Oct 29, 2008

Why We Do What We Do....

The vet said to keep Windy’s bandage on for a few days which gave me time to order some supplies for repacking rather than make a mad dash to get to KV Vet before it closes in the afternoon. I got the wrap and poultice a day later than I expected, so the bandage really needed to come off tonight. Regrettably, I begged off a friend’s party so I could tend to my mare.

While waiting for John to get home to help, I fetched Black from the corral, brushed last week’s mud from his velvet black coat and picked his feet. Then applied hoof dressing to the vertical crack I have been tending. Although I didn’t have a plan to ride when I first went to the barn, all the right signs were telling me to give the colt a chance again. Saddled him, fetched my helmet and we went to the round pen.

Warmed him up and saw no signs that told me I shouldn’t proceed with the plans to ride. Case was outside on the trampoline, so if I were to get thrown to my death or at best, break a limb, I would be found quickly. (I think.) Asked for forward motion & he moved off nicely. Brenda tells us if we point the head, we need to also use our legs. Also look ahead and not at the horse. Got some nice results from him tonight.

Unsaddled Black and tied him to the hitch. Butter ventured up to see what he was doing. I went into the barn to pick Windy’s stall when I heard a commotion. Baby cornered Butter and was kicking her. Butter was in a place she couldn’t escape. I grabbed a big leather halter and popped Baby with it and she moved on. They’ve been together for four years. What brings on this gnarly behavior?

Removed the wrap from Windy’s foot and sat with her as I soaked it in Epsom salts. She is so quiet. We are content in each other’s company. I stroke her leg and she bends down to check on me occasionally. I dried the foot, put on the poultice and wrapped it thoroughly in vet wrap. If it weren’t for peeling the duct tape, I wouldn’t have needed John’s help.

I can’t give shots. Needles are another phobia of mine. Snakes, bumble bees and needles. So John has been giving her a shot of antibiotics each day after I leave for work & he reports that she does not like it. This morning he wasn’t able to get the job done and he needed help holding her. So much for our quiet time! I got four toes stepped on before the meds were administered! And I wasn’t holding the needle!

On the way back to the house, Butter came back up to the fence. I still had a treat in my hand. Reached through the fence to feed it to her and saw Baby making her way over. I took my eyes off my hand for just a moment and CRUNCH, she missed the treat and got my finger! It’s the closest I came to crying in pain in a long, long time.

Two hours and four bruised toes and a bitten finger later, the herd is settled in for the night. We do what we do because tomorrow we are having a rare, almost 70-degree day. It’s time to ride!

Oct 26, 2008

Bringing in the JV

As I suspected and hoped, Windy's lameness was due to an abscess. I say “hope” because there is so many other things it could have been that an abscess seems the most benign. Not that they aren’t a pain in the butt – they are! But it’s one foot. There is no snow or ice right now. The ground isn’t frozen – it’ll be okay.

It does kind of put a wrench in the plan to achieve my new and revised saddle time goal for 2008. No fair that my partner comes up lame and at least half that time will now have to be put on another of my equine friends in the corral. Blue and Ginger certainly could use the exercise, but I should probably look at this as an opportunity to bring along the Jr. Varsity herd. Black? (Yeah… right! I'm not up to that yet.) Baby? (Not going to happen! )

After seeing Butter’s shenanigans with Case last weekend, I think she’ll be moving up to the travel team. She was a little witch for Case (substituting the "B" for a "W" to keep this "G" rated.). Impatient and bossy. (Not what I had in mind for forty hours!) She has become incredibly herd sour. (Hmmm. Black is sounding better & better!)

On the other hand, she has an awesome little trot and is kind of fun to play with in the arena. It will be a good opportunity for her and for me. (Yeah, keep telling myself that!) Sometimes things happen for a reason...

Here's hoping for Windy's quick recovery!

Windy's Lame

Today I pulled Windy from the mud and the muck. Scraped the big pieces of dried mud, picked the mud out of her shoes, tossed the cordura saddle on her & headed away from the barn. As we crossed the mud rock in our driveway, I felt her misstep, but nothing she hasn’t done before and never thought much of it. She wasn’t real excited about heading down the road, but did. We trotted some, but mostly just moseyed along. She seemed grumpy.

A little over a mile into our ride, I felt her bob again. Something wasn’t right. I dismounted and tried to clean the hooves as best I could with a rock from the road. Couldn’t see anything. Walked with her for a while and kept watching her walk. Nothing noticeable. Found a better rock & picked it out some more. Got a stone out, but it shouldn’t have inhibited her in any way. When I got home, I lead her around so John could watch her walk. He couldn’t see anything. But I know her so well and something wasn’t right.

I put her in the round pen. It is sandy and much drier right now than the pens. We were gone this evening and when I returned, I found her three legged lame on the leg that I felt was suspect. I replenished her hay and blanketed her for the night as the wind has picked up and there is no break from it in the round pen.

Seems to have the characteristics of an abscess, although founder has crossed my mind. It's just after midnight right now. I will have the vet out as soon as possible tomorrow. Tonight, I worry.

Oct 21, 2008

Remembering Mom & Dad

Both my mom and dad came from farming families. Not big farmers – I guess in their day it was just enough to keep the family going with very little land or equipment. Dad was born in Riverton, but his family farm was across the Kansas line. My mom’s dad came from Germany when he was around 18 years old and settled in Nuckolls County, near Superior on this side of the Nebraska line.

My family was never farmers, per se, although they kept cows on the grandparent’s place for many years. It was there that Dad bought us our first horse; a little mare who’s previous career was being a merry-go-round pony at the local fairs. Dolly was dappled chocolate brown with a silver mane and oh, how I loved that pony! Dad didn’t saddle her often for us although she came with a very pretty black saddle! Mostly, we rode her bareback in the corral and she would go around and around and around!

As I grew up, I always mentioned that I “had horses as a kid”, but when I think back to that period in time, it wasn’t very long. Dad sold Dolly first and then the farm sold in the late 60’s and with it went the ponies and although I dreamed of getting another horse, it wasn’t mean to be until decades later.

Before Mom died, we were going through old pictures. She found the picture of one of the horses they kept on the farm when she was growing up. She still remembered his name and presumed that he probably had some sort of draft in him. During the time that Mom grew up, horses were a farm necessity and not for recreation as they are now for me. But the animals she grew up with held a special spot in her heart. The last few years she was living, she was always anxious to sit at the barn with me while the horses came up to be fed, groomed or saddled. She didn’t ride, but she knew them all by name.

I bet my dad was a good horseman in his day. I don’t recall ever seeing him ride – probably because we just had ponies. But a picture exists of him on a striking horse. I often wonder if the horse was gray with black points or a buttermilk buckskin. In my mind it was the latter. Whose horse was it? How did it ride? Where was he going? Mom didn’t know. I often wonder if Dad were here today, would he swing his leg over Blue and ride with me. I like to think that he would.

What are missing in my horse life today are my mom and dad. Dad would have enjoyed seeing me grow as a horsewoman and amazed at how I have learned to drive the skid loader to clean the barn or hook up a gooseneck trailer and not only pull it, but back it in a tight spot. But he wouldn’t be surprised I could do it – he always knew I could do about anything. He would be proud. I miss seeing the pride my dad easily shown any of us kids.

And I miss sharing my horse adventures with my mom. Whether it be riding with friends or sharing the antics of the herd, Mom was always interested in my newfound hobby. She enjoyed seeing the pictures from the trail and hearing of our travels with the horses.

There was no birthday or anniversary that triggered this melancholy. It could be the frequent pans of apple crisp I have been making lately using my mom’s recipe, the evenings with the family at the football games or the smell of the house that first evening the furnace was turned on this season. All are reminiscent of good childhood memories. Dad has been gone since 1994 – a few months before my oldest son, McCain was born, and many of you will remember that Mom died in early 2005.

I think of them often and miss them very much. I just wanted to remember them a little longer today.

Oct 17, 2008

Ginger aka "Little Red"

Ginger… the matriarch of our herd. Surrogate mother to Baby and Windy’s real mama. Blue’s best friend, Butter’s role model. And Black? I think he just stays out of her way! Ginger was the first horse we brought home more than 8 years ago.

I’ve told the story before…. Saw a pony in the paper but came home with Ginger instead. Then a three-year-old filly, we were told quarter horse but learned later she was sired by an appaloosa. (She would rather we not mention that skeleton in her closet.) A pretty mare. A true sorrel – almost red at times thus nicknamed "Red" by our farrier.

I always said if Ginger were human, she would cuss like a sailor. She has no room for silliness and is all business. She can be a bit of a …. well, let’s just say a bit “bossy” at times. But she can also turn on the charm and be rather sweet, too. She isn’t a large horse. Stands just 14.3 hh on her tippy toes. And has best back for riding bareback of our whole herd.

It was a little over eight years ago that we bought her. Ginger is now 11 years old. Primarily John’s horse, all of us ride her. Initially, she scared the hell out of me. She was quick; she would toss her head, grab the bit and go. I was scared she would buck or bolt, but she never has. But if you open her up, you had better be prepared to go. I did that once, when there was a snake on the trail, and let me tell you, that was a rush! (The run, not the snake!)

I never know how much of Ginger’s personality is just Ginger or the Ginger/John combination. She’s a different horse when John rides her verses the kids or I. When John rides her, she has to be at the front of the herd – no horse should even think of getting past her nose. And if they are closing in on her, you can see her eye watching them as she picks up the pace without breaking gait. But with the kids or me, she will settle back with other horses. With John, she has two gears: walk fast and gallop. With the kids and I, we can get a nice walk, trot, and lope out of her. Personally, I think she likes to play games with John as much as he likes to play games with her. They are quite a pair.

Ginger was born to run. I have never seen a horse enjoy the race like she does. With full trail gear, she will go into high speed and will not slow until pulled in. I truly think she would die running if not asked to stop. She is breathtaking to watch in the pasture running ahead of the herd, tail flagged... but always watching who is coming up behind her.

Although she was never “my” horse, I love her like she was. Many good horses – probably better than she -- have passed through our pastures. But none that have the moxie or the spirit or the grace or the heart that Little Red has. Nor could they run like the wind.

Oh-she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants
Shes ahead of her time
Oh-and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind

Also see blogs on Blue and Windy .

Oct 14, 2008

Saving Daylight

This time of year, I have about 2 hours max from the time I get home until it gets dark. So if I want to do any riding, I have to be ready. Ready to change clothes at warp speed, find boots, and head to the pasture. On a good day, I can call the horses and they come running. But now that they are moved to the last ungrazed pasture, they might glance in my direction as if to say “You’ve got to be kidding!”

Daylight Saving Time will soon come to an end and that two-hour window will be reduced to a one-hour window. And the temps will continue to drop. How depressing to think about the end of fall and the beginning of the great freeze!

I’m told the Farmers Almanac warns of a long, cold winter. I haven’t yet picked up this book of doom but hoping the farmers who write it (do farmers write it and what are their qualifications?) are just a bunch of crotchety old men who like nothing more than to complain about the weather and stress out the rest of us. Its bad enough we have the Big Fat Lying Weatherman this past season promising good things for a long awaited camping trip or declaring today is the day to cut your hay and then ruining it all when a monsoon rolled in! I can just see the Big Fat Lying Weatherman and Crotchety Farmer watching us behind a half closed door and snickering at our misfortune!

Autumn still holds about a month of weekend riding. The kind of ride where the temps are just cool enough to require a sweatshirt or a jacket. Maybe pulling out the riding gloves in the morning. The sound of leaves crunching under the hooves of the horse; the color along the trails seeming to change before your eyes. And if one more camping trip is squeezed in, there will be soup to warm us after the ride and we’ll move our camp chairs a little closer to the fire to warm us from the fall crispness. What a perfect way to say goodbye to the riding season. Enjoy the daylight while you can.

Oct 12, 2008

Trail Time

Several years ago, I joined the American Quarter Horse Association’s Ride Program. Although Blue is my only registered quarter horse, shortly after I joined, AQHA expanded the rules to include an “all breed” program, so any hour I spent riding can be recorded in their program. At about the same time, the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee kicked off the Trail Time program, which also provided a venue for recording hours spent in the saddle.

I’m motivated by goals. Not so much goals set by other people, but goals set by me and for me. I’ve succeeded in quitting smoking and losing weight by these stringent goals. The key is it has to be something that I WANT to do, not something that someone is telling me to do.

Since Trail Time began, I set a goal of 250 hours of saddle time per year. If I’m going to feed them, I’m going to ride them. And for the last couple years, it has been a push to get those 250 hours in. I’d be begging friends to ride with me in December to make the grade! It was never work to ride 250 hours, gosh, what better way to spend time than riding, but with the job (and the travel it often requires), kids (and their 101 activities), and the weather (too hot or too cold), it sometimes proved challenging.

I’m excited that this past weekend, I have already reached my 250 hours and am on a quest for 300 hours! What changed? Weather, for one. We had an unseasonable mild summer and I found August, which is usually too hot to ride much, one of my higher months. Nine days of vacation with the horses also added to the accumulation of hours. But quite frankly, having a horse I WANT to ride and enjoy riding makes all the difference.

You already know the story of My Dream Horse, so won’t bore you again with the details. (“Windy, Windy, Windy,” in my best Jan Brady voice). Yesterday, after I rode her almost three hours at Branched Oak, I saddled her up again to go fetch our small cow herd (5 cows and a rented bull). And after we moved the cows with just the help of McCain on the ATV and a directionally challenged German shepherd, we rode the fence lines of our pastures and fetched Butterscotch who had went into the wrong pasture (it’s much harder herding horses than cows). I told John it is the coolest thing to have a horse that is so easy to ride. She makes striving to ride 300 hours, easy!

The Trail Time program was established to give the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee had an idea of where Nebraska horse trail riders are riding. And the funds from dues are used to support trail enhancement programs in our state. Supporting the program through dues or data continue to help the Trails Committee in improving the horse trails in our state.

Oct 10, 2008

Losing Weight

I held off mentioning much about my diet and subsequent weight loss on Horsetrailriders.com. Didn’t seem horse related and didn’t want to sound like a braggart, either. But including it on my blog will not only chronicle the feat for me, but hopefully inspire others who have been wanting to make a healthy lifestyle change.

First off: Losing weight has been the hardest thing I have done with the exception of quitting smoking. It’s kind of ironic because quitting smoking a decade ago – not having children or getting old – is the sole cause of my weight gain. And I knew it would happen – but forgave myself because after all, I did quit smoking. Why not reward myself with a little dessert… following seconds of mashed potatoes and gravy!

(Photo take 2005)

Although I didn’t talk dieting on Horsetrailriders.com, every Wednesday since the first of the year, we chatted about dieting on the Yahoo Group, Horsetales. Wednesdays were our weigh in day and we could go “off-topic” with weight loss talk. Many of us set goals back in January to lose weight and collectively, as a group, we lost over 275 pounds. It was really incredible what the power of many can do for your own motivation. In addition, we were all horsewomen – and doing it for ourselves is also doing it for our horse! And you know horsewoman – if it’s good for the horse than we must do it!

I joined Weight Watchers in January, through a program offered at work. I always thought these diet plans would be hard as I am not a vegetable eater. They didn’t push the veggies, you can still eat carbs (my weakness) but more importantly, they taught me portion control. If I NEED Schwan’s Ice Cream tonight, make it one scoop and not a full bowl and skip an afternoon snack. I’m great at making deals! So this plan worked for me.

(Photo taken 2006)

I also knew that diet alone wouldn’t firm up the carrying two children and 10 years of the gravy train! I’m nearing 50 years old and other than riding, have no real exercise plan. And let’s face it, unless you ride every day, trot often (bareback!), haul 4 to 5 bales UP TO the hayloft, let’s not fool ourselves. You don’t get a lot of exercise just moseying down the trail. We have a gym at work with a bunch of machines and a set of weights, but I have no clue what I should do with them. I noticed Curves, a fitness center designed for women, was just down the street from work. They offered a plan that seemed foolproof. You go in, get on their “circuit” and rotate around their machines. They tell you when to advance. Thirty minutes and you are done. Works for me!

So after I uncovered the secret recipe for weight loss – diet and exercise – I challenged about 200 of my dearest internet friend – the Horsetales bunch – to keeping me in line & joining me, should they feel the need. And about 20% of the group got on the bandwagon!

(Photo taken 2007)

The pounds came off slowly – one to two pounds a week. We’d have set backs and gain one or two back here and there. But consistency in the plan paid off. It took about 3 months for me to lose 10% of my weight – which was about ½ of my overall goal. It took another 4 months to get to my goal.

On Horsetales, we talk about percentages and pounds, not what we weigh. I lost 37 pounds which is just shy of 20% of my starting weight – you can do the math if you want. What surprised me is I am wearing the same size clothes I wore when I graduated from high school almost 30 years ago! But weight wise I’m 20 pounds heavier. I think the reason is due to exercise. Muscle weighs more than fat, so I’m just as thin as I was then, only more fit. And I feel better than I have felt ever!

It hasn’t been easy. I am pretty sure a pack of Marlboro reds would have moved this weight loss thing along a little quicker. And there were times that I couldn’t resist a second Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Julie B’s lemon meringue pie. To lose weight you MUST cut down on the intake and balance it with the exercise. Nothing you and I haven’t heard before. But it isn’t the end of all good things. I just woofed down a pumpkin bar as I was writing this.

(Photo taken 2007)

As a horsewoman, I think I am lighter in the saddle. I have more ambition. If I drop something from the saddle, I don’t dread getting off and climbing back on. I’m more limber and I’m also stronger. I’m sure my horses appreciate carrying almost 40 pounds less on their backs.

Even though I am where I want to be, I think the challenge continues to lie ahead. To maintain. It truly is a lifestyle change. Losing weight slowly helps you adjust to those changes. I’ve had so many people eager to tell me that they lost 40 pounds, too, but just couldn’t keep it off. “It’s just too hard”, they would say. I have days that it IS just too hard! But I must commit to only having bad days – not bad weeks! To keep on task.

(Photo taken 2008)

I’ve had an incredible support system of friends and family. I’ve gotten stern looks from my sons when I’ve stolen a French fry from their plate. But have been rewarded by my youngest son hugging me around the waist and telling me how much less of me there is to hug. Or my husband telling me he’s proud of me. And I get equally as excited to see some of my Horsetales friends succeed at their weight loss plans, too.

So here ends my bragging blog. I am happy with my success, happy with how I look, and happy with the new clothes size! Short of plastic surgery to remove the wrinkles and being 28 again, I couldn’t be happier. And I thank all of those who dieting with me, supported me or patted me on the back during the last nine months. It helped and it continues to help. Lord give me strength during the holiday season!!

(Photo taken 2008)

Oct 6, 2008

Blue Boy

I have spent a lot of time on this blog talking about working with Black or riding Windy that I feel I’m a bit neglectful where the other horses are concerned. Not just in working with them, but talking about them, taking their pictures – bragging or cussing – whatever the situation warrants. Since Blue photographed so well for me this past weekend, today’s blog will be his.

We’d only had Ginger and Baby a few months. I don’t know that we planned on getting a horse for each one of us, but I had grown afraid of Ginger. We bought an old mare for the kids and started looking for something more appropriate for me. We found a pretty bay saddlebred mare. She rode nice for the owner; she rode nice for John. I rode her about 100 yards after purchasing her and dismounted. I would rather take my chances on Ginger. That is when John said, “Are we doing to do this horse thing or not?”

Some friends mentioned a black gelding they knew was for sale. He had spent some time with a trainer, ponied at the track for a bit – had a good start; gentle. He was a four year old. We made the trip over by Omaha to look at him. He was seemed nice. The owner lunged him and I was quite impressed! The first time I had ever seen lunging done so pretty and so successful! We took turns riding him in the arena. I liked him. I told her about my fear of Ginger & she told me (quite frankly, I might add), that if I have any problems with him, it is MY problem, not HIS! Well, I guess she told me! John wrote the check and told me “Merry Christmas.”

Blue’s lack of perfection probably wasn’t his fault. I think he knew more than me, but he also knew enough to take care of me. And slowly I regained my confidence. I could pull the kids up behind me in the saddle; I could go about anywhere on Blue. He became my buddy, my friend. And although I could get him to do most anything on the trail, he had (has) a couple idiosyncrasies. One can be endearing & the other maddening.

The endearing one is his spook! Now I’m not saying riding a spooky horse is cool. I’m just saying that Blue sees things differently than the rest of us and it is a game as to whether something on the trail will put him on alert or if he’ll pass with no issues. I swear, some days you could pass a mailbox with a cornstalks, a scarecrow and an American flag & the most he’ll do is try to eat the cornstalk. The next time you ride he will do a 180 over a pop can along side of the road. It is always an adventure with Blue.

What drove me crazy with Blue was his refusal to load in a two horse trailer. He will run and darn near load himself in the big trailer, but literally would throw himself on the ground over getting in a two horse trailer. Finally, I gave up. If we took the two horse, Blue just wasn’t going. It was only when the truck stalled pulling the four horse trailer & the option was to go home and get the Suburban with the two horse that I realized this is a problem. I may have to just ride Blue home. With the help of a trainer, after 7 years, he finally loads. (I haven’t taken him anywhere in it lately in it … but I THINK he will… Hmm. Maybe we had better have a refresher course….)

I lost Blue to my kids! I moved on to other horses because I trusted Blue with the boys and the boys spent so much time behind me on him, that they trusted him. Over the next few years, he carried one or the other of the boys on the trails. He seemed to know he was carrying precious cargo. He was who my niece would ride when she was here and other less horse savvy friends or relatives. He is who I would follow when on a young horse. I knew if heading down a hill that I could tell the kids to “whoa Blue” and his big butt would keep my young horse from taking the hill too fast or not in control. On occasion though, I would still saddle up my boy. And it’s like coming home when I climb aboard.

Blue took a hiatus last year when McCain started riding Black. I would take him out occasionally, but he saw less trail time that year than any. But when plans were made to go to South Dakota this spring, Blue once again made the travel team. I didn’t get as much time to leg him up as I hoped, but he was up to the challenge and traveled well. And he carried McCain through the Black Hills.

Blue is twelve years old now. This past weekend, I took Blue on a short ride down our roads. The devil got his tail a few times at what he thought were the “children of the corn” (I saw nothing, I swear!) But he relaxed when we got to a nice grassy area along side of the road and I stopped a few minutes to let him graze. We walked, we trotted, we loped. I was home again.

I’m lucky to have two great horses in my life that I call my own: my “go to” Blue and my “dream horse”, Windy.

Care to share about your first horse? You may post in the comments anonymously.


Not horse related, but I have to share this picture! There were less than 2 minutes in the game & our team was down by 4 points. The ball was fired into the end zone to our son, Case. He caught it! We won! And the crowd went wild!! (Or at least Mom did!)

Oct 2, 2008

Picking up the Pieces

Yep. I’m a chicken. That ol’ fear gene has reared its head again and I am not sure I am going to work past it this time. If Black were the only horse I have… if I loved this horse so much that I couldn’t imagine NOT riding him… if I had one of those personality types that had to prove I was boss… and a handful of other “ifs”, I might work through it. But for today, for now… I’m not tempted.

I really didn’t feel afraid of him after my fall. I was more disappointed than anything as I felt I had come quite a ways with him and with my own confidence issues. My little voice said, “Heal thy ribs and thy bruises.” And most of all “Stay healthy for Cowgirl Weekend!” So he pastured while I recovered. He pastured while I went to Cowgirl Weekend. So today was the day to be reintroduced and see if I could pick up the pieces and go on.

I was disappointed to find John went to football practice with Case. I’ve ridden him in the past when no one was home, but that was “before” the incident. But I had psyched myself out for this day and decided to proceed. I’ve learned long ago I can give myself permission to quit at any time. I tucked my cell phone in my back pocket as I headed out the door.

He walked right up to me in the pasture, quietly slipping into the halter. Followed me quietly to the hitching post. His winter coat has come in and he is very black again. Soft. Pretty. Picked up his feet softly. He let me hold them one by one until I put them down. Tacked him up and took him into the round pen. He waited patiently for me to cue him forward. And gave me a nice trot. He did all the right things.

Put the bridle on and “bit him back” as Brenda taught me. Continued to work him on the ground. He was nicely collected. He looked very pretty. I whoa’d him, petted him and got him ready to mount. He stood quietly as I climbed on. Flexed both directions picked up the reins and cued him forward.

Purposely kept him from the gate. Did serpentines on the other side of the round pen, cutting it in half. He moved nicely off my leg. Seemed to be listening to me. So I let him move to the rail and attempted to go by the gate and was disappointed when he stopped there. And this is when I learned that I wasn’t where I thought I was with him. I couldn’t move him forward.

“Couldn’t”. Not in the physical sense. A better horseperson would not have had a problem moving him away from the gate. Heck, I could do it 30 days ago! But as I clucked and added leg pressure and got no results, I knew I was not brave enough to be any more assertive than that. Where one month ago I used the appropriate pressure to keep him moving beyond, I locked up today.

I dismounted & put the lunge line back on and moved him away from the gate. We worked another 5 minutes going past the gate. I even worked him with me outside the gate keeping him on the rail and not stopping by the gate. Remounted, did the same routine and ended up right back at the gate with sticky feet and a knot in my stomach.

I decided to try ground driving. Hooked up the lunge lines as Brenda had shown me with Windy. (As a side note, whenever I try something I’ve done with Windy on a different horse, it makes me appreciate how easy Windy is.) Black took issue with the driving lines – was a bit confused & skittish. I stayed with him and drove him, but he never relaxed and as a result, nor did I.

I untacked him and left him tied to the hitching post as I went and fetched Butter. I know I am not afraid to ride Windy. But I needed to know that it was Black who I was fearful of – not horses in general. I tacked Butter and took her to the arena. We trotted the rail, went around the obstacles, opened the gate & went down to the cow pasture. Whoops! I forgot the rented bull is in the cow pasture and imagine my surprise when I was riding up to what I thought was Coco the cow and “Bully” rises and gives us the look like “who are you and why are you here!” Butter and I high-tailed it back to the barn. It’s Black. Not Windy or Butter or Blue or Ginger… its Black who has scared me once again.

So…. Where do I stand with this horse? Who knows? I like him. I really do! But I’ve been down the fear road before and not sure I want to travel there again. Is conquering my fear with him worth compromising my confidence with the other horses?

Did he make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter your illusions of love
Is it over now- do you know how
Pick up the pieces and go home

To be continued….