Saddle up and let's ride down the trail of tales or tails.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

ICE REMOVAL with help

Another day of mid-day ice removal. The top shows the help I had – very up close and personal. I was lifting ice out of the tank and Target came up on my left side, stuck his head over the tank and stood – in my way. I was set up to throw the ice to my left so now I was forced to make choices, throw to the right, carefully  guide the shovel under his head or simply smack him in the head as I dumped.  No, I didn’t smack him, tempting as it was. As you can see in the bottom, although we are having sunny days it doesn’t mean they are warm ones. Yesterday was sunny and still and we were seeing horse breath on the air. Our warm fall ruined me.


I decided I would ride with students today and chose Newbie for my ‘chair’. When I went to get him he was lying down on his chest. He was in a pretty good doze so I made sure I talked as I approached. A flick of the ear told me that he heard me and was awake. I walked up to him, stood in front and told him he needed to get up and go to work. He looked at me, slowly, very slowly, lay down on his side and let out a big groan. (Yes, I did make him get up and go to work)


Monday, December 17, 2012


Having had the herd of horses that I do for as long as I have, I take them for granted a lot of the time. They have become pretty mellow about the stupid things that we humans do. Butch makes me remember, he is the new kid and not so mellow.
The colder weather is causing Butch to stay in the reactive side of his brain more and, if not there, go to it quickly. We may or may not know why he does.

 I planned on grabbing Butch and riding him bareback in a lesson.
When I went into his pen to catch him he looked quite nervous then turned away from me. He headed toward the barn end of the pen and I went after him. He again was quite reactive – head up, body tense. I reached to pet him and his body felt knotted. He whirled away from me again and took off. I had left the gate (stupid me) a little open and he found the opening and ran out.

Two riders were already in the arena holding their horses. Thankfully the Big Boss was in charge and neither one had gotten on. Butch left his pen at a trot and I was afraid he was just going to run off the place. He didn’t. He saw the horses in the arena and turned in the gate. I closed the outside lane gate before I left his pen and the other gate up to the barn. Then I went through the end pen to the arena, which meant getting down on the ground to go under the rail – that reminded me the body doesn’t bend much anymore. I managed to straighten my feet out and pulled up on the fence.

I closed the arena gate penning him inside and then walked over to Butch and pulled the gate open where I wanted him to go. He stepped away from me and I tried to carefully shush him into the opening. In his pen it was ‘get away from me’ and now it was ‘duh’. He didn’t move but his stance showed he was ready to take off if I did the least little thing wrong. I was slow and careful. He did walk off and of course missed the opening. I was able to steer him back and this time he found the way through.

I stepped through the gate behind him into the alley then closed the gate. He was now captured but not yet penned. Next I herded him toward his pen. Naturally he went into the one across the way from his. He came right out and found his open gate. I locked him in then went to the arena. By this time I was a little peeved at him for his behavior. As I was cleaning up the bridle and reins that I didn’t use I found a whip on the ground.
I realized that I stuck the whip in my back pocket before I went in to catch Butch. I was taking it because my rider forgot it for Lil. That was sticking up behind me when I went in to get Butch and he doesn’t accept that kind of thing. I had forgotten that it was there so that accelerated his anxiety and started the whole fiasco. (Sure does make me appreciate my old gang – they put up with a lot and do it gracefully).
Later I did go into his pen again after I threw in the hay just to make sure we quit the day on a ‘together’ note. Thank goodness he is not one who is out to get you. He was still a little reactive but his body was reasonably relaxed. 
Three days later a long-term teen-age student rode Butch bareback. It was a cool morning and there was a pretty strong wind blowing. She did a good job with him even trotting him with things appearing to be fairly under control. As he trotted along the south side of the arena he would dodge to the middle when he reached the electric pole and teen-ager had to gather up reins and get him back on the original course. I asked her to transition him down to a walk and walk him down that side. When she did he didn’t dodge to the middle.
At the end of the lesson, she brought him in to dismount. She stopped then lay down on his neck a minute before getting off. After she dismounted, I took the reins to hold him while she put on her boots. (They slip off when riding bareback so she rides barefoot, even on cold days.) All of a sudden Butch spooked, pulled away from  me and ran across the arena. I walked after him saying ‘whoa’ which he finally did. I walked up to him  and caught him.
When I picked up the reins he raised his head and rocked back on his feet – keeping them in place. The thought ran through my mind that he has been whipped when he ran off  in the past. I stepped up and rubbed a moment before turning him over to teen-ager.
I am sure glad the Big Boss was looking after things. Teen-ager was off Butch with her feet firmly on the ground before he went stupid. Had she been  mounted at the time he would have unloaded her with the jump/turn he took.

Teen-ager, grandmother and I all discussed what possibly caused the ruckus and did not identify a cause; all we could do was speculate.

It looks like Butch and I have some work to do on this particular subject.


Saturday, December 15, 2012


When I was a kid, I liked the song Tumbling Tumbleweeds. There was a bit of western romance to it.

Now that I have lived these many years with an abundance of the tumblers they have gone to the category of annoying. I took this shot at my driveway looking down the road to the highway. All this was courtesy of the winds yesterday. One little path through them is all that exists right now.

Later in the day I came across Peanut who found a use for them. Check her out here

Monday, December 3, 2012


For those who read the story of the Meltdown, this is what has been happening since. I know there were some readers who were a bit skeptical about Son being able to continue the progress so I would like to take you through our last four lessons. If you haven’t read the story you can read the one titled Meltdown that appears before this one.

Lesson  When Son arrived, I asked him what kind of energy he was in. He said good (that’s what I was seeing). I told him that he could make two choices then. The first was which horse he wanted to ride of those he has already ridden and the second was whether he wanted to ride with a saddle or bareback. He chose to ride bareback on Shorty. He stayed on task for tack up and had good energy leaving for the arena. He was the only rider and he did well. He stayed in good humor and when I told him he could trot physical energy went up to appropriate level. He worked on his trotting and balance is getting better. He was still in good mood and energy at the end and followed through with untack and put away in good order. Mom is so proud of him and I of them. Shorty is considered an easy ride.

Next Lesson  I forgot I had told Son that he could ride Shag and I had assigned him Sadie. I was in the back pen catching horses when he arrived. When I came into the barn he was waiting to ask me about it. I told him I forgot and he could ride Shag and it would be with a saddle. He had not gotten terribly upset with my error and our discussion was at a very appropriate energy exchange.

Shag dealt him the usual misery that he dishes out to riders. Son’s grandparents were here to see him ride for the first time. He tacked up in good time. No arguing with either mom or me. He is beginning to figure out what to do and when to do it and by the end of the ride was keeping Shag out of the quit corner. The times that Shag took it away and came in to stop Son just laughed (of course that doesn’t help rider energy – you wilt). He was still energetic and positive at the end of the ride.

When we put Shag up we talked a little about Bart (thoroughbred, ex race horse) and in the barn Son was asking about the harder horses. I told him that Shag and Lil would give him good lessons and we could increase the number of horses he could ride. He asked who was a hard horse after Shag and Lil. I thought a minute, laughed and told him Mattie. He looked at me and said that I had better assign him either Shag or Lil each time so he could get ready to ride Mattie. What a turn around. That statement blew off the ‘wow’ meter. To put it politely, Shag is a challenging ride.

Next Lesson  I was catching horses out back again when Son arrived. I had assigned Sadie (easy ride) and it was on the ride board. As I was coming in from catching the other horses, he and mom met me outside the barn and asked if I wanted them to catch Sadie. I asked Son if he had everything set up and thought he could do it. He said yes to both. I gave him instructions and sent him off. When I looked over, Sadie was walking away from him. I hollered a couple of instructions and he and mom completed the catch in good form.


Although he was riding with two new people, boys a little older than he is, he stayed focused on the prep process and was ready to go to the arena 20 minutes ahead of the others (they are new and still learning). I sent him down reminding him that he could only walk and mom was coach.

When I arrived at the arena with the others and got them on I told Son he could trot. He worked on regulating Sadie’s trot – keeping it slow and soft. He is paying much more attention to steering. His energy stayed where it needed to be during the ride and his attitude was very cheerful. Mom says he is now looking forward to the lessons and getting ready without any problems. She is seeing behavior change at home that she feels are a result of what is required for riding.

When we finished, I told Son that I needed to talk to him about consequences. I asked if he realized he suffered a consequence today – a good one. He said no. I told him that because he focused on his tacking up and got it done he was able to go to the arena early and start riding. Because of that, he actually was able to ride 20 minutes longer. His face lit up into a big grin and he thought that was pretty good.

Next Lesson  Son arrived 30 minutes early. He ran and played with the dogs before his lesson. He was in good mood and energy. I assigned Lil today since he had a Sadie ride last time. Lil was in heat so she was ‘double down don’t wanna do anything’. Today her attitude was way past challenge, sucky would be the appropriate definition.

NOTE: I have moved the gelding Tio to a pen along side the arena. He is considered a ‘ladies man’ so Lil was plying all her feminine horsey wiles to attract his attention. Believe me, this really gives the rider a challenge.

Son handled the tacking up in efficient fashion. As soon as Son got on, his mom and I could see what kind of ride he would be faced with. And, he was.

Every time Lil came to the corner her attention was on Tio. Of course that meant stopping. Son had to work through that to get and keep her going. For the first time today, I saw Son with appropriate assertive energy and he was able to keep it going the entire ride.

Toward the end (remember the entire ride has taken a lot of mental, physical and emotional energy and personal discipline just to keep Lil going) when he came by he let out a huge sigh BUT he didn’t wilt his body giving up his energy. It seemed to be more a release of tension. It was very interesting to watch Lil because she too let out a sigh after he did and we could see her energy free up.

The next round Son was able to keep her walking through the corner and it appeared that it took little effort. After that, I told him we would end the lesson because he had brought the ride to a positive ‘he was in charge’ place, which I like to stop on. (He had been riding the full time so it all worked nicely.) When he brought Lil in he commented to mom that it wasn’t time to quit, he’d only been riding a few minutes.

When a rider makes this kind of comment I know where they were mentally and emotionally in their ride – other horse people understand this place – time stops because you and the horse are in the same working energy. Although he was working physically hard on his end to make the correct things happen the energy involved was that feeling good about trying.

As he was untacking, he commented about his very first ride and that he didn’t have horse energy at that time. Today he did have horse energy and it made everything good. He even realized that mom and my energy and attitude were really good because of him and his experience.

Mom commented that she is seeing changes in him on a personal level. One thing that made it difficult for both of us in the beginning was the amount of time it took Son to process information. Then, not only was the process slow but he tended to shut down or argue. Now, it is much quicker, no shutting down and I get feed back from him of ‘got it’.

Because he was so on task, I videoed the tack up process. I am updating my website and want prospective students to be able to see in action what the lessons entail. How cool is it to now be able to use this young man as a role model? See him at work.


Six weeks earlier ……..

Son arrived for his lesson in his usual slow motion, whiny mood. He didn’t want to come and his mother promised him ice cream if he rode. Key words “if he rode”. And, the horse of the day was Lil (for those who know her the story doesn’t have to be told). Son’s attitude did not get any better by the time he finished tacking up and we got to the arena where he got on. Of course Lil pushed all his buttons by not working which made him more and more frustrated and mad.

He finally shut down, crying and arguing. I told him he had a choice to either get down or stop the crying and ride. It got so bad I told him he was going to have to get down if he couldn’t manage his energy. He said he couldn’t get off. If he did, he wouldn’t get the ice cream that had been promised. I tried again to get him to choose to ride and try, which he didn’t. I then told him I was making the choice for him and he would get down.

He did dismount and it was literally kicking and screaming. I had other riders besides him so mom took son and the horse to the barn. After they were there a few minutes I became aware of his resistance and complaining getting louder and louder with mom telling him to not come into the horse area.

I finally walked to the barn, stepped in where the boy was, looked at him and told him to come with me. We walked back to the arena where I told him to go sit on the bleachers. He did and then began to justify his behavior and continue to whine and cry. I didn’t release him until mom was done with the horse and joined us.

 She and I talked and she did say that this has happened before with activities. When it did, they stopped the activity. I told her I wasn’t trying to tell her how to raise her child but I could see beyond this tantrum. He wasn’t the first to pull one and some others had been just as bad. I told her that if she thought it was worth it, we could hang in there and keep giving him the opportunity to get himself under control.

After giving it a week’s thought, she decided to continue. And now, two and a half months later … the rest of the story.

A side note – prior to this next ride, the last 4 have been good as far as his energy and attitude.
Today ……….
Son arrived in excellent ‘horse energy’. He was focused, calm and in good spirits. The good spirits stayed even after he found out his horse assignment was Lil. The set up of equipment went well as did tack up. Before he got on, I told him that I was very pleased to see the energy he was demonstrating and if he could keep it during the ride it would be a good one.

He listened to and followed all directions. He kept himself in good horse energy the entire ride although Lil (mistress of push frustration and anger buttons of riders) did her usual of not cooperating. He was able to get her going when she stopped and even began to keep her going and not let her stop.
After the ride I asked him if everything had gone smooth. He said yes. I asked if the adults with him (his mom and me) were happy. He said yes. His mom asked if the horse was happy today and he said yes. I asked him if he was happy and the answer was yes. I then asked if he knew why everyone was happy and he said his energy. I answered yes and asked him how it felt to control the energy of those around him. He thought it was pretty good. I reminded him that if he wanted good happening to him he needed to demonstrate those energies so they could come back to him.

Mom had mentioned to me that she thought it would be cool to take son to the bull riding BUT did not mention it to Son before the lesson. That way, he could concentrate on the lesson. They are both getting regarding this thing called ‘try’ and setting up to succeed.
Mom mentioned today that she is seeing a new maturity in him (right on). She also admitted she needs to do some letting go and that is hard – but – that is a mom’s job, to keep her eye on the goal and raise a man or a woman, not a child. So proud of them both.




I’ve tried not to ask a lot of questions about this little one but I found out she was a preemie and in the hospital under sedation for 9 very long months after her arrival on planet Earth. When time came for discharge, Mom was told by the doctors not to expect much. Thankfully, the follow-up support staff thought otherwise and encouraged the family to help her be all she could and yes, do expect much.

When she showed up I noticed tan lines – came wearing a tank top. When we talked Mom told me she really likes being outside and all kinds of animals. I continue to marvel at Mom’s ability to walk the thin line of encouraging independence and yet still protecting as needed.

The reason for horseback riding was to give her a sport that she can be good at – team activities are not a good fit right now. Also, Mom thought she too could learn and has a vision of the two of them riding horses together.

Needless to say, when they come, I find myself being very thankful for the life I have led and continue to lead. I can’t begin to wrap my head around a person just 3 years old having to learn all the ‘normal’ things to live her life but all the extra she has dealt with just to live.

I feel very privileged that they come here for her to ride and let the Queen, Teefa, take good care of her.