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 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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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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Cowgirls of the Past

March 18, 2014
Famous Cowgirls of the Old West

Cowgirls of yesterday were famous for being bronc riders, sharp shooters, Wild West performers, and Hollywood actresses. They were brave, fun-loving, hard-working, and maybe just a little bit crazy in the head. I love reading their individual stories and lists of accomplishments, and it is so inspiring to look into the history of cowgirls. Not all of them were famous, and it is some of the more obscure stories that I enjoy the most. We’ve all heard of remarkable people like Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, and Dale Evans. But there are so many more wonderful cowgirl stories out there! Here are just a few quotes and excerpts about some amazing horse women:

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Let ‘Em Buck

February 7, 2014
Let 'Em Buck

If you’ve trained a lot of horses, you probably already know that when you’re starting a colt, it’s not always a bad thing to let them buck. But I’ve talked to a few trainers who wholeheartedly disagree with me on the subject, and I’ve heard stories about people who have the mindset that letting a colt buck will ruin them and make them predisposed to bucking. My goal for this post is to weigh the pros and cons, explore the nature of the horse, and hopefully educate the reader.

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Learn While You’re Little

January 28, 2014
Riding Cricket

We recently stayed at a swanky hotel in St. Louis where my husband attended a business conference for his work. The kids and I went along just for fun, the thought of spending three days at an indoor-pool-equipped establishment being our main motivation—yes, the long winter is getting to us! While there, my husband got his cowboy boots shined at the shoe-shine station in the lobby. After seeing the transformation from scuffed to gleaming, our son wanted his little boots shined as well. While he sat and got them polished, one of the hotel managers struck up a conversation by asking our son if he had a horse to go with those boots….

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Women Who Ride

January 14, 2014
Me Riding Penny January 2014

You may have heard about the recent study sponsored by Harley Davidson that deducted that women who ride motorcycles are happier than women who don’t. The study was conducted by Kelton, and interviewed 1,013 adult female riders and 1,016 adult female non-riders. “The findings make it clear that riding a motorcycle greatly improves a woman’s feelings of overall self-worth.” I wonder what a similar study would find, if they interviewed women who ride horses rather than motorcycles?

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30 Things I’m Thankful For

November 29, 2013
Our Horse Herd

I didn’t follow the trend on Facebook of sharing daily posts with something you’re thankful for during the month of November, but mentally and in my prayers I listed many things, and decided to post them here. One of the locals has a good response when he leaves the bank I work at and I tell him, “Have a good day!” He always says, “It is a good day! If it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here.” I like his state of constant thankfulness. But these are some of the things I’m thankful for…

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