Thursday, August 24, 2023

Mama Cass and Baby Pomme

Mama Cass is in month four of pregnancy.  I can't quite believe it.  Not going to lie, there has been a lot of transference of my pregnancies and how awful they were and Cass.  Maybe that is why I have been hesitant about writing about it before now.   Cass is nineteen years old and this is her fourth pregnancy and so yep, she is a mature, higher risk pregnancy and I don't want to jinx it.  None of my pregnancies were easy and I lost a daughter at 27 weeks gestation and knowing that can happen to me, I have transferred that awful episode to poor Cass.  However, she is helping me heal and showing me it can be OK.  So her story so far.



We sent her off to the vets on May 10th.  Her ride was sorted out (thank you Kevan). The vet was all ready. The stud knew Chicago was going to have to step up and produce the goods.  We were all set! I had asked my lovely friend Chrissy to communicate to Cass that she would be leaving us for a few days and this was the only way we could impregnate her.  She was immediately anxious when this was communicated to her and asked if I could go with her, I wish darling girl, but this is a journey you have to do on your own.  She knew she was going to have to be super brave in doing this and for the most part managed it!

The day she left she had already come into season, I freaked out, phoning the vet, not sure if that meant she was ovulating and did that mean we had missed the window.  The vet and their staff were amazing at hand holding me through the situation and keeping my nerves on an even keel (just about).  She arrived at Paton & Martin and the vet saw to her the following morning.  She was ovulating and ready to be inseminated.  Chicago does not do live cover and we had already decided that artificial was going to be better for her as she had trauma attached to the previous coverings.  The lovely vet was going to Chicago's stud that day, so picked up the freshly produced goods and brought them back to Cass and inseminated her that night.  They phoned to say it had all been done and hopefully it was successful.  Because Cass is so anxious about being away from home, we had already decided that it would be better for our own vet to do all the after care and had the pregnancy not taken, we would deal with that if it happened.  She was ready to come back to us the following day, but her ride was not ready.  My amazing hauler Kevan rearranged his whole day and picked up Mama Cass and brought her home.  She was so pleased to be back.  She was showing signs of being in season, so of course I freaked out and again my ever so patient vet Maia assured me it was normal and no, she was not loosing any of the goods whilst showing she was in season!!! 

I could see the change immediately.  She was pacing and concentrating.  Literally, pacing the arena, the pasture, she kept looking to me to give her reassurance this was going to be OK.  I am like, Cass, if this is how you are going to behave for the next eleven months, one, it is going to be the longest pregnancy ever and two, you will have no feet left!  Chrissy jumped in to check in with her and was she was far to busy to chat, she was concentrating.  Yep, that mare was concentrating on that pregnancy taking.   After a couple of weeks Cass just dropped into her body and was so peaceful.  It was so beautiful to watch.  Then she started eating, man this mare was packing it away!!!  She kept out of the way of the boys, especially when they were being rambunctious.  Dr Maia came out and did the first ultrasound. I knew she was pregnant, I could feel it, I could see it.  Cass would let me know if she wasn’t.  She was so quiet and content and was cooking that little bean inside of her.  It took some time for Dr Maia to find the little bean (as we were very early, maybe I was slightly impatient….) and Cass is 17.1 hh’s and Maia’s arms are quite short, so digging around inside trying to find a tiny foetus was no mean feat!  Anyway, there was a splodge there and yay, Cass was pregnant! 

Something else that Cass was asking for in those early couple of weeks was to have her belly rubbed, well under her hind legs.  She would lift her leg up for me to rub right underneath and she would want for me to rub her belly.  Cass has always been super protective of her stomach and under her legs, so this was a first.  She would come up to me and position herself and then ask for rubs, then move and pull her hind leg up, so funny to watch, but such a privilege to share. 

Month One Pregnancy (according to University of Guelph Pregnancy Wheel)



  • Size: 0.15 mm – 1.9 cm (0.006 – 0.75 inch)
  • Weight: negligible
  • Size comparison: Pea

Notes: Although so small it’s hard to detect their weight, the tiny cells that become your foal are busy multiplying and organizing themselves this month.



  • Your foal is currently an embryo and is quite active compared to other species.
  • The embryo enters your mare’s uterus around day 6 and moves around (moving between the uterine horns up to 10-20 times/day) to tell the mare she’s pregnant. The embryo stops moving & settles in place around day 15-17.
  • Vets can usually confirm pregnancy by ultrasound around days 12-14 but may have to search to find the active embryo.
  • Your foal’s basic bodily structures develop by day 23 and your vet can detect their heartbeat by day 24.

Into month two…..I was still freaking out on a daily basis, any tiny little sign that she may come into season, I was having a panic attack.  So, maybe more information that required, but Cass and my cycles had synced up, doubly weird as horses are supposed to be 21 days, but 28 days and she came into season.  So even weirder, Cass showed signs of being in season after her pregnancy the day I would start my cycle.  Literally one tiny sign and then it was over.  This happened for month two and three.  Month four, she was just a bit marish.  Squealing, but I found it so funny that on my cycle date, she would show signs of season and freak me out every single time!!!  Now we are in month four, I am chilling out a bit about the whole situation, but there is a still a little anxiety happening, I a not going to lie!  We had a second ultrasound done (sorry Maia) to check on the heart beat.  Up to 60 days the mare can abort the foetus or it can die, so we wanted to check.  Again, the baby was bouncing around in there like they were in a trampoline park.  Also, baby decided it would be fun to move so you couldn’t see a heart beat, but had to do cross sections through the foetus to find where the heart was.  Anyway, it was there, we kind of think it was beating, but honestly, Cass would let me know.  She would be frantic if she lost the baby or anything was wrong. 

The changes I saw in cases personality over the pregnancy have been wonderful.  I have never asked Cass to participate in the therapy work and quite honestly a year ago, I never thought she would be able to.  However, Cass suddenly started to offer herself up for work.  Generally with women, and specifically anything to do with children, fertility, family.  Not only would she offer herself for the work, but she has become a very powerful healer.  I will post about a retreat we had at the farm, but she ear marked two of the participants to work with and they both had the above theme, not only did she allow them to explore what was going on, but she took their pain, suffering and allowed them to leave lighter.  I have been asked again and again if Cass is OK  working with clients, are they putting too much on her as she is pregnant.  I reassured my clients that she will walk away when she is done and I always work with her in between as well. Offering Masterson to help release what she has taken.  I work this way with all my horses and ensure they are looked after after they have done client sessions.  Also, a very big part of my equine welfare is all my horses have a choice in whether they want to participate or not.  If they are not feeling it, someone else steps in or we do something else.  I never make any of horses work.  They get to choose.

Month Two Pregnancy (according to University of Guelph Pregnancy Wheel)



  • Size: 5 - 7.5 cm (2 – 2.9 inches)
  • Weight: 3 - 5 g (0.1 - 0.2 oz)
  • Size comparison: Caterpillar

Notes: Although still very small, your foal will be recognizable as the fetus of a horse by this month’s end.



  • Your foal is referred to as a fetus beginning on day 40.
  • They start developing facial features like ears, eyelids and nostrils. The elbow and stifle joints will be identifiable.
  • Your foal becomes active as a fetus, with head nods beginning at day 40 and limb movements beginning by day 46.
  • Your foal’s heartbeat can be clearly detected by day 42, as a distinct and faster beat than your mare’s.

In month three, poor Cass managed to impale her head on a post in the roundpen trying to escape the antics of the boys.  Bloody everywhere, it was not pretty.  Not bad enough she needed stitches, but bad enough for me to freak out.  Luckily my younger daughter was home and she is a first aider for humans, but it transfers sometimes.  She helped to stem the bleed and I cleaned her up, sent pictures to the vet and got instructions. However, due to being pregnant, she couldn’t be on antibiotics and we gave her the minimal of painkillers.  Poor Cass, she was very brave and let me clean her head twice a day and put polysporin on the wound.

Apples started to fall from the trees, Cass has been feeding the baby a lot of apples.  It doesn’t matter how many I pick up, Mama Cass can smell them a mile away.  Cass spends her days now hanging out only with quiet horses and the minis and munching away at hay somewhere.  I haven’t had to rake up in her enclosure for a month or so, as she snuffles it all up!  The other thing that I am feeling so strongly and maybe I will be wrong, as it is 50 / 50, is that Cass is carrying a girl (filly).  I get girl vibes all the time and so Cass’s baby is now nicknamed Pomme.  As I am sure she is going to come out looking like an apple!  I felt like I should give her a name that suits the journey, strength and love that has brought Cass to this stage of her life and now cooking this baby Pomme, a Greek goddess or a star constellation like Cass, but for now, Pomme works. 

Month Three Pregnancy (according to University of Guelph Pregnancy Wheel)



  • Size: 7.5 – 15 cm (2.9 – 5.9 inches)
  • Weight: 60 - 120 g (2.1 - 4.2 oz)
  • Size comparison: Chipmunk

Notes: Measuring the weight of the fetus may help determine the fetus’ age when the breeding date is unknown.



  • Your foal’s hooves start developing. The sole and frog will be evident.
  • Your foal is very active, moving around in the allantoic sac and changing direction an average of 5 times/hour. Your foal displays neck arching and limb movements and is thought to be practicing the coordination they will need in the real world for nursing, chewing and moving.
  • Your vet may be able to determine whether your foal is a filly or colt beginning at day 60.

In month four she has been even more conscious of protecting her body and now refuses to be the first one out of the stall if there is any chance that one of the geldings could possibly get to her.  We have been putting everyone in at lunchtime due to the heat / smoke / being done with summer for a couple of hours of nap time and she has loved that.  Totally refusing to come out of her stall afterwards.  No idea what she is going to be like as she gets further into her pregnancy!  Cass is actually starting to look like she is pregnant now rather than having a hay belly (or that is what I am telling myself anyway).  She is quiet and wants belly rubs and head scratches. Still has very strong opinions but that is her choice to have those and I am not going to stop it. I do insist on a brush at least once a week though, got to keep looking shiny Mama Cass.

Month Four Pregnancy (according to University of Guelph Pregnancy Wheel)



  • Size: 12.5 -23 cm (4.9 - 9 inches)
  • Weight: 0.9 – 1.3 kg (2 – 2.9 lbs)
  • Size comparison: Kitten



  • Your foal is growing fine hair on their muzzle, lips, chin and eyelashes.
  • Your foal starts growing larger, and so can not roam around as freely in the allantoic sac. The foal is still active, but the activity is more confined.


Sunday, April 9, 2023

Cass - My Heart Hurt Horse - Update

Again, time has flown by, I just read my last post about Cass and it almost doesn't seem right to be calling her my heart hurt horse.  This girl has become a success story.  Success in the way that she is totally comfortable with who she is and her boundaries is willing to give and accept. I truly believe we need to give our horses the time to heal, they need to be able to want to answer our questions that we ask of them and on their terms. I try and work with all my horses in this way.  It is part of what I have been taught through the EFW program, something that has always been ingrained into me from a young age and something the horse appreciates, respects and feels like it has been listened to.  I remember as a teen going to my friends house for the day and she had a new horse.  It was out in the field and I asked if we could ride her.  She said, yeah if we could catch and tack her up, but she didn't like it.  So, I spent the next couple of hours in the field with the horse with tack and slowly put the saddle pad on, then the saddle and did the girth up hole by hole, slowly slowly.  All after just hanging out and brushing.  I got to ride that mare much to my friends surprise and it wasn't because I forced her to accept what I was asking, it was because I had a continuous conversation with the mare as to what was comfortable, did she like it and giving her space to think about it.  It was the way I worked with all my horses.  

So roll on a few years...... and here I am with my little herd now.  Cass.  One of the first times I realized we had opened up channels of communication was when it was sunny on Bowen and I was mucking out.  Christine (the owner) and I were quietly mucking out side by side at the barn and Cass came over to the fence.  I asked her if she would like to be brushed.  I always offer and see what the answer is.  She is so sensitive, she has to be in the mood and the right body space to want a brush on her.  When she has her summer coat, you can feel how thin her coat and skin are.  It is like velvet to the touch and a lot of the time, I just spend stroking her over her body to get rid of the dust and dirt rather than use a brush. I have a sheepskin glove that she likes sometimes, but she has to be in the mood.  Anyway, this morning, she wanted brushing and she wanted every brush on her.  She wanted all the itchy winter coat off her, she wanted the mud and skin off her legs. She wanted to be shiny with a body brush.  She then stood whilst I picked through her tail, to it was tidy. I picked her feet out, oiled her feet.  It was a definite spa day.  After she had had enough, off she wandered.  Christine just sighed and said it was such a beautiful thing to watch.  She had come so far.  I agreed and was so happy inside.  

Fast forward to her coming to her new home on the Sunshine Coast. I was so worried she was going to be stressed that she was away from her herd mates, Edgar especially, as he just calmed her when she needed it.  He would stand there for hours beside her in her pasture and just hold space for her to get her ducks in a row.  To process whatever was coming up for her at that time.  However, that dependency meant she didn't like to be away from him, didn't like not being about to see him, even when it was him coming in from the field after she was in her stall.  So, as you can imagine, I was not looking forward to having her at our property with Bella and a few days later the minis as her only companions.  Well, as usual, I got myself into a state I didn't need to be in.  She came to the barn, we popped her in her stall (which was finished about ten minutes before she arrived) and she just munched on her hay.  I was like, well OK, that was a bit of an anti climax, may as well let them out in the arena and see what they do.  They had a gallop round, saw there was grass and got down to the very serious business of eating.  Soooo that was that then!  

So, funny thing, a couple of weeks later, Cass comes into season.  Now, the first time she came into season when we were on Bowen it obviously brought up a lot of trauma for her.  She was manic, full PTSD, it was horrible.  I vowed then, I would never put her through being pregnant and having a baby.  It was too much for her.  However, this time was different, she was maternal, soft, she was nuzzling up to the minis.  The poor minis were terrified, don't get me wrong, this 17.1 hh, 1400 lb Thoroughbred to their 400 lb, 42 inches.  However, it was not a side I had seen to her.  So, why is this relevant? It was a real turning point in her healing journey.  I feel she had come to peace with her past and felt she was ready to take on her future and more importantly, felt safe, secure, trusting.  It brought me to tears.  

Over the next few months, Cass hung out in the arena and I was able to loose school for her for the first time since I got her, definitely without her trying to run me over in a frenzy of trying to run away.  In fact, I had the opposite problem, my big feisty Thoroughbred would not move faster than walk.  I put her on the lunge, same thing.  She wasn't into it.  I could feel it.  She would trot beside me if I ran, but only if I joined in.  Over the summer, she wanted to hang out.  Would be around the stables as I mucked out, follow me around the pasture as I worked.  She would be in the arena as I worked Henry.  Will all the will in the world, I have tried to only have one horse in the arena at a time to work, but apparently it is a group thing, everyone needs to get in on the act, if my husband saw all three of them cantering around me, going in different directions, with me in the middle trying to ensure that my energy stays high enough, they know I am there, he would have a fit. Kind of fun though, knowing all my horses are so tuned in, they know where I am in time and space, probably not so much to anyone watching though, ha ha ha.  

Come fall, and Cass's mood changed.  She had been working, stepping up to therapy sessions, keeping out of Bella's way (they had a few run in's, well Bella would kick Cass and Cass wouldn't get out of the way quick enough).  I could feel the sadness coming from Cass and could feel that she wasn't sure what her purpose was.  I felt at a loss as to what she wanted.  Then she came into season again and I could feel the yearning.  She wanted a baby.  No, that couldn't be right, as it has caused so much trauma.  I had worked over the last year so hard to help her with this trauma and wouldn't a baby set her back?  She would be so sad if the foal was weaned from her.  I knew this was part of her sadness, that she has lost so many foals.  But what if I didn't wean the baby, where on earth would it go?  Our property is not big enough to wean in the traditional way. I spoke with my friend who had recently had a mare and foal, her thoughts were the same, she didn't wean the foal until he was ready.  He is an awesome little guy. So, my good friend, who is the most amazing animal communicator stepped in.  I asked Cass if she would like to have another baby and assured her that we wouldn't wean early and that the baby would stay with her until he / she was ready to be ridden, which in my world is five or six, when they are ready.  (Henry is six and I feel maybe just about ready to ride now).  So I asked my friend to have a session with her.  Now for some who are reading this, you are thinking, erm, has she gone mad, how can communicate with an animal?  It is much the same as we communicate with one another, but on a much deeper level. It is intuitive, you can feel it within your body and you may see what they see, what they want.  You have to be really connected to yourself, to your surrounding, slip into meditation and be open.  I always kind of know what my horses are telling me, even if it is through their body language, this hurts, I am not happy, I need more stimulation, I want a cuddle, I want to play.  I am not quite there when it comes to the deeper level stuff, but I am getting there and working on it.  Like everything else, it will come when it is ready.  

So my friend had her chat with Cass and Cass lit up.  YES, YES, she wanted a baby, yes she felt good in her body (I was wondering if she was in pain), and yes, she would do exercise in order to get in Baby Mama mode, which could be riding if I so wished.  After the session was up, Cass asked my friend when the baby would be happening.  She explained to Cass, that the vet would need to check she could still have a baby, as she was eighteen years old at that stage (now nineteen) and she was classed as an older mama.  She said she understood.  So, I got everything moving.  My vet came out and examined her and yep, she had follicles and was good to go.  We would need to plan who we wanted her to sire with and keep a track of her coming into season and plan for May 2023.  I also took a course as part of my diploma for Guelph on Mares, Stallions and Foals.  May as well scare myself silly of knowing everything that could go wrong through pregnancy, birth and the early days.  It was great, I was with great classmates who had amazing knowledge and I made sure I lapped it all up.  

I have chosen a sire, his name is Chicago, he is beautiful, but more importantly, he is his owners heart horse, he has the most beautiful temperament.  That was secured for me the other day when I saw in loose in a paddock with a toddler feeding him blades of grass.  Yep, this boy is baby daddy for sure!  Now we wait.  We have her inseminated in May 2023, we will be doing this through Artificial Insemination, because that is all Chicago offers, however, I had chosen this as it would be the least amount of trauma for Cass.  That being said, the way she has behaved recently, I think she would be find with a live cover (my poor geldings are so done with her shoving her butt in their face all the time).  So now we wait.  I feel this is the closure that Cass needs, it completes her healing story, it allows her baby to reach the potential that was stolen from her.  I will have a memory of her through her baby.  

Cass is excited beyond measure, I can feel it from her every pore.  I keep the conversation open.  Soon Cass, soon.  We have to be patient.  She has lost all her winter coat, it is as if she is getting her body ready nice and early, so we can get going with the baby making.  The exercise.  I have had a saddle on her, but it triggers her, so it is not something I am rushing.  She loose schools, we do a lot of in hand work together, we do pole work, I do a lot of Masterson with her, releasing her body where she needs it.  I do stretching with her.  I am not going to get on her until it feels so right and it doesn't.  For the meantime, I will be reading a lot of pregnancy books for horses, I wish they did What To Expect When You Are Expecting for horses.  Would be handy!!!  

This journey with Cass has been so humbling for me.  It has taught me so much that I have transferred into my own life, holding space, patience, quietness, the ability to really read body language, allow for a journey to happen when it happens. Not to rush anything.  Each horse that comes into my life teaches me soooo much.  I become quieter, softer, more patient, slower in my mind, my body.  Maybe I also like to heal. I have loved walking this road with Cass and honestly if I could do this full time, I would.  Not because it is satisfying to see the horse healed, because not every horse wants to be healed, but to offer myself to hold space to see if they would like to join the conversation and give them the opportunity to chat with me and maybe choose to be healed through love, trust and patience.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Wow, time really does fly

Jeez, not sure where to start, we moved to the Sunshine Coast last May (2022).  There you go, a good start.  It was a whirlwind romance, we needed to find a house as ours was sold, my friend and Realtor, Rachel Dempster said this place was coming up and I should see it.  Never been to the coast, husband was in Costa Rica with my youngest on vacation, I brought my best friend over.  We ran through the house, looked at the barn a couple of times and figured it ticked enough boxes.  House inspection the day after, offer in the day after that, competing with two other families.  Realtor was on the side of the road, trying to get home from Mexico, husband was in Costa Rica with dodgy wifi, each offer had to re written when we offered more money.  It was pretty tense, I can tell you!!  Well we got it, because we are here.  Not sure you have ever had that feeling that you were meant to be somewhere, but this house, as soon as I sat on the sofa, I felt like I should always have been living here.  Weirdly, our furniture just slid into place, it was like we had bought and furnished our last house for this house.  

The horses arrived and everyone just took a deep breath and relaxed.  Henry was on Vancouver Island, hoping to be backed, well I was hoping he was going to be backed, he was not so keen on the idea, but I will do a post about that one separately.  He came back in the summer with much better manners and all the ground work ready for me to continue his education.  Cass just relaxed and has been a different horse since arriving here.  Again, another post on Cass and her journey.  One of the things I really wanted on my own property was for my horses to live as a herd.  I wanted it to be as natural as possible and for them to be able to hang out with one another, play and move as a herd.  Which brings me onto Bella, oh Miss Bella. When I bought Bella, I wouldn't say it was a panic buy.....but it was kind of a panic buy.  I knew Henry was going to be away, Gramma had left us and I needed someone to keep Cass company when we moved (she would not acknowledge the minis, still doesn't, apart from to chase them...), so I went off to my favorite rescue, Second Chance Cheekeye Ranch and met a few horses and fell in love with Belle.  Little black morgan cross (I would think).  She was so sweet, intelligent, very sweet and attentive and I thought she would fit in perfectly.  However, once we all arrived at the farm, it became apparent that Bella was a very reluctant herd leader.  How do you tell a horse they do not have to be a herd leader?  Until someone else comes along who is willing to lead the herd, or there is a mutual understanding of sharing the responsibility, the herd leader stays in place.  Now, being a herd leader is one thing, being a total bully is another.  She took her role very seriously and no one could eat where she wanted to eat, she would kick everyone if they got to close, looked at her the wrong way and the poor minis were totally terrorized.  Long story short, I have leased Bella out and have a lovely new boy Ben, yep you guessed it, they both get their own stories!  I never want to sell Bella as I would be so sad if she fell into the wrong hands, she is very happy where she is now and I will always ensure she gets the best ownership.  

Hmm, so what else, well the property is amazing, but due to the fact, I literally run around the place for an hour, I didn't realize the extent of the property, lets just say, I am a reluctant farmer, it has been a quick learn.  We have an orchard, so we have many apples.  Apples bears like to munch, oh did I not tell you about that bit?  Yep, we have bears, again, since not ever being to the Coast before buying, I didn't know we had bears, I certainly didn't know I would find bears hanging out of my apples trees after shaking all the yummy apples out for a snack.  Erm......  So with all of that in mind, once the fruit was ripe, I had to pick it and store it.  Blackberries, grapes, figs, raspberries. I think I spent a good amount of the summer picking fruit!  Also discovering gardens, again, we did a walk around, but didn't realize of what we had. It really has been a year of discovering little pockets of nature.  I love it!!!  Honestly, we have really lucked out with this property.  It is a nature haven.  I suppose that is some of the reason I have been so quiet this year on line, exploring this place, being present in nature, hanging out with the horses and trying to get my business up and running here.  Now that bit has been harder.   

However, as with everything it gives me time to reflect, to take my time with things and to finish off my studies.  Last week, I passed my ICF accreditation and I am now an ACC Life Coach.  This year is all about finishing, so my University of Guelph Equine Studies will be finished at the end of the year, I have one elective to complete and then I am done.  I want to complete my paperwork for Equine Facilitated Wellness this year as well, hoping everything else falls into place in the meantime.  

Anyway, that is the summarised catch up.  I shall post my horses individually, as their stories have evolved and we have exciting news!!!  

Monday, June 27, 2022

My Heart Hurt Horse - Cassie - Part 3

So, I have not been on here for a while as we have been busy moving,   It feels strange posting about Cass in her early days, as she has changed so much, I have changed so much.  However, I feel I need to tell her story and show that a really traumatised horse can come through her trauma and learn to love and trust again.  So last time, I finished off by saying I had started to give Cass choices.  Simple ones really, did she want to be brushed was the biggest one.  She looked so surprised when this was offered, but definitely let me know each time I showed her a brush.  

One day, I was with a client, they were not having a session, just popped over to check in.  We took Cass out for some grass.  She had grazed at this spot many times, but suddenly she had a different attitude to being there.  She totally freaked out.  She was spinning in circles, rearing up, bucking.  All I could do was to go with it.  Keep my heart rate low and get out of the way.  In the end I had to encourage her to walk back to the pasture where her herd mates were and she then galloped around the enclosure until she wore herself out.  She was in full flight mode.  Something had triggered her and this was an episode that did not end for a long long time.  She is still very herd bound and doesn't like to be away from her herd mates, but these days she is lucid when she lets me know. In these early episodes she was not there.  It was scary, I am not going to lie.  She would also do this in her stable if her herd mates didn't come in at the same time, or didn't go out in the right order.  It didn't take much for her to be set off.  We worked on everything.  Honestly, I just allowed her to work through it.  Each episode would become shorter and shorter and eventually, as long as I was there, she would settle down.  I was her anchor. 

However, one day, not long after our first episode we were having a conversation about her not walking through a gate to get out to graze.  I told her, we were not going to be walking through it, but she was welcome to follow me and we could use her other gate and graze outside her enclosure.  I asked her to step back and out of my space and allow me to pass, which she did.   I started to walk back and all I heard was the thud of feet and then felt her a wallop to the side of my head and I was on the ground. She had gone past me, kicked out her back legs in pure petulance at being asked to move out of my way and not allowed to going through the gate.  I truly do not believe she meant to kick me. I know she was having an opinion and wanted to share that with me.  As soon as she saw me on the floor, she ran to the corner and shut down.  She gave me concussion and I went to the hospital and checked my wrist and head were not broken.  I was OK, but couldn't go to the barn for a couple of days.  Cass shut down and was so sad.  I went back on the Sunday and she was so sorry, she snuggled with me, but was sad, it came from every pore from her body.  To me, it was actually progress, she had become aware of her body again.  We had noticed that she was completely disassociated from her hind end and barrel, this was the first time, she intentionally used her body to express an opinion.  Normally she would just go into fight or flight and just couldn't see or feel straight.  She was waking up. 

I was definitely more nervous after this episode, I had brain damage, again!  My brain was swollen, I had headaches, I was dizzy and was not as quick on my responses as I should be.  Cass would react to that as well, she knew when I wasn't myself and could either be empathic to me or be stressed out due to me not being present.  Every time she moved quickly, I leaped in the air about 10 miles high! I was a bit of a hinderance to her progression, but it is OK, this is a journey for both of us.  

Throughout the remainder of 2021, we made slow, slow steps.  Everything has been in slow motion, there are days that I definitely didn't think I was making any kind of progress and times I felt I should just sell her.  However, I knew no one else would understand her and no one else would have the patience for her.  She would either be bred again or put to sleep.  I was not going to give up on her, I couldn't.  Cassie was too sensitive to have Masterson done on her, it released too much too quick.  I couldn't have my chiropractor adjust her back as it was too much.  So all the other avenues I would explore were currently closed to me until she was ready, we just had to see it through together, slowly.  Oh so slowly.

In December. it snowed a lot.  The first time she went out, she went crazy, galloped flat out, screaming.  It had triggered something in her.  It would have been a little over a year that she had been separated from her last foal which had been up North in the snow.  That was the only thing I could think would trigger her.  After that trigger, she licked and chewed and released whatever was going on.  After that, she just had lots of fun in the snow.  I loved that she was being able to regulate her own outbursts, releasing after something triggered her, bringing herself back down to the parasympathetic.   Had it only been 10 months since I got her.  Roll on 2022.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Gramma's Afterschool Pony Club

Ahhh, my sweet Gramma.  We lost Gramma earlier this year, but her memory lives on.  Gram's always had something to say and definitely something to teach.  Her favorite thing in the world, was kids.  She would stand for hours being brushed, flowers in her mane and just being loved on.  Favorite thing to eat was dandelions and little edible flowers.  

I remember when I was younger I couldn't get enough of horses, didn't matter what it was, but I wanted to learn and be around them.  I didn't care if I rode or not, I just wanted to learn about how to look after them, brush them, pick up their poop and know what to do if they were poorly.   So, I am projecting!!  This is my pet project, it is something that enables me to offer what I learned and everything I love about being around horses to young kids.  It doesn't matter if you have any experience, or are even comfortable around horses.  We will learn together.  The program is open to kids from Grade 2 to 7.  

I have run this program for a year or so on Bowen Island.  We had a small group of 6 kids and the week is split into two one hour sessions. The first hour is stable management.  This is where we learn about anything and everything about horses, from grooming, how they live, whether that be in a stable or on pasture or a track system.  We learn about first aid, what to feed our ponies, different breeds.  Even though this is not a riding program, we learn about different disciplines.  On our second hour it is all about the pony, we learn about how to handle the horse, leading, moving the horse around.  We learn about how we affect the horse, using our energy to work with the pony.  This also delves into the equine therapy side of things, how if we settle our body, listen to our senses and how that can affect the horse and ourselves.  We have built some quite amazing obstacle courses and using the skills we have learned work the ponies around the course.

2021 was a busy year for Pony Club, here are some of the things we participated in. We started by learning about how our pony likes to live and made our own stable yards, the group was very creative.  This is what I love about this program, you bring you to the table. I don't care if your stable has a chandelier, awesome!  

We also had Gramma's 30th birthday to celebrate, so we made Gramma a crown, as she deserves it!!  

After Grammas party and our stable building, it was Halloween.  OK, so my ponies are such good sports, we dressed them up for Halloween and of course had a party.  The group all chose different costumes we could dress the minis and Gramma up in and then we voted.  After, we broke into groups and the group all made their own costumes. I was so proud of them all.  They cut, they sew, they stuck.  I just supplied and helped out when needed.  At the party, we did apple bobbing, which I have to say, Clyde excelled at!!  All the ponies got treats.  Clyde was a bumble bee, and was so cute, he bobs his head up and down, so the little antennae bobbed all over the place.  Lightening was a show pony and was great at standing and being plaited up.  He looked just lovely!  Gramma was a sugar plum fairy.  She had a unicorn's horn and wings and a tutu.  Again, totally up to the group and their vision. 

Soooo, after Halloween, we continued on with some stable management.  We unfortunately lost one of the herd (not my horse, but still a member on the property).  We spoke about Odin passing away and how that happened.  We spoke about how the other herd members were handling the loss, especially his daughter.  We did cards for Christine who owned Odin and we visited Odin's grave.  This is a relevant part of learning and I managed this on an age appropriate basis and really held the space for the group to process and give their thoughts on the whole thing.  It was beautiful and enlightening.   

Christmas started to sneak up on us.  We wanted to give the horses stockings and treats.  So that is what we did!  I made the template for the stocking and the group sewed them together and decorated them.  We then found a recipe for treats and had an afternoon of making sticky, gooey yumminess for the horses to go into their stockings.  We hung up the stockings ready for the horses to enjoy later in December.  

We also did a lot of horsemanship through our second hour in the week (yep, all that was the first hour of the week).  We learned about our ponies body language and their energy.  We learned how to safely approach our ponies, understand when they were not happy to be brushed and poked, but also learning how our own energy affects all of this.  We spoke about how if we have a bad day or are upset or tired or super excited, all of this has an affect on our horses.  Some of the kids ride as well (at a different barn), and so we spoke about how that affects our pony when we are riding.  We learned that just by breathing, we can lower that energy, how we can sense into our surrounding area and listen to what is around us, can help regulate us.  The ponies always responded differently to each child in the group and I always give the group the option to participate or not.  Some days, we just don't want to and that is OK.  

We worked a lot in hand, catching and releasing, asking the ponies to walk and trot beside us by increasing our energy.  We learned how to move the pony around just by our energy and also discuss why our ponies sometimes didn't do as we asked.  Is that us or them?  

I give each of the kids journals and encourage them to use them throughout the program.  Whether drawing pictures of what is going on that day or writing how they are feeling, we then have the option to chat about that should they want to.  This can be on a one on basis or in a group.  We also worked a lot of self esteem, inclusivity, self confidence and loving who we are!!!  

We designed and built obstacle courses to work the ponies around.  Before doing any of this, we discussed if our ponies would be happy a four foot fence, or maybe having something they would enjoy would be nicer for them and it would mean they got to enjoy the experience and I pointed out they had to jump it as well next to them!  

We took our ponies out for walks and grass and all took it in turns and worked as a team when it came to our ponies.  

We also put our stable management experience into practice and mucked out their stables and turnouts, brushed them, learned what brushes the ponies liked.  Learned our to halter them and how to lead correctly.  We learned to put their blankets on and feed them.  Each member of the group really stepped up and took turns to do this.  They really worked as a team.  Of course, we brought in the equine therapy side of things, without it being a big thing.  This group became closer to one another and supported each other and were one another's cheer leaders.  I loved it!

Soon after the snow came upon us and we finished Pony Camp for the year.  We started briefly in 2022, however, due to us selling our home on Bowen and making our move to the Sunshine Coast, we have had this camp on hold.  However, I am chomping at the bit to get started again and have lots of plans and ideas for this program for this year and going forward.  I am very excited!  So please come and join us!!! 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Rest in Peace Gramma

This year, we said goodbye to the wonderful Gramma.  Gramma was the ripe old age of 30.  I bought her in September 2020, knowing our partnership would be a short one, but something just attracted me to her.  I kept seeing her face on the website of Second Chance Cheekeye Ranch and knew I had to meet her.  She was well loved and looked after at the ranch, but it is busy and this girl was surrendered by her family and I wanted her to live her final years in a quiet spot where she would be spoiled rotten.  

What I didn't realise with Ms Gramma is how bloody stubborn and feisty and wonderful and cuddly and what an amazing therapy horse she would be.  This girl taught me so much in the short time we had together.  Primarily how fast she could go when she wanted grass, how she thought it was funny if she galloped into her shelter, making as much noise as possible, therefore scaring the bejesus out of all the other horses in the immediate vicinity (usually Henry, who would then shoot off with me behind him).  How she would literally growl if she couldn't get her own way, ie had not finished eating her daily quota of grass.  Only Gramma knew what that quota was and she wasn't going anywhere until it was filled.  

She loved kids, adored them.  Little girls, couldn't get enough of.  Having little girls brush her for hours made her very happy.  They could poke, prod, brush, fuss for as long as they wanted. She knew they would take their time with her, had no where to be, were in the moment and could just be.  The joys of being a kid.  

In sessions, she was a mirror, she told you your truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not.  She worked with her body language, but she also would just impart her knowledge to you. It used to blow me away again and again.  I would have her with a client, they may be brushing her and she would move away, telling them they were not congruent.  I would tell the client to step back, breath, close their eyes, feel their feet on the ground and just see what their body was telling them.  Gramma would hold space for them, guiding them through their body.  When she felt they had made headway, she would walk over, trundle or gallop down to the bottom of her turnout and roll until she had released all that energy out of her.  It was quite a beautiful sight to see.  Even when the client felt they had got to a point, she would pull them back until she had finished with the client.  

Grams had very strong boundaries as well.  She did not do grief or sadness.  She had had enough in her life and didn't want to have anymore.  We respected that.  Ironically, those who had grief or were sad navigated towards her for comfort.  Gramma had other ideas on that!

Gramma had arthritis in all her legs and eventually this was her demise.  She was uncomfortable, sore and ready to go.  I had been having some personal issues and with that came with grief and sadness.  Knowing how Gramma was not happy to support that, I had ensured I had not put that on her and also due to said personal stuff going on, I wasn't listening to my herd.  Anyway, we had a little chat one evening when I was able to take a breath and asked if she was done. She took a deep breath and sighed as if to say, finally, you are listening.  A week later we said goodbye.  She went so very peacefully.  

I will miss this temperamental old lady, but I loved her a lot.  In Gramma fashion, she had briefed the herd she was done and not to grieve her, they all settled after she left.  She has left a large gramma hole at the barn, but will never be forgotten.  She was such a good sport, being dressed up for Halloween, wearing fairy crowns for her birthday and just being who she was.  

Sleep well my sweet girl, say hello to Rumor and Hearts for me.  Love you.

Monday, March 7, 2022

So What Happens in a Session?

With the consent of my client, I am allowed to give you a sneak peak into what happens in a session.  Full disclosure, my client has read and approved all materials below!!

One of my younger clients, Tom came to me for his weekly session.  We always start by checking in and see what has been going on in his world for the week.  I like to catch up, see where we are at that moment in time and what has been going on for each of my clients.  When I started working as a life coach, I didn't think that I would be life coaching my kid clients, however, of course I would be!!!!  None of us have all the answers to questions, but we have a habit of solving problems for others.  This is not what a life coach does.  We work together, solve the problems together, I ask questions, but never give solutions.  

So, Tom and I checked in and he explained that he had a friend that didn't have any boundaries and was on top of him the whole time. I asked what that meant, he said that he would grab him, be in his space, in his face, touching him.  I asked him how that make him feel in his body, he said nervous, it over whelmed him and he didn't like it.  I asked him what would happen if he asked him to stop, asked him not to come into his space.  He said he hadn't done that and I asked why.  He said he didn't want to upset him.  OK, so how could we figure something out that both parties would be happy?  How about, we take the minis to the round pen and play with boundaries.  Tom was up for that.  We are going to use Clyde, hmmm, I prefer Lightening said Tom, yep, but Clyde is a better mirror for this.  OK.....

We lead the minis up to the arena and let them have a little run around and roll.  Now they are ready for work.  So when working with any of my horses, we make sure they are happy and ready to work. So we do what they need.  Generally, they like to have a run around and a big roll.  Maybe a little munch of grass.  That is OK, whilst they do that, we do a little breathing and sensing in.  What is that?  We take some breaths into our body, sense into our surroundings, listening to the sounds, smelling the air, feeling the earth beneath our feet and the air on our face.  It allows us to relax, come into our body, be in the present.  Magic happens when we take that breathe.  

Once the minis have had their little run around, we catch them, again through our previous session, there is a complete science behind it.  Looking at their body language, watching them, not running up to them, taking our time and breathing in between.  Once lead ropes are on, we take Clyde into the round pen, whilst Lightening hangs out with Tom's mum.  The exercise is all about boundaries.  How comfortable are we when our pony approaches us, when do we feel safe and can we ask our pony to stop and how does our pony feel about that?  

I asked Tom to stand one end of the round pen and I would walk Clyde to him. Tom had to put his hands up when he wanted Clyde to stop.  As I walked towards Tom with Clyde, I could see Tom's body language changing, but he was not asking Clyde to stop.  We came right up to Tom with Clyde's nose touching Tom's chest.  I asked him if he was comfortable with Clyde right there.  He squeaked yes, I asked, really??  Erm, maybe not.....  OK, lets try that again.  This time, I brought Clyde around and watched Tom's body language, as I could see it changing I stopped Clyde.  I asked him if that was comfortable, he said yes it was.  I then took a step closer and asked if he still felt comfortable.  He did.  I took another step forward and asked again, I could see that Tom's body language was changing again.  I checked in with him, and he squeaked it was OK.  I took a step back with Clyde and asked how that felt.  Oh much better thank you.  So this time, I said I would walk Clyde round and for Tom to ask him to stop.  This time, stand tall, raise our body energy and put our hands up, so we almost had a force field around us and lets see what Clyde would do.  We did the exercise again and Tom did as I suggested and this time he grew and put his hands up and Clyde stopped in his tracks.  Yay, perfect.  Now, as I asked Tom what he thought Clyde felt about being asked to stop.  I asked him to take a look at Clyde's body language and tell me what he thought Clyde was feeling.  He said his ears were forward, so that is good.  He was standing still and looking at him and that was OK.  I asked did he look sad that he has been asked to stop.  He said no, he didn't look too bothered.  Awesome!!  So, I asked Tom, can you do that with you friend this week and come back to me and let me know how that goes.  Yep he replies.

Roll forward next session and Tom comes bouncing in.  I did it, I did it!!  Did what Tom?  He said I did the boundary thing with my friend.  Oh, how did that go.  It was awesome he said.  His friend came running towards him and he put his hands up and grew his energy, just like he did with Clyde and his friend just kind of ran around him, just like he had a force field around him.  Great I responded.  So how did his friend feel about that?  He didn't care he said, he just kept going and didn't even notice.  He wasn't upset then?  No!!!  See, I said, it is boundary magic, we just need to change our body language a little, grew our energy and set our boundaries and our friends do not really notice.  

So with a lot of kids, they get physical, loud, push, shout, get frustrated when someone comes into their space.  They are not being bad, not being rude, they are just needing more time to adjust to someone coming up close and personal.  Figuring out their boundaries, do they even know what a boundary is? However, it can be the other way, where they can burst into tears, allow their friends and family in their personal space and not have the courage to say no.  It is so important we listen to our kids boundaries, not only to validate their personal body space, but give them the choice of saying yes and no to anyone coming into their space.   Equate this to consent.  

Thank you to Tom for allowing me to share and also for being him.  Trusting me and my herd to help him and then actually taking our lessons and using them.