Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cowboy Joke

From The New Yorker July 8 & 15 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Forward is Flying

I had an epiphany this weekend and I think it's because I was schooling my grand-daughter and got to see it from a different perspective.  It's a basic, basic, basic truth our teachers are telling us all the time.

Keep your head up and your eyes on where you're going.

How many times has an instructor told me this, let me count the ways.  Infinite and infinite.

But here I am teaching my 9 year old grand-daughter to lope for the first time and as I'm warming up, Cowboy keeps dropping his shoulder.  I start to think something's wrong with him and then the epiphany--I'm looking at his shoulder!  I'm looking at the ground in front of me, too, as if I'm steering him clear of potential mishaps, and as I look down, of course he goes there.

It hit me--how in the world can I know his feet better than he can?  They're not my feet.  Certainly, the one who can best decide where to put his feet is him!  So, for the first time in all this long time with horses, I finally made a real decision to trust that he knows how to run without falling, and I just looked where I wanted to go and, lo and behold, we went there as easy as that and it was the closest thing to flying I've ever felt.

I was telling my grand-daughter the many things I've been told--when you look at where you want to go, your body directs your horse there...when you look up and move with your horse, he can move freely under you...you're buoyant and you're light and your horse can finally do what he does best.

I wonder which thing makes you get that flying feeling most--the actual loping on your horse or the trust you give him.

I'm thinking maybe the trust.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

TTouch Interview With the Author Linda Tellington-Jones

Do you remember spring '12 when I was throwing myself into the study of TTouch?  I was so exasperated trying to find a solution to Cowboy's head shaking problem I turned to a system I'd already heard about, believed in--TTouch.  My horses loved it.

I was pretty serious at the time, so I hired a TTouch practitioner to come to my home and help me.  She taught me the tail work, leg work, and all the basic body work.  It was fascinating.  Now I know it so well it's just a part of my every day interaction with them.

Pretty quickly it did some great things for Cowboy. It helped solve his left leg out problem--(the previously broken P3 that now has arthritis).  He had stood with that leg out so often, it was throwing off the rest of his body.  When I started doing the work, especially the tail work and the head bends, it helped him stand correctly on all four feet.  The work in the mouth, however, did more for Cowboy's mental health, and Linda Tellington Jones tells me WHY in an interview I was recently blessed with.  Cowboy has always been super head shy for reasons I do not know since I didn't get him until  he was 8.  So, when he gives up his head, his gums, his lips, his nose, to me, it takes trust and I get a different horse when we're done.

You can listen to the show on my website Minstrel & Muse.  Linda tells you ALL about the history and explains how to do it yourself.  It's a long interview--over an hour--and I had to cut out about 20 minutes more.  There's just so much to her life.  An amazing woman!!  She's 75, but still traveling around the world teaching it.  In fact, she has a huge worldwide following and is only rarely here in the States.  She will be in Portland in November and I plan to go see her in person then.

The benefits to my horses of TTouch were immense--Beautiful brought her stress level (and her head) down and has had a more correct horse stance ever since TTouch. She's less fearful and reactive. Jasmine, my pony, would have tears coming out of her eyes (probably relief from the stress of a tumor which caused her to eventually go blind), Red, my 33 year old gelding, just got relief in general.  When they saw me coming I was like their human sugar cube.

Here are some highlights from my spring 2013

Fractured Nose: My dear Shadow, fearless herd leader, came in one day with a smelly cut on his nose.  Uh oh.  I cleaned it up and spread the skin apart and you could see immediately there was a gaping hole oozing out puss.  We were getting Red's teeth floated that day, so we loaded Shadow up, too.  Turns out he had a severely fractured nose.  There's not much a vet can do about that except flush it out really well and put him on a huge dose of antibiotics, which is what happened.  He was on antibiotics for a  month.  I had to administer morning and night and apply ointment on the wound to keep it from developing proud flesh.  I always look at these episodes as moments for me to bond with whichever horse is sick.  I had lots of Shadow time and loved it!  He's a good ol' boy and he recovered to 100 percent of his old self.  (Minus a bit of the bully).

New Pony:  I was blessed this spring with a new pony, Lily.  I love the name.  I love the horse.  She is an absolute doll.  She loves people and is literally in your back pocket all the time.  When I say literally, I mean it--you feel her nose on your back pocket whenever you're out walking or working in their turnout!  Our grand-kids are moving closer to us this year, and we have one amazingly talented animal/horse granddaughter who is going to love working with Lily.

Red: Red is old, but Red is great!  Feeding him Equine Senior all winter helped him survive and thrive!  He doesn't have a lot of tooth left at 33, but he has enough to eat green grass.  Every night I go out, he comes in to me, I feed him LMF Equine Senior, he eats it, I let him out.  Repeat every day with lots of love.

Julie Goodnight had a great article on caring for older horses and in it she said she isolates her old horses into their own pasture for retirement.  I would do that for Red, but he's just too happy taking care of the younger ones still.  He has a high place in the herd order (2nd or 3rd...can't tell anymore) and they respect him.  I think it keeps him going--gives him a reason to live.

Cowboy: Those who follow the blog know we found a fix for Cowboy's head shaking, but this year I wanted to try something different--I wanted to isolate stress from the problem.  Just where is the point of stress in the leaving, tacking up, grooming, riding, trailering process and how can I help him through it.  The year of the extreme head-shaking left bad memories in Cowboy.  He was stressed about his own head-shaking--didn't know where it was coming from or how to get relief.  That imprinted on the whole process of trail riding.  So, even though the root problem was subdued, there were residual behavioral effects leftover that I dealt with last summer/fall.

I want the whole horse, not part, so this year I'm riding him at home and helping him through each step.  Until I see a horse without stress at each level of the process, I won't take him on the trail.  It's not fair to him.  In fact, I struggle with the idea of riding him at all--thinking it's best to just let him retire, but my farrier has encouraged me to ride him for his own good.  He needs the exercise to fend off some other physical issues.

So, I do it and I intermix each step with T-Touch principles.  After a ride I give him his Equine Senior and then do the tail work (which he LOVES).

Me: The other factor in the whole horse life thing is the horse caretaker--me.  The years dealing with Cowboy's problem had a tremendous impact on my enjoyment of my horses.  Not knowing what was causing it, whether to ride Cowboy or put him out, losing my main horse, but not really losing him, being with him when he pulled back, threw himself around, and was otherwise dangerous--I was shaken.  Something traumatic happened at each step of the riding process at different times.

When I work with Cowboy getting over each step--I'm really working with myself, as well.  I need to do the TTouch work as much as he needs to get it.

Beautiful Girl: Which brings me to the simple and wonderful relationship I have working with Beautiful Girl.  She's young and healthy--maybe the healthiest in our herd--and she does what you know a horse should do. There are no grand mysteries surrounding this or that--just a sweet, responsive horse.  Working with her is refreshing.  I still haven't rode her out, and that has everything to do with me and nothing to do with  her.  I just haven't honored her with that opportunity yet, even though she is almost demanding it.  Every time I go out there she pushes the horses aside to get to me.  She knows she's mine and I'm hers and riding together is our mutual destiny.

Embrace destiny, Linda.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cindy Meehl & The Winner Is....

Talking to Cindy Meehl, horsewoman and award-winning director of the documentary, Buck, was like talking to a sister.  She was funny, wise, kind and passionate.

Cindy is a woman who has learned to trust her intuition, a favorite theme of mine this year because of my spring 2012 mishaps.  You've got to know yourself and trust your unique perspective on getting through this crazy life--fighting for what you love and what you believe in.

I think you'll like this interview and her new DVD series--7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman.  I watched them and I LOVED them.  There is so much down-to-earth horse advice packed in and I saw so many little things I was doing that I could be doing better--for the good of my horses--from haltering to riding.

Also, the winner of my Templeton Thompson music giveaway....drum roll....Grey Horse Matters!  Congratulations!  Woot Woot!  One of my favorite bloggers, too, and one I recommend.  It is a blog that addresses the "aging rider with sympathy, support, and humor."  

My fabulous interview with Cindy Meehl! She talks about her next project (**hint, hint--it has to do with our animals) working with Buck, the inspiration behind making the documentary and working with the cowboys and crew of Unbranded as they get ready for the cross-country Mustang ride!

Listen to internet radio with Real Sisters Talk on Blog Talk Radio

**Music by Templeton Thompson and Sam Gay from the 7 Clinics with Buck Brannaman.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Unbranded: Riding Wild Horses Cross Country

Check this out Mustang and horse lovers!

Follow their journey at Western Horseman dot com.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Horse & Animal Lover Templeton Thompson & A Giveaway!

I got to interview the sweetest animal lover and horsewoman this week, Templeton Thompson.  Tempy, as her friends call her, and I'm proud to call her a friend, is a longtime Nashville singer/songwriter who wrote the soundtrack for the latest collection of Buck 7 Clinics DVDs.  She's also about ready to release some music she's written for the American Mustangs!

Right before we did the interview, and in fact, we had to postpone it one day, her darling cat Cash died.  She and her husband had been driving along the freeway one day when she spotted this teeny kitty trying to cross and immediately wanted to save him.  Her husband, songwriter Sam Gay, good guy that he is, did his best "Nascar" interpretation and helped her do it.  That little kitty was named Cash because right off the bat they'd taken him to the vet and had to pay cash. 

All of you have been by my side when I lost my sweet friends--my dog Elsa, my goats, Starsky and Hutch, Jasmine the pony, #42 my sweet cat, MJ, and her daughter Girl Cat, who my dog Maggie brought home to us and laid at our door.   I called her Girl Cat because I thought naming them impersonally would keep me from getting too attached.  It didn't.  Every loss was so hard. 

So, I knew how Tempy felt--feels--since it's so recent.  Here's a video where Cash makes an appearance in the pasture.

Tempy can't help but to write songs about her animals--mostly horses.  She has a whole album dedicated to girls and horses called, Girls and Horses.  Everyone of her songs goes back to her animals in some way. 

This week she released her biggest music video ever--When I Get That Pony Rode--which was directed by THE Cindy Meehl who directed our favorite movie, Buck!  Tempy got to know Cindy and Buck and wrote the music for his 7 Clinics based on the inspiration from them.  It had a worldwide release on CMT this week and I'm hoping everyone will support her with a click on over.

And if you want to get to know Tempy and hear all about working with Buck and Cindy, taking his clinic, writing songs in Nashville and working with Reba Mcentire--and her love for her "4-leggeds" join me at the family for the conversation.  Get on your dancing boots though because I wove in 19 of her songs to go along with it. 


And in honor of Tempy, I'm offering a fun giveaway of her music from the 7 Clinics!  Just click on her "When I Get That Pony Rode" and leave a comment letting me know you did--and you'll get entered into the drawing--which I'll do one week from today.  If you have time, and want to know Tempy better-listen to the interview and send her a line.  She loves to hear from fellow Sistas!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interviewing My Heroes--Julie Goodnight & Cindy Meehl

After Christmas and almost one year recording and editing shows on BTR, working sometimes 8-10 hours a day as I learned the ins-and-outs of mixing, I decided if I'm going to spend this much time on anything it really has to incorporate my passions, too--the poets, writers, musicians and horse people I love.  We had interviewed some amazing people, but I wanted to also talk to the people who've changed my life.

It's been two months and I absolutely LOVE what I've been able to do.  I get to interview my heroes! The Pulitzer winner, former US Poet Laureate, Robert Hass (love his work), the author of one of my favorite books, The End of Your Life Book Club, Will Schwalbe, and....

1. Julie Goodnight: I've been DVR'ing her show, Horse Master, almost since it began.  I love her style.  She's a common-sense woman, and she has her special way.  She's also a great communicator to riders of how they can improve.  She's been training since 1987, but I didn't find her until 2008.  The conversation was fascinating to me--especially the part about what the most dangerous horse behavior is--their kill move.

2. Jenn Grant: I fell in love with the CBC series--a horse rescue family drama, Heartland, and I blogged about it here.  The theme song to it is Dreamer, by Jenn Grant, and when I heard her voice I found out who she was and bought all her CDs.  She's well-known in Canada, but just being discovered in the States.  She writes her own music--she's spiritual and wise beyond her years--and our conversation was amazing. Last year she was nominated for a Juno-award (Canada's Grammy) and her mother was dying from cancer at the same time.  She opened up about that and her thoughts about the whole process--which was, for me, very comforting to hear.  Her show was so popular, it quickly became the highest listened to on all BTR--#1 out of 65,000 shows.  I was very happy for her and I hope everyone finds her music--it's kind of life-changing.

Coming up--an interview with my hero, Cindy Meehl--director of Buck, Buck Brannaman 7 Clinics DVDs, and now she's filming, Unbranded, four men and 18 MUSTANG horses trekking 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada!!!  Can you believe it!?!?  I want to be Cindy in my next life!  Love her!

Also coming up, an interview with COWGIRL, Nashville singer/songwriter Templeton Thompson.  She has a song called Cowgirl Creed that I fell in love with -- and she wrote and recorded the music for Buck Brannaman's 7 Clincis DVDs.  She is a real horsewoman--loves her horses--and she writes music about them.  Her songs have also been recorded by Reba McEntire, Jo Dee Messina, and Little Texas, to name a few.  She was recording a music video with Cindy Meehl when I contacted her.  It's fun to see how one thing leads to another.

I also have an upcoming interview with another of my favorite poets, Claudia Emerson (Late Wife--my fave book ever), Sandra Bierman (my fave artist) and a few others.  I'm having a lot of fun with them.

My own horses are doing GREAT.  I got Old Red through the winter with lots of weight on him.  The other horses have thrived.  We've had a ton of ranch related issues though.  Right as the weather turned cold, the heated/automatic waterers started to short out.  The ground was frozen, so we had to turn them off and revert back to the hose and heaters--walking the hoses out to make sure they're drained and all that other fun stuff--like the old days!  We haven't been able to do much because of the ice and snow that plagued us for almost two months, but the horses didn't seem to mind.  We had snow on the ground longer than any year I can remember.  We're just now starting to see grass again--but not everywhere.

I can't wait for spring!!!

Happy Trails, horse friends!