Thursday, December 31, 2009


I finally got to work with my horses today. It has been a couple weeks or so and today I decided I was gonna do it. So late this afternoon I packed myself into my chaps, boots (with extra socks) spurs, scarf and carhart jacket I took the plunge. Thank God for ear muffs for Christmas. I saddled Jake greased his souls and worked him in the pen, then got to ride him for the better part of an hour. He did real well remembering the softness and such we had before our hiatus. He was calm even though the wind picked up a mite and the snow started to swirl off barn roof. He did well and stuff came back to me that I needed to know. I also worked Raven in a similar fashion. She and I were in pretty good sync. I was playing a game with her called 'don't make me use my rein' and it was fun. Playing games is not what you want to do with the Lord, but with horses its okay. I was amazed at how quickly she picked up on softness and feel and how much I needed to remember to get it right with her. But we had fun and the only thing that cold on me was my toes. I have yet to find a pair of insulated boots that will fit in stirrups, without paying $200 for them. I could buy over size stirrups for $40 or $50 but haven't done it yet. I guess I figure I really don't want to ride the horses long enough of hard enough to get them sweated up in this cold, and my feet will get cold long before that happens. In fact, I had to stop doing some of my ground work because I was slipping all over the place. Nevertheless, we got some things remembered and accomplished and made progress without getting to hootin and hollerin. The footing for the horses still isn't the safest when it is slippery, but sometimes you gotta do it anyhow. I had to have a final ride for the year 2009. Hopefully, I get to do it all over again tomorrow.
So long from this neck of the woods.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Yesterday I watched a video on evaluating a horse. It had to be the most interesting horsemanship video I have watched in a while. I always evaluate my horses before I work with them. I lunge them at a walk then trot and canter to see if they may be leg sore. And I also pay attention to how they greet me when I come into the barn or paddock. It tells me if they are interested in me that day or would rather avoid me. Now what they do doesn't necessarily impact whether or not they are going to be played with at that time, but it sure reveals their state of mind and causes me to adjust my approach to them. If Raven has a lot of spunk, you know, the head tossing and tail in the air kind of trot or canter. Then I know that she has alot of energy. It affects my gameplan.
But when I watched this video I picked up on several things I can do to better evaluate their physical and mental condition. This will be especially helpful when initially working with a new horse.This is important because if a horse is sore or not feeling well their willingness to pay close attention to me is going to be short. They may be cranky, or seem mad showing it with their ears pinned back, or they might buck or try to kick or bite. Now I don't know about you but when I don't feel well I wouldn't like my grandkids climbing on my back, and kicking and yelling at me either. So I give my horses some slack in this area. Once this past summer I noticed Jake was moving funny when I was riding him, especially in a trot. I discovered one of his hind legs (I forget which one) was a bit puffy so I treated it and stayed off of him until the puffiness went down and he wasn't favoring it. It was akin to a sprained ankle. You have to give it some rest, but a horse needs all four feet, so that is kinda hard to do. I just didn't aggravate it more by not riding him.
The attention to detail regarding the evaluation was good to see too. The instructor went over every inch of that horse with her hands, paying attention to twitching of the skin, swishing of the tail, bob of the head, pinning of ears, moving away etc. All of which are indications of trouble spots. On the horse she was using, he had a bucking and rearing problem. She discovered that he had a sore back, with some vertebrates out of place, and a swollen hind leg. It was apparent that he didn't like to move, because as he followed her (he did that real well) his ears were pinned back like he was in pain. She said that she could see him gritting his teeth and see worry lines above his eyes. That is detail that I will pay alot more attention to myself. I even started a little bit on my horses this morning.
If it is important to do an evaluation, periodically, on a horse, and I would everytime I work with one, it is more important to do a self evaluation on a daily basis. How are you doing today? Feel good? why or why not? Do you hurt? How come? How's your inner peace? Are you anxious, troubled, stressed out,worried, etc.? There is a short saying that goes like this, "No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace." That sums it up for me. This season we have been celebrating the birth of Jesus. The message that was announced by the angel that would bring "peace on earth, good will toward men." But do you have that peace? That peace that "passes all understanding" Phil. 4:7. You might check out these other verses as well, Phil. 4:9; Col. 1:20; Col. 3:15; 2 Thess. 3:16 because these all address the issue of peace and the true source of it.
When I am working with my horses or with one who has been brought to me, I want to beat peace with them, but if they are hurting or fearful, they are going to view my attempts to play with them with agitation. I must take that into account in each situation. So it is daily for me personally. If you know Jesus keep focused on Him. If you don't why not put your trust in him then peace will flood your heart, Romans 5:1,2.
God bless and when you are riding stay between the ears.

Friday, December 11, 2009

cold and snow

Thought I would get on here and update anyone who cares to know that the horses are plenty happy not being bothered by me and are left alone to eat, drink and be lazy all they want. The snow and cold has me held back as well as having a cold myself. I did however get out there today while I fed them and just had to hang around them, hear them chew their grain, rub them and smell them. Sometimes, I like to put my face into their hides and smell them and feel the warmth and softness of their hair. Sharon likes that too unless I haven't shaved.:} but the horses don't seem to mind that. One thing to remind you of too is that whenever you are around your horse you are training them. Case in point, I was rubbing Jake on his side, not much pressure at all, but he took it that I wanted him to move over like my leg was on him, and so he moved over. Another case in point is my barn has amassed all these dangly thick as hair cobwebs. So I figured I would get the broom and brush them down. Well I knew going in that Jake might not like that and I hated to interrupt his dinner, but I did anyway. He was not too happy, but I worked at just like I would if I was training him to accept the broom. Which I was. He did fine, but that just goes to show you that you are always training the horse no matter what you are doing. Frankly, I don't think I would like someone cleaning cobwebs over my head if I was trying to eat my dinner either. So I don't blame him. It was just good to get out there with them and spend some time with them. One of my other frustrations too is trying to keep my feet warm when I am riding in the winter. I am trying to find an oversize stirrup so I can wear my Sorrels or else an insulated boot that would fit my stirrups. no luck with either yet, 'cept the Kennetrek that is over 200 bucks. There has to be something out there.
I get to get off and go have a spa treatment.

Monday, December 7, 2009

playing in the cold

Nothing like a bit of cold weather to get your horse sense going! I have been itching to ride for a few days now but haven't had the time due to work on the rental we have, so when I could snatch a few moments this evening I took them. I didnt' want to get Jake all sweaty, just a little fun and workout with the lariat. So I put the halter on and brushed him down and worked him a little on the basic components then unhitched my lariat and swung that around him several times on both sides. He is not ready to rope off of yet. But then I bridled him and just hung on to the coiled rope. He wasn't too comfortable with that so I kept at it. It's one thing to to rub the rope on him while at a standstill, but get his feet moving and that is another story. He decided it was time to move a little faster as I rubbed the rope on his rump and my leg and his neck so I just kept him moving and just controlled where his feet went. This was good practice for me too as I was trying mainly to use my leg and seat to control his direction, but had to use the rein alot. We stopped and backed up and disengaged. I switched sides with the rope and we started again. After a few minutes of moving around I would let him stop and rest. It was quit fun, but if your gonna do it with your horse just be safe. You get the lariat tangled up on him and your in for a rodeo. Anyway I figured that was enough of that so I hung up the rope and rode off. I played with him on leg yields, 1/2 pass, stop and back ups with just my seat and so on. Well I am always looking for something to do so since Raven was minding her own business in the same pen with us I decided I would round pen her from atop ole Jake. The thing you gotta know is that Jake is low man on the totem pole between the two of them so Raven didn't take kindly to me trying to get her to move from atop Jake. And Jake didn't care none for neither. So I had to be on my toes in horse sense. My goal was just to keep Raven moving in the opposite direction she wanted to go and maybe get her to move through to the other paddock. I was trying to not use my rein much and whenever I had to do a movement to get Jake in shape and prepared for that movement first. It was quite fun, moving in a 1/2 pass toward Raven, then swing a shoulder over to go in the direction Raven went. If she loped off we would follow and try to get her headed in the other direction. I know Raven would've rather just been left alone but I was having fun and it gave Jake and me a job to do. I never did get Raven into the other pen we sure did make her move a bunch. I don't think that will do much for Jake's standing with her though. I know there was something going on between them, but I can just hear him making excuses to her that it was all me that was causing the raucus. And if you ask my wife it usually is. LOL
I find that if you give yourself a job to do when you are working with your horse you both get alot more out of it. Come to think of it I bet this works for dogs or kids too.:}
Oh, by the way, you know what? As cold as it was, I didn't even get cold.
Stay between the ears!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

taking it easy

Well the Thanksgiving weekend is over and we are all back at it. I have been trying to get a rental back in shape to rent out in the next few weeks. Heads up to anyone who wants to buy property to let out to others. It is, in my humbles estimation, a money pit. On a lighter note. I have been able to ride a couple times in the last few days. I learned something I think is really valuable in life. Sometimes you have to take it easy. What do I mean. Well, sometimes we can get so caught up in the everyday things that we miss the opportunities/privileges to just relax and take the time to get refreshed. With me in the daily things I do it is just being able to sit with my Bible and a cup of coffee and just read to read. Not to study or examine a passage, but to just enjoy the Words coming out of the mind of God to me.
Now with a horse it is the same way. As a trainer I can get caught up in getting the job done and pushing my way through, and if you know much about horses you know you cannot just push through. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just stop trying to push through some lesson and relax and let the horse be a horse. What that looks like is what I was reminded of on two occassions with both of my horses over this past weekend. First, I took Raven out and worked on freedom/liberty lunging and desensitizing her to a few things. Then I got on her, went across the road to a big field and worked on softness and leg yields, and shape. We probably did this for about 20 minutes or so. Then I just went down the road playing a game with her. The game was to see how far I could go without using a rein. I just wanted to use my seat and legs to guide her direction and foward motion. So I left the rein loose. Oh, I had to use a few times, but you would be surprised at how relaxed we both were when I wasn't pulling on her mouth and I concentrated on my seat position and leg pressure. It was just a nice easy gentle walk a 1/2 mile down the road an back but by the time we got back it like fluid motion we were both relaxed. I only wish we would have had more time to ride.
In the second episode I was working with Jake last evening and went through my same routine of desensitizing and working at liberty with him. I used my lariat to sack him out a bit, 'cause he doesn't like things dragging behind him. I want him to get used to dragging a rope or whatever. But I didn't stay on it very long, only about 5 or 10 minutes. Then I took him out and worked him across the road as I did Raven. Then we went down the road playing the same game of not using the rein unless I had too. Now it didn't go as smoothly with him as it did Raven but by the time we were back it was alot better and we were both relaxed. I also understood more with him the need to be in the right position with my seat and using my leg when he is picking up the corresponding foot in order to get him to move over. For example, If he is drifting to the right and I want to stop that and keep him in the center of the road, I need to block him with my right leg and even push him with it when his right foot is being picked up and his shoulder is dropping. Then I can move that foot over. So I just time my leg pressure for when he is about to pick up the right foot. When he moves his right foot over that forces his left front foot to get out of the way and subsequently he moves over. So I just played that game with and the entire ride was one of relaxation. I wasn't bugging him and we had a good ride. So I learned that often times less is more and you get more done in less time.
So whether you have a horse to work with or not take the time to relax and enjoy the time you have. It might only be 5 minutes to step outside and breathe the fresh air or do something different that you enjoy. But change it up. You might find that you will be more productive the rest of the day.