On The Road Again…

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Good Day!

Once again, I am headed out for the weekend– this time to Raleigh NC for the Equine Extravaganza horse expo. This is the second year for this expo and the one last year was great—so I’m sure this one will be even better! There aren’t too many expos in the summer—it tends to be a “shoulder season” type of activity. This time of year, horse people are generally pretty busy on the weekends—going to shows, trail rides, clinics, camping, whatever it is that we do with our horses.

Rich is no exception. He and his new horse Diggs are headed out this afternoon to a two-day clinic and one-day competition. He’s unsure about competing on his new horse—he’s only been riding him a week. But it is a schooling show anyway and as long as he doesn’t have unrealistic expectations, it would be a good way to start figuring out what their strengths and weaknesses are. It takes a long time to develop a tight relationship with a horse and there’s no real short cut. It takes thousands of cues and transitions, lots of mistakes and many corrections before your horse can have a true understanding of what you are asking (articulately or inarticulately).  Doing the clinic on Diggs this weekend will give Rich lots of concentrated time on his new horse and with the help of several professionals, help him come to a closer understanding.

In the midst of packing fro my trip this weekend, I had a lovely surprise yesterday from my dear friend and neighbor, Cheryl. She called to say she would pick me up for lunch at precisely 12:15 because she had made a reservation. I thought that was odd, since there’s absolutely no place in Salida where you need a reservation for lunch. But instead, we went to a lovely little day spa where we had manicure (Cheryl), pedicure (me), neck and shoulder massages (both) as we sipped our wine. What a lovely afternoon! Then we did go to lunch and sat out on a great patio overlooking the river and mountains and soaked in the glorious Colorado summer day (it’s a very short season here—so you must enjoy it!). What a treat! I never in a million years would’ve done something like that for myself—but it was SO relaxing! It took some covert planning on Cheryl’s and Brenda’s (my office manager) part, but it was an afternoon well spent.

I got home just in time to ride my horse one more time before leaving. Although I hated to put on socks and boots after getting my first pedicure (for god’s sake, I don’t even own any open-toed sandals—Cheryl had to lend me hers just so I could appreciate my pink toes!). After that mellow afternoon, Dually and I had a really relaxed ride—which is how I wanted to leave it before my trip. I’ve had some interesting revelations on him lately—stemming from an off-handed remark someone made to me a couple months ago, having to do with what my body language looked like while I was riding Dually. Riding a high-test, sensitive horse is really challenging, although rewarding. It’s a what-comes-first thing—the chicken or the egg? I’ve written about this before—does Dually anticipate or do I anticipate his anticipation and subsequently send him a subtle signal?

I see this all the time in clinics with spooky and volatile horses—is the horse causing the reaction in the rider or is the rider causing the reaction in the horse? I know from my experience in clinics that it is usually the rider because if I get up on the horse, riding with confidence and with no pre-conceived notions, the horse immediately relaxes and does fine. So in the past few weeks I’ve been really focusing on this as I ride. And low and behold, if I stay totally neutral and relaxed, so does he!

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Don’t try to prevent your horse from making a mistake. Let him make it, then fix it. That’s the only way he’ll learn. No micro-managing. It’s the same reason why a kid can’t truly learn to ride a bicycle until you take off the training wheels. As long as the crutch is there, he’ll rely on it. But take them away and he has to balance himself or fall down. It’s the same way with a horse. Ask him to do something, then release him. If he makes a mistake, correct him—but then leave him alone to do his job—give him some responsibility to do the right thing. If you constantly micro-manage to prevent him from making a mistake, he is learning the wrong thing—learning to rely on the training wheels. Horses don’t need training wheels—they are very capable animals.

That’s my thought for the day. Soon we’ll be landing in Raleigh and I’ll be scrambling all weekend. More form the road later!

Julie

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Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

Summer Reading

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Good day!

Wow. So this is what it feels like on Monday morning after a relaxing weekend off, like normal people have! It’s tough when your work schedule is opposite the rest of the business world. For me, I mostly work on weekends—so does Rich in the winter. So everyone else expects you to be in the office first thing Monday morning to attend to business, regardless of whether you worked 12 hour days over the weekend and hadn’t had a day off in weeks.

Rich and I had a great three-day weekend at home, got lots of riding in, watched Wimbledon matches (wow- Federer/Nadal match was incredible!), did some back-burner chores and I even had time for my favorite recreational activity—reading!

I started a new book this weekend which is incredible. Although I normally love spy books, this is a different genre, and an awesome story about horse people. My dear friend Polly, a colleague from Lexington KY, sent me the book with “must-read” instructions. Polly and I share books a lot, so I knew it would be good.

It’s called The God of Animals, by Aryn Kyle. Incredibly, it is a first novel for her and I believe it is destined to win awards. It’s a story of grief and family attachments and a young girl, the daughter of a show horse trainer/instructor, whose older sister runs away to marry a rodeo cowboy, leaving the 12 year old girl to deal with the brunt of her family’s heartache and strife. Here’s a lovely excerpt from the first few pages.

“My father was being kind when he said I didn’t have the temperament for showing, because what he meant was that I didn’t have the talent. I couldn’t remember to smile and keep my heels down and my toes in and my elbows tight and my back straight all at the same time. When I focused on smiling, I dropped my reins, and when I thought about sitting up straight, my feet slipped out of the stirrups. My father said that he needed me more outside the ring anyway, but I saw how it was. We had a reputation to maintain and a livelihood to earn. In the end, I wasn’t good for business.

But Nona was good enough for both of us. She smiled and laughed and winked at the judges. Outside the ring she would let little girls from the stands sit on her horse. While she showed them how to hold the reins and where to put their feet, she would aim her voice at their parent’s and say, “You’re a natural!” Then she would flash her smile at their mothers and say, “My daddy gives lessons. You all should come out sometime.”

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books that you hate to finish, so I am savoring it slowly, like a fine scotch. I don’t have a lot of time to read anyway, but this one is hard to put down. I’ve read another great book recently called Modoc, by Ralph Helfer. It is the true story of “the greatest elephant that ever lived” and the boy-turned-man that shares his life. It is a remarkable and inspiring story and a real page turner—hard to believe it’s a true story. Thank you Heidi, for that one (she’s not always the slave driver). I’ll have to reconsider my choice of books, since none of the spy/adventure novels I have read lately are worth mentioning to anyone. Well. There was the one called Quickie that was pretty good.

Now, it’s Monday morning—so I’d better get back to work. No reading or recreating for me this week (although I do get to ride—thankfully that doesn’t count as recreating for me). I head to NC early Thursday for an expo, so it’s a good thing I’m rested up because three 12+ hour days, bookended by two full days of travel, set-up and tear down can take it out of you!

Hope you find some time for reading!

Julie

 

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Julie Goodnight Horsemanship Training · http://www.juliegoodnight.com
Horse Master TV Show— Airing weekly on RFD-TV beginning January, 2008 · http://www.horsemaster.tv
PO Box 397· Poncha Springs CO 81242
phone (719) 530-0531 · fax (719) 530-0939


 

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

It’s Summertime!

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…And the living is easy.

Hello friends,

What a relaxing few days it has been! Just to update you on the new horse, we had a nailing biting couple days waiting for the results of the vet check. Diggs showed a positive reaction to the flex test on the left front and right hind; so xrays were ordered. Fortunately the xrays did not show anything surprising—the left front was clean and the right hock showed some arthritic changes that would be expected on a horse that has performed to Digg’s level since he was a three year old. We were not under the illusion that his joints would be as smooth as a baby’s bottom—just needed to know they were manageable.

So, it’s official! Diggs is Rich’s new horse and they had their first “official” ride together after the positive results came in from the vet exam. They looked awesome together—what a great match! Rich rode Diggs beautifully—much more relaxed than when we were trying him out. Diggs was right there with him every step of the way and I couldn’t help but notice the sh*#-eating grin on Rich’s face as he rode.

We’ve started Digg’s on Cosequin ASU, a high-potency joint health product for performance horses and I think once that takes hold and his conditioning program kicks in, he’ll be good to go.

Our July 4th celebration was pretty mellow—worked around the house, rode, BBQ at the neighbors, watched the fireworks in town from here—some 7 miles away. In bed by 10:30 and up early this morning to enjoy more hanging around the house. Putzed around in the garden, did some work in the office and now I am headed out to the arena for a late afternoon ride.

We have some friends coming over for a BBQ tonight, then we’ll play a little pool. We are hopeful that this will be one of those rare summer evenings when it is actually warm enough to sit outside and eat. Those nights are few and far between up here at 8,000 feet above sea level, but we have the deck heaters to keep us warm as long as the wind is not too bad.

What a great weekend; and still one more day to go! It doesn’t get any better than that. I hope you are enjoying some relaxing time with friends and family this weekend.

Julie

 

 

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

Too Many Horses– Not Enough Time!

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Greetings!

Boy, it’s great to be home and to be able to ride every day! Rich’s new horse arrived Monday night. It was dark by the time they got home so our welcoming committee, consisting of my friends and neighbors, couldn’t see much of the liver colored horse in the dark. But first thing Tuesday morning, we were all eager to see him again. He’s a gorgeous horse and a sweet heart—at least to people. I hope to have some pictures to post soon.

His name is “Chics Dig Him” but he’s called Diggs. I don’t know what it is about Rich but he’s going from a horse named Tuckers Loverboy to this. I can just hear the announcer now as he rides into the show ring, “And now, here’s Rich Moorhead and chicks dig him!” (I know at least one chick digs him—that’s me!). Actually, I think that mare’s (and the chicks) would really dig this horse because he’s one handsome hunk of horse flesh.

Diggs let the geldings know right away that there was a new kid in town and that he would be a force to be reckoned with, posturing and squealing for their benefit. Most of them went the other way, wanting no part of this stallion. But my younger horse, Gunner, thought he’d strut his stuff in front of Diggs.

While the geldings were out yesterday in their turnout, we put Diggs in the alleyway that runs behind the barn so he could stretch his legs a little. There was a gate that prevented him from getting too close to the turnout pen. He went up to the gate and pushed on it twice with his shoulder to see how much give hit had. Then he calmly turned around, walked back about 100’, turned back toward the gate, ran at it full speed and bumped it off the hinges with his shoulder. Not a mark on him but the gate went flying! It was an impressive show for the geldings and by that time even Gunner decided it was okay for Diggs to be king of the mountain.

Although Diggs has no qualms about being strong to the geldings, as soon as you put a halter on him, he’s mister manners and you can stand him right next to another horse and he won’t even look at him. Nonetheless, his little display yesterday may have bought him a date with the vet and a sharp knife a little sooner than we had planned.

Today Diggs will have his vet exam and we’ll know for sure at that point that we’ll keep him. I don’t expect any problems, even though I’ve been having bad dreams about that. We are fortunate to have known this horse for some time, know the sellers well and know that they have stellar reputations.  So I am not too worried.

Dually and I had a good work yesterday. I’m working a little more on practicing his reining maneuvers. This is not something I practice too much because he’s pretty good at it all. But I’ve noticed that if I don’t practice enough, his maneuvers become a little rusty. We did a lot of counter bending, counter canter, then worked on spins, roll backs and stops. It’s a couple weeks before our next competition, so we’ve got some time.

Maybe I’ll have new horse pictures tomorrow!

Until then,

Julie

 

 

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

I Love Shopping– That Is, For Horses!

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Hello,

It’s been nice to be home for a few days—long enough to relax a little and get some chores done around the place. I wish I had more time to garden. I gave up vegetable gardening a long time ago, not from lack of interest but from lack of time, but I still enjoy flower gardening. Now I am down to just planting a few pots and an herb barrel and it’s all I can do to keep them going.

Had a nice mellow ride on Dually yesterday. It was nice to reflect on some of the things I learned at the clinic last weekend. He’s such a mellow fellow when I can ride him every day. I also got some good work done with one of my sale horse—a handsome little dun cutting horse—and worked with Dianna (who rides for me) to further him along with his training. We got chased out of the arena by lightening and rain.

Rich and I drove down to Alamosa to look at a horse for  Rich at a friend’s training barn, Blue Allen. He’s a successful cowhorse trainer that we’ve come to know through the years. We looked at an 8 y/o stallion named “Chics Dig Him” (Hollywood Dunit on the topside and Smart Chic Olena on the bottom). Blue has had “Digger” since he was a yearling and has done all the training and showing on him, starting out at the 3 y/o reined cowhorse futurity. Digger was Blue’s first show horse and then he was Blues’ wife’s first show horse, so they were both pretty attached. And I can see why because he is a nice horse and a very handsome gentleman. He’s a gorgeous and classic stock horse with a very kind and gentle temperament

It looks like Digger will be coming to live with us next week and Rich is officially entering the realm of too many horse to ride and not enough time. He’s not real keen on the idea of selling Tucker but I hate to see a horse sitting idle, especially such a great horse, so I am hoping he’ll change his mind. He’s still working on his goal to earn enough points for Tucker’s ranch horse champion award, but I think he’ll get that one pretty soon. So we’ll see what happens. If I were Rich I’d be counting the minutes to get the new horse home, but he seems much more patient about it than me.

I have a clinic in Colorado Springs this weekend so Rich and the boys (Tucker and Dually) will be going with me to the clinic. It’s such a nice treat for me to be able to teach and ride my own horse. This is a clinic to benefit Renee’s Friends, a fundraising group for breast cancer research. I am hoping we’ll have a great turnout. It’s been full to riders for some time but there’s always room for more spectators, especially for such a great cause!

Now it’s time to head to the barn for our evening ride.

More later,

Julie

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

Nuttin’ But Cuttin’

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Greetings!

Its been a fun and relaxing weekend for both Rich and me, although our boys, Tucker and Dually, probably couldve thought of better things to do. Weve been at Cactus Creek Ranch, between Pueblo and Colorado Springs, for the annualNuttin but Cuttin clinic, sponsored by the National Versatility Ranch Horse Association and organized and executed by our good friends, Tim and Cindy Rose.

Friday morning I put a good work on Dually before we left since I was gone all week and he hadnt been ridden. Although he gets turned out and longed when I am out of town, its not quite the same thing as working him. Hes a horse that needs steady work to stay mellow and focused. After 4-5 days of no riding at all, hes a little hot under the collar. But a good hard workout usually changes his tune substantially. Then after a nice bath for the two boys, we were on the road.

The NVRHA clinics and competitions are always fun, with quite a bit of socializing thrown in for good measure. The people that are regulars become good friends and thenew hires are always welcomed with open arms and the offer of a good cold beer. Its a diverse group of peoplesome experienced riders with accomplished horses and some just starting out on whatever horse they happen to have. Some young, some olda nice even split between men and women.

This particular clinic is strictly ranch cuttingno competitionand only two days. There were three clinicians: Anne Hutchinson of Oklahoma, Jay Hensen of Kansas and Gary Campbell of Colorado, and a total of 140 head of cattle. We worked a half day with each clinician, then for the last half of the day on Sunday we rode through a mock class, just like its done in competition.

I got some excellent work on Dually. As always, hes a little fresh at first and requires some correction to get his mind right. Hes so cowy and quite athleticable to make some really big moves on a cowso it is sometimes hard to contain his enthusiasm. But once he realizes he has to fly right, hes all business. Nursing along his back injury is always a little tricky for me, but this weekend he worked really well and felt great.

Rich had some really nice works on Tucker too. Both of our horses are excellent cutters but it is always hard to let go of them and let them do their jobs. Laying your hand down on his neck once youve put him on the cow is a hard thing to do but you have to trust him to do his job and then correct him when he ,makes a mistake. Cutters are supposed to work with little or no guidance from the rider. But everyone gets trapped into thinking their horse is going to make a mistake and trying to prevent it by guiding him through the whole thing.

The problem with that is two fold: one, your horse will never learn to do it on his own if you are constantly micromanaging him. Two, no horse can learn anything unless you let him make a mistake and then correct him. We all learn through our mistakes (hopefully). I talk about this a lot in my clinicslet him make a mistake and then fix itdont try to prevent the mistake in the first place.

Speaking of clinic, next weekend Ill be teaching a clinic at this exact same location, Cactus Creek Ranch. The clinic benefitsRenees Friends a group that raises money for breast cancer research. I hope there will be lots of people and I know we will all have a good time!

All the best,

Julie

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Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

Hall Of Fame Cheeseburger

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Hello friends!

I spent most of this week in Amarillo TX for meetings at the International Headquarters of the American Quarter Horse Association. Although sitting in meetings all day is not on the top of the list of my favorite things to do, I have to say, I really enjoyed the trip. Well, most of it. The travel part left something to be desired. Its only a 6 hour drive to Amarillo, but instead I flew and it took me 12 hours door-to-door. Normally I fly United, but on this trip I had to fly American. Because I rack up a lot pf miles every year (about 75,000) I get a LOT of perks with United. Itll be a while before I venture outside the fold again.

The meetings were about AQHAs Professional Horsemans Association and how to expand this branch of the organization to better serve its members. AQHA is the largest breed organization in the world, recently registering its 5 millionth horse. It was a very productive meeting and an honor and pleasure to meet some of the top horsemen (and women) in all of the US and Canada.

Taking a tour of AQHAs inner sanctum was most impressive. There are nearly 300 employees and from what I could see, they are all dedicated, happy and hard working. The corporate culture there is remarkable and clearly it is an organization that highly values its staff. Ive had the pleasure of working with some of AQHAs prominent staff members before and I have to say, they are an impressive lot.

We also got to tour the museum and Quarter Horse hall of fame. It was so interesting to see the history of the breed, all its most prominent horses through the decades and the men and women that made history along side their horses. The timeline was intertwined with world history, giving great perspective on what was happening when.

A little wining and dining on the town made up for a long day around the board room table but I have to say, the best meal I had was at the Stockyard Café—a classic greasy spoon, hall of fame diner. Its located at the Amarillo stockyards and totally full of atmosphere, from the matronly waitresses who could whip out the food before you could get your napkin in your lap to the best green chili cheese burger I think Ive ever had.

I got home late Thursday night, just in time to unpack and repack and hit the road on Friday with Rich and the horses. We are headed to a cutting clinic for two days of fun, fun, fun!

More later!

Julie

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Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

More About The TV shoot…

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Happy Day!

Finally it’s summer here (I hope) and I am actually wearing shorts and getting some color on my pathetically white legs (occupational hazard). Last week, during the shoot, we had two nights of frost, unusual for June and I lost some basil plants.

As I mentioned in the last post, we filmed five really good episodes last week. They will air on Horse Master July 30th, August 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th.

The first episode we shot was about a mare that kicked and bit other horses when she is ridden in company. Actually, I didn’t think her problem was too severe and once I showed the owner how and when to correct her, the mare was pretty good. She just had never really been taught that that was unacceptable behavior.  This episode is about a very fundamental rule that all horses must learn—whenever humans are present, NO herd behaviors are allowed to be displayed and no interaction can take place between horses. They are perfectly capable of learning this rule but it has to be enforced with the harshest correction because this is a fundamental safety issue for both the humans and horses.

The second episode was about a spoiled pony. I was really impressed that Zeke, the 12 y/o owner, was able to change his way of handling the horse right away and the horse totally responded. The only thing lacking in that equation was leadership on Zeke’s part and once he stepped up to the plate, the mare was suddenly a perfect pony. BIG change in that horse! Mainly because of the big change in Zeke.

Our third episode was an 18 y/o Morgan/QH mare that had been used all her life as a cow pony and trail guide horse. She was a really sweet mare with an aggravating habit of walking off while you mount. Again, this is an example of a horse that was not trained properly—she clearly thought this was the right thing to do. I showed her new owner, Shantell, a simple exercise that would teach the horse to stand. Surprisingly, the mare totally got it the very first time I did the exercise! There’s a Q&A on my website about this exercise.

Fourth, we had Dave Currin, president of the National Versatility Ranch Horse Assn. www.nvrha.org. This episode will be all about the complicated and challenging competition, demonstrating each class and explaining the rules. With Dave, we worked on refining his cue for the flying lead change, which is required in the reining portion of the Working Ranch Horse class (reining, working cow and roping). Mainly what Dave’s horse needed was a pre-signal for the lead change—she needs to know what is coming. Just by preparing a little sooner for the lead change, his mare was able to pick up her lead change much smoother, with less cross-canter.

Finally, we had Linda and her Arab gelding, Stinger. In the 4 years that Linda has had Stinger, he has been riding “inverted”, with his head up in the air and his back hollowed out, rushing at the trot and canter. Linda’s main goal was to get him to slow down, put his head down and relax so that she could ride him on endurance rides. What I noticed right off the bat was that Stinger had a very poor saddle fit, with the front of the endurance saddle perched high on his shoulders and the back digging in hard into his loins. This “uphill” position of the saddle also positioned Linda poorly, with her leg way in front and her weight pressing on the cantle. This was most obvious when she tried to canter him—the canter requires him to round his back—so every time she cantered him he would crow hop and try to run off. It was a quick and easy fix for this little horse. All we did was change the saddle—putting my Circle Y Flex2 reining saddle on him—and he was a whole new horse. It was interesting and satisfying to see the big change in the horse and Linda was thrilled.

Now it’s back to regular life for me. I am trying to get more time in the saddle on my horse in preparation for some ranch horse events. Hopefully, things will be slowing down a little bit for me!

Until next time,

Julie

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

What A week!

Hello friends!

Its been a long week with hardly any room to breathe! No time to write on my blog, workout, soak in the hot tub or barely even eat!

Last weekend I had a great clinic in Vancouver WA on Saturday and Sunday. It was an easy clinic with a great group of riders who made tons of progress with their horses and their riding (those two are closely related).

On Monday morning I left for the airport at 4:30 am, arriving in Denver at 10:30, just in time to meet my film crew and make the three hour trek home to Salida. After the crew had a chance to look around the place and find all the good filming spots, we all sat down for a meeting over dinner to coordinate the next three days of filming, during which we would film five episodes of Horse Master.

It was absolutely wonderful to have the help of some of my best friends at this shoot. Twyla, who worked for me for years and helped me teach and train, helped supervise the practice sessions for the participants. My dear friend and neighbor, Cheryl, organizes my wardrobe and keeps me dressed right. Lucy, a close friend of many years, was there to meet and greet the participants in the show and do what she does bestkeep everyone in good spirits and be the ultimate cheerleader; she also helped get horses ready. Allie, a young friend of Cheryls was drafted into being a grip (show biz term for go-fer) and helped take care of my horse for me. She and Dually fell madly in love with each other; in fact, Allie asked her father if he would buy Dually for her if she promised to never have a boyfriend (shell grow out of that soon!).

We also enjoyed (and abused) the help of two representatives from our sponsors: Tara from Nutramax Labs and Anne from Circle Y saddles. They both jumped in and got their hands dirty and helped with some valuable input on the show.

Of course, as always, I relied heavily on my professional crew. Heidi is the show producer and calls all the shots. She points me where to go and tells me what to say (not that I always listen). I fondly refer to her as my slave-driver and this week, she lived up to her name fully! Our camera crew was Bo and Steve; two highly talented videographers/editors, whose technical assistance was critical to the quality of the show.

Last but not least, I relied heavily (as always) on Brenda, my office manager. She was the logistics queen and kept everyone together, made sure we all had food and drink and all the props we needed. This on top of running the office at the same time. And of course, my dear husband Rich was busy grooming the arena, fixing fence, hanging banners and being the all-around fix-it guy. It takes a lot of people to make a TV show!

If you havent seen the show yet, its about a horse owner and their horse and how they might fix problems or improve their performance. Check it out each Wednesday at 5:30 EST or reruns on Thursday and Saturday nights on RFD-TV (Dish 9398 or Direct TV 379).

The show is the horse equivilant of the show called Super Nanny. We film five episodes at a time, starting with getting some before footage where they show us the problem. Then there is an interview with the cast member during which the B Roll of their before footage is inserted. In the next segment, I work with the horse to sort him out then show the owner what they need to do to resolve the problem. Then the cast member has a day to practice (with Twyla supervising and making corrections); the next day we come back and film the progress theyve made and talk about where to go from there.

We had five really cool episodes in this shoot and all of the horses made dramatic improvements (partly because their owner made dramatic improvements). There was Karen, whose cranky mare was a kicker and tried to bite and kick horses around her. Then there was Zeke, a young man with a very spoiled pony who dragged him around and walked all over him. And Shawntel, whose new horse had a going problem, not standing still for mounting and walking off without a cue. Dave, president of NVRHA (see the C Lazy U editions of my blog for more day by day stories about NVRHA) brought his show horse and demonstrated all the phases of versatility ranch horse competition. Dave needed to work on refinement in his riding and in particular on his flying lead changes for the reining pattern.

And finally there was Linda and her horse Stinger, who were quite possibly the most interesting episode of the week. What initially seemed like a training problem turned out to be a physical problem caused by an ill-fitting saddle. Once I put my Circle Y Flex2 Reining saddle on him and he transformed right before our eyes into a completely different horse!

Tomorrow, Ill fill you in on the grueling shoot schedule that we followed and how we dealt with the 12 hour days and the volatile mountain weather.


Until then, ride hard but ride safely!

Julie

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
http://www.juliegoodnight.com
http://www.horsemaster.tv

C Lazy U — The Final Episode!

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Hello friends!

Here I sit, 38,000′ above sea level, in route to Portland OR for a clinic this weekend in Vancouver WA. I love going to the Pacific NW—it’s one of my favorite parts of the country and I have lots of friends there. I hear it’s cold and rainy there, but as my father reminded me, it’s not really summer yet. As they say in CO, summer is from July 1st to July 4th!

If I don’t finish up on the last day of the C Lazy U VRH event, I may never be able to go on with my life, so it is my intention to put this incredibly good time to rest with this installment of my blog. When I left off last time, half of the competition day was complete at lunch time, with all 38 riders having completed Conformation, Ranch Cutting and Ranch Riding. The only remaining classes were Ranch Trail and Working Ranch Horse– the nemesis of all VRH competitors.

BTW, I might mention that for me, this day started at about 5:30 am when I went down to feed the horses. Dually, a normally finicky eater, did not touch a bite of his breakfast. I thought that was odd, seeing’s how I couldn’t eat breakfast either, feeling sick to my stomach with the thought of the Working Ranch class. In fact, neither one of us ate much all day—both of us nibbling on a few pieces of hay during the lunch break.

It’s a long, grueling day to complete this competition—your horse has to be warmed up and ready to go by 8:00a. If you’re riding in the advanced class, as Rich and I were, and you have to do cutting first, that requires a lot of warm up. And if you are riding an over-zealous cow-eating monster like Dually, it requires even more. Finding the right amount of warm up for your horse to be ready and focused is an individual thing and something you have to learn by trail and error. I was really happy that at this show, I figured out the complicated timing between classes, the right amount of loping I needed to do to keep Dually both warmed up and focused and I was able to think my way through the hard classes without that “deer in the headlights” look n my face.

For Rich and I, the trail class was first. It was a pretty simple pattern—gate opening, bridge, trot poles (more like telephone poles), log drag in a figure eight (a little tricky when you circle left and the rope goes behind your horse’s tail), side pass, de-bridle, ground tie. This stuff is pretty easy for Dually and we got through the pattern almost flawlessly. Then it was time to sit and wait as my stomach turned for the challenging Working Ranch Horse class. Naturally, I was one of the last riders to go SYMBOL 76 f “Wingdings” s 10

Working ranch horse is a timed class in which you have 6 minutes to complete all four phases of the class. It requires you to first ride a reining pattern, then you call for your cow and a single cow is let into the arena; then you “box” the cow at the end of the arena (which means you try to keep him at the center of the rail and show that your horse can control the cow); then you take the cow down the long rail, past the center marker, turn him around, pass the center marker again and turn him back—making two turns at a fairly high speed. Finally, when your fence work is done, you get your rope out, build a loop and rope him and stop him. Theres a LOT going on in this one class and you really have to think your way through.

For Dually and I, the reining pattern is easy. Actually, for Dually, it’s all easy—I’m the one that’s a little green on some of the cow work. Dually was a little worked up about being one of the last horses to go and started off a little hot on the reining but then settled into his job. Once the cow was let in, he was all business. We had a cow that was just right (theres a little bit of luck of the draw here)he gave us a challenge but was not a wild thing. We did a fine job of boxing and putting into play what I had learned from Sandy Collier the day before, I executed perfect strategy and got my cow lined up to go down the rail nicely, turning him back in two quick turns. I had plenty of time and couldve showed my horse a little more but I didnt want to get too fancy and take unnecessary risks.

After the second turn, I backed off the cow as I got my rope down to build a loop. I had set up my rope perfectly so in short order I had the loop I needed and was ready to throw. When I looked up, I was approaching the sweet spot in the arena where Merrit had showed me was the perfect place to throw. As I started swinging, the loop caught on my arm so I had to swing a extra time. Then I let it fly and the loop settled perfectly over the cows head.

Momentarily, I was SHOCKED I had actually caught, but my instincts kicked in and I kicked up Dually and rode to the cow, gathering up the slack in the rope so that I could dally. Dually had me in perfect position the whole time and he knows his job so well that it made it easy for me. We dallied and stopped the cow to the cheers of the crowd (all eight of whom were my friends 😉

What fun! My first cow in competition and we rode the whole working ranch horse class with strategy and thoughtfulness. By roping the cow I feel like a huge monkey has been lifted off my back.

As I said, because this schooling competition did not have an open division, my scores did not count for anything other than letting me know where I am at. If we had counted, I think we wouldve done pretty well, especially since we did well in halter. So I have to be happy with that.

After the awards ceremony, where our group picked up LOTS of ribbons, we all jumped in a can and headed to Grand Lake for a lovely dinner and many toasts. The next morning we hit the road and headed home with the horses, tired, but with lots of wonderful memories. It took several days before we were all rested back to normal.

Rich and I head to a cutting clinic in a couple weeks then well try to get in another event. I have almost all of July and August to focus on riding and training and showing and I am really looking forward to that. Finally I have the story finished!

Until next time,

Julie

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Competition Day At C Lazy U

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Hello again,

After two days and two nights at the five-star (AAA and Mobile) guest ranch,  HYPERLINK “http://www.CLazyU.com www.CLazyU.com, 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 “http://www.NVRHA.com www.NVRHA.com 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 “http://juliegoodnight.com/horses/dodger.html http://juliegoodnight.com/horses/dodger.html , 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!

Julie

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C Lazy U, Part 2

Greetings!

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 “http://www.salidachamber.org/ http://www.salidachamber.org/ . 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 “http://nvrha.org/docs/CLazyUFlyer.pdf http://nvrha.org/docs/CLazyUFlyer.pdf . 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,

Julie

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
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The C Lazy U Experience

Greetings!

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 “http://www.clazyu.com www.clazyu.com.

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 “http://www.nvrha.org www.nvrha.org, 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

Julie

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
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http://www.horsemaster.tv

Good Horses, Good Friends, Good Food & Drink

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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. http://nvrha.org/  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 http://clazyu.com/. 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!

Julie

 

 

Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
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http://www.horsemaster.tv

There’s No Place Like Home!

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Greetings!

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!

Julie

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Please visit Goodnight’s sites for more information and training tips:
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http://www.horsemaster.tv