Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Fence, Gates, Jeans and Clogs

I wrote a few days ago that we had family coming to town, and we did. It was our kids. Remember the wedding we had last month? Well, we were privileged to welcome the newlyweds to our home for the first time since the marriage. What an amazing couple they are. He's on the way to becoming an engineer, like his brother, and she is on her way to becoming a teacher.

My husband has always enlisted the help of his and my sons in our many projects. In the past they've remodeled bathrooms, torns down walls, put up fence, torn down trees, finished basements, planted pastures, landscaped, wired homes, and oh, so many more things. Too many to list.

The son who was here this weekend, his youngest, has become a master at planning and executing our projects. He can look at a design and instantly see its faults and a better way to do it. For now, he has taken the lead in our home improvements. Actually, he's been heading up our projects since he was about seventeen, so four years now. When he was seventeen he planned the wiring for the whole basement and then did it successfully--two bedrooms, one bathroom and a family room.

This weekend they did fences and gates. Next weekend they're starting a project that will extend the deck, build an overhang roof, and a Florida room underneath.

The fence project.

Remember our old system--wire, t-posts and two cinder blocks to mark the gate entrance? Not anymore. The gates are now permanent and the north side of the paddock is wood! woohoo! Little by little it's coming together.

While the boys were building fence, the girls were shopping and going to lunch.

I've been jean shopping. Ugh. Jean shopping is just plain painful for me. It is so hard to find a good, comfortable fit--jeans that keep their shape and look nice, too. I tried on a bunch--too long, too tight, too loose, or too much butt or gut hanging out. Depressing.

However, if you try long enough and hard enough, you're bound to come across a pair that actually fit, and I did--these Cash jeans by Wrangler. Nice. I'll put them to the test in the saddle this week and let you know how they hold up. For now, they felt pretty good--not too tight in the waist--not too high--not too low--good length in the leg--a little give to them, but are billed as holding their shape. We'll soon see. If they work out, I'll probably go buy a couple more pairs in the same size and color like I always do. That way I won't have to go jean shopping for a while.

In our fun shopping--the girl-shopping this weekend--I found things I didn't really need, but turned out to be great deals like these Ugg clogs. I put my feet in and felt that sheep skin--ay yi yi--foot heaven. They were at a discount store, so I snatched them up.

Tomorrow I'll be back in the saddle with Beautiful--well not IN the saddle, but ponying her with Cowboy. Now that the fence and gates are up I'll probably use the North pasture to move out in after she does a little bit in the round pen. We had to take the arena down to make the round pen, so the north and south pastures are the best option for now. If she gets loose I'm sure she'll run right back to the turnout. I guess we'll soon see. Never a dull moment with horses!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Riding a Horse From the Ground

Sad, sad to say, but I did not make it to the Buck Brannaman clinic. They changed the time and made it an hour earlier which made it more difficult for us to get there. That, and the fact that there was already so much going on son's driving test for his permanent Driver's License, family coming to town at 7:00 pm, a new fence project, and my responsibility getting football fundraising tickets that were printed last night, out to the vendors. I cried uncle and didn't go. I'm rather sad about that. Ahhhh, well.

Van Hargis:

Another point Van Hargis brought up during his demonstration was that we are always "riding" our horses, rather in the saddle or on the ground with them. He asked us another question, if we stay put in the center of the roundpen while the horse goes around. I didn't really understand his question, so I didn't answer. It turns out I've already been doing what he demonstrated, actively walking out and directing my horse from the center. I didn't really think of it as "riding" though, and that concept has helped me to better understand what it is I'm doing. Pick up my walk, my energy, the horse picks up the pace. Slow down my walk, my energy, the horse slows down. Stop walking. The horse stops.

He's not a fan of "joining up" or "round penning" a horse. He thinks that a horse needs to learn to stay out away from you when you ask it to stop since so often, when you're doing a job, it will need to. When I say he wasn't a fan of "round penning" I'm not referring to working in the round pen, but instead the kind of senseless running around of the horse that you sometimes see. He said he doesn't want the horse to break a sweat. He's always looking for the earliest release to teach. What you release is what you teach. He said that, in fact, he prefers to be the one who breaks the sweat.

The other thing he did was to have the horse "catch" him. He wanted to practice that so it's easier to get his horse from the pasture. He recommended going out often to halter your horse just to pet him and release him or some other easy fun thing so your horse doesn't always associate being haltered with going on a ride. He didn't seem to buy in to the idea that any horse "wants" to go to work, since it's against their nature to leave the herd and be away from food that long. So, to have the horse "catch" him, he walked toward its back hip and got it to kind of look at him and bend a bit, then he released it and walked away. The horse became curious and followed him and "caught" him.

Now to put all of this to practice. A few days ago was Beautiful's second day with the saddle. I put Van Hargis' principles of riding her from the ground to work. What I discovered is, she needs some more "riding" before I get on! She tried to turn and go the other way a few times, she bucked a bit, and she wasn't listening as well at first. I didn't have the camera rolling, so I pulled out my phone and shot some video of the first early minutes so you could see. By the end of the session she was smoothing out a bit. I want to pony her from Cowboy and get her a little more used to packing weight on her back and seeing someone above her before I take the next step, the step I've never taken before on my colts, doing the first ride.

Here is the video. It's very short. I cut most of it and tried to keep the parts where she wasn't listening very well. You'll notice, the two times she acted up were at the same points in the roundpen--furthest from the gate and furthest from her herd (who were all watching from the pasture).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Bit Doesn't Have An IQ: Van Hargis Clinic

I love that quote by Van Hargis. He said that often riders get frustrated and think their bit isn't working so they head out to their local feed shops and search through fifty different bits, ask for help from an associate (who doesn't know much and just recommends what the last guy said worked for him), and walk out with a "bigger" bit.

Then he asked us what we think is the proper tightness for a bit--one wrinkle, two? I think most people thought one wrinkle. He asked, Well, if it's already tight, where do they get their release? One lady raised her hand and said her horse always gets the bit under his tongue, so she was told to tighten it up. He answered that he would do the opposite, loosen it up.

His thinking is that the horse doesn't want the bit clanking around in its mouth, so it will pick it up and hold it, which is what he wants. And, if it's holding the bit, it can't get its tongue under it.

Also, only if the bit is somewhat loose can you give the horse its release.

His thinking about bits in general is that you don't need a bigger one if you follow the principles of "riding" your horse--actively moving in the saddle, and on the ground, always being in control of direction and momentum or lack thereof.

I wanted to ask him about bits and bitless--basically, if he thinks there is any need for a bit if you do the groundwork correctly and are riding your horse actively, but I got my hand up too late and it was over.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Run Away Horse!

According to Van Hargis, we're all scared of the idea of a "run away horse" because we imagine a horse running full speed away with us, maybe bucking a bit, too, and we're unable to stop it. This idea scares us because it's something we might not be able to handle.

But he wanted us to think about "run away" on a smaller scale. For example, the horse who is walking without being asked to walk. Or, the horse who stopped who wasn't asked to stop. Isn't that a run away, too? The only difference is, one scares you and one doesn't.

So, back to my trail riding example from Monday, I dropped the reins and Cowboy kept walking. Is this a run away horse?

Yes and no. No, because this is what I trained him to do. I trained him long ago to move out on the trail, plow forward and basically ignore all the goofy things I'm doing up on top of him--like turning to chat, or whatever else.

Yes, too, however, because he's not listening to me, and in Van Hargis' opinion, this is a run away horse.

My goal is to ride him actively and then stop "riding" and see if he comes to a stop. If he does, he's listening and following me. If not, he's in control.

On another note, I'm going to see Buck Brannaman this Friday in Dayton, WA. I'm auditing the clinic. I hope to bring back more ideas from it to write about after the Van Hargis discussions. You know, the Van Hargis demo was only an hour or so and yet I have all these concepts from it--imagine the ideas a day with Buck Brannaman will generate.

There are two more things I want to write about later from Van Hargis. One is the idea of bits and how to use them and the other is the toothpaste example. Actually, there's one more, so three things--and the third is "riding" a horse from the ground.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Painting is like training horses--you only really learn from doing it yourself, and you have to be willing to make mistakes, but keep trying. It also takes courage. This is my second painting of the same photo--the one on the right. I'm not sure it's done. I think I want to work a little more around the eyes before I call it quits...maybe soften the shadows as well.

I want to break down the Van Hargis demonstration, or ideas from it, into separate, short posts. This one is on what he said about "whoa".

First, he said many of us use the word "whoa" to mean slow down, relax, stop, and whatever else. He decided to use the word to mean something very specific--take two steps back. He says the word whoa and then asks them to back up two steps, says it again, backs them up again, and on and on. He says that this way when he says "whoa" and he's in forward movement the horse begins to think, Uh oh, I'm behind, I have to hurry and stop and take two steps back.

I'm guilty of using the word, whoa to mean a variety of things and, in all honesty, I don't think my horse knows what to think of it or if he does at all.

Yesterday I went on a trail ride with Cowboy and I tested a couple of the theories behind the Van Hargis demo and failed on both. 1.) He didn't seem to understand the word whoa, and 2.) He thought of me more as a passenger than an active rider.

I started to ride with much more energy and movement, which really got Cowboy to pick up the pace, even break into a trot until he understood I only wanted a faster walk, but when I'd stop, he'd keep going. It was clear the agreement Cowboy and I have is that he is in charge of our trail rides. I have to admit, he's a good horse, so it was kind of the good life for me. Being an active rider took more concentration and physical effort on my part.

There were two things I noticed that changed when I rode actively. 1.) Cowboy was very grumpy at the new arrangement. 2.) He did what I said to do when it came to doing something he didn't want to do.

I'm heading to see Hary Potter with my son, so more on this later....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An Afternoon of Clinics and Cowgirls: Ride the West 2011

“Everything comes to he who waits…so long as he who waits works like hell while he waits.” Van Hargis, horseman at Ride the West.

Van Hargis- Click on link to his blog. You'll love it!

Alleluia, Brother! Amen! This is a horseman after my own heart--and my husband's, too, which is really saying something! I agreed with him so often I about shook my head off my shoulders.

His topic was "Whoa! Three Steps to Stopping. The three? 1.) Stop moving and relax your body. Of course, you have to have been moving your body in the first place for this to work. 2.) WHOA. (Most the time unnecessary for him since his horse stopped at step 1. There's a lot to learn about "whoa" and I do want to write more later. 3.) Support him with the bit. If all else fails pull back light and slow until you get the full stop then release as soon as you get it. And, he added a fourth for us, even though it wasn't billed in the talk, Relax and drop the reins...sit in your comfortable position.

Memorable quotes:

Excuse me for this one, and I'll apologize ahead of time, but it was funny.

The great thing about horses is that they can shit and get at the same time. This was said as the horse was stopping to do her business as he was trying to demonstrate.

-A stop problem is really a go problem.

-Make them go, allow them to whoa.

-A bit doesn't have an IQ.

-A bigger bit will not help you stop.

-Train a horse to catch you.

-When I start a horse, I don't want them to break a sweat. I want to break the sweat. (This is all about looking for the release and reward as early as possible).

-Where you release is what you teach.

-Tube of toothpaste example--more on that later.

All very good and I can write more about them in a later post. But the basics of the stop problem is really a go problem theory is that if your horse isn't going at the gaits you ask, you're not controlling his body so he won't stop either. He did a lot of demonstrating how our own energy, on the ground and in the saddle, moves our horses forward and stops them.

(Pictured, Van Hargis July 24, 2011, Spokane Ride the West)

Steve Rother: Excel With Horses

I didn't see much of this one, but I was there for this gate opening. The horse was obviously stressed every time it came to the gate, so he had the rider go out and lope circles and do something else with him, then go back and just stand--then take off again. Pretty soon the horse was very happy to sit at the gate and let her open and close it or whatever else she wanted to do. It was all very calm and pleasant. Good horsemanship.

(Pictured Steve Rother and rider at clinic, Ride the West, 2011)

New Cowboy On the Block: Ethan Storey - Starting Colts on the Trail to Success

Storey is a young guy--I heard 21 and, as he pointed out several times, not yet comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Still, he had plenty to teach.

A lot of his time was spent demonstrating the moving of the horse's shoulder and hind away from his/our safe space and keeping the horse from running him/us over in scary situations. There was some waving of the the flag he did that I wouldn't have done--waving on the opposite side of where he was standing as he was standing shoulder to shoulder with the horse. Basically, I wouldn't do it because I'd probably get killed, but he was able to handle getting run over pretty well and, as far as I know, didn't have any broken toes afterward. (Though I could be wrong.) Whether he's just a young buck with a death wish (kidding) or a master at preparing a horse for any and every surprise he might encounter, only time will tell, but I'm not adding opposite side flag waving to my repertoire any time soon.

However, that said, his work at yielding was superb and it showed when he climbed on the colt bareback with only a halter and lead and got him to move easily, and I mean easily, every direction with the slightest touch. All that preparation he did beforehand had BIG rewards. Sometimes it looked like nitpicking--getting a camel through an eye of a needle--as he worked that bubble to get the horse to maneuver here and there and over things from about two feet away with a loose lead, but he proved his point. The time-consuming, meticulous effort was worth it.

Take home message--work the bubble!

There was something else he said about how he wanted a horse's first ride to look--he said he wanted the horse to move. He started by laying half over his back and tapping him with his foot to get him to move his hind. Then, he slipped a leg over and was on top and doing the same thing--lots of yielding of shoulder and hind and moving all over the round pen.

(Pictured, Ethan Storey, trainer, Ride the West, 2011)

Ranch Work Competition: Ride 'em Cowgirl!

In my opinion there is no greater contest than this one. After all, what is a sport horse for if not riding in the countryside--opening gates, wading through streams and lakes, going across bridges, pulling logs and cows, and cantering up hills? This competition had all that. Here are some pictures of the competitors as they were being timed.

Here's my hubby watching. A story about him...we forgot to bring chairs and had to stand through 3 hours of clinics in the 90 degree heat (yes, we finally got heat). My sweet husband crouched on the ground and offered me his knee. I took it, happily. After a while he offered me the other. Then, he about buckled over in pain and it was all over. But what a SWEET, sweet thought.

And last, what is a fair without vendors? One of the vendors specializes in restoring Vintage boots and buckles. I got this fabulous pair of Frye boots from (we're guessing) the '70's, for $55.00! I got this beautiful buckle for $25.00. I took a picture of her phone number, just in case. ;)

Heading to Ride the West

I guess it was three years ago when I found Beautiful Girl, my Mustang, at Ride the West, an annual equestrian event in Spokane. How time flies! The BLM had brought a group of Mustangs for an adoption and had them in pens there. She was with a group of yearlings. I adopted her within an hour of seeing her--it was a Sunday morning, just like today, and was loading her by 1:00 that afternoon.

Today I'm heading back to Ride the West to attend some clinics and check out the vendors. I'll take pictures and give a full report later. Here's today's schedule. Of couse I'm looking forward to the 3:30--Starting Colts on the Trail to Success. Wonder why....:

Sunday July 24, 2011

8:30 am Doors Open For Cowboy Church, Indoor Arena - $5/day admission, Kids 6 and under FREE,

Throughout the Day: Exhibits Open, Horse Drawn Wagon Rides, Bison Range Tours, BCH Wilderness

Camp Demos

9a XTreme Trail - Youth Division Walk Through with Judges
9:30a XTreme Trail Youth Competition - Trail Area, Spots available, $25 entry
9a - 10:30a Indoor Arena - Julie Jene' Certified TTEAM Practitioner
9:00 - 10:30a Round Pen - Steve Rother EXCEL with Horses"Problem Solving to Advanced Horsemanship"
10:30a - Noon Round Pen - Ann Kirk - "Connecting the Bridle from the Ground Up"
10:30a -1pm Indoor Arena - Van Hargis "Ranch Sorting/Cow Work" $150/horse/rider, spots available
11:30a Trail Area - XTreme Trail Open Division Walk Through with Judges
Noon Trail Area - XTreme Trail Open Division Competition SPOTS AVAILABLE $50 entry
1p - 2:30p Round Pen - Ann Kirk "Is your Problem the Saddle"
1p - 4pm Indoor Arena - Steve Rother "EXCEL with Horses" Part 2, Spots available Horse/Rider $150 or $250for both days, spots available
2:30 - 3:30p Round Pen - Van Hargis "WHOA! Three Steps to Stopping"
3:30p - 5p Round Pen - Introducing: Ethan Storey - Starting Colts on the Trail to Success
4:30pm Trail Area XTREME TRAIL FINALS (TOP 6) Judged by Van Hargis, Ann Kirk, Steve Rother
5pm Doors Close

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beautiful Carries the Saddle

First Saddling.

Comments on Comments

Sometimes the comments are far better than the actual post. Thank you for sharing your encouragement and experience yesterday. I hope others who are facing new challenges with their horses can find encouragement from them, too.

Here they are:

The subject is confidence saddle training my sweet Mustang, Beautiful Girl, and the post is from July 19th.

From Bill at It's a Horse Life:

Here's hoping tomorrow is uneventful to the point of being boring.

Thanks for the encouragement, and it usually is...uneventful. I always spend a lot of time stressing about a "new" step with a horse. I don't want to put them in bad situations. But when the fear of bad situations paralyzes our progress, I've got to overcome them. It's important to note, none of my fears have ever been realized. Things ALWAYS go better than I expected.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think you will be better off in the round pen for now. It may give you both a sense of security. Hope all goes well with Beautiful.

I agree. I think I need to stick with what's familiar and comfortable for now.

Shirley said...

Knowing when to change and what changes to make are the key to advancing. I hit the wall a few times with Chickory and had to rethink strategy and my own expectations of myself. Being humble is a lot safer than the pride that "goeth before a fall". Safety first, and never be afraid to ask for help.

Very true! In this case, I wasn't taking the next step, so it helped me to reevaluate and decide a change needed to be made.

smazourek said...

Absolutely work in the round pen if you feel safer there. Nobody will think less of you for that.

I know all about the fear factor. I've been on my girl once since the bucking episode and that was what-a month ago? We're working back up to it but I can tell she's nervous and it freaks me out. In the meantime we'll ground drive and she'll be even more ready when I do get on her again.

Both of mine were/are started with a sidepull. My boy doesn't seem to have any problems switching between the bit and the sidepull now.

I'm all about taking steps back, if need be. I've done it many times. I enjoy the ground work as much as the riding, so there's joy to be had in every step we take.

Kara said...

Have you used just a surcingle on her first and let her move out? The feeling of the cinch is one thing to get used to, let alone the whole saddle. I agree, if you "feel" safer in the roundpen, then if you use it, your confidence will be communicated to your horse. I was very intimidated with training my first horse (and mustang) and took everything very slowly and step-by-step, more because I needed to convince myself that the horse would not buck me off when I mounted for the first time, and everything went fine! In fact, Chico NEVER bucked while I was training him to the saddle and riding. I even went so far as to tie wood pellets to the saddle and had him walk trot and canter before I mounted. You can do this. I also started mine in a halter and did the first rides (in the rounpen) with a halter. My very first rides were with someone else manning the lunge line and I was just a passenger. I did ultimately switch to a bit when I got to the point where I wanted to try to ride him outside the roundpen, simply because I figured it is harder for a horse to ignore the bit if something is grabbing their attention and it gave me more confidence to control him. But I chose the most mild bit I could find (a double jointed snaffle with a nice smooth center-piece). Oh, and I did eventually get bucked off, and it was on our first ride with a strange horse. Chico wanted to sniff the other horse, and I didn't want him to. When I pulled him away with the reins, the side of the bit slid through his mouth (I learned from this experience that I needed a chin strap on my snaffle bit), it freaked him out, and he panicked and bucked, I fell off, but still had a hold of the reins, so I mounted back up and he was fine. I think you need to do whatever gives you the most confidence because that is more important to your horse than your actual tools.

Thank you, Kara. There's a lot of good information here. I did plan to use the curcingle first, but it is packed away at the top of the barn so I decided to skip that step this year. She's had it on before and it didn't bother her. I'll ask my husband to get it down today when we're out making the roundpen. That's interesting what you said about the snaffle sliding in his mouth. I have a bridle and bit set up for our previous colts and it's all ready to go if I decide, like you, it is better for getting her attention. Glad you landed on your feet!

Andrea -Mustang Saga said...

I think a round pen is a good idea. You can leave it as soon as you're ready, which will probably be soon.

Do you still want those halters you mentioned on my blog? For riding in, I have a newer creation that I like a lot better than the halter with rings in the nose knots. I can email you a picture if you email me. andrea v at turbonet dot com. Sorry it took me so long to respond. I have been super busy and just remembered at two in the morning that I needed to make you halters. I can make them today and mail them, or I'll be in Spokane tomorrow if you want to meet up. Or I understand if you changed your mind or already got something else.

I'm excited to see the new creation, Andrea. I just emailed you. I LOVE your halters. They are the best I've ever had and I've had many rope halters in the past. I think it's the thin rope you use--it's perfect. Anyone looking for a rope halter--you cannot do better than the ones made by Andrea. $12

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Confidence For the Unthinkable

“The definition of confidence is knowing that you are prepared for the unthinkable." Ray Hunt.

I saw this quote the other day and it made me think about my training with Beautiful. We've hit a stand still. She's had the saddle on and off a million times now. She's had it cinched. But that's where I've hit the brakes.

When I started this, I was determined to do all my work in the arena and not shorten it to a roundpen. But now as I sit here and wonder why I'm not taking the next step, I think it is exactly because I'm not comfortable with my choice. And the reason why I'm not comfortable is because the only other time I did my first saddling and moving out in an arena, rather than a roundpen, was my first colt in 1986, and that did not go well.

At that point, I was not prepared for the unthinkable. I cinched him up, walked him, cinched him again and then did something bad--I let him go. Something happened that I did not expect.

First, he sucked in more air than a normal horse since it was his first time moving out with a saddle, and he did not exhale after a few steps like a normal horse does. Instead, I assumed he'd let it all out and he hadn't.

Second, when I let him go in the arena and he began to really move out, he released the air and the saddle got loose and slipped underneath him. When that happened, he was scared and he went off bucking. Luckily, he was a smart, calm horse and quickly realized he needed to stand still until I could help him. Which I did. All was fine and we continued the training and he turned out to be a wonderful trail horse. Yet, that doesn't erase the memory or, the even more powerful thought, of what could have been.

Since then I've done the first saddling on two more young horses and they went fine. I did more preparatory work in the weeks leading up, made sure the cinch was truly tight, and moved them out in a round pen on a lead line.

I think I'm ready for the unthinkable, but I also feel I need the security net of the round pen. I'm going to ask my husband and son to help me shorten it tomorrow when they're home. Better to be safe than sorry. At this point, Beautiful's ready and the only thing holding her back is me.

After the saddling I have another choice to make--bit or bitless--or both. I've never rode a young horse bitless, but I've come to think that if you've done everything right on the ground, you shouldn't need the bit. What does the bit really do for you anyway? Isn't it an easy way out of proper communication? We all know it isn't the bit that stops the horse--or bends it--it's the horse's own will that bends its body or brings it to a stop. Somehow we've influenced its will when we accomplish these things.

I'm not against bits--I use them on all my other horses. It's how they'ved learned and what they know. I do try to be light on their mouths by using the neck-rein cue, legs, and sitting back in the saddle to signal the stop. Sometimes I wonder what good the bits are doing anymore other than clanking around in their mouths.

A friend and I had this discussion on a trail ride recently and she said her horse is used to the bit now and is confused without it. I get the same impression from mine. It's tradition, habit, security, but not much else.

I'm kind of thinking I might do both just to get her used to both, but starting with bitless rather than going backwards later.

***Just got off the phone with my husband. He says we'll shorten it up tomorrow. I think it'll be worth the effort.

Quotes for encouragement:

Unless you have courage, a courage that keeps you going, always going, no matter what happens, there is no certainty of success. It is really an endurance race.HENRY FORD, Theosophist Magazine, Feb. 1930

The shortest route to courage is absolute ignorance.DAN SIMMONS, Endymion

Courage is finding the inner strength and bravery required when confronting danger, difficulty, or opposition. Courage is the energy current behind all great actions and the spark that ignites the initial baby steps of growth. It resides deep within each of us, ready to be accessed in those moments when you need to forge ahead or break through seemingly insurmountable barriers. It is the intangible force that propels you forward on your journey.
CHERIE CARTER-SCOTT, If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules

Either life entails courage, or it ceases to be life.
E. M. FORSTER, Pharos and Pharillon

Monday, July 18, 2011

Learning to Trust Shadows

All we see is a reflection of light.

Depth, detail, angle, is all a function of light being blocked by physical dimension.

Yet, in painting, it's so hard for me to trust shadows. Something about taking black onto my brush and applying it to the white surface screams of ruining the painting and starting again.

Of course, someone once told me, you shouldn't aspire to create any form of art unless you're willing to start over....and over....and over.

I took the painting where it's at now and imported it to Photoshop so I could play with the shadows and then decide where I want to go.

The painting:


Photoshop copies

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Getting Started On #2

So far, it looks like Cowboy with a duck beak.

Time to mix the color.

Looks like his natural colors are Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna in the mane.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What's In Your Tack Room?

I learn a lot about what to put in my tack room by looking at my friend's. I got the idea for the trailer mirror and the non-scented wipes from one of them recently.

This is a little tour of my trailer tack room--some tools of the trade that I've found helpful to have with me. What do you keep in yours? Anything that has been extremely helpful?

1. 15' lead out of yacht rope--and a rope halter by Andrea at Mustang Saga.

This is my absolute favorite halter and lead. I use it for all my horses at different times. When Beautiful pulled back the other day it was not a problem because the yacht rope has multiple layers that slide under each other making it much easier to loosen up after a thousand pounds of horse just tightened the slip-knot. It also has better "feel" and weight which gives me better communication with the horse on the other end. And, I only use rope halters for the same reason, better communication. I don't even own a nylon halter anymore.

2. Life time Brand Inspections on all my horses--even the ones I don't have anymore.

3. Grooming Supplies in portable tubs.

I haul with two, one for me and one for whoever is riding with me. We usually tack up on opposite sides of the trailer, so we can tote them around with us.

4. Manure Rake.

You don't want to leave manure piles at the trail head.

5. Fly Spray.

A must-have around here. I wouldn't even think of not spraying my horse before we take off on the trail. I also haul with two riding masks--one with ears and one without and nose net. I put them both in my saddle bags and use whichever works best for the day. It helps Cowboy with his head-shaking. I use the Cashel masks.

6. Various Supplies:

Extra leather ties, hole-punch, kleenex, garbage bags, towel, scissors, knife, vet wrap, ice pack, gauze, book on equine first-aid, lint-roller for all the hair, hair-ties for me, hair-ties for the horse, leather conditioner, and other little knick-knacks.

7. Collection of Helmets.

8. Bridles, bits and blankets.

The yacht-rope Mecate is my daughter's favorite. We had it custom made about six years ago. Each bridle belongs to a certain horse. Also, each horse has a blanket.

Here you can see my tack-room mirror--$14.95 from the Trailer Supply Company.

9. Saddles.

10. Training Supplies: Stick and flag--I use a garbage bag for the flag.

11. Bamboo pole for gentling beautiful.

I don't use this anymore, but wanted to take a picture to show you what one looks like. Nowadays I use it to stir the vitamins and grain for the horses.

I love bling, but it doesn't love me.

I thought I wanted red boots, but after trying them on, I realized I can't do bling. I'm going back to my brown Durangos.

However, this blingy orange coat was Juuuuussssst right. Instead of wearing an orange bib during hunting season, I'm going to wear this orange jacket from LLBean--on sale now for $45.00. Love it! Now I can ride easy and not worry about being shot. Do you think they'll see me coming?

What do you love?