Friday, December 25, 2009

One Does not meet oneself until
one catches the reflection from an eye
other than human.
-Loren Eiseley

That Pryor Mountain Magic
I am accepted without price.
Opportunists can not bleed me.
The cat and claws club can not catch me.
I am not judged.
I am whole.
I am at peace.
I am home.

Liz Graves

There is no Thank you big enough for Dave in the hours of work he has put into this project in filming and editing.

Also Thank you to John Link for allowing us the honor to use his music in which I am so addicted too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A High 5 for Success!!!!!!!!!

Peggy Cummings, Liz Graves and Peggy's Irish Sport Horse "Belle".

It's been the year I have waited for, although I did not know if it was possible or it would ever happen for me.

I have struggled for several years now with a deep seeded frustration in my own riding skills, I kept trying to find a feeling in my own seat that I remember having as a child although I did not know the technicals of it as a child. I lost it at some point when I was no longer under my mothers instruction and entered the horse industry all on my own.

I kept trying to find the answer why and came up with answers such as , maybe when my body matured out of adolescence I lost the physical structure to achieve what I once had, or had my body just been broken up so much over the years it could not find that place ever again. I could see what I wanted every time I watched any Nuno video, which I have hundreds of times now seeking and searching. I saw it in another of my teachers, the Master German Baca .

I now know the answer to my own question. After so many years riding and competing in the show arena, I discovered I had become the master of about every contrived seat imaginable. Showing just about every discipline, gaited and non gaited breeds over a span of over 45 years I had learned to adjust my body to what ever the time and style of riding it took to win a class . To adjust to what ever needed to be done for a judge to use me.

Although it made me a very adaptable and versatile rider there was a price to pay. The thought of that is a sad one in what happened to good horsemanship across the board rewarded by each and every judge, not by the acceptable look, fashion and/or politics of the times.

So I had lost that ability I knew once existed of the feel of that horse giving it's self over to me in body 100% raising into my pelvis and us uniting as one unit working within the same energy and gravity together in perfect timing and harmony.

Oh I could get some of it and most people never knew there was more than what I was getting when getting on the horses all over this country, but I knew , it was not complete for me yet. Dave knew of this struggle within myself and pained over my frustration as the trouble was in me, not the horses.

The door came open this year for me in that friend Peggy Cummings came this year for a fast visit here at the ranch between her clinics. I shared my frustration and what I was seeking and she knew! She knew what I was seeking and she had the answers, the help I had almost lost hope of ever finding. So to work on me she went, my heart was singing, I felt what I had been seeking again. So practice,practice and more practice I worked on myself with every single horse I got on for a good 2 months before flying out to her in Aug. for more work and help. I had to know if I was getting it just right and more work we did. What an experience it was, one I will take with me forever. As technical as it was and most would be very lost in how refined it was and needed to be for me at this point, it was perfect. To be a student with the perfect teacher I needed at a very important time in my life. Hard work yes, oh my brain was working in over drive and to keep my body doing every minute adjustment Peggy directed me too was so hard, yet so amazing in the results, it was so real, so changing to what I wanted and needed to get to the next level I desired in my own abilities.

In Nov. we got together again in WA working a locomotion project together with Dave and Master saddle fitter Sara Odell and once again I came away with more in a review I needed, to catch some of those small pieces I had missed.

As a teacher I know to be good, one also has to be able to be a good student and I love being a student and Peggy has been the perfect teacher for me in what I needed.

Often at clinics I do have folks that don't come to be students or have forgotten how to be one or just say the words that they are but never really commit fully. No matter how many times we work with them and even over many years nothing will change until that person learns to let themselves go and be a true student, that's what clinics are, venues of learning, that's what lessons are, venues to learn. They are not a place to show off, market your wares, prove yourself worth, compete with others, to judge the other participants, the teachers or to play games. Understand as teachers we cant make folks learn and receive the help unless they are willing to receive it. Not for one minute would I dream of wasting any time or help Peggy was giving me.

Another treat this year was an opportunity to spend some time with Gerd Heuschmann author of "Tug of War". His message is strong and important to every breed and discipline in our own country and in spending time and learning from him, he also sees himself as a life long student.

It's the only way to truly get to be the best one can for the horses!


Monday, December 14, 2009

The Blanket Brigade!

TWH - Perfectin Gold Stryke "Stryker"
The comedian that likes to use Mustangs as toys!
This boy really can stride under himself too! He's a blast to ride.

Quarter Horse- Candy Cow Cody " Lassie"
My mare that is as smooth as any gaited horse I ever mounted, it's all in the structure !
TWH in the rear- Super Mans April
This is my "Millers Superman" mare that's so multi gaited and
a reb horse, knowing some tough times in a big lick barn long ago now, before I acquired her.

TWH- Regals Lunar Express " Major"
My very masterful, skillful horse that is as hard on himself to do it right as I am on myself.
We are so perfect for each other and a workaholic like myself. Wish I could grow hair like he does mane and tail.

Crabby old Mother Nature has been on the war path and I just keep on smiling at her and say 'bring it on momma!
So today she hits us with an Arctic blast and -20 with wind chills today, so out came the blankets for the turn out time.
The above are just some of my horses and they love their blankets even though these are so heavy it's like putting a small pony on a horse!
When blanketing Major, Lassie was doing her deep toned and low soft nicker begging for me to do hers first and she does not talk much but she was being vocal today about it all.
I love this time of year when their hair coats are long and thick and I can just bury my face in that V in their necks and take in their smell and feel that warm softness on my face!
Ahh Horse, Horses, Horse!!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting that Feeling of Contentment

Well yesterday the blizzard hit us here and went through much of today. I really don't know how much snow as the 40 MPH winds drifted the snow to several feet in some places and the ground almost bare in others but we figure around 14inch .

I brought the horses in yesterday before it started , they love going in their cozy bed rooms as we call them as our stalls are very large. This time it was different in that they were frantic, almost in a panic to go in and the storm had not even started yet. They knew it was going to be a big one and they wanted no part of the great outdoors when it did hit.

I heard Dave today when he came to the barn chatting with the horses and telling them how lucky they have it and I know that came from some of the poor things we both see in our travels and when hearing him say this I thought about all the horses that had to struggle through this kind of weather.

For us here this is when we really kick it in and make sure everyone has everything possible they need, being are full in their tummies, dry indoors, music to drowned out the sound of the wind beating at the walls and content in that they are safe.

It's the most fulfilling feeling in the world to me when the weather is the toughest and they need us the most we can do everything in world to make sure it's not a burden or stress for them.

Another nice surprise for the day was a big Beautiful long haired white cat with pink eyes came into the barn from the storm. Looked healthy and although would not let me touch , it would meow back at me every time I talked to it . The horses all seemed very comfortable with it being there knowing it must need shelter. It was nice to have the guest and we put out some treats , I hope it hangs out for awhile as I love cats but don't have any because of the coyote problem in that they become dinner.

It's also that time again folks need to winterize but also do safety checks also as we have already in the state had several tragic barns burnings with live stock lost and in most cases these don't need to happen if folks just do regular inspections of their facilities.

Every year we hear of fires started by heat tape or poor wiring and it's not the wiring or heat tape that's the problem in the existence of it, it's the human error in not being responsible in using heat tape properly and checking it's still in proper working order on a regular basis.

Also once a year turn off your power at the breakers and remove outlet and switch covers and blow the dust that builds up. When one can, replace any electric receptacles with GFI's, this is an important safety feature and especially with heat tape and tank heaters or heated water buckets.

Check your wiring for rodents damage or wiring coating for rubs which eventually can expose bare wire. If one can replace wiring such a Romax with wiring run through conduit, which we did in rewiring all the buildings here , this prevents that kind or damage. Yes it's a lot of work to do and pulling wire hanging off scaffolding and ladders is not my favorite job but doing it with friends and having a good electrician friend such as our friend Viv, the job can be fun and she kept me from electrocuting myself.

Save some money and energy use with insulated water tank boxes. We do not use automatic waters here as I am a firm believer in monitoring each horses water intake daily. Dave has built some very nice insulated boxes this year with doors in which the tanks can be removed and sanitized to keep them drinking good clean water, which they are more inclined to drink more than dirty skunky water I have seen in my travels at other facilities. Dave figured the cost of the materials to build these boxes will be recovered in 3 month in energy cost savings as tank heaters take a lot of energy to run.

When using my tank heaters I also run the cords through 2 inch PCV pipe so the horses cant get to any wire and attach the PCV to the fencing posts so the horses cant play with that either. Seems like anything that moves horses see as toys. Always plug tank heaters into a GFI receptacles, as they can go bad in time and short out, no one wants to electrocute their horse!

If I need to create a bend in the PCV I use a simple propane torch and heat it up slowly and bend softly so I don't collapse the pipe and create a crimp in the PCV pipe.

Keep them drinking to in this weather just as in hot. In collage which seems a million years ago now, we were taught that a horse can not get it's daily salt requirement from a block, I'm not saying to not keep salt blocks available but loose salt should also be offered daily. The average horse requires 2oz per day and I feed this individually after their morning feeding.

Also often in cold weather some lighting such as florescent don't work. Save money and have lights that always work in the coldest of weather and bright like day light, we put these in Dave's shop also as he can now do his saddle carving without using supplemental light for that job any more. We purchased energy efficient lights by . It's been 4 years using them now and not had to replace a bulb yet and they are very reasonable in cost, durable , with good strong covers and easy to assemble.

I love ranch work, growing up on them and creating several of my own over the years now. I build my own stalls, round pens, arenas, fencing etc. You would not want me to build you a house as it may not be pretty but it would hold a horse, no problem! It's where I'm at home and a hard days work keeps me fit and happy. After 4 years working and creating this ranch Dave and I feel we are finally getting it to where we envisioned it. This winters project for me is building obstacles and designing an obstacle course for the field around the outdoor arena for our workshops.

Growing up in the horse community here in MN we never stopped in the winter, we even had indoor shows at the 242 arena and Rabines, played broom ball in the snow. People did not have their own indoor arenas back then yet the trainers still trained outside year round and I did to and now even with their own indoors to use it seems most go into a kind of hibernation, times have changed I guess.

Happy winter everyone, it can be a lot of fun even on the seemingly worst of weather days.