We know horses are very emotional animals, and we know them to also be very relationship oriented. The question is, what does your horse think of you? And what are the signs that tell you? People say all the time, “I want my horse to like me and I want my horse to trust me!”
Horses know good leadership when they see it because their lives depend upon it. We probably all agree that the ultimate relationship with a horse is one in which the horse looks up to you, wants to be with you and feels safe and peaceful in your presence. But all the groundwork and relationship building exercises in the world won’t help you develop this relationship unless you present yourself as a competent leader at all times.
by Jolene Green
I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. About ten years ago I was introduced to horses. They changed my life. I quickly realized they could be a powerful force for hope, growth and joy for my client’s lives as well. I searched out and began practicing EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Assoc.), one form of EAP, but there are many, many other forms and styles. When I tell people I do EAP they always ask, “What is EAP?” Officially it means Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. As a professional, I practice a formal therapeutic style, but if you own or have the privilege of being a partner with a horse, most likely you have discovered every time you are with a horse, it is therapeutic.
You probably find yourself quoting “there’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse” often, especially to your non-horsey friends, but have you ever wondered why?
Fortunately many researchers have asked that question with fascinating results. Dr. Anna Baldwin and Dr. Gehrke (there are others) in independent studies by measuring HRV (heart rate variability) showed horses “seem to live in a coherent (happy, calm, peaceful) state” unless “scary situations” arise. When your heart is in “coherence” as established by The Institute of HeartMath, you are calm, joyous, in a state of gratitude, peace and well-being. Turns out horses live in that state unless frightened. Even then, as prey animals, when what they perceive as a threat passes, they return to their coherent state within minutes. Horses have VLF or ELF (Very LowFrequency or Extremely Low Frequency) heart electromagnetic waves. People not so much. These very low frequency heart waves are directly related to health and well being. People who don’t have enough of these are more prone to inflammation and PTSD, anxiety and depression.
The human heart puts out an energy field up to 8 to 10 feet, as measured by a magnetometer. A horse’s electromagnetic field is five times larger than the human one and is also stronger than ours. So within 30 seconds of touching a horse his heart will take over your heart and bring it to his level, helping us feel better. “Research shows that people experience many physiological benefits while interacting with horses, including lowered blood pressure and heart rate; increased levels of beta-endorphins (neurotransmitters that serve as pain suppressors); decreased stress levels; reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension, and anxiety; improved social functioning; and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-efficacy.” (Dr. Maria Katsamanis & Dominique Barbier THE ALCHEMY OF LIGHTNESS) This is a lot of scientific talk that tells us what we already know: being with our horse/horses makes us feel better.
A returning vet with severe PTSD came to my place, The Barn, after his wife called me saying if things didn’t change she was taking their 3 small children and leaving. She said he was angry, hostile, impatient and scaring their children. He came to 10 one-hour sessions. He never said a word. He just went to the horses (I have 10), pet them, kneeled down by them, stayed with them. In one of his sessions, he leaned over my horse, Tina, and cried for an hour. Tina didn’t move. She occasionally reached back and touched him on the shoulder. On his last session, he walked over and said “They reminded me to be human. They helped me find my heart again.” He didn’t return. When I called to check in with his wife, she said she had her sweet husband back.
Another man called to make an appointment for his 15 year old daughter. He chose to stay for the session, sittiing in a chair just inside the fence. Tina (my Norwegian Fjord) walked over to the man, put her nose on him and stood that way the entire hour of his daughter’s session. At the end of the hour, I asked him why the horse was with him. He said “She’s comforting me. The reason we’re here is because my wife is an alcoholic. When she drinks, she abuses my daugher. The State told me if I don’t get my wife out of the house, they’ll put my daughter in foster care. I filed for divorce today and I’m broken hearted.”
Our horses are a privilege and a gift. They change our lives and our hearts. And, if you are like me, we never get enough. They are good therapy.
There are hardly words for my connection with Six. It is so deep I don’t have a lot of words for it. It is a feeling inside that only him and I share. I know every single thing he likes and does not like, how to keep him happy without him doing anything besides looking at me. Communication in any relationship is important, but it doesn’t have to be talking. Six and I have our own communication together and we understand each other. His eyes tell his whole story. There is so much expression of love, angry, sadness, discomfort, and happiness if you are listening. Every horse is so different like people are, some people are happy go lucky, or more on the lazy side. Six is very sensitive and his feelings are hurt very easily. He also does everything with love and meaning. He always gives 100% effort and try in everything he does. As a partner this teaches me to work harder, try hard, dedicate more not only to six but to our team together. Both teammates have to give 100% of their effort to do their best. Six is also very humble and kind, he doesn’t like to be the center of attention, just the center of my attention. He reminds me, even in a packed arena all that matters is him and I.
Every night when I tuck him in I sit in the same corner in his stall. He will always walk over and lean his head on my shoulder for a nightly ear scratch. After his ear scratch he nuzzles my hair for a few minutes before I say goodnight with a kiss on the muzzle. It’s not always about that one win of the barrel race or rodeo its about the deep soul connection with your best friend.
Six and I just finished up our year at the Great Lakes Circuit Finals in Louisville, KY. We had another Great Finals, we were 1st in one round and placed 2nd in another.
I used the Daily Gold quick relief ulcer syringes every night before running. Six tends to get tense before his run as he anticipates the excitement. If the alleyway at a rodeo is really long it is difficult for me to get him all the way down it while keeping him calm and staying focused. In Louisville the alleyway is really long and downhill. It was important to get all the way to the bottom of the hill so we could have a level approach to the first barrel.
Six stayed calm and collected every night all the way down the alley, which helped us work better as a team together. Thank you Redmond and Redmond products for everything you have done for Six and his health. Redmond’s Daily Gold syringes, Daily Gold and Redmond Rock Crushed have been a big help in keeping Six feeling good throughout the rodeo season. Keeping him eating and drinking is so important in making him feel good and perform at his optimum. A healthy horse is a happy horse.
By Jec A. Ballou
By mile 28, I had all of our muscles in mind—my own, my teammate’s, and our horse’s. An identifiable panic that they all might not hold up for the remaining hot seven miles dented my ribcage. We were within sight of 3rd place at the Ride and Tie World Championships, but the desert heat and elevation had combined to drain any reserves we might have stored. My legs moved heavier each step, the horse’s body felt labored. And yet we all trudged on, able and steady.
Right then I thought about the Redmond salt and minerals that all three of us had fueled on and what an extreme test we were putting them to. For the uninitiated, Ride and Tie is an endurance race where each human on the team (teams are made of two runners plus a horse), alternates running and riding. As each rider swaps her role to runner, she jumps off the horse and leaves him tied to a tree until her teammate catches up and climbs onboard. Each team continues to leapfrog in this manner for 35 miles; the fastest team wins.
For the 2016 championship event at Cuyamaca State Park outside San Diego, our whole team relied on Redmond beginning three days before the race when I upped our horse’s Redmond Rock Crushed intake and dosed him with a syringe of Daily Gold paste for the long trailer ride. The morning of the race, my teammate and I tucked several Re-Lyte tablets (Real Salt) in our hydration running packs. The fierce desert sun was doing its best to melt us after the initial miles of singletrack where a few shadows still lingered across the trail. Temperatures climbed towards mid-90’s, the dry air felt thin and inadequate. This was the kind of day when even well primed muscles just quit, or cramped. Or horses got dehydrated and could not recover.
And yet—thanks, Redmond!—none of that happened. Our Arabian gelding Duncan sailed through both mid-course vet inspections with good hydration and gut sounds. Melissa and I lost some speed in the last miles, but our legs never cramped or quit. When I worried that my quads would turn rubbery and useless, they kept responding fine. We kept a steady assault on every rock-strewn hill as it came, scrambled through dried up streambeds. When we made the final turn on a dusty trail to the finish line, we have a little surge of everything left to claim 4th place, our highest placing so far in the championships of this challenging, crazy sport.
Redmond’s motto is to ‘elevate the human experience.’ I have been a first-hand recipient of that promise more than once. A month earlier, I had run across the Grand Canyon and back relying on Re-lyte tablets. And now here I was at another finish line, this time with a friend and a horse also elevated by Redmond. In today’s hyper niche nutritional world, I’m grateful to have a company so straightforward and simple that can cover the needs of both my horse and I in the daily challenged I love.
Jec is a committed rider, author, philosopher, published poet, and athlete. jecballou.com
I feel a little like the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding who used Windex for everything, but I LOVE First Aid clay by Redmond. Now I reach for it first. For example, my Arabian gets awful, raw rub spots from laying down on the front of his fetlock if I don’t get his upside down over reach boots on early enough in the spring. This year I couldn’t get his sores to heal. Finally, I decided to try First Aid clay on a square of Derma Cloth, wrapped it with Vet Wrap, left it for 4 days, and when I took the band aids off, the sores were healed.
Another time, I was out weeding and I pulled a lot of Milk Weed. My arms started burning unbearably. I ran in the house, washed them and as I glanced down, some First Aid was sitting right there on the counter, so out of desperation I put some on, and my arms instantly stopped burning.
Adjoining my property is 10 acres where the elderly lady who owns the property, lets sheep and 2 cows graze on her pasture. One morning when I was feeding my herd, I noticed one of the little calves had a really long, deep gash that cut all the way through the skin. It looked awful. I immediately knocked on her door and let her know, but she is elderly and it must have been overwhelming for her, because the next morning I noticed nothing had been done. I watched for a few days, and when I still saw no treatments, I went to my first aid kit and looked at my products. I grabbed my First Aid and (yes, I was feeding them) when they came to me, I put a bunch of clay on the calf’s gash. Now I do it every morning. He must associate it with pain relief, because, when I reach over to put the clay on, he leans his side towards me.
I had a really bad mosquito bite when I came in from watering the plants last night, and, yes, I reached for the First Aid. I hate sounding like an advertisement, but I really am hooked on this stuff.
In 2011 I had sold 3 barrel horses and was planning to buy the perfect horse to take the next step in my barrel racing career. I wanted something perfect. I remember sitting at Jane and Ryan Melby’s house and Ryan said, “What do you want in a horse? Do u want a mare or a gelding? A long strided horse or short strided horse? A push style horse or a free runner?” Read More
I enjoy spending endless hours in the saddle, sometimes not in the greatest weather conditions just so I can test my (and my horse’s) endurance. I think of riding my horse on top of mountains formed in the last ice age with a view stretching for miles. How the clouds slowly approach against the backdrop of blue while the trees sing when a gentle breeze blows through them. Listening to the distant call of a bird gliding along like a surfer rides a wave. Watching the sun rise, and set. How when you ride under the stars at night on a 100 mile endurance ride you feel a peace that can’t be explained. Read More
Some people prefer to just ride their horses for fun, some people like to compete. I am a competitor at heart; I love the adrenaline rush, the thrill, and the excitement of my blood pulsing before I have to run, I live for it. The bond between horse and rider is indescribable no matter what discipline you’re in. Every time I make a run on my horse Six I tear up as soon as I am back at my trailer. I do not do this because of how my run went, but because of how lucky I am to be riding such an animal and how blessed I am to be doing what I love. Read More