Thursday, December 17, 2015

Happy Holidays

Life has taken over and left me with little time to do blogging.  Plus, I'm at this moment in my horse journey where I'm like a recovering alcoholic, or someone who just lost a bunch of weight or a vegan.  I just don't know when to shut the hell up and I'm a total judgy judgerson.  I know we all have our own paths and mine has taken a different turn with my horse, which has turned out to be magical.  Seriously. Fucking. Magical.

Magical like we go on mini trail rides BY OURSELVES>

Magical like riding in a bareback pad and halter and leadrope.

Magical like I finally get the idea of "First you go with the horse.  Then the horse goes with you.  Then you go together."  I can't remember if it was Tom Dorrance or Bill Dorrance or some old cowboy that said this.

Magical in that  I can tell by my pony's nostrils if he's absorbing something.  I can tell you when he's going to lick and chew and when he's going to yawn before he does it.

Magical like when we had to evacuate the barn due to flooding, my horse looked to ME for direction, walking close and checking in by breathing on my hand.

Sorry for being light on detail, but there's no time to type...I need to go out and keep working my new magic.  Happy Holidays to you, your families and your ponies.  And thanks for keeping up on your blogs.  I'm a crap writer these days, but a faithful reader!!

No big deal.  Just your average chicken riding her anxious TB cross in a bareback pad and halter and leadrope.

Solo trail ride around the property.

Ground tying?  Why not?  Also, this was my first time clipping without supervision.  It's pretty awful, but I did make a fun 12 on his butt for the Seahawks football team.  Haha!

Enzo at the barn we stayed at while our barn was flooded.  Notice how relaxed he looks and how he's headed straight for me.  It was hard to get a picture of him because he wanted to come hang out with me.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Shift and Shift and Shift Again

I suck as a blogger these days.  I've got a lot going on in my personal life and I find I am having a hard time answering emails, much less keeping up on blogging.  But here's the updates:

I am still not advertising Enzo, but letting folks know about him in case he finds his perfect match.  So far, that has not happened which is okay.  I continue to work with him and love on him and take care of him.  He will ONLY go to a home that can provide the right ownership and environment, which may very well end up being staying with me.

We still like each other.  Lots.

I had a funny feeling about his laminitis episode.  Something just wasn't adding up.  He foundered in February 2013 and then again in June of 2015.  Neither time was he fat and out on pasture all day.  I've had bloodwork done twice, but decided to empty my wallet and do it again.  I must have been on to something, because his ACTH came back elevated.  Really elevated.  Normal levels in fall are somewhere between 19-52 and Enzo was 597 on the first test and 192 on the second (a fasting one) test.  We have a third test going to a separate lab just to be sure.

Elevations of ACTH levels are a sign of Cushing's disease, which I still need to research the shit out of it.  At this point, I know it's something in his system having to do with the pituitary gland.  Enzo has no other symptoms of Cushing's except for the strange laminitis episodes.  I am a firm believer in using a holistic approach, so though I may end up medicating him, I also want to address any underlying issues that may have contributed to his.

He currently is still in the dry lot and my vet and I will be discussing options next week.  I'm concerned because the dry lot has been great for the summer, but 'dry lot' in the PNW becomes 'mud lot' in the winter and that's a huge concern.  I love, love the barn where I'm at but they're really set up for horses that can go out on pasture all day.  I'm hoping that maybe we can work out something with a muzzle and part days on pasture, but we'll see.

In training news, Enzo continues to improve every day.  If you had told me a year ago that I would be working my horse at liberty and riding with no bridle and no saddle, I would have told you that you were crazy.  We're taking it slow and steady and building a partnership in a way that I have never done with a horse.  If you had told me that hand walking my horse every day for an hour and backing him up every day for fifteen minutes would change him into a different horse, I would have been skeptical to say the least.

But I'm learning that slow and steady truly is the answer to horse training.  Really slow and really steady and paying attention to every step.  Enzo is quieter, more willing, more forward and more interested in work.  I am also quieter, more willing, more forward and more interested in Enzo.

Which is not to say that we spend every day in quiet meditation without a saddle.  Nope, I got me a new Western saddle and I still dressage it too.  In fact, I'm starting to learn to relax and just have fun.  My inspiration is a 12 year old girl and her pony.  They don't spend a whole lot of time contemplating the difficulties of things, they just go.  Bareback, with a saddle, rope halter or bridle, whatever....they just go.

So....sorry for the scattered nature.  I am not the same person who started writing this blog and I'm not sure how to even broach the subject properly.  I have new confidence, new attitude and a whole new idea on how to work with horses.  I would also like to give a shout out to my mentor, Elsa Sinclair.  You can read her incredibly eloquent and thoughtful blog at  I'm almost overwhelmed at all the new ways of thinking and doing that are possible and I can't wait until I'm brave enough to trust Enzo and I to gallop off down the beach with no saddle and bridle like The Black Stallion.  Yes, I will wave my arms and yes I will war whoop.  And yes, I will also wear a helmet!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Middle Aged Tantrum

First, let me apologize for my lack of pony selfies and photos.  I currently don't have a case on my phone and am paranoid about using it at the barn!

Next, I'd like to share what happened during my ride today.  Enzo has been getting much more sensitive to the leg and we've been working on disengaging the hindquarters and using his hind end to stretch his gaits out.  All good, but there's a basic that he and I have still struggled with.

Whenever I take up ANY kind of contact he goes slower and slower and gets crabbier and crabbier, until finally we are at a dead standstill while he swishes his tail, pins his ears and threatens.  Two nights ago at my lesson, I had my trainer Elsa ride before me.  Then I got on and we did not have any problems at a..

So I go out today and we start out fine, though sluggish and then he pulls this crap.  And we get slower and slower.  Okay, people.  This is the part where I'm going to share with all of you the meltdown that I had.  I want to share this because I know there are other people with this problem.  There are other people who have anxiety (I'm so glad I have realized that this is not a confidence issue, it's an anxiety issue.  Totally different.) and there are other people who get stuck.

So, I'm sitting in the arena by myself on Enzo.  I have a light contact (no, really.  It's really light.  Pinkie promise, this is not a 'too much contact' or a 'too heavy hands' issue) and we've now come to a complete stop.  I'm tapping with legs.  I'm tapping with whip.  The most he can be bothered to do is to pin his ears and grump at me.  Which causes my heart to speed up, my breathing to go shallow and my body to tense up.

A zen meditation master would tell you to take deep belly breaths and let everything out of your body.  And though I have found this to be a great release of tension, it does not do much to create 'energy' for you horse.  Plus, I was frustrated and angry.  And wanted to throw something.

Instead, I opened my mouth like I was going to scream and let out a loud as I could silent scream.  I pushed that silent scream all the way out.  I threw my hands up in the air in double fists and shook them at the sky, then at Enzo's ears, then at his mane.  I stood up in my stirrups and flung my body from side to side like a little kid losing his shit.  And then I put my hands on his mane and went a little apeshit.  I didn't have a conscious thought except "I want to fucking MOVE!  NOW!!" and by whatever means possible.  I crouched forward like a jockey and flapped my elbows and wiggled my hips and my legs.  None of it was kicking or whipping or anything hard, it  

I finally get it.  I finally felt it.  I FINALLY got my energy truly up without tension.  And miracle of all miracles, Enzo stepped directly into a canter.  From there we came down into a lovely energetic trot.  And changed directions.  And circled.  And took up contact.  And moved hindquarters.  It really made me realize how much tension I was holding and how secure of a rider I am when I let go of that.  So good!

Then we opened the gate and rode outside, where I kept that energy and asked him to trot a few steps.  He lightly stepped into it and politely stepped out of it when I asked.  Brilliant.  Effing Brilliant.

I can't wait to see if this revelation sticks, but I'm so excited to have been able to have a moment of bringing my life up and having my horse respond in kind.  So fun!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Lazy Pony

Poor Enzo had someone come out and try him yesterday.  The only time she had available was at 5pm, which is the hottest time of the day and yesterday peaked out at 90 degrees.  Add in a black horse and he was not the happiest of campers.

Add to THAT that he has only been worked a few days a week by a friend of mine and has had barely any groundwork lately and he hasn't really cantered in five months and you get a hot mess.

He was honest and kind, but he was definitely behind the leg and making his rider work for it.  And since I wasn't cleared to get up on him and it was a friend of a friend, she just jumped on and rode.   Which is fine, but she didn't want to over convince Enzo without knowing his reactions.  Which I totally respect.

So, at the end of the ride she said she didn't think he was the right horse for her.  I asked why and she said she was looking for a horse that was more sensitive and willing.  Huh?  I told her to give me two weeks and come back on a day that wasn't a record breaking heat day to try him again.  Both trainers have commented repeatedly on how sensitive and willing Enzo is!

However, looking back without the emotions (what??  You don't love him??) I think she was trying to say that she likes her horses hot and spicy.  It's true that he doesn't shoot off like a rocket.  And even when he's at his lightest, he doesn't shoot off like a rocket.  He's a sensible dude.  He has energy (usually) but if you keep asking him without follow up, he will totally tune you out.  He's totally not hot or spicy, but he IS willing and sensitive.  When we connect again in a week or two, I will check in with her about that but my gut says she wants something with a bigger motor and a touchier gas pedal.

I have another person possibly coming out to try him who's interested in doing a half lease before purchasing.  As long as she takes lessons with a trainer and is trainer approved, that could work out just fine.  I wouldn't hold him for her, but I'm not in a huge rush to sell him anyways.

I'm finally getting back in the saddle tonight or tomorrow and am excited to actually ride again!

Monday, August 17, 2015


Summertime is challenging because my child is home from school and I go back to full time parenting.  I will be doing the happy dance in two weeks when school starts back up!

Lots and lots of things have happened.  I haven't written in a long time not just because of time, but because I've been doing so much and things have been changing rapidly.  So, here's the highlights....

I picked the name Enzo.  He seems to like it and it makes me giggle when I say it.  Plus, he can have the nickname Z.

He foundered.  Ugh.  Luckily, I caught it super early and he's fine, with clean x-rays.  However, vet has said he must be in regular work and have limited grass.  Limiting his grass isn't too hard as they have a great dry-lot available, but it does mean he doesn't get to hang out with his buddies.

I've been riding five to six days a week up until two weeks ago when I had a stomach ache and was transported via ambulance for an emergency appendectomy.  Suddenly, I couldn't work my pony.  Lucky for me, I had a friend who was available and she's been riding him a few days a week until I'm cleared for riding again.

Ambulance Selfie!

However, that really made me step back and look at my situation.  First, it's important to note that I have done a TON of ground work and relationship work and my horse and I are a team now.  We are at an entirely different place in our relationship.  We're riding outside.  We're purposely doing scary things.  He ground ties.  It's been incredible.

Proof of outside riding!

BUT...I don't have a lifestyle that is conducive to five days a week of riding.  And the barn I'm at isn't a barn that has a program available that he could be in.  It's just not the right fit.  He would be perfect for what I WAS doing, which was riding in a program working my way towards dressage shows.  Throw in some trail rides and he'd be a happy boy.

So, I'm putting the word out to my pony people.  Currently, I am not advertising him on the big sites or on Facebook pages because I'd like him to go somewhere recommended.  I would also love for him to go somewhere where some form of natural horsemanship is practiced or at least somewhere where they don't ride with a flash noseband just because that's what everyone else is doing.  :)  His personality has really come out in the last few months and he's a sensitive, people pleasing kind of horse.  He deserves a rider who will honor that.

His best match is a confident rider who will give him regular exercise and love.  He could probably do half days on grass with a grazing muzzle as long as he's getting regular work.

Stats are 16 hands, 13 years old, 1/2TB, 1/4 QH and 1/4 Percheron.  Has been a lesson horse previously, but I don't think he loved doing that.  Loves trails and arena work and has a wonderful, easy trot.  $2,000.  Perfect home a must.  Currently, I don't have video because I'm just talking to friends and friends of friends.  If I end up 'marketing' him, I will get better pics and videos and all that.  He's boarded in Fall City right now, if anyone local is reading this.  :)

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Name Game

You know what?  I've always hated the name Licorice.  I let my previous trainer talk me into keeping it because she believed you don't change their names once they have them.  Having worked a LOT with rescue animals, I'm all about starting a new life with a new name.

Also, Licorice just doesn't roll off the tongue.  There aren't good nick names.  It feels trite.  His original owner was a young girl, so it's probably like my first dog who got the moniker "Holly Jolly Christmas".  At least it had a decent nickname with Holly!

So...I've decided to change Licorice's name.  I have a front runner that I'm trying out this week, but if anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them.  I love the big Italian names (Valerio!) but they were too fancy for Licorice.  His personality reminds me most of (get ready for corny here...) Black Beauty, but I can't name him that...because, no.  But he deserves a different name.  He's a kind hearted gentleman with a lot of try and a bit of a sensitive soul.

Anyone with experience with this, let me know how you let the rest of the world know (like your barn, friends etc.).

What name goes with this face??

We've completed a week of training with a new trainer (J) and had a lesson with the other trainer (E).  I'm getting such good stuff.  As we were walking around the property with Licorice on a gorgeous sunny day, I laughed and said "Are you ever surprised people pay you to do this?"

E smiled and said "I'm more of a relationship counselor than I am a riding instructor."

And she is.  She's expensive, but worth every penny.

My big take away for this week, that I got from both E and J separately, is about energy management.

E describes it this way:

You and your horse get to have a combined energy score of 10 at any given time.  You need to not go over 10 or under 10.  If it's a windy day or your horse is distracted, his energy may be at an 8.  So, you need to go in with an energy level of 2.  (note, this is not saying that you would be a lump, but that you would be very grounded and level with your energy and be pulling your energy down and not out).  Then, as your horse calms down, his energy may go down to 5 and you may need to bring your energy up to 5 to meet him.

On a hot day, when he's tired, your horse may only have a 3 so you may need to bring your energy up to a 6 to get him listening to you.  Sometimes, if he's really checked out, you may need your energy to be a 9 if he's only at a 1.  However, if you go up to 9, he's likely to switch from 1-5 pretty quickly, so you must adjust your energy.

For some reason, this totally clicked with me and we've been having major success with just staying calm, cool and focused.  I even (with the help of a friend) got him in the wash rack and got his tail washed without tying him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What what?

I'm a terrible blogger right now.  But, can you blame me?  I've been dealing with this.

Hives.  All over his body.  Over and over and over again.
I couldn't get the hives to go away, so we decided to try a pasture on higher ground.  Licorice's other barns were on hills and his new pasture was pretty marsh-y, so we moved him up the hill.  This is one of his new pasture buddies.  This horse is a big dog and just wants love.

When that didn't work, we went to the full armor again.  I finally found a fly sheet that can also be a rain sheet.  Yeah!  Perfect for spring.  So, after spending my $150 on it, it's been only hot and sunny and too warm for this.  Sigh.  Of course.
 Full armor + new pasture mostly did the trick!  So then there was this!  A saddle!!!!  Hurrah!!!
So handsome.
Which then led to this!  RIDING!!!!

 We have just started a 30 day training program with a trainer that I really like.  I'm hoping to get us back on track and go from there.  If someone comes along and thinks Licorice is their perfect horse, I am open to that conversation, but I'm not going to actively market him.  Instead, I'll put some more training on him and on me and get us out.  This summer is going to be awesome.  So spoke, so mote it be.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Like Dogs? Like Kids?

Licorice STILL has hives.  We are working on different angles and I'm hoping we turn the corner soon.  He looks awful.  All lumps and bumps.

We've had some great groundwork sessions.  I realized something pretty critical about my abilities and that is that it's not that I lack confidence, it's that I have anxiety.  I knew I had anxiety, but I thought confidence was the missing ingredient.  However, confidence is something you can gain through exercises, trust and time.  Anxiety doesn't give a crap about those things, it's a totally different beast.  One I'm very familiar with working with, but until I recognized fully that it was anxiety driving my discomfort and not confidence, I kept trying to train it out of me.

I have pretty good feel and pretty good timing.  My releases happen at the right time and even when I'm talking to someone else, one 'eyeball' is always on my horse.  I correct when I need to, am reasonably soft (this is ALWAYS a work in progress) and when riding, have a good seat and soft hands.  Licorice is not dangerous to me nor am I dangerous to him.  He's not a hot spooky mess all the time and neither am I.  I'm not sure it's exactly fun a lot of the time, which leads me to my newest pondering.

One of the people I'm working with for Licorice's hives heard that I was still thinking of selling him.  She basically dressed me down for it, saying that horses bond to their owners and that if I was having a hard time with my child I wouldn't give them up, would I?  Well, she's right.  Quite frankly, if my daughter was a horse, I probably would have sold her already.  (note to my child when she's old enough to find this on the internet:  you may use this for approximately five years of counseling when you're in your early 20s.  Then, someday, you may have a child and you can apologize to me with extravagant gifts.)

So, where do horses fit in?  Let's take out the 'horses cost a lot of money' line, because kids do too.  Also, let's take combinations that are dangerous off the table.  And let's also leave out 'horses are a hobby'.  I understand this is true for some people, but my horse isn't just a hobby.  I do puzzles for a hobby.  Horses are something deeper for me, and it DOES involve another being.

Why are they different than the commitment to dogs?  I had a border collie who I loved dearly, but she had some big issues (rescue dog) that we worked around but if she was a horse would I have traded her in?  I'm REALLY thinking about this, not just off the cuff with the whole time/money/life is too short stuff.  What makes the difference?

Dogs.  Children.  Horses.  All are beings and I believe they all have souls.  They certainly all have personalities.  What would life with horses look like if we DIDN'T trade them in?  I board, so I only can afford one horse so it's not an option to keep one and then get another one to do some of the things I want to do.  And why is WHAT we want to do MORE important than the horse/person bond?  My dog was NOT a family dog, but I just worked around it.  My husband is not a horse person...I wouldn't trade him in.

So, any thoughts?  I really would love to have a thoughtful discussion about this!  I recognize there might be differing opinions, so if there are, let's be respectful to each other.  And be open to thinking about things differently.....I know I am.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Don't Want To Jinx It

but Licorice's hives were better today.  Crossing my fingers that maybe we're turning a corner.  But trying not to get too excited, so no exclamation points or talking too much about it.  I will quietly whisper "He had less hives today. Yippee." and then go build a shrine to the No Hives Gods and do a No Hives Dance while drumming with a chicken bone.   What?  You would do the same if your horse had hives for over three weeks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lumpy and Bumpy

My poor horse is covered in hives from nose to tail.  I will try to get pictures today, but so far the hives just don't show up in pictures very well.

After trying steroids three times and having the hives return, I've decided to go a different route.  I'm currently working with an herbalist and doing a system detox for Licorice.  She warned me that it is very common for it to get worse before it gets better, so I'm only mildly freaking out.  Meaning I've only called her twice in the last two days.  Ha!  She thinks it will take another week or so to start turning the corner.

In the meantime, it's a constant battle to figure out the weather.  He needs to be wearing his full fly sheet and neck cover any time it's not raining, but this time of year it rains for an hour, then dry for three, then rain again, then dry.  The barn is almost 30 minutes from my house, so it's not really possible for me to go out there all the time.

While we're waiting for his skin to settle down, we've been doing lots of groundwork.  Licorice is finally getting the hang of lateral movement, though we're both pretty slow at it.  It's supposed to be gorgeous this week, so I'm going to mix our time up between doing groundwork and then me just hanging out in his pasture.  I'll bring a camping chair, a good book and just chill with my pony.

Curious if anyone has had a horse with allergies to bugs and what your experience was?  I know I could just put him on Benadryl, but I'm not a huge fan of covering up symptoms without getting to the root of why.  If this doesn't clear up in the next few weeks, I am going to look into allergy testing as I've heard there's a vet that does the skin testing for horses.  Interesting, but I'm sure it's not cheap!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Keeping Up To Date

I'm so sorry!  There's been so much good stuff and I have hardly written a word.  Let's see if I can be as un-wordy as possible and still catch you up.  I'm thinking a list.

1.  Licorice got his teeth done and while he was sedated, his sheath cleaned.  Vet said to try to keep him on half days on grass for spring, just in case.  Or put a grazing muzzle on him.  Lucky for us, another boarder left and Licorice got to move to his stall which is attached to a nice big dry lot!  So Licorice will have breakfast in the dry lot and go out in the afternoon with his girlfriend in the big pasture.
Poor sedated pony.  He found a scrap of hay that I was in the process of removing from his stall and almost fell over trying to get to it.  Silly boy.

2.  Another amazing lesson with E.  Licorice and continued to walk off our anxiety and have graduated to 'walking the trails'.  We have not graduated to calmly walking by the cow pasture, but my fire breathing dragon pony now at least will walk by them instead of stopping and then bolting.

Clearly, no cows were around while we took this picture.

3.  A few pictures from the interior of our new barn.
Not my tack!  But a heated tack room is a beautiful thing!!

What's better than a heated tack room?  A HEATED RESTROOM WITH HOT WATER!  Yes, I know.  I'm unreasonably excited.  I've been living in Porta Potty land for too long!

This is the wash rack.  I wish they wouldn't store the grain tubs there because the clutter makes me a little nervous.  When I'm ready to wash Licorice, I will move these out just to be safe.
4.  Licorice had a serious allergic reaction.  Vet thinks it might be a bug allergy.  There are lots of flies on this property since it is in the valley and gets a fair amount of standing water.  So Licorice got a steroid shot, a few days of steroids in his food and was prescribed a fancy fly sheet with neck cover.  My non horsey friends think he looks like a Knight's horse now.  The hardest part is that we are having spring days, which mean that the day can start out rainy (put him in a rain sheet) and then end up warm and sunny (needs the fly sheet).  I can't afford blanketing service and even if I could, that includes blankets in the morning and then in the evening, not a 'check in the middle of the day and swap out his entire outfit'.  
He had four of these and the hair on his neck is all weird and soft and thin.  Gross, huh?

5.  Another amazing lesson, where I had E ride Licorice.  She said he was lovely and that she thinks the tripping will lessen considerably once he learns to unlock his back.   Immediately after getting on, she said he tensed his back up and stopped moving his barrel.  Hmmmm...this makes sense why his back was so sore last year!  So, our focus is on getting his barrel moving by alternating legs.  First gently, then bigger and bigger.  It's sort of hilarious because you can tell that Licorice was a lesson horse and is used to spurs because I had to ride around thunking him pretty good.  He totally ignored me.  E, of course, got him going lovely right away, but at least he didn't kick up or crow hop.  We even trotted a tiny little bit, but with my hamstring injury I'm really only supposed to walk right now.

6.  I talked to my farrier and we pulled Licorice's back shoes.  He said if he's still sore in a few days, call him and he'll come out and throw shoes on him, but since I'm not doing much with Licorice he doesn't really need them.  Yeah for a smaller bill!!!  Finally!

7.  Licorice and I are starting to get it.  Really get it.  His manners are starting to come around and he even fell asleep while I was talking to someone.  Progress feels so good.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Licorice Shows His Anxiety

I had my second lesson with E and it went well.  Licorice showed his true colors at the start of our lesson by losing his mind over a horse that was walking on the trails around the property.  The horse would show up through a gap in the trees and then disappear.  Licorice whirled and spun and snorted and kept his head high and tense.  We walked and walked and walked.  He eventually settled down, but E was surprised at his behavior.  We talked about what this meant in terms of long term calmness.  She said it's harder to work on horses that spook at things in the distance because there isn't a way to train that.  Either he will overall calm down as we work with him or this will always be his button.

With that in mind, we're giving it 90 days to see what happens.  If both Licorice and I can move forward through our anxiety in the next 90 days, then we will re-evaluate.  If we can't and I find myself back in the position of avoiding going out to the barn, then I need to come up with a Plan B.  But, no point in thinking bad thoughts right now.  We've got learning to do!

This lesson we worked on moving Licorice through a space (such as through the barn doors) while I stood still.  He did great!  So we got to move on to more exciting things.  We did the weirdest lunging exercise I've ever done.  It involved me walking in a straight line from one end of the arena to the other, while Licorice circled around me.  Licorice needed some reminding that he had to keep going, but overall he did really well.  E said this will keep him engaged and that once we can do this at a walk, we will move to a larger circle and do it at the trot and then at the canter.

Finally, we ended up with sideways along the wall.  Licorice was pretty terrible at this, but he figured it out quickly.  One of the things I love about E is that her energy is very consistent.  At no time did Licorice get stressed out about the process, even when E had to get big to get him to move.  As soon as Licorice stepped sideways, E would immediately remove the pressure by facing sideways (instead of at him) and relaxing against the arena wall.

E stressed that after EVERY exercise (the sideways, the going through spaces) that I needed to let Licorice rest for at least a breath.  She said that's what will give him time to process right now.  The beginning phases of this, it's important to be really clear about what we're asking and to make sure that Licorice gets the idea that as soon as he does it right, he gets to relax.  And since the most important thing we want from him is relaxation, this is key to me being in the leadership role.

At the end of our hour, Licorice stood next to me yawning over and over and chewing and licking.  E said this was a great sign of relaxation.  I asked if it would make more sense for E to train Licorice and if that would be more effective.  E said that she could get him trained faster and easier, but that in a week I would end up with the same horse.  She said it made much more sense for me to be the one handling him.  I like her style.

Today, I will get those pictures taken.  I'm planning on having today be a pony spa day so there will be before and after 'goat beard' pictures too.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Anxiety Down, Stubborn Up

Licorice had Tuesday off because I had a busy day.  Wednesday, he was happily grazing with his girlfriend when I arrived.  They both looked up when I came over and Licorice let me pet his face.  But then they wandered off.  I followed and waited until I got Licorice's attention.  He decided he'd rather stay with his girlfriend, so I just followed them around for about five minutes, making it clear I wasn't going away.  Licorice looked up and I swear he gave a huge sigh and an eye roll while he waited for me and stood still while I haltered him.

We started out with walking and walking.  We were both zeros on the anxiety scale, so we went ahead and went into the barn.  Licorice is in the smaller front barn(I swear I will get barn tour pictures soon) which was a bit dark with the lights off, but not in a scary way.  We walked in and went to the cross ties.  I asked Licorice to take a step back and stand.  He stood for a minute, but then something got his attention and his head flew up.  So, off we went for more walking down the lane.

Well, our anxiety went down but when we got back to the barn, Licorice said No Thank You.  Not in an anxious way, in a stubborn piglet kind of way.  He just planted his feet and said no.  So, we zigged and we zagged and we walked and walked but he still said no.  I got a little frustrated and just made him do a quick moving of his hindquarters both directions.  Still, no go.  Then I just reverted back to the old leadrope wack on his blanket.  He walked in, though he was not happy.

We went back to the crossties and stood there for a few minutes.  I even hooked them on.  For some reason, I'm ridiculously uncomfortable using crossties on a rope halter.  I think someone must have told me that you should never, ever use crossties with a rope halter.  But Licorice really needs the rope halter right now because he can be so barge-y when he's anxious.  We stood there for a few minutes and I knocked some mud off his face.  He started to fuss in the crossties.  I don't think he was anxious, I think he was just bored.  But it made ME anxious and our new thing is to be a unit, so off we went for a walk.

When I tried to get him back in the little barn for a third time, he didn't want to go again.  I managed to get him in, but it didn't feel like we were a unit.  We walked up to the upper barn, where someone getting out of their car scared Licorice into a full on spook and spin.  What was fantastic was that he did it and then we just walked and we both calmed down very quickly.  He was much better about going in and out of the bigger barn.

We finished up with one more trip into the little barn and then he got to back out with his girlfriend.  I have another lesson today, which is great since I want to find out what's going on with not even wanting to go into the barn.  Backwards is not the direction I want to go.  :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Walk It Off

Licorice and I met with a new trainer today and had an amazing lesson of doing what appeared to be nothing.  The new trainer does Classical French Dressage (so fancy, right?) but is also big on fixing holes on the ground.  I told her that I wanted to work on my anxiety levels before getting into the saddle and that even on the ground, I had anxiety in new situations.  Such as moving to a strange barn.

So, we went to the pasture to get Licorice.  My anxiety was already starting to rise as Licorice was in with his new friend, who is not a horse I know.  When L walked over, his new girlfriend came with him.  My new trainer (who shall now be called E), had me walk up to Licorice and if he stayed with me, just stand next to him and pet him.  If he walked away with his girlfriend, we just followed.  We did a sort of approach and retreat thing for a few minutes and then began to approach Licorice, but shoo his girlfriend away.  That took all of 30 seconds and Licorice stayed with me.  E had me put his halter on and take him out then.

The rest of my hour long lesson was spent walking.  And walking.  And zigging and zagging and walking.  E suggested that Licorice and I need more walking.  She said this is the first phase of our training and that later we will work on more refined things, but for now, she wanted to see us reduce our anxiety by walking.

E also suggested that I start thinking of Licorice and I as a unit.  So, if he's anxious and needs to move, go with him and walk.  Licorice is not a spooky, hot horse so walking is a good speed for him.  If he got distracted and lifted his head, called to his girlfriend, or just started crowding me, I was to change directions.  However, E pointed out that most people do this really abruptly, which can startle the horse even further.  When I changed direction, I was to do it smoothly and in time with our regular footfalls.

She really stressed rhythm with us.  She wanted us walking in rhythm, changing directions in rhythm, stopping in rhythm.  We walked and walked through the barn, up and down the aisle.  When we got to the cross ties, we turned him in and let him stop.  If he felt too anxious to be there, we calmly just walked and walked.  With rhythm.  Then we returned and tried again.  Set him up, back him one step to let him know we'd like him to stay there and then wait.  If he rested, he rested.  If not, we walked.

E also suggested that we walk when *I* am anxious (we're a unit, remember?).  So, at one point, they were loading hay into the upper part of the barn and though Licorice remained calm, I started to feel anxious.  So, we kept walking until my anxiety went away.

People, it was genius.  Freaking genius.  So. Simple.  So.  Damn.  Simple.  And yet, so effective.  E said that she does this with any horse that people want to be 'kid broke' because it's the best platform for a mellow, calm horse.  She did say that she would not do this with a show horse that someone wanted on the hotter side, as it is a very calming exercise.

E also said that she thought Licorice and I would be fine together.  If today was any indication, she's right.  We will be totally fine.  We'll just walk it off.
Licorice showing the other horses how to dig a hole to China.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Moving In

I'm typing this from my phone, so please excuse any shortness or weirdness and how it is formatted. Here are some pictures of Licorice at his new place. I will try to take the camera out to actually get decent photos tomorrow.

I can't wait to trim the goat beard this week! 

Awesome giant stall. 

Looking out at some pasture.

Licorice and his new girlfriend. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Moving Day is Here

I'm moving Licorice to our new barn this morning.  I have been up since 3am.  I'm not nervous, I'm more excited but apparently my body can't tell the difference and kept harassing me with stress dreams all night long.  I mean, I dreamt about going to the DENTIST.  Urgh!

But, I'm up and showered and just getting ready to load the last of my stuff up.  Then it's off to meet my friends with the truck and trailer at the barn.  Send us easy loading vibes.  I've been told to stay far away from them while they are loading Licorice so that he doesn't pick up on my anxiety about it.  Haha.

Loading is still on my list of things I'm going to fix.  I'm pretty sure the new place has someone who can help me fix that, since there are lots of trailers there and people who go places.  Even though I have everything I need on the property (trails!  indoor and outdoor arena!  Wash Rack with hot water!!!!), it's important that Licorice and I learn how to load calmly and properly.  Yes, I made sure to include myself.  Because really, Licorice knows how to load and just needs gentle reminders.  I, on the other hand, need a Xanax and a lot of practice not freaking out.

It looks like the weather is going to be good.  No rain and mild temperatures.  The move is a short one, we're only going about ten miles down the road.  Then I'll spend some time getting Licorice settled in and getting my stuff settled in.

At the new barn, I'm responsible for putting together his AM and PM feedings, as well as supplying my own feed tub, salt block and garbage can to store my feed in.  I finally got everything together last night and I have to admit, it was fun putting together Licorice's customized baggies.  Something about it made me feel more like he's MY horse and not a trainer's horse.  I'm sure the 'glow' of that will wear off, much like before you have a baby (and even in the beginning) you love folding little tiny clothes.  But after a few weeks or months you think, I really wish someone would fold these clothes.  Or you just stuff them in a drawer and call it good.  Or if you're like me, you can't even make it to the drawer and you just fold the clothes in a laundry basket and pull clean clothes straight from the basket.  Or on a really good day, I just leave the clothes in the dryer and pull straight from there.  That way I can re-run the heat for a few minutes to 'get the wrinkles out'.  So lazy!

Okay, I'm off the give L a good grooming so he's not a total pig when he rolls off the trailer at the new barn.  I will try to take some pics of his new casa today.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Horse nutrition is not my strong point.  It's such a huge topic and there's so much information AND so much marketing out there.  Horses are not humans and their digestive systems are nothing like ours.  I'm sure lots of feed companies pack their products with extras that horses simply don't need.

I've been in the natural pet food industry for 20 years, so I know the tricks of the trade.  Unfortunately, I don't know enough about horse nutrition to know what my horse 'needs', what is actually bad for my horse and what they just put in their to ensure that the horse will eat it.


I see lots of feeds with molasses in them.  Knowing that horses probably don't go foraging for molasses, I'm assuming that this is put in to cover up ingredients that the horse wouldn't eat.  Things like soybean meal.  Soybean meal in the dog/cat industry is used because it's cheap.  Why is it used in horse food?  Same reason?

Licorice is currently getting LMF Super Supplement, but when I move barns I can feed him whatever I want in terms of grain and vitamins and minerals.  He's hot enough that I don't want to feed him ANY grain.  Does he need a vitamin/mineral supplement?  He will be on all day grass turnout every day from dusk til dawn, plus he will get timothy hay and his supplements (SmartPak Ultra Digest and Cosequin ASU for his joints).
Licorice's new digs:  Patterson Creek Farm

Can anyone point me to a no nonsense website or article to help figure out if a multi vitamin is good sense or just good marketing?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

Weird phrase, eh?  Apparently it originated in Vegas when a chicken dinner costs less than $2.00 and if you won $2.00 they would say 'Winner!  Winner!  Chicken Dinner!' or something to that effect.

Well, I have a winner.  Hopefully.  I'm waiting to hear back from them to make sure I can move in at the end of the month but I brought home the paperwork and confirmed with my husband.

Barn #2 is the barn where we'll be going.  It's definitely farther out, but when I arrived and EVERY SINGLE HORSE WAS OUT in a big giant field with at least one other horse, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Then I was shown the stalls which are giant and open.  There are walls between the horses, but no bars or anything, so the horses can hang their heads out and see the neighbors across from them.

The facility is huge, but there aren't that many horses.  There's a small barn up front that has 8 stalls and then a larger one in back with maybe 12?

I was concerned about the last feeding being at 4pm, but the person I talked to today said that I could put in a slow feeder so that Licorice would have food all night.  Yeah!  The horse are out on grass, though they do have what they dubbed The Jenny Craig area if horses get too fat.  I will need to monitor Licorice in spring since he did have a founder episode.  I will probably consult with my vet about this to make sure we do it right.  I think he'll probably be fine as long we don't let him get fat.

Under saddle, Licorice continues to challenge me.  My friend Sarah (who has balls of steel) came out and rode him for me on Saturday.  He went immediately into trot numerous times without any fussing.  She had a great ride on him.

Then I had my lesson with him today.  As soon as I swung a leg over, he sucked back into the pokiest walk ever.  When I asked him to walk on, he sucked back farther.  When I asked him to trot, he cow kicked.  He kicked at the girth and then he bucked.  Then he went to the worst, slowest trot ever.  Then he bucked again going into the second worst trot ever.  Not a great day.

I'm going to have Sarah continue to ride him.  She's a bit heavier handed than me, but she's no nonsense and Licorice needs to get worked.  I need to think about what my game plan is as I am not having a good time trying to muster up confidence to ride my horse.  Our relationship has improved a hundred thousand times on the ground, but under saddle it has degraded to the point of not getting anything done.  Lame.

Look for happier news as we move to a barn with turnout from dusk to dawn every day!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Narrowing It Down

I think I've narrowed my barn search down to two barns.  I haven't visited barn #2 yet, but will visit it tomorrow.  Here's the skinny on my top two picks.

Pick # 1


Close to my house.  REALLY close to my house.  Five minute drive maximum.  The back of their property connects to a popular trail system that goes right by my house.  I could (in another universe where I have balls and/or a quieter horse) ride my horse from my barn to my house and back.  It's really only about 2 miles away.

I met some of the people there and they seem nice.  You can bring in your own trainer.

They have great lighting on their outdoor arena and round pens.

Two round pens, one outdoor arena, one indoor arena.  Trails around the property and easy access to more trails (though you have to go through traffic).

Horses live in outdoor shelter/pens next to each other and get turned out most days with a buddy or two in large pastures.  I say most days because for the last two days we have had a DELUGE of rain and the pastures were flooded.  It's been unusually damp though.


Both the arenas have very deep sand footing.  The indoor is a converted dairy barn so it's very narrow.

No hot water wash rack.

The people who feed and clean stalls and do turnout do not have a clue about horses.

Final feeding is at 4pm and no night check on the horses.

Pick #2 (the one I haven't seen in person yet.)


All day pasture turnout in a group.  Horses get fed their morning hay out in the pasture.  Not sure yet if this is a pro or a con since I haven't seen how they do that.

Indoor, outdoor and trails on property.

Was told most folks there have a background in Natural Horsemanship but do multiple disciplines.


30 minutes away

Only two feedings and the final one is at 4pm.  No night checkup.

The people with a background in NH could be the kind of people that are a bit wonky about it.  The ladies who like to talk about their horses personality as a way of excusing their horses poor behavior.

So - Barn #1 is not awesome yet.  BUT there's lots of room for improvement and they seem to be willing to do it.  The owner is a hedge fund investor and this boarding barn project is just a side thing for fun.  He plans on eventually ripping down the old dairy barn and building a full size dressage arena with wash racks, grooming stalls etc.  But until then, it's pretty rustic.

Barn #2 sounds nice but 30 minutes farther away.  I have a feeling they might be more horse savvy than barn #1 though.  Which could be critical if something goes wrong....

Sorry I don't have pictures.  Barn #1 can be found here, but keep in mind they are not showing the whole property and the wonky bits (like where you tack up and that sort of thing).  You can, however, see the deep footing. Barn #2 only has a Facebook page here.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

I'm Going on a Barn Hunt, a Barn Hunt, A Barn Hunt

Licorice had a lameness follow up today and though the vet would like to see him on some joint supplements, she pronounced him sound and fit and ready to return to work.

I am still struggling through my anxiety when he pins his ears, doesn't pay attention, kicks at my leg.  My whole body tenses up and I grab at the reins.  Not good, Mona Sterling, not good.  I think I am going to try and find someone to ride him for a month to get him back going again.  I think it will restore both of our confidences.  From there, I can figure out what we're doing.

The other thing we need to do is move somewhere where there are more people.  I ride weekday mornings and I don't mind riding in an arena by myself if there are people 'around'.  I'm not a fan of riding without anybody else there.

So, I'm on the hunt for the right boarding facility.

Must have:

  • Arena - Prefer covered AND outdoor arena.
  • Trails on site - I don't have a trailer.  It doesn't even need to be miles and miles of trails.  It could even be a track around the perimeter of the place.  Just somewhere that is outside and not an arena so we can practice.
  • Turnout - Licorice may just need more turnout.  I know more than one horse who did a 180 in personality when they had the right amount of turnout.  He has had limited turnout the last four months and I think it's not working for him.
  • Timothy Hay - Licorice does better on Timothy than Alfalfa.
  • People -There must be people.  I don't want it to be a graveyard when I ride.
  • Knowledgeable Barn Owner - I'm putting my horses care in someone elses hands when I'm not there.  I want to sleep well at night.
  • Less than 30 Minute from My House and No Major Highways Involved - I don't want to spend my life commuting.
Are there any bloggers/lurkers that know of anything in the Redmond, WA area?  I know of lots of barns, but I'd love to have a personal recommendation for one!  I'd also love to work with a trainer at the new barn, so if you have a trainer to recommend let me know!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Perfect Partner

Why is it that we are expected to find the perfect horse partner right away?  I'm not talking about how long you 'look' at horses to buy, I'm talking about after you buy them.  It seems to me that the horse world has decided that once you pick out the horse, unless there is something catastrophically wrong with it, that you stick with that horse.

If I had done this with boyfriends, I would be the most unhappily married person ever.  However, I find myself thinking that with horses.

Here's the thing.  I like Licorice.  He likes me.  But he's more sensitive guy than stalwart companion.  If I'm anxious, Licorice is anxious.  And now that we're outside our comfort zone, I'm definitely anxious.  And so Licorice is more anxious.

Yet when I think of selling him, I think about being a failure and having had two horses in the last five years.  And then I think I'm just going to keep buying horses and ingraining them with my anxiety and no matter what horse I get, I will make them a hot mess. my heart of hearts, I know that's not true.  I know that I can find a teacher in a horse who will tolerate or ignore my anxiety without escalating.

It feels very depressing right now because I don't want 'give up', but I'm not having fun.  I force myself to go out and to ride and at the end of a ride I do feel successful and happy but I have to give myself a pep talk EVERY TIME.

I actually got a Groupon for a Western barn (gasp!  the Dark Side!  Yes!) and went and took a lesson there this morning.  The trainer said "You are a beautiful rider.  No matter what discipline you choose, you'll be successful.  Your body position is great."

I told her I had confidence issues and she shrugged and said "We have quiet horses.  We have horses for lease if you wanted to lease one for a while.  These are pleasure bred Quarter Horses and they're meant to be quiet."

Sure enough, my little pleasure mare I rode on was quiet.  And despite being a new horse, in a new arena in Western tack, I had no anxiety.  None at all.  Hmmmm.  Thinking.  Thinking.   Thinking.

So, that's where I'm really at and it sucks.  It sucks to waffle and hem and haw and to feel overwhelmingly guilty and stupid and to re-hash every moment.  I'm trying hard not to do that to myself but to simply decide to move forward and see what happens.  And I'm totally going back and taking another Western riding lesson on a dead quiet horse.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Licorice Has a Good Day in the Mud

Licorice thoroughly enjoyed not being blanketed.  I got some pictures of my husband trying to find a patch of clean hair to scratch him.

I should have taken a picture of myself after grooming him.  It reminded me of this cartoon from Thelwell.

With the weather forecast being mild for the rest of the week, I switched Licorice to a sheet I had purchased last year.  I'm not thrilled with the fit, but at least it will cut down on my grooming time.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A January Summer

It's freakishly warm here.  So warm, I pulled Licorice's blanket yesterday and left it off him last night.  This morning it was 48 degrees when I woke up!  In January!  And it's expected to get warmer today and tomorrow.  We may even hit 60 degrees tomorrow.

Remember two days ago when it was cold and rainy?  I went out and worked Licorice anyway.  I didn't end up riding, but I lunged him and he was a good boy.  I took a picture to prove it.  Doesn't he look miserable?  My saddle pad was still soaking yesterday, it was pouring the entire time!

I'm excited to spend some time at the barn today and tomorrow while it's warm out.  Though I know it's a lost cause, maybe I'll even try to get some of the mud off his ears and out of his tail.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Motivation

It doesn't get super cold here in the winter usually.  Temperatures are mild and not too bad, especially if you wear layers.  And it's not that I mind the rain now that I don't have a covered arena.  My lack of motivation to go out to the barn is because it's dark and grey out and there won't be anyone else out there to ride with.  Waaaaaaahhh.  So lonely!!!!

At least I'm narrowing down what I want in a boarding situation, right?

Licorice had yesterday off and he got shots yesterday.  Today, I don't plan on riding but I will get him out and lunge him lightly.  I probably won't even saddle him in case he's sore.  I know some horses get sore more than others, but since we're just back to work I don't want to take a chance.

My ride on Wednesday was another good ride.  Licorice continues to not want to move forward if I have ANY contact on the reins and will kick at the leg/whip if I push the issue.  That's the kind of thing that I want to address in a lesson, so I'm making sure to just keep things mellow for right now.  I still struggle with the difference between a horse giving you a pain response and a horse giving you an "I'd rather not cause that's kinda hard" response.

Licorice did have a big spook on Wednesday and bolted.  For four strides.  Then we went back to trot and went back to work, despite my heart threatening to bounce right out of my chest.  Our trot was much more forward after that.

Licorice's main and tail are dusty gray now with all the mud.  Giant puffs of dust cloud around him whenever I'm grooming him.  I miss having a wash rack.  I REALLY miss having a wash rack.  There's a hose here, but nowhere to tie the horse up to and even though it has been plenty mild enough to wash a tail, Licorice doesn't think it's a good idea.  He's fine with a wash rack and tail washing, but to expect him to stand there in the middle of the driveway and let me hose off his tail?  Too much, Mom!  Too much!  On a regular basis there are usually cars parked there so it makes it hard to do training for that also.

Alright, I'm totally putting off going out to the barn by writing more.  I'm leaving now.  Seriously.  Right now.  Headed out the door.  I'll even take a picture today to prove I was there!  Here's a blurry shot from my ride on Wednesday.  Though that isn't blur that is making his mane grey.  Sadly, that's the mud.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Perfect Spring Day in January

Today was gorgeous (still is actually).  Mild weather, lots of sunshine.  Very strange for January, but I'll take it!

I went out to see Licorice today.  It was quiet around the barn and the horses were enjoying naps in patches of sunshine.  I brought my tack to Licorice's pen rather than to the cross ties and he relaxed while I groomed him.  I will try to take a picture of his ears the next time I am there.  They are so mud encrusted that I'm not sure I will EVER get them clean.  He's not a huge fan of getting his ears handled and they're so fluffy and filthy that it would be a project in itself.

I lunged him both directions and though he didn't bring his head down the way I would have liked, he was mellow and there were no spooks.  Since we're back to riding, I hopped on for the cool down and did a few laps at the walk.  I worked on trying to change his walk by just changing myself and my body.  I was mildly successful at getting him to halt off my body, but I think mostly because we're both pretty comfortable stopping.  Getting his walk to get bigger?  Not so successful.  But it was fun to work on it.

We did a few laps of trot on a loose rein and I will continue to increase the time trotting every week.  I'm taking it slow not only for Licorice's back, but also because I'm experimenting and don't want to fall back into bad habits.  I'm gauging our progress not by the speed we're going, but how we both feel at the end of a ride.

At the end of this ride, Licorice and I walked down the road a bit.  I chose to walk next to him because I was alone, rather than riding him.  Also because there isn't a place for me to mount outside of the arena and I don't want to tax his back by mounting from the ground.  Especially since we just got back to work!

All in all, our entire interaction was happy, mellow and full of good stuff.

And thanks for the help on Western saddles!  And don't worry, I didn't mean I was going to stop taking lessons or training.  Lessons are my favorite thing in the world!   Seriously, if I could take lessons every day I totally would.

 I mean that I'm going to stop relying on someone else to solve it.  A great example is if my horse is being spooky, I will not hand him over to someone else.  I will work through it all the way. I've been letting us both off the hook a little too much lately and it has made us worse partners instead of better.  I hope that explains it better!  I will continue to learn and grow from people with more experience than I have, but I no longer want them to hold me up or even hold my hand.  Independence, here I come!

Also, so sorry for the lack of pictures.  I keep forgetting to pull out my cell phone and snap a photo of us!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Things I Am Learning

Oooh, this learning curve is a steep one.  And though I'm still at the part of the curve where my cart is chugging up the tracks of the steep hill, I think I can maybe see the top and am looking forward to the whoosh of the wind as we fly down the other side.

Things I have learned from my new experience moving barns:

1.  I miss people.  All the people.  All the horses.  I like to have some room to ride, but I don't like to be completely alone.  

2.  Licorice misses having more horses around.  He has never been more insecure than he is now.  We ride by ourselves every time and neither one of us likes it much.  I don't mind riding in the arena alone, but I like it when I know there's someone nearby.

3.  I love riding outside.  I don't mind riding in rain.  The weather here is wet, but not nasty cold most of the time.

4.  I really want a Western Saddle but have no idea how to fit one and the videos on the internet don't  help me much.  I also want one that puts my leg in a good position.  I'm a little obsessed with Western Riding right now.

5.  I don't know how to tell if a horse is sound.  This is really frustrating because currently I have someone telling me that she thinks my horse may never be able to be ridden much because he has deep unsoundness issues.  The last vet lameness exam was three months ago and they didn't find anything scary, just some minor stiffness in the right hind which we injected.  X-rays were inconclusive.  Licorice does have a back leg that locks up occasionally, shitty conformation and some age related stiffness.  I need to find a starting place without tearing him apart.  I'm worried that we will get too detailed.  You know, like when you go to the chiropractor and he tells you that one leg is shorter than the other and your shoulders are twisted and your head isn't on straight.  This is all absolutely true, but still I manage to survive and even thrive.  I think we all have some issues.  On the other hand, I don't want to ask my horse to do things he physically cannot do.

6.  I need to do this myself.  This whole thing.  I've really been looking for someone else to guide me through this experience and give me courage and knowledge.  Instead, I need to be the one who steps up and makes mistakes.  I need to ride, even if I'm afraid.  And if that means I ride at the walk for a minute, that's okay.  I can push myself every day a tiny bit farther.  But there's no replacing experience.  I have been involved with horses for a solid ten years and am an avid learner.  Somehow, I have let my anxiousness and fear get in the way of that.  I am now making choices to do it myself, even if it means I fail.  The only way for Licorice and I to develop better trust in each other, is to start doing it without supervision, without help, without guidance.  

Some people need lessons and programs.  I LOVE lessons and programs.  But there comes a time where you have to just let yourself BE and that's where I'm at.  I want to just let myself BE.  And when I am solid about where I'm at, I'll know what I want to do with my horse.  I just have to be willing to take that step.  And so I am.

Friday, January 9, 2015


Licorice got his saddle adjusted again yesterday and today I FINALLY got to swing a leg over.  He's not showing any troubles, so now it's just the slow climb upward back to fitness.  It was so great to finally ride again!  Maybe I'll have more interesting things to post now that I'm back in the saddle.

Of course, I'm still on my internal journey, but it's the sort of thing that lends itself better to a conversation than a blog post so I just haven't been posting much.  But horses have been on my mind lately.  In fact, it's taking up an incredible amount of my space right now so it should be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Happy Trails everyone!!