I really enjoy painting. I got started doing watercolor a few years ago and have really enjoyed it. I love and hate the fact that you can paint loose and you can’t totally control the results. These are some of my favorite ones from the last couple of years.
Author: Ivy Starnes
HORSES and LOVE (2011)
HORSES and LOVE (2011)
How do I even start this article? I have so many ideas floating around in my head right now. What is love? Is it a feeling? Is it an act of the will? Can it apply to horses? Are there parallels between God’s love for us and my love for a horse?
What is love?
“Love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object.” ~Voddie Baucham
I have a tendency to try to overpower things and to dictate terms, especially in horse training. I would try not to let my feelings get involved. Yet this tendency is not always helpful.
I had this mare for training (2011). I started by “explaining” to her how things were going to be. She promptly showed me that she was a lot bigger and did not like my agenda. I tried to “tell” her to be calm, and she showed me she had more patience than I did. I tried to show her that the rope wasn’t scary; she showed me she didn’t believe me.
Here I was, trying to force my will, my thoughts, on her and she wasn’t agreeing. I needed to take a step back. Why was she distancing herself from me? It took a while, but I think I figured it out. I did not love her; she was not my horse and I wasn’t even trying communicate that I cared for her, that she was more to me, more than just something to tame.
I realized I had to change that.
I started by just going to her, rubbing her forehead and being content. I would rub her gently and firmly. Then I began petting her, with the intention of feeling and being calm and relaxed myself. There was progress. Where before, she would stare off into the distance and hold herself aloof, now she would look back at me. She would allow me to rub her forehead and allow me to help her to relax.
Then while I was down in the round pen with her, as I was thinking about love, and God’s unconditional love toward us, I realized that I needed to love this horse that God had given me stewardship over (just for a little while). This horse had not done anything for me, but I was to show her compassion and understanding, just as God does for us.
I went down to her and prayed that God would give me a love for this horse. That it wouldn’t just be an action or a choice, but that it would be a feeling, a state of being. In that moment, I felt God’s love for me and how much He has forgiven me. After that, I felt an affection for this horse and I think it really helped us to connect. I left her halter and lead rope off. I just stood with her and worked with her (and myself) to just relax.
Then I was able to throw the rope over her, without her moving (previously, this was impossible), and then saddle her up, with her staying calm and relaxed. She could have left whenever she wanted, but she was much happier to be with me today. I felt such a joy just being with her. Me being me and her being her. No agenda and no set plan. Just living.
Before that day, she didn’t want anything to do with me or the saddle or ropes or anything that I was asking her to do. Then, in one day, that changed. But what changed? I was the one who changed.
We had a nice day of training and relaxing after that. What a difference attitude and thoughts can make. A lot of the “training” took place doing nothing other than thinking about being relaxed. I would look away from her, listen to the birds, feel the wind on my face, and try to really feel my weight on my feet. It seems to have a lot to do with being in the moment and living in the here and now (Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling).
I wanted to love this horse. I can’t just tell the horse I love you or do something for the horse so that she will know. I wanted to see if my feelings toward a horse could influence how the horse reacted. There was a change, but I can’t say how the change came about.
I think of how God loves us. We don’t seek Him. He must first seek us. We are resistant, sinful, rebellious, and unknowing of what can be a beautiful relationship. Is that not what we do with horses? We take horses who would rather have nothing to do with us and try to show them the joy of a horse/human bond, but they resist, they run away, and they are fearful of anything we try to do with them. We must be patient and lovingly seek them and allow them to come to us. Sure, we could throw a rope around them, tie them to a post, and jump on, but this will not give them a chance to love back.
So my prayer is that God would teach me to love as He loves.
Thanks for putting up with my ramblings. ❤
”It would be easier to count all the stars in the heavens or each grain of sand on the earth, than to measure or even seek to describe the love of God.” Paul Washer
“Whether or not you feel that God is around doesn’t alter reality. Whether or not you feel he loves you or that you are worthy of his love doesn’t change reality either.” -Brant Hanson
I get so ANGRY! Then I do this
“When a man is wrong and won’t admit it, he always gets angry.”
It’s all too easy to get angry and take that anger out on others. With horses, we often find ourselves at a loss as to what to do. That loss can often turn into frustration or anger. I have become unreasonably angry with my horse and done things I regret. I need to admit when I’m wrong or need help and make sure I never make those angry decisions again. The anger I feel isn’t always at the horse specifically. It could be directed at myself, the situation, life in general, or just my reaction to fear of what the horse’s doing.
No one starts the day trying to be angry. I never intend to be harsh with my horse. I never intend to lash out.
“As an emotion, anger is rarely productive. It releases stress hormones and neurochemicals that disrupt your ability to evaluate and properly respond to situations and it blinds you to the fact that you’re angry in the first place. And it gives you a false sense of confidence.” Chris Voss
One way I can see around the anger is to admit that I don’t have all the answers, to see if I can find options, discover more tools, or look deeper into the cause. It could be something in myself that I need to fix or it might be that my horse is trying to tell me something.
“Anger is extraordinarily easy. It’s our default setting. Love is very difficult. Love is a miracle.”
― Brant Hansen Page, Unoffendable:
In place of anger, I want to feel love. I want to show love. I want my acceptance of the horse to take precedence over my instinctive reaction to lash out.
“Choosing to be unoffendable, or relinquishing my right to anger, does not mean accepting injustice. It means actively seeking justice, and loving mercy, while walking humbly with God. And that means remembering I’m not Him. What a relief.”
― Brant Hansen, Unoffendable
I don’t have to know everything. I don’t have to have all the answers. I will never be the best there is. All I need to do is:
Seek justice, fairness, and calmness.
Love mercy, kindness, and gentleness
Walk honestly with God, myself, and my horse
Make each step its own reward
Make each step its own reward. What are you doing with your horse(s)? Are you making an effort to be better each time you ride? Do you enjoy the time with your horse? If you are struggling, perhaps its your perspective on what you want from your horse.
Book I quote from: Think Harmony with Horses by Ray Hunt
Macaroni’s Bridleless Ride – June 25
Riding Macaroni Bridleless! What an amazing day! This journey has been amazing! I have learned so much. This mare has an amazing personality and is super calm. If someone were to tell me that I would be riding a rescue horse bridleless for all the rides, I would have thought they were crazy! I am so in love with this way of training!
I am training Macaroni using almost 100% positive reinforcement (R+) or clicker training. I am still learning how to be most effective and not frustrate her (which I did a LOT in the beginning, but I worked through it!). With help from Michelle Martiya, we keep doing better and better! Check out her virtual lessons/training. She can help you with ANY animal!
This evening was a the breakthrough I had been looking for. I hopped on Macaroni just as the sun set. Up until this evening, we had only gotten 6 or 7 steps forward (while riding) and then often in a circle. But this night she walked almost to the other end of the pasture and back calmly! It was amazing!
Macaroni will be available for adoption.
#HOPteamMacaroni #bridleless #positivereinforcement #clickertraining #nolearnedhelplessness #horsetraining
Groundwork and Lunging the Gaited Horse – Q&A with Ivy Schexnayder
So, what kind of groundwork should you do with a gaited horse? Should you lunge a gaited horse? How often should you do groundwork? How do you connect with a new horse? I try to answer these questions in this video. Here is the ground work video with the grey mare:
Training Macaroni – 30 Day Update
To see more videos like this, comment and share!!!
⭐️30 Day Update⭐️
Here is an update to show you what we have trained and what we are working on now. Check out our third ride! Macaroni is a 12 year old gaited mare. She is a rescue I am training for 100 days before she will be adopted out. You can sign up to adopt her here:
I am doing the training using positive reinforcement (clicker training) rather than the normal natural horsemanship. As such, our first rides ever have been totally tackless (bridleless)! Like Ivy’s Glide Gait to follow our journey this summer. I am videoing every session!
Appalachian Trainer Face Off Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, INC
#HOPteamMacaroni #Macaroni #positivereinforcement #horsetraining
Training Macaroni – first rides and living with Doubt
If this video inspires you or encourages you, please share so it can help other people too! Macaroni’s first and second rides have been bridleless!!! Yay!!! I am so pleased! I know an update has been a long time in coming and that is because I have been gone (unable to work Macaroni) and the hard drive that has all my footage on it from the first week crashed! Anyway, this is from last week, about our 10th and 11th day training. I am doing all (almost) positive reinforcement at the moment. That will change at some point, but I am so happy to say that our first rides have been because Macaroni has allowed me on her back! A big shout out and thanks to Michelle Martiya at @Essential Animal Training. She does virtual lessons (she’s in FL and I’m in Illinois). We watched some of my videos together and she helped work on my timing and how to avoid more frustration with Macaroni. Macaroni did great in the indoor, but now that she is out on pasture and with the other horses, she isn’t as happy to focus on me. I needed to do HIGH rates of reinforcement (feed lots of treats) and ask for simpler things. I am also struggling with self doubt. I doubt that I will know when and how to train Macaroni. I HATE deadlines, and the deadline of 100 days makes me worry that I will train fast enough and well enough with this mare. I doubt that I will know when to switch over to “regular” pressure and release training with Macaroni. BUT, I know that I will keep moving forward, even through the fear and doubt. I know that I just have to keep training and keep stepping forward and it will all come together. Pray for me, friends! Please help by sharing this video. Thanks! Appalachian Trainer Face Off, Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, INC Tinia Creamer #HOPteamMacaroni #dontgiveup #horseadoption #ILOVEmyJob
Start to Finish – 100 days training a gaited horse VIDEO
I am a beginning a competition called the Appalachian Train
Here is the first update video!
So, here we are!!! Just getting started training Macaroni,
If you found this video helpful, please like and share
#HOPteamMacaroniIvy and Macaroni
Bit is for the Horse’s comfort, NOT the rider’s control
Bit should be for the Horse’s comfort, NOT the rider’s control
Now, before I go too far, bitless bridles are wonderful and I truly advocate them and ride my horses bitless, but if people feel they have to use bits, here is what I believe:
The bit should be chosen for the horse’s comfort and NOT the rider’s control!
If you can’t stop or turn your horse in a snaffle, it means they need training, NOT a bigger bit!!!!
Snaffle bit I recommend
Shanked bit I recommend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm_FzMPKYog&t=6s&index=10&list=PL67DE5DE81ED66250
LINK (it is backordered right now)