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Horse Play in the Winter



While we might be faced with extra chores during the winter, something about the snow and the cold brings out the goofiness in our horses that is a joy to watch.  Dogs too…My Kerry Blue had a blast leaping into the snow and the Shih Tzu was all gung ho until he sank out of sight with the first drift he tried to follow the other dog into! 

For all the beauty of a fresh snowfall it seems like the humans have more work to do.  It may be beautiful but there’s little time to admire it because we are out there packing warm water and breaking ice in the water buckets… We have extra

messy stalls if the horses can’t go out, the barn tends to smell like a cheap hotel….and I go through more hay each day to keep them a bit busier when they can’t go out and pick around.  Not to mention needing to be careful of the slippery conditions as we go about our normal routine.  In our area of the province we are quite temperate so the snow surprises us when it lasts. 

Sky and Flash

Our particular area is prone to drifting, so it’s nothing to have bare fields, but a 4 foot drift in the gateway.  My riding arena had a drift up to the second railing!  But thankfully we get back to our normal rain fairly soon and we are inconvenienced for days and not weeks.  With this last storm, I missed a couple of days of work…the roads were impossible even WITH a 4 wheel drive….It was 2 days before we saw a snowplow, and chances are, the wind blew snow over the roads within hours of his trip by and roads were impassable again.  In the grand scheme of things, we are pretty lucky…..

The funniest horse has to be my big warmblood, Lyric….

He was beside himself and spent the first few moments of turnout either leaping into the air or bucking and rolling…And once he discovered the drifts in his field, he plowed through them all multiple times, some up to his belly (he’s 16 hands) and walked up on one drift in the corner and looked over the hedge to the neighbors!   

The miniature horses love the snow too.  Flash spent his turnout time trying to race Sky the Welsh stallion.  And Bobby and Breaker had a ball in the orchard, burrowing in the snow with their faces hoping to score an apple or two.  (Good luck, fellas!?)  And speaking of treats, we had to put the carrots in the barn fridge to keep them from freezing! 

However, nothing beats the sound of contented horses munching their hay or gobbling their hot dinner, knowing I can retreat back to the house to curl up with a good book or movie.  There’s a certain peace to a snow fall and a certain beauty that goes with it so I hate to complain….Just pile on the layers of clothes, suffer through wet gloves, gum boots with holes and dogs that leave little snowballs wherever they sleep and enjoy the season as best I can!


Breaker and Bobbysox


Ruby and Flash



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Confessions of an Extrovert


Flash and I

I am an extrovert.  A high energy, fast paced person and talker by nature, but I have learned to shut up and watch when I am working horses….

I do tend to talk more when I am working a horse in front of someone….. for the owner or a student…. just so they can be directed to what I am saying, doing, watching, thinking…because sometimes its just so darned subtle that it can be easily missed.  And that’s the really cool part.  A lot of horses are reactive JUST because of the people that handle them.  I’ve been around people that would make ME crazy!

All around me I see people that miss the little clues because they aren’t in the moment.  Horses react to the energy around them.  If I want a horse to relax the first thing I am going to do is sigh out loud and exhale.   That trained ME in the beginning to get rid of my adrenaline.   So anyone that comes to watch their horse will hear me talk more than I would normally just so they can pick up on what the horse is telling me and why I am doing what I do but when I am alone with the horse, its pretty quiet out there in the arena or in the yard.   Like that famous rock song…” I don’t want to miss a thing..”

Moon and I..waiting for her to give permission for the halter to be put on

Sean and I

 I’ve learned over the years to slow down (and it isn’t just age!) Sometimes its the little things that make a difference in the beginning….like putting a halter on a horse….I wait those 5 seconds with the halter poised, waiting for the horse to drop his nose to give me permission to put it on, and not just drag it on….That’s being respectful of the horse, and enpowers him to have that tiny little bit of opinion to say OK..I’m ready for the halter now.  I don’t have to be in such a hurry anymore.  And its hard for an extrovert.

Natural horsemanhip (of anyone’s) teaches you to make it about the relationship and not about the goal. That’s a hard concept for humans to grasp. My big warmblood Lyric taught me in a good way to slow down and be in the moment with him and I am thankful I had him for my teacher. And the cool thing is that it translates into working with people! I am a better people-person because of what horses teach me.

Bella and I down by the Fraser River

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Welcome to my web site!

At our farm, ‘natural horsemanship’ goes far beyond the rope halter and the carrot stick…I include all aspects of ‘natural’  into keeping my horses as natural as possible in a barn/paddock and field situation.  From diet to barefoot trimming…..I treat horses that come in for training as if they are my own.  Each horse is an individual and no two training programs are alike.  What makes me different is that I am looking at the WHOLE horse and not just his training because my own horses have taught me that good learning starts IN the barn by watching what they do and who they are, not just what happens out in the arena.  Respect and giving the horse an opinion in how they learn best and by letting them teach me are the cornerstones to a successful relationship. 

Trainer of horses: off the ground, carriage driving or under saddle and their humans

Photographer of all things beautiful

We are different for a reason.  Please feel free to look around my web site


Contact me: 

Deb Harper

34968 Sim Road, Abbotsford, BC  V3G 1N6 

Phone: 604-820-2684


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Labor Day Long weekend….judging and teaching! It doesn’t get any better than this

I was asked to judge the Miniature Horse Division at the Saanich Fair on the long weekend.  It was an early morning…getting up at 4:30 to catch a ferry over to the Island.  Yawn.  I judged the conformation halter classes, and all the driving, obstacle, and the hunter/jumper classes.  Hot Day…great fun and super people with fabulous horses.  And then because I parked my truck and walked on the ferry as a foot passenger, I caught a ride up Island to stay over night in Cobble Hill and spent the holiday Monday giving driving lessons before catching another ferry for the ride home to the mainland.

I received this email after the judging:

Hey, forgot to say in my email earlier today, how much I enjoyed your judging at the Saanich Fair.
I’d never been to that show before, so was a bit apprehensive about the venue, but it turned out to be a ton of fun.
Thank you for your educational and helpful comments thoughout the day.  I really learned a lot, which is much appreciated.  And your fun and “non stuffy” approach.  I know myself and lots of others really enjoyed showing under you, and
you really impressed the crowd with your comments as well.  It really created a very nice relaxed and productive atmosphere for “newbies” like myself and many others, and helped us do well and overcome our nerves.
Can’t wait to have you back, and hope you’ll come over and do some clinics/lessons, very soon. 
Thank you very much again,
Candace C
VIMHC member. 
(and little black Zeta)
Many thanks to David Hollebone for taking and sending these photos of me judging


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A little more about me: Photography

I have always been interested in photography.  I was 20 when I had the chance to assist a horse show photographer for several show seasons and he took me under his wing because I had a good eye.  I was thankful for those early opportunities and I have continued to develop my own style based on the visions of what I would like to see framed and have on the wall of my own horses.

Sometimes scenes TALK to me therefore I am rarely without a camera.   I’ll be driving down the road; see something I like..exclaim out loud ..Ooh! Oooh!  And often have stopped or turned around.  I don’t know how to explain it except I see through my lens a magical mental image and something inside me tells me to snap the picture.  Sometimes it’s the composition- Sometimes it’s the lighting.  And afterwards I hope I have captured the image just like I saw it in my mind’s eye.  I just have to trust my instinct.  Sometimes it’s even BETTER than I remembered and I’m excited by what I see when I download my cameras.

What makes it rewarding is if someone else thinks the way I do, and my photos talk to them as well.  It doesn’t get any better than this!   When I go out to do farm trips, I love the liberty work best of all.  The beautiful turnouts of a prize horse or dog standing perfectly in a show ring stance for advertising for conformation and breeding purposes are lovely, but my favorite is when I suggest a small field where the horse or dog can be turned loose to show me what is inside their soul when they explore and run around.  That’s the animal in his truest form.  Show me this real animal and I will do my best to capture it with my lens.  These more often than not, turn out to be the ones that talk to the owner too.

I also love to incorporate my photography into my teaching so the camera goes out with me to ring side.  I try to capture images that I can later write on and email to the student so they can see the point I was trying to make.  The feedback I have had has been very positive.  Students like having the visuals as a reference of what part of the lesson we were working on.  The comparisons between two frames (“here is a correct left bend- here is an incorrect on the left because the horse is dropping his shoulder….”)can be invaluable teaching tools.  Likewise, if you have a horse in training with me, the photos emailed to you will show what your horse is learning and why.  This way, if you can’t be present, you have updated information on his progress and his condition on a constant basis.  I know I would be worried if my horse was away from my farm, and this is just one small way I can put your fears to rest.  Again, this is what I would want from a trainer so I expect you do too.

If you’re interested in me shooting photos at your event or for more information, please check out my SERVICES page.

Horse Play in the Winter

    While we might be faced with extra chores during the winter, something about the...
article post

Confessions of an Extrovert

  I am an extrovert.  A high energy, fast paced person and talker by nature, but I...
article post

Welcome to my web site!

At our farm, ‘natural horsemanship’ goes far beyond the rope halter and the carrot...
article post
thumbnail Labor Day Long weekend….judging and teaching!  It doesn’t get any better than this article post

A little more about me: Photography

I have always been interested in photography.  I was 20 when I had the chance to assist...
article post