Horse of a Lifetime

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July has been a bit of a whirlwind. No. It has felt more like a tornado really. 

I’m almost through my ‘month of turning 40’ and that has been ok! Some reflecting, some nice celebrations, some relaxing time around home with my husband and animal family, an amazing clinic and summer girlfriend rides. Truly a reminder of what I love about life. 

A few favorites:


My ‘last day of being in my 30s’ ride with Sally! We decided on a quick paced with cantering intervals on and out and back with some ridge exploring at the top. 

At the top we saw the black clouds coming and gave up on the exploring. We ended up riding most of the return in a thunderstorm and downpour! It’s was a mix of discomfort (yes that was lightning… And now the rain has me soppy and chilled) and memorable and special (no I have never ridden through a storm, and the thunder is cool! I will always remember this one..)


I got to share the horse love with one of my favorite musical families and took Adam and Kari for quick spins around the barn on another stormy evening. One of my favorite things to do!


Took a few fabulous rides with Susan and Carrington and brought one of Susan’s lifetime friends on her first ride in many years where she got to enjoy faygo and begin to come back to her love of riding. 

Four of the gang on the birthday ride
Madison happily following along on Tex a little behind the crew
My official celebratory birthday ride with most of my favorite riders all in one place at one time (very rare!) and included Sarah and Madison from FL, Laurie in from SC, Susan and Carrington. We did my favorite ride along the river – 12 miles at a nice group pace just under 5mph. 

I love having my green team core crew here with Sarah and Madison! I even took Madison on an evening ride and came home in the dark so she could have that experience too. 


The horse highlight of July however was the 3 1/2 days with Dee Janelle at Pam’s Foxtrot Farm.

Dee finding out what exact movement was encouraging her not to stand still

For once I can’t really share that experience here. 

There truly aren’t words that would make sense to explain what we learned and the layers of understanding that began to open up for me. 

Let me try to at least give an overview of some reasons it was the highlight … Well maybe more that it was a great start to the next decade of my life.

Dee is a real (authentic) person, present and intuitive. To start, I like being around people like that. She is a good teacher and balances the fact that I want to know everything now with the fact that I can only handle so much or it will be counterproductive. 

There is something different about her and what she can offer than I’ve seen so far in any of my horseman heroes. On first glance people put everyone into a similar category – oh that’s just like the [Brannaman, Roberts, Parelli or insert other horseman name here]…

But it’s not. If you are paying attention, there is something going on here that I haven’t seen in any of those ‘methods’. As much as I love to see Buck Brannaman ride and the lightness in his dance, when I went to observe his clinic I had a nagging feeling I couldn’t put my finger on that there was something missing there. Maybe not in what he does, but in what he teaches. 

This thing. The missing piece… This is what I got to see and learn last week and it’s not something simple to explain. It’s one of those you had to be there things. 

Sure I learned to post a trot better, I added a small shim to my saddle to customize the level where it sits and fine tuned my Jedi steering and got better at getting out of my horse’s way so she can move most efficiently. 

But the jewel was in learning to see the specific intelligent communication my horse is trying to have with me. Once the door to my understanding was cracked open I was amazed at just what she would offer me. 

When we start to have these conversations- that she trusts me to try to understand- she gives me more to work with and we connect more deeply. And when we connect more deeply, we work together better and she offers that next level and the next where eventually she will give me everything but as a capable co-pilot and not a mindless obedient soldier. 

And if we’re going to do 100, I need that. 


I also appreciated how practical Dee was. She worked with Pam in the arena helping her up her dressage game and did things I can’t even pronounce. 

I worried slightly that my coming from no formal training I would be spending 3 days trying to learn to walk around the arena in better form. I believed that could absolutely be the best thing for me if that’s what we did- but I felt like a pre-schooler to Pam’s graduate college class. 

No. 

After a half spin around the rectangle Dee said this arena makes no sense to this horse- it makes no sense to you. Come out.  And let’s see you run around this property so I can help you improve

As soon as we left the arena and began to trot around the outside perimeter Khaleesi brightened up and we took off on a trot and then canter on the third side. As we wizzed by the tent she did a little jump for joy buck saying ‘thank you this is more like it!’


She went straight into what we’ll need to go the distance with such details in mind like what kind of knot is best for my needs and where to tie up my lead and how to store my latigo straps so I can quickly and one handed cinch up my 3 point rigging. 

I have a lot of work to do getting out of her way but already after 4 lessons I am more aware and have better balance and that has allowed Khaleesi to pick up in front and move more efficiently with better motor in the hind. 

All in all it gave me a deep satisfaction that Dee thought Khaleesi was a fine horse and we were on a good start together. I was glad to hear she thinks this horse is going to take me 100 miles, and do her best to protect me on the journey. 

Willing, more intelligent than I gave her credit for, strong, and with a great sense of humor- I couldn’t have asked for a better co-pilot…

…Horse of a lifetime. 

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