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!

My word of the year!
My word of the year 2017 & 2018

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”

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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.

 

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!