Sunday, January 31, 2021

The World Is SO Beautiful!

I had a hard time falling asleep last night. Whenever that happens, I take a pause and assess my life. Why not? I can't sleep anyway. I thought about the day--it was a fabulous one, as days go. Music. Horses. And my husband and I started an online dance course that evening. We were swinging and dipping until all hours of the night. (It's a course called "Show Her Off" that targeted me successfully on Facebook. But it was also $67 of the best spent money! Fun. Fun. And it will provide many AT HOME fun dates nights.)

But that's not what was keeping me awake. You can tell which thoughts cause your heart to race and which don't. For me, I seemed to be worrying about certain people in my life, AND the world as a whole. Let's face it, this has been a challenging year and the world doesn't seem itself anymore.

                                   "You have taken from me friend and neighbor—"

I reached for my phone in the dark and read Psalm 88. The quote above is from that Psalm. Within minutes, I was sleeping again.

I'm putting it all together today and pondering, "How can the WORLD be made right?"

It can't. Or, at least, I can't make the world right. The world is in chaos...but it always has been. I'm just now noticing it.

But I can create my own life--in any manner, or form, I desire. A life is a canvas, and I want mine to be as beautiful as the world it is BLESSED to exist in.

I started a new file on this computer called, "The World is SO Beautiful". And I compiled some of my recent hikes--all within 5 minutes of my house, if you can believe it!

I made a decision to devote at least part of this blog, "Beautiful Mustang" to living a beautiful life in 2021. Really going after it and decorating it with the minutest details from this gorgeous world surrounding me.

We've had so much taken away from us in 2020, but there are things no one can take away.

I will be searching, and whatever I find, I will bring back to this space and share it with you. I promise to encourage you on your own journeys in 2021. Celebrate those hidden paths together.

The "Mystic" waterfalls.

The scary cliffs.

Sunshine on the coldest days.

As I kick this off, I'm reminded of a poem that was read in the documentary, "Path of the Horse." I'm sure I've shared it before, but I'd love to share it again.

These are the things you’ll remember,
Not the big things.

Small, small things:
One leaf touched by the sun,
One small smell.
When we are dying,
I promise you,
The memories you will have,
In your last seconds,
Are about these small things
Touching our skin:
One leaf,
One moment with your child.
Not the big things.
We will remember the small things.
These small things are added
To a fulfilled life,
Or not.

Not the big things.

From “The Path of the Horse” Documentary Klaus Hempfling


What better year than now to  live (continue to live, start to live, return to living) an INTENTIONAL life. 

"Friends, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4

Friday, January 29, 2021

Oh, Mama!

Did I say Cowgirl doesn’t look pregnant? My bad. Things are getting real around here.  She’s grumpy, hungry, and plump—must be getting close to the 3rd trimester. 

My mom and sister came to visit and have lunch with me today.  This is what greeted them at the gate (photo courtesy of my sister.)

Wolfhounds are awesome.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

A New "Hobby"

A couple months ago, as the days grew shorter and colder, my husband got a little stir crazy and wanted to start a "new hobby."  First, he thought it might be cooking, so he began watching videos--but it didn't click. Then, he thought studying a foreign language, which clicked a little, but wasn't nearly demanding enough for all the extra time and energy he has.  He tried Ukulele, but again, it didn't grab him.

Finally, I reminded him that doing big projects in our house is his real passion and "hobby." And he's so good at it.  

Aha! He said, and after a little thought...

it led to this.

The existing shower came with the house, and he never liked the acrylic shower bottom. And, he loves to tile. So, his winter hobby is building a tile shower, and installing a cast iron (style) tub. The weight of cast iron is over 300lbs dry, so we will probably go with an acrylic tub that looks like cast iron.

This is where he's at with the project one week in.

Which is where I come in. It's my job to choose the tile and paint, and somehow blend it all in with what we left in place AND the art work.

This is the tile I want. (It's also the style of tub I'd like.) There's a lot of variety in the color, which makes it easier to match. It's a little on the light side, but we could frame in the art work to provide a barrier and help blend it in. (The tile art will be installed in the shower, high enough to see over the shower walls from outside.)

However, the tub area is already tiled, and we didn't want to knock it all out. The tile (above) would be going into the enclosed shower. Something like what is below, but with taller 3/4 walls.

The outside, front wall, of the shower will be dry wall, and a continuation of this tile pattern that is throughout the bathroom and, really, our entire house. 

The whole bathroom will get a paint makeover--something along this palette.

Color in Space Villa Palette™--rich & earthy

We're at the part of the project now where we are second guessing ourselves for starting this project at all! It always happens when we get into the middle of it and realize how tricky this or that part of it is.  It's a bit overwhelming. But anyway, it's not my hobby! And it's keeping the man busy. I hope he finishes by spring, because I have another project hobby for him...

Tuesday, January 26, 2021


 Photographing this Loverboy is so darn difficult.  By the time I reach for my camera...

He's on the move.

And joined at the hip.

LB: Hi mom. What's the plan?

Mom: Wormer.

LB: Fun!

He's so easy to worm, and he even followed me to smell the empty syringe as I walked the pasture and went from horse to horse.

Leah didn't like her worming experience.  I had to grip her upper lip to get it done, but then she was all relaxed, like it was no big deal, and I did her bodywork.

An interesting thing happened last week while I led Cowgirl out to turnout. She was prancing all around and bolting in front of me, looking like she wanted to go beat up the herd. She is never like that. I finally got her into the gate and released her, and she went charging at them and lunging at them over the fence.  So, that was crazy, but something even crazier happened.  Loverboy, aka Tumbleweed, moved the herd back, and he took the front position and started lunging over the fence at Cowgirl. I thought his whole body might end up over it.

I didn't know what to think about it.  He has always taken the baby role, but something dramatically changed, and he is now in the role of protector. 

As I did my chores, I mulled through what Shirley said about the video of him doing Liberty work in the open pasture, the wolfhound barking at him, and him herding the dog away, then returning. Shirley said he was protecting me. That was a new, and amazing, concept.  But in light of what I saw him do for the herd, it makes sense.

I think this new development will deepen our relationship and make him an even better student at school. He's left the baby behind, and he is now, Loverboy.  At least, that is the first thing that comes to mind when I see him. ❤

Monday, January 18, 2021

Looking Back On Leah

I was trying to find a word for what I'm doing with Tumbleweed--other than, "At Liberty." I wrote about it years ago in my work with Leah. It was a training philosophy about getting horses to follow and be in tune with you.  I want to call it "minding," but I don't think that's it.  Grrr....I remember who told me about it, so I'll ask her right now.  Just a sec. (Switches to Messenger) (Switches back to Blogger, and waits for an answer.) (She just got back to me--it's called "heeding."  I like that much better than "at liberty.")

Anyway, as I was searching for it, I went down memory lane, and I was reminded of how much work I did with Leah to get her trail ready.  Wow!  I had forgotten all the ups and downs--or, at least, the downs. When did she become the horse I can leave in the fields for months, pull her out, saddle up and ride? I realized that after we got to that point of togetherness, the blogging about her really fell off, and morphed into 24/7 Tumbleweed.

But Leah is still here, and she is still super sweet and full of heart. Our journey did NOT end two years ago.  It continues...

First, 2020 was awful for trail riding. Our governor shutdown absolutely everything--including our trails. It felt like my soul was being ripped out, because hiking and riding those trails is what nurtures my soul. Every trailhead was taped off, and if you were caught riding in them, you'd be ticketed. Our city and county reacted much differently and closed the bathrooms, but kept the city and county trails open. This imbalance forced everyone onto the city and county trails and they became much more concentrated with people.

It slowed us down, but it didn't stop us.

I suppose our big breakthrough, many years ago, was realizing Leah was happier on the trails than in the arena. When she realized how fun and easy trail work can be, she became an excellent trail partner. 

Leah also has pain issues, and I started the Masterson Method bodywork with her last spring by signing up for the videos online. With the little I did, I saw improvement, but I also realized there was much more to it than I could get online and with the book. 

I discovered a practitioner who lives near us, and she took Leah on this summer, and trains my granddaughter and I to follow up in between sessions.  

Leah loves this work, and it has helped her immensely. Immensely.

The Masterson Method requires a lot of physical and mental work by the handler. The waiting is really, really hard, but it's also the key ingredient to success. Waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the release. However long it takes, you are to wait. It develops patience and a sensitive eye. I have so much respect for those who do it well. (A key is to split it up and not expect to accomplish everything in one day. My practitioner often goes 1.5 hours, but she knows when Leah has absorbed as much as she can. She makes notes and begins the following session with that in mind.) 

They have clinics all over the country, and I highly recommend them if you're inclined. We had our granddaughter signed up for one in Kalispell, MT but it was canceled due to a freak snowstorm. We hope to sign her up again when it is rescheduled. Clinics are around $500 for the weekend, but you can take that knowledge home to all your horses. You will grow as a horsewoman--and your horse will appreciate the change in you.  It's very fulfilling to see your horse after a session--relaxed, and feeling so much better. If I didn't see the difference, I wouldn't continue. As you know, I'm a minimalist, and I expect to see results--or I walk away from whatever it is I'm doing. The Masterson Method delivers.

I would go so far as to say, I like it better than chiropractor--even though they state clearly that it is NOT a replacement for that. Why do I like it better?  I like it better because of the waiting. You are NEVER working against the horse...or the clock.  If your horse braces, you move back to where they're soft, and you wait for their release into the stretch.  It's a lot like yoga, and yoga, as you know, has been a godsend to me. There's almost nothing yoga can't cure.

I hope this post catches you up on Leah's life. Though she won't be my main trail horse, and she will probably be retired early due to her pain issues, she is still my heart horse. The name of this blog is "Beautiful Mustang," and I still have Beautiful, and though she has tested my patience with her inclination to overreact, she too is a heart horse. 

If you've taken nothing else away from this blog, I hope that it is the horse journey does not always take us to the place we thought it would. It's not a Hallmark Movie, started and finished in 90 minutes. It's a very long, meandering journey with a lot of unknowns. I have learned that it's about the relationships--that's it. The living, breathing equine souls we are honored to have in our lives.

(Leah December 2020)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

At Liberty In An Open Field With a Barking Dog and No Pivo

Yesterday, I did our At Liberty work in the pasture to see if I could keep Tumbleweed's connection when there was more to compete for his attention--greening grass, an Irish Wolfhound who likes to herd and play with him, and room to run.

*Remember, I do use treats in the "treat position"--both handler and horse facing the same direction, horse's head points forward, raise treat to mouth. I don't treat him all the time, but enough that this 'following' that he naturally does is becoming a more deeply ingrained habit. If not for the sporadic, specifically timed treats, I don't think we'd have had this connection in the field.

That said, here are two very short videos.  Short, because I don't have a PIVO, goshdarnit, and for half the time I was out of the camera's view.

In yesterday's post I said that this at liberty work might teach me what my horse will do when surprised by....fill in the blank....a barking dog.  Well, here it is: At Liberty with a barking dog.

Upon reflection, I noticed that Tumblweed is better trained than Piper, our dog. 😊  Bad dog mama!

Today, my husband and I are going to haul Tumbleweed and Foxy to a new trail for a hike. Tumbleweed still loves his Foxy Mama, but there is definitely a new dynamic between he and Beautiful Girl. It appears that Foxy was allowing him to get away with too many bad behaviors, and BG stepped in to be the disciplinarian.  However, she is sometimes his cow, too. So, I'm very confused exactly what their relationship is.  Whatever the case, his behavior with me has improved.  His curiosity and courage have improved. His ability to leave the herd has improved. His "At Liberty" has improved. Ergo, whatever Beautiful is doing must be working, even if it is a case of good cop, bad cop!

Um, BG is the 'bad cop', right? 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Where Am I Going With This 'At Liberty' Work?


Like anything we do with our horses, eventually we have to ask why. Where are we going? What do we want to accomplish? What's our goal?

We might answer those questions: 1. We're not "going" anywhere. We're just enjoying where we are. 2. Wisdom has taught us we don't always get that which we hoped to "accomplish", (haha, wisdom learned the hard way!) and that a horse has its own time, a relationship its own path.  Just being out there is the "accomplishment. And everyday is a NEW day, a new horse in front of you--maybe a little less willing--or more willing--or happy--or grumpy.... 3. And last, "goals"--what goals? -- Isn't this about a lifetime relationship? There's no end point, no top of the hill, I made it moment. The learning goes on and on and on....forever. My horse is 2, and he might live to be 40. We have a long, long road ahead.

Okay, so we're mature badass and wise horsewomen, and we know ALL those things. We've learned that the people we see who still have a continued life with horses are those who are in it for the LOVE of the minute (rhymes with flute), day-to-day, learning, growing, wandering, meandering, failing, getting back up, and enjoying the ride "Life With Horses." 

👆 They're the ones who aren't only learning about horses, but about themselves.  Respecting the mirror that horses are. Respecting the trust they place in us. Us in them. 

With all that in mind, bear with me a moment as I reflect on where "At Liberty" might take us. Might.

👉 It might teach me more about my horse--when he is most in tune to me--when he loses connection.

👉 It might teach me more about what my horse will do when he comes to extreme pressure points: a flapping bag, a water crossing, a wild, unexpected animal, a barking dog, a bicycler sneaking up on us on a trail, a swirling sheet of metal blown loose from a barn in a storm. (Yes, that happened to my friends on a ride.)

👉 It might teach my horse to stay with me when he comes to extreme pressure points. 

👉 It might teach my horse that he can trust me. By his side.  On his back.  I'm not trying to hurt him, I'm trying to be with him.  And we are like one.

👉 By learning more about my horse, it might teach me to trust my horse more.

👉 As time is the measure of all relationships, it provides an opportunity for me to invest more TIME into my horse partner, in a way that is non-stressful, and relationship building.

I used to follow Mustang Maddie's At Liberty Work on Facebook. She pointed out that you have to find their motivation. Your hope is that the being together is the motivation, but let's face it, there are days your horse would rather be grazing with the herd.  You work as far as you can with personal motivation, but a little food motivation isn't a bad thing either--if done right. Mustang Maddie has a treat receiving position--the handler at their horse's side--not giving the treat if they're mugging you for it.

I try to do as much as I can without treats, but if I feel Tumbleweed's connection waning, I throw in a treat when he accomplishes a task as asked.  And, he definitely knows when he's done it "as asked," versus avoiding it.  When he avoids he knows better than to expect a treat.  When he does it as I asked, he knows to look for one.

If you want to see a little of our work from yesterday, here are 2 clips. (unedited) You'll wish I had my Pivo when I wander off screen for short segments. hehe.

Or, you can just see a few photos taken from the clips and save 8 minutes.  It's the difference between seeing the cake being baked or finished baking. hehe. Want a piece of cake? I do. Like a piece of carrot cake...yum...but I digress.  Where was I?

On the bridge, stop on the bridge, off the bridge

jogging over poles and tires, seeing if he'll keep pace.

Today I'm going to go out and see if he will stay with me around the large pasture. I want to walk it, jog it, and then see if he will stop, back up, sidepass--in the open field. I don't have a Pivo yet, so I'm not sure if there will be any photos or videos.  We'll see if I can finagle it with no cameraman. ha!