Young Horses in Training

November 26, 2014
Our Young Horses Cletus and Bluebird

As mentioned in a previous post, we recently took our two untrained horses out to South Dakota for training. Due to me being pregnant with our fourth child, the training was going to be postponed for another nine months at least, and we really wanted to see these two colts started as soon as possible. So in October they made the trip out to Mission, SD, to spend at least a month with a horse training family.

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Cowgirl Boots

November 18, 2014
New Boots

I am celebrating! This is officially my 200th blog post, and in honor of the event, I am getting a new pair of cowgirl boots! You might have seen my previous post with a picture of my old riding boots that I’ve had since tenth grade. They are a size too big (men’s, I believe) and scraped and worn in spite of a recent oiling. They’re good for working and riding in. But believe it or not, that is my only pair of boots. So I am boot shopping for some cowgirl boots with style.

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Leather Honey

November 15, 2014
Leather Honey Conditioner for Boots

I got a really cool gift in the mail last week! It was a free sample of Leather Honey that the manufacturer wanted me to try out and see if I liked. I was happy to oblige because I have so much leather that needs cleaned! I planned to clean my saddle, favorite belt, boots, and then start on my husband’s saddle. There are so many uses for this kind of product, and it was great to receive a complete set of Leather Honey cleaner, conditioner, and polishing cloths.

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South Dakota Bound

October 23, 2014
Bluebird in South Dakota

You might be wondering what’s going on with my new mare Bluebird. I got her in April, after my sister in Idaho called and asked if I’d like to have her, and we had her shipped all the way to Iowa. She has fit in well with our other four horses, but summer was busy and she was underweight and I just didn’t find the time to work with her at all. She’s five years old, and still not broke, but I was mostly concerned with putting weight back on her. But I have been feeling bad about letting her go so long without training.

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Kip Fladland Training Clinic, Part 2 — Horsemanship

September 30, 2014
Penny and I at a Kip Fladland Training Clinic

The riding part of the Kip Fladland Training Clinic that I went to a few weeks ago seemed to go so much faster than the groundwork part. Maybe it was because I’m not used to that much walking, I don’t know, but I was sure tired out! The morning’s work was good for us, as I think it gave us a really good focus for the riding part to follow.

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Kip Fladland Training Clinic, Part 1—Groundwork

September 19, 2014
My Drawing of Kip Fladland

Last Saturday I had the privilege of attending a Groundwork/Horsemanship training clinic with Kip Fladland, of LaRiata Ranch near Griswold, Iowa. It was the first horse training clinic I have ever been to. I’ve been around natural horsemanship training my whole life, having grown up next door to Kevin Wescott (a Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt style of trainer), who helped me get started training horses when I was a kid. But that was twenty years ago, and I’m needing to expand my groundwork techniques, and am always eager to learn more things I should be doing with my horses.

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Here Comes Fall

September 8, 2014
Here Comes Fall

Fall is my favorite time of year to go horseback riding. I am partial to summer, since I was born in August (my mother has a theory that the season you were born in is the one you like best; for instance, I like being hot, and don’t mind sweating; I hate the cold, and winter is my least favorite season), but summer is often so busy with gardening, vacations, kids’ activities, and things that can only be done in summer. I just never have time to ride in the summer, and so when fall arrives it is such a relief.

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Equine Colic

August 26, 2014
Equine Colic

We spent last Saturday, as we do most weekends, out at the farm. The horses are turned out to graze the green grass in the farmyard while my husband and I work in the garden and our kids play with the kittens and ride bikes and such. My brother in law and his wife had planned to go to the city for the day, so they left their three year old daughter and six month old baby with us. We were getting along well and having an enjoyable afternoon until I looked over at the group of horses and noticed Daisy just standing there, not eating. I immediately thought, “She’s colicking.” And I turned out to be right.

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Riding in Summer

July 22, 2014
Riding Daisy Down A Gravel Road

Summertime is busy. I love summer, but there is just so much going on, so much garden work to do, so many kids’ activities, so many vacations….nope, I am not complaining! But here it is nearing the end of July, and I finally got my saddle out and dusted it off and discovered that my stirrups were still set long from the last time I rode it…which was back at the first of April when Penny bucked me off! We rode at the end of May in Idaho, but here a month and a half later, my own horses have not been ridden all summer. I am just now finally get back to it!

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The Best Horse Trails In Iowa

June 24, 2014
The Best Horseback Riding Trails In Iowa

I was recently asked to write a guest post for Equitrekking.com about the best horseback riding trails in Iowa. They are conducting a 50 State Trail Riding Project, and needed a post for good horseback riding trails in Iowa; so they contacted me to see if they could have permission to reprint my post on the Pierce Creek Trails near Essex, Iowa. I told them “sure”, but that I could do a little better, and I set out on a mission to complete a descriptive guide to my favorite horse riding trails around the state.

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Sights From The Saddle

June 20, 2014
Sights From The Saddle

We visited my parents in Idaho around the end of May. They live in a beautiful valley in the southeast part of the state where they raise beef cattle, Quarter Horses, and mules. We spent a week out there riding horses, hiking on mountain trails, enjoying their western scenery, and catching up on life among the Lewis family. I took two cameras, and when I got home there were over 700 photos on my memory cards! So this blog post is to share some of the sights I saw, most of them taken from the back of a horse.

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Cattle Drive up Pass Creek

May 30, 2014
Riding Sage On A Cattle Drive

We extended our stay in Idaho a couple extra days so that we wouldn’t miss their annual cattle drive where they take their cow and calf herd fifteen miles up into the mountains. It is an all-day event, starting early and ending late, and involves a lot of horseback riding and beautiful scenery. We didn’t want to miss it! All week my sister Karmen and I had been getting horses ready. Karmen put shoes on four horses so that their feet wouldn’t wear out on the rocky trail. I rode Donegal to give her a little refresher so she would be well-adjusted to being ridden again, as my dad was going to ride her on the drive and he is seventy years old and still recuperating from his accident that broke ribs last November. Karmen planned to ride her young mule Garnet, and I was going to take Stormy, the young mare I’d been riding all week.

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A Vacation With Horses

May 28, 2014
On Vacation Riding Horses

I’m on vacation this week. No, not sunning on some beautiful beach somewhere like most people would think of, but in my opinion this is better—I’m visiting my family in Idaho and spending a great percentage of my time horseback. I usually refer to my folks’ place as a “working cattle ranch”, with emphasis on the “working!” I am not used to this much physical exertion, andevery muscle aches, my arms and neck are sunburned, and I am saddle sore. But this is my kind of vacation!

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Tres Caballos

May 26, 2014
Riding Horses At My Parents' Ranch in Idaho

It’s not often I get to ride three different horses in one day—much less, ride new colts and just-started horses, which is one of my favorite things. I’m in Idaho, visiting my parents and sister, and besides enjoying family time over the Memorial Day weekend and following week, our goal was to put some rides on their colts. They have twenty head in their horse and mule herd, and they are so busy with irrigating their alfalfa fields, putting up hay, and caring for their cattle that training horses gets put off. So I am always anxious to get some horses started or do more riding when we visit

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Cowgirl Art

May 14, 2014
Cowgirl Art

I have become a horse collector, evidently. There are five of them in my corral, and I simply cannot turn down the chance to add another to my collection. My most recent addition came all the way from Idaho, a gift from my little sister. She’s a pretty blue roan mare named Bluebird, and I just love her. I’m heading out to visit the Idaho ranch soon, and decided to surprise my sister with a gift in return, so I found a beautifully framed horse print that I know she’ll love.

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Branding Smoke

May 6, 2014
Branding Smoke

Branding smoke….a fragrance that isn’t likely to be bottled and marketed by Dior or AirWick anytime soon, but nontheless a smell that evokes strong memories, pulling me into a reminiscent state of mind. I started helping brand calves when I was five years old, back when getting to go along for daily ranch work alongside my dad and siblings was what I lived for. Considering that a normal five year old would probably recoil at the sight of what goes on at a branding, I admit my abnormality of looking forward to branding days when I was a kid.

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My New Horse

April 12, 2014
My New Horse From Idaho

You can never have too many horses, right? My sister from Idaho called me the other day and offered me her beautiful blue roan mare. I didn’t know what to say, other than, “Please and thank you.” Other things went through my head, such as how will I get her here, it’s twelve hundred miles to Iowa from Idaho, and I already have four horses that I don’t work with as much as I should! But there was no way I could turn her down.

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Know When To Hold ‘Em

April 8, 2014
Getting Bucked Off A Horse

That old Kenny Rogers song came to mind today, as I was thinking over the happenings of my weekend. In terms of horses, you should never be too sure of a horse. Riding horses is always a gamble. There are no sure bets, and you can win or lose with a stroke of luck, good or bad. I always say, “That’s the way the cookie crumbled.” And there’s no predicting it, how events are going to go or what exactly is going to take place. I think the cards were stacked against me in the hand I was dealt on Saturday!

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Dorothy’s Adventure

April 4, 2014
Dorothy's New Adventures

You might remember my previous post regarding Dorothy the Hereford Cow. She has been part of our family for six years now, and we have grown fond of her. But Dorothy cannot have a baby calf, having suffered a stillborn and difficult birth in her third year, and so ever since she has just been a companion animal at our farm. If you keep horses or livestock, you know that it costs a lot to feed a large animal, and we raise beef cattle and aren’t really in the business of keeping cows as pets. So we have continually weighed our options and questioned ourselves on Dorothy’s purpose in life. We did not want to send her to the auction, knowing she would only sell as a slaughter animal. So we decided to try to find a good home for her as a pet cow, and try to get a little money for her as well, since we’d like to buy a mother cow to replace her.

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Sugar

April 2, 2014
Training A New Horse Named Sugar

I got a phone call last weekend out of the blue. The guy had been searching online for horse trainers in the area and found an ad I had placed probably eight years ago (before I had kids) when I was looking to take in outside horses to train. He wondered if I could help him with two horses he was wanting trained, and me being the horse enthusiast I am, I said “Sure.” I had to follow that up with a lengthy explanation of how I am a mom of three, work full time, and almost never have the time to ride anymore–but I assured him that I could help him put some rides on these horses of his.

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