Thursday, August 14, 2014

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 14

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 14
"It's time Indians tell the world what we know... about nature and about God. So I'm going to tell you what I know and who I am. You guys better listen. You have a lot to learn.
--Mathew King, LAKOTA
A long time ago the Creator came to Turtle Island and said to the Red People - "You will be the keepers of the Mother Earth. Among you I will give the wisdom about nature, about the interconnectedness of all things, about balance and about living in harmony. You Red People will see the secrets of nature. You will live in hardship and the blessing of this is you will stay close to the Creator. The day will come when you will need to share the secrets with the other people of the earth because they will stray from their spiritual ways. The time to start sharing is today."
Oh Great Spirit, today I am ready for You to use me as a channel of Your peace. Let my walk today be visible so the people will say "There goes a Man of God." I want to know what He knows. If they ask, I will tell them to go out into the wilderness and pray for You to guide them.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 11

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 11
"May there be peace when we meet."
--Audrey Shenandoah, ONONDAGA
The Elders tell us the greatest gift we can seek is peace of mind; to walk in balance, to respect all things. For us to do this, we must have peace within ourselves and peace within ourselves cannot come unless we are walking the path the Creator would have us walk. Sometimes the tests on this path are difficult, but we know that each test makes us stronger.
Oh Great Spirit, I ask You to whisper Your wisdom in my heart. You are the only one who knows the secret to peaceful living and the mystery of harmony. Teach me of Your peace, understanding and balance, and guide me onto your good path.

Be Thankful

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Good Morning


Just Me'n My Porch



- 7x Stronger than Concrete and 1/2 as light
- 3x as elastic (resists cracking from earthquakes)
- Self Insulated
- Resistant to rot, bugs, fungus, mold, rodents
- Fireproof
- Waterproof
- Breathable walls improve air quality
- Hemp would be cheapest building material if legal

The Hempcrete Book:

I offer you this Feather

I offer you this feather to give voice to that which resides in your heart. Do not worry my dearest ones. Let go of the fear of rejection and judgment; walk boldly into an action of self-love. Let the feather guide your words and they will become sacred. Let go of the pain, and hurt; the feather is strong and resilient like you. Like you; it too will be purified with the healing smudge of our traditional medicines. I am here to listen to your sacred truth. My dear relatives; I am humbled and honoured by your trust. I am grateful that we will spend time together; let us begin our talking circle. Let us grow forward on our healing journey.

All my Relations,

Why Lunging?

Lunging a horse well is the ideal basis of all training because it develops the strength and straightness required for a horse to carry a rider without damaging effects. It is essential that the lunging is carried out in the right way for it to be beneficial.
Why Lunging?
With the rise in popularity of natural horsemanship methods where the horse is usually worked loose in a round pen, the tradition of lunging a horse as the basis for its training and preparation for ridden work has perhaps lost popularity in recent years, and even been subject to denigration. However, lunging a horse properly has certain attributes which make it gymnastically a far superior method of training to loose work.
Gabrielle and Camille Dareau
The most important advantage of lunging is that it makes it possible to work the horse on the correct bend. A horse’s natural way of balancing and aligning his body through a turn is very different from what is balanced for carrying a rider. Naturally, horses bend their body against the turn – with their head and quarters bent out, and their belly falling inwards – and usually they lean into the turn in the same way as a motorbike does (as shown by the photo below).
Gabrielle and Camille Dareau
Wild horses
This may be an efficient way of balancing for a horse without a rider, but when a horse is under saddle this is very undesirable for several reasons:
  • The misalignment of the horse’s body relative to the direction of movement makes it impossible for the hind-legs to carry weight and thrust evenly. Not only is power lost, sheer forces are generated which are destabilizing for the rider. 
  • The misalignment inherent in bending against the circle in this way completely blocks the longitudinal stretch which is the foundation of all correct work. the longitudinal stretch is what raises the horses back like a suspension bridge, making it strong enough to carry a rider without damaging compression of the horse’s spinal column.
  • When the horse leans its body in on the circle (‘motorbikes’, as we say) the rider is unbalanced, and will usually attempt to correct themselves by putting their weight to the outside. This consolidates the lack of bend and true balance, and prevents the possibility of achieving engagement.
Lunging a horse is superior to loose schooling
Lunging a horse is superior to loose schooling
Even without a rider, a horse made to work on a circle on the wrong bend is stressing his joints and reinforcing both a hollow and a crooked posture (photo, above). A horse who is not bending correctly cannot stretch correctly either - longitudinal flexion and correct bending go hand-in-hand.
It is impossible to make a horse working loose bend correctly. Therefore this kind of work has no gymnastic value in training.
Lunging a young horse with the correct bend and longitudinal stretch
Lunging a young horse with the correct bend and longitudinal stretch
Lunging a horse allows the development of the bend through the combination of the contact in the lunge line, the whip and the handler’s posture. When correctly employed, these tools can be used to sculpt the horse into the correct alignment, which initiates the longitudinal stretch, essential to engagement.

Common Problems With Lunging Technique

Lunging a horse well is an art that takes patience and application to develop. It is not easy to be able to control the horse’s body and way of moving at a distance, and many people make the following errors:
  • Lack of Contact
    Lunging a horse with no contact in the lunge line
    Lunging a horse with no contact in the lunge line
The contact in the lunge line, i.e. the steady connection between horse and handler through the line, is absolutely essential to good lunging. However it is very common to see lunging being done with a slack line (photo, above) and therefore no contact. This is because most horses naturally avoid the bending influence of the lunge line contact by falling-in on the circle, and it takes skillful use of the whip and perseverance to correct this. Lunging a horse with no contact in the line means lunging with no bend, and has no gymnastic value.
Gabrielle and Camille Dareau
Lunging a horse correctly with a steady contact
The contact also encourages the longitudinal stretch, when the horse drops his head and neck and raises the back, as it can be used to draw the horses whole body out in alignment, from the haunches right through to the head (photo, above).
violent jerking of the lunge line
Violent jerking of the lunge line
Jerking of the lunge line, whether moderately or violently, is also a misuse of the contact. If a horse is leaning or pulling the solution lies in addressing the crookedness or lack of balance that is causing the horse to lean. Like in riding, this cannot be done with an aggressive contact.
Often leaning is just a symptom of postural weakness, and with time and strengthening work it will resolve itself.
Lunging should ideally always be done in an enclosed area, so that if the horse should break free, he can be quickly and easily recovered.
Gabrielle and Camille Dareau
Correct use of loose sidereins when lunging a young horse
  • Using Tight Side-Reins and Other Gadgets
One of the most common mistakes people make when lunging a horse is to adjust the side-reins too short in an attempt to create a ‘head-set’ and make the horse ’round’. In correct work in engagement, the horse’s head carriage is always a result of straightness and true longitudinal stretching; it is never something that we create artificially. Forcing a horse to work in side-reins that prevent him stretching his neck, and demand an artificial rounding is physically damaging and inhibits engagement on the ring.
A young horse should be able to drop his nose right to the ground before he contacts the side-reins (photo, above) and in our opinion they should never be significantly shorter than this at any stage of training because the horse working on the lunge does not have the benefit of the rider’s aids to create the higher degree of engagement that a short contact requires.The longitudinal stretch is the perpetual goal of all work in the lunge, because it is this that strengthens the horse in the right way to carry a rider. Tight side-reins not only prevent us from seeing whether the horse is stretching or not, they also prevent him from stretching in the right way at all.
A horse being 'encouraged' into an artificially round posture with an auxiliary aid
A horse being ‘encouraged’ into an artificially round posture with an auxiliary aid
There is a huge range of gadgetry (or so-called ‘auxiliary aids’) available for supposedly encouraging the horse to take on the right shape on the lunge.
If your horse is not stretching and lifting his back when you lunge without these artificial devices, then either your skill at aligning him onto the bend and balancing his movement needs to be improved, or your horse has a physical problem preventing him from stretching that needs to be addressed.
For both these problems, resorting to quick-fix devices is not only counter-productive but damaging to your horse.
Lunging a horse with an aggressive whip causes rushing
Lunging a horse with an aggressive whip causes rushing
  • Going Too Fast
    Many horses are made to rush on the lunge by aggressive use of the whip, or a simple lack of sufficient sensitivity. In order for a horse to engage his postural muscles he must slow down, in the same way that postural exercises such as yoga, pilates or body-building are done slowly. A rushing horse is perpetually falling onto the forehand, and stands no chance of learning to balance properly and carry himself in engagement. As the horse strengthens posturally, the power of the work can gradually increase without balance and engagement being lost.
  • Attaching the Lunge Line to the Bit
    lunging a horse off the bit is undesirable for many reasonsWhen you are lunging a horse, you have a very strong leverage over the horse, due to the fact that you are standing still on the ground at the apex of the circle, and the horse is moving around you. Applying this leverage to the horse’s mouth is brutally forceful, even when it is done in the ‘traditional’ way of passing the line through the inner bit ring and clipping it onto the outer one. The horrible practice of using the lunge line as a draw rein
    The practice of attaching the line to a D-ring on a surcingle or saddle and then passing it through the bit ring (photo, left) is even more appalling in the massive leverage that becomes available to winch the horse’s neck in, effectively turning the lunge line into a kind of draw rein.
This has nothing to do with beneficial lunging, because it is fundamentally blocking the horse in front and preventing the all-important telescoping forwards of the neck.
When the lunge line is attached to the central ring of the cavesson on the horse’s nose, it can be used both to position the horse’s head in onto the bend in the right way, and to establish a leading-forwards feeling through the horse’s whole body. These effects are impossible to achieve when lunging a horse off the bit.
It is also totally unsuitable to lunge a horse from a head-collar or any other kind of loose halter, because not only will you not have a good connection with the horse, but anything loose is very likely to rub or pull round into the horses eye.
Lunging a horse with a Micklem Multibridle
Lunging a horse with a Micklem Multibridle
The only bridle, to our knowledge, that is suitable to lunge from is the Micklem Multibridle (photo, right) which is designed to be used for this purpose and has a D-ring set into the noseband. It is actually an excellent alternative to the lunging cavesson because its unique design means that it avoids all of the pressure-points around the cheeks and jaw.

The Uses of Lunging

Lunging a young horse in preparation for first ridden work
Lunging a young horse in preparation for first ridden work
The most important use of lunging a horse is in preparation for the first ridden work of a young or un-backed horse.
It is essential, before a rider ever sits on a horse’s back, that it has been strengthened and prepared by good lunging over a sufficient period of time.
Gabrielle and Camille Dareau
First ridden work on the lunge maintaing the continuity of training.
Work on the lunge that strengthens the horse’s longitudinal stretch is crucial in order to counteract the horse’s natural hollowing reflex in response to the foreign weight of a rider. It is very difficult to undo the damage done by backing a horse without any gymnastic preparation.
Tension-inducing practices to gain rapid submission of the horse
Tension-inducing practices to gain rapid submission of the horse
Natural horsemanship methods have promoted the idea that the faster we can take a young horse from unhandled to being sat on the better, and that if this can be done in a few hours it is somehow a great achievement. In our experience of bringing on many young horses of all types, the real gymnastic preparation on the lunge that is necessary before backing takes place rarely takes less than three months, and with some horses it may take twice as long as this before they are ready.
The extra time spent lunging a horse at this stage is repaid a hundred fold in the subsequent training progression under saddle.
 Good lunging is beneficial for horses at all stages of work
Good lunging is beneficial for horses at all stages of work
Lunging is not just useful for young horses; it is a great way of assessing and validating the work of a horse at any stage of training. Especially for remedial work, lunging a horse is a very important way of unwinding problems and re-establishing good training. It is also an excellent way of building trust.
A well trained lunge horse is indispensible for good teaching on the lunge
A well trained lunge horse is indispensable for good teaching on the lunge
A horse that is well-trained on the lunge also has the great advantage of being suitable for use in lunge lessons, where the rider can learn the independent seat, correct posture and aiding. The greatest value of this kind of teaching is that the rider is able to learn without the reins, breaking the all too common dependence on them. A horse is only useful for this kind of teaching if he has learned to work calmly, in balance and straightness, and most importantly without being held in by tight side-reins, as this negates any understanding the pupil can gain from seeing how his body influences the horse’s.
Above all, lunging a horse should never be regarded as merely a way of ‘exercising’ him. Lunging that is performed without care for how the horse is using himself, whether he is bending and stretching, is worse than useless in training, because not only does it reinforce crookedness and hollowness, it also stresses the horse’s joints, and often his mind too.

Learning To Lunge A Horse Well

Lunging a horse demonstrates exactly the same biomechanical dynamics of engagement as riding involves
Lunging a horse demonstrates exactly the same biomechanical dynamics of engagement as riding involves
Anyone can learn to lunge well, and not only is it greatly beneficial for your horse, it is also highly instructive for the rider.
Lunging a horse towards engagement allows you to see before your eyes the dynamics at work in the horse’s body, which are exactly the same when you ride.
This adds another dimension to your understanding of engagement, as you can both see in the horse and feel through the line exactly how alignment, bending, balance and engagement are all intertwined.

Horse Collab2014-07-03_03-07-42_PM

Happy Horse Training is founded by the sisters Camille and Gabrielle Dareau, who live in the beautiful Gascony region of the south of France. 
In our passion for the art of dressage as a pure gymnastic discipline, we have taken the perhaps unusual approach of studying riding purely for its own sake with no other agenda, whether competitive, commercial or even that of simple recognition.
This has allowed us to work with horses that in most other circumstances would be rejected, and in doing so we have discovered exactly how it is that the rider can transform themselves in order to transform the horse.
In the normal context of dressage based on the performance of certain movements, our results may be limited, but the quality of movement we achieve through progressively suppling problematic horses by means of engagement speaks for itself. Riders who apply the principles we teach, often very different from what they learned previously, are equally convinced by the results. When we come to difficulties with our horses in their training or management, we don’t think of ‘selling them on and getting another one’ as being a relevant option. To us that would only mean passing up an opportunity to learn something from the process of finding a real solution. thanks to this attitude we have seen many of our horses develop a radically different appearance and disposition, to the point of a real change in their conformation and basic temperament, characteristics usually seen as unalterable.
In the same way we have seen riders of many different types and abilities transform to become confident, effective and skillful at riding in engagement, which had often been a totally undiscovered dimension of riding to them.

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 10

Elder's Meditation of the Day August 10
"Nature is the storehouse of potential life of future generations and is sacred."
--Audrey Shenandoah, ONONDAGA
We need to honor and respect our Mother Earth. She is the source of all life. The sun shines life to the earth, then the earth produces life in all forms and in a balanced way. Everything is here to serve everything else. If we interrupt the flow in any way, we leave nothing for the future generations. Before every decision is made, we should ask, and answer, a final question; "If we do this, what will be the effects on the seventh generation? What will we cause our children to live with?" We need to have respect and love for all things and for all people. We need to do this for ourselves and for all the children still unborn.
My Creator, let me look at nature today and let me have the highest respect for all the things I see. All the two legged, the four legged, the winged ones, the plants, the water, the air, the Mother Earth. Let me have respect for myself.