We’ve been working at being able to work together. Without anyone trying to kill the rest of them **coughRustycough** Not that anyone would ever try that 😉

I was pretty proud of them all!

This was getting ready to try for another flag waving video. I wanted to get one of them waving a flag, or all of them. Heildorf doesn’t know how to hold a flag so it couldn’t be more than two. It worked pretty good. This part was more impressive though.


Happy Fourth Of July

We slept a little late the morning of the fourth. Finishing breakfast about seven thirty the phone rang. It was m father in law, he might need some help. There were cows in the corn.

At first he was telling my daughter this. Hearing parts of the conversation I thought I should maybe get the phone. I had to verify everything. There was no reason  there should be cows anywhere near us. Much less in the corn. Did he mean here or over at the pasture? Where was he?

Coming into the yard apparently.

Yelling at the kids to get dressed we ran out the door. They were in the in laws yard heading for the garden.

My husband went running to save his garden. I ran to open gates into the corrals. By the time I got things arranged the herd was coming around our house headed my way. I made sure they didn’t duck  back through our yard and they were in.

That was exciting. Now to find out who’s cows they were but the excitement was over.

My daughter, who had shoes on and had made it out the door by then, went to let the bottle calves out to their grass for the day. While we were there a ruckus rose from behind us, banging and clattering, metallic shrieks. Looking back towards the corrals we could see the cattle fighting over an automatic waterer. It is an old one, rather fragile and held together with duct tape and a prayer. It stands out from  the fence a couple of feet allowing the cattle to get all the way around it.

It was about to die, a terrible death.

We both ran to save our waterer. Climbing the fence I screamed at the cattle to get. They weren’t budging. I went looking for backup. We both searched for a stick and finally found a sturdy one. Waving it over the fence didn’t budge the cattle any more than my yelling did. The waterer was lurching and screeching as the cattle pushed and shoved fighting to be the one to get a drink.  Any minute it would go over, destroyed beyond repair. I jumped over the fence.

Swinging my sturdy staff I fought the cattle back. Two bulls had their heads in  and would not be moving until t hey had satisfied their thirst. I apologized to the girls, no chivalry here. The boys would not be letting them go first and I cold get the cows to step back. Yelling, wielding my stick, and cussing the cattle in the thick dust they raised, I fought them back from  the tank. Held them to one side so they didn’t topple the poor old girl.

It was a small automatic waterer, there wasn’t much water storage, they were slurping it up as fast as water came in. My daughter stood on the fence behind me, yelling her encouragement. In the midts of the battle I thought how proud I was that she was learning how to wage battle and that she was jumping in. Jumping in every bit as much as I wanted her too. Standing in a fence corner eye to eye with two strange bulls who were tolerating me much like they would a buzzing fly, in with me was the last place I wanted her. I didn’t want to be there either.

My stick was getting shorter and the cows didn’t show any sign of abating their thirst. I was thankful that half of them were trying to  destroy the other waterer they could get to. I could hear banging coming from that way too. That waterer is in a fence line, a fence made of guard rail. It had a better chance of surviving. I couldn’t leave my station. I yelled for my daughter to go try to find her father. I needed back up.

My stick  got shorter as I waited. I hoped not to have to give up my stand. The bulls looked me in the eye saying clear as day that they would not be moving. Cows came and went as others forced their way in. The waterer groaned under the pressure.

Finally my daughter returned.

There would be no back up. She spotted the guys on the other side of a corn field trying to figure out where these cattle had come from.

I could have told them. All these tags was at eye level with said the name of the owner on them. I wished they would come back. Some cows were backing off but others rushed in to take their place. The dust stung my eyes and chaffed my throat.

Then fourwheelers pulled up. I’d never been so glad to hear them. My husband jumped over the fence to join me. I needed to get them pushed out of here, he said. No kidding, I said, I can’t…

He walked towards them and the herd left.

I hadn’t hated him so much since the semi incident. Shifting into low range is hard to remember 😉

The tank was out of immediate danger. The other tank was in greater danger now. This was one thirsty herd of cattle.

We began to revise our theories as to why this herd had shown up. They were obviously looking for a drink.

We got them pushed out to a pen with a big tank instead of these automatic waterers. They could drink their fill without destroying anything. Time to look for owners.

After much calling around they were located, at the lake for the weekend. They’d see if they could find someone to come get their cattle. When someone did arrive my son was out helping his father fix a pivot, I drug my daughter along to help get the cattle out of the corrals. She was great help opening gates and even bravely holding the opening we didn’t want the cattle to go down. Seeing her standing her ground in the wind and dust, arms waving yelling at those cattle, I was so proud of her. Such a fierce little thing.

The cattle headed home. The owners swore the water had been checked a day and a half ago. The windmill must have broke down immediately after. Not a terrible amount of time for the cattle to be without water. Long enough for them to break through fences and go searching for a drink, especially in hundred degree weather. The most damage done was to the corn field they had been found in, the garden and the tanks had been saved. The town fire department was on their way to fill the cattle’s tanks with thousands of gallons of water.Hopefully they can get the windmill fixed soon and check their herd more often!

Of course I paused in  the middle of battle to get a picture 😜


‘”Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.” ~George Washington

“O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”

~Katherine Lee Bates

Ok, so these fields aren’t amber, yet. They need to be green before they can ripen to amber.

These are the farmers fields that feed this nation. Owned mostly by farmers, no matter what ‘they’ want to tell you. Supported usually by a job in town. Clung to tenaciously despite low markets and hatred from the very ones they strive to feed.

“It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight…and not cut corners. Somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed…and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody to replenish the self feeder and then finish a hard days work with a five mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who’d laugh and then sigh…and then respond with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life “doing what dad does”. So, God made a farmer!” ~Paul Harvey

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory

On November 19 a very important event took place in Washington City (Washington, D. C.), and it did not involve political leaders or military leaders. It involved Julia Ward Howe, age 41 years, the wife of Boston political activist Samuel Howe, who was a well known physician and caregiver of the blind, a former secret financial supporter of the nefarious terrorist leader John Brown and a long-time Abolitionist leader. That day, November 19, 1861, Julia wrote the lyrics to the Abolitionist crusade song, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”   ~Howard Ray White

Fourth Of July

The Morgan horse is the first American breed, strong, dependable, and well known for the care they take of children in their charge.

Morgans are sturdy and can  be depended on to get any job done that they are asked to do. Their willingness to work for and with us is incomparable. Throughout the history of America they have been a  preferred mount used for farming, daily travel, ranch work, and pleasure. They were bred by the government for the cavalry because of their endurance and docility. Morgans have fought and died alongside the brave soldiers that rode them, fighting for the freedom of this country.

What could be more fitting to go with the Fourth of July, Independence Day, then, than Morgan horses and children.

Happy fourth of July.

All About The Marketing

This weekend was beautiful, not too hot, not too windy. We got out and enjoyed it  little.

There was a mounted shooting going on nearby so we went to watch. Having never seen one in person I was impressed. Horses and riders galloped about. The balloons self inflated ( that part was REALLY cool!). The children climbed all over the nearly deserted bleachers like a jungle gym.

As the quiet well behaved horses walked back and forth behind us the children would ooh and ahh over them. Every time a child would say “what a pretty horse!” the rider would stop, bring their horse over and say hi. They rode their very well behaved horses right up to the back of the bleachers and let children reach down and pet them or climb out from under the bleachers and stroke a nose.

The riders took time out of their days to talk  about their sport and introduce children to horses. Sure, our kids already have their own horses, the riders didn’t know that though. They loved it so much meeting all the different horses even having their own, think how much that would mean to a child who had never seen a horse up close.

As the world grows bigger and more children are raised without a chance to know animals at all, much less horses taking the time to introduce children to horses can make or break the future of riding.

When a child grows up only knowing what they see on tv and computers they are more susceptible to the influence of groups who are very actively working to spread misinformation  and lies. It is up to us to introduce everyone we can to horses, let them know how much we love them, let them know that our horses are well cared for, and invite them to learn about and participate in our sports.

When we get annoyed by someone who doesn’t know any better acting in a way we perceive as rude or wanting to pet our horses, when we are impatient and rude ourselves, we are driving away the future of horse ownership.  It doesn’t take long to take the time to smile and say hi. It isn’t hard to pause a moment and be kind. After all the future is at stake



It seems that horse people are constantly trying to control their horses.

They want to control their feet, control their minds, control how they move and how they think.

The thing is though, the only thing we are ever actually able to have any control over in life is ourselves.

We can control our actions and to some extent our thoughts. That’s the only thing that is actually under our control.

We can attempt to affect the way our horses respond to us. That is not control though.

We don’t actually control things by punishing them. Punishment is a wild card. We may think that by punishing a behavior we have controlled it. That we have made it act the way we want.  In reality though punishment has so many unintended and unexpected consequences that we have no way of knowing for sure what effect the punishment will have.

Usually punishment only has the effect of making things fear us. That is the most dangerous thing we could ever cause to have happen. A scared horse is a dangerous horse.

The greatest way we can gain control is by letting go of it.

Since we actually have no control in the first place and attempting to gain more control often causes only fear and resentment what do we actually have to lose by letting go of control? What if instead of tightening up on the lead and pulling on our horses heads we let go? Not of the rope completely, but let it be loose. Let the horse out to the end of the rope and let him look around. Make a game of seeing if you can avoid putting any pressure on  the lead for a minute? Five minutes? What about an  entire session of working with him?

Reward is not a wild card. With reward we can see exactly what we are rewarding. If we aren’t getting the desired results then we aren’t rewarding the right thing.

Instead of trying to control everything a horse does what if we let them be and reward the things we would like to see more of? By letting go and letting the horse be a horse, by looking for things we like instead of picking on the things we don’t like, instead of control we can gain cooperation, a desire to work together, partnership.

So much more, so much greater than control.

The only hard part is letting go.


Heildorf has been terrified of people up high anywhere near him since he got here. Usually I start all the horses by teaching them to step over to the fence in  a mounting position so they can get used to someone over their heads.

That was not happening with him.

Because he was so scared and because he came already ‘broke’ we skipped that part. Not the wisest thing I know.

In an effort to work through his nerves about riding which are growing consistently worse I hauled him down to Andrea for a lesson in the tapping she’s been having such success with. In ten minutes she had him yawning and stretching and showing all kinds of releases.

Back home my daughter claimed  him as her horse to tap. They have been having great success.

Today was a big one though. So of course I didn’t have anything filming.

Both kids were bouncing around in the back of the pickup making all sorts of noise. Heildorf was horrified. I handed the lead to my daughter and told her to tap!

He stood with his nose only as close to the pickup as the lead forced him to. The lead held by a small child, he wasn’t exactly tied hard and fast. She reached as far as her little arms could reach and tapped him lightly on the side of the neck. After only a few short minutes he was licking and yawning and his head dropped down. His entire body relaxed there with the other child still raising a ruckus while the one worked with him. Then she switched sides.

So far this is working wonders for him. We haven’t pushed him much, we’re trying to take it slow and easy. Trying to let him change his mind about all the things that terrify him. Hopefully this helps.

Using positive reinforcement to counter condition his feeling towards all these things was having no effect except to make him hate me and counter conditioning my attempts at positive reinforcement to positive punishment.


Lessons With +R

Another post I’m writing here to add to the Academy page. This month the theme is riding with +R.

I was lucky to be able to haul two horses out for a lesson yesterday. Even luckier that the lesson got to be with a trainer who, as well as being a very skilled trainer and rider, also uses positive reinforcement. If anyone hasn’t met Andrea I highly recommend checking out her page. She’s always sharing great training advice and it’s fun to see the horses she’s working on. You can find her here

Taking lessons can be difficult when trainer and trainee don’t follow the same training principles. Some people get outright upset at the thought of feeding food while riding, or at all. Finding a trainer who is willing to allow you to train your own horse in the way that you want to is one of the most important things we need to look for in  a riding instructor. Many trainers who don’t do clicker training, or positive reinforcement themselves will still be willing to wait a moment while you reward with a treat or even get in on the game and point out places where you should be clicking.

Because we didn’t have to worry about whether we agreed on using a clicker or not, she had her own treat bag strapped on all through the lesson, we were able to get right down to business.

I was hoping to get through a few anxiety issues with Heildorf and she immediately put him to sleep with the tapping techniques she’s been working on. So we left him to sleep and got Rusty.

Rusty and I don’t have any problem areas we needed to work through so we began a basic dressage lesson to see if she could find any major holes and offer us specific things to work on.

We worked at a walk, if there are holes there then there’s no reason to start trotting. Stretching and bending were a great starting place. Being able to click him and let him know exactly where and what he offered that was what we were looking for made short work of each separate piece allowing us to move forward quickly. Andrea could instruct, I could help him find the place, and click  him for it as soon as he got there. Knowing exactly what we wanted helped him know what to offer. He could go straight back to the correct movement and avoid any stress, he gets very upset when he doesn’t understand exactly what is being asked of him. If we don’t recognize the signs he gives showing his upset it would escalate or he would quit offering all he has to give.

We were able to cover lots of ground quickly. Finding proper movement and position is LOTS of work for a horse who is out of shape. By letting him find the right thing quickly then  rest, he was able to do the work without wearing out and souring.

The lesson was wonderful and being able to click and reward him all the way through made it fun for both of us. Riding should be as enjoyable for the horse as we are able to make it. Endless drilling without any reward for the right answer is no fun for anyone.




Hide And Seek

I was lucky enough to have company come play with me and Rusty yesterday!

She even asked if we could play Hide and Seek! Usually I try to convince them to play and they refuse. In the past we’ve worked on teaching Harvey to find her and Rusty to find her brother. Rusty caught on quick to the new target though and went right to finding her.
Rusty is being lead in the way I prefer to use my halter and lead rope. With the halter over my shoulder and the lead rope laying over his neck. This is so much easier for both of us, I have the ability to offer some guidance and he isn’t getting his face pulled on.
Our goal is for him to find whichever small child when asked, by scent or sight. It would be fun to add a lot more difficulty, having to search the entire yard or have them hidden out of sight. That is going to take quite a bit more work though.

For no we tried quite a few different hiding places and would have tried more but my helper got tired of the game. Maybe I’ll be able to get her to come play with me more, there’s a lot of fun things we could do with this game!