The End?

Ditto, a wise and patient teacher, leader, and friend

Several weeks ago we had an opening here at Davenport Stables for a nice, easy going gelding to help me take care of the mares. You see, it was time to say goodbye to a wonderful soul. His name is Ditto and he has been a helpmate for me here at the barn for over 15 years. At first I didn’t realize what a special leader he would be, and what an important role he would play in my journey with horses. I guess I didn’t pay too much attention to him at first because he didn’t belong to me and he was an easy keeper, out with the other geldings and he was just “one of the boys”.

His owner was a young woman when Ditto came here to live with us, and she spent many hours with him, out on trail rides and attending an occasional gaming show. They had a special connection that would last the rest of his life. As life moved on, Molly grew up, got married, and started a family. Ditto grew older and needed extra feedings since his teeth started to wear out. Molly wasn’t able to come out twice a day to feed him, so Ditto quickly became part of the herd that needed extra help and care. Here at the barn, I like to keep an older gelding in the with mares, I’ve found it helps keep them balanced and happy. My beloved JJ had that role, he handed it over to Billy, then Billy passed away and we handed it over to Ditto. Ditto stepped into those big shoes and filled them to overflowing. He was more than a leader for the mares, he became an important teacher for me, and I would like to tell you a little about him. Sit back, grab a cup of coffee or tea and let me tell you a couple stories about his relationship with me and the mares…

Ditto and Nora were the best of friends.

I started a class to learn how to become more aware of the horses. It was a course where I had to observe the horses, enter their herd without causing disruption of the flow of their energy, and report back my thoughts, feelings, and observations. We were learning how to use energy work to help horses and ourselves and one important aspect of that is running their bladder meridian. I woke up one morning with that in mind and after chores headed out to the mare herd. Ditto and Nora were in the shelter together, they were the best of friends, the kind of friends that could hang out all day together, then go off with their owners to enjoy the day and not be anxious. They were very comfortable in their friendship, and I enjoyed observing them. So, just outside the shelter I paused and searched for their bubble, and gently asked with my intent if I could come closer to run their energy. I felt a warmth come into my hands, and a gentle push back against my ask. I was about four feet from them and knew I had to get closer. I inhaled and exhaled and leaned forward again in my ask, the push back was there again. Then I felt a thought nudge my brain, “stay there”, try from there. I leaned back again and just stood there breathing in and out slowly. I let my brain clear of all thought. I felt my body swaying in rhythm of my breath, I could hear the other horses, I could feel a gentle breeze, and I felt my heartrate slow. I sensed the energy all around me and felt my hands grow warm again. I leaned forward again, but I felt, “stay, try another way, no touch”. I closed my eyes, and felt a nudge, “open your eyes”. So, I opened my eyes and let my eyes roam over Ditto’s body as he stood there. I dopped my gaze to his left rear hoof and started to let my gaze follow his meridian. It felt so easy as my gaze ran up his leg, until I got to his hock, then I felt stuck. I kept my eyes on his hock for a few heartbeats, and then Ditto yawned and shifted his weight. I helped him release there! Just with my eyes and intent, no touch? How is that possible? Lightbulbs started going on in my head, we often talk about the fact that horses are so sensitive that they can run as a herd, wheel and turn without running into each other. They read each other at such a level that they merge as one. Why wouldn’t that be possible when doing energy work? I swear that Nora and Ditto said to each other. “She finally listened!” There also was a sense of humor in that moment. It felt like they approved of what I was doing, and I walked back to the barn with a lighter step, excited to write to my teacher.

Nora and Ditto often welcomed Sassy, Nora’s daughter into their space.

Ditto had such a way about him that it was easy to understand exactly what he needed to take care of the girls. He was a good leader, never abusive, or demanding, but if one of the mares got out of line, she knew it! He was the kind of leader I wished we had in humankind. He got his point across quickly, then walked away and let it go. He led by example and the mares followed him because he helped keep them stable. They chose to be around him, and he was good at helping them be balanced. We knew it was getting close to time to let him go because he started to become crabby with the girls, and at feeding time he let us know that he was very hungry. We noticed all the hay he would put in his mouth, would be balled up all over the pasture. He no longer could chew his hay, and we couldn’t get weight on him even when he was getting massive amounts of grain a day. The decision was carefully and tearfully made with the vet that this fall we would put him down.

I received an email from a woman who was looking for a boarding place for her gelding. John and I made contact with her and set up a time to meet. I was nervous because adding another person and horse to our barn can be a bit jarring to both humans and horses alike. After meeting Mia, and learning more about her and her horse Remy, John and I knew it would be a great fit. I had a nudge in my heart that Remy would be the gelding that would come into the mare herd and lead. It was such a calming feeling that I was looking forward to him coming to the barn, even though it was going to be Ditto’s last days with us.

Remy was brought in on Oct 29th and when he stepped off the trailer it took my breath away because he was a big red quarter horse that looked like he could be Ditto’s brother. When we turned him out into the herd a couple days later, the mares accepted him right away, but Ditto moved him off a few times. It didn’t take long for me to notice some interesting interactions between Ditto and Remy. I truly believe that Ditto was teaching Remy how to take care of his girls, and I’m pretty sure I may have been discussed a little bit.

I walked out to the herd one evening after chores, it was a gentle night, the wind soft, the birds calling to each other as they roosted for the night, and the mare herd was quiet. I gently slipped open the gate and into the pasture, my teacher’s words from the past reminding me how to enter their space without ripples. I slowly walked towards Ditto, my heart heavy, and sadness leaking out through my eyes. I slowly approached him at his shoulder and gently let my hand slide down his ribs to right behind his elbow in his girth area, I could feel his heart beating there, the swaying of his body to the rhythm of his heartbeat and his breath. I let my head drop forward and rested my forehead just under his withers. His sweet horse scent entered my nostrils with each breath as tears slipped down my cheeks. He let me stand there a few moments, then he shifted away. “that’s enough, it’s going to be okay, I’m tired” filled my senses. I pushed back with “I will miss you” he moved further away from me, “it’s okay.” and he walked off. I stood there and felt the warmth of the breeze and watched him walk to Remy. He stood next to Remy and then the two of them walked away together. I knew in my heart they were communicating with each other. Ditto the patient teacher once again, once again helping me teach a new horse about our herd. Our herd doesn’t just include horses, it includes the humans that love them as well. I turned and slowly walked back to the barn, knowing that Ditto and I shared a special goodbye. There were many hours that I stopped what I was doing to observe Ditto with the herd in his last week here. Many things that I will hold close to my heart that I’m not sure I would share. Some things just can’t be shared.

My friend, mentor, and teacher waiting for me at the gate.

Ditto has been gone for a few weeks now. The herd has changed a little bit. Remy now is the leader, but every once in a while, I think I see Ditto out of the corner of my eye and it’s Remy as he moves a mare over, or struts to the water for a drink. He stops what he is doing sometimes and just comes to me when I’m out in the pasture, the other day I stopped next to him at his shoulder, slowly slid my hand down along his ribs to his girth area, dropped my head down next to his withers and breathed in his wonderful horse scent. It reminded me of another big red horse and tears welled up in my eyes, “No, Ditto, you did not end, your legacy is here, right here with your herd, thank you for teaching me, for leading me, and for being such a good leader.” I lifted my head up from Remy and gazed into his eyes, “it’s good” he seemed to say, and I smiled and gently left the herd in his capable presence to reenter my human world.


Trot, trot to Boston town……

I walked out to the barn for night chores, the heat hit me the second I stepped out the door. The wind picked up and it was hot, the heat made my skin burn and I was instantly brought back to my childhood, I could close my eyes and feel the Oklahoma wind on my skin, hear the cattle out in the feedlot, and smell the scent of the farm. It’s all right there in my memory, in fact the memories of my youth almost seem clearer than the memories from yesterday. I breathe in the hot air, and I smile, the memories from the farm are priceless to me.

I go on with the evening chores, mix up the grain for Sisco, Ditto, Frank, Piper and Trinity, I look down at my dogs, Lainey and Boomer, and we head out back to get Ditto. The hot wind hits me again, I close my eyes, I hear the horses stomping their feet and swishing their tails, I stand still, cock my head because I hear it, the mourning doves. With that I am totally transported back in time. I am on the farm, I hear the mourning doves, listen to the horses and the memories flood back into my soul……

Mr. Ed was a horse that my Uncle Ed owned. He was humungous, at least that what he seemed to me as I couldn’t have been much older than 7 or 8 when I met him. He was beautiful, he had a light brown coat, with a black mane and tail and a little white star on his forehead and one of his feet had white on it too. My first memory of riding a horse, and of going out and getting a horse all by myself was with him. I would walk out of Grandma and Grandpa’s house through the back door just off the porch, but first I would stop in the porch and grab a handful of dog food because whichever dog was on the farm at the time would usually be sleeping under one of the big bushes at the back door. They would wake up and give a big stretch and yawn, and lazily able over to me for a little treat, sometimes they would decide to follow me out to the horses, other times they would go back to their hole under the bushes and fall asleep. I would duck under the clothesline as the full strength of the sun would hit me and the heat of the day would suck the air right out of my lungs. It didn’t matter to me though; I was heading out to the corral. I shrugged off the heat and kept on going, passing under the big trees, making a right turn before I ran into the machine shed where a tractor or two would be parked. It seemed like Uncle Ed or Grandpa were always working on some piece of machinery that had broken down. I might step into the cool shade of the machine shed, just to see what was happening, especially if Uncle Ed was welding something. I liked watching the sparks jump around on the floor, even though all the grown-ups told me not to watch, it would hurt my eyes, (sorry, Aunt Marilyn, Mom, and Dad, sometimes I didn’t mind very well).

Retracing my steps out of the machine shed, I would go out the door again and turn left, with a smile on my face and my stomach feeling like I had butterflies jumping around in it. I was heading out to the horses! A quick turn to the left and I was back on track. I walked a little further down the road, the big hen house on my right. Grandma had lots of hens and a rooster. I always watched out for the rooster. One time one of them chased my cousin, Tiffany, legend has it that he was invited for dinner that night as the guest of honor! The road came to a v right after the hen house, I could either go straight for a very long walk to the hay shed or turn left go past the little grain barns to the corrals, the cattle chute, the scale house, and the barn where the saddles were kept. I would step into the little barn; it was always dark and cooler in there and had a comforting smell of hay, and leather. I never saw a horse or cow, or any other animal kept there, but sometimes the barn cats had kittens; so of course, I had to step through the doorway and investigate the hay bales to see if there were any kittens. Today, no luck!

I returned to the front of the barn and found Mr. Ed’s bridle. His bridle was funny looking, it didn’t have a bit, but it had this band that went over his nose that moved, and the reins were attached to pieces of metal that came down from the nose band, Uncle Ed called it a hackamore, but all I just knew it to be Mr Ed’s bridle.

The horses were in the corral just off the cattle chute I opened the gate and it quickly slammed shut behind me, it had a spring on it and would slam back so fast that you had to quickly get through it or get slapped on the butt or your fingers pinched! The horse’s corral was off to the left, and I shimmied over the rails and there he was! The most beautiful horse in the world. I slipped down from the fence and walked over to him. I could smell his wonderful horse scent before I even touched him. I stepped close, right in front of him with my back against his front legs, I reached up and put my hand gently on his muzzle, he lowered his head down and I put the reins over his neck, then held the bridle up to his face, he lowered his head more and I slipped the top part over his ears and buckled the piece that needed to be buckled, at the time I didn’t know what that was called, but now my grown up self knows it’s the throat latch.

I quickly led him out of the corral, and over by the barn again where there was baling wire hooked over nails, I wrapped the reins over the bailing wire and went into the barn for a curry comb. I quickly ran the comb over his body and looked around to see if any of the hired hands were around. I was hoping I would find Daniel; he would almost always saddle up a horse for me and he was always nice. Unfortunately, on this day he wasn’t there, so I knew I had to ride bareback. Riding bareback was hard, but I knew I could eventually get on with the help of the cattle chute, it was one of the big ones that allowed the cattle to get loaded and unloaded from the big cattle trucks that came and went to the feedlot. I positioned Mr. Ed to the side and slowly climbed up along the rail on the outside of the cute. When I got to the top, Mr. Ed was standing directly below me in the perfect position, and I would drop down. I don’t know why I wouldn’t have just used the corral fence, why did I choose that leap from so high up? It’s a little weird, but that was my favorite way to get on bare back. I remember my mom used to tell me she would shimmy up the horse’s front leg and get on, but I could never figure that out. Mr. Ed’s head always snapped up quickly when I jumped on. Looking back on that, I’m sure I either surprised him or it might have hurt a little bit, or both! Man, he was such a good horse.

As soon as I got settled on his back. I would lean forward and wrap my arms around his neck and just lay there, I could feel his heart beating under mine, I could feel each inhale and exhale, and smell his wonderful scent. Right here, right now was heaven on earth. The 106 degree heat didn’t touch me, the worries of my young life would disappear. it was just me and my horse. I would have him to walk off and we would head up the road, past the big hay shed, past the feed lot and lowing cattle on our left, and into the field straight ahead. I could ride for quite a while up that way, the tree row on my right. At the end of the tree row, I would turn into it, we would step into the shade and enter a muted world of shadows and birds, at this point I would turn back towards the home place and walk for as long as I could in the tree row, soon the carcasses of cattle would come into view. I was intrigued by them, and their different stages of decay. It was interesting to see all the bones that made up a cow, the way their bodies changed as the earth reclaimed them. I know it sounds so weird, but I always have been interested in how animals and people are made, how our bodies fit together and how they work. Mr. Ed wouldn’t shy away; he just would walk through like it wasn’t a big deal as I satisfied my curiosity from his back. Then we would come out of the tree row, back onto the road and I would ask him to trot. He had the bounciest tot ever! I would sing this song and when I got to the end, he would stop and walk again. I don’t know if he walked because the song was over, or if it was because I was about to fall off!

Trot, Trot to Boston Town to get a loaf of bread.

Trot, Trot home again, the old trot’s dead!

Pretty soon we would be back at the barn, I would turn Mr. Ed so we passed the barn and scale house and continue on until we hit the public road. I would turn him to the right, and we would head on over to the silage pit. While out on the main road I loved to turn him into ditches and have him go up and down them. There was such a sense of power as he launched himself up but going down again could be painful because I would land on that bone in the front! Ouch, I hated that part and would scoot my bottom back where it belonged again. Once at the silage pit, I would go up and down the small mounds, it was fun to feel him slide down a little bit, there were little hills here that I could go up and down too. When we were tired of that playground, I would turn and look out at the pasture, Uncle Ed and Grandpa sometimes had a few head of cattle on pasture, and Uncle Ed had his broodmare, Dixie out there. She was also a kind soul, another bay horse that I would try to ride around. I don’t believe she ever was “broke”, but she let me be with her, and ride her just free out in the pasture. I never put a saddle or bridle on her. I would just wait until she was by a rock or something, then I would slide on. But of course, not when I was with Mr. Ed. Sometimes I would ride Mr. Ed into the pasture, but only if I had found someone to help me put a saddle on. I couldn’t figure out how to get back on otherwise, which is funny because I could do it with Dixie.

When Mr. Ed and I would get tired of hanging out by the silage pit, we would head home. Pretty soon I would start up with

“Trot, trot to Boston town to get a loaf of bread.

Trot, trot home again the old trot is dead.”

he would break into the trot, and then down to the walk at the end, but now his walk was faster since we were going home. I would start up the song again, and again up to the trot, me bouncing all over the place, then back down to the walk again. We would do this all the way home. Once home I knew it was time to stop, I was hot and wanted to see what the grown-ups were doing. I took Mr. Ed back to his corral, took off his special bridle, hung it up and headed back into the house. I came through the back porch, kicking off my boots and at the same time my stomach rumbled. “I hope Grandma has cookies” I thought to myself, I called out for her and headed into the kitchen where I knew I would be met with a hug and a smile….and yes, a cookie from her cookie jar. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes, I miss her so much, my grandma, the farm, my family, and the horses that touched me. I was a girl that was truly blessed.

Because it feels like Flying

The view from the back of a horse is like no other.

Why horses? Why do you ride? Why do you always feel like you have to take lessons? Why do you keep learning? What’s the deal?

I get these questions all the time. What is it about a horse? I can tell you what it is for me.

It’s the satisfaction of knowing that I can communicate to another being. The connection the horse gives me as he follows my thoughts. No person can do that. He knows my intention, my emotions, and my love. He knows it so far deep inside of himself that he never questions it. I don’t have to reassure him of my love or devotion, I don’t have to make sure his feeling aren’t hurt. The time spent with him is just what it is, it’s connection without explanation, leading through feel and not having to speak. Every time I am with my horse I learn, he is always teaching me how to be quieter in my communication. In todays world it seems like words are floating all around us. We have to explain EVERYTHING, we’re always worried of hurting someone, or heaven help us, we might offend someone. With my horse I can just be and not rationalize or explain where I’m coming from. If I want to teach him something, I do, if reprimand him for something, I do and he doesn’t walk away mad, we just learn from it and move on.

They’re truly a gift from God

Yesterday I went on a trail ride with a dear friend who I haven’t seen in so many years that I’m shocked. We met at the trailhead and all the years fell away. We instantly fell into each other’s arms and hugged, had a quick visit, then mounted up. Both of us have Morgans now and we enjoyed talking about the breed, her breeding program, and the stallion she was riding. We literally had a blast on those trails. The years fell away. I lost all my fears and apprehension that have accumulated in me over the years, I was a child again, riding a horse that I loved, that trusted me, and that I could count on. I was with my friend who I have shared many years of riding with. We did all the things I’ve been so careful not to do anymore, like racing up hills, and cantering on and on and on. It was four hours that were lovely, delightful, and astonishing. As I write this post I have tears of joy in my eyes, my stomach has tickles in it, just like it did when I was a kid getting ready to go to the farm. Yesterday I got to fly again, and yes, that’s my answer! Why Horses? Because I get to fly. It’s the most amazing thing.

Good Morning

Companionship, mutual respect, love, trust. I see all of those things as I look up into his eyes. The way he stays there, the soft little nickers as I walk to him. The way he stretches his neck when I find the places that need scratching. The question on his face when I ask him to try something new. The way he is willing to try new things with me without getting frightened. My heart expands as I look at him, I lean forward until our foreheads touch. I feel his breath, I sense his heartbeat, and for a moment we are as one. One heart, one breath, and one mind. Then the wind blows, a horse in the pasture nickers, the chain on the gate rattles, and our spell is broken. The activity in the barn brings us out of our trance. Our bubble pops and I step away, give him one more scratch and I take him back out to his herd. He walks away to begin his day, and I leave him there to begin mine. Oh, what a beautiful way to start the day!

Buzz’s dapples are beautiful

Sometimes you just have to go there……..

I walked into the indoor arena, the little bay Morgan gelding is patiently waiting as his owner, Joan tacks him up and gets him ready for me to ride. I get my saddle, Joanie and I gently settle it on his back and we finish getting him ready together. This little horse’s name is Chance, and he came our way through a summer camp for kids. He was donated and its pretty shocking that such a nicely put together horse was donated to a riding camp. He was eventually sold to us because he had a bit of a bucking problem and at times would buck with the campers. It didn’t sound like it was a huge problem, but enough of a problem that he “failed” as a camp horse.

We felt lucky to get him, he came here and actually fit right into our lesson program for my advanced riders. There were times he would get a little nervous, or a worried look in his eyes, but my girls were advanced enough to help him through those times. He never did buck with lessons, or out trail riding. When I eliminated the lesson program, Chance needed a new owner and I wanted to go back to basics with him, because the worried look was more noticeable, or else I was more sensitive to his needs. I was slowing down and becoming more in tune to my horses without the stress of constantly giving lessons with them. I was finding out they had a lot to teach me, especially Chance.

Joanie offered to help me with his retraining process. We started working with him, letting him set the pace and we discovered he had a hard time just being a horse with us. The two of us started him from the ground, moved to saddling and ground driving. During his re-training, Joanie lost her beloved horse, Kona. I think Chance played an important role in helping her heart heal, and in the process she fell for him and offered to be his next owner.

Time passed, Joanie and Chance were doing well together until about a year ago. During a lesson, Chance bucked and Joanie came off. It wasn’t pretty, she ended up in the ER with stiches and Chance had a sore back.

Fast forward to this summer. We’ve started him over again and now it was time to put him under saddle. We still see the worried look in his eye, but he’s starting to trust us. Our theory is that he may have been pushed in his training in a way that didn’t make sense to him when he was started under saddle originally. We think he shut down in his past life because he didn’t understand his training, Our theory is that he couldn’t take it anymore, then he started bucking. When he bucked he got moved on to the next owner. We of course aren’t sure this is true, its just a feeling we have about him.

Riding him had been going okay and I was pretty excited that we were making headway. Joanie bridled him for me and handed me his reins. I felt up to him through the reins and he felt solidly blocked, so I walked him around, until I heard him sigh, then walked over to the mounting block and swung my leg over. As I settled on his back I felt a zing, my heart rate accelerated as I gathered up his reins and felt nothing, absolutely nothing from him. He was a block of wood beneath me. I couldn’t ask for a release through the reins, and I didn’t even feel his ribcage expand with his breath. I asked him to open up a little bit and he said, “No!”.

His energy was so blocked that I thought to myself that I should walk him forward a bit to get things moving inside of him. I asked him to walk forward and he did, but there was no head movement, his ribs didn’t swing from side to side, and his gait was very choppy. I picked up the left rein and asked him to turn to the left. When I made contact with his mouth he locked his jaw against me and pulled to the right, hard! I softened my arm, but kept the contact with his mouth. I then shortened the left rein until his head and neck bent to the left. He pulled against me so hard that my arm started to ache and my stomach muscles burned, all I felt was a pull against me with all his might and his jaw locked down tight, no softening, no release, and no try, absolutely nothing. We walked several circles like this, I asked him, ” Chance soften, come to me, let me in, I’m right here”. I sent light down my arm, it bounced right back to me and he said, “NO, I can’t! “

I replied with, “trust me”,

He said, “no”,

I said, “trust me, let me in”,

He said, “no. I can’t.”

I said, “I’m going to move you out faster, maybe that will help.”

He said, “try, but I can’t let go.”

I said”, ok, here we go”.

I helped him up into the trot, the brace got bigger, he pulled harder. I tried to soften my body, his rhythm was wrong. It made no sense, all his effort was concentrated on pulling against me, he lost himself in the pull. It made him jumpy, everything was scaring him, the shadows on the ground, the hay bales, the mounting block. Everything was scaring him, because he was leaning so hard on my arm

I said, “please, Chance trust me and let go”.

He said, “I can’t”.

I said, “please I am here , I won’t leave you, I won’t let you go.”

He said, “I can’t, It’s bad, I can’t. ”

I said, “lets move up, you have to breathe follow me, breathe with me.”

He said, “I’m scared.”

I said, “I’m with you, trust me.”

He said, “I’m scared.”

I said, “I”m here. I won’t leave you.”

He said, “it’s going to get bad.”

I said, “I will try to go with you. I’m here, I won’t leave you. Try to canter, it will help you breathe.”

He then let go, he cantered. He became more fearful, He jumped away from shadows, he tried to shy away from the bales, the mounting block, the door opening. He was scared. I was calm. A calmness settled over me, I felt his fear, but I knew I could handle it. I’m not sure how I knew, but I knew to my core that we would go through it together and I wouldn’t come off.

I felt him hit the top of his fear, energy was bouncing around in him, then he kicked up a clod of dirt, I saw it fly by us like slow motion, I thought to myself, “here we go”! Lainey walked in, he jumped away from her, the clod of dirt hit the mounting block with a loud bang, I leaned forward to gather more rein, I knew he was going to blow, but he needed to. I felt a calmness over take me, he started to buck, I let him, then he continued to buck, I asked him to stop, he couldn’t, I asked him to move forward, then with all the strength I had left I lifted his head up and turned him to the left until his head was on my knee.

I said, “don’t buck, lets run!” I kicked him forward into a canter, he cantered and cantered and cantered. I felt the tension leave his body as we shot around the arena, I felt his fear drain away. He started to relax, I asked him to trot, he followed my lead. I asked him if he was ok, he softened in response. I picked up the rein, and said hello, he said hello back to me through the reins, I felt him chew the bit, his jaw softened.

I said, “can you follow me now?”

He said, “I’ll try.”

I picked up the left rein he followed it. I picked up the right rein, he followed it. I asked him to walk he dropped down from the trot. I asked him to canter again, he popped right into it. I settled my body into the trot rhythm. He followed. It was beautiful, I felt tears in my eyes, and goosebumps break out on my body, he was relaxed and just trotting with me!

I turned to the left, he followed, I turned to the right, he followed. All by feel. The reins were open, we had communication. I felt his ribs swing in rhythm of his walk . He quit jumping at shadows. I asked him to trust me and he said ok.

I asked, “can you give me your feet?”

He said, “yes”.

I said, “wow!”

He said, “I know. We were there together,”

I said, “yes, we did it.”

“I wasn’t scared,” he said.

“I know,” I said, “thank you.”

He then showed me he was happy.

I said, “thank you for showing me”.

He then opened up some more. I eventually got off and handed his reins to Joanie. Joanie and I talked quietly about what happened, what she saw and felt, and what I saw and felt.

The bottom line is that I can’t explain what happened, or how I stayed on. I’ve never ridden a bucking horse for that long and stayed with him. I’ve never gone to that dark, scary place, I’ve been too afraid I wouldn’t survive and come out the other side.

I don’t think I want to ever go there again, but I’m glad I did and I’m glad Chance was willing to show me what he needed. Sometimes we do have to go to the dark place to help them find release.

As the day progressed, I pondered what happened. I thought for sure I would be sore, tired, and scared. But the weird thing is that I felt stronger, energized and more sure of myself as both a horsewoman and frankly more confidant as a person.

Did Chance have the dark place inside of him, or did I, or did both of us? I will never really know the answer to that. But I can tell you I have ridden him a few times since that day, so has Joanie, and there is a change in him, he is open and soft. There also is a change in me, I’m open, softer, and taking more time with enjoying the world around me.

Yes, we went to the dark place together, but it helped us find a path to better understanding and a better ability to feel secure in what we know about each other. I have a feeling Chance helped me as much, or maybe even more than I helped him.

The three of us healing together….

Oh What a Beautiful Morning…..

I woke up this morning with a lightness in my heart that I haven’t felt for a very long time. I was scheduled to spend my morning working with two horses, then working with a rider and her brand new horse. “What a great way to start the weekend”, I thought to myself as I stumbled into the kitchen to let the dogs out, feed them and make my first cup of coffee.

I finish my morning routine, make up my water bottle and head to the back door. Lainey watches every move I make and as I open the sliding door, she stops next to me, looks up and asks if she can join me. My heart swells with happiness as I step aside and let her go out the door with me. She dances around my feet as we cross the deck and head to the barn. When she gets excited like this she actually bounces around me like a little rabbit, the look on her face is pure bliss, and her little pink tongue peeks out of her mouth as she smiles up at me.

I head into the barn, make up Chance and Buzz’s morning feed and head out to the pasture to get them, with Lainey right next to me every step of the way. It feels like the old days when she had the endurance to help me in everything I do out here, from feeding, to fixing fences, to training.

I let Buzz out after he finishes eating, and bring Chance into the barn. He’s the first horse on my schedule and I quickly groom him, get him tacked up, then swing my leg over to begin our under saddle work. I notice Lainey dancing right next to us, then take her spot on our right side. I take a deep breath, let myself feel down to Chance, and we begin. Connecting through the reins and my seat we start with helping him relax his mouth, loosen his jaw and follow the feel I send down the reins. He gets a little guarded when I connect and will often push down against my hands, but I stay with him, close my hands more when he increases the pressure, and relax as he relaxes his pressure. Every time I look down, Lainey is right there with us, staying with us step by step. I smile down at her, she looks up and me and smiles right back. She knows this routine, and she’s here to help. She anticipates the horse and my needs and gives us the right kind of energy to get the job done. She’s a calming influence when we need calm support, and she gets downright bossy when the horse or I act up. She’s my partner in more ways than one, and on days like this when she feels this good, I feel like it’s a special blessing. I know she’s in the later years of her life and while I am sad when I think about it, I’m extremely thankful for days like today. It doesn’t take Chance and myself too long to get on the same page and start communicating well with each other. He is beginning to trust the bit, and the hands on the other end of the reins, and I’m learning how to communicate better to him without having an internal brace myself. Chance and I navigate a stop together that feels connected and relaxed and I dismount, tie him up, untack him and turn him out.

I go to the other side of the arena to where Karen is standing with Jethro, we get him tacked up. Lainey joins us in our warm up and we walk over to the mounting block where I swing my leg over Jethro’s back, we then stand there together until I feel Jethro’s heartbeat slow down and he takes a nice deep breath. I gently inhale and slowly exhale into the walk and we move off together. Jethro is feeling a little discombobulated today. He usually feels like riding a bubble that is floating above the ground, but today it feels like the bubble has holes in it and his energy is bouncing out through the holes in a haphazard way. I look down and to my right and Lainey is right there next to us, again she is silently matching us step for step and giving us quiet, steady energy. I settle deeper into the saddle with Jethro, concentrate on staying balanced and grounded as we move around the arena.

The indoor arena is feeling cramped to him, he feels unsettled and unsure of his balance. I guide him out of the indoor and to the outdoor to see if that helps. He wants to take off and it’s hard at first to keep him at a walk. I ease him up to the trot, but that makes him scramble a little bit, so we ease down to the walk, but that also feels unbalanced. His owner, Karen, comes out and Lainey goes to her and leaves Jethro and me to figure it out. I let my mind sink deeper into him, I discover he is just having trouble with his shivers, and needs help. So we move a little bit more, and I try to stay out of his way, giving him his head more than I usually do because I want him to try to find his own balance, then I pick up the reins a little, connect and show him a more balanced frame. He likes that and moves in it a little bit, but then he falls apart again and wants to break out into a faster gait. I let him move up to the canter, but that isn’t right for him, so he tries a little buck. I ask him to come back to the walk, we balance ourselves again and I ask him to turn just on his haunches, he does that well, and I can feel the ease in which he does it. We move around the arena again on a looser rein and he holds his balance. I am able to neck rein him as we do gentle figure eights. His legs move in a better cadence and it feels easier to him. We then stop again and I ask for a turn on forehand, it’s hard for him, but he tries! Yay, he gives me a big try so we move off again on the loose reins and he stretches again and yawns a little. It feels like his balanced movement is coming back and the way his body is moving makes sense. I pick up the reins again and ask for another turn on the forehand. He is able to do it easier, we stand there for a moment, then I pick up the reins again, connect and ask him to soften. He follows the sense of softness right back to my hands and I quickly dismount as I’m telling him what a good boy he is.

We stand there a moment in our quietness. Then I pick up the reins again and ask for another yield of his hind end from the ground this time. He floats over to the side effortless and we both feel that it is good. I look up, Lainey is approaching with a smile on her face. We head into the barn with a bubble of connection around us, and I think to myself that I will treasure this morning in my heart for as long as I live.

As we enter the barn I see Kate standing next to her new horse, Sampson. There is joy and anticipation shining from her face as she stands next to him. The smile from my face reaches my heart as I ponder what an honor it is for me to be able to be there at the beginning of their journey together. Life doesn’t get much better than this. A morning spent with good friends, good horses, and a mighty fine little dog. Happy Friday Everyone!


I’ve been reading a fictional book about horses. Are you surprised? It’s a book set in the future and it’s about bringing the world back into balance, and the horses are who help the humans get into balance. A common thread that is woven into the book is being aware. Aware of yourself, the people in your lives, and the nature that surrounds you. Being aware of what is around you, and staying grounded is what the main character in the book is working on. So I experimented with it today. Here is my story:

My friend, Kim, asked me if I would like to take a quick trail ride this morning. She offered to hook up her horse and trailer and be the driver. Of course I jumped on that suggestion immediately! Any time I don’t have to be trail boss is heaven for me!

We quickly loaded our horses after chores and headed out to Crow Hassen. This is our first trail ride of the season, so we both were a little excited and I felt Sassy’s heartbeat speed up quite a bit as I swung my leg over her back and asked her to head down the trail. She was nervous and swinging her head from side to side to take in all the sights. I helped her feel back to me and follow my suggestions to stay on the trail, keep her head straight, and allow me to take care of her by keeping myself centered, balanced, and connected through my legs, seat, and reins.

As Sassy started to come back to me and relax in the fact that I would take care of the situation, I started playing with pushing my awareness out, softening my eyes so I could take information in from my peripheral vision, and let my subconscious sift through everything. Breathing became easier, and I found myself being aware of a gentle breeze on my face, a butterfly on my right side at the same time a bird flew up in front of us on the trail. Sassy started to relax and she settled into a nice steady walk. I even started to sense her feeling back to me with observations, instead of questions.

When we passed a walker on the trail, I held him in my mind a little longer and let that thought travel down to Sassy but kept my main focus on where we were going. We passed a work truck with two men and a park ranger, I sifted that down to her and we kept going. As we turned the corner and put them behind us, Sassy wanted to turn her head again, but I pulled up their picture of how they felt to us as we passed them and held it again in my mind, and Sassy responded with a sigh, softened her jaw, and connected back to me through the reins. At that moment Kim mentioned that she felt calmer with me today on the trails. I smiled and told her of my experiment. We didn’t have much to say about it, probably because she is used to me and my little experiment’s. It is eye opening at how easily we can affect those around us with our thoughts, intention, and awareness. I started out on the trail ride with a goal to support and calm myself and Sassy, but ended up affecting Kim as well. Thanks Kim for an amazing trail ride and for putting up with me and my experiments!

For those that are interested in the book I’m reading, it’s the sequel in “The Horses Know Series” by Lynn Mann. The name of the book is “Horses Forever”.


There is nothing more delightful than a puppies smile…….

It has been very hot here in Minnesota this week, I mean very hot, the temps are close to 100 degrees and at the end of the day I’m pretty tired and sweaty. Today I think it all caught up with me and after morning chores and lunch, I crashed and slept for almost two hours. As I came to my senses the word, delight, was sitting right there in my brain and I couldn’t let it go. Then I started to think about the word, delight. What does it really mean? How come when I think about it I smile, both inside my body and on the outside? When I hold that word in my mind I feel my eyes crinkle up and my mouth starts to lift in a smile. It’s hard to be tense when I hold onto the word delight. So here I am, at my computer and writing in my blog because I need to share this word with you all.

I looked up the meaning of delight, just went right to my phone and typed it. Delight-verb please (someone) greatly “an experience guaranteed to delight both young and old”. Noun- great pleasure. “the little girls squealed with delight”.

Delight is a great word, I don’t think we use it enough. Did you know that God delights in us? Yep! It’s right there in the Bible. Every time I come across it in reference to God and me, I get awestruck that God would say that he delights in us. I mean really? He takes great pleasure in me? Wow I can’t remember anyone, anytime in my life saying that they delight in me.

Psalm 149:9 says, “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” and then one of my favorites; Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Really? He will rejoice over me with singing? Awesome!

There are some delightful synonyms for delight, such as contentment, hilarity, jollity, rapture, joy, glee, pleasure, and satisfaction. I think we need more delight in this world. We see it all the time, but often we pass it by because we are in a hurry or we are feeling the opposite of delight such as dismay, disgust, pain, or displeasure. In todays world we have way too much un-delight, so maybe what we may need to do is look for the delightful things and hold them in our hearts. Such as; a baby smiling with his whole body, a horse nickering to you right before she takes off at a trot to meet you at the gate, your dog wagging his whole body just because you walked in the door, and a smile from a stranger.

What if we started telling people that they delight us? What would happen? Wouldn’t it feel really good if someone told you that you delighted them? That they delighted in your happiness, or thought the cake you baked them tasted delightful?

My challenge to the world is to try to use the word delight at least once a day, lets see if we can spread happiness, joy, and light into the world. I think that would be a nice experiment, and it can’t hurt anything… right?

smile and the world smiles with you…….


I felt a little nudge on left hand, then a little whine, and I knew it was time to get up. Gunner wakes me gently every morning literally like clockwork. I am not allowed to sleep past 6:45. I don’t know why its that time each day, but no matter how many times I tell him I don’t need to get up until 7:00, he keeps waking me up early. I tried to ignore him this morning, but Bella, his faithful backup, touches my hand gently, then gives it a good lick. I slam my hand under the pillow and hide it, but it’s no use. I’m up and they know it!

I reach for my glasses and stumble out of bed, use the bathroom, and then lurch into the kitchen and let the dogs out. I make my way back to the coffee maker to make my morning brew, and I stop. Just outside my window the birds are singing their hearts out, the breeze caresses my face and I smile. I breathe it all in, the sounds, the scents, and the breeze. It fills my lungs with purity, the world looks untouched by the chaos in our human world.

I sit down to journal and have my quiet time with God. I pick up my pen and the words start coming, they don’t stop until I have almost two pages and I write:

What Would Jesus Do???????

Would he weep over the injustice? Would he wipe away our tears?

Would he stand on the mountain top with tears running down his face at the lack of compassion we have for each other?

Would he take us by the hand and heal our hearts? Would he show us how to feel mercy? To feel compassion and to allow forgiveness into our hearts?

Would he show us love-even the worst of us? Would he listen to us with love in his heart?

Would he cry over our sins? Would he smile when he sees us try? Would he delight in us when we smile and when we love? Will the angels sing when we show love and compassion?

Will he lead us into the light and out of the darkness?

Will he heal our world if we let him in? If we let his light shine through us? Will he take the scales from our eyes so we can see each other fully? Will he wipe our tears when we sorrow?

Will he send The Holy Spirit to guide us?

Did he die so we might live? Did he love us more than we can love ourselves? Does he know the number of hairs on our heads? Did he knit us together in our mother’s womb?

Yes! Yes, Jesus has done all of these and will do more if we let him. He stands at the door of our hearts and knocks, waiting for us to let him in and heal our mind, body, and souls.

We never can do what Jesus does, but we can try. We CAN heal the world, it’s not just what Jesus would do, it’s what we all can do TOGETHER!

And that was it, the urge to write quieted, I settled into my coffee, inhaled its wonderful scent, picked up my knitting and let Gods light fill me with hope for our world. We can make a difference, one day at a time, one person at a time, and one moment at a time.

Love is kind……


I feel him looking at me as I walk to another horse to deliver his breakfast. I turn to him and meet his eyes. There is a gleam there it’s welcoming, and full of light. I’m drawn to him. I walk over to his stall, hesitate, and then slowly lower my hand to the spot between his eyes. I stand there a moment and lower my head to his. “Hey little man,” I whisper, “today we can ride.” I step away so I can open his stall door and take him out to his pasture after his morning meal.

A few hours later, chores are finished, I’ve spent time giving a lesson and riding Sassy and now it’s time to go get Buzz. I feel an excited flutter in my stomach as I head to the barn to get a halter for him. I head up to his pasture and let my mind settle on him. I let my intention and energy go out ahead of me as I walk out towards him. I see him from a distance, he’s at the bale with his herd. My stomach flutters again, my pace increases and I find myself excited for this moment.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to ride him and I feel like a little girl again. I hop over the little creek and come up the incline towards his bale, he lifts his head and I see the look in his eye. The open warmth, the twinkle and in an instant I’m pulled back in time. I see Dunny, the first horse I ever gave my heart to in front of me, the anticipation and love I feel in that moment is pure, young, and hopeful. I’m 9 years old again and he’s right there, I can almost touch him. Then I blink and the illusion of Dunny is gone, but in front of me stands Buzz. The twinkle in his eye is still there, and he feels as adventurous as I do.

My heart sings as I gently halter him. We walk up to the barn, I feel his energy through the lead rope, his footsteps match mine and we are one as we walk back to the barn. My stomach is still fluttering as I saddle him up and as I offer the bridle he leans forward and takes the bit from my hand.

I look at his eyes, they search mine and our souls touch. We stand together for awhile. Eventually I lead him to the mounting block and swing up, my mind reaches towards him, I feel his energy come up through the reins and it’s right there waiting for me. Everything else falls away as our energy blends together and we move off as one.