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My Bio & Personal Horse Journey
Michelle Buegeleisen

I grew up loving horses. From the time I could walk and barely talk all I wanted
to do was be near a horse. We lived next to a ranch with hundreds of them.
When I was about 4, I took my first ride on a big bay gelding. I was hooked. To
this day I remember everything about that ride, the way the sky looked, the
way the saddle felt, the way the horse smelled, and most of all how I felt
sitting on top of that amazing animal. I was also aware of how the horse was
feeling. He was happy to take me for my first ride. For the next 4 years I would
collect model horses, go on every pony ride possible, look at every
pony/horse book available to me, and remind my parents on an almost daily
basis that I needed a horse of my own. My parents were not ready to let me
take the plunge but they did agree to riding lessons. I rode every Saturday, at
Cloverleaf Ranch in Santa Rosa, for the next three years. I lived for Saturdays,
I lived for the horse shows and the trail rides. It was great fun, but I really
wanted a horse of my own. When I was 11 years old, my parents gave in and
let me have my first horse. We bought Smiley, a 10-year-old sorrel pony
gelding with a flaxen mane and tail. He was the real beginning of my
obsession.

Over the next 10 years I had many horses, all ages, all breeds, mares and
geldings. Any neighbor horse that was no longer wanted or project horse that
was too unruly, found its way to me. I spent almost all of my spare time with my
horses.  Each summer, I would rise before dawn to go riding and often didn’t
return home until after dark.  I remember at the end of one summer I had lost
10 pounds because I was so busy riding I rarely took out time to eat.  

In my twenties my priorities started to change, getting married and having a
family seemed to be the thing to do. So I sold my horses one by one until’ I
watched the last one leave. It was a pretty sad day.

Horses never left my mind. I always went out of my way to see them, touch
them, smell them; it was a lot like when I was 4 years old. I rode any horse I
possibly could, paid trail rides, friend’s horses, anything!! I always knew I
would get another horse, I just thought it would be sooner rather than later.

It wasn’t until my mid 30’s that I would buy my first horse as an adult. Things
were very different than I remembered. FEAR. As a child, teenager, and young
adult I can’t say I remember ever being afraid of a horse for any reason. As a
new horse owner in my 30’s I was afraid of everything. Irrationally afraid. It
made no sense to me. I still understood horses, loved them, knew how to care
for them and how to ride, but things felt very different now. I felt alone and
somewhat embarrassed about what I was feeling. I spent the first few months
struggling and not enjoying my horse to the degree I had expected. I knew if I
didn’t get some assistance I would give up. So I started looking on the
Internet, reading books, talking to other horse owners around my age. To my
amazement almost all the people I talked too had stories similar to mine. They
grew up with horses, took a medium to long break from horses, and then got
back into them; only to find that they now had an irrational fear of the animal
they once interacted with so naturally.

I decided the best way for me to get back on track would be to start from the
beginning again. I couldn’t just pick up where I left off years earlier. I had to re
learn how to be around horses in a way that suited me now. I surrounded my
self with other adults in similar situations, I found a supportive barn to keep
my horse at and I found a good trainer to help me and I began to rebuild my
confidence step by step. I explored new ways and methods of working with
horses. I embraced the fact that I was older now and a different person than
the teenager who once rode with no fear & total joy. I rebuilt and am still
rebuilding everything I know about horses and how I interact with them.  One
of the biggest lessons this journey has taught me is that Isolation is my
enemy. Had I stayed in isolation and not reached out for help I would have
given up on my dreams of living with horses again. I discovered during this
journey that most adults reentering the Horsey world after an extended
vacation are too proud or to embarrassed to admit they are struggling.

Sometime into my rediscovery I had the opportunity to purchase a Quarter
Horse named Lotta. I was in awe of her from the moment I saw her, 15.2 hands
and about 1200 lbs she was a very stout girl (overweight!). Her previous
owner told me that she had foundered once a few years ago. It didn’t bother
me at all, it probably should have, but it was love at first sight, not much could
have changed my mind about her. Just to dot my I’s and cross my t’s I
scheduled a vet check. I wouldn’t say she passed it with flying colors but she
mostly passed it. The vet said she was slightly lame in her left hind leg on
hard ground, sometimes. That was the most she could tell me with out x-rays,
nerve blocks, etc. The sellers let me have her on trial for one week. Lotta
turned out to be as wonderful a horse as I had imagined. She had an awesome
personality. She was sound that whole week except for one morning towards
the end. It didn’t matter I was hooked; there was no going back. I paid the
seller, signed the papers and we became family. Little did I know at the time
that she would teach me more about horses than I ever thought possible.

Lotta would be a little sore some days and not at all others. I was looking
forward to doing some trail riding and her hooves were looking a bit long so I
called the farrier to come and put on a new set of shoes.  Lotta had a hard
time with the Shoes; they seemed to make her more uncomfortable rather
than more comfortable.  Shoes were something I had always done with all my
horses. The “old horse person” in me said, horses need shoes, box stalls,
blankets, alfalfa twice a day, and a myriad of supplements for coat, hooves,
and bone. Lotta had the best of everything and I felt good, unfortunately she
didn’t.

Lotta was sound for a while but her mood was different. She was cranky, she
didn’t want to play, and she was dropping a little weight and then allot of
weight. I had the vet check her out and he said she was fine, nothing wrong.
Lotta didn’t agree, her body condition continued to change, her mood
continued to plummet. I had a sinking feeling about the changes I was seeing
in her.  Her hooves and her body weren’t as comfortable as they should have
been.  The next time I had the farrier out I had him pull the shoes and leave
them off. I noticed right away that her hooves seemed awfully hot, I was
horrified. The next day the vet confirmed my fears, he said she’s having a
bout of laminitis.  He recommended the usual, lots of bute, stall rest, shoes,
pads, and Tape. I gave her the bute that night but decided to wait just one day
so I could think and do a little research on the Internet.

None of the founder/laminitis triggers I knew about had occurred. She wasn’t
overweight (anymore), she didn't get into the grain bin, she hadn’t had any
medication, she wasn’t out to pasture eating tons of green grass, etc. I quickly
found out that there are many opinions and many ways to deal with laminitis,
differing views on how it happens and why.

From this experience came year’s worth of learning about “true” horse
health, not just body, but body, mind and soul.  My belief is that true health
can not be achieved if all of these components are not acknowledged and
honored.  Lotta would help shape an entire ranch and mentality about what
makes horses happy.

My journey with horses thus far, has culminated in the creation of “Harvest
Moon Ranch”. A small private boarding facility based on intuitive
horsemanship and catering to each horse and each human’s individual
needs.  At Harvest Moon Ranch, I also run my “energy work” based business.  
Out of my studio at HMR, I teach meditation, perform hands on healings, and
do energy work sessions with horses or horses and their riders.   

HMR is a place where each horse is listened to and cared for in a manner that
enhances their lives as well as ours.             
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This is me on my Arab gelding
Gran Dru Borr. I think he was 5 at
the time this picture was taken.  I
was 14 or 15. I spent many years
on Dru's back. During the Summer
and all school holidays, we would
ride from sun up to sun down, and
on occasion we would ride until
late into the night.  He was a
spectacular horse.  There wasn't
anything he wouldn't do.
   
This is my mare Lotta.  She has a
great personality and a wonderful
work ethic. She is 20 years old
now (2009) and shes still healthy
and happy. She has some insulin
issues so we have to be very
careful about her feed and hoof
care, but as long as I am on top of
it, she does well.  Everyone should
be so lucky to know a horse like
her.  

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