PostHeaderIcon Florida Fancy Tales

Monday morning at 16 degree weather was the departure of Fancy and young Bravo for their training adventure in Florida with Tony and Jenny Vaught.
Tony and Jenny arrived around 8:00am, hooked up trailer, loaded hay bales, secured hay nets and loaded horses. They had to touch metal to do all this. While Fancy was loading everyone complained about being frozen.

Tony’s fingers were frozen up to the nails. Jenny’s face froze. My thighs froze. The horses were fine. They live in this weather. Plus the hay filled nets blocked much of the air coming into the trailer.

The truck and trailer drove off, headed south to warmth.

I took my frozen thighs into my bed and buried myself in my blankie. My thighs only slightly thawed. After about an hour of thigh thaw failure, I asked the spouse if he would like to go out for breakfast. We drove about 15 miles with my heated car seat on high. I never can drive that long with the high heat setting. However on this day, I occasionally could feel flashes of heat at about mile 10. Good Lordy!

I think the horses made it to Memphis about the same time my thighs thawed.

Tuesday am, they made it to Florida. Tuesday am was a warm 22 degrees in Mid Missouri.

Fancy, you owe me big time!

PostHeaderIcon Fancy Tales – Our First Encounter

Teresa loaned Fancy to me while Cisco is recovering from EPM. I picked her up from Teresa and Junior Osborn. Fancy had nearly 60 day’s training with a fox Trotter trainer and 30 days training with a trail riding trainer. In her first two weeks with the trail trainer, she was ridden in a parade! Boy Howdy!

I announced that Junior had just won #1 Boyfriend for a year for this amazing act of friendship. My friend Hope came and observed the beautiful Fancy. I brought her home and installed her in a stall.

I was going to ride her the next day. We went to the stable. Fancy walked down the stable aisle where a beautiful stallion whispered words of rebellion to her. In the arena, the rebellion started. Fancy had no respect for my personal space. My body erupted into Italian gestures and then the swinging lead rope to get her backed off me. The war started. The rope had to get big. Fancy got big right back. She struck at me with her front hoof and just barely touched my leg. Lordy! She screamed and spurted when the rope made contact on her nose. There was a witness who saw the strike, the heat induced spurting and screaming. This will be a story forever!

Playing the ground games didn’t work that day. We went home and started our relationship. For a few days, I didn’t have a round pen and the leadership was won by Fancy. Soon I got my round pen set up and ground play colt start began. Fancy still won, but I was making some progress. After about a week, I was winning more than Fancy.

Tony Vaught was due in town to take shoes off her front feet and trim her back legs. They had a few horse trainer/young confident filly conversation before Tony was able to trim the back feet. Then I said I wanted to ride her once and assess her as to going to Florida with the Vaughts “customizing” her for me. Heck, I’ll go at it myself, the only horse in the world since Sage that I would just get on and ride.

Tony mentioned the fun phrase, “Do you want to have fun with Fancy?”

And then Teresa and I had the shocking talk. To both our surprise. I bought her. My husband pledged and paid half her price. The other half was my Christmas present to myself.

So Fancy will be going to Florida with the Vaughts and be developed into a horse with buttons that I can have fun while riding. She will be “customized” for me.

Fancy will save some tricky fun “experiences” just for me. I love to develop a horse. It is much better for my ongoing health to ride and develop a horse “customized” for me by Tony and Jenny Vaught.

I rode Cisco yesterday. He looks fine running around with no rider. His back right leg drug when I rode him. It’s going to take some time for him to recover.

So that is the story! Yee Haw!
#Fancy #Cisco

PostHeaderIcon E-venture with Emma

I thought most of the Emma excitement stories were winding to an end, but I was wrong.
We have just progressed to going outside without a leash again. Emma runs around and comes bounding to me for a pet and a treat. It’s going great! I stroll by Lake Robin. Emma goes down the short bank. I think “Oh that’s nice, she’ll get a drink.
I look and Emma had leaped into the water. Her legs are submerged. Her belly is in the water! It’s 36 degrees!
I scream EMMA! Emma looks around like she has entered into a different world. She has no idea that a dog body can be in a lake!
I scream and run to her. I yell, “Emma, Emma, Emma!”
Emma comes back into the present and starts moving toward the bank. Her back leg tries to lift out of the water, like she is wearing a boot. She manages to walk to the dirt and heaves herself up on dry land again.
I’m worried that she will freeze to death in the next minute.
I run to the house with Emma and Sulley.
She lived!
I recovered from my Emma heart attack as I dried her off.

PostHeaderIcon E-ventures with Emma and Fancy

It’s been too cold here in the Missouri Arctic to play with Fancy plus Emma needs a lot of attention. But today became an artic Emma and Fancy adventure. Lord help me.

Last night, I was vegged out watching the comedy TV programs as I was thinking about the quality of the air in the house. I could feel chilly air blowing on me and the temperature in the house appeared to be like a door was left open. Even though I knew no door was open, I still checked. I sat back down. Soon it just got too cold to watch TV. On my way to the bedroom, I looked at the thermometer. Sixty four degrees was the temperature! SCREAM. THE FURNANCE WAS RUNNING trying to raise the temp, but without any propane, it was an impossible task. Scream again. I turned off the furnace and it finally quit running. I turned on all the working baseboard heaters

Oil company opens 7:30 am. Left a voicemail message and sent an email. Brrrr. I crawled into bed and woke up to serious cold. House thermostat was 54 degrees. Evidentially, baseboard heaters are not enough for 15 below night. It was zero degrees outside when I started calling the oil company at 7:30 am. There were other people calling also, people without propane.

After the phone call went through, I let Emma and Sulley out. They disappeared amd too much time had passed. I started the car. No dogs appeared. No dogs anywhere. I decided to drive the car around the yard and workshop. I honked. No dogs. I noticed the horses were upset. My horses and the neighbor’s horses were spooky alert and nervously running here and there. Hmmmmm

Hero Mike appeared. I explained dog disappearance. Then we heard the barking. It was coming from the horse pasture. Oh Lordy, I knew Emma was in trouble. Hero Mike leaped over the fence and ran into the pasture. He spoke Emma words along with Fancy name. A few agonizing moments later, Hero Mike appeared with Emma in tow. He got her through the gate. I opened the Emma mini van door and she leaped in.

Mike explained. Fancy was herding Emma. Emma was terrified. Fancy herded Emma into a corner. Brave Sulley stood by Emma and was barking at Fancy. Hero Mike was able to get Fancy to cease her cow horse holding and rescued Emma.

Fancy is a cow horse! Her winter Versatility training with Tony and Jenny Vaught is going to happen very soon.

Good Lordy. I told hero Mike that we had a “no propane” problem. I was going to go buy space heaters, but Hero Mike has friends with unused heaters. He left and returned with space heaters. Life became barely bearable. Terry and I took a Long restaurant breakfast and lunch break. Finally around 4:00 pm, we had heat. Oh how I love heat in the 14 degree day! Im going to find new space heaters on sale this spring or summer.

The heat restoration came just in time to allow me to attend the musical, Color of Purple, at The Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. It was fabulous.

I collapsed in a warm bed after Sulley and Emma (on her rope) went outside to take care of dispensing liquid and solid matter.

PostHeaderIcon E-ventures with Emma

Emma helped me with filling water buckets today in the horse barn. She was loose. Emma did not go into the stalls with the horses. Whew!

We had at least three off-rope turnouts today, Sulley and Emma stayed together and Sulley delivered Emma back to the house every time! Whew

Sadly, Sulley lost his honored status as sunset was nearing. Sulley took Emma down the bank into Lake Robin. I watched as two doggies went out on the ice. I was alarmed. Self and I had a chat about how the ice is safe. It’s been below freezing for about a year here in Missouri. They were not going to fall in the lake. Self relaxed, but made a mental note not to let Emma run free when ice would melt.

Alarm rang again when they traveled to the far side of the lake and now we’re in the horse pasture. They were headed to fencing that might prevent a large dog from coming back to the house. Then Emma would be lost. She wouldn’t know to return the way they had come. Darkness was coming along with 20 below windchill weather! Scream. Emergency!

The car! I turned on the car. I honked the horn several times. The car was ignored by the two doggie adventurers. The car decided to drive. Sulley was delighted. He ran straight across the lake to chase the car. Good Lordy how does his legs operate in ice? Emma did not want to run across the lake. She was stuck. The car drove further on the driveway and Emma saw a path to the car. She ran along the bank ice, to the car! I got out and opened the rear door and she hopped right in. I was going to pick up the dishonored Sulley and put him in there too. But Sulley is the king of “I’m not coming when you want me.” So the car turned around in the snowy drove and returned home. Sulley was let into the house.

Emma decided to treat me to a gas fill-up while I got spouse pizza at Casey’s. I decided to get a slice of pizza and share it with Emma. I always want to reward her for being in the car! Of course she was in my front seat upon my return. We fought over the seat and Emma lost while I tore off a piece of pizza and rewarded her. I had just pulled out of Casey’s when Emma tried to snatch Terry pizza slices. Luckily, her snag was weak and I saved the Terry pizza!

Another day passes while dog hair flies. Our grooming appt is 7 long days from now.

Terry, Sulley and I are Team Emma. Sulley helps Emma by dispensing pee in the yard. Emma smells it lovingly and sometimes dispenses her own liquid. Sulley takes Emma away from the house and brings her back. If Emma doesn’t appear at the door along with Sulley, I yell and whistle. That doesn’t work. The car then gets involved. I remote start the car. It honks twice and roars to life. Emma rushes to investigate the car and then into the open door where I’m waiting for her in the house.
Terry and I are now taking Emma with us when we go out to eat. Emma loads herself into the rear and sniffs everything. Terry is already loaded. I load myself and off we go. Upon arrival, Terry holds Emma’s leash. I get out and open the rear door and get the walker out. I shut the door. Then Terry unloads himself into the arms of the walker. Emma stays in her place.
We went to our favorite truck stop tonight. Emma was in the front seat upon our return and her leash was caught.
I got the leash untangled, showed Emma her sausage links and put them on the rear floor. Emma got into the back and ignored the links. She wanted her head to be in the middle of the team.
Oh, when Terry got in, something distracted me. Next thing I knew, the walker was moving. Thankfully, I restrained it before it came in contact with any motor vehicles. It tried it’s best!
Sulley was glad to see us. He is thinking about calling the dog lawyers to sue for equality. Emma gets to travel. Emma gets more treats.

I am drowning in German Shepard dog hair. Emma is living in a warmer environment and doesn’t need all her hair. I’m covered in dog hair. Sometimes I wake up with dog hair in my mouth. I groom her every day, which probably just makes more dog hair fly about the house. Calling for grooming appt early tomorrow! Bleh

I passed Emma’s “The Voice” audition!
Big Big Day
I let Emma out on her long rope so she could get those immediate needy things done.

This morning would be the big day. I clenched my heart and mentally went through all the reasons Emma was ready. I dressed for the cold with layers and decided to wear my tennis shoes instead of old reliable shoes. I also got the chopped up sausage links in a short glass which I stuffed in my coat pocket.
Emma came back into the house. She sat down. We detached the rope.
Poof! Emma, Sulley and I went out the door. Emma was free!
I immediate gave her a sausage treat. Yum
We walked around. Emma stayed within 15’ of me. When she came close, I stopped walking and looked at her. She sat down! Oh Lawdy! I gave her a sausage treat. We walked clear around the house, stopping, sitting and getting a treat. That silly Sulley ran far away and Emma stayed close to me. I almost fainted with happiness, except I would have froze to death. We headed closer to front door. Treat. We got to the door and sat….treat! We went inside!
Our first off leash adventure was a success!
I put Emma on a leash and headed out to the barn. Oh she was good. We filled the barn water buckets and went to check the tank. Curses, it needed water. Joy, the water faucet was unfrozen. It worked! With freezing hands, I got the hose attached. When I lifted the handle. Water sprayed on my pants and Emma’s nose. It was attached a little loose. With partially frozen hands, I tightened it and let water flow again. Emma and I walked around, working on leash manners. I noticed that my feet were freezing. My leather shoes never froze my feet in this short of time. Huh
After the tank filled up, Emma and I struggled to drain the hose and get it wrapped up on the fence.
I could see my hands getting raw. My feet were freezing, but I could still feel them to walk to,the house with my perfect dog.
When getting out of my frozen jeans, I noticed my tennis shoes were fabric with breathing holes. These shoes are Summer shoes. How did I not figure that out!


Emma is very concerned about my safety out there in the real world. She decided to teach me a lesson.
“Never leave the keys in the car.”
The keys somehow earlier or yesterday, had leaped out of my purse into the middle storage area.
Don’t do that was the lesson.

Yes, she did leap up into the front seat. In fact, she locked the doors upon my arrival. I was carrying Terry’s Casey’s pizza slices supper.
I stared at Emma. She stared at me. She was inside the car. I was outside the car….worlds apart. Sigh
I went into McDonalds where a nicely dressed person was just leaving. Yes, I begged him to give me a ride to my home. After deciding I probably wasn’t going to rob him, he took me home to get my keys.
I’ve not been locked out of my car in a very long time.


Barking standing ovation to amazing alto performance!


Who sleeps with their head in the food bowl?

Emma did horse chores and feeding today, went to McDonalds drive thru to get meat, visited vet to see if there was a grooming appt opening soon, visited Pleasant Hill Feed Store in search of treats and ended up staying in back of mini van when human went in to get Emma’s daddy a couple slices of pizza.
Emma and Sulley are now on outside guard duty.
I’d just like to add that the ramp at the feed Store is not just for people. Emma hasn’t yet got confident enough to climb a few stairs, especially when there is so much World to stare at and smell.


Peace and quiet with Sulley and Emma surveying their kingdom

Emma— your body needs to be positioned the long way, not sideways in your new wire home.


Today Emma went through the McDonalds drive thru and ordered a Sausage McMuffin. She ate the sausage. Her human got out of the car to visit a necessary room. Upon the human’s return, Emma had moved into the front seat. After a bit of pulling and pleading, she returned to the back of the mini van. Upon closing the sliding door, she really tried to leap out. Upon restraint, the human got the door shut with just some of the leash caught in the door.
Then we visited the Pleasant Hill Feed Store. We love it there.
After a brief struggle to load up in the mini van, the human got the sliding door shut.
Upon our breathless exciting arrival home, Emma tried to behead herself by sticking her head in the wrong place on the automatic sliding door. Thankfully the human intervention came soon enough which also made the door stick open.
The human was exhausted before noon and required rest.
There are people talking on the other side of this door. I can hear them!

I never thought a bight sunny 22 degrees would be anything special!
Also Emma spurns turkey lunch meat but will eat hot dogs. I have chopped up hot dog chunks waiting now.


This evening, Terry was forced to heat a frozen food dinner. I was gone. I don’t know what the frozen food was because Emma discovered frozen food leftovers. I came home to find a wild dog devouring something. I picked up the pieces while the wild dog was leaping about, trying to lick my fingers covered with something juice.
This is a dog who has disdained most doggie treats. She will eat cooked linked sausage and turkey lunch meat, just barely. But the frozen dinner brought out a dog we have never seen!
This beat the ice cream experience all to heck!

Emma experienced peanut butter, coconut yogurt and ice cream at out private NY eve party. Her choice was vanilla bean ice cream, she also got to tear up the container.



First day with Terry Engle. He took this picture with his burner phone. This is Emma sleeping in her dog food bowl. Sulley owns the king size dog bed in the right corner.

Terry and Emma = Love

Sulley and Emma play

Emma slept in Terry’s room, woke up and pottied. Terry scooped it up in paper towel and flushed it. Plumber came around 3:00pm and charged $100.
I’ve always picked up the poop and understand how to get rid of it in toilet. But since Emma is Terry’s dog, he scooped it up. That is amazing.
I’ll be getting up earlier in the morning.

Emma is meeting Cisco and Fancy

Terry and I had our Christmas dinner with Teresa and Junior Osborn. They gave him the most wondrous gift in the world. Emma. She is a six year old German Shepard Dog. Thank You! Thank You!

The new star…

PostHeaderIcon The Middle Horse Finger

Cisco and Fancy played at liberty with me in the round pen today. They ran around while I looked at Cisco’s back feet. He is still dragging both back toes. It occurred to me that maybe he needs to self-collect. I got the barrels in place with a space to run in between. Cisco scoffed at that and jumped. Fancy went to the outside through a space I thought too small for a horse. I gave the non verbal body signal to stop running which Cisco obeyed. However, Fancy’s nose was looking outside the round pen so she got to run a lot more until she obeyed my cue sign to stop and turn to me.

I went over to set up the barrels so there was no space between and I added the mounting block as a jump obstacle. As soon as my back was turned, Fancy comes to help me. We got it set and I told both of them to go. Cisco jumped and Fancy went through the small space between the fence and the barrel. I forgot to close up that space. They went around twice and I gave the cue to stop and turn towards me. Again, Fancy missed my signal and got to go extra rounds.

I fixed the obstacles and Fancy came to help me. However, she is not quite trained to let humans have enough personal space. We did have several trainings sessions during our time in the round pen to get Fancy to back out of my personal space. We also practiced turning her hindquarters with my body signal and then the stick cue. She has improved tremendously. She moved from a low phase stick cue now.

However, there is still resistance. When a horse backs or turns the hindquarters, they give up dominance. Backing is really the worst dominance battle.

I ask Fancy to back and she does. She is far enough away that I’m in no danger from her mouth or front feet. There are a lot of pinned ears and glare when she backs, but she is now backing as soon as I ask and with some speed.

I ask her to back and she pins her ears and lifts her front leg. That is the horse version of the middle finger!
She got to back a lot after that. The really nice thing is that she backed hurriedly away from my monster forward shoulders and swinging back and forth stick. She did not run away or back crooked. That is amazing!

We got back to the barrels and jumping. She refused, turned and ran the other way. However, Cisco stopped that. He pinned his ears at her which made Fancy turn and run back to the barrels. She jumped. I gave her the sign to stop and turn to me and….and….she did in about 10 more steps. I took that. Our session was over. Hooray! Huge advance.

I believe that barrel jumping helps Cisco gather his body up. He doesn’t falter or limp during the barrel jumping. He certainly needs to be exercised. It was only last year when I fed him alfalfa nuggets to get his body better filled out. Now he is on diet food!

Good session. A lot of improvement on Fancy backing and moving her hindquarters. The middle finger is a classic tale of a dominant people friendly filly.

PostHeaderIcon Farrier Day

Farrier Day! We did not have a Fancy training session before the trim! She did argue just a bit when he was holding her front leg. When she argued, she was off balance and fell on her front knees. That was a huge learning lesson for her. She did not argue at all during the back leg trim. Fancy was in the round pen for a long time during Cisco’s trim, Tony rode Cisco and after, he reshod one back hoof.

I let Fancy out of the round pen and was hanging around. I got on the safe side of Cisco-away from Fancy. She got behind us about 30 feet and started running at Tony with her ears back. He had the stick and threw up his hand. She swerved and trotted by him. He swatted her with the stick. “Don’t come at me with your ears back.” Then she cantered on and he admired her canter. Fancy learned a lot today!

When Tony rode Cisco, he did drag his right hip/leg, but recovered. They trotted and cantered. The last time I rode him, he drug that right leg and then teetered off balance on all 4 legs until 2-3 steps to recover. He is better. We have gone through this stage before….but before the treatment for EPM. We just started inflammation treatment. Next week is another EPM test.

PostHeaderIcon A Toy and Red Dress For Christmas

It was the 50’s. Life was good in a small Iowa town for the cute little red-haired girl. Enough Christmas years had passed and the little girl realized that she should get her mother a present. The concept of giving to others had come to the little girl.

“Mommy, what do you want for Christmas?”
Mommy thought about it for a couple of seconds and replied, “I’d like a toy and a red dress.”

Mommy grew up during the depression when getting a toy for Christmas was very special. Having a little girl and a husband after WWII changed the world was a miracle many young women of that time didn’t get.

Later, Daddy was informed they went shopping. Mommy got a toy and a red dress for Christmas from her little daughter.

Many years later, Mommy was a Grandma. Her favorite color changed to pink. Grandson had a great time shopping for a pink garment and a toy for his grandmother when he became old enough to learn about giving to others.

One year Grandma got a battery operated car race track for Christmas. She and Grandson had a great time with that toy over the Christmas holiday. Grandma and Grandson enjoyed many toys over theIr many Christmas family celebrations.

As the years passed, the Grandma toys became carousel horse snow globes and music boxes. They were beautiful toys.

The Grandson toys became cameras and then electronic devises.

Having fun on Christmas started a family tradition long ago by a strong woman who grew up during the depression and lived through the horror of WWII with a husband who enlisted after Pearl Harbor.

Give someone you love a toy for Christmas and maybe even something red to wear. Keep the joy in your loved ones life!

PS: Love is Christmas
PS: A horse, puppy and kitten have been legally defined as a toy for Christmas

PostHeaderIcon Velvet – How to Win at Musical Sacks!

One of the Kansas City Regional Fox Trotter club’s favorite game for a FUN horse show EVENT is musical sacks. There are some horses in our club that stomp on the sack when they get close. They’ve probably been trained to do that. I thought I would offer the readers of this Corner Page, a natural horsemanship training strategy to prepare for musical sacks. Musical sacks is played just like musical chairs, except the horses must step on the feed sack. We generally double the feed sacks. There will be one less feed sack than horses. The music plays and we circle the sacks. The music stops and we rush for a sack…just like musical chairs. The main principle of natural horsemanship is to know that horses crave comfort. They will seek the answer to many a puzzle in their quest for comfort. The secret is to think how to train a horse to step on a feed sack to gain comfort. Ah…it gets easier now!

On the ground: Feed sacks can be scary. You need to show the horse that the feed sack is friendly. Fold the feed sack up into as small a package as you can and rub the horse all over with it…belly, rear, neck, between legs, and face. Do this and all the following steps until the horse is just standing there practically asleep while you are rubbing the feed sack all over their body. When this is successful, unfold the feed sack one more fold and proceed to rub the horse all over. Keep unfolding the feed sack and continue to rub.

What if the feed sack spooks the horse? You have to realize that spooking is uncomfortable. You have to continue to do whatever is spooking the horse until the horse stops. Then you stop also. Let’s say, the crackling is spooking the horse. I would be playing with the feed sack in the round pen or with a 12 foot rope attached to the horse. If the horse wants to run around in a circle while the feed sack crackles, that’s just fine. But the horse needs to gain comfort and that takes being brave. As soon as the horse stops and faces the fearful object, you stop whatever is making the object be fearful. I might stand facing away from the horse and just crackle the heck out of the feed bag. The horse might take off and that is fine. I would just keep crackling the bag until the horse realizes that the bag isn’t going to eat him. When the horse stops, I stop crackling the bag. I probably would pet the horse. Then I would turn around again and crackle the bag.

When the horse is no longer afraid of the bag in your hand, put it on the ground and try to get the horse to step on it. In the beginning, if the horse bends down to smell the bag, I would instantly stop any pressure I am making to get the horse to step on the bag. I would pet the horse. Then I would resume trying to make the horse step on the bag. When any part of the horse’s feet touches the bag, I would instantly stop my pressure. I would completely relax my body and pet the horse. If the horse takes the foot away, the horse gets longed and brought in to touch the sack. It doesn’t take long after the 1st touch for the horse to figure out that comfort is touching the bag. After we have petted and rubbed while standing on the bag, I would make the horse longe for a couple of circles and then make the horse come in and step on the bag. In the beginning, I would try for a long time to get the horse to step on the bag. Then would come comfort…petting and rubbing and resting. After 4 or 5 times of touching the bag, I would give the horse less time to put a foot on the bag or away we go in the longe. It doesn’t take long for that horse to figure out the big secret…step on that bag. I’ve found out that the horse’s own feed sack is best. It smells really good to the horse. Treats are OK too, when the horse steps on the bag. I would put the treat on the bag. Then the horse knows that this is really a good thing!

Next step is riding. The same principle applies. Ride the horse around the arena or pen at a trot or canter and then come into the middle and step on the bag. When the foot touches the bag, immediately drain your body of all animation and rub the horse. Stand on the bag for a while and then do the same exercise. If the horse takes his foot off the bag, you immediately go to the wall and trot or canter for a while. Soon the horse learns again that the bag is the key to comfort and the horse will search out that bag and skid to a halt and STOMP it. You’ll be a contender in musical chairs!

Just a warning….Velvet and I have played this game with the sack just a couple weeks ago. She loves standing on that feed bag! Watch out FUN DAY SHOW!!!

PostHeaderIcon The Big Fear

November 29, 1997
I’m always on missions. The mission for this column is FEAR! I’m talking to new:
Women Adult Riders Inspired by the Option of Retirement or WARRIOR!
This is for the WARRIORS who have discovered the unforgiving hardness of the ground and developed fear. The WARRIOR buys a horse and it bolts, bucks or shys and the WARRIOR hits the ground. The ground whispers to you…death, broken bones, pain. Your continuing mortality becomes a great concern. Your self confidence goes underground!You are not alone. You are in the great majority. Fear can be conquered and bested! Listen WARRIOR…read my story and keep chipping away at the enemy.Year I: THE TRAIL RIDE STARTS THE YEAR OF FEAR

In our last episode, I hit the ground and my life was saved by trainers Jenny Copple and Karen Moulis of Pine Dell Farm, Pleasant Hill, Mo. Jenny trained Sage and Karen trained me. I ride nice safe “farm horses” and developed my riding skills. Sage and I met after two months of separate training. I wasn’t scared of the gentle farm horses, but my body was as stiff as a board when I climbed aboard Sage. Sage hated my frozen body and refused to move, tried to bite my legs, and cow kicked. My immediate thought “My life is over. Surely Jenny will take me off this creature! But no, Jenny was telling me to squeeze her with my legs, spank her rear with my hand, spank her rear with the lead rope. Finally, she made a step and we started all over again.”

Jenny talked me through this like the control tower guy in the movies helping the passenger land the airplane after the pilot dies. The only difference was that I wanted to be the dead pilot! About half way in the ride (we progressed about 5 yards), we started to move slowly about the arena with mad, disgruntled horse things happening. I decided that I should cry because I was a tremulous mess. I needed to cry. I teared up and thought, “I’m going to tell Jenny that I want off!” But Jenny kept talking to me…talking me through and finally the hour was over and I was alive! I was wringing wet with sweat. There were a lot of people in the arena that night…of course I couldn’t see them; I only sensed them! They all came over and told me I did really well. Jenny told me I did really well. I felt better then, especially since my feet were on the ground. It was a one wine bottle night!

I continued to work with Sage on the ground and had the weekly riding lesson. The 2nd lesson I was much more confident; but Sage was worse. I had to get off and Jenny got on, and made Sage very uncomfortable about not moving. I got back on again with more confidence and made Sage move. It was a banner day. Several more rides and I had managed to ride her by myself. About two months later, Sage, husband and I went on the week long Eminence Trailride–in the Ozarks Mountains with only 4000+ other horses. My husband is a social person, not a rider and I intended to ride only in the parking lot and campground. But NO, my good friend told me “No-you’re going on nice short daily trail rides. You can’t come to Eminence and not ride! After you ride a week at Eminence everything else will be easy!”!

Sage did great. She wasn’t scared of anything! She walked two inches beside clangorous diesel trucks. We rode around the campgrounds filled with horse eating sights. We participated in a horse show with a record number 60 horses in the arena at the same time. She was great!

I was a nervous wreck the 1st morning and cried making certain no one could see that I was crying. I had tears streaming down my face, but my face was absolutely frozen in a noncommittal nothing. I went for 15 or 20 minutes at a time holding my breath…maybe less. Sage and I did lots of ground work to get me prepared for riding!

We crossed water; we climbed hills. I survived! I didn’t have fun, but it wasn’t torture either. Every morning when I got up, I wondered if I’d be dead or disabled by the time the day’s trail ride was over.

Thursday was the start of the year of fear. My friend erred in judgment and took me up and down a mountainous steep hill where the path consisted of rock ledges littered with loose rocks. Going up was frightening but the descent was beyond agony. I was frozen with fear going down. When I expressed some verbal dismay to my friend, she told me just to relax and lean back! HA! We did make it down alive, and even though I’m not a Catholic, I did the Cross Gesture! I couldn’t get off to kiss the ground because I couldn’t easily mount my horse.

We came to a river and two year old Sage was hot after climbing that horrid mountain. We were drinking and pawing to clear the dirt from the water and my friend yelled. However, I was intently watching Sage’s front leg sinking into a hole. It just seemed to sink down farther and farther. I was patiently waiting for her to pull her leg out of the hole when my friend’s frantic voice yelled “JUMP OFF!” This was a very loud and demanding voice! My body responded just when Sage sank down on her belly. I got up and waited for her to get up. “Quicksand,” I was thinking when she didn’t get up. She’s caught in quicksand!” I was running in circles around her in the water around her trying to figure out how to get her out of the quicksand when my friend’s voice penetrated my brain again. “Slap her; Yell at her! She’s going to roll!” “Roll? I thought….not quicksand?” I yelled, jumped and flapped my wings and Sage heaved herself to her feet. I got the lecture about sweaty horses and pawing water!

At that time I couldn’t mount my horse without a big natural mounting block and none was available within sight. My friend had to get off her horse and put my muddy wet foot on her leg so that I could heave myself on. My jeans from knees down were sopping wet and 20 pounds heavier. We made it across the river and I started thinking about our water adventure when we came to the part of the trail that was deep warm sand. . . .

Without any warning, PLUNK!…down we went. It was a broken record. No slouch in the learning not-to-die-experience, I was smart enough to leap off as we were going down. I dove into the deep sand in my sopping wet jeans. Yummy! 100 more pounds packed on my body. I was saved by my friend’s husband who had come to join us. It took all his strength to get my weak,quivering, dead weight back on Sage. On the short distance home, including a wide river crossing, everyone rode very close to Sage ready to beat her if she even blinked a lay-down eye! I felt like a steer being herded by cowboy drovers!

After we got back and I had semi recovered, my friend’s husband took me aside and had a little talk with me. “I am really worried about you and your “little, slight fox trotter! If only you had purchased a blocky horse—not necessarily a quarter horse…I’m certain that there are blocky fox trotters that could handle your weight. Sage isn’t strong enough to handle you on these hills. If she would have tripped up there on those mountains and started to fall, she couldn’t have recovered. You need a blocky horse.”

Instant Bad Brain Image: I imagined that horrid ride down the loose rocky ledges, Sage and I falling; Sage with bones sticking up out of her. Sage dead of a broken neck. I love Sage. … THE BIG FEAR OF DOWNHILL HIT. I managed to contain the fear so no one else knew.

Sage, the 2 year old, wasn’t afraid of anything in that camp of 4000 horses! Susan, the 49 year old, turned into a battered shell with zero self confidence. I made up some excuse about not wanting to stay, and we left the next day.

I was able to ride Sage around my property because it is mostly flat. I was so proud of Sage that she wasn’t scared of anything in the world! This was the first of the major assumptions I have mistakenly made about Sage. This is when she started earning the nickname, “The Horse of No Assumptions”. We were zipping by some bushes and heard a “tiny lion rattle sound”. Without my permission, Sage took her saddle and leaped ahead about 5 feet. I was like those cartoon characters that run off a cliff. “HUH…there’s only daylight underneath me,” and…thud. I met the unforgiving ground again! I had to lay there for a while waiting for the intense pain to go away. After my tremulous mass of flesh calmed down, I was able to determine that I was not broken.

I was too hurt to climb back on. Riding was only pretend after that. It was too cold, too late, too hot, I felt too bad. Winter came…no riding and I was grateful.

Here’s what I was left with in my 1st Year with Horses:

DOWNHILL FEAR: If the ground were sloped enough so a golf ball would roll downhill, I was major scared.

RIDING DREAD (RD) That’s when all the excuses for not riding are made. It’s a disease called RD!