Hello! I hope the new year is off to a good start! Apologies if it has been a while since you received a newsletter; I recently discovered that my mailing list had split into two groups... a few years ago!
This winter has been a continual travel adventure throughout the western USA and in the South Pacific.
Since returning to the States I've literally been exchanging one pre-packed bag for another without much pause in between. Weather challenges, (snow in San Diego, ice in Phoenix, whiteouts in CO,) travel interruptions, and many other factors have dealt an on-going flow of what seems to be trials and tribulations, and yet things always seem to work out better than originally planned!
On the road and working on this newsletter!
My priority in helping individuals and their horses learn to be adaptable has been consistently put to the test. Factors out of our control created challenging scenarios... Yet because of the less-than-ideal situations, folks keep coming away with clearer, refined approaches in how to support their horses through these "opportunities."
Riders witnessed first hand how having intention, clear communication and proactively offering the horse mental and physical direction can completely affect the outcome of a situation! Ironically some of the best experiences shared with their equine partners arose during these seemingly undesired circumstances.
Timing with our horses is crucial, as it is with the rest of our life. For years I have been formulating ways to better help the general public, without losing the quality of the information offered. And now those ideas are coming to fruition.
I've updated a majority of my online bookings, automated registrations, changed email sign up, and uploaded liability forms for clients. I think we have most of the kinks sorted out, but hey, it is technology! So if you do come across an issue, please let me know!
Speaking of technological advances, if you had previously asked to be removed from the newsletter, and received this issue, I apologize. Please click HERE and you really won't receive any more emails!
For the rest of you, I look forward to hearing from you and working with you in this upcoming year. Please enjoy the latest edition of Hoofprints & Happenings.
P.S. Each farm I visit I the local "assistant" shows up to help... Pictured below is Prince Harry in AZ and Button in CO
New & exciting projects...
Interactive Lecture Series
The concept to teach these "Full Immersion" lectures developed from the past 20-something years of my working with a variety of horses- jumpers, Dressage, Three Day Eventing, Race horses, ranch horses, endurance, Gaited horses, cutting, reined cow horse, trail horse, pleasure horses, wild and "crazy," mentally shut down horses, colts and others.
Horses ALL speak the same language. The nuance is teaching the person how to refine their mental approach in learning to first hear the horse, then believe the horse and finally learn to work with the horse to achieve results.
Learning without horses allows a low pressure environment and less distraction where participants can take the time to focus on themselves first. These are specifically designed to create safe, fun and supportive scenarios that will start to influence everything you do with your horse. There will be many "aha" moments both during the lectures and in the months following.
When I say "no horses involved" people wonder if the knowledge shared will be applicable to their horse own. Yes, it completely is. Here's the really cool thing... YOU are the key to the whole picture. You can offer the "missing link" if you have a better understanding of your own behaviors, thoughts processes and habits. This enables you learn how to work within those and your current capabilities.
This isn't about trying to make you a horse trainer. Rather using practical approaches that are realistic and doable, that can make the time you spend with your horse more enjoyable for the both of you.
Often people know that something is missing in the relationship and partnership with their horse- but they don't know what it is. I'm not trying to promote any quick fixes or promise any easy answers. Instead I'm trying to build people's abilities to assess and think through scenarios to help their horse, without having to "rely" on instruction every moment they spend with their equine partner.
These are invaluable skills that are rarely addressed in the horse world. Learning about horses does not come naturally to humans, rather it is a learned ability. Understanding equine behavior, communication, and how to have a conversation takes intentional effort.
A multitude of challenges arise with horse ownership, handling and riding that folks initially may not have considered. But these do not have to be overwhelming. Instead, the more empowered you are by having clarity in understanding the horse, his behavior and how to influence what is about to happen, the more confidence he'll gain to willingly follow your leadership.
There are no short cuts in the riding world, but once a person learns to see their horse without pretense, anticipation or preconceived notions, they can start to work towards achieving the ideal partnership.
Coming to a town near you! These are designed to be instructional, motivational, quality focused opportunities to learn without a horse! As with anything, the mental approach is incredibly important. Lecture participants will be exposed to a variety of learning scenarios to refine their current skills and expand their knowledge.
Two Day Lecture/Interactive Series with Samantha Harvey
- For the love of horses
- Emotional baggage
- Assessing the horse
- Foundation to a Successful Partnership
- Feeling and Finesse
- Body Awareness
What is included? Lectures, bio mechanics discussions, video analysis and discussion of demo rides/ horse handling, body and energy awareness exercises, learning to "feel" activities, group discussions, self-focused assessments, catered lunches, goody bags and more!
Want to find out more? Click HERE
to get on the mailing list for details.
This is a great option for folks that are unable to attend in-person sessions, allowing me to share my knowledge world wide! These personal coaching sessions are one hour, private, and with a focus on you and your horse's particular scenario.
Sometimes, hearing a different perspective can help you understand what others have been trying to teach you. In other cases, a totally different approach may help you through a particularly challenging time with your horse.
Or you may feel that you have done all your "homework," but things just are not falling into place with your horse. Perhaps you want that mental advantage in the competition arena? There is an endless possibility of what we can discuss and address!
Remote Coaching sessions can help you whether you are a pleasure rider, an amateur or a professional. Let us explore together how to bring the partnership with your horse to a whole new level of quality!
Via technology you can also opt for a video lesson, video assessment and more! This amazing option can allow me to literally see you and your horse, clarify where your focus needs to be, offer insight to your mental and physical approach for improving the partnership, interpret your horse's focus and physical participation and so much more!
3 Part Partnership Series
This is for those of you who would like to take the Remote Coaching to a increasingly in-depth experience. This is an individualized three-part series of one-on-one 1 hour long remote phone sessions, designed specifically for you and your horse to help you progress towards your goals with quality!
Each session will build upon the previous, offering you the opportunity to work on finessing your specific "tools" used to offer clear communication and changes between you and your horse. Your time in between our sessions will allow to learn, experiment and grow. Then we can add more skills to your toolbox!
These sessions are designed to support independent learning with your horse and are a great way to hone your skills, awareness and forethought when working with your horse.
YES! From the comfort of your own home, car or even the barn, join in on these one hour group lectures. My intent in offering these webinars is to address a variety of root causes and contributions that can lead to undesired equine behaviors, outcomes and challenges in our partnership with our horse. The seemingly insignificant "issues" can contribute to a person's fears, plateau in progression in the partnership, a lack of "direction" with the horse, or feelings of being overwhelmed.
These are designed to address the often overlooked, seemingly insignificant contributors to the most common "holes" in the partnership between human and horse. (Note- Further in this Newsletter I re-posted a recent Facebook post that seemed to resonate with equestrians worldwide addressing this topic.) These and similar ideas will be addressed during the webinars.
Topics will be discussed and broken down in a simplistic and straightforward manner that will influence how you approach the partnership with your horse. There will also be LIVE Question & Answer opportunities.
Updating Payments & Paperwork!
If you prefer snail mail, that always works! But I have revamped my payment system to make it as easy and as straightforward as possible. For those of you who would like to register, schedule and make fast and easy single time, multiple or reoccurring payments online, you can now do so!
Here is a new web page designed to make it easier to find all FORMS and Registration
Why not just make DVDs?
For years people have asked why I haven't written books or made DVDs to help students. Wait, don't get excited, no, I'm still not creating either of those.
Let me explain my resistance to videos. I like to believe mass-produced horse instruction was created to help further educate humans and horses. My experiences in working with clients who had attempted to learn via video, was that the information watched caused a lot of confusion as folks attempted to emulate what they saw.
A good friend and one of my long term clinic hosts in CA, Peggy Martin, once said, "You don't know, what you don't know." Yes, the words sound obvious, but in the equine world whether you're a novice OR experienced horse person, the more you learn, the more you realize how much more there still is to learn, evolve and grow.
So let's say one day you wake up and want to work on "x, y and z" with your horse because you think it looks like it would be fun. (Yes, smile, for those of you who can relate.)
With handy technology at our fingertips 24/7, you could potentially find hundreds of amateur and professionals who've posted "How to x, y and z" usually follow by, "in 10 minutes or less..." on YouTube, Facebook and other social media.
They demonstrate with a horse, try and explain to the best of their abilities and wish you luck. You think you've understood how "step 1, 2 & 3" was demonstrated in the video. So you head out to your horse to go try it out. And what happens?
Well, your horse may initially respond to what you are physically asking of him. So you feel some confidence that whatever you're experimenting with is working, and look for more videos to try out with your horse.
But at some point your horse may start to react in a way that wasn't shown or dealt with in the video. So what do you do now? Folks tend to be taught to add more "energy" or "drive" to mask the horse's unwanted responses, as oppose to understanding the significance of the horse's resistance or misunderstanding. The focus on attempting to accomplish the task at hand as the priority can wind up causing the handler/rider to not "hear" their horse's concern or lack of understanding.
Your horse has no idea why you randomly showed up one day asking something totally new, perhaps in an unclear way. So he starts to get defensive and perhaps react quite strongly in his physical resistance towards you because of his lack of understanding...
You've been "told" repetition is the answer, so although you may not be totally clear on why you're doing what you're doing, or how you're communicating with your horse, you keep asking for a response from him. Over and over. You can imagine where all this leads.
If you didn't initially recognize that you were missing a solid foundation with your horse, (not knowing what you didn't know,) which needs to be built on clear and effective communication, the cracks in your partnership will start to appear as you ask more of your horse or move him out of his physical and mental comfort zone.
I once saw a shirt that said, "It seemed like a good idea at the time." This relates to the "let's see what happens" scenarios folks experience with their horse. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and somehow it seems to be human nature to have to prove that things have really gone wrong, before the person becomes open minded towards change.
But guess what, I have great news! Whether you're "recovering" from follow-the-video scenario, or it never occurred to you to try such a thing, you have two great opportunities to learn many of the fundamental "tools" and skills- you'll need to offer any horse you attempt to work.
And initially, you can begin your journey without needing your horse... yet! There are so many aspects to teaching people, there is nothing "natural" about a person learning about horses. It takes time, understanding, trial and error to learn about yourself in order to best support your horse.
As an example in slow motion... look at the pictures you see below and come up with three things you notice or assess about each picture. Then see if you can decipher what has happened. Go ahead, write down your answers.
So, in your answers, what did you see/think/feel as you looked at each picture?
I'm going to have you to go back and look again.
This time focus only on the horse. What do you see her focus is on in each frame? Where is the horse's thought? What is the posture she displays- curious, defensive, confident? Is she "asking" or "telling" me what will happen next? Does she look like she is obediently responding and tolerating, or mentally participating?
Then go back and look AGAIN. Seriously. Look at the second and third pictures; assess my posture, stance, and how I hold the rein. Am I spatially "driving" her through the obstacle or asking her to mentally think through it, then physically move?
You get the idea.
Now look at the split second between the second and third picture. The outcome in the third could have totally been different, if it had been handled with "drive" versus changing a thought.
Although initially in the first picture she is standing obediently, heck, the rein is on the ground, in the second picture, she is literally looking at me and beyond me for a second option to avoid the stuff hanging down on her. Had I asked her to move forward in that movement, because her thought was AT me, where would her body have moved? Right AT me. Into MY space. Then what? If I moved out of the way, I'd actually continue to draw her more into my space. Then what?
Look at picture number three. Where is she now looking? If the body follows the brain, does she have a "soft, intentional" thought forward after I asked her to quit looking at me? Or is she a bit tight, thinking backwards and defensive for being told no? Is she available to "hear" my direction?
Then you can see in the final picture when she found a soft, forward thought, and the difference in her posture.
Now did I "practice" this repetitiously with her? No
Was the goal to "get through" the obstacle hanging in the gate? No.
This particular scenario was an opportunity to help the mare to earn how to "think through" a scenario rather than brainlessly react. It was an opportunity for me to support her through her mental search of how to navigate the obstacle in a way that built her confidence and trust in me.
Did I do this on Day 1 of her arrival for training? No. I first had to create effective ways to communicate with her so that as I created an increased level of pressure in her world, she didn't have to get defensive; in fact she learned that she could actually feel BETTER the more I asked of her.
So the point in the above pictures series is to offer a brief synopsis of how much can be "missed" in a demonstration if there isn't adequate explanation or enough understanding from the student. I find as I watch horse instruction videos, a lot have skimmed over mentioning/addresses some of the basic skills needed before they ask their horse to do something their watching in the video.
How does this apply to my teaching approach?
My goal, by teaching people in personal settings and small groups, to help people learn how a horse communicates, thinks, and what his needs are to become mentally available and physically willing towards the human.
My goal is to offer people of all riding abilities the opportunity to raise their awareness within them self; from where their own mental focus is, to how their energy and emotions affect their horse, to how they use their body to communicate.
My goal is to teach people how to approach the "big picture" through small, intentional opportunities that support and build both their horse and their own confidence levels. By the time they "reach" the big picture with their horse, it does not seem like a big deal.
My goal is to teach people to truly work towards quality vs. quantity of what they experience with their horse. By removing the pressure imposed by both society and their own tunnel vision focus on "task accomplishment," and refining the small details, the long term tasks and goals then become effortless and fun.
|"Let's give them something to talk about..."
Below is from a social media post that I offhandedly wrote. It seems to have hit a nerve with many folks worldwide.
End of the week thoughts... Someone was asking about a highly reactive Thoroughbred and how to fix his spooking issues, even after he had been at a trainer for two months. Here is my answer:I agree to rule out potential physical issues first. Then let's change your focus. What if the spook wasn't the issue, but the symptom? What if we started assessing the horse from the moment you arrive, and watch his initial mental and emotional state?
So many horses are starting a session with a defensive, reactive mental state, and often because they are so stressed on the inside, their brain is far away from their body. Rather than acknowledging or putting value to this, often folks try to make the horse physically move more and faster, thinking this will get the horse's focus.
Instead, they're "filling" their horse's cup of what he can handle, until when it is too full, and then "all of a sudden" the horse spooks, explodes, etc.
It wasn't all of a sudden. If you slow down and watch, so often even in the most "boring" scenarios the horses are living in a state of constant mental stress, even if they aren't acting big and dramatic. The little bit of hurry in their walk, the busy-ness with their head when standing still, the constant movement or swinging of their hind end when groomed and tacked, the tension in their jaw, neck and back as the saddle is put on, the inability to stand for mounting, the pulling or heaviness on the lead rope or rein, etc. None of those seemingly insignificant, unwanted behavioral issues are physical resistance. They each are signals as to the horse's fear, worry, anticipation, etc. When he is bothered on the inside, he'll get physically more dramatic on the outside.
And yet, folks are taught to ignore the busy-ness, "oh, they just do that," or reprimand it- lunge, desensitize, etc. What does this teach the horse? When he is having a problem, or is concerned, he either is ignored, or reprimanded and may even have more pressure forced upon him at the moment of his discomfort. So what happens in the future? Each time that horse's cup starts filling, does he look to the human for guidance? No.
He "handles it" by getting bigger, faster and increasingly frantic, as he reaches a point of being overwhelmed. I see it ALL the time. Doesn't matter the breed, training, background or discipline. People are "taught" to ignore the horse until they can't.
What if we slowed down and addressed the horse's brain first. Help him learn to literally look where he is going before he moves (folks are amazed how many horses never literally see what is in front of them due to anticipation). Reassess his understanding, his concept of pressure and how you'll communicate with him from the ground. Can you influence his brain, then movement? Does he mentally check in with you or his brain a half mile away from his body? If he isn't mentally able to hear you, and he's defensive towards how you communicate, his stress will continually increase, and the more overwhelming the world becomes, hence the spooking, bolting, fleeing a lot of horses display.
This isn't about repeating something mindlessly over and over; in fact that does two things, either causes them to mentally shut down and check out- outwardly seemingly fine- until you change something you ask of them and then they "suddenly blow up," or you continue putting them in overwhelming scenarios that eventually overwhelm their mind.
So perhaps, rather than focusing on the obvious- his movement- start to zero in on the subtle nuances your horse is offering in regards to his mental and emotional state. Find a trainer who can help address that and teach you how to have a conversation with the horse. Learn to believe the horse when he shows initial concern and how to support him thinking through all his worry and bother, so that he can physically offer to soften, relax and decrease his defensive reactivity- without you "making" him doing anything.
This isn't a quick fix. It requires a commitment and mental presence from the person, and frequently it causes folks to reassess everything they thought they knew about horses. But in the long run you end up with that confident and fun horse and you both enjoy the partnership.
Spring will be arriving before you know it and whether you have a youngster you're looking to have started, or one that needs to continue his education after his first season of riding, please keep in mind not to rush these horses.
Sometimes owners do not realize just how LONG it takes for a horse to physically mature, never mind the time it takes for the brain and emotions to mature!
I've had recent discussions about the famous "four year old year." I've found irrelevant of the horse's breed, more riders get hurt on a four year old horse than at any other point in the horse's riding career. Why is this?
My theory is often the young or immature horse tends to seem willing and curious at early points in his training. He may appear to be happy to go along with his training. Yes, there might be subtle resistance in his behavior- the slight pause and leaning back, the hesitated movement, the little "drag" on the lead rope or rein... Often people are told this is "normal" or "he's just a baby" and so the behavior is ignored, rather than people realizing this is the beginning of a horse displaying perhaps insecurity, a lack of confidence or miscommunication. The more he may experience this as his education continues, the more his body will increase in defensive postures and behavior. But often because his movement may not feel "scary" yet, it tends to be ignored and he is forcibly pushed through his gentle way of showing his concern.
So he starts to learn to become concerned earlier and earlier, until eventually too much is asked of him and he explodes physically.
Then people say that the horse, "All of a sudden..."
I recently was reminded of a quote by Tom Roberts:
"If you are fond of a horse and wish to him a real favour- train him well. Teach him good manners, good habits, both in the stable and under the saddle. You need never worry about the future of such a horse if for any reason you may have to part with him. You assure him of friends wherever he goes. Perhaps the greatest kindness you can do any horse is to educate him well."
Check out sending your horse to Charm School as a preface to creating a successful partnership. After he learns how to become mentally available and physically respectful, you'll need to come and spend some time working with him and me, so that BOTH of you are speaking the same language.
Details and Enrollment HERE
Tack Fit and Young Horses
Something else to consider with the younger horse is how long the horse continues to physically grow. Some breeds take longer than others to mature, but all of them tend to grow over a much longer time period than a lot of people realize. Depending on the quality of their diet, how they are ridden and their muscle development, can affect their tack and how it fits.
I find many young horses that are brought to me, that had been checked for appropriate tack fit the previous season, the next year their body changed has changed so much that their tack needs to be adjusted.
I've posted the pictures below in past newsletters, but it never hurts to revisit them for a refresher.
Trail Ride Training...
Although horses need "real world" exposure, without quality "tools," you are challenging your horse to get through whatever may arise, rather than supporting him through it. Have you checked your "tool box" lately?
Private Lessons- Don't Miss out!
February 20 &21, 2019
Private Clinic- Closed to Public & NO AUDITING
February 22-24 2019
March 13-18, 2019
April 3-8, 2019
May 28 & 29, 2019
Horsemasters Clinic Closed to Public
May 30- June 2, 2019
June 3, 2019
Equine Retreat- Closed to Public
Couer d'Alene, ID
June 17-21, 2019
Full Immersion Clinic #1
The Equestrian Center
Sandpoint ID 83864
July 19-21, 2019
Full Immersion Clinic #2
The Equestrian Center
Sandpoint ID 83864
July 23-25, 2019
Full Immersion Clinic
Sign Up HERE
Individualized Private Clinic
Sign up HERE
Training- Sandpoint, ID Facility
Horse & Rider Sign Up HERE
Printable registration forms and liability waivers HERE
Once again, thank you to all past and present clients. I am so incredibly thankful and appreciative of you trusting me in guiding you and your horse on this journey! Sam