Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two Wolves Captures G's Spirit in Leather

I'm not sure if it was the lunar eclipse or if the planets are in alignment or something.....  I sent a bunch of photos to Shutterfly last week for enlargements so I could frame them.  A couple for gifts and an 8x10 of one that I've been meaning to do for a long time as its one of my favorite pictures of G.  I picked out frames and hung it on the wall yesterday....

Back in July Val (loneelk) had asked me to do some touch up work on a photo of Chet Two Wolves' recently deceased horse Red.  And I asked if it would be okay if I did something with it and I created a 12 x 12 scrapbook layout.  I framed it up, sent it off to Two Wolves and it became part of their memorial wall.  Val told me that some day in some shape or form Two Wolves would repay me for my gift.  I told her that wasn't necessary, but she explained that it was the Lakota way.  So to respect Two Wolves and Val, I knew I would accept this thank you.  Well, a couple days ago Val told me to be on the lookout for a package and it came today.  I just about fell down when I unwrapped this beautiful piece of art.....

Words cannot fully express what this gift means to me, truly they can't.  I will cherish it always, as it is not only my heart horse, but when I look at it I will always remember the events that unfolded leading up to its creation; the story of the man/the artist, his lovely wife, and his heart horse Red that left this world too early.

To Two Wolves and Val from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for capturing G's spirit in leather and presenting me with this thank you.  It is just incredible, it truly is! 

If any of you horse lovers out there would love to see your horse come to life in leather, you can contact Val & Two Wolves through their Bonanza booth at

Thursday, November 25, 2010

On our Way to Bridleless Riding!

You can view the full size by clicking the link below.

Got out of work early yesterday and headed to the barn (where else?).  It was a typical cold windy November day in the Northeast so I decided to play with G in the indoor arena rather than deal with the biting wind.  

I ordered the Liberty Ring from Linda Telllington Jones (TTouch Training) a few weeks back and finally got a chance to play with it.  What fun!  I think it went well for our first attempt though if I had a do-over, I wouldn't have done it while the horses were coming in from the pastures for dinner.  G is all about food and he knows when its time for his dinner.  I thought letting him have a little hay before we played would apease him, but not.  Each time we headed toward the south doors (camera end) he would get a little braced and his whoa wasn't as good as stopping away from the door. 

I had to edit 19 minutes from the video for YouTube, but alot was repetitive anyway, so excuse the cuts.  I'm just getting familiar with iMovie.  Watching the video was so helpful as he reaffirmed certain things I felt as I was riding, but once you see it in print there's no denying it, lol.  Part of the reason I decided to get the Liberty Ring was so I could start to really concentrate on my seat and leg aids, as I felt like I depended on going to the reins too much.  Kind of like peeking at the keys when you type.  Until you let go, you can't feel it.  G proved to me that he isn't listening to my seat as well as I thought; nor am I controlling his speed with my seat like I should be.  

What I am thrilled with is my balance.  It really felt good to canter without contact!  Sure he could've been collected had I been using reins, but the feeling of freedom was wonderful.  I'm sure he enjoyed it as well.   Without reins he tended to pace, which didn't surprise me.  But he seemed fairly relaxed, as long as we were headed away from the "out" arena door lol.  When I took up the reins, I was able to take enough contact so he came into a more neutral frame and smoothed out his gait.  BUT his head was up more than I like to see.  Had I been using the new Robart bit that he likes so much it may have looked a little different, but I snagged the snaffle.  Maybe the next session.  

So my goals are to learn to control his speed and whoa by seat alone; and to learn how to get him to round up a bit for a smooth running walk rather than the stepping pace.  

Would love comments and input, especially those who do bridleless riding!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Herd Hieracrchy and How it Effects Personality

This question was raised a couple of times recently on the GHS message board, and it seemed to be perfect timing, as I’d been pondering why all of a sudden things are finally connecting with me and G. At least it seems like it’s all happening at once. When I mentioned that G was a different horse, I was asked “how so”.   So I pondered....

Prior to our barn move back in April, G lived his day time hours in a paddock by himself, with horses on either side of him and across the aisle way between rows. At night he spent his time behind bars with only the view of the highway in the back and the two horses across the aisle from him. During those 6 years, as much as I worked on bettering our communication, G always had to challenge things. Some times it wasn’t a direct challenge or at first request challenge, but in the course of working it would arise. I chalked it up to G being the personality that he was, and since I was continually maintaining the passive leader role, what other explanation could there be?

Since we moved G to the new barn this April, he lives in a herd of five geldings during the day, with a mixed herd of six in one adjoining pasture, and a mare herd of six on the other side. He is the #3 horse in his herd, and he appears to be content where he’s positioned as he never challenges #1 or #2. At night he is stalled but the set up here is quite different. He has an open stall door where he can hang his head out into the aisle way and see the comings and goings as well as any other horse that happens to be “hanging out”. Now the back of his stall houses a double dutch door, which leads out to a nice sized turnout. During the summer and most of this fall, he has been able to come and go from his stall at night and play with his best buddy Irish over the fence rail. Within a month G started to become a different horse in small ways. He's more trusting on the trail; calmer; is loading nicely in the trailer; responding faster to my requests and cues and overall a much more relaxed horse. He’s even happy to come to me when I arrive at the pasture, which is something I was sure I would lose once he had pasture to graze upon and buddies to play with.

So my conclusions over all this  is that when G was paddocked by himself, even though he had horses on either side of him, that he was the boss of his herd of one. So when I showed up at the barn, he would continue to try and maintain that position in our herd of two. Now that he's #3 horse in a herd of 5, I think that this has taken a little of the wind out of his sails so to speak.  He's learned that if he doesn't challenge the #1 or #2 horses he has quite the content life right where he's at. Now as I maintain my status as #1 in our herd of two he doesn't feel the need to challenge it any more. So maybe I’m reading too much into this, maybe not. But whatever “it” is, I’ll happily take it because this reward just seems so grand in our 7.5 year journey.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stewards of the Animals

Yesterday I received a message from a fellow horsewoman so poignantly written, that it got me to thinking (such a dangerous thing). In it she stated that we as horse(wo)men should see ourselves as the stewards of the animals whom we bring into our lives. I believe in this statement, and I (we) also believe that others should do the same. When we see something happening with another horse person that goes against all that we feel is in the best interest of the animal over the course of 7.5 years repeating itself over and over, do we stay silent and let it pass, or do we stand up and make our feelings known? Even when we know that our thoughts will be construed as a personal attack by others, no matter how worded?

I am by no means a perfect human being and have never professed to be one. But there are some things I do know. Like knowing the difference between what is good for a horse’s psyche and what is damaging, and understanding that there are basic steps in looking for our lifetime equine partner. Knowing enough that if I were to make a mistake in that process that I would need to review my prior actions and rechart the course for the next time, not simply repeat the same mistakes over and over.

Horses are not shoes that are tossed aside if they pinch a little. They are not perfect beings, even the best of them. If a person isn’t willing to put a true effort and time into them, they will receive nothing in return. My friend Beeswood’s favorite saying is “Show me your horse and I’ll tell you who you are” and it has become one of my favs too, because it is so true. We leave our marks on our horse’s behaviors and personalities, as they do on ours. Just as we do with our children, they are, in most instances, a reflection of the effort we put forth.

God blessed me with more common sense than book smarts, and although at a few times in my life this has bothered me, today as I see many highly intelligent humans making serious errors in judgment over and over again, I thank God for the gift that he gave to me and I will never question his decision again.

So truly when is enough enough? How many horses should one person go through in 7.5 years searching for their lifetime partner? And how does one know a particular horse is their heart horse in the first 30 days and then have a change of heart and decide its unsuitable 90-120-250 days later? And most of all when you see someone go through 7-8 (I’ve honestly lost track) horses in this time span; should you stay silent when another is sent packing back to the seller or remain an enabler? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ride for the Cure 2010 - 10/3/10

This past Sunday began with the alarm clock going off at 6:00 a.m.  UGH!  We hopped out of bed, quickly dressed, ate a quick breakfast and got ready to roll.  My big sister Susie came over at 7:00 and we loaded up the car and headed to the barn.  Susie was excited to see a few of the horses hanging around in their runouts so early....
Barn owner's horse Tristen

G getting his breakfast in bed :) 

We'd hooked the truck up to the trailer Saturday night so we could quietly roll into the farm and quietly roll out.  Surprisingly G loaded up quickly and at 7:38 we were on our way to Pomfret CT, which is called "the Quiet Corner".  I've actually never visited this town and hope to go back one day soon as it seemed like a lovely community.  Based on the amount of BMW's,  Mercedes and Lexus vehicles we saw in the center, I have a feeling its a bit of a pricey community too.  

Anyhowzer, our destination was Tyrone Farm which is host to the 10th Anniversary of the Komen CT Ride for the Cure. 

Breast Cancer has been an important cause to my family, as my big sister Susie who joined us today is celebrating her 10 year anniversary of being cancer free (first ovarian then breast cancer).  Today we were riding to honor my sister Susie and it was special to have her with us.  But kick me now cause do you think either one of us thought to ask hubby to take our picture together?  Duh!

We passed the equestrian facilities where the big rigs were parked and were directed about 1/2 mile up to a large field that sits across the road from the house and barn in the picture above.  About two rows of trailers came in after this picture was taken...

Getting G ready to go....all the while hubby is saying "ahhh man, he's a boy horse, poor thing"
Rider up and ready to rock 'n roll with my Glam Rockin' Tennessee Walking Horse!
While waiting our turn for the professional photographer we snapped some pics of other riders and their horses.  It was so neat to see horse's and riders in all sorts of shades of pink and to see how far some would go to "pink it out".  Some of the best I saw were out on the trail when I couldn't get my camera out.  And then there were some that didn't have any fun with it at all.  I guess I'm just a big kid!


The trails traversed meadows and fields; through Tyrone Farm's cross-country courses and through the woods in between them all.  

I'm guessing it was about 10 miles in total which I covered in about 2 hours with a couple of rest stops which came equipped with porta pottys, water for horse and rider and a live lawn jockey....

G was quite high headed to start the ride, and it lasted about 15-20 minutes of continuous half halts, leg yields, one rein stops, etc. to try and get his head back on me rather than the horses out in front of him.  He hates, absolutely hates to have horses out in front of him unless his head is about touching their tail.  Since I won't allow that, I get to ride the prancing pony who can almost do a canter in place!  I finally worked him in one of the fields doing circles until the horses disappeared from view.  Once he couldn't see them any more he went back to being the relaxed horse he is when we ride alone or with one other horse.    With his big walking horse stride it didn't take long until we caught up to the groups ahead of us.  I asked if they would mind if we passed and no one objected which was great.  We spent about an hour basically riding in the woods all by ourselves, it was absolutely beautiful and a peaceful way to spend a Sunday.  I was really surprised at the amount of stone walls and foundations out in the middle of the woods.  It made you wonder what it looked like back in the 1800's.  
While we were standing here soaking in the quiet, I realized that no one had taken a close up picture of G in his bridle.  Now that he had on his ribbon honoring my big sis I thought it would be a great time to take one.  I'm know I'm biased, but isn't he handsome?

These woods were gorgeous and they led us deeper into the forest into a private hunting preserve.  When we turned the corner we came upon this sign....uh oh!

Now it's a damn good thing that G does not know how to read, cause at this point if he did, he woulda lost it right then and there and he would've been galloping through the forest all the while yelling "I told ya so, I told ya those trees would eat me!"

While we were out on the trail, hubby and Susie had set up a small table up at the barn to sell bridle charms.  They were supposed to be inside the barn but I didn't find out until after I got back that they stuck them and the lady selling t-shirts outside in the cold (not happy).  Here's pictures they took up at the "event" barn.  Events being, weddings, anniversary parties etc.

Here's our Too'Shay leather cross that Kysa made special for our ride.
This was our first time riding in this or any fund raising event, and I have to say it was not only rewarding, but a lot of fun.  It doesn't hurt that it is a cause near and dear to my heart either.  I love my sister Susie, the little things she does for me.  Like to take a picture of this for my scrapbook :)
I was extremely pleased to have raised $625 for the event!  Many wonderful people by way of monetary donations, bridle charm and other sales, exceeded my expectations.  My goal was originally $500 so this was a nice bonus!  The last posted dollar amount on the Susan Komen CT site was on Friday and dollar amount raised at that point was over $85,000 !!  Wonderful.

And last but not least, how can a certain someone I love pass by a statue without whispering in its ear.  I once asked hubby what he tells them and he said "dirty jokes to make them smile".  So if you pass by a smiling statue somewhere around the globe, stop and ask if they know any dirty jokes.  Hubby just may have been there before you.....

10/6/10 Update from Komen  CT Ride for the Cure ~ 
2010 was their most successful ride event in their 10 year history ~ 125 riders raised over $111,000.00!!!  Nice!

Until next time......


Myles Standish Camping - Part 2

Got much more sleep Saturday night.  G and Sprite weren't calling back and forth so much and G seemed to have gotten used to hanging out in the outdoor corral versus his comfy stall.  He seemed to spend more time looking over toward the bathrooms now.  Hubby thinks part of the reason he stared over toward the bathroom so much is that he thought it was the barn and he was wondering what he did wrong to still be outside, lol.  Breakfast was Entenmanns'schocolate donuts and fresh fruit salad, forgotten from the night before.  Diet, what diet?  We had talked to the Bob, Sue & Lauri the host campers late Saturday and arranged to meet up for 9:30 Sunday morning.  They host a ride every Sunday throughout the riding season to show folks the trails not marked on the maps.

And the whole group...left to right:  Me & G, Jill & Sprite, Bob & his TWH and granddaughter's pony; Al & his MH; Lauri & her QH and Sue with her TB cross.

Al started us down the trail from campsite 34 and it was a pretty nice ride.  About 15 minutes into the ride G started to get full of himself (even though he was in 2nd position) and because Al had just recovered from a stroke Bob was concerned that his horse would feed off of G and thought we should split up.  So Lauri took me & Jill in one direction and Bob, Sue & Al went off in another.  We think Lauri thought we wanted to go fast cause she just started trotting off with no warning.  G of course thought he was being left and wanted to canter.  It took alot of half halts and sitting deep to get him to start thinking about me.  The trails were way too narrow to do any turns; the shrubbery too dense to go off the trail. 

After about 10-15 minutes of go fast she slowed down.  All the while she was talking about the trails we were on and then what she felt made a great trail horse.  Not surprisingly, G didn't fit her description lol.  After another 20 minutes we met back up with the other group in one of the meadows between the major dirt roads.  If I remember right there are at least four of these.  Each planted with different vegetation to attract different wild life for hunting season.  Apparently this is a big area for hunters during hunting season. 

Jill & Sprite

Through G's ears:

Bob ponying the pony
We rode through a couple of the meadows together and then split again.  Our destination was one of the ponds in the southeast corner of the forest.  It's one of the few you can take your horse into, so we both obliged - this is my favorite picture from the weekend.

At this point Jill piped up that she thought it would be good if the two of us split off for awhile since we weren't heading directly back and wanted to take it slow.  We followed our path out and then moseyed a bit down a trail we hadn't taken before.  After 10 minutes Jill thought we should retrace our steps and then follow the groups hoofprints back.  So that's what we did and we did eventually catch up to them chatting with another group of riders on the trail.  We were probably out for a little over 2 hours which was enough since all of use had a 3 hour trailer ride ahead of us.

It was without a doubt one of the best weekends I've had in a long time and it really rejuvenated my spirit!!  Jill & Sprite were marvelous trail partners and we look forward to many trail miles together in our futre.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Myles Standish State Forest Carver MA

Two weeks ago, hubby, G and I met up with Jill (Beeswood) and her horse Sprite for a weekend of horse camping at Myles Standish.  Jill and I have been internet friends for many years and have had the good fortune to meet a couple of times - once at a Liz Graves clinic and then at Equine Affaire, but this is the first time we actually got together to ride.  And to think that we only live about 3 hours from one another!  I can say it was definitely worth the wait, and I know we won't wait so long to do this again.  We all got to the camp in the noon time hour and after helping hubby set up the corral, tent and kitchen area I got G groomed and tacked up. 

By 2:00 we were in the saddle and headed out for our first adventure. 

We both came equipped with trail maps and I had a compass hanging off my saddle (which never got used btw).  There are 35 miles of marked bridle trails and they are really well marked at the majority of the intersections.  We decided to stick to the perimeter trails to start out, which were wonderful wide sandy dirt roads.  It made for riding side by side and being able to hold a conversation while riding....nice!  It also doesn't hurt that we both ride gaited horses that just love gaiting on this type of terrain.  

We rode for close to 2 hours and only covered about 6-7 miles in the lower east quadrant of the park.  By the time we got back to camp, hubby had set everything else up, the fire was going and I was ready to get dinner going and sit in front of that fire!  

Friday was a bit cooler seeing that the sun didn't make an appearance.  Jill brought over some cupcakes and meat for the grill and we got to cooking.  Oh my, these were good cupcakes.  And then she says "they're made with zuccini".  Surprisingly hubby ate a second one lol.  The man who doesn't eat veggies.  Anyway, while I was digging through our kitchen tote I came across a little bag that contained a bridle charm and a new horn bracelet/dee ring bling that I'd made for Jill.  I said "presents" and with that she said "oh I forgot" and ran across the street to her site.  I had ordered one of her beautiful hand painted browbands a couple weeks prior to our trip and said she could bring it along rather than ship it to me.  The standard browband is in mostly turquoise colors and Jill was nice enough to ask me if I wanted her to customize the colors more in line with our saddle pads.  She didn't have to ask twice and I sent her pictures of the pads.  In the meantime, I ordered a new head net for G in hunter orange since hunting season is coming up.  It was just perfect!

Isn't it gorgeous?  Jill does really wonderful work on bridles.  But the fun wasn't over, she handed a bag over to hubby and inside was a brown bridle with a v brow band and it had a rainbow trout theme for his future horse.  How cool?!?  I knew something was coming but hubby had no idea and he was floored.  I really think this helped ease the pain of him not riding with us.   So we had a little Christmas in September :)   We sat around the fire talking for awhile and before we knew it the sun was going down.  It was kind of a shock seeing how fast the sun goes down now, I think we were all tucked away for the night by 8:30 lol. 

I'd forgotten how much I love camping.  Being all snugged in a double wide sleeping bag with the cool coming in the window, snuggling with hubby.  It just makes for perfect sleeping.  Well, that is when your head isn't 10' away from your horse corral.  Hubby can sleep through just about anything.  Me?  I heard him munching hay, heard him sigh, heard him drink, heard Sprite whinny "hey where is everyone?" and G hollering back "I'm over here in the dark!"  I think Sprite whinnied once an hour and G answered every other time lol.  I know I fell into a deep sleep at one point and when I woke up it was absolutely silent.  I laid there quietly waiting for G to move or munch or something, but nothing.  I lept out of bed, out the tent and look over and there's G standing with head over the rail looking toward Sprites site across the way.  He nickered, I threw a couple more flakes of hay and went back to bed.  When I opened my eyes next the tent was getting lighter and the birds were just starting to stir.  We opened up the back window of the tent and laid there watching and listening as a flock of Chicadees invaded our campsite.  It was so cool especially since they're my favorite birds.  By 6:30 I was up and feeding G and by 7:30 I began breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon and home fries.  We invited Jill to join us but she had already had her breakfast.  So she came over and hung out as we ate and we talked about where we wanted to go today.  We decided to head out of one of the trails between #33 & 34 and head north to another section of the trail.  

G patiently waiting to head out

As you can see G & Sprite were happy to see one another nose to nose.

Jill looking quite happy being out on the trails.  They are a neat partnership.  And having G and Sprite hit it off right off the bat was really great.  They were well matched in gait as well.   Friday night I added a teaspoon of lite salt to G's dinner as he usually won't drink on the trail.  I was hoping it would work, and not only did he drink a bucket of water overnight, when Sprite stopped at a puddle and started "slurping" G lowered his head and did the same.  This is a horse that rarely drinks from a stream or pond, yet here he is drinking out of a puddle.  Granted the puddles were fresh from the rain the day before, but the tadpoles were already in residence.  Jill said "Sprite likes his water with a tadpole chaser" this made us both giggle.  Wouldn't you know that G stopped at every puddle after that to take a drink (lite salt works great!)  Without further ado, the puddle sippers....

Just me & G

 Along the trails we kept seeing small what appeared to be hiking trails scattered here and there.  Since they weren't marked on the map as bridle trails we past them by.  Though we did discuss trying one out.  At one point we weren't quite sure which direction to take and wouldn't you know one of those trails just happened to be at that junction?  :0) so we took it.  It turned out to the the "heart healthy" trail that looped through the woods along the reservoir.  We never saw any hikers, just a couple of people in kayaks on the pond.  It was a nice little side trip! 

We rode between 4-5 hours and to say it was grand was an understatement.  We really enjoyed riding with Jill and Sprite.  Jill has a similar mindset when it comes to riding and trail etiquette.  It was a really good day on the trail.  On the way home we past the Host Camp sites and our weekend hosts, Bob, Pat & Laurie were pretty much set up.  They spend every weekend at the camp from May to Columbus Day and pretty much make sure things run smoothly and they take out groups on Sunday mornings to show riders the unmarked trails.  They seemed like really nice folks and we agreed to meet up with them at 9:30 in the morning.  One day tripper was coming in for the ride.  Hubby had the fire going when we got back after a nice afternoon nap in the hammock (he went hiking in the am).

My sister Susie and brother in law Phil, were camping in the "people" campground just down the road from us so we planned on doing Saturday night dinner with everyone bringing steak for the grill.  Jill brought redskin potatoes in olive oil wrapped in foil; with another pouch of peppers and and of onions in foil.  I did grilled asparagus and rice pilaf, and Susie brought desert, which consisted of a variety of square cakes.  Chocolate and pumpkin spice, very yummy.  Dinner was awesome I didn't burn anyone's steaks and we all ended up with full bellys. (this pic was before dinner and the table was covered with food).
 Saturday night we again were all tucked in before 9:00.  Something about being in the fresh air all day.  Okay and not sleeping well the night before :0 ) but I slept really really well.  Sprite was also quieter so G only whinnied twice that I know of.  All I know is it got pretty cold overnight and I wasn't so anxious to pop out of the sleeping bag and put on cold clothes.  Oh, and what did I remember when I went to bed?  The huge fruit salad I made for dinner.  So breakfast consisted of chocolate donuts and fruit, so it was a much easier breakfast and clean up (thanks hon).  Before I take a break from writing, I do want to add that I have the best most supportive husband in the world.  I'm lucky that he's a horse person and understands.  It's why I can't wait til we get to Tennessee so he can have his own horse and enjoy all of this with me. I'm a lucky lucky gal.

(Part Two - Sunday's ride to follow I need a break from typing!)