Blog

Many of these blogs I wrote some time ago and appeared on my old website. Please ignore the date is says it was published. Enjoy. 

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  1. Positive Reinforcement / Clicker Training is amazing. Kez's excellent Equine Podiatrist Tracey from Natural Neddies brought a helper with her for Kez's last hoof trim. This because of Covid19 and social distancing measures. Vicki and Steve are high risk so couldn't give Kez treats for being good during hoof trimming. So Becca ensured Kez got a good supply of treats.


    For more information on Positive Reinforcement / Clicker Training please use this link https://www.thenonriddenequineassociationuk.org/clicker-training-positive-reinforcement.html
    Lots of resources to inspire, delight and educate. Free, fun and for you and your equine. Enjoy.

    hoof trimming

  2. As 2019 draws to a close I reflect back on the year. And what a year it has been.

    2018 was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive breast cancer. I hoped 2018 would be the end of tests, scans, biopsies, surgery, more scans, chemotherapy, radiation, etc....but it dragged well into 2019 as my wish for the other breast to be removed wasn't granted. I was still on blood thinners for the DVT chemo gave me, so no chance until that was done. May 2019 I had my wish, right mastectomy. Looking back I realize I was very fragile starting 2019, recovering physically and mentally. In 2018 I lost my way, I gave up my horsemanship business, I lost my independence, and income. The treatment for cancer in 2018 was so hard I lost my mind, went crazy, and visited the gates of hell. The devil couldn't have me as family, friends, Marley my Dalmatian and Kez our horse had got hold of my hand so tightly he couldn't pull me in. Marley never left my side, a dog's love is unconditional. Our horse Kez waited for me. They give me a reason to get up and on with the day.

    marley and kez

    Cancer has filtered people out and into my life. A few people showed their true colours kicked me while I was down. Big mistake, as battling cancer has made me less tolerant to being treated badly. Amazing people stepped up and walked in when others fled. Thank you to my wonderful friends and family who has helped me. Thank will never be enough. And the list of thank you is very long. I am thankful for each and every one of my dear friends and value time catching up on life. True friends are the people who are there for you unconditionally. They can have 2 legs or 4. They never ridicule, put you down or pass cruel judgements. They support you no matter what the circumstances are. They often come into your life when you least expect it. They are what make life worth living. They are precious treasures.

    Life is fragile. People are precious. Loved ones are to be treasured. I reflect back to my dear friend Sue who collapsed on the 23rd December 2018. She had a huge bleed on her brain and she never regained consciousness. Weeks she was on life support before it was turned off in January. I miss her so much.

    Cancer showed me my inner demons. It showed me the dark places within. I was forced to fight, there was no choice but to pick up a weapon in my shaky fearful hand. Let me say it is exhausting. It's very hard and at times too much. The darkest days are when you fight the hardest. That fight maybe getting through the next five minutes and pushing away the way to make the pain stop. Others often cannot see or understand the inner battle and turmoil. So for my friends who are warriors you have a strength within, a fire within. On bad days the light is a tiny faint glow. The tears that fall are a sign it is still there. The ignition of that glow to a fire is your inner strength, courage and grit. Sometimes the faint glow is all I had. But it was still there. When that glow is gone the fight is gone. So I am thankful for my inner glow.

    I have learnt a lot about myself, as cancer stripped me to bare bones. I realise I am work in progress. Maybe I always will be work in progress? Learning is lifelong. There have been many ups and downs in finding my new path. I tried to return to teaching horsemanship and physically it was too much. So at the crossroads I sat not sure which road to take. This along with learning my recovery is a haul. I have learnt I will never be pre cancer me. Cancer has forced me to spend time in transformation from old me (pre cancer) to new me. Just as a caterpillar goes into a chrysalis and breaks down its body to emerge as a butterfly. I have spent considerable time in my chrysalis. I have learnt much about myself, who I am, not who I am based on what I do. Cancer stripped me to the bare bones. I have been loved when I wasn't loveable. I have learnt I am fragile, and it's ok not to be ok. My body is still not recovered and maybe it's as good as it can be, wonky. My body has limitations, it is now weaker, and I am learning to live and manage lymphoedema. My mind is work in progress, my spirit has been honoured. Yes at times I could have ended it....but the darkest of days somewhere, somehow I got through. Sometimes dragged or pushed by those around me. Sometimes just a shared quiet kind knowing and a cup of coffee. Just as a caterpillar has different DNA to a butterfly maybe my emerging from the chrysalis I will have new wings and can fly? And how ironic as I have a butterfly tattoo.

    The NHS staff are amazing, they are working in a broken system doing a first rate job. Mental health services have been obliterated by years of underfunding. It is totally broken. So I have learnt to help myself emotionally. And learnt to tap into spiritual healing, and thank a dear friend Sally Roberts for her wonderful spiritual healing. I have also invested in self-healing, giving myself reiki. I have tapped into my inner soul and my creativity to help heal myself. My art is great therapy and it reaches out into my spiritual realm. I have learnt how to tap into my reiki and creative side. My creative work is done spiritually with love, passion and soul. I am a Reiki practitioner and artist and all my work is done with Meraki.

    kez and me

    Our horse Kez is the reason we started the original Non Ridden Equine Facebook group and from that the not for profit Non Ridden Equine Association UK. During 2018 I was too poorly to do much for the Non Ridden Equine Association UK. However 2019 has seen many amazing achievements. This year as a collective of people who share a non ridden passion we raised enough money for the Non Ridden Equine Association UK to have a stand at Your Horse Live. So many people made this possible. I am blown away by the generosity of businesses that provided prizes for a raffle and the generosity of people who purchased raffle tickets. Having a stand at Your Horse Live was a truly amazing experience. Plenty of people stopped by our stand to chat. It is clear that in 2020 the Non Ridden Equine Association UK has plenty to do. So it looks like I will be giving some time to this project. (Please note all who input to the Non Ridden Equine Association UK are unpaid volunteers).

    yhl stand

    On a personal note the things I have achieved may to some seam small. For me they are huge. After cancer treatment and more surgery in 2019 I didn’t have the strength or stamina to do things I used to be able to do. I have to be careful with lifting heavy things, and take great care not to get pulled or bashed. So for all of 2018 and the first half of 2019 doing any groundwork or in hand work with Kez was out. Gradually with help from the physiotherapist I have got stronger. I have been able to lead Kez, and ground work him in the school. I still have to be careful and mindful. But I can do it. I am thankful for the wonderful support and encouragement from my dear husband Steve and Wendy. I am grateful beyond words that I can look after our horse, the daily care is something that I really enjoy and treasure. The simple things like filling haynets with the yard robin watching give me such joy.         

    robin

  3. Do we love our horses unconditionally? Or do we love them for what they can do or give us? Is our relationship with our horse based upon conditions? It got me thinking of what it means to be a friend to our horse.

    What Are Friendships?

    We are driven as a species to be social, so too are equines. We are driven to seek out meaningful relationships. Friendships form a basis of how we engage with our fellow man. In the modern world there are many types of friendships we experience in our lives: from soul companions, true integrity friendships, very close meaningful friendships, childhood friendships, best friends, activity based friendships, old friends, new friends and social media friends….the list can go on. Each friendship is different. It got me thinking, what do we base our friendships on? What sort of friend are we to each other and our horse?

    They say you miss something or someone when it has gone. So true. My dear friend Sue died this year, she was a true integrity friend. She never judged me. She always stepped in when others would leave. She accepted me for who I was, my flaws and weaknesses she never tried to change me. She accepted my beliefs and values as I did hers. We may not have seen the world the same way but we respected each other’s opinions. We would agree to disagree and hold no hard feelings. Our friendship was not based on being on the same page. We could go periods without seeing each other and be totally comfortable in our friendship and drop back together with ease. I trusted Sue as she was dependable. She made me feel significant, special and I mattered to her. We had a friendship that lasted over 40 years and never over that time did we hurt each other. As at the heart of our friendship was thoughtful, open, honest, respectful communication. We placed a high value on our friendship so we placed being kind to each other above anything else. We encouraged each other. We shared many happy times, enjoyed sharing stories, listening to future plans and supporting each other. During my cancer treatment Sue was there, she helped me get back on my feet. As did my family, other friends, Kez and Marley.  

    Sadly as a species man is also driven to want things. Sometimes this is what other people or a horse can give us. And this can create friendships based on conditions. Here lies the problem, what if one side of that friendship can no longer meet the conditions of the friendship? I have been on the receiving end of this many times, as I am sure have you at some point in your life. The reactions and behaviour you experience from the friend who had placed conditions on your friendship when you can no longer meet up to what they want from the friendship can be at best hurtful and at worst end the relationship. Here you will learn if the friendship is based on conditions or a true integrity friendship. If it is a true integrity friendship they will see they have hurt you and it will really matter to them. Many a time I have apologized for hurting someone, I will acknowledge their feelings and the hurt I have accidently caused. I will do this before I explain myself and my actions. Sadly I have been hurt by people who have not given an apology, then I know the friendship is a conditional arrangement. It is then no surprize that they don’t care when I walk away.

    It got me thinking I am a good friend? To my horse Kez, I can answer yes. Because I love him for who he is not for what he can give me. He was purchased for my husband and I to share to ride. However that dream was not to happen. Kez has conditions that mean riding is not for him. We love him for who he is and it is an opportunity to enter his world and enjoy a relationship without riding being on the agenda. A friendship with a horse can be profound and life changing. And Kez has certainly changed my life.

    Am I a good friend with other humans? That is debatable, as going through cancer treatment and living with the cancer gun pointed at my head has changed me. I am still to some degree finding myself and I know I am work in progress. I recognise I am less able to take on other people’s stress and pressure. Scratch my surface, it is a thin layer of coping and under you will find self-preservation kicking in. So on reflection I am probably not a good friend right now as I have so little I can give to friends who have conditions attached.         

    For us we get over the hurt, pain and loss of broken relationships and move on. For a horse that can no longer meet the conditions of the friendship / partnership with the human it can have serious implications. It is no surprize that we have an equine crisis as for many people having a horse in their life has conditions attached. This and we live in a quick fix world with a throw away attitude. Throw into the mix overbreeding of low value equines. Plus the lack of seeing the value of non ridden equines. They are not worthless. All this creates the perfect storm.  As humans we are free to make choices over our friendships with each other. A horse has no choice over who is its’ owner or control over the type of friendship the owner wants with it or what conditions the owner attaches. So I go back to the start of this blog as to what type of friendship do we have with our horses?

    Kez Catherine Slade