Something new

Today I went out to the ranch with NO expectations, but with something new in mind.

This is my partner, if we were in a post apocalyptic world (yes, an exaggeration) but this is who I would rely on, who I would need, and who I would defend. This is my partner and I need to find a way to connect with him even when he doesn’t feel like connecting.

So I go out and it’s like a love story, he sees me, I wave to him as usual and today he decides to walk towards me. I pet him when we meet, spend a quiet few moments then I asked him, do you want to come with? He walks to the gate with me…no halter, just on his own. He waits for me to halter him at the gate….I love when he does this. It’s really complimentary.

We do all our regular stuff and get out to the arena, which was windy so he was NOT focused on me, and because it was cooler he had two pastures of horses running around having fun around us, and as distracted as he was, I was being patient and clear, and actually was able to get stronger without being offensive. We did an awesome warm up and did some fun patterns that left him blowing, licking and chewing. Then we went out of the arena and did some more fun stuff playing with GO but don’t lose your mind…it was all great!

Then my buddy showed up and told me she had a great dressage saddle she recently got. Because her horse and my horse have been fitting the same saddles lately, I said I wanted to try it, she was all for it, She just wanted to ride in my Western I had on Kiko, so we swapped.

Kiko is pretty used to me getting off and that being the end, but I set him up when I was putting on the English saddle saying, we are gonna do more!

It seemed to work, he let me know at mounting, he was not so very happy we deviated from our regularly scheduled program but got over it in like 5 seconds.

We had so much fun riding around in that saddle, I was post trotting and trying to remember everything I learned as a kid in an English saddle…we got to cantering and I was like WEEEEEE until the saddle slipped and I ended up like a monkey hanging on to the saddle with one leg and the rest of my body as the anchor on the other side of him. He stopped of course, cuz he is amazing. We fixed it and just trotted from there on out.

I am buying a better, non stretchy English cinch in the future. We had a lot of fun though, not just me, but him too. I got off to watch my friend ride and he was snuggling me. It felt like he had fun too which makes it all the better for me.

He loves new things! I do too, so I just need to focus on not being so in my head all the time and go with the flow and do something new and exciting! Now I just have to figure out how to do that all the time and I’m golden! ­čÖé

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Indecision and worry plus struggling with balance

I am really struggling with balance lately.

Between work and time and motivation. I have lost the balance I once had. I feel super guilty not seeing Kiko as often as I think I should.

He needs work, he loves work and it keeps him in shape. This summer he’s more inflamed and bigger then he’s ever been because I haven’t been out more than two times a week….that’s basically a “weekend rider” which has me asking, why do I have a horse instead of just driving my motorcycle?

It’s a shitty thought but something that keeps coming up. Then I go out and ride and know why I chose my horse over my motorcycle. ┬áBecause I love it, because I love him and because I love our connection that no machine could ever compare too, it’s so much better and so much more, and this is why yeah, I may have become a “weekend warrior” with my horse but my Motorcycle lives in the garage year round.

The second issue that’s been plaguing me is the clover issue here in MN. Kiko is super sensitive to the clover, first he gets the sunburn on the white parts of his face, then he gets tender in the feet, then he gets blisters all over his poor nose and eventually, gets the slobbers…well, anyone that’s familiar with the clover mold situation here, knows the slobbers is one step away from Colic which his full sister died of. He’s seemingly more and more sensitive every year…I toy with the idea of putting him on a dry lot but I really think he would be really pissed off if I did that to (for) him. I can’t imagine his reaction, but he would for sure let me know.

I donno, I have been treating him homeopathicly and it seems to help but if he gets worse, I may consider dry lotting him for Sept- hay time. We will see. He’s always tender footed because of all this in the summer and even after a trim which should help them, he’s still tender so I know the clover mold is really effecting him, he’s got awesome strong feet…until we get into the clover after it’s grown the mold so late summer….maybe taking him off as pissed as he will be will help him in the long run.

I had the osteopath out again after his teeth were done by our amazing dentist and a lot of his issues resolved but now she says he’s got arthritis in one of his pasterns. UNGH, he is only 13 this year! SO YOUNG to have it already! I panicked but she told me to put him on MSM which is a joint supplement. It tastes gross but he eats it in sweet feed.

So I’m drugging my horse right now with the supplement and the Nux Vomica for the inflammation, and working him harder since motion is lotion, it seems to help but I can’t help but worry. Plus the balance that I need to regain! I need more time with him to help him with these issues!

This guy means everything to me, he has touched people in so many ways, he’s changes peoples lives! Just the other day I had some people out to meet him and one of the dad’s who said, as we were driving out that you would “Never ever, ever see me on top of a horse, I MAY pet it….once!” watched his daughter ride on Kiko, who he couldn’t stop petting, got up on him! He had a huge smile on his face as he was lead around. He LOVED him and Kiko changed him just because he is amazing!

For me to grasp that he’s so young and starting to have even these small inklings of issues really, REALLY bothers me. I know it’s not a huge deal now but it makes me really afraid of the future.

The indecision of what to do and the worry overcomes me at times and I really think some of it could be relieved if I can just find the balance I once had between my horse and my job. I’ve seriously considered getting another job just for him, but I’m stubborn and I’m determined to find a way at least for the moment.

I would love to hear stories of people that have been in my position and what they have done to fix it. I feel very stuck at the moment and I really don’t like it.

I know I will find a way, my plan is to post when I have hit a step that helps me in hopes that it can help others. People will say “Oh I was there, then I got out of it” but when you ask how, they usually don’t remember….if there was a step by step of the rough steps you had to take….LOL there’s me being super type A-┬áliteral but that’s usually how I function, maybe it would help! So my goal is to work it out and hopefully post the key spots so I can help anyone else in my position. Please comment if you have been there and remember any of the “Ah Ha” moments, they can help immensely, not just for me but anyone who happens to read my weird posts!

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Coming back after a Nokota high.

It was a sad day yesterday having to leave North Dakota.

I learned so much about myself as a horsewoman and person even though I was an observer instead of a participant in the Nokota┬« Horse Experience clinic. I changed for the better, the horses change you, but Jack Lieser’s format helps you step by step take a look at those changes, create a vision and retain what you learn.

I was able to play with a few horses on Friday we had some pretty meaningful conversations, I noticed an increase in my awareness and effectiveness with the horses and got to exercise my energy throughout the week moving horses back and forth, into and out of pens etc.

I took a lot of pictures. 

I am happy to be back home but I realized, driving into the cities, my anxiety was rising. The thought of coming back to day to day life was almost painful because it feels like we do so much good for these horses getting them gentled so they can be worked with and find new homes. What we do, makes sense, it’s meaningful and necessary. I feel like I belong there, It feels like “My real life”.

My goal is now, to bring what I have learned into my day to day life and my question to myself is, how can I bring the Nokota® horses closer into my life today? We always need help, we need more exposure and we need funding so I need to amp it all up because these guys are worth it.

This is a picture of Sheriff, my favorite Nokota® Horse Stallion. He remembered me! I got to jump in the pen with him, The Stallions Nahockey and Blue Bird were in there too and that was the closest I have ever been to the two of them. I was grateful I got to spend some time with him, petting him, sniffing noses and scratching him to sleep.

2015 Nokota Experiance pt1 177

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When the horse picks you

Sheriff and I

The horse that picked me…Sheriff NHC Stallion.

One thing I have noticed over the years which has become more prevalent is how the Nokota┬« horses pick their person. I’ve seen this time and time again by attending the Nokota young horse events (like the one happening this┬ámonth) From my own experience and by being part of other peoples process when they are on the journey of finding “THE” Nokota for themselves, the old idea of picking your horse out doesn’t happen the way we are used to having it happen when you are talking about a Nokota horse.

There is a lot of worry and angst on the potential buyers part, excitement, nerves, fear that we will miss something etc. We really work ourselves up when we are trying to find the “right one”, we put rules and guidelines on everything and come up with crazy ideas that we tell ourselves, things like “the first horse that comes up and shows interest in me should be the one, that’s who I will take home!” That’s just our human nature to have these preconceived plans in attempt to help us deal with our emotions of an unknown situation. The scary thing is with the Nokota’s…it never goes to plan.

The great news is, they pick you. The Nokota’s seem to think (understand) it’s really the other way around. They select their people.

In the clinics, people who come out with the intention of purchasing a Nokota have first pick of ANY horse they may want to work with, so this usually starts with them pointing out a few horses they like in the sorting process. They usually end up working with those horses at first…but in most cases, people seem to end up with a horse they did not chose because they just connect better. It’s not rational or even logical because logic doesn’t really come into play.

The process in the clinic while going through this gentling, seem to open you up and you start to feel things you haven’t felt before. Things just click, and people end up with their perfect partners because it’s not the typical “join up” that we are used too, these horses meld with you and this happens so easily and naturally yet so strongly that sometimes you have to pinch yourself to make sure it’s real, because it’s certainly not what we are used to.

It’s not just in the clinic’s either, this happens when people just go out to visit the horses, a friend of mine just came back with a story of falling in love with a horse on the range because the horse followed her everywhere and even claimed her by chasing away other horses that wanted to come check her out.

The Nokota’s┬« are amazing already but their ability to get humans to feel that same “This is it” moment is uncanny and I have seen this happen time and time again. You really have to feel it, it’s near impossible to explain to someone that hasn’t met these horses in person, but it’s very real and many say it’s very “spiritual”, I know how it sounds too, very hocus pocus over the top new agey especially when said from a natural skeptic such as myself, but one by one we tell people, they look at us like we are insane, they go out either to the clinic or the range and come back and say “I got it now!! It’s so real, that’s incredible!”

I would highly recommend every horse owner to go out and experience this even if they aren’t in the market because it brings relevance to the relationship we have with our own horses, to see what they came from, to see what the natural form and relationship would be. The appreciation becomes so apparent and I think in all honesty it makes us more grounded and we appreciate what we have with a horse that may not be as comfortable telling us the whole truth as a wild horse is. It makes me at least think..ya know what buddy, I WANT you to be brutally honest with me and I suspect that has opened more doors to us than I ever thought possible before.

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Overcoming Fear, Friends and Compliance vs. Companionship

So I am horrible at blogging, that much is pretty evident, I haven’t blogged in a very long while due to my late summer schedule. It gets pretty busy in late summer. I apologize if this is rambling and long in advance!

June being the colt start and Nokota horse conservancy┬« board meeting, then doing Western Dressage, going to the St. Charles, IL Horse and drum to promote the horses and watching my friend win the title for the Horsewoman’s Challenge on her Nokota┬«,Masabi Warrior. It’s been one hell of an autumn.

Earlier this spring I posted about my experience being bucked off a horse, my horse, which was totally unexpected. This guy, just doesn’t do that…but apparently, in springtime, he can. Four years with Kiko and this hasn’t happened but it did and it crushed me. I wanted to write about how I overcome it, once I overcame the fear.

I was so afraid, I had to really push myself way outside my comfort zone, first to realize it wasn’t his fault, he was just being exuberant and I was being a dick. This was still my “boy” it wasn’t personal, it was a thing that happend and I needed to just deal with that. Then I had to face the fear, I have anxiety issues so mine would sky rocket the at the first thought of getting back on my horse, so what did I do? I bought myself a helmet just to say to myself “Get your ass back on that horse and ride because you love it!” The helmet, I told myself would protect my head, yeah, I may get broken bones but that’s not going to kill me so as long as I had the helmet, I can deal. It worked, I can’t say it wasn’t difficult, I had an inner mono-log that would sound like a crazy person now if I repeated what I had to tell myself and talk myself down from but it worked.

It was at the Jack Lieser Wilderness Challenge that I realized, the second day, I had forgotten my helmet and wasn’t that concerned about it. I said it outloud but no one seemed to see how big of an obstacle that was for me that I overcome which made me chuckle in my head.

Since this, I have realized that overcoming that kind of fear is so personal and detailed that it’s actually hard to explain, everyone I talked to understood, but just like me, none of them could explain in detail how they got over the fear due to it being so personal and conformed to their own personalities and inner voice. It’s become you do whatever you HAVE to do, to get your ass back in that saddle and trust your horse and most of all, YOU again.┬á I was surprised I got past it but was grateful I could see that I had gotten past the fear.

I have been blessed with some awesome friends and I tell them all the time, I feel inferior since these gals have been in horsemanship ALL of their lives and they will always be light-years away from me. It kind of bums me out because I want to be good someday, but I’m just not there yet. I know I try and they say they respect that, but I will never be on the same level, yet I gain so much from them every day I ride with them, it almost feels like an unfair relationship, I wish I could give as much to them as they give to me but for some reason they seem to like me around! That kind of blows my mind, I hope I keep my entertainment value since I don’t know where I would be with without them!

Watching Jerusha win the horsewoman’s challenge was incredible! I remember when she said she was considering entering and wanted to do it on a Nokota┬« I said, DO IT!! You so totally need to do it, even if you don’t win, at least you will know where you are with the quality of trainers that are competing. When she won, I jumped up, clapped and was crying instantly and couldn’t even explain why, I was so proud of her, so proud of Masabi and very hopeful for the future of both her and the horses we are trying to save. It’s one of the highlights of my year to have watched my friend, a most talented trainer take home the gold on the horses we work to gain awareness of.

The last and latest thing I have considered is the Compliance vs Companionship. I don’t have the most compliant relationship, even though my horse is very compliant, I have one of the most easy going, happy go lucky horses you could own but I worry about that line. I want him to be him, I want his personality and his opinions even when he may not act exactly as I ask him. I’ve seen this fine line. He likes to eat on the trail, which is fine with me when I tell him it’s okay but it’s not okay to dive down and rip the reins out of my hands, He LOVES the trail and so do I so I have learned that when he wants to GO, I don’t pull back on the reins I say Okay, you want to go fast, lets do it for a bit then slow down so the rest of the group can catch up to us. He tends to get worried and crash into other horses and I’ve learned that we can get worried but I have to react and do everything possible to stop him from going apeshit and running right into Blue especially, I think, no, we are training him to be calm on the trail so lets just deal with it and he CAN stop and think before ramroding another horse. All in all, he’s the best horse I could have asked for so I can ask for Compliance when he needs my leadership but at the same time, I never want to lose his companionship so I also have to be aware of him and how he’s feeling and what he wants and needs.

It’s not perfect yet, but the journey is the experience I want. I don’t want to “break” him into anything, I want him as a partner, if he shuts down and does everything I want just because I want it, I have failed. I want that personality, I want him to have opinions and I want a dialog instead of a robot so I figure although I may be going at a slower rate, but at least I am trying to put companionship first because I really want a partner and don’t want to screw that bit up for my horse. I want him to have as much fun as I am because it’s not about controlling him, it’s about knowing him but also knowing when he needs a leader and when he needs someone understanding and sensitive to what he’s feeling, it’s a line I don’t want to cross but need to ride and figure out what works for the both of us the best way we can.

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Licked on the head by a Cow.

Winter is finally leaving…..

I’m so happy the snow is melting and although we are having to deal with the mud…I can’t care this year, not in the least. It makes me smile- today I went out with my rubber boots and I was actually jumping puddle to puddle to get to the pasture on purpose like a little kid because it means more to me this year than ever before…spring is on the way!!!┬á

I took Kiko on the first mock trail ride of the year, the driveway to the ranch is quite long, maybe 1/4 of a mile so we rode down it, just he and I alone and our rapport and respect has never been greater. He would still let me know when he was startled or aware of something and when he wanted to go back to the barn at top speed but unlike the past years he wouldn’t move, it was like he knew that I knew what he wanted and I accepted it and said “that’s okay buddy, I got ya!” and I would ask for more and get even more than I asked for because my awareness of him has increased.┬á

I don’t really know what changed in me but I do know there is a noticeable change…even in my eyes. I can see that I’m different and I can’t say if it’s only because of the Western Dressage clinic Jack Lieser hosted last year which very clearly improved our communication or if it’s also because of his injury and how we handled that together. I see now that I used a lot more energy and intention when he was injured in sheer desperation of trying to read him and how he felt. I hadn’t done that before because logically I didn’t know if it made sense, but like I said I was desperate so I was trying everything and something shifted in us for the better.┬á

Whatever it is, I’m so glad I’m at the spot I am now, I realize I may be a softee, I may not be even a “good” horsewoman or even a good enough leader for a horse but the one thing I do have is a really great relationship with my horse….and I’ve started to realize that’s all that really matters to me. I want to get better, I want to be “Great” someday but even though I’m not there, I LOVE what my horse and I have today. So being good or even great is a dream but my reality is fuckin fantastic and I’d be a moron not to see that.┬á

Today he was laying in the pasture sunbathing, I walked up to him and pet him on the head like we had done this a million times. We had not, this is the first time I’ve approached him laying down and he did not get up. I just felt with my senses and was able to rub him around his shoulders and back and butt, he didn’t care, he was enjoying it! I sat down next to his shoulder finally and slung my arm over his back and we just sat there together in the pasture soaking up the sun enjoying the weather together.┬á

I think sometimes that time with them in their environment can be even more important to them for bonding than riding can. 

I say that because I had all the other horses in the pasture except for Blue who’s used to my hanging out for hours with them just being another “horse” the other horses though, I counted 6 of them that NEEDED to sniff noses with me because they could not figure out what I was doing just being there, hanging out for so long walking around.┬á

I’m not sure how many people have read my previous blogs but since horses communicate with eachother by sniffing noses for a while (check it out, it’s pretty cool, one will initiate, the other smells and ends up licking and chewing after they turn their head…because they haven’t learned anything new since this happens all the time, I can only conclude it’s a transfer of info like in cats) I’ve noticed that putting a picture and intent of just hanging out with them, it causes a really LONG drawn out sniffing my nose period. Since I started opening myself up to it, I’ve noticed more and more horses willing to do it…..and not attempting to bite or do anything crazy. Trust me, I know it sounds hokey…I’m an IT professional for crying out loud Logic is what I understand but horses seem to be pushing something else out of me that initially I would have said was “crazy” but can’t because of what I see and feel. I fight with myself over this, my logical with my….well, what I guess is my artistic senses side. It’s not something I would normally entertain but with horses, it’s expanded something inside me that I’m just kind of going…Okay, this is interesting, lets just open my heart and mind and go with it and go by feel. Sometimes that makes me feel crazy but again it’s getting me places with my own horse that I haven’t been before so I can’t help thinking maybe as crazy as it feels that’s what I need to go by. I don’t need to humanize my horse, I don’t need to dictate but what’s really wrong with trying to expand to feel or understand him without going too ooey gooey let me make up an emotion for you on him?┬á

This brings me to the title of the post. There are 4 cows at our ranch- they are used for cow sorting. Used to being chased by people on horseback. One castrated male and 3 females. Since working with energy levels with wild horses and trying to refine it with my horse I thought what a great opportunity to play with my energy with a true prey animal that’s afraid of humans.┬á

Every time I go to the ranch, I go out to the cow pen and just hang out…I try to give the same impression and intention I do with the horses, I’m just one of you hanging out. It’s taken 3 months for me to develop a “friendship” based on trust with the male, the females come up to smell me like they have seen the male do many times now but they kind of shudder and step back quickly, very nervously, but the male has gotten really friendly all of a sudden. Two days ago he walked straight up to me, sniffed me tentatively as he’s done ton’s of time….and then with a confidence I had never seen before shoved his head under my fingers and rubbed gently up and down. Not crushing them, not pinning my hand like a bull would do to something threateningly but very gently yet firm. So on pure guess I started to scratch his head. He was loving it, offering different angles and stepping up so I could get above his head and onto his neck. It was kind of surreal that I was able to finally touch this cow who was so afraid of me the first time I came to the fence and he was so willing to open the floodgates when touch was initiated, I was in heaven.┬á

Today I went out again and this was the third time I was able to scratch him, but then something happened that blew my mind even further. One of the females, who was very skeptical of me sniffed me and then did the same thing the male did but more tentatively probably because I had never touched her before, but she dipped her head under my hand after sniffing it and kind of nudged me very gently…it was like a feather…so I just went in, with the SAME energy as I did the male, normally I would start over but for some reason I thought nah, she’s seen me…even though this is new to her she has seen my energy and I just went in and scratched the shit out of her like I do the boy…and she did the same thing he did even though she had never been touched by me before! She spent a full 10 minutes or so by me scratching her face and head. Then she was done so I just rested on the fence, she and the male decided it was time to eat so they munched on the hay that was under them (right infront of me so they didn’t move) and suddenly the male stopped, looked at me while chewing and reached his head out of the fence and licked me on the forehead…then he went back to eating.

I laughed, I don’t know why…it was just so surreal! I can’t really explain why that was such a high point for me but for some reason it was like the cherry on top of the beautiful day to have a cow look at me, considering me, Lick my head and go back to eating.┬á

Maybe I really am nutz, we all know that runs rampant in horseowners but if this is crazy…I think I like it. ­čÖé┬á

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Just a bitch….

Yes, that’s exactly what this is…

I may be abusing my blog saying this but you know that grumpy cat that’s so cute and has the best mad faced cat expression ever? That’s pretty much me this winter.┬á

If they could translate that look, I swear it would be my crabby wrinkled nose, crossed browed, pouty, pissed off face. 

I live in Minnesota. A lot of people bitch about the weather. People romanticize when the first flakes fall but it quickly becomes “oh my god, can you believe how cold it is?” or “Can you believe how much snow we have?” ….I always think “Yeah, I can because we live in fucking Minnesota…this is expected and since most of you have lived here all your life how can you possibly think this is news?”┬á

It’s cold, we are northerners, (like the Stark’s in Winterfell) we are hard, we are resilient we are strong enough to deal with it….this is how I usually deal with winter. We can ski, we can skate, we can snowmobile or hike, we can go down to Red Wing and see the eagles…we can ice fish…there’s a ton of things we can do outside with proper gear because we live in an icy tundra for quite a period out of the year and most importantly, we can ride our horses! Riding in the winter is wonderful! It’s beautiful, it’s exhilarating and it’s an adventure….usually.┬á

Not this winter, it’s just been too damned cold! I don’t mind being in 20 degree weather with no wind, it’s actually nice! Oh when the sun is shining and you are outside in the right gear riding, both horse and human are happy as can be. We haven’t had that this year, anytime it’s been over 15 degrees the wind has been insane! I haven’t been able to ride outside this entire winter, even in the indoor arena it’s been so windwhipped that it’s not really warm enough in there but that’s all we can do so it’s become so boring!!!! The outdoor arena is too deep that you can’t even tell where the barrels and concrete holders are under the snow so you can’t ride in it.┬á

I’ve never hated a winter as much as this one and as much of a “northerner” I consider myself I am so done, I am so beyond pissed I’ve actually considered moving many times this winter and as much as other Minnesotan’s have said this pretty much every winter since I’ve been born and not done anything about it, this is the first year I’ve actually spend time to complain about it and have actually considered leaving my beloved state.┬á

Anyone know of a climate that still has all four seasons but stays about 30 degrees with ride-able weather where I don’t have to deal with super humid/hot summers with giant bugs, rattlesnakes and poisonous spiders? Is there a place in the US that encompasses all the benefits of a cold and warm climate without any of the negatives? LOL I doubt it. So unless I become a snowbird in the winter where I can trail my horse to a second home, I can’t imagine moving. Spring through early Winter is beautiful here…it’s just this crazy horrible winter that’s pissed me off so much and considering it’s been once in 37 years…maybe I should stop worrying about it.┬á

If it happens again next year though, I might need suggestions…got any? ­čÖé┬á



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