Competition Day At C Lazy U Logo

Hello again,

After two days and two nights at the five-star (AAA and Mobile) guest ranch,  HYPERLINK “, we were getting accustomed to the fine dining, the luxurious accommodations and resort atmosphere. After a full eight hours in the saddle, concentrating hard on cramming as much information as we could into our brains from the five-star clinicians, it was time to put all the stuff we learned in the four half-day clinics into a schooling competition for Versatility Ranch Horse.

VRH is a challenging competition, to say the least, testing just about every Western discipline there is. One horse/rider (rider must be owner) competes in five different classes including conformation, trail obstacles, ranch riding (similar to a Dressage pattern), ranch cutting (cut and pen) and working ranch horse (reining, boxing cow, fence work, roping and stopping cow). They are all individual performances and all five classes are usually held in one day.

The rules and procedures are different every where you go in this country, but AQHA is the standard rule book since they have been doing it the longest and in the biggest numbers and AQHA hosts the VRH World Championships, held at the Denver Stock Show in January. The event we participated in at C Lazy U was sanctioned by  HYPERLINK “ and was open only to participants of the 2-day clinic that preceded the competition, amateur riders only, divided into three divisions: novice, intermediate and advanced. The novice riders are coached all the way through each class by the clinicians or other participants and they are not required to fence the cow, rope the cow or drag the log; in the halter class, their horse is not judged on conformation, but rather on the handler’s showmanship ability.

The conformation/showmanship class was held Sunday night right before dinner after riding all day in the clinic with the horses dirty and stinky. Since I had quit on Dually earlier in the day he was dry and fairly clean (technically the judges don’t care about this because they know they are judging working horses, but a shiny clean horse is much more pleasant to look at and if I am going to show my horse, I am going to go for every possible point I can get. In fact, in VRH, the conformation score factors back into the performance scores so a horse that does well in conformation gets extra points in performance too. After a quick stop at the wash rack with some high pressure spray-and-rinse and Duallys four white socks were clean. While I was at it, I washed down the legs of six other horses and then gave my friends a CRASH course in showmanship.

Then it was time for the conformation class and all 40 horses get judged by division. The advanced horses come in first, one at a time and have their legs judged for straightness and movement, then line up head to tail on the far wall and wait for all the other thirty something horses to be judged. After all legs & trot  have been scored, the judged comes back to judge conformation, taking a look at each horse individually for structure and balance, then the judge rearranges the line up in each division by who he likes best, second, and so on. Dually placed third in the advanced division; Tucker was his usual middle-to-back of the pack because his is not straight legged. This is very unfortunate in VRH because a horse that does not do well in conformation has to seriously outperform the horse that scores well in halter. If Tucker would place higher in conformation, Rich would be coming home with tons of blue ribbons. The rest of our group was in the novice division and placed well, with Jeannie winning and the other guys placing.

At the barn at 6am the next morning to be ready to ride at 8; it was a beautiful Memorial Day morning. There were eight of us in the group: Lucy had to scratch because her awesome ranch horse, Dodger  HYPERLINK “ , was a little off; Patti & Pascale, my dear friends from Kauai were riding two of our sale horses, Renegade and Tequlo (whom they had only met a couple days before so were just getting to know); Cheryl, my dear friend from next door was riding her dream-horse (and the star of my riding videos, vol 3-4-5), Gracie; and Jeannie, our friend from MD was riding a borrowed horse that none of us knew anything about (although Jeannie had learned a lot about him in the past two days). They were all entered in the novice division and had never done any of this before; Rich and I rode in the advanced division on our own horses Tucker and Dually. Rich and Tucker have been competing for a few years and generally do well. I had only competed once on Dually last year; my score would not count in this show because there was no open (pro) division in this schooling competition. Or as they said at the awards ceremony, I was both first and last place in my own division SYMBOL 74 f “Wingdings” s 10 That works for me because I just wanted to school my horse, learn the complicated machinations of this event, so I know what to work on in preparation for an AQHA VRH event.

There were about 38 riders divided in half—one group did the cutting class while the other group rode the ranch riding pattern—then we switched groups so that by lunch, all 38 riders had done both ranch cutting and ranch riding (half of the performance classes). Typically the advanced group goes first in cutting because that is when the cows are freshest and tend to be running in all directions with their tails straight up. In VHR, you have 2 and a half minutes to walk into a group of 20 or so cows, and find the one with a specific number glued to its back (they yell out the number as they start your time), sort that cow out from the herd, move it to the middle of the arena and then keep it cut away from the herd. Two turnback riders assist you so the cow doesn’t just run away from you all the way to the other end. After you have showed your horses ability to keep the cow away from the herd, you then take the cow around a cone and down to the other end of the arena and into a pen (your turnback people cannot help you with that).

Rich was second up in the class and had a really good cut, worked the cow nicely then had a good pen; he placed third. This only being my second competition, I was very happy with myself that I got the cutting part down well. I positioned Dually right into the middle of the herd, slowly brought out my cow to the middle and let the other cows drift off, then we went to cutting. Considering I was concerned about Duallys over-exuberance on the cow because he was too fresh, I thought we had a really good cut. It was a squirrely cow and it got away from me when I went to pen him, but over all I was pretty happy with our performance.

Next came the ranch riding. This is a class that Rich & Tucker normally score well in and one that is pretty easy for Dually and I. Theres a reason why they dont want pros to compete against amateurs and the reason why is because of the unfair advantage we have of knowing how to do all this stuff already! Many facets of this competition are very complex and challenging and someone whos been riding and doing this stuff professionally for a lifetime has infinite advantage over someone that has only been riding a few years and perhaps never even shown. In the ranch riding class, you ride a pre-ordained pattern making specific transitions at cones placed strategically around the arena. The point is to show that your horse is well trained and responsive and a pleasure to ride; he can perform well at every working gait of the ranch horse. The pattern is similar to a dressage test, but you just ride around the rail. The required transitions are: walk to trot, trot to extended trot, to regular trot, halt, lope off on right lead, extend lope, regular lope, lope to walk (hard to execute well) then halt and halt to trot (also very hard), then trot to left lead canter, canter to trot (again hard), halt and back. All of those are executed at specific markers. I practice all of these transitions every time I ride in the arena, at the cones that are permanently set up as markers. Some might think this is boring but to be able to execute these transitions smoothly and with precision takes a lot of skill and practice and it almost impossible to score a perfect pattern.

Well, this is the third time in the past 24 hours that I have worked on this blog and I am only half way through the competition day. It has occurred to me long before now that this C Lazy U blog is going to have to have one more post! Heidi, my aforementioned slave driver and the reason I even know what a blog is, keeps telling me to keep it short! So Id better go ahead and post and try and finish this thing up tomorrow. We still have the trail class to go plus the nemesis of all VRH riders: the working ranch horse classits a killer! For now, its almost eight oclock, I just got in from riding and we havent even thought about dinner yet. A typical summer night when we dont eat until 9:00!

Thank you for all your meaningful commentsits nice to know someone is actually reading this stuff and interested in it, since I am taking time to do it. I am actually enjoying writing it but finding the time each day is tough. Anyway, keep reading and keep those comments coming in.

Enjoy the ride!


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C Lazy U, Part 2


I have caught up on some badly needed restsleeping 12 solid hours last night. And today is like paradise here in the Heart of the Rocky Mountains HYPERLINK “ . Its warm and sunny and no windand Ive even found some time to relax a little, reading my book on the deck in-between loads of laundry. Its good to be home!

To take up from last time, I only managed to write about the first day of the 3-day VRH clinic/competition HYPERLINK “ . The first day, Saturday, we had roping and cutting clinics. As I said, I put together some very important components of swinging the rope; and in the cutting I learned a really important key to training my horse.

Jack McComber of Rocky Ford CO was the cutting instructor. As I said in my last post, most of the people in our group were cutting for the very first time, so we took it slowly. And that is exactly what my horse needs- slow and stealthy, not the balls-to-the-walls screaming cow eating shark that he thinks he is. What I learned from Jack carries over to all the cow work I do with Dually- whether cutting, fencing, boxing, roping or circling. THE REWARD IS THE COW. He only gets the cow if he does things rightno charging, no wheeling around the cow trying to beat him around the corner. He only gets the cow when he stays quiet and focused, stops straight and turns correctly. Then he can eat the cow for lunch!

Like a retriever that lives to chase the stick, a very cowy horse wants it more than anything. Once he knows that the only way he can get what he wants is to stop straight, fly right and make no unauthorized attacks on the cow, he will do it right every time. But there will probably always have to be reminders along the way. With Jack in the cutting clinic, when my horse got chargey- trying to provoke the cow into some action, Id just stop, back off and put him behind the cow following the cowa place hed rather not be (cant have the cow yet). That gives him time to think about being slow and steady and when he is, I let him have a little action on the cow. This point would really sink in on the next day of the clinic.

Saturday night, we had dinner by the pool and hot tub (read the previous post about the hot tub at C Lazy U). With tables around the pool, a lovely covered portico with porch heaters, and a beautiful inside lounge, all 40 or so of us there for the VRH clinic had dinner together followed by a hilariously entertaining musician and ending with all 40 of us on our feet dancing and singing in a group. Between the good food & drink, the raucous laughing, singing and dancing, every single person had a fabulous time. We shouldve all gone to bed earlier, knowing that tomorrow we would ride again all day.

Sunday offered two more clinics for each of the four groups of 10 riders. For our group, we did reining in the morning and working cow in the after noon. The reining was taught by Dwayn Hoelsher of Berthoud CO, an outstanding trainer of reining horses and he also judged the schooling competition on Monday. On the second day, Dually was still feeling gooda little too froggy perhaps. Since reining is something he does really well, I try not o practice it too muchif he makes a good maneuver the first time I ask for it, thats all I ask. So the reining clinic was a good time to take it easy on Dually, knowing that I would still do some vigorous training in the afternoons working cow session.

Often when you take a clinic, you have the opportunity to learn a totally new perspective on something. Sometimes this new perspective will enlighten you to a whole new way of doing things and other times it will confirm that the way you were already doing things is good for you and your horse. Since reining is a relatively new sport as compared to Dressage, which is thousands of years oldless than a century compared to millenniums, there are many varying ways to train the basic maneuvers of the reining horse. Take the spin, for instance.

As long as I have known about spinning (which is simply a fast pivot on the hindquarters at the walk or trot cadence), there have been two main camps for how to train it. The first walks the horse forward into the spin and the second backs the horse into the spin or, more accurately, doesnt allow forward movement. I have always learned under and have had good success with the former method: from forward motion. But Jack had us consider the latter method: forward motion prohibited. And as it turns out, Dually spins much better that way! The truth of the matter is, that not one training technique is perfect for every horse. Yes, I can get pretty good spins using the forward method, but Dually is a horse for whom forward does not need to be encouraged and it turns out he spins better when forward is prohibited. But then there are horses like Tucker, for whom forward impulsion is not always easy to get and perhaps the forward method works better on him.

Jack likes his spins to be flat (the frame of the horse as seen from profile), with the head low and pretty straight in the body. You cant argue that it makes a pretty picture. What he trains his horse is that I either tell you to go forward or turnaround and there is no forward motion in the turnaround (although there is forward impulsion). So the horse is merely going where you direct him with the reins and unless you reach way up to the horses ears to signal that you do want him to step forward, he should not step forward. I discovered that both methods are good but Jacks is better for my horse. But for a horse that does not maintain forward impulsion well, you may need to train him into a spin with forward motion.

I can see by now that there will have to be at least one more part to the C Lazy U story, because I cannot write it all now. Next Ill write about the final clinic session with one of the top trainers in the country, Sandy Collier, and then the competition. But for now, Ive got to go ride my horse for the first time since the competition four days ago. Hes had a nice rest in the green pasture and is ready to go back to work (I am projecting my opinion on him now ;-).

Hope you are enjoying good times on a good horse this weekend,


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The C Lazy U Experience


Its been a while since I wroteI think a week. And its been a fun-packed, busy-every-minute, wild-ride of a week. With 9 horses and about 12 people loaded into three rigs, we made the 3 ½ hour drive up to Granby last Friday for our weekend of fun and excitement at one of Colorados premier guest ranches, C Lazy U, HYPERLINK “

We arrived Friday afternoon, with plenty of time to settle in the horses before happy hour began. We were there for a three day Versatility Ranch Horse event sponsored by the NVRHA, HYPERLINK “, but long before we saddled the first horse, it was really obvious we were going to have a fantastic time there. Its hard to say what is most impressive about C Lazy Uthe scenery is total Rocky Mountain splendor, the 5-Star accommodations are luxurious and the customer service is unparalleled. No sooner could you form a thought about needing something, than one of their charming young staff members would appear asking if you needed assistance. They even cleaned our stalls and picked up around our trailersthis is the type of service I could get used to!

And the food! Three extravagant meals a day is a little much for most of us, yet there we werelined up for meal time each day, like we hadnt eaten in a week. The food was excellentelk, salmon, eggs benedict, gourmet salads, monte cristo sandwichesyou get the picture. We all came home a few pounds heavier, but with smiles on our faces. One of my favorite things about C Lazy U was their hot tuband we made good use of it! Outdoors by the warm pool, the hot tub was about six feet wide and twenty feet long, with benches along each side. During the busy times, it could comfortably fit 50 people, but with just our small group, I was able to make laps! What an awesome treat after riding hard all day! I am hoping to plan a horsemanship clinic at C Lazy U next summer so all of you can come and share in this incredible place.

Saturday, we had two half day clinics: ranch roping and ranch cutting. Our roping clinician was Merit Linkean outstanding teacher with whom I had clinicked with before. I learned a couple of really important things that help me put some of the pieces of the puzzle together and really improve my swing. This would pay off significantly during Mondays competition. Some of our group had never even swung a rope before, so we had a wide range of ability levels. But that wasnt a problem for Merit and by the end of the morning, everyone had a decent swing and most of us were roping the dummy being pulled around the arena by the four-wheeler.

After and outstanding lunch, we waddled back to the barn for our cutting clinic. Again, most of our group was new to these disciplines, as were some of the horses, so we went slowly. Cutting should be a slow and methodical process anywaywhen you get the cows scattered and running, youve got a big problem.

My major goal for the weekend was to find the right amount of riding on Dually that would mean he was not fresh for the competition (his enthusiasm on cows can be a little much) but that would keep him from getting back sore and re-injuring the chronic soft-tissue injury in his back. So on Friday I took it easy on him, only cutting a couple of times and I did most of the roping on one of my other horses. I did the same on Sunday but I was concerned by Sunday night that I had saved him a little too much and he would be too fresh for competition. But as youll see latermy concerns were unfounded.

BTW- Friday was my first time to ride in my beautiful new ranch cutter made by Circle Y. Although I dreaded riding in a brand new saddle all day for three days, I have to say I never once noticed that it needed breaking in. It was incredibly comfortable for both Dually and I. And since I managed to ride for three straight days without any back problems on Dually, I think it is a good fit for both of us.

Later, Ill write about our reining and working cow clinics on Sunday and the competition on Mondaybut for now, Ill tell you our group cleaned up and everyone came home with ribbons.

More later


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Good Horses, Good Friends, Good Food & Drink Logo

What more could you want? Rich and I have been on an “at-home” vacation this week. We’ve got a couple friends visiting from Kauai and a couple more from here in Colorado plus one flying in from MD tomorrow. We’ve been riding all day, in preparation for this weekend’s Versatility Ranch Horse clinic and competition in Granby CO.  and having evenings full of laughter and solving everyone’s problems. And, oh yeah, watching the finale of American Idol!


It’s cold and wet and snowy again today, but who cares when you are having a great time riding with friends! Yesterday we worked on the challenging trail course Rich set up in the indoor. Today we’re going to work on the mechanical cow. Tomorrow we leave for Granby. This weekend we’ll be staying at a renowned guest ranch called the C Lazy U From what I hear, it will be in a style that I can easily become accustomed to.


I am really excited to head for the barn, just as soon as I finish blogging, because I just got my brand new custom made by Circle Y cutting/ranch saddle. It is absolutely GORGEOUS! And has some very slick features such as gel inserts between the bars of the tree and the horse’s back plus a slick leather lining underneath instead of wool fleece—makes it easier to clean, gives a closer contact feel and doesn’t slip as easily. I can’t wait to try it out! I’ll let you know what I think next time!


Enjoy the ride!




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There’s No Place Like Home! Logo


As much as I love to travel, one of my favorite things is coming home again. Yesterday was not exactly a smoothsailing travel day for me however. Just as I was headed from the hotel to the airport, Rich called to say Dually was feeling bad again. Some days he just feels punkynot really colicky, he just doesn’t want to eat and wants to lay down a lot. Our standard remedythe same one we use for a mildly colicking horseis to put him in the trailer and take him for a ride. He always feels better after that. I wasnt overly concerned about Dually because this happens with a fair amount of regularity and I knew that if Rich had any doubts at all, hed drive him right to the vet. But still, its not the best way to start the day.

Then, without realizing it, I entered the wrong airport into my GPS and so drove blissfully for an hour before I arrived at a tiny little airfield no where near Sacramento International. I finally found someone to ask and hit the freeway driving 80 mph hoping not to miss my flight. Fortunately, I had left extra early (which I always do because I hate having to rush and worryexactly what I was doing now). As luck would have it, I made it to the correct airport, still an hour and a half before my flight which was plenty to time to return the rental car, check my bags and get to the gate in time to check my email.

Once safely there I called Rich to check on Dually and found out there was good news and bad news. The good news was that Dually was fineback to his old self and enjoying the day. The bad news was that the house keeper had called to cancel, meaning that with house guests coming the next day, when I got home, Id be making up beds, cleaning toilets and vacuuming. Not exactly what I had in mind. I know, I know, you are thinking I am very spoiled because I have a housekeeper that comes every other week for a few hours. One of the questions I get the most is, how do you do every thing you do? Well, thats one wayI have someone to help me keep my house clean! Fortunately, Rich used his magnanimous powers of persuasion and Megan came after all. So at the end of the day, it wasnt so bad.

After landing in Denver, lugging my huge and heavy bags to the car and driving about 2 ½ hours, I come to my favorite part of the drive home. It is when I top the last little pass (I go over about 5 small passes on the way to and from Denver), I am rewarded with an incredible view of the valley we live in, the Upper Arkansas Valley, and the range of mountains that form the western border, The Collegiate Peaks. These are a range of 14,000+ foot peaks that are just magnificent and they always remind me of how great it is to live here in this mountain paradise. And they have become my symbol that soon I will be home with my husband, my dog and my horses (not necessarily in that order 😉

Today I am scrambling to meet several writing deadlines, go grocery shopping and then be here for the arrival of my dear friends from Kauai. Rich is taking a vacation week from the ski area and he is busy setting up a challenging trail course. We are all going to ride hard the next few days in preparation for the Versatility Ranch Horse clinic and competition we are going to this weekend. Since Dually hasnt been ridden for four days, hell be a little fresh today so some extra riding this week will be just what the doctor ordered. Hopefully by Mondaythe day of the competitionhell be good and relaxed!

Until next time, enjoy the ride!


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Another Day, Another Dollar! Logo

I said, be careful what you wish for. After freezing my tail off the past few weekends in Minnesota, then Massachusetts, then Colorado, today we had triple digit temperatures here in central California. While most everyone in my horsemanship clinic was thoroughly disgusted by the unseasonably warm temperatures here, to me it was a nice change of pace. I actually enjoyed the heat and the sweat, although at times, when the wind died, it was a little intense. My arms, having not seen the sunlight for the past eight months, currently look like> boiled lobster.

My favorite part of any clinic is the beginning, when everyone introduces themselves and talks about how important it is to learn. It is very motivating to me when I am teaching to someone specific goals rather than force feeding the information I think they need. But it funny that no matter what people seemingly varied and individual issues are, it always boils down to the same few subjects leadership and authority confidence, effective communication, better riding skills and finding the right amount of pressure that motivates the horse to change. If these things do not ring a bell, you might want to spend a little time browsing through my website. The other thing I like about the beginning of the clinic is that I always give a talk about horse behavior, my favorite subject. From understanding the difference between learned behavior and instinctive behavior, what the instinctive behaviors of horses are, how the human mind is different than the horse mind understanding herd hierarchy and the communicative behavior of horses there’s so much to learn.

I’ll never tire of talking about it and sharing what I have learned by research and through a lifetime of observation and it is a bonus to me when the clinic participants get into the discussion and I see the light bulb go off over their heads. They have a better understanding of their horse and their own interaction with him. After the behavior discussion, we head to the arena for ground work and put the new-found awareness of the horses natural behavior to a practical application learning to control the horse space and actions learning to control his entire body from his nose to his feet, from his shoulder to his hip. We work through specific exercises that help you establish more authority over the horse, gain his focus and respect and develop a line of communication so that he is looking to you for directives. After a much needed lunch break in the shade, everyone saddled up and went to the arena to work on riding skills. No matter how much ground work you do; no matter how well you can think like a horse; the horse can only rise to your level pf performance when it comes to riding If your lack of riding skill is getting in his way, he cannot do his job no matter how strong his desire. No one ever reaches a level in her riding where she doesn’t have to work on it anymore. No matter how good you are you still have to hone your skills. You always have to work on better balance, better rhythm and better communication with the horse. So at the end of the day, no matter that the clinic is full of varied individual horses and riders, each with their own set of issues, we always return to work on the same fundamentals.

Another day, another dollar. I have enjoyed blogging, though I started it to appease (yes, I can use that word without rebuttal) my aforementioned slave driver. I suppose it is a bit like writing in a diary something I have never done in my life. The weird thing about blogging is that it seems like you are talking to no one. Just writing into thin air, yet it is being released to the whole wide world. I don’t have anyway of knowing if anyone is actually reading my diatribes-except for the two that have bothered to respond food-line-man and my sister thank you, if there is anyone else out there (or if the two of you have other comments), please let me know. Tomorrow is my second favorite part of the clinic, the end. As much as I hate saying goodbye to everyone, it means that soon I’ll be headed home. And as my friend Polly always says, on Sundays, I am like a trail horse turned for home, with a new found energy to get to my destination! Tomorrow they are forecasting double digits instead of triple and I’ll have plenty of sunscreen on hand, so bring it on Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

Fresh Tracks! Logo


Its a typical Friday for me. Here I sit in the Denver airport waiting for my flight to Sacramento. After my morning workout and packing, I hit the road for my weekly threehour drive to the airport. Ill pick up the rental car at the other end, lugging my three 70# suitcases every where I go (not the best part of my job), then head for my hotel. A bonus of traveling so much (besides the perks I get from the airline) is that I have friends almost every where I go and this weekend is no exception. Ill meet a friend I havent seen for a few years for dinner tonight and another one tomorrow night. And Im looking forward to meeting new people and horses at the clinic over the weekend.

Last nights ride on Dually was darn near perfect. With all the moisture weve gotten lately, the arena footing fluffed up nicely and Rich put a perfect groom on it right before we rode (as a former slope groomer, hes diligent about the arena grooming!). We usually ride together in the evenings after he gets home from work. I LOVE riding in a freshly groomed arena as much as powder skiers love fresh tracks! Aside from the nice soft, consistent footing, its a great time to test your riding precision.

With fresh tracks, I like to work on my dressage moves, coming down the centerline in a straight line (nearly impossible) and mapping out my arena with my tracks across the diagonal lines, the middle, the center line and the quarter lines. Its a lot harder than youd think itd be to truly make a straight line.

One thing that occurred to me last night, is that its a whole lot easier to ride dressage with two hands rather than one! Yesterday was my day to ride entirely with one hand in the legal split rein hold (instead of thetrainers hold I usually use with the reins bridgedone tail on each side). When Dually is working really well, I try to practice this, so it is not a foreign concept to me when I get to the show. As I came down the centerline practicing straightness, it occurred to me how much easier it is to make subtle corrections with two hands on the reins and riding on direct contact.  But thats okay; just think how much better you are if you can do it with only one hand on the reins!

Dually is a horse that loves speed. I am never quite sure whether to avoid speed so he isn’t thinking about it or let him go fast for long enough that going slowly starts sounding good to him. Last night, I opted for the latter and it was a good move. We practiced small slow circles then went into big fastreally fastas fast as the footing would allow. After about 5-6 of those, he was staring to think slow, so our transitions back to small slow circles was really good. I think Ill do that more often.

After some soliddry work, I decided to get out a cow for somewet work. What a blast! The little heifer was fresh and Dually was spot on in his boxing (similar to cutting but done with one cow and no turn back help, against the fence). Then we did a little fencing work, driving the cow down the rail, then turning her back on the fence a couple times. Dually loves this because it involves speed. I was really happy that Dually worked so well, especially since Ill be unable to ride him for four days. If Im lucky, I may be able to sneak a ride in Monday night, if I get home early enough. I think were about as ready as we can be for our first competition on Memorial Day.

Now its time to head for my gate and board the plane. Hopefully Ill have the time and energy to blog over the weekend. While most everyone else relaxes on the weekend, its when I go to work!

Until then,


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Be Careful What You Wish For…

It’s a beautiful morning here in the Colorado mountains. After a few inches of wet snow last night, the sun is out, it’s relatively warm, no wind and the snow is melting fast, leaving behind some badly needed moisture. I think I’ve been complaining too much about cold weather because I see on the news this morning that I am headed into record breaking hot weather in central CA this weekend! As I said, be careful what you wish for. So far, the only place I’ve found with perfect weather is Kauai, with a year-round mean temperature of 72°—that’s if you miss the hurricanes.

I had a great ride on Dually yesterday. Because of the wet snow that fell all day, we rode indoors. He’s very mellow in there—it’s the wide open spaces that get him cranked up and thinking about speed. Inside he is quiet as a mouse and yesterday he worked perfectly—even on the mechanical cutting machine. A total joy to ride! I had a few friends visiting so we all rode together and had good fun. Here’s a photo of Dually, too.

That’s what it’s all about—having fun. I want every ride I have to be fun and fulfilling; not aggravating, scary and working on issues. That’s why it pays to have a really well trained horse without issues. In my horse sales program I try to find horses that fit this bill—mature and experienced, well-trained and with great temperaments (and a little eye candy never hurts). I love finding the horses, I love having them here for my friends to ride and I love selling them to the perfect owner and starting the cycle over again. There’s lots of great horses out there, but they are not generally easy to find or cheap! I am fortunate that I get around enough to find a lot of great horses and when I do, I buy them J

My mission in the last couple of weeks has been spring cleaning in my tack room. It was sorely needed after a winter of piling stuff in the corner. I washed old dirty blankets and rags, cleaned out all the unnecessary odds and ends that accumulate and reorganized my tack. It’s so nice to have a clean, well organized tack room! I can actually find stuff.

My biggest problem in the tack room is not throwing out all the old stuff I’ll never use again. And the pile of broken stuff I think I’ll get fixed one day is just getting bigger and accumulating more dirt. But it’s good stuff and I can’t bring myself to throw it out! I do not have that problem in my house; I love getting rid of stuff there. But old tack has sentimental value and it feels good to have lots of stuff. Am I the only one that has this problem?

Toady I’ll get caught upon some writing, then ride. Tomorrow is packing day, to get ready for my clinic in CA this weekend. Then I hit the road again on Friday. It’ll be a fun weekend. I always love going to CA, even if it’s hot. I’m not sorry I wished for it; a little bit of heat will feel good for a change.

Enjoy the ride!


Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

Another Snowy Day In Paradise

Greetings! As I look out my office window, it is snowing hard. We can’t complain too much because we need the moisture badly. My friends from Hawaii are coming next week to visit and I am afraid they might be a little shocked at the weather. About 8 years ago, we got 5 ½ feet of snow on May 5. So in comparison to that, it has been a mild spring. But I’d be happy to have some warm sunny days Yesterday, we had a 12 hour photo shoot and today I am exhausted. My marketing director, TV show producer and personal photographer is Heidi Nyland,”> She is an incredibly talented photographer, journalist and marketing professional; she is also a SLAVE DRIVER! And while I’m whining, I’ll also say she’s responsible for me having to write three columns every month, not to mention the blog 😉 But I do love her. I am sure she’ll upload some pics to the blog.

For the photo shoot, we shot pictures for a year-long series of articles I am doing for The Trail Rider magazine. We must have saddled and un-saddled a hundred times on 5 different horses; not to mention how many times I had to change clothes and put more make-up on top of an increasingly dirty face! Aside from new bio shots and stuff for my website, we also did pictures for articles on despooking, side passing, extending the walk, teaching a horse to stand still for mounting and ground tying. I never knew smiling and riding at the camera could be so much fun. Looks like we’ll be riding indoors today. On days like this, it sure is nice to have the indoor option. The weather’s bad enough that my farrier cancelled his appointment today and he’s pretty tough! As much as I’d like to crawl back in bed with a good book, I’ll get myself motivated to ride.

I’ll be in central CA this weekend for a horsemanship clinic, where I am confident it will be warm! I’ll leave on Friday, work Sat-Sun, then come home on Monday. So if I don’t get a ride in every day I am home, I miss too much time on my horse. Dually is not a horse that can sit around for long. In March I had some back to back trips that caused me to be away from home for 11 days. When I finally got home and rode, he was a wild man! He does like to go. After a couple days of loping miles of circles, he was back to normal. Next weekend (Memorial Day) we are headed to a guest ranch in Granby CO for a Versatility Ranch Horse clinic and competition. It’ll be my first competition this year. I am not sure we are ready, but after the competition, I’ll for sure know where my weaknesses are! I’ve got a big group of friends coming for what we are calling the first annual convention for the Yehaw Sisterhood (even though a few brothers are invited too). I am really excited about it; more so the time spent with friends at a nice resort but the clinic and competition are a bonus. I just hope it doesn’t snow. Until next time. Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

Watch A New Horse Master Episode–A Video Preview! Logo

Hi everyone,
I just found out that this segment of Horse Master with Julie Goodnight–which won’t air until May 28, 2008–will be available to download at! How fun to have the show available online. I thought I’d let you see it here, too. Keep in mind this is just one part of the show–you’ll have to watch the full episode on RFD to see the beginning and end. This part has some juicy and often-needed training bits, though.
This was a fun episode for us to film. The location (we filmed at the Florida Carriage Museum and Resort just south of Ocala) was absolutely gorgeous. It was so chilly while we were there, though. So much for spring break! Kia, the girl in the video, is a great young rider. She wants to be a horse trainer in a few years and she’s well on her way. In this clip, she’s learning to use her seat more than her hands to slow down her barrel horse after a run. She was a good sport to ride in a variety of weather. It rained then we got sunburned then we froze–all in two days’ time.

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

I’m A Roping Fool!


After freezing our tails off yesterday, it’s a beautiful warm sunny day today, here at home in the “Heart of the Rocky Mountains” of Colorado. The last three weekends in a row I have been very cold—first in Minnesota, then in Massachusetts and yesterday here in Colorado. But at least yesterday I has access to all my warm gear—I rode in silk long johns, an arctic fleece T-neck and my warm and toasty oil skin jacket by Outback Trading Co.

In spite of the snowy start and the relentless wind, we had a great time at the roping clinic yesterday. And while I cannot honestly say that I can now rope anything, I think I am definitely better, if for no other reason, than by being forced to practice! Cole (the instructor) made a few much needed corrections to my swing and we threw a lot of loops at the dummies. Then up on our horses we threw at a dummy being pulled on a sled. Finally, we ran after some huge steers with big pointed horns—a little intimidating. I’m not really sure I’d want to catch one.

Dually got pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing—he lives for speed. His power in acceleration is impressive. I did manage to throw one good loop at a steer and almost caught. It was good for me because I think I was prepared to catch, mentally. That’s the thing about roping—it’s one thing to learn how to throw with accuracy and catch something, but once you catch it, that’s when the excitement begins!

Today I am enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning at home (rare for me)—starting with a soak in the hot tub, then a nice workout on the tread mill, then going out to breakfast. Now I am ready for a ride. I think I’ll ride my young horse today and give Dually a well-deserved break. We brought my friend Lucy’s horse home from the clinic with us, so she’ll join us for a ride this morning. Her horse Dodger, is an awesome ranch horse—a handsome devil that I sold her a year ago. He and Lucy both are getting back in shape after a long winter and we’ll keep him for a couple weeks before we all go to a clinic together up in Granby CO.

And now I am off to the barn!


Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

Enjoying My Weekend At Home! Logo

Good day!

It’s a lovely spring day here in the Rockies. Sunny, warm and no wind! Looking forward to my ride today. We’ll get a few cows out and have some fun with them.

Yesterday I got to ride in my BRAND NEW circle Y Flex2 Reiner and I love it! My first impression, picking it up out of the box, was how light it is! It looks like a substantial saddle that ought to weigh a lot, but it is very light weight. My next impression was how comfortable and narrow the seat is, putting you nice and close to the horse without the spread-eagle I normally feel in Western saddles. It’s a beautiful oak-colored saddle that looks awesome on my almost black horse and Dually worked well.

I pulled my old Morgan mare out of retirement yesterday. She foundered about 2-3 years ago and I retired her. But she’s perfectly sound now and I have way too many younger horses to ride and I hated it that she was sitting there getting no attention and getting older fast (she’s only 23). So my friend Chris, who runs a small boarding/lessons operation down the road, found one of her students to lease her for some light recreational riding for the summer.

I’d never sell Pepsea at her age, because I would fear losing control of her. After owning her for 18 years and doing just about everything you can imagine on her (jumping, reining, guiding trail, cow work, lessons, you name it) I think I owe it to her to make sure her twilight years are happy. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly am not a proponent of keeping every horse until they die of old age. In fact, for the most part, I think that is a totally unrealistic theory and I’ve seen many people get themselves in trouble with that opinion. But there are some special horses in our lives that will fit into that category.

Pepsea was pleasantly surprised when I started grooming her, but when I got out the saddle, she turned around and looked at me like, “You have GOT to be kidding!” She thought after 2-3 years of no work that surely she wouldn’t be ridden again. Chris hopped up on her and took her for a spin around the arena and she didn’t miss a lick. Just like she was ridden yesterday. Then the woman who wanted to lease her got on and they did amazingly well together. They both liked each other, enough so that Pepsea will be headed to Chris’s next week. It’ll take a while to get her back in shape, but I think it will be good for her and I know I can trust Chris to take good care of her.

Rich is off today so we can get ready for our clinic tomorrow. It’ll be nice to ride in the middle of the day for a change, instead of waiting until he gets home from work and I get done in the office). I probably won’t have a chance to write tomorrow, since we’ll be in the saddle all day. But I’ll be sure to let you know how we do roping!




Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:

The Men in my Life: Rich and Dually

It’s really hard to try and get a horse ready for competition when I am gone from home so much. When I am home, I make sure I ride every day—but sometimes that’s only 3 days per week. I am so lucky to have a horse like Dually, who is a truly versatile horse — he reins, cuts, ropes and is a joy to ride. He’s SO sensitive that it’s amazing how my position and cues affect his performance. While he is perfectly capable of making mistakes too, I have to recognize that his performance is limited by my riding ability for the sports that are still somewhat new to me. It makes it fun for me to ride and think about these things and play with my position to see how it effects him.

Last night Rich and I went to a cocktail reception here in Salida for a bunch of ski resort marketing people. Although this is not normally my favorite thing to do, I of course am always supportive of my husband and know that he endures endless social events with horsey types and actually, I had a good time. While I was in the food line, a guy put out his hand to me and said, “Hi, I’m Chad.” I of course shook his hand and said, “I’m Julie.” His response was “and who are you with?” I replied, “Oh, I am not really with anyone, I’m just a wife. My husband is Rich,” thinking he would know who Rich was, since it was his ski area hosting the event. Chad’s eyes got big and he smiled and said, “Wow, I’ve never heard anyone introduce themselves that way. How rich is he?” Ha! What a riot. From now on, I’ll be careful of how I introduce myself.