Not every training ride goes as planned. Toby and I have graduated from the arena to riding around the property. We were following Mel and Jake over logs, around trees, and Toby was handling every obstacle like a champ. I became over confident and thought it was a great idea to video our awesome training ride. As the horse in front disappeared around a corner Toby became nervous and wanted to catch up. I was busy playing videographer instead of trainer. When I added my leg to aid Toby around the large cactus bush, he didn’t pick up on the cue and aimed strait for the cholla. I’m pleased to report that both horse and rider avoided the prickly, instead I escaped with only a mouth full of pine needles from a near by piñon tree. When I’m asking a horse to learn they deserve my full attention. Although it was Toby’s training, I’ve definitely learned my lesson.
The red waters of New Mexico run through the salted desert like veins through an open hand. This photo was taken in the river bed of Ojito Open Space, where petrified trees and the bones of the largest dinosaur, the Seismosaurus, have been discovered.
Two Ears Tuesdays are back! Follow our journeys through New Mexico here each Tuesday. Come stay with us and discover these places for your self.
It seems when life gets busy the first thing I set upon the shelf is this blog. Lately it’s been shoved to the very back corner where only dust and spider webs live. In the months it’s sat idle an entire summer has slipped by.
The balmy days between May and September are undeniably the busiest for the business. With only 5 seasons under our belt, Enchantment Equitreks is in its infancy and I’m trying to learn how to juggle and balance all the hats I now wear. Somewhere amidst the chaos I decided to write a blog. I was keeping up pretty well with a weekly post and a few longer pieces sprinkled through out the month. Yet it seemed as the days got longer I found less time to write.
A few days ago, as I was mucking paddocks, I listened to a pod cast about You Are Enough. Even though it was an interview with Deborah Burkman about her 17 year yoga teaching career, I found it spoke directly to my multifaceted life that reads like a drop down menu.
> amateur vet
> full time groom
> semi amateur farrier
> barn manager
> poop scooper
> Marketing Manager
> website designer and master
> social media director
> head of advertising
> trail guide
> yoga instructor
Find your purpose and come back to that. And know that you are enough
I may be missing a few categories, but when something needs to be fixed, fed, or facebooked, I’m your go to gal. However, I find my self bogged down with trying to get it all done. During her interview, Burkman said, “Find your purpose and come back to that. And know that you are enough.” This simple and clear message lifted the self imposed weight off of my shoulders and folded it into a more manageable carrying case.
What I do every day is enough. No matter if my day is filled with time in the saddle, time on the computer, or even time reading a good book, it is enough. My to-do list will always be there. The emails will keep coming in. Horses will need to be fed in the morning.
Part of accepting this truth is focusing your path and knowing your purpose. I had to start with the big questions. What is the purpose of my business? Then work down to the smaller details. What is my purpose for this blog? I love writing because it gives me the creative outlet needed to keep my brain lubricated. I’m ok not making money, becoming famous, or having heaps of followers. So when my brain shuts down for a while, and my blog sits in the recess of a dark shelf for months, I’ll know it’s ok. My purpose guides my path and what I do is enough.
Zena in some language or culture has to translate as Queen, because that is exactly what this silvered chrome Appaloosa mare is, the queen of the heard. When we first encountered her at the rescue ranch, Zena had the attitude to match a spoiled and haughty monarch. She refused to listen to those she believed beneath her, which equated to any human with in biting range, and ran over those who didn’t move out of her regal path. Yet, when you were on her back she made you feel like royalty yourself. Her walk is noble and proud, striding out with purpose and intensity. This is what Mel fell in love with. Now we all tend to favor a certain breed or type of horse, Mel tends to gravitate to big, solid, dark sport horses. Zena is smaller, stocky, light and spotted with pink rimmed eyes that gives her a wild looking disposition. Although she was not Mel’s first choice of the herd, there was something about her imperious nature that presented a challenge.
At this point Mel and I were volunteering on the rescue ranches training team. My mother had a knack for working with difficult horses and starting them on a new path toward adoption. Mel’s fully intended to do the same with the appy mare but I’ll never forget the day that changed her mind. While out trail riding, being a bit of an adventure, she turned Zena down a ruddy path that I hesitated to follow. The two crashed through brush and weeds as if it were a pasture of tall green grass. Cash and I picked our way through the rubbish left behind in their wake until we came upon them standing in the middle of the most beautiful meadow, Mel patting on Zena’s neck. “I don’t know Juss,” she said, “I’m really starting to like this horse, she will go any where I point her.”
Now Zena had never been abused or mistreated, she didn’t have any traumatic wounds to heal. Her problem was she had always been the boss and it showed in her ground manners. She rushed through gates, walked over the top of anyone on the other end of a lead rope, she would bite and kick when she didn’t get her way. However, for the first time in her life Zena met a human who was the boss, demanding obedience. It took Mel almost a year and hours of ground work to mold Zena into the intelligent and respectful horse we all love today. Every once in a while Zena will get in a mood and challenge my mother for her regency, like the white queen and the red queen battling over a spot on a chess board. So they return to the basics and Mel reminds her who is ultimately heard leader.
It is this matriarch quality that I love in both my mother and in Zena. This Appaloosa takes her jobs very seriously. As a trail horse she takes care of her rider, listening for dangers ahead, placing her feet carefully on precarious paths. As the herd manager she futs and fusses over each horse, protecting them from unseen predators, and guiding our youngest horse Rain to some day take her place. Yet there will never be another like her, stubborn, regal, bossy, and nurturing. We are so very proud to have her as our core horse, our boss mare, our Queen.
The first time I saw the lanky bay thoroughbred he was in quarantine. A large abscess clung under his jaw with all of the signs of strangles. I didn’t dare touch him, in fear of spreading the infection to the rest of the horses, but his kind eyes pleaded to be acknowledge. I was a new volunteer at the rescue ranch, mucking paddocks and grooming elderly horses. Each job there has it’s merit but I wanted to ride, and I wanted to ride the bay. When he was released from quarantine, the threat of strangles begnin, I doted upon him like a little girl with her first pony. It had been over five years since I had lost my own mare to colic, his horsy smell soothed my wounded heart. Our trust grew over grooming sessions and long walks and so did my confidence. I was ready to ride. Yet, my stomach fluttered as I took him to the round pen for the first time. My basic horsemanship skills were returning, but I knew nothing about rescue horses. Would all that my mother so patiently taught me about horses relate to this forgotten animal? Cash looked at me from the end of the lunge line, I cued him to move, and he shot off running laps around me. Apparently he thought himself to be quiet the racehorse. After a big breath I finally slowed him down and he began to move, settling into the most beautiful hobby horse gait. My heart leapt, I couldn’t wait to be on his back.
Months passed as Cash and I worked. I still didn’t know exactly what I was doing, but I knew I had to gain his trust on the ground before he trusted me on his back. When the day came to ask for his sponsorship, I still hadn’t ridden him, let alone any horse at the ranch. I know many people were concerned that I had chosen the big skittish gelding as my maiden rescue horse ride. An audience appeared leaning on the fences like gawkers at an old fashioned rodeo. I was no longer nervous when I lead the saddled up bay into the round pen. I trusted him, and I was hoping like heck he trusted me. His ears twitched a bit, picking up on the crowds tension. With one foot in the sturrup, I swung up easily. Visions of our first encounter in the round pen flashed throug my mind as I picked up the reigns and urged him on. He walked out in a gental stride. Ok, so far so good, let try him at a trot. I slid my hands down the reign and I could feel him tense beneath me. Moving him forward he thrust up his head and roughly trotted about the circle. Seeing this shift my audience began to offer words of advise. “Disengage his rear end,” or “Work the circle to slow him.” I’m sure they were all waiting for a bucking bronc performance, but I didn’t have a clue what they were trying to tell me. Instead I did just as my mother always taught me, relax and ride the horse. I dropped my hands a bit, relaxed my seat and trusted this horse. He must have felt that change because he trusted me too and relaxed. It was beautiful.
Today Cash has found his forever home with us as one of our core ranch horses. I’d like to say that each day with him is as profound as the first, however plastic bags have sent both of us back to the round pen over our five year partnership. He has taught me so much about listening to the needs of a rescue horse. Each one is different and has their own wound to heal, but if you trust them they learn to trust you back. Along the way they even find the way to heal your wounds as well. I trust this horse to the moon and back. <img src="https://enchantmentequitreks.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/20140527-203354-74034396the story of Cash
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