Dawn Day

This was our first ride this spring. Dawn had an audience of my neighbor’s horses across the street, and she was wanting to go faster and faster! At first you can see her bucking, trying to anticipate the canter … and on the second pass she settles in, and we do some neat lateral work and change of direction before we canter back. Sandy’s awesome camera work lets you see just how fast we were trotting on the circle around him – see the border of the field spinning in the background! I love the 1/2 speed version – you can really see how the horse uses herself .




Dawn’s Dance Lesson

The following is a series of videos of the very first dance lessons with my young Morgan filly, Dawn. I hope it will illustrate not only some of the technical aspects of teaching a horse to respond to you body language, and to work away from you,  offline, and still be connected and focussed on responding to dance step cues, but also how the work can help build relationship, shape character, and help you explore different ways of leadership.

In this series, you might note that Dawn is particularly focussed on “doing the right thing” — she seems to be a nervous perfectionist about everything. So I want her to know that she can play around, and offer up some ideas of her own. She also needs a tremendous amount of positive feedback. If there is too much pressure on correcting her, she would not engage off line. Yet she is also willful, so there has to be clear motivation to “do the right thing.” Oftentimes a horse like this can be motivated with feeding treats. But Dawn “Her Excellence” refuses treats — she considers them a bribe. In fact, I have to be careful with Dawn, because if i treat her to do something, she begins to associate the treat — which is supposed to be a positive reinforcement with the employment. No, Dawn wants to be courted as all high priestesses of Morgans require. That’s what it all looks like on the surface. In the depths there is a warrior-friend who would go to any lengths to do the right thing… once it was agreed upon, and the relationship was signed in blood, bone and body. Here then is a 7 part series of our dance — not so much a physical one at this point, but of a inner dance between two energy bodies, two spirits. Enjoy!

In this video you will see Dawn saying “no” to my cues several times — if you miss it on the first viewing, play it again and watch for when she tosses her head. This is where she has recognized my cue, but says “no, I’d rather not!” … and after she serves up the final “no” — I just leave. Dawn is left to sort that out by herself. She stayed there in the middle of the ring, thinking through it all, wondering if she liked being alone after all.  Then in the 4th video you can see how much more willing and engaged she was — by allowing her to say “no” she came back with a slightly bigger “yes”.

(parts 4-7 forthcoming)

Justin Morgan Had a Horse …

I love morgan horses. Not especially the new-fangled high steppin types, with small bodies and frantic minds, but the older confederate breeds, of solid bone and tremendous sense of balance, purpose, and pride. They are proud and willful beings with great athletic talent. Justin Morgan had a horse that stood out statistically. Until then, horses ability to pull and ability to run fast followed a standard correlation curve. The more a horse could pull, the slower it ran; the faster a horse could run, the less it could pull. Those were the facts until Justin Morgan’s horse came along and shattered the curve. He could pull way more than his speed would predict; and he could run way faster than his pulling strenght would predict. The rest is history.

Morgan horses were the backbone of the confederate army and the western cavalry. They weren’t no cowpony. I have two morgans. Bob, a 33 year old and Dawn, who is 5 years old. This weekend my morgans and me were playing around in the paddock. Someone had a camera (thanks Audrey, for the pics):

  Dawn hops over the wall.  Bob prepares for a lift-off.

Dawn’s First Light

Here is a special tribute to a special friend – Mosswood Dawn. She is a treasure to me beyond words, so I wrote a music piece that goes deep into the heart of relationship… and added some video on a summer’s day. I dedicate this piece to Jennifer Sims and all the horses at Mosswood Morgans and everyone else who lightly holds the beauty and the light of creation.