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April 2022 Horse Report

Dear friends,

The past month brought some rather profound changes around our barn, leaving a giant hole in my heart. First, we said a sad farewell to our faithful old Labrador, Samantha. She was a beautiful girl with a kind and gentle soul, who graced us with her presence for almost 15 years. 

Now our house seems rather empty in the wee hours of the morning when I awaken. Coming home from a long and tiring road trip just doesn’t seem the same without a welcoming committee greeting me in the driveway. 

Then one morning, while I was away at the horse expo in Michigan, my number one horse Dually, laid down in the favorite napping spot and went to sleep for the last time. As Mark Twain famously said, “It has been my experience that your best horse will just go lay down and die.” Dually was such a great horse—he even died well. My other “great” horse, Pepsea, died the exact same way—in the middle of the morning, when people were around to take care of her.

I knew Dually was not doing well—suffering from a lot of arthritic pain in his old age. We did a lot to support him in his retirement—from pharmaceuticals to farrier—but in the end, his body failed him. It surprised no one that he died while I was out of town, since that seemed to be his pattern. 

Dually was a high-maintenance horse—quick to get an ulcer flareup, a finicky eater, the occasional colic, easily depressed. He ruled our barn because, in my mind—and especially in his mind—he was the most important horse there. He very much liked it that way, so even after I officially retired him, he still got the #1 treatment. 

Everyone who helps me take care of the horses—Melissa, Hunter, and Rich—all knew that if Dually was going to get puny, it would be when I went out of town. It was a funny coincidence that always left us wondering if he somehow knew I was gone.

Dually (AQHA registered name Dualin Command; with Dual Pep on the topside of his pedigree and Doc O’Lena on the bottom) was an amazing horse, and I am fortunate he came into my life when he was just 6 years old. He had been trained for the cow horse futurity as a 2- to 3-year-old, excelling at the reining and cow work. He went on to become a team roping horse as a 4-5 year old—with enough speed to excel at heading, and the size and power to be a great heeler too. 

When I bought him at a performance horse sale in Arizona as a 6-year-old, he was competing in ranch horse events and blowing the doors off the competition. It was love at first sight. I was smitten by Dually’s looks—athletic, built for speed, and a gorgeous (and rare) black chestnut color with a big white face. He was a lot of horse back then—quick to the speed and extremely athletic, with a brilliant mind and a winning attitude. 

I learned so much from this horse. One of the most profound lessons was about training horses with a lot of drive on a cow (or a cowy horse, as we like to say). Cowy horses like Dually would rather die than lose a cow, and they can get charg-ey or aggressive in a moment of over-achievement. They will dive for the cow—and consequently end up out of position, losing the advantage point. 

An astute old cutting horse trainer taught me that with a horse like Dually, the reward is the cow. The greatest punishment for a cowy horse is to pull him off when he gets out of position, so he loses the cow—a humiliating blow to his ego. Once or twice of that was enough for Dually, and he never let his emotions call the shots again.

Riding a horse like Dually was truly one of the greatest pleasures of my life. For almost 20 years we were a team—one unit really. He definitely knew me better than I knew myself as a rider—he taught me a lot. Our minds were melded together to the point where I could just think about cantering and he was off; just whisper a cue for a maneuver and we’d spin like a top. 

He could change jobs in a heartbeat when conditions warranted, always knowing what I was thinking and what the task at hand required. He had a work ethic like no other horse. He would follow me into the craziest situations with an amazing amount of bravery and presence—whether it be walking down the middle of a frenetic trade show aisle at a horse expo, or timber bashing in the high-mountain wilderness—because he knew I had his back, and I knew he had mine. I’ve got a ton of great stories and an abundance of fond memories of my time with this great horse.

Dually and I were a team. I will miss him terribly, but I am grateful to have had him in my life. I’ve been fortunate to have some incredible horses over the decades, but Dually may have been the best. So far. 

I’ve still got my little mare Annie—much more right-sized for me than Dually was—and she is a fabulous horse, but much different than Dually. She’s perfect for me at this time, and we’ve got a good thing going on. I cannot expect her to be a Dually, no more than she can expect me to be her fairy godmother. I will appreciate her talents and her efforts and I will do my solemn best to be a good partner for her. 

Meanwhile, I’m helping my friend and neighbor with a challenging horse that needs my help—you can hear more about this horse and the bumpy road they’ve been on in my podcast later this month!


Enjoy the ride,


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  1. Hi Julie, thinking of you and sending you much love and hugs. Dually was a special horse and I know he meant a lot to you. May all your memories keep him close to your heart.
    Fondly, Maureen Lloy
    Cool Hand “Luke” is turning 18 and I’m so thankful he is in my life.

  2. Is this a picture of Dually ? Whoever he is he’s gorgeous and what a great picture of you both.
    Very sad to loose any horse but especially one you are so bonded with.
    I often think what an incredible God we have that has given us these beautiful creatures.

  3. My condolences for your losses, but so appreciate your memories. When I have a situation I reflect back to you, how would Julie handle this. A friends horse doesn’t like to be on the cross tie alone breaks it. My friend used the sweat scrapper to discipline him, I would have brought out work on lunge return asked to stay and repeat till figured out easier to stand than be lunged. Thanks Julie.

  4. So sorry for your loss. Cherish your memories. Our “babies” will always be in our hearts!

  5. So sorry Julie for the loss of your buddies. I think most of us who have gone through this pain know how your heart hurts. Peace be with you.

  6. I am so sorry to hear this .. I can personally relate ..last 2 years I have lost 2 horses 31 and 30 .. 2 dogs 15 and 17 and 2 cat’s .19 and 20 ….for most I knew there was no other out come .. but for my # 1 horse that was my unicorn ..I did not expect ..she was high maintenance.. ring bone , tumors etc.. but as you say our minds were entwined together ..she did everything for me ..unfortunately I had to make the decision for her ..which I am still traumatized over ..feel blessed he decided for you ..I have the biggest void in my horse life everyday since ..I too have other horses but it is different.. hopefully the sadness will eventually go away for both of us ! So sorry for your losses ..


  7. So very sorry for your losses!

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of Dually. Thank you for sharing, as we all have or will have our Dually. Kindreds in spirit & the journey.

  9. I am so sorry for the loss of your lab and the horses. That’s a lot of sadness. I hope you are doing well, Julie.

  10. Julie, I’m so sorry for your losses. I am a dog and horse lover/owner and can relate. Thank you for sharing your beautiful stories, which brought tears to my eyes. Like you said, there are other horses that need your attention now and I know that will keep you very busy. I’m looking forward to seeing you again when you can come to Ohio.

  11. So sorry for your loss of Dually. Loved hearing stories about your horses!

  12. Deepest Sympathy on your profound loss of Dually. Love reading about your stories with him, and, would LOVE to read more… a way to help heal all of those who have lost our heart horse. 🙏. Annie Schoonover

  13. So sorry Julie. He was a great one and sure will be missed.

  14. Hi Julie, I know how you feel. I bought a 2 year old half Arabian filly and did all the work on her. I lost her at 31 years of age. All I had to do was think what I wanted to do (I rode her 98% of the time bare back) and she knew what we were doing and how fast to do it. I know she was a once in a lift time horse and feel so blessed to have had her – lots of people never realize that wonderful bond and feel.

    I am now 80 years young and have a little Morgan mare and a Arab mare to ride but they are a continuation of my riding as no horse could replace “Babe” her barn name – she could read me like a book. I just consider myself lucky I can continue with my horses.

    I know how you feel – we just have to be glad to have had our “wonder horse”

  15. Those of us that have true love and respect in our heart and being, know we only have so much time with all our critters and that they pass in the best possible way for themselves. It doesn’t ease the pain at the time in our soul; but in our minds it helps. I have a 24 year old spotted saddle and everyday I wonder how many more days we have together. So, we have to cherish each day that passes…as you well know.

  16. There’s nothing worse than coming home to a quiet empty house.
    I know you’re not ready, but get yourself a doggie.
    I lost a special mare in 1989. I’m still not over it. Be good to yourself. As we old pseudo-hippies used to say in the ‘70s: “Fake it until you can make it.”
    My best, Sherri

  17. Dear Julie,
    I am so sorry to hear about Dually and Samantha. Ive followed you for years, and i remember Dually being your main horse and how wonderful he was. Its so hard to lose these awesome animal partners.

  18. Oh Miss Julie, so sorry for your losses. What a beautiful tribute to obviously an amazing horse. And anyone who has a Labrador can relate.

  19. I am so very sad for your loss.
    These great animals leave a huge gaping hole in our hearts
    I lost my heart horse last August, she was a beautiful little grey mustang mare I adopted from BLM when she was 4 and tamed and trained her myself
    I only had her 10 years so she was only 14
    I am now trying to gentle another mustang but although a sweet guy he has huge shoes to fill, and I wish I lived near you because I am over my head this time.
    I love your training methods
    RIP Dually

  20. So sorry to read about the losses of Samantha and Dually. A double whammy for you. I’ve been following you and reading Dually stories for many years and he truly was an amazing, gorgeous horse. Hang in there, Julie.

  21. Julie, I am so sorry that you have lost your Dually. What a blessing he was to you and your barn. I know he will be sorely missed. Take care and continue on!!! That is what Dually would want.

  22. You write with such eloquence and feeling. Between the words and great pictures, I had tears trickling down my cheeks by the time your sharing ended. It was a sad “report” but a wonderful accounting of some of your life with Dually.

    Thankfully, while our loved ones leave us behind – their memories live on.

  23. Julie – I am so sorry for the losses you have experienced recently. Losing one beloved animal is hard enough but two in a short period of time is hard to imagine. Thank you for sharing this with us in such a poignant way.

  24. So sorry for your loss!

  25. Julie,
    So, so sorry for your losses! I feel ya–We said goodbye to one of my geldings and to our almost-14-yo German Shorthair this winter. It hurts. Loved reading the memories of your bonds with Dually & Samantha. May they bring you peace.

  26. I am so sorry for the loss there rely are no words that can help.

  27. Sincerest condolences for your 2 precious friends passing.
    Animals are so honest and unconditional. May your sweet memories give you that peace.
    I had to laugh about your Annie saddle challenges. After 5 th saddle ( finally had to custom fit) my short backed, round Quarter horse mare…we have comfort.

  28. And losing your faithful dog is just as heartbreaking. Thinking of you and your family. Take care of yourself.


  29. Losing your heart horse is always gut retching – no matter what the circumstances. My heart goes out to you and all who loved Dually.

    Betsy Bradley

  30. Thank you for sharing your stories of Dually. I had the pleasure of meeting him about 14 years ago. He was such a beautiful horse and mover. I always enjoyed seeing him as he did have that aura of being in charge even in his retirement. I also know how Sam was such a big part of the family. Such a beautiful and loyal dog. We are thinking about you all and appreciate you sharing your beautiful family with us. Thoughts are with you all 😘

  31. So sorry that you lost such a great horse. He was a beautiful animal.

  32. So glad you had such a wonderful horse in your life, Julie! And such a terrific dog, as well. May they both rest in peace

  33. So very sorry to read that Dually and Samantha both passed. Losing two fur-babies is truly heart-wrenching. 🙏🏻 of comfort.

  34. Dear Julie, I am feeling your losses, and wishing you grace and strength as you adjust to your new world without two of your favorite beings.

    Take care, Leslie DuBois

  35. Julie, Rich and everyone at your ranch,
    So, so sorry to hear about both your dog and your beloved Dually passing. Any animal that becomes so much a part of us is hard to lose. The beautiful thing is that at least they picked you to be their caretaker. It’s hard enough to retire a horse that has always been an important part of you!! So glad he is no longer in pain and that is the only good consolation. You have some big holes in your life and heart and we feel deeply about these losses. We know what it is like to try to keep an older horse going and you all did a great job of that.
    We miss see you at Equine affaire or a clinic in this area. You gave me lots of confidence and also how to handle our Maestro in better ways. We moved from that farm but only for a short time as the ones running it saw the writing on the wall and left. They left a mess behind but luckily the owners took over and the place is clean, the horses are watched and the least little thing, we work together and resolve the horse’s problem. So thankful Maestro has the right care and treatment now. Thank you for all you are teaching us to appreciate our horses even more. Maestro communicates very well and is highly trained. With a new dressage teacher/trainer and friend we are having a ball while learning to ride correctly.
    You all are in our prayers for staying healthy and safe. Our hearts are heavy for you but know that both companions are looking down at you. They , like we are saying a big thank you for being in our lives.
    All our love,
    Diane and Jim Day and Maestros C Sharp (youtube videos of him just before we bought him!!)

  36. Beautiful tribute to Dually and your partnership. Thank you for sharing.

  37. Julie, do you still have Truth?

  38. Dear Julie-
    This is Jackie Foster from Tx/TN. My condolences on Sam and Dually. I still have dr.eams about my dear Cash whom I lost in 2019.
    But for a long time now I’ve been thinking about writing you to tell you you should write a book. You are such a good writer, with so many interesting experiences and stories, that I truly think you could do this. But first, please read Mark Rashid’s books. I see you as being very similar to him, and even non horse people love his books. You have a remarkable story telling and teaching talent, and an endless supply of wonderful stories which should definitely be written down.
    But I bet you’ve thought of this, or been told this, and I for one say –
    Just Do It. Love you, Julie, and hope I get to Poncha this summer.

  39. Sorry to hear about your loss but wow what a story! Sounds like he was an amazing horse and you gave him the best of care. May he Rest In Peace.

  40. Lots of changes for your family and was so sorry to hear about Dually. I met Dually at C Lazy U and fell in love with him. He was a beautiful horse and so much fun to see you ride him. Was fortunate to see him recently and I too will miss your amazing partner. It’s so hard to say goodbye to our horses that brought us so much joy. Would have loved to seen him in his prime. Samantha was a beautiful dog as well and will be missed. Thinking about your family during this time and so sorry for your loss of Dually and Sam. 😘

  41. So sorry for your difficult loses. Even when they are somewhat “expected” it is still a blow.

  42. So sorry, Julie, on the loss of Dually and Samantha 🙁 I have followed your page for years and Dually was a beautiful horse. I can imagine this will be a real hard loss to get over. May their memories bring you peace.

  43. So sorry to hear about the loss of your pup and your horse. Sounds like you all had an amazing time together. Tough to lose them even when we know it is inevitable. They were blessed to have you in their lives!

  44. Whether a beloved horse or dog, they always seem to leave us too soon. I share your feelings…………no matter how easy they leave us it is always hard for us.

  45. My deepest sympathies on your losses.

  46. Oh Julie…I am so sorry for your loss.

  47. My condolences to you and your team family re Samantha and Dually . While reading your story, I was deeply moved as if it was happening to me.
    I pray when my time comes, I can overcome the pain of not having my partners anymore.
    Thank you for sharing.. Thank you for making your audience family.
    God Bless 🙏🏽📖

  48. Julie, we send our most sincere condolences on the passings of Samantha and Dually. What an incredible dog, horse and life! Those are some big changes in close proximity and we hope you will be kind to yourself in honor of their lives and contributions to your family. Best regards and warm wishes, Jean and Ruben in SoCal

  49. So sorry for your losses… it’s so hard to lose them, but they always live on in our hearts…

  50. Oh Julie, we are so sorry about Samantha and Dually! Having lost my “heart” horse 18 years ago, I know how deep that loss goes. We also lost our beloved Chocolate Lab Toblerone this year at 16. We can appreciate that empty feeling when coming home. Please accept our deepest condolences. Wishing you peace, Lynn & Mike Sava

  51. My heart goes out to you for the loses and the changes that are coming just as you get back into the swing of things. Thankfully, if horses teach us nothing else, they teach us resilience and being in the moment. Your horse life will be your bright spot.

  52. What heart-warming tributes to Samantha and Dually. May all the good memories sustain you.

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