It’s the first real snow we’ve had in a while. I enjoy the down time and just watching the horses play in it.
When we decided to buy the property and build literally from the dirt up, I decided to give my horses a break while we were building and let them sit. I couldn’t justify the cost of monthly shoeing on a horse that wasn’t doing anything, and I couldn’t justify the cost of running barrels when my horses didn’t even have a roof over their head. So I took a deep breath and pulled Fireman’s shoes.The other two were already barefoot and I had trimmed them for years, but Fireman was different – he had issues with thin soles and low heels. He was a classic case of what is ideal doesn’t always work, and what works isn’t always ideal. We tried everything from pour in pads and rim pads to rocker shoes. The shoes and pads that kept him sound didn’t stay on in turnout and often encouraged his heel to become under-slung, but what kept him upright didn’t keep him comfortable. So, pulling shoes and starting from scratch, especially since we were sitting anyhow seemed like a good option.
When I first pulled Fireman’s shoes, even though he was long he was definitely sore. Fortunately, although our ground at the new place has a lot of rocks, the ground itself is soft. I studied different theories online and the first year I focused on trim and attempting to get the toe shorter and moving the heels back where they should be. I was always conservative with trimming, trimming less more frequently.At first, I listened to the (bad) advice that I needed to trim the heel in order to help the heel to come back. Needless to say, he didn’t improve. Only later after I read Pete Ramey’s theory about when you shorten the toe, the heel moves back on their own, did I realize taking heel wasn’t the answer in Fireman’s case.Not to be deterred, I started researching nutrition and learned that a deficiency of copper – usually caused by an overload of iron – kept them from growing much needed heel. So, I began tweaking Fireman’s nutrition and trying supplements. Again, another lesson in what’s ideal doesn’t always work, and what works isn’t always ideal. What works best for weight and for your budget doesn’t always work for feet, and vice versa!My budget was already maxed out between building the house and trying to figure all of this out when one of the horses I had re-homed due to the divorce returned to me after a severe case of laminitis. Now I had TWO horses with issues to figure out and work on!
With the extreme wet weather resulting in record rains and continuous mud, and trying to stay within a budget, and meet nutritional requirements to grow feet and avoid starch, it’s been a lot to figure out. I’m still tweaking the diet – learning what works and what doesn’t – and learning where my limits are with the trims. Even with the failures, there have been small stretches when Fireman was sound enough to ride, and I’ve been able to maintain the other horse Cool without shoes when he was too sore to eat without shoes, so I don’t feel like it’s a total loss.
“Is your horse really sound if he is tender without shoes?”
That question really resonated with me and makes sense, which is one reason why I have stayed the course this long. I know in the end if I can figure out what works for these two I’ll have a healthier horse.
Fireman was always a little tender right after trims, but other than that there weren’t any blatant signs that concerned the vets. I had one of the best farriers in the country that has worked on top horses and good vets to go with it. It wasn’t their fault. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I believe Fireman was borderline laminitic but we didn’t know that at the time.Fireman was on a low amount of the best low starch feed, good grass hay (from Kamps Farms) but it wasn’t enough. He was still getting too much starch and iron from the feed, and not enough copper and zinc. I’ve had to totally revamp the mineral portion of his diet, and although progress has been slow it’s still progress.
As I often say, you can’t out trim bad nutrition and you can’t out nutrition a bad trim – it takes a whole approach. It’s not as simple as feeding a good feed and adding a great hoof supplement. It takes a whole lot more than that. It takes figuring out the right balance for your horse, and all the while working with your supply, your budget, and your storage set up. At the same time, it takes the right trim and aiming for a heel first landing to get the circulation needed to heel the hoof and grow sole depth.Truthfully, in the end, it all comes down to what you’re willing and able to do, and what works for your horse.Since we’re still building, I’ve got time to still give this whole barefoot thing a try. By the way, if you run barrels barefoot with a horse that used to have issues with shoes, contact me — I’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, if you’re looking to do some research, Pete Ramey is a great resource, as is Dr. Kellon .
While there’s a ton of great information out there about getting horses to load on trailers, it’s still an issue that owners often deal with, and it’s a question that is frequently posted on forums and Facebook pages.
Most often, the root cause traces back to not having a foundation on a horse – being able to control their feet lightly – before ever trying to get them on the trailer, or they’re asking the horse for the next step too soon.
Here’s some simple big picture points to keep in mind any time you’re working with your horse. The same principal applies no matter what you’re doing.
- Horses have the mental capacity of a three year old child – always keep that in mind.
- Horses learn by repetition.
- Quit asking for anything when they give you the slightest try.
- Make the right thing easy (rest) and the wrong thing hard (work)
- Always end on a good note even if you have to set them up to get it.
- Encourage curiosity and you build confidence.
So applying this to trailer loading and unloading….
- Before you ever approach the trailer, make sure your horse knows how to move forward on their own.
You need to be able to point or tap at the hip and they move forward without hesitation. The reason they need this is so they load on to the trailer by themselves.
- You need to be able to move all four feet forward, backward, and sideways by a simple easy tug of the lead rope.
Think of a showmanship horse. They can get a horse to square up or do a pivot by moving the lead just an inch or two. When you’re loading your horse and asking them to put a foot on or take a foot off, you need that same lightness.
- Make the trailer a place of rest and away from or off the trailer a place of work.
If your horse wants to go away from the trailer, let him but put his feet to work. Then come back to the trailer – or as close as you can – to let him rest.
- Don’t immediately make your horse get close to the trailer if they’re afraid of it.
If you horse starts acting up six feet from the trailer, don’t automatically try to get them right next to the trailer. Instead, ask them to work their feet at seven feet away and gradually move in closer. Don’t ask them to move closer until they’re relaxed at the distance they are already at.
- Ask them to put one foot on and off a million times until they’re bored and falling asleep.
You need to ask for it so many times that the horse is completely relaxed and keeping their foot on the trailer on their own. If they want to take the foot off, let them but ask for it to go right back on and leave them alone. Too many times people ask them for that next step too soon and the horse regresses in their training.
- Ask them two feet on and off a million times, then three feet a million times, then four feet a million times.
The same principal applies to the rest of the feet. Ask them to put that same foot so many times that they’re comfortable with it and keeping those feet in place on their own. If you get three feet on and they want to back out, let them back out and then ask them to come right back and try again. Don’t ask for that fourth foot until they’re keeping those three feet on by themselves.
- Because they’ve already loaded and unloaded all four feet a million times, they already know how to unload as a side effect.
Horses want to come off the trailer for two reasons.
- One is they are truly not comfortable being on the trailer – they need more work on being taught to load until they are.
- Two is that they’re anticipating coming off – remember horses learn by repetition?
Think about your hauling and unloading routine. Do you have the same process every time you haul somewhere or when you come home? Change it up and keep your horse guessing when they’re coming out of the trailer. Instead of unloading as soon as you stop, try opening one door and waiting a while. Then open another door and wait again. When you go to unload, unload them and put them right back on and then unload for the day. Anything to mix up the routine will help.
A few thoughts on safety…
- My number one safety rule is to make sure they are untied any time the divider is open or the butt bar is down.
- I don’t tie until they’re locked in, and I always untie before I open the divider or unsnap the butt bar.
- If a horse isn’t comfortable staying on the trailer on their own, don’t shut them in.
Wait until they’re standing on the trailer and not coming off before you shut and latch the divider or trailer door. If a horse is scared of being in a trailer, locking them in is not going to magically cure the fear. It’s only going to make them feel trapped.
- Pay attention to how you drive.
- Horses will start having trailer trouble if your driving is causing them to become unbalanced.
- Be slow and gradual with your stops.
- Take turns slowly and easily – be sure to gradually slow down when coming into a turn.
- Wait to accelerate coming out of a turn until your trailer is completely through the turn.
- Gradually accelerate.
A few more tips…
- Incorporate your trailer training into your daily turnout routine
Every time you turn your horse in and out, you can spend a couple of minutes on trailer work. You don’t have to fully load your horse. Just ask for a step or two on and off the trailer and then quit. Be sure to quit on a good note.
- Haul your horse to town for simple errands. When a horse is getting used to hauling, frequent short trips are a good way to get some seasoning.
- Don’t get in a hurry – no matter what. Horses are a mirror of our emotions and frame of mind, and our body language. If you feel yourself getting impatient or worried because you have somewhere to be, take a big breath that your horse can hear. Horses look to us to be leaders. If we’re calm and confident, they will be too.
How well does your horse load? What steps can you take to help your horse load better?
With all the changes this year, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog….After getting the farm sold and doing some serious soul-searching, I’ve decided to keep it going if for no other reason than the fact that I’m passionate about horses and being healthy with them – inside and out- and I enjoy sharing that with other people. It’s therapeutic in that it keeps me going and motivates me as well.
Earlier this week, I shared some progress pics on the CWC Facebook page that I took during a swim break at the campground we’re staying in. A couple of months back, I purchased a bare piece of property and we have been staying in a fifth wheel camp trailer at a KOA Campground nearby while we slowly build. While most folks would consider that roughing it, one of the big perks is having a nice swimming pool to use!
The post talked a bit about not only maintaining my weight loss, but more importantly it talked about my mental well-being. That although there were still some “bad” days, I’m never ever as low as I was before and that faith, changing how I ate, how I think, and having genuine honest supportive people had helped.
I want to talk very candidly about the support part.
This last year was rough with a lot of loss. Not only did I lose a fourteen year relationship and marriage but I also lost a family that I loved as my own. People think step parents don’t love or don’t grieve, but that’s just simply not true. I also lost friends and my own family through all of this.
In the midst of dealing with depression and a marriage that was falling apart, it was said by family to my ex that I was crazy and that I needed to get back on whatever it was that made me sane, and that I was going through a mid-life crisis. In the immediate throes of a separation argument, and a lowest point, I was told I was so crazy I didn’t know what day it was. (Gaslighting, anyone?) That same argument I was told that all those people who I thought were my friends were laughing at me and pitying me because I thought I was some twenty year old cowgirl. Narcissist and cheater were thrown out there too. Keep in mind this came from two people who said they loved me.
For someone with depression going through that with no support system, no family to turn to, and only a few good friends to confide in, that was an extremely hard time in my life. I don’t know what I would have done without my co-workers, my neighbor, and my best friend and “Superman” Austin Foust. Those were the people who wouldn’t let me forget they were there for me no matter what and I will never forget that as long as I live. God gave me those folks to get me through that dark time. I really believe it.
Any time you go through something like this you reflect on the past and try to figure out what happened, where it went wrong. Sometimes in doing so, things start to make perfect sense. For me, that’s exactly what happened. Only after I gained some distance was I able to clearly see the depth of the lies and their purpose, and the gross years of manipulation that had occurred and what I had let it do to me.
In looking back at comparison pictures, it’s clear to me that this was a downward spiral years in the making. This didn’t happen over night. These are not easy to look at, and most definitely not easy to share.
These pictures are close to ten years ago and they speak volumes. Yes, I was heavier but it’s not just about the weight. I was not healthy, physically or mentally either one. I couldn’t see it at the time, but now looking back I definitely can, especially when I look at comparison pictures.
I was exhausted because I wasn’t getting enough sleep (not by my own accord), and my body was riddled with inflammation to the point that I had a place on my face that didn’t heal for over a year. I was miserable and you can see it!
There’s a saying that if you’re struggling and your people are just watching then maybe they’re not you’re people. That’s true. If you’re going through depression and/or health issues and the ones that say they love you are not being proactive to help you get healthy (not supporting you to get healthy!) then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate who your people are and how important your health is and do something about it.
Don’t be afraid to cut ties if that’s what it takes. Sometimes removing yourself from toxic people is the only way to get well if they’re not going to change their behavior. You can only control your behavior, you can’t control theirs.
If you love someone who is struggling with their physical health, and/or their mental health what they need most is your support.
Sometimes people don’t need to hear what you think they should do, or whether or not you think they’re making a mistake. Most often they just need support in the form of listening while they come to terms with what they’re dealing with. They don’t need judgement, they need a place to talk. They also need to know you’re true (and loyal) to them behind their back, not just to their face. They need to know you care by your genuineness.
Aside from mental support, sleep has more impact on health and mental well-being than anything else a person can do. If someone you love isn’t sleeping well, support them by encouraging them to get to bed earlier. Let them know their sleep is a priority to you too so that they don’t feel any pressure to stay up to get things done, or spend time with you. If you’re watching TV, turn the TV down so they can sleep, and make sure you watch it in another room. Be considerate by being quiet.
If you truly love someone and want the best for them, you don’t want to be an enabler by rewarding them or showing them love with unhealthy food, especially if they have a health condition that’s impacted by food.Don’t set them up for failure by making it harder to eat healthy – They’re already struggling with that.
Instead of showing you care by bringing home a gallon of ice cream, bring home something healthy that they enjoy. Take the time to find out what that is.
Instead of dangling temptation in front of them by eating that double burger with fries while they eat a salad, you could eat a salad as well. Sometimes when you care about someone, it means sacrificing a little bit yourself. In the end, not only will they benefit, but you will as well because they see your support and you will have had a healthier meal.
It’s true that we’re responsible for ourselves, and our own happiness and we shouldn’t let someone else dictate our happiness. However, if we’re struggling with getting healthy we have to put ourselves in a place of success and part of that success is having support.
If you care about someone who is struggling, what are the most important ways you can support them?
If you’re someone struggling with health issues, what changes can you make to make progress?
The farm didn’t get the business that was needed to keep it going so I put it back on the market for sale. So, it looks like there will be more changes in store for me this coming year. I like to think of it as Tiny House Living, horse style. Hey, if life gives you lemons you make the best dang lemon marguerita you can possibly make, right?
While change is never easy, I am looking forward to downsizing and having more time and money to focus on my own horses and compete more when things settle down. For years I’ve been a jack of all trades, going and doing so many things. I’d like to narrow my focus, be more selective about where and who I spend my time on, and just see where that leads. While selling the farm is the end of a dream in one sense, it’s freeing and the start of an ultimate dream in another. I’m looking forward to what the year will hold.
Since I’ve been thinking more about competing and the coming show season, I thought I’d share some tips for showing that I’ve learned first hand, sometimes the hard way, the last few years.
The first tip, and one that I think is probably the most important is in regards to food. Food has an impact on how you think, how you react, how well you focus and yet it’s one of the most under-rated elements of competition.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to help someone not be as nervous about showing and when food is mentioned they say, “Well, I don’t need to eat. I’m too nervous to eat.” People just don’t think it makes that much of a difference but it absolutely can mean the difference between a good run and a poor run. We plan our horse’s nutrition, especially if they’re in a high performance event. Why wouldn’t we do the same thing for ourselves?
The effects of food on the body can last longer than we realize. If you’re wanting to eat better for a show day, you’ll want to start at least a couple of days early. This will allow some extra time to get the bad food out of your system, and will allow your body to adjust to the better food.
I always eat turkey an hour to thirty minutes before I compete. The protein fuels my brain and muscles so I can think and react. Turkey is also a natural source of Tryptophan which has a calming effect on the body so it helps with nerves.
I also make sure I eat some source of protein every couple of hours the entire show day. This helps keep my sugar levels regulated so I can think clearly and not get nervous. If I’m the least bit nervous, my horse will feel it and will react, so the more clear my thinking and the calmer I am the better my horse will behave and perform.
Another thing that I do is load up on water a couple of days before a show. It’s easy to not drink enough during the show day. Dehydration can wreak havoc on your mind and your reaction time just like food. The more you load up on water the day before, the less likely you’ll be to get dehydrated if you’re not drinking as much as you should. A hydrated mind is a clear mind.
Because of the sugar levels in sports drinks, I try to drink mostly water. If I must have something besides water, I’ll drink Powerade Zero that has zero sugar. I’m not necessarily a big fan of the chemicals, but it does have some needed electrolytes. You can also carry lemon water, or some of the sugar-free drink flavorings. Just be sure to read the label to know what you’re ingesting.
Sleep is another thing that can really impact your performance in the saddle. Make sure you get at least seven to eight hours of shut-eye the night before. If you know you’re not going to be able to sleep because you’re thinking about showing too much, give yourself a couple of extra hours to allow for tossing and turning.
Another tip is to take some quiet time the day before and the day of your show. Take the time to just be still and think about what you need to do and what is important. Don’t let your head run wild with fear scenarios. Plan your day and your strategy, and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Connect with your goals.
This year has a lot of uncertainty and changes, but the one thing I can do is control is my own mindset, and how I prepare for when it’s finally time to step in the ring and do what I love to do best. The better mindset I have and the better I set myself up, the better chances I’ll have at enjoying my show day.
When it comes to competing, what are some of your fears? What do you think you do to contribute to those fears? How can you change your routine to lessen your fears? What is your strategy for the coming show year?
This is going to be another one of those pretty personal posts in the hopes that it can help someone else that’s out there going through the same thing.
I’ve been slowly wading back into the dating world, even putting a profile on Farmers Only a few weeks back. While I’ve always struggled with body image all my life anyhow, the whole dating thing will definitely take its toll and make you doubt the rest of you, especially if you’re like me and have some extraneous baggage that a lot of guys can’t deal with! Most guys aren’t like the Chris Ledoux song, Tougher Than The Rest….
There’s been days of self doubt, ups and downs, frustration, and tears. There’s also been a whole lot of self reflection, and a lot of lessons learned, thanks in part to my dear friend, Austin Foust.
Austin has been my rock through this whole divorce ordeal. He’s been the one person to check on me every single day to make sure I’m ok. He’s been the one I’ve called when I’ve been crying so hard I can’t even speak. He’s been the one to pull me back off the ledge and give me hope. He’s also been the one to remind me time and time again that I’m enough on my own. Sorry ladies – he’s gay!
Austin has been my biggest cheerleader, and he’s reminded me of things that I knew but I just needed to hear. We all need a friend like that. They helps us get stronger.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not settle and don’t lower your standards. Again, do not settle and don’t lower your standards!
It’s amazing how we sometimes lower our standards on certain things when we want something so badly, or we think we don’t deserve better. Sometimes we accept not being treated as important, or less than we deserve. Other times, we say something really isn’t a big deal when in fact it is. In the end, we won’t be happy if we’re not made to feel important or we accept something that we really don’t want. So, why settle in either case?
Another lesson is that people make time for who and what they want in their life. If they want you in their life, they’ll come get you. It’s pretty simple. If they want to talk to you, they will. If not, don’t waste your energy chasing them down – you’re worth more than that!
The next lesson goes hand in hand with the last one – actions speak louder than words. Someone can say all day long they want you in their life, but if they don’t make time for you – even just a text or call – then their actions don’t back up what they’re saying. On a side note, why would you want someone in your life that you can’t take at their word?
You deserve better and you are enough. Just because someone doesn’t make you a priority doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, or that you deserve less. It just means they can’t recognize a good thing when it’s in front of them. Save your time and energy for people that recognize and appreciate the fact that you do deserve better and that you are enough.
Follow your heart. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, find a way to go do it. Life is too short to wish you’d done things differently. Don’t be afraid to start over or follow that dream.
I’m definitely preaching to myself on this one! I’ve always wanted to live out west as that’s where my heart has always been.
Spend time focusing on yourself and find joy where you can. If there’s something you love to do, go do it and have fun no matter how small.
In the end, life is too short to spend our energy chasing after people that don’t deserve us, or not following our dreams. Get out there and live while you can and love yourself in the process — You’re worth it!
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the term journey as the act of traveling from one place to another.
That’s exactly what I’ve been doing these last few months. I’ve been traveling from one place, or mindset, to another. It’s not always been an easy trip at times, but I know in the end I’ll wind up where I’m supposed to be.
There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now with trying to get the farm sold, and move on as a single woman with as many horses as I’ll have. I get asked at least a few times every week, “What are you going to do with your horses?” My response always is, “Ya know what? I really don’t know!”
The truth is, at this point time I really don’t know, but that’s ok. I have peace that’s settled on me. Deep down, I believe that things happen for a reason and things work out like they’re supposed to. We’re not always in control, and that’s ok.
A good friend has a saying that stress is like sitting in a rocking chair. You can rock all you want but you won’t get anywhere. That’s so true. If you can’t do anything about it, why stress over it? We all know what stress does to the body. Do what you can do, and do the right thing and leave the rest in God’s hands. Really, if you think about it, that’s all we can do anyhow!
The one thing I can do is enjoy the journey that I’m on right now. I’ll be honest, sometimes actually enjoying it is a little tough, especially when you just want it to be over! I’m one of those types that just likes to keep my head down and plowing on until I’m through to the other side. The problem with being that way is that there’s always going to be some obstacle that I want to just get through. Life becomes a series of obstacles you’re trying to get through instead of a journey that you’re supposed to enjoy. I’ve got to learn to enjoy the journey, or the trip from here to wherever it is that I end up.
I’m learning more and more to enjoy the little things, no matter how small. The sound of the whippoorwill as I’m working on this blog post, or the feel of my horse’s sweaty back as I ride through the field. The old me would tune out the distraction of an incessant whiporwhil because I need to get a blog post done. The old me would have opted to ride in a saddle because I needed to tune on my horse. Not any more.
These days I’m much more full of life. It’s because I’m learning to enjoy the moment and the journey instead of just keeping my head down until the next great moment. The old me that’s full of life and adventure is coming out by leaps and bounds as a result. I like to say I’m getting my groove back, cowgirl style! I think that’s true. There’s a happiness that was lost before.
So what is it that you’re stressing over? What is it that you just wished would hurry up and pass? Instead of stressing, or just keeping your head down and getting through it, what you can do to enjoy where you’re at right now?
Top of Cherohala Skyway
Here’s the Bald River Falls I’ve been spending time at…
I’m going to warn you – this blog post is going to be pretty personal, but my hopes in sharing this is that it might help someone else. We can be standing next to someone and not have a clue what’s going through their mind or what hell they’re dealing with. Sometimes those people are utterly alone, as I was.
When I started the CWC blog a little over a year ago, it started out as a way to reach out and inspire other riders that were struggling with confidence. The blog wound up being a journey for me personally as well, and it’s a journey that’s taken quite an unexpected turn the last couple of months.
While this blog was a way to urge other riders to get out there and do what they love, it was also an opportunity for me to do some self reflection as well. That self reflection this last year, has led to me making some drastic and life changing decisions.
I won’t go into any major details at this time, but two years ago my family endured a tragedy that changed all of our lives forever. While that tragedy didn’t necessarily cause the subsequent events, it certainly brought issues to light that needed to be dealt with.
This last year after the event was particularly rough, and quite frankly I sank to the absolute lowest Ievel of depression I’ve ever experienced. While I functioned normally in that I kept the horses up, did well at my job, and presented a picture that everything was ok to the rest of the world, the truth is that it wasn’t.
There were weekends where I went back to bed and cried all day after morning chores because I felt so alone and hopeless. There were many, many days I felt like life just wasn’t worth it any more, that if I ceased to exist it wouldn’t be a big deal to anyone. What really was the point of living?
I imagined ways to die. My favorite was waiting until a subzero night, making it look like I hit my head, and freezing to death. Guns and hanging were too painful, pills you wouldn’t really know you were going to die. Call it silly, but I didn’t like the idea of falling asleep out of your mind and somehow realizing in the dream that you’re dead. Plus, life insurance wouldn’t pay if you committed suicide and I didn’t want my horses being suddenly homeless. Freezing to death would look like an accident, and on some level you’d know you were dying as you fell asleep.
I am a Christian, and it was during those darkest hours of depression that I begged God to feel His presence and to change me and my thinking. All I got was silence. I felt abandoned even by God at that point.
I had never sank that low, and had never felt that abandoned by God and my spouse but I knew that I didn’t want to stay there. So, I started fighting to bring myself out of it anyway that I could.
The first way was to find joy in every little thing no matter how small. I also started making myself more of a priority – my health, my happiness, and my career especially as a writer and as a horseman. If I could focus on those things and have something to work towards, I knew I could keep moving forward – and I did!
I finally came to a point of reality with my marriage as well, and I knew I couldn’t stay in a relationship that had slowly been contributing to my sinking that low. I knew it was time to get out, and that’s where I’m at now.
While taking that first step was most definitely a terrifying one, especially after thirteen years of marriage, I also felt a great sense of relief in the midst of such uncertainty. Because of that, I knew deep in my heart that I made the right decision. I also started to realize that sometimes God gives us silence, and doesn’t answer our prayers, because we have to become miserable enough to move from where we’re at.
The divorce papers will be filed early next week, the farm is up for sale, and I’m trying to figure out what in the world I’m going to do with seven horses on short notice. There are good days, and there are still days that I cry – a lot – but the difference is that I can see I’m moving in the right direction and I feel a sense of joy, hope and purpose again.
I’m also finding my true self again, and doing things that I love to do. I’ve been eating healthier and it’s not the struggle that it always was before because I’m not medicating myself with food. I’m working out and lifting weights. I feel stronger than I have in years, and I’m riding a LOT better as well!
I’m also getting out and going to local places that I’ve always wanted to go, such as Bald River Falls in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. I plan on seeing a lot of trails this year.
I know that this year is not going to be an easy journey, but every day I’m finding how strong I can be. Life is gift that is too precious to be wasted in sorrow. So get out there and find the things you love and go after them with everything you’ve got!
Springtime is here and show season has begun!
It’s a time to drag and rotate pastures in preparation for summer grass.
It’s also a time to get ready for the first horse show of the year.
It’s also a good time to assess your goals for the year, and your mindset. What are your goals as a rider? What are your goals for your horse? What are you goals for the show season? And, the big question is do all three of those goals align?
I’ll be honest, I’d absolutely love to run down the alley way at the Thomas and Mack arena at the NFR, or run a cow down the rail at the AQHA World, or jump a course at the Longines FEI World Cup. Actually, I’d love to do all three, but if i start my show season off thinking we’ll be hitting that level by the end the year, I’m going to be sorely disappointed!
Joel Sherlin who trained NBHA World Champion and RFD-TV American Semi-Finalist (2014), Bully By Design, has a saying that goes a long ways when it comes to riding horses and horse shows. Joel, who lives in Athens, Tennessee, is as down to earth as they get even though he’s somewhat of a local legend for his uncanny training ability and funny stories that all come from personal experience of course! His saying is, “Low expectations.”
You see, just like any great horseman that’s learned from experience, Joel knows you can have the best plans in the world and the biggest dreams, and sometimes things just happen that are out of your control. For instance, you’re riding a colt at a big show and he spooks at the flash on a camera as you’re making your way along the rail and you blow your class. Or maybe you’re riding a horse that’s been hauled a lot but they spook at the second barrel when the wind flaps a banner on the rail. It happens. The key is to not let it deter you from moving forward in your goals.
I’ve hauled with Joel and his wife Nancy quite a bit and I try to learn all I can about this “Low Expectations” strategy. Obviously with their track record and number of great horses they’ve turned out, there’s something to it!
“Low Exepctations” is really a change in mindset that’s usually brought on by the school of hard knocks – sometimes literally – and disappointments. It’s a learning experience.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that when you ride horses that have issues or need some training, you learn very quickly to appreciate the little things. For instance, if you a haul your horse to it’s first show and you stay on, it’s been a good day – never mind you didn’t even place! That’s “Low Expectations” in action right there.
When you’re starting a new discipline, or your new to riding in general, it’s the same thing. If you get in your class and you remember your pattern, or you make it around all three barrels still in the saddle, then you’ve had a good ride! Again, “Low Expectations”.
By now, you see where I’m going with this.
Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at where you’re at and what your base struggles are. Do you have trouble getting a lead? Does your horse struggle loping small circles? Do your horse spook every time you go into an indoor arena? Those are the simple things you can focus on now. Fixing foundational problems such as these will lead to much bigger successes later on.
The same thing goes for us a riders. What are some of the things that you struggle with as a rider? Maybe you struggle with getting the correct diagonal at the trot, or being in time over a jump. Perhaps it’s getting left behind when you come out of a barrel headed to the next one, or just not being intimidated with speed. When you break it down, all of these things really relate to strength and balance. Just like working on foundational issues with your horse, you can work on the basic issues as a rider and improve your ability over time.
As riders, we always tend to look at the end picture. What we don’t realize is that it’s all the little things that eventually produce the final success, and that’s a side effect of having a “Low Expectations” mentality. Work on those small things a little at time and eventually they all add up.
If you could do anything with your horse, what would it be? What are some simple things you can do today to improve you and your horse, and implement a “Low Expectations” strategy?
A few days will mark the one year anniversary of Cowgirls With Curves!
It’s been a great year and what started out as simple blog has turned into a wonderful journey for me too as not only a writer and horseman, but as a woman as well. I want to say a special “Thank You” to all the followers out there. You’ve been such an encouragement and you’ve shown me what this is really all about — encouraging other riders and making a difference.
I’ve spent the winter doing the bare minimum and packing on a few pounds. Bad news is that I put on 6 pounds of that 20 pounds I lost last year. The good news is I’m still 14 pounds lighter than this time last year – so I consider it a bit of a success!
With show season right around the corner, I’m starting to feel the itch of riding more and warmer days. I’ve always said there’s nothing like a colt or green horse to make me start working out. The last couple of years, I’ve not had to worry about that too much. This year is a little different!
Back in December, Willie Kamps came to farm to live. Willie is an interesting horse. He’d been ridden by a kid, and I believe even roped on. I hauled him some last year to a few barrel races and even a sorting. Although he was easy to put where you needed him when it came to tracking cows, he still had a few gaps.
For instance, we sat a friend’s helmet on a barrel when she was done riding. I went to go around that barrel a few minutes later, thinking nothing of it since we’d worked around it a few times already, and suddenly it became a fire-breathing dragon we couldn’t get within ten feet of!
Although he’s a bit calmer in the arena, he’s a completely different horse out in an open field by himself. He’s got a lot more energy and is constantly looking for things to spook and bolt at. You’d better have your heels down or you’ll easily be left behind!
I also have an off the track retire thoroughbred, Dynamic Host, that I’ll be re-schooling as well as an eventing prospect. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of similarities between he and Willie Kamps when it comes time to ride out in the field!
While some folks steer clear of horses like that, I tend to love a good challenge. I also see them as an incentive to get stronger, in addition to an opportunity to improve as a horseman. Becoming a better horseman is important to me.
Having two tough horses to ride and train and train – in two different disciplines – this year is most definitely enough of a reason to get me up a little earlier. I’m getting older and I don’t like to hit the ground — the best way to avoid hitting the ground is to get strong and balanced!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what inspires and encourages you. What is it that makes you want to get stronger? What is it that makes you want to become a better rider?