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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

This was the first time I experienced Tevis with a horse.
Not as a competitor, but as a support crew for riders. 
Dixie and I had qualified a few months back at an SOS ride and were really excited to participate as a team. 

 We rode with Lyssa and her POA from Robinson Flat to Dusty Corners. It was about 10 miles of the 100 mile race. We had to take a few selfies before we got started. Dixie won the award for best smile. 

We did this trail once before to get familiar and look who else was familiar with the trail!

Of course I still got to cheer on my friends who were competing and visit with friends who were crewing.  

Our good pal Jenni Smith landed in 5th place and winning the coveted Hagan Cup for Best Condition. 

We did see at least one mustang complete the race, last but not least! With less than 50% completing, finishing is quite a feat!

Congrats to everyone that got out there to help or ride. It was truly a great day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dixies 7th year

Since I have clearly been delinquent about regular updates, I thought I would give a summary of Dixie's year...

Mostly, we have been out on trails. Skyline, Stanley Lane, Briones, and Angwin
Dixie has put on a solid base from the last 3 years of endurance training and competing. Animals are not like people when it comes to maintaining fitness levels. 

In addition to trail training, Dixie and I have been taking dressage lessons. Teaching collection and rhythm pays off in any discipline. I noticed the biggest difference while we were climbing a big hill, Dixie lowered her head and really started using her hind end. Since hills are probably her biggest challenge (literally and figuratively) it was cool to see one discipline helping the other.

We competed in the American River ride, it is the oldest sanctioned 50 mile race in the WORLD. Of course my crew, Ashton and Anthony were there to help me along the way. It was actually Ashton's first birthday that Friday so at the ride meeting dinner the ENTIRE RIDE sang happy birthday to Ashton. It was the sweetest thing and brought a tear to my eye. What a fantastic group of people to share the weekend with. Big thanks to the new ride management for a great weekend. 

Any endurance rider has their eye on the calendar planning and prepping for their next ride... I have decided to try something a little different with Dixie this year. Instead of going to the Tevis as crew, Dixie and I will be a part of the SOS team of drag riders. We qualified last month at a ride in Cool, CA. It will be a whole new experience from this angle and I am really excited to be "part of the solution" as their motto says.

Happy trails!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Extreme Wylene!

We wrapped up our 3 day clinic with Extreme Wylene yesterday.
It was a weekend full of horsemanship and fun. As each horse and rider progressed there were visible changes we could see. Most of the horses in this clinic were green, three had never even had a bit in their mouth before. To watch the education of a horse is truly amazing.

The curb-side. Teaching your horse to come to the side of a fence so you can mount!

Each day started in the arena where Wylene taught the 'basic handle' and a few exercises that allowed the rider to control different body parts. 

Tyler and Betsy standing quietly observing the riders around them.

'Do you mind?' as Wylene asks this pony to move away from the flag.

'Up the mane, down the rein!' such a valuable tool for communicating with your horse.

First time in an obstacle course, and yes they ALL went through it!

Jo and Jo!

And everyone did this too! It was all about keeping your horse in front of the obstacle and asking at the right moment. Forward motion!

Wylene and Dixie

Wylene always talks about the 3 types of riders and how we are all three throughout the weekend. The beggar, the maker, and the partner. Yes, it is true we HOPE our horses listen and then feel that we can MAKE them listen. But this weekend was about being ONE with our horses so that when we asked for something, they understood and were WILLING to do what we asked. I think everyone was able to really see and feel that. And so wraps up another AWESOME, AMAZING, LIFE CHANGING clinic. Thank you Extreme Wylene!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

That first ride

Yesterday I put a 'first ride' on an adopted mustang I am working with. It was quiet and uneventful, just as every owner hopes! It flooded my thoughts with some of the 'first rides' I have put on my other mustangs and inspired me to revisit some of their stories.

One of my first mustangs, Ranger (Ravendale HMA) in 2011. So much time is put into training from the ground that by the time you are ready to get in the saddle, it is just not a big deal. Here I am hanging off the side of the saddle and pretending to swing up. I do this many times so the horse has the idea of how I will be draped over them. As you can see Ranger has both ears completely focused on me but is standing quiet and still. 

Cody (Copper Smith HMA) was a little sweetheart and needed some extra time to come around to the idea that riding was ok. We spent many hours working on the ground with the saddle on. I spent time running the lunge line through the stirrups so they could flap against his sides and feel secure.

A few short days later I got on. Here is that 'first ride smile' that just makes me so happy! We started with a simple pony ride, Cody felt comfortable and so we just slowly progressed from there. 

This should be a familiar face, DIXIE! I remember thinking I LOVE this horse after I had my first ride on 30 days after getting her from the corrals. Who would have guessed that our adventure would not end 90 days later.

Hercules (Fox Hog HMA) at a clinic I gave in San Martin. He was sooooo sweet, and ended up coming back to me 6 months later for some more rides. He was the kind of 'get on and go' horse you dream for. It is really a testament to how well you have worked your horse on the ground since the aids you need in the saddle start well before the first ride. 

Anthony and Cinna-Man (Carter Reservoir HMA) those two just had a special bond. His actual first ride involved a halter and lead rope. I looked over one day and saw Anthony just sitting on top, I was so surprised that I forgot to take a picture! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Harvey Bear 50

The Quicksilver Harvey Bear ride is a special ride to me. 2 years ago it is where we began our endurance journey. They host a 'fun ride' that is welcome for horses of all ages and we had our first camping experience together. Last year we came back for the limited distance 25 mile ride. And now, we came back for the 50 miler. 

Of course I was not alone. Katie and Ashton came with me and had a blast hanging out. 

 also convinced Betsy and Sunny to try their luck at the limited distance ride. I knew if they got the taste of endurance they would be hooked! 

Dixie post ride, checking out the horses still coming in...

We had a special breakfast delivery/visit from our local friends Sunday morning. Thank you soooo much for the hot coffee and bagels, that was a great way to start our journey back home :)

It was our first 50 since Ashton arrived and I am really proud we were able to complete (and in good time too!)

Throughout the ride we had great weather (super foggy in the morning) and not a single problem with our easyboots staying on! The trail was marked really well and everyone was really friendly. Our neighbors even helped me untack at lunch and take care of Dixie. A big thanks to the ride management and volunteers who helped put this on. You all did a fantastic job! We can't wait to come back next year! 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Who is training who?

Dixie and Ashton have a special relationship. They walk out to the pasture together every morning. Well Ashton rolls in his stroller, but that is close enough. Dixie usually checks to see if there are any carrots hiding in the stroller (there are not) and then proceeds to the gate. Once she is out, she will keep an eye out for us and wander back over to see us (again, checking for carrots) and say hello.

As we continue to put on trail miles, we have also focused on the arena. As a 6 year old, Dixie has calmed down a lot since her 4 and 5 year old days and that makes for a nice pleasant ride. Since she happens to have a long back (she is regularly mistaken for a Standardbred) I know how important it is to make sure she can use her hind end to move out. Carrying herself properly will pay off in the arena and the trail.

In other exciting news, Dixie was an ambassador for the Visions of the Wild Festival in Vallejo. They had a cute festival celebrating 50 years since the Wilderness Act. It was very cool to see people touch a 'wild mustang' who had never seen one before, or maybe didn't know they existed.
Dixie enjoyed eating the fresh green lawn of the City of Vallejo. She even left them a thank you present ;)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pixel Poetry

I met Naren for a few minutes at the Napa Horsemans 75th Anniversary party in June. He was taking pictures of the event and I handed him my card in case he wanted to share them with me. I am so glad I did. 

These pictures are from the round pen demo Dixie and I did. Mostly we showed how a horse communicates through movement by my body position and how she could 'join up' with the correct cues. At the end of the demo she was rewarded with some carrots and I asked her to do some of her tricks including 'bow' and 'smile''. 

To see more of these photos you can see his website at: