Saturday, September 7, 2019

Seasoning Your Colt At Home

Ten years ago it was nothing for me to load up a trailer load of colts, head to the barrel race and camp out for the day or weekend.  Now, something about having four littles to take care of, it’s a different story and my time away from home on my colts just got a whole lot shorter and that much more valuable.  

I’ve had to reevaluate how I train day to day on my colts in order that I can maximize the limited time that I have actually seasoning them. Here’s a few things that I do at home so that I don’t have to do them on the road.  

Tie them up saddled.  It doesn’t matter if I’m going to ride them right away or 3 hours from then, my colts can stand saddled and tied.  They learn that they can be patient and respectable just like I expect when they are tied to a trailer at a barrel race.  Even if you can’t ride them that day, saddle them anyway.  

Take them to water.   The old saying, “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” is no excuse, especially at home.  Let them stand tied for a few hours and let them get a little thirsty.  I’m not talking take the water away when it’s 110 degrees and you rode them for 2 hours nonstop.  I’m talking that they can stand an hour or two and then given a drink.   I have horses that now will drink anytime they are offered water, home or not.  

Ride them rain or shine.  I know that this is easier said than done, especially if you don’t have an indoor arena available during the bad weather.  However, it’s important that these colts know that even though it’s blowing, that they can still keep their cool and ride despite the weather.  If I don’t have someone to watch my kids while I ride, then they at least get saddled. 

Put their nose on fear.   I’m a pretty non confrontational person so this is a hard one for me.  However, it’s sooo important.  If your colt even cocks an eye to look at something or if it’s full on blowout, work that colt to where you can put their nose on what scared them in the first place.  I’ve found by doing this that colts get more and more confident and less likely to spook when they confront their fears. 

More chaos the better.  Walking through my yard with four boys feels like I’m riding into a jungle.  You never know when a monkey, ahem....kid, is going to spring out of no where whether on a bike, throwing a basketball, or swinging a rope.   This goes hand in hand with putting their nose on fear.   I encourage my boys to run and play, shoot the B.B. gun, ride bike, ride their ponies, light the firecrackers, and whatever else they just might be doing when my colts are tied up.  If they are doing something and I’m able, my colts aren’t too far from them.   Later then I’m riding them, they are not nearly as apt to be scared from that runaway stroller or screaming child that we are bound to see later in their careers. 

Put them to work.  I don’t get to ride on the ranch nearly as much as I did ten years ago, but I try to apply the same principles now as I did then.  Get on and go to work.  I want my colts to be able to be put right to work and not have to go ride them down first.  

Sit on them.   How many times do we get to a barrel race, hurry and warm up only to sit and wait.  It seems like by it’s your turn that you need to warm up all over again.   I like to stop every so often during my rides and let them sit.   Wether it’s watching my boys or just sitting there thinking, learning how to sit still and chill is often overlooked. I want them to be able to keep their cool to where I don’t have to warm them back up to get them ready mentally, only physically to loosen muscles back up.   

Keep them stalled over night.  For some this is commonplace.  However, I rarely keep horses in the barn and I don’t think about it until I finally have to spend a weekend away from home and my horses are going have to be in stalls for the first time. It’s good to get them used to that environment so that life on the road isn’t such a shock.  The same goes for an electric fence.  Get them introduced to it and used to it.  You will be happy that you did at home and they didn’t have their first experience at a jackpot.  

Getting colts seasoned is a process.  Some horses take more to season while others are born seasoned.   It’s one of my least favorite things to do but doing just some of these simple things has helped shorten the seasoning process for me.  I hope that these tips will help you as well.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2019


When I started 2019, I was exercising and eating right. Spending every evening on the treadmill, I challenged myself like never before and was running 4-7 miles every night. I'd spend time listening to podcasts and reading books to help sharpen my focus and improve my mental game.  I was finally at a place mentally and physically that I hadn't been since high school. 2019 was going to be it; it was going to be my year.

One of my favorite books is "Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success, Building Blocks For A Better Way Of Life" by John Wooden and Jay Carty.  It is eye opening and inspiring to me.  Within it, Wooden talks about each characteristic or building block needed to be successful and then related it to the Bible.  At the beginning of the year, I decided that I'd pick out a word to be my focus word.  A word that when I got to a low spot, that seeing, hearing, or thinking it would help me out of the hole and give me the push I needed to keep going.  My word was "initiative."

Defined by Wooden, initiative is to "cultivate the ability to make decisions and think one. Do not be afraid of failure, but learn from it." This hit home because I have a hard time going outside my comfort zone and beyond something that I've done before. It's been a word that I started the year clinging to when I wanted to quit because it was just too hard or I was too tired, it helped me push through to that extra mile.  It helped me reached for more knowledge on a variety of subjects. It helped me push myself further in my horsemanship despite my fear of failure.  It pushed me to be healthy.  I took any extra step I could to do better.

I felt it in my bones and in my heart; this was it. This was the year that things came together. 2019 was my time.  Until tragedy struck.  The loss of my father-in-law in March rocked our family down to our core. The hurt and pain is something that I wish on no one. Our lives came to a standstill as we struggled to find our new normal.  Yet the duties of the ranch and the kids stayed in full force.

Our spring and summer were spent with dodging what's next to go wrong. Horses hurt, colts dieing, calves lost, kids hurt, our bad luck seemed to just keep coming.  Duties on the ranch and for the kids were starting to settle down and I was getting excited to finally be able to put the time into what I'd spent the first part of the year preparing for when the what's next came; I had an accident.

I didn't see it coming. I was taking my foot out of my stirrup when she turned into me, knocking me down to the ground.  The next moment seemed to happen in slow motion as I laid there and my horse stepped on my leg, just on the inside of my calf. Luckily my husband wasn't far away and took me to the house. After seeing my leg, he rushed me to the ER and then onto another hospital three hours away for surgery.

I'm thankful and blessed through my ordeal because it could have been so much worse.  The horse had scraped 3 inches of my tibia and had she landed a fraction of an inch over I'd have had an open compound fracture and a much different story.  As it ended up, I had a deep laceration through my calf but luckily nothing that couldn't be stitched back up and put back together.

It's been almost two months since the accident and I'm healed up beautifully for the most part.  Nerve pain is a nuisance that's been hard to deal with and kept me from riding. However my negative attitude and depression were my biggest hang ups in my recover.  I've had a lot down time to think, to read, and it led me back to my word, initiative.  Except in that moment, that word wasn't working for me. It didn't help push me or bring me out of the hard times like it had helped me do those extra squats or hold that plank for just a little while longer. I needed something else for that moment, not A word but THE word.

I began to dive into my Bible and in my searching I found, "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope." Romans 5:34. Hope, I felt like I had no hope at that time, something that desperately needed.The more that I read this verse all I could think of was one word, perseverance.  Perseverance as defined is steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

It brought me a whole new attitude.  Suddenly the nerve pain that I deal with, especially when I ride, is worth dealing with and although I don't have the same mindset as I did at the beginning of the year, that 2019 is my year, I do know that all is not lost, it just no longer has a timeline attached to it. I will endure and I will push on in my journey and quest to my work on my passion and goals because I know in the end that I will take the initiative to do today despite the fear of failure of tomorrow, have perseverance to keep on going, but most of all faith in God.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to her purpose." Romans 8:28.

I share my story and my struggles with you today not for pity or recognition but for those that may be in the same pits of despair as myself. I pray for you in your struggle however different or similar it may be to mine.

Photo credit: Tina Graham