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

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Copyright 2013, 2016

4 Comments

April 22, 2016 · 9:40 pm