The Most Peaceful Way to Stop an Impatient, Frustrated Horse

In my herd of 11 horses, it’s relatively peaceful while the top 2 or 3 powerful horses are receiving their feed – because no one would dare push in on them, or challenge them. But after that, it can turn into a pushing, shoving, free-for-all. Maintaining calm and peace as I distribute the feed dishes is a top-level Ki challenge, for sure!

Unless you have separate stalls for each of your horses, where you can deliver their vitamin/mineral feed to each one individually. In a herd of four or more horses, supplement feeding time can get just a tad frantic.

When I had 5-6 horses, I could maintain calm using my energy and centered breathing alone. But when the herd jumped to 11 horses – with two babies – that’s when I needed to carry a stick or a flag to maintain spatial safety, whilst getting all the dishes out to each one of them. The foals are actually the biggest challenge and the most dangerous. I remember one time, Xadaa had an older horse push her off her feed dish four times in a row, by which time she was so frustrated she just lunged at the nearest feed dish – which was still in my hands – and bit down on two of my fingers that were at the lip of the dish as I moved to put it down.

After that incident, I either don’t distribute feed unless there are two of us there to carry the feed dishes out at the same time. Or, I give them some alfalfa first, so that each horse is already situated at their own hay box before I start distributing. This doesn’t stop them from moving toward the feed dishes (i.e. me) but it certainly does slow them down.

However, even before the feed dishes are given out, there is the 15-20 minutes that it takes me to get 13 dishes ready. I always put out 2 extra for the horses that are pushed off their dish by a high-ranking horse that has already finished their dish. So that’s where this video comes in…

Montaro, as lead/guardian horse, stands at the tack room door as I get the supplements ready. However, as the sounds and smells fill the air, he can start getting impatient. This can lead him to push or rub on the door – which will damage the chain, hook and door. Or he might stomp on the wood floor and kick the door – which again, will weaken or damage the door. Not acceptable. I don’t like to close the door as that cuts off a lot of my light. Plus it makes the herd outside even more rambunctious, ramping their energy even higher for when I finally emerge.

So, at first, I would be stern with Montaro; using a stern voice, a “stay” hand gesture, or going over to ask him with a hand gesture to back away from the door. All perfectly reasonable and not too obnoxious on the pressure scale. But definitely a dominant, boss-man way to handle his unwanted (potentially damaging) behaviour.

This worked well, until Montaro began escalating his behaviour, making me set him back 4 or 5 times in a row. Then having to close the tack room door to get him to stop. Then he started pawing or biting at the closed door. Not an enjoyable energy or space to be in. That’s when I had my a-ha moment and stopped to think about why he was escalating? Perhaps he was trying to communicate something to me? Perhaps he was asking me to find a better way? Something that felt better to me and was more congruent with our intimate, equal-footing relationship…

This video explains more and shows you what he taught me to do. I had no idea a super strong boundary could be set by this combination of fully opening the heart along with simple ‘it is’ or ‘this must happen’ energy. And of course, this works equally well with family, friends and teenagers! Namaste Taro.

After I published this video, I had a lot of comments on the YouTube channel from people who felt a bit miffed they didn’t get to see the feed dishes being handed out to the horses! I guess the story felt incomplete – like a cooking video that doesn’t show someone taking a bite of the finished meal 🙂 So here it is:

 

The Most Peaceful Way to Stop an Impatient, Frustrated Horse

25 thoughts on “The Most Peaceful Way to Stop an Impatient, Frustrated Horse

  • April 14, 2019 at 3:02 am
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    AMAZING
    once again I LOVE the way you calmly and clearly show us what Montaro has been teaching us (and of course you)!
    Such a beautiful boy!
    I one day wish to have as complex and deep a relationship with my horses (i don’t own any) as you have with yours!! You are such an inspiration… to me, to horse people and to non- horse people alike.
    Thank you for sharing this and thank you beautiful montaro!!

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    • April 15, 2019 at 12:01 am
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      Awww thanks Eliya! I will admit, it did take me a while to actually LISTEN to Montaro – rather than just trying to ‘train’ him to wait, because I was so focused on the task!

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  • April 14, 2019 at 5:41 am
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    Couldn’t agree more with Eliya!! Wonderful teachings, which help me always.
    T H A N K Y O U!!
    On the subject of ‘good behaviour’ I’ve just read about someone’s method on that – that to prevent all the horses running to the barn at mealtimes the horses who ran would be tied up outside and receive their food last; those that walked would go in and eat first. In this way they themselves would learn, and apparently did learn quickly, that they’d get to eat without delay if they walked rather than ran.
    What does anyone think? Is that rather equivalent to punishment?
    I always delight in your putting LOVE first, so I wonder what you’d say to the above. And brilliant that the suggestion actually came from Montaro.
    It was so great to see how quickly Taro responded to your intentions and energy as we know they all do, but how fantastic to have found a solution.
    Everything you say, the details, are rich and wholesome, just like that feed, delicious, I almost wanted some myself!!! : )))

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    • April 15, 2019 at 12:50 am
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      I’m just trying to imagine – logistically – how that would work… Maybe if you only had a few horses so the penalty would be quick enough so they could link cause-effect?? Montaro is an amazing teacher – best sensei I ever had!

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  • April 14, 2019 at 7:15 am
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    Oh bucket feed time….Use to be my source of frustration and anxiety in the beginning of sharing life with horses! But little by little I also kept fine tuning my energy and it is now as you say a chance each day to strengthen our bond! And for me to practice my strong peaceful energy flow..which I am really grateful to have ….as a go to…in regards to all of life! Thankyou horses! I however do have individual stalls for each horse …which made it much easier then your situation! Although since Dreamer came August 2016 I have been practicing with out complete closure..because I don’t have the boards up on our stalls anymore as Banner and Dreamer had to work things out and I didn’t want any horse getting trapped with just one opening! And now Buck will trap Bullet so still not good! They now have an in and out so no trapping! But there is still some division…but much safer! And if needed for any reason like once a year dental …just a few screws and stalls are back! But there is still not a stall for Buck so as I mentioned in a comment on trailering he now eats his dinner bucket in the new trailer each night with the door open and if warm with the windows open! He gets in and out as he feels needed! He also was very food pushy when he first joined us! I feel he just needed the correct energy from his human and lots of trust and patience and now with that….he is a perfect gentleman! It has really deepened our relationship!

    So I realize this was not a nutrition post but a beautiful lesson in energy from Montaro…which I love and appreciate…..BUT….I so want to know what minerals you are using? My new horse subject passion …has been nutrition …since Dreamers founder last year …which as you know…rattled me to my core! Do you also put out loose salt and free fed minerals on top of what you put in the bucket ? And how many days a week…on average …do you feed a bucket to the horses? I would so appreciate any nutrition advise you can share…or maybe you could do a post on this subject? I have posted separately in the group…and got some very helpful comments which I have learned from! But also hoping to get your perspective on nutrition as I know you are a nutritional GURU!
    ✌🏼❤️🐴

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    • April 15, 2019 at 1:23 am
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      It’s so cool the way each horse requires us to change procedure, or to learn something new – Buck has really spurred your learning curve, hasn’t he?

      I think what we feed needs to respond to what the horse can forage from their natural environment – i.e. what’s missing that they can’t get from their habitat? So rather than focusing on the feed dish, I would focus on encouraging biodiversity in your land. Planting a ‘doctor garden‘ so your horses can self-medicate as needed. Find out what variety of plants wild horses eat that will grow in your area. Go out hiking and bring back fallen branches, bush clippings, stinging nettle (once picked it wilts and loses its sting), etc and throw them into the pasture for your horses to browse. Are there any bushes, blackberries, hedgerows you can plant? Plant things outside the fence so they can only reach part of the plant/bush – that way they can get the new growth, but can’t decimate/kill it. Then you can also cut branches and throw them over the fence too. Buy organic fruit/veg and give them the rinds – just throw them on the ground so they can pick/choose what they like.

      The most nutritionally complete horse feed I’ve seen is HorseTech High Point. But it is also very expensive. But if you use that as your “ideal” and then find the closest one to it that you can afford, that would be the way to go. I don’t give feed daily. I think the body does better with breaks, so I feed about 3-4 times/week. I have Hoffman’s minerals free choice in the big barn and also Himalayan and Redmond salt (licks and also loose in a bucket) – so they can self-select those as desired.

      I think it’s CRUCIAL to make sure horses are getting a complete amino acid profile – which NO grass/hay has. So along with their regular grass/hay giving ground flaxseed or alfalfa (low sugar legume) takes care of that. If I had a horse with health, mobility, or brain issues, I would also supplement with extra flaxseed oil and Vitamin E. I have done a blog post on supplementation before though – did you see this one? Pay particular attention to the Iron/copper/zinc issue as this may have played into Dreamer’s founder:

      http://listentoyourhorse.com/jinis-equine-supplement-regimen/

      The land I’m on now has a MUCH wider variety of plants, barks, bushes for them to forage, so my supplement regimen has simplified and the horses continue to do well. Interesting to note is that when the wild mustangs came, they HOOVERED the Hoffman’s minerals for about 3 weeks straight. I was filling it up every 2-3 days. This is just pure Hoffman’s, with nothing added. Then they must have resolved their deficiencies as now I fill it once a month.

      Hope that helps! xox

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      • April 16, 2019 at 7:24 am
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        Jini…thanks for all the tips! Our land right now is actually pretty diverse! But still the laminitis started happening again! I see so many species of weeds and different grasses…and so many of them beneficial! I know because of the damage founder done last year he is just very susceptible to laminitis from here on out! I am working with a holistic nutritionist to try and repair him from the inside out! I don’t feed bagged grain…just use Timothy and or Orchard grass hay pellets for the carrier for minerals and herbs! I am going to start introducing salads and more Whole Foods hoping to encourage his healing even further! I think sometimes the balance of honoring him and making sure he gets enough exercise is what is the missing link! He is naturally a beautiful very eloquent mover….but also has his very relaxed side so unless something triggers the high energy all stays pretty docile! As you know Bullet and Banner are much older and Buck did his best during the crazy winter storms to keep them all moving …a lot! But with the nice warmer weather even he is getting quite heavier on all the grazing! Even though they are always moving it’s not enough higher energy movement and in return calories burned! I think with your herd …the huge diversity …and all that young energy…probably really helps! Domestication and the unique circumstances it creates….can really hinder health no matter how much we feel we are getting it right! ✌🏼❤️🐴

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        • April 16, 2019 at 4:23 pm
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          You are SO right!! I often wonder how my herd/feeding would be if I didn’t have the young ones. For ALL us creatures, movement is absolutely crucial to health. But for animals like horses, it may be THE defining parameter of health. Have you thought of trying a perimeter walking track around your property? And then asking them when they want to go on/off it? I wonder how that would work… You saw this video right? She created a great enrichment track with only 2.5 acres (scroll down to the bottom):
          http://listentoyourhorse.com/how-to-make-a-great-waterhole-for-your-paddock-paradise-or-pasture/

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          • April 16, 2019 at 7:50 pm
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            I am still resisting the track idea right now! The way our land is set up now …I feel it would really take away the flow and the intimacy I now share with the horses on our open go anywhere lay out! It also would hinder our once a year giant Easter egg hunt and baseball game…which our family and friends have really come to enjoy! So much to consider!
            I am in complete agreement with you…movement is the key to health and vitality! I actually took Dreamer for a run along side the electric golf cart yesterday for the first time…he did really great…and didn’t seem all that unhappy about it! We didn’t go very far…and kept the speed at a slow trot most the time! Buck on the other hand wasn’t to pleased so not sure it’s a good fit for him…but it was definitely good exercise!
            ✌🏼❤️🐴

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            • April 16, 2019 at 8:25 pm
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              Great idea! Whatever they love is excellent I figure. 🙂

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  • April 15, 2019 at 1:06 am
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    Dear Jini (and Kesia of course!!!)

    I wasn’t able to fully acknowledge/express the PROFOUND impact you have had on me and the way I experience and connect with animals. You have both changed my life for the better, probably permanently.
    I can’t thank you enough for opening up your wisdom and journey to people, because, whether or not they want it, you have an amazing impact big or small. Your voice is so true and honest that sometimes I want to cry just for the beauty and connection you share with us between you and your horses. You have opened my eyes to energetic communication and the possibilities of just being with animals, you have influenced the way I see everything and the decisions I will make in the future. You have also made it possible for young people (like me) to open their eyes and see the world through a new light.
    I soooooo want to go over to BC and help out with the horses and meet you! Unfortunately I’m 15 and still need to continue with school.
    I feel I have so many paths spread out in front of me and I worry a lot about which ones I should choose, is it gastronomy, art (painting), graphic design or interior design, is it chemical engineering or is it sculpture (I want to possibly do these things for jobs, but as you can see, they are extremely unrelated)

    I know my inner calling is related to horses (and has been for a very, very long time) but I can’t imagine ways to be with horses that are profitable and earn money, or if I have a job that is separate (as you do), what it would be.
    Back to the topic, I wish to thank you AGAIN for being such an inspirational giude and tutor on life and animals, you have shown me so much and have created within me options and possibilities that I have would have never come across.
    Whether it takes years, decades or lifetimes, I hope to meet you and your herd one day.

    Eliya

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    • April 15, 2019 at 2:23 pm
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      Eliya… the ideas and realizations and questions and inspirations you’re having now are miraculous and precious. I was only a couple years older than you when I started wondering/wandering down the same path but I still feel like I missed out, because each year in our teens is so rich, so full of possibility! When I was faced with a zillion options and life was telling me I had to pick one, I made a list of the core most important things in my life. I narrowed everything into: horses, music, Aikido, and food.

      I would now broaden that into animal-kind, art, conscious movement, and nourishment, but that’s because I got to really focus on each thing for a time and develop it into an interconnected mess of All Things. Each has followed me through my life and each has shone the brightest at a different time. I have been a writer, a musician, a conservationist, a farmer, a riding teacher, a barefoot trimmer, a cook, a gardener, a photographer, an Aikido teacher, and so much more. And I only have fourteen little years on you! If you ask anyone here, they will tell you something similar. Life is rich, and longer than we think. It can be a real trip to try to balance it all when you’re as passionate and curious as all that, but it’s never dull! You’re going to rock it, I just know it!! (You already are, it would seem…)

      Where are you based? We might be able to get you started with cool horse people a little closer to home. And of course, you’re always welcome for a visit here at the northern farm! Let me know when you’re ready (months from now, years, whenever) and we’ll make it happen 🙂

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      • April 17, 2019 at 3:57 am
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        Hi Kesia,
        Thank you for your insights!
        I currently live in Byron Bay, Australia, after moving up recently from Sydney (a big move) I have lived here since I was born. I love this beutiful country but I would love to travel more, having already been to Europe and had a wonderful taste of what it is like to be part if other, far older, cultures!
        I won’t be able to travel anywhere as far away as Canda for a while yet, (i am 15) as I am still in school, but after I finish I wopuld LOVE to come over to visit Jini and you!

        Thanks again, I realise that I can probably do alot more things than just one when I eventually get ajob (or jobs).

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        • April 17, 2019 at 8:06 pm
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          I’ve contacted some Aussie horse people who think like we do. They’re going to ask around and see if they know anyone in your region who has horses you can snuggle freely without the normal expectations! Or maybe someone who you could train with or work a summer job or just go visit and soak in some good horse-people love ❤ I’ll let you know if I hear of anything promising!

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          • April 17, 2019 at 10:56 pm
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            Thanks so much Kesia!
            Even if i won’t be able to go to some of those people, it is still really helpful to know where they are.

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    • April 16, 2019 at 12:21 am
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      Wowzers Eliya!! You write some pretty powerful stuff – and so eloquently/expressively! I definitely think you should add Writer to that list of paths in front of you.

      SO pleased to have been the conduit for the horses teachings/illuminations for you and that you were able to grasp the power of what they’re sharing. I feel like all of Nature is coming together in a heroic effort to help us humans get it before it’s too late.

      Regarding the future and all your options, I’m going to tell you what I wish someone had told me at your age (and what I tell my kids; aged 13, 16, 19) and this is even more accelerated because the Internet has literally transformed the ways we can work, share, accumulate wealth, etc.

      So here’s what I think holds the most value:

      1. Don’t plan more than 1-2 years ahead. Focus on what is calling you NOW. Next year a technology could be invented that completely shifts the possibilities around you. This is an era of dynamic change and possibility.

      2. Focus on what you LOVE, what calls to you, your interests, curiosity, passions and just walk through the doors as they open.

      3. Don’t look for the ONE thing ‘you’re going to be when you grow up’. Those days are over. This era is all about doing multiple interesting, fulfilling, exciting things and doing each of them WELL.

      4. Travel. Travel. Travel. Go to places with cultures/languages/religions different from yours. Find out WHO you are and what REALLY matters to you, in a vacuum. When you strip away all your friends, family, socialization, culture… WHO is Eliya? What’s left? When you make your world bigger – literally – those experiences, lessons, fluency, etc will assist you the rest of your life.

      I started a photography biz with a friend at age 19 – which led us to Tokyo where I worked as an editor and writer for a newspaper and magazines for 2 years. In Tokyo I bought a leather horse halter and then carried it with me on my travels as a talismen that someday I would have horses again. Then onto London, UK where I pursued a childhood dream of being a singer/songwriter for 3 years. Then to Vancouver, Canada where I started a telecommunications business and then sold it 4 years later. Then I wrote and published a book on how I healed myself of Crohn’s Disease; which was supposed to just be my service/gift to humanity. But the universe had other ideas and readers kept asking me to provide more books and then products for them. So then I began formulating health products… and so on. I’ve launched 2 more businesses since then and I’m not even halfway through life! So NO, you don’t have to choose! As Kesia said, you focus on ONE THING AT A TIME and develop it, get good at it, become successful OR realize, nah, this isn’t for me, and then move on to the next.

      It is equally important to discover what you don’t want/like, as it is to figure out what you do like/want.

      The people who flounder and waste their giftings are the people who don’t develop the self-discipline needed to develop one thing; before flitting off to the next. Animals are wonderful at showing us where our blocks and saboteurs to our own brilliance lie. But knowing and actioning are 2 different things. So just keep actioning, keep moving forward. Mistakes are awesome! They mean you’re learning! You haven’t failed until you lie down and give up. Until then, it’s all a super valuable learning curve.

      Go Eliya!! xox

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      • April 17, 2019 at 3:50 am
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        Thanks so much Jini, this really clarified things for me, and yes, I do enjoy writing very much, when i put my mind to it words just come out in a never ending stream!

        Wow, your life has been so eventful and productive, I LOVE traveling sooooooo much and have been on a wonderful trip to Europe with my grandmother about a year ago. I learnt so much and had the most wonderful and beautiful experiences of my life. Another of my passions is language (German) and I would love to go over there to continue learning. Maybe that would tie in with a job or maybe I could visit Klaus hempfling ion Denmark?
        Once again, thank you for sharing your wisdom with me, you are so inspiring.
        I will try to follow my heart/intuition a much as possible.

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  • April 15, 2019 at 3:34 am
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    Thank you so much for way that you humbly share your inspired life! We have spent the past 6 years building our country home for our family and seven horses. I am also a teacher of yoga and somatics. This video is especially interesting to me because I can very much relate to the felt sense of an open heart and the quality of “it is or this must happen”. I have personally found the open heart piece to come quite naturally through paying attention to my self and my horses along with the desire to be in relationship. Can you elaborate on the “it is or this must happen”. Somatically, I sense that is felt lower in my body and that when my heart and my “strength/will” is together (a kind of bridge) there is a sense of ease and clarity, a kind of meeting on common ground. Anything more thoughts or experiences that you would like to share regarding this would be much appreciated.

    Thank you:)

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    • April 15, 2019 at 10:39 pm
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      Brenda – hello new friend! I simply ADORE your website!! ohmygosh, LOVE LOVE LOVE what you’re doing 🙂

      Ok, so, brilliant question… The state of IT IS or ‘this MUST happen’ is a place of supreme calm melded with strength that flows from the magma of the earth. Just a very deep, rooted source of calm-strength that is like a 200-year-old Cedar. There is no question, uncertainty, unsurety with a tree elder like that, s/he simply IS.

      So the challenge for us humans is to find a way to embody that – because it is a somatic state. It is not a mental idea, or a verbal declaration. It is all through the cells, tissues, bone.

      There is not even the option of: ‘This must happen or I will die trying to make it happen’. No. It is a completely different state/positioning to that. Because there are NO other options. There is no smidgen of impossibility. It would be like if you were standing next to the ocean and someone was trying to convince you there was no water. You would look at the ocean, look at them, and every piece of your being would be congruent in the assertion that, “There IS water.” You would see, touch, taste, feel, smell that ocean – it simply, calmly, but most assuredly IS.

      But what preceded this state, was Montaro’s very important teaching of As Above, So Below (which you could also refer to as a bridge):
      http://listentoyourhorse.com/aikido-lessons-from-a-horse/

      This is the technique he had me teach a group who came to meditate in the woods. One of the women had meditated with monks in the Himalayan caves for 11 years – and she GOT the value of this immediately. Here’s the video of that:
      http://listentoyourhorse.com/meditation-circle-with-horses-gets-jiggidy/

      That should keep you occupied for a while 🙂 xox

      p.s. ALSO, my cat Marbles has just reminded me (as I make my son’s lunches for school) that the IT IS is not just an energetic state. It is also backed up by physical consequence. If Montaro is pushing on the door/chain, then I remain in that state until he stops. The longer he goes on, the longer he has to wait for his feed. If Marbles tries to eat the turkey, then I will put her down, off the counter. If she tries again, then I will put her outside. But the key is that none of this is done in a punitive manner. There is no, “you’d better, or else!” or “I told you so!” It is done from that grounded, peaceful, calm place of ‘this is the way it is’ surrounded by OM/love.

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      • April 23, 2019 at 8:27 pm
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        Thank you so much! All of this is very helpful. As I feel into what I have described as a “bridge” at my belly/heart, it may very well be moving in a circular motion. I am suspecting that I have mostly experienced the counter clockwise, and so I will take this question to my teachers:)

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  • April 15, 2019 at 6:48 am
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    ELIYA….Wow…just wanted to say how mature and mentally evolved/deep/profound you are for 15! You seem to have such a beautiful pure soul/spirit! It has taken me until almost 40 (10 yrs ago) to have my heart and brain love myself and start the real work! The horses have been one of the biggest influences and have helped me become a better version of myself! They keep me searching even deeper for the most authentic me! ELIYA…you are an inspiration…I am sure your path will flow just the way it needs to…as it does for all of us! ✌🏼❤️🐴

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  • April 15, 2019 at 1:57 pm
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    Thanks Michelle… that’s really kind of you!
    By the way, I’ve seen some of your videos and I love the way you work playfuly and calmy with your horses, great job!

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    • April 16, 2019 at 7:00 am
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      ELIYA…..that is a very appreciated comment about the way I am with the horses! They are so much fun and the majority of the time with them we just enjoy hanging out around the land! But when we do our sessions or go for walks or rides…all kinds of fun things can happen! Dreamer is especially playful and loves to move! He has taught me so much about my energy! He is very sensitive and I am naturally very strong/loud/over bearing! So he helps me find a softer balance and I love the way it feels….calm/quieter(sometimes)/Peaceful! When we grow our relationship with each horse it definitely is unique…and we have to stay true to who each soul is and honor all that is authentic to each being! I love and so appreciate that they inspire me to keep digging and finding more ease and peace with each interaction! ✌🏼❤️🐴

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  • April 15, 2019 at 2:26 pm
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    I love Taro patiently demo-ing this for you!! What a rockstart sensei man. Really great reminder too as I try to remember deeper and more nuanced ways to communicate with my jumbo dog friend, who likes to use his weight and teeth and wily wolfy ways to express himself!

    What occurred to me is, lucky you’ve got a door and a chain to set a starting boundary between the two of you – I bet he’s just getting you all tuned up so that you can exude this love-boundary out in the open, eventually with all 11! Won’t that be fun…

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    • April 15, 2019 at 10:09 pm
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      Funnily enough, the MOST persistent teacher of this technique right now is my cat, Marbles. Who jumps up on my desk and wants to lie down on my keyboard when I’m working. She is so relentless that I used to have to pick her up, chuck her (gently!) outside my office, and close the doors! Now I just use a single finger point and a “ssst” sound – combined with the open heart love thing and she moves to the side of my desk and doesn’t push in on my workspace. Brilliant 🙂

      My current challenge with the herd of 11 is when distributing alfalfa or feed dishes. VERY difficult though, because their frenzy/competition is not with me, but with each other. And little Xadaa is front and center making everything extra tenuous as the other horses make her crazy with frustration. But I managed to create one small window of PAUSE with her today (a pause of softness and love) where she truly connected and I was able to flash her the concept of “slow down, just trust me, and I’ll always make sure you get your share”. A small victory, but I’ll take it!

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