Monday, November 14, 2011

You Were Always on my Mind!

Gotta share an article by Jerry Finch just published on Going Gaited online magazine...entitled You Were Always on my Mind! I was amazed that a male writer showed such emotion toward horses, and even described a mare. A great article! I really enjoyed it. And now, I have to go spend more time with my own horses! Thanks for sharing, Jerry!

And here's the link:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sharing a Posted Online Article

Going Gaited online magazine is using some of my articles about mares. First one was published a few days ago, and you can check it out at this link: If you have gaited horses, this is a great site to follow! All kinds of articles, columns, a forum, beautiful photos and more! My next article, probably published next week, will have a nice photo of Lady and me, taken by Linda Snyder of Bunker Hill. She's a great photographer! She took the cover shot photo for my second book, MARES! (ya gotta love em), as well as the photos of Lady and me used in the book.
I'm on the lookout for online sites for gaited horses as well as anything about and for mares. Drop me an email if you find anything, at Thanks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

That Winning Feeling

My November column has been posted on my website, at

It's all about my first ACTHA ride on Lady. That whole day was amazing. After the day was over, I looked back and saw how different Lady had been, and I keep wondering what really made the change. I hope she stays that way!

And only a few days ago, Lady and I rode into the woods behind our stable, and we went through the whole trail, just Lady and me. Our first time to go that far, after doing a little more each ride. Lady whinnied all the way to the woods, calling out to Boogey who is her new boyfriend. She has been in the round pen for a week or more, and Boogey has been giving her lots of attention over the fence.

Yes, I'm gaining my courage back, and it makes a difference. All those baby steps over the past few years have finally paid off. The fears still try to invade my imaginative mind now and then, but I can just go slower for awhile until they leave. Lady and I are doing better than ever!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Training to drag!

Lady and I have completed our first ACTHA ride! I’m working on my November column, and you can read all about it soon! ACTHA is the American Competitive Trail Horse Association. Their Competitive Trail Challenge events are growing in popularity all over the country. Each ride is six miles with six obstacles, and each obstacle is judged, giving horse and rider separate scores. I worked with Lady for several weeks, maybe five sessions or more, to get ready for this event. After looking over the possible obstacles on the ACTHA website, I decided to teach Lady to drag a log. Or something like a log. I started by walking around her in the paddock, dragging a long rope. Then I attached a piece of wood and dragged it around her. After a time, I dragged the rope and then the piece of wood while leading her. I also laid the rope over her back and walked her around, and touched her all over with the rope. Then I rode her and dragged the rope and flicked it all around her. It was a moment of elation for me as I dared to flick the rope beside her on both sides, then over her head while she stood quietly. Finally, I attached the piece of wood and dragged it around and around, letting the rope touch her rump and letting her feel the pull of dragging. One day, after she had been in the round pen awhile, I brought her back to her stall and since I didn’t want to make two trips, I also dragged the empty muck bucket from the round pen to the barn while leading her. That was much noisier than the piece of wood, but Lady was good. I knew then we were ready to drag something. I just didn’t know it would be a “body!” Be sure to read my November column for the rest of the story!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Twice this past week, Lady has been exposed to a big truck in close proximity without bolting! I'm still pondering the meaning of this; I know it isn't a total cure, but her calmness is a place we have reached after many rides and experiences over the past seven years.

I remember coming to the barn one fall morning a year ago, to see Lady standing at the back fence of her paddock watching a combine going back and forth in the adjoining soybean field. I took a photo to record the momentous event! She seemed more curious than frightened, which was so different from her usual excited run to the other end of the paddock.

On Monday this past week, as I unsaddled her at the edge of the road and the big truck was coming down the street, I thought at first it would turn in a few doors away. When it kept coming, I quickly led Lady off the road to a safer distance, and turned her to let her watch it go by. She stood very alert, but didn't move. We were probably fifteen feet from it as it passed.

Then, on Thursday, after I had ridden and put her back in her stall, a load of sawdust arrived for the barn. She probably watched it arrive from her stall, as the big double truck backed into the driveway and dumped its load. It comes in a double truck rig, two loads of sawdust in one trip. Our barn gets the load in the rear truckbed, and the main truckload goes elsewhere. Lady probably saw the dumping of the sawdust and probably heard the airbrakes. The driver parked the rig on the roadway, right in front of the driveway to Lady's stall, and I decided to take advantage of this opportunity. I led Lady out to eat grass between her stall and the truck. She did not seem at all spooked by the truck, still running, though she looked at it now and then as she grazed closer and closer to the road where it was parked. She was almost to the edge of the road when the driver got back in the truck and drove away. Lady and I followed it for a short distance. I'm not sure where this new courage is coming from, but I am overjoyed! Lady just turned 14 a few weeks ago. Some of us do get better with age.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Great ride with amazing ending!

The day before my birthday, I had this great ride on Lady, with an amazing ending! A wonderful fall day, about 70 degrees, with a cool breeze. Lady and I went down the trail to the woods, and went further inside the woods than we have yet this year. She seemed calm and I am enjoying our rides more and more. She did everything I asked, without a problem. Very pleased after our ride, I rode back to the car, asked her to stretch out and dismounted. As I was lifting the saddle from her back, I heard the truck coming down the road. Lady heard it too. She stood at attention, her ears forward, eyes on that truck coming down Kelly Road toward us. I threw the saddle and pad quickly into the car trunk, so I could be ready to hold Lady. I was sure the truck would turn in before it got to us, but it went past that driveway and was still coming. It was almost to the stable driveway, and we were standing on the edge of the road! I led Lady onto the grass, just near the front of our car, and turned her, ready for whatever she would do. She stood there, eyes on the truck as it passed within 15 feet of us, but she didn't move. This big grain truck, heading for a field past the stable, passed us and went on. Lady stood there, looking. I suddenly realized how close the big truck seemed, and yet Lady showed no sign of bolting. I still feel the wonder of it, after seven years of being afraid of Lady's fear of trucks--a fear which had become a huge monster within me--and now she stood there as this truck went by. I've told her before not to be afraid of trucks and tractors, that they come by on their way to working in fields. We will get out of their way and they will go on by and we would be safe. Did she really understand? Has she learned to trust me? It may seem like a small thing, but it isn't. It is like a miracle, and I am in awe!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sharing a brave mare's war contribution

Just read a neat article on the Going Gaited online magazine about a special mare who deserves recognition! Sgt. Reckless was a former racehorse, purchased for $250, and she carried ammunition and wounded soldiers in the war, but without being led! Read the story! An oldie but goodie!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

She couldn't have done better!

As I returned to the barn after a short ride on Lady, my husband called out, "how did she do?" I smiled and replied, "She couldn't have done better."
It was one of those rare very special days--early September in the low 70's, a soft breeze, a definite sense of Fall in the air, and Lady in a calm mood. I rode her behind the pasture on the trail a bit further than usual, past the edge of the woods, maybe half a mile from the barn. Then I asked her to go into the woods, and even though she often hesitates and acts nervous when ridden alone, this time she seemed calm enough. We didn't go far, just a circle around some trees, the same circle I've asked of her the last three rides. Next time, I plan to go further on the wooded trail--one more step in our game of learning to go alone together, just Lady and me. I feel our baby steps are paying off in greater confidence for both of us after years of trying to recover from a scary spin when passed by a large truck on the road.
After we came back on the trail, we ventured out onto that same road, not far enough to stretch our comfort zone, but enough to reclaim the easy territory we knew already. We will deal with the road another day. Today it was a longer section of the trail not taken before when alone, and into the woods for a small portion of the wooded trail that is becoming easy. I try to do what is easy several times, until I feel foolish not going further. And as we find that added step becoming easy, then I add something new, or go a bit further.
I see Lady's confidence growing as my own confidence grows. Could it be that one influences the other? A question I ask with a smile, because I know the answer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sharing an article on Boss Mares!

Anna Blake has written a very interesting article for mare lovers, published Sept. 2 on The Stable Woman's Gazette site. It's titled, "Boss Mare: Women and Honesty," and she gives a new perspective on the Alpha Mare! In essence, such a mare says, "If you aren't going to drive the bus, get out of my way and I'll do it." Take a few minutes and read the article! I'm sure you will love it! It deals with more than mares, expanding to include communication, abuse, and blunt honesty! Here's the link...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another step in the Journey with Lady

Cindy and I rode again not long ago, and this time we went into the wooded area behind the pasture. Five acres of woods can be a great place to ride when a marked trail curves around to make use of as much of it as possible! But when it hasn't been used for a long time, parts of the trail become blocked with fallen trees or trees that lean over the trail making it impassable. Oh well, we just made our own trail through the brush, even if it did have lots of poison ivy here and there. We finally did find another part of the trail and just for fun, I rode one side of a loop while Cindy rode the other, and then we met at the other end, still inside the woods. Then Cindy had this great idea! We rode outside the woods, and she stayed "outside," and I rode Lady back into the woods alone. Well, I didn't get as far as I wanted before Lady stopped and whinnied. Rocky whinnied back from outside the woods and they called back and forth a few times. I asked Lady to stand for a moment and that was about all she was willing to do. We went back out, rode around for awhile, then we tried it again. Cindy stayed outside on Rocky while I rode back into the woods again. At least we didn't see any turkeys on this ride. But again, Lady wanted to call for Rocky so she wouldn't feel abandoned, and he had to call back for reassurance, I guess. We'll have to try this again. At least Lady didn't do anything terrible, and she learned that she wasn't really alone, just separated.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Turkeys? Didn't plan on that!

One of my goals this year has been to ride Lady by myself on the trail behind the stable’s pasture back to the woods. Doesn’t sound like much, but Lady is not comfortable being ridden alone. When my husband and I rode together (before he gave his mare away last December), we often rode into those five acres of woods, enjoying the nice trail inside. This spring’s rains kept the wooded trail underwater for way too long, until the hot summer temperatures made riding less enjoyable. Now, the trail is dry and I can’t wait to enjoy it once again! That is, if I can get Lady to go there!
I remember riding Lady alone into those woods once, maybe two years ago. The further we went, the more nervous she seemed and I decided to go just a bit further than where she wanted to stop, then go around some trees before turning back for the barn. Didn’t want her to think I turned back because of her!
After riding the half mile trail to the edge of the woods several times this year, I recently felt it was time to expand our comfort zone. A mound of dirt at the entrance to the wooded area adds to the feeling of stepping into some mysterious darkness. Just at the precise moment Lady reached the top of that mound, ready to step down from openness into the darker wooded section, two big turkeys noisily lifted up from the brush about 15 feet ahead of us and took off flying. Needless to say, we hadn’t expected that! But as I thought about it later, Lady did not turn and run. She jumped in place and stood there, waiting for my cue, it seemed. Was she really waiting for me to direct her? When the turkeys had gone out of sight, and all was quiet, I decided I’d come too far to turn around now. I asked Lady to go forward, and she did, even though I could tell she didn’t really want to go. I guided her around the first curve of the trail, just far enough to feel the atmosphere of the peaceful wooded area, to give us both time to relax, and then turned onto another section that curved back to the entrance. We didn’t go far that day, but I felt Lady had responded to the turkeys in a positive manner, and I was elated at the way she did what I asked of her. Each ride seems to confirm her acceptance of my braver leadership. It is a humbling and glorious feeling!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Toilet Paper doesn't scare Lady!

I went to the stable planning to ride Lady. When I arrived, I saw that the trees in the front yard had been decorated with toilet paper flowing from every branch. Since the owner’s son just turned 17, his friends apparently wanted to celebrate. If I rode past that yard, I was sure that Lady would freak out!
I decided to test her from the ground first. I led her from her stall and walked her where she could see the yard without feeling threatened. We walked closer, and I watched for Lady’s reaction. She looked, but no sign of wanting to turn and run. I talked to her, telling her it was just paper and nothing would hurt her. We walked past the yard with no problem. I decided to go a step further and I led her onto the yard. We walked between the trees, and she looked with interest. A breeze lifted one long strand of white toward her and she stopped and backed up one step. I took the strand in my hand and held it toward her. She reached out with her nose, and then took a bite of leaves from the tree! Oops. Not a good idea. She didn’t seem frightened to me, so I took her back to the barn and brushed her and saddled her for our ride.
I was surprised by Lady’s calmness, and I was pleased. I rode her past the yard with its unusual decorations, and she didn’t spook. She has also walked quietly between piles of hay bales covered with tarps. Lady has some great strengths and an enjoyable smooth gait. She would be close to perfect, if she wasn’t afraid of big trucks and tractors. Perhaps, as I conquer my fears of what Lady might do, she will conquer her own fears.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Something to read

Lin Sutherland has a column (Home on the Deranged) on The Stable Woman Gazette, an online publication with lots of good stuff! I recently noticed one of Lin's older columns, posted December 16, 2010, about her mare, Zia Unaali, who happens to be a black and white gaited mare, and maybe mustang! This is a MUST READ for any mare lover. It's good writing, and its a true story. I'm attempting to retype the link instead of cut-and-paste, so hope this works: If it doesn't work, just search for Stable Woman Gazette, and find Lin's columns. The read will be worth the effort! And if you leave a comment, tell Lin I sent you!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Love that Gait!

My last ride on Lady was a reminder of why I love that mare! It's her gait! Cindy rode Rocky again, and I rode Lady, and we decided to do more than walk. I wanted to feel that gait again that I remembered from a couple times on the trails before. Always ask your riding partner for permission before you take off going faster. Just good manners, and a lot safer for everyone. But I knew Cindy could handle it, and she was willing. So, every part of our ride that was appropriate, I asked Lady to move out and she did. I loved it! Rocky's gait is slower, so he had to trot to keep up, and Cindy had to post. It was a bit selfish of me, perhaps, but it was honestly something I needed to do. I needed to remember Lady's wonderful gait and how it felt, and to remember how much I enjoyed riding her. I needed to feel again how much FUN it was! Just that one ride helped me more than I can describe. Somehow, my fears were left behind and Lady and I were partners again. Need to do this more often!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The road to courage

I haven’t ridden Lady very much for several months, but the last 5 rides have had elements of good progress. While taking a “vacation” from dressage lessons on Rocky, I wanted to start riding outside the arena again. So, my riding instructor rode Rocky last week while I rode Lady, and we went on the trails behind the pasture and down the road. Usually, Cindy rides Lady whenever we go onto the road because I’ve been too scared. I chose to ride Lady at first this time, planning to switch horses when we reached the road. At the last minute, I changed my mind even though I had already heard the sound of a riding lawnmower ahead.
Lady and I were doing quite well, and I was feeling pretty calm. After all, my courageous instructor was with me. As we neared the home where the riding lawnmower was working, I wish I’d planned better. We could have stopped just before we got there to allow the mower guy to make his turn at the edge of the road and start back away from it. Next time, I will know better! But, not thinking of it, we walked on, Rocky and Cindy closer to the mower and Lady and me in about the middle of the road. It was perfectly timed that Lady looked to the right just as the mower was coming straight at us. And yes, she suddenly decided to get out of his way. Anything noisy that comes straight at her must be some kind of mare-eating monster! I had a sudden fleeting image of things whirling, but we didn’t go far. I circled her in the driveway opposite the yard being mowed, and turned her back. The mower guy, a wonderful young man, had kindly stopped. I hollered a thank you and an apology, and he assured us it was ok. We walked on, and I tightened my reins a bit because Lady wanted to hurry away as the mower resumed his work. Near the end of the road, we circled a pond and then turned back.
This time, we passed the mower as it was going away from us. From a safe distance, we stopped and turned the horses to watch the riding lawnmower for awhile as the mower guy went back and forth. Cindy doesn’t get all shook about things like I do. She has the ability to keep herself and her horse calm. I’m trying to learn that ability, but it is difficult to remember when under stress.
We took our time going back to the barn, taking the long route through a neighbor’s field (with previous permission) and behind our barn’s pasture. It’s not wise to let a horse hurry back home after a scary incident. That first time I rode Lady on this road, when the big truck passed us and she spun with me, I did go back to the barn as fast as her prancy walk could take us. I was just as eager to get back as she was!
Six years later, I am still working to defeat that inner terror at the thought of riding this road. I finally realized that the more I avoided it, the more my fears grew. All I could think of was what if that truck came by again? What if a big tractor came down that road? What if I couldn’t handle it? My mind was always filled with fearful thoughts and negative visualizations. I had to learn to replace them with positive ways to handle the possibilities.
At first, I had to make myself ride to the first driveway. I did what I could do within my limited comfort zone. Gradually going a little further each time, we have made it to the seventh driveway three times. There are about 20 driveways on this one-mile road, and I may never ride it all by myself. But each driveway represents another small victory to strengthen my courage.
I see last week’s encounter with the riding lawnmower as another important step in my progress. I remember it without terror and I see how it taught me to handle a similar incident next time! I am eager to ride Lady again on that road, with Cindy by my side, as we defeat those fear demons, one at a time! I know fear cannot be demolished by one ride; it will take many rides, many steps to get there. But I am more committed to the journey than ever.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back in the saddle again!

I hadn't ridden Lady for several weeks--or was it months? I had been riding Rocky, getting ready for a dressage show, and Lady probably thought I had forgotten her. In spite of my reluctance and fear, I made myself put the saddle on Lady and ride. We started in the indoor arena, in spite of some possibly scary scenery where the new barn connects to one wall of the arena. I had led Lady in to take a look a few days ago, and she showed a lot of interest without any real spooking. So I walked her around and made myself relax, then circled closer to the doorway with two orange cones and a muddy spot where it had rained in. It was good practice for being in charge, and I was proud of myself that she responded calmly to everything I asked of her. Soon I was asking for her smooth runnning walk, and I remembered why I enjoyed riding this special mare. She even went between the orange cones and the doorway, over the muddy area, without problems. After our indoor session, I decided to ride her out to the car (where I keep her saddle). Then I decided to go a bit further, onto the trail beside the pasture. Once I noticed the three bales of hay piled up to be burned, just at the corner of the trail, I was ready for Lady's reaction. True to form, she stopped. That's her way of saying, "I don't want to go any further." I let her stand a moment and look things over, then asked for one more step. She did as I asked. Several times, I asked for one more step, giving her adequate time after each step to think. I was proud of her as she walked past the hay bales, even though I could tell she wasn't totally relaxed. The wind in the big tree nearby didn't help, but Lady is not usually nervous about wind noise--just maybe a little today. Once we got past the tree, Lady settled into a normal walk. After a moment, I turned her for home and was pleased that she stayed calm as we walked back past the 3 hay bales, back to the car. She stood quietly as I removed the saddle and put it in the trunk. Step by step the confidence builds with each positive experience. Baby steps, yes, but moving slowly toward bigger ones later. At my age, I like staying safe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lady was better than expected

Our boarding stable is in the process of adding a new barn, attached to one side of the indoor arena. I was scared to ride Lady in there during the construction, and I was even reluctant to take her in there for exercise. Part of the wall had been taken off, and you could look out that big hole to see the new barn being put up. I just knew she would spook! Finally, one day, I decided to take a chance. I led Lady toward the indoor arena, and I could see her head up, looking toward the different view than she had ever seen before. I stopped her before we reached the big gate to the arena, and let her look while I told her all about what was going on. I explained that a new barn was being built, and there was nothing here to hurt her in any way. I told her everything would look different and scary, but it was safe for us to go in and look around. I opened the gate, and let her take her time entering. I walked her around the side of the arena away from the opening, then walked toward it, letting her stop when she wanted to. She looked, standing quietly for a few minutes, while I told her that someday we would go into that barn, but it wasn't ready yet. I walked her around the arena, and let her stop and look again. I let her walk around me on the lunge line, and she stopped several more times to look out the open wall into the area of this new barn, now only an open shell with posts that will be the corners of the new stalls. I was a little surprised that she didn't make any move to turn away or act spooky. She seemed very interested as she stopped to look at this new thing she had never seen before. Perhaps my voice was enough to help her relax, since I wasn't afraid myself. I'm not saying she understood my words, but she was very calm the whole time, and I was pleased with her calmness. She did so much better than I imagined she would! Good girl, Lady! This was a confidence builder for both of us!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To the Seventh Driveway!

How time does fly these days! From one rainy day to another, just thankful to be safe in spite of tornado warnings all around us! But I am happy to report that I did have several short rides before this latest wet spell! Lady and I finally got beyond the stable driveway and out onto the road. We went back onto the newly graded trail behind the pasture, all the way to the edge of the woods, just Lady and me, on three occasions already! She seemed calm enough and I actually enjoyed the outing. Then, on our last ride, we went down the road on Kelly Drive to the seventh driveway. Lady wanted to stop and turn around a bit before that, but I was proud of myself for going a little further than our previous turning point. I asked her to stop and stand still there in the middle of the road until she relaxed with a big sigh. And then we turned back toward the barn and walked calmly along past those seven driveways that marked our gradually expanding comfort zone. From one driveway to seven, we have come during the past two months. We have a long way to go, but we are on our way. Fear sometimes looms larger than it should, but facing it step by step can help diminish its magnitude. My courage was lost, and is now returning slowly. I know it has taken way too long, but we do what we can, when we can. Life seems safer that way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bonding Magic

How can I bring back the magic I once knew with my first mare, long ago? Sometimes I feel too tired to enjoy my horses. Too many of them, too much work, not enough time to ride and have fun, and I'm getting older. What can I do to find that magic with Lady?

I know the secret. It is an easy thing.

To find the best in a relationship, spend more time with your girl. It should be time enjoyed, quietly and without any agenda, just being together, talking and walking together, taking her out for grass, taking care of her. Girls like time together.

One trainer recommends sitting in the pasture reading a book until the horse comes to be with you. I don't have time for that. But I can be with her in her stall, or walking down the road, or just being us together wherever we are, without pressure or need to do anything but relax and enjoy each others company, even for 5 or 10 minutes.

Try it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another Chance for Lady

For five years, I’ve kept Lady separate from our other two horses. Why? Because she previously seemed determined to kick the daylights out of any horse put with her! I watched one day as she ran across the paddock and planted both back feet on Sammy’s chest as he got up from rolling. No reason, I’m sure, other than her being a mare in heat. I had lost my first mare when she charged another horse, earning a defensive kick that broke her leg. I didn’t want to lose another horse that way.

Lady is what we call an “alpha,” a lead mare, the one whose hormones tell her she is in charge of the herd—with the need to tell other horses to respect her place of leadership. While some mares say it with strong facial expressions, Lady uses her back feet!

For safety reasons, therefore, Lady has the paddock in the morning and our two geldings are out in the afternoon. Not the easiest arrangement, especially if the weather is good only part of the day and someone gets robbed of their time outside. Recently, I read an article that explained how important it is that horses have contact with other horses, since they are basically herd animals. It was a very convincing article.

So last week, I decided to give Lady another chance.

She has mellowed some in the past five years. When she kicked Sammy, those two had a horsey love affair going, and I believe she was mad at him for not giving her the right kind of attention. Sammy is no longer with us. Now it’s old Traveller and young Rocky. Traveller doesn’t move as fast as he used to, and I’m not taking a chance on him getting hurt. Rocky, on the other hand is agile, and he can take care of himself without being aggressive.

Before bringing Lady in, I put Rocky out with her and watched. Before long they were running all over the paddock. Part of the time Lady was chasing Rocky and then they were running together. She did run backward once, right at him, but Rocky easily avoided contact and ran around her kicking up his heels as if to say, I’m not scared of you, Lady!

The next day, I again put them out together a few minutes before bringing her in. They ran again, touched noses a few times, and Lady squealed once. Again, she backed up with the apparent determination to kick, and again Rocky avoided contact.

On the third day, when Rocky went out, she walked over to him, and they touched noses. Rocky walked out into the paddock and Lady came to the door where I waited. And that was it. Wow. I let her in.

Fourth day. I put them together and watched a few minutes, then went to fill water buckets. A short time later, I heard running and looked out. Lady was chasing Rocky, then they were running side by side. I noticed she seemed to be pushing him toward the fence. Rocky suddenly stopped, letting her run past him as he crossed over behind her. I had to smile at his smart maneuvering. Lady had met her match!

While other horse owners at our stable put their horses out together all the time—even though they often come in with bite marks and hoof prints—I have been too scared to let mine enjoy their horsey fellowship. My memory of losing one mare because of her aggressive nature has kept Lady from enjoying her job as herd leader. Am I that over-protective Mom who deprives her kids of growing up with proper exposure to the world?

I’d love to hear from other mare owners with dominant females. Have you had any bad experiences putting a bossy mare with other horses? Does it make a difference if they are kept with other mares or with geldings? Or do you keep them separate? How much can we protect our animals without depriving them of healthy social growth? Please share!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shed Hair and Stress at the same time!

Coming back home after three days of the Illinois Horse Fair, I was full of ideas and plans, but found myself way behind in everything! Where to begin! I was taking an online writing course and the final assignment was due. I hoped to catch up on everything Monday morning. But you know the saying about the best made plans...well, my DSL had a problem and I couldn't get online. Needless to say, the morning was full of great stress and frustration. And then I had to go to the barn.
I had planned to ride Lady, but I wasn't in any mood to be her calm confident leader! I ended up brushing the dirt and hair from her coat and combing her snarled mane. I even worked on cleaning up her face. As I brushed, she moved her head up and down to help me. The pile of hair on the floor was growing. I LOVE to see a horse shedding--it just says SPRING better than anything I know. Except maybe the daffodils that are ready to pop open.
Lady stood there quietly, obviously loving the attention. As I worked on her, my frustration and tenseness loosened up and seemed to fall on the floor along with all her shedding black dirty hair. Good therapy! An hour with Lady and my clothes were covered with hair and dust, but I felt much better. Now I felt ready to ride, but that would wait until another day when I had more time. Just being with Lady had eased my stress.
Lady is more than a horse I ride. She is my partner and my friend. And sometimes grooming her is good for both of us. Many horse owners spend more time taking care of their horse than they do in the saddle. That's OK. Our relationship with a horse is more than riding. I don't think men understand that. And that's OK, too. We deserve to enjoy our own special thing. Don't we?

Friday, March 4, 2011

New beginnings...

I always talk to my horses. Especially to Lady. I promised her yesterday that I would soon get back to giving her more attention, and riding again. She looked up from her supper grain at me with a possible, "I'm ready when you are." I am leaving this morning for a weekend of the Illinois Horse Fair! And when I come back, I hope to be all pumped up to be a real horsewoman again, after feeling so distant over the winter. Spring is coming and I'm going to start over and do better! Like someone has said, if the Good Lord is willing, I'll be back to fulfull my promise! I am glad that He gives us a new beginning each morning. Lamentations 3"22-23 tells us "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, Great is Your faithfulness!"

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lady's Visit to the SPA!

On Tuesday, I brushed Lady and combed her lovely mane, trimmed her bridle path and rode. She looked quite nice when I left the barn.
Wednesday morning, she was turned out early by the stable owner, as usual, and I went over at 10:30. Looking out the barn door to her paddock, I saw her standing there waiting, not far from the door. One look and I let out a loud, “Oh Lady!” My husband, around the corner, heard me and asked, “Did she roll?”
Of course she had rolled. And the paddock was a muddy mess with puddles of standing water.
I opened the paddock door and stood clear. Lady walked in calmly, turned the corner and went right to her stall near the back door. She knows where she belongs. Her thick black winter coat was fully plastered with dried mud. Her halter was also plastered, including the snap. And there was a hunk of mud stuck to her face, just above one eye. I thought of how clean she had looked the day before. I thought how much work it would be to get her clean again.
I couldn’t help but feel that Lady had purposely given herself a thorough body mud pack, just like women do at an expensive spa. I couldn’t help but wonder why. Maybe she enjoys rolling and the mud was just there. Maybe she rolled because the mud was there. Does she like to get wet and muddy on these cold winter days? Doesn’t she care how she looks? Doesn’t she care about being dirty? Does she do it on purpose to make me work harder? To force me to give her more grooming time? Lady loves attention, and she enjoys being fussed over.
I decided to let her enjoy her mud pack one more day. I didn’t plan to ride today anyway.
After all, she put that mud on by herself—maybe she can take part of it off by herself. Well, really now—there are times I find her looking cleaner the next day when I haven’t done anything. And I know we don’t have barn elves to do that job! So she must be able to shake it off, or rub it off, or something!
I know I will have to use that metal curry to scrape it off, or the metal shedding blade works good, too. You have to loosen up that dried mud coating first, then scrape it off before brushing. I also love the plastic mane comb brush for that job! And here’s a hint I’ve learned about getting those balls of mud out of the mane: if long strands of mane are coated with dried mud, you can move it between your fingers back and forth and it breaks up pretty good and sometimes slides right off! If huge mud balls are stuck in the mane, they loosen up with water and come off with a paper towel. I use a plastic squeeze bottle (former soap container) filled with warm water to take to the barn when I work on that job. Oh, and to unclog that muddy halter snap, I just hit it against the stall wall a few times, if I can get it off first, that is.
I’ve got an idea! If anyone wants to practice on my Lady, come on over and I’ll show you how it’s done! I’ll even let you do it all, if you want! And if anyone has more ideas on the easiest ways to clean up a muddy horse, PLEASE SHARE!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Back On after Being Off too long!

I was quite sick for several weeks and did not get out to the barn. My dear husband had total responsibility. Lady was fed and watered and turned out, but not much else. When I returned to "barn duty" finally, I expected Lady's eager welcome. Instead, when I reached to pet her, she turned away. Being the alpha-dominant lead mare that she is, I know she was mad at me for not being there when she wanted attention. With mares, you just have to understand their feelings. She got over it in a few days. You can maintain a relationship even when you don't ride. You can maintain leadership with basic daily handling. But distance doesn't build a good relationship, apparently! I wonder if a horse sees your absence as neglect or do they understand the concept of neglect? I'd love to hear some comments from other mare owners about how their mares act after you've been separated for awhile.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Announcing a Rebirth of this Blog

If anyone sees this blog, I just want to say that I'm hereby resolved to do better this year! I am going to post quite often this week, and maybe next, just to get going, and then I plan to post at least once or twice a week. I want this blog to help mare owners with their questions and problems. Let's talk about our mares. Let's share our mares. And if you have any suggestions as to this project, please let me know. My email is