her scooter and her horse, all at once. In the end, Karen found a way to hold the lines that worked for her and for her horse, and even though she didn't have a textbook “bridge” in her lines, she safely and effectively provided Cuddles with a new experience. All week long, everyone at the clinic commented on how much we appreciated the fact that Karen was so willing to help us find new ways of thinking about what we do with horses and people; we all expanded our horizons!
Coming to the clinic, Karen had not actually ridden Cuddles for 3 years, and she wanted to bring this element back into their relationship. Sue Falkner-March is a wonderful Centered Riding instructor who also uses Connected riding theory in her approach. Under her tutelage (and with the help of assistant instructors Jo Buckland, Barbara Owens, Laura Faber-Morris and Mandy Pretty ), Karen got back up on Cuddles and found ways to ride in comfort once again.
Violet van Hees who is a TTEAM Practitioner and Feldenkrais practitioner took part in the clinic with her daughter Kirstin. Violet gave Feldenkrais – Functional Integration lessons to several people in the training. She tailored each person's lesson to find something that would be helpful for their situation and she was right on the mark with everyone. The experience helped people relate to the connection between TTEAM and Feldenkrais.
Sue also challenged the rest of us to ride in neutral pelvis, and to use images to help us do so. For example, Sue taught us to think of ourselves as evergreen trees that grow up towards the sky and down into the ground at the same time. Several of us found that when we thought of this image, we would “centre and grow,” and so rebalance ourselves, and our horses. It was quite wonderful!
On the final day of the clinic, the lessons were less formal and we all had an opportunity to play with what we had learned. A couple of the outside horses were ridden bridleless, with a TTEAM neck ring. I have to say, watching the transition in horses and riders was amazing, as they accepted the new freedom, released the old tension, and found huge smiles. Karen and Cuddles rode again, and Hannah successfully worked in an outdoor arena with many horses and people milling about. And everyone commented on how much we would all take home with us. I think Linda Eddy sums it up really well:
I just want to talk about developing a relationship with your horse. I just returned from Icelandic Horse Farm in Vernon , B.C. where I attended another outstanding TTouch/TEAM clinic. We worked on a lot of touches and ground work, incorporating Connected ground work. We also did Centered Riding with Sue Faulkner-March. I was reminded how much this work offers to our bodies and to our horses. I got home feeling so much better about my relationship with horses. Pretty immediately my wonderful young horse Brana caught onto some of the new ground work I learned and seemed happy and interested with all of it. In fact, after I worked her the first time, I was happy to see that she is offering freework -- doing S-turns, circles etc. without physical contact with me. It was so touching it made me cry. She then happily offered me nice gaits under saddle. I really hope all of you have an opportunity to explore this work. ~ Linda Eddy
I certainly have to agree with Linda, and I can't wait to go back for another clinic! In the meantime, I am, like Vera, Rhianne, Linda and all the other participants, exploring the work with my own horses and in other areas of my life, too.
Thank you for your patience as we were slow in updating our news page.
Christine was busy over the Christmas holidays writing a 60 page story about our wonderful and greatly appreciated clinic horse Sleipnir. It is available through the website under books for sale and worth a read.
Summer was busy as always with 3 weeklong Icelandic riding clinics, a weeklong Companion Animal Training, a weeklong TTEAM clinic, 10 days of Starting Young Horses and a very full 2 week TTEAM and Connected Riding taught by Robyn and Peggy Cummings, this time exclusively at the Icelandic Horse Farm. Feedback from clinics was incredible and students andteachers alike walked away excited to try the new information they learned at home and inspired to come again next year.
Mandy (Robyn and Phil's daughter) and her fiancé Walt Woodhead, tied the knot in California in early May and are working and enjoying married bliss on a horse farm in Wyoming. [Note! Click on image to see larger view.]
Fall finds us happy and healthy and busy riding and getting the young horses going under saddle.
We would like to thank the following friends and customers for giving our horses such great new homes:
- Elizabeth Jones, Hibbing, MN Jodis and Magni fra Iliff's Icelandics, Gandur and Vinka fra Riveroak Icelandics, Erikur, Stassa and Skila fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Heather Jackson, UT Pia from Odin's Choice, Birta fra Icelandic Horse Farm and Saga California Orka
- Ellen Hansen, Terrace BC Odlingur fra Iliff's Icelandics
- Leah Randi, Gibsons, BC Gisli fra Sandgerdi
- Ron and Lorraine Butcher, Calgary AK Tinna fra Fjalla Vegur, Elmar fra Thufu and Lysa fra Hvasafelli
- Jean Reid, AB Skalkur from Sunscape
- Gillian Browning, Vernon BC Lukka fra Iliff's Icelandics
- Randi Segal, Point Roberts, WA Lagsi fra Tolting Acres and Penni fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Stefanie Stangier, Thunder Bay, ON Falki fra Iliff's Icelandics
- Laura Khuran, ON Bjalla fra Southbroom and Atli fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Teresa Lee, Spokane, WA Duna fra Big Bear Ranch
- Kathy Crabb, Vancouver, BC Skuggi fra Big Bear Ranch
- Lorraine Cotter, Squamish, BC Steinar fra Graenidalur
- Linda Eddy, Ridgefield, WA Brana fra Icelandic Horse Farm and Mildi fra Rockin Ridge Icelandics
- Judy Funaro, Sequim, WA Kaftein fra Rhythm Hill
- Tammy Steen, Slocan BC Molda fra Arbakki
- Merlin Ahrens, Fairplay, CO Hnoss fra Vindsdalur and Darri fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Barbara Graham, NS Hordur fra Svanavatn and Saevar fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Leslie Hall, Kamloops, BC , Litla Soley and Hending fra Laugarbakka
- Cheryl DeVel, Cookeville, TN Safir fra Rhythm Hill and Vinka fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Janet and Katie Lohman, Winlaw, BC, Bardi fra Brekkukoti and Floki fra Jardi
- Jo Buckland, Winlaw, BC Odin fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Judy Lightfoot, Grande Prairie AB, Prins fra Fitjamyri
- Crystal Gullon, Sylvan Lake, AB, Skor fra Big Bear Ranch
- Deborah Rockhill, Calgary, AB, Gjoska fra Tunsbergi and Sokka fra Big Bear Ranch
- Cathy Cochman, Landrum, S.C. Myra fra Fitjamyri, Vindur fra Coldstream Icelandics and Tobbi fra Big Bear Ranch
- Angelika and Johannes Egenolf, Smithers, BC Finna fra Dyrfinnustodum, Lilja fra Big Bear Ranch and Svala fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Joe Rose, Malibu, CA, Lokkur fra Sonrise Icelandics
- Jodi Maxmin, Stanford, CA, Viddi fra Icelandic Horse Farm
- Glenn Misar, NJ, Bleiksa fra Fjalla Vegur and Frakki fra Chapman Crest Acres
- Sandie Hucal, Cochrane, AB, Krummi fra Big Bear Ranch
- Randi Marks, North Pole AK, Skari fra Big Bear Ranch
- Michelle O'Neill, Coquitlam, BC, Morgunn fra Alfasaga
- Sean Ebert, Vanderhoof, BC Gisli fra Sandgerdi and Orn from Tail's End
- Shannon Douglas, Fraser Lake BC, Sumar fra Rockin' Ridge Icelandics
Enjoy your horses!