When I moved back to California in February I made the decision to keep my horse, Quest, at a facility in Loomis which is approximately 30 minutes from where I live.
Although inconvenient, there were several reasons why I made this decision.
- I knew the financial investment of boarding him somewhere else would hold me accountable to making him a priority and not falling into the trainer’s trap of “I’ll get to my own horse tomorrow…”.
- I had committed to invest in my education by taking 1-2 dressage lessons per week from my trainer and I knew this was more realistic if my horse was at the barn where these lessons would be held.
- Its all about connections, connections and connections!
Through the ten months I have spent at The Courtyard Equestrian Center, valuable connections have been made, affecting both my personal and professional life. In addition to finding a supportive community I have been able to introduce natural horsemanship to the barn of dedicated dressage riders.
Another invaluable, yet unexpected, connection has been with the owner of The Courtyard, Dr. Langdon Fielding! This name may ring a bell as Dr. Fielding is also a head veterinarian at our beloved Loomis Basin Medical Center.
Since March, Dr. Fielding has been helping me diagnose and treat my horse, Quest’s precarious issue with his neck. Over the course of several months/appointment we got to know one another and Quest got to exemplify his A+ patient performance through appointments that would make most horse’s act up and protest, requiring a twitch or sedation.
During one of our visits Dr. Fielding asked me if I would be interested in presenting at one of the clinic’s educational workshops. I said “YES!” of course. What a great opportunity to help horses and the people who love them.
Months went by (I forgot to follow up) and fortunately, their coordinator reached out to confirm with me the week before. It was requested that I come prepared to present and demonstrate to the clinic’s veterinarians and vet technicians on how to safely handle needle shy horses.
I got my outline put together, reviewed videos on the Parelli app and the Savvy Club and got my toothpicks ready:) The day before I was feeling 75% confident and 25% scared out of my pants! So, I did what I has become a reflex in my right brain moments and called Linda. She was gracious, encouraging and helped me solidify my game plan.
The morning came and I was pleased to see all the staff’s bright and shining faces when I arrived. There were approximately 25 people there and all were incredibly welcoming, receptive and engaged. After presenting on “Horsenalities” and the Friendly & Porcupine Game multiple hands shot into the air! This was so encouraging to me! Not only were they actually listening, but also engaged enough to have questions and desire more clarity, brining lots of “aha” moments.
After the Q & A, three blood donor horses were brought up for us to put the principles to purpose. Two of the horses had developed a pretty strong (and understandable) aversion to being pricked. The third was very stoic and tolerant so with him we simply sweetened the deal and incorporated cookies at a timely moment when the needle was inserted. He appreciated this and become much more alive and engaged as a result.
I couldn’t have asked for better demo horses as one was clearly Left Brain and would strike at the handler when prepped for a IV (intravenous) needle. The other was clearly Right Brain and would tense up and shake his head when prepped for a IM (In the muscle) needle. Within 30 minutes we had both horses willingly accepting the needles using the principles of Parelli and the first two games.
At the end, several vets came up asking more about the program and how to empower their clients with this information. If that wasn’t a victory in itself, the coordinator approached me about creating a “Part 2” for their interns/handlers on how to handle horses for lameness and pre-purchase exams.
I can’t tell you how impressed I was with this whole team of professionals! The level of importance they place on their personal development and making it ‘good for the horse’ was truly inspiring. I felt so honored by their welcoming attitudes and grateful for their service to our equine community.
It looks like the beginning of a bright relationship:)