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Beautiful Mustang

A blog about adopting an American Mustang and integrating her into our domestic herd.

Updated: 2018-03-11T18:34:58.417-07:00


Riding Scared: Working Horses Through Their Fear


My last post was about what to do when the rider is scared, but if we had horses that were never scared of anything, we probably wouldn’t be either. Our fear really comes from not knowing what our horses will do and if we can handle their fear responses and keep both ourselves, and our horses, safe.Shirley shared a post for Radek Libal a few weeks ago and, since then, I’ve been following him on Facebook.  It was no little bit of serendipity that he just released a video addressing the topic of fear in our horses and how to handle it. allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> The horse he’s riding does exactly what Leah does when she gets to a scary situation. That whole blowing out to the right or left. For her, it’s almost always the Left. I loved watching his video. He is so good at explaining things and making them simple.  The last portion of the video is an ad for signing up with him. I think the cost was ninety something dollars for a  lifetime membership.  I just might do it because I LOVE his content.(You can see Bee has one ear on the tunnel and a scared eye.)I took B over to the barn next-door before they tore down the tarp tunnel. Turns out, Bee is actually braver than Leah with this particular obstacle--which doesn't surprise me since she allows me to completely cover her head with the tarp at home, whereas, Leah isn't okay with that yet.We walked through the tunnel together, several times, from both directions.  She was able to listen to me in the tunnel when I'd put my hand up to ask her to slow down.  I am not riding Bee at this point, so we didn't do that. The ground is still too frozen and snowy and slick and I don’t want to take a risk on her.  When spring hits, we’ll start back in saddle and do a lot of work trailering her down to the equestrian areas and trail course obstacles.I continue to work with the horses in the outdoor arena as long as they have decent footing. My work is mostly consisting of getting Leah to be calm. I do a lot of taking her from barrel to barrel and picking up a cone and then back to the next barrel to deposit it. Little things like that bother her. But with work they shouldn’t. She is doing much better at stopping and then going over obstacles.The video by Radek Libal really sums up what we worked on at the last clinic: keeping them faced up as you work through the fear. It’s not about putting their nose on it, (although if they do become curious about it and they are thinking about it, they may decide to put their nose on it), instead, it’s about facing the fear and slowly getting closer and closer without running away.A few extra thoughts about working them through fear:1. Only ride with people who will be patient as you work through the fear.  It might take a while, so they should be prepared to sit back and relax.2. Listen to your horse and his fears and don't just disregard them all as unfounded.  Last week, I asked Cowboy to step on the bridge above with me in saddle, and he wouldn't do it.  I dismounted and had him put a foot on it and he slipped.  He was right.  I praised him.  When the bridge was dry (above) we did it all again and Cowboy went over with NO PROBLEM.  It was always about the slippery bridge--not the bridge itself.  On the other hand, there are some things that are scary, but still very safe and we're going to override their suggestions.  We need to have a way of communicating with them that says--I hear you.  I have thought about your warnings.  But I say it's okay.  Or, And I say you're right, we're not going to do this.3. In the video, Radek is in an open, flat field, but sometimes we get to places on the trail where there isn't a good spot to safely work them through the fear.  I like to scout out rides and really ask people about them ahead of time so we'll know what we're facing.4.  There's nothing like a trail ride to test eve[...]

How Does A Horsewoman Heal & What To Do When the Rider Is Scared


Question: How does a horsewoman heal when she has torn a muscle in her back?Answer: Very slowlyQuestion: How long does it take a torn back muscle to heal?Answer: It depends on if it’s a horsewoman’s back or a normal back. A normal back takes a couple of weeks. A horsewoman’s back, however, will be 10 times worse after two weeks.   A horsewoman MIGHT think about slowing down when it becomes crippling, but just until it recedes from crippling to almost crippling when she takes Motrin. At that point, she will clear herself to ride and hoist her dogs into her pick up. Barn chores, of course, are completed at ANY point in the process—even crippled bed-ridden status. After all, horses need to eat and have clean stalls.*****We have snow. We have ice. We have cold. We have sunshine.  It all started on Valentines Day. Eight inches of snow overnight and cold temperatures to keep it from melting.  The extended forecast shows no signs of significant warming.But I have been able to get out there and do a little riding and a clinic.The clinic was last Saturday. The roads were so bad that only two participants could make it. I’m very glad I did because I got a training breakthrough.There was this scary tarp tunnel that we were supposed to ride our horses through. We did it last year, but it freaked me out, and as soon as I saw it this year, I was scared.What do you do when the RIDER is scared of an obstacle? It happens. It could happen on the trail or at a controlled clinic, but it happens to all of us for different reasons. And, when we are scared or nervous, our highly prescient equine companions are, too. So, it’s going to happen, but what do you do about it?1st, You listen to your fear. Is there something about the obstacle that’s unsafe or beyond your training level?  I looked at the tarp and it seemed well-secured and high enough for horse and rider. It was narrow and low enough, however, that there would be touching and rubbing—which would make noise.  All that said, it appeared to be safe for us.2nd, if it’s safe enough to walk through together, dismount and work from the ground. We did that over and over and over until she could stop inside of it and allow me to shake the tarp around her.3rd, if everything looks good, mount and ride.And this is where I had my training  moment. In saddle, Leah kept bolting away to the left when we'd turn toward the entrance of the tunnel. My trainer, however, pointed out that I need to keep her facing up. I do try to keep her facing up, but it comes down, again, to finding the right amount of pressure and movement. It can be hard, but it’s the secret sauce of horsemanship. Too little pressure, they don't move--too much pressure, they bolt. It was a great opportunity to find the balance with Leah.The trainer told me to go back to the obstacles she was very, very comfortable with and stop her before going through them. I had not been doing that. Instead, I was pushing right through the easy obstacles. The idea was to stop her and allow her to rest in front of an obstacle. Of course, Leah did not like that. Stopping anywhere made her nervous. So, we worked and worked on stopping, then moving one foot after another over it, and stopping inside the obstacle. When we returned to the scary tarp tunnel, stopping in front of the tunnel did not cause her as much anxiety. We were able to stay in front of it and get her to look at it. When she'd move to the right or left, I corrected her, but I didn't urge her forward very hard.  I would let her rest and then lightly put pressure on her to go in.Towards the end, she rushed out.She calmed down in a couple of steps.  We practiced it many more times and worked on control.Since Saturday, we've been working on the concept at home, and I want to differentiate this with the idea that you should put the horses nose on every scary object. That is not what this is about. It’s about being OK standing still in front of an obstacle.We will get to places on the trail where we [...]

The Circle of Life: A Year Anniversary


Today, as I was walking out to the barn, I saw two doves. It was the first time I've seen them since winter hit, and it reminded me of Red and the dove who would perch near Cowgirl last year as she mourned for him. I looked on my calendar and, sure enough, yesterday was the anniversary of his death. Seeing them again made me happy.  It reminded me of Red.Isn't it amazing how much you can love a horse?  And now, here we are thinking about breeding his horse wife, Cowgirl.And, it hit me that Red raised Cowgirl from a weanling until she was almost 13!  So that means, any horse Cowgirl raises will have a big part of Red in it. His personality.  The things he taught her.  Think of all the dark nights where they would take turns lying down--one standing watch over the other.  All the times they lay down together, too, and slept side by side.  The times she, and her mare herd, would guide him through the night back to his stall where his equine senior was waiting for him. Oh, the memories.  And they're all in Cowgirl's heart.If all goes well, I'll be getting a part of Red back.[...]

My Very Own Trail Course & a Future Foal


So much happens in a week around here!  My trainer, Rebecca, listed her trail obstacles for sale last Friday, and Saturday morning, we were hauling them over to my arena.  I picked up two bridges, the car wash, a tractor tire, several cones and barrels, poles, and other nick nacks.I immediately set them up.Then chose my first victim horse partner.Leah.First, we went through by  hand.Then we rode it.This one didn't go so well.  She went right in, but once there, I asked her to back out and her foot got caught on the tarp--dragging it out with her.  She flew backwards taking out a few barrels and poles.  But you know the good thing about it?  She didn't fall over or trip!  She's getting so much more sound and flexible now that I'm bending and using her--and she's lost so much weight!  I can pretty much ride anything she throws at me, but I don't want her coming down on me.  And she didn't.But that did throw us back a few steps.  I worked her with the tarp separately.  Then, I asked her to go back into the obstacle without the tarp on the ground.  She refused no matter how hard I kicked.I had just read an excellent blog post about how much pressure is too much or not enough by Radek Libal.    It really came in handy here.  She wasn't moving--a sign I wasn't using enough pressure.  So, I dismounted--which made her very happy--lots of lip chewing and patting herself on the back for a job well done avoiding that scary object!  But I walked her to the Cowgirl Cave, put on my spurs, grabbed my crop, and back out we went.She went right in to the obstacle with not needing them.  (Um, someone is a smarty pants.)But I asked her to do it again, just to be sure she was okay with it...and NO!  I did all kinds of things, and I kept increasing the pressure, but then I got the signals that I'd gone too far--she started getting light in the front end and spinning out to the left--a sure sign there was going to be either a rear or a bolt--I chose the bolt.  There wasn't much I could do except make her choice harder for her by circling her in tight circles both ways--then approaching the obstacle again.It wasn't working.So I took a few steps back with the pressure.I'd give her a light tap with the crop--keep her straight--and when she took a couple steps forward, I released all the pressure.  Pretty soon we were in the obstacle.  And, I did it again just to make sure she was okay with it.This obstacle is an odd one, because you have to back out of it.  Backing out tells them there's something to be scared of.  I guess it's good in that way because it shows them that backing out isn't always a sign of retreat and fear.Today I took Bee, Cowboy, and Leah through in hand and they all did awesome. allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> Bee also had a clinic Saturday and did great there, too.********I told everyone that I have one more horse in my future.  I wanted to raise and train one more baby after Cowboy was no longer ride-able.  But I wasn't ready to go out and look yet.But at dinner the other night, my daughter told me she wanted to breed her horse Cowgirl, but she wasn't in the position to afford it now or to keep the foal.  She asked me if I would like to breed her.  She thinks Cowgirl is getting up in age and we need to do it now if we're every going to.  She thinks Cowgirl really wants a baby and would be an excellent mother.  She's right.  And, Cowgirl is by far the best, smartest and toughest horse we have out there.  She's exceptional in every way we want in our trail horses.I needed to find a stud close by, so I contacted a dear friend who was born and raised on a ranch in this area--very well respected--and a wonderful horsewoman.  She got right back to me and said she had tak[...]

A Tale of Two Winters: Back in the Saddle with Bee & Leah Neck Reins


February 2017, we had snow and ice and super cold temperatures.  The ground had been frozen since early that December and didn't thaw until March.  The snow had accumulated, so it melted all at the same time, but had no where to go with the ground being hard and previously saturated (from a wet October/November)  It caused flooding.  We lost Red on a cold February night, and a few weeks later our basement flooded--and stayed flooded for 3 weeks.It was a bad year.But this year--2018--has been wonderful!This photo is significant--It was the first day I could retire my thick winter riding boots and don my cowboy boots.  And that meant--I could ride Bee!There was no way I was going to ride Bee in thick boots.  I didn't want to get hung up if anything went south.So, yesterday, we did a little of this....And today we did that, plus free lunging, driving over the tarp and other obstacles--and LAST--riding!  Something glorious happened--she spooked--she looked over at the other horses and saw Little Joe on Foxy--and she just did a little jump of surprise.And I was happy, not that Little Joe was on Foxy, but I was happy that she spooked like a normal horse.  It wasn't anything I haven't handled a thousand times.  It was a nothing.  A blip.  But it broke the ice of my fear of  her spooking and doing something I couldn't handle.  I thought--Hey, I've got this!  She's just a normal ol' horse.  We had a normal ol' ride.  (Which is awesome since she hasn't been ridden for a couple of months!)*********Then it was Leah's turn and --oh my--she's starting to move like a real horse!  It's like the feel is there between us and she's NECK REINING.I'll back track a the approach.  Remember the last post, I decided her half turns in the stall weren't going to work anymore.  I mean, they were better than the days she'd walk out of her stall to her run to avoid me--which is why I tolerated them--but they were starting to feel like disrespect.A half turn.What I mean is this: I'd walk into her stall while she was at her feeder.  She'd walk away like she was going out to her run, but then she'd stop and half turn to me, but not fully turn to me.So, this was yesterday....I walked into the barn and she did this.  I walked into her stall and she did this.  (It would be funny to caption it--any ideas?)To test her, I held the lead up to her head to see if that would make her leave.  It didn't.Today I went in and she was out in her run.  I called her to me.  She came.  That, my friends, is progress!Below is us today--tacking up for a ride.  I was putting on my helmet in the the mirror--and there we were together--her head in the Cowgirl Cave.  I thought, I've got to a picture of this!And this.  One month ago, Leah's hay belly was so big, she was a tight fit on the very last notch of this back cinch.  Woohoo!  She's getting her girlish figure back!I free-lunged her again and her lope is just looking better and better and better.  Tomorrow I'll free lunge her with a tie down and start working on strengthening her back and getting her more collected.Yesterday, we did the tarp over the back and head--then we walked over it.  (By the way, Bee had never had that training before, and she did perfect with EVERY. SINGLE. STEP.  It was weird.  She had no fear of the tarp--not on the ground, not on her back, not over her head.)  Leah, however, has done this before, and she still doesn't love the tarp, but she tolerated it.When we rode today, we walked over the tarp, and other obstacles, and continued to work on neck reining.She did AWESOME!She likes the loose rein--it means less mouth/bit work.  The more I get off the bit, the more she feels like a real horse to me--whatever that means.  I think it means a horse that I'm used to riding.  She's c[...]

Teaching Leah to Neck Rein


February has started out slow.  I didn't ride or train the first three days.  But today, on the 4th day, I made it back out to continue training Leah to neck rein.

The way I teach neck reining is--

1. Lay the outside rein on her neck to ask for the turn.

2. If I don't get the turn, I apply leg pressure from the outside leg.  (At the beginning, that caused her to start trotting, and I had to pull both reins back to ask her to slow back down.)

3. If I still don't get the turn, I lightly pull the direct rein (the side of the turn) the way I'm asking her to go.  At that point, the outside rein is still on her neck, the outside leg is still on her side--all three asks are in place.

4. When I get the turn, I release all three. 

We have been working on this consistently for our last three rides, and today she was doing really, really well.  Before today there'd been a nervous energy, especially when I applied the outside leg, but now that she's starting to turn as soon as she feels the outside rein on her neck, she's much more calm. She seems to prefer the loose rein with neck rein turn.


When the chiropractor was here last week, she said Leah doesn't so much have a problem turning in tight as she has forgotten how to turn in tight.  She said that she seems afraid to turn in--like she's lost the muscle memory.  She said she sees that sometimes, after injuries.  The horse hurts, so the hurts stop moving that way, then the horse is scared to move--or forgets how to move.  She said the best way to fix it is to really work on it--every day.

I thought I'd also apply that to her movement at the trot and lope. The last couple sessions, I've worked her at liberty in the arena (avoiding anything too tight and constricting).  I just want her to feel what it's like to really move again--in a big, wide circle.  It was fun watching her as she stretched into her lope and felt for her balance.  At first, she carried her head pretty high--as if her front and back were two different sections, but as she warmed up, the two halves seemed to come together a little bit, and her movement looked more joy--filled, the way you see them when they're running, and feeling good, out in the pasture.


Concerning Leah, there's another item.  I was going into her stall and asking her to turn to me, but when she wouldn't, I'd go to her.  Little by little, I started to see that as a sign of disrespect on her part, so the other day, I smacked her in the hind with the leather popper on my lead and asked her to face up.  She did.  Today when I went in, she turned her back half away from me, but when I went to pick up the back of my lead, she immediately turned in to me as I'd asked. That was a confirmation that she really had been disrespectful.

Boredom and Hunger, I Get It!


It's winter.  We're all a little bored and extra hungry.  Apparently, so is my horse, Leah.

After a sour day, then a golden day, then another sour day (yesterday), I realized there was a common factor to the sour days.  Hunger.

I went out at about 2:00 pm each of the sour days--9:00 am on the golden day. 

Today, I put my theory to the test.  I went out to ride before work at 9:00 am.

It was such a beautiful day.  Sunny.  32 degrees.  I was up earlier witnessing the Super Blue Eclipsed Moon in all its glory--just a perfect morning.

Leah was feeling good, too.  She was definitely happier.  We worked on neck reining against the rail.  I laid the rein on her neck to ask for the turn, then added leg, then opposite rein.  She was getting it. 

But after a while, she did seem bored.  I decided to break it up for her and play the cone game.  We picked up the cone and took it to another barrel, sat it on the barrel, rode around and picked it up and took it back.  Then, we did it with her backing up around the barrels.

She liked it a lot. 

So yeah, I've got a bored horse on my hands.  I need to spice it up for her--and make sure she isn't hungry when we start our work.

Hold Onto Your Hats, We’ve Got An Attitude Change!


Not much to say today, except that Leah did a crazy attitude turnaround!  Simply C-R-A-Z-Y!I loaded up the trailer and took her, and Cowboy, to the barn next door, fully expecting a long, hard riding session.But I got softness from the beginning to the end.We worked on neck reining--and sit-back-in-the-saddle whoa.  (Turns out, she does better with the word "whoa."  If she hears "whoa," she stops yesterday and fifty feet back.  The problem is, she thinks lots of words sound like "whoa," and that has created a little problem.)  Today we worked on the sit back first, then apply pressure, then apply more pressure.Of course, Cowboy was perfect.  We rode bareback.  For him, it's all about, "If you don't use it, you lose it!"  We use it!When I went out to feed them this morning, Beautiful Girl left her food and came to me.  She wouldn't leave my side.  I took that to mean she wanted to do something with me, so I haltered her and took her to the arena where we worked on basic groundwork.  Afterward, I tied her to the trailer and groomed her, at which point, my husband yelled for me that the horses had gone through a stall and into the breezeway!  I left Bee tied and ran to the barn to catch  horses.  When I got back, she was standing perfectly relaxed and happy.What is happening to my horses??  Is there something in their water that's making them extra sweet today?  Whatever it is, I hope it happens again.[...]

Leah Says, "Hell No!"


(Old photo of Leah when I was first starting her as a 3 year old.  Unfortunately, I didn't keep it going and had to start again.  She was in much better shape back then.)So, yeah, you remember when I said my goal with Leah was to make her softer and happier when I ride her?  Well, that isn't going very well.My plan was to ride her at a walk, stop and massage her, ride some more--end on a positive note.  I wanted those sessions to be about fifteen minutes long and then do the rest on the ground--stretching, TTouch, etc.Today, I went out and worked her in a circle from the ground, something I haven't been doing this month because of the snow. After that, I went to ride her, and she was kind of grumpy and sour (For one, it was raining, and she hates to work in the rain--she's a princess like that, unfortunately), but she was doing everything asked.  I stopped for a moment to give her a little neck rub (still on top), then asked her to move out again.Nothing.I tried turning her right. Nothing.  Left.  Nothing.It appeared her transmission was out.I looked under her hood--meaning, I analyzed the situation to make sure her legs weren't broken or she wasn't having a heart attack or stroke.Nope.  She was healthy.  She was just being stubborn.Fifteen minutes, lady.  Fifteen minutes.  The ride's over.  Finis.  Get the hell off!But oh.  There was one gear still working.Reverse.So, we reversed, and reversed and reversed.  We did figure 8's, straight lines, circles.  Leah looked confused.  She didn't know how to shut down reverse.  I asked her to move out again--And all the gears worked.I got off and unbridled her, bridled and rode Cowboy, then cleaned their stalls.  And, when I was done with all that, I bridled her again and got back on.All the gears were broken except one.  (That is what I figured may happen.)So, I used the reverse, but not  nearly as far, and she went back to work.She is such a clever girl.  And somehow, I have to stay a step ahead.  For now, the short sessions are over.  Or, at least, the regular short sessions.  It's time to mix things up!Here are some more old photos I found on the blog of Leah and Beautiful Girl.  Bee has totally changed colors.  Everyone thinks she's a white horse now.  How does that even happen?[...]

If I Can Do It, You Can Do It!


I'm just bumbling along, doing my best with what I know.  For example: riding bareback.  It has become my favorite way of riding.  You don't have to haul a saddle.  You stay warm.  Win. Win.  And, if I can do it--a 50 year old woman, YOU can do it!  (By that I mean those who are wanting to ride bareback already and don't have physical conditions that make this more dangerous.)



Here is a 15 second clip of what it looks like to lope Cowboy bareback.

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My tips for riding bareback:

Practice on a rock solid horse.

Grip with your thighs.

Move with your horse.

Don't steady yourself with the reins.

Keep your head up and look where you're riding!! (More important than ever)

Loping is easier than trotting.


Driving your horse in a circle.

For years, I didn't want to drive my horses because it looked so complicated watching the trainers do it.  I'd help out here and there, but I never trusted myself to take the reins.  That all changed when my trainer, Rebecca, taught me to drive a horse in halter.  The fear I had, that I'd create a bad accident, vanished, and that made ALL the difference.

So, say it with me....

If I can do it, YOU can do it!

Here is some video of me driving Bee today.  SPOILER: She was not at her best--which is GREAT, because you get to see the the good, bad and ugly of driving.  And, that's OKAY.

The end of Part 1 was a bit dicey.  Thankfully, we ALWAYS start in halter! You'll have to watch Part 2 if you want to see how we resolved it. (Starts out a bit windy and loud, but gets better a couple minutes into it.  I'll have to make another tape when the weather is calmer. But that's all part of getting out there every day!)

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Where'd she go?  Find out in Part 2.

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Learning to Be An Observer and to Release Tension In My Horses


My 2018 goal with Leah is helping her to be less reactive.  I blame myself for creating the tension in the first place.What I did wrong:1. I only went out to get her when we had something to do.2. I took weekly lessons away from home which required a lot of trailering away--she started to get stressed in the trailer because the lessons were a lot of work and she didn't want to leave her herd.3. I gathered the reins inelegantly, every time I went to ask for a transition change.  Now, when I pick up the reins, she automatically transitions when sometimes I'm only trying to get better grip on my reins.4. I missed the signs of laminitis and continued to train her when she was hurting. (Part of her rehab was being ridden, but it was light work in a sand arena, rather than trails and collection work at lessons)5. I didn't spend an adequate amount of time stretching, massaging, and TTouching her.I've been riding Leah a lot this week, sometimes bareback, and I can feel the tension in her back at transition changes.  I could also feel her tense when I went to mount.  It's much easier to create tension than it is to release it, but I'm dedicated to doing just that.******** allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> (Video of me practicing TTouch and massage with Leah. I'm doing it much faster than usual because of the video process--and it still took 8 minutes to tape.  I'll make another that shows the actual motion and timing.)I took a series of private TTouch lessons from a certified practitioner back in 2013, and it did wonders for Cowboy and Old Red.  Last week, I started re-introducing it with massage.Ttouch, basic grooming, stretching and massage do a number of things:1. It helps them to give us parts of their body they don't trust us with (ears, mouth, tail, feet, etc.)2 It teaches them that our hands are okay--more than okay--they are instruments of tenderness and communication,3 It gives us information about where they may be hurting (and most horses hurt somewhere)4 It gives us time together, before a ride, to bring our energies together with an emphasis on deep breathing and slow movements.5. It calms us down before a ride and makes us much more aware of our partner.6. It helps them release tension and pain in their bodies.7. Using our touch methods (whatever they may be) in saddle, helps our  horses to relax and remember that we're on their back as a partner.*****I had a trainer friend who was the most observant horse person I've ever met.  Sometimes, I thought too observant.  "Hey, your horse is lame."  "Hey, your horse needs wormed."  "Hey, your horse is taking advantage of you."  It was always true, and I was always shocked that I'd missed what was so obvious to her.  I had a deep respect for her observation.My granddaughters came to visit last weekend and, since it was windy and cold, we did a lot of work in the barn--learning to be observers.  They watched the video I made (above), and they practiced the art of deep grooming, TTouching, stretching, and massage.  I even had them observe as they approached their horses in turnout.  Did they seem happy? Grumpy? Willing to be caught? Did they walk politely at their sides? Did they tune into them?  Other horses?I asked them to tell  me three good things that their horses did and one thing that they'd need to work on, and I was shocked at how observant they were when pressed. I told them to NEVER doubt their observations.  NEVER do something you don't feel comfortable doing.  TRUST yourself.  Trust your observations.  Trust yourself.The granddaughters and I groomed, massaged, TTouched, and stret[...]

January, I Must Survive January


My mantra: January, I must survive January. When T.S. Eliot wrote, "April is the cruelest month, breeding. lilacs out of the dead land, mixing. memory and desire, stirring. dull roots with spring rain," he was wrong....January is.However, I am determined to make the most of it.  I tell myself the days are getting longer. We are closer to spring every day. My tailbone is almost fully healed.  I've had the week off of work!  The bad weather keeps us inside, slows us down, yet inspires more family gatherings.And, the horses are so appreciative of their massages.Monday, I rode Cowboy and Leah in the arena--the only place that has decent footing. It's not great, but it's rideable at the walk.  My only goal with the rides is to get them to relax and enjoy it.  I stop a  lot, massage their necks, walk a little, stop again, slide off, finish massaging and stretching them.I have spent a lot of time and money on lessons in the past--and recently, too.  Some of those lessons were from a T-Touch practitioner and, lately, it has come in handy.  The horses sure love it.Yesterday, I got to share some of my lessons with a friend who is working with her somewhat green horse this winter on much of what I was working on with Leah a while back.  I gave her the exercises my teacher's gave me.Start in the small circle, when you've got relaxation, move to a larger circle, proceed to a circular set of lines--or points on the wall--ride 4 steps to them, look at the next point, four steps, next point, etc--expand out to longer lines toward points--and the last of all the steps is the straight line along the arena walls, but support the nervous horse with a light touch of the bit on alternating reins.  It is a miniature version of taking them to different points and keeping their mind working.  Of course, if all hell breaks loose, you go back to the small circle.Today, I rode Cowboy and worked with Leah and Bee.As I worked with the girls, Cowboy watched from a distance.As I worked with Cowboy, the herd watched.I wonder how January would look if I didn't have horses.  What would I do to survive the cold and snow and ice?  What would pull me outside into the elements every day, if not horses?******For Christmas, I received a very special gift from my granddaughter, Sophie--these drawings.  They are extra special because they are her first serious attempts at drawing horses, and I watched her sketching, erasing, sketching, each one of these over a long period of time.I'm having them framed into one large piece.The night before she left, I gave her a canvas and paints, and she whipped out a picture of Little Joe and Penny-- (They're our new married pair.)[...]

A Week In Snow


The really deep snow, the really slick ice, all coincided with a really sore tailbone.  You could say the fates conspired against me, and my training program, last week.  In fact, as I sat here this morning, I had a hard time remembering what I'd done this week, so I consulted my phone for photos.Monday, January 8, 2018: Worked Leah and Bee, cleaned the barn, wrote a blog post.Tuesday, January 9, 2018: Sore tailbone, lots of ice outside, stayed in and cleaned the house, then went to work.Wednesday, January 10, 2018: Had coffee with my cowgirl friends, then went to work.Thursday, January 11, 2018: Was supposed to fly out to Omaha, but a storm here, and a storm there, caused us to cancel our flight and stay put, to take care of the horses.  We ended up getting over 6" of snow that day, and we went no where.Friday, January 12, 2018: The temps started to warm up, and melt everything, and we started digging out of the snow.(Pictures of the day it started snowing)Friday afternoon, we went shopping and ended up buying a Nespresso machine.  It makes much richer coffee than Keurig.  The pods are a bit spendy, but the quality of java makes it worth it.Friday night, my husband and I walked our property in the dark--through the snow--with the dogs at our heels.  The snow makes it bright enough to navigate easily.  After our walk, we had a date in my Cowgirl Cave--scotch, cigars, and the Echo Dot playing a steady stream of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash."Save your love through loneliness, save your love through sorrow. I gave you my loneliness, give me your tomorrow."Saturday, January 13, 2018--Colt Starting Clinic with Beautiful Girl.(Bee getting ready to walk over with all the gear.  I have her wear the bridle at all times, to get her used to it. She's really not as thin as she looks in this photo.)Bee got to stand around a lot while we watched the others work in the round pen.  The snow was coming off the roof, in a loud fashion, and it caused her to pull back several times, but she adjusted.  It was good for her.What I learned at the clinic was really fine-tuning what I already know:*When round penning, and she's nervous and not listening, find ways to get her to tune into me--snapping my fingers, waving a hand, lots of transition--whatever works.*I already do a lot of driving from behind Bee, but we worked on driving her in the circle.  It was good for her because the outside line was on her butt and legs a lot--causing her to kick out and buck a little bit until she got used to it.  It was good desensitizing.  Another participant at the clinic didn't feel comfortable driving her own horse, so I asked if she wanted to practice with Bee.  She did, and they did great together.Sunday, January 14, 2018:  Ride CowboyI remember, not long ago, when I was riding three horses a day.  My tailbone injury, and the ice, has slowed me down.  But I was feeling well enough Sunday to ride Cowboy bareback.I took it easy and stopped a lot to give him neck massages.  When we were done, I slipped off and gave him a nose to tail T-touch session.  He melted and followed me all over, with his head on my hands, as I tried to gather everything up and leave.  It was so sweet, I couldn't leave him.  So, I sat on my overturned trough and just spent the  most wonderful time being with him.  He was like a puppy.I was thinking about it last night, as I was trying to fall asleep (a problem I have--thinking too much at bedtime)--I was trying to find a way to describe how my love for Cowboy feels.  First, he has been with me for almost 30% of my life!  That is a lot of wrapping around one another.  And, my journ[...]

What To Do With Horses When You Have a Sore Bum


Thank you all for your condolences regarding Irish, our goat, and for well wishes since my fall on ice. Day 5 post-fall, and I'm still sore in my tailbone.  Riding a horse certainly didn't make it any better.  But I haven't given up working with my horses--I just have to be creative.Here's my list I'm titling--WHAT TO DO WITH HORSES WHEN YOU HAVE A SORE BUM.  (PLEASE SHARE YOUR OWN IDEAS IN COMMENTS. I NEED SUGGESTIONS.)1. Practice standing ground tied while getting saddled or stand tied solid. (yesterday)2. Driving in both bridle and halter.3. Taking Long Walks together--today, in the fog.4. Playing Simon Says. I choose how far I want her away from me, then I take one step, ask her to take one step.  If she takes two, I back her one, if I walk a step backward, she should walk a step backward.5. The Catch and Release Game. I've told you about this before.  Walk up to all the horses, one at a time, halter them, then release them. Yesterday, my daughter went out to catch her horse, Cowgirl, and she ran from her over and over.  I asked to take the lead rope and halter, and I took one step toward Cowgirl, and she turned and walked RIGHT to me.  My daughter looked shocked.  I told her it's very simple.  I play catch and release every day.  Horses really aren't that complicated.  Play this game and you will be able to halter your horse anytime, anywhere.6. Grooming--picking up feet, etc.7. Trailer practice.8. At Liberty heeding work.9. Practice on the line transitioning to different gaits (I'm not doing that in the slick snow we have.)10. Set up trail obstacles--tarps, poles, mazes/labyrinths, tires, etc.****The ice has been bad, and I've ordered myself some yaktrax, but I was more worried about the horses.  I had a hard time sleeping one night thinking how I could reduce the danger in their turnout.  The idea I came up with--spreading their wasted hay over their walking paths.My helpers.I must say, it worked awesome!The horses started walking along the grass paths immediately. Necessity is the mother of invention.[...]



(Photo take last week.)

After riding Cowboy the other day, my tailbone injury was aggravated and sore, so the last few training days have all been on groundwork—driving, leading, and At Liberty heeding.

During my walk with Bee, yesterday, we saw what looked like an animal lying in the snow at the end of our property. As we walked closer, it looked the color and size of a deer, a small fawn, and I started to think maybe a coyote had gotten one. But as we drew closer, I could see the details, and it was not a deer—it was our goat, Irish.

There was no sign that she’d been attacked by an animal, she just lay there—frozen.  I examined and felt her body, then Bee stood over her, bending down and touching her all over with her nose. Tenderly. Bee lifted her head and touched her nose to my hands, where they'd run over Irish. When I went to walk away, Bee wouldn’t follow, even though she is usually happy to walk back toward home. She wanted to stand with Irish.

Irish was one of three goats we raised together, and she was 12 years old. She was a few months older than Scotty and his sweet little sister English.  She was an older baby when we purchased her, and she didn't trust people.  The farm where we purchased her was a 2.5 hour drive from our home, and when we arrived there we were shocked to find that it was filthy and the animals were housed in poor conditions.  Irish hadn't been handled and it was difficult to even catch her.  As we took her away from her mom, she was mawing loudly back for her.  A few weeks later, we purchased English and Scotty, and because they were smaller, Irish would bully them.  We separated them until they got bigger, at which point,  Scotty put her in her place and she became docile.  He took care and guarded over her just like he did his sweet sister.

I don’t know how she ended up at the edge of our property. Did she follow horses there? Was she delirious and wandered there? After all, she had been laying around more and really showing signs of her age.

I don’t know how she wandered off and died at the edge of our property. But now, the goat that I got, Scotty, is the only goat we have.

RIP, Irish the goat.  (Fall 2005-Winter 2018)

Information about pygmy goats.  The average pygmy goat lives from 8 to 10 years old.  The longest living pygmy goat, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is 22 years old.

It Can All Change In An Instant


Yesterday morning, before work, I walked over ice...Through snow...To work with Beautiful Girl.And, I had not a single problem.But last night, returning from work after dark, I stepped out of  my 4-Runner onto ice and slipped.That fast.An instant.The lights of the house were off.  I had my hands full of mail.  The dogs were greeting me..from the distance of the grass (should have alerted  me), and there was this clear path of ice from the house spigot, where the sun had been melting snow off our roof all day, that had frozen into crystal clear ice right where I park.In that instant--all my well planned goals for the year--183 days of training, riding Bee on the trails, staying out of the hospital--almost came to an end.But they didn't.Somehow, I was able to maneuver my body, even at that incredibly fast fall, to land in such a way that I hit my tailbone, then my elbow, and lastly, the back of my head.  None of the three points had lasting damage.  My tailbone is the most sore.  My elbow was cut and bleeding through my white shirt.  But, luckily, my head was sore, but not bleeding or swollen.I was thankful!!  I was happy!!  I was shocked!!  I was happy to be a horsewoman, because I think that life has made me better equipped for such falls.But after all that, I was MAD as HELL. I was mad, and still am a little mad, that I had come so close to a serious injury that could have changed my life--if it didn't kill me.  I was even mad that it happened getting out of my car, rather than getting on my horse--which made it feel even more POINTLESS!It was all in an instant. A flash.  Even in that instant--that flash--my mind was amazed at how fast it was unraveling--how utterly out of control I was.Please be careful. EVERY. SECOND.Sometimes we don't get as lucky as I did last night.(For the record, I wasn't wearing my Sorrels.  And, I'm feeling good enough today to head out and work with Bee again.)[...]

Starting It Out With a Bang (No Buck) & Meet my Herd Muzzles


Meet my herd and their muzzles. (Can you guess any of them?  Here are their names--not in order: Cowboy, Beautiful Girl, Lily, Penny, Little Joe, Foxy, Cowgirl, & Leah.1 2 345 678 January has started off with a bang. I have two important resolutions: One, to train 183 days out of the year, and two, stay out of the hospital in 2018.  I've been drinking water, taking my vitamins, cutting out desserts except one day per week (cheesecake for breakfast did not sit well with my  bod), working on a business change, and getting outside with the horses.Of course, having my granddaughters over to visit helped inspire the time on the horses.Here we are using that tripod I told you about.Little Joe and his girl.Penny and her girl.Little Joe, as the sun was going down at the end of the day.  What a guy!Let's do this, 2018!!  It's going to be great!!Happy New Year, everyone![...]

A New Tripod for my Phone Camera


(Christmas 2017--Bee and me in the snow)

For Christmas I asked my daughter for a tripod that would hold my phone camera.  My hope was to be able to get pictures of my horses, and my rides, to post on this blog, without having to ask anyone for help.  I've worn my husband and kids out on that account.

me: husband, can you come outside and take a video or picture of me with the horses?

husband: sure.

me: Can you take another?  That one didn't turn out good?

husband: i guess.

me: Can you take maybe 20, and then we might get one good one?

husband: (muffled--cannot translate.)


me: Daughter, can you take a video of Cowboy "at liberty"?  It's so cute the way he follows me around.

daughter: i guess.

me: weird.  he's not doing it.  he keeps going to you.

daughter:  i'm done!


So, as  you can see, I've gone solo.  My iphone slides into a bracket on the tripod, and it has a remote to snap photos or start the video.

Be warned: There are going to be lots of videos and photos in 2018.  Let's hope it all goes well!  No scary buck-off video allowed!

Oh, and those boots I'm wearing are Sorrels.  I cannot recommend them highly enough if you're riding bareback and don't need to put your foot in stirrups.  They keep my feet so warm--even with thin socks on--it is just a miracle.

And, if you were wondering if I came off my Christmas high, the answer is yes.  But I do have one more celebration with the kids and grand-kids tomorrow night, so that will be quickly remedied!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2018


Merry Christmas!  I hope you all had a wonderful time with friends and family this holiday.  I absolutely did. So much so, that last night, as I was hugging my kids goodbye, I was overwhelmed with a wish that it would never end.  I had a hard time falling asleep because I was so full of love for them all--it was tugging at my heart and making me want to cry.

Before we opened our gifts, we told the kids that they in no way represented our love for them.  If that were the case, they would fall miserably short.  The gifts were just a way of saying, I hope this makes you happy today, but the bigger gift is having love for each other every day. 

There are moments in life where you're overwhelmed with the magnitude of  your blessings.  You feel so undeserving, so completely undeserving, but there they are anyway.

Merry Christmas to you all, and I hope you have many, many blessings in 2018!

If You Need Horse Inspiration, Watch Wild Horse, Wild Ride


allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="560"> Last night, I came home and watched, Wild Horse, Wild Ride. It's a  documentary about the 100 day Extreme Mustang Makeover competition. The contestants are given a horse, they do not get to choose which one they will take. When they go home, they have 100 days to train the horse (usually mare or gelding 4-7 years old) for the competition in Texas (there's also one in Kentucky). Some of the competitors in this competition were professional trainers, but most were amateurs and even people who had never trained horses before, like Melissa Kanzelberger, the PhD level Biomedical Engineer.After the competition, they have to give their horse up for the auction. They can bid on their own horse, but sometimes the bidding gets quite high and they can’t compete. There was one horse, Compadre, that fetched $9,000, and its owner, Jesus Jauregui, my favorite trainer in the movie (click on his link to find out more about him and his Vaquero style of training), only had 1 to 2K to spend. (T Boone and Madeleine Pickens purchased Compadre and donated him to a university as a mascot.) I'm sure all of the horses end up going on and having great lives, but it is very sad to see the trainers separate from them.I wondered where all the contestants are now, and I thought you may wonder the same thing. I have updates on them all at the end of this post.My thoughts:--What they accomplished in 100 days was just miraculous. I’ve had a Mustang and it seems like it has taken me 100 years to get her trained.  (No fault of hers).--The key to training is hard work, courage and trust. There was one Navajo contestant, Charles Chee, who bonded with his horse. He kept saying his horse was "one person horse," and I always find myself saying the same thing about Beautiful Girl, so I thought it was funny. His son, also a trainer in the competition, remarked that “his (Charles the dad) horse trusts him, now he’s got to trust his horse.”  The elder Chee was afraid to take the training to the final step of actually riding his horse. In fact, he didn't get on his horse until a week before the competition.  The competition itself was his sixth ride! That reminded me of mine and Bee’s journey. I got her saddle trained lickity-split, but I couldn’t muster the courage to do those First rides until now.--The winning trainers were the ones who constantly pushed themselves out of their comfort zone. My personal opinion, if you’re not competing, I don’t think it matters what time table you’re on.  But the best in the documentary were really having fun with, and trusting, their horses. They were swimming with them, running through trees and fields, blindfolding them and going down steep embankments, placing them under tarps while still being on their backs, then riding out the ensuing tarp escape, standing on their backs, riding them backwards, swinging ropes from their backs, chasing name it, they were doing it.  No matter how seasoned you are, all of that still takes courage and trust and the Mustangs seemed to respect that and thrive on it.--Lastly, time does matter. They had 100 days and every day was vital and built toward the eventual trust and courage they would need. It was great inspiration for Bee and me in 2018.The movie has been out for a while, and this was the second time I’d seen it, but it’s available free if you have Amazon Pr[...]

Hope and Possibilities


Yesterday, as I was walking Bee to the barn next door, Cowboy saw us leaving and came running , full out, across the East Pasture to me. He was prancing around and trying to rush through the gate.  He'd just had breakfast, and I didn't have anything he would want.  Not to mention, going to the barn next door always scares him.Why was he running to me? Why this need to be with me?I thought, What is this all about?  Is it some harbinger from above? Some warning to be careful with Bee today?  That wasn't too much of a stretch, since I was alone at the barn, should anything happen, and a friend of a friends is in a coma right now from a brain bleed after a horse accident.After an hour working Bee, where I was very cautious and all went most excellent, I started to walk back home.  While I was still on the neighbor's property, but almost to the gate, Cowboy, who was grazing at the end of the pasture, saw me and again came running, full bore, to the gate!He was prancing, even dancing, by my side, like I'd been gone for 3 days, he was starving, and I was bringing him food.  Cowboy, I said, what is it with you.  You're acting so weird.  As I lead Bee, he walked with me, through the east pasture, through the turn out, all the way to the gate in front of my tack room.Bee had  her ears back, as if she was annoyed, but not dangerously so.  She seemed to be saying, Hey, get out of here, bud, this is my time.I praised her for not kicking out at him.I unsaddled her as fast as I could, as Cowboy watched us with his head hung over the rail of the fence. Then, I walked back into the turnout, switched Bee for Cowboy, took him over to the overturned trough, stood on the precarious, slick trough asking Cowboy to come closer and closer so that I could swing my leg over his bare back without falling.He did.Inch by inch.I jumped on and we went off on our daily ride through the pastures: walking, trotting, loping.It was an amazing day with Cowboy, and I couldn't get it out of my heart or mind.  I was tossing and turning in bed last night, and it came to me--how I always say, I think in heaven the horses we loved will come running to greet us.It’s true.******You can imagine, living in "heaven," with a horse like Cowboy calling my name, how difficult it is for me to go to work nowadays.  It's getting harder and harder and harder.  My spirit is home with my horses.  An hour away from them feels like 10 hours.  It's driving me crazy.My husband has noticed it because we work together--which, of course, is the upside of my work.  He and I have been talking a lot about how to fix it, and we think we have a solution.I won't know for a few weeks, but we may have found a way to work from home together.******The other thing that kept me up last night was wondering if that crazy behavior of Cowboy's was some final goodbye.  Is he going to colic tonight?  Did he have some sense it would be our last together?  (I tend to overthink everything).I ran out to the barn this morning to see Cowboy, the orphan, the outcast, my heart-horse, before work.  He was healthy and happy.Bee came to see me, too.Leah did her best imitation of an ostrich sticking its head in the sand, but for her it was the round bale.Now, I'm off to work.[...]

Walking Away the Herd-Bound-Barn-Sour


The last week I've ridden Beautiful several times at home, but I've also worked on her "going away" tolerance.  It seems to be working because she stands when I approach with halter and lead (check), she is relaxed at the walk (check), she stands ground tied away from the house (check), she tunes into me around other horses and places (check).On days where I have to go to work, like today, I'm limited on my time both with the horses and exercising--so I combine the two.  I mean, why get on a treadmill when you have a HORSE to walk the herd bound-barn sour off?  If there's time for the treadmill, there's time to walk Beautiful around the 20 acres and, possibly, over to the next door barn. (Exercise and training all in one!!)  A walk is easy. I'm not starting something I can't finish, and I can do it in almost any weather.We had a lovely walk today and yesterday.Yesterday, we walked to the barn next door and checked out the new SCARY round pen we set up on Saturday.I let Bee explore. allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" height="315" src="" width="560">After she got comfortable, I asked her to follow me into the round pen at liberty.  She did it!Then, we worked on her whoa and facing up--eventually, joining up and walking with me at liberty in the round pen.When we'd done that both ways, we stopped and just hung out together--visited a couple of other boarders--then walked home.The day before that day, I rode her.  But you can see my heart horse, Cowboy, begging to be the one out there with me.I finished the ride on Bee, then I grabbed Cowboy and rode him bareback.  My husband came out later to join me and I slid off to give him Cowboy so that I could go get Leah.  As he was leading Cowboy in, I took their picture, and I noticed Bee had been in the East pasture with us the whole time. See her behind Loki?Now, the round bale, and all the other horses, were in the North pasture--but Bee followed us over there on her own and stayed by herself.  That is independence and some real joining up starting to form. Oh, and there's that darn goat I got.  He's always in the picture, isn't he? He's kind of growing on me after twelve years.[...]

Meditation on Horse Ears


As I was waking up and reading my phone, Facebook to be exact, I realized I was being fed a drip, drip, drip of negativity. It wasn’t the posts by my friends, whom I feel blessed to have been invited into the intimacy of their everyday lives on Facebook, but the news clips that mingled with it. I had this thought that I should try to guard against negative media this year by choosing to meditate on something beautiful every morning. The thing that came to mind today?Horse ears.We spend so much time seeing the world through these two sites. A world that is made more wonderful and magical by aiming our thoughts through them.And no two ears are the same. They’re like snowflakes and fingerprints. Some are small and round, like Cowboy.Some are more pointy and long, like Leah.Some are more wild, the color of an elk or deer, like Beautiful Girl.And since they register the thoughts and feelings of our horses, they are even more unique: their fears, excitement, joy, anticipation, peace, worries, love.It’s all there in their ears.(The picture from Beautiful's back is the first time EVER I was able to feel comfortable and pull my phone out for a picture. All the photos were taken yesterday.) [...]

I Reached My Goal, but What a Year


I knew Sunday was the 1-5-0, so I wanted to reach my goal with Beautiful Girl.  I started the year with a plan for her, and a helluva lot of determination, and it's fitting that she be THE. ONE.Our day started out crappy--not at all like the 150th SHOULD have been.  She was tuned into her herd and bucking, kicking, changing directions on the line.  None of that bothered me, but when I'd tell her "whoa" she wouldn't listen, and that did bother me.  I started to jump in front of her path like a wild-ass woman: half cougar--half wildling--half crazy.  My reactions were not out of the normal playbook.  They were primal.  But you know, some days are just raw like that.  We know when we're being challenged--and sometimes, you just gotta fight back and defend yourself.When I went to throw a leg over, I actually told her, "This is your chance to get even and buck me off, Bee."  (The day had that kind of feel to it.)  Surprisingly, she didn't take me up on the offer, and I stayed planted safely in the saddle.Afterward, I dismounted, attached the long lines to her halter, and drove her around the 20-odd acres next door and at our place.  I want her to get used to walking out in the open.  There was a freak out moment--when Cowboy came running.  Beautiful bolted away.  I kept hold of one line and got her turned back around.  She was a little wound up in the lines, but very calm.   I unwound her and we proceeded with our driving ride.  (That is why it is best to drive in HALTER).This year has been full of happiness and tragedy--*I lost Old Red as I was flying to Hawaii. You can read about my "Terrible Landing in Paradise."  I still miss him.  Cowboy misses him even more.  Since his death, Cowboy has been ostracized from the herd and has only me and, sometimes, the pony, to keep him company.*We added two horses to our herd around the 1st of March.  I hadn't intended to do that so fast, but a friend approached me with Little Joe and my son-in-law got the itch to become a horseman--thus adding Foxy. Both additions were a god-send: Foxy bonded hard with Cowgirl (who was grieving her horse husband) and Little Joe became the heart-horse for my granddaughter, Catherine.*I introduced Leah to lots of new trails.  She did pretty well.  I don't think, however, she's going to be THE horse for me.  She's a sweetheart, and I love her, but she doesn't have that umph that I'm looking for.  I'll continue working with her, and riding her on trails, but when Cowboy is fully retired, I'll be wanting a true heart-horse.  (I think part of her issues are just bad conformation. You can't do much about that.  But she is a sweetheart, and she'll always have a home, and lots of love, with me.  And, I'll always ride her because she needs to keep moving!)*I rode Beautiful for the first time ever this year and, although, I am scared of getting bucked off, I truly believe that if I build a relationship on heeding/partnership/unity/at liberty/being chosen--I won't ever be.  I am carefully building each step of our journey.  Even after our little spat the other day, on day 151 she came right up to me when she saw me approaching with the halter.  She has a heart for me, and I for her.It remains to be seen if she'll be "the one" that I bond with for the trails, but she has been [...]

Day 149: The Goat I Got


Once upon a time, I was thirty-five and hoping to have one more child.  It didn't happen for me, but I was able to pour a lot of that need for care-giving into two little wethers I adopted. I bottle fed them from two weeks old on up, and we bonded hard together.

In those days, my husband and I lived at the edge of farm fields. We could exit our back gate and ride forever.  Or, we could take off hiking through the canyons and creeks.  It was quite beautiful up on that plateau.  Most of the time, you could see three states--Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.  Pretty breathtaking.

The baby goats would see me coming, and they'd start bouncing into the air, kicking their back legs behind them.  My husband and I took them on our hikes with the plan that we would teach them to one day pack our picnic goods.  They loved and trusted us so much, they'd stay right at our feet.  When we'd come to the creek, we'd pick them up, cradle them in our arms, and cross it, placing them gently on the ground on the other side.

But when they were about a year old, they died.

Urinary Calculi.


The vet tried to operate on them--it didn't work.  So, we returned home empty, their little house, next to ours, quiet.

Enter a three week period of mourning. Guilt. Regret. Mixing up many losses into that one loss.

It turned out, I'd fed them too rich a diet.  I thought I was doing something good, but in fact, I was killing them.

My farrier told me, "The next time you get a goat, go out and kick it every day."  He was joking, trying to make me feel better, but his point was--goats aren't meant to be spoiled like that.

Not long after, we got the goat you see in the photo.  Scotty.

Ornery thing.  100% piss and vinegar.  Instead of me kicking the goat every day, like my farrier suggested, it's Scotty that kicks me every day, instead.  He bucks me, too, with those big old horns. And, he walks in my path to trip me.

But he's 12 years old and healthy as a....goat.

He thinks he's the head of our horse herd, and he guards over them like he'll kick whatever coyote or cougar butt comes their way.

Now that we're riding at home, he accompanies us on rides.  Getting in the way of our path and creating whatever bedlam he can.

I don't even know how to end this post--or where I was going with it.  The story of our different goats is one of my life's little ironies.

There's a meaning in it--but I haven't learned it yet.