Sunday, September 14, 2014


This July I started taking Jumping lessons.  When I was younger jumping wasn't something that interested me.  I far preferred to do pattern work and dressage type stuff.  In short, I'm a jumping novice.  I've taken a handful of jumping lessons over the years.  My instructor at the stable I'm riding at gave me a very nice compliment.  She said the trainer (a very accomplished jumper) thought I was good and wanted to know where I came from.  Jen told her I'd been everywhere.

I've got to admit, when Jen told me this I rolled my eyes and snorted out a "Ya right."  You see, I'm horrifically out of shape.  I can feel my body flop when it should be solid.  Jen insisted.  She said that they could see through my out of shape flops and see the seat I possessed.  She went on to explain that I'm unique in the fact that I have a well rounded background.  It made me think.

When I was young I learned how to ride bareback.  Farmer style.  My mom didn't believe in saddles.  I didn't ride in a saddle until I was 4-H age.  4-H was my first introduction to riding "proper".  It was somewhat surprising to learn one didn't just kick and pull.  I began taking lessons.  For the most part I rode Arabians and competed in the local shows.  I rode in an English saddle and progressed on to some Arabian "A" shows.  I want to be clear.  My family did not have a lot of money and most of my horses were not the reliable school master type.  I literally learned how to ride in the school of hard knocks.  Sometimes I'm astonished that I stuck with it.

As an adult I decided that showing was horribly boring so I began to branch out.  I bought a school master rope horse and learned how to rope.  For the next ten years I immersed myself in the cowboy and rodeo world.  I moved out into ranch and oil country, well away from the commuter acreage area I grew up in.  There I hooked up with (not in the hook up sense - haha), an old cowboy who ran a small ranch complete with a stable.  He was an alcoholic and full of character.  Back in the day he showed and trained reining horses.  Here I learned how to train a rope horse and began schooling in basic reining maneuvers.  This barn became my home away from home.  I shovelled shit and had my pick of horses to ride.  I began "finishing" ranch horses he owned to pay for my board.  I was in horsey heaven.  I also had some pretty huge wrecks complete with hospital visits during this time of my life.  The final hospital visit would prove to be a blow my confidence would never recover from (3rd degree concussion).   I had learned how to start and finish a horse the cowboy way.  My roping was progressing complete with competitions.  We had even tossed around the idea of me riding a horse in the reining class at the Canadian Supreme.  (There was a glorious Palamino stallion called Yeller that was good enough to go.)

At one point the cowboy lifestyle got to me.  I had had enough and I moved home.  Back to civilization.  From this point on I rode purely for pleasure.  I would do various things like take the odd jumping lesson or spend a summer turning back for cutters.  And I still love going out to Ken's and spending the day doing ranch work off a horse.  Pure joy.

Fast forward to now.  Now I'm slightly bored but still highly pressed for time.  I have a horse to play with - Marm - thank you Jesus.  After Marm arrived I had some serious swings in what I wanted to do with my horsey self.  I could not make up my mind.  I want to cut.  No I want to jump.  No I want to show Arabians.  No I want to... you get the idea.  The problem is reality can be a bugger.  What can I realistically do?  What can Marm realistically do?

The outcome?  With the trainers compliment ringing in my ears, (I really do have an eclectic background.), I think I'm going to focus on riding Marm English.  Rationale?  Marm likes being rode with contact.  Loves it. I have access to high caliber trainers and lesson programs close to my house and dad's farm.  And jumping challenges me.  It's hard for me.  It stretches my abilities.

And FYI: Marm needs a new name.  She's not really a Marm and I have a hard time getting it out.  So even though I hate the idea of renaming a horse, a renaming shall occur.  Once I figure out what name actually works for her.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Working Dogs

Ok.  So this is like, the third time I've tried this post.  Piss on it.  Here's some pictures.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Horse and Dog Days

Last week I drove to Ken's.  I was bone deep tired but didn't want to "waste" any of my time.  My back has been screaming at me as I work at getting back into shape.  Some nights I've resorted to taking some dope so I can sleep through it.  I know it'll pass but right now it's an ugly situation.  I wanted to work the dogs with him.  I was up at 6:30 and at the farm by 7:15.  I hitched and loaded the trailer with Marm.  Who for whatever reason I keep trying to call Bacardi.  Go figure.  We drove the 2 hours to Ken's.

It was raining.  Crabby, I put on my rain clothes and spent the next 4 hours working dogs on sheep.  Diva is making wonderful progress.  Ryder, not so much.  We broke for lunch.

I will admit to being pissed off at the world.  I really, really, really wanted to ride and it was raining.  And then God smiled.  The clouds broke and the sun began to shine.  Ken and I spent the next 4 hours doing horse stuff.  I saddled up and rode Marm.  Ken watched and made idle comments on things he thought would help her.

And then the fun began.  I got off and Ken hopped on.  He started up his flag and introduced it to her. I wasn't surprised to see her bulge her shoulder out and push through the stops.  But then she got it.  He'd relax into the saddle and she'd start to roll over her hocks, flowing with the flag.  Her head carriage improved.  She rounded her body and began to "sweep" the turns, legs crossing over cleanly. She began to look at the flag.  Watching to see what it would do.  In short, she looked like a cutting horse on a flag.  I was STOKED!  This was a stunning development.  I never thought she'd be able to move cleanly like that.  Immediately I began to reevaluate my plans for this horse.  She's 15 so who knows what level she'll be able to work towards, but come spring (I want the winter to leg her up.) I think I may get Jason to dump a month into her.  This gives me a horse with some training on a cow that I might be able to go ranch cut on.  Time will reveal her secrets.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Unexpected Twist

Just when you think you know where you're going life takes the most unexpected turns.  I hadn't blogged about this because I was scared of "jinxing" it.  To be honest, I'm still quite on the fence about blogging about it.  But there is a story here.  One that is swirling around my head, mixed in with hopes and dreams and fears.   

Remember how I mentioned I wanted a horse??  

Kharma has a way of working things out.  

It all began with an email.  One I read, reread, and finally printed out and read again.  I thought.  I thought HARD!  When the email hit my inbox I was in a bit of crisis.  My ankle is majorly messed.  I'd just come off of my doctor enforced rest period with virtually no change in the ankle.  Stressed I had another doctor appointment.  I was facing a cast.  We ended up doing a cortisone shot.  I'm still wearing a wrap but the swelling is finally down.  My ankle is very very weak right now.  But I'm starting some physio exercises.

Back to the story.  So while I was stressing about my body falling apart, I had a decision to make.  That email I receive was basically a query asking if I'd be interested in a horse.  This horse was much loved by her owner.  This I understand.  But her owner, like many of us had too much on her plate and needed to lighten the load.  Because this horse was much loved she wanted just the "right" home. This I also understand.  She thought my home might be that perfect fit.  I was incredibly flattered.  But as my bestie says "Just because you get asked to the party, doesn't mean you need to dance." (Or something like that!)  So I needed to decide.  Did I want to dance?  

I called my best friend.  We talked and talked about it.  Jason, my cutting trainer and I talked about it. Jen, my hunter/jumper coach and I talked about it.  All these people cautioned me against it.  Only Ken was positive.  Now all of the above people have seen me ride.  They know what I can do on a horse, with a horse.  Their collective concern was the fact that the horse was a risk.  A risk of not being able to move forward in a more competitive way.  But let's be honest.  Right now, I'm not exactly in a competitive position.  I need something I can play on.  Something I can train on that's safe.  My honey's only point was that horses cost money and he didn't want to see something sit in the field and not have me riding it.  

What did I do?  I went out to the farm.  I stood against the fence scratching Whiskey's shoulder.  I thought and thought.  I went into the house and talked with my dad.  Any horse decision concerns my father because with the horses at the farm he's the primary caregiver.  I will not add work to my (soon to be) 72 year old father.  That night a very long conversation was had with the horse's owner.  I needed to hear the horse's story, and I needed to be solid on my decision.  The horse was close to 12 hours away.  I will not lightly haul a horse that far for no good reason.  

In the end, I listened to my gut.  I listened hard.  I became still and focused and I pushed the world away.  I think I made the right decision.  

I said yes.  And a journey began.  A horse climbed onto a trailer.  And dreams and hopes were sparked.  

This beauty arrived Saturday.  

Her name is Marmalade or Marm for short.  

Today was our first "real" ride.  It wasn't perfect.  It wasn't imperfect.  We're in the dating stage of our relationship.  Getting to know each other's quirks.  I can't decide what I want to do.  Jen came and watched me ride and thinks she'd make a jumper.  I'm too tall (5'8") for her to make a high level jumper but good enough for lessons and maybe some low level shows.  

Then again, I love the cattle work.  There's a huge grass roots working cow horse organization in this area.  She has the physical ability to do it with some fine tuning.  Tomorrow at Ken's she'll get her first taste of working the flag.  Or maybe I'll heel off her or run some barrels.  I know the possibilities are endless.  My focus for the winter is to get to know her and to spend time working on developing her full potential.  By the time spring comes I should have a better idea of which direction this journey is going to go.  

Regardless, I'm grateful for the opportunity to get to know this neat little mare better.  I'm grateful to have a horse that wants to work, that I can play on.  I'm grateful for a horse that isn't going to dump my broken body on it's ass.  


Last Wednesday I was able to convince the boys to come to my agility practice night.  This is the highlight of Ryder's week.  He's learning how to do weave poles right now.  We use the 2x2 method.  

Right now, Ryder and Diva are in the same class.  It's hard for me.  Here's Ryder waiting with my sweetie for his turn.

Tomorrow we go to Ken's for an enjoyable day of dogs and horses.  I'll see if I can convince him to catch the dogs working on the phone.  Then you can see Diva in her element.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's Time

I've been doing better at working the dogs.  We went out to Ken's for a reality check the other day.  Both dogs are soooooo close to being clean finished working dogs.  My goal is to enter them in the FarmFair arena trial in November.  I'm fully anticipating that the wheels will come off the bus but think it'll be good experience for them.

Both dogs are continuing with agility classes.  I'm going to buy some equipment so I can practice out at the farm.  It's hard to have them in the same class.  This set of classes is turning into an epic failure and waste of money.  It hasn't been the best for them or for me.  Undecided what I'll do with them.  I'd like to continue with the agility because Ryder obsessively loves it and Diva is enjoying herself.  It's a good winter exercise.

I'm going to buy a little video camera so I can easily tape them working.  Using my phone stinks and is hard.

Monday, July 28, 2014


To be honest with you, I had for a while, lost hope.  It had dropped out of me, much like your stomach does on a wild roller coaster ride.  Vanished into the clear blue sky.  That hope is funny though.  It's a sneaky thing.  It creeps in when you least expect it.  Flitting through corners.  Eventually filling all air space.

Today, I let myself breathe.  Let myself believe.  And hope blossomed.

You see, yesterday for the first time since Whiskey came home I watched her break into a lope.  She ducked and snaked her head, lifting her hind feet off the ground in a fun filled romp with her foal.

Today I cried when I watched her trot up the fence line.  Her eyes were bright and her stride, while short, was free.  And I breathed in.  I breathed in her horsey sweet smell and giggled at her babies' antics.  It was at that moment that my heart bloomed with hope.

What I hadn't been saying was that when I had the vet out a couple of weeks ago I was prepared to "do the right thing" and put Whiskey down come the weaning of her foal.  My heart broken I was horrified over her quality of life.  She was in obvious pain.

Today was day 3 of shoes and pads on her front feet.  It has made a clear difference.  She moves better and with more spirit.  It is working.  I was so scared to believe.  Scared my hopes would be dashed.

Now, I wonder about her.  I wonder if I can ride her again.  Just for fun.  She'll never be sound enough to compete on.  I'm hoping that the vet will clear her fun general riding.  As long as it doesn't cause her pain I'm game to rejoin my old partner in some fun jaunts.