Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The 100 Day Challenge: Only In Doing Something Do We Find What's Needed

"Only in doing something do we find out what needs to be done."

This is a quote that came to me as I worked with Beautiful Girl today, but I have no idea where it comes from--if anywhere.  Reminds me of Newton's First Law of Motion, "Objects in motion stay in motion."

(We both look like we've  never seen a camera before.  And, someone's been eating snow!)

Some of you have expressed interest in doing the 100 Day Challenge with me--YAY!  Welcome aboard.  I would like to take a moment, as this New Year starts, to encourage you and to set some parameters for what I'm doing and what you may be doing.  

1. It does not have to be complicated or time-consuming!  

When I say that, it does, usually, have to be more than just the normal grooming--but only you know what your horse needs, and if you feel it rises to the level of "training" or progress toward some goal, by all means, count it!  Just do something, and I swear, you'll find your way with your horse(s).  

So, that is my only parameter.  Just go out there and do something that rises to the level of progress.

I'm going to do my best to share with you little exercises I find along the way--exercises that we can do in any weather and with very little time--but that build our horse's trust and confidence--and our own.  My number one goal will be to KEEP IT SIMPLE.  

Day 1, for me, was bareback riding with my granddaughter.  Day 2, was bareback riding, alone, through the snow.  Day 3, was working with Beautiful--and that is the 15-25 minute, simple exercise I want to share today.

Since BG's legs are not the straightest, yet, I do want to ride her this year, my work has to be in keeping her CALM as we progress from step to step.  The biggest obstacle will be herd boundness.  So, today, I decided to take her to the arena, away from the herd, and walk her around, through the deep snow, several times each way, keeping her to the outside of the arena each direction.

This was good work for her, and a great workout for me! Surprisingly, she didn't seem very concerned about leaving the herd, but she did need a little leading work.  Horses have a strong leading side and a weak leading side and, no surprise, BG was weakest on the right. She was a little jumpier that direction--not because of the deep snow, but because of basic insecurity. In the past, I would throw the lead over Leah's back at that point and lead free, but we weren't ready for that step.  

So, I decided to shut up.

Yep, zip it!  I set my timer for 3 measly minutes and entered the silent world of Beautiful Girl.  

"Be still and know that I am God." Bible 
"The music is not in the notes, but the silence between."  Mozart
Those are the quotes that came to me as I listened to the distant thrum of traffic, a magpie squawking at the horse feeder and taunting old Red, the wind chimes on our deck, Beautiful Girl's feet shifting from her weight and crunching up the snow.  As the time ticked on, I heard her pawing through the snow looking for food.  I also heard my own sniffling and the crinkling of my coat.  Besides the last two, the silent world is GLORIOUS!

When I put BG back in the turnout, she followed me along the fence line to its end. (Wow!  So, I was right about her wanting to partner!) I decided to turn back and run the other direction (WOW)--she ran, too, leaping over the snow.  I turned and ran back toward the house--again, she followed, but then ran to the other horses--tossing her head wildly in the air as she left me.  

Wow.  Wow. Wow.

Yep, only in doing something did I find--not only what needed to be done, but what I needed.

For those of you doing the challenge, what do you need?  What does your horse(s) need?  What are some easy exercises you can share with us so that we can rack up progress as we rack up days?


  1. Nice work with her! Be careful with the running with her in case she kicks out in play- they really have no idea how fragile we are. But it's so much fun when they want to be with us.

    1. True. She was in her turnout, though, and I was on the outside, so I was pretty safe. It was kind of funny because she doesn't follow me that well when we're in the arena together. She's just unpredictable like that! ;)

  2. It sounds like you both had fun! Beautiful Girl seems to want to be with you. I think keeping it simple with our horses is always the best plan.

    I actually wish we had some snow here. It has been raining since Christmas Eve so I'm guessing our "drought" is officially over. I can't wait to start working with the horses now the holidays are over.

    1. Ewww, rain. I do not like rain. Yes, simple is what I'm going for this year. Doing something, anything, is much better than doing a lot and then a lot of nothing. Consistency in fun, successful small increments. And, when you can, do more.

  3. Isn't silence an incredibly thing? Shutting up has been one of my goals with both my horses and dogs. I've relied upon verbal commands way too much and now I've got two dogs who can't even hear me... but all the neighbors can. Yesterday I was hearing two men talking clearly and I kept looking around my backyard, thinking I had trespassers. It turned out that they were standing on the balcony of a house that was a decent distance away from me. It made me realize that everyone can hear everything I say to my dogs and horses. I must sound like a crazy woman. Half the time I can't even finish one sentence before I'm interrupting myself to stop some other bad behavior. I have some neighbors who have gotten into the habit of stopping at the top of the cliff as they are driving by to watch me with my dogs and horses. I suspect they hear me yelling at them all the time and are assuming that I beat them too, so they are trying to catch me in the act. It's going to be a long wait for them, but I do need to find a way to stop the bad behaviors without using my voice. It just attracts the wrong kind of attention.

    1. Yes, silence is highly underrated. I constantly talk to my animals. Yesterday, I told the whole herd, "It's cold as hell, isn't it? But he'll is supposed to be hot. Although, who knows, maybe he'll is actually cold. I think I'd prefer a hot hell, what do you think?" I said ALL that to them as I was halter ing and leading Beautiful away. It did occur to me that I'm a chatty Cathy with my horses! They seem to like it because they always look at me like they're listening and trying to digest all my big thoughts. Lol. But the silence--especially when the timer was going, so I was forced into silence, was really powerful.

  4. I always underestimate how much harder it is to walk through snow, or even the sand in the arena. (I sometimes help out my friend the pro trainer) a few years back her apprentice was away for a day & trainer was up for the first time on a big dun; she asked me to just lead him a bit. I'm still embarrassed to say that after 3 or 4 times around her arena slogging through deep sand, I just had to stop & take a substantial break. No excuses. *blushing*
    I will definitely take the challenge on days warmer than -15*C (23*F), but for committing to 100 days in a row riding.... I'll wait til the weather isn't so dang cold.

    Even my BestBoy is giving me the side eye when he sees a halter in my hand these days. Sometimes when I really want to play a bit despite the cold I will bring them in one at a time & we use the aisle to practice side passing, moving individual feet, swinging a rope & opening gates, sometimes even ponying up & down the 48' aisle, & nobody gets all sweaty(!), not even me.
    What kind of snow is Beautiful snorting? jk ;-)

  5. Any time spent with our horses is time well spent! We don't have any more snow, but are in a super cold snap. This W/E they're predicting a warm up and freezing rain - oh boy. I'm also a chatty cathy with my horses and dogs and everybody! But, there are times when I can be quiet and just focus on the quiet, and all the sounds of nature that we can't usually hear when we're talking. Silence is beautiful! I think BG is so pretty! Big, soft doe eyes. *sigh*


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.