Monday, November 22, 2010

RIDING in a Winter Wonderland!

Today as I got the horses ready to ride, my fingers were frozen and my nose was a bit chilly, but I looked around and couldn't help but to notice how beautiful all the white, snow covered trees were. The quiet of snowfall that I haven't heard in such a long time... It is a different kind of still. Different from the still of night or a quiet morning. It's hard to describe, but I didn't realize before today that I really enjoy that kind of silence...

I walked Abby and Mochi to the arena up the hill as snow began to sit on my jacket and their blankets. I managed to carry my riding boots, training stick, and lead two horses with my long Clinton Anderson lead ropes and was still able to put my hands in my jacket pockets to keep them warm. The horses were perfect angels staying at my side, neither pulling or draging. Perhaps they were enjoying the stillness of the winter day too. Or they were just confused as to why we were out on such a cold day! Both of these are possibilities that make me smile a bit, but more realistically I think that they both are just wonderful horses and their training has finally set in. When we got to the gate, both horses stopped, waited patiently while I opened the gate. They walked through, pivoted in turn and we closed the gate, pivoting yet again to continue down the driveway. We executed this with such ease and grace, it even amazed me. It may not sound like much of a feat, but for those of you who have ever tried to lead two horses at one time, know that it can actually be pretty difficult even when no gate is involved!

For a moment during my walk, I almost thought, "Wow, seems like I'm back in Montana with this weather." But then I reminded myself that if I were in Montana, there would be more snow, more wind and the temperature would probably be close to zero or lower! The really strange thing about Montana if you've never experienced it, is that you can be in the middle of a snowstorm and it'll still be sunny. That is another kind of beauty.

Thinking about Montana Winters, I starting giggling. I remember coming back from snowboarding with a friend (yes, sometimes I participate in activities that don't involve horses!!!) It was dark and blizzarding. My friend was driving her little Honda, and I was "enjoying" the ride. The snow was coming down so hard that we could hardly see the road. The windshield wipers were getting chunks of snow and ice frozen to them and were more problematic than anything. Being a problem solver, I put my snowboarding gear back on and bundled up, boarding goggles and all, I hung out the passenger window with a snowscraper and had to scrape away the snow while she drove!!! We could see the faint blinking of a snowplow way in the distance. We just aimed toward that and were relieved to have some tail lights to lead the way!

During college at Montana State University, I boarded Breeze one Winter at a place with no indoor arena. In Montana, your horse will get big balls of snow packed into his hooves. Needless to say, when it's like that- walking is about all you can do. To entertain myself I'd write Breeze's name in cursive in the snow. It worked on our leg cues, backing, turning, side passing, etc. What fun!!!

Enjoy the snow everyone!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Horses of My Life

There have been few horses that I can actually call my own. I have owned quite a number of horses, but these few have actually been for me.

There was Spud. Spud was the little fuzzy black pony who showed me what it was to love a horse. He was my pony from the first that I can remember until I was about 5 years old.

Then there Pepper. I only had her for a short time as she passed away from complications of colic. I'll always picture her as the horse in the videos of us gaming-my pigtails streaming behind my head as we gallop across the arena.... straight out the exit gate, knocking the gate attendant down on our way by!

Next was Diamond. Diamond and I won all of the trophies, belt buckles, accessories imaginable. I always laughed and said we were so good at the gaming events because Diamond was so lazy that he knew the faster he ran, the faster he could be done and go back to eating! I still get a kick out of Diamond how I could never get him to go into the irrigation canal, but once he was in, I couldn't get him out!!! Diamond really taught me how to ride. I learned balance, grace, and all of that other good stuff.

JJ was next... oh boy JJ! He taught me the skills that I find myself relying on over and over again. He was like a freight train. I learned to hang on and just make it until he tired out. Funny how that has become a skill! I was in 8th grade and I remember him taking off (again) and we were flying at a full gallop along this ditch that follows the highway. When we got up to the place where we turned to go home, he ran up on the highway and cut in front of the guy that I babysat for. (he was turning so he wasn't going very fast when we ran in front of him thankfully) I'll always remember his face when he saw it. It was a look of surprise and of question. Needless to say I learned the importance of control and a sweaty horse. That day JJ and I continued our ride for an additional 2 hours of lots of running. My mom was starting to get worried because I was gone so long, but soon here I came down our driveway on a very wet horse. I think that was the last time he ran away with me.

Finally my mom decided that JJ wasn't a trustworthy horse and she was always worried about me when I was out riding JJ, so we sold him. I almost didn't have another horse because by this time I was starting to prepare for college. My mom and I always looked through this catalog for a well known auction in our state and enjoyed picking out the horses we liked. Sometimes we'd try to guess how much they'd sell for. I picked out this sorrel with a nice write up and said he's the one I'd pick. I had a track meet or something that weekend so I couldn't go watch the auction, but my mom called that evening and said, "I hope you really liked that horse you picked out because he's yours!!!" Breeze, my long term companion, came home and we fell in love!! (Well, he fell in love with me because I loved him the minute I read his ad in the catalog) Breeze taught me an amazing amount of horsemanship. Breeze was the first horse that I had truly understood collection and fancy footwork with. He traveled with me through college and my journey to Washington. He is unable to handle the strenuous riding that I do these days and is currently in semi-retirement. I hope that I can find him a place to be loved and enjoyed. I know that he will be able to teach someone all of the wonderful things he taught me.

I am now with my current stallion, Achilles. His registered name is Hadda Lotta Pep. I found him at a sale as a young colt. He was the spotlight of the sale. We brought him home and have been on our journey together now for 5 years. I am looking forward to spending more time with him and getting him trained for reining. I am sure he has many lessons in store for me.

I have loved each horse. I have many wonderful memories of them all. I mention the struggles that I have had with each, not because I had many struggles, but because those struggles were what formed me into the horsewoman that I am. It is the challenges that I overcome that give me the confidence and skill to train other horses. I am thankful for each horse and the timing of each one. I feel that each horse came into my life with impeccable timing. Thank you Spud, Pepper, Diamond, JJ, Breeze, and Achilles.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My 3 Wishes

My best friend and I were riding around my pasture and she told my a story about a man who wished he had the correct change in his pocket for whatever he wanted. What a great, endless wish.

I guess that may be my first wish, but my second wish may be to own every horse in the world. Maybe an even better wish, more thoughtout would be to provide for every horse in the world. I would love for every horse to have his own person to brush the tangles out of his mane. Comb the burrs out of his tail. Bring apples to her in the morning mist. Ride her throught the evening glow. These are silly little things that I do with my horses that I take for granted. It is so wonderful that I have that opportunity. Just as it is such a wonderful opportunity that my stallion gets to enjoy these small things.

I love each horse that I meet in a different way. Each horse seems to know what lesson I need for the day. Today Indy reminded me that I can be fooled and that I need to look beyond the surface. Yesterday Abby showed me that big girls have heart. Cheyenne taught me a thing or two about perserverence the other day when we went lap after lap to get a good circle loping with his right shoulder where it should be. Truth, passion, and perserverence have been my lessons for the week. Thank you Indy, Abby, and Cheyenne. I will remember your lessons and apply them every day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Struggles of Owning a Horse

Stuggles of owning a horse? Yes, I know them very well. Multiply the stuggles of owning a horse by 8 and you will have a glimpse into my life. Not only do I own 8 of my own horses, but I also train and care for other people’s horses. Owning a horse can be a struggle… financially, physically, and mentally. But it is also rewarding. Whenever I have a bad day, Breeze listens. Without interupting! When I feel like I am helpless, Achilles empowers me. When I am bored, Spirit makes me laugh until my ribs hurt. Each horse has something to offer. Every day at least one of my horses teaches me something. I am literally addicted to horses. When I am not out in the barn with them or on the trail, I am thinking (or dreaming) about them. I think that sometimes horseowners forget how lucky they are to have an equine friend waiting for them to take them on the next ride. Many people get too wrapped up in what they think their horse “should” be doing to appreciate what their horse is doing. That statement may not make sense to some of you who read this blog, but to those of you who know what I mean: I hope you go out tomorrow and have a meaningful ride (or groundwork session) and let your horse know that you appreciate all that he does for you.

Welcome to Booki Blog!

The birds are chirping. The sun is shining. The leaves on the trees rustle as the light breeze blows through the forest. The wind rushes through my hair and the thundrous sound of hooves fill my ears as I gallop up the hill, dodging the trees and fallen debris. Nothing compares to this feeling of freedom and joy. I realize how lucky I am to be here on this horse where time stands still and worries disappear.

I feel this way every day. The intent of my blog is to share my horse moments (good and bad) with you as if you were there by my side. Please feel free to join me on my ride through life.