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Planet Project #1: Vegetarian Friday

For our first Planet Project I’ve chosen "Vegetarian Friday”.  The reason for starting with “Vegetarian Friday” is twofold.


First, coming together over a meal is a great way to create community. I’ve seen this over and over again at my clinics. We always begin with an evening get together. Meeting first over a meal helps to create a safe space, one that invites creativity. It’s a good way to begin this new adventure.

How do you participate in this project? That’s easy.

Share your favorite vegetarian/vegan dishes. Recipes with or without a photos are welcome. It might be a granola recipe that makes the perfect breakfast; a favorite salad for lunch; the perfect hummus recipe for an afternoon snack; a casserole that’s easy to share at a potluck dinner; a fun desert that’s always a winner - whatever you enjoy. Together we’ll create a virtual feast. Everyone can contribute a favorite recipe.

We’ll collect recipes through the week, then on Friday I invite you to join us in celebrating Vegetarian Friday. Fix a vegetarian meal. Share the photos. Share the fun.

Why vegetarian? A quick google search will turn up some very compelling reasons to shift towards a more plant-based diet.

Here are two figures to get us started:

Agriculture accounts for about 25% of all greenhouse gases and roughly 80% of that comes from animal agriculture.

Shifting to a more plant-based diet could reduce food-related carbon emissions by as much as 70%.

We can make a difference!

We can make a difference in two ways. We can shift to a more plant-based diet. For many of you, this is something you’re already doing. So your job will be sharing lots of great recipes so it is both easy and fun for others to enjoy more vegetarian/vegan meals.

That’s one way we can help. The other is learn more about regenerative farming. Horse people can make a difference. Remember we can plant seeds of change everywhere that there are horses.

So in addition to sharing recipes, this week, we’ll continue to share ideas and resources the will help us grow healthier pastures for our horses even as we are sequestering more carbon in our soil.

I’m looking forward to a week of great vegetarian/vegan recipes.

Share your recipes and share Horses for Future.

Originally posted on the "Horses for Future" facebook group September 30, 2019

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What does Vegetarian Friday have to do with learning about better pasture management and sequestering carbon?

That was a question that was posted mid-week on the Horses For Future facebook group.


Here was my response:


I'm a clicker trainer. So I have learned that the best way to create change is in small steps. I also know that whenever you have a problem you want to solve there are several keys to coming up with a solution.


In training it’s easy to get stuck in the “don’t wants”. 


“I don’t want my horse crowding into me.”  “I don’t want my horse pulling on the lead.”  etc.  The key to coming up with a solution is to turn this around to state what you Do want. 


So if I don’t want my horse crowding into me, what do I want?  That reveals the lesson.  I can teach the behaviors I want my horse to do.


Another key to solving problems is to break complex behaviors down into their component skills.  Another way to think about this is to begin at a distance from the behavior you want to change.  


The climate change crisis can feel overwhelming.  To solve it we are going to have to focus on what we want.  And we are going to have to work in small steps.Training has shown me that working in very small steps creates great change.


Small steps have the advantage of not feeling overwhelming.  So the Planet Projects are going to be small steps we can all take together.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t run ahead, or that we can’t discuss many different things.  The overall goal is we want to learn more about good pasture management.  


This is why I suggested that we begin with a virtual meal.  I’ve learned the importance of this from my clinics.  We always begin with an evening gathering.  We have dinner together.  It’s a great way to start.  


People share what they are hoping to get from the course.  I learn about their background, their experience with horses and with clicker training.  It’s an important part of the course.  It very much shapes the material we cover.  It makes it much easier to direct the conversation to the specific needs of the people in the course if I know something about their background.


Throughout the course we share meals together.  People don’t scatter mid-day to find their own lunch.  Instead we stay together.  The discussions from the training sessions continue over lunch and dinner.  It creates a safe  place for people to share.  And it certainly makes for a very enjoyable weekend.


We can’t come together for an actual meal, but we can meet up virtually.


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So I asked people to share a favorite vegetarian recipe.  Food is a great “ice-breaker”.   It’s okay if you don’t want to participate in this part of the group, but there is value in it.


For those of you who would like to share we can make this even more like the clinics.  How about sending in a recipe and then add a quick introduction.  What are you hoping to get from this group?  What kind of information are you looking for?  I suspect there are many people who are eavesdropping in who are already well on the way to maintaining beautiful, sustainable pastures.  We want to be able to learn from what you have already put into practice.


Sharing recipes is an easy way to get started because it’s a great way to get to know one another.  And it celebrates our herbivores.  Our horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs don’t have to be part of the problem.  They can be part of the solution!


So share a recipe and share a tip for improving pastures.

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The gladiolas and zinnias come courtesy of the horses. They are growing in a mix of manure and wood shavings. I read with interest the thread on bedding. In my area wood shavings are the bedding that is most commonly used. Straw is generally only used for mares who are foaling.

I use wood shavings as the footing in my arena, so it is bedded and cleaned like a giant stall. The horses sleep in there at night - their choice. As soon as I post this, I’ll be going out to do the morning clean up.

The manure is either spread directly onto future garden areas or it is collected into an O2 composter. That’s a system that aerates the compost pile so it decomposes faster. In the fall I spread the contents of the composter onto two large gardens that flank either side of the entrance to the barnyard. Throughout the summer there’s a succession of blooms culminating in a grand display of annuals in late summer.

So I can provide flowers for our virtual feast. I’ll leave the cooking to others. The purpose of the recipe sharing is in part to get to know one another a little better.


So I’ll begin. Normally I would talk about clicker training, but that’s not the purpose of this group. Instead I’ll say that in 2011 I moved the horses to a barn of their own. The Clicker Center Barn sits within a 34 acre property. It’s beautiful land. There are two ponds and a mix of fields and woods.

I should add that I live in a climate with very cold winters and very hot, humid summers. Generally we get plenty of snow and rain to keep things green throughout the summer.

The property used to be part of a large working farm. Over the years various sections were sold off and houses took the place of hay fields. The house on this property was built in the 1970s. It’s a passive solar house, one of the first in the area. I don’t know how effective the design really is, but it was a good first approximation.


The previous owners kept the fields mowed, but they didn’t have any animals. That was one of the many things that attracted me to the property. The fields were cut to keep them open, but they hadn’t been grazed in over forty years. There was a healthy mix of grasses and herbaceous plants. Though some of the harder to mow sections had become a monoculture of goldenrod and other areas were being taken over by brier roses. The back fields are now brush-hogged a couple of times a year so there is now less goldenrod and more other things growing.

We carved a level pad out of the side of a hill for the barn. It meant a lot of pushing and shoving of dirt, but we didn’t have to bring in any extra fill.


There are three pastures for the horses that encircle the barn. I hadn’t heard about the equi-central system when I designed the barn, but that’s essentially what we built. The barn and gravel barnyard form a central loafing area for the horses. Hay nets are hung in the barn aisle and stalls. The doors are left open so the horses are free to go where they want.

They sleep in the indoor which is bedded and cleaned like a giant stall. We built an O2 composter for the manure. So far we have put back on the land everything that the horses have produced.

Turnout is easy. I just open the gates leading out to the fields. The fields are all interconnected so I can give them access to one or all of the fields depending upon which gates I open or close.

I have many questions about how best to proceed with this land, and most especially the horse pastures. They have changed over time now that the horses are on them. I want to make sure the changes are heading in a positive direction both for sustaining good grazing and for sequestering carbon.

I don’t live on the property. Once upon a time my house was surrounded by a beautiful botanical garden. As the deer population in town has grown, my botanical garden has transformed itself into a zoological park. Anyone who has watched my DVDs has seen the deer and the wild turkeys in the background.

So again my questions are what changes can I make to maximize the carbon I am sequestering in my lawn and garden? That’s something I would very much like to explore here. The garden is very overgrown, and there’s a lot that can be done better.


I’d like the house to become a model for what can be done in this climate to sequester carbon. How can we use even our smaller lawns and gardens to make a difference? That means it can’t be so overgrown that it looks like an abandoned house. It has to be acceptable within neighborhood standards.

I also have to think always about tick control, especially in the horse pastures. We have lyme disease and other tick borne diseases in this area, so this is a major concern. So far I have mowed the pastures several times a year in part to reduce the exposure to ticks. The same thing applies to my lawn at home. So suggestions for mowing - when and how frequently are welcome.

I hope others will share here. It helps to know what kind of property you are managing, and in what climate. What works for me in this area will not apply to someone living in a different climate zone, so we need lots of ideas from all geographic areas.

We can make a difference!

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Vegetarian Friday. On Monday I proposed this as our first project of the week. In my clinics we begin by getting to know one another over dinner. We can’t share an actual meal over the internet, but we can have a virtual feast.

I’m a non-cook, so my contribution to our internet potluck are flowers. I’ll provide the centerpiece.

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A bouquet from the barn's garden.

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The flower garden at the front of the barn.  The flowers are growing in compost from the horses.

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The flower garden with the composter in the background.

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The gladiolas grow above the composter in a mix of manure and shavings.

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Gladiolas always seem like an extravagant treat, but they grow wonderfully well in the compost.

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The deer in my "zoological park" otherwise known as my backyard - enjoying a nap on a rainy fall afternoon.

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The deer are welcome visitors to the garden even if they eat some of my favorite flowers.

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