Welcome 2017!

Every year I sit down and go back over the previous year. I think about what I want to make happen in the new year and settle on a “Word of the Year.” In 2015 my word was Inspire. I spent that year really making head way with Billy, riding him on the trails and going to Colorado for a week long Level 3 Freestyle/Bridleless course. It was a fantastic spring/summer!! Even if I did break my arm on April 1st.

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Then I had my confidence shaken while riding, in September and broke my other arm. Though I didn’t need surgery this time, it really broke my heart. I thought I wasn’t worthy of horse ownership. I cried. A lot. That was a difficult winter. So when I sat down to look at the past year and come up with a new word I was searching for peace, harmony and contentment. My word for 2016 was Calm. I was needing to spend some time getting centered again.

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Calm: a state of tranquility

I read lots of books that would help me figure out a few things. I spent lots of undemanding time with Billy and I knew that I wasn’t going to ride anymore. It was a bit of a struggle to admit that to myself, but I wasn’t enjoying riding. I was worried and tense and scared most of the time I was sitting on Billy. Trying to find my Calm while feeling so tense and scared was difficult.

On top of those feelings I had to balance my family. I homeschool my two boys, neither of which are even remotely interested in horses, and try to keep my hubby happy, knowing he doesn’t like horses. At all. My two accidents put a dent in my ability to homeschool, do my housework, cook and clean AND spend time with Billy. Not to mention bring in a small amount of money every month to PAY for my horse addiction. Things were not working out. My hubby was upset with me and we fought. A lot. I made the extremely difficult decision to find Billy a better home with someone confident and fun and understanding. He needs LOTS of understanding. He is definitely a one-of-a-kind horse.

Choosing to let Billy go to someone who would ride him was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made – and I have sold and re-homed horses many times over the years. Billy was one of my heart horses. Luckily I am not the type of person who believes we only get one heart horse in our lifetime. In fact I have had 7 heart horses so far and believe I have one or two standing out in my pasture right now. However, Billy was a very special boy.

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Billy would lay down on command and was well known for his funny faces.

Billy wasn’t happy just being a pet and because he was so young, only 5 years old, I knew he would thrive with someone that would ride him. He found a wonderful home up in the mountains at a guest ranch. The owners of the ranch are kind, compassionate people. When they met Billy and he put his big old head on them they wrapped their arms around it and gave him big hugs. The wife had a pocket full of cookies for him. They are both the real deal and thought Billy was just about the neatest horse they had ever met! He would have lots of horse friends at the ranch and there would be lots to do and see. There would be no chance of him getting bored. I made it a point of delivering him to his new home so I could see him settle in. They were very impressed when we pulled up with my tiny two horse trailer. (In order to shut the door Billy would have to stick his head out the front window!!) Billy was so good. When I opened the back door of the trailer he waited patiently for me to ask him out. Then he stepped out slowly, one foot at a time, calmly looked around and then walked quietly to the arena. The arena is surrounded by big dry lot pens full of horses and Billy’s eyes were WIDE open taking it all in. We walked around a bit and I showed them a few of his talents, including laying down on command, then I let him go and he went around making friends. He immediately befriended a horse that usually doesn’t like ANY horses. Within a few minutes they were sharing a mutual groom over the fence. His new owners were amazed!

When we drove away I was crying, but Billy didn’t even look for me as I left. Before he would follow my vehicle, whinnying, if I left him anywhere. I had a good feeling about this home.

I kept in touch all summer but couldn’t bring myself to go see him. Every time I thought about it I would cry so I figured it was better for both him and myself to let him go. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I’m sure when my boys leave for the military or college I will feel the same way.

I ended up being very surprised at the people that no longer wanted anything to do with me after I found another home for Billy. First the loss of Billy then the loss of some of my “friends” was almost too much. So many times I wanted to walk away from this blog and delete Facebook all together. I can’t say why I didn’t.

I think watching me feel so heartbroken was hard for my Hubby – after the initial anger he felt because I feel the need to have a horse. He watched me struggle for a bit and then casually mentioned miniature horses one day while we were out fixing fence. (One of the many reasons he doesn’t like horses!) I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of that myself! I had been dreading the idea of living without horses. (Something I am NOT good at!) And I had never stopped missing my minis.

So…

He opens a window.
When God closes a door he opens a window.

I called my Mom to tell her my great idea of getting minis again and she offered me her two minis, Sky and Zorro! My good friend Katrina offered me back Captain Planet and walla! I was the proud owner of miniature horses again.

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Sky and Zorro arrive!

I found Bonnie for sale on Facebook (good thing I didn’t delete it!) and soon I was the proud owner of 4 miniature horses!

The ponies and ME!
The ponies and ME!

My mom also gave me her little show cart and Sky’s harness. I have spent some time upgrading parts of the harness and also bought a little easy entry cart. This winter I bought a gaming sled and had an attachment built so I can put my easy entry cart shafts on it. This way I can enjoy some sledding with my ponies! I am looking forward to lots of hours in the cart and sled this 2017.

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Other things I have gathered over the summer and fall are a miniature horse Hoofjack, mini horse Easyboots and a pair of miniature horse Cavallo boots! Miniature things are so cute.

I came across an awesome wholefood horse feed this year as well. I was thrilled to have a local feed store agree to order some and begin carrying it. My ponies have flourished on it!

All four miniature horses after eating Crypto Aero Wholefood.
All four miniature horses after eating Crypto Aero Wholefood.

The girls and I did a lot of hiking and walking this year. Until my health made it too painful for me… This fall we didn’t get out as often as I would have liked!

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I have been struggling with some different issues for the last few years. This was my “Year of the Doctor” and I found out I needed to have a full hysterectomy. I was scared but also hopeful! Scared to have that much of my body removed, but hopeful that I would have energy, no more pain and be able to resume my walking! So for the month of November and much of December I recovered from surgery. It really cut into my time with my ponies, but allowed me to work on my website/blog. Many changes happened around here during that time. Hopefully they were all good!

I love making graphics. So I started making lots and lots of graphics for my website:

And I have made lots of Young Living graphics too:

Someday maybe I’ll make money doing this! I really enjoy blogging, photography and graphic design.

I have been thinking about the year 2017 and what I would like to make happen. I will get Sky going in harness again and we will spend some time sledding around the fields and driving on the roads, getting ready for some mountain driving this summer. I am even kicking around the idea of another driving book, this one centered around sledding and mountain driving. I am going to start Bonnie ground driving and wearing the harness, going slowly with her so she is confident. It’s important to me that she enjoy the process so she can enjoy driving! I’m going to keep watching Zorro grow up. He is getting so handsome! One of my grandma’s little mares is bred for an early summer foal, so I am looking forward to that baby. It will be a half sibling to Zorro.

So back to my “Word of the Year” – I’ve put a lot of thought into it… After lots of deliberation, doodling, jotting down notes and making a word map, I have settled on the word MOXIE. Moxie resonated with me in two ways. It made me feel energized about the year ahead and made me feel excited about learning even more about horsemanship, horses and driving!

My word of the year!
My word of the year!

I am very excited about 2017. I see many great things happening in the next year and I plan to meet it with lots of vigor and pep!

If you feel moved to do so, please share your word of the year in the comments below!

 

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As I embark on this new journey with my little ponies and prepare to help Billy transition to a new home I am feeling a bit tender. A bit sad. A bit fragile. Things feel so up-in-the-air as I await Billy to find a new home. He is upset when he watches me with the ponies. Even when I play with or groom him first. When I walk down the driveway ground driving one of the ponies Billy whinnies and whinnies and paces the fence. It breaks my heart a little bit each time.

I know finding him a home where he will be appreciated and loved and ridden is the most important thing. He is so ready! I pray about it every day and am hoping he will go to someone close by so I can visit and watch him mature into a wonderful riding horse. I have been thinking of this time as sending one of my kids off to college. We prepare them as best we can for college life, further education, and then we cry a little when we watch them drive away. Some kids move back home after college, some move onto their own lives. I am very excited to watch Billy move onto his own life.

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The Family: Left, Captain Planet (Big Brother and son of Sky); Middle, Zorro (Little brother and son of Sky); Right, Sky (The mama of this bunch!)

My ponies are so wonderful. The little guy, Zorro makes me laugh every single day. He is starting to really think he is a stallion. He will phlegm over a pile of manure and then mark it. He jumps on Captain Planet every chance he gets and they rear up and wrestle each other all day long. Then in the evening when it’s time for Zorro to go back in with his mom he runs straight to her and nurses and nurses. It’s so cute to see how quickly he goes from the big “stud muffin” to the little tiny baby.

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Baby Zorro

Sky, the mama, is really settling in. Today she showed me all her itchy places and then turned and buried her nose in my hair and just stood with me. Maybe she feels my tenderness over Billy. After all she is a mama too and has watched a few babies grow up and leave. I’m giving her time to eat without that baby dragging on her all day, looking for her to put on a few pounds before I re-start her in cart. I am so looking forward to sitting behind her in cart!

Captain Planet is awesome. He is showing his little brother the ropes. Zorro watches us carefully when I halter Captain and when I feed him carrots. I’ve been trying to get Zorro to eat carrot pieces when I feed them to his mama. But he will just take them and then spit them out. As soon as he watched Captain take and eat a piece of carrot, Zorro reached out and took a piece from me and promptly ate it! I had to laugh as it was clear if his big brother is going to eat those then so is he! I’m hoping the haltering process will rub off as well… I’ve taken Captain out for a few ground drives and he seems to enjoy them. He looks around and watches everything. He notices all the rocks, for sale signs and humps of dirt left behind by gophers or the badger, but will bravely walk on by. He trots out so nicely and makes me walk as fast as I possibly can which is helping me lose a few pounds!

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Now if the weather would cooperate. I love spring storms, but every day of sleet, rain and then snow is starting to get old. I am looking forward to the sun!

Please keep Billy and I in your thoughts and send good vibes, for us to find him the perfect home. Thank you!

I for one am really looking forward to 2016. I’m so ready to leave 2015 in the dust.

Every year I sit down and do some unravelling of the year to help me have some understanding about the year that is leaving and to set some goals in the coming year. I also choose  a word that will help me stay on track and also inspire and encourage me throughout the year. (I do this instead of making new year resolutions… it’s a more positive way for me to stick to my goals.)

My word for 2015 was “Inspire.” The definition of Inspire is:

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I loved that inspire meant to DO, FEEL or CREATE as well as to INHALE. It just seemed so beautiful… and, well, inspiring!

I put this word to great use in 2015. I traveled, more than I ever have! I went to San Jose CA for a Nerium conference and there I was VERY inspired to DO and FEEL. I came home on fire! I was blessed with a trip to Colorado, to Parelli land, with my dear friends Katrina and Corinne. Billy and I learned so much on that trip and we were inspired to DO and FEEL every day.

To have a word like “Inspire” means that you are very active. Going, doing, being every single day. I went like a whirlwind. I went and went so hard that I ended up breaking BOTH of my arms within 6 months of each other. I suppose that was a way for the Universe to tell me to SLOW DOWN! And of course I did not slow down much. Sure I had to rest after having surgery on my left arm (2 plates and 13 screws) and after breaking my right arm they dared to put me in a cast so that slowed me down some. But all I could think about was riding Billy and going, going, going!

I broke my left arm on April 1st and by the 1st of June I was riding Billy on the trails for the first time!

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We went to Colorado in August were I rode Billy twice a day for a week! It was in Colorado that Billy passed the 20 rides mark.

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In between those two mile stones we did lots and lots of hiking and obstacle training!

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It’s been a great 2015, but I have to admit that I need a break! I chose a DOING word for 2015 and boy did I fulfill it! So for 2016 I’m choosing a quieter word. I’m choosing a more peaceful word that will hopefully support my journey to finding and understanding myself on a deeper level, which will support my journey with Billy on a deeper level as well. I chose “Calm” as my word for 2016.

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And because I couldn’t choose between the two I am also going to be using “Harmony.” Both calm and harmony mean tranquility and I really love that. Harmony brings to the table, “Balance” and I love the thought of feeling calm and in balance with myself, Billy and the Universe.

So goodbye 2015 and Welcome 2016!! May you bring peace, harmony and calmness to my life.

I have been doing so much thinking and processing over here. Lots to keep me going while the weather is turning wintery and the footing is now mushy and slippery in the playground. Not to mention both of my broken arms being sore and weak… sigh. Holding ropes and wielding sticks and strings is not in the cards for me right now so it’s a great time for the thinking and the processing.

I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, and enjoyed every word. As usual Miz Gilbert is a word smith, putting words together in such a beautiful way. She gave me so much to think in about in terms of my writing, my in-progress book and this very blog! One quote that I loved from that book was,

I don’t know what I think until I write about it.”   ~ Joan Didion

This quote rang true for me and is why I find myself sitting down to record my thoughts and feelings here on the blog. It’s a way for me to sort through my feelings and be held accountable for the things I say, think and do. By putting my vulnerabilities ‘out there’ on the internet I find it helps me find my voice. I get some pretty tough feedback when I do this, but I also get some very helpful feedback. And it keeps me real.

Speaking about vulnerability, I’m now reading Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong. She is such a warm and witty woman. And so wise. Of course she is the go-to-girl about vulnerability and working with and through it. This book is no exception.

This quote was especially powerful to me:

In those moments when disappointment is washing over us and we’re desperately trying to get our heads and hearts around what is or is not going to be, the death of our expectations can be painful and beyond measure.

Wow. The death of our expectations… I read and re-read that statement and then had to write it down. That is exactly what I’ve experienced. I was so happy, riding Billy in the mountains, riding him on the trails here around my house that I’ve been so excited to ride him on. The very same trails that we’ve hiked for the last 3 years. Then we had our accident and I felt my expectations die. And that death was painful.

I have had several people tell me not to “blow this out of proportion” or “don’t let it get to me.” And I have to wonder what kind of advice is this? I think it’s best to let what happened wash over me, think about it, then move through it. To try to blow it off does not help me and in fact causes me to become even more fearful about riding and being around my horse. He knows when I’m afraid, or nervous, or faking it. If I am not confident about being out there with him, then I better get my butt back in the house! I think when something like this happens to someone it’s best to give them encouraging words, not shaming words. It doesn’t matter how little or big the incident may seem to you, to the person it happened to, it’s their whole world in that moment. Understanding is key to helping people get past these kinds of upsets.

For me this was like death. I even told a few people that. It was a death of a lifelong pursuit of finding that true connection with another living being. That’s what it felt like in the moment.

Brené talks about how we ‘Rise Strong’ in her aptly named book. There is a process that we must go through. I felt a light bulb go off as I read through it:

The goal of the process is to rise from our falls, overcome our mistakes and face hurt in a way that brings more wisdom and wholeheartedness into our lives.

1)THE RECKONING: WALKING INTO OUR STORY

Recognize emotion and get curious about our feelings and how they connect with the way we think and behave.

2) THE RUMBLE: OWNING OUR STORY

Get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations and assumptions to determine what’s truth, what’s self protection and what needs to change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives.

3) THE REVOLUTION

Write a new ending to our story based on the key learning from our rumble and use this new, braver story to change how we engage with the world and to ultimately transform the way we live, love, parent and lead.

Her book is not about horsemanship, of course, but it is about life. And since horsemanship is also about life I think the two go hand-in-hand. I find it beautiful to move through my experience with Billy in this way. For my right brained mind this story structure is something I can do and actually HAVE been doing.

I’ve written about the story, how I felt about what happened, how I’ve been observing Billy and how he has felt about what happened, or as near as I can read. I am human and he is equine so things may get a bit balled up between the two of us. But for the most part I think I can get a very good read on him and his emotions. Then I’ve been connecting what happened with my emotions and Billy’s and I’ve been thinking about how I can further connect with him, myself and the partnership I am hoping to have. Changing the way I behave so that I can in turn change the way Billy is behaving.

I’m getting down-and dirty honest about my story. Figuring out the truth of the situation and what needs to happen, what I feel comfortable with and how I want to proceed, being sure it won’t further damage myself or Billy’s dignity.

Now I’m moving into the revolution part of the journey. How will I re-write this story? I know in this case there isn’t an ending, just a changing of direction and a constant re-setting of our course. Tiny adjustments and some BIG time adjustments need to be made.

I will write some more about those adjustments and my revelations regarding them as we go! Boy have I been having some major light bulb moments! The interaction between Billy and I on an every day basis is quite minimal, but the light bulb moments continue to jolt me awake at night and make me stop what I’m doing during the day, leading me to just quietly think. I walk every day and sometimes I literally stop in the middle of the road and just stand in amazement.

This is what they mean when they say,

Work on yourself. Play with your horse.

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I have spent my time making observations. I’ve been observing Billy while he is out in the pasture with Chloe. I’ve been observing myself, how I’m feeling, the things I’m drawn to, the people that I am looking to, how I feel when I am watching Billy. I’ve been really paying attention to how I feel. Am I tense? Anxious? Happy? Sad? Frustrated? Angry? When I identify how I feel then I take the time to get myself calm, focusing on my breath. I smile. I check back in and see how I’m feeling then.

Billy used to always be looking for me. Whenever I would step outside he would throw his head up, whinny and come racing to see what I was doing. This actually caused me quite a bit of anxiety because I felt like I needed to give him something, a cookie, a carrot, some scratching. SOMETHING. It was a lot of pressure. I found myself sneaking in and out of my house hoping Billy wouldn’t see me. I felt a little bit like I was on camera, constantly being watched. I couldn’t walk fast enough when I would take the dogs for a walk, trying to get out of Billy’s site. He would wait for me to come home from my walks and whinny and whinny while I walked the last 1/2 mile to the house, then race around and whinny and whinny at me from the corral. It was all too much.

After I bailed off and got hurt last month I basically locked myself away in the house to heal. I didn’t go out and see the horses for about a week after the accident. They have pasture and don’t need anything else. The weather was cooling off so Billy didn’t need his supplements. I just let myself heal and gave him some time to disconnect. I felt like we both needed that.

Today when I went for a walk Billy saw me walking out. He did come over and visit me at the fence and walked along the fence line for a little bit, but then he wandered off to graze and I walked away smiling. It made me think about how I felt when Billy would be so frantic to see me. It was then I could name it as a frantic feeling. If I was feeling that way I have to wonder how Billy was feeling. Frantic? Frazzled?

This led to me thinking about when Billy is dominant. I looked back over the most recent times that he behaved this way I realized that usually when he is being pushy and bossy, he is unconfident. This is not something he is doing because he wants to boss or dominate me. I think he is being that way because he is unsure and worried and shows it by pushing, pinning his ears and getting big with his body. How interesting!

I’m content to just be observant right now. I’m reading and watching everything that Anna Marciniak shares on Facebook. Soaking it in, taking it to heart. It’s always very beautiful and poetic. Sometimes I ask her questions and she is very kind and answers them. I’ve been paying attention to Elsa Sinclair over at Meditations on Equestrian Art. 

Something both of these lovely ladies have in common is the desire to cultivate a relationship with their horses that does not involve force, the word make or the use of tools. This is something I’m interested in right now because BOTH of my broken arms have been giving me lots of trouble, achy and quite weak. I’ve had some pain in both arms so having a horse at the end of a rope or swinging a stick and string are both very difficult at this time. I do sometimes take out a light weight bamboo stick to use as an extension of my arm but am interested in cultivating something deeper, better. Even if it means I don’t ride for awhile.

So for now I am going to observe and try to develop a deeper understanding of Billy and most importantly, of myself.

 

I have been amazed at the number of people who think either:

a) Billy is my first horse, or

b) That he is the first young horse I have started under saddle

Is this because I got hurt? Do people with lifetimes of experience not get hurt with horses? I’m guessing they do because I, myself, have a lifetime of experience with horses. And I’ve started quite a few young and older horses under saddle. And I got hurt.

I have found it interesting how much this bothers me. It prompted me to look up the word “ego” and get to the bottom of this. It’s made me wonder what does ego have to do with it? How does my ego get in the way of my healing?

Interestingly the first definition of ego is:

  1. The self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves.

So my ego helps me to separate ME from YOU. That can’t be a bad thing… I am different than you or you or you. I feel differently. I look different. I think differently. To understand that can only help me find my true self. Right?

Okay, onto definition number two:

2. In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality.

Wow. This one is complicated. So my ego is the part of me that keeps me in touch with reality. My ego helps me to control my thoughts and behavior. This definition helps me to understand how reality can get so muddled sometimes. We all perceive things differently, so what was scary and upsetting to one person can be just a little blip in the radar of another.

It wasn’t the falling off of Billy that was so hard on me, though it did break my arm and fracture my eye socket… it was the fact that he was so violently out of control. The fact that when he got scared he did not look to me for even a single second. After all we have done together and all the scary situations we have been through together and all the times he DID look to me… when it really mattered, he didn’t have a second thought for me, or bending to a one rein stop, or disengaging his hind end. Nothing. Zip. He left me in the ditch bleeding and broken and ran home. Once home you would have never known anything happened. He was happily grazing in the yard when Handsome Hubby drove me into the driveway. The only indication of any violence was the fact that his bareback pad was hanging off his side.

So. There you go. My ego’s perception of the situation, the external reality.

Now onto the third definition of ego:

3. a) An exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit

b) Appropriate pride in oneself; self esteem

I think it’s very interesting that these two definitions are linked together. The top one is about believing you are better at something than you really are, or are more important (to your horse let’s say) that you really are.

The bottom one is talking about believe IN yourself. Having a good sense of self esteem. Not something I have much of on a good day. To group these two together is a bit confusing for me. How do you know when you are being conceited versus just having a healthy belief in yourself?

This may be the question I need to answer to help me move past some of the ugly thoughts in my head. To help me silence the mean voice in my mind that tells me I am no good and should not be around horses. The voice that tells me I’m just going to get hurt again and again and again because I’m so stupid.

This goes back to people thinking Billy is my first horse or the first horse I’ve started under saddle. Apparently I’m so stupid that it appears I’ve never done this before. Sigh. At least that is how I perceive their comments. Which I have been taking completely personally. Again this is my ego’s perception of reality, but it is most likely not the perception of reality people mean to make when they make their helpful comments. In fact I’m sure they are just trying to be supportive and help me.

I KNOW that Billy is a green horse. I KNOW that he needs more time under saddle to be a steady eddie. I KNOW that accidents can happen, even with the most well trained horse. It’s because I know and understand all these things that I was putting so many hours into him. I was riding him 3-4 times a week. I was taking him out on walks and hikes. I was spending undemanding time with him and playing at liberty with him in our little playground. Because I know and understand how important preparation is I was introducing him to anything and everything that could cause trouble down the road; tarps, dogs, blowing plastic bags, blowing paper bags, cows, gun fire, cars passing us on the road, ATV’s passing us on the road, trucks pulling trailers on the road, kids, umbrellas, walking on mattresses, crossing water, walking through thick sage brush, climbing over downed trees, blazing our own trails through heavy underbrush. All of these things and much, much more.

And yet, he spooked and bolted at “nothing”. Ultimately it was nothing that took us down.

So how is my ego handling this? How can I change my perception of events so I can move past them? Those are the questions I am now answering for myself. I do believe I have to take a good long look at the fact that Billy didn’t look to me for help when he became frightened. For whatever reason, maybe I pushed him past a threshold and didn’t realize it, he didn’t look to me for leadership when the shit hit the fan. So now I need to find out how to be the leader he needs  in all situations. No matter what. That is going to take some studying and lots and lots of time in the playground studying Billy and what makes him tick at a deeper level than I have been. Sigh.

I look around me and see all these people who are happily riding their horses all over the mountains and they don’t think for one minute about how to the be best leader for their horses. When I was young and training and riding horses every day I never really thought about that either, but just enjoyed riding and training and had a blast. All this thinking and studying is taking a little bit of the joy out of horses for me I think. Sometimes we just need to BE with our horses in a way that brings joy. Without all the worry of “What is he thinking?”, “How is he feeling right now?”, “Am I MAKING him or ASKING him?” UGGG. So. much. second. guessing.