Giving up Sometimes Works
I once took care of a horse that resisted all my efforts to bond. I took him into a small enclosed paddock one day with a container of grain. I tried to coax him to come to me as I shook the grain. He wouldn’t come. Perhaps he knew I didn’t really like him. The one time I rode him, I remember that he bucked. I didn’t come off him, but it was close! (More)
The Season for Reminiscing
While searching for an idea for this November column, I found myself thinking of the events I wrote about in my first book, Sometimes a Woman Needs a Horse, published in the fall of 2004. Memories were flooding my mind as I recently worked with this book again, to publish it in e-book form to Amazon’s Kindle store.
My second book, MARES! (Ya gotta love em), was already available for Kindle, Nook and Google readers. I went through the publisher for that one. All I had to do was click the online pay button. (More)
What Colors Your Vision of Life’s Obstacles?
Obstacle training is gaining attention! I’m sure the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA) is behind it, with their popular competitive trail challenges. These six-mile rides include six obstacles where both horse and rider are scored by a judge—making great fun for the riders (with prizes and rewards), and providing an effective tool to develop confidence in our horses.
I rode Lady a year ago on our first ACTHA ride and shared my experience in my November column. Before the ride, I trained Lady to drag a small log—a rather easy task as it turned out, with amazing results! (More)
Olympic Dreams can’t be Half-hearted!
Watching the recent Olympics, I was inspired by the perfection of individual performances. I was also humbled by what these competitors did to get that far!
A recent post on Facebook explained it. “You can have anything you want, if you are willing to sacrifice everything for it.” Ah, I thought, that’s why I couldn’t do it! I’m not willing to sacrifice everything! (More)
Revisiting the Gray
Last summer, my husband and I vacationed at Lake Barkley in Kentucky and went horseback riding at their stable. It was my first time riding their horses, and the 45-minute ride was almost over before I relaxed enough to really enjoy the gorgeous wooded trail. I didn’t need to worry; my big paint horse was perfect.
I wanted to ride again the next day, but it rained early. We went to the stable after the rain but only the horses were there, so I took some photos. A gray horse came over to the gate and stood there beside me for a long time. When I walked away, going around the fence to get a better shot of the paint, the gray followed me.
Say Yes to Trust
A recent magazine article told what to do when your horse says no. I realized how lucky I am. Rocky might spook at something, but rarely says no. Lady sometimes stops on the trail, and I believe she is saying I don’t want to continue. When I ask her to keep going anyway, she usually says ok. During one recent ride, however, Lady told me a definite no.
Since my husband gave up horses, I’ve been riding alone on the same trail we rode near the stable where I board. It goes almost a mile straight back from the road, past the fenced pasture lined with trees on the right, and a five acre section of woods at the back. On the left side of the trail, a ditch containing runoff water edges a farmer’s field and curves around the back of the woods beside an area of homes. There’s also a lovely trail inside the wooded area. (More)
Rising to the Occasion
I feel like a traitor. For seven years, I’ve worked to keep Rocky in a four-beat gait, to uphold his breeding as a double registered Tennessee Walking Horse/Spotted Saddle Horse. Now, I’m asking him to trot under saddle! He trots on his own in the pasture and on the lunge line, so I’m not asking for something difficult. His natural trot is free and forward moving, while his gait under saddle is smoother to ride but slow and short-strided.
Because I have an interest in dressage and I know riders who do gaited dressage, I took dressage lessons on Rocky for 18 months. I hoped to extend his natural gait. I did feel that longer stride a few times, but it sure took a lot of effort! After a year of frustration learning how to get proper straightness and bend, I felt we were finally getting it. He was giving me a collected frame, and he was light in the bit. I was so proud! (More)
Memories are Made of This
“For through his mane and tail the high wind sings; fanning the hairs, who wave like feathered wings.” Those words are from Shakespeare’s poem, Venus and Adonis, and I saw this quote on Facebook. I don’t care for the rest of his poem, but I love his description of horse hair blown by the wind.
My favorite photos show horses in motion, with flying mane and flowing tail. Those flying hairs are an exciting display of a horse’s beauty (and also very useful during fly season). For shows, we often braid the mane according to breed or discipline, sometimes adding colored ribbon, sometimes braiding the tail to match. Braiding is an art in itself. And when we have to say goodbye to a special riding partner, we often save a portion of mane or tail to use for some memorial item. (More)
The “I” of the Beholders
A beholder is simply one who sees. Look at a horse and you can see indications of attitude, health, and breed. But can you also see beyond the surface of color and size? Can you look into your horse’s eyes as the window to his personality and understand what is in there?
To connect on a deeper level of relationship, the I of the beholder must look into the heart and mind and spirit of the other. Not the eye of seeing, but the I of being—the inner being of who I am and what I am—the part of me that seeks to comprehend the true personality of this individual horse in order to enjoy a relationship. (More)
On January 9, 2012, I said goodbye to a special friend. I was glad I had written my December column about Traveller, how I felt a bond with him even though he could no longer be ridden, and how I was determined to take care of him as long as possible. I was amazed at the responses to that column after part of it was reprinted in Going Gaited online magazine!
I knew Traveller might not make it through this winter and I prayed that I would know when it was time to let go. On a Friday, I had taken him out for grass, brushing him and combing his mane and tail as he grazed. Three days later, on that Monday afternoon, I took him out for grass again, and I realized how unsteady he was and how much effort it was for him to walk or stand. That terrible knowing came over me, overpowering with sudden emotion. We had a precious farewell, even though I was quite numb at the time. As the numbness wears off, emotions return. (More)
2005 and Earlier Columns