Every year I sit down and contemplate what I want the coming year to be about. In 2017 my word was “Moxie” and to be honest last year I just re-used that word as I felt I had more to do! And boy did I get a lot done in the last 2 years!
Because I have a blog and am active on social media I often get targeted by people. This last time was pretty crazy and very upsetting as rumors were flying and I was being accused of things I would never do. I had to take a step back and think about things a little bit.
Along with the out right lies I was also accused of “selling” myself and my ideas and touting that I am an expert at all things driving without EVER taking driving lessons. It was said that I parrot what others that have gone to lessons and/or teach lessons say without giving them credit. I’m so tired of people saying these things. These specific accusations made me nearly delete my blog and leave Facebook. I have never shared anything here that was from someone else without sharing credit.
It may come as a surprise to some but I have been riding, driving and training horses my entire life and have been able to translate much of what I’ve learned from clinics, riding lessons, dressage lessons and training young horses over into driving and training horses to drive. So what I share here is most often what I have learned from trial and error all on my own, out here in the middle of no where Montana. I must say that it surprises me that professional trainers that live on the east coast can get so bent out of shape about my blog. I suppose I should be flattered about that. I don’t have immediate access to a professional driving teacher, though I am hoping to start hauling the 3 hours to the nearest one, but the winter storms are making that interesting! Living out here in the middle of no where has made me very self sufficient. So I understand others that also live out in the middle of no where and have learned things on their own. Horse and ponies are great teachers to those that listen.
If someone emails me and asks for help then I am going to do my best to help them. Do I suggest they get some hands on help? YES!!! I nearly always do unless they told me they will not be seeking hands on help or are already getting some. I don’t know instructors in every state and would not suggest certain ones without having personal experience with them. Though I will often put people in touch with others in their areas, if I can. I will often reach out to people I know around the country to help others.
I started participating in Natural Horsemanship ship clinics when I was 10 years old. 32 years ago. I was the youngest person at those clinics. I went to one specific week long clinic every year until I turned 22 years old. It was taught by a clinician named Bill Smith who studied under Ray Hunt in the winter time and then would come to Montana to teach in the summer time. I learned SO MUCH from him.
During high school I worked for a barn that was across the road from my dad’s in the summer time. I rode young horses and re-started spoiled horses. I re-started horses that had been shown to death and forgot how to be a horse. I rode A LOT of difficult horses during that time.
One of my personal horses during that time was a mustang gathered wild from Nevada, completely untouched until I started working with her. With some help from an old cowboy friend of my dad’s, I was riding her with in a week of starting her, dragging tires through the mountain lion pen. She was being kept at a VERY interesting place where they had mountain lions, bobcats, ostriches and lots of horses and cows. She went on to be an amazing trail horse. And boy could that horse move!
When I graduated high school I went straight to work for a Paso Fino ranch starting young horses under saddle, halter breaking babies and doing tons of trail riding on the green horses. It was there that I had a summer of working directly under Linda Tellington-Jones and her sister Robyn Hood. That is a time I will never forget!
I went on to be very interested in dressage and took lessons with a local friend that I had always looked up to when I was a little girl and in 4-H. She put me together with Jill K. Hassler-Scoop. I was lucky enough to be allowed to ride with her when she was in Montana. What a special time that was! I also rode with a few German dressage instructors that made the trip here and learned SO MUCH about classical dressage and helping a horse have good posture under saddle. These people focused on bring a horse along in a more natural way and not using force to achieve a head set or “collection”. I learned to collect and prepare a horse using their entire body.
When I went back to driving, because I grew up driving Shetland ponies, I used all that I had learned with the big horses to train and develop driving horses and ponies. (and a few donkeys!) So I wouldn’t say I am uneducated.
When I share here, my intent is to help people. I am sharing what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. I am typically not selling anything specific, but will share things that I love. I also share books I love to read and movies I love to watch. But I am not trying to make money with them. Believe me I have tried different multi level marketing type things to make money and have failed miserably at all of them. This is not my forte and I am constantly hurt when people say I only want to help people so I can make money. I have never asked for money on this blog, though I do share my book here, so I guess in that way I am “selling myself.” But know that I share because when I started I didn’t have a lot of hands on help. And those that were helping were also broke like me so we all tried to save money on our journey, which in the long run ended up costing us so much money! If I can save even one person some money I have done what I set out to do.
If I have helped even one person better understand their horse or pony then I will feel like my job has been done well.
I wrote my book years ago because I was training driving horses for people. When I would send the horses/ponies home the owners couldn’t remember how to harness and hitch. Most of my clients were brand new to driving and as we know driving has quite a learning curve. So for each horse I trained I made a small booklet with photos and step-by-step directions for harnessing and hitching. This was time consuming and my Handsome Hubby decided that I should write a book. I felt that was a bit crazy but he kept at me and then got a few others in on the idea and they kept at me so I wrote the first edition of my book.
I had some help from others that were very good at getting words down on paper. Leia Procaccini was one person who was a HUGE help when I wrote that first booklet. I sent it out to quite a few people, I can’t even remember all the people that read that first booklet before we published or I would share them all here! Finally, it was ready and off it went to be printed. Right after I published my driving guide my Aunt wanted to do a little how-to book on using essential oils on animals. So we did that as well!
Then in 2015 Handsome Hubby thought I should re-write my book and publish a Second Edition. We had more information to share and lots more photos. So with his help this time, we set out to do just that! At the same time we made a Second Edition of my Aunt’s book AND I edited and published a book about my Grandfather’s very exciting life. It was a VERY busy 2015!!
So much has gone into who I am now and who I am still becoming. And even the trolls on Facebook have had a part in shaping me. I have lost lots of sleep due to this blog and social media, but that is just part of living a life out loud.
This year I am looking for something a bit different. I am seeking a place where I can feel safe and understood. I am seeking a place where others will also feel safe and understood. I would love to have a place where people can ask any question they may have no matter how “stupid” they think it is. A place where no one would ever say they are stupid or wrong or crazy. I would love to have others weigh in on my blog and share their stories and ideas. If you are interested in contributing to this blog please shoot me an email so we can discuss it!
With all these things in mind I have sat down to come up with my word of the year. This year I am doing something a little different in that I am using a phrase instead:
“Shine Your Light”
When I think of this phrase I think of a place that is warm and welcoming. A place where you would feel loved and accepted just as you are. A place that is kindness itself. I hope you feel that too when you come here.