cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

Horses and Gardens, What They Have Taught Me

Cash n jack garden
Someone found out his neck is long enough to check out whats in the garden!

Horses and gardens.Kind of an odd combination to have in one sentence, unless you’re feeding them from it (I would never do such a thing…*shifty eyes*). These two things have made me rethink a lot of ways I’ve been doing things and have really taught me some valuable lessons and been my anchor in some rocky moments these last few months.

I’ve been a bit quiet on the internet lately. It’s been a very emotionally trying month for me at work and at home so I haven’t truly sat down and wrote anything for ya’ll in a while.  I got to thinking a while back and that train of thought has been bumping around in my brain for a while so I finally found the time and the well, mental energy to write it out for you all.  So without further ado, lets get right into it.

1.) Patience: The number one thing my animals and my garden have taught me is patience. Do you know how hard it is to sit and wait for a plant to sprout and then get big enough that I can go steal food from it? It’s brutal I tell ya! And horses themselves are much the same way. When we begin teaching our horses it starts out kinda like a seed. It’s an idea, a notion to the horse that we want something different. We have to have the patience to not only effectively teach a horse but to also allow the horse to figure it out for themselves. If we force them and yell and beat them with a whip….well they may eventually get it but it’s lost being fun to them. now it’s just frustrating and possibly painful.

2.) Don’t give up even when you think you’ve really screwed up.  With my garden, I thought I compactly killed the first tomato and pepper plants I planted. So much so that I bought new ones and planted a whole new bed but I kept watering the old ones out of hope and amazingly enough they are coming back even better then the ones I bought on the second go round. I think sometimes we get so caught up in “instant gratification” that when we screw up we wash our hands of it and start with something different but we forget that we, as well as our horses, are thinking creatures. We often make mistakes but if we hold out long enough sometimes those mistakes can be fixed and the whole partnership blossoms into something even more amazing then before. The biggest thing is learning from those mistakes and finding a better way to do it! Sometimes it’s patience, sometimes it’s holding off on “planting” those seeds until it’s a little warmer, or waiting to teach your horse something new or unknown until it’s a better time.

3.) Sometimes the best are not the prettiest. Sometimes the best producers, or the best companions are not the most beautiful. Sometimes the ones that end up being the perfect match are the ones that we may first look over or shake our heads at because they aren’t the “ideal” of what we are looking for. Sometimes it’s color, sometimes its lack of ‘perfect’ conformation and sometimes it’s a horse of a totally different discipline or breed then we typically like.  Perfection doesn’t mean that they will succeed or that you will ‘mesh’ together. Just like watermelons sometimes the sweetest are the ‘scared up’ or the odd balls that really show us the joy in life. (but my horses are perfect I swear *ahem* yeah I promise hehe)

4. Water often! well this is an obvious one. Without water our gardens and horses would both perish in a matter of days but what I mean by this is take the time to water what you’ve sown. Don’t be afraid to go back to basics and work with something very simple. Go out and just groom your horses, Play with them and just give them that little bit of life that we can sometimes forget is just as important as working with them.

5.) Don’t forget to take the weeds out. Weeds can destroy a garden by slowly leaching nutrients and chocking out those plants that we want the most. With horses we have to weed out those negative emotions, and those people who  are constantly putting us down because we may not be following the conventional route (Even if it’s your trainer).

Don’t be a weed to yourself either. (I struggle with this). Don’t be the one who says “He’d do so much better with someone else to open up his potential…. I suck at dressage…. I can’t do this….. I’m a horrible rider….My horse hates me….I should never have even tried this….I should be showing novice by now but i’m still in beginner novice why can’t I be like sally…..I am ruining my horse…why arnt we further along?.

If you find yourself in this kind of negative loop begin pulling weeds. Spin those thoughts around and say  “well that didn’t go as planned. I better find a better way….We are progressing slowly but man we’ve come a long ways since we started….I’m learning just like he is. Sometimes we make mistakes…. You begin to ‘pull’ those weeds when you stop letting those negative thoughts and therefore actions take root in your mind. You begin watering those positive thoughts and eventually the weeds will die and your horses will be much appreciative of it!

6.) Smile, laugh and just enjoy the moment. There’s something zen like about working with horses and working in a garden. You have to pay attention to what you’re doing in that moment, you have to release anger to be effective with your horse and all other things just melt away. If you’re having a bad day go give a hug to a horse, go pick some raspberries out of the patch and just smile and take a moment to enjoy the beauty around you. Horses don’t stay angry. Horses don’t hold a grudge. They may remember pain but they have an amazing talent for forgiveness. If we can learn to embrace that the whole world would be better off.  It’s amazing how fast those negative emotions can melt away if you just look for the good things.

Find those happy things in your life and embrace them with a whole heart. Happiness is a choice, and who can’t be happy when you’re nibbling on a freshly pulled carrot straight from the garden and sneaking the tops and pieces to those beasties begging so eagerly for more? 😀

Until next time

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

Teaching lessons…and getting a few in return

These last few weeks have been quite a blur of activity both at work and with the horses and in-between all the craziness Cash has blown my socks off. I always wondered what I would find that he truly loves.  Well I can say I finally found it in the most unexpected of places and in finding it he  has suddenly given me back something that I have greatly missed.

One of my favorite things to do is teach. I love sharing with other people what I know about everything equine related and I especially love teaching beginners and children. There is something that is just so fun about seeing a kid who’s a little shy and insecure start working with horses and  become confident and sure of themselves and truly blossom. Cash has decided his lot in life is teaching children and I never would have thought he would excel here.

As Cash was growing up I had visions of jumping cross country and galloping through fields and all things adrenaline filled. But as Cash and I began working together we came a crossed hurdles that I didn’t expect. For a long time we clashed personality wise.  There was many a time I contemplated selling him. We are both alpha personalities and it took a very, VERY  long time for us to get on ground we both understood and accepted. I still have visions of competing him but as the days have gone by I’ve started to notice him not enjoying jumping as much,  and well he’s always abhorred dressage.

While I was over in Greece Cash was at home with my family and was mostly a couch potato but he did do some lunge lessons for my mom. I didn’t think twice about it until I got a working student to help me with the chores around the barn…because who doesn’t need an extra hand or five for all the chores?
Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 7.01.34 AM
On a whim I decided to teach her lunging since she’s never learned how to do it on a lunge line. Cash was an angel. He didn’t put a hoof wrong and in fact took the time to teach her how to do it right.  He was calm and quiet. A gentleman in every sense of the word. If I had been lunging him he would have bucked and galloped and tugged on the rope and yet with my working student he just calmly trotted and cantered in a circle. As she was testing out what I was telling her I could almost hear him going “Now child that’s not right” every time she cued wrong and he’d continue doing what he was doing until  she got it right. Then he’d get this look like  “ah yes there we go,” and do what she asked. It was a heart melting sight and one that kind of humbled me. For once Cash truly said “Trust me” and I really listened and I’ve been payed back ten fold by it.

As he has continued his role of teacher to several people now  he has reminded me that though we have plans in life, they don’t always work out how we envisioned. In fact, many of my plans rarely work out how I planned. But when those plans go awry sometimes what becomes of them is even better then the original outcome.  He’s taught me to laugh and to relax and most of all to trust him. He knows what he’s doing with kids and under my watchful eye and directions he’s slowly teaching a new generation the love of horses. Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 7.00.01 AM

Sometimes a horses perfect place is someplace unexpected and a wondrous surprise.  THANK YOU to my amazing horse Cash for not only giving me back one of my passions but also reminding me that trust and happiness is not far away, we just have to be willing to try something new in order to find it.

Until Next time.

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

Best New Grooming Tool: Hands On Gloves

It isn’t very often that I come a crossed a new type of grooming tool  that I like. Most ideas have been tried and done before with just a slightly different shape or material. Well, I just found my newest most favorite grooming tool ever. Cash AND Jack both enthusiastically agree. They are called Hands On Gloves and they are AMAZING! (I do have a video using them on Cash’s muddy butt, but for some reason my phone and computer refuse to talk to each other. One of these days I’ll invest in an iPhone so all my electronics will all talk to each other!)
hands on gloves
You put on these gloves and they have all the grippies of normal plastic groomers but they are on your fingers and palms. I can groom the boys in the most odd of places that I can’t reach normally with a brush or a good scrubber. (Like cash’s favorite of right between the chest muscles or the crease of the leg and chest)  I can carefully get around the boys eyes, ears and all around those weird places on the face and the boys just LOVE IT!  I haven’t seen my horses give me the “oh oh right there….oh please don’t stop scratching” looks so much before. The fact that they are shedding right now probably really helps them love these gloves. And I have drenched them in water and used them just to see. They still work great they just don’t wipe off the hair as easily as dry but they are very good. I’m not sure how long they will last with enthusiastic brushing but if it lasts the shedding season i’ll be happy. I’m really pleased with how much of the dead skin and dirt it pulls up as well. The boys will be gleaming in no time!

*Note* These gloves are a tad expensive at $25 a pop BUT you horses will seriously say thank you! Both Cash and Jack love them and they have two very different tastes for what and how I groom them!

My work schedule has been ridiculous lately and I won’t lie, my time with my horses has suffered because it. (hence my very few posts these last few weeks) and I love just going out to hang with the boys and give them some brushings to get my horse hair therapy going.  These gloves have really helped it for sure! 😀

I think time on the ground just hanging out with the horses is also just as important as riding the horses. I’ve found that when I do work in hand, or I just relax and hang out drinking a cup of tea (or wine) and sit near them while they are grazing really has drastically improved my relationship with my horses. I think in a way it builds their trust with me, and of course great grooming sessions always help, especially when you reach those really, really hard to reach places for them!  Any who I just wanted to jump in and say a quick hello before having to head off to find me some dinner and a really really hot shower before getting ready for my day tomorrow.

Good news! The sun has been shining and I think possibly that summer is almost here! That means a lot more work with the boys since it’s staying lighter much longer! So as long as work doesn’t put me on the crazy schedule I’ve been on the last few weeks I’ll be back to blogging again like crazy!

Until next time!

 

**This is not a sponsored post. I just seriously love these gloves and had to share! Click on the link above or check them out here at handsongloves.com**

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

A Whirlwind Of A Weekend And It’s Only Saturday!

This weekend has been a crazy whirlwind of activity and I’m only half way though it! Cash has blown my expectations out of the water already. (Knock on wood and throw salt over my shoulder!)

Cash trying bitlessI trailered him out to the covered arena and got to try his new bitless bridle thanks to an amazing surprise from my mom! He LOVES it. He relaxes, listens to subtle aids and just seems so happy in it. I don’t even know how to explain how well he feels in it. He was even reaching down into the light contact I had on the reins! No fighting of the turning aids, no wrenching the reins out of my hands!!! It is bliss and I hope it continues. I will eventually re-introduce the bit to him so we can show but for now I’ll take what I’m getting and run!!

I also pissed off Jack today by just trailering out Cash. We have a dressage lesson tomorrow with Carol Lynn Mc ardle!! (Eke!!! so excited can’t even adult!!!) and I wanted to see how he would handle trailering and being ridden without Jack anywhere near. Needless to say he was a tad bit of a space case to start. On the lunge he wanted to pay attention to everything outside the arena. He would listen to my commands but wasn’t really listening if you get my drift. It’s when I got in the saddle that he absolutely blew me away! We probably only rode for a total of 20 minuets but it was an amazing 20 minuets. He was responsive to all my aids! Leg seat and hand!!! It was a huge moment. We even did side pass at the walk and some turn on the forehand left and right!!!

He has decided that the far end of the arena is scary due to a tarped mound of dirt BUT when I asked him to trot towards it he actually picked up the trot and kept a great rhythm throughout the whole length of the arena. He got a little lookie loo at the very end but he circled a decent 20 meter circle and settled down and happily went a crossed the diagonal to the other side and repeated it. He was happy to do walk-trot transitions and only put a fuss up once when he was getting a tad tired! I think what helped is I ensured to praise loudly in a happy voice each and every time he did something well or gave an attempt to do it. He’s a horse that needs re-assurance  that he’s doing something right. He needs verbal praise and lots of scratches (not slaps!) to boost his confidence! If he keep going this way man I can only envision the possibilities!

I mean I’m still so excited about it that I am probably babbling away. The only thing we had issues on was the canter transitions and holding the canter. I think part of our problem is he’s super tight from not moving much in his pen due to the mud and probably a little sore as well. It will be very interesting to see how he does in our lesson tomorrow!!

Jack NappingNow I did mention Jack was mad at me…well I did make it up to him by allowing both him and Cash some time under the orchard trees to graze and Jack took full advantage of the semi-dry ground to take a lengthy nap (seriously I walked out to make sure he was still alive) He even seemed to be dreaming.  I felt bad that I had woken him up!

finish road fenceMy mom also sent me some Wellington boots since my other boots are no longer water proof. (You can read that story here)  I was able to finish ripping out that stretch of barbed wire (Nasty evil shit!) and I’ll begin the other side tomorrow. It won’t be long before I have the new fence up and the grounds dry enough to let the boys graze until their hearts content! The grass is already 6 inches tall out there! If it would ever stop raining I could graze it!!!

Now I did get the death glare from the boys when I had to put them back in their pens and Jack even jumped the electric fence (oh yes jumped!)as I was putting it back where it normal is. I had to run around with treats and a halter and finally corner him to get the halter on. Then he drug his hooves all the way back to the gate. I’ve never known a horse to walk so slow. Poor cash was pouting as well but he’s easily consoled by giving him a flake of alfalfa. Jack on the other hand is probably currently plotting my death.

So I apologize for this post being kind of a ramble. I’m still so shocked and excited and empowered by everything I managed to accomplish today (and I even left some stuff out!) and I wanted to share it so badly that well I couldn’t help myself! Tomorrow’s gonna be even better. A full rundown of my first lesson in over 2 years and my first ever on Cash will be written (and video hopefully)

Until Next time!

P.S. oh and If you haven’t gotten the news the boys and I are now on INSTAGRAM! Check us out if you get a chance 😀  (oh and please do me a favor and ensure you have “turn on notifications” once your following so you can stay up to date with the boys and I!)

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

Fencing…Oh The Struggle Is Real!

Some days the struggle is real! I’m not talking about getting out of bed. I’m talking about the great debate of riding my horses vs. doing the laundry list of chores I need to do around my mini-ranch.  There are days when the weather breaks and it’s finally not raining and almost sunny out. I have to buckle down, give the boys a pat and a treat before reaching for the tools and heading to do some much-needed work around the place.Fencing 3

The worst part about winter is having to choose one over the other due to weather and light restrictions. Seriously, if I had been boarding my horses it wouldn’t have been even close to a debate. I would have been at the barn saddling up and getting ready to go but now having the beasties at home I have to decide what’s best for them. That hour ride or taking the day and getting a pasture fence re-done so they can be safe all summer long… *sigh* Let me grab the tools and my gloves.

I decided to start tackling the barbed wire fence that rings the majority of my pastures. I refuse to keep barbed wire where I have my horses. Bad things always happen when it’s around.

Now don’t get me wrong I LOVE manual labor and that’s not sarcastic. I seriously love doing stuff that makes me feel accomplished at the end of the day but I sincerely HATE barbed wire.  It’s a royal pain in the ass to deal with regardless of what you are doing with it!

fencingNow as I started this task I learned something, thanks to my wise father. Fencing Pliers are the BEST invention for anything fence wise! So a quick jaunt to the farmers supply and I was all set to get rocking.  Once I remembered how to use them I was golden and they made the whole job easier!  I  won’t mention how many times I caught it on my pants, hoodie, hair (don’t ask) before I finally figured out a system.

Oh yes! There is a system to taking barbed wire fence down. Now this fence is old, rusted and ill-maintained and put up on the wrong side of the posts. My dad happily pointed that out when I sent him the picture. so there was no taking one strand down at a time. Oh no, that would have been too easy.  I have to take all the strands down together. Why? Well the nice fence stays (the twisted wire pieces that you see in-between posts) that keep the fence straight and from tangling if it loosens a bit and helps with keeping proper tension…. yeah they are all rusted on.

Now about the time I got my nice system down and was in the groove of pulling staples and undoing t-post clips, I took a deeper step into the ditch…It’s full of water if you didn’t notice from the pictures….and I found out my waterproof boots are no longer water proof all the way up. My left boot began to fill with icy cold water. It wasn’t a gush either. It was a nice slow trickle so I could feel my socks slowly getting soaked.

I began to wonder for probably the umpteenth time why I thought this was a good idea on such a beautiful (for washington) day. OH YEAH…the boys will love it. So I kept going, until I stepped a tad deeper and my right boot began to fill with water. *Really Big Sigh*. I WILL stick it out! Only 17 more fence posts to go!

Have you ever had cold feet? Soaking wet cold feet? Yeah well 2 more fence posts in and my fencing beachhands were deciding to join my feet with the icy debacle going on. I sat down and tried to pretend I was sitting in the nice Caribbean ocean and that I was toasty warm! To my surprise it actually worked. For a grand total of 30 seconds. Before my brain kicked in and told me adamantly that it was tired, cold and “no you will not get one more staple out because you won’t be able to hit you pliers with the hammer to get behind that very stubborn staple that is refusing to come out.”

I tried desperately for about more 5 minuets. When I had a decent hole around everything BUT the staple I decided to call it a day and go put the boys back in their pen.

They had gotten a temporary expansion to their big pen so they could graze while I worked on temp expan penthe fence because they were giving me the “please the grass is so green” eyes. So they got to graze under the little orchard while I struggled, cursed and wondered what I was doing. I’ m sure they got a good laugh at me but I will get that fence done… Eventually!!

Until next time!

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

How to improve our alignment in the saddle with one simple exercise

Image by: Susan Harris off americashorsedaily.com
Image by: Susan Harris
off americashorsedaily.com

A while ago I was asked to do a video on the proper shoulder, hip, heel alignment when riding a horse. Since I’m a believe in rider fitness as well I thought I’d show a very simple exercise that helps with alignment and a few little ways to improve your alignment without having to think really hard. So what’s this secret movement that helps you ask???  SQUATS!

Oh yes the dreaded squats. (ok well I used to dread them).  When done properly squats can seriously help with your riding and you can literally do them anywhere you have room to stand! Now that I know how to do them properly they are so much fun and I won’t lie I actually envision jumping my horses and the rhythm of his canter underneath me as I squat. (I do have a great imagination) And it makes squats so much more fun to do.

Now as you prefect these you can add stability balls or devices to activate your core more like you are when you are balancing over a moving horse but don’t rush into it. Master the simple squat and then think about adding more stability exercises later.

Now the biggest things to remember:

1.) Keep you shoulders level. DO NOT round your back or throw your shoulders down. Find a spot on the wall to look at and think “eyes up” (humm sound familiar?)  to keep yourself from going forward and keep those shoulders relaxed but straight. If it helps imagine releasing the rein over the jump!

2.) Push your booty back. Like straight back. Don’t keep you butt in the same spot. This causes you to fold your shoulders forward, round your back  and come up onto your toes.

3.)Think TOES UP! Keep your weight in your heels. DO NOT go up on the balls of your feet. This will cause a knee injury because you are adding excessive pressure on your knee-joint. If you feel like your going to need to step back to keep your balance  while squatting you are doing it right! Keep thinking Toes up.

So as you squat think: Eyes up, shoulders relaxed and straight, booty back and toes up. Just close the angles of your hip and your knees. Envision that jump! It helps!! Seriously it does 😀

But if this sounds confusing have no fear I put together a video to help explain. It is a tad long (sorry about that) but it helps explain a little bit more in detail.

If there are more things you’d like to see, questions you’d like answered or just to chat  feel free to comment below, send me a message  here or on  Facebook.

 

Until Next Time!

 

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

How To Incoperate Horses Into Rider Fitness (And I’m Not Talking About Riding Them)

Rider fitness is one of the most talked about things around this time of year and rightly so. It’s a great time to work on new years resolutions. When most of the country can’t ride much due to weather it’s a perfect opertunity to work on ourselves. (And maybe some not so well kept resolutions)

I am one of those that hands down belives fitness increases the ability of a rider. It only makes sense. The more fit you are, the more balanced and muscle control you have, the better rider you are. But I also think that you don’t have to do the prescribed “eat salads and work the eleptical for an hour” kind. It’s too boring for me and I happen to love food so while a salad is delicious  I prefer actually hearty meals too. But food is for a later post. Right now I want to talk a bit more about rider fitness and how to incoperate it with your horse without actually riding them. *gasp*
WHAT? what do you mean not riding them…..Well it actually quite simple you see….IF you live where there is dry roads you now have a jogging partner! Who needs a dog when you have a horse??? Seriously my boys love it and sometimes they get to snorting so much and prancing (Jack I’m talking to you)  I start laughing so hard it hurts to run….Plus if you push yourself to hard you can ride them home!!! Double win!!! Don’t belive me???  video proof BAM!!

 

Don’t have time to go running or the weathers too bad then check out my workout for when your feeding hay HERE!

Have you ever tried mucking stalls out in the winter time?? If you don’t think thats a workout you are crazy!!! I won’t even get into what it’s like pushing a loaded wheel barrow up a  muddy hill here. But if you wanna really blast it, sprint up the hill with said wheel barrow.

Moving bags of grain? Do some over head presses with those feed bags or just try walking on the ice and not dropping them!

Horses kick down some boards?  Do some lunges and squats with the boards as you move them!

If you put some effort into your daily chores you can add an extra kick to what your already doing without adding a bunch of extra time. I love making time in the mornings for my actual workouts but I know work and life can get in the way and I still want to work on me so I try to add a little here and there to those pesky chores.

I will be doing some more fitness videos and blogs in the future just to keep everyone entertained by my workout shenanigans but in the mean time, if you are wanting to get back on track or just need motivation I have an amazing group of ladies (men are welcome too) who are starting a month of workout/healthy eating challenges. It costs nothing at all to join but if you want to be eligable for the awesome prizes you do have to donate to the prize pool. You can be as active or not as you like. There is gonna be some healthy recipies to share and use as well as workouts and just good ol’ motivation from a bunch of people looking to get fit, stay fit and just feel better about themselves (and their horses like it to. I know mine do)

“Frolicking in February” starts febuary 1st and runs through the 28th. It’s a closed group on facebook so it doesn’t matter what state your in you can participate! If you’d like to join all you have to do is message me or post on facebook and I’ll add you to the group!

I hope I’ve given you some inspiration to add a little something for yourself during your daily routine to keep you healthy and going strong so you can ride your beasties for years to come. (and hopefuly a laugh or two as well)  If you don’t find a workout you enjoy then you won’t continue to do it and what’s not fun about adding your horse/horse chores into it?

We focus so much of our energy into our horses and their nutrition and fitness, that we deserve just a slice of time for ourselves too!!

Until next time!

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

To Koda, The Best Dog I’ve Ever Known!

koda grass

Koda,

My faithful companion growing up! For 14 years you have always been a bright spot at the ranch, even in the darkest of times. You grew up beside my brother and I and always made sure we had fun and were safe. We taught you how to sit, stay and come but you taught us to always be happy because life’s to short to be angry and to love unconditionally to those who matter. You always ran up, wiggle-butt a going, and say hi even if we’d only been gone 5 minuets. You never failed in your duties as a ranch dog and became an invaluble member of the family.

No matter the weather you were always by our side feeding horses and loved jumping up onto koda hay balethe hay so you were the same height as us and could give us kisses and lovings without having to jumping on us. Even at 14 years old when your body was creaky and didn’t want to move quickly you still did it, though not as gracefully.You loved chasing those pesky rabbits, though I don’t think you ever caught one.

You dug me out of snow dritfts when my brother burried me, you’d quietly hide in my room when I snuck you into the house when dad wasn’t looking and you’d happily sit under the porch when he did find you inside. You’d always  say “HI J.D.” to my dad when we asked you to even though you knew dad didn’t like a barking dog. You were happy when mom brought the school bus home so you could eat all the food the kids dropped. You  were there to keep my mom company when I left to start my career and couldn’t take you withkoda school bus me.

You aways greeted everyone who came to the ranch with love and happyness. You roamed the ranch ensuring all was well and holding down the fort when we had to go to town. You have the sweetist heart of any dog I have ever met and when you had puppies you passed it to them and shared your love and happyness to so many families for generations to come!

There will never be another dog like you and you will always be in my heart. I have so many stories to tell and so many good things to say about you I couldn’t write them all down.  I will mourn your passing but I will celebrate your wonderful life and all the gifts you gave me and my family.  You burrowed your way into our hearts where you will forever stay. I love you Koda and I can’t wait to meet you again on the rainbow bridge someday.

 

koda flowers

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

The Water Dragons Got Me!

Do you ever have those moments where you suddenly realize why your horse has issues with something say….water? Yep yesterday was one of those rides. It was a moment that clarified that though Cash may be almost 8 now (gosh I can’t believe that!) He is still very much green broke and VERY opinionated.

A friend asked if I wanted to go riding and of course I did. It was a pretty gorgeous day though the wind kicked up about the time I was hooking up the trailer….I should have realized right there this was a bad idea…But hey I’m stubborn and I had people waiting on me so by golly I was freaking going! So I loaded up Cash, swung around and grabbed my friend and headed to the beach where one of her friends met us.

Now the last time Cash has seen the ocean was when we were in California and that has been at least 5 years. Now the key difference between California and here is California’s are not rocky beaches and the surf is WAY stronger. Needless to say the beach was not his most favorite ride there. I conveniently forgot about this. So we start our ride and it’s going pretty well. And then the ocean comes into view and we start walking towards it.

Why did I think I had to put my horses feet in the water….I dunno… It seemed like a great idea at the time. And he had two lead horses to follow so… off we go towards the waves. We actually get in the waves when in Cash’s mind a HUGE wave starts heading his way.  Cash takes this as his cue that the elusive water dragons are trying to eat him and starts jumping waves and water for all he’s worth! (oh yes there is a video below)

Now I’m gonna pause here… You ever have those moments where your watching a train wreck and you just can’t look away? Well I was having one of those moments except I was the train…And it felt a lot longer then about 3 seconds! As Cash was jumping the water he and I parted ways and I hit the water and the rocks. Luckily there was about a foot or two of water between me and said rocks.

The water dragon has swallowed me whole and Cash headed to the closest thing he can…safety in numbers! He goes to the other horses! While I’m fighting for my life, in his eyes, the nice cowboy riding with us grabbed his reins and kept him in the water while I re-emerge from the gloomy depths trying to get as much salt out of my mouth as I possibly can. Needless to say I was drenched to the bone.

Now Cash didn’t freak out any more in the water. I think he figured out he was taller than it and while the water dragon had swallowed me… it had spit me back out so it was alright for the moment.

Of course I couldn’t leave the ride like that. I really do want Cash to get over his fear of the waves and I didn’t want to have confidence issues. So I got back on, shivering n all and with a cringe for the cleaning I was gonna have to do with my saddle off we go down the beach again.

Cash has decided that the water is still scary though it’s not terrifying and we slowly gain confidence in the footing. He still wants to lag behind and in all honesty if I’d have given him the reins he’d have probably happily walked back to the trailer no questions asked. We finally start to trot and then get to a slow lope. Yup he was doing an amazing lope down the beach.

Well of course the riders with me want to lope as well (that’s what you go to the beach at low tide for). Here is where I made a mistake. I let that mare get ahead of us. Anyone who knows Cash knows he HAS to be in the lead. I dunno what it is about him but he just has to win. (I seriously should have raced him. I’d have probably won a shit ton of money)And the race was on. Now the cowboy dropped a water bottle and riding on a cow horse he can quickly stop and turn around. Cash did not like this idea of stopping and decided that he would show his unpleasantness by bucking. Oh yes bucking. And I’m not talking crow hopping… OH NO…I’m talking full on all four feet off the ground bucks!

Now I want to praise myself here. I was smart enough to ride my western saddle though a tad big for me (ok it was my dads that I stole… sorry dad) I managed to keep myself on between sheer power of will and essentially curling around the horn and hanging on for all I was worth. (I did mention I was soaked in water right before this right? Soaked clothes+ wind= lack of fine motor skills…or really any skills at all)Though it didn’t take long before Cash calmed down and all was right…again… in the world. We did ride calmly back to the trailer. Ok I walked the last half mile because the two I was with wanted to gallop the beach and I was just too cold to deal with any of Cash’s tantrums. Walking to the trailer really warmed me up considering I had about ten more pounds added to my feet with all the water and sand in my boots.

Now I also want to add one tiny detail. You know I was soaked to the bone when I got back to my truck I had the sudden realization that I was soaking wet and I had to drive home. Now I get shit from the guys at work (and my family) all the time because my truck looks like a mobile tackroom, minus a saddle (usually). My truck has cloth seats. Wet clothes and cloth seats do not get along! That’s just what I needed to end the day. So with a quick rummage in the back seat I emerged victorious! Cash’s rain sheet was sitting in the back. Rain sheets are water proof! Huzzah!!

So I cranked the heater and off we went to go home. I can say taking my clothes off and sitting in a nice hot bath has never ever felt better! With a glass of wine and a slice of stuffed crust pizza all was well in the world once more!

I have some mighty impressive bruises today that just keep getting better and better as the day has gone on and I’m sure they will be looking like I got jumped in a back alley soon. But hey in the end it was a lesson learned, and now a good story and it was filmed to boot!

Also I had a helmet on and for that I am very,very thankful. While I did land in water I also landed on rocks and my lower back a crossed my spine has the cut and bruise to prove it. It could have been a whole different ride had I not had my helmet on!  Plus it makes a great spot to GoPro from! 😀

Until Next time.

 

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

Branding And The Origins Of A Name

I was sitting here this morning drinking my coffee and hoping it’s not gonna rain and the wind would stop blowing when I realized that I never once told you all why I have the name Rocking LR Equestrian. Well the Equestrian part is pretty straight forward, I think, but not the Rocking LR.

As you may know I grew up on a lovely little ranch in Colorado called Legacy Ranch….Oh hey LR….Legacy Ranch…. that parts figured out….Well we have been breeding and rasing horses since I can remember and being a ranch when I was little we (ok my parents) decided that we needed a brand to help identify our horses and just make our amazing bloodlines known as ours. Besides if you’ve ever met my dad he’s about as cowboy as they come!

Well if you have ever gone through the Colorado brand book you will quickly realize that pretty much any and all brands that are not 4 letters/symbols or more are gone. And in case you didn’t know the longer your brands are or the more complicated the look the harder it is to get the brand to come out legibly, and it’s just a royal pain in the ass to deal with.

Brands are flipped so when you apply them they will come out correctly on the horse.
Brands are flipped so when you apply them they will come out correctly on the horse.

Well after tossing around different possible combinations for weeks we just couldn’t decide on a brand. ( and yes my parents let me help in choosing the brand design! It was a family affair after all) I managed to talk them into LR for Legacy Ranch. After much debate we had it narrowed down to a few hopeful ideas.  My dad happened to be skimming through the brand book and saw a beautiful brand Rocking LR. He got the contact info of the current owner of the brand and with a little hope called the owner up. As it turned out he had no use for his brand anymore and was in fact thinking of archiving it (Basically a room of no return for brands) So for some little bit of money and a lot of paperwork we got the brand ROCKING LR! It’s a name that I have fallen in love with and while I am no longer in Colorado I still claim in as mine!

Branding itself is a very controversial topic in today’s world. It’s still very traditional, and many warmblood registries still offer branding when they pass inspections to prove their worth and of course ranches all over the United States still use it on livestock as identification. In todays technical world people belive that there are better, less invasive ways to mark a horse and I do agree there are but is also huge advantage to branding to branding people over look.

Obviously it marks an animal as yours or coming from your ranch. A very successful horse can be traced back to its breeders via a brand if the state of origin is known. So this is a plus to breeders in promoting their stock but I think one of the biggest helps is in deterring theft.

A brand on a horse is a huge identifying mark and one that is usually very noticeable to Cash western copyanyone looking at the horse. (In the picture you can clearly see the brand on Cash who has no other big identifying marks)  The only time its a little obscured is if the horse has a long winter coat. When a horse is stolen if it’s branded you can let the brand inspectors know and an alert goes out to all brand inspectors to watch out for them locally and can even go out nation wide.

I think a brand is a huge deterrent to potential thief’s because it’s so identifying. A bay horse with no obvious markers is much easier to pass off  and sell then one with a brand standing out on its shoulder or hip. Obviously if a thief is bound and determined enough they can probably still get away with it but it really helps!

Also if a horse is lost and someone finds it (such as getting out of a paddock. Getting away from a campsite…ect)  If they contact the local brand office they can usually track a horse through its brand inspections (if it’s been sold) or through the owners of the registered brand and get that horse home rather quickly.

I think other ways of identifying horses such as using a microchip are also great ways to go too. Actually I think it’s a great idea for all animals that are currently able to be microchiped such as dogs, cats and horses. It’s just another tool to help get an animal home safely should they be found lost and alone or suspected of theft. But regardless of people’s personal views on branding I personally am a huge supporter of it.

Until Next time.

P.S. Oh and for those that might be wondering yes I did brand my western saddle too. Well my dad branded it for me 😀

 

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

The First Ride Of 2016!

first ride 2016 e

Whoot! I got to ride Cash man for the first time this 2016! Huzzah.  It wasn’t very long. In fact it consisted of mostly a walk down the road but by golly I was on a horse and it was glorious!

Do you ever have those days where you just need to feel the horse power benieth you? That comfort of the saddle and warm horse smell? Yeah, today was one of those days. Today my divorce became final. Like completly Final. The judge signed off on it and now we are just waiting for the paperwork to be sent to us. Yup that’s right, I’m back on the market officially *dun nun na na nana nana Can’t touch this* No seriously…. I am actually really enjoying my single, horse crazy life at the moment…so sorry boys you’re gonna have to wait 😀

Today was such an odd mix of feelings. It was relief that it was officially over, saddness that it actually went all the way through, and guilt that we didn’t get it to work and happyness of absolute freedom. Not to mention a liberal dose of frustration bordering on anger and finally resignation that that chapter of my life had finally come to a close.

The sun was shining (*gasp)  and the ground was frozen because it’s in the 20’s here now and I just needed to be in a saddle and going some where so I could just forget the world for a while.

first ride 2016 tack up

Now I had to choose my trusty Cash-man. I can’t help it. I have a favorite AND he knows it. Jack usually can’t come any where near if I have treats or I’m dooling out brushing in the pasture…at least until Cash has deemed he’s done with my affections. And Riding Cash is just perfect some how.  I’ve been so many places with him and gone through so many things with him by my side that we just have a better bond.

I wasn’t sure how Cash was going to be. He’s had about a solid month off and He can be a little crazy some days. I grabbed him out of the pasture (He was just a tad muddy as I’m sure you can tell from the picture). I probably chocked on about 5 pounds of dirt and mud that came off of him…..They do say that it improves our immunsystems right? (I should be golden for about 20 years now) I saddled him up in my dressage saddle (it was easist to get to really) and lunged him for a moment both ways before climbing on board and with a prayer above to anyone who would listen we headed off down the road.
Cash is a little tender footed due to it being so wet and muddy for so long and now it’s suddnly hard frozen ground. And he still belives Washington is trying to swallow him slowly, so he’s
very very careful where he puts his feet. This means there was no danger of running away with me back towards the barn we left Jack in his pasture. Cash didn’t even spook at the scary birds that flew up from the blackberry bushes or the heard of horses that took off running next door! I was very proud of him. It was like he knew I just needed so quality beastie time with just him and me. We just went up the road and back. I didn’t want to tempt fate to much today. (I mean seriously there’s only so far I’ll push the limits)

Then I took my time grooming Cash and just enjoying his nuzzles (and occasional nips the bugger) before putting him back up.  It was just what I needed for such an emotional rollar coaster of a day. It was that glorious moment of peace and happiness and a great ride to start off 2016!

So for any of my readers going through some emotionaly tough times right now you’re not alone but we always have amazing therepists sitting in their stalls just waiting for us to take the time 😀

Until next time!

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

A Muddy Adventure

Ya know when it’s been raining out for about a week straight, it’s probably a really bad idea to back down a grassy dirt hill with a ton of hay (yes literally a ton) in my truck.  Macklin (my  truck…yes it’s a guy) dutifully backed down the hill and right up to my barn door. It was easy. It rutted the ground a tad but not that bad. So I broke out my muscles and began moving my hay. I felt strong. 130 pound bales you were not going to defeat me!

With several breaks, a lot of sweat and slowly my truck bed emptied and was stacked in my barn! It was glorious. I felt powerful. Little ol’ me just moved one whole ton of hay by myself AND stacked it. I was feeling invincible! So I hopped in my truck, put him in drive and begin to pull forward.

Now I want to mention, trucks are lighter in the back-end when they are not hauling anything. I backed down with 1 ton of hay and now I had nothing in the back. Hummmm I’m starting to see a problem. But nope I’m feeling strong and powerful so I keep going.  Yup….you guessed it…I pulled about ten feet forward and suddenly lost traction. I was stuck!

Now mud in Washington is nowhere near like mud in Colorado. If it’s muddy in Colorado due to rain, for the most part the tops going to be soft but once you get down a bit it becomes nice and hard clay again….oh no, not here in Washington. That would be convenient. It just gets muddier and muddier and softer no matter how far you go. The ground was so saturated the ruts were just seeping full with water.

I tried putting wood underneath the tires about 15 different ways. I grabbed pieces of rubber and tried. I tried just rocking my truck to no avail. So I gave a tear filled, desperate call to my mom (oh yes I called my momma!).

I couldn’t ask someone to come pull me out because I thought they would just get stuck to. Plus it had already been a crappy day at work. So it was kind of the straw that broke the camels back….Needless to say I was pretty much bawling, covered in mud, exhausted and out of Ideas.

Step in mom. Well I must admit she is very smart.( *gasp* yes I admitted it.) I actually listen to my moms advice (ok like 95% of the time) and she suggested using straw under the tires to gain traction. (maybe the straw that broke the camels back would actually help)  I happened to have a partial bale of straw….So I began stuffing straw under the wheels, cursing every known God I knew of (probably not a good way to help get unstuck either I might add)

I backed it up Macklin just a tad (huh weird I suddenly had a little traction! and I stuffed the ruts with more straw. And I tried to pull forward but the rut was just to deep. My truck would start to spin out every time it got close to the top to freedom.

This went on for about ten minuets. And that is when I looked down and realized I had traction to go backwards. My truck doesn’t weigh as much as it did when I drove down….I’ll just back up and then drive AROUND my ruts….So I put him in reverse….I eased him backwards….I turned the wheel slightly wincing as I saw mud move….I put him in drive and put my foot on the gas and slowly eased forward…..Glory days I was out and moving!

After an hour and a half I was finally free!!!! HUZZAH! HAPPY DANCE! I patted trusty Macklin, poured out the water inside the cab and jumped out and began my trek into the house trailing bits of mud and drops of water all the way.

Needless to say a glass of wine (or three)  and a very hot bath was called for. I started a fire and melted in-front of it.  The day was over. Blessedly over and I could just relax.

So if you live in western Washington and it has been raining for about 2 weeks straight, unless you want a challenge, I highly recommend not doing what I did! But at least I slept really well!

 

Until next time!

 

 

Truck load alfalfa
                                    Macklin at the start of our adventure

 

muddy hands and jeans
This isn’t even half the mud on me

 

ruts
I won’t be doing this again!

 

muddy thumbs up
But I made it out ALVE And with my truck still intact!

cropped-cash-jack-apple-tree-2.jpg

Selling an older horse

 Martin Rose / Eastnews.co.uk
Martin Rose / Eastnews.co.uk

As winter time sets in I always see posts for older horses for sale. Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate when people put old horses free to good home, as soon as their prime years are up and the weathers getting cold. It rips at my heart every time I see an older horse that will probably end up in a bad situation because someone decided they weren’t good enough anymore. Now I know that this isn’t always the case. Some people are really trying to do the best for their horse but this is a topic that I always want to tell people about. Selling or re-homing an older horse is a lot harder than selling a young horse in their prime. This is one of those topics I am very passionate about.

When buying a horse I believe you should always expect to keep them until it’s time for them to cross the rainbow bridge. It’s more realistic budget wise because a horse can be a 25+ year investment. When getting into horses, there is always a chance you will buy and sell a few as your abilities or priorities change. But for most of us working equestrians we can’t afford those nice fully trained horses. So many of us keep our horses for many, many years.

I kept Cash’s mom, Shay, until she passed at 20. It’s actually the reason I kept him because he was her last foal when we decided her breeding years were over. I’ll never forget the day I retired her completely at age 19 and sent her home. I’m lucky in the fact that when I was having to board my horses I never had to worry because I could always take them back home to my parents house. Shay got to live out her final days hanging out with her buddies and eating green grass in the pastures.

For a family the old horse is an amazing animal to bring up little kids with. I will always remember riding my dad’s old horse Miles. He was in his 20’s but he was patient and still loved all the attention of being ridden. He was calm and quiet and very rarely put a hoof wrong. The old horses have seen many more scary things and are more “bomb proof” then a typical five-year old. They are confidence boosters and are great “steady eddies,” to get someone going. Miles even took me on my first cross-country course. We didn’t jump higher than a straw bale but I’ll never forget that ride…and the terrifying hill we had to ride down! (Really it was tiny but oh man did it look huge then)

But what about the average person? The person who has to board a horse? I believe the majority of people I see giving old horses away is because they can’t afford the board due to buying another horse or the medical/extra feed  expenses are becoming too much for them to handle financially.

1.) If this is the case one of the best scenarios I have found is to look into some of the equine-therapy places. A lot of these facilities take great care of senior horses (make sure to vet them first to ensure they are a great facility). They appreciate the donation of the horse and truly do whats right for the aging horse and those clients excel with equine therapy so you’re doing a great service to the community this way. And the horse still gets a lot of attention and love by many people every day! (At least the few I’ve worked with before)

2.) Try to find that family that is looking for that kids horse (if the horse can still be ridden). We’ve had horses before we swore we would never sell, and then that kid comes by to start taking lessons and just falls in love with the old horse. The horse loves the attention, the kid loves the horse, the parents are happy with a safe horse and its a happy day. That family will be better suited to him then just sitting in the pasture occasionally getting some scratches.

3.) Consider a reputable person who is looking for a companion horse. Before you let that horse go to them please, please, please ask around about the person, check out their facilities and their other horses if possible. Make sure the horses all look to be in good health, feet trimmed and all fat and sassy. Our family has had great success with older or injured horses that can’t be ridden any longer by finding great homes for the horse to just be a horse.

4.) Please for the love of horses, DO NOT send that horse through an auction. The chances here in the US is that he will be sent to slaughter and die a horrific death in Mexico or Canada. That horse does not deserve that! That horse has probably given you his best years and many moments of happiness. Please do not let his life end like that! If you’re in a pinch and need him gone now reach out the local horse community! You’ll be amazed at how generous we usually are and we can probably find a solution, even temporarily, until that horse can find a better place to live.

5.) I know people will probably get angry at this one, but consider peacefully euthanizing the horse. It sounds harsh but I have seen older horses that have been given away free to good home and been put in some horrible situations. If you have tried and failed to find a good home for the horse do not discount this. I’d rather have the horse’s life end peacefully at home then be sent somewhere unknown where they end up suffering for years before their time comes.  Sometimes peacefully euthanizing a horse is the best possible thing for them.

IF you are bound and determined to sell him/her, reach out to the local trainers, or influential horse people and see if anyones looking for an older horse and knows how to care for them. This is one of the best ways to ensure the horse gets a good home.

Always know that in selling horses there is always a chance that horse will end up in a bad situation. I’ve seen some of the most heartbreaking situations of horses we have sold coming back nearly starved to death due to people refusing to swallow their pride and ask for help when times got tough.  I’m not saying this to depress you it’s just a sad fact about selling horses.

However I have seen way more happy homes and happy horse owners then I have bad ones  but I just want everyone to know the very real possibilities when selling horses , especially an older horse. If you are in this predicament I hope this article has helped.

Now I’m off to drink a glass of wine and relive some wonderful memories of the older horse I’ve been blessed with through out my life.
Until Next time!