Two Ears Tuesday

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.

Enchantment Equitreks

Two Ears Tuesday 

I ran across this great between the ears shot on Tumblr and was immediately drawn to the “End of the Road” sign. It looked like the horse was just as eager to see what was on the other side of the gate.  

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The Too Busy Life

I’m too busy has been coming across my lips too often. Autumn’s spindly fingers reaching across pumpkin patches and shaking golden leaves from trees reminds me of how quickly this summer has passed. Time seemed to leap off the diving board sending a spray of seconds and minutes and hours that too soon evaporated off of my skin. So much was accomplished this year at Enchantment Equitreks. We booked rides almost every month, our guest house was finally finished, the pool was installed, the tree lined deck was refinished, our herd welcomed their 9th member, a horse walker was built, the garden was seeded, weeded, plucked, and overgrown, fruit trees were planted, the chicken mansion was erected. Each project waited its turn, some were more urgent than others, but gosh it kept us busy. 


Maybe it’s winter’s breath on my shoulder or the recent loss of a friend that makes me want to be less busy. I look forward to sipping tea in the mornings and saying yes to dinner plans with forgotten friends. I want to send random notes and thoughts to loved ones so they know that I’m not too busy to think of them. Planning will be a luxury and spending hours at the barn futzing with horses a lifestyle. 

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. ~ John Lennon

Staying busy is never the problem, there is always something to be mended or attended. I worry that I will be too busy when it is too late. So somewhere in between the purpose filled days of my summer and the hibernation of winter my busy schedule needs to find balance. I believe that emails can wait after long conversations with my horse and new projects can be paused for impromptu road trips. Too busy needs to be replaced with let me make the time. 

Two Ears Tuesday

I couldn’t choose! The Sandia Mountains are so beautiful this time of year so I decided to show them from the back side, full of golden aspen splendor, and the front side, swirling in clouds and the banks of the Rio Grande stretching at their feet. We had a spectacular  weekend riding with this mother daughter due from California. Thank you Linda and Shannon for joining us for this end of the season ride. 

Day 13 Recurring Rescue: What Defines A “Rescue Horse”

I know it seems a little late but this blog took me much longer to write than expected. I had to do a lot of thinking and research. As my last assignment WordPress U challenged me to create a recurring blog and of course I had to create two different posts. Two Ears Tuesday will be a photo post capturing moments from between the ears of a horse. Most will be my own photos but others will be photos that I like or inspired me. My monthly post Recurring uring Rescue will highlight the world of rescue horses with stories of specific horses, people who work with them, training techniques, and the organizations that harbor these animals. 

By definition rescue means to “save someone or something from danger or harm.”

I believe a good place to start this monthly feature is to define the term “rescue horse.” I didn’t realize what a loaded term these two words create. By definition rescue means “to save someone or something from danger or harm.” Dual Peppy, the once world champion reigning horse that was starved and left to wonder amongst the corpses of his barn mates, is the poster horse of severe abuse and neglect. Most likely when we hear the term “rescue horse,” we invision the malnourished, dull eyed creature staring from the back of a mud and manure thick paddock. To often the word rescue gets bogged down by the obvious physical results of mistreatment. The mind of a horse is a very complex network and can be as fragile as their bodies. When interacting with a human the horse has to negate their instincts and trust that this predator like animal will not harm them. They can carry this burden as easily as they carry us on their backs. 

Mental abuse is just as predominate as the physical kind. For example, Jake, our flashy bay gelding, has been in our foster care for over two years now. Jake hurt and we couldn’t figure out why. We have had X-rays looking for navicular, a chiropractor adjust his shoulders, the vet inject his heals, farriers try different shoes. Nothing seemed to work. When Jake first arrived at the ranch he was flighty, scared of anything that was new, loud, moved too fast, didn’t move at all, and he was terrified of humans. At some point in his life Jake was forced to work through this excruciating pain and then was punished when he refused. This caused a mental break down of his trust not only in humans but his environment, which manifested into rearing, panic, and bolting. Reciently we hired a natural balance farrier and he has been able to bring Jake out of pain. The relief has changed Jakes entire demeanor and attitude.  

Now that his physical issues have been addressed we can begin to heal his mental scars and rebuild his trust. 

Jake is an overt example of a rescue horse. In his and Dual Peppy’s case it is obvious what we are saving these animals from. However, there are so many other horses that land at the shelters that are not victims of outright abuse. They are the unwanted, the unsellable, the unmanageable. The off the track thoughbred with the chipped knee, the old campaigner in early retirement, the aggressive mare with a bad attitude, the draft cross with roars, the filly in need of leadership and experience, the outgrown pony. I could tell you hundreds of stories of why a horse ends up at a rescue and a million reasons why these animals are redeemable, retrainable,  reconditionalable, rehomeable. 

The lucky ones end up at the shelters where they can receive the help they need. There are countless others on Craig’s list, off the track, out of the show ring, from the back yard that are sold to a slaughter truck where their fate is to ride in horrid conditions to their untimely death. So a rescue horse needs not only be saved from the immediate dangers but also from their harmful fates. I know slaughter is a huge controversial topic, and I might write about it one day. In this piece I want focus on what is a rescue. Ultimately it is an animal who needs to be saved from immediate and impending harm. 

Horses are powerful creatures with a fragile physical and mental system. It is this combination that makes our partnership with them possible. When we enter into this partnership we become stewards of their livelihood with a promise to nurture and preserve their balance. When a horse becomes a “rescue” it is because the one they trust has broken this promise. 


I hope you enjoyed my first Recurring Rescue post and join me each month for more stories and insight on the world of rescue horses. Don’t forget to check in on Tuesdays for my between the ears photos.  

The Winter Barn Blues

My first instinct in winter is to pull the blankets up under my chin and marathon Netflix, but with a barn full of ponies, chores are always delaying my hibernation. With the short days and finger numbing temperatures it seems just as I finish the morning chores, I’m having to trudge back out for afternoon feeding. It’s exhausting! Recently I have found a few helpful tricks to ease the wintery load and add a little more fun to my daily routine.

After enduring mountain winters for the past few years, I decided to confiscate my nephew’s sled and employ it for barn chores.  

 Mornings I hike up the hill, towing my sled with two tubs of hot mash for breakfast, it slides right behind me into the feed room. It transports feed buckets to all of the outside stalls and back again. I can precariously place an entire bale of grass hay on it and tug it along to the various slow feeders in all the paddocks.  

 Although it took a little finagling, both of the manure buckets will slide on it, just don’t get them too full or the sled gets a little tipsy. I might consider a bigger sled for that next year. Sloshing water from water buckets form icy pools in its bed, saving my pant leg from becoming a moving ice cube. Even a few feed sacks ride neatly from the feed room to the chicken coop. I have yet to explore all the possibilities of my new found sidekick. However, like any good tool it has its faults. It will take a nose dive in deep snow and tip its contents off to the side, or it will zoom by on slick harpack leaving everything behind, me included. I’ve had a few choice word for my little, blue sled when it gets unruly but when the day is done I still have a child like excitement to ride it back down the hill with dogs barking and chasing until I crash into the snowbank at the back door and come up laughing and sputtering.  

It makes me want to stay out side a little longer and enjoy the wonderland, maybe even make a snowman, before spring’s fingers reach out and melt away all my fun and put my sled out of service until next snowfall.

Not all my winter tools are as fun and nostalgic but so many household items can help out at the barn, such as a strainer with a handle to swipe out ice in water troughs. What other items have you used to beat the winter barn chore blues?

For Love of the Horse

While chasing clouds in my coffee this Valentines Day morning I ruminate on all the people I love and love me in return. This holiday can be about expressing your love for others, and I am very fortunate to have friends, lover, and family to share my heart with. This holiday, although can be bogged down with a hefty price tag, is essentially about passion.

I’ve met so many people who talk about what they love but so few express passion, that all encompassing emotion that drives you to extraordinary feats just to be apart of that particular moment in time. As I drain my mug and head out to feed the horses I know that I have found my passion. I know because I wake up every morning willing to do what ever it takes to be apart of this equestrian world. Love can be easy, it’s passion that proves to be a challenge. So I beseech all my Valentines to reflect not only on love today but explore passion.

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Cash

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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My Mom, My Best Friend

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I’m not sure when it happened but at some point in the last 30 years my mom became my best friend. We have always had a special relationship, she a single mother and I an only child. When times got tuff she always reassured me with a smile. “It’s you and me against the world kid.” This tenacious woman’s passion for life made even her shadow seem large and I knew I had big shoes to fill. It was in my twenties that I felt ready to cast my own ample shadow and find a pair of shoes that fit just me. So she, like so many parents do, stepping off her heroic pedestal I had placed her on, became human. She showed me her faults, her broken dreams, and provided her mistakes as examples for me to learn from. I was shocked, I didn’t understand how to relate to her as a woman. It was only when I quit childishly stomping my feet in protest, which took several years, that I realized the gift she was offering me. The friendship found between two women. Now, I am no longer her pigtailed, little girl and she my infalible parent, but we are equals, women, who can share our strengths and weaknesses, our daydreams and broken hearts. We are the best of friends.

This relationship gave us the courage to start out on the new and sometimes intimidating path as business partners. Our love and avidity for horses has built the foundation for Enchantment Equitreks, but it is our mutal respect as women that gives it structure. On this Mother’s Day I would like to thank my mother for her friendship. I am blessed by her wisdom, her knowledge, her vulnerability. I am in awe of her vitality and uncanny ability to sooth the soul of all creatures, two legs and four. It is my ardent wish that I will be able to establish the same relationship with my own daughter someday. And even though I went out in the world and found my own shoes to fill, they look an awfull lot like my mothers. Happy Mother’s Day everyone.

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