Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sharing Our Love

One of the greatest pleasures in life is sharing our love of something with someone we love.  When you see the thing that gives you so much joy, give them joy, too, it's an incredible high.

Our granddaughter came to visit from Norway with her dad.  She's nine and loves the horses.  Her parents do their best to give her horse training--signing her up for camps whenever they can, but she was really looking forward to some nuts and bolts horse time here. We rented a cabin and had a family reunion with all the kids and grandkids on my husband's side during the weekend, so we didn't get time to really play with the horses until yesterday.

She was soaking it all up.

First, I ponied her around on a short rein, but as she demonstrated an ability to whoa her, back her up, and turn her around, I lengthened the rope and let her take the lead off and on.

When you turn around and see this...

You know your little cowgirl has a HEART for the horses!

Her dad was in a hurry to get on the road, so he drove the packed car out to the barn to get her.  Before she got in, however, she gave me a hug and told me she kissed it goodbye.  I asked her what it was, and she pointed to my Cowgirl Cave.  I said, Whoa, we've got to get your picture in the Cowgirl Cave before you leave!  And, she was so happy and insistent that it be taken on her dad's camera so she could have it right away.  His didn't work, so I took it with my mine after all--

Someone found their happy place.

And, speaking of my little cowgirl granddaughters.  I have two that haven't been here in a while, but were up at the cabin with us.  You remember Sophie--the one who usually rides Penny and does the clinics with me--and her sister Cat--who rides Little Joe.

They got to ride a different kind of horse with me--Seahorse One--my water ride.

PS. Vote Willow. Voting ends August 33st--winning charity receives $5,000! You can vote every day. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Few Photos From August

Hi everyone.  I'm in the middle of a family vacation and will be gone until Sunday, but I wanted to share a couple of photos from this week with the horses and wish you all well!  As you can see in the pictures, we are surrounded by smoke here in Spokane.

And, if you can, please click on the link and vote for team Willow to help children who are grieving--like my sweet niece.  VOTE WILLOW CENTER

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Want Them to Think They Own the World

My trainer, Rebecca, shares inspiring tidbits on her Facebook page, but this one really hit me. When I'm with my horse, we're a team and, at its very best, I should project a rock-star attitude about my horse.

Basically, When we're together Leah, Beautiful Girl, Cowboy, Joey, we're going to kick ass and take names!  We're going to chew these hills up and spit them out. We're going to rock these streams and rivers like a hurricane!

These are the basics:

1) believe in them and have high expectations for them.
2) build confidence in small increments of success ALWAYS setting up situations where they will win!
3) focus on them every time we ride and not on the other horses, people or myself.  This helps reinforce that we're together, partners, and a team. Everyone else, every other horse, is incidental to our partnership.
4) project confidence in myself, too. If my horse is going to be a rock-star, his/her rider should be one.
5) praise my horse to high heaven for their little, and big, successes.

Beautiful had her 4th ride last night.

She was ridden in a halter and lead rope only. Wow!

She learned to pony behind a new horse in preparation for her first trail ride--where she will first be ponied carrying a saddle, but not rider.

I rode Little Joe who is just recovering from a hoof abscess and is ready for some trail miles.

He was a bit resistant to yielding. But with consistency and firmness, it came back to him. We worked on neck reining, stopping, side passing and backing up.

Here's the full post Rebecca had shared from Denny Emerson. I believe their pages are both public.

When the horses were done, I opened the North pasture gate to let them out for the night, but Beautiful stayed back from the herd and came to see me.  I could see that she was happy and proud of herself and wanting to be reassured.  I thought of Rebecca's post and I dug into every ounce of proud I had in me and tried to demonstrate that to her.  I think she got it.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Transition: Changing the Energy


Sometimes, I remind myself that when I take a horse from the herd, I'm changing its whole energy.

 I'm asking her to shift gears from a grazing, resting being, to a moving, working one.

Sometimes, in those moments of awareness, I stop what I'm doing and let her rest while she transitions her mind.

I was having an issue with mounting for rides.  Leah was starting to take off as soon as I got in the saddle. She had been doing it for the last few weeks, as if she anticipated the drastic change and was all hyped up for it.

Yesterday, I let her rest and gave her time to change her energy.  She liked it.  She rested.  When I asked her to move out, she moved out gently.

When I mounted at the trail head today, Leah stood as still as she did when I had let her rest.  We stood for a little bit, until she was ready to make the shift.  And, we had a great ride.  She spooked to the side once--at a log.  She took up the rear through the creek--not sure why--but she wanted to follow, rather than lead, but she went through like a champ when it was her time. She also did great down some extremely steep, loose basalt terrain that many horses struggle with.  It was so steep in parts that I was leaned back almost to her butt--Man From Snowy River style.

There is something to be said for respecting the transition.  What is that saying about how the way a process starts out determines how the whole thing will go?

Something else I did yesterday--visualization exercises.  I envisioned what we would look like 4 panels ahead, and I tried to think positive.  It helped tremendously!  My hope is to train myself to do that ALL the time.  I tried here and there on the trail today, but I sometimes slipped into negative visualization. I kept thinking Leah was going to trip down that really steep part.

New habits take time to develop.

Thanks for helping us get those votes for the Willow Center!  If you haven't had a chance, just click on this link and select Willow Center for Grieving Children and help them get that 5K donation!  Wake up and vote Willow Center.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Should I Shampoo My Horses?

For those who follow my blog, you know by now that I am what you call a minimalist.  Why?  Because I can be.  I don't show. I don't compete.  I ride the trails.  My horses train mostly at home, with me, so they're rarely exposed to large groups of new horses.  I try to keep down their stress levels which, I believe, is the #1 contributor to illness and injury.  I've examined every area of care and stripped it down to the essentials--smart worming cycles, rotation of pastures, the best farrier care, smart immunization cycle (not overdoing it), the best hay, and constant exposure to a stable, safe herd.  I want my horses to have fun and take pride in what they do at all times.

However, there was one area I hadn't really thought through, but I did today as I was giving Beautiful Girl her bath, and that is washing my horses with shampoo.

You see, at the start, as I was showering her back and hind end with water, it was beading wonderfully over her top line, keeping her from getting saturated.  As a recent Curly Girl minimalist convert, I've been thinking a lot about hair and the natural oils on our scalp, and I knew to recognize a good thing when I saw it.  Still, it didn't stop me from lathering her up with shampoo and washing all those great oils off.  By the time I was done, she was squeaky clean, smelling of roses, and entirely ready to go roll in the dirt again.

Since leaving the barn, I've been researching and thinking about it, and I've come to realize, I may skip the shampoo in the future.  I could have accomplished everything I wanted with water alone and a little scrubbing.  I mean, I don't think it's going to hurt her, but maybe there are protective qualities to those oils.

Horses in the wild do just fine with out shampoo.

My family came across what appeared to be a herd of wild horses last week at Lake Roosevelt and my sister took these pictures.  They were getting a reprieve from the hot temps in the cool of the water.  There's no doubt, horses like water and appreciate a cool soak--but water isn't as harsh as the chemicals in shampoo and, I imagine, it mostly leaves those oils in tact.

What are your thoughts on shampooing horses?

And, thanks for voting for The Willow Center!  You can vote every day up to August 31st.  Here's the link!  Thank you from all the kids who are being helped! Vote Willow Center.