Archive for November, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Nova’s Notebook – Trail Riding is on Trails

Wowsa Missouri Fox Trotters!

My friend Ken loves to rode.  He is a rider. That’s the highest compliment I can bestow on a person.

Hope on Velvet and I on Nova decided to double grace Ken’s life and let him ride with us at Lake Perry again.  My last post was a statement of the rules. 

Let me repeat my rules:

Two hours
Flat places for going fast

This ride Ken followed the rules.  He found long stretches of flat land for us to go fast.  Ah…sigh…

Then he lead us into the forest where we had to go up and down those steep steep trails strewn with loose rocks.  I don’t mind going up.  I don’t feel like I’m going to die when we are climbing steep rock-strewn trails.  But going down those trails leads me to think about death…my death…dashed on the rocks.

So we went down one horrid long steep declince and I yelled at Ken…”That’s my last steep hill!”  I meant it too.

Luckily we were soon to come out right by the beautiful lake and Ken promised us a picnic table not far.  A picnic table might be a vision you have for those affairs with food.  Not me.  A picnic table is a mounting block.  I can get on and off my horse from a picnic table.

As promised we came to the picnic table area of heaven.  I got off and disappeared into the woods.  We chatted for a while and then got back on.  It was the best half way point I could have ever asked for.  I could have even rode more than 2 hours, but I didn’t tell Ken that.  Velvet and Nova were pretty tired.

The picnic table was next to a road with wide grassy shoulders.  We rode back following the road.  We found our field and road thru several fields and then we were back at the trailers.  I got to go as fast as I wanted for as far as I wanted.  Oh a lovely ride.

Fox Trotters are Wonderful Trail Horses!

Hope and Velvet were much better acquainted on their second ride.  Hope got some nice stretches of gaited heaven in. She really enjoys riding Velvet. (Hope is a rider!)

When we got back, and I mentioned again how I hate steep rock strewn downhill stretches, Ken complained just a little.  He told me that when people go trail riding, they follow a trail. 


I’ve been pondering this philosophy for a couple days now.  It sounds like a solid reasonable rule. 

But I still love flat land where you can go as fast as you want when you want to.

What is a trail anyway?

PostHeaderIcon Trail Rules – Everyone has rules!

Ken, Hope and I rode a small portion of Lake Perry. Kansas, trails today.  I gave Ken my rules about trail riding. 

  • It’s gotta be 2 hours,
  • It’s got to be in the high 40′s and
  • There’s gotta be flat land on which to go fast.

He had great success with rules one and two.  We didn’t have much flat land upon which to go fast.
Oh well.  Other than the last part where we couldn’t find a trail back to our trailers and we were lost for seemingly, hours – It was a great day.

We found the trail head and it had been exactly two hours! 

Riding at Lake Perry, November 2010

Ken’s rule is that you have to ride for at least as long as the pickup/trailer drive to and from the trail. We met his rule too!

Nova’s rule is that she gets to mess with the other horses on the ride.

Velvet’s rule is that she must eat and boss everyone around.  She was forced to bring up the rear on this trail ride and there wasn’t very much green stuff in the forest.

Hope has a wish-rule about flush toilets.  The park didn’t meet her rule and even lacked pit toilets at the trailhead. But Hope had a great time too.

PostHeaderIcon Friday thru Monday Happiness

Just singing my happiness living my life with horses.

Friday was wonderful.  Powder came home from her 30 days of training with Tony and Jennifer Vaught.  It was good to have her back in the pasture again.  Powder and Velvet had never met.  Powder didn’t move fast enough to suit Velvet, so Powder lost some hair. She’s very aware of Velvet now.

Friday was lesson night.  I have my winter goals for  with Nova. 

  • We are to trail walk with head down until she is really relaxed.  You remember that picture of the Indian sitting on his paint horse. The horse has his head down and it’s titled The End of the Trail.  That’s the general idea except we are to do it at a slow walk.
  • We are to always work on flying lead changes and just regular lead changes
  • We are to work on our reining horse spins
  • We are to do a real trot where I have to post.  Nova’s fox trot is now so developed that I have a difficult time getting her to do a square two beat trot
  • We are to do collected canter departs which is the opposite of strung out canter departs.

I was going to talk about riding both Velvet and Nova out on the trail on Sunday.  That was heaven!

I was going to talk about taking Powder to Pine Dell this Monday night and playing with her.  I was blown away by her liberty trotting task and how she maintains the gait. There was no squirty speeding up, no tails up snorting. She just trotted around the round pen.  We went places in the dark, thru a narrow barn door, crossing a bridge while looking for the round pen light.  We started out in the big arena with two horses cantering around us.

Powder was as calm as could be.  I love this horse!

I love them all!!

I was going to go on and on, but Pawn Shop Stars is ready to start.  I must watch that show!

PostHeaderIcon Redhead Stretchy Rainwear-Pants

Oh my goodness are these Redhead StretchyRain Pants amazing!  The fact that I own a pair now is all due to Hope. She was bragging about her wonderful rainpants that she bought at Wal-Mart.  She even wanted to go riding in the rain!  That’s usually against our religion.  I thought I should get as techy as Hope, but instead of Wal-Mart, I went to Bass Pro Shop.

Just so you know, I have dark blue stretchy rain paints.  If I had bought the cameo pants, no one could see my legs when riding my horse on the trail.

I found them in the men’s rainwear dept.  They are the lightest, feel good and strethcy material!  So I bought a pair of pants.  It doesn’t matter that they are too long for women, because you just tuck them into your boot.

So tonight was the time to test these things.  I put them on and got Nova and headed (truck and trailer) to Pine Dell.  My saddle is there, so that was no problem.  We put the saddle on and Jenny told us that we would be riding in the other arena.  All righty! 

I lead Nova to the other arena, forgetting about how the rain gets your saddle wet.  I was perfectly dry walking along.

We got to the arena and with dismay, I looked at my saddle seat.  There was puddles of water on my saddle seat.

huh…  I wiped off some of the puddles with my waterproof Curvy Cowgirl jacket and mounted.  I felt nothing.  By the end of the evening, the saddle was dry.  My pants never felt wet, even when I first mounted.

The pants were comfy. They stretched where ever my body felt like pushing.

This is a Christmas list item for all riders!  Or buy yourself a pair as an early Christmas present!

When your people ask you what you want for Christmas, tell them Redhead Stretchy Rainwear pants. They make jackets too, but most people already have raincoats to wear.

Ask for Stretchy Rainear pants!

This is not a paid commercial. They are just that great!

PostHeaderIcon Velvet’s Trail Ride Journey


Two days of trail riding with bow hunters in the same park.  Are we horse riders crazy?  Yes, absolutely, without a doubt.

Saturday, I rode Velvet alone in the park. We were destroyed by a run-away quivering cameo tent.  Yes, one of those little tents that practically erects its self was tethered to brush besides the trail.  It quivered in the wind.  We were rescued by another rider who rides in the park for 3-5 hours three times a week.  His mare is bomb proof.  So, we rode together on the trail with Velvet insisting on being the leader.  His horse wasn’t gaited so, it was easy for us to pull ahead and then we had to wait.  We rounded the corner an spied the quivering tent. Velvet stayed in the lead until we got directly beside the tent. Then she allowed the mare to pass her.  They went over and sniffed the tent.

They guy had alread rode the extreme perimter of the camp, and just did us a favor to ride past that tent.  We followed him back to the parking lot.  I couldn’t take any more quivering tent experiences alone on Velvet that day.

Saturday afternoon, I rode Nova around my home area.  The neighbors were practicing their shooting.  My horses no longer react to rifle fire.  Since my new neighbors moved in and started target practice, my horses are desensitized to rifle fire.  I got on Nova and headed away from the shooter neighbors place. We rode over to the turf farm neighbor and rode around beautiful grassy areas and three lakes. We even went up to the Skate Board park and rode across the skate board area.  Nova was nice and didn’t pee or poop there.  It was unusual to not have skate boarders flipping around in that big piece of metal.

  Life is good!

Today Hope and I rode together at the park. I took Velvet again.  It was her turn again.

We rode quite a while and came up to one of the lake and the parking area. There were several cars and no one fishing.  I knew hunters were somewhere.  We came to the lot and I spied a new log in the grass.  I was looking at it envisioning a mounting block log.  I could get off, disappear in the woods and get some bladder relief.  How timely this log was too…right in the middle of the park..midway.  As I went closer, the log turned into a man.  He was invisible because he was covered in cameo.  I thought he was a log, but really he was a sound-asleep hunter!

What the bow hunters do is come out to the park really early when the deer are moving around. They sleep during the afternoon and then hunt again when dusk comes.  Trail riding is very educational!

Sometime later on our journey we spied a black garbage bag or something out in the field.  It was very out of place.  I’ve never seen trash in the park.  I walked by and then Hope walked by. That’s when we discovered it really was a turkey.  They must hunker down and cover themselves up with their wing.  Since Chip was right beside the emerging turkey, he did move sideways a few steps. The turkey didn’t explode up, it just emerged and ran off.  We were speechless in amazement.

Finally, we walked by a tiny hut that had green branches and leaves all over it.  It wasn’t all that far from the park entrance. The sign inside the tiny hut said Handicap Hunter.  We managed to ride right up to the hut, but when both horses got even with the hut and saw the inside, they were a bit nervous.  Hope was talking when her speech moved sideways.  I’ve never heard anyone speak while they were traveling sideways.  Of course there was a bit of hoof pounding sounds too.  Hope’s body tried to stay where it had originally been which resulted her pushing Chip more sideways.  

Hope loved her girth after those two experiences! Her girth was responsible for her saddle staying on the top of the horses, rather than sideways.

Chip has on a fly mask. The flies were bad.  Hope took this fly mask with her and when the flies got bad, she put on the fly mask from her saddle.  I should have taken a movie of that.  I’ll make her do it again someday and film it.  It will probably go viral on youtube. Yes, it was that amazing.

Yep, a hard day at the park with the bow hunters.  Yes a lot of people rode in the park on Saturday and Sunday. Both days were sunny and warm. 

We don’t know how many bow hunters were out there, because they are invisible!

PostHeaderIcon Shetlands, Large Pony and American Saddlebred

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. My life with equines started in 1952. In 1952 I asked my Daddy if I could have a pony. He acted very sad and told me that he couldn’t afford to buy a pony. He cleverly told me to ask my grandfather…as a joke.. .never suspecting that his life was going to be a series of pony-hell from then on. “Yes” my grandfather said, “I’ll buy you a pony. My mother found Cricket and she was in foal.

Pony in foal with hand carved saddle and bridle cost $200. My grandfather went into shock. He had no idea ponies were that expensive!

Cricket and Princess..the Foundation Ponies

The pony was delivered to her new home which was our unattached garage where she had to live until my father built the fence in the back yard. This act alienated our friendly neighbor as we found out that his precious row of trees were actually planted on our land. My father cut the trees down. The neighbor built a fence. My father built 3 sides to fence in the lot and my ponies rubbed against the neighbor’s fence for years. He hated us!

This is Cricket and Princess with me and my Dad. Princess was 4 days old and I was dressed to ride in the 4th of July parade. Princess got so tired during the parade, my mother had to carry her home!

One of Cricket’s many colts.

My father came across a buggy deal that was too good to pass up. Natuarally, the buggy was too big for a shetland. My father took off the axle and big wheels and built an axle that would fit bicycle wheels. The shafts were cut down to pony size. My parents bought a harness and I can still remember them marveling and wondering about all the parts. I stupidly sold that harness in the ’80s. What could I have been thinking? I want that harness back!

My mother became a shetland pony business woman. She bought brood mares and a stallion and we started producing ponies at a rapid rate. I got to train all of them (to lead).

We spent a week every summer in Perry, Oklahoma, at the largest pony sale in the world. We also owned the ’50′s version of a convienance store and we raffled off a pony colt every year for many years. For several years, I got to be in charge of the pony-go-round…free rides for children of customers.

The ponies paid for most of my way through college. In the ’60′s, the bottom fell out of the pony market. We had to give away our baby colts.  We sold our fillies for ridiculous prices. The pony ride was over!


I had just read King of the Wind and learned that Sham in Arabic meant SUN. My parents found a two year old buckskin large pony for me. He had not been ridden. He came with the name Davy Crocket. I named him Sham. He looked just like Dale Evan’s horse Buttermilk. Thus Sham, Davy Crocket, Buttermilk JR became his name…but I called him Sham. This was the horse that I enjoyed the most.

I put a bridle on him and crossed the reins so he would learn to neck rein. My mother led me around first and it wasn’t too long before I was off on my own with Sham.

He was a barrel racer, a pole bender and a large pony pleasure class. I rode him with a girl’s drill team. I rode him all over town. I rode outside of town on any gravel or dirt roads that I could find (alone!). I had Mr Willis Todden, my trainer, to teach me how to do all the racing and showing events. I lived on Sham. I outgrew him when I was 15. I couldn’t show in large pony events at the age of 15. He was sold and I still miss him.

DIXIE LEE STONEWALL My mother was terrified that I would become a barrel racer and die. She cleverly manipulated me into wanting a drop-dead gorgeous American Saddlebred horse. Imagine her surprise when the nice horse at the seller’s house (probably drugged) turned into a frantically scared horse at our house! She tried to jump out of the truck on her way to her new home. That’s before we had horse trailers. Horses rode in trucks with high sideboards. She was insane in the truck ride to our house. After she rested for a day, I went out to the barn to bridle and saddle her. She was nuts when I tried to get a bridle on her. She stuck her head 1000 miles up into the air.

Dixie had to be sent to Mr Todden. I couldn’t get the bridle on her.

Mr Todden was one of the orginal natural horse trainers. She came back a manageable horse with a few hangups with which I could deal with the help of weekly training lessons. Our first year with the lessons were quite a struggle. It smoothed out and Mr Todden started teaching me to ride an English saddle and how to manage the double bit bridle.

We went into the show ring as western pleasure and English pleasure.  Sometimes I would be showing in western pleasure against all quarter  horses.  If the judge liked saddle bred horses better than quarter horses, I won.  If the judge like quarter horses…well, you get the picture!  I really liked that show ring canter. We didn’t have to go the slow quarter horse lope.  We could canter around at a nice clip and that was fun.  I thought Dixie Lee Stonewall was the most beautiful horse in the world.  When I went to college, she was sold.  I wonder if she ever had a foal….

Dr. Paul and a Peavine American Saddlebred Horse at the ROSE BOWL PARADE Dr Paul was one of the three horsemen that made a big difference in my life. Dr. Paul had his barn and arena across the street from where I lived. I spent a lot of time over there watching him train horses. He had a liberty act with six white horses.

Later he gathered up us young town cowgirls and made a fast and exciting drill team out of us.We won first place in every drill team competition. Dr. Paul made us girls into RIDERS!

After he got done with his liberty act, he finished his life with horses with PARADE HORSES. He went to shows everywhere. Most of his parade horses were palomino Peavine American Saddlebreds. He rode his Parade Horse at the Rose Bowl parade every year. I saw him ride person at the Rose Bowl Parade. Imagine, someone from tiny Osceola in the Rose Bowl Parade AND, as a solo act!

The 2nd man that made a difference was Austin Smith. He trained high level dressage horses. All horses in his barn were owned by wealthy people across the country. One of his wealthy customers brought him a pony to train for a daughter. I got to ride/train that pony, with a little help from Austin. I don’t have a picture of Austin.

All My Favorite Horses with Mr Todden and my Dad

Willis Todden trained mules for the Army during WWI. He was an original natural horseman. He drove 12 miles once or twice a week and gave me a lesson. We started with my large pony which was just a warm up for the level of training needed to learn to ride my nervous American Saddlebred, Dixie Lee Stonewall. It took about a year before she was a nice relaxed trail horse/show horse.

My life with horses ended too soon. I turned 18 and left for college. I didn’t return to horses until I was 48 years old…quite a gap.


Cones…those orange things that lay around the perimeter of most any arena. We think of them as arena cone-litter. People with horses have invented a lot of things to do with cones. We do cone-weaving, cone-circles, cone-sidepassing. Some horses even have perfected cone-squishing and don’t forget cone-eating!

In the versatility challenges, cones assume many a different role. Cones become cone-portant because they mark transition spots or patterns.

In the last Pine Dell Natural Versatility Challenge, we had cones to mark the
transition from walk to trot/center and another cone to mark the transition back down to walk. Cones demand your respect in versatility challenges.
Cone-portance demanded that the horse do the required transition exactly at the cone. In the first cone from walk to trot/canter, when the horse’s front feet came to the cone, the trot/canter was to happen. You need to know your horse for the cone-portant transitions. How many steps does it take your horse to start trotting/cantering when you ask from a walk? How long does it take your horse to come down from a trot to a walk? The answer to that is when you start asking the horse to make the transition at the cone-portant!

We have cones in every Pine Dell Versatility Challenge. Cone-portant will be
asking for transitions from slow trot to medium trot to fast trot in the next
versatility challenge. Gaited horses can do any gait faster than a walk and
slower than a canter demonstrating three different speeds.

Feel the Power of the big Orange! Feel for your horse to make snappy
transitions. It takes savvy horsemanship.


Sue the “How Do You Do” Horse. It took Sue nearly three years to not flinch when I saddled her. I’m not talking about a slight shudder, either. I’m talking
about a 1″ rolling oceanic tsumni flinch along her back. That’s one inch of rolling fear. She was triple T terrified of the saddle.

Sue must have been saddled by a grizzly bear. 

Pat Parelli has taught us the safe way to saddle, bridle and mount horse. He
does things to ensure our safety and end up so we can live our dream with
horses. Do you realize that 85% of the accidents with people and horses occur when the leg is swung over the saddle? There are more than one reason for a horse to rear, bolt or jump when people mount. The safe saddling, bridling and mounting according to Pat Parelli eliminates most of those rear, bolt or jump reasons. It used to be a level 1 task in the Parelli levels tests.

Saddling. We can pick up the pad and the saddle at the same time, but you have to be handy to do that. Let’s just pick up the saddle pad and let your horse sniff it. Sling the pad on your horse. You can play the friendly game with the saddle pad a couple of times before you sling the pad on your the horse, but that isn’t an every-time rule.

Let’s talk about the word sling. Let’s talk about a grizzly bear about to
attack. It’s standing up on it’s hind legs with the front legs ready to rip you
to pieces. That’s what we don’t want you to look like when you are putting the
pad or the saddle on the horse. That’s the grizzly bear way of saddling. Instead, we want your arm to nicely sling the pad and saddle up on your horse.

Saddle. All the saddle hanging stuff should be nicely tethered to the saddle. We should not see a full length girth or billet swing . There should be nothing for you to step on if you are carrying your saddle somewhere .Carry the saddle the sexy way, not the stumble way.

Pick the saddle up, hold the cantle with your hand and snug the front against your body, fleece side in. It’s a very comfortable way to carry a saddle. If you are doing it right, your saddle feels like a feather. If you are doing it wrong, your saddle will soon careen of of control and you will drop it. It weights less when you carry it correctly too.  Really, I’m serious!

Stand facing your horse, rotate your upper body around so you are
offering the horse an opportunity to smell the saddle. If the horse is
comfortable with this, you can sling the saddle on your horse. If you have less than an experienced horse, you can play the friendly game a couple of times with some practicing non-landing slings. I used to practice non-landing slinging the saddle on Sue for a half day before the ocean of flinching fear would calm down on her back.

Slinging is also better for your back than grizzly bear saddling. When you pick up a saddle like most people do, your back can protest and put you at home moaning with pain. Your back loves slinging a saddle.

When your horse is comfortable with the fact that the saddle is going to be
place on the back, gently swing the saddle up and let it land as light as a
saddle-feather. Do not drop the saddle on your horse’s back. Practice “feather landings” when you saddle your horse.

Drop the girth and get your billet strap ready. The hand that reaches under the saddle to get the girth should not make it necessary to put your head under the horse’s belly. One little kick at a fly when your head is under your
horse…well…thikg of the pumpkin someone took off your front porch and
smashed it on the street. yeccha. You reach with your “back hand” and leave
your head away from the pumpkin smash zone.

Draw the girth up so there is light tension on the girth. There’s no reason to
have quick hands with this either. Quick hands should be hit by a
ruler-wielding 1950′s fifth grade teacher. If I see “Quick Hands”, I’ll call my 5th grade teacher back to earth with her bloody metal ruler!

The rule is move your horse three times and tighten the girth between each move. That is the bare minimum rule. Pat Parelli saw someone die because a little piece of flesh was caught in the girth when the horse was saddled the normal way. When the man swung his leg over the horse, the horse’s tender belly flesh was squeezed and caused the horse to rear over backwards. Think about the pumpkin being squished when thrown off your porch into the street. That was his head.  Slow girthing hands, light tension and moving the horse around prevents that belly flesh from being caught in the girth.

 Quick hands and tighten the girth as tight as you can get it the first time…is one of the things that cause the death experience when you mount the horse.

Velvet is a master at holding her breath and making her barrel puff out when I girth her up. Therefore the saddle is loose after a ride of a short distance.
When I’m going to ride on a trail ride or think about cantering in the arena and doing drop to trot lead changes….I like to have my girth tight enough. To ensure that your girth is tight enough for athletic moves or a tricky-breath horse, you need to either canter the horse or have it jump over something.  After the canter or jump, tighten your girth one last time and you are ready to mount and ride anywhere.

I’ve had lot’s of fun with loose saddles in my inexperienced life with horses.
I’ve learned that where ever the saddle goes, your body will follow. when the saddle slides from on top of the horse to the side of the horse, your body goes right along with it.  This is a rule of physics.

Practice safe physics with a saddle. Heck, just practice safe saddling! We need to keep you around living out your dream with horses.


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