Tag Archives: Horse Training & Riding Lessons

Silly Little Things

I was watching my girlfriend work with her new horse the other day and gave her some small hints.

She exclaimed, she never knew that or thought of that, and certainly never read it in any books.  Where did I learn that?  I really had to think about what she said.  Where did I learn some of these things?  Good question.  Answer – I don’t know.  Perhaps I read something somewhere, a long time ago, but mostly I learned a lot of these little tricks from the school of “hard knocks”.

Maybe you could think about what you do, why you do it, and where you learned it.  I bet most of the things, no one taught you, you learned the hard way.

Did you ever wonder how people found out what was poison to eat and what wasn’t.  Did someone eat a watermelon, and say it was really good when it was red, and they didn’t die, and that’s how people found out what was edible?  Or, Harry tried that thing that looked like a fruit and he’s not here for breakfast.  Guess we won’t eat that anymore.

The school of “Hard Knocks” is an intense study on how not to do things, and equally an easy study on what really works best.

How many horse people have had dislocated fingers, broken fingers, fingers that are full of arthritis.  How many of us learned not to wrap a lead line around our hands (even if we knew that), or not to allow knots in a lead line or lunge line.  Boy when a rope slides through your fingers with a knot in it, kiss you life as a concert pianist goodbye.

I watched her, unknowingly, let the end of her lunge line drag on the ground around her feet.  Now this is one thing that makes me crazy with some of these well-known trainers.  They may be aware of where their feet and rope are, but the people watching aren’t that savvy.  Getting dragged, even around a circle in a round pen, will ruin your day.  And it will scare your horse, which in turn will make him run faster.  It’s just a no win situation.  I know I’ve said all of this before, but it’s so important it needs to be repeated.

Most of the things I told her yesterday where things I’ve printed here in previous posts.  Some she may not have read, or if she did, they didn’t apply to her at that time.

I know I’ve written about holding your lead line or lunge line like an English rein, coming from your pinky, through your hand and out the top by your thumb will give you a better grip on the line.  Nobody taught me that, it was that special school I’ve been attending for close to 60 years.

She has a OTTB.  Okay he’s broke, but not to do what she intends to use him for.  So I told her to just start from scratch as though he doesn’t know anything.  It’s becoming more of a learning experience for her than him.  I can’t say it’s easier to train a horse that has already been trained, because correcting some bad habits, or getting them to unlearn some bad training is sometimes harder that teaching something from scratch to a young unbroken horse.

I can tell you one thing, this whole process will cause some interesting posts in the future.  I will remember things I didn’t know I forgot and pass them on to you.

Be patient, we learn from repetition.  We really learn when it hurts.


Before I start, I want to thank my friend Louise for making me smile.  As I entered my web page to write this I saw her comment of You Go Girl!  I somehow didn’t get a notice it had come in.  And I also smiled at my friend Nancy’s comment, which I had read the other day.  No my doctor is just a regular, non horse person.  You’ve got to remember that non horse people just don’t get our breed.  Now be kind and forgiving, they are just clueless.  But it made for a good, pot stirring, post.

I was sitting here being a little sad.  A good friend and wonderful neighbor just passed away.  He was the one who helped me build this website.  I am computer challenged and I’m not sure how I will handle this site if anything goes wrong.

I had no idea what to put on my site, but he helped me format it and gave me suggestions as to what needed to be there.  He prompted me on how to word things to make them more appealing on the internet.  He reviewed what I wrote and approved of everything I did.  Then he made a suggestion that I post “Horse Riding Tips – 10 Things You Should Do Before Getting On Your Horse”, he said that it would generate interest.  Needless to say I’ve been posting things ever since.  Now every time I go to this web page, I will think of him.  He battled cancer for two years.  He had more courage and determination than anyone I have ever met.  I always told him he was my hero. He is someone I will always look up to and try to be like.  Now Mark was not a horse person, so to speak.  He was in Marketing.  His wife, however, is very much a horse person, so he knew about the whole drive and life style.

So pondering on those lines I started thinking of all the horse people in my life who have helped me become the person I am.  Those that have given me not only knowledge, but taught me to ride by the seat of my pants.  Some of them have passed on, but some are still here.  We keep in touch via Facebook.  I think, after I write this, I will get on Facebook and send a few Thank You notes.

The people at the barn I grew up at loved horses and loves kids.  They taught us to teach our students how to love and respect horses.  They treated us like part of the family.  I try to pass this love onto my students to this day.  Of course I’ve researched and expanded on what I was originally taught.  There have also been professional horsemen in my life that taught me many things I didn’t agree with.  I thank them also for showing me how not to do things and it causes me to reflect on what I believe is right and wrong.  I hold true to the values of these lessons.

I know in every ones life there have people who have taught them and helped them to grow.  Made them into the horse person they are.  Don’t be afraid to go back and thank them.  Let them know that they made a difference in, not only your life, but all the lives of the horses that you have encountered over the years.  Or perhaps will encounter in the future.

As I always say – Teach what you have learned and one less horse will suffer from ignorance, and never stop learning.

Pass it on.

On Being A Girl, Guys, Listen Up

Now wait a minute guys, this is going to be very useful for you in the long run.

Okay I’m a long way off from being a “girl” anymore, a “woman” or “lady” is pushing it a little now a days.  A “senile ole bat” works for me.  But don’t tell me I can’t do things.  That’s like waving something red in front of a bull.  The doctor tried that the other day.  Bob is down with his back, so I’ve been doing all the mowing.  Our doctor freaked.  “You can’t do that!”  How many of us like that kind of challenge?  Okay, bring it on!  You just don’t tell a horsewomen they can’t unload grain and hay, mow, use a hammer, saw or whatever.  The men in our lives, if any, aren’t always there, but the destruction that horses create is.  So the doctors next question was, “Well how long do you think you can keep this up?”  “Oh pretty much until I die” was my answer.  So he checked the muscles in my arms and said okay.  Bob told him I can handle the tractor and zero turn just fine.  I know he’s not really used to a horsewoman.  Some men just don’t get that we can handle a thousand pound horse, and anything that goes along with it.  We are not all sitting home watching Soap Operas, or Oprah, and eating Bon Bons.  We are not going to the mall and shop ’til we drop.  (Unless it’s a tack sale.)  And the truth of the matter is we like it this way.

Oh sure we like men, and if they want to put up fencing and do whatever needs doing, we’re fine with that, go out to dinner, you bet.  Just respect us for having a brain, using it, and doing what needs to be done, when we have to.  I know I’m a woman, still mostly blonde, but don’t put me down for that.  Celebrate who we are, capable partners who are not afraid to get our hands dirty.  Working side by side with a man to get whatever needs doing accomplished.

The doctor then asked me what plans I have for the future.  Have I even thought about a time when I can no longer do these things.  I guess I have, a little.  The boys at the feed store will deliver and unload the grain for me.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to sit on a tractor, cut grass and play pole bending with the trees.  I tried to explain to him that there is just no reason to get up in the mornings if there weren’t those happy faces, with ears perked forward waiting for you.  I know I’ve witnessed my older horsewoman friends watch the number of horses in their barns dwindle in number.  I watched where there were no more foals being born in their pastures.  We all do get to that point.  But seriously, do we want to rush it?  Do we just want to quit and say I’m old so I’ll sit in my rocking chair and wait to die.  No Way!  We will do what we can do, while we can do it, and ride quietly into the sunset on our gallant steed.  Even if only in our minds.  We will look younger, feel better, and out do any of those health club yuppies, or whatever they call themselves now a days, any day.  Our horses are our reason, they are our goal, and everything we have to do for them is our purpose in life.  It’s what keeps us going.

There are times we like being treated like a lady, but respect us for all the facets of our lives and personalities.  It makes for a great friendship, and a wonderful marriage.



The Old Grey Mare………

“The Old Grey Mare, She Ain’t What She Used To Be.”  A cute old song I remember from my childhood.  To me, it was like “Old Mac Donald.”  Something you sang for fun but really didn’t relate too.  Now that I’m the “Old Grey Mare”, it’s taken on a whole new meaning.  The funny thing is I can’t remember the whole song.

What I do know is that there are a lot of horse people my age, who really believe, that their riding years are behind them.  That their bodies can’t do it anymore, and that they need to sit on the sidelines and just watch and remember the “Good Ole Days.”

I’ve been communicating with a person, the last couple of days, who is in this category.  Went to a site on Facebook for a reason I can’t remember, and came across an ad for a Horse For Sale.  Well I was looking for a horse so I read the ad.  It was for an 18 yr. old TB Gelding, the girl was going off to college.  Well I really wasn’t interested in a Thoroughbred, but the age sounded good.  My friend is in her 60’s, doesn’t want to jump anymore.  Just wants to do flat work, trail ride, groom, bathe, and have a horse to love on.  She had come to me to try and take a lesson, feeling that her body couldn’t do it anymore, but something in the back of her mind told her to try.  (I’m sure I told you all about this before)  She called me to cancel because she didn’t feel like she could do it.  I told her to come and just brush a horse.  She did and she has been riding ever since.  It’s been a couple of years now.  She’s now ready to get her own horse to love on.

So I replied to the ad.  Explained the age and experience of the person the horse would be for, and what she wanted from the horse she was going to buy.  The girl was really interested in my friend taking the horse, but the person I was dealing with was not the actual owner of  the horse, this woman had just posted the ad for the girl.  She explained that she was a little older than my friend and was interested in the fact that she was going back into horses at her age.

We’ve been communicating back and forth the last couple of days.  She says that she likes my attitude.  I simply just told her that our minds have a different outlook on our ability to ride again, than our hearts.  Our minds tell us that we are too old, that our bodies can’t handle it anymore.  We could get hurt.  Yes we could, we always could, but when we were younger we bounced a little better.  I explained to her that we still can ride, but we have to make some adjustments to accommodate our age and worn out body parts.  Sometimes all we really need is a lawn ornament to brush and tell our troubles to.  There are a lot of older horses out there that need homes and attention, but can’t do what they used to do either.

If horses are a part of your heart, don’t give into the idea that you are too old.  That those days are behind you.  Yes our wild, crazy days maybe behind us, but there is so much more to riding and loving horses than what we remember.  It’s not about having the horse that can jump the highest, gallop the fastest, turn the barrel the quickest.  It’s about the feeling of being on something that’s more powerful, more alive than we are.  It’s about the love, and communication between human and a majestic animal that God had created.  “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”  Winston S. Churchill

We used to want the latest style on clothes, the hottest shoes, the fastest car.  Now we want to wear things that are comfortable, and drive a car that is safe.  It’s the same with horses.  We want something safe, and sane.  He doesn’t have to be the picture perfect example of equine flesh.  No matter what he/she looks like, if they are happy to see us and share our deepest thoughts, that’s the horse we want.  If we can go for a trail ride safely, or just walk around in a circle just to keep our (both horse and human) arthritis at bay, that’s the horse for me.  If they just want to share a carrot and just hang out and watch the sunset, what more can you ask for.

You’re never too old to own a horse, just maybe to old to do what you used to do.  It’s not right or wrong, it’s just different.  Find a companion that wants to do the same things you want to, or are able to do.

When I was a kid my instructor used to say when we were jumping –  “Throw your heart over the fence first, and your body will follow.”  It’s not our bodies that keep us from horses, it’s our minds.  Satisfy your hearts desire and the mind will follow.  Just make the right choice in a horse.  Like I used to tell my lesson kids, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find that prince.”

We all are approaching Midnight.  The clock will eventually strike twelve, but until it does, put on your glass slipper and “Dance” like no one is watching.  Listen to your heart and body, the mind will follow.

By the way, the woman is coming on Monday to get back on a horse, she’s 78 yrs. young and just wants to have that feeling one more time.

Sometimes I Just Think Too Much

So today my friend emailed me and told me her dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  Hit me hard, they weren’t expecting it, and it came too close to me losing a horse and two dogs.

So I started thinking about my dogs who had just passed.  I didn’t give them as much of my attention as I think I should have.  According to other people I did, but you always wonder if you did enough.  So I thought about Holly.  She was the chow cross.  I picked her up off the street.  She never really wanted a lot of attention.  A scratch on the belly as you went by, but really was never a lap dog that looked for your constant love.  Rain, my Jack Russell, lavished more kisses on others than myself.  I always wondered if she really enjoyed being my dog.  At the end, we cleared all that up.

But I thought about the differences with all my dogs and how they each had their own needs and how much attention they would like at any given time.  Some were happy just having a home and a good meal.  One of the Catahoulas would like to be a 35 lb. lap dog.  The other just wants to hang with you some of the time.  Some of my dogs you couldn’t even go to the bathroom without.  Some didn’t care where you went.

This brought me to the book “The Five Love Languages.”  It explains how each of us feel loved by different ways.  Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.  Apparently dogs do too.

Then my thinking evolved to the horses, and do they have different love languages?  Looking at the two standing in front of me at the time, indeed they do.  Zoey loves for me just to sit in the pasture.  She’ll come up and just hang with me while I hold a one-sided conversation.  Friday on the other hand likes physical touch.  Grooming, bathing, having her face wiped with a cool wash cloth.  Zoey loses patience when I don’t groom her fast enough.  Fri could spend all day being fussed over.  Then my mind wandered to my other horses.  Dawn loved hanging with people.  I always said she’d be happy to sit on the couch with you, eat popcorn and watch TV.  Some liked the personal attention and some just liked knowing what time dinner was served.

I spoke with a vet friend about this and she said it all comes back to the Chinese and the Five Elements.  Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood.  How each person and horse is one of them, and how we either complement each other, or lock horns.

There is more to this life than we can imagine.  I can’t even begin to think I could learn all of this and figure it out at this point in my life.

So back to my original thought.  We all have a different need as to how we feel loved.

When you have nothing else to think about while cleaning stalls, think what makes each of your animals feel the most loved, and act on it before the chance slips away.

It wouldn’t hurt in our human relationships either.  What makes you feel loved by your animals or a person?  I love when an animal just wants to be with me for no reason.  I guess I feel that way about my husband and friends too.

Stall cleaning thinking.

It’s Summer Time!!!!!!

I love summer, that’s why I live in Florida.  Even with all its bugs, and heat, I still love it.  Actually I use less fly spray here than I did up north.

Think of all the fun stuff you can do.  Go trail riding and get bit by every bug in the area, but it’s a good excuse to gallop to out run them. Take your horse swimming, and watch the manure balls float toward England, when you live up north, or Africa when you live down south.  Bathe your horse and get wetter than he is.  If you don’t have a pool, you can always sit in the water trough.

When we were kids, it never failed, someone would throw someone into the water trough.  If they were kind, someone would empty your pockets and remove your watch before the dunking. However you’d have to lay on your back, on the ground, to get the water out of your high boots.  Now if you were really lucky, it would end there.  However, the kids at my barn never let it go at that.  They would roll you in the manure pile, dump hay from the loft on you, or perhaps lime.  You were quite a sight riding home on public transportation looking and smelling like that.

We’d put hay out in the fields for horses using a small dump truck.  Everyone was covered, and itchy, with hay.  Sometimes people just happened to fall out of the back while in transit, but when it was empty was the most fun.  Bill would lift the dump body and we would hold onto the front.  He would then drive under low branches to see who would let go.  Funny, no one ever did.  It’s really hard explaining that to your parents.

Sitting on the porch watching the sunset, then going out after dark and jumping on our horses, bareback, maybe a halter if you were lucky.  Oh no lead lines of course.  We’d run around in the dark trying not to hit trees.

Now I sit on the porch or at the barn and watch the sunset.  Sometimes on the mounting block with my horse next to me, and I’ll dream about being young and stupid again.  If given the chance to do it again, I think I would.  Well maybe not hanging from the front of the dump truck, but the rest of it.  I wouldn’t trade any of those memories for all the tea in China.

It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, create memories with your horses and friends. Some day that will be what puts a smile on your face.  Bug bites and all.

It’s summer, let the games begin!

Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30

Some of you reading this may be under 30, so bear with me, and many of you that I know, are not.

I remember that saying so well from when I was young.  When we were young we thought that we had it all figured out.  Our parents, of course, were just so behind the times.  What could they possibly know about life today.  They were “Old”.  From a land and time so in the past.  Boy do I wish it was the past again.  Boy do I wish I was young and naive again.  Ignorance really is bliss.

I watched a girl in her mid twenties today speak with such confidence on a problem with one of the horses at her barn.  Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.  The vet was not sure what was causing the symptoms, but this girl was undoubtably sure.  The vet was only out of vet school for about a year, and I don’t know how long she has been dealing with the strange things that Florida offers.  I had to admit, I pretty much agreed with the young ladies way of thinking.  She was on the right track.

She was hooking up a trailer for someone, and I told her good job, when she crossed the chains to the hitch.  I said I can see this isn’t your first Rodeo.  She looked at me with those eyes of patience you give to an old person, and I smiled.  I was her at one time.

I was the one who spoke with confidence about anything horse related.  I was well into my twenties also.  Training, jumping, I was on top of my game.  You couldn’t rattle me. I’ve seen this a lot in the younger horse generation.  That is until you meet a horse who doesn’t necessarily play by the rules.  And trust me, there will always be that one horse. Or your favorite horse which comes down with something that you’ve never heard of before.  Or the vet that stands there and tells you they have no idea what your horse got into, but he may not make it.  Then it feels like the rug has been pulled out from underneath you, or you took a direct punch to the stomach and all the breath has been knocked out of you.

I would like to be twenty and feel that confident.  I would like to be twenty again and not have seen so many of my favorite horses and dogs die.  I would like to be twenty again and know what I know now.  BUT – I would never want to be twenty again in reality. There is so much that I wouldn’t want to relive.  I’m glad I had the experiences, and the lessons learned.  Even though some of them were very painful.

Actually I would like to be fifty again.  I didn’t ache so much, I had a fine strong hunt horse, and probably had some of the best times in my life.  The nonsense of childhood was in the past and I was coming to an age where I could say anything and not care what people thought.  After all, I was old and you didn’t have to pay me no mind.

Enjoy every day of your life.  It’s a gift from God.  Even the bad stuff will teach you something.  Then you can look at a confident twenty year old and smile too.

The Difference

You can make a difference in a life.

We go around doing things and probably don’t even realize that we are being watched. Whether it’s with the people we meet or the animals we work with, someone is taking notice.

This was brought to my attention on Friday night.  By now I’m sure you know that I am a Christian.  I don’t stand on a soap box at the corner telling people “Repent the day of the Lord is coming”, but I try to live as a Christian should.  The young lady told me she wants to find a Christian Barn.  I’ve never heard of a “Christian Barn” before.  I know horse people, being close to, and loving Gods creation, are more spiritual.  I also know that there is a lot of drama at some barns.  I have had mothers call me and tell me they want to get their daughters out of certain barns.  Now this young lady has gotten a very good job, at a very prestigious college in Nashville, and I’m thrilled for her.  I will miss her, but she has her whole life ahead of her and it’s going in a good direction.

I don’t do anything special here other than take care of the boarders horses like they were my own.  I try to help people when I can.  Take in lost causes.  I don’t make much money, but I can sleep at night knowing I’ve done my best.

I’ve loved my lesson kids as thought they were my own grandchildren.  Even though they have moved on with their lives, moving and growing up, I still hear from them regularly. Have lunch with them when they are in town and just keep in touch by text.  They don’t sit there and send me sappy cards, but they tell me in their actions and sometimes words that I have made a difference in their lives.

Yes I may help horses work through their issues, both physical and emotional, but I have also found that I’ve helped these young people find a better way and a better life.  This is done without a thought or sometimes, not even noticing it.

Whether we are instructing or just going about our everyday routine, we are making a difference in someone, or some animals life.

Know that to be true.  You may never know it, but it’s really happening.  Be the best person you can be, because someone is always watching.

See You Around The Hood

That’s what my neighbor will say to me when I see her at her place of work.

When I was a teenager the “Hood” was something you looked under when you wanted to check the oil in your car.  Or it was what you pulled up from your jacket to stay warm. Then it became the fan above your stove, or something you placed on your horse’s head and neck to keep him warm after you shaved all his hair off.  Today it seems to be short for your “Neighborhood.”  A lot of words from years ago have new meanings.  Pot was something you cooked with, not something you smoked.  Seems weird to me.

Now the “hood” I want to talk about is one of the old-fashioned ones, the one you wear on your head.  I liken it to blinders on horse harness.  Seriously?!  One is to keep you warm and one is to keep the horse from spooking from something coming up behind him.  Well now, that’s just my point.

No we really don’t have a side or rear view like a horse, but the hood will do the same thing to us as the blinders will do for him.  You have your hood up and you are trying to stay warm, but you really don’t have any idea of what is going on along side of you or behind you.  This can be dangerous.

Sometimes I think, I think too much.  But it comes down to staying safe.

We don’t even realize how much we take in while we are working with our horses.  We are always scanning our surroundings.  Okay, now be honest –  When you were first learning to drive, and a plastic bag blew in front of your car, didn’t you grab the steering wheel tighter waiting for the car to spook?  Okay so don’t be honest and make me look crazy.  I think people who ride horses are more pro-active drivers.  And I do know that people drive the way they ride.  People who do sliding stops with their horses will also wait to brake their cars.  We have a tendency to look around our turns.  If you are into speed on a horse, guess what you are into with your car.

Enough of that.

So when it’s cold, yes even in Florida, I put my hood up on my jacket.  But what I have noticed, especially in a field with horses, I don’t want it up.  I want to see what is going on around me.  If one horse is going to chase another into me, or run me over, I don’t want to wait until I’m picking myself up off the ground to be aware of all that.  If a horse I am leading is going to spook, I want to see it coming.  And there is always the chance that someone is going to mug you for what you are carrying at the time.

In self-defense courses they will always tell you to be aware of your surroundings.  I think they learned that from being around horses.

So be wise grasshopper when working around horses.

See you around the hood, or in our case, see around the hood.

An After-Thought

Which in my case can be very dangerous.

My long time friend, Nancy Forsyth, a highly knowledgeable, competent trainer who specializes in Handicapped Riding and Driving, asked permission to use something I said in last weeks post in her next volunteer training session.  I was not only surprised, but honored by this.

I really just put down what comes to mind in a situation, or drives me nuts.  Nothing that I consider outstanding.

But upon thinking about what she said, that’s what I am about.  Teach what you have learned and one less horse will suffer from ignorance, and never stop learning.    So when I put something out there, it’s meant to be used and/or shared.  If I keep it to myself, what good is it; what good have I done?

I know I’ve said this all before.

My first husbands grandfather was a walking book of knowledge and experience, but sadly, he never shared his secrets.  He would help with anything, but never give you his secret mixes of healing materials.  How sad that was for me.  A lot of good remedies went to the grave with him.

So many old good trainers would train a horse for you, or solve a problem but they would never let on how they did it.  And truthfully, the ones that did let you know, really didn’t have good methods.

In the horse business there are a lot of ways to do things.  Some are right, some are wrong, and some are just different. Somethings work well with some horses and with some horses it just makes them mad.

Store everything somewhere in the back of your mind, you never know when you will need to pull something out of your bag of tricks, but by no means keep the things you’ve learned to yourself.  Sometimes people will look at you like you’re crazy.  That’s okay. They may look crazy themselves to others.  Just know in your heart that your intentions are good, and backed by solid logic and experience.  Some people will take what you’ve said and turn it around so it bites you, but that is their misunderstanding, and therefore their problem.  The truth of any situation will always rise to the surface.

If someone doesn’t like what I write, they are free not to read it.  If I can help one horse or person, I’ve done what I set out to do.

Thank you to all that write or call and tell me that they appreciate my writings and humor, even though Bob says that I don’t have a sense of humor.  I have been asked to put these posts into a book. (Not mentioning any names Louise.)  I don’t think that’s my destiny.  I don’t think what I say is book worthy, but thank you for thinking I’m better than I am.  There are so many books out there, and so many people who are more knowledgeable than I am.  I’m just a simple horse owner that has been doing this for fifty-four years, and counting.  I just want to put my experiences out there to try to help a little.

Share your experiences, not necessarily your opinions (although I do when I get mad). Whenever possible back it up with facts.  I’m always surprised when the facts agree with my experiences and thinking.  I’m glad they finally caught up to me.

Thank you Nancy.