May 2022 Horse Report

Annie at C Lazy U with Cosequin breast collar
Annie at C Lazy U with Cosequin breast collar

In the past four months, I’ve traveled coast-to-coast for many different horse expos and clinics—just like before-times! It was great to be back on the road again, to meet new people and horses, see lots of familiar faces, and have fun with people as we celebrated our passion for all things horse.  

At first, there was a momentary pause on my part (How did I manage all this travel before? Will I remember how to do my presentations? How will my horse perform after two years off the road?), but not to worry! It was just like riding a bicycle. For me, that kind of muscle memory just doesn’t go away.

My little mare, Annie, clearly had the same brief moment of “What the heck am I doing here?” as we headed into a vacuous coliseum for the first-time post-pandemic. My heart swelled with pride when I saw and felt Annie take a deep breath, put her head down and march boldly into the arena with purpose. 

She seemed to enjoy the crowd as much as I did. I should’ve never doubted myself—and certainly not Annie—but this is what we humans do. Self-doubt is normal and ever-present (and perhaps reins us in at times). As long as we don’t let self-doubt define us—and armed with the ability to summon your self-confidence and believe in yourself—it doesn’t have to be a problem.

Currently, and for the first time since I can remember, I only have one personal horse. Missing is the young, up-and-coming prospect that I typically have waiting in the wings—keeping me busy planning its development, and being obligated to ride every day. 

Goodnight's Principles of Riding Training VideosPosition, balance, rhythm & cueing
Exercises to improve riding skills
Cantering—everything from how to ride the canter to flying lead changes.
For the more advanced rider, advanced use of the aids, collection & lateral movements

As much as I love and appreciate riding a been-there-done-that, finished bridle horse like Annie, what I love most is training young horses and watching them grow and develop. I know my next young prospect will come to me eventually, and I am patient. He may not have even been born yet, but I will know him when I see him.

Until then, I am relishing the ease of only having one horse to contend with and appreciative more than ever of not having to feel guilty that I didn’t ride today. Annie is a horse that can literally go months and years with no riding, and you could step up into the stirrup and have the best ride of your life. Those of you who are fortunate enough to ride a horse like that know exactly what I mean. 

The right horse, at the right time, is an amazing thing and should never be taken for granted. Don’t get me wrong, Annie is either ridden or exercised daily, whether I am home or not. She’s never been left to languish in the field. 

Annie is a professional performance horse who I rely on regularly for video production, photo shoots, teaching clinics, and giving public performances. She must stay fit, slick, and tuned-up. (I try to do the same, but it’s not as simple and unfortunately nothing someone else can do for me.) 

I have a lot invested in my horses, and caring for them as best I can has always been important to me. It’s a simple life-lesson my father taught me, in the contact of horses—if you are going to do it, do it right! I’m certainly not perfect, and I don’t have all the answers, but I will always give it my best.

Summer is upon us now! Annie and I have one more public appearance next month—an educational horse expo for Harmony Equine Center, here in Colorado, then I’ll turn my focus to making new videos and developing more content for my online Academy.

Oh yeah, I plan to have some fun this summer too! I’ve got a brand-new high-performance mountain bike (not planning to break any bones biking this year), and I need to make up for some time I’ve missed on the water, boating and fishing. Good thing I have a horse that doesn’t need riding every day!

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,

JG

February 2022 Horse Report

Winter got off to a mild start here in the Colorado mountains but has come back with a vengeance lately. With lots of snow and sub-zero temps, our outdoor arena is frozen solid, which has kept us riding primarily indoors.

We try to break the monotony with poles, tarps, and the cutting machine. Occasionally, we venture outside to saunter around the neighborhood, but I am very leery of the riding in slick conditions. But on the rare warm and sunny day, without wind (that’s the rare part), we like to get the horses outside for a more enjoyable ride.

When the thermometer drops below zero (yes, that’s Fahrenheit) or even single-digits, we avoid working the horses- not even longeing. When the air is that cold and dry, it can easily damage their massive lungs, if you get them breathing too hard. Plus, if I get my horse too warm in the toasty solar-warmed indoor, they will get a serious chill when they go back outside.

I just received a brand-new saddle for Annie! It’s a 15.5” Wind River, from my Peak Performance line of saddles, made by Circle Y. It’s a beautiful short-skirted Western saddle on a Flex2 tree. I am still experimenting with the padding, to compensate for her asymmetry at the shoulders, low withers, and her very short back.

 

It’s been a challenge to get her fitted just right, but she’s working much better in her new saddle now—moving well, keeping her head low and her back rounded, making smoother transitions. Saddle fit is still a work in progress for Annie, especially since she is 15 years old now and experiencing the body changes that come with middle age. Kind of like when humans hit their 40s. Enough said.

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Happily, Annie passed the evaluation with flying colors (thank you Cosequin®!)! Now I can be relatively certain that her occasional grumpiness is not joint soreness, but has more to do with saddle fit or her laziness or the fact that she is a red-headed pony mare.

I am both relieved and excited that Annie is in such great physical shape at her age and thrilled at what that means for her longevity. She is my only horse now and I rely heavily on her as my partner in teaching and training. I need her to be on her game.

This month Annie will accompany me to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver, to perform in front of a live audience for the first time in two years! We’ll be doing two presentations on Saturday—one about being a proactive rider and the other on managing meltdowns in horses. This will be fun! Annie and I will need to work tightly together, to help the horses and riders who sign up for the clinics.

Although I admit I’ve gotten comfortable at home lately, with very little travel over the past two years, I’m excited to be getting back on the road again and working with horses and riders. The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo is just the beginning of a busy spring schedule for me. I’ll be back in full swing after that—with expos in Michigan, Oregon, Idaho, and Wisconsin, and I hope our paths cross! See my 2022 events schedule here!

January 2022 Horse Report

Annie Closeup
Annie Closeup

One thing I love about horse sports is that no matter what you achieved last year, there’s always more you can do the next year. No sooner do you accomplish one goal than you’re planning the next feat.

For me, January is the time to create a blueprint to accomplish bigger and better things with my horses in the coming year. The coldest and darkest days are behind us now, and there is much to look forward to in the months ahead. Maybe living in the Colorado mountains, where winters can be intense, makes this time of reflection and projection more meaningful.

With horses in particular, looking 3-6 months ahead is always important in your goal-setting. It takes time to develop the training and conditioning of a horse and rider, collect the right equipment (like my new saddle for Annie), and plan your logistics for the upcoming riding season in order to accomplish your goals.

We often think of a horse’s training and conditioning in 30-day increments—and that’s for good reason. 

Whether you are working to improve a horse’s fitness, it’s skill level (performance), or it’s fluency (reliability) in a given discipline, the 30-day increments are telling in terms of what results we can expect to see. Knowing that the training and development of a great horse takes time, we set our goals 30, 60, or 90 days apart.

Imagine you were planning a mountaineering expedition in the Andes for yourself, but you didn’t start preparing until a few days before the trip. You’re scrambling to put together the critical equipment you will need, you have no idea how it works, and you didn’t have time to break in your hiking boots. Your physical condition is soft, and you’re not used to carrying a heavy backpack. Chances are good it will be a miserable, if not impossible, trip.

Now imagine you are taking your backyard, flat-lander, “pet” horse on a 5-day, 100-mile wilderness pack trip in the mountains. Sending an unprepared, “soft” horse into an intense riding situation like this would be disastrous. Preparations would need to start a year in advance.

Because my husband and I have ambitious plans to travel with our horses this spring and summer, we are starting our preparations now! Preparation takes a long time with horses and for me, this is the time of year for planning, forecasting, organizing, and executing changes.

Over the last month, I’ve taken a long, hard look at Annie’s saddle-fit and bridle suitability, and made changes to both. I’ve got a brand new saddle on-order, to better accommodate her short, small stature, and I’m using an entirely different bridle—from bit, to headstall, to reins. 

I’m using a different mouthpiece that she clearly likes better (as evidenced by smoother transitions and better self-carriage) and by switching to romal reins, I’ve forced myself to ride one-handed and with far less rein contact—which is more appropriate rein handling for Annie’s level of training.

In addition to the full assessment of my tack and equipment, I also evaluate my horse’s current fitness level to figure out what we need to do so that she is at her physical peak when the riding season begins. I look at weight, muscling in the legs, topline, abs, and hindquarters, as well as hoof condition. 

Annie is barefoot now, but once I start riding outside more (rocky terrain), and when I am training harder on reining maneuvers, she’s likely to need more farrier support—another course that must be charted. 

To have the kind of riding season we are hoping for, our horses need to be sound and fit before the season starts. Knowing it takes a solid 90 days to make much impact on the horse’s physical condition, it’s time to start now!

 

I use my horses not only for fun (like tagging along with Rich to ranch horse events), but more importantly, in my job as a horsemanship clinician and for content production. That makes the planning and preparation that I do with my horses even more crucial. I need them to be fit and camera-ready year-round.

I also have to plan for specific events and any traveling that will be required. Traveling with horses is logistically complicated, and I need my horses to be comfortable and mentally prepared for life on the road.

Next month, I’ll travel with Annie to Denver for the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. I’ll have two prime-time presentations on Saturday, and it’s been a couple years since Annie’s had to perform in a large coliseum in front of a crowd. Beyond having her tuned up, slick, and fit, I also need her to stay calm and focused in a highly distracting and unfamiliar venue.

Sometimes that means riding alone months in advance or hauling to ride in unfamiliar arenas alone, to build some confidence in each other. Fortunately Annie’s an old pro, so it won’t take much prep—I just need to get her in the right mindset.

Annie is 15 years old, very well-trained, and highly seasoned (experienced in many ways). I don’t have much to “work” on with her, other than strengthening our partnership and refining our communication. 

However, I’ve been working hard to reprogram the “cinchy” behaviors Annie developed in the last year. Right now I am approaching that magic 30-day mark of training on it, and I am starting to see great results. I take my time to saddle her, and mix up the process a lot to ease her anticipation. 

I am happy to report she is standing quietly and even lowering her head and taking a deep sign when I snug up the cinch now. I still see some remnants of her cranky behavior, but in another 30 days, I expect that to be gone too. 

(This month’s episode of my podcast takes an in-depth look at “cinchy” behavior—and how to address it. It will be released next week, so be sure to subscribe to Ride On with Julie Goodnight on any podcast app so you don’t miss it!)

I’ve got lots of work to do planning the logistics for a summer full of travel with our horses—but to me, that part is fun!

I’ve got a color-coded 12-month calendar that gives me a visual glance at the whole year—showing me when I am gone, when I am home, and what I need to prepare for. I will have to stay focused to meet the high demands on my time between work obligations, special events, and fun. If I want to have it all (and I do), I’ll need to be organized!

We like to say that with horses, it’s about the journey, not the destination—and I fully subscribe to this belief. Without solid planning months in advance to meet our ambitious goals, there would be no destination. And the planning, practicing, training, and preparations are all part of the fun for me—part of the journey.

It’s time to get started now, and to enjoy the ride!

December 2021 Horse Report

I have to say I was happy to get back into a more normal work schedule this fall—starting with my first few trips to events by airplane since March of 2020. So far,  it’s been smooth sailing. 

Last month, I had my first “back-to-normal” horsemanship clinic since 2019  (where people bring and work with their own horses) in Phoenix, Arizona—and the weather was perfect! It was a great clinic, with lots of interesting horses and riders. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to help clients and their horses directly, in-person, so it was super fun for me. It feels good to be back in the arena! 

I also attended the CHA International Conference in Fort Worth, Texas last month..  This was one of the best CHA conferences I’ve ever attended. I think everyone had an especially good time. We were hosted by the Fort Worth Herd—and if you’ve never been to Fort Worth, you should check it out. (Just go to FortWorth.com.) 

They drive a big herd of longhorns through the old historic downtown area—twice a day, every day—and it’s incredible to see those huge steers parade through downtown and the throngs of tourists there. The drovers and the crew that make it all happen are fabulous people that I’ve gotten to know and love. It’s really an amazing program and a fabulous place to visit.

Best of all, I got to ride Pepperoni for my presentations in the huge coliseum. His “other-mother,” Nancy, and I were quite proud of him. He took everything in stride—even the longhorns he was stabled right next to—and he acted like a mature, well-trained horse just doin’ his job. My little colt is all grown up now and no longer needs me!

Here at home, I’ve had more time to reconnect with my sweet mare, Annie, mostly riding her bareback and bridleless. She’s highly tuned and responsive, and a very quick-footed little horse—and that makes riding bareback a particularly exhilarating experience! 

Since winter’s arrived full-bore now, we’re mostly relegated to riding indoors, so riding bareback and without the bridle makes an otherwise monotonous routine a little more exciting. At least for me, but I think Annie likes it too.

I’m having a quiet holiday at home with family, friends, horses, and of course, our lab, Samantha. I’m excited to see what 2022 has in store for me, and to start planning out new goals for the year. 

I hope to see you and your horse in person in 2022!

JG

November 2021 Horse Report

Watercolor of Dodger & Lucy

We’ve had some transitions around our barn in the last month. Recently, we said a final farewell to our old friend, Roger Dodger—possibly the best cow horse I ever rode! Dodger was 30 years old and lived a long and productive life– his first 13 years he was the foreman’s horse on a big Texas cattle ranch, and the last 17 years, here with us in Colorado. Dodger was laid to rest here at our ranch, beside some of our most treasured horses who also lived out their old age in dignity and comfort in the past few decades. 

Photo Credit: Heidi Melocco

I bought the handsome palomino gelding at the very first Legends of Ranching performance horse sale. He was a hot-blooded, power-packed 13-year-old and he was WAAAY too much horse for the average rider. After a decade of doing serious ranch work, this horse was an expert at all phases of cow work, with the ability to immediately adjust to any task at hand—be it herd work, cutting, roping, boxing, or going down the fence. (Aren’t sure what “down the fence” means? Google “reined cow horse.”) 

I kept Dodger for myself for a few years, slowly de-tuning his training so he was less reactive and responsive, getting him used to a slower pace of life, and giving him time to learn to be a pleasure horse. Then I sold him to one of my best friends, Lucy Achenbach (who many of you have met because she travels with me a lot and has assisted in more clinics than I can count). 

In the years that followed, Lucy and Dodger climbed all over the Colorado mountains and did a variety of ranch horse activities where Dodger was always the star of the show! He came back to live here at my ranch 7 or 8 years ago, where he lived out his retirement in style. We will miss that horse, but Lucy and I both consider ourselves lucky to have Dodger in our lives, and we cherish the memories.

Another big transition to our herd occurred when my young horse, Pepperoni, left for Texas, with my dear friend Nancy. This was not a sad occasion for me because I am not saying goodbye to this exceptional horse. Nancy and I have shared a few horses in the past decade, and she made me promise, when I bought Pepper, that I would give her first consideration if I decided to sell him. 

A Note from Nancy: 

When you were at the auction and told me about how much you loved this horse, I immediately looked into his background to see how he was bred.  He had a great dam and sire and of course his grand sire is Peptoboonsmal. I’ve followed every move you’ve made with this horse and at times I would ask, “When are you going to sell him?” and remind you to think of me! 

Having bought horses from you in the past, I had my eye on him from the start. The timing was right for both of us, and I was super excited that I would soon be his new mom. Riding him several times, and of course knowing his background, I was very excited to bring him home.  

You and I have been friends for a long time, and we try to see each other once or twice a year. With that, I had comfort knowing you would still see him and that he would be “our” horse, always.

Pepper at his new home with Nancy

Because what I love most is training young horses, and because Pepper has matured into a big and talented horse, I am ready to start over with a younger and smaller horse. Nancy and Pepper are the perfect match for each other, and I know they will go on to do great things together. Our longstanding agreement is that he is not her horse, but “our” horse. I know that she will share him with me whenever I am doing clinics or events near her. So that’s how I ended up riding Pepper during my presentations at the CHA International Conference this month, where he performed like a champion in the Fort Worth Cowtown Coliseum, and made his other-mother proud.

Luckily, I have my awesome little mare to ride, who is right-sized for me at fourteen hands even. Annie is a quick-footed reined cow horse, a sports car edition, finished in the bridle and a machine on the trail. Now that I have more time to ride her, it’s been fun getting back in sync with her. She’s one of the best bridle-less horses I’ve ridden, and after three years of training a big, young, rambunctious horse, she will be a blast to ride!

September 2021 Horse Report

Remington In October 2020 & In September 2021

Here in the Colorado Rockies, fall comes early, but we have been blessed with exceptionally warm days and normally cool nights, with about a 50-degree difference from the low to high temps. If we ride early, we are bundled up for the cold, but by mid-morning the layers come off. It’s obvious the horses are enjoying the cooler weather, but by morning, they are all positioning themselves for the first rays of heat from the sun.

This week, we head up to the C Lazy U Ranch, for my annual Ranch Riding Adventure clinic (one of the most popular programs I offer). It’s the perfect time of year to be in the Colorado mountains, as the trees are changing and the weather is mild. It’s the best time of year to ride in the mountains, and we do a lot of it in the four days of the clinic: four riding sessions a day (including trail obstacles and ranch riding lessons), guided trail rides, cattle sorting, plus a horsemanship clinic with me. Although this clinic stays in a perpetual state of full, it’s worth the wait to contact C Lazy U and get on the waitlist for 2022.

Our temporary resident, Remington, will finally head back to his home ranch at the C Lazy U this week, after living at my ranch as a wildfire refugee for the last 11 months.

Remi’s mother is a Clydesdale mare named Joy, purchased in the spring of 2020 as a trail horse, and unbeknownst to the ranch, was pregnant. Remi was born on October 1, 2020, an unexpected but happy surprise at the renowned guest ranch.

When wildfires threatened the ranch last fall, the remuda of 200 horses was evacuated—not once, but twice. Remi was just 3 weeks old, and not old enough to run with the herd yet, so he and Joy came to live with us.

Baby horses are meant to be born in the early spring so that they have the whole summer of good feed and warm weather to grow up before their first winter comes. October is not a good time for a horse to be born in Colorado, so we knew Remi and his mother would need some extra support.

We jumped at the opportunity to help out the ranch and to take care of Remi for the winter. It’s been so much fun to watch him grow up. By all appearances, he is a purebred Clydesdale, and some days it seemed that if he held still long enough, you could actually see him grow. He is almost 12 months old now, and he’s bigger than the average adult horse!

This is my first experience raising a draft horse baby, so maybe they are all this way, but I find this young horse to be exceptionally brave and willing. He’s always happy to see us, and will run across the pasture to greet you. He thinks of people as his “entertainment committee,” and is always eager to go on an adventure with us.

Goodnight's Principles of Riding Training VideosPosition, balance, rhythm & cueing
Exercises to improve riding skills
Cantering—everything from how to ride the canter to flying lead changes.
For the more advanced rider, advanced use of the aids, collection & lateral movements

I’m not a big fan of over-handling young horses, but knowing how big he would get, we made sure to give him the halter training he needed, and to teach him some basic manners like leading, standing, tying, feet handling, standing for fly spray, etc. Since he hadn’t been in a horse trailer since the fire evacuations, we thought we would reintroduce him before the trip home this week. Like a mature and brave horse, he stepped right up and happily gulped down the tasty grain he found inside. Trailering is apparently not a problem!

Once he is back at the ranch, he will get acquainted with a few of the younger draft horses there, and stay in a pen with them for a few weeks so that they can form a bond. Eventually, alongside his new homies, he will be turned out with the herd of 200 horses.

The entire herd is kept on a huge mountain meadow at night, and they come into the corrals at the ranch headquarters each morning, where the horses are caught and saddled for trail riding. At the end of the day, the herd runs back out to pasture to graze, socialize, and rest. Out in the meadow, they split up into smaller factions for the night before they gather up again in the morning to head back to the corrals.

It’s unlikely Remi will hook up with his mom again since she has likely forgotten him and found her own bonds. Instead, he will hang with the boys and learn to make his own way in the herd. Of course, the wranglers will keep a close eye on him to make sure. In a year or two, he will begin his saddle training and start learning the trails, first as a guide’s horse, and eventually becoming a guest horse.

It’s sure been fun to have a youngster in the barn, watch him grow and learn, and play a part in shaping his future. He’s handsome and regal, not to mention a giant yearling. I’m going to miss seeing our own personal version of a Budweiser commercial running across our fields each day, but I look forward to seeing him settled back at his home ranch and watching him grow up to be a legendary horse there.

August 2021 Horse Report

Truth and Julie running over ground poles.

As the days shorten, I’ve been frantically trying to squeeze in all the activities I wanted to do this summer. The older I get, the shorter the summers are, and it’s hard to get enough trail riding, camping, boating, fishing, mountain biking and paddling. But I have given it the college try this summer and I haven’t given up yet!


My personal horses, Annie and Pepperoni, stay in regular daily training to keep them fit and tuned. Pepper is still young, so I look for new experiences for him all the time, even simple ones. Recently, my brother visited us after a motorcycle race and I was pleased to have an opportunity to “desensitize” him to a motorcycle approaching from in front and behind.

 
For Pepper, it was a big “ho-hum.” That’s what I would expect from him. He’s very brave and unconcerned and seems to always understand what’s going on around him. I’m sure he just figured it was a very loud bicycle. I am also not naïve enough to think he’s fully desensitized to it since he was at home where he is most confident and emotionally stable. Out on an unfamiliar trail by himself could be a whole different reaction. But it’s a good start!


Annie, my go-to finished horse, is middle-aged now, and although her training is excellent and she is a total blast to ride—with tack and without—she’s starting to get more herd-bound. We have to diligently separate her from the geldings and make sure she focuses on the job at hand—not the other horses.

 
As long as we keep this part of her daily routine, she does well. If we left her in the herd for weeks on end, things would be much different. Middle-aged horses and mares tend to become more emotionally dependent on the herd as they age. If you missed my blog on this subject, check it out here.


Truth, the Thoroughbred mare I have in foster training, has come a long way in the last 4 months and is ready for adoption!

 
I am partnering with Nexus Equine to find the ideal home for her. She’s a beautiful, brave, athletic, sweet mare, and is best suited for a family that wants a horse to enjoy non-riding activities like in-hand dressage or agility. Although I was riding Truth without issues, an xray of her back revealed an arthritis condition that is not conducive to riding. It’s treatable, but in the best interest of Truth, we decided to find a non-riding home for her.

We continue to work with Truth daily for grooming, ground manners, and further training in non-riding activities. She’s gone from a skinny, wormy-looking, potbellied, defensive horse, to a beautiful, sleek mare, greets you at the gate and who loves the attention she gets.

 
I look forward to finding her new family—and I am offering a private clinic to them to make sure everyone gets along well. If you’re interested, please contact me.


In the 8 weeks of warmer weather left for me, I’m going to squeeze in as much riding and outdoor sports as I can. This year has been challenging in many ways, making the time I spend with my horses all the more meaningful.

July 2021 Horse Report

Closeup of Truth's face
Closeup of Truth's face

I’ll admit, it’s been a bit of a lazy summer for me, and I’ve had lots of time to enjoy my horses in a more casual way. With no clinics, expos or tv projects looming in my immediate future, and no deadlines to meet or now-or-never things I must accomplish, it’s been refreshing to just play with my horses.

Pepperoni and I were recently called into action on a search & rescue mission for our old Lab, Samantha, who panicked and bolted the night of July 4th when the fireworks started. She was with us while we were out in the barn checking on the horses (also unsettled from the fireworks)—one minute she was by our side, and the next minute she was gone. For hours we combed through chest-high hay fields in the dark, stumbling over hidden irrigation ditches, searching for our frail old friend. 

Calling off the search at midnight, we went to bed with heavy hearts. In the morning, we were alerted that someone had found her and taken her in right after she fled. It turns out she had a lovely night of attention from kids, lots of treats, and sleeping on a comfy bed. I was proud of Pepper’s willingness to leave the barnyard—in the dark and by himself. He proved himself a reliable first mate!

My lovely QH mare, Annie, is also doing well. Without much pressure on her to perform, she’s mostly in a maintenance stage of training. Finished in the bridle (and sans bridle), skilled at just about anything you’d ask a Western horse to do, and awesome on the trail, she’s a valuable horse to have in my quiver. 

I love having a horse that I can teach from, make videos with, trail ride, and that is also gentle enough to put friends on. But having the time to devote attention to more than one personal horse is challenging, even for a trainer. Fortunately, I have Mel to help me keep all the horses exercised and ridden.

My beautiful foster horse, Truth Takes Time, has impressed us all with just how far she has come in the last few months. She’s gained weight, improved her topline significantly, lost her giant broodmare belly, and the fluidity of her gaits has improved tenfold! 

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She’s gone from burying her head in the corner of the stall when you approach with a halter, to eagerly meeting us at the gate and nickering for attention. She’s  transformed from angry and defensive about being touched to practically loving her grooming time. At every step of her training, she’s proven herself to be a willing partner. 

Truth is also great in the herd. She’s bold and brave, but gets along well with others, and she has become Remington’s newest nanny. He’s a 9-month-old Clydesdale colt that is temporarily living with us until he is old enough to run with the herd of 200 horses at the C Lazy U Ranch. 

We plan to take Remi back to his home ranch in September, when I head up there for my annual Ranch Riding Adventure clinic. We sure will miss having the little squirt around. He always makes us laugh. But it will be fun to see him repatriated to the herd and start the rest of his life as a trail horse for the guest ranch. I predict he will become a legendary trail horse at the C Lazy U and that he will be one of the most sought after horses there. I’ll look forward to seeing him every time I come up there for a clinic—I just hope he remembers his humble beginnings.

You’d think that after a lifetime of riding and training horses and working with literally thousands of horses that I’d become jaded or come to take them for granted. In fact, the opposite has happened. With each year that goes by, with every decade spent with horses behind me, I become more amazed by these generous, intelligent and compelling animals—and their seemingly bottomless desire to do the bidding of humans. Horses make us better people.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about a recent interview I heard with the author of Horse Crazy, Sarah Maslin Nir, a book I am now in the middle of reading. She said, “Over the millennia, we have bred horses to be useful to mankind and perfectly useless to themselves. They are not meant to exist outside us—we owe them a lot.” There’s a lot of depth to that statement. 

She also said, “Some people like to describe [horsemanship] as a partnership like two dancers. But that’s not really the way it is because one partner is made to capitulate.” I think this is also a meaningful statement, and a truth that is often overlooked by riders. I think this book is a delightful and provocative read, full of fun anecdotes and a lot of factual, historical, and science-based information about horses. The audio version is read by the author—that’s always a favorite of mine. It may not be the perfect beach read, but it’s a fantastic barn read!

I hope your summer involves some lazy and casual time with your own horses, and that you can take a moment to appreciate what incredible animals they are and how much they enrich our lives.

June 2021 Horse Report

Julie riding Truth in a Western saddle

Seems like just yesterday I was complaining about winter lasting too long, and now we are enduring a record-breaking heat wave! But ours is a dry heat, and with a little breeze, we can still comfortably work horses. On the upside, it’s finally warm enough to bathe the horses and get rid of the winter build-up of gunk in their coats and on their skin.

After a thorough bathing, I can tell the horses actually feel better after being dirty for so long. (I use ShowSheen 2-In-1 Shampoo & Conditioner and scrub down to their skin with my HandsOn grooming gloves, followed by a liberal coating of ShowSheen detangler.) Best of all, their coats shine, their dapples stand out and their manes and tails flow. Of course, even though they like feeling clean, the first thing they do is go roll in the dirt, but at least the ShowSheen helps keep them stay cleaner for longer!

Grooming ToolsMake grooming time a bonding time with your horse

My little mare, Annie, is sporting a trim waistline (for a change), and shines like a copper penny. I don’t ride her every day since she is well set in her training, although she gets daily exercise, grooming and handling.

My younger horse, Pepperoni—now 5 years old—is doing well too. My big goal for him this summer is to get him up in the high mountains. He’s bred to be a cow horse, and I think he has good talent there, although I have not had an opportunity to put him on cattle. But oddly, Pepper seems exceptionally talented as a trail horse.

He’s brave, forward moving, curious by nature, and always looks for adventure. His steady nature and eager-to-please attitude makes him the perfect equine partner. Riding horses in the high mountains of Colorado can be adventurous, and even treacherous, with steep and rocky terrain, an abundance of big game (moose and elk), and the occasional predator (mountain lions lurking in many places). Riding up in the mountains requires a strong partnership between horse and rider, and a horse that you can count on to perform in all situations. For this, Pepperoni is perfect!

Have you been following my updates on my Facebook page about my foster horse project, Truth Takes Time? She’s an 18-year-old registered Thoroughbred. She raced for 3 years, then became a broodmare for 10 years (pushing out five babies), and then came into the rescue pipeline. My job is to get her fit and shore up her training so that she becomes eligible for adoption, and will find her ideal forever family.

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I have to say, Truth is surprising even me with how fast she is putting on weight and muscle, how well she has taken to the training, and how far she has come in the two and a half months she’s been with me. You can follow her progress from the beginning on Facebook (Facebook.com/JulieGoodnight) or YouTube (YouTube.com/JulieGoodnight), and we post a new video every Thursday at noon ET.

When I first picked up Truth, she looked like a worn out broodmare—she had no muscle tone, no topline, a huge belly, and was moving rather stiffly. As is typical of Thoroughbreds, she had shelly cracked hooves, with one rather serious quarter crack that ran the full length of the hoof. With her age and history, along with the poor condition of her feet, I put her immediately on Cosequin® ASU Joint & Hoof Pellets, a brand new, cutting edge supplement, along with an all-you-can-eat buffet of high-quality alfalfa/grass mix hay, plus some senior grain.

I’m patient when it comes to complete makeovers on horses, but I’ve been shocked at how quickly this mare has come into shape! Her topline is getting stronger, she’s put on weight, and she’s moving beautifully now. In fact, we’ve recently started riding her, and she’s really getting into a groove!

She may be ready for adoption sooner than I thought, so if you have a place in your heart for a lovely, athletic, and deserving mare, take a look at her videos. Right now, there are literally thousands of great family horses like Truth that are in need of permanent homes and are available for adoption. To find out more about horse rescues in your area and what horses are available, go to MyRightHorse.org.

I fear the summer is slipping away too fast and that I won’t be able to squeeze in everything I want to do, so I’d better get moving! I hope your summer is filled with great adventures on your horse,and I’d love to see you at one of my clinics somewhere down the road.

Enjoy the ride!
Julie Goodnight (signature)

May 2021 Horse Report

Julie and Truth
Julie and Truth

After a cold spring, our horses are finally able to graze green grass (and Annie’s svelte figure is soon to be replaced by the Michelin Man look). With Annie and Pepperoni both well set in their training, most of my energy has been focused on my new foster horse, Truth. 

Looking at her now, after two months at our ranch, it’s hard to believe she’s the same horse. She has put on weight and is becoming more fit, reclaiming her incredibly athletic physique after a decade as a broodmare.

In six weeks of training, this gorgeous 18-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) has gone from burying her head in the far corner of her pen whenever anyone approached, to meeting us eagerly at the gate. She has progressed from kicking and biting defensively any time you touched her chest, belly or hind legs, to standing quietly tied and enjoying a full-body grooming.

When Truth arrived at my ranch on March 31st, her coat was shaggy, her ribs were too visible, her back lacked the fat and muscling needed to support the weight of a rider, and her belly was huge after having five babies. She needed an abundance of highly palatable, high protein hay, along with some concentrated feed to put some meat on those bones as we started reconditioning her.

After two careers (racing and broodmare), I knew she would also need some joint support as we eased her back into fitness. In just six weeks of 10-minute long-trots, six days a week, I’ve seen her trot go from stiff and reluctant to free-flowing with floating extension. The first week she could barely hold a trot longer than 6-7 minutes and now she’s racing around, cantering freely, with a spring in her step.

Truth is typical of an OTTB in so many ways, not the least of which is her thin and brittle hooves and sensitive skin. She came with an unsightly quarter crack in her right front foot. Knowing it would take a full year to grow that crack out, I wanted her on a supplement to promote hoof growth, and she needed the extra vitamins to help her coat glow. After all, getting her ready for adoption means she has to look fabulous to melt hearts at first sight. Cosequin® ASU Joint & Hoof Pellets were the obvious choice for Truth, and after only eight weeks on her new nutritional plan, we can see a huge difference.

Underneath her rough exterior, I  could see Truth’s beauty when I first met her, and I knew she was an athlete, too. After researching her online records, we found that she raced for three years, which means she’s been ridden a lot in her past. So what if it’s been over a decade since she’s been ridden? At least no one has screwed up her training in the meantime!

After six weeks of handling, grooming, and a ton of desensitizing, the defensive behaviors we saw initially have almost gone away. Now we are working on reintroducing Truth to a saddle and bridle as we continue to increase her strength and fitness with daily workouts. 

Join us each week on my Facebook page at Facebook.com/JulieGoodnight at 12:00 pm ET (10:00 am MT) for live and real-time training updates to see her progress for yourself.

Truth is an amazing mare, and I know when she is ready for adoption we will find her perfect forever home as a family riding horse. But did you know that tens of thousands of amazing horses are at risk of inhumane treatment or worse each year? 

If everyone that could help a horse would step up—whether through adoption, foster training or supporting a local horse rescue—no horses would be at risk. You can find great horses available for adoption today at MyRightHorse.org or find a local rescue to connect with at TheRightHorse.org/Adoption-Partners.

March 2021 Horse Report

Remi napping with herd.
Remi napping with herd.
March has been a snowy month for us, but we are grateful for the moisture that will ease us out of drought conditions and help green up our pastures. It will be the end of May before the grass is tall enough to turn the horses out to graze. In the dry, high-desert climate we have here in the southern Rockies, the new grass is very fragile, and we wait until the short grass has seed heads before any grazing begins. 

In a good year (abundant moisture and deep snowpack), we can only graze the horses for about three months before the grass is overwhelmed. I call it “recreational grazing,” since there’s not enough grass to serve as their sole source of roughage.

Julie grooming Abner with HandsOn GlovesWe are eagerly awaiting shedding season, so we can slough those ratty winter coats and reveal the sleek, shiny dapples underneath. This time of year it appears the horses are starting to shed, but it’s a false alarm because their coats are so dense that as the dead hair falls out (which happens year-round), it seems like a lot of hair. But the real shedding won’t start for some weeks yet and then the hair comes out by the handful. 

That’s what I am waiting for! This is when I truly love my HandsOn Grooming Gloves, and the horses love them too. (We call it, “Gimme Some Glovin’.” My crew and I actually wrote a song about it to the tune of, you guessed it, “Gimme Me Some Lovin’.”😉)

The little squirt, Remington, is not so little anymore—and not so innocent. On April 1st, the Clydesdale colt will be 6 months old, and he is already bigger than my little QH mare, Annie. He’s full of piss and vinegar, loves rough-housing with the older geldings, and can learn bad habits faster than you can say, “No!” But the good news is that he is smart, willing and calm. 

I haven’t been around many draft babies, but I suspect his good attitude is a common trait in the breed. The mare is super kind too, and I can see why people love draft horses so much (unless, perhaps, you are the one paying the feed bill, or on the business end of a scoop shovel!).

Remi and Dodger horsing aroundThis month brought the big “W-Day” for Remi and Big Momma. Weaning a mare and foal can be challenging, but in this case, we made short work of it. For weeks leading up to the cold-turkey weaning, we increasingly separated the mare and colt, turning him out with the other geldings while Big Momma enjoyed eating some particularly nice hay in solitude. They fussed and worried a bit, but as time went on we saw less and less concern. 

Then, in an orchestrated effort, we simultaneously walked Remi out to turnout with his uncles (as normal), while we walked Big Momma right into the ranch’s trailer where her BFF from the ranch was waiting for her, and off they went. Outta sight, outta mind.

Big Momma, aka Joy, was reunited with the herd at the C Lazy U Ranch, where she will resume her career as a trail horse at the premier guest ranch this summer. Meanwhile, back at my ranch, Remi will hang out a little longer. We will focus over the next couple months on getting his lead line manners and handling manners up to par. We will have him gelded, make sure he is fully healed, and give him time to grow up and become independent. Sometime this summer, Remington will return to the C Lazy U for good. They will bond him to some younger geldings before turning him out with the herd of nearly 200 head. Eventually, he will grow up to be one of the favorite riding horses at the ranch, and it will always be fun for me to see him when I visit there.

Meanwhile, our other horses, Annie, Pepperoni and Casper, are all fat, happy and healthy. Now that we can ride outdoors more, we will step up their conditioning in preparation for the upcoming riding season.

While we have not yet made concrete plans for the summer, we hope to enjoy some camping trips with the horses, maybe hit a few clinics, and hopefully Rich will participate in some mounted shooting. The time to plan is now! The summer will be here before we know it, and unless we plan ahead, all our good intentions will remain just that.

What are your summer plans for you and your horse? Venture into new territory? Take some trips with friends? Trail rides? Competition? Clinics? So much to do and so little time! If you’ve got some fun plans in the works, I’d love to hear about them! You can share it on my Horse Goals or Bust Facebook group and help motivate others.

April 2021 Horse Report

Dear Friends,

The horses are starting to shed and the outdoor arena has thawed enough to ride in—surely spring is around the corner! The horses are feeling frisky, and adventurous equestrians are planning new excursions. I’m excited to get back in the arena myself, working directly with you and your horse. In the meantime, I’ve been busy in the virtual world!

The next best thing to doing training demonstrations to a live audience is to be able to share information with thousands of equestrians all over the world with webinars and video chats. I’ve been busy making pre-recorded video presentations for online horse expos, as well as offering live presentations to horse clubs and nonprofit organizations. 

My 2021 clinics at the C Lazy U Ranch are filling quickly, but there are still some openings for the Fall programs. The Ranch Riding Adventure is September 16-20; the Saddle Up! Women’s Leadership program that I co-teach with Barbra Schulte is October 7-11; and the Horsemanship Immersion  clinic is October 21-25. Join us for incredible riding in the mountains, education, networking and adventure!

Soon our snow will be gone, the grass will come back to life, and as the daylight increases, the horses will start shedding in earnest. Armed with my HandsOn Gloves (the best grooming aid ever) and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, their slick summer coats will soon emerge and their dapples will shine. I can’t wait to get rid of the winter fuzz!

Last month, I got my second Covid-19 vaccination and it feels like it’s my ticket to start traveling again! I will proudly wave my vaccine-passport if it gets me where I want to go. I’m glad we have the capability to connect in the digital world, but I miss working directly with people and their horses. I hope to meet you and your horse in an arena near you soon!

At home, I’m looking forward to working with my young, 5-year-old horse, Pepperoni. He’s shown a real strength for the trails, and I cannot wait to get him up in the mountains when the snow melts. I also brought home my new foster horse, Truth Takes Time (or “Truth” as we’ve been calling her) and have just started getting to know her. She’s an 18-year-old, sweet off-the-track Thoroughbred and former broodmare, and I’m looking forward to getting her ready for her third and final career. Get to know Truth in my latest videos on Facebook. There will be a new video or Live every Thursday at 10:00am MT (12:00 pm ET) where my team and I give you the inside look at our training progress as we embark on this journey with this lovely mare.

February 2021 Horse Report

Here in the high mountains of Colorado, we’re still in our deepest part of winter, with sub-zero temperatures and blowing snow. It’s the time of year when we go into a holding pattern with our horses, hoping there are enough warm days to ride and simply maintain their training and conditioning. 

Riding indoors gets boring and monotonous for horses (and riders), so we try to mix it up a little and avoid drilling the horses repetitively. The middle of winter is the time of year we start laying out our training goals for each horse, and start planning the clinics, competitions and camping trips we want to go to this summer.

My youngest horse, Pepperoni, now 5 years old, has matured into a steady horse and a fun ride. He’s always willing and game for any crazy thing I ask him to do, but he does tend to think he’s smarter than me. Annie, my older mare, is my go-to, finished horse, and lately I’ve been doing some bareback and bridleless riding with her. She loves that, and I do too. She’s my little red Ferrari, and super fun to take for a spin every now and then (although I mostly ride Pepper).

We’ve also been having a lot of fun with our temporary resident, Remington. He’s a 4-month-old Clydesdale colt who was evacuated (along with his mother) from the wildfires last fall, only a few weeks after he was born (surprise birth). Learn more about the fires, how they affected my beloved C Lazy U Ranch and how Remi came to live at my ranch for the winter.

Technically the big, rambunctious colt is a yearling now—even though he’s not quite old enough to wean. He skipped the weanling-sized halter and went straight to yearling size when he was born, and at 3 months old, he graduated to a regular horse-sized rope halter. He’s learning his halter manners and how to get along with the older horses in the herd. We’ve enjoyed having him around—it’s fun to watch him grow and learn how to negotiate his world.

I’m looking forward to resuming my travels later this month with a trip to the White Stallion Ranch in Tucson AZ, for a private clinic. We taped the TV show at the White Stallion for about 7 years in a row, so it may be familiar to many of you. Indeed, a lot of people think I’m from Arizona because we recorded there so often. It’s been a few years, and I’m excited to go back this month to soak in some warm weather and ride in the incredible desert landscape!

Speaking of world renowned guest ranches, I have four retreats planned in 2021 at the C Lazy U Ranch, in Granby, Colorado. I can’t wait to celebrate their new “Vision 2121,” to reimagine their next hundred years as a guest ranch. In May, we have the Women’s Riding & Wholeness Retreat, that I co-teach with Barbra Schulte—it’s restorative, confidence-building and indulgent. In September, I have the popular Ranch Riding Adventure—a fabulous riding vacation for any ability level.

I’m offering two brand new programs at the C Lazy U in October. First, it’s the Saddle Up! Women’s Leadership Retreat, which offers professional development for female executives and business leaders. Co-taught with Barbra Schulte, our focus is on leadership lessons learned from the back of a horse. Open to businesswomen from any industry, this retreat offers unique and innovative perspectives about leadership, but does not require any horse experience.

Also in October, the Horsemanship Immersion program, based on numerous requests, is designed to offer a horsemanship-intensive program for insatiable learners that love horses. With a laboratory of 200 horses and dozens of hands-on workshops, we’ll study all aspects of horsemanship over five power-packed days, from riding skills to groundwork, behavior and training to bits and saddle fit, plus health, nutrition and first aid. You’ll enjoy trail rides in the mountains on steady trail horses, and the fine dining and luxurious accommodations the ranch has to offer.

With the cancellation of all the big events, I have more time in my schedule for horsemanship clinics this year too! I am eager to start working face-to-face with you and your horse again. Horsemanship clinics are perfect for staying COVID-cautious, since horses are excellent tools for enforcing social distancing.

As winter winds down, and the “new normal” emerges, I expect to have more confirmed clinic locations around the country. If you’re interested in hosting a clinic, please let us know. I’ll come to your facility and conduct a clinic for one or more people. It could be just for you and your friends, or it could be open to the public. Together, we’ll design a program that works for you. For more information go to JulieGoodnight.com/PrivateClinic.

January 2021 Horse Report

Remi and Momma Joy turned out in the arena.
Remi and Momma Joy turned out in the arena.

Winter is long and hard, here in the high mountains of Colorado and although the days are getting longer now, subzero temperatures, wind and ice, make riding outdoors a challenge. Thankfully, our indoor arena has passive solar heating and is comfortable for both horses and riders to hangout. We usually bring the horses in from their turnout in the early afternoon and they spend a couple hours with us—fortunately they enjoy their pampering, petting and praising enough that they don’t mind the workout. On most days, all the horses are saddled and ridden (except the geriatrics), and any horses left at the barn are not happy—preferring instead to come inside to stand on the wall and wait.

If the weather is reasonable outside, we may take a trip around our “virtual trail course” (I don’t know why we call it that since it is a real trail course that Rich built out in the pasture), but this time of year we are relegated to walk-only because of the footing outside. Going round and round in the indoor arena is a little boring for everyone, horses and riders, but we try to mix it up a little by dragging logs, playing with ground poles, or working on the cutting machine. Some days we play follow the leader (to teach the horses to rate speed and maintain a certain distance) or work on riding without the bridle. By the time the ground thaws in the spring, I can assure you, we will all be ready to ride outside!

Our temporary residents, the Clyde Family, are doing great, and the handsome and thoughtful colt, Remington, continues to grow like a weed. Right now, he is a week shy of 4 months old and is already wearing a regular horse-size halter. We don’t know much about Remington’s sire, since no one even knew the mare was pregnant until just a few weeks before she foaled in October, but the mare came from a Clydesdale farm and one look at the colt—size, shape and color—makes you think he’s all Clyde. At the rate he’s growing, he could be a wheel horse.

Joy, aka Big Momma, is a giant and gentle Clydesdale mare, who was acquired by the C Lazy U Ranch in March 2020 (a month that will forever go down in infamy) as an addition to their remuda of riding horses. She’s sweet and well-trained to both ride and drive. We don’t know much about her past, but I’m guessing this is not her first foal. She’s an awesome mom—protective enough, but never frantic. She puts up with a lot of Remi’s shenanigans, but isn’t afraid to discipline him when needed—which is good, because he is a rambunctious colt! Remi was born on October 1, 2020, shortly before one of my clinics at the Ranch. When he was three weeks old, the entire herd of 200 horses were evacuated from the ranch because of wildfires. The following week they were evacuated again as the massive fires swept through the valley.

Obviously taking care of a mare and a newborn foal was the last thing the C Lazy U wranglers had time for, as they dealt with 200 horses in temporary accommodations, so Remi and his mother came to live with us for the winter—making this his fourth home in just four weeks of life. Thankfully, the C Lazy U Ranch was largely spared in the fires, and they are set to reopen in the spring. I have four clinics scheduled at the ranch this year—two of them brand new programs—and I cannot wait to return!

We have not exactly been “training” Remi but he gets handled every day and learns by doing. He’s learned to greet you politely at the gate and wait patiently for his halter, to walk more or less beside you without crowding, and to keep his mouth to himself (most of the time). Rather than trying to actively train such a young horse, we focus more on letting him figure things out in his own time (like to stand and wait for the halter to go on and off) and not letting him develop bad habits (like putting his mouth on your, crowding your space or leaning into you—one day he will be a 1600# draft horse!). There’s plenty of time for ground-training, since it’s going to be a few years before he’s ridden. I am not an advocate of over-training or over-handling young foals.

Remi is bold and smart and he needs to learn the kind of manners best taught by other horses. In the past couple of weeks, we gradually introduced Joy and Remington to our entire herd of six geldings and one mare, with little to no fireworks. Remi needs to be socialized because once he returns to his home ranch, he’ll be running with hundreds of horses. In our herd, Rich’s gelding Casper is the most interested in playing with Remi, like a cool uncle that loves to wrestle and play catch and never grows tired. Dodger, the cranky old Sheriff in our herd, keeps an eagle eye on Remi and lays down the law or referees the sparring as needed. When Joy gets uncomfortable with the party, she lays her ears back, bars her teeth and charges through the group like a bowling ball, scattering the horses to every corner.

It’s been fun to watch this colt grow up and learn to navigate his world—he’s been a constant source of laughter in our lives, at a time when we needed to laugh! One day, when he’s much older, he’ll be a treasured saddle horse at the CLU, but for now he’s enjoying the good life. As he approaches weaning, we’ll start working a little harder on his ground training, so that he leads well and loads in a trailer. We’ll be sad to see him load up and go home in a few months, but for years to come when I go up to C Lazy U for my clinics I’ll be able to keep tabs on his progress and follow his training throughout his career.

Be sure to check out my Facebook page and YouTube channel if you want to track Remi’s progress. I hope the days are getting lighter for you too, and that you and your family (2-legged and 4) are healthy and happy. I am looking forward to traveling to clinics this year in the hopes that our paths will cross soon, and that I can get to know you and your horse and help guide you on your journey.

Until then, enjoy the ride!

Julie Goodnight (signature)

December 2020 Horse Report

Here in the Colorado mountains, we love snow! The more, the better. And it looks like a white Christmas is in the forecast. Our valley is the headwaters of the Arkansas River; our snowmelt sends drinking water to millions downstream. Snow fall impacts our local economy in many ways. We rely on snow and snow melt for our two biggest tourist draws—skiing and whitewater rafting. We rely on snow for irrigation water to grow hay and crops. But on the downside, super-cold temps, snow and ice make horse care a challenge! Without an indoor arena, we might go months without riding. In the midst of our winter wonderland, it’s easy to imagine that it’s full-on winter everywhere, although I know many of you are enjoying perfect riding weather this time of year. What is your most challenging season for horse care?

Our horses are all fat and happy. With another year of growth and maturity, my youngest horse, Pepperoni, is leaving behind his childish ways and adopting more adult attitudes. It’s an interesting and always welcomed stage, when a “colt” becomes a “horse.” It’s not a clear line or a definitive moment, but a gradual feeling that comes over you. By the latter part of this year, I would say Pepper crossed that line. These days, he’s all business when we ride, with less playfulness and more of a let’s-get-to-it attitude. If I go a week or two without riding him, he works the same as if I had ridden yesterday—gone are the exuberant, fresh-horse rides. Pepper is a fun horse with a happy outlook, a courageous and curious attitude, and an incredible sense of awareness. He’s never surprised or startled, because he always saw it coming. He’s not hyper-alert; but he is very consciously present at all times. Although he is a red-head, with a bit of a temper if pushed, and he does not tolerate the mistakes of the rider well. But with a generous spirit, he’s always happy to point out my mistakes and he keeps me on my toes, so I like that.

My sweet little mare, Annie, is my most under-appreciated horse. I don’t ride her as often as Pepper, but when I do, I’m reminded what a great ride she is! This time of year, we always go through the mental gymnastics to recall what age our horses will turn in January. Each year represents a different stage of life for the horse, which is why we don’t use the actual birthdate of horses to describe their age and instead go by the year. On January 1st, horses all celebrate a birthday and Annie will be 14! My how times flies. She’s a beautiful little mare, well-trained and sporty, like driving a Porsche. Lately I’ve been thinking about breeding her. My goal would be to have a colt just her size (14.0) and athleticism, but with my luck, I’d end up with a 15 hand mare. That’s the problem with breeding—it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

Our temporary residents, The Clyde Family, Joy and Remington, are enjoying their stay on our ranch, while their home ranch, the C Lazy U, rebuilds their horse barn after the destructive wildfire season. Joy is a purebred Clydesdale mare that was acquired by C Lazy U in March 2020 (a month that goes down in infamy), as an addition to their remuda of 200 riding horses. She rides and drives and is a sweet and gentle giant. After a summer of being ridden by the wranglers on the C Lazy U, in September it became obvious that the acquisition of Joy was a two-fer. Remington, apparently also a Clyde, was born on October 1st, unexpected and about six months later than a foal is normally born. On October 14th, the East Troublesome fire started and in a matter of days, fueled by 80-100 mph winds, the fire grew to be Colorado’s second largest and second most destructive wildfire ever. Joy and Remi were evacuated to a safe facility, then a week later, as the fires grew, they needed to be evacuated again. On October 29th, Joy and Remington were evacuated a third time when I brought them to my ranch. Poor Remi had four homes in four weeks of life! I’m happy to report that Joy and Remi have settled in well and they seem quite happy. It’s fun to have a baby to play with, but he is getting big fast! He’s calm and cooperative like his mother and he loves attention! Sometimes I think if I stood in front of his pen long enough, I would actually see him grow. He’s two and a half months old now, starting to eat hay and grain, and learning his manners quite well. Once the hardest part of winter is behind us, the Clydesdales will be repatriated back to the C Lazy U, and in four or five years, Remi will become an awesome addition to the remuda.

As this bizarro year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting less on the months behind me and more on the year in front of me. I know there are still some dark days of winter ahead of us, but the light is coming. I so look forward to the Spring and to traveling again, so I can come to your area and work with you and your horse, in person! Until then, we will continue to connect in the digital space, as we work together on improving horsemanship and becoming the rider and the leader our horses deserve. In the meantime, be safe, be well and celebrate the end of this long, hard year!

Enjoy the ride,

JG

November 2020 Horse Report

It was a fitting end to my travel-year, when my last remaining clinic was cancelled, not due to the pandemic, but because of raging wild fires in northern Colorado. This has certainly been a year full of challenges. I’m a big believer in finding the good in every situation and in looking for opportunity in the face of adversity. 2020 has given me a lot of practice at that and proven the value of this positive outlook. Although I did not get to travel as much as I had planned, to work with horses and people around the country, I was fortunate to have new horses come into my life, here at home, so I could continue to learn and grow as a horse trainer and share that journey with all of you, through social media.

I am blessed to have my three personal horses, any one of which I could call a “horse of a lifetime.” Dually, my old man, although fully retired now, still gives me a lot of pleasure, watching him run around the field and remembering the good ole days we had together. I’ll never forget how amazing he was to ride and I am eternally grateful for how much I learned from him. He’s not completely lame and some people might still use him for light riding, but I think he’s earned a full retirement. And anyways, “light riding” is not really in my vocabulary. So he enjoys his days out with the herd, being the cranky old man that bosses everyone around, and being highly possessive of my youngest horse, Pepperoni.

My sweet little mare Annie is perfect in every way, if only she were a gelding. Just kidding! <not really> Seriously, she is an awesome ride, a finished bridle horse, and now she’s my go-to horse for teaching/photographing/demonstrating. Standing every bit of 14.0 hands, she is the PERFECT size for me. Did I ever tell you I grew up schooling naughty hunter ponies? Being small-of-stature is not helpful in many things, but when it comes to training naughty ponies, it’s an advantage! Although Annie can be a bit mare-ish at times, for the most part she is not naughty and is a blast to ride.

My youngest horse, Pepperoni, is the clown in our barn. He’s always friendly, curious and eager to solve puzzles (like how to open the gate or squeeze through an opening in the fence or pull the blanket off the rack). Although he has gotten a lot bigger than I’d hoped, he’s still a wonderful horse to ride and train because he is very smart and so aware of what’s going on around him. He has an uncanny ability to understand the purpose behind the task and he has taught me the importance of showing the horse the purpose of the task you are teaching, whether it is to open a gate from horseback, to track a cow, or to pivot or rollback. More than anything, I love horses that make me laugh and Pepperoni is a true comedian (while Annie has no sense of humor whatsoever).

Doc Gunner is a 4-coming-5 year old gelding that fell into our lives about 6 months ago during the initial shutdown. In a joint effort between the ASPCA, Nexus Equine (both of Oklahoma) and myself, we accepted Doc Gunner for training under-saddle, to prepare him for adoption; we shared his progress on Faceook. As DG’s foster parents, our job was to nurse him back to health, give him the training he needs to be successful, and then find him the perfect human for him. I’m happy to say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, on all accounts. DG is now a gorgeous, fat, muscular horse that is working beautifully under-saddle at walk-trot-canter. We were successful in finding the absolute PERFECT home for him in southern California. Even as I write this blog, they are on the way to my farm to pick him up. We will all shed a tear when he leaves—he’s an unforgettable horse that has earned a place in all of our hearts. But we take great comfort and pride in having helped him on the way to his forever home.

If you want to know how you can help a hose in need, through a foster program like this, please visit MyRightHorse.org. I want to thank everyone who helped us in this mission, from my outstanding vet, Dr. Casey Potter, who aggressively treated this horses as if he were a world champion, and to my generous friends who helped pay his vet bills! Without the help and research from Etalon Diagnostics  we would not have discovered some of the underlying medical conditions that needed treatment and we were able to learn more about his performance potential and his breeding. The generous donation from ReNoVo , the makers of biologic medical treatments for horses, allowed us to utilize this cutting-edge treatment, and the results were truly amazing. It takes a village to help one horse at-risk and I am grateful to all of you, including those of you at home who joined us on all the live posts and cheered Doc Gunner on. But his journey isn’t over yet and you’ll be hearing more from Doc Gunner, once he’s settled in his new home. Congratulations to Bill Lockwood and family for adopting Doc! The Lockwood’s own Lomita Feed Store, in Lomita CA, so be sure to stop by there and ask about Doc! They are well-positioned to take great care of Doc for the rest of his life and they’re honored to have been chosen for this special horse.

The wild fires in October brought a lot of destruction and uncertainty to Colorado, but resulted in us welcoming two new horses into our lives, for the winter. The East Troublesome Fire was a shockingly fast moving fire that engulphed well over 100,000 acres and endangered the C Lazy U Ranch, the beloved 100 year-old guest ranch where I‘ve taught horsemanship for well over a decade. Their remuda of about 200 saddle horses had to be evacuated not once, but a second time, when the fire grew so fast that it threatened the ranch they had been evacuated to. As you might imagine, moving a herd of 200 horses, that normally never travel, is no small undertaking! Many community members hitched up their rigs and lined up to transport. It was amazing! But a dozen or so horses were unable to travel with the herd, because they needed special care, and thus the Clydesdales, Joy and Remington, came to live with us for the winter.

Joy is a lovely Clydesdale mare that was acquired by the ranch as a riding horse, back in March of 2020. She had settled into the herd nicely and was busy learning the trails of the ranch, when late this summer one of the wranglers noticed her stomach moving while she was brushing her. It turned out buying Joy was a twofer!  Although not planned or expected, on October 1st, Remington was born. It’s a very awkward time of year for a horse to be born and when the fires hit, he was only three weeks old and not halter trained. Obviously, they couldn’t be left to run with the herd and required a different level of care, so I volunteered to give them a place to live for the winter, while C Lazy U rebuilds their horse facility. Remi and Joy have brought us a lot of fun and laughter already, and we plan to share their progress with you on Facebook.

You’ll be happy to know that C Lazy U survived the fire with surprisingly little damage. Sadly, many people in the area lost their homes, and our hearts go out to them, but somehow the ranch was spared. Of course, there are repairs and cleaning to do before they reopen and the horse barn has to be rebuilt before the horses can go back to work, but these efforts are well underway already and I look forward to being back at the ranch in the Spring for my clinics. We were able to re-patriate the remuda back to the ranch on November 7th, and once again, an unexpected gift fell into my lap. Rich and I volunteered to help with the move and in less than 24 hours, all 182 horses were loaded into trailers, driven across the continental divide, and re-patriated to the ranch. Never were the horses (and the wranglers) happier to be home! It was fun and satisfying to help my friends (two and four legged) and an awesome experience to load that many individual horses into trailers at one time. I learned a lot but I could barely lift my arms the next day! Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. You can’t buy that much experience in loading horses! Most people won’t load that many different horse in their lifetime. Sometimes the best presents come in plain wrappers.

Until next time… Enjoy the Ride!

September 2020 Horse Report

Summer came to a screeching halt around our ranch, just two days after record heat on Labor Day, when we were hammered with well over a foot of snow and temps in the low 20s and highs in the 30s (yes, Fahrenheit). We went from fly sheets to mid-weight winter blankets in one day (we save the heavy artillery for true winter). We will certainly still have some warm, summer-like days ahead of us (I hope), but most likely our nights will get colder as the days shorten.

My young horse Pepperoni and I, alongside Rich and his horse Casper, took a trip to my friend Lucy’s ranch where we did some high-mountain riding in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. I was super pleased with Pepper’s performance on the rough, steep and (at times) treacherous trail. He was strong, sure-footed and willing; we rode in every position in the line-up—he even led bravely the descent. The trip inspired me to write a blog series on the making of a great trail horse.

Normally I haul two horses (Pepper and Annie) to clinics at C Lazy U, where I am in the saddle all day. But I’ve decided to take only Pepper to the next clinic—a sure sign of his maturity and reliability. It’s a good thing Fall is such a glorious time of year here in the Rockies, because I’ll be in the mountains, conducting horsemanship clinics for the next month.

I have three programs at the C Lazy U Ranch in northern Colorado and one in Jackson Hole Wyoming, for the winner of the Equus & W.F. Young Win A Day contest. I’m excited about the two new programs we are offering in October—The Fall Getaway (a fun mountain vacation hosted by Barbra Schulte and her husband Tom, and my husband Rich and me) and Horsemanship Immersion  (an education-intensive program for insatiable learners, covering equitation, groundwork, training, health, saddle fit, etc.). If you are looking for an adventure—there are still a few openings in both programs. Find out more.

My little mare Annie (14.0 hands in high heels) still carries the load when it comes to media production. She’s a finished cow horse, in her prime, and still my go to horse (although Pepper is creeping up on her). Last week we recorded video for some virtual events this fall. The Certified Horsemanship Association’s annual conference has gone virtual and is happening on October 30th. The conference is open to anyone, and will offer educational horsemanship clinics—both English and Western—from a variety of nationally known presenters, including yours truly.

My clinic is called Lead Changes: Simple and Flying, and we recorded the riding portion last week. I rode Annie in the clinic, plus I had two English riders and one Western rider. The horses (and one pony, not counting Annie) and riders were all at different training levels, from a youth rider to a pro rider. In spite of having about 15” of heavy wet snow on the ground the day before and high winds during the shoot, we pulled off a great clinic! Certified Horsemanship Association’s Virtual Conference is open to anyone. It’s chock full of horsemanship education, and you can participate right from the comfort and safety of your own home! You can register here at the discounted member rate by entering the priority code JG ($60 off!).

Here in the high mountains of Colorado, there’s not much left of summer. But I’m looking forward to a fabulous fall riding season and getting back on the road with my horses. It’s certainly been a strange year, and one we all look forward to seeing in our rearview mirrors. I think many of us horse lovers are grateful to have the stability, connectivity and grounding that horses and the accompanying (never ending) chores give us. I know I am.

Enjoy the ride,

August 2020 Horse Report

Here we are at the peak of riding season and I’m happy to report that our horses are all healthy and sound, even our foster horse, Doc Gunner. For the last 90 days, Gunner has more or less been the center of attention around here. He likes it that way. Gunner is a kind and gentle four year old whose magnetic personality stems from his deep need to belong. Gunner was born completely deaf, which makes him special in several ways—he’s way more communicative than most horses, he seeks acceptance more, and he’s far more interested in people than a lot of horses. While all horses learn fast, Gunner tries so hard to get along that it seems like he learns and absorbs faster too. Find out more about Gunner’s story here.

 

I am learning more about the genetics of deafness in horses and soon we’ll have a full genetic workup on Doc Gunner that will tell us a ton about his health, his pedigree, and even his behavior. We sent off genetic material (tail hairs) to Etalon Diagnostics. If we’re lucky, we’ll get some confirmation about his breeding, which may lead us to his beginnings. We’ve made tremendous progress in getting him healthy and started under-saddle; soon we’ll begin the search for his perfect home. To find out more about how you can help horses in transition and horses at-risk in your area, visit MyRightHorse.org.  

 

We’ve been live-posting with Gunner at least once a week, and a lot of people wonder why I don’t adopt Gunner. First, my job as a foster parent (or in this case, foster-trainer) is to help as many horses as I can, not acquire more horses for myself. Secondly, I have two fabulous riding horses already, Annie (my pretty little diva) and Pepperoni (my young, athletic training project). That’s about one and half more horses than I have time to ride. Thankfully, I have Melissa to help me keep the horses going strong.

 

Annie is a mature AQHA mare, finished under-saddle and a solid working partner for me, in all the media production that we do on a weekly basis around here. It’s been my ambition to train her into being a gelding, and we are getting closer all the time. Pepper is super fun to train; he learns lightning-quick and is always game for an adventure. With Gunner getting so much attention lately, I haven’t ridden Pepper as much as I’d like, but I’m happy with his training level. His classical training foundation is solid and strong. For the most part, he is 100% obedient to my aids, when I am riding mindfully. Of course he’s more than happy to let me know when I make a mistake—and that’s when his red-headed temper kicks in. I love riding this horse; he keeps me honest.

 

We’ve been fortunate to have a great summer with our horses so far and I’ve got fall riding retreats coming up soon at the C Lazy U Guest Ranch. I’m looking forward to getting back on the road with my horses and helping riders develop their skill set. Here in the Rocky Mountain west, we’re having a terrible drought and wildfires are raging everywhere. It’s a stressful time for everyone, especially those of us that might have to evacuate with our horses. God bless the firefighters and let’s all pray for rain. Hay already is at a premium, due to low yields, so grab up what you can.

 

These are challenging times, to say the least. Thankfully, we have horses to keep us grounded and strong. And remember, riding is a great sport for social distancing!

 

Enjoy the ride,

July 2020 Horse Report

With more time at home than ever before, you’d think I’d get my horse ridden every day. I guess it’s not surprising that having to totally reinvent the way you do business might take some extra time. We’ve been so busy producing new videos for my training Library, doing live posts with Doc Gunner and developing educational content for equestrians, that some days riding gets shoved to the back burner. I’m sure some of you can relate to the fact that life sometimes interferes with your riding plans.

 

Pepperoni, my 4-year-old gelding is coming along great and has matured into a different horse. Gone are his “exuberant” outbursts and his need to be in a hurry to get wherever it is we are going. If I miss a few days of riding, or even a week, he doesn’t require a reboot; instead, I just pick up where I left off. I’d like to be getting more time on him, mainly so he is more fit, but so far we are making progress even if I only ride him 2-3 days a week (he gets exercised on the days I do not ride).

 

Annie, my cute, fat little mare (14.0 hands and round as a barrel) has become my go-to horse, now that Dually is retired. She’s pretty reliable when we need her, but she can be a bit of a silly at times—busy-bodied about the other horses with a tendency to be marish at times. But she knows when she has to buckle down to work and she generally gives it her all in those moments. She’s a finished Western horse and a blast to ride (if you like little, quick-footed horses like I do) and only requires maintenance in her training and exercise for conditioning. She’s been spending a lot of time lately babysitting our foster horse.

 

My other training obligation at this time is Doc Gunner, my foster horse. He’s a 4-year-old Paint gelding with special needs. He was born deaf, and although we don’t know what happened to this horse during the first three years of his life, he clearly has not had it easy. He was saved from a kill pen back in December and wound up in the rescue pipeline where it was determined he would need some training before he is ready for adoption—that’s where I came in. Through the efforts of many dedicated individuals, some major resources are being put into this sweet young horse in order to give him a bright and secure future. We agreed to take the horse into temporary custody for the purpose of saddle training, the idea being that if he is trained and desirable, he will never be at risk again. Gunner is exceeding our expectations on the training end but we are still working hard to get him completely healthy (another requirement before he is eligible for adoption). We’re fighting ulcers, poor stamina/conditioning and an ugly wound on his gaskin that refuses to heal (we know for sure the wound is at least eight months old and has been aggressively treated twice, to no avail). We are grateful to Dr. Casey Potter from Elite Equine and ReNoVo®, a liquid allograft for equines that promotes healing. This treatment has shown miraculous results for various issues in horses, but particularly in wounds that will not heal. Dr. Potter will first x-ray the wound to see if there are any foreign objects in there, then debride the wound to get rid of all the “proud flesh,” then treat the wound with ReNoVo®. We should see major results in a couple weeks. I cannot wait!

 

We’ve been either live posting or recording every training session I’ve had with Gunner and he has many fans around the world. Everyone is captivated by his sweetness, his willingness and the unique characteristics that stem from his deafness. He’s a fearful horse but he’s quite adept at hiding it behind a calm and mellow exterior. He apparently had not been handled much, as evidenced by not being able to touch his belly, his hind legs, or anywhere on his off side. He did not tie, had minimal ground manners, was hard to catch and very leery of strangers. But that is all far behind him now. He comes right to us to be caught, he ties, and most of the time he lets us touch him anywhere. We’ve been saddling him with no problems (perhaps he’s been saddled before?) and just this week I started sitting on him. I’m beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, and thinking about selecting the perfect human for him. It’s a fun and satisfying project to be part of and once we get Gunner settled in his new home, I’ll be ready to help one more horse in need.

 

You might wonder why my (and your) help is needed? The truth is, on any given day, there are about 150,000 horses in the U.S. at risk of becoming homeless of neglect or abuse, or ending up on a truck headed over our northern and southern borders to slaughter. There is an army of people across this nation who are dedicated to helping horses in transition. If everyone who loves horses would step up to help just one horse, every single one of these horses could be saved or their suffering could be brought to a humane conclusion. With the tanking of our economy, even more horses will be at risk, and the rescue and sanctuary operations need our help. Maybe you have an empty pen and the experience to temporarily foster a horse that has come into the rescue pipeline and is awaiting a permanent home? Sometimes these horses need respite care, evaluation of their training or additional training, and a month or two of care and handling will make all the difference. There are other ways you can help, through tax-deductible donations, donating hay or equipment, volunteering at a rescue or even offering your services to transport a horse to his new home. If you want to help, and I hope you will, please go to MyRightHorse.org, where you can find out more about horse fostering and get connected with the people in your area that are doing the hard work. It takes a village, and we need your help.

 

In the meantime, if you’ve missed the Training Doc Gunner videos, you can find them here. We are also working on a video series called, “Saving Doc Gunner,” which will chronicle his journey from the kill pen to his new forever home (TBD), and will include some dramatic footage that you have not seen in the live posts. The first episode will be coming out soon, so make sure you are on my email list so you’ll be the first to know!

June 2020 Horse Report

All the excitement around my barn in the last month was about Doc Gunner, my new “foster horse.” He arrived at our place on June 18th after a long haul from Oklahoma City. Doc Gunner is a 4-year-old Paint gelding (no papers) who was rescued from a kill pen in December. He is completely deaf, in an unthrifty condition, seemingly untrained, but very sweet-natured and compliant. The first week he was here he literally slept and ate, slept and ate, nonstop. I’ve never seen a horse sleep, flat-out and snoring, for so many hours of the day and night. Perhaps his deafness is a bonus here?

We have been live-streaming all my training sessions with this young horse, from his arrival at our farm to the first time I took him out of his pen, to now—four weeks later. He’s such an interesting horse, full of character, wary, but extremely willing. My job as his “foster trainer” is to give him the foundational training he needs to be successful, and wanted, for the rest of his life. So successful, in fact, that he will not only find a perfect home when I think he is ready, but that he will never be at risk again, for as long as he lives—no matter how many times he changes hands.

Maybe you have an empty stall in your barn and the experience to care for a horse that needs TLC or rehab? Maybe you have the skills to evaluate the training of a horse that has come into the rescue pipeline with no history whatsoever, and needs to be matched with a perfect adopting family? You could jump into the game with me and help horses in need, starting with just one foster horse.

Before the economic shutdown started, there were already more than a hundred thousand horses at risk in this country. Many of them end up going over our borders, north and south, to slaughter. The good people that work in horse welfare need your assistance, because more horses will be surrendered during economic strife. If everyone who is qualified would step up to help just one horse, think of the good it would do! If you want more information about fostering a horse in need in your area, please go to MyRightHorse.org.

And please join me on this journey with Doc Gunner, as we train this horse and help him find his perfect forever home.

April 2020 Horse Report

In the four weeks since my last horse report, we have been on lockdown. Most Americans, and indeed people all over the world, are affected by this pandemic but for each of us, the effects are different. Some of you are separated from your horses, because boarding facilities are not allowing access. Some of us are stuck at home with our horses, and grateful for that. Maybe you are at home but not able to work from home, or perhaps you’re stuck at home and working all day. Still others are going to work as usual every day because you perform an essential service—THANK YOU! For me, our horses are right outside the door and things are operating somewhat normally around here except that some of my crew are working remotely and that I am home during what is normally my busiest travel time of the year.

I’ve been enjoying producing my Daily Doses of Horsemanship Homework, but I’ll be honest, it’s a lot more work than I originally  thought! I made a commitment to post a horsemanship lesson every day during this shutdown, not fully comprehending how long this thing would last (if only we knew a month ago what we know now). But a promise is a promise, and with the help of my far flung crew, we are delivering. I’ve really enjoyed the LIVE posts I’ve been doing 3-4 times a week—we’ve had good turnout and it’s really satisfying for me to connect with everyone in the live posts—to know that you are out there and engaging with me and enjoying the lessons we are posting. I love answering your real-time, real-life questions on the live posts and to debrief the arena lessons I’ve offered you.

I’ve been using Pepperoni mostly for the arena lessons—this is his first serious media job and he has performed quite well, almost like a grown-up horse. When we are producing content, the horses have to do a lot of waiting– repositioning for the camera, trial runs, stops and starts– while we get set up. Young horses aren’t always that patient or cooperative, while my mature horses have learned how to pose for the camera and when to turn it on. Pepper is four years old now and he’s more mature and more reliable and I am pleased to see that he is learning to be in front of the camera.

In order to mix it up a little and to produce some real-time training content, we’ve been using Woodrow for ground manners lessons. He’s a 3 year-old QH gelding that belongs to my barn manager and assistant trainer, Melissa. He’s quite a character, he’s very brave and opinionated, and he hasn’t had much work in this department, so he’s been an excellent demo horse! We’ve done some entertaining ground lessons with Woodrow on establishing boundaries, standing still, leading manners, ground tying, rating speed on the lead line… and there’s much more to come! He’s even developing his own fan club.

If you’ve missed any of the Daily Doses of Horsemanship Homework, you’ve got some catching up to do! There are plenty of lessons to keep you busy—both arena and “living room lessons,” that you can pick through to find the lessons that help you the most. You can find every single one of the Daily Doses here. Please join me on the LIVE posts on Facebook, to share your story and ask questions @JulieGoodnight. The LIVE posts are always announced ahead of time on my Facebook page. I look forward to connecting with you there!

March 2020 Horse Report

Had I written this report a week ago, when I was supposed to, it would have sounded much different. Then, I would’ve been whining about being on the road too much and how little ride-time I had with my own horses. Now, I’ve got all the time in the world because my business trips have been cancelled through April. I’ve got plenty of time at home to ride my horses now and I’m making the most of it. However, I will miss connecting with you, my loyal friends and followers, and I am sad about all the vendors and expo producers whose hard work preparing for horse expos burned up in a flash.

Fortunately, Goodnight Horsemanship is an internet-based business, located in a remote and rural area and my crew and I are still hard at work, in a seemingly normal way. Twyla and Diana are in our (spacious) office every day (taking all precautions, of course), to keep up with orders and give technical support (and emotional support) to our members and subscribers. Melissa is taking care of the horses as usual and we are riding and training every day (she’s also videotaping, editing and modeling too). She’s working more from home now, in an attempt to keep her son busy while he’s home from school. Megan, who keeps our intricate websites and social media platforms functioning (among many other things), works remotely from home normally anyway. We are all working hard to make the most of this slowdown by producing even more video/audio content for our subscribers. We are working on it every day and plan to release brand new content several times a week!

Our streaming services and online horsemanship library have definitely seen an uptick in activity this week, a sign of all the people who cannot go to work but still have a hankering for horses. We are grateful to be able to share this searchable educational content with you and to help you reach your horsemanship goals. I’ve also seen an increase in completed assignments and messages from my Interactive members (it’s an online curriculum and coaching program). This tells me that many of you, like me, are stuck at home for a while and trying to keep moving in a positive direction. Let’s keep these connections going!

I’m eager to get back on the road again soon. As much as I enjoy this unplanned time at home, I love traveling to clinics and expos and I already miss it. The Women’s Riding & Wholeness Retreat, at the C Lazy U Ranch, that I co-teach with Barbra Schulte, is going on as planned in May and I cannot wait! We are optimistic that our government and the greatest scientists in the world will continue to be proactive and will get this viral outbreak under control quickly, and that restrictions will be lessening soon. Obviously, it’s a fluid situation and it can change rapidly, but we are optimistic and eager to get back to normal.

With all the event cancellations, I’ll have lots of time available once things kick back into gear. I’d love to schedule more private clinics around the country, especially in the areas where horse expos were cancelled. If you’re interesting in partnering with us to host a horsemanship clinic, please call my office.

My horses are all healthy, fat and happy. I’m getting more ride time these days and I’ve been sharing that on FaceBook and YouTube. Many of you wonder what I do with my own horses, so now’s your chance to get an insider’s look at my farm, my personal horses and what training challenges I face. You’ll hear from me again in a couple weeks and I’m confidant my newsletter will have a more positive tone by then. In the meantime, let’s all stay connected online, through live posts and chat rooms. Keep your comments coming and let us know you’re still there!

Take care and be smart,
Julie

February 2020 Horse Report

We are in the midst of a long, hard winter! Typical this time of year, one day might be sunny and warm with highs in the 40s or 50s, and the next is single digits, snowy and high winds. If it weren’t for the indoor arena, not much riding would be happening at all. But even with a cozy indoor, when high temperatures are single digits or below, we do not work horses. One reason is that when the air is that cold and dry (often below 20% humidity), it can “scorch” the lungs of both horses and people if they start breathing too hard. Also, if the horses work up any kind of sweat when it’s that cold, it’s very difficult to get them to dry before nightfall. But even on the coldest days, it doesn’t hurt to get the horses out, tie them up, give them a good grooming and do a little slow-paced ground work (see my blog this month on Winter Whoas).

Rich’s new horse, Casper, is in-training as a mounted shooting horse and although gun-fire is not his favorite thing, he’s accepting it just fine with a little positive reinforcement. He’s now starting to associate the loud noise and strong smell with the good feelings he gets from eating a delectable treat. It will be a while before Rich can haul him anywhere, since our hauling truck was stolen in December. It was recovered a month later, but with a lot of cosmetic damage, so it remains in the shop. Don’t get me started on this subject…

My horses, Dually, Annie and Pepperoni, are all doing great. Dually is in full retirement now and although he still enjoys a high status in the herd, it’s gradually slipping with his age. Annie has become my go-to horse and is the only finished horse I have. She’s an awesome little horse—uncomplicated, fun to ride, and just my size at 14.0 hands! Not much to “work” on with her—she’s pretty finished but we ride her daily to maintain her fitness. My youngster, Pepperoni, is maturing nicely as a four-year-old. After his latest accident back in December (kicking out in his stall and entangling his foot high up on the stall grate, ultimately ripping the stall wall down), he seems to have become much more sensible during his moments of exuberance. Fortunately, he did not sustain any significant injury from that episode, but it did seem to have a positive effect on his maturity and sensibility.

Pepper is still relatively green for a horse of his age, partly by design and partly because of his propensity for injury. I intentionally bought a young horse because I enjoy training colts but also because I want to control how much pressure is put on him in his youth. Without a competition deadline looming, I’ve been able to ease up on his training and take breaks when needed for physical reasons. Currently, Pepper and I are working on collection at the canter, bending, shoulder-fore, haunches-in and leg yielding at the walk and trot. He’s naturally a big stopper and not something we’ve worked on much, but we are starting to work on the slide. Same with pivots. In preparation for starting him on the cutting machine (a fake cow suspended from cables that you can control with a remote, so that it stops and turns like a cow), we are working on stop-back-turnaround. This all comes pretty easy to Pepper since he is line-bred to work cattle. It’s in his DNA.

Speaking of DNA, I was excited to find out that Etalon Genetics www.etalondiagnostics.com was doing additional research on Annie’s DNA. The domestication of horses is a fascinating subject to me and one I’ve been studying a lot lately (as well as the domestication of dogs). This additional information from Etalon includes an Ancestry report and a lot of factual information on breeds around the world. Just as with an ancestry report on humans, if you go back far enough, horses are all related! And just like with humans, my ancestry report might vary slightly from my sibling, in terms of which genes expressed themselves. I’m including Annie’s ancestry report here, so you can see what it looks like. The initial DNA report includes color genetics, health markers and behavioral traits—very fascinating! This is a supplemental report.

January 2020 Horse Report

All of the horses are currently healthy, hairy and happy. And for that, I am grateful. Even old Dually (now 20 years old and retired from active duty) is occasionally spotted running and bucking in the field, such is the spirit in our herd of seven head.

It’s been a very cold and snowy winter here in the high mountains of Colorado, and in the past month we’ve lost quite a few training days simply due to cold temperatures. Once the temps are below zero or even single digits (Fahrenheit), working horses can become harmful. Super cold air can “scorch” their respiratory system and cause inflammation. Also, if a horse gets sweaty when it’s that cold, it’s nearly impossible to get him dry. I couldn’t stand the thought of one of my horses wet and shivering under the blanket at night. That’s a big reason why I use blankets with moisture-wicking lining and high-tech insulation. High-quality heavy-weight winter horse blankets are a big investment, but well worth it, because of the comfort our horses get.

Pepperoni, my now four-year-old AQHA gelding, is back to work full time and has settled into his training regimen well. I’m always astounded by the change in maturity level between a 3 and 4 year old. It’s almost as huge as the difference in a 2 year old and a 3 year old, in terms of training. His long layoff hasn’t affected his training much, we’ve picked up right where we left off—working on collection and extension in all gaits, shoulder-fore, haunches-in, leg yielding, pivots and canter departures. Pepper is a naturally big stopper and it’s something I’ve been avoiding in the last year, for two reasons: one, no need to drill on a skill he’s naturally good at it; and two, trying to keep stress off his hocks and stifles (those joints only have so many hard stops in them, so why waste them?).

Annie, my sweet little AQHA mare, is enjoying her status as my top horse—my fallback horse, our media star and my only finished bridle horse (I went from three bridle horses to one last year). She gets moderate exercise and lots of pampering daily. Her training is at the maintenance level, which means we don’t need to teach her new skills, just keep her fit and sharp. Mel rides her most days, bareback and bridle-less, so it’s more fun for everyone. Melissa (barn manager/assistant trainer/photographer), Megan (heads up my marketing team) and Rich (hubby) are all doing mounted shooting with their horses now, and Mel is also shooting off Annie (who seems particularly inclined to that sport, so why not add it to her resumé). Rich’s new horse has settled into the herd and worked his way almost to the top of the pecking order. He and Rich are working well together and Rich is slowly introducing him to gunfire. He’s a finished Reiner, so he will handle well as a shooting horse, once he accepts the noise.

So for now, the horses are all well, both physically and emotionally. I’m enjoying this time and hoping it will last forever (knowing full well the reality—they are delicate creatures!).

December 2019 Horse Report

I’m happy to report that after several cycles of injury/treatment/rehab and two months of stall rest and hand-walking, the Adventures of Pepperoni are back in full swing! Thankfully, we were able to start turning him out with the herd and riding again last week, because stall-rest and hand-walking was getting old for Pepper (and for those of us on the end of the lead trying to stay clear of his “airs above the ground”).

The good news is that he is now sound and healthy, and his under-saddle training is picking up right where we left off. Pepperoni is coming 4 years old now and his maturity is starting to kick in—less silliness, more coordination, more responsiveness. Time off doesn’t cause a horse to lose its training—it stays right where you left it. Poor handling and riding will un-train a horse fast (or train him something different) but leaving him alone does not. Sure, he may be a little fresh when you return to riding, but he knows exactly what he knew before the layoff.

Pepperoni is an unusual horse in many ways. He’s wicked smart and a lightning-fast learner. Be careful what you wish for. If you don’t make many mistakes, the smart horse excels in his training. But mistakes are often illuminated in a very smart horse. Pepper is exceptionally aware of his surroundings. Not in a distracted way—he’s very calm and focused and he’s always taking stock. He rarely displays fearful behavior; but he has an intense curiosity. These are traits bred into the cow horse, and while they may sound good when you read it on paper, do not be fooled. These are the very traits that cause some to say cow horses are “difficult” and “challenging.”

Pepper also has a very strong sense of right and wrong (some might call this bull-headed, but it is a trait I like). Most of the time we agree on what is right, but occasionally there is a dispute. At times, when he believes I am wrong and he is right, his red-headed temper flares. In those moments, I’ve learned to 1) check to see if I was wrong (it happens) and take responsibility, and 2) do not yield to a tantrum but do not throw gas on the flame.

Sometimes us riders find ourselves at odds with a horse and in those moments, it’s important that we prevail, lest the horse learn he can do whatever he wants. But it is never wise to start a fight with a horse, because it may be a fight you won’t win. At the end of the day, they are much larger, faster, more athletic and more lethal than humans.

Pepper is not argumentative, difficult or challenging to train. In fact, he is full of enthusiasm for the job—any job, eager to please and a joy to ride. But he is not a horse that will suffer fools and not a horse you want to fight with. Most of the time when he gets testy, there’s something I’ve done to contribute. I’ll admit that on occasion, I am the one that gets testy or impatient first, and his subsequent ire is justified. I can always count on Pepper to let me know when I’ve made a mistake. He makes me a better rider.

I’m super happy to be back on track with Pepperoni and I am hopeful that he will stay out of trouble for a while. He’s lost a lot of conditioning in the past few months, so we are in a rebuilding state now. We lose conditioning much faster than we gain it, so I expect that it will take 2-3 months to get him back into shape. Right now, our daily rides consist of a long walking warm-up, then 10 minutes of long-trot on a free-rein, followed by 5 minutes of collected trot in a “training frame,” followed by five minutes of canter on each lead. If he’s not completely gassed out by then, I’ll work on bending, shoulder-in and/or leg-yielding at the walk and trot.

By this time next month, I hope to be back to collection at the canter, departures and lead changes. But I am patient, and I have no deadlines looming. It’s all about the joy of training, about building a strong relationship and developing a high-level athletic partner. It doesn’t get any better than that!

November 2019 Horse Report

Since this time last month, I’ve been away from home for 25 days, in the normal course of my job attending clinics, expos, conferences and teaching at CSU Equine. Fall is a busy time of year for me. Needless to say, it hasn’t left me much time to work with my own horses. Fortunately, Melissa manages and rides my horses in my absence and helps keep them fit and pampered (and she occasionally stands in as my body double, LOL).

Pepperoni is still confined with no-turnout, lest he get wound-up, running hog-wild, and re-injure something. It’s probably just as well because we’ve had a lot of snow, ice and single-digit temps in the last few weeks and the footing is sketchy at best. He gets 30-40 minutes of hand-walking in the indoor arena every day and for the most part, he has settled into his new reality. He’s a little froggy at times when he gets bored with walking and airs-above-the-ground seem more appropriate. Fortunately, those episodes are short -lived and he is happy to get back to walking. In a few days Pepper gets his next checkup from Dr. Potter, Elite Equine, and we hope he is cleared for riding.

Annie, Dually and our newest herd-mate, Casper, are all fat and happy and hairing up for the winter. Rich and Casper are still getting acquainted and Rich is introducing him to gunshots (in preparation for mounted shooting). I haven’t even had a chance to ride Casper yet, since I’ve been gone so much. I hope to rectify that soon.

Annie remains my go-to finished horse and she is a sweet ride, as always. Often I only have time to ride one horse a day and I usually opt for the youngster (I’m a glutton for punishment), so Mel keeps Annie tuned-up for me. Dually doesn’t do much these days, but keep the herd in-line and occasionally pose for photos. He’s earned his retirement and he’s enjoying it fully.

October 2019 Horse Report

I rode my horses a lot less than I’d hoped last month, since I was on the road more than home. We were not able to take the horses up to C Lazy U for the Ranch Riding Adventure, due to an outbreak of Strangles at the ranch and because of an outbreak of contagious disease elsewhere around Colorado (vesticular stomatitis). All indications were that it was a good time to leave the horses home. I really missed having my horses there, but I also have a great horse at the ranch that I enjoy riding. So, it just was not worth the risk to our herd’s heath.

Speaking of health, we’ve had our ups and downs around the barn, recently. My three-year-old, Pepperoni, is proving himself to be a high-maintenance horse. No sooner did we get his S-I joint feeling better and his back strong enough to start riding again, than he developed some minor soreness in his suspensory ligaments (possibly from some exuberant bucking in the round pen). Right now, he is on stall rest, with 30 minutes of hand-walking daily. That can be a bit of a wild walk with a young horse that’s full of himself! People often ask me how to deal with this type of situation (hand walking an injured horse that is wound up), so I thought this might be a good time to make a video on the subject.

The other horses are great. My little mare Annie continues to be my go-to horse, since she’s the best trained and most sound horse I have. At 14.0 hands and quick as a rabbit, she’s a blast to ride. Although guilty as charged, as far as being a mare, we’ve managed to train her away from most of her “mare-ish” behaviors. She’s a horse I can put almost anyone on, at least temporarily, and she’ll take care of them. If it’s a novice rider, she’ll eventually figure out she can get away with stuff but at least for a while, she’ll be a good mount. I don’t do that very often, but it’s nice to know that I can.

Dually, one of the best horses I’ve ever had, is fully retired now. He’s got one crooked knee that has serious arthritic changes, and it is now bone-on-bone. He runs around and carries on out in the pasture, but riding isn’t really an option anymore. We’ve done years’ worth and thousands of dollars’ worth of advanced medical treatments, which bought me a few more good years with him, but now it is clearly time for him to rest on his laurels. We still get him out occasionally, to model in front of the cameras, and it makes him feel important. He still occupies the best stall in the barn and gets all the preferential treatment, so in his mind (and in my heart), he’s still #1.

Rich’s new horse, Casper, is clearly becoming the dream-horse he thought he was when he bought him last month in Montana. He’s settled in nicely to our herd and Rich is really enjoying riding and getting to know him. It takes a long time to get to know a horse, especially one with a lot of training (a lot of buttons you must find). This horse is kind, steady and has a solid work ethic. Over the winter, weather permitting, Rich will start hauling him about, maybe to a reining show or two, since that is his primary training. His goal is to start mounted shooting off this horse, but he will take his time to introduce him to that sport. It’s best to stick with what the horse knows while you get in-sync with him, before venturing off on a new path.

Winter is rapidly approaching up here in the high mountains of Colorado, so the riding season is winding down. We’ve already had our first frost (which was late this year) and the pasture is changing slowly from green to brown. Thankfully, we have a toasty indoor arena to keep us going through the winter and I am hoping that over the coming few months, I can get Pepper back into shape so that we can start him on cows later this winter.

September 2019 Horse Report

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It’s been a busy month around my barn! We welcomed a new member into our herd. Well, Rich and I welcomed him. The other horses, not so much. Rich and Mel drove twelve hours to Montana, rode a bunch of horses, watched a bunch of roping and cow work, and then drove 12 hours home with the prize—Casper, a 6 y/o AQHA gelding, trained as a reiner but schooled in all phases of ranch work. He’s a lovely horse with a stellar temperament and Rich has already really bonded with him. I did have to lay down the law with Rich to say that Casper could not sleep in our bedroom.

We are letting Casper settle in slowly and get rested up after a long period of hard training and a long trip to his new home. But Casper has already starred in his first video! It was about reducing the static shock build-up in your blankets by using the right blanket wash and by spraying your horse with ShowSheen. Around my barn, horses have to be camera ready!

Pepper is recuperating from yet another injury, making me wonder, how big of a roll does bubble wrap come in? Honestly, I could be back to riding him now but I am taking some extra time to get him in better condition first. Between the green grass that’s lasted all summer, the lay-offs from injuries and my travel time, one of us has gotten a bit soft (and it isn’t me). I’ll spend about another week just doing conditioning groundwork, then I’ll start the same program under-saddle. Hopefully by this time next month, we’ll be back in full gear.

Meanwhile, my good horse Dually continues to rule the roost and look pretty—this is what he does best now, and we occasionally pull him out to model for the camera. Annie has become my #1 go-to horse rather reluctantly (it’s way more work than being #3). Although I like to joke about her marishness, I’m very happy to have such a lovely little mare who can do anything I ask and at a moment’s notice. She’s right-sized for me and a blast to ride, so what more can I ask? I can find something to love about any horse. Can you?


Ready to Get Started on Your Riding Goals? 

Spring is almost upon us, and my team and I are getting ready to tackle our goals for this year in earnest! It’s easy to set the goal and promise yourself that you’re going to work with your horse X days a week, or practice really hard to get ready for a big ride or competition. But it can be really hard to actually START—whether it’s Day 1 or Day 25. Life happens—we get busy, things come up, and we excuse away making ourselves and our horses a priority.

If you need a little extra encouragement and support to meet your goals, join my new #HorseGoals Or Bust Facebook Group! This is a community where you can come to share your goals and updates, find support through frustrations and set-backs, be a cheerleaders for others, and celebrate accomplishments. See you there!

June 2019 Horse Report

Dear Friends,

With my summer break (from travel) ahead of me, I’m eager to get more time in the saddle! My youngster, Pepperoni, is doing well given the sporadic ride time I’ve had in the past few months. Turns out, twice a week of riding is not adequate for him (it rarely is for a 3-year-old), but when I am on the road, sometimes it’s all I can manage. When that happens, usually the first day is spent taming the wild beast, then the second day we can actually get some work done.

Now that I will be able to get on him 5-6 days a week, the tone of our rides will change a lot, and the wild beast will hibernate. I always start my training sessions with ten minutes of long trot, to warm the horses up and get them in a working frame of mind. Pepper is at the stage where our main training focus is on canter work—departures, rating speed, circles, simple lead changes—and we’re just starting to think about collection at the canter.

We are riding out of the arena a lot more—either down the road or around our “virtual trail course.” Pepper is still occasionally prone to “exuberance,” shall we say, and every now and then his red-headed temper flares, but most of the time his head is in the game. It’s a challenge with a young green horse to ask enough of them to advance their training, but not so much that they become frustrated and hate being ridden.

Before the summer gets away from me, I need to set some new goals for Pepper and me. Otherwise, how will I know when I get there?


Ready to Get Started on Your Riding Goals? 

Spring is almost upon us, and my team and I are getting ready to tackle our goals for this year in earnest! It’s easy to set the goal and promise yourself that you’re going to work with your horse X days a week, or practice really hard to get ready for a big ride or competition. But it can be really hard to actually START—whether it’s Day 1 or Day 25. Life happens—we get busy, things come up, and we excuse away making ourselves and our horses a priority.

If you need a little extra encouragement and support to meet your goals, join my new #HorseGoals Or Bust Facebook Group! This is a community where you can come to share your goals and updates, find support through frustrations and set-backs, be a cheerleaders for others, and celebrate accomplishments. See you there!

May 2019 Horse Report

Julie teaching at her C Lazy U Ranch clinic on Pepper.

It’s my busiest time of year, and most weeks I’m only home a couple nights—which makes owning a colt challenging. Pepperoni is the kind of young horse that needs to be ridden daily and kept busy. He’s the equine version of a Border Collie (busy-minded, afraid of nothing, smarter than his own good and on the lookout for trouble) . Often this time of year, due to my travel schedule, I might go a couple weeks without riding him. He gets daily handling, exercise and ground work in my absence, but typically we have a few wild rides upon my return.

He’s still prone to exuberance (bucking) on occasion and sometimes his red-headed temper rears its ugly head. He’s not a horse you want to pick a fight with, but if I ride it out and quietly but firmly lay down the law, he usually complies. So as I headed up to the C Lazy U Ranch earlier this month (in our brand new LQ trailer!), with both Pepper and Eddie in-tow, I was a little unsure of what kind if horse I’d have to ride at the clinic. This was Pepperoni’s first trip to the ranch, and since I also had to teach off him, I was counting on a drama-free weekend. I was thrilled with Pepper’s performance at the clinic—there were plenty of distractions to keep his mind occupied (keeping track of the comings and goings of 200 horses and 100 people) and back-to-back 4-hour days of riding meant he wasn’t looking for extra work.

I took Eddie up to the ranch for the first time at the same age—he was a rock star then and now. He’s now 11 years old and this was his 24th trip to the ranch, so he was a great role model for the red tornado and a great mount for Barbra Schulte to teach her clinics from. It was a wonderful weekend—Barbra and I love working together and the ranch is the perfect spot for everyone to come together to enjoy horses, people and good times!


Ready to Get Started on Your Riding Goals? 

Spring is here, and my team and I are tackling our goals for this year in earnest! It’s easy to set the goal and promise yourself that you’re going to work with your horse X days a week, or practice really hard to get ready for a big ride or competition. But it can be really hard to actually START—whether it’s Day 1 or Day 25. Life happens—we get busy, things come up, and we excuse away making ourselves and our horses a priority.

If you need a little extra encouragement and support to meet your goals, join my new #HorseGoals Or Bust Facebook Group! This is a community where you can come to share your goals and updates, find support through frustrations and set-backs, be a cheerleaders for others, and celebrate accomplishments. See you there!

Horse Report April 2019

Julie petting Pepper's neck, riding in the indoor arena.
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I’ve spent more time on the road than at home this month, getting less ride time on my horses than I would’ve liked. Fortunately, I have Melissa, my barn manager, to keep the horses going in my absence.

I had to make the hard decision not to enter Pepperoni in the Legends Futurity, which takes place this month. Between my schedule and his time off due to a sprained stifle, we’re just not ready. I probably could have pushed to get him ready for the dry work, but I am in it for the long run with this colt. I want to bring him along slowly, and not stress him mentally or physically. I plan to start Pepper on cattle this summer, and have him ready to compete next year as a 4-year-old in the Legends Maturity show in both the dry and wet work.

With less pressure on us now, I am working on the basics with my red-headed colt—introducing collection at the trot, refining his stops, developing his pivot into a spin, and introducing roll backs. As this harsh winter comes to a close, we’re able to ride in the outdoor arena now and I’m getting him out of the arena too, for a refreshing change of scene.

Meanwhile,  Melissa has started shooting off my little mare, Annie. They had their first competition last weekend and they both did very well. Maybe we have found Annie’s forte! My boys, Eddie and Dually, are both happy and healthy. Dually is basically retired now, but we still get him out with the other horses, so he thinks his spot as my #1 horse is still secure. He’ll always be #1 in my heart, even if I can no longer ride him.


Ready to Get Started on Your Riding Goals? 

Spring is almost upon us, and my team and I are getting ready to tackle our goals for this year in earnest! It’s easy to set the goal and promise yourself that you’re going to work with your horse X days a week, or practice really hard to get ready for a big ride or competition. But it can be really hard to actually START—whether it’s Day 1 or Day 25. Life happens—we get busy, things come up, and we excuse away making ourselves and our horses a priority.

If you need a little extra encouragement and support to meet your goals, join my new #HorseGoals Or Bust Facebook Group! This is a community where you can come to share your goals and updates, find support through frustrations and set-backs, be a cheerleaders for others, and celebrate accomplishments. See you there!

 
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Join Group

 

Horse Report March 2019

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This is not a winter we will soon forget. More snow, ice, wind and cold weather than I can remember for some time. Thankfully, we have a nice toasty indoor arena, but after a few months of riding inside, the horses are eager for a different point of view.

It was awesome to spend a week up in Fort Collins at CSU Equine with my two horses, Annie and Pepperoni. We had some quality time together and managed to make it home, driving 200 miles through the mountains, in between the snow storms. Pepper is coming along nicely—working on collection at the trot and canter, beginning lateral movements like shoulder-in and leg yield, and refining his pivot on the hindquarters, which is a natural talent of his. Canter departures still leave something to be desired, but I know this will fall into place too. He’s such a joy to ride and train—he’s eager to learn and has a fun-loving attitude.

Dually has had a tough winter, too much cold and ice for him. He’s healthy and comfortable, but he’s very tentative on the frozen ground. No one’s more eager for spring than Dually. Eddie, on the other hand, is true to his breeding—he’s a tough, stoic ranch horse and not much affects him.


Ready to Get Started on Your Riding Goals? 

Spring is almost upon us, and my team and I are getting ready to tackle our goals for this year in earnest! It’s easy to set the goal and promise yourself that you’re going to work with your horse X days a week, or practice really hard to get ready for a big ride or competition. But it can be really hard to actually START—whether it’s Day 1 or Day 25. Life happens—we get busy, things come up, and we excuse away making ourselves and our horses a priority.

If you need a little extra encouragement and support to meet your goals, join my new #HorseGoals Or Bust Facebook Group! This is a community where you can come to share your goals and updates, find support through frustrations and set-backs, be a cheerleaders for others, and celebrate accomplishments. See you there!

 
#HorseGoals or Bust Community
Public group · 43 members

Join Group

 

February 2019 Horse Report

Pepper and Mel's horse, Booger
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I’ve had a little more time on my horses this month. Pepperoni, now a 3-year-old, is progressing nicely after a small setback from a stifle sprain. After treatment from Dr. Potter (who was kind enough to treat him on Christmas Eve so I didn’t lose another week of training), some rest and rehab, Pepper is back to 100%. We did lose about three weeks of training, which will make it tough for us to be ready for the Legends of Ranching Futurity in April. But I won’t push him—if he’s not ready, we won’t enter.

However, in the last week, Pepper has really surprised me. He’s such a fun horse to train—he’s very willing, but somewhat opinionated. He’s sensitive, athletic and wicked smart. If I could avoid making mistakes (nearly impossible on such a fast-learning horse), and just teach him one important thing every day, his training would go so fast.

At this moment, we are working on basics (forward and straight), collection at the trot (starting to think about it at the canter), shoulder-in, canter departures and pivots. I have not yet worked on stops and rollbacks, because of his stifle injury, but these maneuvers will be easy for him, due to his natural talent.

The Legends Futurity involves working cattle and this is where I run into a time crunch—I’ll have to get him working the flag before live cattle, and he’s not quite fit enough for that. But just in the last week, things seem to be coming together for us.

I am headed up to Colorado State University this week to substitute teach, and I will be taking Annie and Pepper with me. Annie will help me work with the colts (32 of them), and Pepper is going for the road experience and so I can continue his training.

It will be a fun week—I get to ride my horses every day, and I always enjoy working with college students!

 


Ready to Get Started on Your Riding Goals? 

Spring is almost upon us, and my team and I are getting ready to tackle our goals for this year in earnest! It’s easy to set the goal and promise yourself that you’re going to work with your horse X days a week, or practice really hard to get ready for a big ride or competition. But it can be really hard to actually START—whether it’s Day 1 or Day 25. Life happens—we get busy, things come up, and we excuse away making ourselves and our horses a priority.

If you need a little extra encouragement and support to meet your goals, join my new #HorseGoals Or Bust Facebook Group! This is a community where you can come to share your goals and updates, find support through frustrations and set-backs, be a cheerleaders for others, and celebrate accomplishments. See you there!

 
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January 2019: Horse Report


At the moment, all my horses are healthy and sound (knock on wood), but we’ve been contending with injuries and various lameness issues rotating through my herd.

Dually is looking better than he has in a long, long time. Just when I had given up on being able to ride him again, he seems to be sound! I still won’t ride him, but I’m going to start some light exercise with him to see if we can get him in condition. If he holds up well, I may be able to use him on occasion for some “cameo” work.

After Annie’s stifle injury in October, she received IRAP treatment, rest and rehab, and is now 100% and fit as a fiddle. She’s fallen into the role of my go-to horse (although Dually remains #1 in my heart).

Eddie and Rich are training for mounted shooting, but the competition was cancelled this month due to a snow storm.

Then there is my little red-headed Pepperoni, now a 3-year-old, who continues to make me laugh on a daily basis. Poor Pepper also had a bout with a sprained stifle. Like Annie, he had IRAP injections, rest and rehab. On his follow-up visit last week, Dr. Potter pronounced Pepper 100% sound.

Be careful what you wish for! Pepper is back to his enthusiastic self—sometimes still a bit of a handful—I call his third gait the “Buckalope.” But he is coming along nicely, figuring out his world—the way I want it to be—which he is not always in agreement with. So far, I have prevailed in every debate.

I’m still undecided on whether or not I can get him ready for the futurity in April, but I will forge ahead and see where we are in a month.

December 2018 Horse Report

Now that I am home for an extended period, I’m getting a little more time with my horses. I’m happy to report that my old man, Dually, is feeling well and trotting sound. I don’t think I’ll be riding him, but it’s great to know he feels good.

Rich and Eddie continue to work on their aim with mounted shooting. With one schooling shoot under their belts, their training goals have gained some clarity, and they are busy getting ready for the next shoot.

My youngster, Pepperoni, is proving to be a “chip off the old block.” His sire, Peptoes, is a fine looking stallion from the renowned Spur Cross Ranch, and it appears that Pepper is a lot like him. He’s still a green-bean, however, and has a long way to go to fill his daddy’s shoes.

Currently we are working on 1) going forward, 2) going straight, 3) transitions-transitions-transitions, and 4) starting to introduce a tad of collection at the trot (it will be a while before he is ready for collection at canter). I need to chart out a training plan for him on paper (there’re lots of charts in my head), so that we have a clear training path to prepare for the futurity he is registered for in April. And that sounds like a good New Year’s Resolutions sort of thing, so expect to see a more detailed plan, this time next month!

November 2018 Horse Report

 

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Annie is fully recovered from her sprained stifle and is back in training and looking fit again! Prior to her injury, she was in great shape. She got soft fast with a few weeks of stall rest, but her conditioning is coming back fast.

Rich and Eddie have been preparing for their first Cowboy Mounted Shooting competition. Eddie seems to love this sport because it is easy for him to understand, and it takes the focus off of him. I’m excited to hear how he does at the shoot.

My little Pepperoni continues to light up my life. We are still working on the basics—go forward, go straight, no you cannot do whatever you want—but his talent is shining through. His spins and stops will be exceptional. Although we have a competition in April, I am not in a hurry with his training—he’s just a 2-year-old. He is quite easy to train and it’s worth taking him slowly so that he fully learns each skill, before moving onto the next. Keeping his training sessions fun and short will help keep his attitude positive.

I hauled him up to Colorado State University at the beginning of this week for some travel experience, along with Eddie to help babysit. I’m up here teaching and lecturing for several different classes in the Equine Science program, and I am looking forward to working with the students and having some dedicated quality time with my horses.

October 2018 Horse Report

Julie with the vet and Annie

I had a great time with all my horses last month, but we had our ups and downs. Annie has just recovered from a minor performance injury at the end of September—a sprained stifle. She stepped off the trailer at C Lazy U slightly off, and right away I knew what had happened.

The day before traveling, I was working her as normal and at the end of our workout, when my horses are trying really hard (because they know I will not put them away until they put maximum effort into something I ask them to do), I asked her to make a big stop. She did a beautiful sliding stop and I remember thinking, wow, that was really something! She put so much into it that she put a little strain on her stifle and had some fluid buildup there, which we could see on ultra-sound.

Dr. Potter, a performance horse vet that I thank my lucky stars to have treat my horses, suggested rest, confinement and an IRAP injection. I’m happy to report that she is now back to 100% and is out with the herd again and ready to get back to training.

Eddie, my ranch horse gelding, is my fallback horse now, so I pulled him into service. We had to do a Garrocha demonstration at the CHA conference, and since Annie is my Garrocha horse, we had to give Eddie a crash course in pole dancing. He rose to the occasion and the demo went great! I’ve enjoyed riding him more this month—he’s such a steady, reliable and willing horse.

I’m happy to report that my little Pepperoni is the highlight of my day and a blast to ride. We’re still working on the basics, like power steering, but his talent is coming through loud and clear. Without any effort whatsoever on my part, he is already stopping big and beginning to pivot on the hindquarters. He occasionally still crow hops like a porpoise when he is feeling froggy, but it is not hard to ride and it cracks me up. He certainly acts like a 2 year old most of the time, but he is brave and bold and loves to perform.

My old guy, Dually, is still the star around here (even though he is resting on his laurels now), and his main job is taking care of the colt. Pepper has big shoes to fill, and Dually is happy to keep a constant eye on him and tell him how to act.

I am so fortunate to have such amazing horses and I will never take them for granted. What are you thankful for when it comes to your horses? Share your pictures and stories with me on Facebook or @juliegoodnight on Instagram!

September 2018 Horse Report

Pepper and Julie

Pepper and Julie

Lucky for me (not really luck; more by design), I have Melissa to keep my horses working in my absence and my son, Hunter, to keep them secure, comfortable and well-fed. My horses live at home with us, and since I am on the road up to 150 nights a year, you can imagine how important it is to me to have people I trust to take care of the horses. So while Rich and I were gallivanting in Ireland for two of the past four weeks, my horses were still groomed, turned-out, exercised and well-attended every day.

Annie is looking fit, sleek and is well-tuned, just in time for me to ride at the Ranch Riding Retreat at C Lazy U last weekend and at the CHA Conference coming up this weekend. Eddie is getting plenty of work, between Mel and Rich, and is a buff, handsome ranch horse. I’m proud of the bridle horse he has become. In anticipation of working cattle, they’ve been practicing together—Mel on her horse Booger and Rich on Eddie—shadow-boxing to practice their cutting moves.

And then, there’s Pepperoni, the star of the show. I’ve only worked with him a handful of days, but I continue to marvel at what a great mind he has. He’s curious, brave, eager to please, but quick to out-think you, if you’re not careful. He’s very athletic and forward, traits that are important to me in a horse. We’ve gotten lots of great feedback on The Adventures of Pepperoni video series on my YouTube Channel, and we plan to continue the series. So be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an installment. I’ve started riding Pepper in the indoor arena and he hasn’t missed a step. I’ve been working on bitting him up, which I talk about extensively in my podcast this month.

My #1 horse, Dually, has been relegated to semi-retired. His performance days are over, but he will always be #1 around here. We parade him in front of the camera periodically, so he still thinks he’s a rock star. He gets the best dressing room AND the blue M&Ms!

August 2018 Horse Report

Dually and Julie with the vet.
With all the talk about my new young horse, Pepper, it may seem like I’ve forgotten about my other three horses. Yes, a pretty young face always get the attention, but I have my other horses to keep going too.

Dually has once again been undergoing some diagnostic work and progressive (pronounced: ex-spen-sive) treatments to try and understand the source of his pain, which we’ve finally isolated to his right knee. At 18 years old and with an early start to his performance career as a cow horse, he’s showing his age (and one crooked leg doesn’t help). Although he’ll hold up to light riding for some time to come, I am definitely NOT a ‘light’ rider. I don’t weigh much, but I tend to ride hard. Hence, the reason for having a young horse. So Dually has been relegated to “semi-retirement,” meaning we’ll keep him in shape—fit and shiny—for photo shoots and videos, but not really train on him anymore. He deserves it!

Meanwhile, Annie, my little mare with a red-headed attitude is doing great and a blast to ride. My long-term efforts to try and train her to be a gelding seem to be paying off! Eddie, our handsome ranch gelding (son of Sixes Pick—world champion Ranch Horse), has become a fully-trained, solid and reliable bridle horse. Rich has been using him to shoot off of and more recently, has been saddling him English to get ready for our trip to Ireland. I might add that this stocky, typey ranch horse looks downright sexy in English tack (and Rich doesn’t look so bad either!).

July 2018 Horse Report

Our newest addition to the herd, Pepperoni (SCR CD Peptoes), is a two-year-old AQHA gelding, bred at the renowned Spur Cross Ranch and donated to the Legends of Ranching program at Colorado State University. I went to the horse sale back in April, because I am on the CSU Equine advisory committee and also to help my friend Helen buy a horse (she got an awesome 4 yo gelding). I didn’t plan to come home with a horse, but Pepper stole my heart! I was smitten by his athleticism, his beauty and his temperament. The student trainer that handled him was definitely a top-hand and had clearly done an excellent job starting him. He was working well under saddle and clearly had a BIG motor (which I like).

I got Pepper home at the end of April and between my travel schedule and the fact that Pepper needed resting after a hard semester at college, I’ve done very little with him since. He’s well settled into our herd, with Dually (Uncle Daddy) and Eddie (Uncle Brutus), supervising his every move.

Now that I am on my “summer break,” and spending more time at home, I am able to start working with Pepper on a more consistent basis. He’s still quite young and it’s not my intention to push him, but he’s got a great start in his training and I don’t want to lose ground. The other day, I saddled him and worked him in the round pen for the first time. I’m very specific about what I ask a horse to do in the round pen, so he had to work at understanding what I was asking. Fortunately, he’s smart as a whip and a real thinker. In a few minutes, he was doing outside and inside turns, depending on what I asked. He bucked the saddle a little bit—nothing too dramatic. I noticed his bucks actually looked pretty smooth—almost like a porpoise arching out of the water. Since I haven’t yet figured out a bit/bridle for the colt, I didn’t do much more with him other than mount and dismount a few times.

I’m very eager to start riding Pepper! But I really want to bring him along slowly. He is entered in the LOR Futurity in April of next year, but we’ve got plenty of time to get ready for that over the winter. If you’re interested in watching Pepper’s progress, check out his new web series, The Adventures of Pepperoni, on my YouTube Channel!

June 2018 Horse Report

I’ve spent lots of time in the saddle this month; sadly, not much of it on my own horses. I always enjoy riding other people’s horses—whether it’s getting on a horse in a clinic to help the rider figure something out, or riding a loaner horse for a demo at a horse expo.

One of the perks I love most about my job is how many different horses I get to ride. Every horse has something to teach you—even if you’ve literally ridden more than a thousand different individuals.

At home, my horses are mostly enjoying their brief time to graze on green grass (we are officially in a drought, so once the irrigation dries up, the grass will turn brown if it doesn’t start raining). My mature horses are getting their regular work load, thanks to Melissa and Morgan (our summer intern).

My new colt, Pepperoni, is still having some R&R—hanging out with Uncle Brutus (Eddie) and Uncle Daddy (Dually). They are keeping him straight. We bring him in with the older horses, to stand tied and learn patience.

Once this month is over and I am home for a while, I plan to get started riding him. I can’t wait!

May 2018 Horse Report

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On April 21st, I attended the Legends of Ranching horse sale at Colorado State University. It’s an awesome program that I’ve been a part of since its inception, as a member of the Advisory Board for CSU Equine. For the LOR program, legendary ranches and QH breeders donate yearlings and 2 year olds in the fall, which the students prep for sale and train, and in the Spring they are auctioned off as 2 and 3 year olds (the proceeds go back into scholarships and the equine program). I was actually there to help my friend Helen buy a horse, and we found an awesome 4 y/o gelding for her. But as luck would have it, I fell in love with one of the colts, proving once again that I cannot sit on my hands at a horse sale. To me, there’s nothing more fun than that—the hunt, the find, the buy—it’s all incredibly exciting (did you see the FB live post?).

So meet SCR CD Peptoes, a 2016 QH gelding from the Spur Cross Ranch in Montana, who came home to my ranch on April 23rd. He’s by Peptoes, an own son of Peptoboonsmal, out of a Doc Olena bred mare. This boy’s bred to be cowy! But what attracted me to him the most was his conformation and his temperament. He’s athletic and fast—I like that in a horse! But he’s freakishly calm and thoughtful—nice traits in a “hot” horse. He’s a lot of horse—highly sensitive and with a very big motor—but I like that in a horse! He reminds me a lot of Dually when he was young and I am super excited to have a new project.

The first business of order was to find a good barn name for him since SCR CD Peptoes doesn’t just roll off the tongue (and no, Jeff, I am not going to name him “Toes”). We had many great suggestions for names, and we tried a few on for size, but when Dr. Potter examined him the other day for the first time and we had to start a file for him, his nickname became his official name—Pepperoni! It fits him well—he’s got lots of Peppy San Badger and Dual Pep in his pedigree, he’s the color of red pepper (Cayenne was one of the names we considered) and he’s spicy! I like the names Pep, Pepper, Roni (did I mention he’s red roan?) and my favorite pizza is pepperoni!

For now, Pepper is just having some time off. He’s had a hard few months leading up to the sale and was being ridden pretty hard for a two year old. Now it’s time to rest up and be a youngster. Dually has already taken him under his wing and has become somewhat possessive of him. I won’t ride him for a while, but he had a great start from the CSU student that trained him, Makayla Dahley, so I am not in a hurry. Makayla is from a ranching family here in Colorado and is truly a “top hand,” in my opinion. I watched closely how she handled him and rode him and I would not have bought him if I had not been so impressed with the work she has done on this colt. By this time next month, I’ll have more of a plan in mind for Pepper, so stay tuned!

April 2018 Horse Report

Because of a heavy travel schedule, I went three weeks in March without riding my own horses. I hate that! Fortunately, I have Melissa, to manage my horses for me during my frequent absences. Consequently, my horses are slick, fit and tuned up, so when I am home, I can ride to my heart’s desire. (I know, I’m spoiled—but I’ve earned it.)

Rich has been riding Eddie regularly, as they work on their mounted shooting skills. I think Ed is perfect for shooting. I’ll admit my heart swells with pride when I watch Rich and Eddie—he’s easy to ride one-handed (or no hands), he always tries hard and he is 100% obedient to the aids. He’s matured into a balanced and handsome gelding that looks a lot like his sire, Sixes Pick (a world champion ranch horse stallion from the 6666 Ranch), and he is truly a “steady eddie.” I wish I could say the same for Annie.

My little red headed mare is actually doing well in her training. Mostly we’re working on training her to be a gelding. I may never reach that training goal, but I won’t quit trying either—I’d say we are 60% there.

I’ll know more when I take her to the C Lazy U ranch next week, for the clinic I am teaching with Barbra Schulte. I’m bringing Eddie for Barbra to ride—he’s easy as a couch to teach from.

Annie is actually a fun little ride as well—she’s sporty, low to the ground, compact and athletic. When her mind is in the game, she’s a blast to ride! When she’s fretting over the horses coming and going around her and being a supreme busybody, not so much. Keeping her focus and interest on me is a constant challenge, but I feel like I am winning the war. I’ll know for sure this time next month, after we’ve been to a 4-day clinic away from home!

March 2018 Horse Report

On the Road
Although I’ve gotten plenty of ride time in the past few weeks, very little of it has been on my own horses. Fortunately for me, Melissa and Rich are keeping the ponies going. When I am working at expos, I usually borrow a horse to ride in my demos and this month I’ve enjoyed riding two horses that I know.

In Pennsylvania, I rode Smoke, a gorgeous champagne cremello Paint stallion that I also rode last fall at Equine Affaire. He’s an awesome horse and we’ve developed a great rapport.

Melissa working with Eddie to learn mounted shooting.Last weekend, in California, I rode Scouter, an AQHA gelding that I’ve had the pleasure of riding for years. He belongs to my good friend Ron Radmer and Ron, Scouter and I go way back. He’s got such a great handle on him that I often pop the bridle off while I am doing demos.

On the Home Front
Melissa and Rich have jumped with both feet into mounted shooting. They’ve been desensitizing Eddie and Annie to gun fire, first from the ground and now from the saddle.

Later this month, they’ll attend a new shooters clinic. The horses made me proud in how quickly they accepted the noise and smoke; they were more worried about the ear plugs. I think Eddie and Rich are going to do very well in this sport!

My old man, Dually (now 18 years old), is enjoying some extended time off from riding while I am on the road. We stretch his legs every day on the free-longe, to keep him fit and strong.

February 2018 Horse Report

Never a dull moment with horses! Dually has had a little set back and is on stall rest for a bit. He’s 18 years old now, 54 in human years, and as some of us well know, we don’t bounce like we used to at that age! He’s getting some good therapy and I am hopeful we will get back to light riding soon.

Annie yawning with Dually in the backgroundIn the meantime, my little mare Annie is getting more workout than she bargained for! I took a crash course on Garrocha from my friend, Chris Cowherd, a local riding instructor that has been using Garrocha in her lessons for some time. I found a source for a pole and I know enough about it to be dangerous now, so I am ready to get started! I think Annie will enjoy a new challenge and see more purpose to it.

Eddie, my boy scout ranch horse is always up for an adventure, so we are thinking about using him for mounted shooting. Rich and Melissa, my barn manager, are enthusiastic to try the sport and I think Eddie would be the perfect mount! Megan, my communications manager, is heavily involved in the sport and it seems to be contagious. All we need are a couple of guns and some equine earplugs and we are ready to get started!

I love exploring new activities with my horses and I think it helps keep them fresh and engaged.

How about you? What new horse adventures do you have in store for this year?

January 2018 Horse Report

Julie with her horses in the indoor arena

The winter months are creeping by, but still, my winter riding goals are not yet fully formed.

With my little mare Annie, my plan was to learn the basic movements of Garrocha—pole dancing with a horse! Her compact and athletic build makes little circles easy and ducking under that pole on a short horse just seems like it would work better. But alas, I am having great difficulty finding an adequate Garrocha pole (which has to be rigid, light enough to carry and about 13 feet long). Currently, I am eyeing one of my neighbor’s windsurfing masts and wondering if he would miss it….

I am seriously considering taking Eddie and Annie to the Legends of Ranching competition in April. I’ll need to decide soon because it will take me a few months to get the horses tuned up and ready to work cattle. If I decide to compete, it will make the goal-setting for these two horses easy.

For Dually, my old man (18 this year!), picking goals is more of a challenge.

First, at his age, I don’t want to do anything that would cause too much stress on his joints. Although he’d be great at Garoccha, he doesn’t need to be loping tiny circles. Plus, Dually is so well-trained that there aren’t many new skills to acquire. So I think I will work on the upper level Western Dressage tests and drill down on our accuracy and correctness.

I’ve got plenty to keep me busy through the winter months of riding indoors!

December 2017 Horse Report

With more time at home this month, I’m getting back in the saddle more. It’s good to get in a groove with your horse—the kind of groove that only comes when you ride 4-5 days a week. Keep in mind, my horses are still ridden when I travel, just not by me. If I haven’t ridden my horses in while, like in November (last month), I like to take it easy on them for the first few rides—not asking too much or expecting perfection. We just go forward—long trot, lope and gallop.

As the days go on, my expectations increase and my horses always rise to the occasion. Now that I am home for a full eight weeks, my riding plans start changing. Consistency changes a lot in horse training. While there are many things you can teach a horse really fast, like basic manners, to teach complex riding skills takes time and physical development.

The other big change for us is shifting from riding outdoors to indoors. And yes, after three decades of living in the Colorado mountains, I still count my lucky stars to have an indoor arena so that I can ride year-round. To make the most of 1) my eight week stretch of riding daily, and 2) riding in smaller spaces and doing concentrated schooling, I will need to formulate some new goals for each horse.

I love setting goals for my horses and myself, and having something new to work on. With three very different horses, I can work on a lot of different things.

Hmmm… what will it be? I want to spend some time mulling it over and coming up with fun and realistic goals. I think I have an idea with Annie already, but I am clueless on both Dually and Eddie. I’ll let you know next time!

November 2017 Horse Report

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Be careful what you wish for! I have to say, Dually is feeling fresh as a daisy these days. Although I have not pushed him terribly hard this year, we’ve worked him hard enough that he is fit and perhaps a wee bit cocky. He’s got the attitude of a much younger horse and I like that. Now if they would just approve the same treatments for humans, I might feel young an cocky enough to ride him! My other horses are doing well too. Annie continues to be a redheaded mare some of the time, but she’s gradually becoming more and more like a sorrel gelding. So I guess my training is working. I took Eddie, our ranch gelding, up to C Lazy U for a clinic last month. Even though I don’t ride him much at home, he’s become my best horse for teaching off of, since I started doing it when he was just a three year old. Now he’s coming nine years old and has many clinics under his belt, so he’s an old pro. Having a reliable teaching partner, patiently waiting on my next move and always ready to do something or nothing, is a real blessing to me. Eddie is my Easy-Button.