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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: 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wild West Endurance Ride

As soon as I was able to ride, I was thinking about which endurance rides I wanted to go to. I had my heart set on Cooley June 14-15 but alas, the timing wouldn't work. I was bummed since Dixie had done this ride in 2012 and 2013 and we had so much fun. Then I found the Wild West ride in Nevada City, CA June 20-22. I signed up for the LD 30 miles as soon as I found a friend who would help me crew (and watch Ash!)

Sleeping in a tent, waking up early, the bustle of a ton of other horses and their riders gives me the chills! I was so excited to get started. Dixie was also excited, scratch that... ecstatic. She had been ridden mainly on the barn property for so long that she was a *little* overly zealous about starting the ride.

 She threw a bit of a fit when the ride began and I pulled her off the first 4 horses that were pacing a little too quickly for my liking. Luckily, another nice gelding came along and Dixie settled into her pace. The horses took the first 13 mile loop together, never straying from a strong working trot. When we came in, I jumped off and started sponging cold water onto Dixie to get her pulse down to the required 60/bpm. After a minute I asked to have her checked and she was down even lower to a 55 (which is great!). That should have been my first clue Dixie was in much better shape than I thought.

We went out on our second and final loop by ourselves. It is so nice to ride with someone and chatter down the trail, but it is also incredible to just enjoy the ride with your horse. The gorgeous Tahoe National forest was nice and cool and there was not a horse in sight. We felt like we had the place to ourselves!

After we hit mile 18, I noticed Dixie had turned a front boot sideways. I quickly jumped off and fixed it. It is always best to notice boot issues as soon as possible, otherwise they tend to fall off and you lose them altogether... which is what happened about 4 miles later. But this time it was the other front boot! I am pretty sure I jinxed myself because the last thing I said to my farrier before we left it "I never have problems with my front boots, only the back ones!" Note to self, don't say that anymore! Fortunately I had a spare in my pack so I swung off again and fixed her up. We even went back a ways to look for it (they are not cheap!) but couldn't see anything. Oh well, call it a ride casualty and keep going.

Before long (about 2 hours) I started to recognize the trail and realized we were almost back to camp! As we trotted into the finish line the volunteers told me we had finished 2nd. We had only passed one horse and I wasn't sure what had happened to the other riders in front of us earlier. Either way, Dixie and I had a fantastic ride and really enjoyed every minute (minus the booting issues!)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Getting ready for summer...

Considering this is my first post about life at the barn in 2014, I think it is easy to see how things have changed. I have been working at the barn plenty, but not so much riding. Dixie seems to exercise herself, whether she is running in the pasture or lunging in the arena. 

Karen donated this bridge that we converted into a teeter totter for our obstacle course. 

Oh yea, here is why I have not been riding much these past few months...
Ashton Robert was born 4.17.14 at 10:21pm
We went on our first outing to the barn to meet Dixie of course!

I am more than thrilled to share that our fencing project is complete! It was a long time (since August) for this to happen since it was 100% volunteers. We used peeler posts and Fastline Fencing made specifically for horses. Thank you sooooo much to those that helped build this safe fence for our horses. 

And now to get back to a riding schedule... Dixie has been waiting patiently (well maybe not that patient!) for me to jump back on. She is 6 years old now, and in the last few months really filled out (I guess I could say the same for me too) I think the break was good for her. As we start to gear up for our next training rides, I will decide when we will get back to competing. In the meantime, we are plenty busy around here! 

Napa Horsemen's 75th Anniversary

June 07, 2014 8:45 pm  •  
The Napa Valley Horsemen’s Association celebrated its 75th birthday Saturday with wagon rides, rodeo performers, a barbecue, stick horse races and other activities under bright, blue skies.
Some 200 visitors, including neighbors who had never visited the state’s oldest horsemen’s association, stopped by to take part in the festivities at the group’s home off Foster Road near Napa.
Visitors included horse lovers of all ages, such as 8-year-old Isabella Clary.
“I love horses. It’s my favorite, favorite thing in the world!” Isabella said, She was clutching a new stick horse as she and her family waited by the barn for a wagon ride to tour the 32-acre property the association purchased in 1948 after spending its first nine years in Napa.
The horse-pulled wagons rode by the barn, then past the family-owned farm Building our Community through Agriculture (BOCA), which produces fruits and vegetables.
The wagons also stopped by the clubhouse, once a milking barn. There, guests were encouraged to climb off the wagon and visit the area reserved for Ag 4 Youth, where disadvantaged and at-risk students between the ages of 9 and 19 raise animals to be sold at the Napa Town and Country Fair in July, including two steers.
Founded in 1939, the association now has about 130 members, president Mark Evans said before the start of the afternoon horse show after a tri-tip and hot dog barbecue.
The show included performances by the Painted Ladies Rodeo Performers of Folsom, Larry Braun of Petaluma riding the Peruvian Paso horse TLA Amada, and children riding stick horses.
“This is a resource for all of us,” said County Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht at the start of the show, referring to the association. “It is right in our own backyard here, in Napa.
Volunteer members said they all share a love of horses. The club’s activities these days include a monthly potluck, an annual crab feed and horse shows.
“We’re happy to share with the community today our 75th birthday,” said Gina Massolo, 36, a regional manager for a hotel management company and a past president of the Horsemen’s Association. She has been riding horses since age 5 and joined the organization in 2009.
“It’s a social club. You’re around other horse people,” said Massolo, as she greeted visitors at the gate.
The association also continues to evolve. On Sunday, the volunteers are dismantling the 1948 arena, to replace it with a new, modern one, replacing the old wooden fence with steel pipes.