Saturday, March 22, 2014

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 22

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 22
"Everything's so simple, and we make everything so complicated. That's why we're confused."
--Vickie Downey, TEWA/Tesuque Pueblo
The Creator designed a very simple set of Laws for us to follow. If we follow these simple things, we'll be happy. If we don't follow these simple things, our lives become complicated. For example:
  • Respect Mother Earth
  • Love one another
  • Be truthful
  • Give to your brother and sisters
  • Be gentle with each other
  • Be happy
Following these simple Laws will have great rewards.
Great Spirit, let me lead a simple life.

Horse Head

Friday, March 21, 2014

Good Mornin' Friends

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 21

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 21
"The manner with which we walk through life is each man's most important responsibility, and we should remember this with every new sunrise."
--Thomas Yellowtail, CROW
Every spiritual person should carry a vision of God's will in every area of their life. One day at a time, each morning at sunrise, we should spend time praying to the Creator. We should say something like, my Creator, this morning I ask you to show me, in terms I can understand, what you have for me to do. By doing this daily, over time, we will develop an unquestionable vision. Each person is responsible for taking the time to do this. It will bring great joy and peace of mind to those warriors who do.
My Creator, give me the vision, today, of what you want me to do.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 20

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 20
"You have wandered away from your teachings. You must concentrate on your spiritual teachings...Don't be sidetracked."
--Henry Quick Bear, LAKOTA
Why are the Elders always telling us to know The culture and listen to the teachings? When we go off track, why do the Elders say, return to the teachings? The teachings tell us how to live in harmony with the Laws and principles of the Great Spirit. Living means life � a good life, a happy life. Many of us have grown up without the teachings and the culture, that is why we don't know how to live. To improve on relationships, to treat our children with honor, and to respect our Elders, we need to live by the old teachings again.
Great Spirit, today, show me how to live.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Liz’s thoughts on the subject of Gender and Horsemanship

Liz’s thoughts on the subject of Gender and Horsemanship

March 19, 2014 at 3:55am
Liz’s thoughts on the subject of Gender and Horsemanship

I don’t often wade into this type of debate (I leave that to Ian) but I’ll start by saying I am offended by the negative use of the term “cowboy” that comes up during discussions on horse training – since when has anyone the right to use this term to which many a proud tradition and work ethic is associated as a derogatory term used by those who know nothing of these traditions.   So please find another word to describe poor horsemanship – or just call it that – poor horsemanship.  And leave the wide-brimmed hat alone (I love my Akubra and my horses don’t seem to mind it either), it is not responsible for the actions of the wearer.

To say that a horse has “issues” with all men or all women is a generalisation based only on the people who have had contact with that particular horse.  There are 100s of 1000s of horsemen and women throughout the world, and to make such a sweeping statement will cause affront to many.  Don’t be surprised if you get a rise out of them, and don’t confuse their willingness to defend themselves as ego.

Having studied the issue of gender and horsemanship through observation and practice over years watching many different levels of ability and horses with various issues (one of the benefits of being around Ian), I have a theory (although not published so scientific types may argue it is not technically a “theory”) – which may contain generalisations for which I apologise in advance but a theory is always based on a sample which will result in some “generalisation”.
  1. Horses respond to who we are and not what we are.    They react to the unfamiliar, and know more about us from observation than we probably know about ourselves. 
  2. The degree of reaction is directly correlated to the degree of training and the confidence the person handling it provides to the horse.
  3. The degree of training and confidence obtained is directly correlated to the open mindedness of the individual seeking to learn and develop skills to deal with reactions and unfamiliar environments.
There are genuinely fearful horses out there where past situations have resulted in reactive behaviour today.  I have no doubt that past experience influences behaviour in horses (keeping this simple for this post – there are many studies and opinions regarding conscious and sub-conscious behavioural theories and opinion that those interested can read up on).  The key here is that not treating this and assisting a horse to get over this is not doing the horse any favours.  Can you identify whether the horse is genuinely fearful or just reacting to the unfamiliar?

Good professional horse people have confidence and often directness which some horses that have poor or inadequate training may find initially confrontational.  This doesn’t necessarily result in a negative reaction to a noticeable degree, but a good horseperson will manage this initial contact to avoid a reactive or unsafe situation.  A poor or inexperienced horseperson may not have the skills to read the situation well or respond and adjust appropriately.

This ability to read and adjust has nothing to do with gender, this has  everything to do with  the willingness of the individual to accept points 1, 2 &  3 above, and nothing to do with aggression, force or bullying  – just clear, consistent and direct instruction given by a confident,  experienced and assertive person with empathy. 
Every horse is different - the ability to read the horse and what it needs is a skill that for many requires development.   Too many people are not flexible in their approach – a good horseperson will be.

Assertiveness has nothing to do with dominance or aggression, and certainly is not bullying or threatening.   Assertiveness is confidence, directness, empathy, the ability to make sound decisions and for some it needs to be worked on and requires a degree of experience.    Ego often negates the qualities of an effective assertive person – often with ego comes limited experience, a lack of empathy, poor decisions and the inability to be flexible in an approach.  There are both aggressive and ego driven horsepersons of both sex out there – neither characteristic is gender specific or exclusive.

Many women are not naturally assertive in their body language – whilst some are competent, confident and some expert horse handlers they do have a different style of body language to men.   There are of course assertive women who are assertive in some aspects of their lives, but it doesn’t always carry over to how they are with horses.  Ask yourself, am I a confident and assertive person, and how am I when I am with my horse?
Men are generally more assertive in their body language than women, particularly in my experience men who successfully work with horses.  There are of course men who are not naturally assertive, but I have rarely observed them in my experience with men and horses.

Too many people are not direct or confident in dealing with their horses and don’t expose them to clear and precise handling or direction.  Some are like a bull at a gate, overly assertive and almost predatory in their actions.  Very few are able to find that balance point and read what the horse needs within a few minutes of working or being around a horse.  A good horseperson can and will adjust to suit the horse and what is needed quickly and often with subtlety.

When the horse gets this clear and precise direction, whether male, female, hat wearing, flag waiving or one who has just finished a 500g bbq’d rump steak, it is how things are done that matter.  If a horse has never been exposed to a hat wearing individual, it may be a new experience or the body language of the individual wearing the hat may be unfamiliar (see point 1 – reaction to the unfamiliar) – not that the horse is afraid of the hat wearing person or has bothered to check out the gender of the hat wearing individual.

Where a spoilt horse (lets define spoilt horse as a horse who has been handled in such a manner as it’s behaviour is not safe to be around – those who kick, run you over, nip, bite, are non-responsive to basic body language cues – ones that are so dull to any aids often due to over- desensitisation that moving them in a manner that is safe is almost impossible for the average horse person) is handled in a confident and direct manner, which may include a raised level of assertiveness (see point 1 reaction to the unfamiliar) – there may be a reaction from the horse that could be interpreted as fear.  This is where an assessment of fear versus ignorance is a necessary tool, and to the novice or relatively inexperienced owner (and inexperienced may be a person who has dealt with maybe 10 or so horses closely in a lifetime, and not the 100’s or 1000’s that some professionals work with) a horse reacting in this manner may seem fearful.   So, is your horses reaction that you define as fear really fear, or is it a method by which a spoilt horse has learnt to be left alone and avoid what is being asked?

There is no place in horsemanship for the ill-treatment of a horse – in fact there is no place in humanity for the ill-treatment of a horse.  Regardless of whether the handler is a male or female, there needs to be empathy for where the horse is really at.  I read in so many posts about horses being abused as an excuse for unsafe behaviour.    The responsible thing is to work on the problem before you and not make excuses about the past or blame prior owners/handlers, situations or events over which you can now do nothing.
Men who work successfully in achieving willing horses who are engaged with a work ethic are neither aggressive, ego driven nor dominant.   Don’t confuse confidence and a desire to achieve as ego, nor confuse a professional horse person offering sound or logical argument as egotistical behaviour.  Same statement applies to women.  No difference.

Success is not defined by trophies or ribbons on a wall, buckles on a belt or a row of trophy saddles collecting dust in the tack room.
Many people don’t take some responsibility to work on the problem – fix the issue or seek advice from someone to help you fix the issue.  Don’t make your horse a victim of past circumstance; give it a strong and confident future regardless of the sex of the person holding the leadrope. 

Repeat the first line of point 1. Horses respond to who we are and not what we are.   Be a person who has empathy, is firm as and when needed, is assertive and not aggressive, a person who is open minded to learn more than one way of doing something, a person who is accepting of new knowledge, a person who is flexible in their approach to a problem and a person who is a strong leader to their horse/horses.  The horse will care more about that this than whether you leave the toilet seat up or down.
Ok, it isn’t all theory – most of it is observation and my opinion based on my experiences, but I guess that’s how theory is formulated.

© Liz Emms – Ian Leighton Horsemanship 2014

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 19

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 19
"There's a deep wound in people - that they have been so cut off from the source of their being, their mother, their Earth Mother."
--Francis Story Talbott II (Medicine Story), WAMPANOAG
When we are connected to the Earth Mother, or when we are clear on our purpose, we will feel connected and safe. We will feel love. When we are disconnected from the Earth Mother, or we don't know who we are or why we are, we will feel pain. It will be similar to a little child who has lost its Mother. We will hurt insid - we will be wounded within. If this happens to the whole community, the people will be very sad and lost. It will seem like there is death in the air. When this happens, it is time for ceremony and reconnection to God and Mother Earth. This is the time of prayer.
Great Mystery, today, help me to stay connected to the Earth and to You, my Creator.

You're never too Old

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nits Make Lice.

Sand Creek Massacre ~ "Nits make Lice"
***WARNING Explicit Content***

Governor John Evans of Colorado Territory sought to open up the Cheyenne and Arapaho hunting grounds to white development. The tribes, however, refused to sell their lands and settle on reservations. Evans decided to call out VOLUNTEER militiamen under Colonel John Chivington to quell the mounting restlessness. John Chivington HAD ONCE BELONGED TO THE CLERGY, but his compassion for his fellow man did not extend to the Indians.

In the spring of 1864, Chivington launched a campaign of violence against the Cheyenne and their allies, his troops attacking any and all Indians and razing their villages. Evans and Chivington reinforced their militia, raising the Third Colorado Calvary of short-term volunteers who referred to themselves as "Hundred Dazers". After a summer of scattered small raids and clashes, white and Indian representatives met at Camp Weld outside of Denver on September 28th. Chief Black Kettle, a peace keeping Chief of a band of some 600 Southern Cheyennes and Arapahos reported to Fort Lyon and then camped on the banks of Sand Creek about 40 miles north. No treaties were signed, but the Indians believed that by reporting and camping near the army posts, they would be declaring peace and accepting sanctuary.

Ever trusting Chief Black Kettle had raised both an American and a white flag of peace over his tepee. In response, Chivington raised his arm for the attack. Chivington wanted a victory, not prisoners, and so men, women and children were hunted down and shot. With cannons and rifles pounding them, the Indians scattered in panic. Then the crazed soldiers charged and killed anything that moved. A few warriors managed to fight back to allow some of the tribe to escape across the stream, including Chief Black Kettle. Col. Chivington was as thorough as he was heartless. An interpreter living in the village testified, "THEY WERE SCALPED, THEIR BRAINS KNOCKED OUT; THE MEN USED THEIR KNIVES, RIPPED OPEN WOMEN, CLUBBED LITTLE CHILDREN, KNOCKED THEM IN THE HEAD WITH THEIR RIFLE BUTTS, BEAT THEIR BRAINS OUT, MUTILATED THEIR BODIES IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. ONE WOMAN WAS CUT OPEN AND A CHILD WAS CUT OUT OF HER AND THEN SCALPED. WHITE ANTELOPE, WAR BONNET AND A NUMBER OF OTHERS HAD THEIR EARS AND SCROTUMS CUT OFF. THE VULVAS OF WOMEN WERE CUT OUT FOR TROPIES. By the end of the one-sided battle as many as 200 Indian, had been slaughtered and viciously mutilated. More than half of them were women and children,

Col. Chivington later appeared on a Denver stage where he delighted audiences with his war stories and displayed 100 'INDIAN SCALPS, including the 'PUBIC HAIRS OF WOMEN.' Chivington was later denounced in a congressional investigation and forced to resign. When asked at the military inquiry why children had been killed, Chivington was quoted as saying, "NITS MAKE LICE."
 — with Princess Margarita Lyttle-falamoe andPrincess Margarita Lyttle.

In Weed we Trust.


Elder's Meditation of the Day March 18

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 18
"The sacred fire used to heat the rocks represents the eternal fire that burns at the center of the universe."
--Dr. A.C. Ross (Ehanamani), LAKOTA
Our Sweat Lodge represents the womb of Mother Earth. This is the place of forgiveness. The altar is the place where the Grandfathers are heated. The Sweat Lodge and the altar represent the whole story of the universe. The Sweat Lodge and the ceremonies are sacred. The Great Spirit gave these things to us to help us. He taught us to do the ceremonies in harmony with Mother Earth. We need to know and understand these things.
Great Spirit, let me understand harmony.

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 14

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 14
"The concept that we are all related is one of the basic philosophies of D/Lakota religion."
--Dr. A.C. Ross (Ehanamani), LAKOTA
The Medicine Wheel teaches the four directions of the races, Red people, Yellow people, Black people and White people. These four directions are symbolic of all races. Everything in the circle is connected and related. All races are brothers and sisters. If we are related to each other, then it is important to love one another as brother and sister, aunt and uncle, Fathers and Mothers, Grandfathers and Grandmothers. We need to care for each other and especially respect each other. We need to honor one another's differences whether that difference is the color of our skin or our opinions. We should respect differences.
My Creator, let me feel the connectedness to all things. Let me know the lessons I need to learn today. Above all, let me feel my connectedness to You.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Get Great Posture


Elder's Meditation of the Day March 17

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 17
"By listening to the inner self and following one's instincts and intuitions, a person may be guided to safety."
--Dr. A.C. Ross (Ehanamani), LAKOTA
Be still and know. The Medicine Wheel teaches the four directions of inner power - not personal power, but the power of God. These four directions are emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. As our emotions get too far out of control, we simultaneously create an equivalent mental picture, our physical body fills with stress and tension, and we become spiritually confused. When we experience these uptight feelings, the best thing to do is mentally pause, slow down our thinking, breathe slowly, or pray and ask the spirits to help. Only when we approach the stillness of the mind do we get access to our spiritual guidance system. To be guided, let your mind be still.
Creator, today, let me reside in Your stillness.

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 16

Elder's Meditation of the Day March 16
"Each of us must know in our minds and believe in our hearts that even though we are different, you are like me and I am like you."
--Larry P. Aitken, CHIPPEWA
One of the definitions of humility is having an awareness of one's own character defects. To recognize and acknowledge that one has imperfections is being humble. We should never pray for ourselves unless by doing so it would help another person. To have self-importance puts self first and this is not humble. We each have strengths and we each have weaknesses. Both the strengths and weaknesses are sacred. Life is sacred. We learn sacred things from weaknesses also. Therefore, all lives are developed through trial and error, strength and weakness, ups and downs, gains and losses - all of these are part of life and life is sacred.
Great Mystery, let me see and know about the sacredness of life.

Fergus and the Mule