Monday, December 2, 2013

25 Questions

I borrowed these questions from a couple of people who posted answers over a five day span. There were a lot of show questions, which have zero application for those of us who don't show, so they have been replaced by different questions. Enjoy.

1. Most Influential Person on Your Riding?

This is a hard question for me. I think the most influential person in my childhood was my mother. She took me riding when I was a toddler, got me my first pony at the age of eight, sat in a lawn chair and watched me gallop around her for hours on the front lawn, both on my pony and on my own feet. She figured out how to get me my first horse, my first saddle and didn't once tell me I needed to get rid of my horses when she divorced my father. Looking back now, from an adult perspective, I have no idea how we managed that. She was supportive when things were hard and wiped away my tears when I got hurt. With the exception of the summer when she was afraid I would be struck by lightning, she allowed me the freedom to ride whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted. I would not be who I am today, if she hadn't allowed me that space. Even now, she listens to my stories, reads my blog and encourages me every day. She is the one who taught me it was possible to have a horse.

Now? Now, it is N. I think it's hard to spend time with someone without them influencing you. She is definitely the reason why I am riding in a Prestige saddle and doing lessons with Cassandra. She is also the reason why I am working on certain issues with Ashke, why we use side reins, and why I am riding the way I do. Slowly, she has seduced me to the dressage side. We agree it's the cool boots.

2. Piece of Tack you would love to splurge on?

If we could define tack as equipment you use with your horse, then mine would be a horse trailer. No holds barred, I would get a Bison Traveler, 3-horse, 17' short wall with slide. And a truck to pull it, because I'm not sure our Silverado could handle it. Then, I would find the perfect, calm Appaloosa gelding for J and teach her to trail ride. That would be the perfect way to spend our retirement, in my opinion. Sigh. Time to buy a lotto ticket, I think.

3. Favorite playlist?

I don't listen to music. At least, not very often. It is a failing, but I blame my childhood. You wouldn't listen to music either if you had grown up with an 8-track and vinyl in the far reaches of Idaho. I just never picked up the habit. If I am listening to something, I listen to audio books. When I ride, I listen to my horse. The one time I tried to listen to music while on a trail ride, Ashke spooked at the sound and tried to run away. HE does not like Kate Bush, "Running up that hill". For the record.

4. Most Important Aspect of your barn?

The reasons I picked this barn haven't changed. I wanted a barn with a huge indoor, access to trails, excellent care and a place close to either my work or my home. It is also a benefit that they feed four times a day and will blanket if I need them to. Ashke seems to love it and being able to see the Mesa and the stars whenever I am there is a nice bonus. Plus, N lives just over the fence, so if there are issues, she's close enough to deal with them.

5. Three Winter Riding Goals?

1. To continue to ride on the trail, even when the weather isn't perfect.
2. To continue to work on learning dressage, which is why I paid Cassandra for 10 lessons over the winter.
3. To install some control at the canter and gallop. Especially on the trail.

6. Favorite equestrian movie and book?

My all time favorite movie with horses is Return to Snowy River. Yes, I think the scene where they are chasing the horses in the Man from Snowy River, and the main character rides down the hillside after them is my favorite scene from either movie. However, I love everything in Return to Snowy River. I think it's a better story line and it has Brian Hennessey, so how can you lose? My close second is International Velvet, with Tatum O'Neal. And yes, it is a sequel to National Velvet. Still a good movie.

My all time favorite book with horses is Monte Walsh by Jack Schaefer. It's about a cowboy who was a good hand with a horse. My second favorite was Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O'hara. My overall favorite authors were Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry and I have read everything they both wrote.

7. Most Common Riding Misperception

That I look out of control when Ashke is cantering. That he is rushing away with me. I wonder if I could ride him at full speed and just let him go, what that would change for both of us. I'm thinking I might start by letting him race up the mountain.

8. Two Riding Strengths and One Riding Weakness

Strength: My body still remembers what I want to do. It may not be able to do it the way we used to, but it remembers. And my balance is still there. I think balance on the back of the horse is an inate gift and you either have it or you don't. When you do, it is easier to stay on when your horse is moving in directions you don't normally want a horse to move, like sideways fifteen feet, or the stop, duck and spin move. I absolutely had that when I was a kid. I preferred to ride bareback, even when I was starting a horse under rider, because it was much less likely I was going to come off. That is slowly coming back.

Strength: My relationship with Ashke is very good. He is trying to work with me and is a honest partner. We are well on our way to forming an unbreakable bond. And well on our way to co-being.

Weakness: My fear. I think it is deep and sometimes very difficult for me to face. Very trickesy, my fear, since it masquerades as common sense, sometimes. It sucks, getting old, because it is difficult to determine why I am not pushing boundries and using the argument "well, you did it that way when you were a kid" can be a really dangerous conversation to have with my bad-ass, fifty year old self. I need to temper my younger fearlessness with adult caution, in the sense that I don't want to hit the ground any more, which, honestly, was never even a consideration before my riding accident in Yellowstone. The person who said, "You have nothing to fear but fear itself" was NOT talking about me. At least, not about the younger me. So now, I must evaluate my fear and decide whether it is based on healthy caution or whether it is based on FEAR. Caution is not fear based, but rather an honest evaluation of the risks involved and can be mediated by choice. (For example, even though my vet recommended I ride Ashke with the breeching on him, I already know how incredibly dangerous that could be and will not do so.) Fear is what is holding me back and can be found hiding behind caution. I need to separate the risk-taking behavior I was addicted to when I was young (with and without horses) from the concept of who I wish to be now, and how I choose to ride, without allowing fear to dictate my process.

9. Least Favorite thing about horses and/or riding?

I wish I could do it whenever I wanted. I wish I could do it every day. I wish I didn't feel guilty when I can't make it to the barn. I wish I didn't feel guilty when I am at the barn and not spending time with my family. I wish I had time to do all of the things I really want to do.

10. What do you feed your horse?

He gets six flakes of grass hay a day. He will be getting a pound of timothy hay pellets, smart flex II and a half cup of Equipride twice a day.

11. Critique your horse's conformation.


Ashke has very much an old-style Arabian body. He has a nicely arched neck, refined face with a small muzzle but very wide between the eyes. He has the dip behind his withers where the saddle sets, with a wide back and solid belly. His legs are strong with good bone and his pasterns are not too angled (no clubfoot or fallen pasterns). His hips are strong and his back is short. His shoulder has a good angle and he stands square.  He has the best eye I have ever seen (I am a bit biased, though.) I think we could do anything we wanted with the exception of jumping and racing. (I am not a jockey.)

This is the standard:


12. Horse's favorite riding exercise.

Ashke loves to trail ride. He is curious and loves to explore new places. He will go out by himself or with other riders. He is careful and willing to do all kinds of footing, goes over bridges, is getting over his fear of mud, will cross water and can go for several hours. We have now started to trailer places to ride and he really enjoys that as well. He is the most comfortable when we ride with Cali.

13. Favorite Spa Products

I personally like Paul Mitchell. I don't really have a lot of hair, though.

14. Three Best Things about your horse?

His attitude when working with me. He tries his heart out and let's me know when it's hard for him.
I love how he will whinny at me when he hears my voice, and then again when I walk up to him from the tack room, and again if I leave him and he sees me. It's kind of like he's surprised to see me again.
I love watching him get strong and sure of himself, of his increased energy and floaty trot.

15. Favorite Picture of my horse.

16. One thing you would like to change about your horse.

Nothing. I truly believe I was sent to Ashke and he was given to me. If he had not had every thing happen to him that has happened, I'm not sure we would have the relationship we have. If I had not had everything happen to me, that has happened, I would not be as appreciative of my relationship with him. None of us are perfect. All of us have our stories and our baggage. I think he is perfect for me.

17. Your horse's future.

It is with me. As for what we do . . . get Ashke completely healthy, compete in Working Eq, complete a fun ride and a poker ride at Kenlyn Arabians, find more new and varied places to ride, camp with my horse, ride him at Vedauwoo, WY, do an overnight camping trip on my horse, and have lots of wonderful rides. Maybe, someday, ride the 600 miles from Evanstan, Wy to Denver, CO. following the track of The Great Endurance Race, only slower.

18. What are two strengths and one weakness of your horse.

Ashke's biggest strength is his heart. I don't know how he managed to survive surgery, sale to someone who didn't want him, resale to someone who didn't do anything with him, and then dumped on someone who almost starved him to death. And he still loves people. He trusts me. He's battling back and learning whatever I request. He is very loyal and expects the same thing from me.

Ashke's second strength is his try. He wants to do what I want him to. Even when he is tired and it hurts. He still tries.

Ashke's weakness is physical. We are still rehabbing his injury and still dealing with at least five years of neglect. I see him getting stronger every day. I don't know that we will ever be strong enough in the hindquarters to do jumping, but we should be able to compete in Working Eq and go over the straw bale jump.

19. What discipline, other than the one you are currently involved in, would you be interested in trying?

I currently have my sights set on Working Eq. I would love, still, to try Endurance. If I can get Ashke sound, I would try a 25 miler and see how we do. I might also show in a regular dressage show. Maybe. Not sure I want to buy the clothes though.

20. Is there a horse out there on the interwebs that you covet, that you would get if you had unlimited resources?

At six years.

Hermes Echo. Hanoverian/Arabian cross. Enough said.

21. Favorite Horse Related Event to watch.

I love to watch the Cross-Country and Grand Prix Events in the Olympics. I find them absolutely splendid, although I have no desire to ride it. I am also a huge Triple Crown nut. I study the horses running in the derby a couple of weeks before the race and make my pick to win the Derby. I watch every May. Then I watch the Preakness. If the same horse wins, I watch the Belmont. If not, then the Belmont doesn't matter. I watched Alydar and Affirmed run the three races in 1978. I remember Secretariat bursting out of the gate and winning the Belmont going away. I don't want to miss the next one. (I also think this is a hold over from when I was about twelve. I wanted to be the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby.)

22. What is your favorite treat to feed your horse and is there a routine you have with treats?

Ashke loves carrots and from the very first day we have provided. He gets one when I get there and then a bag of chopped carrots after the end of the ride. When we boarded at Christensen's we would share out a carrot piece to each of the horses in the barn row when we left, but stopped doing that when we had the Pigeon Fever outbreak. Now, I drop a couple in Cali's bin (N thinks I look like a walking carrot to Cali) but she is the only horse I feed beside Ashke.

Ashke also gets hanging ball treats. He is especially fond of the hanging treat that has a hole in the middle. I hang it so when he licks it, it will spin on the rope. He tries to bite it, but it's more difficult and lasts longer if it moves. I can't do the round ones because he gets frustrated and stops trying to eat them. I always get the peppermint ones, because that is his favorite.

Ashke will stand on his head for peppermints. I try to save them for special occasions, like loading on the trailer, walking into the wash stall or doing tricks. He loves them and will lick all the smell off of my hands afterwards.

23. What is one thing about your barn you would like to see improve/change?

I would like a couple of things. First, I wish there were grazing fields instead of dirt fields for turn-out. Second, I wish they would get the footing in the round pens replaced and the rocks out of the outdoor arena. I wish they would cut all of the weeds on the property, and remove the cross country jumps from the front of the property, creating instead a turf arena with great footing. Or a turf galloping track would be even better. (And it would be pretty cool if they got the swimming pool fixed.)

24. If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would you ride?

I would love to ride on the beach. I don't even care which beach. I think I would rather it be on the West Coast, because I love the Pacific ocean. I would also love to ride across Wyoming from Vedauwoo to the Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) with my dogs and a friend, and J waiting with the camper at the end of each day. Then from the Little Big Horn to the Black Hills. I think that would be amazing. I have now added the trail of The Great Endurance Race from Evanstan, WY to Denver, CO to my list. It was ran in 1908, was 600 miles and sounds like a good trek.

25. Best Horse Memory

It has to be getting Queenie for Christmas when I was twelve. That was the ultimate fulfillment of wish and dream and heart's deepest longing all at once. I can still see her standing in the snow, breath puffing from her nostrils, her eyes wide and wondering. Me, shivering in the knee deep snow, my hand held out to her. She was my every thing.


  1. "ride the 600 miles from Evanstan, Wy to Denver, CO"

    I'm in. Let's do it.

    1. I've decided after doing research, that we should ride from Evanstan, WY to Vedauwoo, Wy. It is a total of 427 miles, skirts south of Flaming Gorge and utilizes back roads. (When they ran the original race there were no highways.) We will cover some of the most beautiful country in Wyoming and end up at the most incredible camping spot ever. Which, by the way, has some incredibly technical climbing that you and J can play around on if you have the energy after riding that far. HAHAHAHAHA. Target date of end of June, 2016.

  2. IT'S ON. And yeah, I think I could climb some. And with a target date that far out I'll have the option of either horse to ride (unless I've bred Q to some fancy baby-daddy by then, haha). And hell, with any luck I'll be living somewhere out west by then! MT or ID or WY (no CO cause its too expensive!)

    1. How freaking cool would that be. And Colorado isn't bad if you are in the right areas (like outside of Denver). I grew up in Idaho and love both Wy and Mt. However, the skiing is best in Colorado.

      Ooooooo. So excited! Time to put J on logistics.

  3. I often still feel like I look out of control, even if it isn't the case at all. Hard to change perception on that stuff sometimes!

  4. Have to post this for my mom. She just sent it to me in text message:

    I wrote on your blog but I must have done something wrong because it never posted. I want to thank you for all the nice thngs you said. You always were my horse girl and I never would have expected you to give up the most important thing in your life just because I changed mine. I always wished I could have figured out how to keep Queenie when you gave her up in Caldwell. I have been so happy that you got Ashke and love the relationship you have with him. Love you, Mom. PS. Thanks for the Memories!