October 2009


More ground exercises for balance and lightness

Join Stacey in the "ManeStream"

Yes, Desert Horse is now doing some social networking – and having a good time!



November 8
RideAware Rider Body Awareness Workshop
A powerful series of “horseless riding” experiences provides you the unique opportunity to experience subtle posture and balance changes from the point of view of the horse. Innovative yoga matwork tailored to equestrians will teach you advanced practices for stability and flexibility.

November 15
Intuition, Intention & Your Heart's Desire
Our newest offering in the "personal transformation" series, this retreat includes yoga, horses, tarot and body awareness exercises to access intuition, focus intention and make space for your heart's desire. This is a private retreat, but we'll happily schedule one specially for your group of friends, family or co-workers.



From Our Favorite Collaborator,
Desert Horse Yoga

October 24
November 21

Deep Core Intensive Yoga workshops for riders, bikers, climbers and other athletes





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Desert Horse Services Inc.
© 2009
Desert Horse Equestrian Services

Part 5 of Longeing in Balance. Start here if you're new to the series.

Though there are a lot more ground exercises you could do for suppleness and self-carriage, our goal here is to start working on longing posture. So, if your horse is moving pretty evenly on both sides, releasing at the throatlatch, neck and shoulder to rock back and forth and smoothly transition from one bend to the other, it’s a good time to start building circles on the short line.

To warm up for this new work and get both yourself and your horse connected and balanced, do a few minutes of the S-turn and the pendulum exercises from the previous lessons.

To prepare for work on the short line, be sure your leadrope is hooked to the side ring of your snugly fitting halter. Or, to give you an even better connection with your horse, cross it over the noseband of the halter by threading the end without the snap through the noseband side ring from outside to in, making an “X” over the noseband and then threading it through the opposite side ring from inside to out. Gently take the slack through the two noseband rings until you can hook the snap to the ring at the top of the cheekpiece. This gives you a gentle but very clear connection with your horse.

For the first exercise, we’re going to start teaching the horse to lighten a shoulder and take a step with that foreleg when we ask him to, yielding to a cue given with a dressage whip. We’ve done our homework by helping him learn to release a shoulder and move it away from pressure to create a slight bend and to step forward and back in balance with specific feet. We’ll just build on those exercises so the horse starts to learn to make the same choices when we’re not touching him.

To start, pick the side where the horse bends the most easily (hence, the shoulder he finds it easiest to yield). Face your horse’s neck and take contact with the noseband of the halter by hooking two or three fingers down through the noseband in front of the cheekpiece connection. (You’ll connect the left hand if you’re on the left side of the horse and the right hand if you’re on the right side.)

Use your release series at the throatlatch and shoulder and lift the ribcage to ask the horse to bend slightly, guiding his nose toward you while rock his weight onto the opposite foreleg and send his ribcage away from you while he rocks back onto his hindquarters. Stand facing him at about a ¾ angle (you’re turned toward his opposite hindleg) and tap him gently with the whip on the shoulder nearest to you, the one that is unweighted, while you allow him to rock forward. You want him to step forward and slightly laterally with that leg. However, at first, you’ll reward any movement of the “correct” leg – backward, sideways or forward.      
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Welcome to the ManeStream, this fascinating place where horses and people live, work and play together in collaboration. I have been finding my way to this place most of the years of my life, guided by the four-leggeds who have ever been my friends, teachers and guides.

My path probably was determined when I was about six weeks old, the first time my mother had someone hand me up to her on her appaloosa stallion. She used to prop me in front of her while she trail rode along the country roads near our home (a choice she later admitted might not have been the safest!) I truly don’t remember a world without horses in it, without soft muzzles and quiet nickers and the peaceful sound of hay being methodically ground by enormous teeth. As a child, I tasted all the feed from the bins in the dusty wood-sided tackroom. I read about horses and played with toy horses and rode a million miles pretending the propane tank was my trusty steed.

When I was about three, my parents woke me in the wee hours of the morning and carried me out to the barn in my footy pajamas to watch one of our mares foal. At four I had my first pony, who taught me to sit tight and steer a big spiral the day a bee bit her backside and she took off at what felt like top speed. Maybe I never really left that spiral; perhaps the horse gods pulled me in and claimed me that day.

Having horses in my life grounded me for the challenges of an unpredictable home life and protected me as I maneuvered the terrain of school and friends and choices. No matter what, I always had someone to share my troubles, a soft neck to sob into, a collaborator when I just wanted to run far and fast. Their silence has always expressed more eloquence than any poet or songwriter. In their eyes lived patience and kindness, never judgement or censure – even when my actions surely deserved both.

I never intended to make horses my livelihood, but instead to have them as an adored avocation. But wherever else the path led proved only temporary, a place to gather some skills and knowledge to bring back to the center, to the horses. I never could have imagined where I have come to, this place that’s decidedly not in the mainstream where I started out, a quiet, conservative country girl. This place where the horses speak and teach and beseech while I try to understand and interpret and express their clarity, their essential presence. An energy propels me now, a force that’s in me and of me. A current at once sustaining, yet also inescapable. This is the ManeStream.
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