Thursday, March 25, 2010

Busy Spring Days

Sarah realigning my Quarter mares Lassie's first rib
Sarah Doing a cranial sacral realignment
Well it's very busy around here and some winter horse hair is starting to fly finally. Picking it out of our teeth is not fun but glad to see this sign of spring.
Its very busy as we have human trainers here serving internships, saddle fitters learning just what it takes to build a saddle from the ground up. The horses are getting their spring work ups. Today and yesterday Sarah Odell Fredrickson from Bainbridge Island, WA worked on some physical issues on my 24 year old quarter mare Lassie from a kick she receive to the shoulder and head.
I've watched Sarah work her skill on so many horses and she is the best IMO, experienced in body work.
I'm cooking for lots of folks every night and no one has complained or gotten sick yet, horses are happy and doing their work beautifully and the students are looking very brain dead at the end of the day, so I take that as a great sign things are going well.
The added bonus with all this is my dogs are getting loads of extra treats and scratching from the added human population here at the ranch right now.
Life is busy, but so good too!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One of THOSE days!

Thank you Gail for this card yesterday, as it prepared me for today!

It was just one of those fabulous spring days here in MN, we certainly could be having a blizzard instead.
I've worked my horses, moved hay, raked my flower beds, gotten a lot done early.
I'm positive, happy and warm instead of shivering for a change and decide to go the 2 miles to town and pick up Dave's favorite rotisserie chicken for supper and wash the winters crud off my car.

So I'm busy in the car wash and through the door next to me in the next wash bay I watch a man back his horse trailer in the bay loaded with two horses.
In my mind I think"He's not going to do what I think he is?".
I poke my head in his bay and ask what he's up to?
He's going to unload his horses on slick surfaced,wet concrete and wash his horses with the pressure washer. Now this is a rickety rig at best and when he opened the trailer door to lead the horses out the trailer is full of old sloppy wet poop and rotten hay up past their fetlocks. Not a healthy looking couple of horses on top of it all.
This gentleman also is in no physical shape to handle these 2 very scared horses to get this job done.
Now in my work I've learned over the years to be patient and diplomatic with people, Ok to a point!
Even I have my limits when plain old stupidity presents it's self.
So staying calm I ask him if he knows this is a car wash , not a horse wash?
Calmly he answers back, yes he knows that.
I tell him he cant unload those horse on to that kind of surface and scare those poor horses more by hitting them with a pressure washer.
He said he did not care what I thought about it and he was going to do what he wanted with his horses. I'm envisioning these horses falling down at the least on the wet pavement, or worse and getting hurt, getting away from him and running out on to the busy highway out front of the car wash.
I'm having no effect on this fellow being calm and diplomatic.
Now you have to understand I'm 1/2 English, 1/4 Swedish and 1/4 Norwegian (the stoic part) and an introvert on top of it.
I'm in my head asking "how am I going to stop this?".
Others see now what is happening and I have no cell phone , I barrow one call the police and tell him I have done so. He does not stop and the first horse won't come out, thank goodness. No one could reason with him, so out appears the "inner Liz, my viking side" I did not know I had in me.
I start screaming at him at the top of my lungs like I'm being killed that it's cruel and in humane what he's about to do , bla , bla, bla with a few special words added of coarse. Loads of folks come running including the car wash owner.
The owner got him stopped and said he could not wash his horses in a car wash.
I didn't know I had that in me but all turned out Ok , at least for now for those 2 poor pitiful looking horses. I sure did not like that "inner Liz " though, scared myself!

This one I'm going to put up there with the fella that was going to teach his horse to load in a trailer with a skid loader.

Also the fella who pulled in our driveway with his mammoth mule tied to the back of the horse trailer. Having just jogged 6 miles tied there because it was smart enough to know it could not fit in the single horse trailer built for a quarter horse around 1950.

And last the woman who had a custom saddle build for her narrow built horse, put under the tires of her UPS delivery mans truck to run over it to make it wider to fit her other big tube shaped horse.
What next ????

Monday, March 8, 2010

Class 2010
2010 Illinois Horse Fair

The Gait of Fox Trot/Liz Graves Clinician

A Big Thank you to Troy Tolan of for filming the above You Tube for all of us.

This past weekend was my second time doing the Illinois Horse Fair and once again it was a wonderful experience for me.

I have to say Thank you to Stacy Bowman again for doing a wonderful job of being Clinic coordinator and getting everything in order and making it run so smooth once again while making my job of teaching easy. I have not only enjoyed working with her but enjoy her company and have come to respect her as a wonderful ,very experienced horsewoman in her own right.

We had a great group of clinic participants once again and to watch them come together, have fun while learning, and making friends among each other at the same time makes it all the better.

I know I worked them very hard and they were pretty cooked by the end of 2 days but they never complained they were up for it as were they their wonderful horses.

This was a very good group of folks!!

Thank you to all the kind folks that came to our sessions and asked great questions that benefited everyone.

Liz Graves

copyright 2010

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Friendship starts with a solid foundation

Lee & Liz Conducting Clinic Together

Lee up on her Fox Trotter "Morgan".
I think Lee and I about rode the hair off her horses Morgan and Sara this weekend in her arena.

Liz up on Lee's Fox Trotter "Morgan".

Ours was a friendship started in finding each other in a very lonely place in our passion about horses and helping them.
It was a time when people were pushing hard once again to define and protect the Naturally Gaited TWH. For Lee and I who were primed and ready to serve the cause, but found we saw it different than many others though and it always kept us on the outside of the main body of the movement. I laugh now as it was the time of typewriters and carbon paper and a long distance call was 10 cents a minute so we wrote lots of letters not having the funds for long distance calls, my living in VA and she being in CO.

First and foremost we have always been for the horse, and not in name only. We never ever went the wayward direction and then later claimed to have seen the light and reformed our methods in teaching and working with horses. We always remained clean of using gimmicks and gadgets accepted even in the so called naturally gaited circles.
It was these strict rules set in ourselves that kept us apart of the masses in the movement, we hated the playing of the political games, the manipulations, standing on the grey line was not for either of us.
Soring was not the only unacceptable methods to each of us but so was the fast growth of mechanical manipulation in the flat shod movement.
To us anything less was not acceptable in building character, credibility and self respect in ourselves in which we could live a lifetime with. We saw this in each other and it was what brought our friendship together and made it last the test of time and even through some of the toughest of challenges.
Our own education and sharing it with others was the key for us both, we believe honest straight forward education would empower the horse owners to make the right choices in having success and helping the horses have quality lives at the same time.
Our friendship was not always smooth, we certainly would criticise each other and challenge each other as well.
Lee was tougher than I was and I being 10 years younger was more naive and lacked 10 years of experience that Lee had on me as well . Lee also had a much more advanced academic education than I did.
She worked hard on toughing me up to it all and she said I helped her soften her edges as well.
We would argue but not as silly school girls but with true passion in disagreements in definitions or applications in training refinement. Sometimes we worked them out and came to a consensus and sometimes we didn't, and it was accepted by each of us when this would happen it just took awhile sometimes. This also is what created that rock solid respect for each other.

I feel the biggest challenge to our friendship was the coming of the computer age though, when e-mail and chat lists came in to being. This was the perfect venue to reach large numbers of people seeking help. The hole in it all was often the opportunist would pretty much suck us dry at times and also worked at putting us against each other as well, sometimes it worked too until we figured out the games they were playing. In the end it always came back in that we both knew we had the same foundation in our passion and naughty people could not even break that and a phone call to each other would bring about the truth in each matter.
Lee's passing has been a challenge in many ways, first in my own guilt of not getting to her in time.
My last e-mail from her on Feb. 15th was as follows:

"i will be needing home hospice care very soon. can't stand walk or talk now-- nott a good way to die, by inches. only one fing er works to type. "

It is just as she typed it, upon receiving it I called and asked if she wanted me to come. Her answer was yes and I made the reservation to fly out for the 6th of March being the soonest I could not leave the ranch here due to a difficult load of training clients, not the horses, but the owners at that time. I was 4 days to late getting to her. The pleasing of those clients was not worth the guilt I carry still.
Second in that I have not had her to work with, to stand up to the poor horse handling/training practices that just keep rearing their ugly heads and always will. Two voices are always better than one when you speak the same language in being honest, real and for the right reason.
Third and lastly is this last 6 month I now find I am having to fight to keep her legacy of education going in that there has been some action in trying to bury it.
So as I close in this blog post that may bore many, but is a release of thoughts for myself I will say Lee's work is timeless. It's not about being in fashion, politically correct but of true experience and her own self discipline to get it right and never hold back anything to help others, even if she had to scream once in a while to get her message across.
I my self am still learning from her and value the friendship we had that is also timeless in that it was also real, honest and solid in it's foundation.
My wish for everyone is able to learn the difference between a true friendship and what an acquaintance is. There is a world of difference in knowing just one true friend means so much more than a million acquaintances in a life time.

Liz Graves
copyright 2010