My Journey With Raina – Forming a New Partnership

Photo by Emily Covington

Photo by Emily Covington

Thanks for your patience in waiting for the final installment of “My Journey With Raina”. I have been away on a hiking retreat but I am happy to be back with you!  The challenge of building a new relationship with Raina lay before me, and the Lord made clear that my heart towards her needed to become softer and more peaceful. Providentially, the Lord put in place the pieces I needed. I had the good fortune to attend a clinic with legendary horseman, Buck Brannaman, which reconnected me to my “natural horsemanship” roots. I took a break from riding her to develop a ground program that established clear boundaries and helped Raina feel more comfortable around frightening things, particularly moving objects at ground level. I required myself to praise Raina for each and every effort in the positive direction. I supported her by using Bach Flowers therapy, a form of homeopathy, to help settle her nerves. I found Aspen (for fear of unknown things), Mimulus (for fear of known things) and Red Chestnut (for over concern for the welfare of others) particularly helpful. I would dispense 4 drops of each remedy into her drinker daily. I also dispensed each remedy onto a sugar cube that I fed to her prior to each training session. Since Raina unhealthily attached herself to her fellow mare friends, I reassigned her a gelding as a pasture mate. Alongside these measures, I felt impressed to really simplify her management. Raina was forever losing her shoes and scuffing her inside hind legs. Consequently she wore bell boots 24/7 and was booted or bandaged for each work session. I stopped using these and within a few short weeks she kept her shoes on, stopped scuffing herself and her way of moving improved. I also discarded her flash attachment and loosened her caveson which helped her relax her jaw resulting in an improved connection to the bridle. As Raina became more comfortable in the world we were able to venture out of the rings and start hacking around the farm which she has learned to love!  Now each training session begins with a long walk followed by a good gallop before working on movements. The work on uneven terrain and hills has really helped build her fitness. I was also intentional about changing up her schedule. Sometimes she got worked in the morning, sometimes in the evening sometimes she was ridden in the morning followed by ground work in the afternoon followed by a third short ride in the evening of just stretchy trot. Sometimes I would bring in her in when her pasture mate got turned out into the large field. The unpredictable nature of her schedule really helped her become more adaptable. Undergirding all of these strategies however, were large doses of prayer. My dear friend and prayer partner, Donna, often felt led to pray Proverbs 3:7-8 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones”.   And to that I say AMEN.

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