Hoofprints & Happenings Newsletter
Volume 13 Issue I                                                                                       Spring 2020
The Equestrian Center, LLC            Toll Free 866-904-0111            ID 208-265-2644
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I thought I'd share an update on tentative plans for the spring and summer. As folks are unsure about future lifestyle and horse events, I thought this would be a great time to address originally planned endeavors.

As someone who normally interacts with a variety of folks and their horses, obviously, there have been massive adjustments made in my future schedule. 

I'm still at my winter base in Arizona and am daily assessing reports in regards to my return to my summer base at The Equestrian Center in Sandpoint, ID.

The originally planned final Oakzanita Ranch Winter Series Clinic scheduled for the first week in April has been transitioned
 to an ONLINE Horsemanship Clinic.

A new reality
Though this world pandemic is not something I would ever wish upon the populace, I have witnessed surprising positives. I have found more people spending time with their families, sitting around the dinner table talking, playing together in their yards. I have seen kinder behavior and a prioritizing of humanity rather than judgment, critique, and personal attacks.

In the horse community, there has been incredible support with many folks offering shelter and feed for those whose jobs are in jeopardy and are experiencing financial hardship.

I have also found as a way to maintain some semblance in the mental and emotional well being for horse folks with critters at home, the social distancing is allowing a massive increase in time spent with their horse.

When I originally diversified several years ago to offer my training philosophies through my worldwide Remote Horse Coaching programs, I never could have foreseen a challenge such as what humanity is currently facing.

Though these times can be overwhelming, and each individual is learning how to cope with the current challenges and future unknowns, it has been a wonderful opportunity to be remotely supporting so many horse enthusiasts. Much of the emotional rollercoaster people are experiencing, in general, is reflected in the interaction with their horse. Though it may initially appear just to be about "horse training," the feedback the horse offers the human is reflective of their emotional experience which can be grounding and humbling in these tough times. 

Though it may not seem like an obvious connection, I believe those who are mentally focused on continuing to explore, experiment and evolve their interactions and behaviors with their horse, are really learning how to refine their thinking process and how to apply proactive decision making and practices in other aspects of their life outside the horses.

Learning intentional, rational interaction with the horse can be a great opportunity to learn to change patterned human behaviors that can create a vicious cycle of unhelpful thoughts folks burden themselves with.  Horsemanship students have been reaching out from around the world, seeking support and guidance and reaching new levels of clarity.  They have chosen to put aside their past hang-ups, fears, concerns, and habits, instead choosing to recognize and acknowledge what they need to address within themselves in order for a positive change to happen in all aspects of their life.

Full Immersion Clinics
The Idaho Full Immersion Clinics were currently scheduled for June 26-28, 2020 and August 28-30, 2020. I have had several inquiries as to my plan for them. Safety and health is a priority.

Since we are still three months out from the first clinic and the daily events are rapidly changing, I will confirm by 30 days prior to the first day of the clinic if it will be held. Because of the awesome wide-open setting of the clinic, if the clinics are held, no person or horse will be interacting or handled with anyone other than the owner.

In the event that I am able to hold the clinics, we will be enforcing strict "distancing" practices that will still allow for an amazing learning opportunity and safety.

If you are a registered participant and feel uncomfortable in potentially participating, please know you will receive a 100% refund. You may also apply your current clinic deposit towards a later scheduled clinic or any other service I offer.

Training Programs
As for horses that are currently on the Training waitlist schedule, please know that I will only be accepting the horses upon my return to Idaho, but I will not offer on-site Full Training (IN PERSON) of horse and rider until further notice.

Instead, I have adapted my training programs to offer online instruction of the horse's owner, will be offering updates regarding the progression of their horse.

There will also be a strict protocol as to the drop off of horses arriving on the property to limit human interaction.

As of the moment, I'm limiting lesson options to virtual and telephone formats only. I offer telephone consultations, video assessment & instruction and other options can be found HERE. Virtual Lessons are currently discounted by 20% for all past students. You may sign Up HERE

Check the website calendar  every so often to be kept up to date with the latest activities. 

Keeping the Connection
Whether you decide to reach out for support in any of my Remote Horse Coaching programs, or if you'd like to just drop me an email update, please know, I'd love to hear from you in either case. I'm putting together a side project and would love to see and potentially share pictures submitted by you, of what you and horses have been up to.

I'm happy to help any way I can. I believe in this time of physical distancing we need to recognize that though we may be limiting our in-person interaction, we have not and must not lose the ability to connect with each other, one human (and horse lover) to another. Thankfully due to technological advances, we can now do so.

Take care and be well. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you soon!

P.S. If you would like a daily dose of adventures, humor, and insight, did you know you can now see my pictures on Instagram, subscribe to my new YouTube channel, sign up for my Blog and follow me on Facebook?
Yes... I have crossed into the abyss of being totally social media committed!

Clear Communication Improving the Partnership

Too many people are unclear in what, where and how they communicate with their horse. They unintentionally "challenge" the horse into guessing what they want. Then they reprimand the horse every time he can't figure it out. Or they present a task using the same manner of communication repetitiously, driving the horse's stress levels up, until he accidentally figures out what the person is asking. The more the horse has to "guess" at what the person wants, the more he will tune out the person's aids or communication and can become dull and unresponsive to the aids or feel like he is "taking over" during the session. 

Think of it as driving a car. If all you had when you drove was access to the gas pedal- with no steering or brakes, you probably wouldn't get in the car. And yet people get on 1000 lb. prey animals with very little steering and often ineffective brakes "hoping" that it will all "work out." Without the appropriate "tools" to communicate, they will not experience the "relaxing" and confidence building ride. 

The more specific the person can learn to be in what they are presenting, prioritizing the horse's thought first and then his physical movement- which at times may become literally one-step-at-a time depending on the scenario, the more the horse has a chance to "get it right." This will decrease his concern in the world around him when addressing the human. He will begin to participate in a physically reasonable manner. One quality step will turn into three and then 10 and then eventually a whole circle and then the entire ride. 

This approach is by no means the quick fix or instant gratification that most training methods and tack usage suggests. It instead is about building a partnership between two thinking participants. The more thoughtful the experience, the less overwhelming for the human and the horse. 

The less stress during the experience, the less unexpected events will bother either of them. This approach is proactive behavior to de-spooking, decrease/eliminating dangerous behavior, and diffusing unwanted scenarios because each interaction is a continuous, two-way conversation. If the rider believes the horse and then immediately addresses any of the horse's concerns, the horse has no continuous build-up of worry to be reactive, defensive and unreasonable. 

It takes clarity and awareness in the human of riding every single step to "help" the horse learn to mentally search for what is being asked, rather than receiving a multitude of random physical responses. The clearer the communication the more immediate the responses. It will take less effort to encourage the horse to try and participate in a reasonable manner. 

And this is what leads to the emotionally fulfilling experience for the human.

Would you like to find out how Sam can help you through her REMOTE HORSE COACHING program? click HERE
Free Group Remote Coaching Membership
Paid Group Membership with LIVE weekly videos
Individual Remote Coaching Options

Online Horsemanship Clinic

In light of recent events, I decided to offer my final California clinic as an Online Horsemanship Clinic. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to participate remotely, in a three-day-long clinic series with me. Each day will begin at 9 am and end at 12 pm. The day will be separated into five learning sections; horse handling videos, daily discussions with Q & A, Four Photo Findings, Tack Tricks, and Open Forum.

The best part is you can learn, participate, ask questions, submit photos, watch, and review sessions all from the comfort of your own home! Even if you can't make all of the sessions, you can review them at any time!

This clinic is currently offered to past and present Oakzanita Ranch clinic participants and auditors. If you'd like to get on the waitlist for the upcoming Online Horsemanship Clinic Series please email me.

Online Horsemanship Clinics

The Purging  of Containment in a Horse

"During several of your training sessions with my horses, you reported that they were "purging." They were definitely different horses following this event. Could you explain what this is and how to tell when a horse is doing this.....and maybe why."

Many horses I encounter have a level of continuous emotional containment. This creates mental stress and a physical tightness in their behavior. So when I see horses whether alone, in a herd, with a human nearby, handled from the ground or ridden in the saddle and the movement looks disjointed I remind folks to learn how to break down the "big" picture of the general movement of the horse, into small pieces.

Starting at the head: Noticing wide or unblinking eyes, and ones that look "blank" or empty. Notice if there are peaks above the eyes. If there is a clenched jaw, a continuous diagonal of the horse's head with his nose stuck forward at an odd angle, flared or rigid nostrils, wrinkles around below or above the upper and lower muzzle area. Tightnights or rigidity in the ears and inconsistent breathing.

Neck: from directly behind the poll and jaw area is there a "swelling" or enlargement of the muscles. If you touch the length of the horse's neck does it feel rigid and long or exaggerated and shrunk up like an accordion. Is there a "U" even in non-u-necked horses.

Shoulders: Is there a bulge in one or both shoulders? Can you see a separation from where the neck attaches to the shoulder or does it look like one long "piece?" As the horse moves is there an actual rotation of the shoulder or does it look tight and stiff in the movement?

Legs: Do the knees and hocks actually bend as the horse takes a step? At a halt does the horse stand balanced or with his feet point in for different directions? Does he move "leading with the hind end" first or does he move the steering end- his front legs- first? Does he stand with his legs underneath him or splayed out behind him? When he steps does it look like his body is aligned or does it look like his front and rear are walking in two different directions?

His rib cage and topline: Does it look like he is swelled up- behind the rider's leg (even without the rider on him) as if he is an inflated balloon? Does his breathing look rapid and quick even if he hasn't moved at a high rate of speed? Does the portion of his back where the saddle would sit look dropped and hollow from his whithers to his rump? Hindquarters: Does his hip (look at the stifle too) look like it is making a full 360 deg rotation forward or does it look like it stops early? Does each side move equally?

His tail: Is it clamped down to his rump, dramatically held to one side consistent, or rigid out behind him?

This is the basic starting point of assessment. Most of these behaviors are apparent in horses that have learned to contain their response to the human. As you start to address helping the horse let go of defensiveness, concern, stress, worry, fear, and other emotions that cause them to physically lock up their body or "brace" as I call it, you see what I call the purge.

It will appear that the horse is physically "melting" in front of you as you find the area or spot (it is different in every horse and every scenario) that allows the horse to physically let go of the tension, mentally soften and emotionally let down. I say that when you find the "right" spot of helping the horse let down, it is similar to pulling the string on a dog food bag; the string is very tight and keeps the bag sealed tight. But once you find the right way to release it, the whole thing unravels rather easily. Same thing with horses.

Often you'll see this in many forms. It could be a massive change in the physical softening of the muscles and body parts, you'll see them blowing their nose, passing manure, passing gas, sighing, chewing, jaw movement, tongue dropping out of their mouth, lowering of their overall posture, cocking of a rear foot, and most important a softness in their eye. It will appear as they have "suddenly" become present again. It is as if they are able to release all of the containment that they often have been unintentionally taught by the human to hold on to.

Does this mean all is forever well? No. Often the familiar is offered more frequently than the actual "new" experience. So at the beginning of supporting a horse through respectful conversations, you'll experience a rollercoaster of patternized containment in the horse's processing and efforts.

When you interject and help them learn to purge, this may last a minute or two, then you'll see them resort to old habits again. Part of the "training" you are offering is to help influence an alternative response from what has become a non-thoughtful, defensive reaction. Think of it as offering cognitive behavior therapy for horses.

As you refine your support, you'll start to see the horse let go of his containment faster, purge sooner, and then be able to maintain the softer mental and emotional experience for longer periods with less influence from you. The horse then learns to trust the influence you are offering with your communication as it offers similar support he would find within a herd.

Upcoming Webinar April 4, 2020- Sign Up HERE
Horses, Training & Chores
Subject to change based on WHO suggestions.

Online Horsemanship Clinic 
April 1-3, 2020 9am-noon pst
Sign Up

Horsemanship WEBINAR
April 4, 2020 11am pst
Sign Up
Can't make the LIVE version? No Problem

Full Immersion Clinic
The Equestrian Center
Sandpoint ID
June 26-28, 2020 

Alternative Horsemanship Clinic
Hot Springs, MT
Dates July 10-11, 2020
TO BE CONFIRMED June 10, 2020
Full Immersion Clinic
The Equestrian Center
Sandpoint ID
August 28-30, 2020
TO BE CONFIRMED July 28, 2020

Mini Full Immersion Clinic
Coconut Creek, FL

Oakzanita Ranch 
Winter Clinic Series
Descanso, CA
October 14-19

Oakzanita Ranch 
Winter Clinic Series
Descanso, CA
November 11-16, 2020


Sam "Grooming for Feeling" assessing feedback from this mustang mare who has a strong flee in her when she is concerned.

Have you visited the updated Remote Coaching website yet?

One of the Oak Creek Herd babies that I worked with in Idaho arrived this fall at her forever home in Arizona.

Sam teaching at a private facility in Thailand

Sam teaching at a clinic in CA explaining 
rotation in the rider's hip creates the energy
in the horse's movement.
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