Monday, October 22, 2012

Never Stop Learning

I realized yesterday that I never had actually learned to ride in the 50 some years that I have been riding. It came as quite a shock. I have had and have been around horses since I could walk and all of the horses that I have had were already trained or I raised them from birth and had taught them myself. I always rode bare-back, no shoes and no bit; not for any reason it is just I never had any tack to speak of beyond a hackamore and I became very comfortable with the situation, plus it was a lot less expensive and I could be ready to go before my friends had tied their horses to get ready to tack up. I never rode in a ring, I just did trail riding. The foals that I raised just came with me everywhere and I just talked to them and we seemed to reach a very suitable agreement.
When our girls started riding lessons it was easy for them, because they understood the body language and the horses' characters and so they felt very comfortable both around and on them. They had also always ridden bare-back.. They were young enough that the change from bare-back to a saddle was easy and they both became Three Day Event Champions in the Basque Country where they went to school. When they came home and rode our horses and started with all of this discipline stuff things started to change. I remember one day my younger daughter, Amber, was working my foal, Casi, in the ring and asked me how I got her to put her head down. I just said, “head down Casi” that was it; couldn't be easier but the girls were horrified. I think that they always assumed that mom knew how to ride and everything else about horses. Now that they had learned dressage and jumping and knew all about leg aids etc they felt it was time to teach our horses as well. Thankfully the horses adjusted well to the combination and even became very good therapy horses. They seemed to understand who was riding by what sort of tack they had on or whether or not they had to stand at the ramp and be led around for hours.
My new horse, Frisona, is seven years old and had never been ridden or had any life experiences, like traffic, dogs, trees etc. she just lived peacefully on a hill top with 30 other mares and was put into foal every year without much success. Her nature is so sweet and she is so willing to learn and help me that she has been very easy to back and start to train. Now I have a trainer that comes once a week because I feel as if I am out of my league. She is doing great but I have to learn along with her, even if it is just so I can go trail riding. I feel like someone who has driven all of their life and just got into a stick shift; there are so many things to think about, it all used to come naturally and I never thought about it, now I have to remember to stay centered, watch where I am going, learn the leg aids and hardest of all learn to lengthen my legs so that they stay in the stirrups. At 17”2 she is quite large and I am not as strong as I used to be so I have started riding in a treeless western saddle. It is very comfortable and I feel much safer taking a green horse out to meet the world than I would if I were bare-back. It just came as a shock that in my whole life I had never learned all of these things yet always rode very well.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Things Are Looking Up

Where I came from, living with thirty other mares and foals, food was on a first-come first-served basis. 30 horses meant 30 buckets of pienso in the trough then the hay and alfalfa in the middle of the large paddock. At the trough who ever ate faster got more, so I became a vacuum cleaner and worried about chewing later. Girls all kind of gang up and get into groups, each group helping the other members to food, grooming, water etc. I just couldn't quite fit into any of the groups so kind of hung out by myself, maybe talking to some of the ponies or younger males on the other side of the fences. My name is Cariño and I am a registered PRE brood mare, with a blood line to make you all jealous. I have had three colts, all spectacular. I lived on a farm where the man just loves horses so he has them for a hobby. He has another job to make money to pay for us all. A few times a year he likes to take all his friends out for a jolly and a paella in the campo, so they all arrive with bread, wine, chorizo and all the fixings for a good day out. They each get to choose their horse. I got picked quite often because I love going out on excursions and I am not afraid of anything. I loved those outings because other than that I was pretty much alone in the paddock because the girls didn't really like me much, until one day, a strange man came to look at us. He looked at me and I looked at him. He asked our man if I could come out so he could talk to me. The next time he came, I came out of the paddock but not just for a talk, we went for a trail ride. There was something very special about this new man and I think he thought I was special too. A few weeks later he came back and gave our man a wad of really wet money; it had fallen out of his pocket while he was showering me after a ride. I don't know what happened but next thing I knew I was at a new place with the new man together with a big fat thing they called a therapy horse. She looked like a sofa to me. We had really good food in my new house and I got along with Cookie, the therapy horse, except she liked to eat really slowly so I would vacuum down my pienso and kick her out of her stall and eat hers too. Boy, this was great and easy too, she just went to the big box and ate hay and alfalfa. There was always stuff in the big box so after a few weeks of pigging out I realized that I could take a break sometimes and there would still be food left. I had a lack of salt and minerals when I was young so I loved to put everything in my mouth; still do. They got me a salt and mineral block but I never tried it until one day a new horse arrived. I thought I was pretty good size, but wow, this was some big black mare. As soon as she came into the paddock she ran straight to the salt block and looked like a cow, liking it for ages then she drank half the bath tub. I guess she didn't have one either at her old place, but she knew she needed one. The new horse was called Frisona; stupid owner didn't know that is what her breed is in Spanish and thought it was her name, well now she is stuck with it. She had also lived with thirty other mares and youngsters and all the hay was in one huge box with a roof on it but they didn't have the trough for pienso. This was getting better and better, I could eat so fast that I could finish mine, kick Cookie out eat hers and still have plenty of time to eat Frisona's. Frisona had to eat lots of times a day and in small quantities until she got used to the pienso but then boy, jack pot, I was on a diet and she had to gain a lot of weight so in the end she got fed three times a day and I could kick her out every time and eat it all myself. Now I really needed to be on a diet, they said I had a Michelin, I don't know what that is but they were all laughing and grabbing handfuls of my fat. All of this came to an end; gates went up poles went in.
I was locked in my stall until the other girls had finished then they let me out but I got my way at the big box. I found that if I came at it looking really mad, ears back, head out; you know the look, the others would step back just long enough for me to get my head in the box then I could keep my head there and walk around the box kicking at anyone that came near. If they put their head in the box I just bit them and they left, but then the lady human got really mad. Well they tried everything, electric fence, dividing the paddock with the other two on one side and me on the other. I outsmarted them on every move. I pulled the plug on the bathtub so many times we have had to buy lots of new ones, I opened the gates. I'm so talented, I don't know where to begin. Well, today my life was ruined..They took Cookie away a few days ago, to go back to work with disabled people in Barcelona, sad for our children that rode her every week but great for the disabled people at her new place. You see, Cookie can carry a lot of weight and stand still for a long time and is very gentle and not too tall so she is really good for people in wheel-chairs. I've watched her. People do the strangest things on her but they always seem to be happier and feel better when they get off. Even people who don't like horses like Cookie: she just has one of those magnetic characters. Well, back to me because she is gone. While Cookie was here on vacation during the summer, when she wasn't working with the children, Frisona moved to the other side of the paddock so she would stop rubbing her mane and tail. See, Frisona is really delicate, she may look big and tough but she is just a gentle giant and even the flies and mosquitoes get the best of her. I did too, biting and kicking her. Now she is on the other side and we also have an electric fence between us. She is starting to heal from all of her wounds from rubbing and from me biting. Today it hit me and I felt very sad and all alone. I could eat and drink all I wanted, no one to bother me, well, that was the problem there was no one for me to bother, so I just stood and watched Frisona while she slowly ate her food. Remember that strange man that came to see me? Well he has something very special about him and he saw something very special in me. Even though there were lots of mares, he knew instantly that I was his. That lady again, made him go look at other horses to be sure I was the right one and every time he saw another one he said no, Cariño is for me. He called me that – it means darling. We have such a special relationship, some people think I can be a bit of a bitch or hard to handle because I don't like to work or learn in the ring but I love trail riding and so does my special man. He doesn't care about dressage or any of that stuff, he just likes to brush me and talk to me and take him out riding.. He loves me just the way I am and I love him the same way. Somehow I think we are soul mates and meant to be together. Every once in a while you find that very special someone just like I think that lady has found with Frisona. The four of us are all kind of difficult in our own ways but we seem to be just the piece that was missing to make the other better.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cookie Heads North

Slightly out of the blue, Cookie was needed up in Catalonia by Cadí Moixeró. She left last week. We both miss her terribly. Lenox thinks he's getting out of riding, but we have two horses that remain with us here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Animals in my life have made me a happier, healthier and stronger person.

I was going to write about some of the special animals in my life but as I reread my blog I find that I have written about most of them. From the time I can remember, I have always loved animals and I soon began to bring home strays, orphans and just about anything I could find. The first animal that I truly loved was a new born lamb that my mom brought home because the mother had died and it needed to be bottle-fed. I was around five years old. When I was a tween I got my first real horse: I had had horses my whole life but never one that was just mine. His name was Jiggs, he was a barrel-racer and I had called about an advert I saw in the paper. I thought that the girl said he was for sale for a hundred dollars. I went to see him and fell in love but it turned out she said four hundred dollars and I didn’t have that much. After many offers, all to stables, she decided that she would rather that he had a loving home with me than to be ridden by hundreds of people so she sold him to me. I had no tack or money to buy any so that is how I started to ride bareback and with just a halter and that is the way I have ridden since then. Jiggs was my friend that I could confide in and my transport. At that difficult age, where peer pressure and fitting-in are so important, I think my horse saved me a lot of tears and kept me out of trouble because he was more important to me than anything else. I kept Jiggs all through university then finally gave him to a little girl that loved him the way I did.
When I moved to Spain I started collecting animals again. I was living in a house with my two girls on some land on the hill above the pueblo. I bought a horse that I couldn’t afford, on a payment plan, and she came with a three week old foal that remained my foal well into her twenties. Whenever people would see her they would say “that is Barbara’s foal” even when she was close to twenty. The mare, Oli, would extend on command until her belly almost touched the ground so that I could get on. I thought that she would be great for the kids since she was older and that I would train the foal for myself. It turned out that even though she was older she had quite a strong character but she learned to love us and became a great horse. One day, I saw a shepherd pass my office and went out to talk to him and came home with two lambs and then to add to the gang, I bought a seven day old calf. I have written about all of these animals individually on this blog. The sheep, Negrita, the calf, Petite Suisse, and the foal, Casi, grew up together in the baby area which basically meant running free around the farm. They remained fast friends into their old age.
Me with Casi
I used to go to the old mill nearby to buy feed and that is where I started to learn Spanish, with Juan Sanchez, the miller and baker in a nearby town. We became great friends and every time I went I would come home with a duck or a rabbit or a dove and so my farm grew. I eventually opened my farm up to the school-children so that they could learn about farm animals since they now all lived in apartments and didn’t know much about animals and where food, milk, eggs and wool came from. I went to a Feria de Bestia – an animal fair - with some old Gypsy friends and bought an old mule and started Mojácar’s first donkey taxi. It was my first job here and I loved it plus the kids and I would take the mule down to the fountain to wash our clothes and hair and bring home water. It was a great social event and a good place to meet people and find out what was going on in town since no one in those days had phones.
I had a dream one night that I had a center for Animal Assisted Therapy, training animals for all types of disabilities and with the help of my husband and children, made it a reality. We ended up with twelve horses, four donkeys, pigs, sheep, boar, ducks, turkeys etc. Because I had a zoo license by then I was brought things like eagles and owls and other animals that were found injured or abandoned. ÁNIMO was born. We were soon running a center with over forty physically disabled children and a petting zoo. Qualified volunteers started showing up having worked in the field of therapeutic riding in their home countries like, England, Germany, Hong Kong and with them they brought a wealth of information and ideas. For fifteen years Ánimo functioned every day of the week and was free to all of the children. Even the doctor, nurse, psychologist and the physiotherapists all donated their time and my husband plus some necessary fund-raising paid for the upkeep of the animals.
Now comes the hard part. I got ill and we were running out of money so I had to start to find homes for all of my animals because I was unable to care for them physically and financially. Do you know how hard it is to find a good home for a 200 kilo friendly boar where they don’t want to eat him and just keep him as a pet? I finally gave Theodore, the boar, to a farmer who used him as a stud for his pigs so he could get better meat. It wasn’t perfect but it was the best I could. It took two years to find suitable homes for my large menagerie. For me this was almost harder than facing the fact that I had to have many operations, spend years in hospitals, be left permanently disfigured and to have an incurable disease that no one knew or knows how to treat.
Now comes the happy part again. After eight years of hell and antisocial behaviour I started to ride again, and then I met a wonderful woman called Loli who started working with me on finding a therapy that would help my illness. Since then I haven’t looked back and am again strong enough to work with the children in therapeutic riding, I have started Ánimo again but this time with a new board of directors and at Loli’s riding center in Los Partidores, just on the edge of Almería. She also has a farm school, so I don’t have to have the problems of all of the paper work or preparation of all of the animals; I just volunteer. To make the whole thing perfect, I was donated the horse of my dreams, a Friesian mare that I fell in love with but was unable to buy. My mare, Frisona, now called just Sona, makes every day special and together we are learning and making each other happy and I am able to lead a fairly normal life. I don’t worry about how I look any more and I am happy with who I am and what I have. My husband has been through hell and back staying by my side through all of this and kept me positive and feeling loved.
Since the fire in Bédar over the weekend, I started to remember a terrible fire we had three years ago. I sometimes get the feeling that maybe this strange disease helped to save all of these animals I loved so much, because there is no way I could have saved them, the fire was just too fast. It also has changed the way I live my life, I may have problems, which I do, ones that would make most people quit, but I try to live every day to its fullest and not keep wishing I had something else or was somewhere else.  The best thing about animals is that they have no prejudice, they don’t care what you look like or how you dress - they just want to be loved, cared for and respected and they will give the love back ten-fold.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Between Therapy Sessions at Animo

Here are two pictures we found in a drawer. The top one is me posing with Estudiante, a PRE gelding donated to Animo by Johanna Batista from Dos Olivos, in Seville. Because of his small stature and gentle nature, he was ideal for working with the forty or so children we helped in the nineties.
The second picture shows Amistad (or 'Ami'), donated by a pure fluke. Ami was pulling a cart - a caravan really -  from Milan across the Southern Mediterranean to raise charity money for disabled children. The cart broke down in Mojácar and the elderly couple donated her to us and then returned to Italy.
Just two of the twelve horses (and four donkeys) that participated in Animo in those times.

Alternate Medicine: No Friend to Big Pharma

In the 1930’s, Otto Warburg received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering how oxygen can destroy cancer cells.  Decades ago a twenty-year study was made on how two Chirimoyas (custard apples) a day are much more effective than chemotherapy and radiation combined at fighting cancer. I just saw a study on a similar basis that lemon juice with a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda every morning is also way more effective at killing cancer cells than chemotherapy. Fasting, under medical supervision, has also proven to be very successful at killing diseased cells; I even had a friend who went through this treatment in San Diego, to fight Leukaemia, after the doctors had given up and all treatments had been tried. It was very successful.  All of these studies are very interesting and many more are out there so why don’t people care about these studies? Why don’t we hear about them? Mostly because there is no money in oxygen, anyone can grow a chirimoya tree on their terrace, fasting is available to all and lemons are everywhere. If I can Google the information and Nobel prizes were awarded then the medical community must be fully aware of these alternative treatments. I think until the pharmaceutical companies can find a way to package these treatments they are going to stay swept under the carpet.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


Helping Frisona to build up her muscles and develop her balance, here's Lenox free-lunging.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Noble Horse

I just wanted to have this picture on my blog because it really speaks to me and makes me feel great. I have no idea whose picture it is but I would love to know. I have a Friesian mare and they are just as kind and sweet as is portrayed in this picture. I have only had my horse for five months so we haven't yet reached this stage of communication but I know we will. Frisona, my mare, gives me the push I need everyday to get  going, think positive and be happy, enjoying every day as it comes. I love Friesians. Thank you, Diego Mañas Romera, for donating her to me so I may ride and do my therapy here at home.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Student for Animo

This was Rebecka's last day. She has been staying with us for ten weeks as part of a university Erasmus program from Sweden program. She has learnt a lot about horses, including Frisona (pictured). Two of her teachers, with their backs to the picture, are José Manuel and Barbara. Elsewhere, she has had lessons from Loli, Tish, Hazel and a star turn from Esteban Flores from Cuevas, who taught her to drive a horse-drawn carriage. Rebecka has also taken classes in Catalonia and will return to her town in the 'frozen north' with new knowledge.
We hope she comes back to see us next year!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stretching One's Legs (Good Therapy)

We know that this is a blog about animals and animal assisted therapy, rather than just a repository for funny pictures, but we couldn't resist this snap of an early-morning run with Raven... and that's the thing: he's too fast for the camera!

Friday, May 11, 2012

In Training

Here I am riding my lovely Frisona being helped by Rebecka, a student from Sweden who is in Spain with the Erasmus program. Frisona is being trained to help me with my ANIMO-ALBERO therapy which is an ongoing investigation into how the horse can help people suffering from terminal disease and toxic medication treatments. Frisona was given to me by Diego Mañas Romera, from the Yeguada Valdesol in Sorbas, Almeria. Frisona and I are doing really well and getting better all of the time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday in Almería

Barbara rides on Cookie, with Rebecka leading. Rebecka is from Sweden and is staying with us for a while as part of the Erasmus Program (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students).

 Barbara back-rides today at the Centro Ecuestre Albero. The rider is Adela and that's Alberto lower right (he looks just like his mother, Loli, the director of the centre). Today, we had just three children come to visit.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Animo Smiles

The Smile
This is a video with some pictures taken at a recent Animo session in Almería. Animo is a centre for hippotherapy and therapeutic riding based in Southern Spain started in 1986.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Horses and Mosquitoes

I see letters from people all of the time asking for help with skin problems and insects bites in their animals. You can only spray them so many times with insecticide and it is never as good as it claims. Antihistamines and steroids are not very good for them and should only be used in extreme cases. My new Friesian, Frisona, came from a dry, arid, inland area and moved here to Mojácar where even though it is desert, it is lush and green this time of year and near a dry river bed that still has pools of stagnant water. I consulted the vet and many sources and it seems you just have to let them get bitten and to get used to it. I was wondering why the mosquitoes were worse on Frisona than they were on Cariño, the other horse here. It turns out that Cariño came from a place nearby that had very similar conditions so her body is used to it and the mosquitoes, though bad, don’t seem to bite her as much. Last night I almost called the vet because I thought that Frisona was going crazy. She was very impatient, wanted to stay dangerously close to me and couldn’t even eat. She kept throwing her head and dunking it in the bath tub. Even I was being bitten very badly while I was trying to confirm the reason for her strange behaviour. This year we have been plagued with at least four types of mosquitoes, it is the worst year ever. The town halls have been notified and have said that they would spray but – thanks to modern practices and the influence of the environmentalists – only for the larvae. One of the new types of mosquito is out all day, so we don’t even get a break from them, making it almost impossible to ride because the horses are so distracted and uncomfortable. Anyone that lives in the campo, with greenery around it, is having the same problem.

After fretting all night about the problem and Googling everything I could think of, the only answers I got were to move the animal to a different area or let their body get used to it and just let them get bitten. It will be better next year they all say.

I remembered that when we were little and fell in poison oak or got the chicken pox, my mother would put us in a cool bath with bicarbonate of soda and it took away the itch and had a very soothing effect for a few hours. This morning I went to the stable to feed and see how my poor Frisona was doing, she was still going crazy but at least came in to eat. I gave her a sponge bath with cold water and a lot of baking soda and I had a very relieved and grateful horse that was able to relax enough to enjoy her breakfast. I will have to do it several times a day but at least it works. Distilled or white vinegar in water is another good remedy for itchy skin and bites.

These remedies work on all of the animals and on people too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Briards Everywhere

Hello, my name is Raven. I am a black Briard puppy. That is some type of French Sheep Dog, although I don’t know what a sheep is. I am a year and a half old and not as big as I should be and I don’t have really long silky hair, like I see in the poster of my dad that hangs in the computer room, but I am about as cute as they come. I haven’t learned French yet but I understand English and Spanish and have learned how to put my lips together just right to get that great French sound EEEUUUUOOOOOOW.

I live on a big farm in Spain with my adopted family with lots of room to run and animals to play with but my garden scares me just a little so I like to take my teddy out with me so I feel safe. I think some of the big trees follow me around and move when I’m not looking, like triffids do and I know that there are ghosts in the garden and others in the house. Charlie, my teacher and friend, tells me to ignore them but I can’t. My best friend is called Lasso. Lasso is always waiting for me, hanging from a tree outside the bedroom door and never gets tired of playing tug of war with me. I have a toy-box full of my favorite things and I know the names of each one and can find it when I am asked. My best one is called pretty ball; mom and dad got it for me from a Chinaman on the beach. It is a ball full of water with a light that glows and sparkles when I drop it. I actually have three because I need to have spares for when I can’t remember where I left one of them. There’s another one I like, only not to touch my mouth if you know what I mean: it’s a light-up squidgy toy.

I am a little hyperactive and scared to be alone so I like daddy to come outside with me when I have to pee, especially if it is dark outside. He just says “whizz” and I am there waiting at the door.

Lately, I have found some other Briards trying to sneak into my house. There is one upstairs on the shiny closet door and he barks at me and growls when I do, another is downstairs in the bathroom. I see him when I brush my teeth or try and get a drink of water. When I look away, I see birds and when I look back there he is again, looking at the birds in the aviary behind me in the window. Then, there is the one that looks down on me in the pig’s bathroom, I can only see the tip of his nose but he is there every time I look. We have been cleaning around the pool the last few weeks; I do hope they fill that big water hole this year; it looks like so much fun; anyway, while we were cleaning I found lots of Briards in the pool house, looking out through the windows at me. They aren’t quite as pretty as the ones inside of the house; they are sort of dirty and grey, a little blurry even.

I have to admit that I am a little bit too rough on the cats and the chicken but they don’t seem to mind, it is just that mama brought two new animals up to the stables; one looks just like me with long black hair on its feet and tail, although it’s a girl and she is huge. I love to go to the stables because I play -run round-round- then I run into a stall and jump on these new animals but they don’t seem to want to play with me and it makes mama yell at me. They just eat grass which, as anyone knows, you only eat when you want to be sick.

I know a few things, other than all my toys and a whizz, and they are called “OUT OF THE KITCHEN”, Daniel taught me that by picking me up and removing me. I will never forget that, the other is called “it is Titus’ turn”. Titus is Daniel’s dog, a big Mastín Leones. He isn’t as big as the animals at the stables but he is BIG. When I was little he would let me play with him but now that I am almost grown up he doesn’t seem to like me anymore, so every time mama says “Titus’ turn” I go and lie down in a corner and wait for her to come back.

I think when I’m not listening, daddy calls me Raving and I know the Spanish call me Ray Ban.

One day, somebody’ll bring me a sheep.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Beautiful Day

A beautiful day today. Barbara rode Frisona at the walk, bareback as always, and afterwards we both lunged her for a while. Barbara's riding helps slow down the progress of her disease, clears the toxins out of her kidneys and helps keep her heart out of arrhythmia. Regular riding helps give Barbara a feeling of well-being and - as I learn to control the lunge-line - she will be able to perform her exercises which are so vital to her progress. The horse does the work and the rider gets the benefit.

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Cost of a Horse

Here in Almería, it costs around 1,500 euros a year to feed a horse plus another 500 euros for vet, blacksmith, insurance etc. This price does not include things like tack or installations. The financial costs are about the same depending on whether the horse is for pleasure, competition or therapy. Tack can be fairly cheap, depending on your needs (I ride bareback). The installations? How much do you want to spend?
Much depends on where you live as to the price of feed. I found that in the Cadiz area alfalfa sells for around one euro a bail, here in Almería it is around six euros a bail and in Barcelona it can cost anything up to fifteen.
The largest cost comes in time spent. The amount of time depends on the type of installations you have. If the horses are outside and free then there is considerably less work involved than if they are in stalls. Stalls need daily mucking and the horses have to be taken out and exercised plus clean water must be available at all times. There is no day off when it comes to animal care, no holidays; no Sundays. Then you have the training and care of the horses depending on the type of discipline they participate in. For competition, a tremendous amount of practice hours are required, the same goes for therapy horses since, even though it is not as physically demanding, they must still be prepared for every eventuality. They also need free recreational time. The job of a therapy horse is usually very boring: standing for long periods, walking around in circles, sometimes for hours and all sorts of strange exercises besides, so it is vital that therapy horses have a good work-out or run before sessions so that they are not bored and impatient.

When people come to ride once a week, they never consider the amount of work that has gone in to keep the horse in condition to ride, regardless of the discipline. If a horse gets colic, is in foal or founders, you may have to spend days and nights caring for them and still continue with your daily routine.

Horses and centres have to have insurance and to pass inspections. If you board your horse at a stable then there is the DIY system, where a place is provided for a fee, and all of the care of the horse is your responsibility, the usual boarding arrangement is that your horse is bedded and fed for a fee and you are responsible for its exercise. If the horse is to be trained or exercised it is for an added fee. The best system is where a horse may go in and out at its desire and a daily turn out or exercise is not mandatory but this takes lots of space.

Owning a horse is a luxury but one well worth the investment if you can afford it. Riding lessons or just plain horse-rental are both good alternatives but can also be very costly and, it goes without saying that the horses will have been ridden by numerous people of all different abilities sometimes leading to unmanageable or naughty animals.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cookie (Not Pattie)

This is a picture of Cookie, a Hispano Breton mare, used as a brood mare in the Pyrenees to breed foals for the equivalent of veal horse meat. When they get older and are unable to breed they are used – as often as not – for dog food. This fabulous horse was bought and saved by the Center for Equine Therapy Cadí Moixeró for the modest price of one euro a kilo. Beth and Trini of Cadí Moixeró have been so convinced of the incredible therapeutic value of these horses that they gave one to me for both my therapy and that of many others and to promote the use of these fine animals for therapy instead of meat. Horse meat is very popular in France and many other countries and these cold blooded horses have the most meat on their bones which also makes them the perfect therapy horse. Because of their size, strength and good nature they are suitable for just about any type of therapeutic riding. Cookie has finished her training and is now helping children with severe Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and a host of other special needs. They can carry a tremendous weight yet they are not so tall as to prohibit the use of side walkers and back riders which are so important when dealing with wheelchair-bound people, who tend to be heavy and need assistance in order to participate in hippotherapy. Their loving, gentle nature makes them ideal for people who are afraid of horses, those who may have psychological problems and for activities to stimulate eye/hand coordination and other sensorial activities.

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We have now resumed Animo and are looking – as charities do – for your support. Become a member of Animo for 20 euros a year and receive an Animo Card and regular updates, photos and news of our activities.

Write to or

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Wisdom of the Ancients

"Once I am in the saddle I never willingly dismount, for, whether well or ill, I feel better in that position. Plato recommends it as good for your health, and Pliny says it is good for your stomach and your joints." Montaigne.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Animo Meeting

Barbara gave a talk today about animal assisted therapy to a group from the Club Taurino de Mojácar at the Bar La Finca.
Her talk touched on two different points - her own experiences and medical problems together with her remedies plus the larger subject of what Animo is now doing.
Animo, as Animo-Albero, currently meets every Sunday in Almería at the Centro Ecuestre Albero where a group of professionals help disabled children with hippotherapy using techniques pioneered in Spain by Barbara over twenty five years ago.
Today's talk was aimed at informing the local Mojácar public about the activities of the national association as well as offering membership in Animo and - as always with charities - collecting much-needed funds.

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We have now resumed Animo and are looking – as charities do – for your support. Become a member of Animo for 20 euros a year and receive an Animo Card and regular updates, photos and news of our activities.

Write to or

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Only a Mother Could Love

Here is Cariño enjoying some lunch. Horses are beautiful creatures and always take a good picture. Well, almost always.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For the Love of Animals

Loli from the Centro Ecuestre Albero in Almería, the new centre for Animo, relaxing with her friends Naza and Smoking ('Esmokin') the Lamb.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Frisona Has Arrived!

D. Diego Mañas Romera from the Yeguada Valdesol, based in Sorbas, breeders of fine Pura Raza Española horses, today donated a Friesian mare to Barbara in her capacity as the outgoing president of Ánimo. Our grateful thanks to him and his associates.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Sad and lonely after losing her foal in November. Now she will come live with me for love and attention. Frisona will be in tiptop shape in no time and so will I. We both need each other.
Here's a fine video of Frisona: