10/31/2006

Committed


Although many would argue that I should be committed, in fact, I have made a commitment to you, my gentle readers, to post every day in the month of November. That means, starting tomorrow there will be a new post every day.

I have some exciting things planned, expect to see lots of video. For those of you on dial-up, I'm sorry, this stuff will be hard to see. BUT, maybe you can catch a glimpse of some of the video when you are near a broadband connection.

While I was surfing away I found the NaBloPoMo and though, I'm up for the challenge. So to win fabulous prizes (and to commit to blogging), I am going to post till my fingers drop. Any ideas or suggestions for blog topics, let me know. If you would like me to show up where you are with my video camera and contribute to the knowledge base, I'm down for that too! You can always call 541-654-0321 to reach me (please don't call too early or late) OR drop me an email at j_gillean@comcast.net.

10/30/2006

Don’t try this at home: Stupid things I have done with horses #1

I have done some pretty stupid things with horses. Some I didn’t realize I shouldn’t have done, sometimes I knew better. I am sharing with you so maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

Practicing trailer loading without trailer hitched. If you are practicing loading, most likely your horse isn’t calm and collected. A trailer that is on a block can fall off the block if your horse jumps around and in my case, send the horse crashing into you. I was OK, but lucky.

Tying a horse to an unhitched trailer. I tied two horses to an unhitched trailer. Both spooked and pulled the trailer with them. How spooky is it to have 2000 pounds dragging behind two freaked out horses? Terrifying.

Forgetting to buckle your helmet. As you will learn, I am a big supporter of helmets. I never ride without one and if you see a picture of me without one, it was early in my riding days when I thought it was OK to show without one (I feel differently now). Three days ago I put my helmet on over my polar fleece hat. I didn’t buckle it as I was doing groundwork first. Because of the hat, it fit really tightly and I did my entire ride without it latched. God was watching out for me because it was two days later that I came off (and hit my head) when Zapa spooked at a car door being slammed.

Handling an upset horse without gloves. I got serious rope burns and had to carry around bags of ice in BOTH of my hands for three days when I helped someone unload a horse (not mine) that was really freaked out. She pulled so hard and fast there was no time to let go. You should always wear gloves when trailering. I must admit I am lazy about that with my own horses because they are good about it, but I always have them handy, just in case. I pledge to be better about this.

Scary Sticks

Zapa is an amazing 3 year old. His willingness, disposition, softness in the bosol, sensitivity, ALL are amazing qualities. He will cross water, walk on bridges, jump obstacles, and walk on a tarp. But he is still too spooky, especially with noise. His spookiness has gotten me on the ground twice in the last week. The first time I landed on my feet, but the second time I landed on my hip and hit my head (Yipee for helmets). He isn’t bucking or rearing, he just spins so quickly that I loose my seat, damn these little fast horses! This last time he was mortified to see me lying on the ground.

Cause #1 was a ‘partner’ flag, a flag on stick that Steve Rother uses. Cause #2 was a car door slamming outside of the arena in the dark. So, because I love this horse but I love my health more, I am going to get this horse desensitized. Today I made scary sticks.

I saw some dowels at Wal-Mart (I usually don’t shop there, but knew I could find flags there), and remembered this stick Bruce and Betty have that has bells and ribbons on it. I thought ah-ha, I can make my own versions. So instead of buying a very expensive flag, I bought some flag like fabric at $1.00 a yard (3 yards was plenty for a variety of sizes). I also bought some bells and some clearance plastic flowers. In all I spent $11.50. I had some eyelet screw and put those on the end of the dowels to tie stuff to, but next time I think I might try something different (not quite soft enough for attaching).

Anyway, I took my scary sticks down to the barn and started working on Zapa. He made progress with the flag. I tied some of the fabric to his hay rack and it hangs down into his grain bin. I also put some of the flowers in the hay rack (he doesn’t use the hay rack). Next on my list is to make a Scary CD. I wonder how many random sounds (not copyrighted of course) I can find on the internet. Like a good blogger, I’ll let you know!

10/19/2006

Santana's Carbonero PFHA #36,366


In August, I sent an email to a woman who had a Paso Fino for sale on Dreamhorse inviting her to the annual Paso Fino fun day at the Reed's Ranch. My email opened a dialog where I quickly discovered that she was 'over horsed' with a young Paso Fino gelding named Santana. He was sold to her as a trail gelding, but his sensitivity, energy and general 'pasofinoness' were not what she had expected. He was her first Paso Fino and he was purchased off a video.

She and I communicated quite a bit over email and via phone and I offered to come ride her horse on our weekend trip to Portland. Santana is an adorable almost black bay with 4 white socks. When I greeted him I decided to put on a bosol in addition to his bit. He stood well for mounting and walked off nicely. He quickly went into a trote like trot, I circled him and quickly he got the idea and walked nicely for me.

I asked him to gait he trotted. I collected him a little more, more trot, I pushed with my seat asked for a little more collection and VIOLA! he was in classic fino. But he sure didn't want to do it more than once and kicked out the next time I asked for it. He was fun, fabulous and quite naughty. I was excited.

His owner had just broken her foot and had 3 other horses to care for. I offered to work with Santana at my barn if she would pay his board. My young gelding was staying some friends who could get him some trail exposure, so I had one horse and at the time, no job. I had plenty of time to work with another horse and was excited to work with a fino horse. But most importantly, 3 years ago I had serious injuries and too many horses. It was the kindness and helpfulness of friends that helped me get through that difficult time and it was a way to give.

When Santana came to my place is feet were marginal and after about a week, one of them chipped. It took some time for that to heal, then he was very sore in his back. I did Ttouch work and massage and in no time he was feeling better.

Now Santana is working quite a bit in fino and I am trying to get him softer and supple while still teaching him to relax. His owner is selling him to her sister who is a novice rider. It will be a challenge for her, but she loves Santana and I think is willing to work at it as needed.

Santana needs to be back on the bit, but he is not thrilled about it. He is acting out the same way he acted out when I started acting him for fino. He is now carrying the bit and soon we will be on it again. With continued work he will work more responsively and I will feel better about putting him on the bit.



I think the video will become more impressive over time. I must admit, it is a pretty fun ride!

10/15/2006

Blanket Basics


Blanketing season is coming! Here are some basics on blanketing, some of which I learned very recently (thanks to Jennifer at Wagon Wheel in Creswell). But first,

Why you should blanket:
There are a lot of reasons, but I’ll tell you why I blanket. First, food conservation. If they are cold, they are spending a lot of time trying to stay warm, so blanketing keeps me from feeding them a lot more in the winter. Second: dirt. I ride all winter long and we have SO MUCH mud here that the horses are filthy all winter. I blanket to cut down on my grooming time. Thrid: Sweat. Horses with winter coats work up a sweat faster, while I don’t clip my horses, they do develop less of a coat where they are blanketed, so they don’t get so sweaty (and take longer to cool down).

Basic Types of blankets (and yes there are more):
Sheet: This is a lightweight nylon that is used for being inside, maybe a light wind, may or may not be waterproof. I use mine to keep horses clean for shows (or for whatever reason they have been bathed).

Cooler: This is excellent for ‘wicking’ away moisture from a wet horse. Good to have one after a long trail ride. Usually made of polar fleece or a similar type of fabric.

Turnouts: These blankets vary in weight (amount of warmth), strength (strength of fabric), and features (hood, tail cover, waterproofness). Turnouts are what you use to keep a horse warm. Depending where you live and the climate you could use a very different one than a friend of yours in another state or country.

How to measure a blanket:
Lots of different theories, but all based around the same basic idea. Note: If a blanket company recommends a specific way to measure for their blanket, but all means, do it!

First, measure the horse from the center of the chest to the center of the tail around the widest part of the barrel. Have the horse stand square and it is most easily done with two people and a measuring tape long enough to go all the way around the horse (sorry, 5 foot sewing measure tape is not enough).

Some people will say measure around the hindquarter right next to the tail. Another theory is measure to the center of the tail, subtract 4 inches (but in smaller horses that could be a lot). I don’t like to mail order things like blankets because shipping is expensive and fitting can be such an issue. Many local feed and tack stores will let you try it on your horse and exchange it for the right size. To keep it clean, use a large flat bed sheet over your horse (don’t have an extra? Buy one at a thrift store). Don’t return dirty items to local tack stores, it hurts us all.

Fitting a blanket:
A blanket should sit evenly on both sides of the horse and should fit like a nice fitting suit jacket. Not so tight that you cannot move your arms, but not so loose that you look like you are swimming in it. You should be able to put your hand in at the front and the shoulders easily.

Straps should not be hanging, but not tight against the horse. There is some personal preference here and I would also gauge the behavior of your horse. Legs can get caught in straps which could result in serious injury. I follow the good fitting suit rule.

Blanket Features:
Denier: Denier is the strength of the nylon. The higher the denier the stronger the nylon and the less likely for rips and tears. If your horse is destructive, get the higher grade stuff.

Fill: There are different words for this, but it is basically the amount of insulation in the blanket, usually measured in ounces or grahams. The higher the weight of the fill, the warmer the blanket.

Hoods: Some blankets come with hoods or hood attachments. Good for a body shaved horse or a show horse.

Tail cover: Not all blankets have tail covers. Again, personal preference, I have blankets with and without and don’t really have an opinion either way.

Blanket warnings:
Some horses don’t like blankets. Zapa has taken his off several times, so I just let him go without. Soda a horse at our barn goes through one every year. If they are too warm, ill-fitting, or annoying the horses will do every thing they can to remove them. When you first put on a blanket, turn the horse loose in a supervised area. Watch them run, roll, move, etc., before leaving them alone.

Blankets rub. Even good fitting blankets can rub, so watch your horse for rub marks particularly around the shoulders.

Remove them every once in a while. As my mom used to nag at me when I was a kid ‘take your socks off and let your feet breathe’. On nice sunny days (or a stretch of days) I take off the blankets to let them feel their own skin. I wouldn’t want to wear a blanket for weeks at a time, would you?

As with anything horsey, be smart. Get help and advice when you need it and keep those horses warm and happy throughout winter.

The Paso Grin

Anyone experienced Paso Fino owner knows exactly what I am talking about when I say 'Paso Grin'. On Saturday, Precious took two people for rides and let them experience a corto for the first time. First I want to thank my beautiful girl for taking two strangers for rides in one day.

My new friend Jax came to the barn to meet all the horses and be my assistant while Santana's owner and her sister came. It was SO great to have a competent assistant who was willing, helpful and knowledgeable. I could totally get used to that!

We were waiting for Marianne and Betty (Santana's owner and sister) so we saddled up Precious and Jax got to take her for a ride. During warmup Precious had a pretty big spook with me (she saw Pam and the dog outside in her pen and it startled her, but we just moved along and soon she was nice, soft, and happy. I put Jacqueline on Precious and things went well pretty quickly. Once she started to corto, there it was: the paso grin! Precious has given lots of people her first ride, but Jacqueline probably did the best of anyone and she had a great time. I think I have someone to help me ride. Jacqueline has two of her own horses and I am excited to work with her on those two as well.

We put Precious in her stall and got Santana going. He walked nicely for warmup. We did some flexing then gradually proceeded to demonstrate the Classic Fino. Santana is doing so much better than when I first met him and Marianne seemed very pleased. She said he seemed so much more relaxed and happy. I still think he is a pretty high energy horse, but I was glad they liked the results. This is such a new experience for me and working with a Classic Fino horse is important if I ever want to be a judge. I still have so much to learn and challenges that face Santana and I, but I am looking forward to continued learning. Betty got on Santana and we did a few minutes of walking and the lunge line, but he isn't the best lesson horse.

So, out came Precious again (what a trooper) and Betty used the new skills she is learning to walk around the arena, do some turning and finally corto. Another paso grin.

Jacqueline and I headed back to my house for spaghetti and videos. We watched some Paso Fino nationals from a few years back, reviewed the video from today and looked at lots of my horse pictures. It was a fun horse day.

10/13/2006

Riding Journal Catch Up to Friday 10.13.06

Tuesday:
Precious
Worked on the stuff I worked on with Elisia on Monday. Went much better.

Zapa and Santana: I am pretty sure I worked with both of these horses, but I cannot remember what I did, which is why I need to write this every day when I come home!

Wednesday:
Can't remember at all what I did, I know I rode at least one horse. I swear I am not that old, but short term memory is killing me.

Zapa: I worked Zapa with the surcingle and side reins.

Thursday:
Santana: I put Santana in a broken spoon bit with a mild shank. It was what mom got for me when she first ordered all of my first Paso Fino stuff from Casa Dosa. He was foaming on the bit even before we got into the arena, but he sure doesn't want you to touch it. I felt like we were back to our first days with fino. He was all over the place and pretty naughty. I think the curb chain was too tight (I had to use the one belonging to Precious which has many links cut off for her super small chin), so I’ll put the right size chain on. Although I never really put much pressure on the bit, so it will be interesting to see what happens next. The next plan of action is to make him carry the bit for our next few rides. Santana's owner & her sister are coming to see him on Sunday. We are going to take video tomorrow, so it will be interesting to see what they think and to have you all view the video.



Friday:
Today I didn't ride at all, I just cleaned stalls. I cleaned my 3, and then I cleaned two more for former boarders whose horses are staying at the barn temporarily while they are on vacation. The stalls were so terrible; I couldn't let them go back in without cleaning them. I also picked Slick’s stall while his owner is in Las Vegas with his buddy Boomer doing some barrel racing. Then I made up Slick's grain for the next 3 days. I didn't feel like doing anything, so now I am home.

10/11/2006

Favorite Things #2

I am starting to ask around and here are some favorite things from my horse friends:

From Elisia:
Dynamite Wound Balm. It does really smell bad, but it works on just about anything. Even humans. I couldn't find a picture, but you can find it at the Dynamite website. They have other good stuff there too if you are not familiar with Dynamite find a distributor and try it out.

Contractors 2 wheel wheelbarrow. Great for lots of manure scooping. She says she could get 3 days worth of Soda manure out of his paddock and he is a 17.3h hanovarian gelding!

From me:
Muck Bucket Cart. I had one of these and ABSOLUTELY loved it. I lost it a couple of years ago and haven't replaced it, but it was a great item. You can buy the ones that don't collapse flat, but then you might as well take a wheelbarrow. Spend a few bucks more and get the one that folds flat. It is also great for the barn because it can fit a bale of hay or 3 or 4 bags of grain. You can buy them online at most of the stores, but I bought mine locally, with the cost of shipping, it is probably worth it.



Hose End Nozzle with several settings. This is a great item to have anywhere there is a hose. The different settings can help a horse who isn't comfortable with water be bathed easier (shower setting), or just to cool off (mist). To fill water buckets I use the fastest one, to clean out the shower stall I use the cone adjustment. And don't forget to take it with you trail riding or horse camping. There are often hoses, attach this to the end and mist yourself off on a really hot day! I love it and so do my horses!

10/09/2006

Riding Journal Monday 10.09.06

Elisia was at the barn when I got there. She hadn't finished cleaning her stall yet, so we chatted while she finished (there is only 1 wheelbarrow). She is a football widow, so Monday night is good to ride. She wasn't too motivated, but decided to stay since I was going to ride. Elisia is a good dressage rider and she has given me a lot of help with Precious.

She helped me work on my leg yield. I wasn't really getting a back leg cross, so she told me how to slow her shouler. That really unstuck some stuff and as she leg yielded better, she got rounder. There was also some struggling with shoulder fore, but eventually Precious started getting the idea.

Precious really makes me work for it. No matter what I am trying to teach, she really makes me try hard. What I like about it though, is that if I can teach her, I feel I can teach a LOT more horses. She isn't all that unwilling, in fact she tries very hard, but some of the physical aspects of the work are very difficult and challenging for her.

Elisia rode her as well, it was nice to watch her ride Precious.

I just did a little free lunging with Zapa and Elisia and I talked about him. It is fun to look at a blank slate and imagine the possibilites.

10/08/2006

When Grain is Bad

When grain goes bad it gets really powdery and dry. I learned this because I got a bad bag of grain and luckily Pam (my barn owner) gave me her opinion. On her advice I took a bag of it to Diess Feed and Seed in Eugene and talked with Mike (the owner). He told me that it was absolutely bad and to throw it away.

Mike said a few days before that the high fat grains are hard to keep around in the summer because they go bad very quickly. Especially the ones with flax in them. He orders it from an air conditioned warehouse, but his place isn't air conditioned (and most feed stores I have been to aren't). So, word to the wise, don't buy your high fat content grain in bulk, buy it as you need it.

This may be the reason Precious keeps going off her grain, so I am going to go buy her a new bag. I have always bought 3 or 4 bags at a time and stored them. I still have one left that I bought in July, so I think it may be spoiled after sitting in my van for some time (in the heat) and then in the tack room.

I learn something new every day!

Riding Journal Sunday 10/8/06

Precious:
I tried out Pam's Western Fabtron saddle, so it was fun to kind of kick it like a western rider (saddle fit Precious, but not me or Zapa). I free lunged Precious in the arena, I don't do it often, but she had plenty to burn off, so I was glad. We cantered a bit and she just wanted to gait. I tried a ported Nyler bit, it was OK, I'll go back to the snaffle tomorrow.

I almost lost my patience, but caught myself and said 'relax Jerri' and that was all it took.

Zapa:
Saddled Zapa up, put some extra stuff to hang on the saddle and lunged him. Then I leaned over him from both sides and put weight in the stirrups from both sides. Almost ready to get on him again, but he still needs a little more desensitizing. I should be riding him by next week.


Santana:
Did not lunge Santana first (this is a first). When I tied him up to saddle him up he got very impatient (pawing), so I grabbed a snack, sat down on the bench next to him and read my book. Christabeth did that with Zapa once and I thought it was the funniest thing. You know what? It works.

Got Santana to flex more today. Walked him quite a bit with a relaxed rein before I asked for gait. He still wants to constantly trot if I give him the rein, but he will learn. He needs to work long and low as well as up. He really needs to learn how to RELAX!

I didn't have to clean stalls today, HOW GLORIOUS and worth every penny!

.

10/07/2006

Riding Journal Sat 10.07.06

Santana:
Free lunged Santana in the arena. Got on, had a nice relaxed walk with little effort. After 8 or 9 minutes I started to ask for gait. He went right into it. Was a little fussy in the beginning, but really getting the hang of it. I would alternate between gait and walk. The more he gaited, the less he wanted to walk, but he is definately learning to calm down. As I loosened my reins for a corto, he was kind of skipping beats, so he needs consistency. He is very unwilling to gait in a circle, so we need to work on bending and suppleness. This is a huge improvement since he came to me. The bosol is key and I find him very responsive to it.

Zapa:
Put the surcingle on Zapa and worked him in the long lines. He got the idea, but when I tried to drive him all hell broke loose. He kept pulling out of my hands, one time my foot was looped in the lines, luckily my shoe was really loose so it pulled my shoe off. That could have been a disaster, I must be more careful. We went back to the circle and he just did beautifully. He was really collecting himself up (no gait yet), and boy does he look fantastic all put together. He has good conformation, but I am concerned about his popping joints. It seems to be getting worse so I will research that to see what I should supplement him with.

10/06/2006

Riding Journal Friday 10.06.06

Zapa:
Free lunged and did ground work. He is so good at the free lunging I can keep his gait correct about 90% of the time. He still will not stop, then come to me. I think part of that is some mixed messages from me previously, so I will have to work on that. Played some games, got all the opposite feet up much easier today.

Santana:
Free lunged him with the saddle and said, forget the bit. So, I rode in the bosol with rope reins. Wanted to trot if I dropped my reins, but I just kept circling him and got a nice relaxed walk. Did some collecting, got trot and finally I pushed the right button (including engaging my seat) and we got fino. He got very fussy a few times moving sideways quickly, spinning, etc. When I just told him not to be naughty (just by putting my leg on him, sometimes flexing him) he got more consistent. Then I could anticipate and get better fino. He went on the board, not a perfect gait, but very nice. THEN once he got consistent and relaxed I loosened my reins and he did the corto. He likes to trot so finding the Corto is a relief! I would fino some, then make him walk on a loose rein, fino more, walk on loose rein. I think that horse was over worked in gait. I cannot wait to ride him again tomorrow! Oh yes, he doesn't like to flex, so we need to work on that. That will definately help with the gaiting.

10/05/2006

Riding Journal Thursday 10.5.06

I am going to write my riding journal every day I ride or work with a horse. The blog was intended as a replacement and I have been embellishing quite a bit. There will be lots of other posts (Blanket Basics and Parelli Basics are done, just waiting for me to proofread/edit), but if you would like to follow the progress of a particular horse, here is where you can.

Santana: I worked Santana in the long lines today. I used Precious headstall on him including the flash. I still don't think the bit is right; he really keeps on chomping at it. I have a few other options then I will have to start borrowing bits. I really want to keep him out of a shanked bit until he learns totally to relax. He did OK in the long lines, it was our second or third time. I'm still not very good with them, which doesn't help him. He did start to relax and turn. Physically he is feeling much better, not nearly as sore, I'm glad about that.

I rode him probably for 45 minutes, never asked for more than a walk. He is starting to get the idea that if I throw away the reins (to the buckle) that doesn't mean he can run. He broke into the trot quite a bit, but I alternated between collecting him up and circling him to stop it. I took some contact with the bit and got him to collect up a little. His walk is so silly such a tight gait, sometimes if felt like we were moving in place, but he was leg yielding very nicely, I would have loved video of it. He picks up everything so quickly.

Next time we will work more on circles and bending so he is yielding to my leg rather than following my hands.

Zapa:
Zapa was very skittish today when I brought him in. Partially I think because it was feeding time, but partially because we left him outside in the dark by himself for 5 minutes (what a baby!). He is a solid 14.1, he has grown 1/2 an inch in the last 3 months, so I still think he will be 14.2.

I put the saddle on him then just did some mindless lunging. Because I want Zapa to remember how to trot I am trying to be ultra specific with my cues. I messed up a little, but for the most part was consistent. I am having a hard time keeping the momentum even if my eye is off of him. I'll have to think about that one a bit. He did get quite goofy in the canter a few times; I think it was the saddle. SO, that means more work with saddles before we ride him (it has been 2 months).

I picked up his feet (well, he did that, I just held them) and picked up his feet that were on the opposite side from me (part of Parelli level 1, more on that later); he was good about all but 1. I got it up, gave him some good love, and then quit. End on a positive note!

He is really good with the lateral longing and I will be able to move him with 4 ounces of pressure (or less) in all six ways in no time (more Parelli level 1).

Precious:
Precious is not eating her grain well. She wouldn't even eat applesauce yesterday. She otherwise seems normal and has a good appetite for hay, so I don't know what’s wrong. I am going to try feeding her Allegra Senior instead of Ultium for a while, as she ate the senior I gave her today. I had to give her medication orally, she really doesn't like that, but without grain to put it into, I have no choice.

I had a great ride on Precious; she is really getting so light and soft. Still a lot of trouble with collection, but I had contact and she wasn't fighting at all. In fact, she really foamed up the bit. I worked mostly at a walk, but couldn't help myself and rode down the sounding board. I wish every Paso Fino sounded that good. Precious has many faults, but her ability to gait consistently is not one of them. Gina Gardner used Precious in her Choose Your Gait video as an example of a Paso Fino. Gina is a wonderful trainer, I have benefited tremendously from working with her.

That's all for today (was that enough). More riding tomorrow!

10/02/2006

Tesoro is coming home

In early November, my 17 year old gelding Tesoro will be coming home. He has been leased by some wonderful people in Washington (thank you Sarinda and Joe) for the last 18 months. Tesoro has always been a big challenge for me, but now I am ready to have a partnership with him. I will learn to work on his terms and I will chronicle the events in this blog. I knew that if Tesoro was to come home then God had a plan for me. And you know what? I'm ready.

Tesoro is pictured with Kaiya, a very wonderful young woman who rode him for a season. They won 1st place in Paso Fino Youth Equitation at the Oregon State Fair in 2004.

Favorite Horse Things #1

Here are some of my favorite horse things:

1. Portable Folding Tack Rack: This is SO great for shows, traveling, clinics and just more space at home. My trailer has limited hooks, so I hang this on the hooks for expanded space. I think I have 3 or 4 of these. In the garage I put two nails in the wall, hung this on that for a place to hang blankets and misc. horse junk.

2. Cowboy Magic Detangler and Shine: My horses have LONG manes so this stuff keeps me from riding Rastafarian horses. I buy it at Country Supply, last time I bought 8 or 9 bottles (it was cheaper then) it lasted me a couple of years. It is always sad when I am out!

3. A Vet Box: I bought mine from Willamette Valley Equine a couple of years back. It was $100 and I realize I probably could have put it together cheaper myself, but I got great benefit buying it from them. First, they set me up with some bute and banamine in case of emergency (I paid more for that). The doctor explained how/when to use it. He showed me how to take a temp and how to listen for gut sounds and heart rate (and I practiced). He showed me how to use everything in the box and there was also a cheat sheet inside. Besides, it is such a cute red box with the Willamette Valley Equine logo on the front. It even has a hole for a little lock which I always lock when in public places so no one can get access to the meds inside. Vets LOVE it when you can give the vitals of the horse BEFORE an emergency barn call.

4. Hanging portable saddle rack: This one takes up a little bit of room but is SO GREAT for anytime you need to hang a saddle somewhere. I have used this at clinics (I could have sold 6 of them that weekend while everyone else had tack sitting on the floor), shows, even horse camping. I have a stock type trailer and hook it on the outside so I don't have to go in and out of the trailer (my saddle rack is at the back of the tack room). Again, you can get this at Country Supply.

More favorite horse things to come in the coming months! Tell me about yours!

10/01/2006

Mentoring

Some people just have a craving for horses. They know they are interested from the age of 5 and manage to persuade parents to get them lessons or sometimes even get them a horse. Some people are raised with horses and get the inclination from there. Then there are people like me who have to try it and find just the right circumstances.

If it wasn’t for my great mentors Bruce and Betty Reed I would be short 3 horses, have a much bigger bank account and tons of free time. I would probably have much cleaner clothes and a nicer car too. But, none of those things would have given me the joy, the pain, the elation, the disappointment, but most of all the fulfillment I have gotten from horses.

If you are interested in horses, a mentor is a good thing. Bruce and Betty Reed have helped many people along the way and I cannot think of more generous, kind and caring folks. To me, they are like family. I am proud to own two of their horses and to have them as my friends.

When my mom bought her first Paso Fino I was living at home. She had been away from horses during my entire childhood (her horse died right before I was born), so although horses were always of interest, I just never had been all that exposed.

My mom’s Paso Finos were 2 years old and very wild when she got them. They were not a good starting point for a novice (me) and since my mom had me watch (and hold one horse) while she worked, it just was never interesting, I needed hands on.

As time evolved I moved to Oregon, started taking improve classes with ComedySportz and getting pretty immersed in my career in the EDA Software industry. My mom would come to visit from Alaska and want to do ‘horsey’ stuff. I was not interested to say the least.

She dragged me down to the state fair in Salem and I videotaped a bunch of classes (by the way, if you want great horse video contact www.stablehandvideo.com, Julie is AWESOME and does a much better job than 95% of the horse videos I have seen) for her. We were in the barn and my mom was chatting up some guy on the NWPFHA Board of Directors when I wandered down the isle to look at the horses. I was looking at this once black filly when this woman came up to me and said ‘Want to pet her?’ without waiting for my response, she opened the stall door and shoved me in. That was Betty Reed. She invited me out to their ranch in Colton, OR and said the most infamous words in my life ‘We love to share our horses’. It was that sentence that got me hooked on horses.

I called up Betty and said ‘I have some video of you riding your horse’. We arranged a time on a Sunday for me to come out after they had gone to church. I would like to give you a picture of who they are. Betty is now 73, she worked in an office with much responsibility for many years. She sings and tap dances with a group of women, I have never seen it but from what I understand it is quite a show. Bruce is the ‘younger’ man by 5 years. Bruce is a retired packer from the Forest Service so his career was horses. Betty says all he came with when they got married was a saddle.

Betty loves music, Bruce loves horses, but they share their worlds with each other because that is what you do when you love someone. So Betty rides and Bruce is the Emcee for their performances. I love being around them.

That first day I visited, we rode. It was terrifying, thrilling, and addictive all at the same time. They invited me down to the house with the other visitors and discovered that I worked for a computer related company. For those of you in the high-tech game you will understand: I was tech support. So I put a computer together for them, helped Betty with her computer and that became our pattern. I would ride, Bruce would teach and I would help Betty with the computer.

We continued like that for several months, they even arranged for me to have lessons from a trainer (who was on the verge of retirement) and hauled the horse there for me. Through the years they have taken a horse (or three) when I have been unable to care for them. Betty once told me ‘you are a gift from God’. It was one of the nicest things (maybe the nicest) that anyone has ever said to me. I cannot even begin to sum up in words what their friendship has meant in my life. So when I bought a horse, it was from them.

A mentor is a wonderful thing and I hope I can just begin to touch people the way Bruce and Betty have touched me. Whether horses or harps, art or music, business or pleasure, all of us deserve to be mentored. And so, in return, we too should mentor, so find what you are good at and share it with the world.

A great horse day

Yesterday was a great horse day. I loaded up Precious and we hauled about 70 miles north to Willamette Mission State Park. Willamette Mission is a great ride because it is pretty flat terrain, great for beginners (and mellow riders like me) but still lots of opportunity for speed if that is your thing. They also have horse corrals for camping and when I lived in Portland I would go there all the time.

Joining me for the ride were Bruce and Betty Reed and Mariann Deering along with her friend Mike.

Bruce and Betty had been taking care of Zapa for me, ponying him on the trails of their beautiful 55 acre ranch in Colton, Oregon and they brought him along so he could come home. On the ride we had 5 riders under saddle and one ponied horse. Marianne and Mike were traveling at a quicker clip than Bruce, Betty and I, but we would all catch up and chat throughout the ride. At the end of the ride Marianne let me ride her Trote y galope mare Sissy. I have some video and will post about Trote y galope horses soon. It was a kick. Thanks Marianne!

I grabbed some lunch, then headed home to the barn where I met a potential horse helper.

After that I was unloading stuff from the trailer and decided to organize a little more now that I have three horses to take care of again (it has been 18 months). I unloaded a bunch of stuff from the trailer-which had not been touched since mid August, recycled the several empty bottles of cowboy magic, cleaned out my brush caddy (which was full of hair-GROSS). I also cleaned up the stalls so the looked sparkly new. Nesting, I would call it, since winter is about to settle in here (the blankets are being repaired as I type).

I then saddled up Fella and took him for a ride. Fella is really starting to give to the bit, and (thankfully) starting to gait. He is also discovering that he has lots of speed at that gait so a couple of times I just held on (well, not literally). I have the sounding board set up in the arena so I actually got to hear him gait over that. Pretty cool. The sounding board is used in Paso Fino shows to help judges and audience hear the cadence of the footfall.

When I packed up and headed home it was 8:30, 12 hours after I picked Precious up in the morning. Uriah’s band Javelina had a gig at the Black Forest that night and I was WIPED OUT when we got there. I saw the drummers sister there (she is a dressage rider) and told her about my day (and how tired I was). She said it best “That sounds like a pretty good way to spend a day”. It was an understatement, it was a GREAT way to spend a day.