Monday, June 29, 2009

Gaited Horses

This is my personal opinion and probably not the opinion of schooled riders or professional trainers.

I feel there is too much emphasis placed on how a gaited horse gaits. I don't understand why people who have gaited horses are so intent on making sure the horse gaits properly, unless of course, you are in the show ring. I don't get why people are so concerned about their gaiting horse if they are using them for trail. It is my opinion, that too many folks turn away from gaited horse breeds because they have been told they HAVE to learn to keep the horse in gait. Why? What is wrong with taking a nice trail ride in a plain old every day ordinary walk?? Gaited horses can do that but for some reason their owners don't expect them to, they expect more.

My older (11 now) Spotted Saddle Horse (aka Tennessee Walker) was obviously trained to get into a running walk as soon as the rider hits the saddle and asks him to move down the trail. I was rather frustrated with this and I wondered why they trained him in this manner. Then, after researching, I've discovered that's how gaited horses are often trained.

I have been spending the last four years, that's right, four years, working to get him to just enjoy a simple walk. A simple, ordinary walk. He's coming around, but he still has moments when he wants to bust into that running walk. All I want is a nice trail walk out of my horses. I'm not concerned with a running walk (maybe sometimes, but not the entire trail ride).

Bo is basically my lazy horse so for him to get into the running walk as soon as I ask more of him, well, that's my verification of how his previous owners rode him. I can see the change in his face as he believes I must want the same thing. When we go at a walk for a while, I can feel his relaxation because he's finally figuring out, I don't want all that other stuff from him.

Spirit is my younger guy and basically a clean slate. So, I haven't experienced this with him. He was entered in halter shows when he was two, before I bought him, but never trained to the specific walker gaits. I'm thankful for that!

Back in the early days of this country, when saddle horses were being bred and used to move people from one town to another comfortably, I doubt very many of those people concerned themselves about what gaits their horse could do. All they really knew was that the horse could move and they could ride comfortably for many miles over uneven trails and roads. It's only in the past 100 years or so, when horses were no longer used for transportation that people have put labels to the gaits. Now, that's fine if you're showing your horse and want to display all the gaits he can do for competition purposes, but in my opinion, if you want a gaited horse for pleasure riding and trail riding, don't get too caught up in whether your horse is gaiting correctly or not. Personally, my gaited horses will be walking down the trail and I'll be enjoying a great scenic ride, not rushing through it.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Unfortunately, my view of Mondays has always been dim. Most of my work-life, which is in the past right now, Monday's were dreaded. It was probably just my issue, I mean, after all, Monday is the start of a new week and prospects of hope for the newness of it!

When I was a substitute teacher, Mondays meant starting over with a new class, a new school, and getting into gear for a week of early morning cold calls.

When I was a lab tech, Mondays were the first midnight or on day-shift, everyone back in the lab and very crowded. I preferred the off shift actually.

When I was a library manager, Mondays meant a long day working from 11:30am until 8pm. That just made it seem longer. The rest of the week was 8:30am-5pm. Since the little branch library was closed on Sundays, all the weekend DVD's were returned. Mondays were ALWAYS a madhouse at the library. Who would have thought??? Just remember your local librarian on Mondays, he/she may feel the same way.

The only job where I never resented Mondays was when I worked at the stable as staff and assistant riding instructor. I enjoyed getting back to the horses. I enjoyed feeding the horses before turning them out. I enjoyed getting the hay out to the field. Mondays on that job were a good thing!

Nowadays, I'm sort of on my own. I don't really have a schedule which I think is hurting me. I do better with schedules in general. That's my goal. Get a schedule set up so I follow it. I'm sure I'll get more accomplished that way.

This week looks like a good weather week, FINALLY! No rain. A little warmer. Sunshine at least until Thursday. I am pumped. I wish I could start today, but I'm taking my mom to her doctor appointment, which, living out here, turns to an entire day because I have to drive in to get her then take her to her appointment on the other side of the county. I don't mind, I want to do it. I'm glad it is on Monday, so that I have the rest of the week to concentrate on my horses.

So this Monday I'm using as a jumping off platform for a more constructive week. I'm feeling better these days, though the heat can make me remember I do have some issues, I'll try to work around that by getting out earlier in the morning. There's always a way to deal, you just need to figure it out and get motivated. Sunshine, dried mud and no rain is a great incentive!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lives Shared for Twenty Seven Years

Twenty-seven years ago, today, Hubby and I were married. In retrospect, we did everything backwards. Very little money. Low paying jobs, he worked at a grocery store, I worked at a fast food joint. But we had our dreams as young couples do.

In the long term, our life together has sweetened over the years.

In the beginning, we were innocents, oblivious to alot of things in life. We decided we wanted to be together, to build a life and that's all that mattered. At the time I couldn't understand why my parents silently objected to our marriage. It was one of those things where words weren't said, but all you had to do was read between the lines. On my in-laws side, they were thrilled their youngest son had found stability. They liked me! Looking back, I now understand what my parents, especially my mom, were seeing in our decision. Hubby was nineteen, I was twenty-one. I think anyone can get the picture and understand the misgivings of the parents of an only daughter.

After twenty seven years, my parents both love Hubby. I don't really want so say, "See, I knew what I was doing!", because twenty seven years ago, I probably didn't, really. It was a leap of faith for both of us.

But, over the years, Hubby and I have proven we can survive. We depend on each other yet we also find strength as individuals in our union. We are each others' best friend. We have our separate interests but find sharing those interests actually brings us more joy. Hubby has his motorcycle, I have my horses. We have two fantastic adult sons!

I have thoroughly enjoyed our motorcycling hobby. He decided on a touring bike back in 2002, so we could share rides and enjoy weekends traveling the country roads, day trips where we simply let go of ourselves for a few hours. In 2004, when I decided the time for my horse dream to come to life was imminent, and our youngest was heading off to college, Hubby threw himself into making our acres into the best home possible for my dream to become a reality. He and my sons spent the spring and summer dropping posts and putting up fencing. Hubby searched to find the right kind of fencing for my yet to be found dream horses. He has been the driving force in helping my horse dream come true. I hope I have helped his dreams come true too.

What more could you ask for in a life partner? I am blessed. Not much more to say about it other than I am grateful to be sharing my life journey with him, my best friend, my partner, the love of my life. All the heartaches, all the triumphs, all the tears, all the laughter have been sweeter, sharing with him.

The hoofbeats, paw prints and foot steps continue on the shared journey.....

Friday, June 5, 2009

There are friends and then there are friends with horses....

The past few months I've been getting reacquainted with some long lost high school friends. My Best Friend, or BFF, as the kids say today, is one of the main coordinators of our high school class reunion. Still hard to believe it's been THIRTY years. Whew, 1979 seems like a very long time ago! Our class was small, by most standards, having graduated a total of seventy two. Over the years we've lost three classmates. We all pretty much knew each other from elementary school.

In getting reacquainted I have come upon a realization. There are the women friends who are your women friends, then there are the women friends with horses, who are your horse friends. They are two different breeds!

I met up with two of my women friends from high school at a quiet, river-side, pizza place for dinner. We haven't seen each other in many years. One lives in the same area I do, but she has a busy life, married to an oncologist and her own career. The other one, is a busy attorney, living hundreds of miles away with a husband and three kids under the age of ten.

I don't think we've changed all that much. We ate, but talked more than we ate, talked about the reunion, our lives, remembered times from our high school years as friends. The only time horses came up was when I was asked what I was doing now. Other than that, our focus was on what I consider most women friends tend to talk about; life, loves, children, work, other friends. We talked for over three hours as our pizza got cold and the sun melted into the river. It was a beautiful sunset!

My "horse friend" called me a few days ago. She was originally asking about a cookie recipe but as always happens, our discussion turned to our horses and horses in general. We spent over an hour on the phone talking mostly about horses. Horses are our connection and our history. Sure, we wander off to other subjects, but as it is with us horse people, our conversation always flows back to our horses.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Believe it!

New day. New week. New month. Makes you think of starting with a clean slate whatever you may need to start new. My fresh start will be with my horses. I didn't do such a good job with them the past month, but May is done. So, to start this new day, week and month, I was lifted by the following piece. Maybe you will be too.




Writer Norman Cousins tells about a football game at which a doctor
found himself treating five spectators for stomach disorder. Each
complained of nausea, dizziness and cramps. Upon checking, the doctor
learned that all five had previously consumed soft drinks from the
arena's concession stands. In the interest of protecting public
safety, an announcement was made to the crowd that it would be wise to
forego drinks in the stadium because certain people were becoming ill.

By the third quarter of the game, 200 people – all of whom had been
slurping sodas – were reporting the same symptoms. Half of these
hurried off to a nearby hospital. Later in the afternoon the doctor
determined that his five original patients had also eaten potato salad
from the same delicatessen on the way to the game. The potato salad,
not the drinks, was apparently the culprit.

An announcement was made. Almost immediately those who were sick felt
remarkably better. The fans taken to the hospital were sent home as
their symptoms quickly disappeared.

All of this goes to show the tremendous power of belief. What we
believe to be true will often become true.

The power of our beliefs will dramatically affect our future. Like
automaker Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or not, you are
right." If you believe you will succeed or fail, you are probably
right. If you believe strongly enough that something good or bad will
surely happen to you, it likely will.

Mahatma Gandhi found this principle to be true in his own experience.
"If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing
it," the Indian leader said. "But when I believe I can, then I acquire
the ability to do it, even if I did not have the ability in the

Where did that ability come from? Was it the sheer power of his belief
that gave him the capacity to do what seemed impossible? He was sure
that was the case.

Great belief is great power. And probably more than any other single
factor, great belief that something just might be possible … can bring
about what we want in life.

Believe it.

-- Steve Goodier