Sunday, November 25, 2012

It is with a very sad heart to share long time friend  teacher , mentor from my childhood to adulthood Don Burt has passed.
Don was one of my favorite judges to ride under as a child and who inspired me to pursue my 31 year career as a judge myself.
Don  helped me through every phase I went through from my stock horse years through my hunter/jumper phase and recall him laughing at me when I asked for help in stepping into that time. Next came my gaited horse era which again he was there with a smile to help me in judging,teaching judges and developing judging programs.
 Don was a true Horseman's  Horseman of a time when  you worked and worked hard for what you earned in your education, no paying ones way in, bullying or marketing into it. One had to have hard earned experience to gain your skills, your work and respect in the industry.
 Don was the go to Gentleman to learn from.
 Don Burt was one of my finest teachers I will miss and remember always with the greatest of respect. 
Forever grateful I am for his willingness to share his great knowledge with a puny little girl from the Midwest.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Very busy here getting  the year end repairs and ranch upgrades done with  fencing, all new gaits up and   slapped 25 gallons of fresh fence stain done so far.
 After dragging my body to the house tonight  found my Uncle Bill had sent another great photo of my Mother as a child. What a nice end to a productive day and week for that matter, just hope this body can move in the morning! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's Official!!

The ticket of Sissy & Tony of the "Kibble Party" won the Shades of Oak elections by a land slide beating out Pretty Boy Floyd & Perfectin Gold Stryke of the "Hay Party"
Seems the main deciding factors by ranch voters were the non wasteful standards of the Kibble Party to not  allow one plate or morsel of treat to go unattended and managed properly.
The lack of support for the hay party was due to their unbridled behaviors, with no seriousness in any matter what so ever and felt leaping, running and rearing in a wide open manner at all times with disregard for themselves or others was not received well by voters.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Memories of younger days!

Old friend Leon with a couple of his young stock and myself astride Sunny Bright Eyes on Silverbrook Ranch Middlebrook, VA

It's sure been a long hot time here this year and putting in 12-14 hours days in the barn since winter but getting the training horses thinned down a little bit and some going home now since I will to be gone most of Sept. I'm trying for a little more time for my own horses before that happens and will get back at it the end of Sept.

I ran across this  old photo in my files and it brought back some great old memories of younger times . Leon and Sunny Bright Eyes are both gone now, Leon was a friend I would ride with to get miles and experience on all our young stock. Leon was a Vietnam vet and had lost a leg in that war and it never slowed him down that I know of except this day. He and both his horses went over backwards and down in a steep ravine, and when the dirt settled and got down to him, horses and Leon seemed to come out of it  just fine but Leons artificial leg was still in his stirrup so that had to be rescued once his gelding was caught and help him get that back on and off we went again. That adventure gave us many a chuckle he loved to tell about it for many years after.
We rode often at Silverbrook Ranch which was owned by Helen Kleberg Groves of the King Ranch, Texas and was 5000 acres of rolling VA hills  and she would let us take our horse there to work . Every year she had a big horse sale and cutting event we were invited too.  With many old well known names of the times most don't know of or heard of  these days like Buster Welsh, Calvin Allen and the list could go on forever.  I sure dreamed of owning a lot of the horses that were run through those sales, but that was a very poor living back then  being a female trainer but it was my choice and it sure taught a gal to be tough in that country. 
Sunny Bright Eyes was a Two Eyed Jack X Eternal Sun bred Quarter horse I  used for everything like Bubba,  cattle work, showed hunter pleasure, English pleasure, trail, reining , anything side saddle. We used to be invited to Frying Pan Park to do a side saddle reining demo as entertainment for the DC politicians  while they were wined and dined  as fund raising event  for the American Horse Protection Association. 
Good Friends and Great horses sure make time gone by  special!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In a recent interview regarding issues in the gaited horse industry  I was asked many questions and many more transpired through the interview. There were a few that were easy to answer at the time but created great depth in thought after.I came away very troubled by it as well.  
I thought I would share some of them :

1st Question :Can a trainer of the gaited horse be too sound ?
Answer: To the people yes, for the horses no.

2nd question: So your saying  trainers of horses outside the padded industry can be to sound or natural for the general gaited horse public?
Answer: To the people yes, for the horses no. 

3rd question: Why? 
Answer: For some people yes due to what people are.  People are often motivated to feed their own emotional needs, financial needs, needs of power, control and the desires to fit in with other groups of people. Those types of people will seek out  those that will enable and support them in their fantasy of what developing natural gait is rather than what it really is. Some people just think it takes to long and to much work so shortcuts suit those individuals better. Those that do utilize short cuts or gimmicks in training often don't want an unsuspecting  clients (often beginners) to get educated.  They fear  loss of clients or are trying to bring clients and dollars to their  business so they very artfully regurgitate all the right terminology but enact  some or completely different methods in the practical application of training. 
For the horse no, when we teach a horse in a manner that it feels good physically, emotionally and reasonable to the horse, the horse lets us know in giving us what we ask the best  they can, within their understanding. The horse then can have the best chance of staying physically and emotionally sound. The horse through this, wants to be with us and work for us, they care what we think because we cared what they think and how they feel. By my definition that's as it should be for a horse and what most people voice what they want of and for their horses. 

4th  question: Do you feel it is true in some of the population, they believe they are sound and naturally gaited teachers of horse when they are in fact not.
Answer:  There are some that are in reality, some do in their self created fantasy yet are not ,and others use it as a marketing tool  purposely to deceive the public to keep their business open. 

5th Question: So in your opinion how does one go about bring people to understanding what a naturally gaited horse is and apply those methods in training their horses.
Answer: Education! The education is out there for those that want to learn it , it's the "want to" though that has to come first, and honesty in themselves when they are doing right by the horse.

6th question: I have heard in some circles you are respected for your reputation of straightforwardness and honesty  when it comes to whats right for the horse and in others your criticized for this. How do you feel about that?
Answer: I care what the horse thinks first, I try to teach folks this all the time. In who I am, to be any other way I could not  keep doing this as a business and as my livelihood,  it's whats right for me to live with myself, to look into a horses eyes  with honesty and receive their trust back.Teaching horses and people is my business, it's what my job is, I feel it's my responsibly to be this way when they come to me to learn, it's what I'm being paid  to do. My job in my opinion is not to play games and tell someone what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.How a person receives  the straightforwardness and honesty when my opinion is asked  can be interpreted , defined or redefined in many different way depending on the emotional place that person is at that time. 
Sometimes being as diplomatic as possible is never enough for some folks, they just don't have the "want to get it" yet, they are still to much "of themselves" first. One just still keeps trying though for awhile and sometimes  just has to stop and let some people go or you will bleed your self dry in the frustration and have nothing left for the next person that really wants to get it right for their horse..

So in closing: 
A conversation I was reminded of recently  from this interview was with a naturally  gaited horse friend not to long ago. in which he expressed his frustration and stated, "Being  naturally gaited sure is a lonely place" .
My response back was " No, you will always have friends in horses".


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Photo credit: Judy Hanson Nelson

To My horse friends:
There is nothing as special to me as letting my body sink deeply into a horses and feeling each others heartbeats. It's very hard to describe, so it's best to try it and feel what magic happen between you.
Elizabeth Graves

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Important Press Release!

Important press Release from the  AAEP and AVMA

I also feel it should include weighted shoes, turn backs, and bands. 
If some horses are able to be animated more naturally ,let it come through due to an individual horses conformation , proper clean training and conditioning of the horse. Good trainers don't need gimmicks to bring out natural gaits in any gaited breed.
It's time to prize good horsemanship not hackmanship.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some photos of Dolly , a Doc Bar bred Quarter horse Mare  in for training. Just  the sweetest horse to live and work with. 

This is Tom astride who is Dolly's owner.

Painting titled" Truth and Lies"


Saturday, May 26, 2012

New clothes!

Spring is here and it's very busy with a full book of training horse still in the barns, we even have some first cutting hay in the barn and that's very early for us. I even have one very small tomatoe already on one of my plants in the garden.
Here are some non horse related photos for a change as Sissy our Gordon setter and Tony our Aussie both received new collars today made for them by Steel City Equine and Bead works. Thank you so much Joanna Swartz! We love them !! It's very hard to get a photo of Tony with out some prized possession in his mouth or other wise he is just running so this is the best I could  do . Sissy is just as her eyes, even though she is a very intense huntress she also is so soft and full of pure sweetness. Can you tell I think we just have the most perfect dogs, or at least they are to us.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A very fun day!
Julie astride Amber
Liz astride Amber 
Amber is the Fox trotter Mare that was one of the stars in my DVD series " Structure as it Relates to Gait" Released back in 2003. She now has a new home and partner in Julie since then and just as great of mare as ever. I was so excited, it felt so wonderful to be with her and ride her once again and spend an amazing day with Julie just living and sharing our horse lives together for a day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Here is the slide show for the Mane Event in Red Deer Canada.
One fantastic event I loved doing!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Here is a slide show of photos from the PPWHA  clinic held in Dillsburg PA last weekend.
Great , great weekend!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ranch Happening!

It's been a busy and fun winter and very mild for us here In MN.
The above is JP a  RMH that came in for a spring tune up. He sure grew taller since last year and still has lots of filling and maturing to do even yet and may need a 4 step mounting block before he is done!

This is Bucky a RMH executing just under an 8 meter volte at a canter. Yes gaited horses can canter beautifully and should, and having  good basics in lateral work and straightness training makes doing  a canter in such a small volte possible, one talented and smart fellow he was.
This is Diego the PP that I loved teaching him to use his top line and find relaxation, He was a heart stealer in that he was so personable and loved humans so much. What a reach behind he had!
This is Tia Maria and RMH which was long in body length, yet tied together so well from back to front that her walk to bring into a collected shape was beautiful, ground covering and could do  her RMG gait with so much ease just on a loose rein, self carry in snaffle bit or side pull she was so strongly gaited. My Zaldi Spanish schooling saddle fit like a glove on her too since she had an unusual shape, more like an Andalusian. Our  PB Floyd's sister too!
Now this is living! Our friend Noah came and cooked us the most amazing Cajun dinner and I had seconds which is rare for me. The guys cleaned up the kitchen too, I had to do nothing in the kitchen. I could get used to that!
This is Marty giving Tony and Sissy organic beef bones she brought them. I know they then believed all their little dog dreams really could come true, those bones are very small now!They both received their spring hairs cuts a week after this so they are half the dogs they were here.
So it's been a busy place and all these horses have gone home now and still have a bunch here we have to get photos of  and hope to before they leave.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

AVMA's press release

Please help the AVMA by sharing their Video , it will take a community effort  to help make change happen for the horses and education is one of the avenues to do so.

AVMA’s policy against soring

The American Veterinary Medical Association has worked to end the cruel practice of soring in show horses for over 40 years, and soring has been illegal since 1970. In this video, AVMA leader Dr. Nat T. Messer IV, a professor at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, and Elizabeth Graves, a horse trainer with experience judging horse shows and rehabbing sored horses, explain why soring needs to stop.
Link to AVMA's web site with Video, the video is an educational video is just over 4 minutes in play time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rehabbing the pace into Fox Trot

This is a video that I hope will be helpful to many folks, not just gaited horses or specific gaits, there is useful information for all. It is educational not entertaining in its nature. I know most don't watch things like this until one starts having issues. There is a lot of information here that can be valuable before one gets to that point. It’s not fancy in its production, just off the cuff in rehabbing from pace to gait of Fox Trot. A huge thank you too David Genadek for taking time he truly does not have in filming, editing and uploading to YouTube. It will also be posted to my web site on the articles page for future reference. It’s 36 minutes long but does move along pretty fast to watch . The good news is it's free and just about helping any way I can.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pop Wagner will be teaching Mohair Cinch making classes here  at Shades of Oak  Ranch June 29-July 1 , 2012 to be held in About the Horse Saddle manufacturing  shop on the Ranch.
This is a great opportunity for those who are seeking in-depth exposure to this art form.
To register (for 1, 2 0r 3 days) 

PS, Some time in June will be moving to another location. You can preview the new site while it is under construction by visiting  While you are there feel free to “follow” this new site (by clicking on the "follow" button in the lower right hand corner) so that you will be informed of all the latest updates. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Think Spring!!

Bet if  the riding public thought of helmets and safety vests as status symbols and just cool lots more folks would use them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wonderful old roots!

My Mother Louise  1949

This photos was taken at one of the military bases my Mother grew up on and learned to ride at as a youth. Her father was US Calvary 2 years before being accepted to US Air Force which he retired from as a WW 2 vet and went on to serve and retire with Federal Civil Service.

I love her real Angora Chaps and this must be one of the Calvary horses since it is a photo taken on the base.
She  grew up learning to ride English forward seat, classical and side- saddle yet brought me up teaching these same seats and skills but always  in stock seat or Mexican tack, hence my vast passion for  and back ground in Bosal work. This photo screams she was drawn to and later sought out those disciplines in her knowledge base as well.  
My Mother as a teacher and trainer here in MN was a very poor living and  one she made by choice giving up much for her passion, back then a trainer was considered one step above the garbage pick up  profession.
A bale of hay was .25 and a trim all the way around was $1.00 she received $30.00  per month for training a horse. I think she did better than most  and as a woman doing this as a living was not normally taken seriously but her Military upbringing being US Calvary trained gave her a respected creditably in the profession that otherwise would not have been.
Having roots is an awesome thing!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wood Pile Gang Rides Again!!

Click on photo to enlarge
The Wood Pile Gang has had a busy winter and taken up the sport of Bull Tying.
They have a new trusty stead, " The BIG BANANA" and have found the perfect fitting saddle for 
 the 'BIG BANANA'S" Inverted body type with matching side pull to finish out the rig.
It took both  Baby Boy Pine and Rosewood to get this bull down , he was one tough bugger, but they did it as a team.
They seem to enjoy this sport as much as last winters Whale bustin.
Never a dull moment at Shades of Oak!

Monday, January 2, 2012

My way of relaxing

Every 2-3 years I indulge myself and take some time in the winters to work on something art related in the evenings and I love trying different mediums.
This is an Angora Goat skull I did 5-6 years ago and decided to integrate a silver piece in these works as  a kind of signature for my pieces.

This is a Javelina I recently completed
This is a steer skull I just finished and love his horns in that each had their own direction which does not show well in this photo angle. Folks always seem to want them the same,  and I like the uniqueness of these.
Wish I could get more skulls just not easy for me to come by, so many ideas rolling around in my head I'd love to try.