Friday, November 5, 2010

Klaus Hempfling

Klaus Hempfling, who is he and why do I want his books and videos? He is so quick in connecting with dangerous horses. It isn't magic. He has the understanding that the horse is searching for.  All 3 books, I highly recommend. Klaus Hempfling helps you with how to be a leader and allow the horse to use his mind. He wants every horse to be strong, independent thinkers so the bond between you and your horse is strong and stays strong. Klaus Hempfling gives you tips on how your body should move in a walk, trot, and canter movements. He also talks about the importance of collection for every horse whether you are trail riding, barrel racer, etc.  These books and videos are worth every penny.  He has helped me with dealing with my abused and neglected horses from just reading his books and watching videos.  It's been an amazing journey for us here at Dogwood Lane Horse Sanctuary.

Help Dogwood Lane when you click and buy any of these books.

A personal interview with Klaus about connecting with horses, with fundamental insights. ‪ This video describes important parts of the fundamental work of the horse therapist, Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling.

For a better and correct understanding and to avoid misunderstandings, it is important to connect the shown video with his background, which we are adding in the following lines: 
Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling continues shaking up equestrians all over the world, with response in all fields like natural horsemanship, horse whispering, classical and freestyle dressage, equestrian sports, western riding, endurance and eventing. He is at the forefront of new ideas on working and interacting with horses and is known for amazing groundwork with breeding stallions, considering their special potential and necessities. He considers the horse's psyche and communicates via body language with these beautiful creatures. His first book, 'Dancing with Horses' met with overwhelming international success, especially in pleasure riding and natural riding.

One of the newest publications with huge impact is The Path of The Horse by Stormy May ‪­.‬ where Hempfling is portrayed. 
One of his specialities is the work with difficult horses, like in this video - he transforms dangerous, nervous, traumatized horses into cooperative companions. They recognize him as their leader, and become willing partners in groundwork and under saddle.
With a handful of known names like Monty Roberts and Pat Parelli, KFH is influencing the natural equine handling at top level. 
A number of main articles on his horse work have recently been published in Horses For Life ‪‬ 

Very important for Hempfling is in general to interact in all field as long as the activities accord to the horses nature. He is therefore also training and coaching horse-people from fields like show jumping, baroque and artistic dressage, driving, racing, working equitation, doma vaquera and garotcha. 
KFH also talks about issues like join-up, round pen, bullfight with horses (rejoneador de toro, toreros, represented by Pablo Hermoso Mendoza, Leonardo Hernandez and Bohorquez), and barefoot riding, natural hoof care, bareback riding, rein-less and bridle-less riding.

His own riding system Balanced Weight Riding starts with thorough groundwork and lunging at liberty, building up the potential for the exercises of the High School Dressage (Haute Ecole), like shoulder-in, Spanish walk, passage, piaffe, half-pass, flying change, which all origin in the horses natural movements and may be performed at completely loose reins, in contrast to English dressage (represented by names like Helgstrand and Grunsven), and the conventional classical dressage (represented at Cadre Noir, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Escola Portuguesa de Arte Equestre and the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art).

Genetic changing in breeding, horse characters and horse types are also topics in KFHs repertoire, which he employs with all horses (What Horses Reveal). You will often find him with horses of baroque breeds like Lusitano, PRE, Lipizzan, Knapstrup, and Friesian but he is also very attached to the natural horse types like Arabian, Criollo, Welsh, Welsh Cob, Haflinger, Icelandic and Connemara.

His approach is valid for all horses and everyone may feel at home in these authentic basics of Equus. In his courses therefore also riders and breeders from totally different styles are learning how to gain the friendship of their horses, often associated with breeds like Quarter, Thoroughbred, Pinto, Irish Cob, Paso Fino and other horse types. 
One may say that he is meanwhile one of the leading names in the issue animal and especially horse welfare, as well as wildlife, roots in nature and animal communication.

Hempflings professional background is in the fields communication, art, theatre, music, study of native people and cultures. He lives on a small island in the Danish Archipelago where he conducts exclusive courses for people from all corners of the world.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Do You Do With A Horse Who Has Recurrent Uveitis?

Marshall was abandoned, for about 3 years, he lived alone.  He is now 6 years old and almost blind.  He has recurrent uveitis. His eyes have been gradually getting worse since we rescued him back in October of 2009.  He was able to at least see shadows of big items but now his left eye is barely able to make out those things.  He has stepped into his feed pan several times.  The feed pans tend to move around because the horses like to pick them up, shake them and paw at them through out the day. This includes Marshall, he's no innocent bystander.  Marshall uses his memory to help him get around and so the moving feed pans can be a problem at times.

Marshall following Jameel
 Marshall has a lot of help from everyone but Jameel is his true seeing eye horse.  He mainly sticks with him.  He's very interesting to watch.  From the beginning, he began memorizing his new surroundings.  He uses his ears, feet, mouth, head and all parts of his body to help him make a picture of his environment.  When he walks or runs, he is very precise on his feet, and I can tell he's feeling every single step and trying to get a clear picture of what is under him.  It's much more pronounced than the other horses, since they have their eyes to help them.    He's not heavy but he is so clear and so precise with each land of the foot.

Buzz and Marshall playing

Even with bad eyes, this hasn't slowed him down.  He feels very comfortable running in the field and kicking up his heels.  He's been a big help to  Buzz.  Marshall likes to send Buzz out onto a circle like a person lunging a horse.  They like to play that way, and every so often  rear up and start again.  In a lot of ways, his eyes haven't slowed him down but in other ways it has;  for instance his feet,  he really has a hard time allowing me to pick them up.  His feet are his eyes, not just a quick get away.  I think picking up one foot actually makes him feel disconnected to his surroundings more so than an average horse.  He depends on all his senses and all of his body parts to help him know his environment;  it's almost like loosing another eye.

 When I lead him, I'm teaching him when I say ho-ho (halt) that he needs to investigate. I'm trying to turn this into a habit. I will also use the word "look" to encourage him to look; there's something in front of us that needs attention.  He's learning to bring his head down and search for it.  He'll even take a tiny step forward to touch it with his foot.  Going over logs or ground poles, he feels it first with his feet and will then take the step over it.  One day, I was leading him at liberty and I wanted to switch sides.  I asked with ho-ho and swapped sides.  I again asked for him to go forward, but he wouldn't instead he reached  his head forward and looked down.  I had to laugh and told him I'm sorry I forgot.  I quickly said look and then we were able to continue on with no problem.  I guess it's working too well.

In order for him to know I"m still there, he will bump his nose or his whole head into me. He's very soft with this but again he's very precise with his touch.  He does this more often on his left side than his right.   When he's really unsure of where we're heading he'll even place his nostril behind my elbow.  At times, he'll be too afraid to go forward, and I have to place my hand at his nostril to help him see that I haven't left him.  It gives him the courage to move forward again.  He has a sweet spot; his cheeks.  He melts when I rub them.  I'll even rub them when he's unsure or a job well done.  Rubbing his cheeks is a better reward than treats, not that he'll say no to treats especially sugar cubes, his favorite.

What else is interesting about him is that if he thinks there's another person by him, he'll check to see if that's true and verify it.  He'll swing his head toward that person and softly bump him.  He's always verifying because he doesn't want to run into anyone.
I know that horses have great memory,  Marshall's memory is no exception.  One day, I was leading him in his pasture and there was a big oak branch laying on the ground.  I dragged it out of the way and put it in a pile of brush.  I lead Marshall back through that area and immediately he moved over to clear now the invisible branch.  I had to remind him that I moved it and it was okay to walk into it. His memory amazes me, and I'm really glad that he has a really good mind; this will help him throughout his life.  There is a set of double gates and for him both gates need to be open wide, otherwise he'll run into it.  He's trusting me more and he actually followed me through just one open side of the double gates.  Because his eyes have gotten worse, his trust in me has become a real necessity. 

 You would think with lack of sight he'd be quiet and calm.  For the most part, he is, although he does have opinions and his anxieties can run a little high especially at Breakfast and Dinner time.  He'll chase some of the horses during those times.  The horses understand that he is having a hard time and allow it.  This part is interesting because he and Buzz will usually be allowed to act out.   On the other hand, Jazz isn't allowed at all to be like Buzz and Marshall,  They put their foot down and say "NO" very loudly.  They know what's good for one horse and what isn't for another. Personally, I think it's becoming a habit for Marshall and I do tell him to knock it off and go to his grain pan.  I've tried to reason with Raz to not let Marshall get away with this, but no luck so far.  I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and hope that the others will see I'm right?

With Marshall,  I've found keeping the rope short is better for him.   He has spooked before, several times, and he has always moved away from me.  I'm not worried about him running into me and if he does, it'll be purely accidental. Sometimes, you just have to take the risk.  Being around these horses it's always a risk some are bigger risks than others.  For him, he needs to be able to find me.  I'm his eyes.

You can see Marshall's personality coming out. This is his 3rd or 4th time strolling through the flower garden.
Marshall's eyes aren't slowing him down.  He tries very hard.  With every step he takes there is a bit more trust in me and more confidence in himself.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Horses Reveal--Book Review

What Horses Reveal explains the different mind types of horses and how best to deal with them in kindness and understanding. He gives you tips on how to approach the training of each type. Reading this book, you'll want to go out and study every head and body of every horse out there in the horse world and figure out which character group or groups he belongs too.

I really enjoyed flipping through the groups trying to figure out what types of horses I have. Knowing where I stand with them does help me. I know what to expect and how to approach them. I have one who is a gypsy and he likes to play the catching game. This catching game will never go away because he loves playing it and because he is a gypsy. With him, I have to have fun and be a little kid running around with this horse. This is who he is. In What Horses Reveal, Klaus also talks about time frame. How long the training should be for each group. He takes in how they mentally can handle the sessions. It's very interesting to read and then apply it. Connecting with my horses is very important to me and to have this book at my finger tips along with his other books, I am very thankful.

What Horses Reveal: From First Meeting to Friend for Life

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Showing Leadership and Trust

When trying to gain confidence, I'll often allow the herd or in this case one horse to help another horse.  Not only is he helping another horse, but helping me as well.  Sometimes, it's just better to have a horse be the trainer.   Jazz has been here for 1 1/2 weeks.  He has learned valuable lessons on manners, so far.  Yesterday, was the first time I've worked with him in the arena, since he's been added to the family.

I've been working with him for the past 2 years.  Jazz's mind was "I'm going to get you before you get me".  It's taken a lot of patience to get him where he is today. 

I brought him in the arena.  Actually, I asked Shhzar, who had just left the arena, to lead Jazz in.  I told him Jazz needed him.   Shhzar took my request very seriously and went back in with Jazz following him.  Shhzar is 14.2 hands.  He's an arab.  Jazz is 16 hands.  He is a Tennessee Walker/Quarter Horse.  Size doesn't matter, what does matter is the mind.  The mind must be strong, fair and centered in order for the horses to feel safe. 

Knowing that Jazz is afraid of going forward, because there's a big black hole in front him, I lead him down the jumping lane.  I started first using a halter and lead rope.  This gave him a bit more security.  He can feel my energy running down the rope. His energy meeting my energy, we became connected.  Even though, the trust isn't strong enough yet, this is a great start.  I made sure I stayed in front of him, not only to keep him from being scared, but this is a strong leading position.  If I try to put myself back at his shoulder, I'd be the foal to him. Not only would this scare him, but he would feel he needed to be leader.  This was the last thing he needed.  I needed to take the leadership.  For now, I need to make sure he understands that I'm here to help him through his fears. 

When, I felt he was ready I took off the lead rope but stayed in front of him, so he wouldn't think I left him.  We went up and down the jumping lane a few times. I was looking for quietness.

Then I set him up in the jumping lane and told him to wait.  I told him, Shhzar was going to help him get through it.  For the very first time, I saw the real Jazz.  Instead of feeling aggressive, he felt scared and very unsure. 

He felt safe enough to actually show Shhzar and I just how much he was scared.   He has always hidden behind the aggressive behavior.  He is coming out of his shell and showing us the real Jazz.  He's trusting me and the herd more and more everyday.  He is allowing us to see his real self.  Isn't this what people will do too...put up a front, to try to hide your real self.?

I, again, asked Shhzar for help.  "Show him the way, Shhzar."  Shhzar very softly turned and was gone helping Jazz through the jumping lane.  Shhzar being so confident and sure of himself is what Jazz needed to see.

"Jazz, you can do this."
 What I love about this last picture is Shhzar saying "This way. Follow me."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nothing is Black and White

Before I begin, I want you to remember nothing is black and white in the horse herd.  Every horse is different in conformation, how he moves, and most importantly, he is an individual whose thoughts are just as different and important as each and every human being.  Every horse feels a different way and will approach every obstacle differently.
Horses' first instinct is to run, when they feel danger.  Notice the word “feel”.  It’s not just what they see, smell, or hear but also what they feel.   Sometimes, horses don’t have to see the danger, and this is where it is very important as the trainer (friend) to have enough trust to where your horse looks to you.  And as the trainer to trust your horse.  Sometimes, we just have to take their word for it and take a different path. 
In the herd, when a horse smells, hears, or feels uneasy, he will become alert and that alerts everyone else.  They look to the leader, “do we run or do we stay?”   Everything may move in a snap.  Usually, they will run a ¼ of a mile, turn around, and then ask the question “what was that? Should we keep running or is it all clear and safe again?”   Once it feels safe, the horses will begin to eat.  All is peaceful again.
Body language is a complicated type of language.  A twitch of an ear, a muscle, even a tail is saying something.   Horses' rolling has many meanings, too.   Remember, “nothing is black and white.”  This is where it gets interesting.  Rolling can mean feeling relaxed.  Rolling in dirt helps to condition their coat and/or to keep bugs off of them.  Rolling helps with itchies.  But there is one feeling that has been over looked and not even considered.  Could rolling also be an anxiety relief?
I deal a lot with abused and neglected horses.  I watch the herd a lot and learn from their interaction with one another and found nothing in the horse world is simple.   Horses will roll to help release stress.  Buzz Light Year is one of those.  He will roll, get up roll again, find another spot and roll again.  He’s searching for that stress relief.  He’ll get up and roll again, over and over…10 times in a row is the highest I’ve counted.  It’s like he’s trying to get rid of crawling ants.  Buzz is very unique.  He isn’t your average horse.  I believe he is autistic.  I’ll talk more about him in another post.  He is fascinating and a huge challenge.
Body language is very complex.  A twitch of a muscle can have many meanings, too.  He could be trying to get rid of a fly or telling a horse to rub him here.  What is really interesting and wonderful is, one day I was riding, I felt a muscle push upward, it was like a finger telling me “you need to put your weight here.”   Horses are amazing if given a chance to be heard.
A foot cocked, what could this mean? Looking at the whole horse, I see eyes closing and the whole body going limp taking a quick cat nap, but there is something else going on, especially when I see the hoof flipped upside down with the wall of the hoof touching the ground.  Look how flexible that leg is.  A horse doing this is keeping his leg stretched and suppled which is very important to do, so the rump and leg doesn't cramp up.  It would be awful to have a bad leg and not able to move fast enough.  This is something Nelson has taught me.  He can be so stiff, but he hasn't needed massaging.  He knows how to keep the knots out.  This stretching I ask of my other horses and it has done everyone of them a lot of good.  Once taught, I don't have to ask them to do it. 
Ears laying flat back, may say that the horse is angry, giving a warning, but it can also indicate fear, or being unsure, and I’m sure there are more meanings than that.  Nothing is black and white.  Some horses show this behavior and they mean it, but the root of this behavior might be because he’s afraid and is insecure.  Jazz is one of those horses.  He’s very insecure and afraid.  He becomes aggressive.  He is also quick in kicking and it’s all fear based.  Many people will say, he’s disrespectful, but that’s not his problem.  He was also abused and was pushed past the line.  Nobody was listening that he was afraid of going forward.  He was pushed and pushed until he exploded.  Man has taught him, that the only way to be heard is to be loud...aggressive.  He is changing and has a baby face, but his insecurities show up not only with me but within the herd too.  Thank goodness the herd knows and understands how to deal with him. 
Even though Nelson's head is down,  look how
worried he is. He isn't feeling completely safe.  The wrinkles
above his eye is saying "One bad move and I'll be out of here."
Head down doesn’t always indicate relaxed.   Horses can be afraid even with his head down. Is the body stiff?  How is he holding his legs?  Squared hind quarters are always ready to take action.  What about his eyes, are they soft or hard, slightly hard, or bugging out?   Watch those ears, they tell you where he’s listening and possibly which direction he’s thinking of going.  A soft relaxed horse with his head down, is always a nice way to spend time with the horses.  Everything is peaceful and that’s the way I like it.
I barely touched on this subject.  It’s a very interesting subject.  The more time I spend sitting and watching,  the more I learn something new.
Take the time, grab a chair and sit.   Revisit and tell us about your experience, your new insight into this wonderful world of horses.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Had a lesson with Duke (retired show jumper) about responsibility. Poor Duke has been micro-managed most of his life. He is in his 20's. He is a retired show jumper. He is very sensible and has a lot of power. He was taught to pull and run on his forehand. He did very well in the show ring even with his handicap...amazing guy he is.

What is Duke's responsibility? On this day, he learned he can make decisions and keep the rider with him. He was allowed to pick the direction and the gait. All that was asked of him was to keep the rider safe.

This is a big deal for Duke. At first he wasn't sure about this decision making, but it didn't take long for him to settle into it. He went up one path and down another. He chose trot and walk. There were moments he felt the rider's balance wasn't where it should be and he slowed down sometimes going down to a walk. He took this responsibility very seriously.

Allowing Duke to make these decisions is very important. I need him to look out for me and I need to trust him and his judgement. It's a good way to gain respect from Duke and learning more about him as well as him learning about me. Riding with a loose rein and allowing him to pick and choose takes trust, that he will watch out for me that I don't need to micro-manage him.

At the end of the ride, he was very pleased with himself. He also chose to go over the ground poles. He held his head up and hit every pole with what sounded like six feet instead of just 4 feet. He was worried that the tug-o-war was going to start. It didn't happen. The second time thru, was my idea because I felt he needed reassurance that the tug-o-war wasn't going to show up. As soon as, I lead him to it, I went back to being just a passanger. He was perfect...didn't hit a single pole and went through it with pride and came out with a lovely working trot.

When all done, he was smiling and the more we talked about him, the more he was beaming. He even stuck around for awhile after being untacked. He was very content and happy.

It's a simple lesson, but a very powerful one.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcome to Dogwood Lane

Dogwood Lane is a place for abused and neglected horses. The horses I take in are the ones who are super challenged. I love taking on these types of horses.

Buzz Light year, whom we call Buzz, is autistic. It takes a lot of patience to handle him. It's very important to know when to just walk away. He tries very hard but sometimes it's just best to walk away from him until he can handle things better. He has a hard time with touch from horses as well as people. He rolls a lot. It's like he's trying to get rid of crawling ants.

Nelson hides his head to protect himself. He had his nose broken. If you are wondering what kind of force breaks a horse's nose, try a 2x4. People have lied to him and hurt him. He isn't an easy horse to catch, but once you have him feeling safe, you can do his feet and send him down the jumping lane. He's an amazing guy. Every single time I go out, I have to show him that I'm still the same person I was just 5 minutes ago. If he doesn't feel safe, he bolts and is gone. He hasn't done that in a long time.

Jazz has a baby face, but almost 3 years ago when I started him, he was ready to stomp my face. He is afraid of going forward and was pushed behond his point. Going past the line can be a dangerous thing and with him it was. He was terribly overfaced. He now has a baby face and has helped Buzz with his problems. Buzz came to us starved and totally misunderstood. Jazz showed Buzz that everyone had full bellies and had hay in front of him. He had no need to worry or fear. He will always have a full belly. I am very thankful to Jazz's help.

I have many other stories to tell of the other horses I have. I know that I'm helping these horses, and in return they are helping me to be a better person. It's never a one way street. It's very important to stop and listen. Hear what they have to say and then in return they listen and hear what I have to say. It is a two way street. Together we find peace and harmony.

Want to help