Horse Report March 2019

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!

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February 2019 Horse Report

Pepper and Mel's horse, Booger
Pepper and Mel's horse, Booger

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!

#HorseGoals or Bust Community
Public group · 43 members

Join Group


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 Logo

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!