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Preview: Heart In Your Hand Natural Horsemanship

Heart In Your Hand Natural Horsemanship

Camps, clinic, private lessons and internships where you discover more about confidence, leadership and communication so you are safer having even more fun and success with your horse.

Updated: 2016-09-07T23:31:08.719-05:00


Being a Cowboy Taught me…


Being a Cowboy Taught me… Campfire Cowboy Ministries By Kevin Weatherby Being a cowboy taught me….being a servant is as easy as feeding the horses, cleaning out their pens, breaking ice in the winter, and putting your comfort second in every situation. Being a cowboy taught me….getting bucked off will teach you all sorts of life lessons. Being a cowboy taught me….crap may smell bad, but it washes off pretty easy. Being a cowboy taught me….never get too comfortable, something’s fixing to change. Being a cowboy taught me….some people will call you Howdy Doody, but the smile on a child’s face when he points at you and says, “Look mom! A cowboy!” is worth it all. Being a cowboy taught me….the greatest love you can show is putting down your own horse or dog if it’s suffering. Being a cowboy taught me….it’s ok to cry when your horse or your dog dies. Being a cowboy taught me….people will respect your actions more than your words. Being a cowboy taught me….you can’t ride point and drag at the same time with any degree of effectiveness. Being a cowboy taught me….God will not speak louder than your selfishness. Being a cowboy taught me….suspenders are a great until there’s a #2 emergency. Being a cowboy taught me….true grit is found right past the moment where you’ve always given up. Being a cowboy taught me….worry is just as effective as cussin’ the weather. Being a cowboy taught me….shutting your mouth is a skill that needs to be honed daily. Being a cowboy taught me….learning to laugh at the simple things will help when things get difficult. Being a cowboy taught me….when you try to please God, it’s gonna piss a bunch of people off…and that’s ok.I just had to share this. For more great articles by Kevin go to [...]

The Essence of Horsemanship


The Essence of Horsemanship By Sherry Jarvis Heart in Your Hand Horsemanship LLC Good horsemanship is a lifetime pursuit. We are aware that timing, feel, and balance are three words that describe good horsemanship and most of us are still in pursuit of perfecting these three elements. No matter how good we are, we all know that if we spend very much time with a horse things don’t always go as planned or as we would like them to. No amount of good intentions, will power or self control will stop us from becoming disappointed, frustrated, fearful, or angry when things fall apart with our horse. What will change our way of being is learning to see the horse as a horse, perfect just the way that God created it. Good horsemanship starts in your mind. Ray Hunt said, “Let your Idea become the horse’s Idea”…and “fix it up and let him (the horse) find it”. He also said, “If the horse is right on his feet he’ll be right on his head”. Ray’s thoughts and words are the essence of good horsemanship. But how do every-day people like you and me get there? I have been trying to learn feel, timing, and balance for 40 years now and to teach it to others for about the past 10 years, because apparently these three things are all you need in order to become a good horseman. However, even after many years these are still concepts that are not easy to do or to teach. Even though good horsemanship is not always an easy task the rewards and benefits are worth the blood, sweat, tears, and money we pour into this passion we call horsemanship. Just how does one go about acquiring good horsemanship? The Essence of Horsemanship is composed of seven things I believe that the essence of horsemanship is composed of seven things: 1. A calm projected, quiet yet strong, and fair confidence that gives humans leadership in the equine order of things. 2. Sensitivity to the animals means of communication, most of which involves touch and body language. 3. Patience, patience and then more patience with lots of time. Don’t be in a hurry! 4. Strategic planning as to how to teach the horse to do what is desired. 5. Enough balance, athletic ability, bio mechanical knowledge and conscious control over your body that you do not impede the horse or send random or meaningless signals. 6. A sincere and honest desire to join with the animal's feelings. 7. Letting go of our agenda, at least for a little while. Being fixated on a big agenda causes humans to have narrow vision and limited ability for being flexible, tolerant, empathetic, and patient. Not being fixated on a specific agenda allows humans to be open and more able to adjust to variations in whatever a particular situation produces. Giving up agenda gives the human a better view of the bigger picture. It removes limitations and blocks to progress and allows more opportunity for success. Giving up our agenda offers a rare glimpse of freedom to the horse and the human. Empathy is a huge key and essential element to successful relationships of all types, including with our beloved horses. Humans need to learn flexibility and creativity when training horses. I love this quote by Betsy Shirley (Buck Brannaman's foster Mom),"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape." No one standard method will always work with every horse. Each horse will develop as an individual and will react differently to the same stimulus. “The balance of human rules and horse rules will depend on the particular horse and human involved. That's why we can't treat all horses in the same way and expect the same results. Recipes have an allure because of their simplicity, but they will ultimatelyfail because of their lack of specificity.” Greg Brass Knowing what to do, how and when to do it (and more importantly, when to stop doing it) is bound together within feel, timing and balance. If you release the pressure at the wrong time, you have lied to your horse. Horses that have been lied to rep[...]

Oct., Nov., Dec. Newlsetter 2011


I have had such a busy fall that I have not kept up on my blog very well.So here are the links to my Oct., Nov., and Dec. newsletters.Oct. Newsletter; Think Like A HorseNov. Newsletter; ThanksDec. Newsletter; New Beginnings SCHEDULE FOR JAN. AND FEB. 2012I will reserve the dates of Jan. 13-16 and Feb. 10-13 to set up private lessons and one day clinics in Omaha and Lincoln. The back-up dates in case of bad weather and unsafe travel conditions will be Jan 20-23 and Feb. 17-20. Please contact me as soon as possible if you are interested. 308-346-5663 or 308-730-2150 email Sherry at sherry@heartinyourhand.comThe rest of 2012 Schedule can be viewed on the website.All dates are subject to change: So Please call first to check availability. If there isn't anybody signed up for an event and you want to host a clinic or reserve the bunkhouse for that weekend, we will make the necessary changes.All our business is a first come first serve basis.15% OFFSherry's book orYour 2012 stay atHorse Lover's BunkhouseMake a reservation today with a deposit 3 months prior to your date and receive a 15% discount off regular bunkhouse rates. Does not include stall, lesson or guide fees. Also 15% off Sherry's book "Win Your Horses Heart" Offers expire April 1st. DREAM VACATIONat Horse Lover's Bunkhouse, Give a Gift Certificate to a Horse Lover for Christmas.Round up some friends, grab your saddle, enjoy a good laugh, and let us help you ride the trails and relax with your horse. We offer trails, lessons, spiritual growth retreats and more. An affordable vacation where you can bond with a horse. Make new friends. Ride over 12,000 acres of gorgeous trails. Stay in our comfortable heated and air-conditioned bunkhouse. Nice pens for your horse. Lease Horses available. Get away with your horse this year.Contact us today. 308-346-5663 TESTIMONY ABOUT SHERRY'S BOOK " Win Your Horse's Heart" (Be a Better Horseman)I bought two of your books (one for me and one for my friend, Terry) and she was so excited when I gave it to her. She sat down and read it in two days! She is my friend that is a foster Mommy for two to three horses at a time from a local rescue in our area. She works with them to re-build their trust in ppl and their self-esteem and most often she has to put weight on them – she is nourishing them inside and out. She said she learned a lot reading your book!Sherry, keep up your great work and inspiring others with your messages. Diane[...]



Get Refreshed, Restored, and ReadyA journey with the Master Trainer, Jesus!Sept. 16-18 and Oct. 21-23Horse Lovers BunkhouseBurwell, NEFri. 1:00-6:00 Sat. & Sun. 9:00-5:00Trail Ride Sat. Evening & Church Service on Sun. Morning.If you love horses and want to grow spiritually this retreat is for you!Using a Bible Study by Beth Moore called: "The Promise of Security"You do can bring a horse or lease one of ours.Call Sherry @ 308-346-5663More Details:1. The last time we did a bible study on Slaying the Giants in our Lives. This time I bought a short Bible Study by Beth Moore called: "The Promise of Security". Today's women face all kinds of unrealistic expectations: look young, get ahead, have it all together etc... Some women feel trapped in chronic insecurity, but God wants us to be free from this "trap"and find our security in Him. Drawn from the Scriptures this little bible study by Beth Moore will inspire you to find the soul-deep security God longs for you to experience. "The Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap." Proverbs 3:262. This is not a horsemanship clinic. We will NOT be focusing on developing our horsemanship but rather; while we are developing our horsemanship we will focus on how the things we are doing relate to our spiritual life. So don't come expecting to fix all the problems you have with your horse, or even addressing every one of them like I will try to do at horsemanship camp. This is about looking beyond the mere physical aspects of horsemanship (how do you get a horse to do this or that) into what can the horse teach us about ourselves and God. It is about observing analogies between the relationship we have with a horse and the relationship we have with our Savior Jesus Christ. It is about how we live our lives and who we are both as horsemen and children of the most High God. So if you just want to focus on developing your riding ability you may want to choose a different camp. I just don't want anyone to be mislead or disappointed.3. Meals will not be provided. But we can share food and eat together as we fellowship.4. Schedule:We will start at 1:00 on Fri. ending around 6:00 Then supper and fellowship in the eveningWe will start on Sat. at 9:00 am ending around 5:00 Then supper, fellowship, and trail ride forthose who wish in the eveningWe will start on Sun. at 9:00 then you may go to church with me or not at 11:00. Then we willbegin again at 1:00-5:00.If you need to leave a little earlier on Sun. or come a little later on Fri. that is up to you.I am requesting that if you come you attend as much of all three days as possible in order to getthe full benefit.5. Some people have asked me if they have to ride a horse or bring a horse. The answer toboth questions is no. It is up to you. And I do have horses for lease if you choose. $25/half dayand $50/full day which includes tack.6. Some people have asked me if we are going to trail ride. Those who want to may do so onSat. evening.7. Of course everyone wants to know the bottom line of the cost. I am doing this as a ministry, so my instruction is by free will donation. You can give me whatever you think it was worth toyou. However, there is a charge for the facilities as I must still pay my insurance, taxes, electric,water and garbage bills. It will depend on how many come and how many nights you choose tostay what your cost will be. Right now I have no clue how many people will come. The last timethe number of people coming changed every day right up until the day it began. So I can neverpredict how many will show up. I wish I could, but I cannot. So no guarantees on the final costuntil it is all over. But you can figure an estimate by these rates.Bunkhouse Rates* Single person reserve the whole place $50/night* Double the fun (2 people) $80/night* Triple the fun (3 people) $90/night* Four people $112/night* Five or more people (double up in beds) $125/nightTax in not included add 10.5%Outdoor or Indoor Stalls.* $10/night/h[...]

Greatest parts of the Journey


(image) Photo by Julie Williams
Here are some of the greatest parts of my journey so far, in no particular order
of greatness or importance.

1. My first pony Ginger at 2 years old.
2. Riding my Dad's rope horse at 12 years old.
3. Starting my first colt by myself at 13 years old.
4. Teaching others especially mentoring interns
5. Riding at Parelli's in Pagosa
6. Riding with other great horsemen like Jack Brainard, Richard Winters, Kirsten
Neilsen, Bryan Newbert, Buck Brannaman, Ray Hunt.
7. Helping Sunshine find a better life within herself.
8. Helping people gain more confidence and reach their firsts.
9. Riding with Keith in the WY mountains
10. Going to the Carter Ranch in WY for a week every year to ride and give
11. Giving my heart away to so many horses and receiving the greatest reward and
satisfaction of all back from them when they partner up with me.
12. Meeting so many wonderful friends who are also horse lovers like minded with
me on the journey.
What are your greatest moments on the journey?
I would love to hear from you.
Happy trails,



You know the routine. You pack the kids into the car to go on your summer vacation. It is a long trip, and five minutes out of the driveway it starts: "Are we there yet?" I can remember as a kid that it felt like it took forever to get anywhere. Sometimes I was so excited about the destination that the hours of sitting still in a car were complete torture. Time didn't go by any faster when I was figiting and frustrated. So I had to learn to "wait well" in the car. As an adult I occasionally find myself with the same wrong attitude, spending too much time focused on my destination instead of enjoying where I am. I believe I have finally learned that life is about the journey, not the destination, and now the ride is becoming a lot more easy and fun. On your own horsemanship journey toward excellence and safety, you also need to enjoy the ride. Now you may be one of those lucky people who does enjoy every ride with their horse, and if you are congratulations. However, in my travels I meet so many people who are frustrated, afraid, and feeling incapable. It is not how far away your are from your destination, or even where you are right now, what matters most is the direction you are headed. If you live in Alaska and are headed to the sandhills of NE for a horse vacation in our bunkhouse you've got a long way to go. However, you will get here, no questions, as long as you keep heading south. On the other hand if somebody living in Denver CO heads south they will never get here even though it is a lot closer to Burwell than Alaska. If you are studying tried and true horsemanship principles and applying them to your journey, be excited that you are headed in the right direction. Every thing you learn, every book you read, every DVD you watch, every lesson you take, every clinic you attend takes you one step closer in the right direction. So go ahead and feel good about it no matter where you are compared to those around you. The important things is not what you can do with your horse today, but that you are improving. If you goal is to gallop across an open field or compete at the highest level of dressage don't get discouraged because it seems so out of reach. Instead, ask yourself if these are realistic goals considering your age, physical abilities, dedication, time, and money you can put into the project. If you can make the necessary sacrifices then continue by developing a plan. If not there is nothing wrong with lowering your expectations a little. But even if you have to change your goals to become a bit more realistic given your current circumstances, be PROUD of today and all that you have accomplished so far. Don't focus on how far you have to go, always remember to look at how far you have already come. Do everything you can to make this day with your horse a success. And when it is, allow yourself some deep satisfaction in it. Think about your successes, rather than your failures. Maybe you made a mistake with your horse today, but the good news is you probably didn't make as bad of a mistake as you would have a year ago. Perhaps you intended to ride your horse for two hours today, but got started late and could only do 20 minutes. Don't feel that you are a failure and should have done better. Remember there were plenty of times you didn't get out there at all. Be happy that you at least got a little time in, and then try to get a little time in more often, and you will be amazed at your progress. Keeping a positive attitude about your progress will breed more progress. Let your days be filled with good choices and good thoughts. Then your body and soul will be happier and more content with where you are. Don't focus on the long trip, the many miles ahead of you, instead focus on the day or even the moment. Have one good day with your horse, and tomorrow becomes more enjoyable, and that leads to an even better next day. As you enjoy the journey, you'll soon discover how ea[...]

End of first week with Pip


Introduced Pip to the snaffle bit yesterday. I took the reins off the bridle and put the halter on over the top of the bridle and continued with normal ground work and liberty round penning. She did the typical chewing getting it under her tongue etc. I ignored it all and let her work it out. Oh and I also did the rope around the butt, follow the feel exercise, mixed with some friendly with ropes around her legs etc. This all went according to the book. No big issues. This morning after the normal warm up; greeting, haltering, flexion, backing out of stall and moving HQ and FQ over, some million dollar moves, and backing in circles. I turned her loose in the round pen, she was full of energy today so I upped the games with her saying if you want to go fast, me too, I like that idea, and by the way let’s see how athletic you can be by changing directions at fast speeds. She got pretty hot and sweaty while I smiled calmly working a lot less in the middle. When she decided to settle and join with me, I gave her a nice long break to cool down. Gave her plenty of scratches and brought her a bucket of water. Then I did a little invisible line driving which was lovely because our connection is coming along very well. I put the halter back on did a few transitions on the circle and she was much more relaxed and responsive. Then I took the halter off and put the bridle on with the long lines. I started with contact on only one line and slowly progressed to having two, she did really well. Then I started changing directions, she was more resistant when turning to the right but when I stayed in time with her feet using good timing and release it wasn’t long before she softened both directions. Next I started stopping her, again there was some resistance in there but I was able work it out real quick, also aiding with my breath and seat. Went back to some circles and then change of direction all at the walk. I checked to see if we still had a smooth stop before I started working on just a step or two of backwards feel. . This came pretty easy because all the other pieces were in place. So it was time to ask for the trot and do some transitions, she was a pro, looking real pretty with some nice lines, good impulsion, flexion, balance and rhythm. Called it quits on a very very good note. This all took about 1 ½ hours. The pm session was the best one we have had yet. She was really acting like a partner the whole time. Did a very short version of this mornings warm up after saddling her. Neither one of us were sweating a bit, she decided it is much easier to just be a willing relaxed partner. No bridle tonight. My main focus was to see if she could transition into the canter on the 22 foot line without any bucking, squirts, and not increase the speed into a gallop. If she could do this, I was prepared to ride her tonight. She did it perfect both directions. This is the first time she didn’t even give a thought to bucking. So to the mounting block we went. Didn’t take long to get her standing exactly where I wanted her. Mounted and dismounted several times. Did some lateral bending and moving the HQ. Walked around a little and by then it was dark, and the bulls were starting to freak both of us out a little. My brother’s bull and the neighbor’s bull were having a yelling match the precursor to a fight and my place is in the middle. I won’t be shocked if the fences are down in the morning. Anyway, we quit when all was well. The first week is under our belts and I am very happy with her progress. I gave her two days off which is unusual for me but I had to man a booth at the state fair on Friday for the Burwell Chamber, and Sun. before church I took a family trail riding who were staying in the bunkhouse and then after church I took my parents to the horse races in Columbus. However the days I have worked her she has gotten two session each day[...]

3rd Day with Pip


Had a 3 hour session with Pip this morning it wasn't as cool as last night but not as hot as the first day. Again I strove to work smarter not harder. I also focused on pretending I didn't have any tools. How much can I get accomplished with just my thoughts and body? I also slowed way down, waiting for the golden licks and chews often even if it took a few minutes to get them. The more soak and relaxation time I give each horse the more then want to perform me and understand I am on their side.

Started the morning off with where we left off last night; synchronized walking (with saddle on). When way better this morning, she is stopping with my breath and seat now, and it doesn't matter which side I am on, it is equally good.

Then reviewed life up life down, and circle with human in neutral giving the horse 100% responsibility to stay in gait, don't change directions, watch where you are going and by the way keep a float in the rope. Still took longer than I wanted it too, but I remained patient. Aiding her only when necessary, rewarding the slightest tries. Also worked a little on Yo Yo. Being sure that she floated back like a boat moving away from the dock. Lots of soak time on each end of the yo yo, creating sweet spots.

Started teaching backing in a circle. First couple of times she had some brace in her rib cage and didn't feel like bending. But I used the barrel for a focus and she soon found how easy it was to go around the barrel when she softened and bent her body while keeping the impulsion backwards.

Took her with me to do some other horse chores like putting out hay for my horses, filling water tanks, moving hay bales etc. She was like my partner. I just put the lead in my pocket and went about my work. Let her have a nice drink and a little hand grazing before going to the round pen for our final work out of the day, where the focus was proper posture and free forward movement with some flexion.

Ended in the round pen, instead of starting in the round pen just to keep things fresh and unpredictable, yet keeping my communication and fairness very consistent and dependable. So in other words using repetition for security in learning yet variety for motivation for willingness to learn and practice.

Really worked on shaping her body up while in the round pen, not just letting her run around without purpose, focus and form. It again took longer than I predicted but we were able to quit on a very good note. The lesson for the day for anyone reading this is SLOW DOWN be PATIENT and CONSISTENT, your horse will love you for it.

Happy Trails,

Pip's Beginning


Pip arrived yesterday. It was hot, humid and no breeze. But despite the weather conditions we proceeded to get to know one another. She is a beautiful three year old appaloosa owned by Donna, who has raised some very fine appaloosas. I have had the privilege of working with a couple of other horses she has raised, one included the sire of this fine filly. Not only is she pretty and built well, she has a good mind. She may be a little snotty and opinionated at times, but for the most part she really would rather just get along and go with the flow. I think she is going to be fun. We started in the round pen at liberty. I just let her go stood in the middle and watched her, leaving her to just be a horse. I carefully observed where her attention was, how she was moving her body, and what she choose to do when left on her own. She was pretty relaxed, she found a few blades of grass near the edge of the round pen to nibble on. Her attention was quite divided between me, grass and my horses on the other side of the trees out in the pasture. She has beautiful balanced and relaxed movements. After a while I asked her to move out at the trot, that is when the snotty started, head tossing, shaking, and even kicking out at me. So each time she was snotty I asked her to move a little faster and as soon as she soften I asked her to turn and face me by backing off the pressure, NOT chasing her HQ. She was good at turning and facing but didn't want to move towards me in the middle. So I made the effort to go to her and play some nice friendly game. I also played a backing game using steady pressure, plus moving the FQ a little. When I asked her to move out again, I was very particular about staying as subtle as possible. I was working smarter not harder. I was choosing to do as little as possible in order to get maximum results from her. It didn't take her long to figure out it was easy to go with the flow. Now remind you it is very hot out, and so I am doing my very best to get this all done without any sweat from either of us. It is working. As she is turning and facing so well, but choosing to stay on the rail, I keep working on the draw. She is finding that I am a darn good deal and choosing me more often. The center has become our sweet spot and we both enjoy our time together there. When she chooses and stays with me three times in a row, we call it a good day. But I don't just go put her away. Donna says she is food motivated. So I go to the pasture to hand graze her. Here comes my herd to check out the new horse. I use my stick to chase them off and she learns to read me not the stick. We become a herd of two and the magic has begun. Pips second session on the first day started at 8:00 pm. It is still hot, humid, no breeze and not much cooler than it was this morning, but we press on anyway. I make sure she touches me first at her gate. I am particular about her lowering and turning her head to me while I put the halter on. Spend some time with friendly scratches. Move the HQ over to position her butt to back out of the gate. Ask her to back out of her pen, which will be her habit for the next 30 days. I put the 22 foot lead rope on and head to the arena. She wants to lead me a bit on the way, so I remind her that we are going together as a team, practicing my synchronized walking. Everything you do with a horse matters. And you are continually either developing poor or good habits for you and your horse. It is your choice, but you must pay attention in order to develop good habits. Upon arrival at the arena she thinks it is more interesting to pay attention to the other horses than to me. So we play a little attention game and work on the million dollar move (move the HQ then the FQ through). When she has softened and paying attention to me, we begin life up, life down exercises, mixed with frie[...]

Think About What You're Thinking About


Dear Horse Lovers,I've been studying the mind for a long time. As a teacher I am very interested in the brain and how it works and how we learn. Over the winter I have been reading a lot of books on this subject.The more I learn the more I realize how important our thought life is. I remember Ray Hunt repeating the words "Think, have a plan." over and over at the clinic when I rode with him. And I recently rode with Buck Braanaman and when one student asked him "How did you do that?" He said, "I thought it." Have you ever thought something and your horse just did it? I know some of my students have experienced this. Thoughts are powerful and they have creative ability. So it is critical that we think about what we think about.I don't think it is very likely to have a positive life if you have a negative mind. If you struggle with negative thinking, it's important for you to come to grips with the fact that your life won't change until your thinking does. I have learned not to think about every thought that falls into my head. I decide whether it is a profitable thought or not and if it is not I simply throw it out, and I don't allow my mind to dwell upon it. Then I start thinking about things that are true, honorable, just, and honest. I consciously think about things that build myself and others up instead of tearing them down. This includes any horse I am working with.It may take a little time to develop the discipline of taking your thoughts captive. It may happen little by little just like we develop our horses little by little over time with good habits. Don't criticize yourself when you have setbacks in your thinking patterns, just get back up, dust yourself off and start again.Sometimes people come to me for lessons or bring their horse to me because they are discouraged about their progress. My job is to equip them with tools in their horsemanship skills and more importantly to encourage them to keep moving forward. Some people are afraid to be positive or hopeful because of past hurts or failures in life. But the pathway to freedom begins when we face the problem without making excuses for it, and then begin to change our thinking about it. You don't have to allow the old things that have happened to you and your horse to keep affecting your relationship and progress forward.I can't promise the journey will be easy, that you will never be disappointed, or that things will always turn out exactly the way you want them to. But you DO HAVE THE POWER TO THINK AND BE POSITIVE AND MOVE FORWARD if you so choose to replace your fear with hope.No matter how negative your thoughts are or how long they've been that way, I know you can change. I can promise you that it will be worth it if you make the effort to think about what you're thinking about. This has helped me to succeed in so many ways. But don't forget that the thinking will then have to be followed with positive actions that match those positive thoughts.If you are struggling in any area of your horsemanship or even in your personal life, our camps will help you transform your thinking and we will encourage you to be the best you can be. Hope to see you this summer at one of our many camps. Please check out our calendar and sign up now.Happy trails,Sherry[...]

No Matter What!


Dear Horse Lovers,Throughout the course of a horse's life both positive and negative things happen to them. Some of those things are very damaging to the horse's willingness to interact in a safe and acceptable way with humans. It is heartbreaking to me when I see a horse operating with high defense mechanisms. They are simply doing it for self-preservation and survival. People who are ignorant of the horse's survival needs and effective ways to communicate with the horse are normally the cause of this. The horse is struggling with fears, confusion, lack of trust and respect for humans.I had a horse like this in training during April. I am very happy at the dramatic changes that happened in her in just over a month. But I spent over 100 hours with her in order to break the chain of fear and confusion which caused her to be scared and defensive. Through a lot of relationship building exercises I gained both her trust and respect. She looked like a different horse when she left here both physically and emotionally.I was patient with her, no matter what. I took the time it took with her, no matter what. I worked with her consistently every day, no matter what. I gave her enough repetition and variety, no matter what. I expected the best from her, no matter what. I never got frustrated or angry with her, no matter what.I preserved her dignity and curiosity, no matter what. I remained calm and stable for her, no matter what. I focused on her confidence, no matter what. I was crystal clear with her, no matter what. I was soft as possible and firm as necessary, no matter what. I did not 't give up on her, no matter what. I know it may sound impossible that I was able to do all of these things but it is true. I am not perfect; however, I have taught and disciplined myself to be very serious about doing whatever is necessary to help a horse come around, no matter what.Going at a slower pace than I wanted to with this horse actually paid off much more than I ever thought it would. In the end I was very pleased with her overall progress and I know that she has a new confidence in herself and would like to be a willing partner given half a chance to do so. Once again I realized going slower is actually faster.No matter what issues you or your horse may have there are workable solutions. However, depending on the severity of the issue it may take a lot of time and effort in order to get to the other side. You will find great satisfaction from overcoming these issues and by taking it to the next level with your horse.I became very attached to Babe this month and it is was very hard to part with her. But I know her owner also has her best interest in mind and will do all that she can to continue what I started in Babe. Babe was not the only beneficiary here, I gained another opportunity to take my horsemanship to the next level by working with her.After I fulfill the obligations I have already committed to, I am not taking any more horses this year. I really want to take my horses to the next level. I have had very little time in the last couple of years to work with my own horses because I am always so busy riding everyone else's horses, and solving their problems for them. However, help is still available because I am still doing camps, clinics and lessons. One of these avenues is a great way for you to take it to the next level with your horse.I will take horses again next April. I love working in the cool spring weather even when it rains and snows. And I hope to work on my second book during the heat this summer, when I prefer being inside with the air-conditioner.I hope you have another great riding year, having more fun than ever and staying safe, no matter what. Happy Trails,Sherry [...]

Affordable Horse Vacations


Whether you show, are new to horses, have lost your confidence or simply want a safe and quiet mount to trail ride, our clinics, camps or lessons are for you!!! I am all about safety and creating a "partnership" with your horse. I am a full certified instructor for American Asso. of Horsemanship Safety, Inc. By attending one of our events you will learn to understand how to work through any situation that may arise between you and your horse. Knowing why your horse does what he does is the first step in creating a willing relationship based on mutual trust and respect. The result will be a well trained "partner" and will always result in a safer and more fulfilling relationship for you and your horse. I will use proven methods I have learned from other great trainers like Buck Brannamen, Ray Hunt, Richard Winters, Jack Brainard, and Pat Parelli, (a few that I have actually ridden with) in order to teach participants how to achieve: A "yes" attitude in your horse Respect, trust and control Softness and suppleness with the bit Collection and lateral/vertical flexion Softness and suppleness with leg and seat cues Balance in both horse and rider Some of the topics covered and issues dealt with will include: Ground MannersDe-spooking Headshyness Standing Still While Mounting Biting Kicking Bucking Bolting Rearing Head Tossing Pulling Back Leads Great Stops Smooth Gait Transitions And much, much more!!! If you are interested in more information about attending one of our events go to our website at When you come out to Burwell to one of our very affordable camps you will be surprised at how much you get for your dollar. The clinics which I mentioned above that I have attended on average were $600 for about 12 hours of instruction and did not include lodging, food or stalls for my horse. So that is always an extra expense, which can really add up when you stay in motels and I have paid up to $40/night for a stall for my horse. For about the same price at one of our camps you will get over double the amount of instruction from me which is very individualized because I keep the groups small on purpose. (Only about 6-8 people as compared to 25-30 participants in other clinics). Plus I include in the price very comfortable lodging in our bunkhouse, nice stalls for your horse, and beautiful scenery on free trail rides each day. (Meals are optional for some of our camps). So if you are looking for a summer vacation where you can enjoy your horse or one of mine, give me a call. You can come and just ride trails, or participate in a horsemanship camp for learning, or even sign up for a Spirit Horse Retreat where you let the horse teach you about yourself and God. We do private camps upon request. Call to find out available dates. So if you want to come with a friend and design your own camp, let me know. The bunkhouse is full from June 15-30th. But starting July 1st I have some openings. Here is a testimony from a gal in Florida who attended a camp and she doesn't even own a horse. Had the good fortune of participating in one of Sherry's amazing clinics 2 years ago... the experience was a life changer. The lessons learned go far beyond you and a/your horse. I continue to practice and reflect on my experiences, thank...s Sherry! Oh, I augmented my "camp" experience with a few days working with Sherry and her herd. I stayed in town... again, I cannot tell you how special the time was and how much I learned. Don't pass this up! So if your looking for an affordable horse vacation give us a call. Happy Trails, Sherry [...]

Watch Your Words!


Here it is the 14th of June. This is the latest date I have ever sent out my monthly newsletter. It normally comes between the 1st and 5th of each month and I have met that deadline every month for nearly 7years now. That is a lot of writing and articles. However I have a good excuse for being late this time. Many of you know that on May 19th my Dad had a heart attack and he is still not out of the hospital. However, we are hoping he can come home by this Fri.On June 9th my parents celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary in the hospital. What a great accomplishment to be so in love and devoted to one another for over half a century. I have a thing or two to learn from them about relationships. They seem to always be there for each other no matter what. They always speak good words about one another. It is amazing how powerful words are. I saw this quote on facebook and I believe it is so true. Watch your thoughts: They become words.Watch your words: They become actions.Watch your actions: They become character.Watch your character: It will become your destiny.How does this relate to horsemanship? We really have to watch our thoughts and actions around horses, because they have this uncanny way of nearly reading your mind. But technically they don't read your mind, however they are so darn good at observing your body language they just as well be reading your mind. And words we say about our horses and our own horsemanship abilities can somehow become self fulfilling prophesies. So be careful what you say. I think a horse knows our character even better than we do. Because he knows what happens before what happens, happens. What is your destiny with your horse? You can create that destiny by paying more attention to your thoughts, words and actions.I recently said that I wasn't taking any more horses in training at my place until 2012 so I had more time for my own. Another example of being careful what you say. I had to eat my words because last Sun. a nice little black mustang named Husker came to live with me for the next month. When these people called it just seemed the right thing to do to help them on their journey. I have already had a great time with Husker in just 3 days. The owners are going to be spending a lot of time in training with Husker, because they realize that they need the training even more than he does. So it will be an enjoyable month teaching both horse and owners who are so willing to learn and be the best they can be.It is exciting to have so many people coming out to Burwell to stay in my bunkhouse to learn along with their horse instead of just sending the horse for training and expecting him and I to do all the hard work. I have 5 more people coming this month to do exactly that. Then at the end of the month is the parent youth camp, which will be fun.I have given my bunkhouse a name, "Horse Lovers Bunkhouse". I purchased some signs and brochures for it recently and am excited to see them and get them hung up. It is very cute and comfortable. You don't need to bring your own bedding, towels, or dishes, all is provided. Just bring your own personal toiletries, food, clothes, and an attitude of learning and fun. We have air-conditioning, but no TV, don't worry you won't have time to watch one anyway. However we do have wireless internet access. I hope you get the chance to come visit us this year. Happy Trails,Sherry [...]

Report from Parent/Youth Camp June 2011


By Anne Burkholder Megan and I had a wonderful time at Sherry's Youth Horse camp this week. We satdown tonight and she recited some of the things that she learned.1. Don't ever over-correct your horse b/c it makes him stop.2. Always have control of your horse. (Keep them between your legs)3. When you are doing ground games or riding, take your time. Don't rush yourhorse and always reward the slightest try.4. When something is hard, don't ever give up. Stay positive, Get creative, Bepatient!5. Attitude—have a good one!6. Be confident, Be a leader!7. Have fun and be interested—your horse will too!8. Fun with horses also comes with responsibility.9. Don't let your horse get in your bubble-protect your space so that your horserespects you.10. Don't pull your horse, push him!11. One reign stop! Lateral bending with softness.12. Nose, neck, maybe feet.13. There are four distinct phases---hair, skin, muscle, then bone.14. When backing, the way that you move your hand will determine which directionhis butt goes.15. Never get frustrated when your horse is yanking your chain.16. When backing while riding: keep your hands in front of the saddle horn withtightened reins, roll your hips backwards by rolling your belly button back, andlift your hands.17. Two pointing is awesome and I can't wait to gallop!18. Never lean forward in the saddle.19. When your horse has a bad expression with his ears, fix that before you askfor anything else.20. Do not touch your saddle or your horse's butt with your leg when climbing inand out of the saddle.21. Always balance your relationship with friendly!22. What you don't do on the ground, you shouldn't do in the saddle.23. There are 7 ground games: friendly, porcupine, driving, yo-yo, circling ,side passing, squeeze24. Have a set routine when asking your horse to pick up his feet—pinch insteadof push. When you ask for a back foot—stay out of the kick zone and bend hisneck toward you. Don't release until he gives you what you ask for!25. Use your entire body to direct your horse.26. Lead and ride your horse like a QUEEN.27. Be particular!28. Be a partner, not a predator.29. Don't let your horse wallow when you are on his back!30. FOCUS (pay attention to your horse) and have a PLAN!Thanks so much to Sherry for a great camp. Horses are such a wonderful thing toshare, and they teach great "life lessons".AnneYouth Parent Camp: July 21-23 As of today I don't have anyone signed up for this camp. It will be a first come first serve basis whether I stay home for the camp or go to Omaha and Lincoln for monthly private lessons that weekend. If you read the above report you will see it is a great camp for both parent and child. The list of things that Anne and Megan learned is very detailed. This camp is a great value as the parent instruction is virtually free. So it is a two for one as far as the instruction fee is concerned. Carol another grandmother who came said she thinks she learned more than her granddaughter. It is a great way to bond with both your horse and a child. [...]

A More Excellent Way


Do you need help with getting your horse to stand still for mounting, bridling, trailer loading, crossing water, taking a lead, slowing down, speeding up, stopping, or a million other things you wished your horse did better? Or maybe you are ready to take it to the next level with collection and refinement. Whatever you are searching for to make your life better with your horse, I am sure that we can assist in a way that will allow both you and your horse to be happier.I am always pursuing excellence in both my horsemanship and teaching skills which is why I also continue my education through clinics, seminars, classes, etc. Excellence as I define it is a general consistent state of high quality. It brings to my mind an unmatched performance, someone with unusual expertise who demonstrates consistent high-quality performance. We often think that to be the best at something we have to be naturally gifted or talented. But experience has taught me that talent, while it can be important is not the main ingredient for excellence.I believe that no matter what area of life you want to improve you can develop it to a level of excellence with a little know-how and a lot of effort even if you are not particularly gifted in that area. The primary pathway to excellence in any endeavor has three main ingredients, none of which depends solely on talent.# 1. Find Your Passion:Well I believe you would not be reading this if you didn't have a passion for horses. People of excellence love what they do. I am sure you love riding horses, so I challenge you to learn how to fuel the fire that keeps moving you forward in your skills as a horseman.You can spot a really passionate horseman seeking excellence, here are some things you may observe: They put their whole heart into itThey are attentive and undistractedThey work with maximum energy needed for the taskThey are consistentThey have a positive attitudeThey put in the time it takesThey are willing to take small and gradual steps In life the prize goes not to the person who is the smartest or the most talented; it often goes to the person with passion. Are you passionate about being excellent at trail riding, barrel racing, dressage, jumping, cutting, roping, showing, or just developing a relationship with your horse where you can both have fun and be safe? If you are passionate, that is wonderful. You are off to a good start, and that is the easy part, but the next step is the hard part.# 2. Never Cease PracticingPassion won't take you anywhere unless you combine it with disciplined practice. Successful people like the Beatles, Bill Gates, any great horseman like Chris Cox, Clinton Anderson, Buck Braneman, Peter Campbell, Pat Parelli, Bill or Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Walter Zettle, Lynn Palm, Karen Rolhf, Charmayn James, you just pick the one you think is great; they have all put in thousands of hours of practice before making a big splash. Nobody cruises to the top on natural giftedness alone.Malcolm Gladwell writes, "Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good." I don't consider myself as having made a big splash yet, but if people knew how hard I had to work to gain the mastery I have, it would not seem so wonderful at all. Learning is only the first part. The real key is putting that learning into practice that leads to excellence. You can't just read about how to fix your horses problems and expect it to just happen. You can't just watch a video about how to train or ride a horse and be able to do it very well the right away. You need to perform what you have learned over and over and over again to perfect the skill.# 3. Honor Your Values:Passion and practice br[...]

Independence and Liberty


Free Yourself to Experience the Joy of Horses at Liberty! But be smart about it; preserve the horse’s dignity and your safety. Since I am writing this on the 4th of July I decided to write about the fine art of dancing with your horse at liberty. It is truly a beautiful sight when done in a way which allows the horse to perform from joy with natural enthusiasm and expressive movement while looking to the person for leadership. A horse at true liberty is free to engage every moment in the process of building meaningful relationships. When a horse is at liberty the handler can shape his character, confidence and curiosity for learning or he can destroy those valuable qualities. I recently had a person spend over a week with me who has been struggling for a few years to get her horse to perform at liberty with her. It can be very frustrating when your horse keeps leaving you at very high speeds. Then you slap the ground and chase him hoping to disengage his hindquarters to get him to look at you. After doing this enough times it becomes a great game for the horse and an undesirable habit is developed, one which will be very hard to break. The worst thing you can do to see if you can dance with your horse at liberty is to take off your halter go to the round corral, turn him loose and see what happens. If all you have ever done with a round pen is watch a famous clinician work in one a time or two, chances are neither you nor your horse are prepared to have a successful first experience. The second worst thing you can do is form a habit of chasing the horse rather than drawing the horse to you. It is the draw that you must perfect and that means the release is more important than the pressure, not the other way around. The general perception of liberty training is a system which applies nearly constant pressure to the horse in a small confined area like a round pen. The person is often quite aggressive, snapping a whip with forced manipulations along the fence line. The horse may come to the person in the middle because his lungs are burning bad enough that he needs relief. It is often a chase game with lots of hard pressure, change of directions and hopefully release of the pressure at the right time to cause the horse to stop look at the person and hopefully move towards the person. And even this can look impressive to some folks. It seems the adult trainer is often very pragmatic in his approach and everything has to be cut and dried. He thinks, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” But what if…. · training could be more than simply a person's will forcefully imposed on the horse or a person begging with carrots? · the horse could have a real voice and truly participate actively in his training? · there could be a mutually shared partnership between you and the horse, based on a system of communica­tion both could understand equally? · in the process, the training time was dramati­cally reduced while results were signifi­cantly amplified? Would you do it? Would you be willing to change your thoughts and actions? Rather than forcing specific behavior from the horse… What if…. · We could be more free in our approach, simpler, maybe even childlike with a magical quality. · We had a proven system based on the actual language horses use to communicate with each other. · We focused on the horse's language, which is spoken through body movement, eye contact and touch, not sound or verbal cues. · We fostered a healthy ego in the horse, stimulating his desire to learn, enhanced his natural curiosity and motivated him[...]

Support Your Horse


Support Your Horse My journal entries from Riding in Buck Braanaman Clinic March 11-14, 2011 March 11:I love little Sorry so much. I've known that she was ultra sensitive and that I need to have better feel for her. My big blinding flash of the obvious is preparing her for the transition by changing the way I collect my reins so she does not brace.We started the day with the all important lateral flexion at the stand still. Buck was very particular about how the horse bent. Just cranking the horse's head around was not acceptable. If we want to be great horsemen we had better learn how to do this with finesse. We concentrated on rewarding the horse's slightest try.We worked on three elements in the flexion; elevation of the poll above the withers, ears staying level (the horizontal plane) and the nose slightly tipped or (the face on the vertical plane). Oh and we didn't over bend them either, just 90 degrees. We recognized any time the horse was correct in one dimension, not expecting him to accomplish all three elements at once. First we asked for one of the elements to be performed very well, then two and maybe eventually all three elements would come together for a moment. We didn't expect the horse to start out perfect, but should always be working towards perfection with all three dimensions of the vertical flexion.We sat still for quite some time working on this exercise. Patience is a virtue of every great horseman. If you were in a hurry at this clinic then you were in the wrong place. Like every horseman I have ridden with they each have stressed the importance of bending the head. Buck was more particular than any other person I have ridden with about us taking the time to really get this good. And he stressed all weekend that we should continually be working on it with every horse. After the lateral flexion was working for us a little better then we also worked on the soft feel while standing still.We were instructed to first asked the horse to elevate the poll and give us a soft feel before walking out. Plus be sure your horse left straight. We did a lot of serpentines using our legs first then supporting with the reins. The inside leg was back and the outside leg forward. While performing a serpentine make sure the whole horse is making the corners and impulsion is maintained. After the serpentines were working for us a little we then began to ask for the same soft feel while continuing the serpetine work.Next we worked on stopping from the walk taking extra care to be sure we asked for the soft feel before stopping the horse. After everyone was getting their horses to stop a little better, we stopped the horse then waited for the horse to settle before asking for a soft feel again and a back up. Again we were instructed to focus on elevating the shoulders to get the backward impulsion where the hind quarter is pulling like an engine. The next step was to transition right from the walk to stop to backup with smoothness.Again my blinding flash of the obvious was in my preparation for the transition in order to keep Sorry from bracing. It is always about the feel we are able to present to the horse. Sorry fell in love with a Buckskin horse, whom she must have thought was like her buddy Cisco back home. She was talking to him whenever she could. She slowed up whenever she was by him, hoping to stay with him, and tried to speed up whenever he wasn't nearby. Buck talked about how horses are fresh first rides in the spring and we need to support them more. They will quit being buddy or barn sour when we are able to support them in a positive way. The more we are their leader the less t[...]

Report Card Time


Picture by James IngramReport Card Time By Sherry JarvisHere we are at then end of our series about CAWA. The acronym we have been exploring the last few months in the feature article of the monthly newsletter. We have looked at C-Calmness; A-Attentiveness; and W-Willingness of both the human and the horse. As we arrive at the last desirable character quality I would like you to burn these anchor words into your mind, so that any time you are working with your horse you are giving yourself and your horse a grade in each category.Observe your horse with keen eyes, scan over his body does he get an A+ or an F for calmness at this moment. Just because he is standing still may not mean he is calm. It could be the calm before the storm. Maybe the horse deserves an A for calmness but he is blowing you off and therefore deserves an F for attentiveness.Perhaps you deserve an F for attentiveness because your horse may be trying his heart out for you, but you keep pressuring him too hard instead of becoming clearer for him, and then when he finally blows you wonder what happened. You became to direct-lined in your thinking, thus you missed the signs because you were not paying attention to the horse in the right way. Therefore you earned an F in attentiveness and now you are assigned a do-over lesson. You have to start back at the beginning again in order to re-teach the horse in a way that makes sense to him. Sometimes a horse has to do some unlearning of bad habits before you can teach him the new and desirable habits. And sometimes the human has some unlearning to do too! How many do-over lessons do you want to be assigned? Becoming more adaptable in your approach will lead to fewer do-overs.Then there is the horse which has high marks for calmness and attentiveness, but fails in the willingness department, because you haven’t figured out how to motivate him yet. So he just kind of stands around looking at you with his tongue stuck out at you like “Ha, Ha, bet you can’t make me do that, others have tried and failed, what ya got that they didn’t have?” So don’t forget you might need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone to find ways to help motivate this horse to want to perform for you. As you can see it is a two way street, I am grading myself as well as the horse on how we are doing in each character trait. Now we come to the last letter of the acronym A-Adaptability. I have never had anyone come to me for help because their horse will do anything they ask calmly, attentively and willingly, no matter how the situation or circumstances change.Adaptability means being able to adjust or be flexible to changing situations and circumstances. It is the ability to change (or be changed) to fit changed circumstances.When a person is adaptable and flexible it shows that one can act in a way that encourages change at any or all times. In today’s challenging times, this is more important than ever. A great leader can be many things; but most great leaders do not fall apart when they are faced with change and adversity. They are not so fixated on one way or one thing that they are not willing to explore new ideas and different solutions to old problems. Adapting to a situation, surroundings, culture, or idea does not require you to lose originality but it expects you to assert yourself in a way which makes you welcome to it and the people or in this case the horse involved.Some consider that a person’s ability to show adaptability and flexibility is essentially a part of their emotional intelligence. I think it also shows a horse’s emotional stability. In [...]

Stubborn, Bored, Scared, Confused, or Willing


Stubborn, Bored, Scared, Confused or WillingOver the past few months I have been sharing an acronym CAWA in the feature articles of the newsletter. We have covered C-Calmness and A-Attentiveness of the horse and the human. In Dec. the article titled "The Heart Regulates the Hands" the willingness of the human was discussed. If you have missed these articles you can read them on my blog.This month I will focus on W-Willingness again, the willingness of the horse. Of course, this is a no brainer. Who doesn't want a willing horse? I have never heard someone say, "I need to sell this horse he is just too willing, he wants to please me all the time." In fact the opposite is usually true, if you have a horse who is so willing and tolerant that he will do just about anything you ask without any resistance, this is the horse you cherish and rarely put up for sale, unless you are hopelessly desperate for cash. Let me start by reminding you of the qualities of willingness.The horse is: • easy to get along with (he just seems eager to do what you ask without reluctance)• ready to act voluntarily (there is no need to force him with external pressure, phase four is rarely necessary)• enthusiastic to cooperate (as long as he understands he complies without hesitation)• prompt to act or respond (he does not drag his feet, or fight against requests)• cheerful and freely offers his obedience (his ears are forward with a soft eye, sometimes all you have to do is think or point and the horse says yes)• agreeable or favorable disposed in his mind (he does not switch his tail, bite, kick out, or lay ears back at you)• prepared to act on his own accord (the horse will ask questions, like “What is next?” He is seeking what the right answer is and can work things out on his own)I doubt that there was ever a horse born who was perfect and could live up to every one of these qualities all of the time. However, there are some horses which are born more willing than others. Of course environment and learned behavior also plays a role in the temperament of a horse. It is our job to help the horse to be more willing no matter what his inborn characteristic or learned behaviors happen to be. Sometimes horses are described as stubborn or bored, scared or crazy, confused or stupid, and even downright naughty or mischievous. So how do we get a stubborn, bored, scared, confused, or naughty horse to be the willing partner we dream of?If we want to influence and win people or horse’s hearts so they are more willing to do whatever we ask of them, then we must first find out what they need to overcome fears or weaknesses, and then discover what motivates them. If we can give them what they need and inspire them with a reward that is meaningful to them the chances of them being willing to do things for and with us will be greatly improved. We need to be the one who is flexible, change to fit their needs and provide motivation, so therein lies the first challenge. Are you willing to change to fit their needs? If you are, then the second challenge will become quite interesting. It will involve a great amount of careful observation with a little trial and error to discover what is needed, what motivates, what works and what doesn’t. But that is what makes it exciting and rewarding for you. When you finally see what is needed, what motivates, and find what works it is very satisfying. I believe the most difficult horse for me to work with is one who is stubborn or bored rather than one who is scared and crazy. Because once you get a scared and crazy horse ca[...]

Happy New Year Dreams


As we embark on the New Year, I want to remind you that dreams and goals can be realized. So I wanted to share with you my story in hopes that it will inspired you to follow your dreams in 2011 no matter how hard it seems.Even before I quit my teaching job six years ago to pursue my dream I had a vision of where this adventure was going a long, long time ago. The dream actually started when I was a very tiny girl with my first pony Ginger. My Dad believed in me and told me over and over I could do anything I set my mind to and I believed him. This is the beginning of any dream, believing you can do it!The dream started to take a deeper root after college while teaching in a little one room school in the middle of the Sand hills near Whitman, NE. I found a new reason for living besides my own selfish ways through the happy faces of eight little cowboys and cowgirls. The sweet kids in that school didn't have much financially; in fact most would call it poverty, for some lived without electricity, or indoor plumbing. One little boy came to school smelling so bad I would take his clothes over to my trailer during recess to wash them, and give him some of mine to wear. He brought pork fat sandwiches for lunch, so I bought him Ramen Noodles and apples for lunch and gave him free guitar lessons after school. This little boy and the other kids really changed how I looked at life and caused me to think about whom I was and what I had. I rode horses with them after school and these kids were my only friends at this time in my life and they blessed me. One of the little brothers, only four years old could ride better than most adults I knew. My Dad had taught me to believe in myself but these kids taught me about believing in others. Before moving to MT I had a great opportunity to work at Howard Pitzer Ranch near Ericson NE. It was like a dream job. I was handed a groomed saddled horse that a cowboy had ridden once or twice and was told to get them going. I learned a few more pieces of the puzzle that I needed to know by watching Gary Putman, Howard's professional trainer at the other end of the arena. We rarely talked but I observed everything he did carefully. I thought I had arrived and I put myself up on a pedestal. But about the time one thinks this the rug seems to get pulled out from under them. Before my pride got out of hand I set out on a new adventure which was more like a wandering in the wilderness. Searching for what I thought I wanted but more importantly finding what I needed.After the move to MT my dreams seemed to be put on hold while I was being trained for the things I would need to understand and experience in order for the dream to take shape. I worked for a reining trainer where I learned how little I really knew. But his ways were rough and cruel and it just didn't feel right. I felt alone at this time on my horsemanship journey like nobody really understood me. I knew I was missing a very big piece of the puzzle, but I wasn't sure what it was, where to get it, or even how to receive it. One of the things I have learned about dreams is that once you think you know where it is and how to get it you still have to learn how to receive it. I also experienced some painful losses during this time which gave me more compassion towards others.Through more unforeseen circumstance I moved to TX and then to NV. My precious horses were left behind in MT while I lived in TX for about six months, then a year later I finally brought them back to me in NV. I was further away from the dream than I had ever been, a[...]

Jan. 2011 Newsletter


As I write this newsletter with only two more days left in 2010 it is lightly snowing. The last three days it was in the 40’s and even up to 50 so I took full advantage of the beautiful weather by riding my horses. However, my office work has taken a back seat for way too long and I will discipline myself the following weeks to get caught up. As I look back over the past 12 months I am so thankful for all the wonderful people and their horses who shared their horsemanship journey with me. I think I learned as much as they did as I taught and helped both horse and rider develop their relationship and skills. One of the things I hear people say when they talk about instructors they have had, they want a person who will listen to them, encourage them, and teach them from where they are not from where the clinician is. So this year I am working on my listening skills for both the horse and the rider so that I can break things down and teach them from exactly where they are, not where they think they should be, or where I want them to be. However, I do know that sometimes this may cause the person to be discouraged, especially if they are not where they think they should be. So I will hone in and work on my encouragement skills (or in horse language, reward the slightest try) in order to support the person to keep on moving forward one step at a time even if there are obstacles in our path. I will work with the person and horse to either work around these obstacles, learn to deal with them, or move these obstacles out of our way. Each year Heart in Your Hand Horsemanship has grown and evolved in different ways. In the past couple of years some additions have been my book “Win Your Horse’s Heart” (Be a Better Horseman) was published and this year we added a new bunk house for you to stay in when you come to our place for lessons, clinics, trail rides, camps, internship, or to bring your horse for 30 days of training. We also have nice new individual pens for your horse, a round pen, and playground. In 2011 we will hold any camp with only 4 or 5 people in the new Bunkhouse. Camps with over 4 or 5 people will still be held at Calamus Outfitters. In fact the May 9-12 Camp is already full with 8 people. It will be exciting as it is a camp with both husbands and wives coming together. Another first, well we have had Dad’s come to the parent youth camps before. 2011 will be another year of firsts, growth and change as we evolve to meet the needs of horse lovers. This winter, I am working on another book, but this one is a spiral bound workbook, with step by step exercises to help you build an even better relationship with your horse. In addition to our monthly private lessons trip to Omaha and Lincoln, a yearly week in WY at the Carter Ranch, plus clinics anywhere upon request, we are also offering several new camps formats this year which include: • Horsemanship & Trail Obstacles Camp: will include groundwork, de-spooking, horsemanship skills, and a variety of trail obstacles and fun trail rides. A friendly competition for extra motivation. • Trail Ride Camp: is for people, who are not interested in lessons, they just want a really cool place to trail ride. We provide the lodging for both horses and humans, the land to ride on, lease horse if needed, and the wrangler to guide you. Bring the whole family or a group of your friends. Space limited to small groups of 6-8. • Spirit Horse Retreat Camp: is for those who want to grow spiritually and they love horses. I have found that [...]

Against All Odds


Last month I continued the discussion about the acronym CAWA (Calmness, Attentiveness, Willingness and Adaptability). I talked about the willingness of the human and how the heart regulates the hands, if you missed it you can read it on my blog. I said that I would talk about the willingness of the horse this month, but every year my January newsletter usually includes something about goal setting, achievement and motivation. So I would like to continue that tradition this year. The picture is of Bettina Eistel and her horse is Fabuleax 5. If you look closely, this is a 50 year old woman from Germany who does not have any arms. Bettina doesn’t let her disability stop her, in fact she didn’t just overcome her disability, and she walloped it! She wears riding boots with cut-outs in the toes so she can have ‘hands’ (imagine how cold her toes must get … and how often they clip a branch or a fence board – ouch!). She can saddle, bridle, hose down, wrap, blanket and do just about anything else that is needed for her horse. And, she rides by steering with her legs and holding the reins in her mouth. IN HER MOUTH. Try that…Kind of makes me feel ridiculous for complaining about anything I can't do with my horses. Her accomplishments include: 2 silver and bronze medals at the European Championships in Portugal in 2002 and 3 silver at the World Championships in Belgium in 2001, 2 silver and one bronze at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, 3 German Championships. A bronze and silver medal in the team standings at the 2008 Paralympics in Hong Kong. She also wrote a book, and hosts a TV talk show, not bad for a girl with no arms. Now that is winning against all odds. You can read more about her by Clicking Here I share this story not to make us feel like incapable failures with our horses but to motivate us to believe that we can do anything we set our minds to. It might help us to stop looking at what we can't do and start exploring and expanding what we can do! During Christmas Break I read three very powerful books about overcoming challenges, gaining confidence and never giving up. The combination of some R&R the last month, reading Bettina's story and these books I am re-inspired to do even better this year with my horses, students, business, family, and my personal life. When I look back over the last seven years since moving to NE I am empowered by all the changes that have occurred in my life. Now I admit that there were challenges and struggles along the way and that all of the positive changes I have experienced were not accomplished without some pain and effort. I am not yet perfect and still have areas in my horsemanship and personal life which need improvement. When I am not exactly where I want to be I remind myself that neither am I where I used to be. The fact that I have not yet arrived does not intimidate me or make feel less successful; it simply spurs me on with a deeper desire and more courage to reach my potential. And I am sure that it is much greater than I have even imagined. Now I don't say that to brag, but I say it to encourage each of you that I believe in you and the things I know that you will be able to do in 2011. A teacher cannot teach effectively what they do not practice or believe themselves. Integrity is living and practicing what you preach or teach. So what do I practice and believe? I believe that we should never give up on ourselves. I refuse to live in fear. I didn't say I would never experience it, I said I wo[...]

The Heart Regulates the Hands


Over the past few months I have been sharing an acronym CAWA in the feature articles of my newsletter.We have covered C-Calmness and A-Attentiveness of the horse and the human. Plus I have shared training diaries of the seven horses I worked with this fall. This month I will focus on W-Willingness for the human and next month we will talk about the horse. As we have been discussing these qualities we realize that not only do we want and need them in our horse in order to have a safe and successful ride, but we need to display these characteristics as much as the horse does. Horsemanship is a partnership and when both parties do their best to uphold their responsibilities the outcome is a learning experience where growth and progress is a continuing journey. Let’s start by defining willingness: It is relating to the will or power to choose Intentional or deliberate choice Ready to act voluntarily, without being forced or because of external pressure Accept what asked to do by choice with eagerness or without reluctance It is an enthusiasm to cooperate or comply Prompt to act or respond not dragging the feet Something offered or given freely and cheerfully Being agreeable or favorable disposed in mind Being prepared to act on your own accordThis fall I had a little black Welsh pony here named Lightening Bug, she was one of the most willing horses I have ever trained and so it was really effortless for me to be willing. One willing horse and one willing human equals two very happy partners. I was eager to get out and ride her everyday. Each session was pleasant, trouble-free, simple and straightforward. When things are going well it is not difficult to be willing. However when a challenging horse appears in our lives suddenly it is not so easy to be willing to do what it takes with that horse. But this is the time when we need more than ever to be willing to change.I had another horse this fall who was quite the opposite of little Bugs, this mare was complicated, demanding, and problematic. I exerted every ounce of my energy, strength, and concentrated thinking every moment I was with her in an attempt to help her become calm and willing. She was very complex with numerous issues to resolve. The more I worked with her the more I had to be willing to change my own strategies, to think outside of the box, and to look at my own shortcomings. This horse pushed me to the very limits of my patience and the trial with her often exposed my true colors. This pressure triggered something totally unexpected; I became more willing to take the pressure off her. I offered her more time than I could afford. I gave her everything I had. I tried to be spontaneous with her. I observed her carefully, sensibly and judiciously. As I watched her I became more sympathetic and compassionate towards her. This insight caused me to quit trying to order her around against her will and instead try to bring the best out of her. Each day I worked with her I had a plan before we started but I remained willing to change that plan accordingly. The best thing that I did was I always finished what I started with her no matter how many hours it took. She taught me we have to be willing to do what it takes to finish. I learned that even though my commitment to finish with her was clear, I could only do what I could and not what I couldn’t. I tried many new ideas but one idea kept returning to me; the heart regulates the hands. And so I needed to be willing to cont[...]

Discovering the Joy Again!


After a long weekend of lessons in Omaha and Lincoln, frustrating cancellations (as usual) and driving over 600 miles I was exhausted last night when I got home around 10:00pm. Went straight to bed after hearing about the deer hunting weekend.The joy is the absolutely wonderful day I had with my horses. I played with eight ofthem. I started with Sunshine, and I wept tears of joy in her mane as if I had met up with a lost loved one after months of not seeing her. Well, I do see her and feed her everyday, but have not spent any quality time with her since July, or maybe before that. I can't even remember the last time, because I have been too busy training other people's horses. Sunshine was perfect, she was so soft and responsive and we did everything at liberty because I soon realized I didn't need a halter. She was so with me I can't even explain it.It also makes me sad when I go to work with other people's horses that are so disconnected from them or even in opposition to the people. I am not trying to put anyone down, so please don't take it that way if I gave you a lesson this weekend or have ever given you a lesson. But after working with eight of my horses today: they were all so with me,I was on phase one and only once in a great while two, much of the time I was just thinking it and they were doing it, I realize how many horses are using huge defense strategies to just survive. I worked with a horse this weekend that was so shut down, introverted and catatonic that I have never seen the like. He is only three and just shut his eyes like a child hoping that if he didn't look at you, you might go away. Then another was in total flight mode in fear. These were suppose to be broke horses. Another was so crabby and cinchy.It is so heartbreaking that people think they have trained these horses, but in my eyes, mind, and heart they are far from being trained and even further from being a partner. The people who own these horses just bought them a couple two or three weeks ago, so the sad shape these horses are in is not their fault. However, it just puzzles me that a person would sell these horses as well broke. I guess people are just so accustomed to brace and resistance in horses that it is just looked at as normal, they don't even know what true oneness feels like.So coming home to work with my horses for the first time in months was such a joy today to find out that they are so different from most of the horses that I encounter when I am on the road. Now, not all of them, so please don't get offended if I saw you and your horse this weekend. Some of you have a very good relationship with your horse and are making super progress each and every time I see you.After I was almost finished with Sunshine I think I found my answer to taking horses next spring. I have been really wondering if I should take horses next spring or just work on advancing my own horses to greater levels. I really miss working with them and have spent less time with my own horses than other people's horses this year. Today when I found out just how with me each of my horses were, I was convinced that I would rather work more on the relationship I have with my own horses, setting a high example and standard for those around me, rather than developing a relationship with someone else's horse to have him go home and not even be touched for two years or worse yet handled in a way that causes him to develop poor habits. I think it wo[...]

Does Your Horse Have ADD?


In the summer newsletters I started a series of articles about CAWA an acronym I use to describe four characteristics we would like our horse to have. In June and July I wrote about C – Calmness. Then in August I wrote about the attentiveness of the human and promised to write about the attentiveness of the horse in Sept. However, in Sept. and Oct. the newsletter articles featured diaries on the horses I had in training. Even though I could share more training diaries from Bugs and Duchess who have been here since Sept. 10th I will return to the CAWA series.I pose the question, “Does your horse have ADD?” because I see so many horses that are not paying the least bit of attention to their handler or rider. When you take a horse away from the comfort and safety of his natural surroundings, there are many things in the big wide world that can distract or attract him. His attention wanders to those other things. All horses are this way by nature, and green horses or horses that haven't been handled much or well are by far the worst. They HAVE to check this, that, and the next thing out in their environment. They need to be sure there's nothing that's going to come get them. They like to check and see if there is some other horses they'd like to be with, some grass or some other food they'd like to go eat, some manure to smell, or some wide open space they would like to go lounge in. These are the things that give pleasure to all horses.A horse pays attention to what matters to him, and the direction of his desires. Are you more important to your horse, than anything else in the world, including such powerful draws as other horses, food, and piles of manure? At some point you have to get to where you rate higher in his mind than those piles of manure!!! Are you something that gives your horse pleasure? Or does he dread to see you coming unless you have a bucket of grain? If your horse is easily distracted and doesn’t seem to want to stay with you it's time for you to start thinking about supporting your horse toward being more able to choose to be with you rather than anywhere else. When a horse learns to pay attention to the handler/rider he becomes able to focus on the handler/rider when requested for a few seconds at first then building to longer periods. Something magical happens when a horse begins to really pay attention. It is like something clicks over on the inside to where he begins to have a feeling of inner peace and confidence, rather than a feeling of anxiety. He actually stops trying to leave you all the time, and starts wanting to be with you. We have all had the experience of being in a classroom at school. The teacher stands at the front of the room and expects all the students to pay attention to what he/she is saying. When people pay attention to a speaker they look at the speaker. But if, suddenly, there was gunfire out in the street, then everyone's head would turn because their attention would have been caught by the sound from outside. It is your power of observation to see where the horse’s attention is and how to get it back that allows you to train horses with effectiveness and without the need of painful physical force or coercive methods. There is a law of the horse's life which says; wherever the horse’s attention goes, his body must also go. It causes a horse to experience great inner turmoil to have his body separated from his attention[...]