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Archive for April, 2010

Sandra Beaulieu and Lydia rose performed at the Center Theater this past weekend.    They are the head trainers at Isaac Royal Farm, riding, training and showing horses.  What barn has head trainers who look like this and dance professionally, perform with their own dance troop, called Pegasus Dancers  in theater.  We are blessed here at Isaac Royal Farm to have such a talented staff.  Both girls are artists as well.  The theater hosted an art show, showcasing their art along with  Morgan Smith

 Morgan Smith plays in a band, called Harmony Hill.   She performs playing the guitar and mandolin, and is one of the lead singers.  She also plays and sings in her father’s band.  Morgan is also a talented dancer, artist and dressage rider. 

 Also among us is Angela Bonacassa, who is a play director and fight choreographer.   Currently she is directing the play “Harvey”, which has opened at the Belfast Maskers Theater, and will be running this week through Sunday and May 6-9th.  She rides dressage on Tonka, and will be showing him second level this summer.

 All of this talent comes together at Isaac Royal Farm for the Equestrian Theater.  We have great fun putting all this talent together with horses to create an enchanting evening of drama.  The Equestrian Theater dates will be posted on the website, http://www.isaacroyalfarm.com under Theater.

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 Part One of Three

The dressage horse must be on the bit, through the back and in self carriage.  That is one of the foremost requirements.  But what does it all mean, on… the… bit!!  Does the horse take the Bit?  Lean on the bit? How much weight should be in the bit?  Is he allowed to back off from the bit?  No that would be off the bit!

“On the Bit”  Now that is a dilemma!  The meaning isn’t clear.  It is interpreted by each and every rider in their own way. 

We see horses stiff because they are leaning into the bit.  Now how do we have our horse in self carriage if the bit is carrying the horse. If the bit supports the horse how can you say your horse is in self carriage?  On the bit—Self carriage, a contradiction of words. Dressage horses should be supple, that indicates the horse must be soft in the neck and not stiff.  If the horse leans into the bit or takes the bit he will automatically be stiff in the neck.  So how do we put the horse on the bit and have soft, supple horses?  You can’t if horse takes the bit.  Now, we don’t want the horse to back off from the bit, that would be western and we wouldn’t want that!!  But the way I see it, somewhere along the way, there was some confusion in translation.  It has to be, since on the bit, in word  is contradictory and in practice counterproductive.   Nothing you desire to create happens.   So the dressage arena is full of stiff horses  that have been observed by the most experience observer to the novice while the judges just comment on the sad state of the dressage arena with so many stiff horses.

The phrase, on the bit,  seems incorrect and confusing.  It has occurred to me that my language in teaching a student is very contradictory as I say, “You must have your horse on the bit.”  and immediately say, get your horse off your hand.  He can’t be allow to put weight in your hand.  If you allow him to lean into your hand (onto the bit), he isn’t in self carriage and is not balanced. This has sent me soul searching for the meaning of on the bit and how it has effected the dressage world.

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 Tia Tondreau imprinted this foal who now thinks she’s her surrogate  mother

Tia Tondreau imprinted this foal who now thinks she is her surrogate mother and looks for any opportunity to lie in Tia’s lap.  She looks forward to her imprinting session each and every day. I think she thinks the massage parlor comes to her.

It has been my experience, that imprinting using The Aspirant Technique, is a kind and non invasive process that creates a foal, happy with the beginning of her life with humans.  You become a second parent at this point in your partnership,  so much so that she will often lie down and put her head in your lap.  Just be careful not to think she is like a dog or cat; even if she likes your lap, she is going to grow up to be very big, so don’t make the mistake of trying to play with your foal as if she isn’t a horse.   Games must be carefully planned out as part of the training.  Later we will outline some games that can safely be played.

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Kaylee Clark Imprinting the Legs and Hooves

Imprinting each part of the body has its own necessity for the safety of the horse’s future as well as those handling your horse.  It all begins at birth.  Remember, “As the twig is bent so grows the tree.”  In this blog the urgency lies in the imprinting of the legs and hooves. 

Imprinting the legs and hooves can begin the day of your foals birth and is easily done when the foal is lying down resting.  In those first hours after birth the foal will spend plenty of time lying down, this gives you the best opportunity to imprint legs and hooves.  This will prepare him for being imprinted later in the pasture or where ever you want to do it.   Just rub your hand down the length of each leg a few times and tap the bottom of each hoof with your hand.

Imprinting the legs and hooves will create a horse that can be trusted by the farrier.   Horse’s hooves need to be trimmed about every five to six weeks.   If no early imprinting is done on the legs and hooves, and later you need the farrier it can be a dangerous encounter.  If your horse isn’t easy to work on the farrier may refuse to work with your horse;  nobody wants to put themselves in harms way.  Also you want your horse to be safe for those who pick out his hooves before being ridden.  Ideally you want your horse to be safe around children.  That is often determined early during foal imprinting.

 This also determines the safety for the veterinarian, who may need to check legs for injury or lameness sometime in your foals future.  If positive imprinting hasn’t been done and  the Veterinarian has to work on some part of the foal’s body that hasn’t been handled, there is the  possibility of the foal getting scared and relating this fear with the veterinarian.  This could imprint on the foal negative feelings about the veterinarian and make future encounters with the vet much more difficult.

 So hopefully this information will help you take responsibility for making a safe  horse for the farrier, the vet, and all those who are connected with your barn.

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 Posted April 7, 2010 by

 Kaylee Clark  Imprints the Foals Head and Jowls and Private Parts

Imprint the forehead and jowls. Everything in the face and head except the nose and eyes.  Also rub along the length under the belly including the  private parts of the colt and teats of the filly in a gentle touch. 

 This prepares the colt for having his sheath cleaned and prepares the filly to have her milk bag and teats checked if she is in foal herself someday.  Both the colt and filly will learn to trust your touch on the most sensitive parts of their body.

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Kaylee Clark Imprints the tail and the foal fifts it for her

One of the most important parts of the body to include in your imprinting is the tail, although it is difficult to do while the foal is lying down, so you will want to imprint the tail when she is standing.  Start with soft squeezes at the top (dock) of the tail.  Squeeze continually, until the foal raises its’ tail, which means she is relaxed, happy to have you manipulate her tail, and is over all  enjoying your touch.  After doing this you will want to squeeze all the way down the bone of the tail.  This is especially pleasing to a foal, and for safety reasons, this is the most important part of her body.  A horse that has had this kind of imprinting will never be a dangerous kicker.  Some horses don’t like to have people behind them, which causes nervousness, and sometimes kicking out.  If the horse has had imprinting as a foal, she will often step her hind legs toward you offering you her tail to massage.  That is a great response instead of kicking.

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Kaylee Clark  Imprints the Foals Ears 

Now that your foal has received the once over imprinting, you will be able to imprint your foal while standing in the stall or out in the pasture, once she has connected with you and is looking forward to the foal imprinting session. 

 Rub her ears softly, this will feel good and also desensitize any sensitivity she has about her ears.  This is very important   for the safety of working with her later when it’s time to put on a halter and bridle.  This is all that’s needed to avoid having a horse that is head shy.  Massaging the ears is very relaxing to the horse, she will often let them flop down and appear to fall asleep. 

 Never use the ears for any form of discipline.  I have seen trainers grab ears, thinking it will make the foal behave, it never works.

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As the Twig is Bent

  Someone once said, “As the twig is bent so grows the tree.”  In the twig of his life it is so easy to spoil his possibilities of a future partnership with you.  All handling is foal imprinting; whether the horses introduction to the human world is positive or negative it is imprinted upon him.  Once imprinted, it takes work to change and changing negative imprinting can be a long and hard road of rehabilitation.  Learning how to properly imprint your foal when he is first introduced to the human world can protect him from much pain and confusion and can give you and him an unequaled bond that will last for his and your lifetime.

  We hope this text will enlighten those who have the privilege of imprinting foals, to hear their side of the story, from the horses themselves.  This text will enable you to have an enduring partnership with your horse.

 Book 2 of the Aspirant Technique, Foal Imprinting is written by the foals themselves.  Order at http://www.isaacroyalfarm.com

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 Imprinting Once Over

 If the foal was born in the pasture you will want to put the mare and foal in a stall for a day or so.  Make sure the stall has bedding of straw or hay.  Saw dust or shavings will have dust and fine particles in it.  The dust could cause infection in the opening of the  umbilical cord.  The iodine you put on it will help prevent infection but you still don’t want dust or dirt to get into the opening until it has healed.  Also it is easier for the foal to slip in the shavings or sawdust and it would be harder for her to get on her feet.

 Now that you have moved your mare and foal to a proper stall, foal imprinting will be easier in a confined area.  Your foal will want to lie down and rest which makes her more accessible for imprinting.  If you have already cradled her moving her around, or in the process of getting her into the stall with her mother, she should be more relaxed now, when you try to imprint her.

 Begin with rubbing your hands over her body, down her back, over the rump, and to the tail.  Talk to her in a soothing voice as you work.  Rub her down the shoulders and down each leg, tapping on the bottom of each hoof.  Put your hand on her forehead and then feel up and around each of her ears.  This is her first imprinting session, a quick once over, to acquaint her with your touch.    When you see her tomorrow, that day will be half her life.  You have just laid the ground work for imprinting, which is an on going process.  She will need your touch each day for a while.

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The Foals First Milk, The Colostrum

Your next concern is making sure your foal figures out how to nurse.  Usually nature takes its’ course so the mare and foal are able to do just fine without you.  Give them a chance to work it out. A foal can go for hours before drinking and still be fine, although the sooner the better. 

Sometimes the foal will go searching in the wrong places but you can assist by cradling her and move her to the area of the teats.  (That would qualify for foal imprinting, all handling is imprinting).  If she needs extra help to find the teats, once you have brought her to where she needs to be, have someone place their hand on the top of the foal’s head, guiding it under the mare while someone on the other side can guide the teat to the foals mouth.  The mare is usually dripping milk at this point and the foal will get a taste and smell and start sucking. 

The first milk is called Colostrum.  It prevents disease and gives the foal immunity and good health for her future.  My advice is to stay near by until you know your foal is drinking.

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