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.
We 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!).
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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 Geneticswww.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.
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!).
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.
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.