Thursday, April 8, 2010


I noticed the first "five spot" flowers in the pasture today. The last two years they have taken over a large part of the lower meadow area near the road, we'll see how far they spread this year. I haven't seen any reports of them being toxic, but the horses don't seem to eat them.

I realize now that I didn't take any horse pictures today. I did spend about an hour grooming and playing with them. I took turns between the three horses, trying to remember that I am not teaching them although we did work on NHE elements. When I can really get into the space of being a student, then there is no room for me to feel bad about our "progress" or lack of it. Instead, there is an opportunity to watch how we interact.

One of the NHE mottos is "The horse is always right." It has taken me some time to understand this and now I believe it is fundamental to this path. To me, it means that whatever the horse does, there is an explainable reason for it, and if we humans would like our interactions to be different, it is up to us to learn how to be different ourselves. How do we know when we've changed? When the horse's reaction changes. This reminds me of another great quote from Einstein,
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
This is what most training methods seem to be based on. They might work for physically training the horse's body to mechanically obey commands, but the relationship that develops is one of "I say, you do" rather than leaving room for both horse and human to create a game which is enjoyable to both.

When I looked up from playing with the horses, I saw the neighbors across the road had pulled up three chairs in their front yard and had become an audience. We waved at each other and then I went back to the horse space. I can't even imagine what they must think I'm doing.

After leaving the horses I came across Kate and Dora. Th
ey are daughters of other people in the community. They had set up a flower stand and had made beautiful creations from rings, to bouquets, to brooches all from flowers in the yard. They had figured out the prices, special deals, and were pretty well versed in bargaining. How could I resist?

Here are the creations I came home with. The one at the bottom is the "dancing flower lady" that Dora created. It reminds me of a whirling Sufi dervish.

Sunny and I walked back home as the shadows were getting longer. The sheep and goats don't know that shearing time is Sunday. We hand shear them, it's going to be a big job to try and get all 10 done in one day.

And today we get to meet Lisa:

Lisa and Selene

I grew up on an apple orchard in Kelowna B.C. Canada, and throughout my childhood and teens had four wonderful horses: Claude, Maybe, Texas and Big Buck. Claude was my first horse and most gracious teacher. He put up with absolutely everything and seemed to love me in spite of the things I asked of him, such as riding him on the sidewalk of the main highway through town munching on the lunch we picked up after riding through the McDonald’s drive through. We had a great relationship, and our rides through the hills around town were usually my idea, but I often tied the reins around his neck and let him go wherever he wanted as I lay down, or read a book. For several years I only rode him bareback, and looking back it’s amazing I wasn’t killed as I was hardly ever paying attention, but I guess he was the one who knew what he was doing so it’s a good thing he was in charge. I also had great times with the other horses, but never felt as at home on another horses back as I did with Claude. My riding consisted mainly of riding through the orchards, on government lease cattle range, and on my dad’s thousand-acre ranch a ways out of Kelowna where I lived with Maybe and Buck in the summertime while I was in high school.

After moving to Calgary to go to university I left my horses at home with my parents, and they got the occasional ride when I came home for Christmas or the odd long weekend, but they mostly lived out their retirement years on a lush pasture, with the odd leftover apple tree that they could snack off in late summer and fall. After Maybe and Buck passed away I didn’t know if I would ever have horses again. It was something I always hoped would happen, but couldn’t say I thought it was likely. I had never been involved with horses that were kept in stables, and just didn’t see living in a big city and horses as a good mix. And as a schoolteacher working away at student loans and a mortgage, buying an acreage didn’t seem possible.

On a leave from teaching two years ago though, I actually had time to meet my neighbour, and found out that her mom ran a horse rescue about 20 minutes out of Calgary. A few months later we coordinated and I went out to meet her mom and the horses. One smell and I was in heaven. There was something about the smell of the horses and manure that took me back in time and made me feel alive. I knew in that moment that I couldn’t just volunteer, I had to have my own horse again. The next day I emailed and asked if I could buy a horse, and if I could board it there, as they have a farm of 140 acres. The answer was yes and I then had the daunting task of picking a filly. I spent a couple of days with the horses, and chose Bambi, who I re-named Selene. She was five months old, and had the softest eyes, and most innocent expression. With the money from Selene’s purchase the rescue went to the next auction and came back with two more fillies. One of them was Josie, and my husband absolutely fell in love with her. He said I should have waited. But within a month he had purchased her—as I secretly hoped he would. After boarding there for several months we decided to move them to another place, closer to the mountains but it didn’t work out, as the owner there told us he was getting out of horse boarding—only three weeks after we’d arrived. We found out that we had to move as we were driving to meet Comet. Greg had come across an ad for him online, as something about him just called to us. We hadn’t even been contemplating buying another horse. But on the off chance we might buy him—you’ve probably guessed by now that I’m rather impulsive—we phoned the man who was keeping the girls and asked if he would consider boarding a third horse for us. That’s when he told us we would have to leave. We decided to go see Comet anyway, not wanting to turn around. Once there we got to know Comet a bit…he gives the most wonderful soft kisses for a handful of oats…and after talking with the owners about our lack of boarding situation they offered for us to bring the girls there. They were splitting up and had four horses they were selling, but still had this awesome pasture with a small river running through it and as it was November and hay is hard to come by this year we made the split second decision to buy Comet, move the girls, and begin a new adventure. It has been wonderful, challenging and a huge huge huge learning experience. I have read so many books, watched so many training videos, and been left sour by most of them. This past winter I began working with Sandie Hucal at her horse and donkey rescue. I have been introduced to so many new ideas, about horses and life in general. The path that I am on now with the horses seems so beautiful and worthwhile, that I can’t wait to see the changes that it brings about in all of our lives. As much as I love spending time with the horses the 45 minute drive out to see them is sometimes painful—and exhausting, especially after teaching grade one all day. In the fall we are moving to Kelowna, back to where I had my horses growing up, and it will be so wonderful to have them right out the front door, where I can see them easily everyday.

I said a “little bit about myself”…sorry I lied


Thanks Lisa...any other introductions? Sandie? Eva? Mia? Send them (with pics!) to my email at .


  1. Hello Lisa, nice to get to know you :)
    Selene looks adorable!

    I'd be interested in reading more about Sandie.

  2. Beautiful flowers. Have never seen the ones in the first picture.
    Looks like Kate and Dora have a good business in flowers. Your purchase is beautiful!
    Lisa, I really enjoyed reading your story; Selene is gorgeous!!!