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2011 Columns

2011 Columns:

If You Couldn’t Ride

     Something on Facebook inspired this column. Heaven’s Gate Farm posted a link to a blog, Juli Thorson’s Horse Talk on Horse and Rider online magazine, asking the question: If you couldn’t ride, would you still keep horses? Though the question was directed toward people who could no longer ride, it reminded me of horses that could no longer be ridden.

     I immediately thought of two horses in the stable where I board. One is my own gelding, Traveller, now at least 26 years old, whose rear end has become so weak in the past year that I’m afraid to put anyone on his back. There’s also an older mare with arthritis and a bad knee that can no longer carry a rider. We are paying for board and feed for horses that will never again carry us down the trail, but whose eyes remind us that a special relationship exists on the ground as well as in the saddle.  (More)

That Winning Feeling!

     I’m borrowing Jane Savoie’s book title, because that’s exactly how I felt when Lady and I completed our first ACTHA ride on October 15th! ACTHA is the American Competitive Trail Horse Association, and their Competitive Trail Challenges are growing news these days—six mile rides with six obstacles, each one rated by a judge. 

     The six specific obstacles are not revealed until the pre-ride meeting, but there is a list of possible obstacles on the ACTHA website. I checked them out and decided that Lady should learn to “drag,” in case that was on the agenda. I worked with her several times, first dragging a rope, then a hunk of wood, then one day I walked beside her while dragging an empty muck bucket. I was slightly amazed at how quickly she learned this new skill! But I never thought to practice dragging a BODY! (More)

October Challenge

     This month holds a new challenge for Lady and me. I have signed up for the ACTHA Competitive Trail Challenge on the fifteenth at Triangle H Farm! I had heard about ACTHA for several years and I had consistently deleted the emails—until I learned there was an event so close to us.

     Such rides are usually six miles long, and each horse and rider entry is judged on how they handle six different obstacles. We won’t know which obstacles are on this challenge until just before we start the ride. There is a list of possible obstacles on the ACTHA website, however, so I’ve been working on those that Lady might have problems with.  (More)

Change of Attitude

     I’m learning to see training possibilities all around me, using whatever is available. So when I arrived at the stable one morning to ride Lady, and the front yard trees were covered with toilet paper flowing from every branch, I of course wondered how Lady would react—and I was eager to take advantage of this rare opportunity!

     I led her from her stall and walked her along the driveway at a distance. She looked but showed no fear, so I walked closer. She seemed interested but not bothered. Anything new usually causes a spook, so I was pleased at how well she accepted this unusual scene. Seeing no fear, I led her onto the lawn, walking between the trees. A breeze lifted one strand of white toward her and she...  (More)

Consider the Unthinkable

     If you are a horse owner, you may have thought about what to do if something should happen to your horse. But have you considered what would happen to your horse if something happened to YOU? Most horse owners don’t plan for this, but you should. When the unexpected happens, it’s too late to make provisions.   

     Last December, my husband and I had four horses in a self-care boarding stable—until I got sick and couldn’t do chores for three weeks. My husband decided to give his mare away to lighten the load (since he didn’t dare give mine away)! Of course I never expected to get sick and leave him with all the work.  (More)

The Miracle of George

     “There is always a reason a horse appears in a woman’s life.” When I read this quote on Facebook, taken from “If I Had a Horse,” by Melissa Sovey-Nelson, I knew I had to share the story of the woman who posted the quote.

     I will call her Ann, but that is not her real name. My first contact with her was her purchase of my book, Sometimes a Woman Needs a Horse in 2008. We have become Facebook friends since then, which is how I learned of her miraculous acquisition of George. And I share her touching story with her happy permission.  (More)

A Bit that Fits

     After a year of dressage lessons on my gaited horse, Rocky, I felt we were making great progress. His straightness and bend were more consistent, and I loved the way Rocky collected and worked on the bit.

     When I talked about riding a dressage test, however, I was told I had to use a snaffle bit. Ok, I thought, that shouldn’t be a problem since he was trained in a Tom Thumb. But that was long ago and of course trail riding is quite different from dressage. When we first got Rocky, a regular five-inch bit seemed too wide for his narrow mouth. I happened to find a 4-3/4 inch bit on eBay, a Mullen mouth Pelham in old English “never rust” nickel alloy. Rocky quickly accepted that bit and has worked well in it for seven years.   (More)

Regaining Courage; Getting Unstuck

     When fear gets lodged within us, we cannot be a horse’s confident leader. I know from experience. Ever since Lady spun with me six years ago, that fearful memory got stuck in my head like a menacing image refusing to fade. I even wondered if I would qualify for post traumatic stress disorder!    (More)

A New Journey Begins

    Well, I did it. I signed up for The Great Rider Horsemanship Challenge with Patrick King Horsemanship. This is nothing like Craig Cameron’s Extreme Cowboy Race or the Extreme Mustang Makeover. It’s a 52 week online training course to improve your horsemanship, for $49.95. Sounds like a bargain to me.    (More)

Now is the Time

     It was three months since I’d been on a horse. Way too long! Not riding for awhile always raises my fear level about getting back in the saddle, even though I’ve ridden for 33 years! I know all too well what can happen. I don’t want to come off again, and I don’t want to get hurt. Anyone else feel that way?   (More)

Travel Expectantly

     Did you ever hear someone’s words echoing in your head—making you wish you had asked what that person specifically meant by those words? Soon after getting my first horse, I happened to watch a blacksmith demonstrating his work. I talked to him about my mare, Fanny, and about my grandfather who had also been a blacksmith before becoming a farmer. This man who never knew my grandfather told me, “Your grandfather traveled expectantly.” His choice of words seemed unusual and very intriguingly prophetic. I have pondered those words ever since.    (More)

2010 Columns

2009 Columns

2008 Columns

2007 Columns

2006 Columns

2005 and Earlier Columns


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