kim and bridgerLiving Horsemanship


Considering the Horse - Diaries 05/2003



LA TO ARIZONA   A. 1- Ranch

We leave Los Angeles as soon as we finish the clinic, and head for A 1 Ranch in Flagstaff Arizona.  The skies are clear and it’s a beautiful Southern California sunset. However the traffic of Los Angeles again is a challenge for one’s on going growth and enlightenment. We listen to Mark’s rough C.D. and talk about “Bill” our new horse.

I’ll tell you the story of Bill. As far as we know it Bill is off a ranch in Billings, Montana. He was bought by a friend named Steve Wilson.  Mark’s been looking for another horse since “Buck’s” retirement. He’s wanted something with some size on him and it would be nice if he’d been started, just cause were so busy.  Well Steve is having a huge horse sale. He’s getting out of the horse business and into cattle business (good luck). Anyway we run into Steve one night at the” Wheel”,  a local saloon, when he tells us of his sale and he thinks he has a couple of horses that Mark would be interested in.” Just what Mark is looking for”... We are also getting ready to leave for our four weeks of clinicing, so there are a lot of things we need to be doing before we take-off.

Steve says he’ll let us take a look at the herd and that happens to be the day before we leave. The horses are down in the valley so while we’re down there we can take care of a few things we need to do (I wanted to pick up the sweatshirt I had ordered from the ranch supply store before we left.)  We didn’t bring any tack with us because frankly, Mark or I truly didn’t think we’d see any thing that would be right for us.

It was a beautiful day no wind and the horses were grazing on about 75 acre of pasture. We pull the truck into the pasture and park. Steve is going on about the horses he thinks Mark will like and we just sort of wander through the herd listening and looking. We’re moving in and out of the horses, stopping to pet a few. We start to head back to the truck when this Big Ole Bay horse nudges on Mark and he turns to look at him, I look at him he looks at us, we all just sort-of stopped for a moment. He’s big maybe 16 hands and built like a tank, good conformation, quarter horse - I mean big hindquarters just what Mark is looking for.  “If you can rope it he can hold it” as Mark would say. We keep walking and this big ole horse nudges on Mark again. We stop and laugh. Mark says what’s the story on this guy?  “Don’t know really, picked him up in Montana a few weeks ago”, Steve says.

“Really Mark, I think you would like one of these other horses better.”

Mark picks up his feet, no halter, the hoof wall was fairly straight though his feet are in pretty bad shape, long and turned in somewhat in the front. Some of the other guys from another ranch had ridden him the day before. They said they really didn’t like him, he rode ok but he’s pigeon toed. (Boy, you’d think we were in Hollywood).

These other guys were there too, riding some of the other horses. And those horses were caring on, buckin’ and pitchin’ fits, draggin’ their riders back into the herd. These were some of the other horses Steve thought Mark would be interested in. We talked about the “big” horse for awhile, we really had to get on the road if we we’re going to get other things done. The other guys say “hey if you want, you can use our tack”. Nah, Mark says.  Really, I say, we should ride him. “You can if you want but we won’t be able to pick-up your sweatshirt.”  Ok! I say. Funny how things go, who cares about a sweatshirt.

So Steve and I start to walk back out to pick-up the big horse. Steve is looking for some sweet feed so he can gather him up, I say to Steve “we won’t need that, lets go”, and we do. In a few minutes we’re back with the big horse. Mark is getting some of the tack ready so I can ride. The cinch had to be let out all the way, he is so big and the latigo could only take one wrap.  I didn’t dare put a foot in the stirrup, I think I would have spun right underneath his belly, saddle and all. Mark gave me a leg-up and away we went. He was a little bracey but so nice, a real cool hand, all the other horses were buckin’ and fartin’, throwin’ their heads around but not our guy, he was ready to work. We’ll take him! Mark says. Yeah!!!!!!

So we untack our boy,  I slide the head stall off his head and he just keeps hangin’ with us all the other horses are flyin’ back to the herd, in fact his buddy came up while I was riding and the big horse just stayed with me. And so it went, after we took off his tack. I said ok guy you can go now, we got you covered. No, he would not leave us.  Mark said Ok, Ok, you’re comin’ with us. Well that big horse just hung tight to Mark’s shoulder.  I said to Mark, drop the tail gate I bet he’ll jump in. He followed Mark right up to the drivers’ side of the truck, I think he thought he was going to drive us home! Mark gave him one last pet, we’ll see you when we get home buddy. Steve will drop him off at the barn while we’re gone. I can’t wait to get home to start workin’ our new horse. What do you call him? Steve said he came with the name “Bull”. Bull? Well he is big, but Bull? We don’t like it. A few days pass and Mark says we’ll call him Bill, cause he’s from Billings, Montana. Yes, that fits him, Bill. And Bill it is!

Flagstaff Arizona, 1:30 A.M.

We get the horses out of the trailer. They have a wonderful 5 acre pasture to roll romp and play. We also have ½ day off tomorrow, really today. We feed the horses and call it a day, a full day. Our hosts have left everything out and open for us. So we hook up the trailer, Mark is set. And I get settled in my guest room, with two wonderful cozy dogs to show me the way. We also get to sleep in!

We’ll start the clinic off with our demo, at 4:00 P.M. so we’ll have the first part of the day for our selves. Maybe I’ll get to see the Grand Canyon! Maybe…..

10:48 A.M. Good Morning!

A beautiful day in Arizona. And guess what?  I get to see the Grand Canyon. I’ve only seen it from the air. It is impressive! However standing next to it, it is amazing. As I stand there feeling so small in the face of all this glory, speechless  we start to walk along side the canyon it self pondering life, death ,creation, and everything in between. Mark starts to tell me a story of the last time he was here. He was feeling rather the same way as I was, when a fellow sightseer passed him on the walkway, Mark sort of nodded to him when the guy said “ kind-of disappointing isn’t it.” Can you believe it?! What do we want? It’s only one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

We start back to the A -1- Ranch, am looking forward to our demo. The A-1- Ranch is right in the middle of the forest, no kidding. We turn off A-1 highway on to this dirt road you can’t believe that there is something besides a camp ground that would be there. Every time we go there I keep waiting for Robin Hood and his merry men to make an appearance. Behold there is no camp ground, but a wonderful clearing with a beautiful ranch house if you will, barn and pasture with dogs and horses abound.

We get back in time to of course to get ready for our demo. Setting up the P.A. getting our “props’ together, water for the both of us. Have a visit with our hosts Cordy and Rick they tell us that their expecting quite a crowd. Again I wonder how people find their way, how word gets out that we’re here in the middle of no-where that’s really some-where, people have come in from around the country to work with Mark.

The demo goes well there were about 60 people there, people looking for new ways to work with their horses, to get along in our lives, Horsemanship through life.

What stood out to me this clinic, well there are always so many things as you know. But here today it was two gals with their 17 year old Arab brood mare that they had just bought, and wanted to turn her into a riding horse. Now you might be seeing a few RED flags already. These gals of course are very good hearted and want to do right by their beautiful gray horse. Did I forget to say this is also their first horse. Is that another RED flag, maybe! I don’t blame these gals for anything, they have good intentions. I do however find an unbelievable lack of responsibility with the person who sold this horse to these good hearted gals, knowing full well what they wanted to use the horse for. What could she be thinking? The only thing that I can think of is the obvious I guess she needs the money. What else? Now I don’t know that is true, but it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. And still the horse suffers. That’s what gets me. The mare won’t suffer because these girls won’t do right by her. No, their not going to beat or starve her, but is it fair to ask a 17 year old brood mare to do something else at this stage in her life? And by the looks of things, I am sure she was a very good mother. This mare was every where but with her owners. The mare had her eye on everyone horse and human trying to make sure everything was in order, the way she thought it should be. She knew what was best!

She had no ground manners. She ran right over her owner on the way to the round pen. Did not bat an eye, it was like the owner wasn’t even there. There were no boundaries. This had happened before to the owners, so now they have developed a healthy fear of the mare, and the mare feels this. That she is being handled by unknowing humans, unsure humans, and it doesn’t matter how good their hearts are, how well meaning they are. The mare feels like she can’t depend on their choices. And since the mare has always made the decisions where her foals are concerned, she will take over. This is what she knows to be true! And it’s hard to tell her any different. Do we have the right to do that? Now, Mark worked with her and she did better, he had something to offer her, and she felt that, she could count on him for something and she could . He would give her direction that she could follow and understand. Though it still was not easy for her.

Owning a horse is a big responsibility. We don’t realize how big sometimes until it’s too late and we’re in over our heads.  We’ve fall in love with our four legged beauties and they need more and we need to give them more they deserve it. We owe it to them.

I would say to anyone who is thinking of getting their first horse, get a horse that can help you learn, that can help fill in for you when you need it. That comes with age a horse that’s been around. 10-15 years old horse that’s been a good trail horse, someone who will let you keep the horse a few days to see if things work out. Who has your best interest at heart as well as the horses. It’s important for everyone to feel good and safe!

Mark of course was very honest with these gals, and these are smart gals they want to do right by their horse and for themselves. There is nothing like a horse to help with that!

Here are a few things I also learned at this clinic, or shall I say things to keep in mind while working our horses.  Sometimes we get things working for us we get some success   and then we tend to over do it. That can create its’ own problem. For instance, too much disengaging the hind quarters from the ground (with a lead rope) might lead to a horse not walking straight or maybe poor turns. Start straight end straight! There must be purpose behind what we’re doing! Too much thinking and analyzing keeps us from our tasks.

There is also a time to let our horses move on, to grow-up. The danger of not moving forward is the horse will shut down in some way, that may manifest itself in bucking, rearing, he might stop moving, or just  tune out! Rearing may happen because a horse doesn’t know how to move his hind feet.

 Allowing the states quo to keep happening is no good - change things up.

Know your boundaries! Have a plan! Treat your horse the way you want him to work or act! The biggest problem we have the way I see it is inconsistency! With ourselves and our horses!  HORSEMANSHIP Through Life! Let's teach each other and move on together.

We want to thank our hosts Cordy and Rick for good friendship, for all your hard work in putting an event like this together and doing it so well. The care and love you put in to every detail, it does not go unnoticed. The wonderful BBQ, the sauce that cooked for days, still makes my mouth water. Thank you for allowing us to play our guitars. I thank you for my beautiful bedroom and out door hot tub, with thousands and thousands of stars above me, and the company of your four legged friends. It all means so much to both Mark and myself. Take care and we look forward to seeing you both soon, we also thank every one who helped you! Please give a pet to our four legged friends……

We leave Flagstaff Arizona 5:30 A.M. Headed for home Estes Park, Colorado.  We load our beloved ponies Smokey and Bridger always willing to give it their all when ever we ask. They continue to make us look good and we never want to forget that.

It’s a beautiful morning a good day for driving. Again I feel blessed and grateful for this life for the breath inside me. Feel, Timing, Blending, Balance and the Breath to carry it through.

Happy Trails to you until next time, I’ll see you here…………………………………