~ Romancing Red ~

How do we, as a farriers, work with an unruly horse — one not bad enough to tranquilize, yet not good enough to relax and enjoy?

Until recently, Red, a round-bodied chestnut Quarter Horse, was such a problem.

Living the leisurely life turned out on a large acreage, used only sporadically due to his owner’s time restraints, Red enjoys the lifestyle so many stabled horses long for.

I’d been working with him for only about six or eight months. He’d been fine to trim, great with his hinds, but awful for nailing his fronts!

(And, with thin soles and rocky high-desert terrain, Red needs front shoes to keep sound.)

As soon as my hammer takes to nails, Red yanks and pulls his limb like a large-scale earthquake, worse on the right side.

That’s when I ask Red’s strong cowboy-owner to stand in front of his knee, hold his leg, and push with great might against Red’s protests, so I can get the nails in. (And he’s not quicked, as he’s sound afterwards and throughout the shoeing cycle.)

I’m sure Red has cultivated these less-than-hilarious behaviors with previous farriers throughout his career.

(Since I have no pictures of Red, other chestnut horses in my personal photo archive will have to do :)) DawnHoof

D1000172

Social Distancing

So when Coronavirus mandated “social distancing”, and the fact that Red’s owner is in the emergency health services field — and was therefore forbidden to stand near another human — I got to face off with Red a couple shoeings ago, all by myself.

“I’m not sure I can nail him,” I told his owner. “If I can’t get him nailed, I’ll have to leave him barefoot.”

“He does better in shoes. I hope you can get them on!” Red’s owner said. “Just do the best you can.”

“Would you mind if I treat him like he’s one of my own horses? Do I have your permission to work with Red’s behavior?”

“You sure do!” he said, keeping his distance, hopping in his truck, and driving away.

Leaving me alone with Red, for the first time ever — just the two of us — to work it out on our own.

cropped-d1000279.jpg

Enter ~ Romancing Red ~

Wonderfully enough, I’d just been working on my post, Romancing the Hoof, so all my new “courtship” and “wooing” strategies were fresh at hand.

Primed to “love-Red-up” with cookies and rubs and schmoozing, I determined to treat him like he was one of my own horses. With love and firmness, I’d see how far we could get.

Before starting in, I scratched Red’s neck and whispered soft coos, broke off bits of yummy cookies (The German Horse Muffin, otherwise known as “Horse Crack”), and gave him some delicious bites.

Licking, dropping his head, Red showed all the signs of a happy horse at rest with his herd. That’s what I wanted, “happy-herdship” behavior, rather than displaying “fight-or-flight”.

I started by trimming his hind end, holding his hooves low, using the crook of my foot and the closeness of my stance to support hoof and limb, creating the lowest possible “human hoof stand”. (Horses love this!)

Red responded well. Happy. Relaxed. Agreeable.

I took several breaks, scratching his bum, “Good boy, Red . . .”

Magical Molokai Mount

Right Fore

Finished with the hinds, I decided to do one front hoof at a time, and to start with his more difficult, right fore.

Pulling the shoe — no problem. I rewarded Red with cookies and cooing, “Good boy, Red! Such a good boy!”

Since I knew his difficulty was nailing, and I wasn’t sure if I could get him to cooperate, I took my hammer to his untrimmed bare hoof, and began to very gently tap . . . Red fired into action!

Whap! Pull! Snatch! Red was back into his old fight-or-flight habits.

Immediately I got out from under him, snorted my most demanding “mare snort”, and leapt into aggressive human/horse body-language behavior.

Hissing, snorting, baring my teeth, as my own dominant mare would have done to reprimand an upstart — Red knew that I was less than pleased.

He took a step back, looking peeved.

Then I switched my body language, softening, taking a deep breath — letting it out, blowing my lips to mimic how horses communicate: “It’s all OK . . .”

I asked him to move up, cooing and rubbing, working his endorphin (feel-good hormone) response, until his head lowered and he licked (physical signs of horsey submission).

Back underneath, tapping with my hammer, he jerked again, and we repeated the process a time or two.

Aria Shoes Pinos

‘Ol Red is One Smart ‘Bugga!

Red soon realized he’d rather choose cookies and praises, and make the “mare” (me!) happy — than suffer her snorts and snarls.

“Hurray! Good boy, Red. What a wonderful boy!”

Now I trimmed up the hoof, shaped the shoe, and nailed it on with little incident, generously praising and offering bites of cookies.

Yahoo! Nails in, blocked — now ready for clinching.

Aria Laughing

Extending Red’s hoof onto my stand for rasping and clinching is another behavior he detests — snapping his leg back, turning my stand into an implement of war, aiming at my shins, as if ‘Ol Red is plotting to have the last laugh.

More “mare snorts” and dominant behavior from me, this time just once, changed clinching from terror to do-able.

Hurray! Red was defiantly starting to catch on.

Nails clinched, hoof finished, I gave him more cookies and coos, and started in on the left fore.

Riding on Molokai

Left Fore ~

Pull shoe, no problem.

Tap bare hoof gently with hammer — Whap! Pull! Snatch! Again, Red worked hard to snap his leg away from me.

(This repeat of behavior is to be expected on the opposite foot, as a horse’s brain must learn on both sides for a lesson to get through to the separate-brain-lobe horse physiology.)

Again, my good snort and mare-ish hiss ended all that. In a short time, Lovely Red was wearing two new front shoes :))

~~~

Dancing Horse

Fini :))

To his owner’s delight, Red was happy, sound, shod.

To my delight, I fell head-over-heels in love with Red, schmoozing and fluffing and flattering him, and feeling his reciprocal energy flowing my way.

Now I know, Red and I can work it out.

Next shoeing, I only had to reinforce his behavior a time or two. And the shoeings after that, he’s stood perfectly and happily for me.

Hallelujah Red!

You’re proof that something good can come out of Covid. The virus might be separating us humans, but it united me deeply with Red :))

cropped-d1000313.jpg

~~~~

Copyright 2020

Photos: Dawn Jenkins; “Aria Laughing” photo by Z. Schultz (since I have no pictures of Red,  other chestnut horses in my personal photo archive will have to do :))

View of Little Dume Beach

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn, for Strategies and Insights into the Journey of Life

~~~~

Forest Shadow Fae

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a   Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

11 Comments

October 21, 2020 · 10:58 pm

Romancing the Hoof :))

“Let’s be honest! Things change . . . as we age.”  DawnHoof

HoofCare. Farriery. Working with Horses. Reflections on Aging!

In my younger years, Horse and Hoof work was my burning passion. My craving. Focusing all my attention on overcoming the obstacles to learning, building my strength, mastering my skill-set — leading to great joy and satisfaction :))

As I age, though, I’ve noticed these tasks can take on a negative tone. Not because I don’t like them — I still love horses, or I would never have made them my profession.

And I still love what I do.

But over the decades, my body grows weary. (I’m now in my 30th-farrier-year!)

A big shoe-job or long work day sounds daunting — and calls up images of overexertion and pain.

Thumbelina hoof

Yet, being a good professional, I trudge on . . . Injuries. Arthritis. Pulled muscles. Sprains. Broken bones. No matter, keep going!

Every horseman or horsewoman experiences these — we can’t let such trifles stop us! (Not us, we’re tough!)

Yet, if we continue into our Golden Years with a Career with Horses, we need a fresh, more whimsical attitude and approach to overcome the physical and mental blocks that restrict us.

Working slower, smarter, and happier than before.

Frilly Horse

Enter: Romancing The Hoof!

“What if I shift my perspective from going to work — to going to love?”  DawnHoof

So, in searching to motivate myself a few months back, I wondered:

  • How can I change what I think about my work, and the way I go about things?
  • Can I transform my physically challenging Horse and Hoof work from feeling like drudgery — to light, easy and fun, like when I was younger???
  • Can I shift my attitude from work to love?
  • Like in a romantic relationship, how can I fall deeper in love again?
The Jetsons

Are we having fun yet?

Solutions —

So I asked myself, What if I were to . . .

  • “Romance” the horse, the hoof, the whole situation. (Like the movie, Romancing the Stone — lyrics and Youtube link below to the song, by Eddie Grant.)
  • Prioritize the time I spend working to see the best in every hoof, every horse.
  • Treat my work like I’m going out on a date :))

Think:

flirt
woo
court
schmooze
good vibrations :))

rainbow hoof, Hawaii

  • See the horse, and my work, with new eyes.
  • Know that right now, this horse is the most important “person” in my life.

Think:

heartthrob
beloved
cherish
partner
darling

Naje with Leaf Shadows

  • Spend a little more time greeting, connecting — not just asking for a foot, and starting in.
  • (I’ve always done a rendition of this, but I decided I could go deeper, and up my game.)

Strategies for Deeper Horse Connections:

slow down
really connect
open my body and heart
feel our breathing sync . . .
feel the horse relax
:)) have fun!!!

Carousel Horses

  • Treat the horse in the same way I want my sweetheart to spend a little more time, pay a little more attentionto me, during our special time together :))

Think:

affinity
simpatico
lover
sweetheart
companion

Aria with Light Orbs

Mental Upgrade

  • This requires ditching the old connotation of work, sweat, effort.
  • Erasing images of struggle, suffering, exhaustion.
  • Overcoming feelings like strenuous, difficult, hard.

Think:

harmonious
mutual
compassion
understanding
affection

Carousel Horses

  • Anticipate the same feelings as if I were going to meet my own true-horse-love.
  • (For in a sense, every horse I work with, I serve, is my own horse during those moments — for we are expressing and creating our own relationship, together.)
  • And like with my horses, I can make our relationship a good one! A closer one :))

Think:

intimate
synchronized
candid
exuberant
invigorating

  • Offer bits of treats and spend extra moments connecting throughout the trim or shoe job.
  • Look for relaxed horse body-language signals — licks, breath, lowered head, soft eye — (indicating that the horse has let me into her heart space as one of the herd :))
  • Treat each horse as if she were my deepest love, giving extra “thank you’s” between hooves — rubbing, stroking, cooing, breathing — connecting.

Lad in Light

It works :))

I’m happy to report, Romancing the Hoof has worked for the horses, their humans, and me!

  • I’m happier and more refreshed with my work :))
  • As the majority of horses I work on improve in comfort, hoof form, and behavior the longer I’ve worked with them, I’m getting even better client reviews now from my upgraded strategies and attitude shift.
  • I’m actually looking forward to a big day of work, rather than dreading it :))

Dancing Horse

  • I’m more relaxed, too.
  • And I’m having more fun :))

Children's Horse Art

Hurray!

The little-horse-girl in me is smiling again :))

“Romancing the Hoof and the Horse, make the whole experience of work so much more fun” :))   DawnHoof

Who said an old Farrier can’t learn a new trick?

So if you find yourself in a farrier funk, brainstorm the little ways you, too, can begin to Romance the Hoof :))

Dillingham Sunset

Life is a Journey

Lyrics: Romancing the Stone

Artist: Eddy Grant (Album: Going for Broke)

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the hurting away

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the heartache away

Tonight, tonight I’m falling where the peaceful waters flow
Where the unicorn’s the last one at the water hole
I have found a love so precious like an emerald so bold
It’s a firelight escaping from the jeweller’s hold

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the hurting away

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the heartache away

Oh and in the heat of rapture when I feel the cold winds blow
Through the broken glass I’ll see at last the sweet desire in you
I will climb up on my pulpit and I’ll preach a sermon you
On the mountain roads in Harlem feel my jeweller’s hold

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the hurting away

I’m romancing the stone
Never leaving your poor heart alone
Every night and every day
Gonna love the heartache away

~~~~

Fall Glory

~~~~

Copyright 2020

Photos: Dawn Jenkins; Jetsons photo: Hanna-Barbera

Ella at Fuji's

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

View from McGill trail

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

June 15, 2020 · 5:13 pm

Where Starboy Runs

I found this entry in my journal, dated March 2009, when the economy was failing, falling — much like the Virus and economic uncertainties we experience today.

“Not sure if we can pay our bills, feed our horses, keep our house . . .” I had  written at the uneasy hour of 2:16 am, followed by the poetic lines.

Yet we managed to survive that downturn, even thrive, after it had passed. A reminder that, God willing, we shall emerge from our current woes, as well.

Stay in peace!   DawnHoof

Starboy's mane

Where Starboy Runs

The world shifts and changes,
frightening change —
yet Starboy, stays his course.

The economy flaps, stalls,
nearly collapses —
yet Starboy trots effortlessly.

He lilts along the pine-scented
trail, eagerly moving forward,
floating, steadfast.

Down the open ravine, back up
the other side. Past the waterhole
where bob cats lap.

Grassy spring sprouts fight their
way out of hardened earth,
carpeting the meadow in green.

We turn homeward now,
Starboy’s pace invigorating —
his surging trot, soft as the wind.

Ah that I might live life like
Starboy, gently moving on,
like a dancer, into the second act . . .

Beyond the stock market.
Beyond the mortgage payment.
Where Starboy carries me —

Off the stage, beyond the curtains,
into the forested wonderland
where Starboy runs.

Starboy in bolderfield

Update —

Starboy runs in greener pastures now. Born in my arms in 1990, living thriving and serving his entire 29 years as member of my herd.

Sadly, Starboy passed away November, 2019 — to my stroking, singing, praises, and prayers. The same voice and hands that ushered him into this world, cradled him out . . .

Run, Starboy, run! We’ll ride, again, when I cross over to your side of the rainbow.   DawnHoof

Copyright 2020

Photos:  Dawn Jenkins

~~~~

Higher and Higher

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,
for Strategies and Insights into the
Journey of Life

~~~~

Fae on the trail

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a Soul Horse Ride in the
Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

4 Comments

April 7, 2020 · 2:13 pm

Evaluating Your Horse’s Shoeing

“The more you, as a horse owner, know about how hooves function, what to look for, and how to talk about your horse’s hooves, the more effective you will be in evaluating and caring for the foundation of your horse’s athletic abilities.”  DawnHoof

Evaluating your horse’s shoeing presents one of the ongoing difficulties horse owners face.

Oftentimes an owner senses that “something is wrong with the shoes” but cannot put a finger on the proper verbiage. Talking with the farrier or even the vet can be frustrating and make an owner feel less sure of her instincts.

“One thing I can say for sure. No matter where you live and ride, there are a lot of horseowners frustrated with their horse’s hoofcare!”   DawnHoof

Shoeing horses involves more than applying a shoe to a hoof and keeping it there. The feet are the foundation, the platform of your horse’s longevity and athletics.

Lad's New Shoes

If the foundation is off, the movement is off. The performance is off, and the horse is off — however subtly.

We want our horse’s movement supple, connected, and with impulsion.

But more and more she moves heavily, reluctantly, stabbing at the ground. We try changing saddles, bit, bridle, teeth floats, supplementation, body work, injections – to little or no avail.

Instead of coming home with a smile on our face, more and more we suffer discouragement.

Shutterstock Image

Shutterstock Image

It turns out farriers are taught all kinds of nifty metal-working skills, but seem reluctant to learn to recognize and deal with subtle lameness issues. This kind of stuff takes more time, more education, more attention . . . and most farriers are pretty busy.

And subtle lameness issues, especially involving the hind-end – the horse’s motor – migrate forward over time into full-blown lameness issues in the fronts.

Thus, what might have been prevented early on, becomes a career-ending catastrophe.

Myself a life-long horseperson, (I’ve bred and raised four generations of Arab-crosses, and have a rugged endurance, carriage and trail-riding background :)) — I like to say: “I’m ‘one of us’ [horsegirls] who infiltrated the farrier’s world.”

My hoofwork started in 1990 with my farrier Uncle, Ink Knudson, who taught me to trim (and eventually shoe) my own horses, with an emphasis on therapeutics — and it’s grown from there.

Over the past thirty years, I’ve studied with the best: Gene Ovnicek (Natural Balance), Doug Butler, Myron McLane, Dr. Ric Redden, Dr. Chris Pollitt, Dr. Barbara Page, Dr. Robert Bowker, Pete Ramey, Epona Tech, and many, many others, as well as working side-by-side, (think x-ray-by-x-ray!), with my local and very talented veterinarians.

I’ve covered farrier and veterinary events as a journalist, and have been privileged to have several of my writings published in horse and farrier periodicals. (Anvil Magazine, American Farriers Journal, Professional Farrier, Holistic Horse.)

Even more, I’ve learned from the horses themselves.

Fae and Tessy

Working as a farrier and barefoot trimmer in both California and Hawaii, and traveling between the two regions every shoeing cycle for fourteen years, I am privileged to have worked on performance, pasture and backyard horses in various environmental settings.

One thing I can say for sure. No matter where you live and ride, there are a lot of horseowners frustrated with their horse’s hoofcare!

The more you, as a horseowner, know about how hooves function, what to look for, and how to talk about your horse’s hooves — the more effective you will be in evaluating and caring for the foundation of your horse’s athletic abilities.

It is my pleasure to share some of my knowledge about hoofcare with you!

  • Call for a consult:  (661) 703-6283
  • Schedule to have me out to train you to trim or shoe your own
  • Learn how to better communicate your horse’s hoof concerns with your vet or farrier.

Shadow Shoeing

Dawn Jenkins, Lady Farrier (aka DawnHoof)

Frazier Park, California

(661) 703-6283

~~~~

Copyright 2020

Photos: Dawn Jenkins; Zebra image, Shutterstock

~~~~

Disneyland Rides!

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

Fae on the trail

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

 

4 Comments

February 26, 2020 · 11:12 am

I Was a Teenager Again, Today . . .

IMG_9656

This has been a season of very little riding, compared to the rest of my years — years filled with all-out endurance trail riding on some of the best horses, best trails on the planet!

Am I just getting old? Why don’t I ride as much as I used to???

My Wise-Woman Hawaiian friend, Wendy, suggested, “Perhaps if you had someone fun to ride with, you would ride more.”

Perhaps — but who?

~~~~

So, as today was cool, my time was free, the horses shod and ready — I called up Hollie and asked if she’d like to ride.

“Yes!”

Fantastic!

She met me in an hour, and up we saddled, and off we went. Off into the woods. Into the wonder of riding a willing horse . . . She on Lad, me on Aria.

(Turns out, she hadn’t ridden enough, on her horses, either. And her horses don’t have the same trail access as mine.)

So she clamored up onto Laddie, all 16+ hands of him, quite a bit larger than her two, and onto my Aussie “guest saddle”, perfectly fitted to her size.

Off into the woods we went, happy girls, happy horses . . .

Laddie Light Seymour Canyon

“I’m so jealous of this horse,” she said of Lad. “He’s PERFECT! You’re so lucky to have him!!!”

Yes. I really am!

But without Hollie, who last rode with me and my daughters almost ten years ago, I wouldn’t have giggled, laughed, whooped, full-out-galloped, and had the AMAZING RIDE we had today!!!!!

see: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/37858453097266917/

Feeling the exuberance of horses! (see photo credit below)

Although she’s young enough to be my daughter, too, — today there was no age difference between us.

We were two teenagers again, Little Dawn and Young Hollie, riding to our heart’s content on Aria and Lad — the horses both completely willing and into it.

Swooping round the loops and bends of my secret “Sneaky Trail” — Hollie and I, whooping and loving it.

So rare to find another human who can meld with a horse, with my horse, without complaint. Flying across the earth at endurance-pace speed, tireless. Free!

Once we hit the galloping place, Lad, lagging a length or two behind, as usual, suddenly poured on speed — and overtook Aria and me — lunging with leaping strides into all the dignity of his Arabian-cross ancestry. Draft-horse-genes be damned!

He rose to the Endurance Arab in him, and FLEW out in front. So great to see :))

Aria fleet, airborne. Her gait fluid and swift, like silk, and satin, and velvet. Covering the ground in effortless flight, carrying me back to my teenage years of all those horse dreams I lived for. (see: Laddie, Light my Fire)

Perfect Shadow :))

There, on the ground, on the trees, I saw my shadow, the same one that accompanied me on all my childhood rides. How could my shadow look so young? So nimble?

With motherhood and all the years since, my shadow still rides, upright and strong, firm in my Western-Australian saddle.

Bold Shadow

~~~~

So if you find yourself lagging in your adventures, putting off the rides you know you love — is there someone fun you could call up and ride with?

I certainly hope so!

Hollie and I hope to arrange more of these “spontaneous outings”.

Because we both LOVE the thrill of riding perfect horses.

And we both LOVE the feeling of being teenagers, again!

DawnHoof

Frilly Horse

~~~~

Copyright 2019

Photos: Dawn Jenkins

More on photo of Alice Sisty jumping a Cord car: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/37858453097266917/

~~~~

Ella at Fuji's -- Dreaming

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

Fae, Rick, Pinos

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

 

7 Comments

October 8, 2019 · 11:35 pm

Aria — No Foal, No Foul :((

After breeding, feeding, caring, fencing, waiting — turns out, Aria is not in foal, after all.

My neighbor, who has assisted an Equine Reproductive Veterinarian for many years and has lots of experience with mares and foaling, tells me, in several cases, they would ultrasound a mare. View the foal. And in subsequent visit(s):  no foal. Gone! Without a sign. What the heck???

Billowing Cloudline

So I went online, and found this:

Pregnancy Loss in Mares

“The failure of fertilized eggs to result in a live foal about 11 months [after breeding] is one of the more frustrating aspects of horse breeding [1, 2].

Most of the losses occur in the first 35 days of pregnancy and the embryo is resorbed . . . In fact, around 20% of mares that conceive will lose the embryo before day 50.” (source)

So, somewhere in the process, Aria seems to have lost her foal.

(This happened one other time, years ago, with my mare Lacey. I took her to the Vet a couple weeks after her due date, wondering what was going on. “She’s not pregnant,” the Vet Tech said. “Well, if she’s not pregnant, than what is she?” I asked, looking at my pendulous-bellied mare. “FAT!”

But then, there was the goat I bred that appeared to not be pregnant. I went out of town, and a friend was looking after my animals. “The goat is having her baby!” she told my housemate. “No, haven’t you heard. The goat is not pregnant.” “Than what is coming out of her???” A healthy, single, black buck :))

Shutterstock Image

Shutterstock Image

So now, Aria is on a weight reduction diet (she did get fat!). I’m searching for another stallion.

And we’ll try again.

One thing I’ve learned in my many decades with horses:  Try, try again!

That’s how I got my beautiful horse herd, after all.

Some things work out, others don’t. But if we don’t try, don’t give it another go, we won’t receive.

~~~~

Copied here is my previous Post on the Good and the Bad with Horses, originally posted in 2014. This pretty much sums it all up.

Aria Laughing

One-Third ~ Two-Thirds (the Good and the Bad)

Much of the time with our horses (as with much of life) everything goes wonderfully — just as it should. Our horses are sound, healthy, happy.

We ride into the sunset with flowing manes and golden rays.

But what about the times when things go awry — the hoof, the leg, the eye we count on to function normally, suddenly limps, swells, inflames?

I’ve come up with a philosophy that has helped me though the tough times of life, and horse stewardship, and I’d like to share it with you.

~~~

Golden Rays

Most of the Time, Things go Right :))

Most of the time, thankfully, things go wonderfully right. We ride our healthy, sound horses and live the dream we envisioned when we first set our sights on owning one.

“My horse is coming along beautifully!”

“I had the BEST ride over the weekend!”

“My mare is in foal — I cannot wait to see what this foal will look like!”

Yet in all this wonder, we tend to forget — we are experiencing the Perfect Two-Thirds of Horsemanship, when everything goes according to plan. :))

~~~

But ~ Sometimes, Things go Wrong :((

However, as we dance with horses through the long-haul of life, we will, from time to time, experience the Flawed One-Third, when things go wrong. (Yes, hopefully this will be an even smaller proportion . . . )

Some mysterious injury occurs.

You come out to ride, but your mare’s leg is blown up.

You go on an amazing, fast-moving ride, but your gelding takes a bad step, and is now off, limping . . .

A bout of colic.

Or worse . . .

You have to call out the Vet or haul to the Hospital.

Worry.

Time lost.

Money spent.

More worry.

No riding . . .

Darkness on the Horizon

~~~

Your mind works overtime in an endless loop.

“Why did I let this happen?”

“How STUPID was I to not ______________!!!”

“How can I be sure this will NEVER happen to my horse again?!!”

You start feeling sorry for yourself.

All your horse friends are out enjoying the good weather, their sound mounts . . . and you are unable to ride yours.

You start wondering if this is the way it’s going to be from here on — are ALL hopes dashed of EVER riding and enjoying your horse again?

~~~

Aria, Ella and Hokuleia

As a horse owner, breeder, trainer, farrier over the past fortysomething years (I’ve raised four generations thus far :)) I can tell you, I’ve been through all this.

The two aspects, good and bad, seem to go somewhat hand-in-hand.

And I can tell you, sometimes it doesn’t seem at all to work out. Sometimes a horse must be euthanized. Sometimes a horse must be determined to be unsafe or unusable.

But MOST of the time — Two-Thirds of the time, everything works out beautifully. :))

So you know what I’ve learned to do?

(I’m repeating it here, as much for me to remember, as for you to hear!)

I’ve learned to get over the worry, get through the bummer as best as possible — as if it were a test — bless the One Third, and move on.

Because without the One-Third, I would never have the Two-Thirds — the beauty, wonder and perfection my horses bring my family and me.

(Like the photos, above and below, from last fall of my daughter, Ella, enjoying our horses. :))

Aria, Ella and Hokuleia

~~~

But this summer presents a different picture.

Lately, it seems the One-Third has been busy at work.

A mare with a blown leg, a large hospital bill. Another horse with an inflamed eye.

Oh, I can feel sorry for myself.

But I’d rather feel grateful that the leg has quieted — the mare will heal!

The eye has toned down.

I’ve found it better to focus on the Perfect Two-Thirds, and do what I need to do to get through the Flawed One-Third, than to worry and drive myself nuts!

~~~

Leg -- On the Mend :))

So when horsing (or life) seems to go South on you, when bad things happen to good people, good horses — take a deep breath.

Ask:  What do I need to do now?

And DEAL with it, the best you know how.

Take your lump and get over it.

And focus on the goodness.

And be grateful for all the perfect rides.

And consider the time you spend nursing a sick horse as bonding time with your beloved.

And know that, in time, as long as you stick with your positive horsing program — the Two-Thirds shall prevail.

And yes, you will be riding again.

And laughing!

And loving your horse, in all her soundness!

Henna Horse

~~~

And if you discover that you do have the wrong mount, if all that’s associated with a certain individual seems to ALWAYS go South . . . determine when to cut your losses — search for the horse that will better serve your needs.

And move on into the glory of horsemanship you envisioned from the start.

~~~

Dawn on Aria -- Girl and Horse

~~~

Copyright 2014, 2019

Photo credits: Rainbow, Dr. C. Ravenscroft; Aria laughing, Z. Schultz; Zebra, Shutterstock; Dawn on Aria, riding client shot. All others, Dawn Jenkins (DawnHoof)

Starboy in Gooseberry

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

Skyhopping Gray Whale

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

2 Comments

September 15, 2019 · 8:38 pm

Aria’s next Foal — Pockets of Emotion

News Flash:

Aria is pregnant with my next 4th generation foal!!! :)) :)) And she’s due to foal in about two weeks! WOW!!!!!!!!

(For more on Aria, see:  Aria, my Pegasus and Aria! Coming Together. . . )

I hauled her off to visit “Mr. Right” last fall. This stallion a smaller, quiet, Quarter Horse from the Coast. An ocean, surfer-type sorrel with a sun-bleached mane, who’s galloped the beaches near Santa Barbara for more than two decades.

This will be my 12th foal, and Aria’s number two :)) So very exciting!

I’m hoping for a colt. A next-generation Starboy (he’s now turning 29).

Starboy in Sunlight

Brave Move

It takes lots of bravery to breed. To take the chance to create a next generation.

Some breedings work out great. Others don’t.

But think about it — unless someone was brave enough to breed, your horse wouldn’t exist.

My horse(s) wouldn’t, either.

So I took the chance, and threw the genetic dice, once again.

Aria, Ella and Hokuleia

Aria, Ella, and filly Hokuleia, top of the world . . .

Flashback — Childhood Memories

Favorite foods.

Favorite pets.

Toys.

TV shows.

The Jetsons

Are we having fun yet?

Cartoons.

Disneyland.

Camp outs.

Days at the beach.

Dreams of what my future Life would contain (horses!!!)

Hawaii Horse -- Parick Ching

These memories awaken precious Emotional Pockets that remain fresh and accessible, years, even decades later.

Sky Rocket

When I was in elementary school, my classmate, Susan Ball, had a medium-sized, red-colored pony named Sky Rocket.

I remember climbing on double, behind Susan, bareback onto Sky Rocket, one fresh Malibu Spring day. Maybe fourth grade.

Smells of mustard flowers, black sage, salt and sea, fill my sense-memories.

Malibu Spring

Zippy little Sky Rocket knew exactly how to get us off :))

After a few steps, he dipped, scooted, and turned out from under us. We emerged, dusty, giggling, but otherwise unharmed.

Ready to ride again.

View of Little Dume Beach

This snippet is one of my treasured Pockets of Emotion from my decades-distant Malibu childhood.

Especially, because it included a HORSE!!!!! The object of my Life-long desires.

Little Dawn with Horses

Little Dawn with Breyer Horses — Grandfather photo

So I landed, emotionally, on Sky Rocket as a potential name.

After all, this being the 50 year anniversary of our USA Moon Landing — and Starboy’s next generation — it only seems fitting.

Nearly Full Moon

Since she’s due to foal soon, I’m busy putting up extra fencing.

Dusting off my dog-eared copy of Blessed Are the Broodmares.

Praying.

Loving.

Lots of good hay.

Lots of good vibes.

Filly Aria

Filly Aria, 2007

Hoping, praying for the best!

DawnHoof

Aria Running

Aria, Running (age 3)

~~~~

Molokai ~ Leimana blowing conch shell

 

Please visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

Copyright 2019

Photo Credits: Jetsons, Hanna Barbera; photo of Dawn, Aria and Fae, C. Briscoe; all others, Dawn Jenkins (DawnHoof)

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Comments

August 17, 2019 · 11:13 pm

Horse High :))

It’s a wonderfully recurring theme throughout my Horse Life . . .

“The more I ride, the more I want to ride! The more I ride, the more I must ride !”    DawnHoof 

The more I ride, the more I experience that effervescent, single-minded, can’t-wait-to-do- it-again, fluttery feeling:  Horse High!!! 

On the Trail

Enjoy this post I wrote last fall. My wonderful ride on Fae in our woods tonight brought back my Horse High, and I decided to post this now, in honor of all the Great Rides we Horse Humans live for . . .    DawnHoof

It’s the Horse High that keeps me a Horse Girl.

Not just my owning, caring for, and feeding my horses every day . . .

Not just that I can ride.

But that I do ride!

Again. And again.

And again.

Side by Side

Not a Given . . .

Yet sometimes the High alludes me.

Occasionally, rides go bad, or leave me flat.

Sometimes it’s tough to get out and ride at all!

Be it weather — too hot, too cold. Conditions — too slick, too much snow. Time — too little daylight, too much work. Or my own energy levels — too tired, or just not quite “up”.

But most of my Horse Adventures fuel the High I feel today, from all the great rides and carriage drives I’ve experienced recently :)) :)) :))

Laddie in Cart

Keeping Stats :)) 

You may not know, but I log every ride! Like in my old days of piloting airplanes, every hour spent in flight, every destination, every landing, recorded in flight logs.

I record my rides in a series of yearly At-A-Glance type organizer books, (going back more than twenty years!), along with my day-to-day work, travel and activities.

Rides are circled and flagged, so they stand out and can be tallied. Time, horse(s) and destination, all recorded.

Magical Jeep Odometer :))

Spirit of my Jeep :))

I treasure these records, as they paint the overall picture as to how my Horse Life is playing out, over the larger scope of time.

Going back through the years and adding up my number of rides and hours spent in the saddle — I’ve noticed, as I’m getting older, the numbers tend to shrink.

You might be tempted to think, “One day, when things slow down — I’ll live the Life of my Dreams.”

Oh, so naive.

You might find, as you age, you won’t quite have the energy levels you have now.

(Like our vehicles, our own body mileage starts piling up, and we require more maintenance to perform at previous levels of expectation :))

“A good reminder to you younger folks — On with it! Get out and get on with your Dreams! Find a way to manifest the Life you’ve always wanted . . . right now.”    DawnHoof

Magical Odometer

Magical Truck Odometer :))

The Urge to Call it Quits . . .

In fact, from time to time throughout my more difficult years, when the High has partially alluded me, I’ve actually considered finding a new home for my herd.

This happened a couple years ago. My rides had gotten less frequent, and some of the thrill had gone.

“If I’m not riding as much, and not enjoying it like before,”  I asked, quite seriously . . . “Would my horses be better off with someone else???”

Sample Mind Map

Sample Mind Map

Mind Mapping my Solution

So I did what I always do when faced with a Life Dilemma:  I got out felt markers and poster board, and started a fresh Mind Map to explore the topic.

I Rode.

I came home.

I Mapped.

I rode again.

Over the course of a week, I had my answer:

  • No, I don’t need to re-home my herd :))
  • I am an excellent horse owner — but my Life has shifted at this stage, and my horsing must now adjust
  • So, rather than find faults, change my expectations and enjoy the phase I’m in now
  • Create joy in all that I do with my horses, whether I ride, or not :))

In shifting my approach, I’m happy to report, my Horse High, which powered the dreams of my childhood, has returned! 🙂 :))

Little Dawn with Horses

Little Dawn with Horses

Altering my Expectations

I reset my goals and expectations to include accepting a bit less time in the saddle, yet allowing myself to enjoy this “golden autumn” phase of Life and Horse . . .

(Like the colors and light that grace the fall equinox season.)

From my Mapping, I discovered that my Horse High shows up most when I shake up the usual mix :))

  • Hauling and riding somewhere fresh
  • Inviting a friend to join me
  • Making some daring change to my everyday routine

Shadow Puzzle Surprise :))

Road Trip!

So recently, I took action — and loaded Aria and Laddie in the trailer, and headed toward Lockwood Valley.

Earlier this summer I joined an endurance-riding neighbor for a big evening/moonlight ride (4.5 hours!) up Seymour Canyon, an old haunt I hadn’t ridden in years.

Now I set out for an encore ride of just the lower, easy part of Seymour, riding Laddie and ponying Aria.

Aria with Light Orbs

Golden Seymour Canyon

Up, up we rode.

Up the dirt track.

Past the dried creekbed.

Silhouetted trees.

Exposed roots.

Magical Sunbeams :))

Tree Roots

A single doe,

Large eyes and ears,

Paused. Looked —

Leapt off into

The underbrush —

Laddie’s neck high,

Eyes following.

Twisted Roots

Upward. Onward.

Past ramshackled remains

Of previously inhabited

Trailers and outbuildings.

Abandoned gravel pit.

Grass-lined, dried-out ponds.

Thirty-mile vistas.

Trail Vista

Up, up, ever up —

Winding past private

Fenced-off areas,

Along the forest line.

Outside the fence,

Outside of time . . .

No! Trespassing

To Golden Seymour Flats,

Ablaze in once-a-year

Perfect fall glory.

My saddle warm,

Welcoming.

My horses eager.

Forward. In sync.

My body fit, fine.

Seymour Flat Shadows

Walking, swinging.

Trotting, loping,

Galloping into freedom —

One-and-a-half hours

Of constant, fluid motion.

On the Trail . . .

Heading back,

End-of-day light.

Satisfied. Complete.

High on Horse!

High on Nature.

High on Life :))

Fall Ride Evening

Recovery

The day after a big ride, my lower back, neck and shoulders wake up stiff.

But they work out of it . . .

More powerful than that, my Soul wakes up refreshed, yearning for more.

Dreaming. Recounting. Re-living —

Bursting out in an effervescent, obsessive, Horse High!

Magical Light Beams on the Trail

:)) :)) Old Fashioned Horse High :)) :))

So today, all I could think was:

  • Where to go next?
  • What day could we go?
  • Which horses should I take?
  • How far shall we ride???

Distant Hills

High, Again :))

So I rode again, tonight —

Another hour-and-a-half,

In the moonlight.

Nearly Full Moon

Gliding. Floating.

One with my mount.

Aria Shadow, Pinos Ride

Dreaming again now —

Where to go next?

Which horses to take?

What’s up for the rest of the week??? :))

Susan's Clay Rider

~~~~

Please visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

Cosmic Clouds

~~~~

Copyright 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

July 31, 2019 · 10:34 pm

First Ride of the New Season :))

“Riding is the privilege we earn from the care we give [to our horses].”  DawnHoof

Ah, the First Ride of the New Season —

Such a long time in the making.

Born from the perils of WINTER.

Wind. Rain. Hail. Snow.

Mud. Ice. Frost. Muck.

Keeping me out of the saddle —

Keeping the horses fallow in their deep, muddy fields.

~~~~

The Trials of Winter

Here, in our 6,000′ mountainous elevation,

I haven’t ridden since Fall’s golden foliage faded, and

Winter’s frigid arrival. Instead, my tasks —

Month after month:  Hay bales purchased. Hauled. Unloaded.

Day after day:  Breakfasts and dinners measured. Fed.

Night after night:  Icy roads. Frozen hands. Gusting windstorms.

Six long months:  Facing the elements. Focusing inward.

Awaiting the return of Spring.

Snowy road near ranch

~~~~

Hints of Change

Yet, slowly, the seasons begin to shift. The days, at least some, warming.

Cottonwood catkins burst, and fall, carpeting the Earth in burgundy festoons.

Verdant leaves soon to unfold, like tiny umbrellas, vanishing the gray

Trunks and branches, naked, exposed for so long.

All this, signaling one grand thing:  SPRING!!!

And the ability to join my horses in the saddle, and

Head back out onto the trails, again!

~~~~

img_5631

Lifetime Achievement

To the uninitiated, it seems that all horse-people do, is RIDE.

Yet to us horse-minded humans, we know that all we do, is CARE.

Like for a small child:  Food. Water. HoofCare. VetCare.

We end up spending more time hoping to ride, than actually riding.

Riding is the privilege we earn from the care we give.

It all looks so easy — the human, on a whim,”hopping” onto a horse,

Without a second thought. Oh how foolish that would be!

We merely make it seem Easy. Spontaneous. Unplanned.

Rather, Weeks. Months. Years go into it.

(Years raising. Years waiting. Years training.)

Lifetimes compose our Rides —

Alongside endless interruptions:  School. Work. Child-rearing. Weather.

Lifetimes spent developing, deepening, the finer nuance —

The “Secret language” we share with our Horse.

~~~~

Perfect Shadow :))

The BIG Day! 

Oh, the JOY of finally “hopping on”, once the

Groundwork is complete:  Hooves trimmed. Shoes in place.

Winter’s wet earth dried out — solid, not mush.

Hair coats shedding. Manes untangled.

Exuberant-excess-energy worked down. Out. Safely,

First, without a rider, running in their field —

Bucks and twists and bursts of gallops at Liberty.

Free! With no one yet on their backs.

(This done daily for a couple of weeks, just to be sure ALL the bucks are out.)

And so, Today:  Sun finally shining :))

Temperatures rising: 40s, 50s, 60s!

Horses:  Worked. Shod. Prepped.

 Just Today for the first time since late fall!

Tuned up. Relaxed. Finally — Ready to RIDE!

~~~~

Ride On!

At the tie-up area, I bring out saddle and bridle.

Aria gives a sniff. Calmly accepts the routine.

Dips her neck with open mouth for her bit.

At the mounting block, I land, softly in the fur-lined saddle seat.

Aria turns and strides. Silky. Forward. Engaged.

Out the gate, Starboy in tow on a rope, behind us.

Up the road. On Terra Firma now — not mud or ice.

Light, free. Swinging along with the motion of the horse —

I’m a kid again! Warm sun on my face. Cool breeze in my hair.

Horse and human, finding our rhythm. Effortless. Bliss!

“Lifetimes compose our rides . . . spent developing, deepening, the finer nuance — the ‘Secret language’ we share with our Horse.”   DawnHoof

Childhood Realized

In lilting voice, I sing Aria’s praises.

I’m living my childhood dream!

Horses and trailrides. Laughter and love.

I see, again, our shadows streaking over treebark;

Flashing across patches of newly sprouted grass —

The very same artwork I rode as a kid.

The moving, fleeting shadows that weave the Story of my Life.

Seymour Flat Shadows

As we climb now, Aria surging, soaring into the trailway,

I notice the sound of her breathing. Saddle leather moaning.

Hoofbeats on hardpan — the same music that’s always enthralled me.

Over and over, I praise her. And stroke her.

In all this, my Heart sings. I ride, again, the Soundtrack of my Life :)) and

Relish in the beauty, and the GLORY of riding this

Wonderful. Responsive. Intelligent.

GREAT MAGNIFICENT HORSE :)) :)) :))

Side by Side

~~~~

On the Trail

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

BHAPPY

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

Copyright 2019

Photos: Dawn Jenkins

Additional photo credits: Grandfather’s family archives

 

9 Comments

April 20, 2019 · 10:10 am

The Life of My Dreams . . . I Believe in Magic :))

Ah, the frailties of our human Lives . . .

How do we know if our Life will work out?

How do we cope with the hand Life seems to deal us?

What do we do about uncertainties???

“Do you believe in Magic? (Like the Lovin’ Spoonful song from my 60s childhood.)

I have to say, I do!”  DawnHoof

Rainbow Statue

Reflections . . .

Twenty eight years ago, something wonderful happened — Starboy, my Horse-of-a-Lifetime, was born, in my arms, outside my dome house, up a canyon, in Malibu.

Yet that same night, twenty eight years ago, something awful happened — my (then) marriage fell apart.

chicks preening

So much uncertainty. So many questions.

How were my two young daughters and I to make it? How would I feed and care for all the horses? How would our lives work out???

Mentor Looking

Flash forward . . .

To tonight — Starboy’s twenty eighth birthday . . .

When I rode my same Horse-of-a-Lifetime into the forest, into the moonlight (aligned with Mars, no less!) under the vast canopy of September 19, 2018 stars.

Full Moon Pink Eclipse

Starboy Moonlight Ride

Long shadows

Dipping. Drooping.

Dark across the forest floor.

Starboy’s hooves, resound

Upon the path, like heartbeats —

Steady. Musical.

Twenty eight years

His melody strums the earth,

Graces the moonlight,

Carries my weight, still.

Twenty eight years

Starboy’s movement, rocking, 

Swaying. Dancing moonbeams

Sparkling off his flowing mane.

Filling my heart with peace.

Wonder. Love for Life.

Like that first night

When he was born —

With so much promise,

:)) Fulfilled :))

Starboy's flying mane

Yet alongside the joy,

I remember the sorrow.

The uncertainty. The loss.

And I realize — WOW!!!!

All is well!  Everything

Turned out beautifully!

My children:  Grown, happy.

My horse dreams:  Fulfilled.

My (now) marriage:  Deep, fulfilling :)) :))

Our home:  Beautiful.

My Life:  The Life of my Dreams.

I achieved the accomplishment

We all wish for — hope for.

And I marvel — at the Magic!

And I thank God . . .

And I thank goodness.

And I smile :))

And my gratitude runs deep.

And strong . . .

Like Starboy!

Sombrero Starboy :))

Señor Starboy — camp clown  :)) :))

What about you?

Is this Magic limited to just a few? Heck no! I believe it’s truly available to us all.

Where are you in your Life right now? Joy? Sorrow? Uncertainties?

Pray. Do your best. Follow your dreams. Look up.

Make your best decisions whenever you come to a crossroads.

Dust yourself off when you fall. Get back up and go at it again.

And you’ll get there. It might take a while.

But be encouraged — you’ll manifest the Life of your dreams :))

Golden Rays

Do you believe in Magic?

Do you believe in magic in a young girl’s heart
How the music can free her whenever it starts?
And it’s magic if the music is groovy
It makes you feel happy like an old-time movie
I’ll tell you about the magic, and it’ll free your soul
But it’s like trying to tell a stranger ’bout-a rock and roll

If you believe in magic, don’t bother to choose
If it’s jug band music or rhythm and blues
Just go and listen, and it’ll start with a smile
That won’t wipe off your face no matter how hard you try
Your feet start tapping, and you can’t seem to find
How you got there so just blow your mind

If you believe in magic, come along with me
We’ll dance until morning till there’s just you and me
And maybe, if the music is right
I’ll meet you tomorrow, sort of late at night
And we’ll go dancing, baby, then you’ll see
How the magic’s in the music and the music’s in me

(The Lovin Spoonful, 1965 — lyrics)

~~~~

~~~~

Palms over Moon

Please visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

Kissing Cousins

~~~~

Copyright 2018

 

 

32 Comments

September 20, 2018 · 2:47 am

Boot Up!

DawnHoof’s Prescription:

               “GO! Get out of the house — and RIDE!” 

The horses are shod,

The rider is fit.

Once out the door,

We’ll get on with it . . .

 

Summertime calls,

The daylight so sweet —

Winter rides fail

To create such a treat.

 

Now is the time

To head for the hills,

Headstrong on hoofbeats

That bring me such thrills!

 

Socks on my feet,

Boots fit to ride —

This all must happen

Before going outside.

 

So suit up and Boot Up,

My dream horse awaits —

Ready to carry me

To my happiest place.

 

(The only thing stopping

Me now, I admit,

Are the socks and the Boots —

So: “Get on with it!!!”)

 

Post Ride Report:

 

And I did :)) And I rode :))

Endurance-paced speed,

For 2 1/2 hours on my

Swift-moving steed!!!

 

The farthest I’ve been

In nearly a year —

No clue how the time flew,

On Aria, my dear :))

 

So suit up and Boot Up,

My dream horse awaits —

Ready to carry me

To my happiest place.

 

And when I have time next,

Put on those cool Boots!

For horse dreams lie empty

Unless my Boots scoot :))

Fae and Tessy

For more Posts about Aria, see: Aria, My Pegasus, Aria! Coming Together, and Touchstone — Full-Gallop!!!

Aloha Slippas

~~~~

Copyright 2018

~~~~

Starboy in Gooseberry

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

Shayla's Statue

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

4 Comments

July 7, 2018 · 9:48 am

Touchstone — Full-Gallop!!!

Aria Running

Aria Running

“I became a young girl again, flying full-speed through the woods — One with my horse –”                                         DawnHoof

Ferrari

When was the last time you ran — flat out — FullGallop!!! ?

Heart and hoofbeats teleporting you straight back to

Long-ago youth. Back to Days when horses and cowboys

Filled the dreams of everyday girls and boys . . .

Carousel Girl

I was all teenage again tonight, this ride on my AMAZING Aria,

Fleet and fit and flying across the forested earth . . .

Flushing birds of prey from their evening roosts, soaring above us,

Startled by our roiling, energetic blast.

Rainbow Horse

This full-out ride a Touchstone to the best and fittest times of my Life :))

Back to my childhood first-horse, Rebel, Galloping the endless

California chaparral. Alone. Lithe. Energized. Elated!

Back to Fanta (Aria’s Grand-dam). Bold. Big. Inexhaustible.

Grace, Beauty, Spirit, Freedom

What other mechanism can do this for me?

Safe in my saddle. Hooves pounding. Exuberant! Free!

Fluid on the back of my own swift-moving childhood fantasy —

The culmination of my Life-long dreams :))

Disneyland Rides!

Delivering the rush and speed of downhill skiing.

The thrill of bobsleds at Disneyland’s Matterhorn Mountain.

The rocket-propelled thrust of jet-fired engines . . .

Combined with the heart and love of the line of horses I bred —

Filly Aria

Filly Aria, 2007

Aria — the horse I raised, trained and nurtured. On hooves

That I learned to nail with high performance, precision horseshoes —

Preventing overreach — enhancing her natural movement :)) :))

My same saddle I flew with Fanta, Mentor — holding me again. Safe. Secure.

Kailua Ferrari

Flying now, across the forest — Touchstone to my younger Days.

Timeless. Free. Galloping my way across the Story Line of my Life :))

Energized. Alive! No matter what my age :)) :)) Tonight, running —

Flat out — Again! On my Amazing Arabian-cross mare.

BHAPPY

~~~~

Copyright 2018

~~~~

Vantage Point

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

Ella at Fuji's -- Dreaming

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

 

 

12 Comments

June 26, 2018 · 10:46 am

The Vast, Great Sea of Horses

Snow Angel

Horses . . .

We only see the outside.

Like standing by the shore of a vast, great sea.

When we stroll the ocean’s edge, we know what we are likely to find there . . .

Nature. Air.

Color. Texture.

Ripples. Wavelets.

Seabirds. Sand.

Sparkling sunbeams, moonbeams, gracing the surface with magical glints of dancing, ever-changing light . . .

Ocean

~~~~

We know, when we are near the sea, what we are likely to feel . . .

Vast. Open.

Fresh. Alive.

Ageless. Outside of our day-to-day limitations of space and time.

(We revert back to childhood.)

Tempted to take off our shoes, get our feet wet.

Sand beneath our toes. Shocking cold of the water.

Maybe even splashed by an unexpected wave — and now our leggings, wet for the rest of the day :))

Molokai Stand-up Paddler

~~~~

DawnHoof:

I grew up in Malibu, on the beach, with Nature and sand and surf, outside our back door. From a small child, I experienced the ocean, in all her moods.

A Vast, Great Childhood Wonderland!

~~~~

Blustery Spring and Fall

Calm Summer perfection

~~~~

Childhood Memories —

My brother and I, puttering endlessly through the sand dunes, scooting on our knees — and the squiggly tracks our legs and hands left in the sand.

Forts with make-believe kitchens, “baking bread” out of a brown, loaf-shaped cork we found, after it had washed ashore. (That item was a particular rare treasure :))

Listening to Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman on my transistor radio one perfect beachy day, at the very time a shapely, bathing-suited brunette — I was just a dorky kid — swept past my sand-dune-fort, swerving and curving with each stride . . .

Orbison singing, “Pretty woman, walking down the . . . beach, Pretty woman” and remembering this scene for years to come, whenever I hear that song. 

~~~~

Winter, with her storms

Spellbound, in terror, and awe

~~~~

Late-night fierce, far-away storm. Lightning strikes, firing off on the horizon way out to sea. Blazing explosions of Nature’s wrath — complete with roaring, booming thunder. All us kids piled on Mom and Dad’s bed, shivering in fear, watching the spectacle.

Windy, fall mornings at the bus stop, watching the surf while waiting to go to school. Wishing that summer was not over, and yearning to be back at the beach . . .

kaunakakai-wharf-sunrise-3-05

Moody. Changing.

Foggy. Sun.

Windy. Cold.

Burning sand.

There is a Life and Culture, that comes with the sea.

Molokai Mural

DawnHoof:

Dad had a boat — 14′ motorboat, green fiberglass. Evinrude outboard engine. It smelled like gas and fish and oil . . .

~~~~

He’d put-in at the pier at Paradise Cove, where a crane plucked up the boat, dangling from a sling, and hoisted it slowly, down into the inky water below.

Dad and some family/friends would motor out, around Point Dume, and up coast to the waters outside our Trancas Beach home, and drop off a rubber, air-filled Voit surf mat, just inside the wave line.

The crashing surf would tumble the mat in, and one of the bigger kids/adults would paddle out on it, past the breakers, and climb into the boat . . . (I think adult beverages might have been involved :))

~~~~

One day Dad and the boat almost ate it — frozen in my memory, I can see it, even now.

A BIG wave cresting behind. Building. Forming. Ready to break. His little boat in too close for this unexpected rogue.

All of us on shore yelling. Pointing. Jumping. Shouting.

~~~~

“DAD!!! BEHIND YOU!!! WATCH OUT!!!!!”

~~~~

Dad standing, like a jockey, one hand on the wheel. Smiling, waving — forever the showman — thinking it all great fun.

(Crap! Dad!! LOOK — turn the boat!!!! This CAN’T happen to you!!!!!)

Dad waving. Us yelling. The wave building, cresting, like a mountain, ready to smash and destroy . . .

~~~~

Then Dad, in that final possible moment, glancing sea-ward — still standing, clam — turns the boat and slices through the top, airborne, rocketing out, crashing down — safe, onto the sea behind.

When he got home, hours later, all he could do was laugh.

~~~~

(Read more about DawnHoof’s Studio Musician Dad here, and listen to his wonderful music :))

~~~~

Hawaii Horse -- Parick Ching

So, also, is the Vast, Great Sea of Horses

Life and culture.

Mood and magic.

Calm and storm.

Story and lore.

Terror and awe.

Aria Runnning in frame

We only see the outside, the “shore” of the horse . . .

Manes and tails.

Hard hooves. Soft noses.

Yet what lies within?

What memories do my horse’s seas carry?

DawnHoof:

So just as I grew up with Nature and the beach, my daughters grew up with Nature, and our horses — right there, outside our cabin door. (On occasion, in the foyer of our home!) And later, stabled at nearby ranches.

~~~~

Their memories include:  Milking goats. Sleeping in full-sized Sioux Indian tipi.  Dressing up (like a baby doll) our numerous newborn (horse) foals. Carriage rides. Wildflowers. And standing up atop the horses, just for fun :))

Laying, snuggling and singing with the goats, the horses. Chasing chickens and ducks. Eating vegetables straight from the garden. And the sweet smell of damp, wet earth.

My daughters’ family lore includes:  Working and earning money at our vaulting and carriage (camp) gigs as my helpers, wranglers, muckers.

Saving their earned money in special, hidden envelopes — “checking out” whatever money they would spend with a simple, yet effective, handwritten accounting system.

School-free days — escaping into the woods, on horseback, by themselves. Galloping. Racing. Laughing. Crying. Climbing trees. Playing flutes . . . and Daydreams . . .

~~~~

Long rides on dark starry nights. Fast gallops and sharp branches tearing clothes, poking flesh. Famous stories of all the near misses . . .

Like the icy wipeout at Wounded Knee Rock, leaving only one small injury, one shiny scar (fortunately on me). And like Dad’s near miss with the wave, but for God’s grace, that near-miss could have been fatal.

~~~~

And when we gather together, when we reflect back — Dad would approve — we share lots of lively laughter :))

(See Dawn’s posts, Virtual Rides, for more family horse stories.)

~~~~

Sunset at Sunset Beach

As with the Ocean, So with our Horses

And just as we experience the sea by surfing, swimming, floating, diving, boating — just as she can be mapped, measured, traced and traversed, no one will ever really know all her secrets.

Endless treasures abound within her watery depths.

Each one of us who encounters her, experiences our own, personal ocean-legacy.

And so it is with our horses.

Because in the presence of a horse, like the sea, far more lies beneath her surface.

She can be brushed and led, trained and coaxed, saddled and ridden. Her DNA can be mapped, measured and traced. But we will never really know all a horse’s secrets.

Fanta vaulting

What is her story? What is her lineage? How did she get here?

How many children has this horse carried?

How many lives has this horse touched? Changed? Encouraged?

Who are her favorite stablemates, and which ones, now lost, might she pine for?

What motivates her? What does she enjoy?

What are her fears? Hopes? Limitations?

Who are her human loved ones?

What animals cruise by her corral at night, frightening her? Feeding her nightmares?

(We have bear where our horses live!)

Hoku with full moon

~~~~

In our horse’s presence, we know what we are likely to feel . . .

Vast. Open.

Fresh. Alive.

Ageless. Outside of our day-to-day limitations of space and time.

(We revert back to childhood.)

Tempted to put on our boots, go closer to where she is, and stand near her.

Wrap our arms around her neck. Whispering. Scratching. She, stretching and moving her upper lip in pleasure . . . sharing a bonding, intuitive moment.

Maybe even moved to mount up and ride. And now our leggings, sweaty for the rest of the day :))

~~~~

Paris' Blue Boot

Ode to Our Horse —

So as we experience all that comes with horses,

Boots and saddles

Dust and manure

Life and beauty and majesty . . .

Surf Scene :))

We celebrate the exuberant treasures,

The rich, deep wonders

Hidden within

The Vast, Great Sea of Horses :))

~~~~

Zoppe Rearing Horse

Fae Shadow Tree McGill

~~~~

Ella at Fuji's -- Dreaming

~~~~

Copyright 2018

~~~~

bougainvillea

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

Little Dawn with Breyer Horses

Little Dawn with plastic horses at Grandfather’s house

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

Long Shadows

~~~~

15 Comments

March 12, 2018 · 11:55 pm

Horse & Human ~ Ultimate Unity

Quiet Quintessence

It’s a Quiet Experience, riding a horse.

A Secret Language only You and Your Horse understand.

An Individual Relationship: Family. Friend. Lover.

Looking on, what would be seen?

Not two — but One — in

Thought. Movement. Energy.

Separate Rider from Horse, and neither would be here, doing this!

Aria Shadow, Pinos

Holy Harmony

 Rider: sets the Intention. The Direction. The Pace.

Horse: gives the Momentum — the Movement.

1,000 pounds of flesh springing out Lighter than Air.

God-given Unity of Inter-Species Connectedness few have truly Experienced.

Aria Running

Cosmic Cooperation

Outside of Time. Outside of Space.

Quantum Entanglement of Bodies. Souls. Thoughts. Intentions.

Leaps. Bounds.

The Ultimate Unity.

And available to us Humans — right here on Planet Earth.

Ehukai and Patrick Ching

Mystical Magic

Riding.

Melding.

Becoming one with.

Tabitha standing on Midnight

Entangled with.

Transformed by.

~ Soul Saint ~

Naje with Leaf Shadows

Heavenly Horse:

Living. Breathing.

Exotic. Mysterious.

Cosmic. Complex.

Instinctive. Wild-Born.

Hokuleia

Good Horse ~ Willing Partner:

Not just tamed, but Educated.

Not just trained, but Enlightened.

Cooperative. Submissive.

Carrying, Protecting, both your Body and your Soul.

Laddie Looking

Universally Unique . . .

Two Bodies United as One. In:

Dance.

Art. Synergy.

 Respect.

 Love.

Co-Creation. Co-Operation.

Ghost Horse

Overcoming the Instinct to:

Run. Bolt. Spook.

Rear. Buck. Jig.

Sprint off in a Panic.

Frightened. Headstrong.

Blind . . .

Gray Horse

Instead:

Trusting. Listening.

Dancing. Grooving.

With the little Girl, the little Boy,

Who still sees World in Wonder —

Who want to leave the day-to-day material doldrums.

Jump on Pegasus’s back,

And FLY!

Vantage Point

Flee ~ to Fairyland

Run away to Worlds with Magical Dragons —

Where Lions talk, and

 Little People inhabit holes in Trees.

Where Lights Sparkle in dark places and lead the way —

Where Horses carry Humans

into Endless Horizons and

Mythical Forests . . .

Anna's Tree, Pinos

Gateway to Other Worlds . . .

Not just “riding on a horse” —

No, not that at all . . .

Dream-Making at its finest. Purest.

Co-Creation. Co-Operation.

The Ultimate Unity — the Ultimate Expression of Love.

So, Ride on, Ladies and Gentlemen . . .

Ride on! LOVE on!

Mentor Looking

Fulfilling our Childhood Dreams :)) :))

~~~~

Ella at Fuji's -- Dreaming

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~~

Fae, Rick, Pinos

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

Copyright 2017

 

 

 

 

23 Comments

October 10, 2017 · 9:20 am

Cosmic Canter . . .

Last night I saddled up Aria, and rode off, end of day. Powerful. Smooth. Gracious. Strong! I left this world, and entered the other (Cosmic) one :))

And I awoke with images of this . . .

Carousel Girl

Cosmic girl on Cosmic mare,

Cantering, fast, without a care.

Cosmic Planet, twilight sky.

Canter, fast, before you die.

Carousel Horses

Round the globe you’ll hear her call:

“Maidens join me, one and all!”

Saddle your geldings, stallions, mares,

Canter fast, but beware!

Carousel Horses

Cosmic planet, time is fleet —

Now is not the time to sleep . . .

Cosmic planet, endless sky,

Canter fast, the time is nigh!

Disneyland After Dark

. . . Time to get on with whatever we’ve been put here to do . . . Saddle up! Make the most of our Lives here on sweet Planet Earth. Canter on!

And I realized the birthplace of my amazing Life with my awesome horses began on that Magical Carousel horse, so many years ago!

(Flashbacks to my Disneyland Childhood — And the Carousel Fantasy horses I rode there. My Dad’s music, Dawn’s Disneyland story: You Can Do ANYTHING!, and It’s OK to Scream! ) 

Disneyland Rides!

~~~~

Please visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

Matterhorn After Dark

~~~~

Copyright 2017

 

 

 

 

 

11 Comments

August 9, 2017 · 1:49 pm

Watching The Woman . . . Work

I watch her. A lot.

She’s very impressive.

Strong. Super-human!

She works through heat. Rain. Snow.

She works with her body. Physically. In labors usually done by a man.

But she’s found a way to coax her female body to endure. Invent new ways. Overcome obstacles . . .

I think I can!!!

She does her best, always.

I learn from her.

She runs late. She works late. But she gives it her all . . .

~~~~

She talks to strangers, all the time.

At the market. Post Office. Bank.

Small talk. Smiles. Little quips. Corny jokes.

She makes “friends”, at least she tries . . . she hands out her little cards . . . yet they seldom call.

She smiles and waves at bored little kids in the back seat of cars. (She remembers being bored, in the back seat of a car . . . )

Even her little beanie-monkey, Louie, waves and makes a bus full of camp kids laugh. (I’m sure they still remember :))

Hen and chicks in rain

~~~~

She has a weird brain. Wired backwards, it would seem.

Spatially challenged — her messy car and cluttered world, her own personal haven. Damn the rules — creativity abound!

(All tidy and picked up, she feels lost . . . empty.)

She keeps her chin up. She talks herself up to the task in front of her. No matter how hard. How tired.

Some people love her. Others think she’s a kook :))

She’s a stranger in a strange land, for sure.

But over the years, I’ve come to respect her. Love her.

Trust her. Depend on her.

Dawn on Molokai :))

She does her best. Even when she blows it. Even when she fails.

She gets back up. Dusts off her knee. Tries, tries again.

She’s learning to curtail her anger.

She’s learning to curb her tongue.

She’s learning to appreciate and enjoy all that Life dishes her . . .

~~~~

Statue

She works hard. Physical.

She’s really, really good at what she does.

She puts her body at risk every time she works: Smashed feet; aching hands; kicked in the head; broken wrist . . .

But she heals. She learns. She carries on.

She puts a rogue horse (or horse owner) in its place with a snap, a snort, a big, loud posture.

She gets them to lick, to submit . . . and handles thousand-pound creatures like puppy dogs.

Lifts their hooves, supports their bodies, calms their distracted minds . . .

(A passer-by wouldn’t know how difficult her job!)

She sculpts. Rasps. Trims.

Sweats, shivers — yet persists.

Creates living, breathing artwork.

Mechanical magic.

Shock Tamer Pads -- Fae

She hammers steel.

Sews horseshoes onto hooves — with nails.

Hefts anvils and tools and heavy boxes of equipment . . . yet carries her own tiny broom set to sweep and clean as she goes . . .

(There’s order in her seeming chaos :))

Work Tools

Horse whisperer. Farrier. Wrangler. Business woman. Creative kook . . .

She is my favorite. She is my love.

She watches over me. I watch over her.

She works hard! And I appreciate her!!!!

DawnHoof

I watch her age. I watch her grow.

I watch her appreciate Life more, even more, now . . .

We have come to a truce.

I no longer bash her.

I now support her.

Without her, I would be nowhere.

Because, she is me . . . Dawn.

Woman of steel!!!

Golden Rays

And so I ask, who do you watch?

What work does your woman, or man, do?

Have you two come to a truce? Or do you still argue?

I hope you two can fall in love :))

Life is too short to argue with your Worker . . .

Make peace, not war. And let it start with you, and me :))

Heart Horses

~~~~

Find out more about Dawn’s HoofCare Services

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

Aria Shadow, Pinos Ride

~~~~

Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

~~~~

Additional photo credits: H. Jenkins, T. Turner, S. Curry

Copyright 2017

19 Comments

July 29, 2017 · 11:20 am

In Defense of Horseshoes

Ever since the beginning of the Barefoot Movement, horseshoes have taken a bad wrap.

Nails — awful.

Steel — restrictive.

Damn farriers!

Ruining all our horses with outdated, medieval malevolence!

Yet — please!

Let’s don’t throw out the hoof with the bath water . . .

Hooves

I’m primarily a Barefoot girl, no problem.

And barefoot is great, under the best circumstances.

I’ve ridden sound, barefoot horses on endless trails, for years.

But I shod my horses last week — and took them on one of the trails we’ve ridden, barefoot, for the past twenty years — and it enhanced the entire endeavor!!!

~~~~

Aria Shadow, Pinos Ride

Bright, springy steps replaced delicate plodding.

Heightened enjoyment, not just for my husband and I, but for the horses — as they didn’t have to bother avoiding sharp, crystalline rocks.

Freedom!

Steel, and pads, and hoof packing — actually saved the day!

Fae Hooves Pinos -- Shoes

~~~~

So what caused me to add the shoes?

We’ve had a very long, cold and drawn out winter here in the mountainous region of Southern California this year, 2017. In fact it filled our reservoirs, and broke our multi-year drought.

The ground was saturated for more than two months with snow, ice, mud.

Just when it began warming up, drying out — more rain, snow, mud.

It SNOWED 4″ in early MAY!!!!

And just when my horses hooves were developing their hard, dry soles (a kind of callus which acts like shoe protection for the internal structures and comfort of their hooves) the late snow, saturating the ground, caused those soles to slough — the equivalence losing your shoes on a hot day at the beach . . .

And caused those hooves to feel every pebble. Every rock.

rainbow hoof, Hawaii

~~~~

Shoes and Pads to the Rescue

Enter steel Natural Balance horseshoes, leather and Shock Tamer pads, and Sole Pack medicated packing material.

As a farrier, it’s something I’ve done for other people’s horses for years: Shoe. Pad. Protect.

But something I’ve rarely needed to do for my own homegrown, four-generation, hardy-hooved herd.

Why? Because my own healthy-hooved horses really didn’t need it. Barefoot worked fantastic for my horses (other than occasional shoes to help with gait issues or overreaching).

~~~~

Shock Tamer Pads -- Fae

So when we rode the top of our local high-elevation (8,000′-9,000′) Mt. Pinos trails the other evening and FELT the difference — same trails, same horses, we’ve ridden for twenty years — I knew I just had to write.

Because theory is one thing.

Reality is another.

Aria Shoes Pinos

~~~~

Enter Uncle Ink

I agree. Not all horseshoeing is made equal — that’s why I learned to shoe, from my farrier Uncle, Ink Knudson.

I learned to trim my own homebred herd of Arab-cross horses from Uncle Ink in Malibu in 1990.

Great. Wonderful. Sound. No problems.

But by 1996, I’d moved up here to the mountains, and got an Arab-Tennessee Walker, named Max, with less than ideal hooves.

An old barb wire injury to his coronet resulted in a large scar tissue bulb that he would overreach and tear with his hind hoof, causing him head-bobbing lameness.

The hoof that did grow, came in abnormal.

Abscesses.

Hoof soreness.

Poor Max!

The local farriers up here in our region weren’t able to keep him sound. Even with pads and packing and egg bar shoes.

That’s when I took him down to Uncle Ink .

And Uncle Ink’s shoes made Max sound.

That’s when I realized, the other farriers couldn’t, wouldn’t do what Uncle Ink did.

I had to learn how to nail on shoes — to help Max. To keep him sound.

DawnHoof - Therapeutic Shoes, Hawaii

~~~~

Bad Shoeing is Bad — Good Shoeing is Good!

But what was it about Ink’s shoes that worked?

Why couldn’t the local guys have fixed Max and made him comfortable?

What did Ink know that the local guys up here didn’t?

That’s the real secret — the real story.

Steel shoes, alone, aren’t the culprit.

It’s how the hoof is trimmed, and how those shoes are applied.

As my Uncle Ink taught me, “It’s art!”

And as with all art, it takes a good eye, a good feel, and a good understanding of why you’re doing what it is that you do . . .

Aria Leather Pad, Shoes

~~~~

Uncle Ink was a metallurgist in the Navy in WWII. After the war, he went to Cal Poly,  San Luis Obispo to learn the art of horse shoeing, on the GI Bill.

Then he honed his craft apprenticing with the old Calvary shoers in the LA area.

He worked with famous veterinarians doing specialized therapeutics. He could make any shoe or support apparatus in his coal forge.

He shod every kind of horse for every kind of discipline. He shod for every kind of person, including a cadre of famous actors.

He shod Ronald Reagan’s horses, Roy Roger’s Trigger, Gene Autry’s Champion . . .

And he shod my scruffy first horse, Rebel.

~~~~

Marco with Grinder

The majority of today’s farriers either studied with an elder, or attended one of the farrier schools.

Emphasis seems more on appearance than function.

How nice the low-nailed clinches appear.

How straight and level the hoof.

(The old question of balance!)

Problem is, high, angled nails hold better.

Heel nails, now out of fashion, hold the best.

Many hooves are, in themselves, not straight or level. The bones have de-mineralized in accordance to the horse’s conformation.

Shoeing those hooves “straight and level” is the same as shoeing a straight and level hoof out of balance.

But how do you teach this?

How do these guys learn what it took my Uncle sixty years under the anvil, the forge, the horse, to gain?

Fae Shoes - all 4

~~~~

So imagine my bliss in discovering, that the skills I originally learned to help Max with his old injury, actually improved my sound, “barefoot” horses on a real-life trail ride into my own local mountainous back country.

Solid hoofbeats. Solid horses.

Yahoo!!!!

We’ve got a great riding schedule planned for this season!!!

Rick on Fae, with Orbs, Pinos

~~~~

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

Copyright 2017

Anna's Tree, Pinos

 

 

12 Comments

May 31, 2017 · 1:51 am

Dancing in the Light

This time of year, long evening shadows grace our valley, our woods.

Drawing out the shapes, the colors, the motion of our end-of-day rides.

Long Shadows

Dancing.

Fluttering.

Creating a certain nostalgia.

Projecting glimpses onto ground, grass, bark, leaves . . .

~~~~

Here, a tail wisping — just a glance — against a pinon.

Now, legs lurching — a brief peek — then gone.

Dancing.

Enchanting.

Highlighting our ride. Illuminating the periphery —

Calling my eye, my heart, to ponder.

~~~~

Feelings flood back — barren winter.

Reminding me of how long it’s been since the warm shadows last appeared.

Now, the shape of my horse’s head, ears, mane — glints from another pine tree.

All of it dancing, moving.

Creating the feeling of Spring.

Projecting light-art, the original motion picture — only seen quite like this, when the sun comes round the mountain, this time of year.

Laddie Tree Shadow

~~~~

As we leave the woods, off to the south — a long, golden shaft illuminates greenish-to-rust-toned foliage.

Warm.

Comforting.

As if it will never end.

Like Life. Like our Ride.

As if the green grasses will never wither — never fade.

~~~~

But this — illusory.

Day is done.

Sun setting, westward.

All seasons change.

Like the years. Like the moonlight.

Calling me to take comfort in the Dancing Light of my Ride — today.

~~~~

Aria, Ella and Hokuleia

Aria, Ella and baby, Hokuleia.

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

Copyright 2017

2 Comments

May 27, 2017 · 9:33 am

Time Traveler

How many of us have the good fortune, throughout the span of our lives, to re-visit the best of our emotional childhood?

That passionate inner space that stirs your heart to overflowing . . .

Which touchstones open your vault of stored memories?

  • The fluttering silhouette of leaves and light on a curtain?
  • The beach? A hike? Petting a cat, or a dog?
  • The smell and the sounds of the day shifting — from morning . . . to afternoon . . . to evening?

Throughout my life, my access point remains the same: Riding my horse into Nature!

I entered that portal yesterday, and I danced, once again, between worlds.

* * *

Laddie!

All my hopes and dreams for you have come true!

You are my Starboy’s next generation. Starboy, yet bigger, younger. (See My Horse is So Cute! as well as Search: Starboy on this blog for more :))

  • Gliding gaits, smooth. Exuberant.
  • Responsive. Sensible.
  • Every horse-girl’s dream :))

You carried me into dreamland yesterday. And I loved every step . . .

Full. Rich. The emotions stirred deep inside.

Bubbling. Roiling.

Like the ocean waves that serenaded my early childhood years. Growing up on the sand, in Malibu, on then-pristine Trancas beach.

* * *

Maybe it seemed more poignant yesterday because of winter’s intervention.

(This being a snowy, wet and cold one up here in the mountains, I’ve only ridden once since November.)

So absence, indeed, made my heart throb fonder.

As I entered the forest gate, I entered my Time Traveling World.

* * *

All the forest seemed alive, calling back folders of stored emotions. Like a personal file cabinet, from which my entire life opened, and flowed . . .

Lacy shadows cascading across green spring grasses.

I’m riding Rebel, my childhood horse again.

Young. Strong. Filled with hope.

Cool breeze accompanied with warm sunshine, the perfect combination.

Malibu. Elementary School.

Easter time. Wind and warm.

All the world alive, fresh, new.

Yellow blossoms erupting along the Pacific Coast Highway: Clusters of Giant Coreopsis, fields of mustard and Oxalis, bush sunflowers, tidy tips, sticky monkey flowers.

Springtime’s fragrant scent.

Blue sky, fluffy clouds. Hovering, floating.

Teenage again!

Riding Rebel behind Will Rogers State Park in the Pacific Palisades.

Endless sky. Endless opportunities.

My life as endless as the horizon surrounding me . . .

Towering Ponderosa tree, here, just off the trail. Still healthy and full and alive. Handsome Granddaddy of our woods.

Motherhood  now. Two lovely daughters.

My girls would ride into the forest here when they were young, tie up the horses, climb into this tree — sing, and play their flutes.

One day, they reported to me: “Mamma! We watched a calf being born in the woods today. We were up in the tree. The cow was in the bushes, near the wash . . . ”

In my mind, I see that calf being born, each time I ride past. I see it again now, and I see and feel the amazement of new life, once again, in my daughters’ eyes.

Across the way, the spot where my daughter, Anna’s, hair was caught by a snag and pulled from her Shetland pony, Silver.

The pain — how she cried! How hard it was to console her. Pulled from her pony by her hair, by a low-hanging finger of a tree.

Up from the wash, into the meadow now. Yellow carpet of Gold Field flowers, tiny blossoms painting the ground in swirling, creamy hues.

I’m here again, the first time we discovered the meadow in full golden bloom, when Fae was young, green, her maiden voyage that Spring. Anna, teenage now, riding her bareback.

I had my camera that day and I photographed the gangly forms of horse, and rider.

I see it again now: Anna sliding off, picking a tuft of yellow florets, and placing them in both her own hair, and in the forelock and browband of Fae’s bridle. Her long legs hopping, stretching, leaping back on again, in acrobatic precision.

Our cantering spot. Our Toodle Canyon . . .

The pond, dried in the drought of the past several years, now full, heart-shaped, inviting wildlife to sip and horses to spook at their smells.

I’m here again, with my girls — long-since moved away. With my horses — many now, passed to the other side. With my faraway Malibu childhood. Juxtaposed in emotional envelopes, side, by side, by side . . .

Alive again. Decades past.

Time travels. Flashes back.

      Re-living all the feelings. Again.

          Timeless. Alive. All without end . . .

Like an endless loop. Like “The Song That Never Ends”. Playing and re-playing over, and over, again . . .

And all along our ride: The Silent Sentinels (dead trees). Once majestic. Now sliver.  Aged. Wise.

My favorite one, still standing. Broken off at the top. Burned and hollowed below by some long-ago fire. Surrounded by fallen comrades. Twisted, faded.

Enter the longings of Grandmother and Mom, Grandfather and Dad.

Age and wisdom. Hope and loss.

Guideposts of Spirit and values. Philosophy and goodness.

Once here and viable. Now fading. Yet watching, still.

And right along side the bygone, the Old — sprouts the next generation: Fresh. New. Growing.

Encouraging, even in their decay. Our ancestors understand far more than us youngin’s Life’s endless cycles, and wherein we play. In. Out. Endless. Timeless.

All this to the music, the metronome, of my horse’s dancing mane. His flowing neck, swinging. Ticking off each stride.

Each hoofbeat, each memory, each emotion . . . connected through the stride and the dancing mane of my most amazing, time-traveling, doorway to another world: My horse!

* * *

D1000074

* * *

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

* * *

Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

Copyright 2017

15 Comments

May 4, 2017 · 2:32 am

Praising Starboy

Yes, the day is balmy.

Yes, my horse is fresh.

And though we haven’t saddled up since November,

I’m riding Starboy, today, at his best!

* * *

He feels like we’ve never waited

For winter’s snow, mud, ice, to end.

We’ve picked up where we left off,

Starboy, my timeless friend.

* * *

Gliding in perfection,

Flowing with his every silken move —

All, with nuance, dance today

In horse and human groove :))

* * *

How the woodlands beckon,

Starboy’s pace abounds.

Praising precious Starboy,

Hoofbeats, smiles, resound :))

* * *

Awesome, wondrous, synchronized,

How best to describe the day?

Finding bliss on Starboy —

Then feeding his dinner hay :))

* * *

Long Shadow Starboy

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

– – –

Copyright 2017

8 Comments

April 5, 2017 · 9:42 pm

Why Ride?

This sounds so stupid.

Do I really need to define it?

Yes . . . I need to know . . . Why do I want to RIDE?

Because resistance requires it.

Resistance makes me lazy. Unseats my resolve. And unless I know just why I must get out and go riding, I might not go at all . . .

– – –

What motivates me to leave my cushy cabin, cruise out the door wearing boots, bearing treats . . . to actually ride/drive/longe or otherwise DO something with my horse(s)?

When I was younger, all I wanted to do was to ride! In fact, you couldn’t stop me if you’d tried. (see post: Ride for Little Dawn)

But Life, age, work, motherhood, responsibilities — even habit — gnaws away at the motivation.

I have the horses, the saddles, the carriages, the harness, the necessary gear. I even have the time these days . . .

And riding season at our mountain elevation has just now become possible.

Aria --  Looking

So I set out this afternoon, this First-Day-of-Spring after our LONG wet and snowy,  Finally-Breaking-the-California-Drought Winter, and made a list for myself of all the reasons to RIDE!

Because if my motivation isn’t strong enough, clear enough, I could miss out . . .

I could sit here at home rather than interact with my amazing life-long herd of homebred horses.

And frankly, time is running out. Or rather onward. Forward.

Starboy is 26 already. How long will he be willing to carry me? Fae, Aria, Laddie, perfect in their training. Perfect in soundness, readiness, willingness.

Don’t waste this, Dawn! Go out there and hit the trails, and live my horse life to the fullest!

Starboy in Sunlight

– – –

Why is Horsing important to me?

  • My horses depend upon me for their food, board, water, EXERCISE, training and care.
  • They have done all that I’ve asked of them. They await now, fully trained, fully able, for me to allow their physical freedom and expression.
  • Without me taking them OUT, their potential lies dormant, unfulfilled, WASTED. Yes, they live in a large, spacious pasture setting. Yet they will not cut loose, cannot cut loose, to freely gallop and breathe the wind, without me taking them into the woods and allowing them this freedom!
  • Like my daughter’s harp, like her piano, here in my living room — without her to play, the instruments sit fallow. No magic. No music. But with the horse — Starboy, Laddie, Aria, Fae — it’s not just an instrument made of steel and wood, but a living, breathing being, filled with Majesty! With God. With Life itself! Made to run like the wind! Domesticated, and bred, and raised by me — for partnership with me!
  • By not fulfilling my end of the partnership, I dishonor my horse’s very life! Their reason and purpose of being.
  • I bred these horses, sacrificed greatly for them; I traveled and flew to Hawaii and worked on countless other hooves and horses in order to pay for them. This riding, driving, LOVE of these horses is the very reason for all the work I’ve done — not to sit at home, but for to RIDE! DRIVE! And to share these magnificent horses with others!
  • These horses are the reason I’ve cleansed and fasted and figured out my diet and taken supplements and lost weight and regained my health.
  • These horses are my reason to LIVE! And if I don’t utilize my time with them, I’m being duped by a false illusion that my couch is my life — not true!
  • I get to schedule my horse days and fulfill them in order to honor both my horses, and Little Dawn!
  • Little Dawn lived for horses. I promised her I’d give her time to ride later, after college, after the kids were grown, after Hawaii, after hoof work and blog work and journaling . . .
  • Now I have the time. Now I must honor both girl, and horse, and make the commitment to my horse-girl connection and not let BS stop me, or laziness, or time robbers . . .

Dillingham Sunset

– – –

So here I go . . .

  • I want to RIDE to feel good.
  • I want to RIDE to honor Starboy, Laddie, Aria, Fae. (As well as Mentor, Fanta, Rebel, Stargirl, and all my horses before and since . . . )
  • I want to RIDE to honor Dawn, Little and Middle, and some day Old . . . to stay Young, Fresh, Alive, and Vital!
  • I want to RIDE for Life!
  • I want to RIDE for Goodness!
  • I want to RIDE for those who cannot; who wish they could; who never will.
  • I want to RIDE for those who USED to ride; who’ve since retired; gone lame; passed on . . .
  • I want to RIDE for Today; for Tomorrow.
  • For This Year; for Next Year . . . For Eternity.
  • I want to RIDE for Meditation.
  • I want to RIDE for Beauty.
  • I want to RIDE for Spirit. Soul. Majesty.
  • I want to RIDE for Joy. Exuberance. Fun!
  • I want to do my duty and RIDE!!!

rainbow hoof

– – –

I want to RIDE:

With a SMILE on my face.

With ZIP in my step.

With PURPOSE.

With WISDOM.

With GRACE.

BHAPPY

– – –

Remember the Long Horizon, Dawn.

Ride, LIVE, for the Long Horizon . . . and you’ll get HERE!!

Right where you are, today.

Home with my horses, all fed, warm.

Winter’s frozen snows melted. Spring’s bright sky.

Shedding fur coats, budding catkins.

Rising sap into yet unformed leaves, the canopy of Summer to come.

The promise of fullness in trail rides, gallops, adventures . . .

The satisfaction of a horse life, fulfilled.

Ride on!!!

– – –

Long Shadows and Lad

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

– – –

Copyright 2017

17 Comments

March 20, 2017 · 11:49 pm

Laddie, Light My Fire!

Dateline:  Pacific Palisades, California

The year:  1967

I can still picture the scene.

I’m in my early teens, trotting and galloping the dirt fire roads above Will Rogers State Park, riding my first horse, Rebel — the fulfillment of my life-long horsey dreams.

Alongside the horn of my Western saddle bounces the buckskin pouch I sewed myself, containing my small transistor radio — precursor to the Walkman, the iPod, the Smart Phone.

Groovy!

KRLA, my favorite Los Angeles rock station, is playing the long, seven-minute version of The Doors, Light My Fire.

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire

I rise and fall with Rebel’s swift and powerful movement, to the sound, the feel, the rhythm . . .

Come on Baby light my fire!

Listen to The Doors here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deB_u-to-IE

Carousel Horses

It’s a magical time. Along with Disneyland, The Beatles, vinyl discs, Star Trek . . . Jim Morrison’s rifts frozen into the framework of my Baby Boomer’s generation coming of age.

This song nails it — encapsulating the elation, the freedom, the escape of riding Rebel — from my everyday, junior-high life.

You know that it will be untrue
You know that I will be a liar

If I was to say to you,
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher . . .

~~~

Light My Fire became Rebel and my theme song.

I can’t listen without transporting back to the rhythm of hoof-beats, the feeling of freedom, the smell of chaparral — and hot sweaty horse.

That, and the GIANT SMILE on my otherwise trying-to-figure-life-out teenage face.

~~~

Laddie Shadow

(From my journal, written the night Laddie came together to really RIDE :))

~~~

Laddie, Light My Fire!

Fast forward: Fortysomething years later, Frazier Park, California

The Scene: Riding my homebred gelding, Laddie, in the woods!

Same rhythm. Same hoofbeats. Same theme . . .

Girl on horseback, experiencing flight. Freedom. Escape from everyday reality into Pegasus’ realm.

GIANT SMILE!

You see, Laddie came together tonight. And transformed from ‘sticky, green’, to full-blown, Rebel-style Light My Fire!

IMG_2668

~~~

Homebred Horse!

We started riding Laddie May, 2012, as a four year old.

Born August 22, 2008, I like to wait to start them. Give them time to grow and mature . . .

Especially being half-Arabian. Especially being part-draft, part-Shire.

(For some reason, the smaller horses and the bigger horses seem to take longer.)

Although half-Arabian, Laddie pulled his Grand-Shire’s genes, with Arabian accents. He looks very Welsh Cob: big curvy neck, heavy hindquarters, large high-stepping hooves, complete with feathers.

He’s the third of my four generations of offspring. And I find him the most interesting!

Baby Laddie

~~~

Training Notes

You see, training horses comes together little by little, in fits and starts.

From the time they are born, you move them in the general direction that you wish to accomplish — personable, and mannered, and safe.

Yet, by their very nature, horses are cantankerous, and dangerous, and animated.

They kick and bite and strike. In a word: Wild!

No healthy young horse I’ve known walks up and allows itself to be haltered — walking perfectly, following.

Some are easier than others, yet, like a Mustang off the range, little foals have to learn all that.

~~~

Apply By Layers 

My favorite description of training horses is like applying varnish to wood. It must be done in thin coats, allowed to dry — and sanded between, in order to shine.

You cannot just dump the stuff on in one session, but must lay it down, layer by layer, building, just so — and stopping at just the right time, to let the lessons sink in . . .

Sometimes you make progress. Other times you just back off and give them time to grow.

The biggest question: Is this horse suited to what I want to use him for? Does he have the build, the mind, the temperament to be safe and fun?

Some individuals, some breeds, fail this requirement. It’s taken me years to work out the mixture, but I’ve got it now, and I treasure it!

Laddie Looking

~~~

Our Method of Starting Horses

When we first take our young horses out into the woods, we let them run along with the group, free. Then, later, on a rope. And then we let them run free again.

It starts with learning to yield, to submit — to ropes and leadines and people.

Building, ever building, on what has been done before — adding weight and saddles, girth and tack.

They also must learn about trails and footing, trees, rocks and stumps. Barking dogs, speeding cars, loud motorcycles. Gates, mailboxes, dumpsters. Flushing quail, jack rabbits. And a thousand other things that can occur on a ride.

Once, riding Starboy solo, I heard a massive boom. He spooked in place, dipping, but fortunately not slipping off the steep trail. I thought there must have been a gas explosion from one of the houses below.

Turns out it was the Space Shuttle, Enterprise, coming in for a landing at Edwards Air Force Base, a hundred-plus miles from here! The Shuttle broke the sound barrier — right over our heads — and spooked my horse. How do you prepare for something like that???

Ladie and Hoku looking

~~~

First Time Up

We first hop on their backs, unsaddled, in the yard, after they are relaxed from a good workout — one of us standing at his head, helping the other on.

No stress, no drama.

Quietly up, praising and scratching.

On and off both sides.

Invariably, they reach around with their neck and sniff and chew at our feet, as if to say, “Hey! What’cha you doing up there Ma???”

Layer by layer.

All this prep takes place over the first several years.

~~~

First Ride!

When it’s time for their first real ride, we utilize the herd again. Horses do better in a group than by themselves, so we capitalize on this instinct.

For his first ride we took Laddie out, running along with us for over an hour, working his exuberant youthful energy down — swift-moving through the woods, up the wash, past the galloping place, to the turn-around . . .

My brave daughter, Ella, hopped on bareback and rode without a bridle, just a rope halter, for a good forty-five minutes — Lad, flowing along with the group, not at all concerned about having a rider on his back.

Instead of continuing back toward home, we turned up a side trail, now cantering, riding farther away from home so he wouldn’t be in a hurry — again working with his instincts.

Then she hopped off and back onto her horse, letting Lad run home free, with the herd.

Thus he learns the A B C’s of carrying a person, and doing our bidding as a trail horse — organically, by degrees.

~~~

Saddled Rides

The early saddled rides out from the barn can be interesting. The horse can get ‘sticky’ at any point — get confused, and not want to go. Or turn and bolt . . . with a big leap to the side.

You plan, as best you can, to have everything work in your favor.

Calm day. No wind. No barking dogs or speeding cars or new dumpsters or the like, but even on a country roadway, so much is outside of our control.

My first saddled ride on Lad involved twilight and a nearly full moon, a dark shoulder-less dirt roadway. All going well — then, surprise! The roar of an engine grinding towards us . . . headlights shifting through the willow trees. Face-to-face with the local septic pumping truck — the Big Rig, no less!

But because of all we’d put into him, Laddie handled it beautifully. (His mother, Fae was the one who spooked and pranced in place that night!)

And Laddie’s come along really well. Strong leader. Retaining what I put into him.

Still a bit spooky and sticky and hesitant and green. But smart and smooth — growing in confidence. And willing . . .

~~~

Stylized -- Laddie, McGill

~~~

Laddie, Light My Fire!

So when Laddie finally gave me his speed, his strength, his willingness to carry me without hesitation tonight (and on a solo ride, no less!) it signaled a milestone. So many years in the making!

And I praised him.

And I stroked his big neck.

And I whooped and hollered for joy!

And we flew through the woods, into the realm of Pegasus.

And I heard the Doors, and I felt the rhythm:

The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire

And I rose and fell with Laddie’s swift and powerful movement . . .

And my eyes watered with the speed.

And a GIANT SMILE spread over my now-wiser, horse-satisfied face . . .

Come on Baby light my fire!
Try to set the night on fire . . .

AAAAhhhh! You’re AWESOME, Lad!

How FANTASTIC is that!!!!

~~~

Listen to more of the Doors here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ed9BjZcoXM

Rick Riding :))

Postscript:  Laddie continues to mature, AWESOME — turning eight this year. He happily carries (and cares for) those fortunate enough to ride him :))

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

Dawn & Laddie -- McGill II

Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

Kailua Ferrari

~~~

Copyright 2013, 2016

4 Comments

April 22, 2016 · 9:40 pm

Ride Life! The Reins . . .

Molokai Mural

What can we learn from horses, and horseback riding, that will help us to Live our day-to-day Lives?

Turns out, plenty.

I refer to this as: Ride Life!

~~~

Ride Life!

Horses.

Unpredictable, thousand-plus-pound animals that we humans, throughout the centuries, somehow learned to tame, control, direct and partner with — from marching to battle and plowing fields, to racing and hunting . . .

To meandering trails and wild-paced gallops — just for sheer joy and pleasure!

I’m often amazed at the similarities between successful riding and controlling our horses, and Navigating the Potentially Out-of-Control Ride we all call Life.

~~~

I work with horses — you could call me a horse expert.

I’ve bred and birthed them, raised and trained them, saddled and shod them, carriage driven and ridden them.

And I’ve observed in that grand arc of horse experience that many of the skills and strategies we learn from our horses can help us Live our own human Lives.

Naje with Leaf Shadows

~~~

Horse Goal:  To partner with my horse; to ride in harmony with her; to unite with her, trust her. Meld with her, be ONE with her . . . and with the ride my horse and I take. To learn from the ride, record the ride, ENJOY the ride!

Life Goal:  To partner with my Life — my bigger goals, my higher self; to live in harmony with my Life; to unite with, trust, meld with, be ONE with . . . the Ride my Life takes. To learn from the Ride, record the Ride, ENJOY the Ride!

~~~

Constantly Adjust

One of the strategies required to successfully ride horses, is constantly adjusting my riding seat, my body posture, my hands . . .

For example, when all goes well:

* My body, my hips, all move with the swaying rhythm of my horse’s back

* My shoulders, my arms and hands, follow that swinging movement

* I hold the reins loosely, my arms outstretched, relaxed, everything flowing in unison . . .

* (And I SMILE :))

~~

Yet as my horse carries me, her head, neck, and back forever move — and this movement secretly, silently, pulls the reins — millimeters, centimeters, inches — from my hands.

Therefore, I must constantly adjust my hand position on the reins, or face the fact that my hands become ineffective, and I’ve lost control.

~~~

The Zone of Contact

There is an area, out in front of me, where my reins and my hands are effective in stopping, turning, and controlling my horse.

We’ll call it my “zone of contact”.

~~~

It’s a sweet place, this zone, where soft, yielding wrists and fingers are forever a slight touch or “feel” away from contacting my horse’s mouth — my horse’s mind, that which controls the drive-train, if you will . . .

With my soft hands in this zone, my horse feels free to move forward, unhindered by me — which is what I want.

I want to bring out the very best in her, for the best partnership and cooperation, the most unity and enjoyment.

~~~

If I hold my hands too much in front of this zone, my reins too short — I choke my horse’s ability to move.

Too much behind, my reins too long — a big gap exists, making me unable to seamlessly control my horse’s tempo, direction and speed.

If I hold my hands outside of the zone, my movements will be jerky, rough. She will resist me. Resent me. Our smooth partnership aborts.

~~~

Therefore, the need to constantly adjust . . . which an experienced rider does without thought.

The horse’s movements pull the reins — the rider adjusts — the reins pull — the rider adjusts . . .

And so it goes, like a tennis player adjusting her racket, a surfer shifting the angle of his body on his board, a skier setting the edges, cutting into the icy slope.

~~~

Ride Life!

Now what does this have to do with the Ride we call Life?

Life Goal:  To partner with my Life — my bigger goals, my higher self; to live in harmony, in peace, with my Life; to unite with, trust, meld with, be ONE with . . . the Ride my Life takes. To learn from the Ride, record the Ride, ENJOY the Ride!

~~~

Happy Horsing

Like our horse, Life is constantly moving, changing.

And like my horse, Life’s-forever-movement secretly, silently, pulls the reins — the safety zone, the control — from my hands. Millimeters, centimeters, inches, at a time.

But how do I adjust my hand position on Life’s reins? Or face the fact that my hands have become ineffective, and I’ve lost control!

Where is my “Zone of Contact”, and how do I Ride Life ? ? ?

~~~

The Zone of Contact

Let’s look at where Life’s Zone of Contact isn’t.

* It isn’t found in freaking out.

* It isn’t found in clutching tight.

* It isn’t found in closing my eyes, holding my breath and “hoping for the best” any more than riding my horse would succeed with that approach . . .

~~~

Life’s Zone of Contact is a sweet place where soft, yielding thoughts and aspirations are forever a slight touch or “feel” away from my Life’s purpose, motivation — that which controls the drive-train, if you will. That which keeps me connected and on the very Ride . . .

With my soft, yielding thoughts in this zone, my Life freely moves forward, unhindered by me — which is what I want.

I want to bring out the very best in my Life, the best Partnership and Cooperation, the most Unity and Enjoyment.

~~~

If I hold my thoughts — my actions ­­– fearfully, too much in front of this Zone, I choke my Life’s ability to move.

Lackadaisically, my thoughts and actions too much behind, a big gap exists, making me unable to steer my Life’s tempo, direction and speed.

When I live Life outside of the Zone, my movements are jerky, rough. My higher self resents me. Resists me. Our smooth partnership aborts.

~~~

Constantly Adjust

Therefore, the need to constantly adjust . . . which an experienced Life-Rider does without pause . . .

Life’s movements pull the reins — the Rider’s thoughts and actions adjust — Life pulls — the Rider, again, adjusts . . .

And so it goes, when fear and resistance attempt to pull against us — we adjust, yielding — loosening thoughts, embracing goodness — taking action . . .

~ Toward love. And trust. ~

~ Toward harmony. And peace. ~

~ Toward my bigger goals, my higher self. Again. ~

~~~

And so I’m reminded to Ride Life, like I ride my horse — on meandering trails and wild-paced gallops — just for sheer joy and pleasure!

And it’s true!

I’m often amazed at the similarities between successfully riding and controlling my thousand-plus-pound-horses . . .

And Navigating the Potentially Out-of-Control Ride we all call Life.

~~~

BHAPPY

~~~

Copyright 2015

Like what you’ve read here? Please visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

 

 

10 Comments

December 15, 2015 · 4:40 pm

My Horse: My Airplane

It’s Starboy’s 25th birthday this month! Born in Malibu, I remember so well . . . and still he’s healthy, sound — ready to fly like a Piper Warrior, into the woods at endurance speed — and enjoy!

In tribute to Starboy, here’s a jovial piece from my journal, written December, 2012.

Señor Starboy :))

Señor Starboy :))

~~~

My Horse: My Airplane

My horse is an airplane, my airplane, and my soul longs to take up his yoke and soar.

As I roll open the gate and lead him from his barn-hanger, I feel the thrill of knowing that we’ll be in the air, soon.

Like my fellow aviators, I administer my preflight routine: Brush off his hair coat—check. Pick out his hooves—check. Pad, saddle, girth, bridle—check, check, check.

Starboy, Aria, ready to go . . .

Pilot and Aircraft — ready to go . . .

~~~

Before I mount, I run my hand across his silky neck, and I remember my dad’s first airplane, when I was very young. After all, it was a horse – an airplane called a Piper Colt — a tiny economical two-seater with not metal, but a painted cloth exterior.

I remember Dad being extra careful in his preflight check to be sure there were no scrapes or tears in the thing. (Fortunately, there never were.)

Dad told my brother and me, “Don’t touch the skin – it’s thin as paper! You could poke your finger through it by mistake!”

Gee, Dad, I thought. How safe is that?

Dad with an earlier plane.

Dad with an earlier plane.

~~~

Fortunately my plane is made of proper flesh – no paint-coated cloth cut-outs for me.

I stand back and admire how he looks: Sturdy sleek lines, aerodynamic contours, built to take on the task at hand.

My open air, VariEze-Berkut-Lear-Jet experimental model (Starboy) is ready to take me into the skies!

I climb up onto his fuselage, clamor into his cockpit. Secure.

We idle out of the ranch, down the taxiway, ready to accelerate, to elevate, to leave earth’s gravity and experience the weightless thrill of unfettered flight.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/de/VariEze_in_flight.jpg/320px-VariEze_in_flight.jpg

VariEze experimental aircraft designed by Burt Rutan. 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia: By Stephen Kearney (Personal collection.)

~~~

Once in the forest, I ease in the throttle – and we’re air-born – just like that! How effortlessly he melds with the winds aloft, soaring up the trail.

Sensitive, responsive, like the best-made craft, my horse climbs, hooves churning, pouring on the power, heaving forth into the great expanse.

His silken mane flaps with the currents, his hooves kick up dust-particle-vortices – beware traffic following too close behind!

Starboy's flying mane

Gliding, soaring, we yaw, pitch, and roll our way through the cool-air, wooded-wonderland, my face smiling in delight – whooping out loud, praising Starboy, awakening the little girl in me who always loves to fly.

I remember seeing houses, all the rows of houses and driveways and cars and swimming pools, and how small they looked from above.

I remember falling asleep in the back of Dad’s next, bigger airplane, his Beechcraft Bonanza, on the way home from Disneyland – at 2am – where Dad worked as Bandleader at the Park.

(Listen to Dad’s Disneyland music here: Elliott Brothers Orchestra at Disneyland  — Read more about Dad here: You Can Do Anything and Family of Flying.)

I remember half-awaking to the lullaby sound of the engine, feeling the bumps and swoops of flight, the plane gently caressing me — Dad in the cockpit, a serene look on his face — the small red light, and the glow of the instrument panel illuminating his profile.

I hear the sounds of the radio, static, clicking in and out, and the voice of Dad’s nightly Air Traffic Controller friend at the LAX tower, “How’s it going up there, Mickey Mouse?”

Old Control Tower at LAX

The Old Control Tower at LAX — in operation when Dad flew his nightly Disneyland commute.

~~~

I dodge a tree branch before it snaps me in the face, Starboy soaring, sailing his way upward.

The forest footing feels damp today, boggy in places, snow patches here and there. Not to fear. Acrobatic maneuvers are Starboy’s specialty!

He dances and darts to firmer ground, wiggles his wings, loops the loop and skillfully applies the laws of aerodynamics in his own horsey way.

We barnstorm the woods like a Curtis Jenny with it’s Hispano-Suiza engine my Grandfather told of from his 1918 days in the Army Air Service, WWI.

Grandfather vintage shot -- Curtis Jenny with Hispano Suisa engine.

Grandfather in mechanic suit, holding the prop.  — Curtis Jenny with Hispano Suisa engine.

I remember pouring through Grandfather’s vintage monotone photographs, held into the book by little black paste-on corners. His six-foot-tall frame looked small next to the massive cowling, props, and engine of the planes he flew and worked on as mechanic.

One day, after I started flying, Grandfather explained his favorite acrobatic maneuver, the Chandelle – think Flex-Straw.

He thrust his now-aged hand above him into a steep climb – steel-blue eyes following – rotating into an upward U-turn, doubling back and continuing on – smiling now, just a bit – re-living the thrills of his earlier adventures, before career and kids and life set in . . .

I took Grandfather flying just once, about two years after I’d gotten my pilot license – out of Santa Monica. He hadn’t been in a small plane since Dad had passed, a decade before.

I grabbed his wiry eightysomething arm and helped him into the cockpit next to me, where he sat stoic, looking out at the mountains, and homes, and landscapes below. (I remember the feeling of intense responsibility in piloting him, and great relief in returning him, unharmed, to Terra firma.)

Before he died, he gave me his log book, documenting fifty hours of flight training, as well as his original leather military flight helmet, faded and tattered by time. (Which, when I tried it on my head, fit, perfectly!)

Grandfather, U.S. Army Air Service, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Grandfather, U.S. Army Air Service, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

~~~

Starboy’s reins feel warm in my gloved hands, transmitting soft contact through rudder and aileron, saddle and leg. No extra right rudder needed to offset this engine torque! Coordinated turns, perfect bank, my airplane’s motion satisfies my soul with fine-tuned grandeur.

And I realize how fortunate I am – how very few who set out to be pilots, very few who endeavor to be horsemen, really master the art, melding as one with their craft.

And I recall my own years of flight over these very mountains, alone at the controls of my rented Cherokee Warrior aircraft.

I remember well one crisp winter day, smiling, singing, weaving above ridgelines and canyons dusted in sugar-coated snow – songs of Judy Collins playing on my at-the-time high-tech Sony Walkman.

Rows and flows of angel hair

          And ice cream castles in the air

                   And feathered canyons everywhere,

                             I’ve looked at clouds that way…

Rows and Flows of Angel Hair

We turn onto a spur trail now, a shortcut toward home. Starboy’s neck stretches, his engine begs more RPM’s. I hold him back – I’m the pilot, he’s the craft. No runaway-out-of-control tailspins for us!

As we rise and fall with the updrafts, the forest smells beautiful today. Early winter silver boughs sparkle in the late-day sun. It’s a perfect flight on Starboy, doing what we love best…

And I remember my life back then, twentysomething entrepreneur, grabbing onto the yoke of life, the Fashion Industry’s fickle trends dictating my every move.

Sales, manufacturing, Boutique shows, employees. And yet all I really wanted was to find a way to make a living with horses. To ride – and fly – and soar into dimensions of the soul…

Here I am, third generation pilot, with a Piper Tomahawk. (My Mom shot this pic.)

Here I am, third generation pilot, with a Piper Tomahawk. (My Mom shot this pic.)

~~~
I never tire of the energy, the spectacle, the lightness of flight. How it lifts me out of my earthly doldrums and whisks me into whimsy. And now, here on Starboy, flying home. Satisfied.

Mid-life Dawn winks an eye at her former self, knowing that I’m flying again, like I always have. Cherishing my well-tuned craft and his subtle response to my slightest cues. Just the way it should be.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now,

          From here and there and still somehow

                   With life’s illusions I recall

                             I really don’t know life, at all…

Turning base, descending for our landing now, I see the houses of our valley – like the houses from the airplanes of my youth. And I smile. Big!

Because I’ve looked at life from both sides now, lived life from both sides up in the air, and down on the forested earth. And I’m here, flying Starboy right now just where I most like to be.

Starboy on the Trail

We touch down at the forest gate soft, smooth. Then taxi the final stretch to our glider’s home port.

Starboy whinnies, deeply, to the other members of his herd, who answer in shrill reply.

But instead of refueling with Avgas, my Bonanza-Warrior-Hispano-Suiza-Starboy dines tonight – on alfalfa hay!

Starboy in Sunlight

~~~~

Copyright 2012, 2015

~~~~

Like what you’ve read here? Please visit Dawn’s sister blog: Journal of Dawn

23 Comments

September 18, 2015 · 1:11 pm

Aria! Coming Together . . .

Here’s a little piece I found in my journal from earlier this year. Reading it, I smile . . .

Aria turned eight last month — and indeed, she’s coming together — just lovely!

~~~

Aria, Ella, and filly Hokuleia, top of the world . . .

Aria, Ella, and filly Hokuleia, top of the world . . .

~~~

Yesterday Aria came completely together for me!

In that one ride she transformed from green, still-being-worked-on horse-in-training, to polished riding gem!

It makes me remember the time when that happened with her mother, Fae — in Shadow Hills, exploring the mountains behind Hai Mitchell’s carriage driving facility.

Fae had been there in training for a couple of months, working in harness several times weekly, and in stunning physical condition.

And while out riding the hills that day, she graced me with one of the rides of my life.

Fae, Aria's mother, Mt. Pinos.

Fae, Aria’s mother, Mt. Pinos.

I remember it distinctly . . . time stood still.

Suddenly I was re-living the rides of my childhood, my early adulthood, when the kids were young. Fae became a composite of all the horses — real and fantasy — in my life before her.

It took her nine years, yet that day, Fae’s brain and body came together — no longer gangly half-draft (Shire), struggling to sort it all out — but now polished, responsive.

Able to balance her own body, and along with it, balance and carry mine.

Finally ready to really ride and enjoy.

~~~

Yesterday, Aria did the same!

Filly Aria, 2007

Filly Aria, 2007

It takes such a long time for a horse to mature.

You breed them, birth them. Halter them, wean them. Nurture them, train them.

You feed, and spend — and wait for them to grow. Thinking, hoping, that you know what kind of horse they might be — but not really.

Because, like a little kid, they have so much to to go through.

And there’s so much that can go awry . . . it’s not a given that all turns out as you wish . . .

It takes years of training, painted on in thin layers, each ride and experience building upon those before.

There’s a thrill in that, but the ultimate goal is a seasoned riding horse, whose mind and hooves meld with her rider.

And you can’t push it. Like a blossom, it opens fully in its own time.

Molokai Blossom

~~~

So yesterday, Aria gave me glassy perfection!

I re-live it now, with wonder.

I had worked her down the day before, ponying her off of Starboy in a swift loop from the Snow Gate to the “Y”.

Now, ponying Laddie along until we enter the woods, I let him off the rope, running free.

From the beginning, Aria responds immediately, softly, to my lightest signals — my body never coming off her back unless posting.

Her legs, now my legs. Her body, my body.

Melded, married, swiftly moving forward.

Aria Running

Aria Running

Fluid, flying, outside of the day-to-day realm.

Endurance! Speed! Exuberance in motion!

We transit the forest to the sand wash, up Mill Canyon, running the galloping stretch neck-to-neck with Laddie, still loose off the lead.

(Several times, he enjoys positioning himself directly in front of us, deliberately blocking our progress, slowing the pace — Aria’s head shaking in protest with snarly looks and pressed back ears . . . )

~~~

Turning back, returning toward home on the “Sneaky Trail,” Aria amps into overdrive, turning up her speed — seeking out the twisting, single-track rut — taking the turns, loops, and swirls like a Disneyland adventure ride!

Disneyland Rides!

In a flash I’m back in my childhood: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, The Tea Cups,  The Matterhorn, Peter Pan . . .

In her never-ending movement I re-live the Roller Coaster at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, lilting smile upon my face.

Spinning ’round a scrub oak, dodging a thick pinon branch, we sprint up the rise and dip down the back side, in endless loose-reined flight, Laddie following a few lengths behind us.

Now, I feel the spinning, swirling Airplane Ride at Pacific Ocean Park on the end of the Santa Monica Pier.

Disneyland After Dark

Laughing, marveling, as Aria’s hooves soar above the ground — I find myself flying my early-twenty’s airplane, my acrobatic glider, my childhood fantasy Pegasus . . .

Oh, to meld with a horse like this!

On her, I body-surf waves, slalom moguls, and pilot my fighter jet, surpassing supersonic speeds!

~~~

Carousel Horses

And I realize that this ride marks the fulfillment of my dreams and fantasies, not just for her, but for all the horses in my life. Deep-seated childhood dreams . . .

I want to have horses.

I want to raise horses.

From babies, from foals.

I want to ride horses on endless trails —

that’s what I want in my life.

Little Dawn with plastic horses at Grandfather's house

Little Dawn with plastic horses at Grandfather’s house

~~~

And I take a moment and remember all that Aria, my third-generation home-bred mare, and I have been through to get this far:

* The morning, as a newborn, she scrapped to stand on straggly legs.

* Hauling her to the Vet hospital — numerous times — to nurse her wounds and afflictions.

(I remember the evening, as a four-month-old, both veterinarians wanted to put her down, right then — her knee shattered and broken. But she pulled through, she recovered! Not just that, but her hind leg kicked, and resulting surgery, massive vet bills, aftercare. And last year, to the hospital, again.)

* When Ella and I rode her on those the first few rides, reveling in her smooth gaits, her calm, confident demeanor. Deciding that she is exactly the horse one wants to replicate — thus breeding her for filly, Hokuleia, and then, Fae again, for little brother, Noir, to preserve her bloodlines . . .

* Training, nurturing, feeding, board, care . . . all that goes in to breeding and raising and bringing up a horse like this.

And I realize that it’s taken seven full years, and then some — for her to come together! Finally now mature. Reliable. Ready for our endless future adventures.

Aria, Ella and baby, Hokuleia.

Aria, Ella and filly, Hokuleia.

~~~

Last year, one of the teenage kids at the riding program Aria went to for training commented, “Someday, I want to have a horse like this!”

My reply: “You cannot buy a horse like Aria — no one will sell them. You have to make one!”

I’m beaming right now with the accomplishment! :))

~~~

Aria Shadow Rock -- Malibu

Aria Shadow Rock — Malibu

~~~

Copyright 2015

~~~

Read more about Aria here: Aria, My Pegasus

12 Comments

September 9, 2015 · 12:04 pm

Horseman’s Prayer of Praise – Reblog

It’s that time of year when I reflect on the Miracle of keeping horses – and all the commitment caring for them involves . . .

And now, as winter hits, their coats grow thick. Our riding time grows scarce.

Here’s a Reblog that seems to fit this sun-goes-down-early, trying time of year.

Christmas Horse

As I reflect on my lifelong love – and commitment – to horses, I remember wondering at times: Will I be able to care for them? Feed them? Keep them?

Thus far I’ve raised four generations, and at times it’s been absolutely challenging. The economy. The weather. Moves. Marriage. Children. Work. Health.

I wrote this poem with heart-felt angst after the economy dropped – going into winter’s snow and cold – December 2008. At that time I truly didn’t know how things would work out.

Thus its special meaning to me, because, indeed, God came through. : ~ )

Times got tough. We tightened our belts. Our family had to work long and hard. Yet our horses continued to be well-fed and cared for. And I consider that one of the Major Miracles of my life!

I believe God hears our cries – and also our praises. I believe we’re tasked with the job of praise!

So Horsemen, keep the faith going into winter this year . . .

Lord God, hear our Horseman’s Prayer:

Starboy in Sunlight

 

Horseman’s Prayer of Praise

 

Bless my horse, Lord God above,

Bless his gentle soul.

Keep him fat, keep him sleek

Keep him warm from cold.

 

Help me, God, my horse to keep

In good times and in bad.

Fodder in his feeder deep

And what ‘ere he needs to have.

 

I praise You for creating him

For entrusting him to my care.

For when life presses hard on me

My horse is always there.

 

His ears prick forth when I arrive,

Nostrils nicker hello

Happy hooves trod my way

And follow where ere I go.

 

Willingly he bears my weight,

Without complaint he soars

Where ‘ere I wish, he doth me take

As one who doth adore.

 

For You have made him strong and fast,

Faithful, swift and true.

Bless his soul where ‘ere he goes

For he’s my constant blessing from You.

 

And when he’s gone into the earth

Receive his gentle soul

For he’s lived his life with love and grace –

And fulfilled his earthly goal.

 

 Amen

 

Starboy at Sunset

 

D1000013(1)

Copyright 2008, 2013, 2014

4 Comments

December 31, 2014 · 7:54 pm

Ride for Little Dawn

I’ve been tracking this theme for several years now, wondering what it is about grown-up life that loses spontaneity?

I want to get out and ride my horse, but something seems to get in my way . . .

So I hopped on tonight for an impromptu Ride for Little Dawn – and it was fabulous! Here’s the concept, written a few years back, in August, during the peak of summer riding season.

~~~

Changing seasons bring changing moods. Riding is different for me now.

Years ago, I lived to ride. I fantasized myself forever riding my childhood horse, Rebel, especially while stuck sitting alone during lunchtime at Emerson Junior High.

Little Dawn loved horses more than life itself.

Little Dawn with Breyer Horses

But Mid-life Dawn, during precious time off from work, gets tired, wants to hang out at home. And there are so many errands and things to do . . .

I’ve always been a trail rider, an endurance rider. And these kinds of rides take energy  especially now that the kids have moved out and I’m riding alone again.

But I promised Little Dawn that she would ride later . . .

After the children were grown.

After the bills were paid. 

After the horses were raised and trained.

I gave her many excuses.

And now I find myself with internal battle.

I put off riding on Saturday because I was just too pooped. Now it’s Sunday.

Do I honor Little Dawn and take her riding, even if I’d rather be doing something else? What resistance stops me from getting out and enjoying the horses I’ve worked so hard for?

~~~

After writing this journal entry and defining my quandary, I made my move.

The last two nights I got off my butt and rode. For her . . .

Starboy on the Trail

~~~

Sunday I saddled Starboy and ponied Mentor, leaving late, at 6:30 p.m. We pulled the grade to McGill trail, climbing the switchbacks into the wilderness up the side of grand Mt. Pinos, our mountain neighbor and protector, standing 8,800’ above sea level.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?

I made my sad self rally.

I got out, I rode . . .

Then why was I still so tired? 

Why did riding feel like drudgery and work? Commitment, not exuberance? Prodding Starboy to keep a steady trot up the trail.

~~~

Then, somewhere up the switchback section, Little Dawn showed up — and the work gave way to adventure!

There on the hillside next to me, The Shadow appeared. The same Shadow of old. The one Little Dawn loved to watch. The only witness to her childhood rides.

Fae Shadow Trail

And there was Little Dawn in The Shadow, bathed in milky late-day light.

Riding her beautiful horse again.

~~~

She looked young, athletic, fit.

Her arms were muscled and strong.

She even wore her hat, like days of old.

She got very excited at seeing her image again, and I, too, got inspired to be up on Mt. Pinos, riding my wonderful horses, in the finale of a perfect summer day.

~~~

Little Dawn thanked me for honoring her, for taking her riding even when I didn’t feel like it.

And I stopped and wrote a poem about her, and The Shadow, and the horses. (I had paper and pen in my saddlebag, a first!)

And then we talked, sitting on the horse, right up there on the side of the mountain.

She spilled out her heart — how she’s waited and been patient and grown-up as possible . . . but really, she never got her turn. And she’s been waiting for me to SLOW DOWN and to listen to her!

To honor her — and not just my day-to-day concerns.

And I agreed. And we discovered a new commonality, based around the horses, and Nature, and spontaneity — and we made a new commitment to one another, right then and there . . .

~~~

Setting Sun -- McGill Trail

Little Dawn loved the ride so much, and was so enthused, she talked me out of turning around when the sun’s light set, and we  persevered on, into the now deepening twilight — two more miles to the lookout above the meadow.

As per our custom, we dismounted at the lookout and a ‘bar tender’ (that would be me) thoughtfully served up carrots (from our saddle bag) for the patrons (Starboy and Mentor), who showed greedy appreciation with soft busy noses . . .

Now, with the horses rested and happy, we turned to ride back down the single-track, side-of-the-mountain trail, engulfed in complete pitch-black-under-the-trees-darkness — no moon tonight.

(We didn’t get back to the ranch until 10:30.)

But even though it was dark, and at times a bit unnerving, Little Dawn didn’t fret. Even when Starboy went off-trail in the blackness!

She just corrected his path and began singing camp songs, and Beatles songs, and nursery songs, and gospel songs, and Big Band songs . . . until we were out of the four-miles of tree-shrouded darkness and back in the open valley again, under the bright canopy of stars.

The ride was so exhilarating, I couldn’t wait to go again! My body didn’t even hurt the next day.

~~~

Veiw from McGill

So last night Little Dawn and I rode Angel and ponied Sage. We started out at our favorite end-of-day time. I wanted to go back up McGill, but kept seeing a mental picture of riding South toward Plunderosa, so that was where we went.

We zipped through the forest, flew through the wash — Angel moving out happily, steadily, in a big-strided ground-covering trot — Sage following along perfectly, like a choreographed dance partner, not at all pulling on my arm.

Two hours of mounted bliss.

~~~

Little Dawn loved it, and so did I.

She’s still talking about it today — and planning another ride for later.

It sure is great to have her back in my life!

~~~

(We ended up hauling to Malibu and riding two more days — making four back-to-back rides in a row! How’s that for transformation?)

~~~

So whenever I haven’t ridden enough, whenever the cares of life seem to get in the way, I think of Little Dawn, find the time to saddle up my horse, take off into the woods — and ride!

The Shadow -- up McGill Trail

~~~

 Copyright 2006, 2014

 

 

 

 

17 Comments

October 30, 2014 · 2:34 pm

Red Star Noir ~ My 11th Newborn Foal!

Ah, the joys of new life!

Fae’s latest accomplishment, Red Star Noir, came into this world on August 19, 2014 — and as I now count, he’s my eleventh new baby foal!!!

Fae and Noir - first week

My newborn foals:

1 – AA Mentor – 1985

2 – Mentor’s Jewel – 1989

3 – Starboy – 1990

4 – Angel -1991

5 – Fanta’s Sir Prize – 1995

6 – Fanta’s Fae Dancer (aka Fanta’s Dancing Fae ) – 2001

7 – Maverick – 2007

8 – Aria – 2007

9 – Laddie (Aladdin’s Bay Star) 2008

10 – Hokuleia – 2012

11 – Red Star Noir – 2014

Wobbly newborn Red Star Noir!

Wobbly newborn Red Star Noir!

~~~~

I remember as a kid, some time during junior high, the horse calendar that hung in my room. One month there was a picture of an adorable bay-colored Arabian colt, perhaps just two weeks old.

I remember looking and wishing and marveling at the beauty of his fresh life. I wondered what it would be like to hold him, pet him. Raise him, love him. And I decided: SOMEDAY, I’ll have a baby horse of my own!

I remember wondering: Would I really? How? How could that be possible?

But I tucked that wish away, along with my life-long desire to have, ride and love a horse of my very own.

And I went back to living my junior high life. Not knowing if either of those dreams would EVER come true.

~~~~

Then, completely out of the blue one day, Mom made the announcement, driving alone with her in the car. (I remember it oh so well.  I was thirteen.)

Her voice cracked a little, and she said: “Dad and I have decided to get you a horse.”

What? Really? After all these years of begging??? Wahoooo!!! This is my dream come true!

I ended up with a scruffy unregistered strawberry roan, Heinz 57-Appaloosa/Arab mix named Rebel. Said to be seven years old, he’d been a family’s “trail horse”. He had a long nose, beautiful eyes and a swinging black tail.

Rebel was the perfect first horse for me. Rugged, rank — he challenged my limited skills and fulfilled my endless horse-addiction.

He became the focal point of my existence.

Rebel got me through the tough times, the lonely times, of junior high and high school. I LIVED for riding Rebel.

Through him I experienced freedom. Riding, flying, through the wilderness on wings of horsey joy. (See: Laddie, Light my Fire)

~~~~

Then, when I was sixteen, Dad passed away from a heart attack — changing EVERYTHING in my life — one fateful night.

“Honey, things are always changing. The sooner you get used to that, the better off you’ll be.” (See: Cha-Cha-Changes!)

Did Dad know something when he told me those words, just weeks before he suddenly passed?

Again, Rebel was my constant. My confidant. My outlet. My sanity. He was my freedom on four fabulously swift legs.

And I turned to him even more after losing Dad.

We would ride the Southern California mountain trails all day, every Saturday, The Doors singing “Come on baby light my fire . . .” from the transistor radio strapped to my saddle. Grit in my teeth, smile on my face, on and on and on, as far as we could go.

Yet after finishing high school, I began wondering about the reason for life.

What am I to do with my life? Why are we here? Where do we go after we leave this green Earth? Where is Dad now?

I dropped out of University and did what I’d often dreamed I’d do. I rode Rebel into the California wilderness on a ten-day, soul-searching, solo trek. Just me and Rebel.

Alone.

~~~~

My time alone in the wilderness toughened my determination. I overcame many obstacles, completing my “hero’s quest”, and I came back into civilization with new resolve.

I will live my life to the fullest. I will live as close to Nature as possible. I will pursue all my dreams!

Following my love for horses and animals, I worked teaching horseback riding, then milking cows on commercial dairy farms.

I chopped down trees, sewed canvass, built a Sioux Indian Tipi — and lived in it — as close to Nature as I could be!

Rebel lived outside the Tipi in the pasture with me, only a sheet of canvass between us.

Those were awesome times, living on the Earth, literally! With horses and cattle surrounding me. Until, eventually, Rebel aged and passed away.

Afterwards I had a brief stint with another horse, an Arabian mare I called Stargirl. But she met with tragedy, and I was horseless for a number of my mid-twenties years.

Eventually I went back to college, learned to fly airplanes, and started my own fashion business.

(See: Entrepreneur — Lessons Learned over 40 years)

~~~~

Now, I was in position to own a horse again!

So in 1980, I bought an Appaloosa yearling mare, named Fanta (Smokey Joe’s Fanta).

Little did I know when I was outbid on the original mare I’d come to buy at auction that day, that the understated roan filly I ended up purchasing would continue her legacy in my life — some three decades later!

(I definitely ended up with the better horse!)

Fanta’s combination of Appaloosa, Running Quarter Horse, Racing Thoroughbred, and (1/4th) Arabian gave her speed, endurance and silky-smooth gaits.

Her BIG trot, bounding canter, and animated walk made her a pleasure to ride.

After deciding to train her myself, and spending the next several years researching and accomplishing the task, I also ended up purchasing a purebred (in-foal) Arabian mare who soon gave birth to a beautiful, intelligent bay colt: AA Mentor.

I got my baby horse after all!

Under the lamplight, in the sweet smell of straw, breathing his fresh newborn scent, my baby horse dreams came true. Singing, cooing, rubbing his soft fur, I’d whisper of how we’d ride together, fly together — him carrying me, into the mountains, by the sea, over endless rolling hills . . . the wind rushing through our hair.

Holding him in my lap, Mentor filled my heart with not just love, but fresh purpose and perspective. Here was new life for a new future. A new portal to magical adventures ahead!

Although Fanta was six when Mentor was born, it was love at first whinny — and despite their difference in age, they became life-long mates.

~~~~

Soon after Mentor’s birth, my life went through big changes. I, too, gave birth to my own baby girl, and then another . . .

And Fanta gave birth to Mentor’s babies, and she and I ended up raising our offspring together — horses and humans bonded like siblings.

I got another Tipi, living again on the Earth, with my babies, with my horses — even Nubian milk goats. Once again, close to Nature.

Completely magical!

Little kids and little baby horses romping, bucking, playing dress-up — inventing their own language, games, rules. My kids and Fanta’s — exploring life. Growing up side-by-side.

Eventually my kids grew taller, the horses matured, and we’d all ride together — wild rides through the wilderness. Horses and humans of the same herd — bonded, it would turn out, for generations yet unborn . . .

(See: The Vast, Great Sea of Horses)

Noir - under Mom's tail

~~~~

So now, long after my kids have moved out, long after Fanta and Mentor have passed — a new life enters my herd: Red Star Noir!

And get this — the timing, the beyond-coincidence planning of the Cosmos — born just three days after my first grandchild was born. :))

Oh Fanta, you and I, raising babies together again!

This one, yet another grand-colt. Born within days of my grand-daughter.

And we welcome you, Star Noir, to our family. To our herd.

And now, once again, I snuggle you. I breathe in your fresh baby scent . . . rub your fur, scratch your favorite itch spots. And I whisper sweet images of us riding together, flying together — you carrying me, like Fanta and Mentor before.

Nursing Noir

~~~~

Noir itch

~~~~

Update on Noir 

Sadly, Noir didn’t reach his second birthday.

Sometimes, horses live and thrive and excel. Others fail to come to fruition, or run into difficulties beyond which we can deal.

It’s part of Life. Part of owning, breeding and raising horses. And I’ve learned to be OK with it. (See my post, One-Third ~ Two-Thirds (the Good and the Bad.)

One thing I know — happy, free — Noir joins the ranks of herd and family-mates on the Other Side of the Rainbow.

Where the grass is always green.

Where there are no fences or limitations.

Where the exuberance of Life continually flows.

Galloping. Free. Unhindered.

Amen!

May God bless Red Star Noir :))

DawnHoof

(June 2019)

~~~~

Copyright 2014, 2019

~~~

Little Dawn with Breyer Horses

Little Dawn with plastic horses at Grandfather’s house

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a  Soul Horse Ride in the Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

Long Shadows

~~~

bougainvillea

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn,

for Strategies and Insights into the

Journey of Life

~~~

12 Comments

September 22, 2014 · 9:09 pm

One-Third ~ Two-Thirds (the Good and the Bad)

Much of the time with our horses (as with much of life) everything goes wonderfully — just as it should. Our horses are sound, healthy, happy.

We ride into the sunset with flowing manes and golden rays.

But what about the times when things go awry — the hoof, the leg, the eye we count on to function normally, suddenly limps, swells, inflames?

I’ve come up with a philosophy that has helped me though the tough times of life, and horse stewardship, and I’d like to share it with you.

~~~

Golden Rays

Most of the Time, Things go Right :))

Most of the time, thankfully, things go wonderfully right. We ride our healthy, sound horses and live the dream we envisioned when we first set our sights on owning one.

“My horse is coming along beautifully!”

“I had the BEST ride over the weekend!”

“My mare is in foal — I cannot wait to see what this foal will look like!”

Yet in all this wonder, we tend to forget — we are experiencing the Perfect Two-Thirds of Horsemanship, when everything goes according to plan. :))

~~~

But ~ Sometimes, Things go Wrong :((

However, as we dance with horses through the long-haul of life, we will, from time to time, experience the Flawed One-Third, when things go wrong. (Yes, hopefully this will be an even smaller proportion . . . )

Some mysterious injury occurs.

You come out to ride, but your mare’s leg is blown up.

You go on an amazing, fast-moving ride, but your gelding takes a bad step, and is now off . . .

A bout of colic.

Or worse . . .

You have to call out the Vet or haul to the Hospital.

Worry.

Time lost.

Money spent.

More worry.

No riding . . .

Darkness on the Horizon

~~~

Your mind works overtime in an endless loop.

“Why did I let this happen?”

“How STUPID was I to not ______________!!!”

“How can I be sure this will NEVER happen to my horse again?!!”

You start feeling sorry for yourself.

All your horse friends are out enjoying the good weather, their sound mounts . . . and you are unable to ride yours.

You start wondering if this is the way it’s going to be from here on — are ALL hopes dashed of EVER riding and enjoying your horse again?

~~~

Aria, Ella and Hokuleia

As a horse owner, breeder, trainer, farrier over the past fortysomething years (I’ve raised four generations thus far :)) I can tell you, I’ve been through all this.

The two aspects, good and bad, seem to go somewhat hand-in-hand.

And I can tell you, sometimes it doesn’t seem at all to work out. Sometimes a horse must be euthanized. Sometimes a horse must be determined to be unsafe or unusable.

But MOST of the time — Two-Thirds of the time, everything works out beautifully. :))

So you know what I’ve learned to do?

(I’m repeating it here, as much for me to remember, as for you to hear!)

I’ve learned to get over the worry, get through the bummer as best as possible — as if it were a test — bless the One Third, and move on.

Because without the One-Third, I would never have the Two-Thirds — the beauty, wonder and perfection my horses bring my family and me.

(Like the photos, above and below, from last fall of my daughter, Ella, enjoying our horses. :))

Aria, Ella and Hokuleia

~~~

But this summer presents a different picture.

Lately, it seems the One-Third has been busy at work.

A mare with a blown leg, a large hospital bill. Another horse with an inflamed eye.

Oh, I can feel sorry for myself.

But I’d rather feel grateful that the leg has quieted — the mare will heal!

The eye has toned down.

I’ve found it better to focus on the Perfect Two-Thirds, and do what I need to do to get through the Flawed One-Third, than to worry and drive myself nuts!

~~~

Leg -- On the Mend :))

So when horsing (or life) seems to go South on you, when bad things happen to good people, good horses — take a deep breath.

Ask: What do I need to do now?

And DEAL with it, the best you know how.

Take your lump and get over it.

And focus on the goodness.

And be grateful for all the perfect rides.

And consider the time you spend nursing a sick horse as bonding time with your beloved.

And know that, in time, as long as you stick with your positive horsing program — the Two-Thirds shall prevail.

And yes, you will be riding again.

And laughing!

And loving your horse, in all her soundness!

Henna Horse

~~~

And if you discover that you do have the wrong mount, if all that’s associated with a certain individual seems to ALWAYS go South . . . determine when to cut your losses — search for the horse that will better serve your needs.

And move on into the glory of horsemanship you envisioned from the start.

~~~

Side Saddle Rider

~~~

Copyright 2014

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments

August 12, 2014 · 5:21 pm

I Ride Into The Painted Desert

Join Starboy and me on a ride from 2009, at the wild rim of Southern California’s Antelope Valley desert — where mountains, trees, and sagebrush encircle the vast desert floor. Breathtaking!

I went to that area today and photographed some of the scenery.

~~~

Desert Vista

I ride into the painted desert, along the rim.

On my Bay steed, my companion.

Willing mount who trods wherever I bid.

A massive gray thundercloud, miles-wide — hear the clap — marches our way across the barren expanse.

Dark wisps of raindrops, like a moustache, drape downward, with a twirl, never reaching the distant desert floor.

Beside the solemn advance looms a white swath of creamy cloudtops punctuating the adjacent darkness.

The depth, the contrast, the subject, reminds me of a painting by one of the masters.

Remington couldn’t have captured it better.

Trees atop the rim

I stop the Bay to breathe in the sight.

Oak trees line the nearest hillside.

Sagebrush paints the meadow pale green.

All draped in the deepening drama of the approaching darkness.

A cool wind whips through the Bay’s tangled mane.

Starboy Mane Silhouette

Up here in the foothills, we create our own artwork.

Little buckwheat flowers paint a burnished backdrop to horse and rider.

I watch his sleek neck move against their endless faces, picking his way across the wash.

Finding the single track trail, we wind up a steep section, turn back on ourselves at the Manzanita bush, and keep climbing.

Here at the ridge, the trail looses clarity. Animal paths are easy to confuse.

Buckwheat on the Rim

We pick what appears to be the best one, and I lose my hat, plucked by scrub and fallen steeply below.

I’m lucky I don’t lose my neck!

The brush is grown over — a deer trail. Not tall enough for horse and rider.

We follow their rut into a scratchy branch that comes to my chin.

The angle of the slope, the agility of my mount are hard to describe.

Almost defying gravity!

At this point, there are few options of retreat. We’re in too deep.

Buckwheat flowers

The Bay waits as I manage to contort and duck beneath.

Picking our way, pushing branches, my arm bleeds in the process.

Ah, reuniting now with the bigger path. Out of the brambles.

The trail drops down the steep grade, but my Bay keeps his steady, light pace.

Loose-reined.

Listening for my coaxing.

Starboy's mane

Climbing toward the next ridgeline, we traverse another falling-out section.

Then onto a jeep trail headed below.

A wizened drop hits my arm.

And another.

As much as the desert, straining upward, wants a drink, this cloud fizzles.

The darkness engulfs us now, sputtering.

Yet the brightness stays along side, illuminating hope.

Silver Lined Oak

I decide to go back and retrieve the hat. My new red one.

We head back up to the ridgeline.

I dismount and lead the Bay down a narrow furrow —  my but he’s agile.

We come out above it, have to drop down.

Bend down.

Arm stretched.

Got it!

Trees and scrub

~~~

I ride into the painted desert, along the rim.

On my Bay steed, my companion.

Who listens and keeps good care of me.

Into vistas of vastness and landscapes of eternity.

It really doesn’t get much better than this!

Desert Vista

~~~

Copyright 2009, 2014

 

8 Comments

June 30, 2014 · 12:44 pm

Wispy-Eyed Filly

My yearling filly, Hokuleia, my fourth generation foal, filled my dreams the other night. And I awoke with the impression of this:

~~~

Hokuleia biting my stirrup . . .

Hokuleia biting my stirrup . . .

Wispy-eyed filly,

bounding, leaping,

come from another

world  what can you

share with me

from your realm?

Beautiful Hokuleia

Your beauty. The

curved lines of your

lovely neck. An

innocent look,

filled with impish

explosions of

youthful joy . . .

Hokuleia Shadow Horse

Leaping, bounding from

your realm into mine.

A portal of hope.

A wild expression

of something

come here from

somewhere else.

Hokuleia Tin Shadow

I stand and pet

your outer limits —

your scruffy mane,

your fluffy coat,

your wispy face,

as if this is all

you are —

Hokuleia Ears and Eyes

Forgetting the regal

heritage of endless

generations past —

stallions and mares —

Bloodlines of

Princes and Kings.

General Patton.

Mare and Foal

And racehorses, and

plough horses. And

scrub Indian ponies,

with spotted coats.

Quarter horses.

Endurance horses.

Desert horses.

Family Shadows

Through your veins

flow the history of

our world, from

a different vantage.

From herds of freedom,

to beasts of burden,

to pawns of war.

Hokuleia Looking

With the intelligence

carried within your

bounding legs,

your flowing tail,

your swift instincts

which keep you

living, thriving.

leaves on haircoat

Along with the

ephemeral, the

otherworldly,

you represent

from somewhere

humans can no

longer go

Shadow Horse Full Moon

Unless carried by

you and your kind,

deep into the

outer reaches

of ancestry and

shamanism and

magic spells.

Hokuleia in tow

Oh wispy-eyed filly,

bounding, leaping,

come from another

world — thank you

for sharing your

magic with me!

Ever unfolding!

Hokuleia Silhouette

Carrying me,

transporting me into

the realm of your

rich heritage

through hoofbeats

and heartbeats and

wispy, horsey love!

~~~

Wispy-Eyed Hokuleia

~~~

Copyright 2014

 

7 Comments

May 19, 2014 · 12:49 am

When You Wish Upon a Horse

I dedicate this piece to Kathy — she told me today, she’s saving to buy her first horse. :)) Kathy, your horse awaits you. Dream on!

~~~

When You Wish Upon a Horse

She who awaits the perfect horse,

Knows it’s a matter of time, of course —

All life begins with desire,

Working strange Magic to set Souls on fire.

 

Your horse exists now, as surely you do —

It’s just a matter of time before your Dream will come true.

Hold onto your passion, look up to the stars,

Dream your horse Dreams, it’s really not far.

 

Horses have powers much bigger than you,

They knock on the heartstrings of only a few.

 

It’s hard to conceive, but believe me in this —

The horse will be yours when your Spirit persists

In holding your Dream with all that you’ve got,

When your love for horses is a true love so hot

 

That nothing will chill it — not let-downs or doubt —

Your horse is good as yours, and will truly come about.

So talk to your horse — as he already exists

There is a strange, wonderful power in this.

 

Pray and let Heaven take over the task —

It may take some time — but you’ll find her at last.

 

Then comes the real task, the learning to speak

The language of horses, the strong verses meek.

Read all that you can to prepare for the day

When you add to your budget the expense of the hay.

 

Learn all about horses while you now have the time.

And rejoice in the friendship you surely will find.

For Life has its challenges, the good and the bad,

Yet your horse will help you through sweet times and sad.

 

As Creatures of Magic — truly you’ll see —

Your horse will help mold you into what you will be!

~~~

d10003221.jpg

Horse Shoes (Moloka'i)

~~~

Copyright 2001, 2014

 

 

 

13 Comments

April 30, 2014 · 10:59 pm

Riding: The Allure, The Passion, The Obsession…

Horses and riding have always allured me, and the intellectual side of myself has, from time to time, tried to figure out — Why?

What calls my Soul to horses? Why is it that nothing else will quite do?

Join me on my quest to discover what it is, and why, us horse people must ride. 

Ears Listening

~~~

California: Pacific Crest Trail, off Liebre Mountain Springtime, 2002.

Buckeyes are just beginning to pop with small brilliant lime-green ‘palm trees’ bursting out at the end of the branches.

The tree we pass now is overgrown and grabbing for my face; I duck hurriedly and just miss it.

Now we glide past gooseberries with stalks of shiny green leaves and delicate red florets. Now more buckeyes. Now a grove of clustered, densely-packed oaks with textured gray bark and bluish leaves.

This is one of my favorite places, a steep incline at the Northern reaches of the Angeles National forest, above the vast Mojave Desert and the great Tejon Ranch.

Time stands still on this edge of forest rim, except for the constant changing drama of the seasons.

~~~

Now, we approach the ‘digger pine’ forest eerie enough to also be known as ‘ghost pine’ so thickly wooded you’d think someone had planted it.

But nature herself did, decades ago, when the first football-sized, sap-laden cone scattered its seed and took root here.

Usually solitary sentinels on a north-facing ravine, this grove is most unusual.

The lighting changes under the labyrinth of the trees, filtering through millions of dainty six-inch long gray-green needles, and creates an atmosphere unique to digger pines alone.

I glimpse inside a small level opening in the midst of the grove where a picnic table slumps, wooden benches warping. 

And I remember the times we’ve dismounted and eaten a snack here . . . 

We ride our fit horses at endurance pace fast — not because we prod them but because they want to.

We float through the towering overgrowth, as in a tunnel, following the ever-climbing path upwards. Browned needles carpet the undercover and further dampen the light.

The wind is quiet here with the cover of the trees, and we race toward the arch-shaped opening at the end of the wood, bursting out into a long, slightly uphill straight-away.

~~~

We really fly now, dodging stray ceanothus branches and suddenly smelling a strong scent of sagebrush.

Up, up, up we venture, horses sweating and breathing harder as we hit the steeper section of trail.

“Branch!” I manage to shout back, as I push aside and dodge another one. “Thanks!” I barely hear in muffled, groaning reply.

As we approach a six-inch wide rain rut in the climbing narrow trail, I become aware of the precision of Starboy’s hooves:  wide black blurs flying out in front of me.

Mechanically, perfectly, he straddles the rut, deepened from winter’s runoff. His nose inclines toward the earth, nostrils flaring, deftly picking his steps.

I hear Fanta behind me, wheezing, surging in Rick’s hands, pulling at her bit. Wanting to burst past us, to show how much better and faster she could take this stretch . . .

~~~

Finally, we come out to the brief level straight-away at the top of the long climb.

I catch a quick glance of what remains of my favorite old, gutted-out, Valley Oak tree.

The bark is gone, exposing the gnarly and swirled, marble-like underwood. Its great trunk stands, perhaps thirty feet tall, the top long ago severed by snow, or wind, or lightening.

Although we fly past it at a gallop today, I remember the time when I stopped to marvel at it. I took my mental picture that day, and decided it was grand.

I see this picture now, and smile, as we whirl past; a quick mental wink.

~~~

Starboy Mane Flowing

All this makes up a ride. The adrenaline flowing between horse and rider, the beauty of the horses and their movement, the changing textures and beauty of Nature.

And the newness of each ride dwells along side the old. One ride juxtaposes itself upon the next in a matrix of memories, creating a rich history.

Sometimes I find myself re-living a section of trail from a long-ago ride I thought I had forgotten.

Lying in my bed, somewhere between sleep and awake, a vivid tape replays itself and I see the trees again, see the winding contour of the trail, feel again the surge of the horse, and the excitement of the moment.

Starboy on Pinos

~~~

Like Woodside in ’85 riding with my new friend, Terry, and her Morgan mare, Velvet, when I was first introduced to the concept of “endurance riding”.

I had always preferred the freedom of riding trails to the confines of riding circles in an arena, which made me stand out from the other girls at Cory Walkey’s English Riding Academy in the Pacific Palisades.

My cheap western saddle and scrapping roan gelding, aptly named Rebel, separated me from the English jumping clique.

I lived for Rebel throughout my tentative junior high and high school years — long arduous solo rides throughout the Santa Monica Mountains being my special favorite.

I had no definition for what I did until I met Terry. “Endurance riding.” I liked the sound of that.

When I met her, Terry was conditioning for the grueling 100-mile Tevis ride in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She had selected Velvet from an endless pasture of horses at an aunt’s ranch somewhere, for the virtue of the mare’s large, ground-covering trot.

(My Appaloosa mare, Fanta, whom I had bought several years after Rebel, had to canter to keep up with that trot!)

~~~

So, some years back, I found myself in that state between sleep and consciousness, when the clearest recollection of my first big ride with Terry, out of nowhere, flashed back full-bore.

Like a dream, the ride returned to me.

There I was, riding Fanta, trotting down the east side of the mountain trail from Skyline to the bottom, in Woodside.

Since then I can re-live that same ride at will, as I have, numerous times throughout the years.

First, there was the certain little winding section of trail, and the chatting, and the laughter. The tall redwood trees creating a canopy, with smaller growth by the trails edge.

The bottom section where we let the horses drink, willow trees in the cool rushing creek. I could hear the water, smell the moist soil and rotting leaves.

I saw, also the top section of the trail, when I learned by watching Velvet that a horse can actually hop over a chest-high fallen tree from a standstill, if taught to do so.

A graceful athletic thing to watch; a painful, jarring thing to actually do.

~~~

And then I flashed on the blossoms of a plum tree in springtime, at the edge of a wonderful old ranch there, on the dirt road where we would ride by.

And when the fruit came to ripen in summer, I remembered stopping to feed Fanta plums . . .

I didn’t dismount, but picked them while still in my saddle. Fanta careened her silken neck and reached over to my hand, with anxious lips, as I stuffed her mouth with the delicious morsels.

She slobbered frothy pink plum juice which dribbled onto hands, saddle and pad, as she gorged herself.

I whispered sweet nothings to her and rubbed her mane.

She spit out the pit and bent back her neck for more . . .

~~~

Digging the Ride!

Horses and riding have always allured me, and the intellectual side of myself has, from time to time, tried to figure out, Why.

What calls my soul to horses? Why is it that nothing else will quite do?

Family Shadows

~~~

In fact, as I write this, I realize that the ride with Terry that day was different.

Not only was it my first big ride endurance conditioning, which opened the doors to the possibility of trotting over endless distances.

And not only was it my first time on the redwood trail that was to become my favorite haunt — the big two-plus hour ride I had always dreamed of when I bought Fanta as a yearling, and had to wait for years until she was ready to finally ride, train, and enjoy.

But I can now recall the conversation we had on the winding stretch of trail that has become so memorable — the subject of the laughter.

Lone Jeffry Pine

~~~

We asked ourselves why! Why do we do this? What is it that makes horses and riding so alluring, so all-encompassing to our Souls?

As “horse people” we spend small fortunes keeping our horses. We feed them and nurture them and sacrifice for them.

We become truck drivers and hay haulers and fence builders for them.

We become mothers and medics and slaves to our horses, who munch their hay and carrots and grain contentedly, not seeming to have a clue that we have altered our lives to accommodate them.

Some of us have even lost marriages and friends over them — putting them above all else.

Why? Why? Why?

~~~

On The Trail

Terry and I defined it that day, yet it is a definition ever redefining itself.

* We ride for Freedom. The freedom of youthful abandon, heading out and letting the wind direct our path for the day.

* We ride for Nature. Riding puts us in places outdoors we wouldn’t get to any other way; the trees, the trails, the wonder of being out in the great wild.

* We ride for our Horses. They love the rides even more than we do, picking up their pace and sniffing the wind, legs flying, experiencing their own form of freedom. Willing companions, partners, Soul mates . . .

* We ride for our Souls. Riding feeds us. It puts smiles on our faces and a lift to our gait. It gives us depth of character and heightened experience our Souls crave.

Limber Pine Tree

Riding, the allure. Riding, the passion. Riding, the obsession. The more we ride, the more we have to ride.

“One good ride begets another.”

~~~

Vantage Point

Someday when I’m old, bedridden, feeble-bodied — the rides will be there for me.

Woodside. Malibu. Hawaii. Mt. Pinos. Pacific Crest Trail. Vivid and clear, each bend in the trail. Along with each horse I’ve loved and trained and mothered.

I had a mantra that got me through junior high school . . .

“I’m always riding Rebel.”

Starboy Silhouette

No matter how lonely it got on the upper patio during lunchtime at University High, I would mentally repeat, “I’m always riding Rebel.”

Because the times that mattered most to me were the times I spent with my horse.

Those were the times I used my mental camera.

Those were the times most memorable to me.

I took stock of those times, and they always returned and freed me — and fed my Soul.

~~~

For me, riding is my outlet. It is my Passion. I has become me.

Starboy Silhouette

~~~

Copyright 2002, 2014

 

3 Comments

March 31, 2014 · 11:36 pm

What is a Ride?

Heavenly Synchronicity — found this sweet poetic duo in my Journal, dated exactly twelve years ago today! It captures the feel of my wonderful horses, my wonderful rides. Sharing it with you here, winter time, when riding seems far away . . .

 

What is a Ride?

 

Rhythm

Motion

Thundering Hooves

Flowing

Freedom

Spirits soar

 

Synchronized

Harmonized

Metronomed Motion

Fantasized

Comes alive

Craving more

 

Sure-footed

Bobsled

Bounding o’er fallen logs

Swift-flying —

Sidestepping

Branches in our path —

 

Galloping

Laughing

Surging Slalom,

Transforming

Life’s doldrums

Into absolute blast!

 

Magical

Communion

Discreetly perceived,

Fused

United

Melding ease

 

Soaring

Surging

Powerful, Pure

Freedom

Motion

Mutual rapport

 

Surging Light

 

I hop into my saddle

And sail off into the forest

On my Rocking Horse Canter,

Feeling my body roll

 

In harmony with the

Hypnotic motion of my

Pony’s impassioned gallop,

Energized! Alive!

 

Glassy, Glossy, Silken, Grand,

I flow in his movement and

Meld onto his back like a custom-made

Glove on a hand —

 

A perfect fit with perfect Tempo

Gaining momentum as we pulse

Over crests and troughs

In our fickle path.

 

Waves and Currents steer our course

Whim and Fancy spur us on

Our forward-flowing liquid journey

We continue thundering strong.

 

Smells of fragrant vanilla pine bark

Meet my senses, tearing eyes.

Dodging branches, ducking, dipping

Labyrinth obstacles, all in stride.

 

In these woods the Spirit overflows,

Transforms my steed

Into a magical fantasy of

Power-driven speed . . .

 

Here are found my favorite day-dreams,

Releasing me from traffic, work or strife

This my treasured time of solace

With my Pony, surging light.

~~~

Life is a Journey

~~~

Copyright 2002, 2014

6 Comments

February 25, 2014 · 12:53 am

My Horses ~ My Art ~

* Canvass:  The forest

* Paintbrush: My saddle, my bridle Atop four willing hooves

* Medium:  My horse

~~~

Fae Shadow Trail

~~~

My horses ~ My art!  My living, breathing, finely-sculpted, fluid-formed expression  a palpable, pulsing artform on four hooves.

To me they symbolize something even grander and more elegant than the amazing beings that they are.

My horses carry me into their realm. Into Nature and Freedom itself.

Fae Shadow Tree McGill

~~~

Together, we become part of a living painting, with changing light, shadows and shapes, back-dropped by trees and earth and scrub — all kept in constant motion by the ever-beating metronome of hooves and lungs and heart.

Like the famous works of the Masters, my horses free my passions and feed my soul. They take me higher, deeper into a greater world than I would ever reach alone.

Hokuleia in tow

 ~~~

As I watch my horses frolic in their pasture, I delight in how they move and respond one to another. Like a grand living organism, each seems to know his position in the herd and accept, or challenge it.

From my vantagepoint, I observe the antics, the movements, the intentions played out in the acre-sized fenced framework before me.

Hokuleia Tin Shadow

~~~

I interact with the art and the art interacts with me. My presence alone draws the horses to the fenceline, curious, creating both jealous displays of temper, as well as outright outbursts of fun. 

Apples tossed into the boundary cause a scurry of activity, each seeking a tidbit, oftentimes challenging a herdmate with ears pinned and hooves threatening. But soon, outstretched necks and gaping mouths chew contentedly, dropping frothy morsels from sticky-lipped muzzles.

Hokuleia Shadow Horse

~~~

Ropes and halters lead them out of the field. Obsidian eyes, soft necks and tangled manes follow closely. Dusty dappled coats receive brushing, blankets, saddles . . .

My tack, my gear, another aspect. The lines, the shapes — pommels and cantles, stirrups and reins — curved leather cradles of tradition, function and fashion. Colorful conchos. Riveting rosettes. Little details that make up the ambiance of the whole.

Colorful Rosette /Concho

~~~

Once in the saddle, my rides into the wilderness become my paintings. My masterpieces. And I paint them again and again. Each one unique.

A ride never really repeats itself, even though the same horse, same trail. Each adventure offers a fresh approach, a new angle of light or arc of color. The result keeps me riding, ever renewed, in this life-affirming endeavor.

Forest Sunbeam

~~~

I ride astride my horse, her dark mane pumping, flowing, as we float across the vast reaches, ears pricked forward, ready to greet the ever-unfolding scenery. I inhale the wildness of the place, adding to the intoxication, fragrant blossoms, vanilla perfumed pine, the earthy scent of amber leaves.

Others from our herd gallop alongside with flaring nostrils, dancing hoofbeats and outstretched tails, painting a fast-flowing portrait of joyous abandon. Embracing freedom with every stride.

Fae up McGill

~~~

My trails are my canvass. Texture and color, line and space, light and dark punctuate the endlessly pulsing pace.

Like the sagebrush in the valley floor which greet my eye with rumpled heaps of widespread welcome. Once in the forest, gnarled-branched pinon pines become ghostly gatekeepers with brilliant lime-colored lichen “fringes”, their eerie moanings all but audible.

Contained in the images of the forest blurring past are flashes from my childhood the daydreams and horsey yearnings from monotonous schooldays past.  Now, I live those dreams, I breathe them.  I served my time back then so that I can ride my time now, and paint my present, my future, with horses.

Top of the World

~~~

The outer reaches beckon. Up, up we plunge, forward into the landscape, into greater veils of wonder the farther we venture from home.

Here the light shifts, takes on new meaning. Something calls us, drives us on. 

Up in elevation, to thinner air and vistas of grandeur.

Top of the Moon

~~~

Past fatigue, past complaint, into the outer reaches of what we are capable of — for therein lie the prize portraits, the art nouveau, the renaissance of distant reaches afar.

Shadow Horse Full Moon

~~~

Copyright 2014

11 Comments

January 3, 2014 · 11:45 pm

Horseman’s Prayer of Praise

As I reflect on my lifelong love – and commitment – to horses, I remember wondering at times: Will I be able to care for them? Feed them? Keep them?

Thus far I’ve raised four generations, and at times it’s been absolutely challenging. The economy. The weather. Moves. Marriage. Children. Divorce. Work. Health.

I wrote this poem with heart-felt angst after the economy dropped – going into winter’s snow and cold – December 2008. At that time I truly didn’t know how things would work out.

Thus its special meaning to me, because, indeed, God came through. : ~ )

Times got tough. We tightened our belts. Our family had to work long and hard. Yet our horses continued to be well-fed and cared for. And I consider that one of the Major Miracles of my life!

I believe God hears our cries – and also our praises. I believe we’re tasked with the job of praise! So Horsemen, keep the faith going into winter this year . . .

Lord God, hear our Horsemen’s Prayer:

Horseman’s Prayer of Praise

Bless my horse, Lord God above,

Bless his gentle soul.

Keep him fat, keep him sleek

Keep him warm from cold.

 

Help me, God, my horse to keep

In good times and in bad.

Fodder in his feeder deep

And what ‘ere he needs to have.

 

I praise You for creating him

For entrusting him to my care.

For when life presses hard on me

My horse is always there.


His ears prick forth when I arrive,

Nostrils nicker hello

Happy hooves trod my way

And follow where ere I go.

 

Willingly he bears my weight,

Without complaint he soars

Where ‘ere I wish, he doth me take

As one who doth adore.

 

For You have made him strong and fast,

Faithful, swift and true.

Bless his soul where ‘ere he goes

For he’s my constant blessing from You.

 

And when he’s gone into the earth

Receive his gentle soul

For he’s lived his life with love and grace –

And fulfilled his earthly goal.

 

 Amen

D1000013(1)

Copyright 2008, 2013

10 Comments

December 27, 2013 · 10:09 pm

Wonderful, Willing Starboy

From my JournalAugust 14, 2009

Starboy mills ‘round his paddock, head low, rubbing his face to his knee, swishing flies.

All day long he lingers, contentedly, with sister Angel by his side, strolling toward the neighboring paddock, toward the water trough, toward the feeder – awaiting his next flake of hay.

I give him my kisses, and go out of town, on business, leaving him.

While I’m away, I return to his paddock in my mind, at will, and there he is in my mental peek, content again.

And when I return, he whinnies at the sound of my car’s engine, at my whistle, and trots up to greet me – no guilt trip.

~~~

I walk inside the paddock, rubbing faces, removing fly masks, reuniting with the herd.

I halter and lead him out, tying him to my horse trailer.

Brushing off the dust and shedding hair coat – sleeking him out – I plop my blanket, my saddle, onto his back, and slowly cinch up.

I offer him the bit, and he grabs it, like always, from when he was small, when I raised him.

In my younger years, I leapt into the saddle.  Now using a small step-stool, I clamor on.

Starboy braces, politely, for my middle-age weight to descend upon him. I find my off-side stirrup, gather up my reins, and move my body slightly, as signal to walk on.

Out to the road, off the property, he effortlessly, willingly, goes. Wherever I point him, Starboy cooperates – and travels at whatever speed I ask.

What kind of relationship can be compared to this?

He serves, without complaint, at my beck and call. And I serve him, in return, for nineteen years now, like his mother and sire before him, making sure of his pasture and hay.

Few people can boast three generations of home-bred horses, but those who do, understand.

As long as you’re dealing with good genetics, there’s nothing that compares.

~~~

Out on the trail now, Starboy surges forth, my stiff lower back complaining. I rein him in a bit slower.

The trail gains ground into the forest now, into the wonder. Trees tower above us, in the twilight.

The feeling of magic overtakes me, and Starboy trots lightly on.

No coercion, no domination, merely a suggestion that we speed up, or slow down – my body shifting ever-so-slightly in the saddle.

A quiet cluck and inclining forward of my reigns enough to squeak him into a smooth canter . . .

I smell the vanilla of pine bark now, nighttime descending.

And I marvel, again, at Starboy.

And how well he behaves since I’ve been gone.

~~~

Starboy in Sunlight

~~~

November 26, 2013

Here I am, marveling at Starboy, once again. I wrote this sweet little piece four years ago, in 2009. Since then a few things have changed:

Angel is gone now, on the other side of the Rainbow, even though she was Starboy’s junior by a year.

She had Cushing’s syndrome and passed away at nineteen – the very age of Starboy when I wrote this piece.

And Hokuleia was born August, 2012 – our fourth generation! And she has Angel’s energy. And she has Angel’s love.

~~~

And I am changed – I’m very happy to report – for the better.

After a bad injury and much pain (at my doctor’s recommendation), I went gluten-free in December, 2011. Turns out this incident was a major “Blessing-in-Disguise”.

By changing my lifestyle and diet, I lost stubborn pounds of middle-age weight. But that’s not all:  I ALSO LOST MY JOINT PAIN!

In fact, as I read over this piece I feel badly for the “old Dawn” – who was exhausted and who ached – and who weighed down her wonderful horse.

I’m happy to say, “No More!”  : ~ ))

~~~

A spring has returned to my step – I no longer “clamor on”. Now I lift myself up into the stirrup, the saddle, with joy’! Pain-free!!!

My back no longer complains. My knees, my hips, my neck ride along with Starboy like they did in my youth.

So there is hope when it comes to pain, to injury, to age!

Now the healthful micro-nutrients and herbs I take – turmeric, hawthorn berry, ginger, boswellia, cinnamon, fenugreek – can work to rejuvenate my cells without the burden of fighting the inflammation brought on by the gluten (found in wheat and most grains).

Now the vitamins and supplements – B-100, Vitamin Code Multi’s, thyroid, and adrenal support, Perfect Food (green powder) – can work their nutritional wonder.

~~~

Now Starboy, twenty-three years young, carries my lighter profile.

We rode three hours recently, FLYING, like in our days of youth – striding out, floating, galloping – breathing-in the fresh forest air.

Discovering a brand new trail in the process – trotting, twisting, surging, dipping, along the contours of the rapid single-track.

Now Starboy lingers in his paddock with sister, Fae, and filly, Hokuleia. Happy, content. Yet a bit wider at his middle-aged girth than before.

Wonderful, willing Starboy. Ever ready, ever up for the latest adventure.

~~~

I’m fresh back in town now, from a business trip. And finally, we’ll be riding tonight . . .

Soon I’ll smell the vanilla of pine bark, nighttime descending. And I’ll experience his smooth canter – on our latest adventure, into the forest.

And I’ll marvel, again, at Starboy.

And how well he behaves since I’ve been gone.

~~~

Starboy at Sunset

~~~

Oh my – reading this over just now, I have tears! For how long will he be with me?

Wonderful, willing Starboy – I treasure you all the more as you grow old. For our time together here won’t last forever.

But our years have been full. And our love, complete.

And I’m filled to the brim by our love.  : ~ ))

And when the time comes for us to part, when you go over the Rainbow to join the others – I’ll be here waving, loving, cheering you on – tending to the herd, here on this side of the veil.

I’ll take care of Fae, of Aria, Laddie and Hokuleia.

And I’ll cherish my love for you, like the others.

And I’ll wait my turn . . .

Until my time over the Rainbow arrives.

~~~

 Sunset Flame

Copyright 2009, 2013

10 Comments

November 26, 2013 · 10:36 pm

Perfection!

Oh, my horses are PERFECTION! And I know how rare that is.

It’s my own sweet secret: My horses are PERFECT!

And I don’t say that lightly.

You see, I’ve had the opposite –

And so I know to value this.

~~~

You can hate me for it – really you can.

Or you can ask yourself, how did she ever get it???

What did she do to get the formula right?

I know that most horse people never seem to achieve it . . .

It’s taken me fortysomething years of horsing – but I’ve finally gotten it right!!!

~~~

A Perfect horse is one that gives Perfect performance. Perfect relationship. Perfect rides.

Oh, there will be those among you who think I’m harsh. Downright cruel. Because I really enjoy having obtained Perfection.

I enjoy loading my horses into my trailer – without hesitation, without fault.

Hauling a short drive up the road to breathtaking, high-altitude, single-track, wilderness-Nirvana.

Moonrise. Sunsets. Starbursts. I’ve ridden them all. Over, and over, again.

~~~

Riding Perfect trails – endless, forested Nature – five minutes from my Perfect horsey house . . .

Horses willing, always willing, and ready, and sound, and fantastic!

Cantering, trotting, flying down, up, ’round the dips and bends like the rocket ships at Disneyland’s Space Mountain.

And I’ve bred and raised them! All five – soon to be six – Fae fresh back from the breeders. And they are smart and wise and athletic.

And I smile and thank God for the wonder of it all!!!

~~~

Because my childhood was spent dreaming about this . . .

My adulthood spent creating it. All the decisions, all the crossroads in life, leading here.

Not by chance, but by trial and error – overcoming all the awful circumstances

And let-downs life brings, and rising, somehow, above those obstacles

Into the fullness of my current reality . . .

~~~

So I hope to hold a beacon for those souls now struggling: I struggled, too.

But continue on. Find your way. Through the forest of decisions.

And keep headed toward your horsey goals. Don’t ever stop!!!

And know that PERFECTION is possible!!! And it’s fantastic!

But you have to aim for Perfection to get there. And let go of whatever can’t work.

~~~

Aria Shadow Rock

Copyright 2013

7 Comments

October 19, 2013 · 2:12 am

Adventurer of the Night

Come ride with me and my mare, Fae, on this Magical Mountain Adventure! 

Originally ridden/written July 2009. No camera that night; Rode Laddie now 5  up the same trail recently. Photos: July, 2013.

Ride on! : ~ )

Stylized -- Laddie, McGill

Far from the city lights, high up in my California mountains, Paradise calls.

I am one of the very lucky ones – I, and the pilot who flies a lone plane overhead – hear the engine, see the strobe.

I wave and tip my mental hat, passing along a greeting to my fellow Adventurer of the Night.

~~~

Into the twilight, early July, my first high-mountain ride of the season, I ride my Mare past the portal of McGill Trail, up, up, into the wilderness.

Even though risks lie in steep drop-offs just inches beside me, here, I am always welcome. Always safe.

Up, up, we stride, into the comfort of the falling curtain of night.

Setting Sun -- McGill I

~~~

A burnt orange halo sets off the Western horizon, graced by a silhouetted treeline across a vast ravine.

This ragged wilderness stands as it always has, some fifty miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, jutting to nearly 9,000’, separate from the farther inland ranges.

This, Mount Pinos (the television depiction of “Walton’s Mountain”) – my mountain-brother, my protector – defines the landscape here and holds at bay the far-off city lights.

(Were it not for these mountains, and others across California, the city would sprawl even more . . . )

I moved here, years ago, from the coast, from Malibu, because of this forested mountain-brother – to be near him, sheltered by him. To ride and ski and hike his peaks and curves as long as my life allows.

Twilight -- McGill Trail

~~~

Although tonight is my first solo ride here on Fae, all our horses know this route, especially at nighttime. I’ve ridden this section for so many years, under so many circumstances, like a familiar road home.

Here, the steep turn where Prize tried to flip over with me. Fae takes it well tonight, pivoting, and climbing the hairpin crimp.

And here, the switchback where Sage got disoriented and turned around that night. He followed us, loose and free, all the way up from Mill Canyon. But here we had to ride back to find him.

I can still see him: dazed, walking alone, his gray coat shimmering white in the starlight – as if illuminated by a fairy’s torch.

And I realize that my entire herd lives-on here. Both the horses we ride and love now, and the ones beyond the rainbow . . .

As if each ride leaves an ethereal record of our passing.

Fanta and Starboy and Mentor are here. Lacey and Fauna and Angel. And Fae, little filly Fae, still follows mother Fanta, jumping the (now decomposing) fallen log in the meadow . . .

Their spirits linger, like those of the deer and birds and wildflowers that call this spot home.

Dawn & Laddie -- McGill II

~~~

So I ride alone on Fae tonight—a maiden ride of sorts after her recent foals, Aria and Laddie, one year after the other. Fae, fresh back home, ready to polish and mature.

And I remember Fae as a newborn filly in the simple days before 9/11. We had one week of bliss before the towers came down. How I appreciate that time now.

In those early days, I can still feel them, I lay with baby Fae and held her, stretched out in Fanta’s shadow, breathing peacefully, oblivious to the changing world.

I stroked her neck and whispered of the mountain adventures we’d surely have. How she’d carry me, and we’d soar, and all the wonderful rides we’d share.

And here we are, all these years later, on the dark side of the mountain, fulfilling that dream!

Laddie Shadow

~~~

Fae surges strong beneath me. Fanta, she definitely pulled Fanta, my life-long Appaloosa mare – endless energy and springy gait. But Dallas the Shire (who is also her sire) is present here, as well. Big-stepping, big-framed, big-heart.

Fae’s hooves clop the earth with draft-horse thud, yet her gait springs forward, willing. No need to prod her tonight, she flies into the darkness, ever up-ward, finding her way.

Rounding the bend, we come into the moonlight now, illuminating the valley below.

Laddie Looking -- Look Out

Across the expanse, above the inky ridgeline, a distant grid-work of tiny lights twinkle through the saddle of adjacent Tecuya Ridge: Bakersfield. “Civilization.”

Directly below, the soft glow of several dozen Cuddy Valley lights – our home included – nestle, as if hanging from a hammock between the peaks.

Surreal, almost Supernatural, the lights flare and dance – taunting in the distance, reassuring in the foreground – wagging an incriminating finger at those voyagers beyond their reach. As if their magnetism should have been sufficient to hold us, keep us in the safely lit confines of home.

But we, broken free from their gravity, stare out in amazement, as if viewing our own galaxy from a spaceship, from afar.

Dusk --Cuddy Valley from McGill

~~~

Past the lookout I stop, dismount – it must be ten o’clock – and I realize how rich I am.

Who else would be, could, be up here, in the darkness, in the wilderness, riding her Mare without a care, and sitting here by the trail, feeling completely safe and at home?

It’s a still night, not a breeze. So warm and beautiful. And I sit and lavish praises on lovely Fae, the outline of her large head darker than the shadows from the surrounding trees.

And I marvel at my life. At the freedom. At the peace and beauty of these mountains – my mountains. Awaiting me, here, in the beginning of summer, ready for my repeated return.

Favorite Tree

~~~

I look up into the sky, filled with stars, and I notice the airplane, from Bakersfield-way. I see the landing light. And I imagine the man or woman in the cockpit.

How many times did I fly over these inky mountains, years ago, in my yuppie-business-pilot-youth? Not knowing that a woman below me, and her second-generation Mare, could be wishing me farewell?

I watch, and listen until it’s no longer overhead. Until I’m no longer in the red-glowing cockpit of my long-ago plane, but rather, sitting by the trail again, holding the reins to my Mare. In the shadows, in the darkness. On the side of a 9,000’ Southern California peak . . .

I mount up, we turn back, and head towards home.

Magical moonbeams drape across the darkened landscape, illuminating spots and patches random, like an Appaloosa.

And I ride my surefooted Shire-Appaloosa Mare, homeward.

Richer, still, because of the Adventure.

Setting Sun -- McGill II

~~~

Copyright 2009, 2013

12 Comments

September 9, 2013 · 10:27 pm

My Body is a Workhorse

My body awaits the day

Like a workhorse.

Like a racehorse.

It knows that soon

It shall be put to task.

~~~

How has society changed enough for a woman to seek out and learn to shoe horses?

What has happened to the “weaker sex”?

When I first began trimming my own barefoot horses’ hooves, twentysomething years ago – in my 30’s – it challenged me.

And I arose to the task.

It took two years of fumbling – with the tools, the skills, the posturing – to become even somewhat comfortable.

Hawaiian Hoof Trim

Six years later, when I got Max (with his old heel injury – requiring shoes) and hauled him to Chatsworth for my farrier-uncle to fix, I sized up the situation: I had to learn.

Not just to trim.

But to shoe.

For Max – in order for Max to stay sound.

That meant learning how to: Nail, shape, clinch, pull – an extremely challenging, physical skill set! Done all the while, bending over-down-up-down . . .  Underneath, and HOLDING UP the horse!

(In the beginning it hurt so bad, I couldn’t walk for three days.)

I remember thinking: “I wish it were a year from now!”

For I knew that I’d be much better at all this after a year.

Santi Hoof

Now, nearly two decades later, I am indeed much better.

I still maintain my own horses’ hooves.

I’ve also established a hoofcare and farrier practice, trimming and shoeing and keeping many other horses sound.

But, I’m older now.

And age has a way of eating away at you. As it should, slowing you down a little bit.

Good 'ol Chap

~~~

. . . The working parts on the car wear out first: Belts, bearings, transmission, alternator.

In humans: Shoulders, knees, neck, wrist, thumbs. (Feet, too!)

And her perspective at fiftysomething is far different from her thirtysomething past.

She works slower, happier. Eats better, rests more. She works smarter.

(Lighter, brighter, less pain now, Gluten-Free : ~ )

The years tick on – and still she does the work.

The commitments loom greater with age.

And the gargantuan effort she throws into the task

Appears easy to those who look on . . .

DawnHoof

~~~

My body is a workhorse.

And I work with horses.

And the horses are the

Leisurely in this generation,

And we humans are the

Workhorses now.

Strange!

Dawn and Fable

Copyright 2013

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August 31, 2013 · 8:12 pm

Aria, My Pegasus

“Aria’s not just a horse.  Aria’s my Pegasus!” DawnHoof

Aria flies and floats along the path,

With rhythmic movement,

Seeing – not as a horse sees,

Reacting – not as a horse reacts.

Aria Running

Aria Running

Aria possesses the freshness of Nature —

Riding trails she’s never seen before

With an elegant grace beyond

Her tender, ‘green’ years.

(She’s just turning 6 at the time of this writing — 11 now, in 2018)

Beyond a mere horse – as splendid as horses are,

Into the realm of Fantasy.

My Fantasy!

img_5631

My Pegasus Horse sniffs

The wind and carries me to Magical Places.

Always willing, always forward,

Lifting both my earthly weight, and hers,

Freely.  Effortlessly.  Without hesitation.

Lifting my SOUL and heart and

Passion for Life, in the process!

Aria looking

Aria restores my faith in God,

In Life’s Bigger Picture – that all things certainly do

Work together for good – even her

Broken knee at 4-months of age

(the Vets wanted to euthanize)

Which by prayer and herbs,

Love and fate, healed and

Meshed to 100% perfection!

Beyond coincidence.  Beyond chance.

Filly Aria

Filly Aria, 2007

God knew His plans for her, for us

And the importance she plays in my

Four-generation horse genealogy.

Aria, the Granddaughter of my foundation mare, Fanta,

Niece of Starboy, Daughter of Faramir,

Daughter of Fae, Sister of Laddie,

Mother of Hokuleia, heir-apparent

Of all that is good from that now-famous line –

Arabian/Appaloosa/Shire/Thoroughbred/Running Quarter

– Bloodlines that look and flow like a Morgan,

Gaited, I swear, her running-trot

So smooth and fluid, my head never bobs,

Speeding so fast, the others

Must canter to keep pace.

Aria Shadow Rock

Aria Shadow Rock — Malibu

Aria, My Pegasus.

My 3rd-Generation Mare,

Each one improving those before,

Actualizing my Childhood Dreams,

Fulfilling my Horsey Whimsy.

Satisfying every ounce of my Soul!

~~~

Frilly Horse

Copyright 2013, 2018

6 Comments

July 24, 2013 · 12:38 am

My Horse is So Cute!

This poetic piece from July 2013, inspired during a quick-moving ride on Starboy — deep into the woods, sprinting across the sand wash, searching for a fresh way to communicate the thrill of a great ride — brought these images to mind :))   DawnHoof

My horse is a Beach Boy, a Beatle, a Lovin’ Spoonful.
The Doors singing endless loops of “Light My Fire!”

He’s a Corvette, a Porsche, a Ferrari.

His long black mane flaps in the breeze –
The very ends flip up, leaving lacy shadows
on the ground beneath his neck.

~~~

My Horse is the perfect boyfriend.

He takes me out – we go out on dates all the time
– out into Nature. If only he’d pay the way . . .

He carries me across rain ruts, across streambeds,
over thresholds and through gateways of every kind.

He’s so polite, he opens every door for me.

He knows I like to go fast – and he likes to go FAST, too . . .

~~~

My horse is Disneyland, Magic Mountain,
Six Flags, Irwindale Raceway –

My horse is a hot rod, a dragster, a funny car,
a Shelby GT 350.

The Monorail, the Matterhorn, the Viper,
Space Mountain.

~~~

My Horse is so smooth, he’s buttery Chardonnay,
made in small batches in French Oak barrels.

He’s Pinot Noir, the really expensive stuff – Vintners Reserve.
My horse is fine Brandy, Cointreau,
Irish Crème, Italian Limoncello.

Tiramisu, cheesecake, tart key lime pie.

~~~

My horse is my soul-mate  – through
blood, sweat – and years – his lineage
passed down through four generations . . .

My Dream Horse, My Little Pony,
My Pegasus, My Unicorn.
He satisfies all my horsey dreams!

~~~

My Horse is an Eagle, a Condor, a Falcon,
soaring the hillsides and valleys with
precision and ease.

My Horse is an ocean with glimmering
sunbeams, moonbeams – forever
dancing and shimmering with light.

~~~

Starboy's mane

 Copyright 2013

3 Comments

July 13, 2013 · 2:35 pm

My Horse is a River

My horse is a river. I prepare once again to bathe in his tidepool and wade in his will.

I submerge in his cool waters to refresh my soul — and drink, deep and long — as often as I may.

Taking a breath, I close my eyes and dive into his saddle.

Where will we go? His current will take me. How long will we ride? As long as we may!

My horse is a swiftly flowing river, with ever-changing moods. He waxes overflowing, exuberant with life.

With endless gallops and carefree abandon, he satisfies my childhood dreams.

~~~

My horse carries me to distant shores. I merge into his watery depths, surrendering my heart.

His movement sweeps me away from time and space, washes my spirit and cleanses my senses.

I immerse my body in the rapids of his powerful currents. His hidden eddies capture the secret of my soul.

~~~

Sun sparkles off my horse’s silken coat like a thousand moonbeams. Dazzling. Hypnotic.

My horse’s sweat smells sweet as he surges ‘round the next bend, ever seeking the new, the fresh, the surreal.

Nostrils flared, ears pricked forward, my horse is freedom in motion.

His hooves beat to the sound of water rushing, tumbling toward distant mountains and verdant pastures.

His mane flows like water surging over rocks in its course as I ride his swell and surf his waves.

Laughing, exuberant, we gallop headlong into the sublime.

~~~

As long as there is a sun and a sky, my horse will transport me to new reaches of discovery as his floodgates open and pour me into the watery depths of his soul.

~~~

Hide

Copyright 2013

3 Comments

May 8, 2013 · 1:58 pm

Where Have All the Horsemen Gone?

They were usually the quiet type. Soft spoken, athletic, lean.

They approached their charges with sensitivity and practical skills, passed on from parents and uncles of the generation before them. Learned firsthand from toiling on the family ranch or farm.

Horsemanship was a lifelong tradition. It was something in the family. Something in the blood.

They worked with the whole picture in mind, not just the moment at hand. And all that they did, like an artist taking a paintbrush to canvass, made the finished composition into a fine work of art.

When they spoke, the horse grew quiet. His eye softened. He lowered his head and took a breath and a lick.

They could accomplish in quick order what others couldn’t, no matter how much time.

Where have all the horsemen gone?

~~~

Oh yes, there still are a precious few.

Men and women who know the breath, the timing, the heartbeat of the matter. Who can come in and whisper and in short order have the tiger tamed and eating out of their hands. Who know when to become big and explosive, but also when to immediately soften, breathe and reward.

But there are too many imposters in our modern-day-horsie world. Too many who learned to parrot empty behaviors and have somehow lost the ability to think for themselves and gather practical tools from real-life mentors—tools that work.

I remember the day when the seasoned older horseman or woman was the honored elite of every horse community. These were the mentors that us younger horse-addicts would look to for guidance.

How to keep a horse from biting? “Offer the prick of a hatpin or nail.” (Or what about the one using the “hot potato”?)

What to do about barn-sour tendencies or out-and-out refusals? “Make him more concerned about YOU than the object or direction of his fear.”

~~~

As a farrier, I’ve seen horses that were misunderstood or mistreated by farriers before me. (Actually this has improved over recent years from when I first began the craft in 1990. A good sign, I’d say, as things for horses seem to be improving.)

Inevitably the horse has a balance problem, usually on the hind end. And because the animal couldn’t lift his leg high enough and couldn’t balance properly, he was punished.

OK. Punish for striking, kicking, biting—but leave balance alone!

There are ways to accommodate. Work down lower, find a place that’s comfortable for your client, the horse. Cock up an ankle and turn your boot into the lowest makeshift hoof stand. Weld up a mini stand (mine is 9” tall). Get down on your knees.

My old uncle, Ink Knudson, a farrier for more than fifty years, had a trick with a leather shoelace that works wonders with an unruly horse.

Tie one end to the top ring (or knot) of the halter. Bring the lace around and into the mouth, leaving it loose enough so that the horse can tongue it, play with it, then bring it up and tie to the ring on the other side.

“He can’t think about two things at once,” Uncle Ink explains.

“He’ll try to spit out the string and forget about what you are doing.” (This method has helped me throughout the years.)

~~~

I’ve found that breathing really works. When the horse does anything close to what I’ve asked of him, I back off the pressure and take a big breath, softening my body and voice, making a long, impressive loose-lipped exhale.

The horse takes my lead, breathes, licks, lowers his head, and I know I’m in.

(Well, there was that mare on Molokai with the tendon-hitch to her hind end. She breathed and licked all soft and gentle—then hauled off and kicked me in the arm! I guess they’re exceptions to every rule.)

I weave back and forth, working my way closer into his range of acceptance, waiting for the heavy feeling of relaxation—the weight of the limb—that tells me he’s allowing me in.

Remember, I work with the feet, the same feet that either yield or strike, and the heavy weight tells me he’s not ready to strike. It’s an art, reading the horse and not getting killed.

(I was kicked in the head by a mule once, after I was done working—when by all means, it appeared I was “safe”. I had ignored my instincts that day. The mule had told me. But I made the mistake of listening to the trainer—and not the mule, and not my own gut. . .)

~~~

An older woman, a former client of mine, Sheila, had her own way of getting into a horse’s heart zone. She was the first one I’d seen with this approach, and it worked like magic.

Her grey Mustang mare, White Cloud, was apprehensive of me. I was in my shoeing chaps, this was my first time working with her, and the mare had plenty of previous issues with farriers.

Sheila went in to catch her up. White Cloud’s head rose, she backed away and turned slightly, ready to flee.

Sheila quietly, calmly—in slow motion—bowed her head, and then her body.

Low. Lower. Released. Relaxed.

Then she waited in that vulnerable bent position.

And then White Cloud looked at Sheila intently, stretched out her neck, took a breath and stepped slowly, softly forward, until she breathed her nostrils into Sheila’s hair.

Then ever-so-slowly Sheila lifted her body upright.

And they were one. Melded. Connected from the heart.

And the once-wild Mustang accepted Sheila as her own

(And then we went on to trimming her hooves. . .)

~~~

What a good reminder to the rest of us—to have the sense, the humility, to look up and seek out the Uncle Inks and the Sheilas and the breathing and the calmness that allows us humans to enter into the heart zone of the animals that we adore.

After all, our goal is a working relationship between ourselves and our horses. To participate in the joy of discovering, freshly, how to overcome obstacles—together.

Then the horsemen will continue their legacy. And the horses will whisper back in return.

~~~

Copyright 2013

8 Comments

April 4, 2013 · 1:03 pm

Cow Jokes!

Horse Jokes/Cow Jokes

OK — enough talk about Horse Rides. Let’s get into some jokes!

I work with horses — both my own and my client’s. I’m a farrier, which means I trim barefoot hooves and, when necessary, I shape, fit and nail on horseshoes. But years ago I milked cows on several fragrant dairy farms in Enumclaw, Washington.

Jokes intrigue me — partly because I’m not that funny of a person — I rarely remember jokes. But also, as a writer, I realize that someone took the time to come up with the things. And then they got remembered, and then they got spread around.

And I wondered, can anyone write jokes?

Can I?

So one stone-black night while riding my horses (and getting a little frightened in the darkness that particular spooky night) I decided to try my hand at writing jokes. Just to calm my nerves and give my mind a place to go.

I began with Horse Jokes.

~~~

What did the chestnut say to the palomino?
What’s up, pal?

Why did the Dressage horse break up with the Western horse?
He couldn’t hack-amore.

Peter, Peter pumpkin whopper
Had a horse and couldn’t stop her
Put her in a Kimberwick
And then he stopped her REAL QUICK!

What do you call a stuck-up wound?
Proud flesh.

Why did the pony gallop across the meadow?
He tried to narrow the field.

~~~

You get the idea. Nothing great — but it was a start.

Then, a couple weeks later, I decided to shift to Cow Jokes. That’s when I realized how much funnier cows are than horses!

So here are a few of my favorite ORIGINAL Cow Jokes:

~~~

What do you say to a cow who plays the harp?
Holy Cow!

Why did the heifer* take off her sweater?
She came into heat.

(*heifer: a young female cow)

What do cows in the Himalaya Mountains produce?
Frozen Yogurt.

Where do the Mormon cows like to hang out?
Salt Lick City.

What is the biggest problem facing modern cows today?
Bull shit!

What kind of lashes communicate kindness?
Eyelashes.

Why did the cow refuse to be milked?
Her bag bombed.

I’ve heard of a fat cat, but what do you call a fat cow?
Heavy Cream.

What kind of cake do cows like for their birthday?
Cheese Cake.

~~~

So there you have it. I know it’s a bit much, but I’ve brainstormed 17 pages of Cow Jokes so far…

And just to lighten things up, I’ll be interspersing a few Cow, Farrier, Horse Jokes along the way.

Hope that helps!

Moooooo!

(Really get into it — I hope you’ll “Moooooo!” with the correct bovine head-toss, pitch, intonation and accent, by the way…)

Dawn

Red Cow

Copyright 2013

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April 1, 2013 · 5:05 pm

Finding Fae’s Dream

Fae’s my horse. Fae’s my dream! My life-long horse-dream come true!

When I ride Fae, my home-bred half-Shire mare, now twelve years old, she’s perfect! Glassy, smooth gaits, willing mount, responding lightly to my every whim.

But why is it that when certain other people ride my perfect mare, she responds poorly to them? What could be the difference between how I ride her, and how another rides?

(My kids and I must ride the same, for she also glides effortlessly for them.)

And Fae’s not alone. I see the same thing with Starboy. His walk completely influenced by the rider. When I ride him, he strides out. With another, “heavier” rider – not in weight but stiffness of movement – he lags and drags behind. Oy!

~~~

Fae Shadow Trail

So I rode Fae into the wilderness tonight, free-flowing, strong, setting out to solve this mystery – paying attention not just to the jubilant experience of our swift endurance-style ride, but how was I able to get this out of her? What was my role in attaining her perfection?

I’ve named the phenomenon: Finding (My Horse’s) Dream.

Every good horse has a DREAM HORSE inside – but how do I, as her rider, discover her dream? How do I mine it? Unleash it? Coerce it out of her?

Yes, every good horse has both an indwelling DREAM HORSE and a demon – the instinctive, spooky flight-or-fight creature who resists any attempt at control.

(I say every good horse, because in fortysomething years of horsing, most unfortunately, I’ve discovered – due to limitations beyond their control – certain individual horses operate outside the realm of “normal” and pose a serious danger to whomever tries to bond with them. Certain horses should not be ridden, and are not capable of rising to the dimension of the human/horse dream.)

~~~

I’m a trail rider, an endurance rider. That means I’m an Arabian rider. And all my horses have varying amounts of Arabian blood. Arabs, as a rule, want to go – and go, and go, and goooooo!

That’s why they excel at endurance. They endure because they want to endure. Not because somebody’s pushing them!

I don’t like to have to kick a horse, goad a horse to get her to move. I like a horse that wants to move out as much as I do.

Fae, being half-Shire, a “heavy” draft breed much like a Clydesdale, tends to be on the lazy side. (She’s only 1/8th Arabian – not that much!) But fortunately she’s not completely dull. She inherited some spice from Fanta, her dam, my tireless Appaloosa/Arabian/Thoroughbred/Racing-Quarter/Endurance-Dream-Horse-Mare.

Yet in order for Fae to perk up and move out, she needs something to motivate her. So I notice with Fae that I use certain tricks in order to get her to go.

Hokuleia in tow

Strategies & Tricks:

Two’s Company

Rather than ride alone, I’ll bring along another fast-moving horse, so she’ll have a “target” to keep up with, creating a bit of competition. In this case, “ponying” along on a rope, I brought Starboy, her half-Arabian brother – another one of Fanta’s. (Starboy also happened to be in a lazy mood today.)

Say it Out Loud

I notice how much I talk to my horses as I ride. Romancing, praising, singing, in an on-going, energetic dialog.

I remember years ago observing this while watching a carriage driving competition, how verbal the communication between horse and human. Horses respond well to our speech and tone, so I use my voice to encourage her.

Last night I began with camp songs in the meadow area outside the woods (“Just give me land, lots of land under starry skies above, Don’t fence me in…”) then Beatles songs (Norwegian Wood) as we re-entered the forest and came up and into the straight-away, gaining steam.

I heard myself repeating over and over (in melodic tone), “That a girl, Fae,” “You’re soo good, Fae,” “What an AWESOME mare!!!” – talking to her constantly in a perky, peppy way, to overcome her heavy-slow-Shire side, and bring-up the Fanta in her.

Amp Up!

I notice that my riding is very light as far as rein control goes. I’m not “on” her mouth, rather allowing her, encouraging her to move forward. But this isn’t just done with my hands.

I bring my energy UP so that she will mimic my behavior. My body rides forward and light in the saddle, encouraging her movement to match mine.

Actually, I end up doing far more “surfing” than riding! Like bodysurfing a wave in the ocean, my whole body communicates with my mare. I notice how sensitive she is, and that subtle changes in my muscle tension, incline, and cadence affect her gaits.

After all, I’m RIDING the horse, bringing the horse’s energy up – not merely sitting, kicking, waiting…

Riding’s a vigorous physical activity, and I’m often winded by the effort.

Riding Style:

1) I find that I incline my body forward, a bit like a jockey, upwards in the stirrups. This places my weight and energy ahead of her center of balance, and acts as a gas pedal to cause her to go. In this manner I either post, lifting out of the saddle with each rhythm of her stride, or I stand somewhat in the stirrups (two-point), leaning forward, letting my legs act as shock absorbers – so that I’m smooth, not bouncing.

2) I use my legs to encourage her on, but not my heels. I “kick” with my upper calves, bump, bump, bumping, in rhythm with her stride. Like a metronome, my active legs set and keep her beat. Another way of thinking of it is like pumping your legs on a swingset. Rhythmical, in, out, in, out… Bump, bump… Pumping her motion in beat with my own.

3) I strive to anticipate what she’ll do. I know where she tends to go faster, slower. At the first feel of her slowing down, I use my tongue against the top of my mouth in a tisk-tisk fashion (rather than a cluck-cluck) to encourage her on, and I do this in unison with the movement of my calves against her, which is in unison with the movement of her stride. All the while, inclining my body forward.

4) I always ride with a Dressage whip (better known as a “wand”) and only use it sparingly, as a reminder, with either a brief snap against her shoulder or flank, or series of tap, tap, tapping – once again, setting the beat. (Just carrying the wand lets the horse know I mean business – I rarely use it, but apply it as a back-up to my other aids.)

Turns out, I’m playing music. Fae’s music. My wand-baton, my legs, my body – keeping the beat – like a dance, like a drummer, like an orchestra. I, the bandleader, conducting a symphony upon her forested stage…

Fae Shadow Tree McGill

~~~

Popping out of the woods, we hit the soft-sand wash, leaping sagebrush and logs, legs flying beneath me. No need to encourage her here, as she grabs the ground and pours on fresh steam with the change of setting and footing. Fae snorts the wind and opens up, Starboy flying behind us.

On we soar, rising, dipping, until she finally slows, signaling that she’s had enough. We walk a beat, taking in the beauty of the evening. Watching the trees and brush and animal tracks that make up our wild-land home. Her neck stretching, swinging.

Out of the wash, at the “galloping place” now – onto the firmer ground of smooth-surfaced dirt roadway, slightly climbing upward – Fae, sufficiently rested, tosses her head and signals that she’s ready to roll.

I ease my body forward, no leg needed. She picks up pace now, her smooth stride heaving in a mad-dance of pure-raw-powered horsey joy!

Starboy, next to us, stretches his nose, legs flying, pouring on speed. The three of us careening forward – just because we can…

Oh the excitement of a warmed-and-ready horse – finally cut loose, galloping full-out – just for the fun!

Whoops and hollers! Exuberant hearts! Broad smiles!

Starboy bursts into a fresh round of speed. Fae following suit, with quick large strides.

Neck to neck. Encouraging one another. Taunting one another.

“Come on, Fae, he’s whooping you! Are you going to let him get away with that? No, you’re not going to let him win! You’re going to whoop his…”

Fae matching, pouring it on… Legs, hooves, blurring, striking the earth. Stretching muscle and tendon and bone.

Manes and tails tossing with joy!

~~~

Looks like I’ve found Fae’s Dream!

~~~

Starboy and Fae lounging in snow

Copyright 2013

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March 25, 2013 · 3:49 am

Snapshot of a Short Winter Ride

Rode Starboy, ponying Fae, up the Snow Gate Road — until the ice, still unmelted, turned us back. My first ride in six long weeks, due to frozen weather and my routine work and travel.

I made mental notes, and I recall them now.

Starboy’s movement glides beneath me, ears pricked forward, ready to roll – Fae, following along on a rope off our left side, mirrors our pace.

We trot up the long grade to the neck of the hidden dirt road. Burst into a gallop. Then slow due to the slushy patches of ice.

Speeding. Slowing. Again. Again.

At the top of the first hill near the camp, the ice covers the road even thicker, threatening our hooves with slipping and falling.

(We’ve done that before – No-Thank-You!)

I steer Starboy off to the side, into the low brush and mud, to avoid a blunder. Fae picks her footing on the worst part of the road rut, skidding part-way, but still staying upright – catching herself just in time, like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

From here the iced-over road gets worse.

We can’t go forward, so we turn into the empty camp, shut down for the off-season and the cold. The camp path is damp but free of snow.

Walking, we amble past the short row of cabins. Past the mess hall. Past the fire pit.

Past the open-air amphitheater, waiting, like a movie set, for next season’s campers to fill the wooden benches that arch around the stage.

I’ve galloped past the campers before, knowing that at least a few of them must have taken note of our fleeting form, on the other side of the thicket  wishing they, too, could ride. . .

Like me, as a kid, gawking and aaahing over every horse I was lucky enough to see.

~~~

We turn now and follow a small jeep trail that leads downhill, into the woods.

Gazing upwards, native Jeffry Pine trees tower a hundred feet overhead. Other than hoofbeats, the sounds of silence surround me – not even a birdcall.

How old must this forest be? How tall are these trees? A girl with two horses seems so small, so insignificant compared to all this.

I breathe in the smells of the forest. Earthy. COLD.

Yes, cold has a smell. Invigorating. Like a walk-in deep-freeze.

Looking down, beneath me on the forest floor, short-stemmed grasses hang on to life in the mud, under the snow, waiting-out winter – ready to grow with a moment’s warmth.

Pine cones, pine needles, oak leaves dot the earth in Nature’s monotone mosaic. All of life seeming to be on hold right now, in hopes of the signals of spring.

My body rocks with the movement of Starboy’s walk. Fluid. Steady. His muffled hoofbeats treading the boggy Earth.

Fae’s big Shire feet plodding, reverberating. Her hind feet, shod, scuffing, dragging somewhat, in rhythm with her gait.

I feel the air, fresh and cool.

Yet in my coat and layers, I’m comfortable – my upper thighs and legs, warm with the friction of fabric in motion, the undersides warm from the woolen fleece saddle cover.

The only cold spot, the very-back-sides of my legs, circulating the frigid air with every swaying step.

~~~

We pop out of the woods now. Back onto the road. Below the ice. Headed home.

Past our distant-neighbor’s snorting, prancing, head-tossing herd – two pintos, two bays, a chestnut, buckskin? Can’t really tell with the mud and lowering light.

Onto the main road now, setting sun behind. Indigo shadows fill the Vee between the ridgelines. Orange-tinted pastels brighten the horizon.

Walking home, two dogs, barking, run out in greeting, still inside their fenced enclosure.

Trotting again, down the straightaway.

Starboy whinnies to his stablemates.

And we round the final bend toward home. . .

~~~

Snowy Knoll

Copyright 2013

5 Comments

February 15, 2013 · 3:44 pm

Tuesday Evening Ride

My horse carries me

Surging, pulsing

Through the sand wash,

Through the sagebrush,

Leaping, powering

Embodying pure joy.

~~~

Setting sun blinds me

But my faithful horse

Carries me, melds with me –

He, my eyes,

He, my legs,

He, my will.

~~~

I drop my seat

Deep into my saddle,

Trusting my horse

To protect me,

To keep me,

To carry me as he always has,

~~~

Into realms of wilderness

And wonder,

Of daylight and moonlight –

Making magical memories

Of a simple Tuesday

Evening ride.

~~~

Mustang Mirror -- Cropped

Copyright 2013

5 Comments

January 3, 2013 · 6:27 am

Aladdin’s Wings

Dancing Horse

My horse is Aladdin’s carpet, transporting me on a magic ride.

He soars like an eagle over the mountain tops up Liebre Peak. Liebre means freedom, and he carries me to freedom each time we ride.

My horse’s canter is smooth as silk, glassy morning air before the wind comes up. Our bodies meld as we soar the trails, feeding my soul.

His flowing mane pumps the air like graceful wings, bringing us higher, deeper – like the eagle – into the freedom of the great outdoors.

Rows and Flows of Angel Hair

I’ve seen an eagle, alone and with its mate, upon several occasions. (Golden Eagle)

At first I thought them to be condors, hanging in the thermals like slow moving formation-bombers, with broad wingspan and hypnotic, deliberate wingbeats. Definitely not a hawk.

Hawks are quick and noble, but the eagle is also grand. Majestic. The sight of one stops your heart and takes your breath away. A symbol of something unobtainable.

You find yourself stopping, staring, drinking in the experience, in an almost spiritual way.

And just when it appears he’s coming your way, he veers, and separates, your neck straining for a better view, like he knew you were there, waiting for him, admiring him.

But he chose a more secret aside . . .

High-fling Condor

California Condor, soaring, Mt. Pinos range in background (Los Padres National Forest).

 

As if he knew, without his secrecy, his mystique would disappear, and vanish as quickly as he does. 

(Like the mountain lion tracks I saw one January, left fresh in the snow.) 

You know so little of his daily regime, but pride yourself in thinking you’ve somehow shared with him, touched him with your fleeting knowledge that he was here.

After all, you saw him soar . . .

“That’s where the mountain lion walked, that thin rut through the brambles is his trail. And he reappeared here, by the downed oak tree, and his tracks ambled westward into the dense underbrush.

“And here is where the Golden Eagle flew. We studied him long and in awe as he soared, hovered, and then folded his massive wings, dove and disappeared as from thin air.”

Cosmic images forever preserved. Within me. Within this particular spot in the trail . . .   

Fae Shoes - all 4

My horse’s hoofbeats thunder beneath me, shouting freedom with every stride.

Sunlight kisses his neck, the same setting sun that reflected on the eagle. It goldens and deepens and captures my gaze.

But my eagle is obtainable.

My eagle doesn’t elude me.

My eagle carries me, like Aladdin, into magical realms, and the tapestry of his flying mane weaves a safety net for my soul!

DawnHoof

Starboy's flying mane

Copyright 2012, 2020

Photos:  Dawn Jenkins

~~~~

Higher and Higher

Please also visit my Life Blog, Journal of Dawn ,
for Strategies and Insights into the
Journey of Life

~~~~

Fae on the trail

Join Dawn for a Soul Horse Ride!  Experience the thrill of becoming one with your Horse . . . Join Dawn and her homegrown herd for a Soul Horse Ride in the
Frazier Park Outback!

Call to book your Life-Changing Adventure today:  (661) 703-6283

~~~~

 

 

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December 31, 2012 · 4:21 am