Epic Farms: A small non-profit striving to share the BIG picture
A Note to Visitors and Personal Disclaimer :o)
I don't pretend to have all of the answers (shoot, I'm still coming up with questions). Our sites are simply offered as a collection of learning experiences and personal observations that I found fascinating. Of course I find horses in general fascinating, so I'm starting from there :o) Horses are a tremendous responsibility, but such a joy to own; I feel extremely blessed for the privilege of having them right here with me...there's nothing like it.
While I have some definite opinions and ideas on horses and training, I must confess to being a bit of a coward and tend to keep those thoughts and opinions largely to myself in order to avoid confrontations (I'm a peaceful sort - and opinions can get MIGHTY strong). The A#1 biggest stumbling blocks are these: You might have to admit you don't know quite as much as you thought OR (and this is a biggie) maybe you had it wrong. I have come face to face with these issues (and subsequently 'fessed up to myself and others) SO many times over the past couple of years I sometimes think I should go ahead and have "Still Learning, I'm SLOW" tattooed across my forehead, erect a billboard in the front yard with "I Had it Wrong" in six foot flashing neon letters, or maybe just a T-shirt would do...
The few people I have TRIED to share some observations with, tend to react in one of two ways:
1) Placate the Idiot, because I don't want to hear it - Agree with everything and then walk off rolling their eyes. Future discussions with others include phrases like, "That Jennifer and her horses, bless her heart..." This is a southernism generally used to describe those clueless individuals that are several bricks shy of a load, a few french fries short of a happy meal (you know, completely cuckoo or seriously stupid - take your pick :o)
2) Steamroll City, because I don't want to hear it - This method utilizes constant interruptions to interject personal opinions and pontifications that often contradict and always override the speaker (yours truly) and are always made up of run on sentences and monologues. After a couple of these, I'm happy to throw in the conversational towel; or at least wrap it around my head to stifle the noise...
NOTE: It never ceases to amaze me how many "experts" there are out there who are full of more poop than our pasture, (which can be a LOT of poop). Even more mind boggling, is that they can offer training tips that make absolutely NO sense (and are sometimes dangerously stupid), but because they were uttered with complete confidence and complete authority they are blindly followed without question (Me? I question EVERYTHING! :o)
Of course then I'll discover something else that's just way too cool to keep to myself, so we just start all over again (hmmm, maybe I should lay claim to #1 after all...DUH). I have, however, been extremely blessed with the most wonderful of horse-loving friends (that'd be you, Lori) who has been a fabulous sounding board and staunch supporter, and Shadow's buddy, Suzanne (my favorite photographer - see Taya's pic below :o) who is every bit as fascinated as I am over all this stuff and who I honestly don't know what I'd do without (so heartfelt thanks to you too, Suze!!).
Over the past few years, I have slowly discovered other people traveling down this road; like Carolyn Resnick, Klaus Hempfling, Allen Pogue and Mark Rashid (among others) who are listed on our Horse Heroes page. It's always a relief to know you're not the ONLY one out there! Of course, they're all quite a bit further down the road than I (as in if I climbed a redwood and had a Hubble telescope to look through, I might be able to catch a glimpse of them waaaaay off in the distance...well, maybe :o)
I've tried to make sure I gave appropriate credit wherever due (but not being perfect, if I've missed a step please say so - just don't hurt me). I hope you enjoy reading through the information on this lens and will poke around my other lenses as well. Please come and visit our official website too; I have to admit, I truly enjoyed creating it (well, except the technical aspect which gave me a major headache :o)
With love and Tylenol,
Jen, Horse Crazy Grownup
and Professional Amateur
If you think horses are beautiful animals, but a horse is a horse - and let's not get carried away here they are livestock for cryin' out loud - then this is probably NOT the place for you.
... BUT ...
If you think that maybe (just maybe) there might be something you are missing or you are a curious sort that loves to think and work outside the box and you're willing to learn or try something new then...
COME ON IN, WE'RE SO GLAD YOU'RE HERE!
Want to know what on earth this is? This is a word list for one of the puzzles we give out to visitors and friends of the farm (yay! :o) Please visit our home page at EpicFarms.com for more information
The Moo Crew and The Girls - In Arctic Alabama (Winter 2009)
Record cold temperatures had everybody hustling to keep warm; including our horses. Max and Cinnamon are playing a game when they square off at the stump - I haven't quite figured how the rules yet though...
NOTE: The camera bobble near the end of the clip was sponsored by Taya, who decided to give my arm - the one holding the camera - a nice big happy slurp (it's nice to be loved... :o)
A blurb about our credentials (or lack thereof)
As the Titanic was built by professionals and the ark by amateurs, I think we'll happily hang on to our "absolute amateur" status :o)
Equine Ecstasy: How Happy Is YOUR Horse?
Happiness IS a Horse (Boo-Yeah :oD
But how can you tell if he is? Happy, that is...
NOTE: The picture above is our filly (Taya) wearing an expression of absolute unadulterated bliss. I'm scratching her tummy :o)
Did you know that most mares have a kind of "happy spot"? There is almost always a callous of sorts directly behind the front legs in front of the stomach; you can usually feel it. Next time your able, try giving it a scratch and see what happens (just make sure you ask the mare's permission, first). Shoulders and chest are sometimes happy spots to scratch for the boys; they tend to be a little trickier. Here are some more things to think about...
♥Does your horse greet you when you appear? I don't mean only at feeding time, I mean if you go outside (or into the barn). Does he say Hi? Does he stand and watch you approach with his ears up? Walk to meet you halfway? Pretend he doesn't see you? Turn his back? Flee the scene?
♥ Does he come to you willingly for a visit? What about when you approach him with a halter? Does he want to play catch me if you can? Do you have to bribe him with food? Corner him?
♥ Do you pet and scratch (lightly) or do you pat and slap? To put it in perspective: I'd much rather have someone put their hand on my shoulder and give it a "pet" (sliding down my arm or lightly patting it) than pop me on the arm or whack me on the back, wouldn't you? Since a horse can feel a fly landing on him, it is probably a safe assumption he feels the same way (watch an old Western or look around at a horse show and note how the horses all jump or flinch at those "affectionate" slaps on the neck by their riders).
♥ Will he hang out with you voluntarily at times? If he's stabled, is he content to stand at the door near you or does he pretend you don't exist?
♥ Do you spend time with your horse when you don't want something from him? If you only get him when it's "time to work", see the farrier or vet, chances are he's not going to be too happy to see you. Would you be?
♥ Do you know what his favorite treat is? (bearing in mind that some horses are not that picky...if it looks interesting, they'll eat it :o) What about his favorite place for a scratch? General likes and dislikes?
OK, I figured out my passion in life
is to share our horses with the world, so now what? It's great in theory to simply fling open the proverbial barn doors and invite everyone to come learn, but in reality (which is the quickest way to ruin all your fun)
that doesn't work at all...
So what exactly are we trying to DO?
Status Report: Phase I
Our first and biggest goal was to become an official 501c3 organization. After nearly a year of paperwork (in alarming quantities), oodles of STRESS, some blood, sweat and tears we are OFFICIAL!
We didn't waste time while we were waiting to be approved as a non-profit, however, we got B-U-S-Y creating a website on the internet. We wanted something that could be used as a resource for anyone interested in horses, with an emphasis on sharing the true nature of horses and promoting responsible ownership (see our "I Want One" lens). Each of the horses has their own page on our site, and there are lots more pages with all kinds of information ranging from Equine PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and Handy-Dandy Horse Hints, to our Horse Heroes page offering links to some of the horse-loving people that inspire us.
We discovered Squidoo (woo-hoo :o) and began making lenses, with more on the way! As I'm sure you know, the internet will be an ongoing (um, ongrowing???) project for us.
A blog was added to share interesting lessons (mostly ours :o) learned along the "training trail". We also have guest posts so that others may share fascinating things that they have learned from their horses.
Now what? It's on to Phase II
Finding Funds and Finishing Our Facilities
This is... The next BIG ONE; finding financial support. Our programs to learn all about horses and how they REALLY are will be offered to other area non-profits (like Girl/Boy Scouts, schools, and other area service organizations) but before we can think about doing that, we will have to purchase liability insurance - what you might call a necessary (expensive) evil to the tune of about $1,000 per year. Our facilities also need to be completed; we took it as far as we could ourselves until we ran out of personal pockets (more specific information on the status of our facilities is available on our website and on the Accountability Lens here on Squidoo :o)
To try and help with funding, we have set up a shop on Etsy.com with all proceeds being donated back to the farm, and have offered advertising space for sale on our website. We are in the process of creating "fan clubs" for each of the horses on our site which will be for a nominal donation, and we are applying to Squidoo to become one of their official charities. Hopefully our organization will appear in the next update of Publication 78 by the IRS (a list of approved 501c3 organizations). We have also sent our information in to Guidestar so that potential donors will be able to verify that we are legitimate (hey, I'd sure want to know who I was sending my money to!)
In the meantime, we are fine tuning program ideas and practicing them on friends and family (our favorite guinea pigs :o) We also participated in an off site program: Farm Day (see the next module). Stay tuned for more progress as we make it!
UPDATE: Hooray! We have been accepted into the ranks as a Squidoo charity and now have our very own donations module; we just love to Squidoo, don't you?? Want to designate Epic Farms as your charity for lens royalties? We'd be honored...(and we need all the help we can get! :o)
UPDATE TAKE TWO: It has taken forever, but the meeting area is almost finished - Woo!
Have You "Herd" the Road Trip Rule? - Here's a post from Equine Epiphanies (our Thinkin' Blog)
When I was in 7th grade, I took a 12 week drawing class at a local art school (Saturdays). While I desperately wanted to take the class, it was also intimidating as I would probably not know anyone else there and I was terribly shy. When I walked into the classroom that first day, I saw a girl I knew from school (one of the "popular" girls, who never EVER spoke to me at school). I remember wishing it could have been someone else (ANYone) that I could at least halfway get along with for the next 12 weeks...
Imagine my surprise when Polly Popularity completely disregarded "The Rules", came over and plopped down next to me chattering away. She sat with me every Saturday for the entire 12 week session. Interestingly enough, she STILL never spoke to me at school. It was a good lesson for life with horses: Better the devil you know.
We opted to add a special adventure to our calendar this year by taking Champ and Lady to FFA's (Future Farmers of America) "Farm Day" at the elementary school. Because Lady and Champ are in separate herds and pastures, they would not normally get along if we put them together at home. In a new environment, however, this rule can change completely for horses just as it does for people (like it did for my Saturday art classes :o) Isn't that interesting?
The horses were a huge hit with the kids and extremely tolerant of all the little hands reaching up to pet them. Many of the children had never seen a horse up close and oohed and ahhed at how soft their muzzles (noses) were. I was touched by the many expressions of wonder and amazement (not to mention the huge grins) I saw on so many little faces throughout the day; it was a fabulous experience for all of us. Champ even got to meet a few of the other animals that participated; scroll down to see some pictures. For those of you wondering why I didn't photograph any of the aforementioned happy little faces, it's a big no-no (and Moms and Dads were not on hand to sign a photo release).... They were awfully cute though!
Champ enjoyed all of the attention
Lady was a bit shy at first...
Champ meets chick...
He liked the bunny rabbit...
Not too sure about piglet though :o)
Let's see now, where else are we again??? - Come visit our sites & shops - we just LOVE company :o)
- ♥ Epic Farms Website ♥
Our Mission Statement: To create and maintain a family friendly environment that will promote equine based learning and facilitate safe interaction for both individuals and small groups [in Southeast Alabama and the surrounding area].
- ♥ Visit Our Thinking Blog ♥
Equine Epiphanies...There comes a time in life when there is nothing else to do but go your own way. Where you are headed there are no trails, no paths, just your own instincts. ~ Sergio Bambaren We may not always get it right, but we're learning...A
- ♥ Shop Epic Farms on Etsy ♥
100% of the proceeds from the items in this shop are donated back to the care and support of our equine residents.
- ♥ Shop at Wysiwigs ♥
"What you see is what I've got :o)" Unique (but not scary gifts for everyone). I'm pretty much feeding profits from this shop to the horses (it's just not official :o)
Pop over to Amazon for some beautiful horse posters - I want the one on the left ~ wowza!
Great places to visit... - Some of our favoritist peoples :o)
- ♦ Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling
Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, Kursprogramm, Kursbeschreibungen, Charakterisierung, Akedah Schule, course programme, horse characterization, course descriptions, Akedah school
- ♦ Carolyn Resnick
Nationally known for her original training methods, her understanding of natural herd behaviour, and the remarkable connection that she shares with all horses, Carolyn Resnick's career and studies have spanned over 40 years as a trainer, Arabian bree
- ♦ Allen Pogue
Imagine a Horse is a fresh and innovative training lifestyle that focuses on the horse as a companion and friend in sport, at home, and in the field
- ♦ Monty Roberts
Link List:The Man Who Listens to Horses uses gentle horse training methods called Join-Up?, based on the horse's natural language he calls Equus.
- ♦ Cheryl Ward
Artist Cheryl Ward practices a unique method of abstract expressionism. Instead of painting with a brush in her hand, Cheryl passes the reins of control to her horses who paint on canvas with brushes in their mouths. Romeo, Juliet, DaVinci and Raleig
- ♦ Mark Rashid
Mark Rashid is an inernationally acclaimed horse trainer known for his ability to understand the horse's point of view and solve difficult problems with communication rather than force.
Shop with Little Studio Jewels - and help the horses at the same time :o)
- CLICK HERE TO VISIT MEGHANN'S SHOP
Meghann has generously decided to "keep" us as a regular charity for a portion of selected items throughout her shop. Her handmade jewelry and nature photographs are absolutely fabulous, and she is in the process of adding Amigurumi animals to her sh
Some of my favorite books and video - and yes, I've read (and watched) them ALL :o)
I am a big believer in personal reference libraries, not to mention the fact that I just LOVE to read. Since we run on a shoestring budget (and said shoestring is dry rotted), it's great being able to purchase used books at a hefty discount :o)
This is an absolutely amazing book; he also has a video that is totally worth watching (although I think there's better mileage in the book :o)
She has the most wonderful mindset for working with horses (I'm pretty sure I want to be her when I grow up, but I'm only 42 so I have a way to go yet...)
I do believe this woman has written a book on just about everything to do with horses (this is one of my favorites, though :o)
This is one in a series of instructional DVDs ~ they are all very clear and idiot friendly (can you guess how I would know this??)
I've just finished this one (in a day and a half :o) It's absolutely wonderful!