No More Comfort Zones.

I’ve always dreamed of being able to ride bareback with ease. As a younger girl, before I actually got into horses and started riding, I was just amazed at the natural/liberty horsemanship guru’s. I watched the videos of Stacy Westfall riding her mare bareback and bridleless and thought “That will be my thing.” Some people wanted to be show jumpers, some wanted to be barrel racers, I wanted to focus on liberty and being “one with the horse.” Now, I see that I need a bigger foundation. I have to be able to master things in the tack. That’s important. Real training is important, and I can’t just fast forward straight into the galloping through fields bareback and bridleless. But I’ve also lost sight of who I am and what my dreams are because of my fears. Deep down, I still love that type of horsemanship that drew me in years ago. It still ties in to who I am. Following the horse’s lead, becoming partners in a very deep way, it goes right along the lines of my other passion which is rescuing and rehabilitating abused and neglected horses. Oddly enough, Gracie, the chestnut mare, is the thing that reminded me of this. This horse thrives in a liberty type of situation. I worked with her once, and within minutes, I had her doing the most incredible things on the ground at liberty with no halter, no whip, no lead. I mean, she backs up with me, sidepasses with me, turns with me, follows me, even sets herself up at the mounting block with me. The first time I worked with her like this, I felt like I was the kid in the movie Black Beauty. It’s cool to find a horse that can make you feel like that. Red made me feel like that at one point, and I realized just this week that it wasn’t his fault that I didn’t feel like that anymore. It wasn’t his fault that I lost my trust in him. He did nothing that should have inspired fear, or any sort of lack of trust. That’s on me.

First ride in the bosal was also done bareback because this horse is so stinkin good.

Gracie is this incredibly good horse. She has a good heart, she’s sweet, she wouldn’t hurt a fly. She has a very eager to please personally. Although she’s very lazy under saddle, it’s just pure laziness, no bad behavior, and if you ask her to knock it off, she will. She has no buck or bite or bolt in her, no mean bone in her body. She’s just a good horse. I’ve ridden her a total of 4 times (although she’s been ridden a lot more here, just not by me) and already, I trust her enough to go hop on her bareback and in a halter in the field. She’s not going to do a thing, and I trust her.

Oddly enough, I used to have that same kind of trust in Red but it has disappeared. Why? I want to blame it on his random fits that he tends to throw. The little “I’m going to crowhop” or “I’m just going to stop and ignore you” types of things. But I don’t think that’s it. Those things have always happened with Red, it’s Red. Those things didn’t used to stop me from being fearless with him, from letting him literally be my best friend and partner. I’d hop on him and ride him to the barn with nothing on, with no fear. Where did that go? Somewhere along the line, I got nervous, and I stopped trying. I got back on the horse, obviously, but my mind really never mounted up again after that. I got scared, and I let myself disconnect. Red has been paying for that, which sucks for him because he’s still trying. When he was blowing that second abscess and miserable, I was the only thing he’d walk for. He wouldn’t walk for food. Wouldn’t walk on a lead for anyone. But if I sat there and called for him, he’d slowly make his way to me. When he went lame a couple winter’s back, it was the same thing. He’d walk through anything for me, not so much for anyone else. So why is it that I would mount a mare that I don’t even know that well yet, in a bosal (something new, something I didn’t know how she’d react over) and bareback (which has always terrified me) but I wouldn’t do that with Red?

Is it because I have a connection with her that I don’t have with Red anymore? I don’t think so. I want this with Red more than anything, and still, while Gracie is fun, and she’s great, and she’s a confidence builder, she’s never felt like my horse. She isn’t, but I really don’t think I’d ever get that feeling with her. I’ve had that with Red since the beginning. Red and I are partners, we go together, we always have. So what’s up with me? I stopped trying completely. I just quit. Out of fear, out of a lack of confidence, maybe, I started listening to people too much. People are doubters, they always have been, especially over my horse. I never listened to them before, but somewhere along the line, I started to. I lost my passion for him, and I used hard training as a way to make up for it. I tacked him up and every time we rode, it was about bettering ourselves as far as training went. Better EQ, collection, headset, and so on. But I stopped riding for myself. I lost track of why I started to ride to begin with.

I kept thinking…with Gracie, I can get on her bareback and in a bosal and feel comfortable. At ease. Then, I started trying to pinpoint the difference in her and Red. Red is much higher energy. While he isn’t a hot TB by any means, he has his moments of pure energy, but still, he has never let himself get away with me or do anything bad out of that. He may crowhop once, but he can contain himself. He knows that he has to have permission to do anything, and he respects me. I thought back on all of the “bad rides” that scared me…the ride that made me stop riding him in the bosal, and tried thinking “What did he do to make me so scared?” and I realized something…he never did anything. His ears were a bit more perked, he was a bit more excitable, but he never got carried away with me. He was happy, and I got mad at him for that. What even, Kalin? So yesterday, I tested something.

I got on my horse bareback and in the bosal, and nothing happened. I walked him around, he respected me and my limits that I set out, and everything was fine. Completely okay. In fact, he behaved better than Gracie did on all three of our recent rides. Again I asked myself, “Why on earth am I scared?”

Am I scared of him throwing me? Because he never has. Really, he’s never tried. He’s thrown a buck or two, but I’ve seen the most deadbroke horses ever do that. He’s very, very easy to get a hold of after those moments, he does them, then he’s apologetic that very second after. He knows when he does wrong. Am I scared of him bolting or something? He never has. I’ve spent all this time trying to plan out how to stop him from doing stuff that he’s never done, ever, and I’ve made a completely different horse in my mind. One that is the opposite of the horse in my pasture.

So I decided that I’m going to be going back to my roots for awhile. Focusing on getting my trust back with this horse until we move on with anything else. Even if it means forgetting that tack exists for awhile until I’m back to how I used to be-running around bareback with my partner and not relying on my saddle or big hack to keep me safe. We’ll see how it goes, but so far, I’m a heck of a lot more positive than I was the day before yesterday.

One Step At A Time.

I’ve ridden twice since my last post, slowly starting to get back into the groove of things and getting more comfortable on the back of a horse again. I wasn’t sure how the time off would effect me, knowing how bad my anxiety tends to get when it comes to getting in a saddle, and not knowing how Red would act after being off for so long. I won’t lie, the first real ride back was interesting because he was so excited. Other than a few crowhops, he was good and had a nice work ethic. This has been the theme of our rides lately. He has been very willing to work. He even seems to brighten up at the sight of his bridle, as weird as that sounds, and puts his head right in. I rode him on Saturday, after a particularly bad day. I tacked up very quickly, spur of the moment, and took him out to the field. I needed to break out of the arena and I needed to ride away from my problems. He was great, very barn sour, but he’s been that way since he’s been off of work so I expected that, especially considering that getting barn sour is very Red anyways. We rode in the field until we started hearing coyote pups from somewhere and he started getting very antsy, then I let him trot back down the path and we went into the arena for a few minutes to work on a couple of things. I left the gate of the arena open to test him a bit and see how good I could get him to work with the temptation of the gate being right there and opened up. Surprisingly, he did okay after the first couple of minutes where he was basically just very heavy and dull when I asked him to trot on in a circle and we went in the direction of the gate. He tried leaning heavily on me so we went every so slightly towards the gate and I had to correct that a few times but once he learned that I wasn’t going to let him go out, he settled into a nice rhythm. We’re really working on getting more supple going left. He’s better with that direction at the canter but it’s tough for him to keep the trot going during tighter left turns.

After about 10 minutes of work in there, I made him work a bit right in front of the gate to get him over the sourness, and I also worked on getting him a bit lighter with turns. Gracie, our sorrel mare, is very light mouthed and will literally turn on her butt with very light pressure. Red was at that point a few months ago before the abscess, but now he’s a bit dull. The shanks on his old hack help because there’s a bit more pressure. He didn’t do great with it during this ride but we started to make progress regardless.

We also rode out to the donkey, who is considerably tamer. This was her first time seeing me riding and she seemed very confused, haha. Red was interested for 5 seconds before he got bored with her.

Excuse the mess, we just moved a tiny house up there and we’re still getting everything put together.

I rode again yesterday, this time dedicating the ride to work in the arena. I wanted to see how he felt after riding the day before, basically to see how his fitness is. He was very gate sour again, started his little head toss anytime I asked him to go away from the gate but towards the gate, he was great, haha. A sure way to find out if he’s tossing his head out of discomfort or sourness- I give him a very loose rein and see how he does. If he trots on his own towards the gate, he’s fine, if he just stops and/or continues the tossing, something is up, lol. Yesterday was definitely a case of sourness.

We worked on the turns again, getting him to turn on his haunches at a complete stop, and he did WAY better yesterday than the day before. Very impressed with how he turned on such a loose rein. We also did some trot work, he did good with the trot circles and I made them a bit smaller to push him a bit more and to work on his sharper turns, and he did quite well with that. Learning how much leg pressure he needs to have in order to keep the pace going.

Only photo from yesterday. Mr. Big Foot.

I’m giving him the day off today and maybe riding Gracie and trying her in the bosal.


Still Alive!

Due to me struggling a bit with just…life and everything that has been going on in my personal life, I haven’t felt up to riding since the 14th, when I last posted. My anxiety has followed me straight to the barn and I haven’t done much to push through. Honestly, I’ve made no attempt to get over the anxiety and so I’ve just gone up to feed the horses as quickly as possible then left to go home and sit alone.

Obviously, I am a ray of sunshine.

I used the hot weather as an excuse as to why I haven’t ridden. Then I used the rain. Then, this week turned heavenly and it’s been in the lower 70’s, sunny skies, a beautiful breeze…and I’ve been left with a sound horse that is very much ready to be back into work and no excuses for why I can’t ride. I’ve been over analyzing my horse, as I’m so prone to doing, afraid that I’m somehow going to set his recovery back but really, there’s not much to recover now. His abscess is growing out really quickly, he’s been sound for all of September, and he’s felt good. It’s been very obvious, especially in the last few days, because he’s been bucking and galloping in the pasture, working himself harder than I ever do under saddle, and what do ya know, he’s not dying or lame or miserable. On a bright note, I haven’t been feeling my usual anxiety over “what happens if he acts bad/throws a buck/bolts/spooks” after being off of work so long. So, there’s that. Y’all know I struggle majorly with this type of stuff, and my blog has really become a diary of a really anxious horse rider who is attempting to get over that and actually make something of herself in the horse world but my anxiety tends to get in the way of that. But this time around, my anxieties were based on my horse and his well-being and not necessarily how terrified I am of getting back on him since June…I’ve found a nice level of trust with Red, maybe from spending so much time on the ground with him, maybe because we all thought that something could’ve been very wrong with him back in August, or maybe the break was just good for both of us and we’re coming back into work and training a bit saner. Either way, I’m not complaining.

Although really, our sanity could probablyyyy be questioned.

So, I hopped on my horse yesterday and I figured, depending on how he acted, I was going to bite the bullet and actually get him going a bit, start building his muscle back up, see where his stamina is at, and go from there. Turns out, Red really hasn’t lost much of his stamina at all and instead of me taking things slow for him, it was kind of all about me catching up with him. I haven’t done any type of hard riding since June, y’all, and I was honestly struggling to be a decent rider because wow, I’m not in that great of shape anymore.😉 Red and I made a few laps around the arena at the walk, and I had to continuously bump him and remind him not to trot or canter during this time because I really want to take things somewhat slowly for next few rides. Finally, I loosened my reins up a bit and let him have at it, and we essentially did an extended trot around the round pen with him breaking into the canter about three times and me slowing him down and trying to get some sort of decency back into the trot and get him to chill out a bit. This continued on for awhile, and yeah, he had a lot of energy. He wasn’t being bad, not at all, just rushing through everything like a kid that had just had about 5 mountain dews and a bunch of candy.😉

Despite his headset being a bit higher than I like for the first few minutes, I really, really loved this trot. He was extremely energetic and put a lot of effort into moving well, and it felt great. Finally, I got him to lower the head just a tad and get a pretty nice trot, one that I’m really, really proud of considering he’s been off of work for so long.

Beefy neck is beefy.

We did have one moment of typical bad behavior from Red, where he decided that he wanted to bolt to the gate and pulled his little crowhop and a tiny buck, but I kept him moving and didn’t really even think about it until I dismounted. It was very obviously a “I still have a lot of energy and I want to move FASTER!” type of thing and not an “ouch” thing, and sure enough, 15 minutes or so later when I turned him out into the field he went bronc and ran around like a crazy dude.

“I would never do that.” says Red.

So…first REAL ride back, pretty darn good.


Back In The Saddle Again!

Red has officially been sound for a couple of weeks other than a day when he was a bit gimpy, not lame but not sound either, because he had some thrush building up again despite me being extremely careful with keeping his hooves cleaned, and even that was no big deal and lasted for that day and cleared right up with ToMorrow. I’ve been putting off riding him because, 1.) I’m an anxious freak and I’m worried that riding would somehow be too much for him yet, and 2.) because he hasn’t been ridden in forever and I was nervous about what kind of horse I’d be climbing on. We’ve never gone this long without riding, ever. But yesterday, he seemed to be in a great mood, came running down from the big field after turnout time up there, so after he ate, I bit the bullet and got him all tacked up. Before he went lame, I started trying to work harder to beat my anxiety in the saddle. To beat the fear I have of cantering on him, that slightly nauseated feeling I got whenever speed was mentioned, and it seemed that those fears transported themselves and were now present even when the saddle wasn’t around. The idea of getting back on him was stressful, to say the least, but…I got on.

Decked all out in his new pro choice SMB’s that I’ve been eyeing for months. They went on sale! Be still my heart😉

Luckily, he seems to have stayed in fairly decent shape and all of his muscle hasn’t disappeared quite yet. I was wondering if I’d have to let his girth out, baha. He was a bit hard to mount which I expected, a little bit gate sour, but man, he was good. He felt perfect, didn’t even feel stiff. I took a few laps at the walk and then gave him the freedom to do whatever speed he wanted and felt comfortable with and he ended up trotting a little, and that felt pretty much perfect. His head was low, he was relaxed, it was nice. We only rode for about 20 minutes because it was getting dark and I wanted to end our first ride on a good note and not push him too far too quick, but he felt completely normal.

He looked great this morning after the ride, so I do believe that we’re officially back in action. I’ve missed this horse. Better riding updates to come once we get a few more under our belt.


Adventures With A Wild Donkey.

I got in touch with a woman who had a jenny for sale over the weekend.The jenny seemed perfect; she said she could be hard to catch but was great when she was caught, easy to load, and all that. She was the perfect size, a good protector, and possibly bred. So, I attempted to schedule a time to see her, and it kept falling through. The lady wouldn’t respond to me for hours, then, we managed to get a day scheduled and I told her that I was going to plan to have a hauler come with me so she could come straight home if everything went well. She was a great price, much cheaper than the other jenny’s I’d seen, and I didn’t want to miss out on her. We proceeded to leave the house, ready to meet the hauler halfway there so he could follow us and…he didn’t show. We waited for nearly 30 minutes then went on to go see the donkey, and finally, he called, said he was sorry for running late, explained what had happened and said he’d be there shortly. I met the jenny, “Anna” (although she’s now renamed to Blossom) and they basically corralled her away from her herd and into a separate pasture. She was very shy, but after about 25 minutes of me being there, I was able to scratch her ears and she seemed to be very calm with me, I asked if I could go in and get a halter on her so we’d be ready, and she decided to be hard to catch. Long story short, I spent some time in there being patient, let her come to me, and I had the halter halfway on when one of her owners came in and all hell broke loose. She took off running, absolutely freaking out, and jumped the short side of the fence and ran out.

We spent a couple hours just trying to get her, and finally, our hauler showed up and he helped us get her in the trailer. We ended up having to back his trailer into the pasture, block the short side of the fence and run her into the trailer so she had nowhere else to go, and at this point my mother and I are thinking, “Oh gosh, what did we just get ourselves into?” I mean this girl was wild with those people. They then decided to tell me that she has a habit of dragging people around, she’s awful on the lead, she will hurt you, and so on. I freaked out, but she was on the trailer, we’d paid them, and we had the hauler to pay. He calmed our nerves and said that he would take her if she didn’t work out (he has a huge farm, absolutely beautiful, and said he always has room for another donkey since he always needs more protectors for his farm animals and they’re such easy keepers.) and off we went with her. I talked with a few people in a donkey Facebook group and they all told me to give her a chance and see how she acts when she’s with different people. The owners seemed rather harsh in how they interacted with her, so they told me to try a very gentle and soft approach and see how she’d do, so we kept in touch with the hauler, who turned out to literally be a God send despite him being late because I don’t think we could’ve gotten her in the trailer without him, and told him that we’d let him know how things go in a couple of weeks.

The calm before the storm…also when there was a fence between us, lol.

So, she got home, she was crazy. Would not let me within 50 feet from her, but on the brightside, she acted very calm with the herd on the other side of the fence, she went straight to grazing and other than not liking us very much, she was doing really good and behaving. I went back up this morning around 6am, she let me touch her nose then bolted, so I talked to her a bit more and left, then went back again a couple hours later and stood next to her, talked, turned my back and next thing I know, she’s behind me and sniffing my shoulder like, “Hey, you’re that person I liked yesterday.”

I discovered that the head and neck are good places to scratch, but anything behind her wither is no bueno. I tried, and she bolted pretty quickly but was able to contain herself and came back to me when she saw I wasn’t upset or going to run after her. Then, she let me touch her a bit more. I think all she needs is some time with no pressure to do anything, to realize that my touch isn’t bad. Her hooves are pretty bad, the front right is a mess, so I’m nervous to see how that first farrier visit will go. She’s a bit overweight, too, but not bad. I need to have my vet come do all of her vaccines and check her teeth out to see if we can figure out an age. She doesn’t look old to me, I’m thinking she is probably under 12-13 just by looking at her.

I walked off to go get something for Halfpint, and she ended up following me to the gate and taking a small piece of carrot out of my hand and let me hug her neck and touch her more. I’m eager to see how she does, we’ve started on a really good note.

First attempt to wrap my arms around her, she’s very unsure, leaning away from me.

Another carrot, she says!

In the future, I’d love to see her pull a cart. In all honesty, she’s big enough that I could even ride her without an issue so who knows, depending on her age we may give that a try, haha. Either way, she’s already been a fun addition and I’m loving the project.


Well, update; didn’t ride over the weekend because my body still hated me and I managed to get another fever, it was literally 100 degrees outside and humid and terrible, then when I felt somewhat human on Sunday, well, it just wasn’t a good day.

I did spend part of the day on Saturday dosed up on cold medication and ibuprofen to go look at something of the four legged variety to bring into the family. What, you say? Most people assumed it was another horse, but it’s actually not a horse. Technically.

Image result for donkey
not my actual donkey.

All I have to say is….wee snaw.

Backstory, we have a bit of a coyote problem. When I say a bit, I mean the stupid things (I love all animals, but EW) have not only started killing our neighbors animals, but they’ve decided that that should bring them into our pasture and drop them off when they’re done doing coyote things to them. We have our dwarf miniature horse and he desperately needs to be moved to the farm because he’s literally in our backyard right now and he’s running out of grass, it’s turning into more of a dry lot. Plus, it would be nice to feed all of the animals in one place as opposed to running around everywhere to feed in the evening. So, he needs to be up there but also needed a protector. Enter donkey. It’s taken some convincing on my mother’s part. She knows nothing about donkeys, never been around them. I’ve met a few and know a little, but we’ve both been nervous and unsure about bringing in another animal. We found out that they’re pretty low maintenance, so we took a chance and went to go see some on Saturday and holy cow, I watched my mother fall in love with a donkey foal. Those, sadly, didn’t work out for us because the price was a bit too steep, but that night I found a cute standard jenny for sale. She’s also bred, which is exciting because we were hoping for a bred one or one with a foal for the experience. (btw, although we don’t know much about them, we have a lot of people around who do, so the donkey is totally safe so don’t worry about pregnancy or labor, haha.) The lady didn’t tell me how far along she is, only that she is “very pregnant”

We’re going to go see her tonight and bring her home. I called dibs on the baby since I wanted a yearling or a weanling really bad in the beginning of the year and gosh darn, I’m getting a baby. So, here goes a fun new chapter – donkey owning!


First off, let me say this; my life hates me. Like, seriously. Red has been sound for over a week now, he’s doing really well although he’s been enjoying running the fields and being a hot, slightly spooky mess on the lead when I go on little walks with him (which is being fixed, because uh, disrespectful pony on the ground is no bueno) and I know it’s all from him not DOING ANYTHING SINCE JULY. And he actually got the clear to ride…ahem…awhile ago. Everyone in my life is currently enjoying making fun of me because I’m an anxious wreck and I don’t want to screw things up by riding him too quickly (although, in the words of one of my favorite horse people in my life, “Dude, he gallops and bucks around the pasture all day. You’re going to put a saddle on him and do some light work and ease him into things. Do you think adding a saddle and working him lighter than he’s working himself is going to make an abscess appear or something?”) but I finally got up the nerve to hop back on and then..that day I planned on riding..I woke up feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. Probably one with a horse trailer attached to it, because horses hate me, too, apparently. And I’m still feeling slightly like a run over person, and I can’t quit coughing, but I am so riding tomorrow if I can actually manage to get, uh, on my horse without dying.

I have ridden once since he’s been lame, I hopped on Stormie for a few minutes. Stormie is out of shape, fat, cranky and a very different ride. I love that horse, I swear I do, but she’s not my type at all whatsoever. She has a few problems under saddle; she likes rooting and pulling at her bit, and she is very barn sour from not being worked often enough so she likes running to the gate any chance she gets. So our ride mainly consisted of getting her to accept the bit a little more, and doing fun circles until she realized that her behavior wasn’t cool and Stormie you’re going to go in a straight line away from the gate at the trot without running me literally INTO the gate. Riding her made me miss riding Red even more, and I’m beyond ready to be over this huge hump and be able to start working with him again.We were really making progress before this happened.

A great sight to see after my horse was three legged lame for so long.

Not really much to write about when the horse is out of commission, and now the rider is out of commission. I’ve gotten behind on reading blogs, too, just because I’ve had no interest to read about riding when my horse was so lame and I was stressed, as slightly terrible and rude as that sounds. Oh well. We’ll be back soon.