Yoga and Horsemanship

For the last one and a half years, I have dedicated many hours toward training my horses at liberty using Carolyn Resnick’s method (The Waterhole Rituals).  My passion for this training has given my horses and me great joy and we have been able to build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect.  Although I host a variety of clinicians and support my horses in learning new skills, I am very careful to select clinicians who respect my work.  I will never jeopardize the trust that my horses have placed in me to keep them safe. 

In March 2016, we hosted our first Yoga and Horsemanship Clinic/Retreat here in Arenal, Costa Rica.  Two amazing clinicians (Tammy Pate and Janice Baxter) guided our guests on an incredible journey through the practice of yoga and the development of skills in breathing, balance and oneness with the self to promote a better relationship between horses and humans.  Their teachings resonated with me because I feel that any actions we take to connect with ourselves help us in the development of a stronger connection with our equine partners.

A few weeks ago, we hosted our second Yoga and Horsemanship Clinic.  On our final day of clinic Tammy selected the topic of starting colts. We chose to demonstrate with my 3 year old colt named Wille.  He is a rescue horse with only my teachings of The Waterhole Rituals under his belt. Tammy and I delighted in how calm and relaxed Willie was under saddle for his first time.  He showed no fear or resistance and was eager to learn.  It was amazing to watch the beauty and ease in which Tammy “showed him the ropes”, so to say!  Watching them together was like watching a graceful dance with clear leadership and the willingness to follow. 

The Waterhole Rituals have given my horses a strong foundation to enhance their ability to learn new things without fear or hesitation.  Tammy’s method of teaching groundwork provided a beautiful way to transition my horses to the next level.  She is truly an inspiration and I am grateful for her gentle guidance, leadership and dedication toward putting the horse first. 

I look forward to our next adventure with the “Vaqueras Locas”!


Tammy Pate and Apache

Tammy Pate and Apache

The Power of Connection with Horses

Before I began practicing The Waterhole Rituals with my horses, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the word “connection” or what it truly means. Yes, I am aware that there are many definitions of connection, but I am referring to connection which develops from an energetic force greater than ourselves; one that can't be forced and comes from a state of grace that brings two beings into contact allowing them to mesh as one.  It is my belief that all beings in this Universe are connected and sometimes by chance we meet people who we know were put on our path for a special reason.  I also believe that connection is something that we must strive for in our relationships. This is especially true in our relationships with our horses. 

Although we all seek meaningful connections, we sometimes avoid intimacy as it can be scary to our ego self.  When we feel vulnerable and threatened we may disconnect emotionally and retreat into ourselves as a defense mechanism.  Awareness is the key to breaking through this ego based thinking and letting the love in our hearts flow into the world.  When we are in a peaceful loving space within ourselves, connection with others feels natural and safe.

Horses are master teachers in guiding us to awareness and self discovery.  It has been my experience with horses that true connection takes practice and is cultivated over time. There must be trust and respect for this essential bond to develop.  If we try to establish a relationship with a horse based on our own ego needs, we will invariably find conflict. We all have the power within ourselves to heal our emotional trauma and pain through awareness. The most rewarding relationships are based on how we relate and connect to ourselves.  Once we begin to know and love ourselves, our hearts will naturally open. Only in a place of peace, purely in the present moment, can we experience the magic of connection with our horses. 


Quieting the Mind

A few months ago, I had a private intensive clinic with Linda Salinas. As many of you know, Linda teaches Carolyn Resnick's method of liberty training with horses through the Waterhole Rituals. I have been studying under Linda and Carolyn for the past year and a half. My original intention was to perfect my skills in training horses at liberty,  but my clinic with Linda changed my life forever and jump stared me on a transformation journey of self discovery. One of the most important things that I learned through the Waterhole Rituals is the importance of being in the moment. This can prove to be quite challenging. It is easy to get caught up in the day today "stuff" that leaves no time for ourselves.

Sharing territory is the first Waterhole Ritual. It is critically important in liberty training because it assists us in forming the bond that we need with our horses to have a true connection. The time we spend just "being" is not only valuable in connecting with horses, but is instrumental in connecting with ourselves as well.

Because we have been so focused on the thinking aspect of our minds, quieting our minds requires deliberate intent. By allowing ourselves to be present in each moment, we decrease our mental analysis, or in other words, our mind chatter. When we put too much emphasis on the past or the future, we miss out on the physical and emotional experience that is happening right now.

Present moment awareness is an experience in which the little voice inside of us simply tells us to STOP. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. We need to just BE. Yoga, meditation and prayer are wonderful tools to help us go within to find a place of solace; a place to nourish our souls and to heal our hearts.

The Native Americans used animal medicine to heal mind, body and spirit. They believed that the word "medicine" referred to anything that improved one's connection to all life. This included anything that brought personal power, strength or understanding. To the Native Americans, being one with nature was a way of life that simply involved living in perfect harmony with the Universe. They also used animal symbology to guide them in their spiritual development.

If we pay close attention to animals in nature, we notice that they relay messages of healing to us if we simply open our minds. As we silence our minds to observe nature, we gain knowledge of ourselves as well. This helps us to slow down and appreciate each moment and is extremely important to our well being. It allows us to re-connect with ourselves, to FEEL and to discover who we really are. In this space, we can awaken to our true selves and find the peace and joy we are all searching or.

Being in the present moment while observing my horses (and all creatures in their natural habitats) has assisted me in my journey within. This joyous process has opened up a wondrous new world and has helped me to gain a better understanding of myself as well. Many thanks to Linda and Carolyn!

Using Essential Oils with Horses

A few years ago, I began using essential oils and used them mostly for relaxation and to freshen the air in our home, but they soon became one of my favorite remedies for almost everything! I have been slowly building my essential oil collection and have been gradually reducing the amount of store bought creams and medicines that I buy. We use them on ourselves, our grandchildren, our dogs, as well as our horses, as a natural remedy, and also to disinfect our home and stable!

Essential Oils are natural compounds derived from the seeds, roots, stems, bark, flowers and various other parts of plants. These oils that we capture to make the essential oils that we now know and love, are the oils that help protect the plant against insects and disease and they aid in pollination.                               

These precious oils have been used in medicine, beauty, hygiene and religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Today essential oils are becoming extremely popular and are used for massage, beauty and alternative medicine.

Horses in the wild have intuitively used plants for healing, and this intuition still guides them today. Horses are super responsive  to essential oils. Although, they are much larger than humans, they do not necessarily require any more essential oil use than the average human. You would want to use less for pregnant mares. The usual application for adult humans is 1 to 2 drops. 

 Essential oils can be applied three different ways, topically, aromatically and internally, and it is important they are therapeutic grade if you are using them topically or ingesting them.  

 Topically they are absorbed through the skin and go into our bloodstream very quickly. We use them in massage for our ourselves and our horses to produce calming effects and also as a natural disinfectant to heal skin irritations and wounds.

Using them aromatically (by inhaling)  helps sooth our emotional issues,  calms our nerves, and helps our horses as well.  When offering essential oils to horses, they will quickly let you know if they like it or not, as they will turn their heads if they don't want to be bothered with it, or begin inhaling and licking it if they do! They know what they need, so trust in them for that! Pay attention to which nostril the horse smells the oil from first. The left nostril is connected to the part of the brain that deals with emotions. The right nostril is connected to the physical side. If the horse uses both nostrils to smell, deal with the emotional issue before the physical.  Unless othewise stated, you should always dilute the oils with fractionated coconut oil, caster oil, or aloe vera gel. Offer the oils to your horse once or twice a day for three to ten days or until he no longer shows interest.

Essential oils can be taken as a dietary supplement to promote health and healing. While many of them are safe to ingest, some are not, so you need to be very careful when using them and get advice from a trained professional before deciding how to treat family or pets.

It is very important to purchase only 100% therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the directions carefully, on how to use them. Some of them may cause irritation if used directly on the skin, so it is best to use a carrier oil to apply them. I like to use coconut oil, but you can use olive oil, vegetable oil or sunflower oil, as well. I advise that anyone thinking about using these oils first be in touch with someone that is experienced in using them and never use them if you or your animals are pregnant. 

Essential oils can be used for numerous equine conditions.  For physical issues, you can dab the oil directly on the affected location.  For respiratory issues, dab on the chest and then let the horse inhale the oil.  For emotional issues, let them inhale the oil and you can dab it on their forehead or poll.  Here are some specific conditions and essential oils which can help to remedy them. Below is a list of ailments and the essential oils that are known to help with these issues:

  • Asthma, Bronchitis, Colic, Diarrhea, Fever, Heatstroke, Inflammation, Muscle Pain, Ulcers: Peppermint essential oil is useful to ease breathing and as a digestive aid. It can also be used as a cool down mist. Put 6 to 8 drops in 16 ozs of water and spray on horse, avoiding eyes and ears.
  • Bronchitis, Colds, Hoof Rot, Infections, MRSA, Ringworm, Strep, Staph: Oregano essential oil (this is an excellent antibiotic and can be used to decontaminate trailers and stables. Mix 5 drops of Oregano oil with 24 oz. water. It is a very HOT oil and always needs to be diluted.  For foot abcesses, add 2 drops of oregano oil to Epsom salts and put the salts into warm water and mix. Soak the foot for 15 to 20 minutes. This mix can also be used in a wrap.
  • Nervousness/ Anxiety: Valerian and Lavender essential oils.
  • Hormone Imbalance (Mare issues): Clary Sage and Geranium essential oils.
  • Muscle Spasms: Basil, Lavender, Marjoram essential oils.
  • Sore/ Overused Muscles: Eucalyptus, Balsam Fir, Lavender essential oils.
  • Scratches/ Greasy Heal: Tea Tree, Lemongrass, Myrtle, Lavender essential oils.
  • Rain Rot: Tea tree, Lemongrass, Geranium essential oils.
  • Sarcoid: On Guard Protective Blend, Tea Tree, Oregano essential oils.
  • Thrush: On Guard Protective Blend, Tea Tree, Thyme, essential oils.  You can place undiluted oils directly on the frog for severe cases, or soak cotton balls and tape them on or put on a hoof boot for 24 hours.
  • Abscesses: Tea Tree, Oregano, On Guard Protective Blend, Lavender essential oils.  Make a foot soak using selected oils, Epsom salt and warm water.  Soak for at least 20 minutes to encourage the abscess to open and drain.
  • Sheath Cleaning: On Guard Protective Blend, Myrrh, and Rosemary essential oils.  Add a few drops of On Guard oil to KY jelly or a mild cleanser.  Then add 1/2 gallon of water to clean the inside of the sheath. (On Guard oil is also recommended for swelling in the sheath.)  To clean the outer part of the sheath, add about 5 drops of Myrrh and Rosemary oil to pure grade vegetable oil. 
  • Essential oils are also great to use as fly spray. Here is a recipe for you to try! It feels a lot better spraying this on our horses than a can full of chemicals!
  •  2 cups white vinegar                                       
  • 4-7 parts water
  • 1 part Citronella or Eucalyptus oil

Important Note:  Avoid getting drops in the eyes, ears and nose of human and horse. Always consult your veterinarian if your horse has a serious condition.  Essential oils are not meant to be a substitute for responsible veterinary care. 

Feel free to contact us if you are interested in learning more about essential oils.

From the Mouths of Babes

The weather has finally changed and we are having "springtime" weather here in Arenal, Costa Rica. Of course, we are thrilled, as this means lots of time with our horses up next to our home where we can bond and play throughout the day! For me, just sitting with them and watching them interact makes a perfect day! I am so grateful for what these beautiful, sentient beings share with me on a daily basis.

Yesterday, I was home doing a bit of work and going in and out to be with the horses. My grandson, Michi, who was spending the day with us, asked if he could give the horses some grass. I told him that I would love for him to help me, so I sat on the porch while he busily pushed the long stems of grass through the fence. The horses were loving it, and he was, too! Next, he wanted to ride Luce, our older mare, who is perfect for Michi. She is a beautiful soul, who until recently had had enough of humans! When we rescued her and her three offspring, they were starving and barely alive. It is no wonder that she did not trust humans. Over the course of the last year, in practicing Carolyn Resnick's method of training (The Waterhole Rituals),  she has finally come around and realizes that we might just be alright! I believe that she now knows that she can trust in our leadership and that she no longer needs to fear that we may hurt her, as so many did in the past.  So,  I began brushing Luce to get her ready as Michi sat on the top rail of the fence talking face to face with Luce.  I walked away to get the saddle, and when I returned, Michi said "Nana! I was talking to Luce and I told her that people just don't think!" This was no surprise to me, as Grandpa is always teaching Michi life lessons, and explaining what happens when people don’t think!!" Michi continued to explain with excitement, "When I told her this,  she nodded her head up and down two times!! She was telling me that she knows, Nana, wasn't she??" He was so thrilled and excited that he was communicating with Luce and I confirmed his realization and told him that she definitely knows that people don't always think!!  I then explained to him that horses are prey animals and their senses are so much stronger than ours. They live in herds and take care of one another and they live in the moment, as they must for their survival. They are intuitive and sensitive and some are great leaders. I explained to him how naturally they mirror us, so if we pay attention we can learn more about ourselves. He said, "we should be more like horses, Nana!" He is correct. 

Horses can be our greatest teachers! This was truly a moment of awakening for him and another strong message to me.  If we slow down and take the time to share these moments with our children and if we can teach the future generation how to live in nature, respecting all life, and give them the knowledge to know that there is more to life than themselves, they will learn to be more like horse and have confidence, respect, leadership, love, kindness, and compassion. Maybe then, they will have the knowledge to truly be able to help the change the world. If we could be more like horses, the world would be more amazing then we could have ever dreamed!

Detox with Essential Oils

As women, I find that most of us women are great at being there for everyone else in our lives, but sometimes not so great at taking care of ourselves!! I, personally, am one of those people. I take great care of my family, my horses and dogs, and our guests that stay in the properties we rent here in Costa Rica, but often forget to treat myself to the same pampering that I give to everyone else. Lately, my great indulgence has been detox baths using essential oils. There is nothing more enjoyable to me that preparing a soothing bath full of my favorite essential oils, a glass of wine and a good book! It is a great way to unwind and wash our cares away!  

Although, I always put essential oils in my baths, which I take every night, I like to do a detox bath at least once a month. Sweating is our body’s natural way of detoxifying and soaking in a hot bath will help, as it pulls the harmful toxins from your skin. These baths can also ease sore muscles. In ancient times, these detox baths were used to eliminate toxins as well as to help absorb minerals and nutrients. They are great if you have skin issues or if you just want to boost your overall health! 

There are lots of great recipes on the internet, but I thought that I might share this particular method of detox bath that I used myself, and really enjoyed! You can follow this step by step guide and be relaxing in a hot bath tonight! It is easy to do, so there is no excuse not to! Please note that if you choose to do a detox bath, you must skip the wine!!

Prepare your body. The minerals in a detox bath will help pull toxins from your skin in a process that can be quite dehydrating, so be sure you are well hydrated going into your detox bath.  It is recommended that you drink one full glass of water at room temperature before your detox bath. 

Gather your ingredients:

Everything you will need for this detox can be purchased at a grocery store. You will need: 

  • Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate)
  • Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate/bicarbonate of soda)
  • Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt
  • Unfiltered and unprocessed Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Favorite essential oil if desired (my favorite is Lavender)
  • Ground ginger (this is optional)
  • Skin brush

Dry brush your skin.

Your skin is your largest organ and the first line of defense from chemicals and bacteria. By helping your body shed dead layers of skin, you are also removing these harmful agents. Dry brushing also speeds up your lymphatic system's ability to eliminate waste.

Use a dry brush with a long handle so you can reach all areas of your body.

  • When choosing a brush, pick one that feels nice on your skin. Dry brushing should not be painful.
  • Start with your skin dry and begin brushing your skin at your feet and work up your legs one at a time.
  • Move in sweeping motions toward your heart and make your way up your mid-section (front and back) and across your chest.
  • Finish by moving the brush up your arms toward your armpits.
  • Your skin should feel smoother after just one session.

Give yourself a lymphatic massage.

The lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and organs make up the lymphatic system, which is a part of your body's defense system. Your lymph nodes are responsible for removing microorganisms and filtering bacteria from the bloodstream. With just five minutes, you can stimulate your lymphatic system to help your body detox more effectively.

  • Place your fingers under your ears on either side of your neck.
  • With relaxed hands, gently pull your skin downward toward the back of your neck.
  • Repeat 10 times by gradually starting your movement lower down from your ear, eventually ending with fingers placed on top of your shoulders on either side of your neck.
  • Gently massage your skin toward your collarbone.
  • Repeat 5 times or as much as you like.

Know what to expect. Any detox process can subject your body to flu-like symptoms like headache and nausea. These symptoms may result from the toxins leaving your body. Bring a liter of water to the bath with you and drink it slowly during your bath.  You can add lemon to your water to help settle nausea.

Now for the fun part! 

Pick the right time for your bath. Prepare your bath on a day when you have at least 40 minutes available. Pick a time when you can relax and focus on your detox bath without feeling rushed.

Create a relaxing atmosphere. Dim the lights and light candles if you desire. You can also play some music you enjoy. Take smooth deep breaths to help your mind enter a relaxed state.

Fill your bath. Use a chlorine filter if possible to fill your tub with comfortably hot water. Add Epsom Salt. Soaking in Epsom Salt helps replenish your body's magnesium level, combating hypertension. The sulfate flushes toxins and helps form proteins in brain tissue and joints.

  • For children under 60 lbs, add 1/2 cup to a standard bath.
  • For children 60 lbs to 100 lbs, add 1 cup to a standard bath.
  • For people 100 lbs and up, add 2 cups or more to a standard bath.

Add 1 to 2 cups baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Baking soda is known for its cleansing ability and anti-fungal properties.  It also leaves skin very soft.

Add 1/4 cup Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt. Composed of magnesium, potassium, calcium chloride, and bromides, Sea Salt helps to replenish minerals critical to our skin's metabolism.

  • Magnesium is important for combating stress, fluid retention, slowing skin aging, and calming the nervous system.
  • Calcium is effective at preventing water retention, increasing circulation, and strengthening bones and nails.
  • Potassium energizes the body and helps to balance skin moisture.
  • Bromides act to ease muscle stiffness and relax muscles.
  • Sodium is important for the lymphatic fluid balance (this in turn is important for immune system function).

Add 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar. Packed full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, Apple Cider Vinegar is one of the best ways to cleanse your body of bacteria and boost your immune system.

Add essential oils. Some oils, like Lavender and Ylang Ylang, have therapeutic properties. Tea tree and eucalyptus oils can assist in the detoxification process. Around 20 drops is sufficient for a standard bath. 

  • If you prefer, you can use fresh herbs. Add mint leaves, lavender flowers, chamomile, or anything else that suits your mood.
  • Adding ginger can help you to sweat out the toxins. Ginger is heating, so be careful with the amount you add. Depending on your sensitivity, anywhere from 1 tablespoon to 1/3 cup can be added.

Swish all of the ingredients around. You can use your foot to swirl the water in the tub. When the baking soda and vinegar mix, a bubbling reaction will occur. 

  • You don't need to mix until all the salt crystals dissolve before beginning your bath.

Soak for 20 to 40 minutes. Hydrate during your soak and take care not to overheat. 

  • Drink water during the first 20 minutes of your soak.
  • You will notice yourself start sweating after just a few minutes in your detox bath. This is your body expelling toxins.
  • If you start to feel too hot during your soak, add cool water to the tub until you are comfortable.

Relax. Meditation is a great way to calm your body during a detox bath. Breathing through the nose, loosen your neck, face, hands, and stomach area. Relax and soften each part of your body. Consciously releasing body tension will help you relax in your detox bath.

  • Once you close the bathroom door, leave all unwanted thoughts outside. Let go of worries and stress.
  • Visualize the toxins exiting your body and the vitamins and nutrients entering in their place.

Get out of the tub slowly. Your body has been working hard and you may get lightheaded or feel weak and drained. Oils and salts can also make your tub slippery, so stand with care. 

  • Wrap your body in a soft blanket or towel immediately after getting out of the tub, you can continue to detoxify through perspiration for another couple of hours.

Rehydrate. Any time your body detoxes you need to replace fluids. It is recommended that you drink an additional liter of water following your detox.

After the bath, brush your skin down again. You can use your hands, a loofah, or a vegetable bristle brush. This can further aid with the release of toxins.  Use long, gentle sweeping strokes aimed toward the heart. 

Relax for the rest of the day and allow your body to continue to detoxify.

I feel such an amazing difference after these baths and I hope that you will enjoy them too!