June – the month of graduations, weddings, and Father’s Day. In my case, a month of events are taking place in 4 jam packed days. I look less like someone trying to peck out the next ‘Great American’ novel, than I do a displaced lark in a Las Vegas casino coffee shop. My husband and boys are night owls and I am a lark. This is a problem best handled on vacations with gyms, coffee shops, and long baths with a book. With my coffee in hand, I type.
I am in Vegas for my step-dad’s wedding. My parents moved to Vegas about 25 years ago to an acre that has been and is currently home to chickens, cats, rescue horses and donkeys. Sadly, my mom passed a year and half ago. Today, Gene is marrying someone I have known since I was in high school. Auntie Linda was a good friend of my parents, worked with my them and been there through the years. She was even there almost 30 years ago when Mom and Gene said “I do”. I have lots of emotions, but I love them both and wish them all the best.
We are also in Vegas as my husband is bowling the USBC National Tournament. This is a tournament Ray, and his 5 man team have competed together in a combined total of 133 years! The nice part of his bowling is that Ray usually makes some money. Always a good thing and it makes my horse husband happy.
USBC Team Fish & Chips
Rewind a few days, and this is a BIGGIE, my baby graduated high school. Sure thousands of kids have graduated this month, but this was Hunter’s graduation. Did I mention he is my baby? If you don’t have kids, but ride dressage, this would be like taking your home grown/trained horse to his first show. Your horse may not have been high score for the show (valedictorian), may not have won his class (honor student), but he finished with some nice moments. “Horse has a dressage future!” (judge’s comment). “I can’t wait to tell people I knew Hunter when…” (counselor’s comment). You get the idea. He has big potential. I am my kids’ biggest fan and encourage them to follow their dreams. But like my horses, I have set them up for success but leave it to them to do it.
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To you all: here’s to love, happiness, and dreams coming true.
Horses are herd animals. They prefer to hang in groups like teen age girls at the mall. (Hey! I used to be one.) Being in a herd means there is a definite hierarchy, every member has a place. Unlike a pack of dogs, where there is a leader and then the rest of the pack. However, cats are unique animals. They tend to assign a mother role to one of their people. A devoted human who will feed, clean, and adore them even as they are being ignored by said cat. Again, like teens.
Since Jameson came out of a pasture with other 2 year olds, it would not be fair to bring her straight home as an only horse. (Neighbor horses are separated by a few fences, and in time this could work.) But for now, Jameson headed to the Barefoot Veterinarian’s and a new herd. Lorrie is a long time friend and she runs her small animal clinic on the property. Beth, Huey’s mom, is frequently there, too. So, I knew she would have someone keeping an eye on her all the time.
Shadow- The real boss
Huey standing guard
JJ – Freedom Dog
Of course, not just other horses figure into the new herd equation. Horses have the obvious size advantage over us. I am not going to out muscle any horse, but I want to be the leader with my horse in our mini herd. This is so important for training, enjoyment of horses, but most importantly for safety! Fear based training has a major flaw, there will always be something scarier. So with these thoughts in mind, I started working with Jameson.
I had the great opportunity to meet and become friends with Sarah Rolston. She is based in New Zealand, and a popular trainer for all disciplines with her “Release Riding” clinics. Even though she is based half way around the world, she has been helpful and supportive. I hear her in my head as Jameson and I work. “Based on the old classical methods and riding with purpose where you and your horse form a positive partnership. The focus is on soft feel and good leadership. You learn to listen to your horse, and your horse learns to follow your leadership… ”
I remember the feeling that day. I felt the same mixed feeling of accomplishment and uncertainty when I graduated college. I was sitting in our tack room at the El Sueno dressage show. It was a pretty good ride at Intermediare 1 and we scored a 65%. Great, but now what? My trainer, Amy Miller, and I had this discussion a year earlier, after PSG and my silver medal. But getting to Grand Prix would be like going from base camp to the top of Everest, when getting to base camp represents training level to I1. I had owned Zinca since she was 18 months, and at the time she was only 12. If I had more money, she would be with me forever. However, that is not my reality. All my horse money is tied into one horse. I had to consider if she could handle the work. We were already doing joint maintenance. I loved (and still do!) her. My trainer loved her, and she was the barn princess. In the end, we decided to offer her to someone to go through levels. I am happy to say she quickly found her kingdom. So with money in hand, I started looking. After checking out local ads, and on-line postings, I head to Hanford. I have known Willy Arts from DG Bar for many years and trust him explicitly and just asked, “What’s the best young horse (for me) I can get for this amount?” My husband tried to tell me how this is not how to do business. And don’t I want to save some of the money? (Now we are not talking Tesla money, more like a Ford Focus money.) Ummm, no I don’t. Besides look at ALL the money I will be saving on stabling (new young horse coming home), joint maintenance, shoes (only trims for a while), horse shows (only 2 y.o.), and training. Husband with a math degree not convinced. After all he has been a horse husband for 24 years. Back on the ranch, Willy showed me a number of horses from 2-6 to help me solidify what I wanted. What I want is my next FEI horse. But, without a crystal ball we factored in potential plus my likes and needs. And with Amy Miller’s blessing, I chose Jameson, a Judgement filly bred by Iron Spring Farm. Out of the pasture, and halter broke.