I hope you enjoy this creative video put together by my talented friend Ashley Mancuso of Ash Equine Productions. Everything in my life is intertwined, the dressage, liberty training, performing, and Art on Horseback. Each avenue offers a unique way for me to connect with my horses and explore my creativity. I hope that my journey can inspire others to pursue their dreams, no matter how different they might seem. Please connect with me (email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook), I would love to hear how you are using creativity with your horses. Enjoy!Read More
"Tale as old as time.
True as it can be.
Barely even friends,
Then somebody bends-
- Lyrics from Beauty & The Beast
My relationship with Douwe has certainly had its ups and its downs. It took many years before he trusted me and
started to enjoy his training. This song holds a lot of meaning for me in regards to our relationship. Douwe was angry and depressed when I first bought him, and over the years has become the goofiest horse I know with a huge personality! It just took some time to uncover what was already there, and to shed his past.
This video was taken at the Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center in Windham, ME. This routine was very emotional for me; I was fighting back tears as we performed because Douwe was so in-tune with me.
This was our first time performing this new routine and it brought laughter and tears to the audience as well.
Don't miss Douwe's "singing" debut at the 4 minute mark!
"Not all treasure is silver and gold, Mate."
-Captain Jack Sparrow
The video below is of Rovandio and I debuting our latest routine, "Pirates", at Elysium Sport Ponies in Atkinson, ME. I had an idea for Rovy to perform the Spanish walk to Captain Jack Sparrow's drunken sailor music from the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the rest of the routine developed from there. I definitely wanted to include Rovy saying pirate lines, so that is where you see him perform the "Argh!". At the end of our performance, I handed out "gold doubloons" for the kids in the audience and Rovy adored the pats and attention! Enjoy!
I have had a blast teaching Douwe and Rovandio to smile and "talk". Douwe absolutely loves it and offers to talk all the time. I think his ideal job would be to play a modern-day Mr. Ed, where he gets to stand around and smile all day! Trick trainer Heidi Herriott showed me how to teach Douwe and it is a fun, easy trick to teach any horse.
Why did I teach my horse to smile?
Douwe used to hold his ears back when he asked for attention. He is a big horse, so that made him look a little scary to new people (even though he wasn't being mean at all). I thought that the smile would make him appear more friendly (and also keep his lips busy so that he wasn't nibbling for treats!) It worked really well and he greets everyone with a smile and will also give gentle kisses.
Here are the Simple Steps to Teach Your Horse to Smile:
- You only need a halter and a treat!
- Make sure your treat is really yummy and smelly, like a peppermint or something with molasses.
- With your left hand, hold the horse's head up slightly so they will think "up" when you do the trick.
- With the treat in your right hand, hold the treat right above their lip and rub or flick the lip upwards with your finger (to encourage the lip to curl up).
- As you use the treat, make sure to use a vocal command. I use "smile".
- When the horse gives you a slight lift of the lip, reward them with the treat. You need to reward the smallest try so that they will want to do it again and offer more.
- Continue to hold the treat above the lip and wiggle/play with it to help encourage more lip movement.
- Once the horse is consistent at lifting the lip, you can start to raise and wiggle your finger along with your voice command instead of using the treat.
Here is a silly video clip of Douwe "singing" Happy Birthday to my Grandfather. I was able to get him to stop "singing" by lowering my hand and then lifting it again when I wanted him to start again. This is a fun, silly trick to teach your horse and certainly entertaining, especially to people who don't know a lot about horses!